Ibrahim Tigli/World Bulletin
The third International Conference on Somalia was realized in the United Kingdom capital of London with the attendance of the Somali President and British Prime Minister, as well as representatives from 54 different countries. While the first conference was held in the UK again, Istanbul had hosted the second. The agenda of the one-day conference was quite busy. The tabled topics included political stability, security, internal peace, relations with neighboring countries, new security policies against al Shabaab, the status of AMISOM and foreign troops, the refugee issue and diaspora. In their speeches to the press at the end of the conference, British Prime Minister Cameron and Somali President Mohamud reiterated that everything was on the right track in Somalia and that Somalia’s would be one of peace and stability.
It would be unfair to claim that a government which has not yet even completed its eighth month in power will immediately resolve the problems which have accumulated since 1991. Somalia has for many years been deprived of a central government. While steps were taken under the temporary administration of the Islamic Courts Union to solve the problems, the Ethiopian invasion turned the situation into an inextricable problem. In later years, civil wars continued to burden Somalia.
Even if it appears as though political stability is being secured over the last year, particularly around Mogadishu, it is as if a temporary spring realized through foreign hands is being experienced. Within the last two months, the suicide attacks which were allegedly or organized by al Shabaab have shown that the Somalia’s security remains at the red line alarm level.
The most striking result of the Somalia conference was the view that the country's most important matter is the security issue, and that cooperation be continued more intensively with occupying powers, such as Western powers, Ethiopia and Kenya, against al Shabaab. To respond to violence by using violence is a stance with increases the environment of conflict rather than decreasing it. One of the reasons behind al Shabaab’s presence in the region is the government’s continuation of dialogue with western states and invading forces. It is necessary to think about why youths are shifting toward a radical attitude. If al Shabaab is still attractive to young people, the reasons behind this must be questioned. While states like Nigeria and Turkey are seeking a ground for reconciliation between domestic elements in order to end violence, how is it explainable that Somalia is being dictated that the solution passes through more armament?
With the Somali national army still being established, and the capacity of its air force being especially inadequate, it is difficult to conduct and maintain operations. With the help of Western friends and the support of external military support, but ultimately the cost will be more Somali lives. By not ending violence, AMISOM, Ethiopian, and Kenyan operations open the way for the further deepening of violence. Therefore, rather than military support, Somalia needs economic, political and humanitarian support; the development of agriculture, industry and animal husbandry are a must.
The coming together of Somaliland and Somalia in Ankara last April, and their meeting on common ground for the first time, was significant. But autonomous Purtland and Somaliland’s boycotts of this conference by not attending it shows that the government is still far from achieving local and regional unity. The Ankara meeting was the most concrete step for the unity of Somalia, but the London conference frustrated the achievement of this union. Britain’s consultation with only Mogadishu regarding Somalia’s future caused a reaction, particularly from Somaliland. At a time where positive steps were taken, disjunctive attitudes will undermine the process of providing political unity.
The focus on security during the London conference and Cameron’s promise of more military aid obscured Somalia’s real issues. While today the most important problems facing the country are education, famine, humanitarian aid, the refugee issue, economic development, anti-corruption, and ending the civil war was ending, solution plans for these problems were not adequately addressed. Due to the civil war, outside of a couple of cities, nearly two generations have not received adequate education owing to the 20 year disruption of the education system. As scarcity still continues to be the country’s main problem, over the last two years more than 250,000 people, mostly children, have lost their lives. While questions remain regarding who receives humanitarian aid and how, seeking solutions through weapons makes it difficult to problem solve.
The future of Somalia should of course be discussed and the country should be supported in overcoming its problems. However, this road map should not be left to the initiative of a state which was the architect of the colonial tradition in Africa, and it should be considered why a Britain which remained silent regarding Mali and Syria is being mobilized for Somalia. I suppose that Britain’s spending of almost all of its 80 million sterling annual aid on security explains why this conference was held in the UK.
Even if heads of state say that everything is going in the right direction, it is very clear that this change is through humanitarian organizations rather than through governments and political policies. From here on, if some things must be done for Somalia, it will be realized through civil society organizations assuming more initiative. Because the priority should not be a Somalia with strong ties to the West, but a Somalia which has achieved peace and stability caught, reached political unity and secured social reconciliation.Last Mod: 02 Temmuz 2013, 18:45