October 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2007
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action
In October, consultations are likely and expected to review the forthcoming Secretary-General’s report, which is anticipated to cover:

  • status of the political process;
  • steps for an increased UN role in that regard, including the recent appointment of the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, with reinforced status;
  • the humanitarian and security situation;
  • recommendations on UN support for AMISOM; and
  • an update on contingency planning for a UN mission in Somalia.

The authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) expires on 20 February 2008.

Key Recent Developments
Heavy fighting continued through August and September. Tens of thousands of civilians are newly displaced. There are reports of increasing attacks and intimidation of journalists by all parties. Humanitarian indicators continue to fall because of insecurity. France has offered military assistance to escort humanitarian shipments to Mogadishu’s port given the large-scale piracy off the Somali coast. (A multinational naval coalition currently patrols activity in areas adjacent to Somalia’s territorial waters.)

The National Reconciliation Conference wound up its work on 30 August, after weeks of negotiation under persistent insurgent attacks. It reached agreement on an outcome document that included provisions for social reconciliation and the preparation of a roadmap to elections in 2009, in fulfilment of the Transitional Federal Charter.

It seems unclear how far the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) will go with meaningful power and wealth sharing and reaching out to the opposition. Key figures in the opposition and the insurgency movement, particularly from the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and the Hawiye clan, refused to attend.

The departing Special Representative François Lonseny Fall noted that the end of the conference “does not signify the end of the reconciliation process” and urged the TFG to reach out to all opposition groups inside and outside Somalia.

The opposition held its own meeting in Asmara under Eritrean facilitation in early September. Some 400 key opposition leaders attended, including UIC’s Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aways as well as former parliamentary speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. EU, UN and Arab League observers also attended.

The “Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia” was then established, headed by Ahmed and Aden. Its central committee would include the UIC, with 40 percent of the seats, former MPs with 25 percent and the diaspora with 16 percent. It is unclear what role more extremist UIC elements will have. The Alliance vowed to fight TFG and Ethiopian troops in Somalia, and criticised AMISOM for taking sides.

Following the Asmara meeting, TFG officials and many clan leaders met in Jeddah under Saudi Arabian auspices to sign the Reconciliation Conference’s outcome. The EU welcomed the Jeddah agreement. The meeting also called for the deployment of an Arab-African force under UN aegis to replace Ethiopian troops and reinforce peacekeeping in Somalia.

On 20 August, when the Council renewed AMISOM in resolution 1772, it also:

  • reiterated its calls for an all-inclusive process towards the formation of broad-based, representative institutions, also including a ceasefire, a peace process roadmap and elections;
  • signalled a larger future UN role in the political process;
  • stated its intention to impose further measures against those threatening political reconciliation and stability in Somalia; and
  • requested the Secretary-General to continue with contingency planning for a UN peacekeeping mission.

AMISOM continues to face troop shortages, with no additional contributions as of late September. Burundi pledged 1,700 by October and Uganda offered 250 troops outside AMISOM to train a new Somali army. (This would require a request to the Sanctions Committee under resolution 1772.)

Related Developments in the Sanctions Committee
Activity in the Sanctions Committee has been low-key and focused on negotiating a letter inviting the TFG to take reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the embargo. The Committee Chairman briefed the Council on 11 September, covering the general aspects of its recent work.

Council members expect a briefing by the Chairman by 20 October on measures to strengthen the arms embargo and how they could be implemented as requested in resolution 1772. It seems that preparations may start in the following weeks, including discussions within the Committee on how best to respond to the request. Given existing divisions on matters of principle regarding sanctions, and some members’ mixed interests in Somalia, it seems unlikely that there will be appetite for major measures.

The formal appointment of the sanctions Monitoring Group, requested by resolution 1766 in July has been delayed which means that its interim report will not come before January 2008.

 

Options
Options include:

  • continuing to signal the need for all-inclusive reconciliation;
  • demanding a ceasefire, possibly including monitoring by UN observers;
  • requesting concrete steps from the TFG to implement the conference’s outcome, perhaps including an invitation to TFG officials to brief the Council in that regard;
  • expressing support for a broader UN role in political reconciliation;
  • deciding to dispatch a small UN contingent to provide security for the relocation of the UN Political Office to Mogadishu;
  • considering any new options from the Secretary-General on peacekeeping in Somalia;
  • in the meantime, authorising the provision of an initial package of UN logistical and technical assistance to AMISOM; and
  • addressing the regional dimension more comprehensively, in particular by actively managing the connection with the Ethiopia-Eritrea situation.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is ensuring that meaningful progress is made on political reconciliation. Related issues are:

  • ensuring that the TFG implements commitments from the National Reconciliation Conference, particularly by adopting a peace process roadmap with timetables and a new constitution, leading to elections in 2009; since the conference’s outcome does not specify steps for implementation, the issue is largely left to the TFG’s discretion; and
  • establishing a broad, all-inclusive process including the moderate opposition and finding ways to respond constructively to the Asmara Alliance.

A parallel issue is how best to improve the security situation, especially regarding a ceasefire. Related issues are:

  • how best to react to the Jeddah initiative referring to a possible Arab-African force, AMISOM’s difficulties and the lack of conditions for UN peacekeeping;
  • troop generation problems given existing safety concerns from potential contributors and peacekeeping commitments elsewhere, such as Darfur; and
  • whether new initiatives can effectively improve the security situation and allow Ethiopian withdrawal.

Council Dynamics
There was increasing impatience among members with the lack of progress with political reconciliation, even among those most sympathetic to the TFG and Ethiopia’s presence. This was largely reflected in the messages in resolution 1772.

African members were keen for UN financial support for AMISOM and its eventual transfer to a UN mission. Others, including the US and UK, seemingly did not feel UN assessed resources can be used at this stage. Still others continue to be uncomfortable with the presence of AMISOM and Ethiopian troops. The middle ground found was to request recommendations for UN support for AMISOM and insisting on contingency planning in resolution 1772 as a stopgap measure in the hope of improvements on the ground.

Most now seem sympathetic to the recent efforts in Saudi Arabia to consolidate results from the national conference, while remaining cautious over the absence of concrete progress notably over the insurgent groups that did not participate.

Most also seem sympathetic to options that could allow Ethiopian withdrawal, protect the TFG, respond to the concerns of the AU and create an environment conducive to reconciliation. The US has indicated that it supports the Arab-African force option. The AU position remains uncertain. Most Council members seem cautious, perceiving a need for more details ahead of concrete discussions. Others also worry about how to respond to the establishment of the Asmara Alliance. (The US has indicated it could include Eritrea in its list of states that sponsor terrorism.)

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1772 (20 August 2007) renewed AMISOM.
  • S/RES/1766 (23 July 2007) renewed and expanded the Monitoring Group’s mandate, threatened action against violators of the arms embargo and reinforced the political dialogue process.
  • S/RES/1744 (20 February 2007) authorised AMISOM.
  • S/RES/733 (23 January 1992) imposed the arms embargo.
Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/11 (15 March 2006) encouraged states to take action against piracy in waters adjacent to Somalia after the 2005 IMO request.
Latest Secretary-General’s Report
Other
  • S/2007/444 (18 July 2007) was a communiqué by the AU Peace and Security Council on the situation in Somalia.
  • S/2007/436(17 July 2007) was the letter from the Sanctions Committee chairman transmitting the latest Monitoring Group report.

 

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (Mauritania)
Chairman of the Sanctions Committee
Dumisani S. Kumalo (South Africa)
AMISOM: Size and Composition
  • Maximum authorised strength: 7,650 troops plus maritime and air components.
  • Strength as of 1 July 2007: about 1,600 Ugandan troops.
AMISOM: Duration
February 2007 to present; AU mandate expires on 17 January 2008 and Council authorisation expires on 20 February 2008

 

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