June 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 May 2009
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action
At press time Somalia was not scheduled to be discussed by the Council in June, but Council members are likely to monitor the situation closely in light of the recent increase in insurgent attacks against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Key Recent Developments
In May heavy fighting broke out in Mogadishu between insurgents and forces loyal to the government. According to the UN, there was an attempted coup on 9 May led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, leader of the hardline-faction of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) who has joined the insurgent group Hisbul Islam and recently returned to Mogadishu from exile in Asmara.

While failing to overthrow the government, the insurgents gained ground in Mogadishu and elsewhere. The militant group Al-Shabaab, which is vowing to continue fighting until the government collapses and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) leaves the country, has reportedly started registering young recruits to “join the jihad” against the government. On 17 May it captured the town of Jowhar. However, there were also signs of divisions within the insurgents. One of the key leaders of Hisbul Islam, Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed Siad (also known as Inda’ade) on 16 May reportedly defected to the government.

There were also reports of a growing presence of foreign insurgents. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, in an interview estimated their number at around 300. The Somali government accused Eritrea of bringing in weapons illegally and called on the international community to help stop Eritrean interference. The US State Department issued a press release on 15 May denouncing Eritrea’s support for antigovernment forces in Somalia. According to several media reports, Ethiopian forces re-entered border areas in Somalia on 19 May, but Ethiopia denied the claims.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, on 12 May said Somalia was facing its worst drought in a decade, deepening an already dire humanitarian crisis. Two days later the International Committee of the Red Cross deplored the high number of civilian casualties and called on the parties to comply with international humanitarian law. On 15 May, the UN High Commission for Refugees estimated that 135 had been killed, more than 400 wounded, and 34,000 displaced since the recent fighting erupted. It later raised the number of displaced to 67,000.

On 13 May the Council was briefed on the Secretary-General’s 16 April report by Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy and Under Secretary-General for Field Support Susana Malcorra.

Pascoe noted that international support for the Somali government was particularly crucial in light of the recent surge in violence. He said pledges made at the Brussels donors conference in April must be disbursed quickly. Le Roy characterised the peace process as extremely fragile. While reiterating that a peacekeeping operation could not be deployed under the present circumstances, he said the Secretary-General had received some positive responses (from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Uruguay) to an initial request for troop contributions. Somali Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar, also present, said his government had sought every opportunity to reach out to its opponents without preconditions, but renewed fighting was the only response received.

On 15 May the Council adopted a presidential statement condemning the renewed fighting by Al-Shabaab and “other extremists” as an attempt to remove the legitimate government by force and demanding an immediate end to the violence. It also expressed concern over reports of Eritrean arms supplies and called on the Sanctions Monitoring Group on Somalia to investigate these. Eritrea rejected the accusations in a 19 May letter to the Council.

During its Africa mission, the Council on 16 May also discussed Somalia with the AU Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa.

On 20 May the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, in a communiqué, called on the Council to impose a no-fly zone and a blockade of seaports in Somalia to prevent further arms supplies. It also called on the Council to impose sanctions on the government of Eritrea. The AU supported these calls in a communiqué on 22 May and requested the Council to impose sanctions on all foreign actors providing support to armed opposition groups in Somalia.

On 26 May the Council adopted a resolution requesting the Secretary-General to implement the phased approach recommended in his 16 April report (please see our May Forecast) and continue to provide a logistical support package for AMISOM with funding from UN assessed contributions. It also requested the AU to maintain AMISOM in Somalia and renewed its authorisation until 31 January 2010. The General Assembly’s Fifth Committee is expected to approve the support package extension before its current session ends on 5 June.

Key Issues
A key issue in June is whether the TFG can withstand continued attacks by insurgent groups. A closely related issue is whether the UN strategy for Somalia, which is centred on support for the TFG and AMISOM, can succeed under current conditions. The role of foreign fighters and outside interference, notably from Eritrea, appears increasingly important.

Options
Options for the Council in June are limited. With the resolution adopted on 26 May focus is likely to remain on implementation of the current strategy of strengthening AMISOM and Somali security institutions.

Should the situation continue to deteriorate, the Council might request another briefing from the Secretariat. It might also include Somalia as a footnote on its program of work for June to signal its watchfulness on the issues.

Council Dynamics
The Council now seems fairly united on the approach to the situation in Somalia. The renewal in fighting is a major concern for all members, as are reports of foreign arms supplies. The US and the UK seem particularly concerned about the influence of Eritrea.

There were apparently no major divisions in negotiating the resolution adopted on 26 May. The main difficulty was US opposition to any language that might be interpreted as a commitment to establish a UN peacekeeping operation, in effect a reversal in position from the previous US administration.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1872 (26 May 2009) renewed authorisation of AMISOM until 31 January 2010, approved its funding from assessed UN contributions and requested the Secretary-General to implement the phased approach recommended in his 16 April report.
  • 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.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2009/15 (15 May 2009) condemned the renewed fighting by Al-Shabaab and other extremists and demanded an immediate end to the violence.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2009/210 (16 April 2009) was the report requested by resolution 1863 on a possible UN peacekeeping deployment in Somalia.
  • S/2009/132 (9 March 2009) was the most recent regular report.

Latest Monitoring Group’s Report

Other

  • S/2009/256 (19 May 2009) was a letter from Eritrea rejecting accusations that it had supplied arms to groups opposing the TFG.
  • S/PV.6124 (13 May 2009) was the Council’s last open meeting on Somalia.

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