From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sat Dec 13 2008 - 11:36:07 EST
UN fails to gather troops for Somalia stabilization
13 Dec 2008, 21:50 GMT
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 13 (Reuters) - The United Nations has been unable to put
together a multinational military force to stabilize Somalia, which
diplomats said means the lawless Horn of Africa country might be left to
fend for itself.
In a report to the U.N. Security Council last month, Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon made clear that the kind of force that would be needed for Somalia
was beyond the capabilities of blue helmet peacekeepers, who are typically
deployed to monitor an existing peace agreement and not to crush an
Ban said the initial stabilization force would need around two brigades --
roughly 10,000 troops -- and would have to be a "highly capable,
self-sustaining, expeditionary force with full capability to defend itself
against hostile threats."
Council diplomats told Reuters that U.N. officials had been lobbying
countries to lead or join an international "coalition of the willing." But
so far none is willing to supply troops.
They said Ban had hoped to persuade Turkey, a NATO member with a strong
military and a predominantly Muslim country like Somalia, to lead the force.
But Ankara turned him down.
"One country has offered to provide airlifts, logistical support and
funding," a diplomat told Reuters. He declined to name the country but
others said it was the United States.
"No one wants to go to Somalia, it's too risky," he said.
For months members of Somalia's transitional government and the African
Union have pleaded with the Security Council to authorize a U.N.
peacekeeping force that could take over from AU troops, who say they are
incapable of stabilizing Somalia.
The country has been in virtual anarchy since the collapse of a dictatorship
17 years ago. Islamists now control most of the south. Feuding heavily-armed
clan militias hold sway in many other areas and a weak, Western-backed
interim government has little authority outside the capital of Mogadishu.
Ethiopian troops have supported the government but Addis Ababa says it will
withdraw its troops at the end of the year. The AU says it also will
withdraw its 3,200 soldiers.
PIRACY: "JUST A SYMPTOM"
Outside intervention in Somalia has a checkered history. The killing of U.S.
troops in Somalia in late 1993, which inspired the film "Black Hawk Down,"
marked the beginning of the end for a U.S.-U.N. peacekeeping force that left
Several council diplomats and U.N. officials told Reuters that Western
countries want to combat the scourge of piracy off the coast of Somalia but
are unwilling to deal with the root problem -- the lawlessness that allows
piracy to flourish.
A surge in piracy this year in the busy Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean off
Somalia has driven up insurance costs, brought the gangs tens of millions of
dollars in ransoms and prompted foreign navies to rush to the area to
The U.S. delegation has circulated to the 15-nation council a draft
resolution that would give countries the right to pursue pirates on land as
well as at sea. Council members including Indonesia and South Africa said
they were not impressed.
"They need to deal with the problem of piracy in a holistic manner,"
Indonesia's U.N. Ambassador Marty Natalegawa told Reuters, adding that he
could not support the text in its present form. "Piracy is a symptom of a
The Security Council's Monitoring Group on Somalia reported on Thursday that
the transitional government was disintegrating and the vast majority of its
soldiers and police had deserted.
(Editing by Vicki Allen)
C Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.
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