|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives|
Somalia: Theatre Of Proxy Wars
Story by BETHUEL KIPLAGAT
THE COMPLEXITY OF THE Somalia conflict has left many in turmoil as they seek to understand its root causes and identify ways to resolve it.
Recently, there have been different and sometimes contradicting reports on the interim Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Islamic Courts Union’s struggle for power.
The article published by the Nation on January 5 broadly looked at the Somalia conflict, digging into the past and introducing new factors such as that of conflict over the Blue Nile waters as a justification for Ethiopia’s “invasion” of Somalia.
While we appreciate Mr. Peter Kimani’s effort to provide an in-depth analysis of the situation, his articles raised some points which we would like to refute or at least clarify.
The writer raises doubts about the legitimacy of the process under which the TFG was formed, deeming it to have been installed “through a controversial collegiate”.
Installed in 2004, the TFG was formed through series of extensive negotiations, under Igad’s supervision with warlords and their militia from various clans, with the aim of involving leaders of warring parties to form a government of national unity.
Stake-holders consisting of warlords, intellectuals, women, traditional leaders, religious leaders as well as businessmen were involved in the peace process. The government that emerged was inclusive and represented all major clans and sub-clans in Somalia.
Notwithstanding weaknesses of the process which have been identified over time, the efforts of Igad, in co-operation with the international community, should be applauded as it succeeded in facilitating the formation of a central authority in a country where none has been in place since 1991.
It should, however, be stressed that this government is interim, with the objective of establishing democratic institutions, pave the road for reconciliation, and prepare the country for elections.
The people of Somalia should, indeed, have the power to choose their own government. The installation of the TFG should be seen as the first step in the right direction before elections.
Puntland, according to Mr. Kimani, is a breakaway republic of Somalia. While the region, indeed, enjoys an autonomous government, it would be incorrect to claim that it is an independent state.
Due to instability in Somalia, in 1998, Puntland declared its semi-autonomy. It is a nation with clan confederation as one of its top priorities but, unlike the self-declared state of Somaliland, Puntland is not trying to obtain international recognition as a nation. Instead, it seeks to become a federal division within a united Somalia that is a federal republic.
Puntland had expressed concerns over the expansion of the UIC in recent months and the capture of the Kismayu region in June 2006 by the Courts was not welcomed.
Ethiopia has fallen under heavy criticism in its role in the current political strife in Somalia, and there is, indeed, much debate over whether its military involvement and offensive was justified.
Ethiopia ’s involvement should, however, not be seen as an “invasion” as the interim government of Somalia invited the country to intervene, feeling that their existence was being threatened.
While Ethiopia’s intervention violated UN Resolution 1725 which states that those States that border Somalia should not deploy troops in the country, the decision to deploy such troops was made by the transitional government.
Claims that Ethiopia’s “war adventure” in Somalia is guided by a hidden American hand fails to grant much agency to both the TFG and the Ethiopians.
Furthermore, the author appears to be contradicting himself by later stating that the main motivation behind Ethiopia’s intervention in Somalia might be the Blue Nile.
In fact, the reasons behind Ethiopia’s actions are more likely due to a combination of factors among which are the threat posed to its own national security by the instability of its neighbor as well as the threat of Somalia as a staging point for groups seeking secession from, or overthrow of, its own government.
Ambassador Kiplagat is the chairman of Africa Peace Forum.
Source: The Nation