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Somalia: U.N. Resolution Is a Mistake
[Opinion] Sending in peacekeepers will result in war
Liam Bailey (wordsworth)     Print Article 
Published 2006-12-09 16:55 (KST)   
The 15-member United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1725 on Dec. 6 2006. The resolution, which was led by the U.S., authorizes a regional force from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) to establish a protection and training mission in Somalia. It also authorizes the lifting of the U.N. arms embargo in relation to supplying the peacekeeping force.

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The previous U.N. mission in the country ended in a bloody battle and the death of 18 marines who were attempting to disarm rival factions. The current resolution states its intention to consider taking measures against those that seek to prevent or block a peaceful dialogue process, overthrow the Transitional Federal Institutions by force, or take action that further threatens regional stability. This suggests that, like its predecessor, this mission could become far more than one of protection and training. This may well have an adverse effect on regional stability.

The U.S. pushed for the resolution because they fear that the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) will turn Somalia into a safe-haven and breeding ground for terrorists if they take over the entire country. This is because the Salafist Islam of the Courts is inspired by the Wahabi ideology that drives Al Quaeda's Jihad.

The current situation and likely near future presents similarities with other regions in the world past and present, none of which have gone well, in fact quite the opposite. When the U.S. proposed the resolution, they were immediately criticized for their intention to send troops into another Muslim country where they were not wanted. In Iraq's case that is where the similarities end and the opposites begin...

The U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq to topple the government, whereas, no U.S. or Western forces will enter Somalia. This is to ensure that the government is not toppled.

The resolution reiterates that the Transitional Federal Charter and Institutions are: "The only route to peace and stability" in Somalia, a northeast African nation that has been without an effective central government since 1991.

Statements like the one above, and the passing of the resolution, suggest that the U.N. shares America's tendency to lump all Islamic militants together. This immediately makes the Union of Islamic Courts the bad guys in any conflict, and draws them into the ideology of the War on Terror.

This is despite Kofi Annan saying on Thursday that the nations providing the troops should convince the UIC that they would not be an invasion force, adding: "It is important that we get the Somalis to understand that the force is coming in to help."

The resolution and proposed force are provoking a predictable reaction from the Somali Islamists. Ibrahim Adow of the UIC told the BBC on Friday: "Deploying foreign forces to Somalia is seen as invading forces and the Somali people are prepared to defend themselves against aggression."

Another UIC spokesman, Abdirahin Ali Mudey told The Washington Post on Thursday that the resolution will introduce sophisticated weapons into Somalia and provoke a war between his group and the government.

The U.N. security council hopes the resolution will restore peace and avert wider conflict in the region. But Mudey accused them of allowing Ethiopia to occupy Somalia and said that his movement would now reconsider attending the scheduled peace talks with the government later this month.

The UIC considerations would have taken a turn for the worse Friday when Somali government forces accompanied by -- according to eyewitnesses -- Ethiopian troops, attacked UIC-controlled Dinsoor.

Some, like BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut are warning that it could be the opening shots of the long awaited war for control of Somalia. I think it more likely that they are attempting to grab as much land as possible before the arrival of the peacekeeping force. This would give them more leverage in the power-sharing agreement that will supposedly follow the U.N. mission.

A peacekeeping force in Somalia may yet be a long way off, as many of the IGAD and AU nations are reluctant to send forces into the depths of the Somali conflict.

Uganda, the only country to pledge troops for the force, are now saying they may hold off until the security situation improves. Their Deputy Defense Minister called the lifting of the arms embargo "a first step" but said: "It may be that we will think of holding off until the terrain is not so hostile for Ugandan forces."

Some are saying the U.N.'s adoption of the resolution is more a symbolic display of support for the Somali government.

If or when a peacekeeping force does arrive in Somalia, I suspect they will be in for a rough time. A comparison can be drawn with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when forces entered the country to strengthen the weak Afghan government against a Mujahideen onslaught. In Somalia the plan is for IGAD and AU forces to enter on behalf of the U.N., to protect the weak Somali government which controls only a fraction of the country.

In the light of the failure of the previous U.N. mission in Somalia, and the problems in Iraq, Israel/Palestine, and Afghanistan past and present, the reluctances of the AU and IGAD nations to pledge troops is understandable.

If a peacekeeping force ever does enter Somalia it won't achieve its title aim, especially if it follows the U.N. mandate.

Imposing sharia law throughout Somalia by Holy War (Jihad) if necessary is central to the UIC's Salafist ideology, force is the operative word and they will always meet it with force. And they will always have outside support from the world's extremists.

The only way to avert all out war in the region is by reaching out to Somalia's moderate Muslims with diplomacy to secure peace first, followed by an appropriate force to make sure the agreements are implemented.

After a decade of war Somalians deserve peace. They don't deserve the U.S. hijacking diplomacy to open yet another front in the War on Terror that will end in catastrophe.

I'm really surprised and disappointed with the U.N. and the U.S.'s failure to learn from their -- many -- mistakes.
This article will appear on my blog
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Liam Bailey

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