July 26, 2010

Internal Conflict with International dimensions, the Case of Somalia (By Hunde D. Gabissa)

Internal Conflict with International dimensions, the Case of Somalia

By Hunde D. Gabissa *

May 2010, Belgium

It is almost two decades since Somalia started the unpleasant journey to nowhere. The conflict which started either as political, tribal or/and ideological differences overthrown the Mohamed Siad Barre national government and opened a way for a protracted anarchy. Few or none have forecasted the danger of that relatively minor violence until it forced couple of UN missions to quit after heavy loss, changed its face from time to time and reached the today’s multimillion dollar ‘business’ or ‘crime’ of piracy.

Today the world knows Somalia due to the reality of migration and decades of conflict. It is also possible to say Somalia is the security risk, from different perspective; to the Africans, to the western superpowers and the international community.

The case of Somalia is a serious loss and mess to a lot of groups. The USA has suffered its military reputation when it intervened to withdraw shortly with big resistance and shock. The UN, AU and other international organizations have played their part to reinstate Somalia but the real Somalia is still a dream and violence is escalating. Moreover, the intervention of Ethiopia complicated the case and energized the extremist.

But what is the real problem of Somalia? Can a country roughly speaking one language and adheres to the same Muslim religion be branded as a failed state due to clan? What was the UN response to that crisis and what was the effect of countless effort to restore peace and stability in Somalia? What is the role of Ethiopia in the history of Somalia and the legality of its military intervention in 2006? How can a trouble in one country be a concern to the international community? What will be the share of Somalia’s and the International Community to restore Somalia? This and other related issues will be discussed briefly in this paper entitled “Internal Conflict with International dimensions: The case of Somalia”.

The aim of this paper is to show how internal conflict will have an international dimension. I used descriptive method of writing to bring these points to your attention.

1. Introduction: General information on Somalia

Somalia, formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under communist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa, naming Mogadishu as its capital city. It is bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Kenya to the southwest, the Gulf of Aden with Yemen to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Ethiopia to the west (See map).

Somalia’s speak single language, Somali (Afsoomaali) and adheres to Islamic belief, but they are best known for their long and destructive civil war, which did not yet come to an end till today. With a population of 9.1 million, roughly equal to the population of Belgium; Somalia is one of the most strategically important countries in the entire Africa mainly due to its long coast line measured 3,025 km. What is more its location on Horn of Africa along southern approaches to Bab el Mandeb and route through Red Sea and Suez Canal, adds more importance to its location. Somalia covers 637,657sq km; making it 43rd largest country in the World. Currently Somalia is member of UN and AU, out of many other international and regional organizations.

The Cushitic populations of the Somali Coast in the Horn of Africa have an ancient history. Known by ancient Arabs as the Berberi, archaeological evidence indicates their presence in the Horn of Africa by A.D. 100 and possibly earlier. As early as the seventh century A.D., the indigenous Cushitic peoples began to mingle with Arab and Persian traders who had settled along the coast. Interaction over the centuries led to the emergence of a Somali culture bound by common traditions, a single language, and the Islamic faith. Unlike many countries in Africa, the Somali nation extends beyond its national borders. Since gaining independence in 1960, the goal of Somali nationalism, also known as Pan-Somalism, has been the unification of all Somali populations, forming a Greater Somalia. This issue has been a major cause of past crises between Somalia and its neighbors--Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti.

Today, about 60% of all Somalis are nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists who raise cattle, camels, sheep, and goats. About 25% of the population is settled farmers who live mainly in the fertile agricultural zone between the Juba and Shabelle Rivers in southern Somalia. The remainder of the population (15%-20%) is urban.

Sizable ethnic groups in the country include Bantu agricultural workers, several thousand Arabs and some hundreds of Indians and Pakistanis. Nearly all inhabitants speak the Somali language. The language remained unwritten until October 1973, when the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) proclaimed it the nation's official language and decreed an orthography using Latin letters. Somali is now the language of instruction in schools, although Arabic, English, and Italian also are used extensively.

Early history traces the development of the Somali state to an Arab sultanate, which was founded in the seventh century A.D. by Koreishite immigrants from Yemen. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese traders landed in present Somali territory and ruled several coastal towns. The sultan of Oman and Zanzibar subsequently took control of these towns and their surrounding territory.

Somalia's modern history began in the late 19th century, when various European powers began to trade and establish themselves in the area. The British East India Company's desire for unrestricted harbor facilities led to the conclusion of treaties with the sultan of Tajura as early as 1840. Somalia stayed under colony for more than half a century under the British in the North and Italy in the south. Accordingly months of vacillations’ and eventually turning of the debate over to the United Nations, Somalia got independency in 1960, making Aden Abdullah the first President of the country.

2. Independency and collapse of the central government of Somalia

British Somaliland became independent on June 26, 1960, and the former Italian Somaliland followed suit five days later. On July 1, 1960, the two territories united to form the Somali Republic, albeit within boundaries drawn up by Italy and Britain. A government was formed with Aden Abdullah Osman Daar and Abdirashid Ali Shermarke as president and Prime Minister respectively. On July 20, 1961 and through a popular Referendum, the Somali people ratified a new Constitution. Due to corruption and bad governance the civilian rule lasted only for 9 years.

A bloodless coup led by Maj. Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre on October 21, 1969, brought an abrupt end to the process of party-based constitutional democracy in Somalia. Following the coup, executive and legislative power was vested in the 20-member Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC), headed by Barre. The SRC pursued a course of "scientific socialism" that reflected both ideological and economic dependence on the Soviet Union. The government instituted a national security service, centralized control over information, and initiated a number of grassroots development projects. Barre reduced political freedoms and used military force to seize and redistribute rich farmlands in the interriverine areas of southern Somalia, relying on the use of force and terror against the Somali population to consolidate his political power base.

The SRC became increasingly radical in foreign affairs, and in 1974, Somalia and the Soviet Union concluded a treaty of friendship and cooperation. As early as 1972, tensions began increasing along the Somali-Ethiopian border; these tensions heightened after the accession to power in Ethiopia in 1973 of the Mengistu Haile Mariam regime, which turned increasingly toward the Soviet Union. In the mid-1970s, the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) began guerrilla operations in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Following the overthrow of the Ethiopian Emperor in 1975, Somalia invaded Ethiopia in 1977 in a second attempt to regain the Ogaden, and the second attempt initially appeared to be in Somalia's favor. The SNA moved quickly toward Harer, Jijiga, and Dire Dawa, the principal cities of the region. However, following the Ethiopian revolution, the new Ethiopian Government shifted its alliance from the West to the Soviet Union. Because of the new alliance, the Soviet Union supplied Ethiopia with 10,000-15,000 Cuban troops and Soviet military advisors during the 1977-78 Ogaden war, shifting the advantage to Ethiopia and resulting in Somalia's defeat. But, The Somali-Soviet friendship and later partnership with the United States enabled Somalia to build the largest army in Africa. This time Somalia entered a big trouble due to the pressure from in and out of the country. Accordingly there was a terror running in the country to silence the dissidents and change of socialist ideology to get favor and support of western aid. This in addition to the preexisting unresolved issue of Ogaden and economic divide between North and southern Somalia brought eventual downfall of the Siad Barre regime, opening the way to lawlessness and all sort of disaster caused by lack of central government.

3. Somalia: a concern to the international community

Almost after 31 years of freedom from colonialism but suffering under the bondage of corrupt or/and dictatorial regime, Somalia; was forced to collapse due to a number of reasons mainly internal discontent, bad neighborhood policy and lack of consistent foreign ally. But few or none have forecasted the danger of that relatively minor violence and the drastic effect of the collapse of Somalia central government until it claimed the life of thousands, went beyond control, changed its face from time to time and reached the today’s multimillion dollar ‘business’ or ‘crime’ of piracy. Today almost everybody knows Somalia due to the reality of migration and decades of conflict. In due time it becomes clearer that Somalia is number one security risk in Africa, from different perspective; primarily to its citizens, to neighboring countries, to the west and other international community. The case of Somalia is a serious loss and mess to a lot of groups. The USA has suffered its military reputation when it intervened to withdraw shortly with big resistance and shock. The UN has failed to help the formation of valid central government in Somalia; accordingly its military interventions and dozens of diplomatic effort were just forgotten as journey to nowhere. In fact UN Security Council authorization for a limited peace keeping mission in 1992 was led by a concern with famine which resulted from the long civil war going in Somalia, which is in fact very important at the time and saved even the worst disaster. Again Somalia is still in the same troubled situation and uncertain future.

The loss of life of UN and U.S. soldiers, together with the lack of an obvious solution to the internal problems of Somalia, led many critics to conclude that peacekeeping can only be effective in situations where all parties to a conflict sought to end it and needed the good offices of a neutral force to reinforce mutual trust or verify the fulfillment of obligations. Post Mogadishu battle, the U.S. in particular has been very reluctant to commit troops to situations where there are multiple competing forces. Instead, an unofficial policy of standing back while one side begins to emerge as the victor appears to have informed subsequent U.S. and UN approaches to several conflict situations. Muravchik suggests that in Bosnia during the Bosnian War, the UN and the U.S. thought that the "shortest path they could see to … an outcome was for the weaker party to surrender." The problem with this approach in Somalia is that there are far too many competing parties for anyone to emerge as the overall victor. Boutros-Ghali called it "a war of all against all."

The international community is concerned in the conflict in Somalia, not only because Somalia is member of United Nations but also because of its strategic location. Any kind of trouble in that important and sensitive trade route will definitely go inconsistent with the vested interest of the states. When the desperate Somali militants started hijacking different types of ships indiscriminately, the issue comes on the table with multimillion dollar deals, which is really painful for any states. What is more painful, the connotation for superpowers to bow for the goodwill of very few organized militants is quite disgusting and the precedent is clearly unaffordable.

4. United Nations Interventions in the civil war: legal and diplomatic attempt to restore Somalia.

The year 1991 saw great changes in Somalia. President Barre was ousted by combined northern and southern clan-based forces, all of whom were backed and armed by Ethiopia. Following the downfall of President Siad Barre in 1991, a civil war broke out in Somalia between the faction supporting Interim President Ali Mahdi Mohamed and that supporting General Mohamed Farah Aidid. The United Nations, in cooperation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and other organizations, sought to resolve the conflict. The Secretary-General in 1991 dispatched an envoy to which all faction leaders expressed support for a United Nations peace role. The United Nations also became engaged in providing humanitarian aid, in cooperation with relief organizations. The war had resulted in nearly one million refugees and almost five million people threatened by hunger and disease. The civil war disrupted agriculture and food distribution in southern Somalia. The basis of most of the conflicts was clan allegiances and competition for resources between the warring clans. James Bishop, the United States last ambassador to Somalia, explained that there is "competition for water, pasturage, and... cattle. It is a competition that used to be fought out with arrows and sabers... Now it is fought out with AK-47s. The resulting famine (about 300,000 dead) caused the United Nations Security Council in 1992 to authorize the limited peacekeeping operation
United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM I).

4.1 United Nations Operation in Somalia I (1990-1992)

UNOSOM I was established by The United Nations Security Council resolution 751(1992) of 24 April 1992 by the request of the Somalia to consider the situation in the country. Accordingly, the representative of Somalia was allowed to participate in this meeting with no vote. According to official website of the UNOSOM I, the objective of this mission was to monitor the ceasefire in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia; which was signed on the 3 of march 1992 and to provide protection and security for United Nations personnel, equipment and supplies at the seaports and airports in Mogadishu and escort deliveries of humanitarian supplies from there to distribution centers’ in the city and its immediate environs. It seems the UN Security council have known the complicated situation in Somalia and have tried to avoid any kind misconception in its mission, as we can understand from body of the resolution. It didn’t simply go on dispatching military personals. But it called up on the Secretary General to work in cooperation with The Arab League, Organization of African Unity, Organization of Islamic Conference, all Somali parties, movements and functions towards convening of a conference for a national and unity in Somalia. That is why, The UN, with the active support of all rebel faction leaders, felt that some sort of peacekeeping force would be required to uphold the ceasefire and assist the humanitarian relief effort, in conjunction with other relief agencies and NGOs; The resolution also allowed for an expansion of the security force, with a number of around 500 troops initially discussed. The first group of ceasefire observers arrived in Mogadishu in early July 1992.

Despite the UN's efforts, all over Somalia the ceasefire was ignored, fighting continued, and continued to increase, putting the relief operations at great risk. The main parties to the ceasefire, General Mohamed Farrah Aidid and "President" Ali Mahdi Muhammad, once again showing the difficult and troubled relations between the warlords, proved to be difficult negotiating partners and continually frustrated attempts to move the peacekeepers and supplies.

The relief effort was hampered by continued fighting and insecurity. On 28 August 1992, UNOSOM I's mandate and strength were expanded by Security Council resolution 775 (1992), to enable it to protect humanitarian convoys and distribution centres throughout Somalia, which enabled the idea of deploying 3,000 additional troops to protect humanitarian aid.

I found an interesting description of the situation and the commitment of the international community in the UN Security Council resolution 775(1992), endorsed to reinforce the UNOSOM I; as follows:
“Deeply disturbed by magnitude of the human suffering caused by the conflict and concerned that the situation in Somalia constitutes a threats to international peace and security”
And also
“Re affirming that, the provision of humanitarian assistance in Somalia is an important element in the effort of the council to restore international peace and security in the area.”
But the situation continued to worsen, with aid workers under attack as famine threatened 1.5 million people, but according to some sources most of these troops were never sent. Some elements were actively opposing the UNOSOM intervention. Troops were shot at, aid ships attacked and prevented from docking, cargo aircraft were fired upon and aid agencies, public and private, were subject to threats, robbery and extortion. Meanwhile, hundreds, if not thousands of poverty stricken refugees were starving to death every day. By November 1992, General Mohamed Farrah Aidid had grown confident enough to formally defy the Security Council and demand the withdrawal of peace keepers, as well as declaring hostile intent against any further UN deployments
4.2 UNITAF, Unified Task Force, (1992-May 1993)

Unified Task Force (UNITAF) was a United States led, United Nations sanctioned multinational force which operated in Somalia from 5 December 1992 – May 4, 1993. A United States initiative (code-named Operation Restore Hope) or UNITAF was created to establish a protected environment for conducting humanitarian operations in the southern half of Somalia. This is realized due to the offer of The United States in November 1992 to organize and lead an operation to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The Security Council accepted the offer and authorized the use of "all necessary means" to establish a secure environment for the relief effort. This was made possible under the legal framework of UN Security Council resolution 794 (1992), of 3 December 1992. Authorizing the ‘use of all necessary means’ in this context is legalizing the use of force in the way to accomplish the mission. The use of force was suggested and accepted due to the deterioration of the situations in Somalia and the recommendation of the Secretary General.
The Unified Task Force (UNITAF), made up of contingents from 24 countries led by the United States, quickly secured all major relief centers, and by year's end humanitarian aid was again flowing. UNOSOM remained responsible for protecting the delivery of assistance and for political efforts to end the war.
Here also we will find an extraordinary difficult presentation of the situation in Somalia, in the UN Security Council resolution 749 of 1992, adopted to institutionalize UNITAF, it follows:
“Recognizing the unique character of the present situation in Somalia and Mindful of its deteriorating, complex and extraordinary nature, requiring an immediate and exceptional response”
So it possible to imagine how horrible where the situation even to these people who sit and listen to the reports let alone to the population who have suffered the misery of the day. Side by side with deployment of the UNITAF, the Secretary-General convened an informal preparatory meeting at ECA headquarters in Addis Ababa from 4 to 15 January 1993, for a national reconciliation conference envisaged under United Nations auspices. A total of 14 Somali political movements took part in the meeting, along with the Secretaries-General of LAS, OAU and OIC and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Countries of the Horn, as well as the representatives of the current Chairman of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.

The following three agreements were concluded and signed at the meeting: (a) General Agreement of 8 January 1993; (b) Agreement on implementing the ceasefire and on modalities of disarmament; and (c) Agreement on the establishment of an ad hoc committee to help resolve the criteria for participation at, and the agenda for, the conference on national reconciliation, as well as any other issues pending from the informal meeting. Among other things, the informal meeting agreed on the convening of a conference on national reconciliation in Addis Ababa on 15 March 1993. The Somali parties requested the United Nations, in consultation with the relevant regional and sub regional organizations, to provide logistic support both prior to and during the conference.

4.3 United Nations Operation in Somalia II( 1993- 1995)

The Security Council in March 1993 decided on a transition from UNITAF to a new United Nations peacekeeping operation -- UNOSOM II, authorizing it to use force if necessary to ensure its mandate of securing a stable environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. UNOSOM II was established in accordance with Security Council resolution 814 (1993) of 26 March 1993. UNOSOM was also mandated to assist in the reconstruction of economic, social and political life . While UNITAF had patrolled less than half of the country with 37,000 well-equipped troops, the 22,000 United Nations peacekeepers were given the mandate to cover all of Somalia.
The factions, however, did not observe the ceasefires. In June 1993, 24 UNOSOM II soldiers from Pakistan were killed in an attack in Mogadishu. Subsequently, clashes between UNOSOM and Somali militiamen in Mogadishu resulted in casualties among civilians and UNOSOM. In October 1993, 18 United States soldiers of the Quick Reaction Force, deployed in support but not part of UNOSOM; lost their lives in an operation in Mogadishu. The United States immediately reinforced its military presence, but later announced that it would withdraw by early 1994. Belgium, France and Sweden also decided to withdraw.

The Secretary-General in October 1993 held talks in Somalia, while UNOSOM and United Nations agencies continued their reconciliation and relief efforts. Somali elders held reconciliation meetings in various parts of the country, while over 100,000 refugees returned to relatively peaceful parts of Somalia. The Security Council in early 1994 revised UNOSOM II’s mandate, stressing assistance for reconciliation and reconstruction. It also set March 1995 deadline for the mission. At talks brokered by a Secretary-General's envoy, the 15 major political movements in March 1994 signed a declaration on reconciliation: it provided for a ceasefire, the disarmament of militias and a conference to appoint a new Government. But preparations for the conference were repeatedly postponed. The Secretary-General told the Security Council in September that UNOSOM II’s ability to provide security had been reduced by troop withdrawals, budget restrictions and military actions by the Somali factions. Wider problems included the lack of commitment to peace by the factions and insufficient political will by Member States. The Council approved reductions in the force. With faction leaders still not complying with the 1993 and 1994 agreements, the Security Council extended UNOSOM for a final period. It urged factions to enact a ceasefire and form a Government of national unity. As no further progress was made, UNOSOM withdrew in March 1995.

In spite of the substantial failure with the mission and death of 157 United Nations peacekeeping personnel, UN claims they had brought relief to millions facing starvation, helped to stop the large-scale killings, assisted in the return of refugees and provided massive humanitarian aid.

In fact The UNOSOM II intervention is well-known for the Battle of Mogadishu and the resulting events portrayed in the book Black Hawk down: a Story of Modern War and its associated film Black Hawk Down. The battle of Mogadishu triggered wide public opinion. Faced with news footage of the dead U.S. soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, American public opinion turned against participation in UNOSOM II. U.S. President Bill Clinton was then forced to decide the withdrawal of U.S. forces, setting a deadline of 31 March 1994 for their complete withdrawal.

Finally UNOSOM II’s mandate ended in March 1995 when US ships off the coast of Somalia assisted in the safe departure of the remaining UNOSOM troops. In early 1994 the Security Council set a deadline for the mission of March 1995.

4.4 Different diplomatic efforts

Following the collapse of the Barre regime in 1991, various groupings of Somali factions sought to control the national territory (or portions thereof) and fought small wars with one another. Approximately 14 national reconciliation conferences were convened over the succeeding decade. Efforts at mediation of the Somali internal dispute were also undertaken by many regional states
Although it is frequently stated that over a dozen national reconciliation conferences have been convened on Somalia since 1991, a closer look reveals that only six were fully fledged national peace conferences.

First, the Djibouti Talks of June-July 1991, at which Ali Mahdi was declared interim President, a move General Mohamed Farah Aideed rejected. This peace process was only a set of negotiations intended to form an interim government for Somalia. The six parties on this negotiation are The United Somali Congress (USC); its main rival in southern Somalia, The Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM); The Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF); The Somali Democratic Movement (SDM); The Somali Democratic Association (SDA) and The United Somali Front (USF). The negotiation inadvertently exacerbated political tensions which culminated in the explosion of armed conflict destroying much of Mogadishu in late 1991.

Second, the Addis Ababa National Reconciliation Talks of January and March 1993. This was the linchpin of the UN intervention in Somalia and was meant to provide a blueprint for the creation of a two-year interim government. The Addis Ababa talks convened fifteen clan-based factions and produced a rushed and vaguely-worded accord that sparked tensions between the UN and some armed factions over whether the creation of district and regional councils were to be a bottom-up process or controlled by factions. Armed conflict broke out between General Aideed’s faction and UN peacekeepers, which derailed the mission and blocked implementation of the accord.

Third, the Sodere Conference of 1996-97, convened by neighboring Ethiopia, which sought to revive a decentralized, federal Somali state at the expense of factions that opposed Ethiopia. A rival peace process in Egypt, the ‘Cairo Conference’, undermined Sodere. The Sodere talks introduced the principle of fixed proportional representation by clan, the ‘4.5 formula’, used subsequently in the country.

Fourth, the Cairo Conference of 1997 convened by Egypt, a regional rival of Ethiopia, to promote a centralized Somali state and elevate the power of Somali factions that boycotted the Sodere talks. The two broad coalitions that emerged from Sodere and Cairo formed the basis for the main political divisions in Somalia in subsequent years.

Fifth, the Arta Peace Conference of 2000 convened in Djibouti. This brought civic rather than faction leaders to the talks and used telecommunications technology to broadcast proceedings back to Somalia. In the end it produced a three-year Transitional National Government (TNG) that empowered a Mogadishu-based coalition at the expense of a pro-Ethiopian alliance. It faced numerous domestic opponents as well as Ethiopian hostility and never became operational. Finally, the Mbagathi conference of 2002-04 sponsored by regional organization IGAD a lengthy conference in Kenya to produce a successor to the failed TNG. With heavy Kenyan and Ethiopian direction, the delegates consisted mainly of militia and political leaders, not civic leaders, and promoted a federalist state. A phase of the talks dedicated to resolution of conflict issues – an innovation intended to prevent the talks from devolving into a mere power sharing deal – never gained traction. The Mbagathi talks culminated in the creation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in late 2004 and the controversial election of President Abdullahi Yusuf. The TFG was deeply divided at the outset, with many Somalis raising objections about the legitimacy of representation at the talks. The TFG has struggled in subsequent years and has yet to become a minimally functional government or to advance key transitional tasks.

But it is important to mention the January 2009 Meeting in neighboring Djibouti, in which Somalia's parliament swears in 149 new members from the main opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia. It elects a moderate Islamist, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, president, and extends the transitional government's mandate for another two years. This was the relatively the first successful reconciliatory effort made after the heavy war and worst humanitarian crisis that followed the intervention of Ethiopia. Unfortunately none of them were able to provide a concrete ground for the formation of recognized and powerful central government till today. Currently the TFG controls only parts of the capital city, Mogadishu.

On the other hand it is in 1991 that the northern portion of the country declared its independence as Somaliland; although de facto independent and relatively stable compared to the tumultuous south it has not been recognized by any foreign government. In the north-eastern region, Puntland declared "temporary" independence in 1998 with the intention that it would participate in any Somali reconciliation to form a new central government. A third secession occurred in 1998 with the declaration of the state of Jubaland. The territory of Jubaland is now encompassed by the state of South-western Somalia and its status is unclear. A fourth self-proclaimed entity led by the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) was set up in 1999, along the lines of the Puntland. That "temporary" secession was reasserted in 2002. This led to the autonomy of Southwestern Somalia. The RRA had originally set up an autonomous administration over the Bay and Bakool regions of south and central Somalia in 1999.

5. The transitional government of Somalia.

In 2004, after protracted talks in Kenya, the main warlords and politicians signed a deal to set up a new parliament, which later appointed a president. The fledgling administration, the 14th attempt to establish a government since 1991, has faced a formidable task in bringing reconciliation to a country divided into clan fiefdoms. Its authority was further compromised in 2006 by the rise of Islamists who gained control of much of the south, including the capital, after their militias kicked out the warlords who had ruled the roost for 15 years. With the backing of Ethiopian troops, forces loyal to the interim administration seized control from the Islamists at the end of 2006. Islamist insurgents - including the Al-Shabab group, which later declared allegiance to al-Qaeda - fought back against the government and Ethiopian forces, regaining control of most of southern Somalia by late 2008. Ethiopia pulled its troops out in January 2009. Soon after, Al-Shabab fighters took control of Baidoa, formerly a key stronghold of the transitional government. Somalia's parliament met in neighboring Djibouti in late January and swore in 149 new members from the main opposition movement, the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia. The parliament also extended the mandate of the transitional federal government for another two years, and installed moderate Islamist Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad as the new president. However, the government's military position weakened further, and in May 2009 Islamist insurgents launched an attack on Mogadishu, prompting President Ahmad to appeal for help from abroad.

Legality and effect of Ethiopian invasion.

Before it is official known, that Ethiopia invaded Somalia, thousands of Ethiopian troops were already deployed in different parts of Somalia. The UN Security Council on its 5579th Meeting has approved African protection, training mission in Somalia in the unanimously adopted resolution 1725(2006). In this resolution the UN have prohibited even the deployment of neighboring countries troops saying:
“Endorsing the specification in the IGAD Deployment Plan that those States that border Somalia would not deploy troops in Somalia, the Council decided that measures of the arms embargo imposed by resolution 733 (1992) and further elaborated in resolution 1425 (2002) would not apply to supplies of weapons and military equipment and technical training and assistance intended solely for the support of, or use by, the force.”
But it is not clear as to the source of Ethiopian government officials’ courage to disregard the UN Security Council resolution and invaded Somalia with thousands of troops, big military equipments including dozens of airplanes. This is in principle a serious outrage against the international community and its framework. Especially when illegal invasion results in huge number of death, causality and serious humanitarian crisis, the issue of illegal use of power and individual responsibility should be the case of action.

In the early 2006 the Islamic Courts emerged as a powerful political force in Mogadishu and surrounding areas, disarming warlords and bringing about unprecedented local stability. Their emergence threatened the existence of the TFG, and their links with Eritrea and Ethiopian opposition groups triggered Ethiopian military intervention. But Ethiopia claims the invasion is due to declaration of jihad by the union of Islamic court (UIC), which it claims is compromising the sovereignty and integrity of Ethiopia and on the other hand invitation sent by the Transitional Federal Government(TFG) for help. Due to Ethiopian invasion of December 2008, The Elman Peace and Human Rights Organization said it had verified that 16,210 civilians had been killed and 29,000 wounded since the start of the insurgency in December 2006. In September of that year they had documented 1.9 million displaced civilians from homes in Mogadishu alone during the year 2007. What is more, the intervention resulted in the worst fighting and humanitarian crisis in 15 years according to the sources of The Red Cross and UN. It also caused the collapse of relatively stable UIC administration and brought the era of the most violent Islamic group, Al Shabab, which announced link with Al Qaida in the late 2009. It also ignited the era of Somalia piracy, which the World Food Program says, is threatening food supplies and costs almost all stake holders in the sea transport of the region millions of dollars to rescue their ships and posed a new security threat to the whole sea transport era. It even forced the USA, EU and other superpowers to organize special navy operation. Military counter-piracy operations are conducted by naval ships from the Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150), Russia, China and India. Donald Yamamoto Ex US Ambassador to Ethiopia admitted the then error with a big regret by saying:
“We have made a lot of mistakes and Ethiopia’s entry in 2006 was not a really good idea.”
But today it is done. Thousands have died and millions were displaced. Unfolded tragedies were committed. The question is how can the international community fight for the pain of the Somalia people and bring responsible individuals before justice?

6. War crime, crimes against humanity committed in Somalia and the responsible actors

Based on dozens of eyewitness accounts gathered by Human Rights Watch in a six-week research mission to Kenya and Somalia in April and May 2007, plus subsequent interviews and research in June and July, report was released by the HRW that documents the illegal means and methods of warfare allegedly used by all the warring parties (The Ethiopian government, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, Union of Islamic court, Al Shabab and other war lords) and the resulting catastrophic toll on civilians in Mogadishu. In South Mogadishu, dead bodies of women, children and elders as well as animals were scattered on the district's streets and there were no civilians living in Southern Mogadishu as they have moved to Afgoie. Ethiopians soldiers have looted shops including the Bakara market in South Mogadishu.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) accuses Ethiopian, Somali and insurgent forces of war crimes and the UN Security Council of indifference during the recent conflict. According to HRW, Ethiopian forces backing the Somali transitional government violated the laws of war by widely and indiscriminately bombarding highly populated areas of Mogadishu with rockets, mortars and artillery. Its troops on several occasions specifically targeted hospitals and looted them of desperately needed medical equipment. Human Rights Watch also documented cases of Ethiopian forces deliberately shooting and summarily executing civilians. Somali transitional government forces played a secondary role to the Ethiopian military, but failed to provide effective warnings to civilians in combat zones, looted property, impeded relief efforts for displaced people, and mistreated dozens of people detained in mass arrests.
“The insurgency placed civilians at grave risk by deploying among them, but that is no justification for Ethiopia's calculated shelling and rocketing of whole neighborhoods.” said Roth of HRW. The report stated that:
“The warring parties have all shown criminal disregard for the well-being of the civilian population of Mogadishu. The UN Security Council’s indifference to this crisis has only added to the tragedy.”
Specifically “Ethiopian, Somali and insurgent forces are all responsible for rampant violations of the laws of war in Mogadishu, causing massive suffering for the civilian population.”

Accordingly the Ethiopian military personnel who ordered or participated in attacks on civilians should be held responsible for war crimes. Senior military and civilian officials who knew or should have known of such crimes but took no action may be criminally liable as a matter of command responsibility. The widespread and apparently systematic nature of the attacks on villages throughout Somali Region is strong evidence that the killings, torture, rape, and forced displacement are also crimes against humanity for which the Ethiopian government bears ultimate responsibility.

If war crime or crime against humanity is the case the International Criminal Court will come to scene. Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Sudan are on the front page of the ICC website. Despite the HRW call and concern Somalia is not yet on the agenda of the ICC prosecutor, leaving behind serious question about the criteria’s employed in filling a case at the court. According to the Rome treaty article five, the ICC have jurisdiction to try this kind war crime and crime against humanity:
Article 5: Crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court
The jurisdiction of the Court shall be limited to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. The Court has jurisdiction in accordance with this Statute with respect to the following crimes:
(a) The crime of genocide;
(b) Crimes against humanity;
(c) War crimes;
(d) The crime of aggression
So it is very important for the UN Security Council to think about referring this case to ICC, if they are not the one to be blamed in this case for the destruction and misery caused due to their indifference to vote the withdrawal of Ethiopian army, according to the Human Right Watch. Their indifference caused the strength of Al shabab and lead to the conflict which claimed the lives of thousands and other dozens of untold misery in Somalia. This might be impractical and may ask long way to evidence the causal relationship, but Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who is the commander in chief of the Ethiopian army and his military generals who knew or should have known of such crimes but took no action, should be criminally liable as a matter of command responsibility.

7. Conclusion

It is a shame for the international community and the Somali rival function, to talk but unable to deliver. They were neither able to establish the central government nor to secure peace and stability in Somalia and the region in two decades. A genuine mind should ask one question why? There is no doubt that warlord and clan rivalry was part of the way of life in the Somalia region. But is this the only reason? No, definitely no. Even if we can say a lot about the reason behind, lack of political will to implement the international law is the prime issue to be blamed.

It is a point when the Security Council decides to send peace keeping forces and never or hardly deliver it. It is another when donor states and UN talk but never showed up in a determined way to solve the problem in Somalia. It is also something of similar or greater crime for the Somali functions to agree for internationally recognized cease fire but to disregard it. The UN Security council has prohibited even the deployment of the neighboring countries soldiers in Somalia, but kept quite when Ethiopia invaded Somalia. What is more when the African union and the Arab league asked Ethiopia to withdraw; the Security Council was unable to agree on the withdrawal of Ethiopia. They are conflicting with their own resolution and words.

It is possible to say that lack of rule of law is observed not only in Somalia but also in UN Security Council, to some extent. Disrespect for the internationally recognized laws and standards are a point to be regarded seriously, especially when it involves life and security of huge number of peoples. If the UN or its specialized agencies fail to deliver or abide by their own principle, how dare can we expect from nations in complicated security situations to respect the international laws and norms and live up to their words. This will diminish the respect for the international law and the value of international cooperation or intervention. It may even put the value of UN in question.

Shortly it is very important for the international community and its agencies primarily to investigate the problem in Somalia very well and develop comprehensive and lasting way out for this rounding misery and troubling situation in the horn of Africa. It is also equally important to have a lasting commitment and provision to tackle this long waited crisis. If not, complete abstinence is preferable. Because abstention is better than a changing and uncertain way out to go for the goal. To cite one practical example, the indifference of the Security Council to agree on the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops caused the strength of Al shabab and lead to the conflict which claimed the lives of thousands and other dozens of untold misery in Somalia, according the Human Rights Watch (HRW). By the end of the day it is also important to make justice and reconciliation in the country, for a nation which suffered decades of civil war and injustice. Utilizing the way out from below and using indigenous conflict resolution mechanism while moving with international diplomacy is intact.

With commitment, coordinated effort, provision and honest sense of action to peace and stability, it is not far to see a better, peaceful and prosperous Somalia.

* Hunde is an LL.M student in Advanced Studies in European Law, Ghent University, Law Faculty and can be reached via jajjabee430@gmail.com

8. References

Muravchik, Joshua. 2005. The Future of the United Nations: Understanding the Past to Chart a Way Forward. Washington, DC: AEI Press. ISBN 084466163X.

http://daccess-dds ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N92/410/10/IMG/N9241010.pdf?OpenElement
United Nations, 2003, United Nations Operations in Somalia (UNSOM 1) Background (Full Text)

Human rights watch country report 2008, Somalia


Bowden, Mark. 1999. Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. New York, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 9780871137388.
Hirsch, John L., and Robert B. Oakley. 1995. Somalia and Operation Restore Hope: Reflections on Peacemaking and Peacekeeping. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press. ISBN 9781878379412.
Mayall, James. 1990. Nationalism and International Society. Cambridge studies in international relations, 10. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521373128.
Muravchik, Joshua. 2005. The Future of the United Nations: Understanding the Past to Chart a Way Forward. Washington, DC: AEI Press. ISBN 084466163X.
Shawcross, William. 2000. Deliver us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords, and a World of Endless Conflict. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780684832333.
Resolutions and Treaties
United Nations Security Council resolution 751(1992) of 24 April 1992
UN Security Council resolution 775(1992)
UN Security Council resolution 794 (1992), of 3 December 1992
Security Council resolution 814 (1993) of 26 March 1993
UN security council resolution establishing African protection and training mission in Somalia, Resolution 1725(2006).
Attachment: Internal Conflict with International dimensions, The case of Somalia.pdf

1 comment:

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