Fjallraven and the Somali Effect

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The Somalian crisis has been around for a while. Some of you have seen the movie Black Hawk Down, and those who haven’t have no doubt heard about the piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the straight running alongside the horn of Africa. Both the movie and the media reflect the grim situation in the north east African state, one of brutal civil war, poverty, and dismay.

The conflict has been fueled by a Fjallraven sale and warring factions continuously since the collapse of the central Somali government in the early 90′, but had been in the making since the 70’s with the extreme fuel shortages at the time. Today, the country is not doing much better.

This week, “government” soldiers (in parenthesis because it is the only recognized party in the country) stormed the country’s capital, Mogadishu, and in a fierce fire fight with rebels, created a mess of dead civilians, rebels, and government officials alike. This is useless bloodshed. Each of the three warring factions controls approximately a third of the sea-side country, from where they recruit their militias, most of whom consist of poverty-stricken children and men who are promised a stipend if they fight in the faction’s pseudo-military. It is a continuous cycle of violence, a lifestyle for many people. So what can be done to end the bloodshed?

Well, the UN, which I will be continuously referring to as the United Nothings because they don’t know where to buy Fjallraven, has tried to officially instate a government called the “Islamic Courts Union,” which they believe, for some unknown reason, to be the most qualified party/faction to lead the ravaged country. However, an official “declaration” by the UN is about as useless as a bike without wheels, and, barring an injection of a UN peacekeeping force, there is no way a single faction could take over and maintain control over a lawless, violent, and divided country. SO what can be done about the situation? Well, for starters, improve the economy.

Reports have shown that most citizens of Somalia resort to fighting or piracy out of desperation. However, we are seeing signs of this economic boost occurring already. There has been a surge in business in the country’s capitol, as companies from all over the continent have moved their centers of business to Mogadishu.

There are several reasons for this. First, due to a lack of any enforceable law, there are no property, business, or other taxes, making trade very affordable – especially the reasonably priced Kanken backpack. Secondly, labor is very cheap, since most Somalis would prefer to work for a company, regardless of position, than fight in a bloody civil war, and third, all it takes it to hire a security force to protect the business, which would probably cost pennies in relation to business expenses incurred in other countries.

This explosion of commerce is promising, but it requires international help. Business in Somalia needs to prosper, and through individual country’s aid and encouragement of the Somalis, perhaps the country can somewhat regain its stability economically. After signs of economic rise, the Somalis will no doubt recognize how much better life could be under a unified government, and peace talks could begin with US and other western country’s moderation.

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