February 2009 Monthly Forecast



Expected Council Action

The Council expects to receive an initial report from the Secretary-General by 30 January on measures to strengthen the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) as requested in resolution 1863 of 16 January. In February the Council is likely to receive a more comprehensive report and briefing. The Secretary-General’s reporting will likely draw on the findings of a joint UN technical assessment mission (composed of experts from the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations, Political Affairs and Field Support) that was dispatched to the Horn of Africa on 12 January to explore how the UN can support AMISOM and to hold consultations on assistance to Somalia’s transitional security forces.

Key Recent Developments
The Council has recently adopted two resolutions on counter-piracy measures, renewing on 2 December the provision in resolution 1816 authorising states and regional organisations to enter Somalia’s territorial waters to combat piracy for 12 months and expanding it on 16 December to include operations on land. (For more details, please see our December 2008 and January 2009 Forecasts.)

On 14 January, the US convened the first meeting of the International Contact Group on Piracy off the coast of Somalia, responding to the Council’s call for more international cooperation. The group said it would regularly inform the Council of its activities. It will also consider establishing a centre in the region to coordinate information on Somali piracy.

The key focus more recently, however, was the possibility of authorising a peacekeeping force for Somalia. No agreement could be reached on the issue of deploying a coalition military force to impose security as no country responded to the Secretary-General’s request for contributions to such a coalition. In a letter dated 19 December the Secretary-General outlined alternative proposals on how to address security challenges in Somalia, including reinforcing AMISOM, building Somali capacity and establishing a maritime task force.

On 22 December, the African Union extended AMISOM’s mandate but only until 16 March, signaling once again that the mission was only intended as a temporary measure. It reiterated its request to the Council for an international stabilisation force for Somalia to be followed by a UN peacekeeping operation and called for an AMISOM support package as proposed by the Secretary-General.

At the end of December, the US pushed for authorisation of a UN peacekeeping operation but failed to gain sufficient support. As a compromise, the Council on 16 January adopted resolution 1863, essentially deferring this issue. It expressed its intention to establish a UN peacekeeping operation by 1 June and in the short term renewed AMISOM’s authorisation for up to six months and decided that UN resources should be made available to AMISOM. (This is similar to the support packages which had previously been made available to the AU mission in Sudan.)

There were several significant political developments. On 25 November the parties to the Djibouti Agreement, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS), agreed on a power sharing proposal envisaging establishment of a national unity government within two months, enlargement of parliament from 275 to 550 members (200 seats reserved for ARS and 75 for civil society groups and the diaspora) and presidential elections in January. It was agreed to extend the transitional period (defined by the Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic) by two years.

Somalia’s then-President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed rejected the proposal, widening the rift with Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein following their disagreement over a new cabinet. On 14 December, Yusuf tried to sack the prime minister. However, the Somali parliament overwhelmingly voted (143 out of 170 legislators) to reinstate him. In spite of the vote, the president named former interior minister Mohamed Mohamud Guled as prime minister. Increasingly isolated and facing growing international criticism, Yusuf resigned on 29 December. This was hailed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, as a “patriotic and courageous decision”. In accordance with the transitional charter the speaker of parliament, Sheikh Adan Madobe, was named interim president.

Yusuf’s resignation was widely seen as a window of opportunity for the political process. However, new divisions over electing a new president quickly emerged, this time between Hussein and Madobe. Madobe argued for elections to be held in Baidoa with the existing composition of parliament whereas Hussein and Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (chairman of ARS) wanted the president elected by the enlarged parliament envisaged by the power-sharing agreement, to be seated in Djibouti. Madobe apparently changed his position, and on 26 January, at a meeting held in Djibouti, the parliament approved the enlargement. More than a dozen candidates, including Hussein and Sharif, had announced their intention to seek the presidency. At press time it was still unclear whether the elections would be held within the thirty days from Yusuf’s resignation as required by the transitional charter.

Another significant development was Ethiopia’s troop withdrawal. The last Ethiopian soldiers reportedly left Somalia on 26 January. There were conflicting reports about the impact on security. In a press statement on 16 January, AMISOM said that bases vacated by the Ethiopians in Mogadishu had been taken over by TFG and ARS forces and not by insurgents as reported in the media. On 26 January there were reports that the Islamist insurgent group Al-Shabaab had taken over control of Baidoa, the seat of the Somali parliament, after Ethiopian forces left the city.

Key Issues
Developments in the security situation will remain a key issue. It may be too early to tell whether the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops will strengthen or weaken Al-Shabaab, which has been fighting the Ethiopians. Al-Shabaab has reportedly said that they will now target AMISOM forces (already, there are reports of attacks) and will fight as long as foreign troops remain in Somalia.

The political process is the other key issue. Election of a new president and implementation of the power-sharing agreement could provide the basis for a more unified, inclusive and effective political leadership necessary to improve the security situation. But the new power structures can be effective only if they are generally inclusive. A critical question, therefore, is whether groups that have so far rejected the Djibouti Agreement will join the process. There were reports in January that Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed met secretly with Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of the Asmara-based ARS faction which has rejected the agreement. It remains to be seen whether this could be a first step towards reconciliation.

Implementation of the Council’s recent decision to strengthen AMISOM and support for Somali capacity building to improve security will also be a focus for the Council. This will largely depend on the capacity of the UN to move quickly on the financial and logistical issues to get resources to the African troop contributors. There are already signs that some members of the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, which must approve the expenditures, are unhappy with the Council decision.

The Council request to the Secretary-General for further recommendations on a possible mandate for a UN peacekeeping force is also an issue. In resolution 1863 the Council identified as possible elements: facilitation of humanitarian assistance, providing security for the political process, ceasefire monitoring, security for UN personnel and assisting Somali security forces. Protection of civilians was notably absent, although many reports confirm this is a key issue (including the briefing by Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes to the Council on 14 January).

Impunity was briefly referred to in the preamble of resolution 1863. Many Somalis seem to see absence of justice as an obstacle to peace. It is being addressed under the Djibouti Agreement where the possibility of a commission of inquiry and an international court has been discussed. A Human Rights Watch report issued on 8 December detailed crimes and human rights abuses committed by all sides in the conflict and called on the Council to establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate serious crimes committed in Somalia.

Options for the Council include:

Council Dynamics
The issue of a possible UN peacekeeping operation for Somalia came to a head in late December after the Secretary-General concluded that a multinational force was not an option in the absence of pledges. The US and UK introduced competing draft resolutions. The US proposal was to extend the authorisation of AMISOM until 1 June and establish a UN peacekeeping operation on that same date. The UK proposal, on the other hand, put more emphasis on strengthening AMISOM and expressed only the Council’s willingness to consider establishing a peacekeeping operation to take over from AMISOM without specifying any date for further action.

The US proposal was supported by China, Viet Nam and African members, but met strong opposition from European members and Russia. UK and France reiterated their argument that there must be further progress in the peace process and improved security before the Council authorised a peacekeeping operation. This forced the US to give up its attempt to have the resolution adopted in December and to reach a compromise in January on resolution 1863.

Japan, an incoming member, expressed reservations about the assessed funding implications of the proposed support package for AMISOM but joined the consensus. It is likely to remain concerned about the budgetary impact.

The US approach under the new administration remains to be seen. The new US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, reportedly said during her senate confirmation hearing that she was “skeptical about the wisdom” of establishing a UN peacekeeping operation in Somalia under the current circumstances.

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UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1863 (16 January 2009) renewed authorisation of AMISOM for up to six months, approved using UN resources to strengthen AMISOM, and expressed the Council’s intention to establish a UN peacekeeping operation by 1 June 2009 .
  • S/RES/1853 (19 December 2008) renewed the mandate of the Monitoring Group for 12 months.
  • S/RES/1851 (16 December 2008) expanded the anti-piracy authorisation to include action on land in Somalia and called for enhanced coordination.
  • S/RES/1846 (2 December 2008) renewed authorisation of action against piracy in Somalia for 12 months.
  • S/RES/1844 (20 November 2008) imposed targeted sanctions.
  • S/RES/1838 (7 October 2008) called for intensified action against piracy in Somalia.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2008/33 (4 September 2008) requested detailed planning on an international stabilisation force and peacekeeping force.

Selected Report of the Secretary-General

  • S/2008/709 (17 November 2008) was the most recent report.

Latest Monitoring Group’s Report


  • S/2008/804 (19 December) was the letter from the Secretary-General outlining additional proposals to address security challenges in Somalia.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (Mauritania)

UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS)

  • Maximum authorised size: 44 international and 28 local civilians
  • Cost: $6,4 million (budget for the period 1 January to 30 June 2009)
  • Duration: 15 April 1995 to present; mandate expires on 31 December 2009


  • Maximum authorised strength: 8,000 troops plus maritime and air components.
  • Strength as of January 2009: about 3,450 Ugandan and Burundian troops
  • Key resource contributors: US, EU, Italy, Sweden, China and the Arab League.
  • Duration: February 2007 to present: AU mandate expires on 16 March 2009 and Council authorisation expires on 16 July 2009.

Useful Additional Sources

Full forecast

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