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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs