Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Somalia divides the Security Council in unusual ways

Somalia is such a basket case right now that even the P3 (the United States, United Kingdom and France) cannot come to a consensus on what should be done there. The French and Americans now support a UN peacekeeping mission, but the UK holds out. Just yesterday, while visiting the UN, Condoleezza Rice called for a UN force to be established in Somalia by the end of the year (while declining to send any American forces to participate, naturally).

Said Rice:
We cannot get into a situation in which there a security vacuum is left in Somalia and all the good work of Djibouti is undone and we go back to two years ago prior to the Ethiopian offensive. That would not be a good circumstance to find ourselves in. And I really don't imagine American forces being a part of a peacekeeping operation. American forces are pretty busy these days.

British Ambassador John Sawers politely dissented today outside the Security Council:
The Secretary-General has been giving some very careful thought to the way forward in Somalia. He has recommended a multinational force which could prepare the way for a UN peacekeeping force in the future. But at the moment, many members of the Council feel that the conditions aren't right for the UN to be able to put in a traditional blue-helmeted UN force.

Meanwhile, in other Somali news, pirates nabbed four vessels on the same day that the Council passed yet another anti-piracy resolution. Also, on Monday the President fired the Prime Minister, then yesterday named a new one even as the parliament and nearly every foreign government said they still supported the original PM. This leaves Somalia with two dueling Prime Ministers. And, very soon, it may have zero presidents.

The Ambassador At Large's take on all of this? Not surprisingly, I'm siding with the UK and DPKO here against deploying a UN peacekeeping force at present. In the future, perhaps there could be a viable one, but there's no peace to keep right now. When the Secretary-General and the UN Department of Peacekeeping want no part of a mission, you can bet that it's probably not a good idea. Despite the Djibouti peace process, Somalia ia still a war zone, and UN forces aren't very effective in war zones.

Furthermore, given that the Ethiopian troops are about to leave, and that AMISOM forces are also looking to withdraw, and that no one has signed up for a multinational force... um... who exactly is going to staff a Somalia peacekeeping force? The troop contributors don't seem to want any part of this mission either.

p.s. Word to Meles Zenawi, as he prepares to bring Ethiopian troops home from a 2-year occupation of Somalia that achieved virtually nothing: when you have to declare "Mission Accomplished," it probably isn't.

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