The Way Forward on the Somali Crisis

The Somalia crisis

Ending the seven year Iraq war in which more than 4400 American soldiers died, tens of thousands injured and billions of dollars spent, President Obama announced no solid victory for the American troops. “America has had a huge price to pay to give the Iraqis the chance to shape their future,” he said as he welcomed a “time to turn a new page.” His speech fell short of a definite “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” declaration.   This pre-emptive war, premised on flawed intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s possession of nuclear weapons, was quite ambiguous and over ambitious. For all the cost, the war is far from being won. Iraq is still sunk in violence and political instability and America is not securer than it was before the war. John Boener, a house republican leader from Ohio mused, “Over the past months we have heard about ending the war in Iraq but not much about winning the war.”

The UPDF presence in Somalia is quite commendable. However, as in Iraq, the Somalia scenario is a web of deep seated animosities with historical, ethnic, religious and other hatreds of primary political concerns that have erupted into war. Insertion of military forces into such an environment for the purpose of maintaining peace can be a complex endeavor. AU forces are mandated to protect the Transitional Federal Government and peace in Somalia from a neutral vantage point. While the TFG continues to prove very weak against its foes, the Al-shabaab has escalated its operation circles to include Uganda and other peaceful countries. The Al shabaab are determined to over run the TFG, and annihilate AU forces using indiscriminate killing. Absolute neutrality under such a setting can be extremely risky. A peace-keeping enforcement is workable in a situation where peace, or at least a cease fire, has been established and there is peace, even some semblance of it, to maintain. In contrast, the environment in Somalia is one of an active combat. Numerous antagonistic factions are...