An Iranian American friend wrote to me "As you know, Islamic feminism is currently enjoying mainstream acceptance in the West to a great extent. Personally, I suspect that this is because they support the status quo in an international political context and only advocate small reforms rather than revolutionary changes."
But there is no blanket approach by the West to support a conservative status quo. In Syria and Libya, the West supports an opposition that includes Al Quaeda and other fundamentalist elements. Same in Egypt, after the Arab Spring of 2011. In Iraq US military forces ousted the secular Sunni and brought the conservative Shia to power in 2003. But in Afghanistan the US is fighting the Taliban and in Yemen and Somalia, the US is engaged in overthrowing fundamentalist groups. As the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said, there is no cookie cutter when it comes to foreign policy. Each case is decided on its own 'merits' (if it fulfills a high stake dash to secure access to the world's oil reserves.) For example:
"Britain is involved in a secret high-stakes dash for oil in Somalia, with the government offering humanitarian aid and security assistance in the hope of a stake in the beleaguered country's future energy industry.
Riven by two decades of conflict that have seen the emergence of a dangerous Islamic insurgency, Somalia is routinely described as the world's most comprehensively "failed" state, as well as one of its poorest. Its coastline has become a haven for pirates preying on international shipping in the Indian Ocean."
• Mark Townsend and Tariq Abdinasir
• guardian.co.uk, Saturday 25 February 2012 21.04 GMT
Media analyst Eduardo Cohen responds:
"People in the West are told that Somalia has been a failed and violent state for over 20 years.
It's simply not reported that in 2006-7 there were two years of peace when a group known as the Islamic Courts took control of Mogadishu and most of the country. They were Muslim fundamentalists but not nearly as hard core as the Taliban or even the government of Iran. There were members who were sympathetic with Al Quaeda but the organization had no ties to Al Quaeda, though the US government claimed they did.
They implemented law and enforcement and for the first time in over a decade and a half women and families could safely walk the streets. They outlawed Khat, the amphetamine like drug that helped fuel more violence.
There was peace. For two years. The US couldn't tolerate that, so they worked with the Ethiopian government to organize, finance and support an invasion by Ethiopia to drive out those who had brought peace. The press act as if that didn't even happen. The Islamic Courts, who also seriously reduced Somalian piracy, were dislodged years ago by the Ethiopians working with the support of US covert (CIA) and special forces (military) and US aerial support (US air and naval forces).
Their removal led to the rise of Al-Shabab who ARE ultra conservative fundamentalists and who ARE connected with Al-Queda.
That, and the current military/covert campaign against Al-Shabab, also led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Somalis who are now refugees."
What is the West' interest in Somalia? As well as Somalian oil, the Bab El Mandeb chokepoint is a highly strategic waterway, through which hundreds of millions of oil barrels pass by Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia, 30 miles across from Yemen.