May 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 April 2007
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Expected Council Action
At press time, Council members were negotiating a possible presidential statement expressing grave concern about the humanitarian situation and calling for support for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  It was unclear if or when the statement will be adopted. The statement may also request contingency planning for a possible UN operation in the future (essentially accepting the Secretary-General’s recommendation that, in light of the open warfare in Mogadishu, the situation was not amenable to a UN peacekeeping mission at this time).

Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s foreign minister had also asked to brief the Council informally on Somalia. An Arria-style meeting to accommodate this is possible. In addition, the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs may visit the country in May and, should this visit take place, he is also likely to brief the Council about his trip.

Key Recent Developments
Fighting in Mogadishu seems to involve clan militia, remnants of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and foreign fighters ranged against Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces. Insurgents have also targeted troops of the under-funded, under-staffed and poorly organised AMISOM.

Continued heavy shelling has killed thousands and left about 320,000 displaced. Widespread gross violations of international law are suspected on all sides with concerns about the lack of humanitarian access.

Eritrea suspended its membership in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) comprising Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan, Djibouti and Kenya, over the Ethiopian military presence in Somalia and, specifically, a 13 April IGAD communiqué expressing appreciation for Ethiopia’s actions. An alliance of groups opposed to the TFG, including a UIC leader, was launched in Asmara in mid-April.

The Secretary-General unveiled his Somalia report on 13 April. Noting the volatility of the security situation and the lack of clear support from major Somali stakeholders, he indicated that Somalia was no place for a UN peacekeeping operation at this time when there was no peace to keep.

On national reconciliation and stability, the report noted that significant open questions remain, including:

  • uncertainty regarding the level of inclusiveness and the modalities of participation in the planned national congress, in particular for moderate former members of the UIC (the conference has been delayed until 14 June due to lack of security);
  • uncertainty on security arrangements, logistics and the independence of the congress’ preparatory team;
  • lack of clarity on the congress’ desired outcome; and
  • the need for reinforcements and support for AMISOM and for a negotiated cessation of hostilities to improve security and allow for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.

The report offered two future scenarios:

  • hostilities cease: in this case, conditions for multi-dimensional UN  peacekeeping would exist, albeit with significant security risks and logistical challenges; and
  • hostilities continue and the political process is faltering or has collapsed altogether: there would be no environment for peacekeeping. In these circumstances, enforcement action through a Council authorisation for a “coalition of the willing” would be the only viable option.

The report recommended that the Council:

  • revisit the issue of feasibility of UN peacekeeping in Somalia again by mid-June 2007, subject to progress with reconciliation and developments on the ground; and
  • authorise the Secretariat to begin contingency planning on a future operation to reduce the lead time ahead of deployment. Planning would include allocation of funds and initial contacts with troop and police contributors.

Council Dynamics
At a briefing by the Secretariat and the AU on Somalia on 24 April, members generally agreed with the Secretary-General’s findings and supported his recommendations. There seems to be only a shaky consensus at present. Most are extremely worried about a transition to a UN operation. Some are more inclined to downplay the security situation. Others want more focus on national reconciliation. There seems to be a strong underlying interest by the US (and perhaps some African members) in authorising the transition as soon as possible.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
 Latest Secretary-General’s Report
 Latest Monitoring Group’s Report

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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