Afyare Abdi Elmi, a professor of international affairs at Qatar University, said there are reasons to believe that Ethiopia is making efforts to inject itself into the ongoing Somali peace process by using IGAD’s mandate to achieve its objective.
“IGAD to me is a very weak regional organization, which is often dominated by the regional power, which is Ethiopia. So, basically, Ethiopia is trying to re-insert itself by using IGAD and it is trying to dominate the peace process in general,” he said.
IGAD’s Assembly of Heads of State and Government kicked off a two-day summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Sunday.
The two-day summit was also scheduled to review the 36th Extraordinary Session of the IGAD Council of Ministers, a report of the IGAD Military Experts' Mission to Somalia, and consideration of the draft communiqué of the 15th Extraordinary Summit of IGAD Heads of State and Government.
But, professor Elmi said the regional bloc has demonstrated its inability to resolve the Somali crisis.
“It (IGAD) cannot pay even its own budget, let alone resolve the conflicts that are taking place in the region. So, it’s almost impossible to even expect as little as helping the region or, perhaps, some of the countries within the region,” Elmi said.
He further said that whenever a regional power such as Ethiopia tries to push its agenda in the Horn of Africa region, it usually uses IGAD as an instrument to attain its objective, a charge Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government denied.
Ethiopia has often said that it is committed to working with the Somali government, as well as the international community, to help resolve the escalating crisis in neighboring Somalia.
Established in 1986 with its headquarters in Djibouti, IGAD members comprise Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
Prime Minister Zenawi is currently the chairman of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
Professor Elmi said the international community should have seized “precious” moments to help resolve the Somali crisis.
“The international community has missed so many opportunities in the past. There were times that the momentum was on the side of the international community, and those who (were) willing to ginger (make more lively) the situation, and obviously we have missed that. The international community should be firm and talk to the leadership of the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) and tell them that this cabinet is way too large,” Elmi said.