The Somalia Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and a faction of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) signed the Djibouti Agreement Tuesday in an effort to speed the peace process. But how effective will it be?
For an analysis of the Djibouti Agreement for Somalia, VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua spoke to George Washington University Professor David Shinn, who's also a former US ambassador to Ethiopia. He questions how the agreement will affect the peace process.
"It gives me hope that it's still moving forward. It's important to keep in mind, however, that there are two factions of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia. There is the group in Djibouti, moderates, who signed this document. And there's another group, hardliners if you will, located in Asmara, Eritrea, who are not part of the process. And the hardliners apparently control most of the al-Shabab militia units in Somalia, who are causing a lot of the problem in terms of security, especially in Mogadishu," he says.
Ambassador Shinn says while it moves the peace process between the TFG and its more moderate opponents, there are some problems with the Djibouti agreement.
"It is I think a little bit unrealistic in a couple of points. For example, it calls upon the international community to move forward with humanitarian assistance in Somalia. And there certainly is a great need for that. The problem is that the Shabab component in Somalia is continuing its attacks on the humanitarian workers and making it very, very difficult to properly distribute humanitarian assistance in the country," he says.
Another issue is the call to speed up deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Somalia, which Shinn says may be just "wishful thinking." He says, "Even if that were to happen, it's many months away and timing is critical in terms of re-establishing security in Somalia. And it's even a question mark whether the United Nations is in a position to come up with enough troops to make any difference whatsoever."
The communiqué issued by both parties Tuesday welcomes peace efforts within and without Somalia. It also condemns violence against innocent civilians, including killings, looting, rape and piracy.
"It says all the right things. The question is whether either the Transitional Federal Government or this moderate faction of the ARS is in a position to carry out those objectives. And I think in some cases they're probably not able to do that," he says.Ambassador Shinn says the ARS faction that signed the Djibouti Agreement must attract more moderate support within Somalia itself. To do that, he says, it would have to convince Somalis that Ethiopian forces would leave the country soon and that there was a good chance for peace. He says that's a very difficult thing to do since it does not control the powerful al-Shabab element.