Tuesday, October 26, 2010

United Nations Urged to Increase Troop Deployments in Somalia

United Nations Urged to Increase Troop Deployments in Somalia

U.S.-backed Transitional Government under siege from Islamic resistance

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

A military and political crisis for the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia has prompted calls for additional troop deployments under the ostensible command of the United Nations Security Council. Both the United States and the Secretary General for the UN have publicly acknowledged that the existence of nearly 8,000 Ugandan and Burundian troops propping up the TFG has not been able to effectively challenge the growing influence of Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (popularly known as Al-Shabaab) and Hizbul Islam, the leading resistance groups inside the Horn of Africa nation.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson recently called for a more aggressive approach to combating the resistance forces in Somalia. During a speech at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, Carson said that so far the present approach has been to slow and unorganized.

Over the last two years the U.S. has spent more than $200 million to bankroll the TFG and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). Carson stated that “We want to encourage the TFG to be more than just a government in name only.” (Stars and Stripes, October 19)

The U.S. is now committed to initiating what it describes as a dual track approach that includes both engaging neighboring states as well as bolstering the military presence in Somalia to 20,000 troops that will carry out the aims and objectives of the imperialist states. This approach will also include cooperation with the breakaway territories of Somaliland and Puntland, which are not recognized by either the United Nations or the African Union.

Carson told the audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that “Under that new strategy, we will pursue more partnerships with the regional governments of Somaliland and Puntland as well as local and regional administrative units throughout South Central Somalia who are opposed to the al-Shabaab but who are not allied to the TFG.” (VOA, October 21)

In a disingenuous approach to undermining existing African Union policy of ostensibly promoting national unity in Somalia, Carson noted that “By doing this, we are not in any way attempting to go around what is in fact the principles of the AU, which is to only recognize a single Somali state. We will not as parts of this strategy recognize Somaliland and Puntland.” (VOA, October 21)

Nonetheless, some scholars within the Center for Strategic and International Studies have stated that the new U.S. policy is futile and will not bring stability to Somalia. Richard Downie, an African policy analyst, said that he was “not sure if investing more in the north helps secure the south…or further the goal of a united Somalia. (Stars and Stripes, October 19)

Downie continued saying “that goal is so far off right now as to be unobtainable, so the new focus I think is more on the short to medium term. It doesn’t make sense to have all the policy eggs in one basket.”

Although the U.S. administration would never say it, Downie recognizes that the TFG is not the entity that can bring stability to the country. Carson in his speech said that “It is first stability. Second, it is to help create the conditions and environment to end the recurring cycle of humanitarian disaster and create an environment where development can take root.”

However, Downie notes that such statement exposes the ineffectiveness of the U.S. approach in the region. According to him “It reflects the fact that the TFG is probably a doomed project.”

In addition to the call for a new approach by the U.S., the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramtane Lamamra, also urged the United Nations to impose a naval blockade and no-fly zone against Somalia. This is the rationale for the deployment of at least 20,000 troops that would add to the existing AMISOM forces and the flotillas of warships already stationed off the coast of the Horn of Africa. (AHN, October 21)

U.S. Policy Breeds Resistance

A recently-released study issued by Chatham House in Britain illustrates that the policies enacted by the United States and the imperialist states in the Horn of Africa and in the Arabian Peninsula are creating greater opposition to western influence in the region. Entitled “Yemen and Somalia: Terrorism, Shadow Networks and the Limitations of State-Building,” prepared by Sally Healy and Ginny Hill, the 15-page research paper makes a strong case against further militarization and external political intervention.

The report concludes that “Donors have little to show for their state-building efforts because their policy template does not fit with local realities, in which power is only partially structured through government ministries, if at all. In Somalia, for example, real power remains diffused among a host of local actors, with overlapping boundaries among clans, business people, Islamists of different hues and a sizable overseas Diaspora.” (chathamhouse.org.uk, October, 2010)

Healy and Hill go on to note that “Attempts to achieve stabilization by building a state-level security apparatus are demonstrably failing in Somalia and are unlikely to fare better in Yemen, because they are often perceived by the local population as a form of aggression. The critical ingredients missing from external efforts to build state security are political legitimacy and systems of accountability.”

Consequently, the U.S. and other imperialist states and their allies in the region must withdraw their forces from Somalia in order for peace and stability to be achieved. Anti-war and peace activists in the West must oppose military intervention in the Horn of Africa and uphold the right of self-determination and sovereignty for the peoples of the region.

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