Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Inside The World's Worst Hellhole - Somalia, The Perfect Failed State

A look into Hell on Earth.


Inside The World's Worst Hellhole - Somalia, The Perfect Failed State

2010-05-19 12:19:26
Posted By: Intellpuke 

Somalia, which has been without a functioning government for almost two decades, serves as a warning for what could happen to other failed states. Rival Islamic militias battle for control of the capital, where the president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, is in constant danger of his life. A visit to the worst place on the planet.

Dealers in the Somali capital Mogadishu are now selling cartridges for Kalashnikovs at 37 cents apiece. The price has dropped by almost half in recent weeks, probably because there is already a lot of ammunition in the city. Mukhtar Ainashe knows this. He steps on the gas and the large SUV he is driving shoots off.

Ainashe is an intellectual. He reads American philosophers like Thoreau and Emerson, he studied in Norway and, until recently, he made a good living working for the World Bank in Washington, D.C. He has a wife and two young children in the United States, and he has a passion for expensive watches. In fact, Ainashe is completely out of place in Africa's dirtiest war.

He drives the vehicle furiously across the unforgiving terrain, a former road now pockmarked with grenade craters. The SUV skids through the gravel and bounces along over rocks, its axles making cracking noises, past the ruins of bullet-riddled houses, which shimmer in the sun like the bleached bones of dead animals in the desert.

No Way to Stop

A "technical" - a pickup truck typical of Somalia, with a machine gun mounted on the truck bed - is visible in the rear-view mirror, also bouncing up and down on the rough road. It's manned by government fighters - Ainashe's bodyguards. The driver of the technical can barely manage to keep up, driving as close to the rear bumper of the SUV as possible. Nevertheless, Ainashe cannot afford to slow down - it would only make him a target for the Islamists' machine guns. Anyone who stops on this road dies.

The SUV circles "Kilometer 4," the notorious, often contested central roundabout where so many people have died. Then it passes the ruins of the parliament building, where the Islamists shoot at anything that moves. Finally, Ainashe reaches a driveway at the base of a hill.

Machine gun nests between battered walls protect the entrance. Ainashe maneuvers the SUV through a narrow alleyway, through checkpoints, around tank barricades, passing guards along the way. When he finally reaches the gate to the fortress at the top of the hill, he hears the guns of the president's forces, which kill people every day. Their task is to protect the five buildings inside the wall. Their enemies are less than a kilometer away, and they can be seen running and shooting.

"Welcome to Villa Somalia," says Ainashe.

The Perfect Hell