In the Jan/Feb issue of Foreign Policy, I have a broad-ranging piece on quasi-states — countries that haven’t yet achieved recognition (and in most cases never will).
UPDATE: French speakers can read the same piece at Slate.fr.
Note: Careful readers may notice something different about this article. It is written in Basque, for the esteemed magazine ARGIA.
Abkhazia eta Hego Osetia plazara atera dira berriki baina ez dira, inolaz ere, “gatazka izoztu”en azken ereduak. Afrikako Adarrean, Somaliland izeneko lurraldea dago. Hauxe duzue “existitzen ez den” herrialde honetara egindako bidaiaren kronika.
Mohammedek begirada eroa zeukan. Faktore hori, eta bere hortz berdeak, mesfidatzeko nahikoa arrazoi ziren. Goiz hartan ezagutu genuen elkar Jijigan, Etiopian. Gizonak hiriko gauza erakargarri bakarra erakusteko, eta murtxikatzeko, gonbita egin zidan: kat izeneko landarearen hostoak. Bertan, Somaliako mugan, Mohammedek kata landatu eta handik garraiatzen zuen gero. Diotenez, makina bat dira kataren esklabo Afrikako Adarreko etorkinen artean. Nola errefusatu landareak sortzen duen zorabio gustagarri hori?
Originally appeared in The Smart Set.
Mohammed had a squirrelly look in his eyes, which together with his green-flecked teeth made me wonder whether to trust him. We had met that morning in Jijiga, Ethiopia, and he volunteered to show me — and then devour with me — the bleak town’s one real attraction: qat bushes. Here, near the Somali border, Mohammed cultivated qat and then shipped it all over the world for Horn-of-Africa expatriates who, like him, were utterly addicted to the numbing buzz you get when you chew its leaves for a few hours. They tasted about as bitter as you’d expect a shrub to taste. We were well into our fifth hour of chewing, and the bits of leaf gave his pearlies an emerald cast — the qat equivalent of the grotesque orange teeth one gets after scarfing a whole bag of Cheetos.
At $600,000 per Tomahawk cruise missile, the cost of whacking Ayro ran into the low millions. It would have been a bargain at twice the price. Somalis, victims of two decades of war and state breakdown, can bid farewell to a murderous madman, and their hapless provisional government will enjoy at least a slight boost in their efforts to quash the Islamist insurgency and repair the country. (Though turning Mogadishu back into a functioning city will be about as easy as turning foie gras back into a functioning goose liver.) For the U.S., however, the dividends from Ayro’s death will be more modest.