Professor David Shinn of George Washington University in Washington says the new UN resolution endorsing a peacekeeping force on Somalia has positives and negatives. But he says negatives outweigh the positives.
“It’s a very carefully written resolution. It tries to strictly limit the force that would be sent into Somalia to do two things -- to protect the transitional federal government at its headquarters in Baidoa and to train transitional federal government (TFG) security forces. The most positive aspect of it is the goal seems to be to bring the Islamic Courts (Union) to the negotiating table,” he says.
On the negative side, Shinn says, “It’s not clear who will comprise this force, other than the fact that it will not be neighboring countries – Ethiopia, Kenya or Djibouti. As far as I know, the only country that’s volunteered for it so far is Uganda. It’s also not clear whether the force will be able to confine actions to the protection of the TFG in Baidoa and the training function. And the creation of the force, if it happens and I have some question about that, may be a disincentive for the transitional federal government to negotiate seriously. And then finally, it doesn’t really deal with the issue of the existing foreign forces that are now in Somalia. That is, those from Ethiopia, Eritrea and jihadists from the Middle East and South Asia, except to say that it will create conditions for them to leave.”
The G.W. University professor adds, “On balance, I think the resolution does more harm than good. There’s a lot of nice rhetoric in the resolution, but I’m not sure it matches the reality on the ground. Although I do support the basic concept of what it’s trying to do. And that is to get both parties back to the negotiating table.”
He says that one of the problems is what’s left of the divided TFG and whether it has any real security forces to train. Shinn does say that the United States and other nations have legitimate concerns about some elements of the Islamic Courts Union having contacts with Al Qaida.