News / Africa

High Hopes, Tempered Expectations for International Somalia Conference

A soldier in the African Union Mission in Somalia takes his position during fighting between Islamists and government forces, in southern Mogadishu, February 14, 2012.
A soldier in the African Union Mission in Somalia takes his position during fighting between Islamists and government forces, in southern Mogadishu, February 14, 2012.
Ivan Broadhead

British Prime Minister David Cameron is preparing to host 40 world leaders Thursday in London to discuss how best to foster stability in Somalia.  It will be the first time in a decade that the international community will collectively focus on ways to end Somalia’s 21 years of chaos and conflict and rebuild the devastated country.  But while the international community might have high hopes, expectations are more tempered among the Somali people.

Despite the ongoing strife, now in its third decade, life in Mogadishu is stabilizing. In terms of security, the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) continues to push the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, further from the city.

On the political front, at a meeting in Garowe, in Puntland, last weekend, ministers and international observers agreed to a timetable for the establishment of a new government by August.

Before departing for the London talks, the head of Somalia’s seven-year-old transitional federal government (TFG), President Sheikh Sharif Shiekh Ahmed, confessed he was surprised when the British government announced its plan to hold this week’s conference.  He spoke through a translator. “I see it as a window of opportunity. The international community has finally seen where the problems lie and we will finally get a comprehensive solution," he said.

President Sharif reflected on why these talks might succeed where numerous others have failed in the past. “For every conference in the past, it has been said it is the last chance for Somalia.  But the Somali people are strong.  They want to live in peace ... we have made progress that can be built on," he said.

World leaders set to attend the London conference include French President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.   

The British have identified four areas they hope the international community can assist the long-failed state: social and political capacity building, military security, and sustaining the humanitarian effort amid the ongoing drought on the Horn of Africa.  They may also discuss Somali piracy, which costs the global economy an estimated $7 billion a year.   

While grateful to Britain for putting Somalia back on the political agenda, President Ahmed, without being explicit, suggested Somalia has been a low priority for the international community, unlike Afghanistan and Iraq. “Of course the Somali people have to have ownership of their own issues.  But if you look at any country where there has been a failure in the system, the international community has come to their aid," he said.

Mogadishu might feel safer today than at any time in the last two decades.  But despite its retreat from the city in August of last year, al-Shabab has begun an intensive bombing campaign.

Sources say the Islamist insurgents detonate an average of six improvised explosive devices detonate each day.

Many local leaders hope the London conference will mean AMISOM will be given helicopters and planes to attack al-Shabab, a strategy Kenya is successfully adopting in the south of the country.

Dayib Hussein, is wearing the shirt of London football club Chelsea, but like many people on the streets of Mogadishu, he has no knowledge of the talks that will take place in his team’s home city.  His wife does know about the talks, and says she wants the conference to supply more resources to defeat al-Shabab and bring some kind of normalcy to the city.  The Hussein's two year old son was injured by an al-Shabab car bomb a week ago.

You May Like

Multimedia Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid