News / Africa

No Easy Solution for Peace in Somalia

In Somalia, militant Islamist threats last month to launch a final war against the United Nations-backed government in Mogadishu have been followed by renewed fighting that has killed hundreds more in the besieged city. Questions are being raised as to whether the transitional government and its international backers have a plan and are moving toward a solution that could help end the conflict.

Last week, following a brief visit to Mogadishu, the U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe expressed confidence that Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, through the support of the international community, will find a way to establish security and begin the task of uniting Somalis against al-Shabab, a militant al-Qaida-linked group that has vowed to seize the whole of the country.

"We just had a very good talk with the AU [African Union] and IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development] representatives on the coordination of strategy, on making sure that the funds and things that we have been talking about going to the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] to support their programs are getting there. The government is still reaching out," said Pascoe. "In the face of all of the negative reports - how everything is failing, how things are terrible, how the government is too weak - in fact, I think the people need to look more carefully at the underlying trends and see where they are going."

Many observers in and outside Somalia say the trend they see is far more bleak - a continuing bloody stalemate in the capital with neither the government nor al-Shabab, being able to prevail over the other.

International Crisis Group analyst E. J. Hogendoorn says that is because the international community is largely responding to the al-Shabab threat militarily rather than politically. The United Nations and the United States, which supports the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia known as AMISOM, have been encouraging African states to join Uganda and Burundi in sending troops to Somalia to protect the government from insurgent attacks.

"I think, to some degree, military force to weaken al-Shabab is not a bad thing. But military force needs to be used to further a political strategy," said Hogendoorn. "Just increasing the size of AMISOM without a consensual strategy among the international community as to how to stabilize Somalia is not going to achieve anything."

Hogendoorn and other analysts have expressed dismay at the dismal progress being made to reform the transitional government, which, since its birth in 2004 in neighboring Kenya, has been unable to shake off its image as a body of greedy officials far more interested in amassing personal power and wealth than providing basic services to the Somali people.

When Ethiopia, with U.S. support, ousted the Islamic Courts Union and installed the government in Mogadishu in late 2006, allegations of rampant government corruption and its ties to Ethiopia helped al-Shabab gain vital support from Somali business communities and win thousands of new recruits.

As the insurgency escalated, the United Nations sponsored a power-sharing deal signed in Djibouti in mid-2008 that brought in hundreds of Islamist opposition members into the government. It was hoped that the new TFG would be able to reconcile with anti-government forces and begin the task of governing.

But two years later, the TFG under former Islamist leader Sharif Sheik Ahmed has not reconciled with any of its opponents and still lacks popular base and support. Recent attempts to bring the staunchly anti-al-Shabab Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a Sufi militia into the government have largely failed with Ahlu-Sunna splitting into pro and anti-government factions.

Hogendoorn says increasing in-fighting and power struggles have been crippling the government's ability to reach a consensus and make decisions. He says calls for reform have also been ignored.

"One of the dynamics that you certainly saw was that the TFG recognize for quite some time that it was essentially the only game in town for the international community. I can tell you from talking to diplomats about this issue, there is no stomach for re-visiting the Djibouti process," said Hogendoorn. "So, the TFG were able to use that as leverage to resist pressure from the international community to do things it wanted it [the government] to do."

U.S.-based Somalia observer Michael Weinstein says the inability of the international community to establish the transitional government as a viable alternative to al-Shabab is a critical point.

"The reason why we have this slow-bleed, this stalemate is that the West, particularly, Washington, is left with no cards in its hand," said Weinstein. "The situation has gone too far. It has become too fragmented. There is no viable force to replace the TFG."

Weinstein says what happens next in Somalia is anyone's guess.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
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 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 Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
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 Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
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