The past year in the United States has been a whirlwind of political upheaval, protests, and unfiltered rhetoric. It was another election year where the majority of American people voted for the losing candidate, and the newly appointed president has sent shockwaves well beyond American borders. President Trump maybe a headache for many Americans, Europeans, and others around the world, but he is no Somalia.
The only thing President Trump and Somalia have in common is mostly likely distrust for one another. The recent immigration ban that has been heavily refuted and challenged included Somalia among six other majority-Muslim nations. However, Somalia has not been on the immediate American or world radar in recent years. This may seem perfectly normal for most people who may not be aware of the situation in Somalia or the United States’ involvement there, but knowing a few facts may catch the public eye.
According to Transparency International, Somalia is the most corrupt nation on earth. It has been estimated that over $20 million has changed hands during parliamentary elections that will ultimately decide the next president. The United States meanwhile has increased its military presence there. Over the past 25 years Somalia has suffered without a central government and the U.S. has poured in billions of dollars in aid. The United Nations is preaching a sense of hope as the ‘milestone’ elections are currently taking place. Yet, this election and elections like it have allowed one of the world’s most deadly Islamist organizations, Shabab, to “buy a seat,” according to Mohamed Murbarak, the head of a Somali anti-corruption organization.
Now, how does Somalia become such a hotbed for political unrest and international intervention one might ask? Look as far as Somalia’s geographic location and its ties to Islam and answers begin to appear. United Arab Emirates and Qatar back rival candidates due to conflict concerning the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt and Ethiopia are backing other candidates in their fight over control of the Nile. Meanwhile, Sudan continues to seek influence in Somalia in order to tap into Somali intelligence services so that they can potentially spy on Americans in Somalia.
American’s may have thought the Republican Party was a mess with the number of candidates it had running for president last year, but Somali currently has 20 in its election, which is scheduled for Wednesday. International aid and interference from the United States, the EU, Britain, Italy, and others has largely failed to create stability and end corruption. Western diplomats now admit that their past political interventions to lessen corruption have only made matters worse. Yet, international backers also believe that if they pull aid out now it will only make matters worse, and with President Trump at the helm there is a high likelihood that such will happen.
In recent months Africa has seen elections all over the spectrum. In November, Equatorial Guinea re-elected their president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has been in power for almost 38 years. In Gambia, newly elected President Barrow assumed office after defeated and long-time incumbent Yahya Jammeh was forced out of power by Senegalese troops. And in Ghana, opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo defeated President John Mahama in a peaceful election process. The recent democratic movement has brought hope for many African nations and the international community; however, long-standing military leaders still hold an iron grip on many African nations and political upheaval and civil unrest tear others apart.
In Somalia, international aid has only funneled Western money into the pockets of the most corrupt bureaucrats and politicians in the world. The Somali political system according to the United Nation is making improvements and building ties between clans despite the corruption. Yet, the questions remain: how long will the U.S. and other backers have to fund Somalia before they find a solution? And will President Trump pull that funding regardless of the situation?
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