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
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.