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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs