In the midst of the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in six decades, the Somali militant group al-Shabab has kicked out all western aid agencies and embargoed all food shipments into southern Somalia. In addition to blockading all food aid, they are also preventing civilians from seeking succour in neighboring Kenya or Ethiopia.
There must be some method in this madness, but the method has to be divorced from any ethical system. There is no ethical system that justifies willful starvation and eventual genocide of an entire population. At the same time, it’s a cop-out to call the perpetrators ‘monsters’ or ‘inhuman.’ As is ever the case, the situation can explained by sordid power politics, callousness and a complete abdication of responsibility by the al-Shabab leadership.
Al-Shabab’s purported aim is to create an Islamic Caliphate on the Horn of Africa. To do so, they need to get rid of the Transitional Federal Government, the nominal, but toothless government cowering behind African Union-funded bunkers in Mogadishu. Since the TFG is nominally supported by the West, al-Shabab prevent Western activities in areas under its remit. Food aid, in their eyes, would legitimize their enemies, the TFG and the West. Migration, or escape, would delegitimize their rule and so, must also be stopped.
Details on the famine at the NYT.