documentBy J. Peter Pham
The following is the prepared testimony of Dr. J. Peter Pham, associate professor of justice studies, political science and Africana studies and Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, in front of the United States House of Representative subcommittee on Africa and Global Health on June 25, 2009 in Washington, DC. The hearing was entitled, ""Somalia: Prospects for Lasting Peace and a Unified Response to Extremism and Terrorism."
Chairman Payne, Congressman Smith, Members of the Subcommittee,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today about the critical conditions currently prevailing in Somalia and threatening the security and stability of the entire Horn of Africa.
Permit me the liberty of observing that it is three years almost to the day since I appeared before the predecessor of this Subcommittee at its first hearing on the threat of extremism emanating from Somalia and this body—under your leadership, Mr. Chairman, and that of Mr. Smith—has maintained consistent vigilance on this important security issue, while simultaneously upholding the highest standards of respect for human rights. In particular, as a scholar who closely tracks developments in this subregion, allow me to add a personal note of appreciation for the chairman's leadership in keeping attention focused on issues relating to the Horn of Africa in general and for bringing about this historic hearing which brings together in the same forum high representatives of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the Puntland State of Somalia as well as His Excellency the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Uganda.
I regret that the foreign minister of the Republic of Somaliland was unable to join us to share the experience of his people in avoiding the very scourges—including extremism, conflict, and piracy—which this hearing endeavors to examine. While I understand Somalilanders' sensitivity about any appearance prejudicial to their 1991 declaration of renewed independence and the delicate nature of the internal politics of Somaliland as it—alone of all the territories which were part of the Somali Democratic Republic before the collapse of the Muhammad Siyad Barre regime—moves its second democratic presidential and parliamentary elections in just three months, I nonetheless hope that the representatives of the Republic of Somaliland will provide the Subcommittee with information on its contribution to security and peace in the subregion.
This hearing convenes at a moment when Somalia is going through yet another grave crisis, the latest in its two-decade cycle state collapse, political failure, and, sadly, human suffering.
The various factions of al-Shabaab ("the youth"), an umbrella group that was formally designated a "foreign terrorist organization" by the U.S. Department of State last year, and their assorted allies—including the Hisbul al-Islamiyya ("Islamic party"), a group led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir 'Aweys, a figure who appears personally on both United States and United Nations antiterrorism sanctions lists—have proven themselves more resilient than many international observers have been willing to admit. Having in recent months consolidated their control of the area from the southern suburbs of the capital to the border with Kenya, the Islamist militants launched an offensive at the beginning of May with the apparent objective of circling the capital to its north as well. On May 12, al-Shabaab forces took control of Buulobarde, a key town in the Hiraan region of central Somalia that sits athwart a strategic crossroad on the principal route from Mogadishu to Ethiopia. On May 17, they seized control of Jowhar, located 90 kilometers north of Mogadishu, and its population of 50,000; the town is the capital of the Middle Shabelle region and had served as a joint administrative capital for the TFG. To add insult to injury, Jowhar is TFG president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's hometown. The following day, May 18, insurgents from Hisbul al-Islamiyya struck 20 kilometers further north, capturing another strategic town, Mahaday. Two days later, on May 20, just as it has done previously in Lower Shabelle, Jubba, and other areas it controlled, al-Shabaab proclaimed the establishment of a new Islamist administration for Middle Shabelle, appointing one Sheikh Abdirahman Hassan Hussein as the governor. The same day, the TFG-aligned mayor of Beledweyne, capital of Hiraan, Sheikh Aden Omar (Jilibay), hastily resigned, evidently frightened that his town would be the next one targeted by the insurgents.
Then, in just the last week, the already-bad security situation has deteriorated further as Islamist militants, following up on earlier incursion, brought their offensive into Mogadishu amid fierce fighting. Over the weekend, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), reeling from the loss of several of its more effective members—including Mogadishu police chief Colonel Ali Said Hassan, security minister Colonel Omar Aden Hashi, former ambassador to Ethiopia and to the African Union Abdikarim Farah Laqanyo, and parliamentarian Mohamed Hussein Addow—appealed through parliament speaker Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nuur (Madobe) for military support from neighboring countries. On Monday, the TFG president declared a "state of emergency." The United Nations estimates that at least 160,000 people have been displaced in this latest round of conflict alone.
Now is not the time to assign blame. However, if we are to go forward, we have to acknowledge the realities on the ground. Notwithstanding the hopes that accompanied the installation of Sheikh Sharif as TFG president at the end of January—I would not call the extra-legal machinations in Djibouti an "election" and, unless we want to hold up the mockery of TFG's own charter by the parliamentarians' awarding of a two-year extension to themselves as a model for constitutional government across the region, the legitimacy of the legislature should be viewed as questionable—the results have been disappointing. With all due respect to our distinguished guest from the transitional regime, the TFG is not a government by any common-sense definition of the term: it is entirely dependent on foreign troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to protect its small enclave within Mogadishu, but otherwise administers no territory; even within this restricted zone, it has shown no functional capacity to govern, much less provide even minimal services to the citizens.
Even if Sheikh Sharif manages to reconcile the TFG's original secular framework with its more recent, albeit ill-defined, adoption of shari'a, the transitional government faces an almost insurmountable deficit of capacity, accountability, and, thus, credibility. Thanks to the frequent peregrinations abroad by Sheikh Sharif and members of his government, more Somalis than ever view the internationally-recognized interim authorities as little better than foreign puppets—and ineffectual ones at that. All of the TFG's "outreach" to date has amounted to pulling in an occasional warlord or two with bribes paid from funds it has received from Western or Arab countries. These characters have little interest in either governance or even security and have stayed "loyal" only so far as the money is forthcoming. Furthermore, while literally thousands from the TFG president's Abgaal sub-clan turned out just two months to sign up in response to an internationally recruitment drive, more than 90 percent of those who enlisted have since disappeared with their sign-up bonuses and, more ominously, their weapons, some of which have been documented as ending up in the hands of insurgents to whom they were presumably sold. Thus such forces as the TFG nominally has managed to field in the current fighting would be more accurately described as those of warlords whose interests, at least for the moment, happen to align with the interim regime's.
While this grim recital of just some of the TFG's shortcomings may seem gratuitous in light of the mortal peril that it faces at this moment, the point I am trying to make is that even in what many would view as the "best-case" scenario coming out of the current crisis—that the TFG will somehow manage to rally enough support among Somali clans and communities to push back the current offensive and win itself some time—the transitional regime is not very well-positioned to win a "long war" against the insurgency by wooing some of the insurgents and by defeating or at least marginalizing others, much less to emerge as the foundation for whatever political settlement Somalis eventually agree on. I am quite sorry to be unable to offer a more optimistic assessment of the existent capacity for governance, but reality is what it is and policy must be constructed on that basis.
The Threat of Extremism and Terrorism
The "worst-case" scenario, of course, is that al-Shabaab, Hisbul al-Islamiyya, and their allies defeat the TFG entirely and assume control of the capital as well as the bulk of south-central and southern Somalia which they already loosely control. If this were to happen, it would be a geopolitical disaster with repercussions rippling well beyond the borders of Somalia. While comparisons with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s may be a bit of a stretch, that is not to say that outside actors ranging from al-Qaeda (which would undoubtedly try to capitalize at least propaganda-wise on the event) to Ethiopia (which would be tempted to return in force) to the United States (which would likely ramp up counterterrorism operations against the emergent threat) will not treat it as such.
However, it should be noted that even if the insurgents do not defeat the TFG outright, in many respects they are already a significant threat to Somalis and others. Whatever the origins and real intent of the Islamic Courts Union, the Islamist militants currently facing off against the TFG—as well as against other Somali groups, including Islamist ones like Ahlu-Sunna wal-Jama'a (roughly, "[Followers of] the Traditions and Consensus [of the Prophet Muhammad]"), which have risen up against the distinctly alien doctrines imported alongside foreign fighters—have clearly been radicalized. Politically, the militants' campaign of wa'yigelin ("consciousness-raising")—by which al-Shabaab means the imposition of its interpretation of Islam on other Somalis—has won for them few fans among the clans. Recent examples of Shabaab "awareness efforts" range from the noisome (e.g., the restriction of the chewing of qat, the narcotic leaf beloved by Somalis, Yemenis, and other peoples of the subregion, to the outskirts of Baidoa) to the discriminatory (e.g., the ban on men and women traveling together in the same public transport conveyances announced at the end of May by al-Shabaab's commander in Kismayo, Ahmed Hassan Ali) to the downright brutal (e.g., the imposition of hudud punishments like public stoning for alleged adulteresses in Kismayo and public cross-amputation of the right hand and left foot to which four unfortunate accused thieves were sentenced on Monday by a "court" in Shabaab-controlled northern Mogadishu).
Not only do these extremists aspire to control the conduct of the living, but they also impose themselves on the dead, systematically desecrating the tombs of saints and other religious figures venerated by the Sufi turuq ("brotherhoods"), which have traditionally been highly influential among the Somali. As the foremost contemporary authority on the Somali, Professor I.M. Lewis of the London School of Economics, has noted, Sufism has historically been more than a religious preference among the Somali: "Sufism is particularly well-adapted to Somali social organization since it enables Somalis (and they are active agents here) to sacralize their society at all levels of segmentation by indiscriminately canonizing their lineage ancestors as 'saints,' whatever the latters' actual religious comportment may have been." Thus, it is not surprising that incidents like the destruction in late May of the graves of three such saintly ancestors in Baardheere, in the Gedo region—an act of iconoclastic vandalism described by the local al-Shabaab district governor, one Sheikh Abdulqadir Yusuf Qalbi, as "a religious act"—is profoundly disturbing to most Somalis.
Even without taking Mogadishu, al-Shabaab and its allies have already succeeded in carving out a geographical space where they and likeminded jihadist groups can operate freely. For example, the suicide bomber who killed four South Korean tourists and their local guide near the ancient fortress city of Shibam in Yemen's Hadramut (coincidentally, Usama bin Laden's ancestral home region) on March 15, Abdel Rahman Mehdi al-Aajbari, underwent training at a camp in Shabaab-controlled southern Somalia before returning to his native country to carry out the deadly attack. The same is believed to be the case with the suicide bomber who, three days later, hit a convoy carrying the South Korean ambassador and investigators sent to look into the earlier attack (fortunately, this time the terrorist, a 20-year-old student, only killed himself). Thus, even without toppling the TFG, al-Shabaab has already achieved a major objective of jihadists worldwide by securing a territorial base from which they can carry out attacks elsewhere, especially against targets on the Arabian Peninsula.
As if this is not disturbing enough for the United States, even more unsettling is the fact that a number of young Somali-Americans have left their homes in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and, reportedly, other communities, including Columbus, Ohio, and Portland, Maine, to train in camps in Shabaab-controlled parts of Somalia and, presumably, fight alongside the militants. One of these men, Shirwa Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Somalia whose last known residence was Minneapolis, Minnesota, became the first-ever American suicide bomber when he blew himself up in an attack in Somaliland on October 29, 2008, which left dozens of civilians dead.
One hopeful indicator amidst of this otherwise gloomy landscape has been that the ideological motivations of al-Shabaab and aligned extremist movements do not permit them to proceed at a slower speed in their march through Somali territory and society. Instead, a certain internal dynamic compels them to keep pushing, even when it might be in their long-term interests to act with greater circumspection. Militarily, this temptation to overreach is visible in the relentless advance of the jihadists whose cause one might argue would be better served by consolidating their rule in areas they already control while letting the TFG collapse of its own internal contradictions.
The Challenge of Piracy
The attacks by Somali pirates on merchant shipping in the waters off the coast of Somalia have added an addition challenge to an already complicated regional security picture. The marauders have hardly been cowed by the international naval presence involving warships from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, India, Japan, and several other countries which assembled early this year in an unprecedented effort to prevent a repeat of last year's wave of more than one hundred hijackings and other attacks on commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden and other waters near the Horn of Africa. The pirates have simply shifted their operations to areas which they know are not being patrolled, with strikes increasing taking place on the high seas of the western Indian Ocean and, as witnessed by the seizure two weeks ago of a German-owned, Antigua and Barbuda-flagged cargo ship, MV Charelle, 60 nautical miles south of Sur, Oman, elsewhere.
While the two dozen or so cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and other surface combat vessels which various countries have dispatched to the region have made for great political theater and may have even proven useful in escort duty along narrowly defined sea lanes, there are simply not enough of them to make a real dent in the operations of the pirates. And even if there were enough warships to conduct adequate counter-piracy operations—just to control the more heavily trafficked shipping lanes in the area would require a force at least twice as large as currently deployed—it is doubtful that the commitment is sustainable over the long term. After all, with the bill for just the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) anti-piracy Operation Atalanta expected to total over $300 million this year, how long will the naval powers of the world tie their assets down in and, in these hard economic times, spend their increasingly scarce resources on the troubled waters off the Horn of Africa? As a report by the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute has put it rather succinctly:
If Somali piracy is going to be combated using solely sea-based tactics it will require a critical mass of warships and their air assets to maintain a constant presence in the region. It is possible that the largest and most diverse unplanned gathering of warships in recent history that is ongoing in [the Gulf of Aden] will constitute such a critical mass. However, it would be wishful thinking to expect this sort of a presence to continue for any prolonged period given the cost of modern naval deployments. [The Gulf of Aden] is a large body of water, and warships are not a long-term cost effective method of providing commercial vessels with protection from Somali piracy.
Hence, what is needed is a pragmatic solution that not only deals with the economic, political, and security challenges caused by the expanded activities of Somali pirates, but whose costs can be contained within acceptable limits and whose long-term operation is sustainable by those with the greatest immediate stake in its success, regional and local actors as well as merchant vessels which must transit the currently dangerous waters off Somalia.
In addition to beefing up security on and for merchant vessels—including, possibly, encouraging them to lower their own overall costs by pooling their resources to organize escorted convoys—the only sustainable option currently available for dealing the scourge of Somali piracy is the stand-up of effective coastal patrols along the Horn of Africa's littorals. While I have repeatedly argued that the problem of Somali lawlessness at sea will only be definitively resolved when the international community summons up the political will to adequately address the underlying pathology of de facto Somali statelessness onshore, the truth is such a process is, as I will note later, literally a generational undertaking. That does not mean that, fatalistically, nothing should be done; rather, what needs to be acknowledged is that while the broader project needs to be attended to, it cannot be expected to pay immediate dividends in terms of improved security along the Somali coastline. What can, however, both immediately lessen the current threat to merchant shipping in the region and contribute to ameliorating the security situation in support of building governance capabilities across the territories of the former Somali Democratic Republic is the establishment of coast guards along the littoral. The idea is one which was commended by no less a figure than United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when in March he advised the Security Council that:
In the interests of a durable solution to piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, it is important that local coast guards in the region, where possible, are assisted in ways that will enable them to constructively play a role in anti-piracy efforts conducted off the coast of Somalia and the surrounding region. As part of a long-term strategy to promote the closure of pirates' shore bases and effectively monitor the coastline, I therefore recommend that Member States consider strengthening the capacity of the coast guards both in Somalia and the region.
Coastal patrol forces would not only be more sustainable from the fiscal point of view, but, precisely because they would concentrate on the littorals, have a more manageable area of responsibility than the naval forces which are currently sailing all over the western Indian Ocean. Moreover a coast guard is within the reach of states in the region as well as some of the effective authorities in Somalia, including the governments of the as-yet internationally-unrecognized Republic of Somaliland and the Puntland autonomous region. The key, as my colleague Dr. Martin Murphy noted in a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments paper published earlier this year, is to not get hung up on questions of the end state of what was once the Somali Democratic Republic:
A more attractive course of action would find the United States assembling an effective international coalition that is willing to deal with Somali sub-state entities in order to reach a more immediate solution even though this might mean deferring agreement on a unitary state to a later date. Crucial to any negotiations with such sub-state entities as Puntland and non-Islamic clan alliances in the south will be a clear commitment to curb piracy in return for U.S. and allied political and economic support.
To achieve maximum local support—vital if a sense of local responsibility is to be engendered and, ultimately, local intelligence to be obtained—the coast guard must not be viewed as purely an anti-piracy measure. Given how embedded the piracy is in economies of certain districts in Somalia, any coastal security force must provide some positive benefits to those communities if it is to have any chance at weaning them away from their dependence on criminal enterprises, much less greater success. This means designing a force capable of undertaking some classic coast guard functions like protecting natural resources (even if the "Robin Hood" argument for piracy is something of a red herring) and maritime rescue. It also requires local anchorage for the patrol vessels and, where possible, employing local citizens. Along the Somali littorals, as the coast guard units expand their areas of operation, they simultaneously expand the geographic spheres of security and, ultimately, of governance by legitimate authorities. As the latter grow stronger, one can foresee them assuming greater responsibility for the trial of pirates, thus reinforcing the message that there is no impunity for the marauders. There are indications that this type of local empowerment has great potential: to cite just one example, an ad hoc local militia composed of fed-up citizens from the fishing communities of Alula and Bargaal at the very tip of the Horn of Africa rose up and seized a dozen pirates and three boats (another boat got away), whom they handed over to Puntland authorities.
In addition to involving local communities in the establishment and operation of a coast guard, the various units of the force must achieve relatively significant degree of integration. Eight countries in the region—Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles, Tanzania, and Yemen as well as representatives of the TFG—have already signed the Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden (the "Djibouti Code of Conduct") promoted by the International Maritime Organization to facilitate regional coordination. What these states lacked were not only the material resources—now forthcoming—to recruit, train, and equip more robust coastal security forces, but the knowledge and experience to actually do so. This is precisely where properly qualified and licensed private firms, working with both donor states and local partners, can provide not only invaluable expertise, but also "good offices" to help bridge the various interests of the multiple governmental, corporate, and other stakeholders.
For the sake of the record, allow me to add just three final observations about the pirates themselves.
First, there are some who argue that the pirates are fishermen whose livelihoods were wrecked by illegal commercial fishing and toxic waste disposal off the coast of Somalia. Without denying those two phenomena were issues of concern, especially in the early-to-mid-1990s, the fact is that from what we know of the pirates, most do not actually come from fishing backgrounds. Moreover, not only are the pirate gangs are highly-organized criminal enterprises and not just spontaneous groups of unemployed fishermen, most of the attacks nowadays are taking place well beyond not just the limit of 12 nautical miles which the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) fixes for any country's territorial waters, but also the 200 nautical miles from shore which the treaty allows for a state's exclusive economic zone. Quite simply, you can hardly claim to be defending Somali waters when, for example, you are raiding 550 nautical miles east of the Kenyan port of Mombasa, as the eleven-member crew that was thwarted and captured by the French navy while attacking a Liberian-registered cargo ship in mid-April was doing.
Second, another canard that needs to be refuted is the belief when the Islamic Courts Union briefly held power in most of Somalia in the second half of 2006, it fought piracy. There is only one instance where the Islamist forces did anything that could even remotely be characterized as a counter-piracy operation. On November 8, 2006, Islamic Courts Union militia stormed the United Arab Emirates-registered cargo ship MV Veesham I, which had been hijacked off Adale, north of Mogadishu on the Somali coast, and arrested its captors. The boat had been hauling a load of charcoal from El Maan, Somalia, to Dubai when it was attacked by pirates. The operation, however, had little to do with any principled opposition to piracy and quite a bit to do with the fact that the owner of the Veesham was one of the key financial backers of the Islamist movement and that his contribution to its coffers would be affected if he lost his vessel and cargo to the pirates.
Third, the international community needs to search for a sustainable mechanism for bringing captured pirates to justice while both respecting their basic rights and not destabilizing the region. Hauling the prisoners before the courts of a willing third-party state like Kenya, which has signed memoranda of understanding with the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, and the People's Republic of China to receive and prosecute suspected pirates, is simply not a wise long-term approach, even if that country's new Merchant Shipping Act (which delineates the jurisdiction of the country's courts over extra-territorial acts of piracy and brings its norms up to date with international standards), passed by parliament in February were not still languishing on President Mwai Kibaki's desk, yet another casualty of the poisonous partisan politics which have continued to bedevil Nairobi even after a government of national unity was installed in the wake of last year's tragic post-electoral violence. In any event, while Kenya might serve as a convenient forum for adjudicating the occasional maritime brigandage, the East African country's judiciary is simply not capable of processing the large number of pirates currently being captured. And even if the Kenyan courts were able to cope with all the new cases, the country has its own restive ethnic Somali and Muslim populations whose preexisting sense of alienation from the rest of the body politic is hardly going to be assuaged by a seemingly endless parade of accused Somalis, almost all of whom will be Muslims. Moreover, trying large numbers of Somalis in the courts of a neighboring country might well permit the pirate syndicates, who have shown themselves quite clever in their use of public relations, to wrap themselves up in the mantle of Somali nationalism and thus broaden their base of support beyond the thousands of individuals already benefiting, directly or indirectly, from the extensive economic networks which make up the piracy business.
United States policy toward Somalia has veered from neglect in the late 1990s to an emphasis on "kinetic" counterterrorism operations in the aftermath of 9/11 and especially after the Ethiopian intervention "flushed out" some of the terrorists long sought by American security officials. Even if justifiable in individual cases, the use of "hard power" has bred resentment and allowed radical forces to wrap themselves up in the mantle of Somali nationalism, undermining our broader strategic objective of countering radicalization, to say nothing of humanitarian norms.
More recently, even as the situation has gone from bad to worse to worst, presenting the entire Horn of Africa with a security crisis of the first order, spreading instability across a fragile subregion and raising the specter that transnational terrorist networks like al-Qaeda will find and exploit the opportunities thus offered, the approach of the international community and apparently the policy of the United States has become ensnared in what is essentially a circular "logic." For want of better ideas, the international community has opted to buy into a seductive, but nonetheless vicious, circle of its own manufacture whereby it must "stay the course" and continue to devote scarce political and material resources almost exclusively to shoring up the TFG because it has already invested too much time and resources into the regime to do otherwise.
If the failure so far of no fewer than fourteen internationally-sponsored attempts at establishing a national government indicates anything, it is the futility of the notion that outsiders can impose a regime on Somalia, even if it is staffed with presumably moderate Somalis. Instead, in the context of the decentralized reality among the Somali, we—the concerned international community in general and the United States in particular—need to invest the time and resources to seek out local partners who can, first of all, work with us in creating a modicum of stability—societal, economic, and, ultimately, governmental. This will not be an easy task since the conflict of recent years has taken its toll on civil society. Nonetheless local groups exist do exist: SAACID, the extraordinary nongovernmental organization founded and directed by Somali women, engaged in conflict transformation, women's empowerment, education, healthcare, emergency relief, employment schemes, and development, comes to mind. Amid the current crisis, SAACID is providing 80,000 2,000-calorie meals daily to residents of Mogadishu.
I would venture to say that a broad consensus is emerging among experts who have tracked Somalia for any amount of time that any workable solution must embrace a "bottom-up" or "building-block" approach rather than the hitherto "top-down" strategy. Moreover, given the ripple effects of continuing disorder in the Somali lands, in addition to relations with functional parts of the TFG, it makes no sense for the international community to not work with effective authorities in the Republic of Somaliland, Puntland State, the province of Gedo, and other areas as well seek to engage with traditional leaders and civil society actors elsewhere. These figures both enjoy legitimacy with the populace and have actual (as opposed to notional) security and economic development agendas which complement the outside world's goal of preventing chaos from reigning in Somali territory.
With respect to intervening in Somalia, while I salute the courage and determination of the Ugandan People's Defense Force peacekeepers who have deployed as part of AMISOM in addition to the Burundian troops and I fully cognizant the concerns of Somalia's immediate neighbors like Ethiopia and Kenya, I would argue that the legitimate security interests of the countries in the region can best be met not by their becoming embroiled in the Somali conflict where their support for the TFG has itself become a nationalist rallying point for the insurgents. Rather, I would argue that African resources might best be put to work containing the spread of the instability from Somalia and preventing additional foreign fighters and supplies from fueling the conflict in the country.
I readily acknowledge that an approach such as the one I have sketched out may strike many as minimalist. However, I was convinced and am even more certain today that it was the course most likely to buy Somalis themselves the space within which to make their own determinations about their future while at the same time allowing the rest of the world, especially the countries of the Horn of Africa, to achieve their legitimate security objectives. Thus, not only does the strategy offer the most realistic hope of salvaging a modicum of regional stability and international security out of a situation that otherwise grows increasingly intractable with each passing day, but the time, space, and freedom for Somalis to rebuild their shattered common life.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Smith, Members of the Subcommittee,
Again I am grateful for the opportunity to come before you today and I look forward to responding to your questions.