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Which way will Somalia go?

January 7, 2009

The withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia has left a nation beset by conflict for nearly two decades at a crossroads.

Ethiopia invaded to oust Islamists from the capital, but insurgents still control much of southern Somalia and more hardline groups that worry Washington have flourished during the two-year intervention.

The United Nations is unlikely to send peacekeepers to replace the Ethiopians. Africa is struggling to send more troops to help the 3,500 soldiers from Uganda and Burundi protecting key sites in the capital.

Some analysts say sending an international force would be counterproductive anyway as it would simply replace the Ethiopians as the hated foreign invader and maintain support for the most militant insurgents.

But without more African peacekeepers deploying soon, it seems unlikely the small and largely ineffectual existing force will remain with a weak mandate to face attacks from insurgents.

While a power vacuum may result in even more violence, some Western diplomats in the region hope it will spur the feuding Islamist opposition groups to settle their differences and work towards forming a broad-based, inclusive government.

They also hope the departure of the Ethiopians will deflate the insurgency and marginalise hardline groups imposing a strict version of Islamic law traditionally shunned by many Somalis.

African diplomats pushing hard for some sort of political reconciliation say there are more and more signs of “war fatigue” among the various camps and clans.

They are consistently upbeat about Somalia’s prospects, even more so since President Abdullahi Yusuf resigned, and are reaching out to some of the hardline Islamist groups.

Western opposition to some hue of Islamist administration in Somalia — precisely what Ethiopia invaded to quash — seems to be waning as diplomats take a more pragmatic approach to the political and military reality on the ground.

Is there any reason for optimism after 17 years of violence?

(Picture: Somali al-Shabaab insurgents arrive in capital Mogadishu, Decemcer 27, 2008. REUTERS/Omar Faruk)


The Bush Administration likes to set more fires than they have extinguishers for. As far as I can tell, part of the solution to Somalia’s troubles is in Asmara, Eritrea. US needs to remove the ICU Asmara (Aweys) from the suspected Terror list, and fix the blatant bias that went on, on the foot dragging by Ethiopia on the Ethio-Eritrean border decision.

Eritrea has got a lot of influence in the region, and can be persuaded to play a positive role. If it was given a carrot, rather than the usual stick.
This is optimistic and viable plan, unfortunately I don’t see it happening as too many bigger fires are burning including Gaza and Obama is not going to have enough time before yet another opportunity is lost.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

The international community must encourage the inclusion of hard-line Islamist in the peace talk and the US MUST suspend the targeted assignations against so-called ‘wanted terrorist’ and acknowledge who are the genuine forces that can establish peace in southern Somalia…Islamic Courts.

The international community must also monitor the actions of Ethiopia who has continuously interfered in the internal politics of southern Somalia since the humiliating retreat of US and UN forces in late 1995, by arming…then…re-arming countless Somali warlords.

The Islamist had achieved the impossible by defeating the ruthless warlords, re-moved roadblocks, provided public works, re-opened the international airport and seaport and brought stability and peace in the world’s most dangerous city and as well as stopping piracy!

Posted by Ab | Report as abusive

The only solution is circling the jihadists and pro-Qaeda terrorists.

Here is Four point strategy


First, the US and Europe needs to give recognition to the Republic of Somaliland


Second, the UN should help Baidoa and Puntland regions to stay stable and peaceful. Then plan on circling extremists.


Third, the UN should support moderate Islamists (not Shariff because he is FAKE moderate islamist, he is radical) and help Hawiye clan groups in southern Somalia. The TFG should not be established by Darood clan only because the Darood territory in Puntland is ALREADY STABLE. Only the Hawiye regions are living in warzone so the TFG should target Hawiye regions by bringing moderate islamists and pro-WEST hawiye groups inside the TFG. Also unless the TFG remains close with Kenya and Ethiopia, it will always fail because after the religious problem, the second big issue is the expansionist Somali ideologies. Just like USA can never exist if its government plans to take land from Canada, Somalia will not exist if its government has policy of taking land from Kenya and Ethiopia. So the TFG should be moderate, democratic as well as friendly to neighbors.


Fourth, The UN, US and others need to invest A LOT OF money and materials into the reconstruction of Somalia’s humanitarian needs and infrastructure.

THESE 4 POINT PLAN is the only way!!

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Is there any reason for optimism after 17 years of violence?

Yes, there is a reason for optimism for peace in Somalia. But that is if and only if America takes its hands off Somalia. If America stops using warlords, ethiopia etc for proxy to destroy the somali nation, there is reason for optimism. If not war for liberation of the Somali nation will continue.

Posted by Mataan | Report as abusive

David I completely agree with your four points, even if it is unlikely they will happen, it is still the most dynamic solution. Can you please email me at


Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

to David:

i suppose, giving independence to Somaliland would only foment irredentist moods among the Somalis living elsewhere. An independent Somaliland may once be recognized by some pro-western government in the South, though in no way by people in the South.

Posted by alex | Report as abusive

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