In Somalia, security is a growing concern, with frequent reports of mortar attacks and unrest. Ethiopian troops continue to support the Transitional Federal Government, while efforts for an African Union peacekeeping force move slowly.
Among those watching developments is Professor David Shinn of George Washington University. Dr. Shinn is a former US ambassador to Ethiopia. He told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua he’s not surprised by recent developments in Somalia.
“It’s pretty much what I would have expected to occur. The security situation is not really improving, but it’s not out of control either. It’s a very mixed situation. There are continuing incidents in Mogadishu and some outside of Mogadishu scattered around the country. But it’s not a terrible situation. I have no idea how many Ethiopian troops have left, but I suspect the number is fairly modest. And I suspect that most of them are still there,” he says.
Some news agencies have reported large numbers of people leaving and say gunmen are being hired as vigilantes to help stem the violence. While he can’t confirm those reports, Shinn says that it, if true, it would indicate several things. “One, it would be a return to normality prior to 2006, in that you normally have seen young men hired as gunmen…for either warlords or clan groups or sub-clan groups, and I suspect this would be a continuation of that…. Also, there is a tendency to have some movement out of Mogadishu when the security situation begins to deteriorate.”
Shinn says it is unlikely an African Union peacekeeping force will be in Somalia any time soon. He adds that even if such a force is deployed, there must still be a political solution.
Shinn says, “I’ve been saying for weeks that the key thing that the entire international community ought to be doing, including the United States, the European Union, the African Union, the Arab League, is to put pressure on both the Transitional Federal Government and the moderate remnants, and I underscore moderate, of the Islamic Courts, plus to the extent anyone has leverage over warlords…to bring together in some sort of reconciliation process, preferably in Mogadishu, and preferably immediately…to sit down and have serious dialogue on power sharing.”