December 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 November 2007
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to continue to follow security and political developments in Somalia closely. An expert-level meeting with the Secretariat on planning for a future UN political, humanitarian and peacekeeping strategy and assistance to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is scheduled for 30 November.

Under Secretary-General John Holmes may brief the Council on the humanitarian situation in early December.

The mandate of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) is due for renewal by 31 December.

(Additionally, a meeting of the International Contact Group and an AU summit on Somalia in Addis Ababa are apparently scheduled for around 13 December.)

Key Recent Developments
The humanitarian situation in Somalia continued to deteriorate acutely, leading to a record one million displaced thus far. One and a half million people reportedly need humanitarian assistance, a 50 percent increase since January.

Fighting between insurgents and Ethiopian troops alongside the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) continues unabated. Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are reported on all sides. The TFG has reportedly shut down a number of human rights and media organisations. Humanitarian assistance has been severely curtailed by insecurity, piracy and checkpoints set by militia and TFG forces.

On 29 October, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi resigned amidst growing TFG paralysis and his long-running feud with President Abdullahi Yusuf.

In mid-November, the Somali parliament adopted legislation to allow non-parliamentarians to be appointed to cabinet positions, a move considered essential for ensuring a more effective cabinet with widespread support.

On 24 November, the transitional parliament confirmed the appointment of Nur Hassan Hussein as prime minister. Hussein, a Hawiye in accordance with the existing power-sharing formula and former Somali Red Crescent senior officer, is reportedly considered a neutral and conciliatory figure.

There is uncertainty whether Hussein will be able effectively to foster TFG unity and reconciliation with the opposition. (Conflict between the Hawiye and President Yusuf’s Darod clan is one of the central aspects of instability in Somalia.) Opposition fighters have reportedly signalled their position would not change, at least until Ethiopia withdraws.

The Secretary-General’s latest report said conditions for successful UN peacekeeping in Somalia did not yet exist. Instead, it suggested a multinational force to increase security and allow for Ethiopian withdrawal. (Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah suggested in mid-November that justice measures, including referral to the International Criminal Court, also be considered.) The Secretary-General also urged the Council to consider measures on the regional dimensions of the Somali crisis.

On 19 November, the Council responded to the Secretary-General in a statement which insisted that contingency planning should continue as part of an enhanced UN integrated strategy, while recognising the need for greater support for AMISOM.

The Secretariat appears to be working on a support package for AMISOM. A delayed Burundian battalion could be deployed by mid-December, with assistance from France and the US.

Options
Options include:

  • signalling support for the new cabinet and warning that political reconciliation should now be a major priority;
  • continuing to press for a substantive UN strategy for Somalia, including requesting more detailed information and a timeline for strengthening the role of UNPOS in political reconciliation and future steps needed to assist AMISOM (It seems Ould-Abdallah is developing a strategy on how to move the political and security dimensions forward. A proposal to increase UNPOS staff is currently before the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee);
  • signalling readiness to authorise a UN support package and to consider regional options to strengthen AMISOM;
  • convening a meeting of concerned member states and potential troop contributors to discuss security options;
  • taking steps to contain piracy (it seems that the International Maritime Organisation has urged TFG action to counter piracy with support from states with vessels in the region); and
  • considering justice and accountability options such as a commission of inquiry.

Key Issues
A key issue is what the Council can do to encourage progress on political reconciliation. Related issues are:

  • supporting the evolution of the TFG and the political landscape in Somalia; and
  • how best to encourage an all-inclusive political process and a “peace process roadmap”.

A parallel key issue is how to improve the security and humanitarian situation. Consequential issues include:

  • the future of AMISOM, the need for Ethiopian withdrawal and whether new security options are feasible; and
  • regional security concerns.

Council Dynamics
Although there is agreement on the need for concrete progress with political reconciliation and security, most members seem troubled by the lack of options and strategy to address the interconnectedness of issues. Increasingly members do not see AMISOM as a viable option in the future, but most seem sceptical about any other kind of multinational force. Some are critical of a perceived imbalance between the Council’s efforts for Darfur and Somalia.

There seems to be a growing consensus on the need to develop a comprehensive UN strategy for Somalia and allow Ethiopian withdrawal, with a strong continuing focus on contingency planning for UN peacekeeping and an interim support package for AMISOM.

This is, however, paralleled by recognition that UN peacekeeping does not appear feasible given the security situation and concerns of potential contributors, including African members. Accordingly, greater efforts are needed on political reconciliation including a larger UN role. Members seem hopeful that with the right leadership from the international community the new TFG cabinet will be able to reach out to the opposition.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1772 (20 August 2007) renewed AMISOM.
  • S/RES/733 (23 January 1992) imposed the arms embargo.
Latest Secretary-General’s Report
Other
  • S/2007/436(17 July 2007) was the latest Monitoring Group’s 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 30 October 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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