A new report makes recommendations on
what the international community should do to help bring peace to Somalia.
Beyond Piracy: Next Steps to Stabilize Somalia is published by the Enough
Project, part of Center for American Progress in Washington.
report finds piracy to be the "lowest order of threat" to Somalia, the region
and the United States. Davidson College political science professor Ken
Menkhaus is one of the authors.
clearly a second order threat compared to the main security issue in Somalia,
which is the state of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the status
of the Shabaab insurgency and the growing al-Qaida presence in support of
Shabaab. That's really of much greater long-term importance both to the
Somalis, to the United States and to the region than piracy is," he says.
says the piracy problem should be addressed, but adds, "If it's privileged in
US policy or global policy, it could come at a cost of a more coherent strategy
toward that first order threat, which is the increased al-Qaida activities and
Shabaab's continued strength in southern Somalia."
ENOUGH Project report makes a number of recommendations to improve security,
such as supporting local efforts.
Somalis can do that. They have done that… It's important not to address the
security needs of the Transitional Federal Government as something that has to
become a ward of the international community. The international community can
provide support, but this has to be locally owned and it has to be primarily
locally funded if it's going to work," he says.
al-Qaida and al Shabaab are on the US terrorist list, how does the United
States address that issue in Somalia? Menkhaus says, "I think the key here is
how we define Shabaab. Shabaab is not an organization in which you are a hard
and fast member. This is more of a Somali dynamic where there are concentric
circles of affiliation. And I think some flexibility on the part of the United
States and other external actors as to how a terrorist organization and how
individuals are defined is very important."
in affiliation and loyalties can happen among the various groups in Somalia.
Menkhaus says, "There are lots and lots of people who have re-hatted themselves
in Somalia in various ways, including Shabaab (members), who in fact are not
indoctrinated into hardcore jihadist ideologies. They can be brought into this
broader Transitional Federal Government. They should be."
agrees with the current approach of the TFG to reach out to the many different
groups in Somalia. But he says there should be certain conditions if they join
with the TFG.
obviously cannot be making the territorial claims on neighbors. They have to
respect the security of neighboring states and not be interested in harboring
foreign al-Qaida terrorists," he says.
report also calls for an end to impunity by supporting Somali efforts to seek
justice for war crimes.
crimes in Somalia have been a plague for 20 years. The past two years have been
especially brutal. And of course there are many potentially culpable parties to
that, including the old transitional federal government, including the
insurgents, including the Ethiopian occupying forces…that all has to be looked
at. Ultimately, the dispensation of war criminals is a matter for the Somali
people to decide," he says.
report recommends international support for Somali efforts at transition and
good governance. Menkhaus says, "This is one of the things that the
international community in general can do and has to do in a supporting role in
Somalia. Transitions are very difficult things to achieve. We have a lot of
experience internationally with transitional governments from Congo to a host
of other places. And we can bring that expertise to the Somalis."
He says Somalis must remember the
"principle task" of the TFG is to, among other things, write a new constitution
to ensure Somalia has a legitimate government.