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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Say what? UN to assess security in Somalia

Before sending peacekeepers, the UN wants to make sure where things stand, as reported here:
The United Nations is sending a security team to Somalia later this week to meet Islamic leaders who control the capital, Mogadishu.
It will be the first formal contact between UN officials and the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia since the union captured much of south Somalia.

Earlier, the African Union agreed to send a separate team to assess the possibility of deploying peacekeepers.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991.

The deployment of any peacekeepers would require the UN to lift its arms embargo on Somalia.

The Islamic Courts fiercely oppose the idea and last week held large protests against peacekeepers. (emphasis added)
Let's see--what are some synonyms for "cannon fodder?" Part of the cause of the 15 year period of Somali chaos was the UN "cut and run" in 1995. Some history:
The regime of Mohamed SIAD Barre was ousted in January 1991; turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy have followed in the years since. In May of 1991, northern clans declared an independent Republic of Somaliland that now includes the administrative regions of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool. Although not recognized by any government, this entity has maintained a stable existence, aided by the overwhelming dominance of a ruling clan and economic infrastructure left behind by British, Russian, and American military assistance programs. The regions of Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug comprise a neighboring self-declared autonomous state of Puntland, which has been self-governing since 1998, but does not aim at independence; it has also made strides toward reconstructing a legitimate, representative government, but has suffered some civil strife. Puntland disputes its border with Somaliland as it also claims portions of eastern Sool and Sanaag. Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in the south) was able to alleviate famine conditions, but when the UN withdrew in 1995, having suffered significant casualties, order still had not been restored.
The Somalis can't get along internally and don't much like anyone else, either.

While the UN studies,
Tension is high in Somalia, after the Islamists said Ethiopian troops had crossed the border - a claim the Ethiopians have denied.

UN envoy Mr Fall said that there were reports of troop movements on both sides of the Ethiopian border.

"There's a risk that if they [Islamist militias] move close to the border, the Ethiopians might react," he said.

Ethiopia has been mentioned as one of the countries that could send peacekeepers to Somalia, but Ethiopia is deeply distrusted by some Somalis.
And, by the way, they hate the U.S.

UPDATE: I just don't think peace will be flowing like a river in Somalia any time soon--see here and here:
Mogadishu was recently taken over by a Somali teacher, Sheikh Shariff Ahmed, now the chairman of the Union of Islamic Courts. While this group may now be in charge in Mogadishu, the war is far from over as there appears to be fears that the fighting could degenerate into internecine warfare, long the bane of Somalia.
And Austin Bay's gloomy outlook here:
Clans dominate Somali life and politics, which means even in the best of times Somalia is a country constantly grappling with divisive factional and regional interests. Somalia's U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is weak -- wracked by corruption and sapped by political infighting among clan leaders with designs on national leadership. The ICU bills itself as a multi-clan organization, with Islam the common denominator, but like the TFG it has internal factions with divisions that are tough to bridge.

The clerics atop the ICU now deny any affiliation with al-Qaida. They have, however, displayed Taliban tendencies. The clerics banned World Cup soccer "watching parties" and cut off electricity to theaters showing the games. They have ordered Somali women to wear veils.
In the long run, regional stabilization will help Somalia -- but in the short run, Somalia will remain a chaotic battlefield. The United States and Islamo-fascist terrorists will continue to square off through proxies. Neighboring nations like Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya will pursue their own interests by backing favored Somali clans and leaders with money and arms. Ethiopian troops (already inside Somalia) may masquerade as African Union peacekeepers. In January, the African Union discussed sending troops to Somalia. Its abysmal peacekeeping record in Darfur damns itself.
In short, the wheel is still very much in spin.

UPDATE: 6/21/06 The Somali leaders holding talks? Reported here.

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