Overzealous Western banks pose new threat to war-ravaged Somalia

Al Jazeera, 7 August 2013, Mohamed Ali

Columbus, Ohio - Every month I visit a small grocery store in a non-descript building in Columbus, Ohio, where I live, to use a service that keeps Somalia alive: "Hawala", the traditional money transfer system used throughout the Middle-East, Africa and South Asia. 
Similar to Western Union, Hawalas present a way to easily transfer money from one country to another, using a wide network of agents and central clearinghouses that make such transfers quick, cheap and reliable.
Like many other members of the Somali diaspora, I use Hawalas to transfer badly-needed funds to friends and family at home. But the system is threatened by a new wariness among international banks used to clear the cash, which could sever an essential financial lifeline to Somalia just as it emerges from decades of civil war.
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