What Role Should the International Community Play In Order to Rescue the Peace Accord?
The international community (more specifically Europe and America) has vested interest in paving the way for sustained peace in Somalia for the following reasons:
- Somalia still remains geopolitically vital as it commands access to the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea- a key global trade route. As the world increasingly turns to Africa for oil and other energy-related raw materials, the importance of this route is likely to increase in the near future. Continuous war and political volatility in Somalia would render the whole Horn of Africa at risk of perpetual war and humanitarian catastrophe.
- Europe and North America host the largest post civil war Somali Diaspora- over one million in UK, US, and Canada alone. Unsurprisingly, most of them are now citizens of their adopted countries who exercise their rights for political activism and advocacy. They engage media, express their concerns in academic circles, and exert pressure on their elected officials and political institutions for constructive contribution.
- Somalia's waters are now considered the most pirate-infested in the world. Increasingly countries around the world have been issuing warnings against sailing too close to the Somali shores, more specifically, the northeastern region. These waters are so dangerous that the United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted Resolution 1816 (2008) in early June that allows foreign states to dispatch their military to combat piracy. Dozens of ships ranging from those carrying humanitarian aids to tourists have been hijacked for ransom off the Somali coast over the past year.
That said, it is neither in best interest of Europe nor America to pursue policies that lend blind support to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and/or the Ethiopian occupation forces. Anything perceived as an unjust or unfair approach would not only carry the potential to derail the current peace process but to radicalize many more Somalis, especially of the younger generation. And nothing illustrates this potentiality more than the result of Washington's draconian approach (bombing villages and wiping out their livestock) to pursue "three fugitive international terrorists," and its relentless support of TFG and the Ethiopian invasion.
Al-Shabab-- the militant wing of the defunct Islamic Courts Union-- is now much fiercer and enjoys much more popularity than pre Christmas 2006 when the Ethiopian bombings started. [It is Iraq all over again] So, it goes without saying, it is high time for constructive engagement, and for pressuring the UN to set up a war crimes tribunal for Somalia- an initiative supported by a number of Somali and non-Somali human rights organizations. Already the European Union is on record for supporting the investigation of war crimes and violations that may have occurred in Mogadishu.
In closing, while a thorough scrutinization of the peace accord is indeed imperative in order to fix its detrimental holes, it is equally imperative to prudently avert the development of any ill-advised campaign to stir the old negative impulses of cynicism. It is incumbent upon all Somalis from all corners of the political divide to find a way to patch together this accord and its subsequent phases.
Abukar Arman is a freelance writer who lives in Ohio . His commentaries and analysis on Islam, US foreign policy and Somalia have been published by media groups such as International Herald Tribune, Aljazeera Magazine, Arab News, and Global Politician.
This is an extract from the article "The Somali Peace Express and the Role of the International Community." Download the pdf below to view the full article which provides background on the political situation within Somalia and information about the role Somali militias.