When U.S. Congresspeople’s planes are not around for Somali insurgent groups to fire mortars at, they apparently turn to their own parliament. The newly elected governing body’s offence was as egregious as…passing a national budget for the impoverished and war-torn country.

Equally tragically (and equally unsurprisingly), militants (unclear whether or not they were of the same group) attacked African Union peacekeeping bases in Mogadishu on Saturday. Kind of makes it clear why few African countries are willing to offer their troops for the mission, which a Somali opposition leader calls “foreign invaders.” Not hard to imagine what he’d have in mind for UN peacekeepers…

With the piracy epidemic off the coast receiving the bulk of attention, the EU has recently committed $200-plus million to support security in Somalia, and the money is supposed to go to land-based initiatives, like the AU mission, rather than catch-’em-at-sea measures. The recent violence, coupled with continually ill-timed consideration of a UN peacekeeping force in Somalia, underscores the need to act very carefully in not creating undue provocations. There’s no reason to submit to terrorist demands of withdrawing all peacekeepers before talks with the government can begin, but we should take into account the safety of these peacekeepers, and the best way to actually protect people. Declaring a “war against piracy” seems to ignore the country’s domestic political instability and risks needlessly inflaming much of the population whose cooperation will be key to quelling banditry at sea.

(image of Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia, from flickr user ISN Security Watch under a Creative Commons license)

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