Thursday, June 25, 2009

"limbs on trees"

Surreal headline of the day, possibly of the decade, goes to this improbable headline from Reuters:

"U.S. sends arms to Somalia, rebels amputate limbs"

This headline is bizarre, horrifying and unfortunately hilarious on so many levels that I don't know where to begin. First the funny. The ambiguous choice of wording in the headline suggests that the US might be sending replacement limbs to the poor men who were accused of theft by al Shabaab and duly and heinously deprived of a hand and a foot each. Also the Salvador Dali-ish image evoked by the Reuters story of "limbs in trees."

Now the less funny: as the story points out, Somalis are torn about al Shabaab. After two decades of anarchy they're grateful to anyone who can restore law and order, but as a country where people are generally very moderate in their Islamic views, such acts as public limb-lopping as punishment for theft (and, really, this is Somalia: there's a lot of thieves) with shock and abhorrence. It would be easy for them to turn against the likes of al Shabaab were not the central Western-backed government so incompetent and unable to project power even through the capital city, let alone the countryside. Any time your government's title starts with the word "transitional," it's not a good thing.

Meanwhile, Foreign Policy reports that with the Somalia so-called government begging for foreign reinforcements, al-Shabaab responded with appropriately gruesome rhetoric. Said the spokesman:

"We tell you that our dogs and cats will enjoy eating the dead bodies of your boys if you try to respond to the calls of these stooges."

Naturally, Ethiopia, whose 2006 invasion is pretty much responsible for the latest state of affairs, couldn't resist such a challenge. According to the Christian Science Monitor on Sunday, Ethiopian troops are back in Somali territory. The Ethiopians, of course, deny that they're even there, or that they've got any plans to go. The only thing Ambassador At Large is confident about is that if Ethiopian forces return, it won't end any better than it did last time.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Best. Headline. Ever.