From: Sophia Tesfamariam (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Apr 23 2009 - 06:30:40 EDT
SOMALIA: Wrong approach and throwing good money with the bad…again
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon will be heading the upcoming Donor’s Conference on Somalia to be held in Brussels on 23 April 2009. The meeting, which is to be attended by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the latest Somali President, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, is said to be both “a policy and donors conference”. What about the other parts of Somalia, such as Somaliland and Punt land, are they also going to be represented at the Conference? Surely, they don’t recognize Sheikh Sharif as being their President too, or do they? The scars left form the Bush Administration’s dangerous and incoherent policies for Somalia are visible all over Somalia. The bloodshed continues and the humanitarian situation in Somalia has been exacerbated by the international community’s refusal to allow the people of Somalia to determine their own destiny.
Despite the new language being used by the complacent western media to describe the upcoming Conference on Somalia, being convened by the Secretary-General and hosted by the European Commission, it is in fact yet another attempt to “prop up” another “UN-backed and recognized” illegitimate government for Somalia. According to the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), the goals of the Conference in Brussels is to raise about $260 million to provide the newly recognized TNG the means to “fund a national security force of 6,000 troops along with 10,000 national police”. Which Somalis are going to be a part of that “national force”? If they are to defend and protect only Mogadishu, the airports and seaports, what happens to the rest of Somalia?
What happened to the over 17000 forces that were supposedly trained by Ethiopia? What happened to the millions that were disbursed through UNDP and other UN organs for the reconstruction of Somalia and build up of its security forces? In my humble opinion, this is throwing more good money after bad. No matter how much money is raised for Somalia, there are no viable institutions that can implement any agreements. Like its predecessor, the latest alliance turned government, will remain just that, an alliance, and is not a government by any stretch of the imagination, and will not bring about the reconstitution and liberation of Somalia as envisioned by the people of Somalia.
It seems the international community is content to form any government for the people of Somalia, without much consideration about the quality and popular legitimacy of these dubious alliances. The Djibouti talks were portrayed as being “all inclusive”. Were they really? Did they include representatives of all the people of Somalia? The UN is once again resorting to the fiction that being signatories to the “Djibouti Agreement” somehow going to give them the authority or legitimacy to implement agreements, however well intentioned. The previous two “internationally recognized” governments of Somalia had no control of all of Somalia, and neither does Sheikh Sharif’s TNG.
The Djibouti agreement has so far failed to improve security in Somalia as there are significant factions that were not party to the UN-sponsored talks in Djibouti. The UN has conveniently forgotten the fundamental problem in Somalia-the presence of external forces, not just Ethiopians, but also African Union forces, which came to Somalia at the invitation of the former TNG. What is the African Union Mission in Somalia’s (AMISOM) mandate today? It did not bolster security in Somalia in the last two years and has in fact exacerbated the situation in Somalia, so why is the UN trying to legitimize its presence in Somalia now that the TNG it was supposed to “prop up”, is no longer there? No government that is formed outside of Somalia, by external forces and without the consent of the Somali people, and needs external forces to “prop it up” can be considered to be legitimate.
I have been reading and listening to the many speeches and remarks made by Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia and I don’t know if he is deliberately misleading the Security Council or if he is himself badly misinformed about the facts on the ground in Somalia. Ould-Abdallah described the situation in Somalia in his recent briefing to the Security Council and said the Djibouti Agreement between the Transitional Federal Government and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia has helped bring Somalia “back from the brink”. Ould Abdallah said:
“…I would argue that with the Djibouti Agreement, the country has passed the crossroads…It is on a one-way street – going forward…Today, state legitimacy is established and the legality of the new institutions is recognized regionally, internationally and indeed by the vast majority of Somalis…”
What does going forward mean? Is Ould Abdallah suggesting that a fragmented Somalia is going to be the Somalia of the future? What institutions is he talking about? Was it not the same regional organizations that had recognized and installed the previous TNG led by Abdulahi Yusuf and Ali Mohammed Ghedi that have produced the greatest humanitarian emergency in Somalia?
Ould Abdallah’s deceptions will not cover up the grim realities on the ground. The bloody facts on the ground and the headlines belie the envoy’s futile attempts to hoodwink the international community and the Somali people. Let us take a look at some recent reports from United Press International (UPI):
· BELEDWEYN, Somalia, April 20 (UPI) – “…Infighting among insurgents in central Somalia has left at least three people dead and seven others wounded, witnesses say…The fighting broke out Monday in the Hiran region's Beledweyn town, observers told Shabelle radio. Traffic, business and the movement of civilians was reportedly brought to standstill by the fighting, which included the use of heavy weapons…It wasn't immediately clear what started the clashes and no comment had come Monday from the warring sides or from the Islamic Courts Union, which controls Beledweyn…”
· BAIDOA, Somalia, March 19 (UPI) – “…militants claimed to have killed 16 government troops Wednesday in a battle in southwestern Somalia…”
· MOGADISHU, Somalia, March 15 (UPI) – “…Fighting between rival Islamic militias left at least 15 people dead in Somalia this weekend…the fighting in Wabho in central Somalia between members of the al-Shabab and Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a groups resulted in nine deaths Saturday and six Sunday. Most were combatants but at least one woman was among those killed…”
· MOGADISHU, Somalia, Feb. 24 (UPI) – “…The ongoing instability and rebel violence in Somalia is escalating a humanitarian crisis, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross… With a recent surge in heavy fighting, ICRC officials said humanitarian operations are under threat, short of water and may run out of food in the near future…”
· MOGADISHU, Somalia, Feb. 25 (UPI) – “…At least 35 civilians had been killed and about 130 others injured since fighting broke out in the Somali capital… Bakara Market, Somalia's largest marketplace, remained closed for a second day as roads leading to it were inaccessible due to the violence…The fresh fighting broke out in Mogadishu's Hodan district… The clashes were triggered when rebel Muslims attacked government forces in the Tribunka area in south Mogadishu, where government soldiers are based…”
More than 17,000 civilians have died and a million others driven from their homes and despite the veneer of normalcy, the underlying conflicts amongst the many Somali factions still remain unresolved. Sooner or later, these simmering conflicts will erupt and plunge the country into further chaos and destruction. It serves no purpose to try and paint a rosy picture of Somalia, when the facts on the ground say otherwise. This is yet another historical crime against the suffering people of Somalia and history and the future generations of Somalis will judge them harshly.
Both Ould Abdallah’s and Ban Ki Moon’s reports on Somalia contain inaccurate and misleading analyses of the situation on the ground. The UN’s reporting needs to be more honest, depoliticized and accurate. In 2006, the egregious distortions in the UN Secretary General’s reporting on Somalia and the flawed and inaccurate analysis and recommendations by so called “experts”, led to disastrous Security Council resolutions and decisions.
It should be recalled that despite massive infusion of funds, political, diplomatic and financial support and shield from the US-led international community, the phantom government of Abdulahi Yusuf and Ali Mohammed Ghedi failed to bring peace, security and stability to Somalia. Under that US and Ethiopian backed regime, over a million Somalis were displaced from their homes and villages, over 10,000 were killed, villages and farms were pulverized and markets, schools, clinics, hospitals and other vital infrastructures were destroyed. Ethiopia committed untold international crimes during its two-year reign of terror and Somalia’s infrastructures, schools, hospitals, markets, bridges, airports and sea ports were attacked. The two criminal warlords, Abdulahi Yusuf and Ali Mohammed Ghedi were rewarded with massive international funds and are now living in western capitals enjoying the loot amassed in the name of the Somali people.
It is especially disconcerting to hear blatant falsehoods from members of the newly installed TNG. For instance Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar, the “Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia” said:
“…There are no warlords today in Somalia…There were no clan wars or political factions holding the country hostage… Some, however, still refused the offer of peace and dialogue….Yet, we remain ready to negotiate. But we will only do so across the table. The gun must be put away…”
I don’t know which Somalia he is talking about and it is irresponsible to make such erroneous statements, which only serve to camouflage the very serious problems that plague Somalia today. As for the guns being put away, whose guns are going to be put away? His colleague Sheikh Abdi Rahim Isse Addow, the UIC spokesman is calling for more arms. He recently advised parliament members to carry guns for safety reasons.
The UN-led Conference in Brussels is therefore, not going to bring lasting peace or a true solution to the problems in Somalia as long as Ban Ki Moon and his envoy continue to shove the truth and the problems in Somalia, under the rug. Pumping more funds into a corrupt process will only add to its fictitious nature. Lacking popular legitimacy, in the end, all factions, those that are being touted as being “recognized by the UN” and all the others that are not, will resort to brute force to defend their interests. The UN does not have a mandate to set up governments. Hired warlords cannot become “statesmen”, just because the UN recognizes then as such. Any government produced in exile, cannot represent the people of Somalia-whether it is UN recognized or not.
Ignoring the last two years of brutal Ethiopian occupation of Somalia and the international crimes committed there is not going to bring lasting peace to Somalia. Burying or pretending that the conflicts in Somalia have been resolved and making more out of an incomplete peace process and prematurely endorsing or recognizing every Somali “government” that comes along might be politically expedient for some, but it will greatly undermine prospects for real peace in Somalia in the future. The UN should support the people of Somalia in their quest for real peace, stability and security and refrain from becoming a tool for certain powers who want to keep Somalia permanently fragmented and weak.
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