September 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 August 2008
Download Complete Forecast: PDF


Expected Council Action
Somalia could be back in the Council again in September. The Sanctions Committee is expected to provide a midterm briefing, and at press time, a new sanctions resolution appeared to be under discussion. The goal would be to impose targeted measures against peace spoilers and violators of the arms embargo. However it remains to be seen whether there is actually going to be agreement on imposing real measures or simply a framework, and whether the measures will be even-handed or only applied to anti Transitional Federal Government (TFG) factions.

Informal discussions on options to improve security in Somalia and support implementation of the recent Djibouti Agreement between the TFG and opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) are also likely to continue.

Key Recent Developments
The Djibouti Agreement was formally signed on 18 August after almost an eight week delay. It had been initialled in Djibouti on 9 June and was supposed to be signed by the end of June. From 16 through 18 August, parties to the Djibouti Agreement held the first meetings of the two committees mandated by the Agreement: the High Level Committee (which deals with political cooperation, justice and reconciliation) and the Joint Security Committee (which is tasked with implementing security arrangements). The parties adopted the terms of reference for both committees and discussed implementation of the Djibouti Agreement.

On 19 August, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1831, renewing the mandate of AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for a further six months. The resolution encourages the Secretary-General to continue to explore ways and means with the AU to strengthen UN logistical, political and technical support for the AU to assist in the full deployment of AMISOM.

There are still concerns the TFG is on the verge of splitting into separate camps under President Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Nur Adde Hassan Hussein. On 31 July, 32 members of parliament called on Nur Adde to resign. This followed the decision by Nur Adde and members of his cabinet on 29 July to dismiss Mogadishu mayor, Mohamed Dheere. Yusuf revoked the order to dismiss Dheere on 31 July, and ten out of 15 cabinet ministers, believed to be allies of Yusuf, resigned on 2 August. Five had reportedly been replaced by 5 August. On 24 August, it was reported Yusuf and Nur Adde had reached a preliminary agreement for reconciliation after meeting in Addis Ababa since 15 August.

Despite the signing of the agreement, violence worsened across Somalia. On 20 August, fighting erupted between Islamic insurgents and clan militias in the southern port city of Kismayo reportedly killing at least seventy people and displacing an estimated 3,000 families. On 24 August, it was reported that the insurgents were in control of Kismayo and the 500-kilometre stretch of road connecting Kismayo with Mogadishu.

On 23 August, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah deplored the violence in Kismayo and expressed his sadness at the continuation of fighting between the TFG and ARS in and around Mogadishu and Afgoye on 16 and 17 August which resulted in a large number of civilian deaths. Heavy fighting also erupted on 21 August in Mogadishu between government/Ethiopian troops and Islamic insurgents resulting in at least 20 deaths. Four Ethiopian soldiers reportedly were killed on 19 and 20 August. Aid workers, faced with the growing challenge of responding to the needs of millions of vulnerable Somalis, have also been subject to increasing numbers of attacks, resulting in an estimated 22 deaths of aid workers in 2008.

In a communiqué issued after the signing of the Djibouti Agreement, the TFG and the ARS called on the Security Council to accelerate the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to facilitate the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia. Earlier in August, the chairman of the ARS, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, called on Arab countries to send peacekeepers to Somalia.

On 6 August, Canada announced it would deploy a frigate to Somalia to protect UN World Food Programme (WFP) maritime convoys in accordance with resolution 1814, which on 15 May called on member states to protect shipping involved in delivering humanitarian aid to Somalia. (The WFP delivers 80 percent of its aid to Somalia by sea. Naval escorts had been suspended since the Netherlands ended its deployment on 30 June.)

On 11 August, France and Spain announced they would deploy frigates in a coordinated initiative to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia under resolution 1816 of 2 June which condemned maritime piracy off the Somali coast and urged states to increase and coordinate their efforts to deter such acts. (Pirates have hijacked at least 35 ships off the Somali coast in 2008 alone, including four in the period 19 – 21 August.)

Related Developments in the Sanctions Committee
The Somalia Sanctions Committee met with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, on 24 July to discuss possible targeted measures to be imposed against arms embargo violators and those determined to be impeding the political process, as requested in resolution 1814 of 15 May. The Committee seems supportive of imposing individual targeted sanctions (including travel bans and financial sanctions), and designating persons and entities subject to the individual measures. Consideration is also being given to introducing an arms embargo against individuals and entities directly supplying weapons. Targeted measures against those violating the arms embargo were recommended by the Panel of Experts on Somalia in S/2003/223 of March 2003, but have never been adopted. Since resolution 1474 of April 2003 the Council has repeatedly ignored reports of the Sanctions Monitoring Group on those breaching the arms embargo.

One option for the Council is to adopt a resolution introducing targeted measures (travel bans and assets freezes) against named individuals. An alternative would be to adopt a framework resolution leaving the actual task of identifying specific individuals to the Committee.

Another option is for the Council to take up existing recommendations from the Sanctions Monitoring Group to further strengthen the arms embargo, including:

  • a comprehensive border surveillance and interdiction effort;
  • a trade embargo on the export of charcoal; and
  • a ban on foreign vessels fishing in Somali waters, and a trade embargo on the export of fish caught in Somali waters.

Another option on the security situation could be to task the Secretariat with developing a concept of operations for an international stabilisation force, and also developing a firm list of states willing to contribute troops, funding and equipment. (This latter point would be in line with the 2000 Brahimi Report on UN Peace Operations, which recommends that the Council “leave in draft form resolutions authorizing missions with sizeable troop levels until such time as the Secretary-General has firm commitments of troops and other critical mission support elements”.)

Other options include:

  • revisiting the issues associated with a peacekeeping operation and establishing benchmarks for the Somali parties to make real progress on;
  • requesting concrete options from the Secretary-General on ways and means to strengthen UN logistical, political and technical support for AMISOM; and
  • calling on the Secretariat to provide more detailed information on options for the provision of security for the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) with a view to its early relocation from Nairobi to Somalia.

Key Is
A key issue for the Council is whether sufficient progress has been made in the peace process and the security situation to warrant taking further steps towards an international force.

A related issue is what the Council can do to reinforce the political reconciliation process. Given the primary requirement of the agreement is to ensure the cessation of all armed confrontation and given the increase in violence immediately after its signature, a related issue is whether this agreement will bring durable peace and thus whether it can be a sufficient foundation for a peacekeeping deployment. The rift in the TFG leadership and their lack of focus on the peace agreement further calls into question the agreement’s ability to hold.

A major underlying issue is whether it will be possible to attract major elements from Somalia’s armed insurgency into a peace process under the current strategies or whether new strategies need to be developed and what impact Council action could have on this issue.

An important question is whether any states are willing and able to provide troops (with training in counter insurgency and counter terrorist techniques), funding and robust equipment given that other operations especially in Darfur continue to struggle to attract key logistical assets.

With regard to sanctions, a central issue is whether the Council members will reach agreement on persons and entities to be subject to the individual measures and whether this will remain unresolved and delegated to the Committee. A related issue is whether the measures will target all arms embargo violators and peace spoilers in a balanced way, or whether it will focus only on those not currently party to the Djibouti Agreement. A related issue is the possible impact of this in terms of the perceptions of the UN taking sides.

Another issue is whether any measures will also address the problem of regional support for spoilers.

Other issues include:

  • the regional dimension, including foreign support for the insurgency;
  • ensuring security and relocation for UNPOS;
  • lack of progress with increasing staff for UNPOS;
  • addressing violations of international humanitarian law and the lack of humanitarian access; and
  • human rights and justice issues.

Council Dynamics
Members are united in their concern for the humanitarian situation in Somalia and the need to support Somali initiatives in implementing the Djibouti Agreement. However there are differences on how best to do this. Given the Djibouti Agreement calls for the deployment of an international stabilisation force, most members seem to be focussing on whether this is feasible.

Many Council members appear to favour the introduction of additional measures against arms embargo violators and those impeding the political process. Some see this as an opportunity to support the parties to the Djibouti Agreement. Others consider targeted sanctions as an acknowledgement of factors including the Monitoring Group’s earlier and repeated recommendation that individual targeted sanctions be imposed on violators. Others also refer to the AU call for measures against those undermining the peace and reconciliation process.

In general there is a sense that the Djibouti Agreement has made it much easier to choose. Spoilers of the peace process can be identified as those not supporting the agreement. Targeted measures would therefore play a useful role punishing and potentially deterring these entities and individuals. However, while there appears to be broad support in principle for the introduction of targeted sanctions, agreeing on the targeted individuals or entities is likely to continue to pose problems.

The AU is pushing for the Council to establish an interim international stabilisation force, which would be followed by a UN peacekeeping operation. Other Council members supporting the deployment of some form of stabilisation or peacekeeping force include the US and Italy. However, the funding for a coalition based stabilisation force will have to be borne by the troop-contributing countries and donors. Given the cost and the risk, identifying a suitable lead nation is recognised as a major problem.

Most Council members are therefore reserving their positions on any deployment at least until the Secretariat can produce a comprehensive list of options for the Council to consider. Some are already dismissing the type of force earlier recommended by the Secretary-General in March (up to 27,000 troops). Instead, they have suggested a smaller force which would conduct activities in order of priority rather than simultaneously (for example, securing humanitarian corridors to Mogadishu followed by securing Mogadishu and then moving out to wider Somalia).

There is awareness that action in some form needs to be taken. But there is also real scepticism that there is enough progress on the political and security fronts (some are saying that the security situation has worsened). There are also serious concerns about the ability to implement any planned deployment. Many members are keen to avoid the asset problems faced by the peacekeeping mission in Darfur and especially to avoid exacerbating the current logistical and force generation problems confronting UN-AU Mission in Darfur. Many want evidence of real commitments from states offering troops, funding and equipment.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1831 (19 August 2008) renewed AMISOM for six months.
  • S/RES/1816 (2 June 2008) authorised action against piracy in Somalia.
  • S/RES/1814 (15 May 2008) requested an update to the Secretary-General’s phased approach and reiterated the Council’s intention to strengthen the arms embargo.
  • S/RES/733 (23 January 1992) imposed an arms embargo.

Selected Reports of the Secretary-General

  • S/2008/466 (16 July 2008) was the most recent report.
  • S/2008/178 (14 March 2008) contained the strategy for Somalia.

Latest Monitoring Group’s Report


  • S/PV.5942 (23 July 2008) was the most recent Council briefing by Ould-Abdallah.
  • S/2000/809 (21 August 2000) was the Brahimi Report.

Other Rele
vant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (Mauritania)

UNPOS: Size and Cost

  • Maximum authorised size: 44 international and 28 local civilians
  • Size as of 30 June 2008: 16 international and 11 local civilians
  • 2008 budget: about $16 million

UNPOS: Duration

15 April 1995 to present; mandate expires on 31 December 2009

AMISOM: Size, Composition and Cost

  • Maximum authorised strength: 8,000 troops plus maritime and air components
  • Strength as of 16 July 2008: about 2,650 Ugandan and Burundian troops
  • Key resource contributors: US, EU, Italy, Sweden, China and the Arab League

AMISOM: Duration

February 2007 to present: AU mandate expires on 17 January 2009 and Council authorisation expires on 19 February 2009.


Full forecast

Subscribe to receive SCR publications