The Council is expected to consider in informal consultations the Secretary-General’s report on Somalia, which now seems likely to be available by the end of October. Despite the worsening situation in Somalia, it seems unlikely that any new concrete proposals on political reconciliation, sanctions or support for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) will emerge. AMISOM’s Council authorisation expires on 20 February.
Key Recent Developments
Humanitarian and security conditions in Somalia continue to deteriorate. In late September, the Secretary-General noted that food security and nutrition have deteriorated dramatically. In recent months, those in need of humanitarian assistance increased from 1 to 1.5 million. Attacks against media organisations led to eight assassinations of journalists so far this year, most recently in mid-October. The situation in northern Somalia also deteriorated because of a territorial dispute between Puntland and Somaliland.
Ongoing major obstacles to aid delivery include lack of cooperation from the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), insecurity and piracy. TFG security forces arrested and detained for five days the head of the World Food Programme (WFP) office in Mogadishu in mid-October, leading to a halt in WFP food distribution in the capital. Observers note that control over food distribution is seen as critical for securing popular support.
In late September, while reporting on the status of political reconciliation and peacekeeping in Somalia, the Secretary-General:
recommended that the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) be resourced to implement an integrated UN approach for Somalia, including political facilitation and collaboration with international partners, as well as coordination of UN support;
noted that internal discussions on UN support for AMISOM have started, and that an assessment by the Department of Safety and Security on AMISOM requirements to secure Mogadishu and on the possibility of relocating UNPOS from Nairobi to Somalia is expected (the Secretariat has apparently requested more details from the AU on the type of support it would need);
noted that potential troop contributors seem reluctant to pledge unless certain conditions are met, particularly regarding the security situation; and
signalled further that a multinational force to secure specific areas could be an option to allow Ethiopian withdrawal.
Relations between TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi soured in October. Yusuf mobilised cabinet members and parliamentarians to raise support for a no-confidence vote against Gedi. At press time, Gedi had resigned before parliament on 29 October.
The rift within the TFG between Yusuf and Gedi was longstanding, but its recent focus had been on control of the budget and natural resources. A major repositioning of domestic actors seems underway. President Yusuf also faces additional difficulties, including political opposition within the TFG and parliament, estranged relations with the rival Hawiye clan, and the insurgency. Moreover, his power base in Puntland has been increasingly volatile.
Related Developments in the Sanctions Committee
There appeared to be strong support within the Committee for improving the effectiveness of the arms embargo, but there also seemed to be divisions on whether to maintain the current regime and wait for more clarity on the political landscape, or adopt targeted measures against peace spoilers and those attacking AMISOM. So far, there seems to be agreement on sending a note verbale to the entire membership on the need to observe the embargo.
An added issue is that names for targeted sanctions in the short run would need to be submitted by Committee members, in particular by those with good practical knowledge on Somalia. The next Monitoring Group’s report is not likely before January.
emphasising more bluntly the need for all-inclusive reconciliation;
demanding a ceasefire;
taking steps to increase the flow of information about the situation on the ground, on political reconciliation efforts and on regional initiatives, by sending a small Council mission to the region and inviting TFG officials, regional players, the AU and members of the international contact group to brief the mission;
requesting detailed and early recommendations from the Secretariat on establishing a UN political presence in Somalia and enhancing security for UNPOS in Mogadishu and an initial package of UN logistical and technical assistance to AMISOM;
signalling readiness to authorise a UN support package and to consider regional options to strengthen AMISOM; or
taking no action at this stage.
A key issue for the Council is whether there is anything more it can do at this moment to encourage progress on political reconciliation. Related issues are whether to:
encourage a “peace process roadmap” leading to elections in 2009;
be more assertive about the need for a broad, all-inclusive political reconciliation process; and
take further steps to reinforce UN support for and monitoring of existing efforts.
A second key issue is the security situation and whether to:
encourage a ceasefire and Ethiopian withdrawal; and
request the Secretary-General to accelerate UN efforts to strengthen AMISOM.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members seem inclined to step back somewhat from their earlier level of involvement in security and political reconciliation issues in Somalia.
Some seem to want to press for more details from the Secretariat on planning for a UN peacekeeping operation, although this is paralleled by recognition that deployment does not appear feasible in the medium-term given the security situation and the concerns of potential troop contributors. Many seem troubled by the lack of options and the interconnectedness of the issues.
For the time being, external support for AMISOM has been mostly bilateral. There were some reports that a specific proposal following up on the idea of an African-Arab force could be presented by the end of October, but it is unclear if and when this may materialise. Most Council members see a need for more details ahead of concrete discussions, and in particular, some more direct input from Saudi Arabia and the Arab League if they are interested in pursuing this idea.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Latest Secretary-General’s Report|
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General|
|Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (Mauritania)|
|Chairman of the Sanctions Committee|
|Dumisani S. Kumalo (South Africa)|
|AMISOM: Size and Composition|
|February 2007 to present; AU mandate expires on 17 January 2008 and Council authorisation expires on 20 February 2008|