March 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 March 2007
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Expected Council Action

Council members, encouraged in February by what they saw as a window of opportunity in Somalia, will be looking anxiously at developments in the country, particularly the slow progress with the deployment of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The findings of the UN assessment mission will also be a focus. The regular report of the Secretary-General, which is due by 28 February, is likely to precipitate a discussion of progress, particularly whether meaningful steps are underway with a political reconciliation process.  A Council statement is possible.

The sanctions committee may discuss applications for exemptions to provide support for Somali government forces in line with resolution 1744.

Key Recent Developments
The security situation has deteriorated, with growing factional violence and almost daily attacks against Ethiopian forces and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) officials in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Kismayo and other cities. Civilians bear the brunt of the violence, and an estimated 1.1 million face a humanitarian crisis in the south. Fighting continues between Ethiopian troops and Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) remnants in the south.

On 20 February, the Council adopted resolution 1744, stressing the “need for broad-based and representative institutions reached through an all-inclusive political process” and requested the Secretary-General to assist actively. The resolution also reiterated the Council’s intention to consider sanctions against peace spoilers.

Resolution 1744 also:

  • authorised AMISOM to use all necessary means to provide security for all involved in the reconciliation process, protection for the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), assistance in particular for the formation of national security forces and security for humanitarian assistance;
  • provided exemptions from the arms embargo for AMISOM and to external technical assistance for Somali security forces; and
  • requested a UN assessment mission to report on the possibility of replacing AMISOM with a UN mission and recommendations on the UN’s future role in support of peace and security in Somalia. (An earlier draft contained a request for recommendations including a peacekeeping operation. Some members seem to have been uncomfortable with specifying at this stage that UN peacekeeping was an option.)

The resolution also welcomes Ethiopia’s decision to withdraw and calls for contributions to AMISOM to create conditions for the “withdrawal of all foreign forces.” This was seen as a message separating the Ethiopian intervention from AMISOM in order to safeguard the impartiality of the AU force.

Responding to international pressure, Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi announced on 22 February that he will convene a national reconciliation conference within weeks.

The TFG has sent mixed signals on its willingness to negotiate. Some reports suggest that President Abdullahi Yusuf has ruled out any UIC inclusion and that many in his administration are reluctant to relinquish positions for a power-sharing arrangement.

Uganda, Nigeria, Burundi, Ghana and Malawi have pledged half of the planned 8,000 troops for AMISOM.  Two Ugandan battalions will be the first to arrive in Mogadishu, following clearance from the Ugandan parliament on 13 February.

The AU hopes that Uganda’s deployment will create positive momentum for more pledges.  Concerns about funding are high, with pledges from the EU, US and UK amounting only to approximately US$40 million.

Options for the Council in March include:

  • reviewing progress with the political reconciliation process and expressing stronger support for it, perhaps through a statement;
  • supporting a standing “international working group,” perhaps based in Nairobi and co-chaired by the UN and the AU, to support the national reconciliation process; and
  • imposing targeted sanctions on peace spoilers.

Key Issues
The key issues are:

  • energising the political reconciliation process and encouraging it to be more inclusive;
  • important aspects of the general framework for any Yusuf-led reconciliation process are still unclear, including the role of international facilitators and advisors, participation (especially whether the UIC or some successor organisation will be allowed to participate as a group or only individuals such as Sheikh Ahmed) and the desired outcome (particularly whether it should include a power-sharing deal); 
  • improving the security situation in Somalia and ensuring that the TFIs remain a viable political framework through the deployment of AMISOM and future national security forces;
  • guaranteeing delivery of humanitarian assistance;
  • addressing the regional impact of the situation in Somalia, especially regarding refugees, arms and combatants; and
  • how soon to begin discussion of a possible transition from AMISOM to the UN.

Questions remain on AMISOM’s troop generation and funding, and on the AU’s capacity to shoulder simultaneous commitments in Darfur and Somalia.

Council Dynamics
Members seem agreed on a strategy for Somalia around an inclusive reconciliation process, with support from AMISOM in the short-term.

However, for many members there is a recognition that the TFG is not representative and that this is contributing to the current violence. There is emerging consensus that the process should include all key players, especially moderate Islamic individuals. Members have publicly welcomed Yusuf’s initiative, but scepticism remains.

The US is likely to be cautious over which UIC members could be included in the process and how they are included. (US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer recently stated that “we suggest the TFG reach out to moderate Islamists. We do not believe that the Courts should be reconstituted as a political entity” and that the US will “take strong measures to deny terrorists safe haven in Somalia.”)

On replacing AMISOM with a UN operation, views range from those very supportive of a speedy transfer (such as the US and African members) to those (such as France) seemingly concerned with UN peacekeeping priorities elsewhere. Others seem open to the idea, but prefer as a first step careful assessment of progress with national reconciliation and AMISOM’s deployment.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1744 (20 February 2007) authorised AMISOM.
  • S/RES/733 (23 January 1992) imposed the arms embargo.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/59 (22 December 2006) expressed the Council’s concern over intensified fighting and called upon all parties to draw back from conflict.
 Selected Press Statement
  • SC/8947 (2 February 2007) signalled support for AMISOM and an all-inclusive reconciliation.
 Latest Secretary-General’s Report
 Latest Monitoring Group’s Report

Historical Background

 December 2006-January 2007 Ethiopian and TFG forces overrun the UIC.
 October-November 2006 The UIC encircled the TFG at its sole outpost, Baidoa. Ethiopian troops began amassing along the border.
 25 September 2006 The UIC took control of Kismayo.
 13 September 2006 The AU formally endorsed the IGAD Mission in Somalia (IGASOM).
 Early June 2006 The UIC seized control of Mogadishu and Jowhar.
 10 October 2004 The TFG was established. 
 April 1995 UNPOS was established.
 November 1994 The Council decided to terminate UNOSOM II by March 1995. 
 October 1993 18 US Rangers were killed and mutilated, 75 were wounded. The US announced withdrawal from Somalia by March 1994.
 June 1993 Pakistani troops were attacked, 24 were killed.
 March 1993 UNOSOM II was established.
 December 1992 The Council authorised UNITAF.
 April 1992 UNOSOM I and a sanctions committee were established.
 January 1992 The Council imposed an arms embargo.

Civil war broke out; Somaliland declared independence.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General
 François Lonseny Fall (Guinea)
 Chairman of the Sanctions Committee
 Dumisani S. Kumalo (South Africa)


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