November 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 October 2006
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, François Lonseny Fall, is expected to brief the Security Council in November. The wider regional implications of involvement in Somalia by Ethiopia and Eritrea are likely to play an increasing role. A presidential statement directed at Ethiopia and Eritrea is an option.

The Council will examine the request from the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for a partial exemption to the arms embargo for the IGAD mission in Somalia (IGASOM). Action on that front seems unlikely, though, because many Council members remain concerned that this would have a negative impact on the situation.

The Somalia sanctions Monitoring Group will also submit its report to the Sanctions Committee at the end of November. The mandate of the Monitoring Group expires on 3 December, and the Council is expected to renew it for an additional six months.

Key Recent Developments
Tensions between the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) have exacerbated the situation during the past month.

The UIC seized the town of Kismayo on 25 September in the economically important region of lower Juba, without any fighting. With this move, the UIC now controls all ports in southern and central Somalia, and the TFG in Baidoa is increasingly isolated. There are recent reports that fuel supplies to Baidoa are now severely restricted.  The TFG complains that the UIC has violated the 5 September ceasefire agreement.

In response to these heightened tensions, and following encouragement by the Council to become actively engaged, Lonseny Fall met with officials in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Egypt, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen.

On 9 October the warlords aligned with the TFG took over Buur Hakaba, a town close to TFG’s seat in Baidoa, with Ethiopian support. Ethiopia initially denied military involvement but has recently admitted that its troops are in Somalia as “trainers”.   UIC forces claim to have captured an Ethiopian officer and have warned of imminent war with Ethiopia.

IGAD submitted a detailed mission plan for IGASOM, endorsed by the African Union’s Peace and the Security Council on 13 October. Somalia also submitted to the Council on 6 October its National Security and Stabilisation Plan (NSSP).

The report of the Secretary-General on Somalia (due by the end of October) is expected to state that the rise of the UIC has dramatically weakened the TFG and report that the security situation seems to have improved in the regions under UIC control.

The International Contact Group met on 19 October amid growing concern about activities by Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Options
The Council has the following options:

  • renew the mandate of the Monitoring Group for six months;
  • respond to the request from IGAD and the African Union for a partial lifting of the arms embargo for the IGAD mission;
  • adopt a presidential statement sending explicit warning signals to Ethiopia and Eritrea; 
  • reinforce the arms embargo through the adoption of targeted sanctions while allowing a very limited exemption of the embargo for non-lethal equipment for the TFG, to support the Somali national security forces;
  • elaborate on the conditions for IGASOM’s deployment, such as consent from both parties, consensus within IGAD and guarantees that it would help the political process; and
  • actively encourage a power-sharing agreement between the TFG and the UIC.

Key Issues
While the Council is keen to support the Khartoum peace talks between the UIC and the TFG, the issue is whether supporting the deployment of IGASOM and exempting it from the arms embargo would fatally undermine this goal. Even partially lifting the arms embargo may undermine peace talks

A related issue is that in the absence of a peace process the TFG may collapse, entailing a takeover of the country by the UIC. This could exacerbate Ethiopia’s frustration and increase the risks of a wider war involving Ethiopia (and perhaps Eritrea). Therefore, the challenge for the Council will be to continue to support the transitional institutions as the legitimate entities in Somalia while taking into account the UIC as a political reality.

The arms embargo has been widely violated by both the TFG and the UIC as well by their outside supporters. The issue of reinforcing this embargo remains on the table. Many experts believe that it is technically impossible to impose targeted sanctions in Somalia. Increasing pressure on state violators of the embargo is therefore a key issue.

Another issue is the composition of IGASOM. The National Security and Stabilisation Plan excludes the participation of neighbouring countries. Sudan and Uganda are potential contributors but it remains to be seen how willing they are to commit troops. And there is no new evidence which suggests there would be consent from the UIC.

The lack of consensus within IGAD over IGASOM is another issue. IGAD members Djibouti and Eritrea seem opposed to IGASOM. The Council may want to see wider support within IGAD before supporting the mission.

A major underlying issue for the Council is whether a power-sharing agreement between the TFG and the UIC might only give the UIC a more effective platform to destabilise the region.

Council Dynamics
China has the lead on Somalia and has been pushing for the deployment of IGASOM and the partial lifting of the embargo, in line with the African Union’s position. Tanzania seems to be in support, but the other African members of the Council are less proactive. 

The UK has undertaken some initiatives. Although it remains supportive of the TFG, it has expressed concern at the involvement of foreign troops in Somalia. Therefore, the British approach is to strengthen the arms embargo by both imposing targeted sanctions and lifting the embargo on non-lethal equipment for the TFG (but not IGASOM) to allow the training of the Somali security forces. In November the UK may propose a draft resolution reflecting this approach. But there may not be consensus as African members still support the IGASOM option.

Russia, the US and the European members of the Council are more cautious on the lifting of the embargo and IGASOM. They seem to consider that as long as there is no peace to support in Somalia, the Council should remain careful and not encourage foreign troops in Somalia.

The US position is not well-defined. It has tried to improve its relations with the UIC while maintaining support for the TFG.

Most Council members tend to recognise that the UIC is now an undeniable force in Somalia. But the question of how much legitimacy to lend it vis-à-vis the TFG remains an unclear aspect of the dynamic. While the UIC is a reality on the ground, it is seen by some as a potential danger as some of its leaders are reportedly affiliated with terrorist networks. Accordingly, there is reluctance about openly recognising the role of the UIC, supporting the idea of a power-sharing agreement, and taking actions against outsiders. The fact that the UIC does not seem to have a clear agenda contributes to the uncertainty.

For its part, the Monitoring Group believes that IGASOM would be a destabilising factor; that even a partial lifting of the arms embargo would dangerously militarise the country; and that targeted sanctions are impracticable.

Underlying Problems
An important underlying issue is the implication of recent developments for the parts of Somalia that have declared autonomy (Puntland) and independence (Somaliland). The UIC is opposed to any federal system, and therefore there is a real possibility for future conflict in the north.

The UIC seems to be facing three major problems.

  • First, the UIC does not appear to have a clear leader. Although Hassan Dahir Aweys is allegedly the overall leader, Sharif Ahmed, in charge of the executive council, is also very influential. 
  • Second, there is no consensus among the Courts on Sharia, although the majority tends toward more radical interpretations. 
  • Third, the Courts still function based on clan relations, and this has the potential for opening divisions in the UIC in the long run.

The number of Somali refugees in Kenya is increasing due to recent tensions, and this poses the risk of a humanitarian crisis. Most refugees seem to fear that war with Ethiopia is likely and reject the imposition of strict Sharia rules.

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 Secretary-General’s Report
  • S/2006/418 (20 June 2006) was the latest report.
 Latest Report of the Monitoring Group

Historical Background

For a full historical background, please see our January and September 2006 Forecasts.

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)

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