Global Policy Forum

Somalia

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Photo Credit: flickr.com/Albany Associates

This Horn of Africa country has had no recognized central government since 1991, when President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown. Instead, power is divided between various groups including the internationally backed Transitional Federal Institutions, the Union of Islamic Courts and other regional entities such as the breakaway Somaliland, Puntland and Jubaland. International involvement in the Eastern African country has utterly failed to secure peace. In 1992, in addition to an arms embargo, the UN launched military operations to bring "humanitarian relief" to Somalia. US forces arrived in advance of its own accord, stating a need to remove warlords from the region to put a stop to destabilizing clan warfare. The US exacerbated the conflict by pitting warlords against one another, supporting leaders whose power had started to decline. US troops withdrew from Somalia in May 1994 followed by UN forces in March 1995. Since then, the US has clandestinely carried out operations there, claiming that the country is a site of terrorist activity.

International peace efforts resumed in 2006 as a conflict between rival militias intensified. The Transitional Federal Government was challenged by the Union of Islamic Courts which increased its control over Somalia and some regions of Ethiopia, threatening regional stability. The US started to show covert support for an Ethiopian offensive against the Courts, claiming legitimate security concerns for Ethiopia. In December 2006, the Transitional Federal Government launched a counter-offensive with the support of Ethiopian troops, pushing the Union of Islamic Courts to collapse. In addition to maintaining an arm embargo on Somalia, the UN Security Council authorized the African Union to establish a peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) to support dialogue and reconciliation in Somalia. The AU is trying to organize the deployment of such force, but troop contributors have not been forthcoming.


GPF Perspectives | UN Documents | Analysis | Articles

 GPF Perspectives

Fisherman, Pirates and Naval Squadrons: the Security Council and the Battle over Somalia's Coastal Seas

With endorsement by the Security Council, a powerful multi-national fleet of warships patrols the seas off the coast of Somalia to protect the shipping lanes from local pirates. But neither the Council nor the naval powers address other serious crimes in these waters - foreign illegal fishing and the illegal dumping of toxic wastes. This GPF special report looks at how the fishing and dumping is related to the piracy and how the Security Council systematically ignores these issues, calling for further "studies" while ignoring the ample naval evidence. The authors call for a coast guard to replace the warships, for immediate action on the fishing and dumping scandal, and for far stronger global regime to protect the world's seas from abusive, criminal activities that harm coastal peoples. (Global Policy Forum)

UN Documents

Security Council Condemns Renewed Fighting in Somalia (May 26, 2009)

Somalia has recently witnessed renewed fighting between Islamic fighters and government troops. On May 26, the Security Council condemned the fighting and the threat it poses to regional stability and security. The Council unanimously agreed to reauthorize the "African Union Mission in Somalia" peacekeeping force until January 31, 2010.  Similarly the Council urged support for the recent Djibouti agreement on national reconciliation, calling for "broad-based and representative institutions reached through a political process ultimately inclusive of all".

Statement by the President of the Security Council on Somalia (September 4, 2008)

Ambassador Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso and president of the Security Council for September, welcomed the signing of the Djibouti Agreement between the Transitional Federal Government and the Alliance for Re-Liberation of Somalia. Mr. Kafando stated that the Djibouti Agreement should form the basis for the ultimate withdrawal of foreign forces from Somalia and he requested that the Secretary General develop a detailed plan for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force.

Security Council Resolution 1831 (August 19, 2008)

The UN Security Council has unanimously decided to renew the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) for a period of six months. The resolution states that the full deployment of AMISOM will help facilitate the full withdrawal of non-African Union forces and help promote lasting peace and stability in the country. The Council has stated its willingness to consider an alternative peacekeeping force to take over from AMISOM, but this is depends on political progress and increased security.

Resolution 1801 (February 20, 2008)

The Security Council has renewed for six months a mandate for the African Union led AMISOM peacekeeping mission in Somalia. The Resolution was passed despite an obvious lack of support in Africa, with only Uganda and Burundi providing troops to the mission. The mandate authorizes the use of force by the peacekeepers to protect infrastructure, and provide security to enable humanitarian assistance in the country.

Resolution 1744 (February 20, 2007)

Welcoming Ethiopia's decision to withdraw its troops from Somalia, and determining that the situation in Somalia still constitutes a threat to international peace and security, Resolution 1744 authorizes the deployment of an African Union mission in Somalia to support dialogue and reconciliation, offer protection to the Transitional Federal Government and to assist with the National Security and Stabilization Plan.

Resolution 1725 (December 6, 2006)

Despite mounting criticisms against troop deployment in Somalia, the Security Council has decided to establish an African Union protection and training mission in the country. The peacekeeping mission mandate includes protecting the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) and monitoring peace dialogue between the TFI and the Islamic Courts Union.

 

Analysis

UK Takes the Lead in Somalia (February 29, 2012)

On February 23, 2012, the UK government hosted a much publicized international conference on Somalia that brought together over 40 senior state representatives. While the purpose of the conference was to discuss an “international approach” to solving the various crises in Somalia, this Foreign Policy in Focus article discusses how the conference has become more about “crowning” Britain as the leader on Somalia and celebrating the limited military successes against Islamist militants, rather than building a solid foundation for long-term peace. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Somalia and the London Conference: The Wrong Route to Peace (February 27, 2012)

Richard Dowden, Director of the Royal African Institute, points out the shortfalls in the London Conference on Somalia. Highlighting the exclusion of major political stakeholders, and the welcoming of known kleptocrats, Dowden rightly asserts that “it [seems] unlikely that concern for Somalis would be the top priority” of the conference. Rather, the profits of London’s maritime insurance industry, and Britain’s geopolitical aims, are more likely concerns. (African Arguments)

Vital African Union-UN partnership can be strengthened further, Security Council told (January 12, 2012)

The ongoing partnership on peace and security between the United Nations and the African Union in Somalia is to be strengthened according to the UN News Center. This article emphasizes the “shared value and principals” and “improving coherence” of the two bodies’ work. However, this article doesn’t question the increasing militarization of Somalia (the day before, the AU requested military equipment and approval to expand its military force in Somalia by almost 50%, much of which would be paid through the UN and the EU). Similarly, it fails to ask why under the Kampala Accord and the Djibouti Agreement Somali citizens and civil society groups are increasingly excluded from key decision-making processes that affect their and their communities’ lives. (United Nations News Center)

Update Report on Somalia (August 8, 2011)

Security Council Report compiled an Update Report on Somalia in August. UN humanitarian agencies have also declared famine in two southern regions of Somalia, the most serious food insecurity situation in the world. The report highlights the key issues on the Security Council’s agenda, which include the effectiveness of the humanitarian response, its engagement with the Somali government and the use of sanctions in the most effective ways. The Security Council has renewed the mandate of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea and the sanctions committee continues to impose targeted sanctions on members of Al-Shabaab. The consultative meeting of the Somali stakeholders will take place from 4 to 6 September. (Security Council Report)

Plundered Fish Stocks: Somalia's Double Piracy (January 31, 2011)

NATO and foreign governments have spent $200 million to flight piracy off the coast of Somalia, but they have failed to address the plundering of Somalia's fisheries by Asian and European fishing fleets. The rapid growth of piracy is linked to the destruction of Somali's local fishing sector. According to the High Seas Taskforce, these illegal fleets break international conventions, destroy marine stocks and deny some of the world's poorest people their source of protein and livelihoods. (The Africa Report)

Video: Yemen's Beaches of Death (March 11, 2009)

Years of conflict have left Somia in turmoil, but as thousands flee the country's insecurity and poverty, they confront new horrors. This documentary from Current TV reveals the circumstances in which refugees, seeking security in Yemen, lose their lives while attempting to cross the Gulf of Aden in overfilled and unsafe smugglers' boats. Those who survive the 200 mile crossing face an uncertain future in Yemen - a country which itself suffers from extensive poverty and unemployment and is ill-equipped to deal with these new arrivals. (Current TV)

Lessons Learned from United Nations Operation in Somalia (April 1992 - March 1995)

A detailed analysis on the UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Anatomy of a Sanctions Regime: A Case Study of Sixteen Years of Failed Efforts to Effectively Implement Sanctions in Somalia (September 16, 2008)

In 1992, the Security Council imposed sanctions on Somalia, seeking to curb the illegal weapons trade in the country. However, the Council failed to enforce the sanctions, resulting in an increase of weapons import to the country. Moreover, hostilities continued, stimulating underground arms traders to import still more weapons. (Security Council Report)

Routinely Targeted: Attacks on Civilians in Somalia (May 6, 2008)

The Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian military forces commit extrajudicial killings, torture, rape and arbitrary detention in Somalia, says Amnesty International. The TFG, aided by Ethiopia and the US, overthrew the Somali ruling government in 2007. The report urges the UN Security Council to condemn violations of international human rights law by the TFG and Ethiopia, strengthen a UN Arms Embargo against Somalia, and encourage the UN peacekeeping force in Somalia (AMISOM) to protect the lives of civilians.

Somalia: Conflict A Threat to Regional Peace (November 15, 2007)

The conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea has spilled over into Somalia, complicating Ethiopia's influence in Mogadishu. Somalia has been involved in a complex net of relationships between the US, EU and Ethiopia since before the Cold War. Political chaos has contributed to Somalia's instability and violence since 1991. The Muslim movement al-Shabaab violently opposed the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its Ethiopian ally. The author shows how international interference has made the situation worse, and claims that multilateral institutions - such as the EU, Arab League, IGAD, UN and African Union – would help more than single interest-driven countries, like the US. (Nation – Nairobi)

Humanitarian Intervention: the Case of Somalia

An annotated resource list from Worldview that emphasizes the problematic side of the UN operation in Somalia.

Articles



 2013
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2013



Security Council Loosens Somalian Arms Embargo (March 4, 2013)

The Security Council has unanimously agreed to lift a 21-year-old arms embargo on Somalia. The resolution has also reauthorized 18,000 peacekeepers to remain in the country to help the federal government reclaim territory held by the extremist group al-Shabab. Despite the resolution being passed, some Council members expressed concern that weapons will flow into non-government hands. Even if arms reach their intended destination, the Somali military is made up of an amalgam of former militia members, who may not be responsible with increased access to weapons. (New York Times)

2012

Somalia: Understanding Somali Piracy on Land and Sea (November 28, 2012)

Piracy off the coast of Somalia is not simply an issue of criminality and security. The root cause of piracy in this region is the international illegal overfishing of Somali fishing waters which have threatened the livelihoods of local fishermen starting in the 1990s. In response, local vigilantes started to chase away the foreign fishing vessels. Violent clashes at sea intensified and piracy activities grew rapidly. Despite counter-piracy operations, which fail to address the root causes, the Somali society remains torn by poverty and violence. (All Africa)

Somalia: How Al Shabaab Is Losing the Battle, but Maybe Winning the War (November 21, 2012)

After an al-Shabaab attack killed seven Kenyans in Nairobi, ethnic Somalis in Kenya have become the target of armed thugs across the country. These Somalis in Kenya are becoming more isolated with fear of violence, guilt by association and a sense of ‘otherness.’ While the Kenyan authorities are failing to protect their own Somali community, the Somali vote could be decisive in the Kenyan presidential elections in March 2013. Although al-Shabaab is losing the battle against Kenyan troops in Southern Somalia, it is stirring an internal war in Kenya. (All Africa)

Is this the End of al-Shabab? (September 30, 2012)

This Al Jazeera article discusses the demise of al-Shabab, the militant Islamist group in Somalia. African Union troops have recently managed to force al-Shabab out of the region which they have controlled for five years. For a long period of time, militant fighters from the region joined al-Shabab's struggle in Somalia against the Western-backed government. The Arab Spring, however, has diverted these foreign fighters, their funding and arms, which has led to al-Shabab’s defeat. While the mainstream media portrays al-Shabab as a fearsome terrorist group with links to Al-Qaeda, their deeply rooted political aspirations and grievances are almost never considered. (Al Jazeera)

Obstacles to Progress: Somalia’s Fault Lines (August 3, 2012)

Since the civil war in 1991, Somalia has been plagued by state collapse as no central government has been able to control the entirety of the country. This Think Africa Press article argues that, if the new post-transitional government is to make a difference, it should transform Somali society politically, socially, and economically. This transformation poses considerable challenges given the number of alarming fault-lines in Somali. Clanism, interference from Kenya and Ethiopia, an extremely weak Somali National Army, the presence of US and South African private security contractors, increasing US drones attacks on al-Shabaab targets, and sectarian tensions are but a few of the many problems Somalia is currently facing. (Think Africa Press)

Somalia: Draft Constitution - Too Undemocratic? (July 3, 2012)

A new Somali constitution, drafted under the supervision of the United Nations Development Programme, is due to be adopted in the weeks to follow. The constitution, however, has been externally-imposed on the Somali population who perceive it as flawed and undemocratic document, lacking international standards on self-determination and the rule of law. It is doubtful that the new constitution, drafted in a conflict environment where the weak local government is heavily pressured by foreign interveners, will lead Somalia towards democracy.(Think Africa Press)

Inspired: Progressive Somalis on the Rise (June 16, 2012)

This Al Jazeera article discusses the Istanbul civil society conference of May 27-30 on Somalia. Unlike the London conference on Somalia earlier in February, which celebrated the military victories against Islamist militants instead of engaging in solution for long-term peace, the Turkey conference has been a valuable initiative committed to the Somali political process. Western states have been intervening in Somalia for the past twenty years, and these competing geopolitical interests have contributed to the current instability in Somalia. (Al Jazeera)

Piracy – Don’t Believe the Hype (June 14, 2012)

The British Chamber of Shipping has argued that there is a “gaping hole in the UK's defense strategy” in Somalia. Its president, Jan Kopernicki, who also happens to be Vice-President of Shell's shipping arm, professed that militarizing the Somalia waters was essential for British “energy security”. The energy and shipping companies have been using the “energy supplies threat” to secure increased public spending for the protection (and advancing the interest of) the oil sector. Somalia has been negatively affected by an escalation of foreign naval force in its offshore waters justified by the piracy threat. (Platform London)

EU Forces in Anti-piracy Raid on Somali Mainland(May 15, 2012)

Two days ago, the EU naval force carried out its first air strikes along the Somali coast against pirate bases on shore. In December 2008, the EU launched Operation Atalanta, the Union’s first operational naval deployment outside of European waters, with up to 10 warships off the Horn of Africa. In Mach 2012, a new EU mandate has permitted its naval force to attack pirate targets onshore, as well as offshore. However, such a large EU naval force seems hardly necessary considering the very small resources of the pirates. When put in the context of international naval rivalry, this escalation could hint at European naval power projection into the Indian Ocean/Gulf of Aden arena. (Guardian)

Can the London Conference on Somalia Get it Right this Time? (February 22, 2012)

On February 23, 2012, the UK government hosted an international conference on Somalia, bringing together over 40 senior state representatives to discuss a new “international approach” to Somalia. This openDemocracy article points out that foreign states have been intervening in Somalia for the past twenty years, and these competing geopolitical interests have contributed to the current instability in Somalia. Instead of concentrating on international security concerns, such as piracy and terrorism, this article states that an effective conference should concentrate on the needs of the Somalia people. (openDemocracy)

2011

Negotiations on a Somalia Piracy Resolution (November 17, 2011)

Members of the Security Council are working on a new resolution on piracy off the coast of Somalia. This text reflects the will of the Security Council to take a tougher stance on the issue as it authorizes states and regional organizations to enter Somalia’s territorial water and take action on land. New issues are addressed, such as the prosecution of pirates, but no reference is made regarding illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste off the coast of Somalia. (What's in Blue)

Africa: Who's Backing Al Shabaab? - Al Qaeda, Eritrea? (October 31, 2011)

Kenya’s decision to invade Somalia was meant to put an end to Al-Shabaab and its attacks on the UN-backed government in Mogadishu. Little is known about this shadowy movement and funding and links to other networks, in particular Al-Qaeda. Recently Eritrea has been accused of helping Al-Shabaab in order to destabilize Ethiopia, which has led the UN to impose sanctions on the country. (allAfrica.com)

Somalia Was a Sideshow in the War on Terror—and is Paying a Colossal Price (September 11, 2011)

US policy in Somalia since 9/11 has destroyed “humanitarian space,” the principles of neutrality crucial to effective intervention, and now famine is predicted to result in the death of 750,000 people. Based on exaggerated US fears of Al Qaeda, the US has assassinated, interrogated, and bombed by drones those it perceived to be its enemies in the country as part of the “war on terror.” As a result, al-Shabaab sees humanitarian aid as a tool of western political strategy and refuses to allow access to most western aid agencies capable of providing food to the people. Furthermore, the roots of al-Shabaab’s rise lie in US military support of Ethiopia’s occupation of Somalia and removal of the moderate Islamic Courts Union, the only force to have achieved any level of stability in the country in the last two decades. (Guardian)

The CIA’s Secret Sites in Somalia (July 12, 2011)

Journalist Jeremy Scahill reveals that the CIA is currently leading a counterterrorism program in Somalia, training Somali forces to fight the Al-Shabaab. The US-led program also includes rendition operations, unilateral targeting strikes, a funding package to finance AMISOM forces and an underground Guantanamo-like prison. Despite CIA efforts, these initiatives have yet to be successful. Testimonies of former prisoners, which cite poor conditions and harsh treatment, reveal that the CIA is acting with little regard for international law. The US should stop violating human rights in Somalia. (Al Jazeera)

Genocidal Politics and the Somalia Famine (July 30, 2011)

This Al Jazeera article argues that the famine in Somalia is a result of local, national and international politics. The Somali people have been made vulnerable to exhausted food resources due to continuous military and political interventions in the region – particularly by Ethiopia, the AU and the US. The US and its allies have sought to defeat the “Islamic terrorist” group al-Shabaab, putting millions of people at risk. Somalia’s famine is due not only to al-Shabaab’s presence in the country and ecological disturbances but also to geopolitics. (Al Jazeera)

US Drone Strikes in Somalia Likely to Rally Local Support for Militants (July 8, 2011)

No central government has had control over most of Somalia’s territory since 1991 when a civil war broke out. In 2006, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) assumed control of much of southern Somalia. This led to an intervention by Ethiopian and African Union (AU) troops (with US support) to re-establish control in the hands of the Transitional Federal government. During this time, the radical counter-insurgency group Al-Shabaab formed out of the ICU. This article suggests that young Somali’s gravitated towards Al-Shabaab as a direct result of the Ethiopian/AU/US intervention in Somalia. In January 2007, US airstrikes killed an estimated 70 civilians and, according to Oxfam, and destroyed vital water resources for the drought-prone region. According to the author, continued use of drones and other military mechanisms in Somalia may increase the Al-Shabaab’s support base. (Christian Science Monitor)

Somalia: Fishermen Driven From the Sea by Illegal Trawlers (June 27, 2011)

The outgoing spokesman for the European Union Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR) says armed security teams have mistaken Somali fisherman for pirates and, on occasion, opened fire on them. Somali fishermen must contend with large international and illegal fishing trawlers, toxic waste dumping and military forces. This has turned some fisherman to piracy. According to the High Seas Taskforce, illegal fleets break international conventions, destroy marine stocks and deny some of the world's poorest people their source of protein and livelihoods. (IRIN)

Somalia Political Bickering Undermines Peace Process (May 13, 2011)

Political divisions in Somalia have brought it to a state of paralysis. Augustine Mahiga, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, outlined the necessity for engaging in political dialogue to create agreed frameworks for federalism, devolution and decentralization. He also voiced concern over the humanitarian situation in Somalia, saying it was "worse that it has ever been", with more than 75 per cent of livestock having perished as a result of the prevailing severe drought, and people moving from one corner of the country to another and across the borders into neighboring countries in search of food and water. Further, the African Union has confirmed that the United Nations is actively considering an air and sea blockade of Somalia. (UN News)

Somalia: Stop War Crimes in Mogadishu (February 14, 2011)

Human Rights Watch has called on the UN to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate suspected war crimes in Mogadishu, Somalia.  It is alleged that all parties to the conflict - the Islamist armed group al-Shabaab, the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union peacekeepers - have violated the laws of war by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians.  These attacks have led to mass displacement of residents from Mogadishu, although the most poor have had no choice but to remain.  Human Rights Watch has also received reports that al-Shabaab forcibly recruited child soldiers.  If true, that too is a violation of the laws of war. (Human Rights Watch)

2010

WikiLeaks Reveals US Twisted Ethiopia's Arm to Invade Somalia (December 8, 2010)

Leaked government documents confirm that the US pressured Ethiopia to invade Somalia in 2006. The Ethiopian attack was a proxy war that the US spearheaded privately while condemning it. In reality, the US used rumors of a jihadist takeover in Somalia to give Ethiopia the justification for an invasion. The US backed the Ethiopian government despite its flagrant disregard for human rights within their own country. US support included training for Ethiopian troops in the lead-up to the invasion. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

In Somalia, Foreign Intervention Won't Resolve Al Shabab Threat (September 2, 2010)

Western governments may view the increasingly powerful militant group Al Shabab in Somalia as a regional threat, but a Western military intervention is not the solution. Nations concerned about a "terror haven" in East Africa are already largely funding the 6000-strong African Union Peacekeeping Mission (AMISOM). Foreign troops tend to strengthen the hand of violent anti-occupation movements. Previous interventions by the US and Ethiopia deepened the divisions in the country and solidified rule by local warlords. AMISOM has stated that the solution to the instability in Somalia will have to come from Somalia's government, weak though it may be.(Christian Science Monitor)

In Somali Civil War, Both Sides Embrace Pirates (September 1, 2010)

Somalia's heavily-armed pirate crews are being drawn from the high seas into the messy civil war on the mainland. Local government officials in Hobyo have commissioned pirates to ring off coastal villages and block out the Shabab, an insurgent group that has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. Down the coast, another pirate group has agreed to split their ransoms with the Shabab. With pirates increasingly joining militias on the mainland, and thus incorporating acts of piracy into the civil war, in which jurisdictional sphere do these activities belong? (New York Times)

Security Council Debates Legal Options for Pursuing Pirates off Somali Coast (August 26, 2010)

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a report last week outlining seven options for prosecuting pirates off the coast of Somalia. In the past seven months, there have been 139 piracy-related incidents in the area with 450 sailors currently being held for ransom. Problems inherent to prosecuting pirates off the Somali coast include the large number of suspects and detainees as well as minimal prison capacity. The Security Council strongly supports fighting the current impunity of pirates. However, the root cause of piracy lies in the insecurity of the Somali mainland. (UN Daily News)

Will a Somalia Intervention be Different this Time around? (July 27, 2010)

Political debates over the status of AMISOM, the African Union (AU) intervention force in Somalia, have raised issues beyond typical questions about force size and mandate. While these have been important considerations, some analysts have asked whether a robust external intervention can work anywhere, let alone in Somalia. Past interventions here have failed not only because they have not stabilized the political situation, but because they have brought more harm to civilians. Although this author advocates a mission with a broad mandate, his analysis implies that the AU must develop a clear plan for engagement that mitigates potential negative consequences before making AMISOM more robust.  (Al Jazeera)

U.N. Voices Concern on Child Soldiers in Somalia (June 16, 2010)

A presidential statement has signaled that the UN Security Council may move to create a new targeted sanctions regime. The regime would target groups committing serious human rights violations against children in conflict. In the meantime, there is evidence that the U.S.-backed Somali transitional government continues to use child soldiers. This evidence has called into question whether U.S. aid to Somalia contravenes international law. Nonetheless, child rights activists hailed the presidential statement as "the first step" to offering greater protection to children in armed conflict. Absent from reports was consideration of the effectiveness and legality of targeted sanctions. (New York Times)

Somali Warlord Hires German Mercenaries to Provide Security Services (May 25, 2010)

German private security contractor Asgaard is set to deploy over 100 mercenaries to Somalia to train the troops of warlord Abdinur Ahmed Darman. In response to the announced deal, German politicians have called for tighter regulation of private security contractors to prevent the privatization of violence. Asgaard tried to assuage fears over its engagement in combat by stressing that it will not act contrary to German interests. Nonetheless, the German Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry will conduct an investigation into Asgaard's deal with Darman, who does not recognize Somalia's UN-backed transitional government. (Spiegel)

Harsh War, Harsh Peace: abuses by al-Shabaab, the Transitional Federal Government, and AMISOM in Somalia (April 2010)

The situation in Somalia is dire: Al-Shabaab terrorizes civilians with repressive laws whilst US-backed Somali government troops and UN peacekeepers fire indiscriminately, with the consequence of further disrupting civilian life. The situation in Somalia needs rapid re-evaluation, states Human Rights Watch in this report. A set of twelve recommendations, addressed to varying parties, from UN Security Council to government of Kenya, asserts the need for tactical change in Somalia.  (Human Rights Watch)

Can Somaliland Cure Somalia's Woes (March 28, 2010)

Somalia is suffering on many fronts: violent conflict, radical Islamists, dire food shortage, chronic inflation and rising piracy. However, Somaliland - a de facto state and autonomous region in the North of Somalia - is relatively quiet and stable. Consequently, observers argue the region could help ease Somalia's troubles. Andrew Atta-Asamoah argues Somaliland could help stabilize Somalia in two key ways: provide an example of how peace and security can be achieved and use diplomatic soft-power to draw international attention to the Somali-crisis.  (The Media Line)

Somalia Food Aid Bypasses Needy, UN Study Says (March 9, 2010)

A recent Security Council report states that as much as half the food aid sent to Somalia is diverted from those in need, through a web of corrupt contractors, radical militants and UN staff members. The report suggests that Ban Ki-Moon open an investigation into the World Food Program's operation in Somalia. The report accuses one WFP-sub-contractor of hijacking his own trucks, to then profit from the reselling of the food.  (New York Times)

New Somalian Government Offensive Against Al-Shabab (February 8, 2010)

The European Union, France, Germany and Italy have been training Somali troops in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Uganda. Since January 2010, these troops have been returning to Somalia to support the weak transitional government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. The transitional government is planning an offensive against opposition Al-Shabab militias. While this development may generate some legitimacy for the fragile government, it is certain to create civilian casualties and exacerbate an already dire humanitarian crisis. (Christian Science Monitor)

 

UN Cuts Somalia Food Relief over Islamist Threat (January 5, 2010)

Following sustained attacks from al-Qaeda linked rebels in Southern Somalia, the World Food Programme (WFP) has declared that it is nearly impossible for them to deliver food and assistance to the one million people in need. (AFP)

 

2009

Assessing Somalia's Terror Threat

The media is paying increased attention to the "danger" of Somalia as a training ground for jihadists. "Is Somalia the new Afghanistan?" they ask.  Stoking the fears, Britain and the US both report an increased number of young people travelling to Somalia to join the al Shabaab movement and fight a 'holy war.' However, experts on Somalia suggest that the threat of terrorism emanating from Somalia is limited - this report outlines why. (ISN)

Somalia Jumps on Private Security Bandwagon (November 23, 2009)

As tensions in Somalia rise, the country's UN- backed government has hired a private US- based security company in an attempt to increase stability. The decision implies that the African Union peacekeeping force, AMISOM is not alone capable of dealing with the increasing number of attacks by Al Shabaab insurgents.  Security experts are wary of the complications that the presence of a US company may bring. They ask whether a private foreign company is capable of operating successfully in Somalia's highly ideological conflict, and they raise practical concerns regarding the wariness of Somalis towards a new US presence.(ISN Security Watch)

The Political Development of Somaliland and its Conflict with Puntland. (September 2009)

In 1991 Somaliland announced its independence from Somalia. Since then, it has established its own government and security forces, and achieved significant economic progress. In comparison with Somalia, Somaliland displays considerable peace and security. However, the world does not recognize Somaliland as an independent state (this would set a risky precedent for African politics). This paper argues that the world must accommodate Somaliland into the international system in order to allow it to progress. It also highlights steps Somaliland must take to avoid serious internal political divisions and resolve regional conflicts.(ISS)

Can Somalia be saved? (September 9, 2009)

Stability in Somalia is in the interest of the international community as well as of the Somali people. However, the US must tread carefully- not, dive headlong into the "fixing" the situation. Though US involvement is needed to ensure the Transitional Federal Government is not overrun, too much intervention may lead to more Somalia public support for the insurgents. The authors call for a more sensitive, quiet approach that gives careful consideration to the consequences of US military aid and humanitarian intervention. (The Christian Science Monitor)

In Somalia, Troops for Peace End up at War (August 29, 2009)

Western ships have illegally fished in Somali waters ever since the country lost its effective government and coastguard after the civil war in 1991. The 2006 US-backed Ethiopian invasion took away any possibility from the Somali authority to fight against illegal fishing. Furthermore, the UN protects P5 interests in exploiting unguarded waters, as the Security Council blocked an embargo on the exportation of fish taken from Somali waters. (Time)

How Somalia's Fisherman Became Pirates (April 18, 2009)

Western ships have illegally fished in Somali waters ever since the country lost its effective government and coastguard after the civil war in 1991. The 2006 US-backed Ethiopian invasion took away any possibility from the Somali authority to fight against illegal fishing. Furthermore, the UN protects P5 interests in exploiting unguarded waters, as the Security Council blocked an embargo on the exportation of fish taken from Somali waters. (Time)

Somali Piracy and International Response (February 2, 2009)

The Gulf of Aden is a strategic location for maritime trafficking, which is why powerful states want to tackle the problem of "piracy" along Somalia's coastline. This article states that Somali pirates, who call themselves "coastguards," have political motivation, which goes beyond the mere economic enrichment of a few. The Somali community, who is suffering from food shortages after 17 years of conflict, supports these former fishermen, as they challenge prevailing hierarchies of power and wealth. This article suggests that the international community cannot solve the piracy problem, without addressing the underlying realities of overfishing and toxic dumping by foreign vessels. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

UN and US Should Restore Somalia (January 27, 2009)

The root cause of Somali maritime piracy and other security problems is the lack of law and order in the country. The UN, the US and other Western country misdiagnose the Somali situation. The UN neglects Somalia by passing purely rhetorical resolutions and the US and other Western countries only fuel the Somali issue by sending warships and asking the Indian government to protect these vessels. The author of this article argues that because of the conflicting relationship between power centers within the country and the increase of piracy, therefore the UN should include more actors such as business community leaders, religious scholars and civil society to rebuild government authority throughout the whole country, rather than only focusing on the transitional government and the Alliance of Re-liberation of Somalia. (al Jazeera)

Somalia: Security Council to Strengthen African Force, Signals Eventual UN Deployment (January 16, 2009)

After a long period of international inaction the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the establishment of a UN peacekeeping force in Somalia. The Council hopes to establish a mandate in support of AMISOM, the African Union Mission to Somalia, to assist the flow of humanitarian aid, monitor a ceasefire and to secure Somalia's vulnerable population. (allAfrica)

Who Are to Count on for Somalia's Stability? (January 9, 2009)

The armed conflict in Somalia, which has been going on for more than 20 years, has involved many actors. Ethiopian troops, supported by the US, are withdrawing from Somalia after having been deployed in the country since 2006. The African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, consisting of 3,400 troops from Uganda and Burundi, are insufficiently equipped to deal with the Somali issue and are left to handle the crisis alone. The AU is calling for more international support for its peacekeeping force, which the UN cannot provide because the US and other P5 members are unwilling to give financial support and troops. (People Daily)

2008

Global News: Somali Piracy (December 1, 2008)

For years, foreign companies illegally fished and dumped toxic waste in Somalia's coastal waters, but the government did nothing to halt these activities. Originally, Somali pirates were armed fishermen who operated as unofficial coastguards to prevent foreign companies from this unlawful behavior. The author of this article argues that the nature of piracy changed when the Somali Transitional Federal Government itself became involved in acts of piracy. (Black Star News)

A New Approach to Bringing Order in Somalia (August 18, 2008)

Armed conflict between the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and rebel groups has left Somalia in a constant state of war. The TFG, created to bring peace through a centralized top-down approach, has failed. This International Herald Tribune
article argues that the TFG must decentralize political power to allow the Somali people to rebuild the country from the bottom up. In order to achieve a lasting peace, Somalia, a country sharply divided along clan lines, must localize government structures.

External Factors and the Prospect of Peace in Somalia (August 7, 2008)

The peace agreement between Somalia's interim government and the main opposition group has failed due to external factors. This Media Monitors Network article argues that the presence of Ethiopian troops on Somali territory, seen by Somalia's opposition as an occupation force, are fueling conflict. And Eritrea, Ethiopia's greatest rival, continues to support Somali rebels in order to undermine the peace process and discredit Ethiopia's role as a peacekeeper in Somalia.

Somalia: Prolonging the Agony (July 29, 2008)

The Djibouti peace accord, signed between the Somali government and the main opposition faction, is falling apart as violent clashes continue. The new head of the rebel coalition, Sheik Hassan Aweys, resists the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force, which he fears would support the government. Many Somali citizens, seeking peace also reject a UN force and demand that the Ethiopian troops currently backing the government withdraw. (International Relations and Security Network)

Security Council Urged to Deploy Stabilization Force in Somalia (July 23, 2008)

The Djibouti Agreement, signed in June 2008 by the Somali government and rebel groups, sought to end the country's 17-year-old internal war, but armed clashes continue. Ali Ahmed Jama Jengeli, Somalia's Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, warns of the dire humanitarian needs of the more than 800,000 people displaced by the conflict. He urges the Security Council to ensure peace and security in Somalia by deploying an international peace and stabilization force. (ReliefWeb)

Somalia: Will Djibouti Do the Trick? (July 5, 2008)

Despite a peace agreement between the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the moderate minority from the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia rebel group, peace remains unlikely. The author warns that the agreement shows no real prospect of ending conflict because the Somali government and the UN excluded the al-Shabaab militant group and key members of the Union of Islamic Courts from the peace negotiations. The article urges the UN to restart the peace talks, but this time to include all the groups involved. (International Crisis Group)

UN Sanctions Action Against Pirates (July 1, 2008)

The UN Security Council has allowed countries co-operating with the Somali Transitional Federal Government the right to enter Somalia's territorial waters and use "all means necessary" to repress acts of piracy. For the past two years, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has worked to draw the Security Council's attention to the matter of increased piracy and armed robbery in Somalia's coastal waters. The six-month resolution only applies to the situation in Somalia and affirms that cooperating states do not have the right to deny innocent passengers to the ships of any third state. (allAfrica)

Lost Opportunities in the Horn of Africa: How Conflicts Connect and Peace Agreements Unravel (June 23, 2008)

This Chatham House report argues that instead of handling each conflict separately, the UN and the African Union (AU) should deal with the Horn of Africa as if it were a "Regional Security Complex." The report urges the UN and AU to cooperate with local religious and civil society leaders to better integrate peacekeeping efforts in the region. By doing so, policymakers can further political and economic integration in the Horn region and avoid basing their efforts on richer countries' agendas.

Somalia: Business as Usual (June 19, 2008)

In order to declare victory in the Djibouti peace talks, the Somali government and opposition factions signed the UN-brokered peace agreement despite the document's ambiguity on key issues. The Somali government claims the text does not directly demand the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops. The opposition, however, insists that UN forces replace the Ethiopian troops within 120 days of the signing. Meanwhile, Ethiopian forces, which did not sign the accord, are still clashing with non-signatory rebel groups. (International Relations and Security Network)

Somalia: Cautious Welcome for UN-Brokered Peace Deal (June 10, 2008)

Somali opposition leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys rejects a UN-backed three-month ceasefire deal signed by Somalia's transitional government and rebel groups. Aweys claims that the "war will continue until Somalia is liberated from the Ethiopian troops." The agreement demands a withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somali territory, but Ethiopian forces will only leave once the UN deploys a peacekeeping force. UN and the African Union troop deployments are falling short, though, and so far, only Uganda and Burundi have sent troops to Somalia. (allAfrica)

UN Peace Mission Tackles Somalia (June 2, 2008)

Members of the Security Council met with representatives of the Transitional Federal Government and opposition groups during a visiting mission to Djibouti. Council members hope to initiate direct peace talks between the various Somali groups. This BBC article suggests that the mission will be ultimately unsuccessful unless US-backed Ethiopian troops withdraw from Somalia, and the government includes opposition group Al-Shabab in the peace talks.

UN Experts Report Flourishing Illegal Arms Trade in Somalia Involving Governments and Traders (May 23, 2008)

A UN Monitoring Group investigating the violation of the 1992 UN arms embargo, reports that Ethiopian forces in Somalia are fueling the illegal arms trade by importing military equipment to help arm pro-government militias. South Africa's UN Ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo said, that both states and private traders were suppliers of military equipment and that warlords, militants and businesses were among the recipients. The Monitoring Group stated that corruption in the Somali government, in addition to the presence of Ethiopian troops, makes it difficult for the UN peacekeepers to track the sale and purchase of illegal weapons. (International Herald Tribune)

Security Council Planning for UN Peacekeepers in Somalia (May 15, 2008)

Members of the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a Resolution to replace African Union troops (AMISOM) in Somalia with UN peacekeepers. The Resolution asks the Secretary General to plan for a peacekeeping mission for the country, only if security conditions on the ground improve. The Security Council also recommends that the UN political office for Somalia move from Nairobi to Mogadishu, and urges UN member states to enforce an arms embargo against the country. (New York Times)

Somalia's Government Teeters on Collapse (March 29, 2008)

The UN-backed Transitional Federal Government in Somalia has urged the United Nations to provide extra funding and peacekeeping troops to strengthen its tenuous grip on power. The New York Times notes that Somalia remains "the most dangerous in the world for aid workers," and that war, displacement and high food prices have left the country on the brink of severe famine.

Somalia is Worst Humanitarian Crisis, UN Official (January 30, 2008)

Somalia is the "most pressing humanitarian emergency in the world – even worse than Darfur", according to UNHCR representative Guillermo Bettocchi. Ongoing fighting between allied Somali-Ethiopian troops and opposing groups has caused endemic instability within the country, with over one million people internally displaced. The violence has also limited the distribution of aid and furthered attacks on NGO workers. With over 15% of the population described as "acutely malnourished," Bettocchi calls upon UN member states to pressure all actors in Somalia to find a political solution to the violence. (AlertNet)

2007

UN Envoy Calls on Saudi Arabia to Play a Leading Role in Bringing Peace to Somalia (December 18, 2007)

UN envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has proposed a "two-track" peace plan to the UN Security Council. The plan consists of "immediate and effective action on the political and security fronts." Abdallah stressed the importance of talks between the transitional government and the opposition towards a nationaly united government. He also wants reinforcement from the African Union force, mainly with the help of neighboring Saudi Arabia, before the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission. (Associated Press)

Somali Insurgency to Intensify (December 16, 2007)

The military wing of Somalia's Islamist movement, al-Shabab, continues to strike against the government and Ethiopian troops. The movement has been attacking the moderate Muslim government, and wants to rule Somalia under sharia law. Al-Shabab also wants an Ethiopian withdrawal from Somalia. (Reuters)

Concerned at Conditions in Somalia, Security Council Urges End to Violence (November 19, 2007)

In spite of a "deteriorating political, security and humanitarian situation in Somalia," the Security Council hasn't sent a UN peacekeeping mission because Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over the mission's viability. Council members recognized the need for an increase of support to the African Union Mission (AMISOM). The Council also expressed support of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), the UN's mediation efforts and enhanced international assistance. (UN News)

UN Envoy Lauds Peaceful End to Crisis Within Somali Transitional Government (October 30, 2007)

Somalia, a country in the Horn of Africa, suffers from a humanitarian crisis and security deterioration. Neighboring Ethiopia's conflict between its troops and insurgencies perpetuates the crisis. Since Muhammad Siad Barre's regime ended in 1991, the country has been lacking a functional central government. The situation has deteriorated due to political tensions among its government parties. United Nations special envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, asked the Transitional Federal Government to overcome internal political differences and reach peaceful solutions. (UN News)

New Somali Alliance Threatens War (September 12, 2007)

The created Alliance for the Liberation of Somalia, organized a meeting in Eritrea to discuss Somali liberation and the removal of Ethiopian troops. Its aim is "to remove the Ethiopian-backed government by negotiation - or war." One of the 300 delegates present, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, offered his support for the ALS and a free Somalia. Ethiopia promises to withdraw when African Union peacekeepers arrive in Mogadishu. (BBC)

Somalia: Africa Insight – Why Talk in Hotels Won't Yield Long Term Peace (September 7, 2007)

This article pleads for better understanding of the crisis in Somalia before further intervention takes place. The author writes that a new Somalia with a united government is possible, but success must emerge from internal processes and not external pressure. It's likely, though, that outsiders will continue to be aggressively involved. The United States has had special forces operating in the country and considers it a major site for the "war on terror." Somalia's neighbor, Ethiopia has a large military presence in Somalia that has given rise to more violence. The UN Security Council, under pressure from the US and the UK, authorized a peacekeeping mission that has not yet been implemented. (Nation-Nairobi)

UN Faces Calls for Action in Somalia (August 15, 2007)

Somali officials and NGOs such as Human Rights Watch are asking to the UN Security Council to address the increasing violence between Islamic insurgents, clan-based militias, the Transitional government and its Ethiopian backers. They ask the Security Council to reinforce the AU troops already present in Mogadishu. However, the Security Council says it will not authorize a peacekeeping mission until all parties engage in a genuine political process of national reconciliation. And, clan-based conferences such as the one in July 2007 will not suffice unless they include the Islamists. (Christian Science Monitor)

Shell-Shocked: Civilians Under Siege in Mogadishu (August 2007)

This Human Rights Watch report describes how both US-backed Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian forces, and Islamic insurgent groups, have committed war crimes in battling each other. In March 2007, Ethiopia indiscriminately bombed densely populated Mogadishu neighborhoods and attacked hospitals, and insurgents deployed into the same residential areas. The report calls on the UN Security Council, US and EU supporters of the TFG and Ethiopia to condemn these crimes and to ensure that abuse of civilians stops immediately, by ending impunity and promoting accountability.

Somalia: Will Peace Hold After National Summit? (July 31, 2007)

Delegates from the Dir, Darood, Hawiye and Digil/Mirifle clans, and the coalition of smaller Somali clans, met in Mogadishu in a move towards reconciliation and the eventual creation of a government. Among other issues, the clans discussed the separation of politics and religion, and especially the future role of Islam in Somalia. (East African)

Somalia Awash in Illegal Weapons, UN Monitors Say (July 26, 2007)

The UN's Monitoring Group on Somalia revealed that Eritrea smuggles SA-18 surface-to-air missiles, suicide belts, explosives and detonators to the Somali Islamic insurgent group Shabab, in violation of an international arms embargo. The report suggested that these violations signify the spread of the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict into Somalia and also questioned what the US refers to as its "counter-terrorism" efforts in Somalia, which include air strikes and support of Ethiopia. (Associated Press)

Somalia's Compromised National Reconciliation Conference (July 19, 2007)

President of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TNC) Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed arranged for clan-based, rather than political-party-based, representation at the Somali National Reconciliation Conference (NRC). This approach will likely perpetuate rather than reconcile political differences in Somalia, allowing Yusuf to retain power. Yusuf's power-hungry tactics put the UN Security Council, US and EU in a bind as they fully supported his government when it ousted the Islamic Union of Courts in December 2006. (Power and Interest News Report)

UN Unveils Contingency Plan for Peacekeepers in Somalia (June 29, 2007)

In a report to the Security Council, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon hinted at plans to replace the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISON) with UN peacekeepers. The UN peacekeeping operation would promote national reconciliation and stabilization rather than bolster the US and Ethiopia-backed Transitional Government in Baidoa. Preferably, the parties involved would sign a peace agreement or ceasefire that ends hostilities and enshrines a formal acceptance of a UN presence. These parties include 50,000 to 70,000 clan militia and radical armed groups. (Inter Press Service)

Somali PM Wants UN Peacekeepers (June 29, 2007)

Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi appealed to the UN Security Council to take over for the African Union (AU) mission in Somalia, which currently operates at only 1,600 out of 8,000 proposed troops. But the UN declined to commit peacekeepers and focused on the reconciliation summit scheduled for July 2007. Outgoing UK Ambassador to the UN Emyr Jones Parry pointed out that "you can't put peacekeeping troops in if there's no peace to keep." (BBC)

UN Urges Attention to Somalia (May 22, 2007)

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes pushed for both Somali leaders and world governments not to underestimate the desperate humanitarian situation in the country, which he considers one of the most serious in the world. Holmes claimed that fighting from March 12 to April 26 killed 1,670 people and caused around 400,000 to flee Mogadishu. Holmes also relays that Somali civil society worries that the UN has effectively abandoned Somalia's cause.(Associated Press)

Somalia Looks to Include Islamists in Reconciliation (May 20, 2007)

Mail&Guardian reports that Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf is allowing members of the ousted Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) to participate in the country's upcoming reconciliation conference as long as "they are selected by their clans and renounce violence." Italian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Patrizia Sentinelli says that Yusuf has promised that choosing delegates from the UIC will be done in a "fair manner."

Somalia – "A Depressing Project" (May 15, 2007)

The US alleges that its main goals for Somalia are to provide humanitarian aid, to "establish effective government" in the country and "to prevent Somalia from becoming a terrorist haven." The BBC reports that Ethiopia is unlikely to want to withdraw its troops from Somalia until it is certain that the Union of Islamic Courts will not come back to power.

Ethiopia Warned on Somali Pullout (May 15, 2007)

Continued Ethiopian troop presence in Somalia may "block political dialogue," but withdrawal before the arrival of African Union peacekeepers would be catastrophic, warns AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi announces that he wants to lift the onerous financial burden of having his troops in Somalia, and hopes that African countries that have pledged troops to the mission will keep their promises. (BBC)

Somalia: The Hidden War for Oil (May 7, 2007)

This Pambazuka article asserts that contrary to mainstream media reporting, the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia would not have taken place without US support. It highlights the problem that Ethiopia was not prepared for the aftermath of the invasion, where growing insurgency against the Transitional Federal Government has delayed Ethiopian troop withdrawal. Among other things, the author makes the link between the invasion and the allocation of Somali oil fields to US oil companies.

Getting Ethiopia out of Somalia (May 3, 2007)

The US-backed Ethiopian presence in Somalia, which overthrew the Union of Islamic Courts and helped the clan-based Transitional Federal Government regain power, has provoked more resistance from some minor clans, business groups and Islamists, and escalated violence. The article voices Somali fears that Ethiopia plans to balkanize their country into clan based regions in order to gain access to the sea. It also highlights the problem that the Transitional Federal Government has decided to exclude even more individuals and groups than before, which will lead to further destabilization. (Boston Globe)

Row Over Aid to Fleeing Somalis (April 25, 2007)

The BBC reports that the Transitional Federal Government is hampering humanitarian aid efforts aimed at those displaced from Mogadishu, by demanding to inspect all shipments into the country among other administrative obstacles. UN, EU and US diplomats in the region have all appealed to the government to stop complicating aid delivery. In a meeting with  John Holmes, the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, the Somali government promised to make changes in receiving foreign aid.

UN Warns Against Military Solution in Somalia (April 21, 2007)

A UN report on Somalia calls on the international community to support, financially and logistically, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). This will allow the mission to fully deploy and Ethiopian troops to withdraw. The report also warns that military intervention by regional actors is likely to cause tension between clans with different loyalties and hinder the reconciliation process in the long-term. (Agence France Presse)

Blame Game Over Somali Conflict (April 13, 2007)

At a regional meeting in Nairobi, Ethiopian officials blame Eritrea for undermining Somalia's Transitional Federal Government and accuse Eritrea of being "actively involved in terrorism" in the region. Eritrea asserts that the Ethiopian invasion has not brought peace, stability or democracy to Somalia. Many feel that the fighting in the country reflects a proxy war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. 1,400 Ugandan peacekeeping troops were deployed in March in Somalia, and Burundi has agreed to contribute to the mission of the African Union. The AU mission deplores the fact that logistical and financial support promised to the peacekeepers by donors has not arrived. (News24)

UN Envoy Calls for Political Solution to Conflict in Somalia (April 13, 2007)

United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative for Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, says that peace in Somalia depends on reconciliation through "an inclusive dialogue." He urges the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional development organization made up of seven African countries, to continue supporting the African Union in its deployment of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and also stresses the importance of the co-operation of the AU, the IGAD, the League of Arab States and the UN in achieving political settlement in Somalia. (Xinhua)

US-Made Mess in Somalia (April 9, 2007)

Ivan Eland, Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute writes that the unfounded US belief that Somalia would become a haven for terrorists, led it to support unpopular warlords in the country. This gave rise to Somali support for the radical Islamist movement where there was none before. Eland sees the same pattern of US counter-productive intervention in Afghanistan in the 80s and in Iraq, and warns that the unpopularity and weakness of the US-backed Transitional Federal Government may lead to resurgence of the Islamists in the future.

North Koreans Arm Ethiopians as US Assents (April 7, 2007)

Shortly after successfully pushing for the imposition of strict UN sanctions against Pyongyang, the US allowed Ethiopia to purchase arms from North Korea, in violation of the UN ban. According to the New York Times, the US allowed the deal to take place, because it sees Ethiopia's intervention against the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia as being part of the "war on terror."

Somalia: What Peace Are They Keeping? (April 6, 2007)

This article looks at the stabilizing role the Islamic Courts played in the traditionally clan-based political structures in Somalia. However, the Courts' regional ambitions, coupled with the US suspicion that the Courts were involved with terrorist organizations, led to a US-backed Ethiopian intervention and the fall of the Courts in December 2006. While insisting on the need to replace Ethiopian troops in Somalia, the article questions whether Somalis will consider African Union troops more neutral, as they may seem to bolster the deeply unpopular Transitional Federal Government. (Nation-Nairobi)

Somalia Has Best Chance in Years for Peace (March 2, 2007)

UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Eric Laroche feels that the country has reached a turning point in its long conflict, but says that a minimum presence of 8,000 foreign troops in the region is necessary to stave off further violence. Laroche adds that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has a "kind of representativeness" that the warlords did not when they were in power and that Somalis back significantly the TFG. (Reuters)

UN Council Considers Somalia Mission Resolution (February 12, 2007)

The UN Security Council considers a British-drafted resolution to authorize an African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission to take "all necessary measures" to restore security, support the government and assist with humanitarian aid. The draft resolution also lifts a 1992 arms embargo and allows the import of weapons to be used by the AU force only. The AU force will replace the Ethiopian troops stationed in the region since the ousting of the Union of Islamic courts. (Reuters)

There and Back Again in Somalia (February 11, 2007)

This Middle East Report Online article follows the events in Somalia since 2004 when the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was formed. The ensuing power struggle between the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and the TFG has had cross boundary involvement, with Ethiopia, Eritrea and the US playing main roles in the conflict. Following the collapse of the UIC in December 2006, the article assesses the TFG's challenges in promoting dialogue towards a more inclusive government, deployment of an African Union peacekeeping force (AMISOM) to replace departing Ethiopian forces; and strengthening of the TFG's capacity to govern.

Oil in Darfur? Special Ops in Somalia? (February 7, 2007)

This Global Research article discusses the concept of humanitarian intervention and the different actors involved – as well as their associated motivations – in pushing for intervention. In the case of Darfur, the author argues that a complex web including corporations, nongovernmental organizations and Western media outlets are all complicit in pushing governments to act to "save" the victims of the crisis. However, the article maintains that the motivation behind such intervention ultimately comes down to access and control of natural resources.

Somalia in the Crosshairs (February 1, 2007)

Following the collapse of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), power in south-central Somalia is returning to warlords due to the weakness of the Transitional Federal Government. Right Web suggests that the US disproportionate use of force in seeking out terrorists has only bred more violence in the region and that by ousting the UIC, Washington has removed a legitimate political actor whose financial and political backing would have been fundamental in rebuilding the country.

Somalia (February 2007)

This article from Le Monde diplomatique argues that US involvement in Somalia now represents a third front in the Bush administration's "war on terror." The author claims that one of the reasons behind US President George W. Bush's decision to encourage Ethiopia to send forces into Mogadishu was that the former Somali government – the Union of Islamic Courts – was allegedly receiving funds from Iran.

US Air Strikes in Somalia Condemned for Killing Innocent Civilians (January 21, 2007)

Human rights organizations have highly criticized the US for air strikes on Somalia. International humanitarian law prohibits attacks on civilians as well as attacks that do not distinguish between military targets and civilians. According to Oxfam, the raids killed 70 civilian herdsmen. Amnesty International questions whether the US forces took the necessary precautions to distinguish between civilians and combatants in choosing their means of attack. (OneWorld)

Somalia: UN Calls for Immediate Re-Engagement (January 18, 2007)

Following the collapse of the Islamic Courts, the UN urges the international community to re-engage in Somalia. UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche, asks for immediate support in order to take advantage of "a momentum for reconciliation" in the country. Mogadishu welcomes the UN's call, saying that UN presence would contribute to stability and reconciliation and would help the economy. Meanwhile, Hassan Sheikh Adan, speaker of the Somali transitional parliament, has been removed for his clash with the President and Prime Minister over his efforts to broker peace with the Union of Islamic Courts. Members of civil society in Somalia are worried that the move will create more divisions in the state at a time when the government is fragile. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

The Collapse of the Islamic Courts (January 17, 2007)

Following the collapse of the Islamic Courts, the Transitional Federal Government has taken control of Somalia with US and Ethiopian backing. This Pambazuka article identifies and analyzes the factors that the TFG's survival depends on - control of the warlords from different factions, disarming of the Somali militias, relations with the defeated Islamists, future actions taken by the TFG and the world's response to them.

Could African Peacekeepers Tame Somalia? (January 10, 2007)

More than ten years ago, UN peacekeeping operations and US "humanitarian intervention" failed to stabilize Somalia following the 1991 ouster of President Mohamed Siad Barre. In light of escalating violence in the country between the Ethiopian-backed transitional government's troops and Union of Islamic Courts fighters, some diplomats advocate an "African solution to African problems." But analysts call such a mission unrealistic, as African forces remain under-funded, ill-equipped and overstretched in the continent's other volatile regions. (AlertNet)

Somalia: New Hotbed of Anti-Americanism (January 3, 2007)

The US-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia has led to an increase of "anti-American" sentiment in the region, argues this Global Research article. The author claims that many Somalis – especially supporters of the United Islamic Courts (UIC) which controlled Mogadishu prior to the invasion – believe Ethiopia is acting at the behest of Washington. The article concludes that the Bush administration believed that toppling the UIC was essential to its "war on terrorism" because the Islamic government threatened US regional interests.

 

 

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