Tuesday, April 24, 2007

IGAD's demise spells trouble for Somalia

Eritrea has pulled out of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) after a row with Ethiopia about Somalia. IGAD is the regional development organisation for east Africa which is now down to six member countries. The decision is a blow to co-ordinated efforts to pacify Somalia. The Eritrean government of Eritrea released a statement saying it was “compelled to take the move due to the fact that a number of repeated and irresponsible resolutions that undermine regional peace and security have been adopted in the guise of IGAD”.

Ostensibly allies, Ethiopia and Eritrea are locked in a proxy war in Somalia. Ethiopia backs the weak interim government; Eritrea sponsors the Islamic militants fighting to overthrow it. UN Security Council Resolution 1725 was raised to reaffirm “its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence, and unity of Somalia”. The resolution commended the crucial efforts of IGAD to promote and encourage political dialogue between the Ethiopian backed government in Baidoa and the Union of Islamic Courts who ruled in Somalia’s rambunctious capital, Mogadishu.

IGAD was created in 1996 to supersede the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) which was founded ten years earlier. IGADD was a response to the droughts that crippled the Horn of Africa in the seventies and early eighties. The then six countries of the Horn (Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Sudan) decided to take a regional approach to the problem with the help of the UN. IGADD was officially launched in 1986 with its headquarters in Djibouti.

After achieving some success in drought reduction and famine relief, IGADD’s mandate widened to cover other areas of regional development. Eritrea joined the organisation shortly after gaining its independence in 1993. The organisation received a new charter and a name change to in 1996 with the focus moving away from drought to development. IGAD had three focus areas: Conflict Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs; Infrastructure Development; and Food Security and Environment Protection.

But process in IGAD is now stalled. The lack of a functioning central government has kept Somalia out of any meaningful action. Sudan is preoccupied by its civil wars in the South and West (Darfur). Kenya and Uganda, meanwhile prefer to concentrate their energies on the East African Community EAC) which it shares with Tanzania with Burundi and Rwanda joining later this year. The EAC is a more stable bloc of countries and has an eventual goal of economic and political union between its members.

But the major impediment to any progress within IGAD is the ongoing dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Although the two countries are officially at peace since the Algiers Agreement of 2000, the UN was forced to demand Eritrea to remove its forces from a disputed buffer zone on its border with Ethiopia last October. Two months later, Eritrea protested when Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia to end the regime of the Islamic Courts in Mogadishu. Eritrea had supported the Islamic Courts as a buffer against Ethiopia.

While the fighting still rages, the US accused Eritrea this week of providing funding, arms and training to insurgents battling Somali forces and allied Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu. Assistant US Secretary of State Jendaye Frazer called for renewed ceasefire talks to end the fighting but said "Eritrea has not been playing a constructive role in Somalia because they continue to fund, arm, train and advise the insurgents" she told reporters.

The fighting not only damages IGAD. It is also destroying Somalia. In the past month alone, nearly 1,300 people have died in fighting between government troops and their Ethiopian allies on the one side, and Islamists on the other. There have been over 300,000 refugees from the capital. But the world is not interested. A Somali intellectual said, "There is a massive tragedy unfolding in Mogadishu, but from the world's silence, you would think it's Christmas.”


Amina said...

"IGAD" has done nothing for Somalia thus far. I am not convinced that its demise will make much of a difference to happens in Somalia. The destiny of Somalia depends on its people’s will and tenacity to fight and resist the foreign occupation forces.
P.S. I also do love cultural/Political theories and La Doce Vita is one of my favorite films.

nebuchadnezzar said...

Thanks for your comments Amina.

And you are probably correct to say that IGAD has been ineffective. Nonetheless it had the potential to be a strong regional initiative that cut across religious, language and political barriers.

Africa needs more such organisations if it to ever to truly cultivate democratic traditions.

Amina said...

And what happens when IGAD is easily impressed by the sign of the US$? How IGAD member are going to explain the actions of that little ugly, very short, nobody Meles Zenawi’s current death and destruction in Mogadishu into dust? Africans have always one thing working for them: Pride, where is the Pride of IGAD in the destruction of Somalia?

Amina said...

"cultivate democratic traditions"
This is bit rich since current the war against Somalia is not about the D word but about the O word-Oil--

so What is your link to Somalia and IGAD?

nebuchadnezzar said...

I have no links to IGAD or Somalia.

I'm merely a journalist interested in Africa and African politics.

Oil is a factor in most conflicts. But sooner or later Somalia, Somaliland, Puntland and the rest are going to have to face up to the need for some sort of responsible government.

Amina said...

what have you discover in your capacity as a journalist whether or not Somalis did or did not have institutions as “responsible Government”?

I am interest in many things but to offer a position in the political affairs of other society means that I must dig little bit deep so that I could back up my claims with factual evidence. So what have you discover so far about the Somalis that hold your journalist interest?You do not have to answer this, you are not at Gitmo! This is your safe cyber house.

nebuchadnezzar said...

I have written two other articles on the situation in Somalia.

See here and here.

Amina said...

“Islamic militants”

How do you define "Islamic Militants"? How do you support your claim?

“They suspect American interference in the decision to authorise an African force to protect Somalia’s weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG) government from the superior armed SICC. The SICC has warned war will erupt as a result. Within two days, thousands of Somali protesters poured into Mogadishu’s Konis stadium following Friday prayers to stage a large rally of opposition.”

If the TFG did control so little of Somalia why must it be called a legitimate government of Somalia? Was the IUC allegation of U.S fingerprint the UN resolution authorising the invasion of Somalia credible? Was/is the resistant to foreign invasion of Somalia by militant Islamists only?

“The official government control very little of the country. The seat of government is Baidoa in south-central Somalia approximately 250km northwest of the capital Mogadishu. They control only a small strip of land around Baidoa”

Why then TFG be called government at all?

“The largely Christian Ethiopia fears an Islamic state on its borders and has vowed to "crush" the Islamists if they attack Baidoa. However their action has been viewed as an invasion by the radical Islamic militia known as the Somali Islamic Courts Council (SICC) that control the capital Mogadishu under sharia law”

Should the Muslims of Somalia be concerned being invaded by Christian foreign armies?
Is that the extent of your journalist knowledge of Somalia?

“The U.S. resolution was co-sponsored by the council's African members who were afraid of the Somalia’s instability spreading throughout the region. The resolution partially lifts an arms embargo on weapons and military equipment and allows for training of security forces.”

“The resolution bans Somalia's neighbours from sending soldiers, which prohibits participation by troops from Ethiopia as well as Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya.”

But research show that the Bush administration has ordered and coordinated the Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia; yet the US has found not find Al Qaida suspects upon the invasion of Somalia but instead have arrested local Somalis as the “Usual suspects”! reading your blog diary on Somalia makes me feel that I am reading a press report by the US state department than critically researched journalistic investigative report on the war on Somalia.

For your information, I am a Somali and have written widely about the crisis in Somalia. But I do publish my work on the record under my real name.

nebuchadnezzar said...


You ask very difficult questions!

As a Somali journalist,I'll bow to your greater expertise in the area. But I'm not tied to any American viewpoint and I'm certainly not wanting to seem like a mouthpiece for the US State Dept.

Nonetheless, I'll try and answer to the best of my ability.

Islamic Militants. I think that is a reasonable description of the Islamic Courts Union. I'll admit that they were a popular ruling force in Mogadishu than the warlords that came before them but nonetheless they do have extremist elements and are prepared to defend their position with force. I suspect they also want to install a theocracy in Somalia.

TFG. For all its faults, and there are many, it remains the only body likely to be accepted by the international community as the official gov of Somalia. Whether they will be accepted by the people of Somalia is a moot point.

I agree with you that that the US is behind the Ethiopian led invasion. I also agree that the supposed Somali links to Al Qaeda are tenuous at best.

I never said I agreed with the invasion. I'm merely reporting on it.

But what are the alternatives? How do you as a Somali want to see your country being run? It has been a mess now for over 15 years and as long as their is no effective central government it will remain an international basket case.

By the way, my name is Derek Barry of Brisbane, Australia. I represent no major organisation and I have absolutely nothing to hide.

But thanks for all your valuable input.


Amina said...

“Islamic Militants. I think that is a reasonable description of the Islamic Courts Union”
How so? Were these was nothing of death and destruction they have brought peace and security; there is no shred of empirical evidence linking Islamic Union Court to Al Qaida; there is no shred of evidence that have engaged in any terrorist activists against anybody including the US? So what is your empirical basis of categorical labeling of Islamic Union Court?

“I'll admit that they were a popular ruling force in Mogadishu than the warlords that came before them but nonetheless they do have extremist elements and are prepared to defend their position with force. I suspect they also want to install a theocracy in Somalia.” These are Somali men and their rule is concerned with the Somali people. So what sort of system the Somali people decide to be ruled under is not the business of foreigners.
Beside, do you think that Murdoch media empire and Bush Junior do not represent virulent theocracy of the Christian Right? No?

What about Zionism as a viruent theorcracy?

"TFG. For all its faults, and there are many, it remains the only body likely to be accepted by the international community as the official gov of Somalia. Whether they will be accepted by the people of Somalia is a moot point."
This is utterly false. Do a 5 minutes google research in order to find out who is in TFG.

"But what are the alternatives?"

According those options? On what bases?
For your information, I am a University professor and my students do receive failing grades if the do submit claims without backing them up with credible evidence.

Amina said...

Here is a useful link for future reference of the great job the TFG has been doing in Somalia since coming into power, thanks to the Bush admin.


Anonymous said...

im sorry i will go a bit off the topic,what i would like to say is that as a somalian citizen i really hope not to see our country like a devided weak somalia instead i want to see a united strong somalia with one leader one nation and one voice, and no matter what the intentions of our enemies are we must atand as a unified front and not to let them get into us.our people have suffered enough and i think its the time to rebiuld and to live in peace. -somaliwayn4ever.