It’s All Our Fault

It’s starting to look as if the problems in Somalia are all down to the inability of journalists to cover the conflict there properly – rather than say the complete hash of things made by the country’s neighbours, the United Nations’ and donors’ misguided attempts to prop up an unpopular government of warlords, and the repeated attempts of the US to solve the problem by bombing a stone-age country back to the, erm, stone age.
Hot on the heels of Kenya’s angry accusations that journalists were buying the terrorists’ propaganda, comes a rather snippy press release from Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN Special Representative for Somalia.

Mr Ould-Abdallah called on the media to treat the pirates’ actions as unlawful activities and use the same judgment as they would in other regions of the world. He said journalists should not allow themselves to be used to broadcast messages from the pirates or help glorify their actions.

I’m tempted to respond that UN officials should use the same judgment as they would in other regions of the world when welcoming peace agreements between two sides who have lied their way to the negotiating table and have no interest in laying down their weapons, and who don’t even control the insurgents or Ethiopian troops responsible for wreaking havoc on the ground. But that would be childish.
All I can say is that I’m desperately sorry for quoting the pirates’ representatives in an attempt to help people understand what is going on. Completely naive of me. The best approach to solving Somalia is of course to impose solutions on the country based on models used elsewhere, rather than trying to understand the grievances that the Somali population might have and which are being expressed through the actions of the pirates… and the insurgents. When pirate leaders say they are striking a blow for Somali sovereignty, as they did on the BBC Somali service at the weekend (no link, sorry), we should refuse these criminals the “oxygen of publicity” just as Margaret Thatcher did with Sinn Fein in the 1980s with such great success that Sinn Fein is now in government in the north of Ireland.
OK, sarcasm and rant over. But don’t you just know that when people go after the messenger they have completely lost the plot.