Somalia: London Conference II Marginalizes Somalia Stakeholders
2 MAY 2013
Can London give power to Hassan Sheikh Mohamud that he does not possess in currently Somalia, as demonstrated by Al Shabaab’s seizure of Huddur?
Many Somalis have rejoiced at the sight of Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s visits to Washington, D.C., London, and Brussels. Finally, a Somali national government has gained the recognition of Western powers and perhaps, finally, Somalia can begin to reclaim its rightful seat in the international community.
That, of course, is the international image peddled and broadcasted through the global media. Inside this devastated country of Somalia, however, lies a catastrophe of unimagined proportions. This week, the U.N. reported in a new study that the 2010-2012 famine in Somalia ‘killed 260,000’ people, with over 1.1million Somali refugees living in difficult conditions in neighboring countries.
The Somali Federal Government (SFG) depends, for its very livelihood, on the military backing of a 17,000-strong African Union force (AMISOM) funded by the U.S. and the E.U. since 2007. This point was demonstrated, most devastatingly, when Ethiopian troops – who are not part of AMISOM – withdrew abruptly from the border provincial town of Huddur on March 17, 2013.
Local and international reports noted that Al Shabaab militants seized Huddur “within hours” of the Ethiopian army’s withdrawal. This development marked the weak military capacity of Somali forces under President Hassan, and whilst highlighting the strength of Al Shabaab militants hiding out in rural areas of south-central Somalia.
There is a major disconnect between President Hassan’s publicity stunt during visits to Western capitals, and a tragic reality on the ground in Somalia. Moreover, President Hassan’s policies have not been received in Somalia as conciliatory; on the contrary, some have perceived President Hassan’s policies as an extension of the 1990s clan wars that ruined Somalia.
Western powers have provided considerably commendable support to stabilization and humanitarian endeavors in Somalia. However good the intention, at times, counterproductive events may appear as undesired outcomes. In the 1990s, the U.S. military transformed its mission from a humanitarian to a nation-building mission. This sudden shift, ultimately, led to the withdrawal of American troops from Mogadishu in 1994.
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