Somalia’s Union of Islamic Courts


Western culture has been shaped by four hundred years of English liberalism of the sort that led Thomas Paine to write Common Sense. The Muslim world, divided today between Shia and Sunni as Europeans once were between Catholic and Protestant, has very different expectations. Americans, at least until recently, instinctively recoiled and the mixing of church and state. This is entirely counter to the Muslim world, where a proper government must be guided by men doing Allah’s will.

The Union of Islamic Courts was a home grown source of law and order, but as the name implied, it was Islamist in temperament. Per this Global Security article we know the fate of the UIC and the source of al-Shabaab. I had mentioned in Deadly Fighting Erupts In Kenya that I thought the map above was a bit dated, and it turns out I was correct – the UIC was dismantled right at the beginning of 2007.

As of October 2006, the ICU controlled the majority of Southern Somalia. Semi-autonomous Somaliland and Puntland remained in control of their respective regions in the north. A concerted offensive by forces of the TFG along with Ethopian military between December 2006 and January 2007 effectively dispersed the ICU. A large militant component, known generally as al-Shabaab, continued to fight the TFG and foreign forces.

I am going down this path because I was looking for maps of the Nile basin and I found several mentions of Egypt arming the UIC for the sake of stirring trouble in Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile, which provides the famed annual flood. I thought that they were entirely conspiracy theories, because the first pages of search results were blog posts, but then I found two actual news sources:

Powers Stoking Somalia Conflict – BBC, November, 2006.

Iran Tried To Get Uranium By Arming Somalia – The Telegraph November, 2006.

So there were weapons flowing into Somalia and from many places, but I can find nothing credible that shows this was due to the hydropolitics of the Nile basin. I am not discarding this, mind you, because it’s very interesting if true, but I need to see solid facts from reliable sources, not a dozen partisan blogs echoing each other.


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