July 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 June 2009
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action

In July the Council will receive the Secretary-General’s regular report on Somalia. A briefing is likely. There is also a possibility of a Council open debate due to the growing concerns about the security situation.

The Somalia Sanctions Monitoring Group is expected to provide a midterm briefing to the Sanctions Committee and the Committee’s chairman, Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller, is scheduled to brief the Council.

Key Recent Developments
Following a period of relative calm, the rebel groups Al-Shabaab and Hisbul Islam intensified attacks against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) towards the end of June. On 17 June Mogadishu’s police chief Ali Said was killed when government forces attacked an insurgent base in Mogadishu. On 18 June a suicide bomber killed Somalia’s minister of national security, Omar Hashi Aden. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility. At least 25 others also died. The attack was condemned by the AU, the UN, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the League of Arab States in a joint statement, and also by the Council in a press statement on 19 June.

On 20 June the Somali speaker of parliament, Sheikh Aden Mohamed Nur, asked neighbouring countries (including Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen) to intervene militarily in Somalia to support the government. On 22 June Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed declared a state of emergency. Al-Shabaab immediately warned against any intervention and said it would fight any foreign troops.

Reuters had reported earlier in June that Ethiopian soldiers were once again observed by residents as far as 30 kilometres inside Somalia. While Ethiopia had admitted at the end of May to carrying out reconnaissance missions on Somali territory, it denied the presence of soldiers, saying it had no intention of going back into Somalia and claimed the reports were fabricated by Islamist rebels to gain support for their fight against the TFG.

There were several attacks targeting journalists. On 2 June Ibrahim Mohamed Ali, the director of Universal TV, a Somali TV station based in London, was abducted on his way from Afgoye to Mogadishu. On 7 June two armed men shot and killed the director of the Somali radio station Radio Shabelle, Mukhtar Mohammed Hirabe. According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSJ), Hirabe was the fifth journalist killed in Somalia this year. On 9 June Somali media suspended broadcasting to protest the killing, and NUSJ called on the international community to take action.

The situation for civilians, particularly in Mogadishu, remained “extremely alarming” according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Also, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), and Oxfam International expressed grave concern. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on 9 June that the situation for civilians was unacceptable and that the fighting was conducted in clear violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. It estimated on 26 June that more than 250 civilians had been killed, 900 wounded and 160,000 people displaced since fighting erupted at the beginning of May.

On 8 June Al-Shabaab ordered all international aid agencies, including the World Food Programme, to leave the southwestern region of Gedo, accusing them of espionage. On 17 June MSF announced that it had decided to close its hospital in south-central Somalia because of unacceptable risk levels.

The International Contact Group on Somalia met in Rome from 9 to 10 June under the chairmanship of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah. In a communiqué it called for continued international support for the TFG, including through quick disbursement of pledges made at the April Brussels donor conference. It also called for discussions on the recent requests by IGAD and the AU to impose sanctions on Eritrea. It urged all parties to continue efforts to address the issue of impunity and called on the UN and others to establish offices in Mogadishu as soon as possible.

Developments in the Sanctions Committee
On 11 May the Somalia Sanctions Committee adopted revised guidelines for its work. It later granted an exemption requested by the US to fund and deliver weapons and ammunition for the TFG. The Council requested the Secretary-General in December to reestablish the Somalia Monitoring Group. However, its members were not appointed until March. It was therefore not fully operational until May. In July it is expected to provide a midterm briefing and be ready to present to the Committee a draft list of individuals and entities to be considered for imposition of sanctions.

Key Issues
A key issue is the level of international support for the TFG, bilaterally and through UN channels, to enable it to withstand insurgent attacks, and for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). On 25 June the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee approved funding for the continuation of the logistical support package for AMISOM for the period 1 July to 31 December in the amount of approximately $138.8 million.

A closely related issue is whether the current UN strategy for Somalia is sufficient or whether additional measures are needed as requested by the Somali government in its appeal for foreign intervention. It seems likely that new initiatives will emerge for greater UN action in the sanctions area. Revisiting the UN peacekeeping idea seems less of an issue.

As to regional military action, Ethiopian Information Minister Bereket Simon said, according to the BBC, that any further Ethiopian action would be based on a decision by the international community. However, it is widely thought that any Ethiopian military involvement would be counterproductive.

Another key issue is the role of foreign fighters and outside interference, notably from Eritrea, and the impact on regional stability. Concern appears to be growing that the current situation is attracting foreigners with links to Al-Qaida and others wanting to wage holy war in Somalia, thus strengthening the insurgency. There are also concerns about regional implications of an escalation of the conflict. Kenya in particular has said that a further deterioration in Somalia would be a threat to regional stability and should not be allowed.

A related question is what role Eritrea is playing in supporting the insurgents. In June an IGAD delegation visited New York to ask Council members to support its request for sanctions on the government of Eritrea. (There was less focus on IGAD’s call for a no-fly zone and a blockade of seaports in Somalia.) The Council asked the Sanctions Monitoring Group in a statement in May to investigate reports that Eritrea had supplied arms to insurgent groups. It is unlikely to take any action until it has received credible evidence, but a Council initiative in this area is another possible issue.

A major underlying issue is the suffering of the civilian population and the continuing deterioration in the humanitarian situation. In previous decisions on Somalia, the Council has repeatedly called for respect for international humanitarian law but has never substantively addressed the issue of accountability for those responsible for violations. Implementing the current sanctions regimefor Somalia which allows for targeted individual measures against those who obstruct humanitarian assistance is a further issue.

Options
At press time, discussions were underway among Council members about possible action in July. Main options for the Council include:

  • reinforcing previous messages and calling in particular for immediate international support for the TFG both bilaterally and through mechanisms already in place;
  • exploring additional measures if requested by IGAD or the AU; and
  • expediting work in the Somalia Sanctions Committee to establish the list of individuals and entities subject to targeted sanctions.

In addition the Council could:

  •  
    • provide much more precise steering on international involvement in political reconciliation efforts, in particular as regards the Special Representative’s role (this issue may be addressed in the Secretary-General’s July report which is expected to include recommendations on ways to strengthen the Djibouti peace process);
    • condemn the recent attacks against Somali journalists, recalling its resolution 1738, which specifically calls for protection in armed conflict for journalists and media professionals; and
    • express support for the establishment, at the appropriate time, of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate serious crimes committed in Somalia and request the Secretary-General to develop recommendations in that regard.

Council Dynamics
The Council is united in its concern for the current situation in Somalia, but most members do not seem ready to launch any new initiative for immediate action. Some are waiting to see what decisions will emerge from the AU summit scheduled in Libya from 24 June to 3 July.

African members of the Council are divided on the IGAD request for sanctions on Eritrea. While Uganda seems supportive, Libya and Burkina Faso are seen as reluctant. Other Council members are concerned about the Eritrean role, but seem to think that any initiative to coerce Eritrea must have full support from African members.

On the broader sanctions issues, divisions are expected as well. Also, because of procedural issues the establishment of a list of individuals and entities to be subject to targeted sanctions is likely to take time. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Monitoring Group’s expected draft sanctions list may create some momentum.

UK is the lead country on this issue in the Council.

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 antipiracy 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/1738 (23 December 2006) condemned intentional attacks against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel, and requested that the Secretary-General include as a sub-item in his next reports on the protection of civilians in armed conflict the issue of the safety and security of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2009/15 (15 May 2009) condemned the renewed fighting by Al-Shabaab and other extremists, demanded an immediate end to the violence, and called on the Sanctions Monitoring Group to investigate reports that Eritrea had supplied arms to insurgent groups.

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/2009/146 (16 March 2009) was the report on piracy submitted pursuant to resolution 1846.
  • S/2009/132 (9 March 2009) was the most recent regular report.

Latest Monitoring Group’s Report

Other

  • SC/9685 (19 June 2009) was a Council press statement condemning the suicide bombing that killed the Somali Minister for National Security.
  • S/2009/312 (16 June 2009) was a letter from Eritrea reaffirming its rejection of accusations that it had supplied arms to any party in Somalia.
  • S/2009/260 (20 May 2009) was a letter from Ethiopia submitting the IGAD communiqué of 20 May.
  • 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.
  • S/2009/172 (31 March 2009) was a letter from the Secretary-General informing the Council of the appointment of the fifth expert to the Monitoring Group.
  • S/2009/136 (6 March 2009) was a letter from the Secretary-General informing the Council of the appointment of four experts to the Monitoring Group.

 

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (Mauritania)

UNPOS

  • Cost: approx. $16 million (revised 2009 budget)
  • Duration: 15 April 1995 to present; mandate expires on 31 December 2009
  • Strength: 36 international civilians; 20 local civilians (as of 31 May)

Chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee

Claude Heller (Mexico)

AMISOM

  • Maximum authorised strength: 8,000 troops plus maritime and air components
  • Strength as of June 2009: about 4,300 Ugandan and Burundian troops.
  • Key resource contributors: China, Italy, Japan, Sweden, the UK, the US, the EU and Arab League
  • Duration: February 2007 to present: AU mandate expires on 17 January 2010 and Council authorisation expires on 31 January 2010.

Full forecast

 

 

 

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