Wednesday, December 17, 2008

UN approves US idea for Somalia mission

To update my post from last Thursday, the UN today approved a resolution put forward by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to take the fight against the Somali pirates ashore.

The Security Council voted 15-0 to approve an expanded peacekeeping mission in Somalia, which could begin as early as the end of this month. While, after some debate, the Security Council unanimously approved the peacekeeping force, the idea is not without its critics.

Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, commander of US naval forces operating in the Mid East, doubted that following the pirates ashore would work because they can blend in so easily with the local population in the port cities along Somalia's coast. John Prendergast, a former Clinton administration official on Africa, told the New York Times that this new measure was another example of "ill-defined peacekeeping operations" put forward by the Security Council. He also worried that foreign peacekeepers would just become a "rallying point" for different groups of Islamic insurgents fighting against the woefully fragile Somali government.

And that government just got weaker...Somalia's President Abdullahi Yusuf replaced the nation's prime minister against the wishes of the parliament. The parliament, in turn, refused to recognize the president's choice, giving Somalia, in effect, two prime ministers. Kenya (one of Somalia's neighbors) has slapped sanctions on Pres. Yusuf, branding him a "spoiler" to the peace process for his sacking of the prime minister. So in short, it’s chaos in the government.

The Somali government only controls the town of Baidoa and parts of the capital city Mogadishu. As for the rest of Somalia: Islamic groups are fighting for control in the southern and central parts, pirate groups run the port cities in the central and northern coastal areas and the northwestern most region calls itself "Somaliland" and claims to be an independent nation, though no other country in the world has ever recognized their claim (but ironically its the only stable and peaceful place in all of Somalia).
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