States’ Meddling Foments Lengthy Somalia Conflict

By Eliud Kibii

On taking the mantle of the African Union leadership from Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, President Idris Deby of Chad said: “Everything that we (the AU) are doing now will be in vain and without purpose if we allow Africa to go through these perpetual crises … We should be the main actors in search for solutions to African crises.”

One area that has suffered for long is the Horn of Africa – Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti. It has faced inter-state conflicts, protracted political and civil strife and terrorism. These problems arise from local and national grievances and interstate rivalries. There is also the issue of unwarranted external interventions. The Somalia crisis has been the worst.

Addressing the summit, President Uhuru Kenyatta called for a review and boost of Amisom’s mandate to match the changing tactics of al Shabaab mode of warfare. He urged the Peace and Security Committee to ensure that Amisom is well equipped and fully deploys troops in their areas of jurisdiction and review allocations.

Uhuru noted that there is an urgent need to offer support for initiatives that would increase productivity in liberated areas to accelerate the return of refugees to Somalia.

However, a sustainable solution in Somalia needs more than that. A proper analysis and understanding of the Horn politics and the external interventions is imperative.

The complexity of the region’s political relations can only be well understood by delving into and dissecting the history of the people, their tribes, clans and most importantly, political relations.

The shaky political relations among the states themselves; Ethiopia-Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, Transitional Government of Somalia and Djibouti have continued to deteriorate. The statelessness of Somalia was for long used as a incubating zone for criminals, terrorism, piracy and proliferation of small arms.

A number of states have been involved in the Somali crisis. A confidential UN report released in 2006 informed that both sides in the Somali conflict had major outside backers. In addition to the support, it said the Islamic Courts (which al Shabaab broke from) received aid from Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. It is also alleged that it was highly probable that Egypt, with its freak obsession of controlling the waters of the Nile and her wish to destabilise Ethiopia, would support the Somali Islamic Court.

Dubai and Qatar have previously shown interest (and invested) in running the port of Djibouti and the businesses of Somalia. To facilitate this objective, the Islamic Court representatives were allowed to use the good offices of the Emir of Qatar for diplomatic purposes.

The meddling is fomenting fratricidal wars and instability, while multiplying the facets of the conflicts. It is therefore crucial that a UN-sponsored peace mission takes the initiative, gets there and facilitates Somalia’s electoral process and stays there as long as it takes for stability to return.

Unlike the masquerading forces from some states, the UN Blue Helmets and Amisom forces are relatively ‘impartial’ and will help to resuscitate Somalia. Fortunately, involvement of some states like Kenya has helped in de-escalation of the conflict through negotiation and mediation. For instance, the Sudan Peace Process (Machakos Protocol and Comprehensive Peace Agreement).

The role played by Igad in expanding areas of regional cooperation, increase of members dependency on one another and promoting policies of peace and stability should be redefined.

In the course of establishing a platform for collective self-sustaining and integrated socioeconomic development, a lot of bilateral and multilateral relations should come into place. This way, a lot will be achieved jointly.

Eliud Kibii is an international affairs practitioner.

Source: The Star (Kenya)

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