Tuesday 22 December 2009

Somalia: No-win Military Scenario Leaves Engagement as Only Option

This piece was published in The National on 22 December 2009.


At the beginning of this year, Somalia was experiencing a rare moment of optimism. The desperate country looked as if it might just start to turn itself around. The disastrous Ethiopian invasion and two-year occupation were ending, and the new president of the transitional federal government, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, had broad Somali and international support. The hope was that he would be able to form coalitions with other moderate Islamists and isolate the extremist al Shabaab elements.

Now, at the end of the same year, all traces of optimism are gone. The civil war is increasingly brutal and destructive. Almost half of the population, 3.6 million people, are dependent on food aid, and half a million refugees are scattered across the Horn of Africa.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Never Again? What the Holocaust can't teach us about modern-day genocide

After a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, I wrote this piece for Foreign Policy on 2 December 2009.


It was cold, misty, and miserably wet the day we visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, but no one wished for better weather. My companions -- mostly mid-level diplomats from more than a dozen countries around the world -- all seemed to agree that sunshine would have been almost offensive. We had come to this corner of Poland as part of a weeklong seminar on preventing genocide, which included such outings so that the participants could learn more about the details of the Holocaust. And yet, I wondered if this field trip was having its desired effect.