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Friday, August 27, 2010

No easy way to peace in war-ravaged Somalia

NAIROBI, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- A suicide attack in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Tuesday has once again attracted world attention to the seemingly never-ending violence in the Horn of Africa nation.
The renewed attack by al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabaab killed at least 30 people.
Observers see no easy way to peace in the country mired in nearly two decades of civil war, citing the deep division between the regional warlords and political factions as well as the lack of a strong government able to administer the country effectively.
But they also have urged foreign countries to take great care when intervening, warning outside influence may easily fuel violence, as militant forces fighting the government find this an excuse for launching offensives in the name of nationalism.
The attack earlier this week on a Mogadishu hotel took place after the Africa Union (AU) pledged to send an additional 4,000 troops in the capital. This will add to the 6,000 troops already deployed there to shore up the fragile government.
In a gathering in Uganda last week, leaders of African countries decided to beef up their forces after al-Shabaab carried out an attack in the Ugandan capital of Kampala in July, killing 76 people, a sign that the Somali violence has spilled over its soil.
Al-Shabaab, a leading anti-government group that controls much of southern and central Somalia as well as most of Mogadishu, also claimed responsibility for the Mogadishu attack saying it was retaliating against the AU troops deployment.
The group has previously warned African countries against plans to send addition troops.
The country has been immersed in a civil war since 1991. The current cycle of violence started in 2008 and violence in Mogadishu has led to some 3,000 conflict-related casualties so far this year and uprooted around 200,000 people from the city.
The Western-backed transitional government, which controls only a few streets of the capital, has long promised to launch a major offensive against al-Shabaab but even itself needs the protection of foreign troops.
Analysts have questioned that the AU could bring peace to Somalia by deploying more troops. Rather they warn the organization will encounter resistance from al-Shabaab and other groups. Different Somali clans tend to unite to fight foreign forces when they consider their country being invaded, they say.
"African leaders are daydreaming. You can't solve Somalia's problems by sending in more troops," said Zakaria Mohamud Haji Abdi of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, a group established to oppose Ethiopia's recent foray into Somalia.
Roland Marchal, a Somalia expert at the Center for International Studies and Research in Paris, said: "A guerrilla war is rarely won militarily. A political solution should be envisioned."
As evidence, al-Shabaab recently has vowed to "annihilate" the new AU troops and urged Somalis to fight the peacekeepers.
The priority agenda at present for the Somalis is to negotiate reconciliation among all factions so as to set up an inclusive government, including al-Shabaab. No durable peace will come if any faction is left out, analysts point out.
The transitional government, albeit weak, could survive and serve as a starting point for the peace process if given a chance, according to David Shinn, adjunct professor of international affairs at the Washington-based Elliot School of International Affairs.
To improve the current situation, Somali forces need to be trained to the point where they are efficient forces, can serve on behalf of the transitional government, are loyal to the government and are paid regularly, Shinn told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Shinn advised the transitional government to work closely with local community leaders and local elders, and explain that if they would use their local militia, they're far more numerous than al-Shabaab militia.
In intervening the Somali crisis, the international community needs to walk very cautiously and leave the Somalis enough space to mediate themselves, some analysts have said.
Meanwhile, the AU has defended its military approach, saying national reconciliation is impossible without foreign assistance. The foreign troops has at least prevented the collapse of the transitional government, they argue.
The organization warned of deteriorating conflicts in the country and urged the international community to get more involved into the country's affairs.
Following the Mogadishu attack, Ugandan army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye said the renewed violence would not change plans to deploy more peacekeepers.
"These attacks will not affect us. We are comfortable handling the situation," he said.

Editor: Deng Shasha
Source: PressTV


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