[dehai-news] (Stratfor) Geopolitical Diary: A Peaceless Peace Deal In Somalia?

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From: Tsegai Emmanuel (emmanuelt40@gmail.com)
Date: Thu Nov 06 2008 - 20:33:46 EST

Geopolitical Diary: A Peaceless Peace Deal In Somalia? November 9, 2007 |
0253 GMT

A spokesman for Somalia's Hawiye clan said Thursday that clan elders are
ready to convince rebel forces to stop attacking Somalian government and
Ethiopian forces on the condition that Ethiopian troops withdraw from the
country, Somalian media reported.

But even if there is a peace deal in Mogadishu, it might not bode well for
peace in the Horn of Africa.

The Hawiye is one of Somalia's two dominant
and more importantly, it is the clan that gave rise to the Supreme Islamic
Courts Council<http://www.stratfor.com/geopolitical_diary/Story.neo?storyId=287523>(SICC),
which was driven underground by Ethiopia's invasion in December
2006. The clan is divided, however, over how to handle Somalia's government
and the Ethiopian troops sustaining it. Thursday's offer came as the former
political head of the SICC, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, speaking from the Eritrean
capital of Asmara, ruled out any peace talks with Somalia's government and
vowed to fight Ethiopian forces until they are driven from Somalia.

The divisions within the Hawiye clan will make it almost impossible for
Somalian President Abdullahi Yusuf (who hails from the country's other
dominant clan, the Darood) to believe that the Hawiye will really guarantee
his and his government's security in the event of a peace deal. Neither
Yusuf nor his government have been able to make real inroads into Mogadishu,
and security in the city continues to deteriorate under almost daily
fighting between Ethiopian forces on the one hand and Somalian and Islamist
fighters on the other.

However, striking a deal with the Hawiye elders offers one significant
possibility for the Ethiopians that could overrule any concerns they might
have for Yusuf. The Ethiopians could say with a certain degree of truth that
they are striking a deal with the faction of the Hawiye that legitimately
represents the clan Sharif Ahmed is in exile and Sheikh Hassan Dahir
Aweys, chief of the SICC's militant wing, remains underground. By announcing
that a legitimate peace has been achieved, Addis Ababa can move to bring
home its troops, who have been taking almost daily casualties ever since
their invasion a move that many would applaud.

But a withdrawal of Ethiopian troops would raise immediate fears in Eritrea
that those Ethiopian forces, battle-hardened and fed up with the
Eritrean-supported armed insurgency they have been fighting in Somalia,
would mobilize to invade Eritrea instead. Ethiopia and Eritrea have
essentially been fighting a proxy war in Somalia, and continue to keep
thousands of troops on ready alert along their shared border a border that
they fought a war over from in the late 1990s. Ethiopia has never really
accepted Eritrea's independence, and Eritrea has never accepted the
possibility of being folded back into Ethiopia. With the internationally
mandated Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission threatening to rule by the end
of November in favor of the current border demarcation, Ethiopia might
believe its only alternative is to invade and create a new reality on the

A peace deal in Mogadishu could also impact, in a positive sense, maritime
shipping along Somalia's coastline. Somalia has experienced a rapid return
to maritime piracy this year, with most incidents occurring along the
southern and central coastlines; practically no pirate attacks occurred
under SICC control in the second half of 2006. Piracy in Somalia is
primarily a means of generating income, as most cargos are held for ransom
or stolen and sold. A peace deal with the Hawiye could have the result of
reducing piracy again, as the clan could turn to other means of generating
income, such as taxes on cargo and on personnel traffic in and out of the
area's ports and airports.

A peace deal between Ethiopia and Somalia's Hawiye clan has not yet occurred
and it might not. Such a deal could serve the interests of both the Hawiye
and the Ethiopians but it might just move the fighting somewhere else.

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