Mogadishu, Somalia–World's Most Dangerous City

A report by Richard Engel of NBC News is not only frustrating, it’s frightening and disheartening. Engel reports from Mogadishu that the city is all but destroyed and all who could leave have gone. Those who remain are under the rule of the Al-Shabaab, an Islamic insurgent group that has imposed Shariah law.

What’s frustrating is the continuing state of anarchy that has marked Somali life for the last 19 years and the inability of either internal or external intervention to create change. And it’s frustrating that Somalia was for so long considered a remote and insignificant point on the map. Now that it’s a training ground for terrorism, and fifty U.S. citizens have migrated there for training or to participate in the insurgency, it’s being re-discovered. The long-term neglect of the people, however, is paying the wrong dividends now.

Beyond the horror of the inhumanity, it’s also shocking to see the utter destruction of Mogadishu, once a strikingly beautiful city on the shores of the Indian Ocean. The glimpses we see in Engel’s report reveal just how damaging years of violence have been.

Somalia’s troubles seem inescapable. Perhaps a million Somalis are internally displaced and the population of Mogadishu, according to Engel, has dropped from one million to 700,000.

Engel reports U.S. drones can be heard circling Mogadishu nightly. This reconnaissance is one way the U.S. is supporting the African peacekeeping mission, a mission that never leaves the main roads according to its commanding officer.

Once remote and overlooked, my guess is we’ll come to know Somalia, for better or worse. As a former CIA officer states in Engel’s report, today Somalia is a “grade A problem.”

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