September 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2006
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action
The Council may moderate the tilt which it made in early August in support of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).  In the absence of an established peace process involving consent from all parties, it seems unlikely at this stage that the Council will support the proposed African Union/Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mission.

A resolution creating targeted sanctions against peace spoilers now seems likely. It is also expected to include modifications to the arms embargo to allow training and capacity-building to enable Somalia to develop its security sector, as well as non-lethal equipment.

The Council seems likely to seek to maintain balance in its approach by avoiding measures that may alienate the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and continuing to urge dialogue.

On the regional dimension, the most likely action is to continue with indirect warnings against Ethiopia and Eritrea. However, members may increase pressure on one or both should the situation continue to deteriorate.

The Sanctions Committee is expected to receive an oral midterm briefing from the Monitoring Group on the arms embargo by 6 September and there is a possibility that the Sanctions Committee Chairman will brief the Council on the Committee’s activities in September.

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf is expected to visit New York for the General Assembly in September.

Key Recent Developments
After two postponements, talks between the UIC and the TFG are scheduled for 31 August.

Serious divisions emerged within the TFG, pitting President Yusuf and Parliament Speaker Sheikh Hassan Aden against Prime Minister Ali Mohammad Gedi over Gedi’s reluctance to attend the talks with the UIC.

The divisions were exacerbated by the resignation of 21 ministers in July and early August. An Ethiopia-mediated understanding within the TFG led to the appointment of a new cabinet on 21 August.

Continuing reports Ethiopian troops’ presence in Somalia have led to increasing tensions between the UIC and the TFG, and within the TFG itself, due to opposition to the prime minister’s reported reliance on Ethiopian military assistance.

Those tensions have also been aggravated by the controversial issue of an AU/IGAD mission to Somalia. On 18 August, IGAD members reportedly decided that the mission will comprise about 7,000 Sudanese and Ugandan troops, and should be deployed on Kenya’s border with Somalia by the end of September. Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether this plan will materialise. There are still questions relating to the concept of operations and funding.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General François Lonseny Fall briefed the Council on the recent developments in Somalia on 16 August. The Council president for the month of August, Ghanaian Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng, expressed concern about outside interference in Somalia in a statement to the media.

The Sanctions Committee held a meeting in early August as a follow-up to the 13 July presidential statement, in which the Council supported the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) “as the internationally recognised authorities to restore peace, stability and governance to Somalia” and indicated the possibility of a modification of the embargo to allow the building of the Somali security sector and of measures to strengthen the embargo.

At the meeting, members expressed support for case-by-case exemptions from the arms embargo for the TFG and for the establishment of targeted sanctions. Other options, such as an integrated sanctions regime with measures over fishing and charcoal exports (following the recommendations of the Monitoring Group) and exemptions for the AU/IGAD mission, were also discussed.

But a new trend may have emerged at a 29 August meeting of the International Contact Group for Somalia in Stockholm. Swedish State Secretary Annika Soder was quoted as saying that the TFG has been weakened and that aid will only be forthcoming when there is a legitimate and legal government in place. In that context, she reportedly noted that both sides will have to reach a power-sharing arrangement, given the increased public support enjoyed by the UIC.

Options
The most likely option is to reinforce the peace talks and a possible power-sharing process through the sanctions regime by:

  • designing criteria for targeted sanctions (including a travel ban and/or an assets freeze) against individuals resisting a negotiated path to peace between the TFI and UIC;
  • identifying a list of individuals based on that criteria; and
  • modifying the arms embargo for training for the Somali security sector and for non-lethal equipment on a case-by-case basis.

In order to maintain balance in its approach, the Council may also look at the option of neutral criteria that would apply to spoilers from the TFI side as well. (There are precedents for this sort of balanced approach in the Council’s actions against spoilers in Côte d’Ivoire). It may also consider the option of balancing the package with some political signals designed to encourage the UIC to cooperate. This could include more overt criticism of the Ethiopian presence. Specific threats of sanctions seem less likely.

There is also the option of deciding to lean decisively for the TFG and against the UIC, but this possibility seems to have decreased given the apparent results of the 29 August Contact Group meeting.

The option of taking up the Monitoring Group’s proposals for measures on charcoal and fishing seems less likely at this point.

Key Issues
The key issue is whether to maintain the Council’s stated support for the TFIs, and, in that context, what position to take vis-à-vis the UIC. A closely related issue is what position to take on the regional dimension, given Ethiopia’s support for the TFI, and the AU/IGAD mission which is perceived as support for the TFI.

The consequential issue is whether Council support for the AU/IGAD mission (and for TFI security sector capacity-building) would result in seriously alienating the UIC and, in the long run, be dangerously counterproductive.

The UIC’s possible intentions are also a key issue. Reports of its interest in making Somalia an Islamic state and its increasingly hard line lead some to question the genuineness of its willingness to negotiate. The position of Hassan Dahir Aweys (the UIC leader) is also an issue. Aweys is already on the Council’s targeted sanctions list established by resolution 1267 of 15 October 1999.

The question of whether to seriously act to curb Eritrean and Ethiopian activities is also an issue. There is the risk that a passive approach to external interference could stimulate further deterioration in relations between the UIC and TFG and undermine the peace talks. On the other hand, there is the issue that, without Ethiopian assistance, the TFG may collapse altogether.

The AU/IGAD request for exemptions from the arms embargo once the mission plan is submitted raises an equally complex issue. Criteria for consideration of this were set out in previous Council statements, including that the mission plan be detailed on funding and mandate and that it be based on the national security and stabilisation plan (NSSP). The NSSP is required to contain “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.” Observers note, however, that the NSSP falls short of those criteria. Moreover, the dynamics on the ground have changed radically since these previous Council statements. In particular, the UIC has declared that it will treat the AU/IGAD mission as hostile. The issue therefore seems to be whether the mission should be an end product of a power sharing agreement with the UIC, with the consent of the parties, rather than without consent.

Council and Wider Dynamics
Consensus on providing Somalia with the tools to strengthen its institutions and build its security sector while at the same time encouraging dialogue was consolidated in August. There is wide support for targeted sanctions and for a modification of the embargo to allow capacity-building on a case-by-case basis.

But divisions continue on the issue of the AU/IGAD mission. Some members- China, Tanzania, the Republic of Congo and Qatar in particular-are supportive of the mission and feel that, once the plan is presented, given the TFIs’ support, the arms embargo exemptions should be granted.

Other members are more cautious, both because of the UIC’s reaction and the need to verify whether the NSSP and the plan conform to Council demands. This position may be reinforced by the results of the last Contact Group meeting.

Underlying Problems
Observers note that, despite the new date for talks between the TFG and the UIC, the negotiating process could very easily unravel. The ongoing consolidation of the UIC military position in southern Somalia and in parts of the north indicates that negotiation may not be the only option at this time.

The TFG, on the other hand, seems increasingly weaker with reported defections from existing security forces. And there is uncertainty over the prospects of the new cabinet.

UN sources on the ground have noted an increase in the flow of arms, which they read as a further risk of impending armed conflict.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1676 (10 May 2006) renewed the Monitoring Group’s mandate for six months
  • S/RES/733 (23 January 1992) imposed an arms embargo.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/31 (13 July 2006) expressed support for the TFG and TFP and willingness to consider the AU’s request for an exemption to the arms embargo to allow for a PSM on the basis of a detailed mission plan.
 Selected Letter
  • SC/2006/442 (29 June 2006) was the letter from the Arab League on the first meeting between the TFG and UIC on 22 June.
 Selected Secretary-General’s Report
  • S/2006/418 (20 June 2006) was the latest report.
 Latest Report of the Monitoring Group

Historical Background

 29 August 2006 The Contact Group met in Stockholm.
 21 August 2006 The new 31-member cabinet was appointed.
 7 August 2006 A compromise among President Yusuf, Parliament Speaker Aden and Prime Minister Gedi led to the dissolution of the 42-member Prime Minister’s cabinet.
 30 July 2006 Prime Minister Gedi very narrowly survived a no-confidence vote.
 21 July 2006 The Contact Group called on the TFG and UIC to resume talks and to make them more inclusive.
 13 July 2006 The Council expressed support for the TFIs and willingness to consider the AU’s request for an exemption to the arms embargo.
 5-9 July 2006 A joint fact-finding mission made up of the EU, the AU, IGAD and the Arab League visited Somalia to assess the possibility of deploying troops to the country.
 22 June 2006 The first round of talks between the TFG and UIC, facilitated by the Arab League, took place in Khartoum.
 15 June 2006 At its first meeting, the Contact Group expressed support for the TFI framework and for dialogue.
 14 June 2006 The NSSP was adopted by the Transitional Federal Parliament.
 13 June 2006 IGAD decided to make a list of individuals “involved in illegal use of arms” and to apply individual sanctions (such as assets freeze and travel bans) against “all warlords.”
 early June 2006

The UIC had seized control of Mogadishu and Jowhar from the coalition of warlords known as the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism.

For the full historical background, please see our February 2006 Forecast.

Other Relevant Facts

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia
 François Lonseny Fall (Guinea)
 Chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee
 Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser (Qatar)

Useful Additional Sources

  • Can the Somali Crisis Be Contained?, International Crisis Group, Africa Report No. 116, 10 August 2006. 

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