I stopped posting to my blog after leaving for Europe to do research for various projects, including Razumijen, and to walk Hadrian's Wall with Legio X Fretensis. When I got back, a lot happened, and in a way, a lot did not happen. I was physically exhausted and somewhat drained. Walking in The Overnight in July 2006 also socked me good. I had blisters on my blisters. More than just physically drained, what I had undergone sapped me of the desire to make public many of my thoughts.
For various reasons, I did not get back to my blogs until now, in February 2007. Now, I am in the mood to write again.
Indeed, since December 2006, I have been very busy on Wikipedia, especially in relation to articles dealing with the War in Somalia, and the history of that nation. For a time there, the updates of maps and articles I worked were at the top of the Current Events page for Wikipedia. I've also taken under wing a broad series of articles having to do with the US military, such as the new US Africa Command, and the issues of extremism, whether Al-Qaeda and the followers of so-called “Al-Qaedaism” or movements of irredentism and ethnic nationalism, such as saffronization.
All of this related to Razumijen in my mind. The same issues of intolerance drove the civil wars in the Balkans, Iraq, or Somalia, or Sudan. Part of my stepping away from the west Balkans was to look at a different conflict with fresh eyes to develop a more generalized set of rules as to what drives civil wars in general. And, more precisely, I wish to develop a generalized set of models for those rules. There are concepts such as the "heat" of a conflict. Is it a "hot" war or a "cold" war? What is the tempo of action? For there certainly are times in these civil wars when dramatic, swift actions are undertaken, and other times when months if not seeming years go by with little change in fronts, or prospects for peace. Thus, I wished to watch the Somali war closely while it was unfolding, to see what decisions were made, and to read the accounts of the actors on the present world stage, to compare with the Balkans, which I can only now look at through the lens of hindsight and history.
As for Razumijen itself, progress is being made albeit slower than I hoped. I have been working on the map for the game, and am presently mulling over how precisely to represent the divided lines of control and partition of the states such as Croatia (while the Krajina area was occupied by the Krajina Serbs and the JNA), and Bosnia-Herzegovina (from the initial conquests of the Bosnian Serbs to the Vance-Owen plan, Owen-Stoltenberg, the 1994 Contact Group, and the final 1995 Dayton Agreement partition). Right now, I have a certain idea, but I reserve to change my mind.
As you can also read from my other posts, I have also been mulling over the issues of Iraq, and comparing it contextually to these other modern civil wars in former Yugoslavia and Somalia, and to a lesser extent, Sudan, Afghanistan and elsewhere. There are deep-seated social and political issues similar across all of these conflicts, and also, key differences to each.
Lastly, to balance out all of these articles about war and conflict, I also wrote an article on Wikipedia for the “Sixth Clan” women’s movement of Somalia, founded by Asha Haji Elmi. The movement grew out of her hopes for reconciliation and out of concerns for the safety of women and children in conflict-afflicted Somalia. She desired to give women a voice in the politics of Somalia, so often dominated by chauvinistic warlords. She succeeded in gaining a seat in the Somali parliament, along with 21 other women. They still have a long road ahead of them. After reading so much about the contentious clan politics of Somalia, I was struck by her poignant declaration, “My only clan is womanhood.” Hence the “Sixth Clan”—womanhood. Harkening back to my blog’s beginnings around last Martin Luther King, Jr. day, and seeing how I had not touched upon the anniversary this year, I felt this Somali civil rights movement should be celebrated. While my Wikipedia entry needed to follow a Neutral Point of View (NPOV), here, on my own blog, I must express my sense of inspiration and hope such movements transform Somalia, and for similar movements to ameliorate other war-ravaged regions. Though I am cautious to make predictions, I do pray we’ll be hearing less of the sensation headlines of bombings, shootings and rocket attacks, and more about such peaceful civic and social movements.