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The United States should rethink its strategies toward Somalia

By Abdulkadir Abiikar Hussein
Saturday, December 29, 2007

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The US can not depend for information on Somalia from Ethiopia. In addition, Ethiopia’s military is complicit in the worsening security situation in Somalia—including the resurgence of the Islamic Courts, terrorism and the magnitude of Al-shabab in South Somalia, including Mogadishu, and the growth of Jihadi extremism and capabilities. Furthermore, current American policies on Somalia reinforce Somalia’s political weakness and contribute to regional instability by allowing Ethiopia to trade democratization for its cooperation on terrorism in Somalia. The Ethiopians can not be expected to do more than what they are doing at their home, which is economy controlled by the government, media operated solely by the government and a country on the whole run by a tribal cartel and cronies and a security apparatus controlling freedoms. You can not expect Ethiopia to run a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for Somalia that is transparent, accountable and that promotes democracy and human rights, when Ethiopia, itself is violating all those values at home.

Ethiopia encourages the TFG to take its own type and form, and in addition to that, it does not want to see a strong Somali TFG emerging. Any government that comes out should be doing more than genuine cooperation between two countries. The TFG should serve Ethiopian hegemony over Somalia.  

The Ethiopians already killed off private and business enterprises that grew and thrived in Somalia, to offer the country services for the public that the TFG could not and cannot offer. Ethiopia is also imposing its political culture on Somalia, a culture that has never known independent media (TVs and radio stations), telecommunication (mobile, landlines, and internet providers), very efficient money transfer systems (Hawalla) from the Somali diaspora, traders and entrepreneurs in all walks of businesses.

The war in Mogadishu is uprooting all the good things that has developed since 1991 and on which Somalia needed to build on. While there is a cause of concern for America’s global and regional strategy, the Ethiopians are destroying the little positive aspects that were emerging in Somalia. It is very correct to say that while Ethiopia may partially cooperate with America against international terrorism and be a good partner in its security strategies, Ethiopia will continue to carry out its own policies of finishing off free media, enterprises and trade, resulting in continued instability for Somalia and insuring that Somalia remains to be weak all the time.
Recommended action points:

·         Ethiopia’s army has inflated the threat of religious groups and jihadi extremism outside and inside Somali borders, particularly in Mogadishu and South Somalia, for its own self-interest. 

·     Faced with this seeming instability and a perceived lack of alternatives, the Americans adopted a more lenient attitude toward Ethiopia’s military operations and its discriminate shelling of civilians in its war as a partner against Islamic extremism. In this process thousands were killed and more than a million were forced to flee their homes and live now in desperate unbearable conditions.

·      The Americans should directly get involved in supporting the TFG to carry out meaningful reconciliation with the opposition and the insurgents so that an inclusive and legitimate government emerges. For sure, the Ethiopians would not be happy to have a TFG that is not its puppet.

·      The Americans should support immediate efforts to help the Ethiopian army to evacuate Somalia and support an Arab initiative (for example an army from Algeria) financed by the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC). 

Abdulkadir Abiikar Hussein

London, [email protected]

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