The African Union is urging the United Nations to boost its support for Somalia's fragile government in view of the rise of terrorist activity in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula. AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping calls the overall security situation in the Horn of Africa nation "unstable, volatile and challenging'.
In a report to the AU Peace and Security Council Friday, Ping notes several tragic security breakdowns in the past few months. The most recent was a suicide attack December 3 on a medical school graduation in Mogadishu that killed 25, including three government ministers. Another suicide attack in September on the headquarters of the AU peacekeeping mission, AMISOM, killed 20 people, mostly peacekeepers, including the deputy force commander.
Acting on Ping's recommendation, the Council extended AMISOM's mandate for another 12 months. The U.N. Security Council approved $210 million to fund the 5,200 AMISOM peacekeepers for the past seven months. But as the Council meets next week to review AMISOM funding levels, AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra is calling for Somalia to be seen not just as a breeding ground for terrorists, but as part of a region dotted with troubled states such as Eritrea and Yemen.
"We look forward to more bold decisions within the UN Security Council so that engagement of the international community would be commensurate with the challenges. These are not limited to local challenges, they go beyond, to include piracy, international terrorism, and these are of a global nature," said Lamamra.
U.N. Special Representative to Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah says several recent events have highlighted the Horn of Africa 's growing significance as a hub in the global terror network.
"It is today becoming...a global crisis, and the latest developments in Mogadishu with killing of students by a Somali coming from Denmark, or an attempt against a journalist in Denmark, and before that in Kenya is showing that Somalia is a global crisis," said Ould-Abdallah. "Note the importance British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has attached to Somalia, linking it clearly to developments coming from Afghanistan or Yemen," he added.
The latest AU report notes security in Somalia is complicated by a fight between two rival insurgent groups for control of a lucrative port city. Both groups, al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam are said to have links with al-Qaida.
Earlier this week, it was reported that the Nigerian man accused of trying to detonate a bomb on a Detroit-bound airliner Christmas Day had met a radical U.S. Muslim cleric in Yemen after being recruited by al-Qaida in London.
Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, is 250 kilometers from the northern coast of Somalia across the Gulf of Aden, the busy waterway that has been the scene of hijackings by Somali pirates.