The Somali Parliament meeting in Djibouti elected a new President this weekend. It is still meeting in Djibouti, and it is uncertain when they will be able to return to their own country. The new President, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, was reported by the BBC this morning to have asked the African Union, currently meeting in Addis Ababa, to meet with him today or tomorrow.
President Ahmed is described as "a moderate Islamist." He had served as chief of the Islamic court's movement, which ran much of Mogadishu and Southern Somalia until Al-Shabab seized control following the departure of US-backed Ethiopian supporters two weeks ago. The Bush administration had been much concerned about the Union of Islamic Courts, and sent troops and money to fight it.
However, due to the success of Al-Shabab, which the Bush administration believed was linked to Al-Qaeda, we now seem prepared to accept the Islamic Courts' previous leader, Sheik Ahmed, as the new Somali President. This, even though the BBC reported that, "The top layer of the Courts are extremists.They are terrorists.", according to Jendayi Frazer, the Senior US Envoy to Africa. According to the BBC, "With the Islamists stronger than before Ethiopian invaded, America policy towards the Horn [of Africa] appears to have run into the sand."
Seven months ago, American helicopters killed an Islamic Court leader who was meeting with a suspected Al-Qaeda leader, now we are backing an Islamic Court leader in hopes that he can restrain Al-Shabab, which we regarded, at least until a month ago, as an Al-Qaeda offshoot. The Horn of Africa looms as the next Afghanistan. It's time for our new President to take a hard look.
In response to zlo_kuche, you're right, Baidoa is not a port, and Somalis are not Arabs (that's what happens when you dictate from a train), but neither of those things has any impact on the mess we're in, and we need to do something about it.