Global Policy Forum

Blame Game Over Somali Conflict

April 13, 2007

Somali, Ethiopian and Eritrean officials traded accusations on Friday about their roles in Somalia's conflict, highlighting concerns Somalia could destabilise the Horn of Africa region and beyond. At a regional meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi to review the situation in Somalia, an African Union official also said the group's peacekeeping force in Somalia has not received promised financial and logistical support. Officials of Somalia and Ethiopia - whose forces are fighting an insurgency in the Somali capital, Mogadishu - accused Eritrea of undermining Somalia's transitional government and being involved in terrorism in the region. An Eritrean official denied the allegations.

Somalia's Foreign Minister Ishmael Hurreh told his fellow ministers Eritrea's actions included "the use of force". Ethiopia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Tekeda Alemu charged that "Eritrea is not simply supporting terrorism, it is actively involved in terrorism in Ethiopia and our sub-region". Amdeab Ghebremeskel, director of African Affairs in Eritrea's Foreign Affairs ministry, countered that Ethiopia's military intervention had resulted in Somalia entering "a new and very dangerous phase neither advancing peace and stability nor democracy". The Nairobi meeting brought together the seven members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

Financial shortfall

Earlier in the meeting, Said Djinnit, the African Union's peace and security commissioner, appealed to donors who made pledges to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia to release the funds urgently. "We still face a serious financial shortfall and lack of logistical support," Djinnit told the meeting. The delay in deploying a peacekeeping force that regional leaders had first recommended in January 2005, "not only complicated the political situation and help internationalise the conflict in Somalia but led to a costly war affecting the security of the entire region", said Attalla Bashir, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. The UN Security Council did not authorise the peacekeeping mission until December when it eased an arms embargo on Somalia to allow the troops to take arms to the Horn of Africa nation.

So far only the vanguard of the African Union peacekeeping force has been deployed in Somalia, made up of about 1 400 Ugandan troops who went to Somalia in March this year. Burundi is the only other country that has agreed to contribute troops to the mission that the African Union says needs to be 8 000-strong. It is not clear what has delayed Burundi's deployment of troops. Since the Ugandan peacekeepers went to Mogadishu, the city has experienced the worst fighting in 15 years there with a local human rights group reporting hundreds of civilians killed in a four days of bloodshed that began in late March. The African Union peacekeepers have come under attack themselves from insurgents linked to the Council of Islamic Courts, which was driven out of the capital and southern Somalia strongholds in December by Somali and Ethiopian soldiers, accompanied by US special forces. One peacekeeper has been killed so far and missiles have been fired at two of the force's cargo planes, one crashing and killing all 11 crew on board.

More Information on the Security Council
More Information on Ethiopia and Eritrea
More Information on Somalia
More General Articles on US Military Expansion and Intervention


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