Among the by-products of the international community's involvement is the ongoing humanitarian crisis – the worst in the world, according to every humanitarian organization. Similarly, the unprecedented recent violence in Mogadishu, the worst the Somali capital has seen since 1991, has it roots in the myopic actions – or inactions – of external forces.
The radicalization of tens of thousands of Somali youth, recruited from inside and outside of the country, and the polarization that is tearing apart the fabric of Somali society, also are derivatives of the internationally sanctioned Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia.
The anti-piracy strategies of the international community are another telling example of unsound policy.
The pirates operate from a few coastal towns in Somalia's Puntland region. The most rational approach would have been to provide training, equipment and modest resources to the law enforcement and coastal guard units of the Puntland authority. Instead, the international community opted to rush an armada of naval forces into the territorial waters of Somalia. Since this has had little effect on the piracy problem, the primary goal of the assembled navies seems to be showmanship rather than law enforcement.
The biggest culprits in the foreign meddling in Somalia are assorted UN organizations, particularly is the UN Political Office for Somalia; an East Africa regional body known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); and the Security Council. Close behind in terms of negative influence and micromanagement are the European Union and its members' enterprising embassies in Nairobi. Ethiopia, the United States, Eritrea, the Arab League and the African Union also have engaged in unhelpful political, military and diplomatic intrigues.
In the past 10 years, these parties have continually misdiagnosed Somalia's problems. They also have dispensed – without concern for the consequences of their actions – poisonous policy prescriptions.
For example, at Somali reconciliation meetings, foreign actors have tended to engineer the ascendance of unelected transitional authorities who are beholden to their foreign patrons.
Each shaky, undemocratic regime is declared to be the legitimate government of Somalia and the only viable road to peace and national recovery.
Some pragmatic Somalis (the author included) and citizens caught up in the hype of potential international support often have joined in these dysfunctional transitional governments, hoping the internationally community will be serious about assisting the regimes they helped to create.
To the bewilderment of Somali presidents and prime ministers, however, the promised international assistance fails to materialize. In turn, disappointed citizens curse the naive politicians who bought the foreigners' platitudes. Transitional governments abandoned by the international community quickly become discredited in the eyes of the population, while opposition groups are emboldened. As a result, Somalia is in flames.
Moreover, hundreds if not thousands of Somali youths born and bred in the West are now inspired by or in the ranks of Al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Somalia. Militants have used some of these youths for suicide missions inside Somalia and one can only assume that their ultimate plan is to dispatch these newly found "treasure youth" to the West, as the recently foiled terror plot in Australia seems to indicate.
The responsibility for the existing mayhem in Somalia, as well as the anarchy to come, falls squarely on the shoulders of the international community's point-persons for Somalia.
These diplomats and their political masters have presided over the preventable destruction of the most homogenous country on the planet, a country whose problems could have been solved in a matter of months had there been the political will and a genuine desire to do so.
The proliferation of external actors involved in Somalia, particularly such cross-purpose actors as the EU, AU, UN, Arab League, IGAD, the U.S. and others, has resulted in a hodgepodge of pseudo-remedies designed to serve the interests of the competing actors rather than those of war-weary Somalis.
The Obama administration's new interest in stabilizing Somalia could mark the end of the international community's hands-on, yet no-progress routine in Somalia. Last week's historic meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed may finally give the Somali people hope they can believe in.