Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Fighting Intensifies in Somalia [J. Peter Pham]
Today my weekly “Strategic Interests” column for the World Defense Review criticizes Somalia’s “Transitional Federal Government” (TFG) and its international supporters for “ongoing refusal to deal realistically” with the burgeoning crisis in the Horn of Africa subregion as Islamist militants brought their offensive to the edge of Mogadishu amid fierce fighting and the country’s nominal government reeled from the loss last week of several of its more effective members.
The article reviews the recent deterioration of the situation in Somalia and analyzes the appeal over the weekend by the TFG for a foreign military intervention to rescue it. I then argue:
If all of this seems a bit farcical, it is because it seems the surreal has become the ordinary in the international community’s approach to Somalia, even as the situation has gone from bad to worse to worst, presenting the entire Horn of Africa with a security crisis of the first order, spreading instability across a fragile subregion and . . . raising the specter that transnational terrorist networks like al-Qaeda will find and exploit the opportunities thus offered. Yet, for want of better ideas, the international community has opted to buy into a seductive, but nonetheless vicious, circle of its own manufacture whereby it must “stay the course” and continue to waste scarce resources shoring up the hopeless TFG because it has already invested too much time and resources into the regime to do otherwise. In short, if the TFG is “fiddling” while Somalia burns, it is doing so with a full orchestral accompaniment provided by an international community that apparently lacks either the will or the imagination (or both) to do anything else.
Subsequently I proceed to sketch out the outlines of an alternative approach that includes recognition of the desuetude of Somalia as a real subject of international law, the encouragement of effective actors and other authorities among the Somali, and a redefining of the role of the African Union peacekeeping force currently deployed to protect the TFG, concluding:
I readily acknowledged that an approach such as the one I sketched out may strike many as minimalist. However, I was convinced and am even more certain today that it was the course most likely to buy Somalis themselves the space within which to make their own determinations about their future while at the same time allowing the rest of the world, especially the countries of the Horn of Africa, to achieve their legitimate security objectives. Thus, not only does the strategy offer the most realistic hope of salvaging a modicum of regional stability and international security out of situation that otherwise grows increasingly intractable with each passing day, but it certainly beats replaying a tired old score while the neighborhood goes up in flames.
06/23 11:13 AMShare