26 January 2013

Somalia and UN Officials Call for 'Rebuilding of National Forces'

Garowe — Somalia's Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Fosia Yusuf Haji Aden and U.N. Special Envoy to Somalia Ambassador Augustine Mahiga have called for the 'rebuilding of national forces' in Somalia, Garowe Online reports.

Speaking at a summit in Addis Ababa, both officials said that Somali national forces must be rebuilt to assume responsibility over security in the country.

"If AMISOM and Ethiopian troops withdraw immediately from Somalia, the country needs national forces to assume control over security responsibilities," said Minister Fosia, while noting that Somali national forces require training.

Ambassador Mahiga, the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General to Somalia, appealed to the international community to provide more funding to rebuild national forces in Somalia.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Moham ud flew to Addi s Ababa on Saturday to attend the African Union summit .

Military campaign against Al Shabaab

Somali government forces aided by AMISOM and Ethiopian troops have seized control over key towns in south-central Somalia, after dislodging Al Shabaab militants from provincial capitals in south-central regions.

However, security insiders say Al Shabaab moved its armed machinery and fighters from the provincial towns and scattered its resources into the surrounding districts and rural areas, including coastal areas where security experts believe Al Shabaab cooperate with piracy gangs and share ransom profits to fund terrorism operations.

Other Al Shabaab moved to mountain hideouts in Golis Mountain Range of northern Somalia, which stretches between Puntland and Somaliland regions.

So far, the Somali federal government and its AMISOM and Ethiopian army allies have not moved to expand their areas of control from provincial towns in south-central Somalia to the surrounding districts and rural areas.

The U.S. and E.U. countries are the largest donors to the AMISOM peacekeeping mission in Somalia, and Somali soldiers have also benefited from training programs funded by the U.S. and E.U.

Risks of rebuilding 'national forces'

A senior source in the Puntland government, which administers a vast region in northeastern Somalia as an autonomous state, tells Garowe Online that Somali polities are "gravely concerned" about plans to rebuild Somali national forces.

"This country underwent 22 years of armed conflict and political disintegration. There are major unresolved issues, such as reconciliation among communities, return of looted properties, and vote on a federal capital. These issues must be resolved first and [then] can the world plan to rebuild Somali national forces, because only by resolving these outstanding issues can Somali forces be successfully re-integrated into a national force," said the source.

Continuing, the Puntland source expressed dismay over the Turkish government's declared plans to lead efforts to rebuild Somali national forces.

"Turkish aid has gone exclusively to Mogadishu...There is a major discrepancy between the amount of Turkish aid to Mogadishu since 2011 and the actual difference on the ground [in Mogadishu]. This is shameful and [this] is simply Turkey buying influence in Africa and the Muslim world," added the source.

Continuing, the source said: "Turkey should not play with fire. Somali clans who fought endless battles have not fully reconciled yet. Rebuilding Somali national forces requires the reconciliation of major clans and resolving outstanding issues prior to rebuilding national forces; currently, over 80% of so-called 'national forces' in Mogadishu, Merka, Beledweyne, and Jowhar areas belong to Hawiye clan and this creates a dangerous misbalance and potentially stirs new conflicts and exasperates the security problems in Somalia."

In 1991, Mogadishu was seized by Hawiye clan militias in a wave of violence and persecution that killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced over 1million citizens from Mogadishu and the surrounding regions. Mogadishu has since remained predominantly home to Hawiye clansmen, while most of the city's natives from all Somali clans fled away and most of their homes and properties have since been under the control of looters.

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