Expected Council Action
In the light of recent developments in Somalia it seems increasingly unclear whether or when the Council might consider the request of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for exemption from the arms embargo for its proposed peace support mission in Somalia (IGASOM). A wider and sober assessment of the security situation in Somalia is likely and the Council may deal with Somalia in both open and informal formats. Any decision is likely to be couched in conditional terms designed to encourage stabilisation of the overall situation and agreement between the Transitional Government and the Islamic Courts Union.
There may also be discussions on targeted sanctions. In addition, the quarterly report of the Secretary-General on Somalia is expected in early July.
The key issue is whether Council members will agree it is time for the Council to look beyond the limited, sanctions-focused role of recent years, and instead take a wider look at the international peace and security issues arising from the situation. In this regard, Somalia is expected to be one of the key issues at the AU Summit on 1-2 July.
These broader aspects include:
the military advances by the Islamic Courts Union, which now competes with the already fragile status of the Transitional Federal Institutions;
the allegations about an Al-Qaida connection, bringing into the picture the Council’s counterterrorism focus;
external security dimensions, including the fact that Ethiopia is reported to be massing troops on the border;
the call by the African Union for measures against various Somali warlords; and
renewed proposals for an African peacekeeping presence.
A subsidiary issue is whether and how to respond to the request for an arms embargo exemption for African peacekeepers. The Council has previously stated that a key condition for granting an exemption is that the Transitional Federal Institutions first develop a national security and stabilisation plan (NSSP), including “a comprehensive and verifiable ceasefire agreement, as well as plans for the restoration of public safety and security institutions and the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration”, and that the peacekeeping mission plan be worked out with the broad consensus of the Transitional Federal Institutions and be consistent with the NSSP. Observers note that the NSSP is very generic and may not fulfil the Council’s conditions.
But recent developments suggest that there is now a more pressing issue. Even if these conditions can be satisfactorily met once IGAD and the African Union present a mission plan, which may emerge in July following a joint AU-IGAD assessment mission, the larger issue seems to be whether the Islamic Courts Union also accepts the NSSP, given their opposition to the deployment of IGASOM. A factor that will add to these concerns is that the Islamic Courts Union would likely view a premature lifting of the embargo as the Council’s taking sides as between them and the Transitional Federal Institutions.
The progress made at a meeting in Sudan between the Transitional Federal Institutions and Islamic Courts Union suggests that the two parties are at least willing to talk-but their agreement on mutual recognition, however fragile, suggests that in the future the Council is likely to have to weigh the interests of both sides.
The latter issue raises an associated question for IGASOM’s proposed deployment. In the current circumstances, it would seem that unless the Islamic Courts Union is a party to the NSSP and recalcitrant warlords are contained, there will in fact be no peace for IGAD to keep in Somalia.
Given the opposition of the Islamic Courts Union to the IGAD mission, a related challenge is how to create conditions for increased cooperation and confidence between the Transitional Federal Institutions and the Islamic Courts Union.
continuation of the previous Council policy of essentially limiting Council involvement to minor aspects of the sanctions regime;
consideration of when and under what conditions to grant an exemption from the arms embargo;
postponing any decision on Somalia pending greater clarity on the outcome of discussions between the Islamic Courts Union and the Transitional Federal Institutions on the issue of IGASOM’s deployment;
adopting a presidential statement addressing the wider situation in Somalia with a focus on encouraging the Transitional Federal Government and the Islamic Courts Union to reach an accommodation, perhaps involving some form of a “road map”; and
enhancing a presidential statement with incentives and disincentives, such as elements previewing a possible package with conditional exemption and measures against individual violators, perhaps with reference to the draft list provided by the Monitoring Group of the Somalia Sanctions Committee. An important option will then be the imposition of targeted sanctions.
Council and Wider Dynamics
There is unity within the Council on the need to avoid the collapse of the Transitional Federal Institutions’ process. But there is also growing support for encouraging dialogue between the Somali Transitional Federal Government and the Islamic Courts Union.
The Council is divided on the wisdom of considering an arms embargo exemption at this time. Those divisions became clear during the briefing on 19 June by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative François Lonseny Fall and recent negotiations on a Council press statement regarding developments on the ground which has not been agreed. The initial draft contained a paragraph expressing intention to consider the exemption, which some members opposed.
China, Russia and African members especially seem to be sympathetic to the AU-IGAD request. The United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark and Qatar seem very cautious about prematurely granting the exemption.
Council dynamics are also likely to be influenced by the dynamics inside the recently formed, US-led Core Group on Somalia, which comprises the United States, the European Union, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Tanzania and the United Kingdom. Observers note that the Core Group has so far been unable to develop a comprehensive common position.
Some Council members still support the strengthening of the arms embargo, possibly taking into account the recommendations of the Monitoring Group for sanctions on charcoal and fisheries.
The situation in Somalia has changed considerably over the past weeks. The Islamic Courts Union was able to successfully extend its territorial control to include key cities such as Mogadishu and Jowhar. The move ended years of warlord control over those areas. Most observers were taken by surprise at the speed at which the Islamic Courts Union was able to overcome the self-styled coalition of warlords, the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism.
The situation remains fluid, and it is unclear whether the warlords still pose a threat.
It is also uncertain, in the light of the Transitional Federal Government’s calls for the Islamic Courts Union to lay down arms and retreat to Mogadishu, whether the Transitional Federal Government is open to serious negotiations with the Islamic Courts Union or whether international assistance or encouragement might facilitate reaching agreement between the two parties. At press time, talks under the mediation of Sudan and the Arab League appeared to have secured a ceasefire.
Comprised of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, IGAD on 13 June decided to make a list of individuals “involved in illegal use of arms” and to apply individual sanctions (such as asset freezes and travel bans) against “all warlords”.
The NSSP was adopted by the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament on 14 June, after months of internal divisions related to the nationality of IGASOM troops and the endorsement of the Council of Ministers. A consensus was achieved that Uganda and Sudan would contribute troops, thus avoiding participation from countries bordering Somalia.
The AU Peace and Security Council expressed support for the IGAD initiatives and on 15 June reiterated the request for an exemption for IGASOM.
The United States initiated preparations for the establishment of a Core Group. The first meeting took place on 15 June, in which the Group expressed support for the framework of the Transitional Federal Institutions and for dialogue.
There is a lack of clarity regarding the Islamic Courts Union. Some of its members were reported to have expressed interest in making Somalia an Islamic state. Other reports cite the presence of extremists and of internal clan divisions that may undermine the cohesiveness of the group, especially now that it controls a considerable portion of the Somali territory.
There were allegations of US support for the Mogadishu warlords against the Islamic Courts Union due to its concerns with Somalia under the Islamic Courts Union becoming a safe haven for terrorists, particularly Al-Qaida. Some observers claim the United States is the unnamed country in the Monitoring Group’s report considered to have provided support for warlords in addition to Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Whether or not that was the case, the United States seems to be taking a new direction with its efforts to promote the Core Group meeting and acceptance of a more open approach to the Islamic Courts Union. But prospects became less clear with the nomination of Shaykh Hassan Dahir Aweys (who is reportedly on a US list of wanted terrorists) as head of a consultative council set up inside the Islamic Courts Union. The US has reportedly rejected any contact with Shaykh Aweys.
Observers have criticised the restricted membership of the Core Group, which currently does not include key actors such as the African Union, Yemen or Kenya.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Presidential Statements|
|Selected Security Council Statements to the Press|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Report|
|Latest Report of the Monitoring Group|
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia|
|François Lonseny Fall (Guinea)|
|Chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee|
|Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser (Qatar)|