Moderator: I should say the policy options are fairly limited, aren’t they. I’d say it’s choosing the least bad option in many ways, I suppose.
Moderator: With that, I will open the floor to questions. I’m sure you got comments and questions and responses to this really interesting thought provoking presentation over to you…Yes.
Audience1: You mentioned that there was some – I believe at some point, maybe the Bush administration, I don’t know, if Obama has carried this over, that the courts, the Islamic courts had infiltration somehow of the Al-Qaeda. What is that based on? Do you know, was that based on any sound intelligence or just sort of Cheney’s weird paradigm constructions that he did?
Bronwyn: Sure. Maybe Richard will have a different sense of this but my sense is that primarily it was based on information that was being fed to the Bush administration by Ethiopia. Ethiopia has an existential fear of a strong Islamist state reemerging in Somalia because it has a sort of Muslim-Christian-Somali-Ethiopian-conflict occurring in one of its regions. There are people like Shariq Hasan [IB] who has been identified by the United States as wanted terrorist, who in Somalia are known to have more of a nationalist perspective. He is an extremist but he really has nationalist point of view. And his involvement with the courts and the involvement of some of his prodigy who he had spent time in Afghanistan and other conflict was the source of concern. And in particular the fact that the union of Islamic courts had a…the Shabaab was acting as basically as its military wing at that time and that military wing was imposing a lot of very harsh policies, banning music, banning football games, banning movies that it made them look like they were really an extremist organization. And worst of all, some of the rhetoric coming out of the Islamic courts union, even though it was really a sort of blistering and you hear it all the time involved reclaiming Somali territories from Ethiopia and other neighboring countries. The renewal of those irredentist claims really makes the neighborhood nervous. So that sort of combination of beliefs and also aggressiveness that the bush administration in confronting what it perceived as terror threats really combined to cause the Ethiopian invasion.
Moderator: Yeah, I sensed that she would go along with that. The courts are very broad umbrella movements and under that movement there were – undoubtedly there were individuals of concerns the United States there. I mean, the more extremist fringes of the courts didn’t help themselves as you said by making brave religion claims against Ethiopia and that provided Ethiopia with the sort of really didn’t need much excuse to intervene in Somalia but they were provided in that respect. And it’s true that some of the extremist fringes there were people that the United States does want for international terrorism offenses and they were being shielded by this group. But they were definitely, at the same time, a wide broad range of people that the US could’ve engaged with more effectively, I think.