[dehai-news] (UN Dispatch) Last minute 'ill-considered' Bush Administration moves in the Horn of Africa

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Wed Dec 10 2008 - 14:48:31 EST

December 10, 2008
Lame Duck Follies on Somalia

The Enough Campaign warns that recent developments in U.S. policy toward
Somalia are counterproductive to the cause of peace and stability there.
As the Bush administration prepares to leave office, it is taking three
ill-considered actions that threaten to exacerbate the already catastrophic
situation in Somalia and tie the hands of the incoming Obama Administration.
The Bush administration is:

1) urging Ethiopia to keep its armed forces in Somalia until after the
administration leaves office;
2) pushing for authorization of a U.N. peacekeeping mission to protect the
fractious and impotent Transitional Federal Government after Ethiopia's
departure; and
3) moving to place Ethiopia's arch-rival Eritrea on the U.S. State
Department's State Sponsors of Terrorism list.

There is little indication that the Bush Administration has thought through
the implications of these major steps that would not only prolong the
violence on the ground, but would hijack the incoming Obama Administration's
policy prerogatives while leaving it with an even more intractable crisis in
the troubled Horn of Africa.

"These eleventh hour shifts in policy will only create more blowback for the
United States in the region, and serve as a de facto recruiting tool for the
hard-line Islamist militia, or shabaab, that is wrapping itself in a mantle
of Somali nationalism fighting foreign forces," said Enough Project adviser,
and long-time Somalia expert, Ken Menkhaus, an Associate Professor of
Political Science at Davidson College.

Ethiopia is currently scheduled to withdraw its forces from Somalia by the
end of 2008 as part of the fragile U.N.-led Djibouti peace process. The
two-year Ethiopian occupation of southern Somalia has been a magnet for
violence and a growing insurgency in Somalia. By urging Ethiopia to maintain
its presence in the capital, Mogadishu, the Bush administration is handing
the shabaab a recruitment bonanza while undermining the credibility of
moderate Somalis seeking to advance the Djibouti process.

And also from this release is a very concise summary of why simply pawning
off the Somalia situation to UN Peacekeeping is unwise.
The Bush Administration is also pushing for a U.N. Security Council
resolution to authorize a U.N. stabilization force for Somalia to replace
departing Ethiopian troops. This is a bad idea on a number of fronts, and
there is zero indication that the administration or the U.N. is serious
about putting in place a genuinely credible force. There is no thirst among
member states to contribute troops in Somalia at the current moment, and
whatever U.N. forces could be scraped together would surely become the main
target of insurgent attacks. In short, the Administration is pushing the
United Nations to authorize a force that is designed to fail. This policy is
the worst of both worlds: U.N. forces would be unlikely to create political
or military stability in Somalia while giving shabaab militias a new foreign
occupying force to attack.

Posted by Mark Leon Goldberg at 10:33 AM

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