The Conflict that Exposed Faulty Lines of the Media
January 16, 2007.

The recent conflict between the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and its allies on the one hand and the now ousted Islamic Courts Union (ICU) of Somalia on the other hand may have critically exposed the faulty lines of the media.

Just a few weeks ago, the media had been touting the ICU as a powerful group while saying little about its legal footing or of that of the TFG. When it declared jihad against Ethiopia for its irredentist ambitions, it was clear that the stability of East Africa, an important geopolitical region of the world, was in danger. The media sold the fear of such instability to its readers and provided no proportionate prescription to relieve off their readers from what they sold to them.

When Ethiopia started a war of self-defense, the media started selling it as a war between “Christian-led” Ethiopia against an Islamic country of Somalia, completely overshadowing the alliance between the secular governments of Ethiopia and Somalia that decided to fight the jihadist outfit. Besides, the media labeled the Muslim population in Ethiopia as “restive.” More importantly, it tried to present Ethiopia as an historical enemy of Somalia, and such characterization seemed to be more prevalent by reporters from the United Kingdom, a country that colonized parts of Somalia in the past. A critical observation suggests that the colonial England may actually be a more historical enemy of Somalia than is Ethiopia.

After the ICU was routed from Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, the media seemed to have started to look for potential turmoil than what has occurred on the ground. Some noteworthy news remained unreported or underreported. One such news was the information from pentagon that reportedly indicated that the defeat of the ICU unearthed fresh intelligence on al-Qaeda.

Mohammed Farah Aideed, the Interior Minister of the TFG, suggested that the peoples of Ethiopia and Somalia are brothers and need to forge economic unity. One group named the Ethiopia-Somalia Friendship Committee emerged in the wake of the defeat of the ICU and seems to advocate for friendship and understanding between the peoples of the two countries. Before the arrival of Islam in this part of the world, the majority of the peoples in both countries may have believed in similar wisdom traditions under Waaqa or Waaq.

As a matter of fact, most peoples in that part of the world are closely related to each other than any of them is related to the Arabs or the Britons. Media reports that have failed to understand such rich history of the peoples in the region but tried to present them as historical enemies have exposed their faulty lines.