With the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government now in control in Somalia, when will a peacekeeping force be ready for deployment and who will it include?
Dr. David Shinn of George Washington University, former ambassador to Ethiopia, spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the problems facing a peacekeeping force.
“The problem with putting together a peacekeeping force is that even in the best of circumstances, assuming that you have countries that are able and willing to contribute troops, it just takes a considerable amount of time to get them placed in Mogadishu. And when you’re doing this with African countries, particularly, they usually don’t have the (air) lift capacity to get them there. So that means identifying someone who does in order to move them…and to the best of my knowledge the only offer so far is 1,000 troops from Uganda, but I’m not sure that it’s a firm commitment yet,” he says.
Shinn says 1,000 soldiers are not adequate to deal with Mogadishu, let alone the rest of the country.
Prior to the Ethiopian military offensive, many considered the Somali Transitional Federal Government to be extremely weak. Shinn says, “It’s still weak. It succeeded clearly with the muscle of the professional Ethiopian troops behind it. I think it’s gotten stronger in the sense that Somalis tend to want to go with who they perceive to be a winner. And they clearly perceived that the Islamic Courts were not going to be a winner. There were a lot of Somalis who were fair weather friends, who just basically abandoned them. And in a sense that kind of indirectly strengthened the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).”
But the former ambassador says the TFG still needs to win the support of the powerful clan based in Mogadishu and convince it and other clans they are part of the political process.
Shinn says Ethiopia would probably like to pull its forces out of Somalia as soon as possible, but that may depend on the security and strength of the TFG.