The Evil Dentist

In southern Somalia, the Islamic extremist group al Shabab, which has ties to Al Qaeda, is forcibly extracting silver and gold teeth from residents on the ground that such teeth violate Islamic law because they are fashion and beauty items.  Anyone seen with a silver or gold tooth is abducted and taken to a masked man who rips the teeth out with pincers without giving the victims anaesthesia.  Americans who dislike going to the dentist should remember that the experience could be much worse…

Somalia, a classic example of a failed state, has a weak government that is struggling to combat multiple insurgencies, including one led by al Shabab.  A major concern for US officials is that Somalia could become a safe haven for Al Qaeda and other anti-American terrorist groups that can take advantage of the lawlessness in the poor African country by setting up bases and recruiting locals to carry out attacks.  In fact, some members of Al Qaeda have reportedly moved from Afghanistan-Pakistan to Somalia and Yemen in the last few months. 

The US has taken a greater interest in Africa since the September 11 attacks, symbolized by the establishment of a military command, Africom, in the region.  American special operations forces have reportedly been deployed to the Horn of Africa to eliminate terrorist targets.  Non-military aid, notably billions of dollars worth of health care assistance, has been given to governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 

It is likely that Western nations will continue making efforts to stabilize African countries and deal with endemic problems there.  How effective those efforts will be remains to be seen.


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