Sunday, July 12, 2020

Securing a stable Somalia [by: Boris Johnson, British Foreign Secretary]


Boris Johnson is the British Foreign Secretary

It’s never a good sign when the recommended mode of transport through a national capital is by armoured convoy.

As I bumped along the streets of Mogadishu, passing one sun-bleached ruin after another, I had a sense of the destruction wrought by Somalia’s years of turmoil.

And yet the simple fact that I was able to go to Mogadishu at all – where, today, the Union Flag flies over the British embassy – is remarkable in itself.

Never mind British foreign secretaries, for years it was Somalia’s official government that couldn’t visit its own capital – or, indeed, its own country.

The Somali cabinet and president used to be stuck in Nairobi, holding endless meetings about a country they could not enter, let alone govern.

In their absence, Mogadishu was abandoned to the depredations of warlords and Islamists, who proceeded to pound its white Italianate boulevards to rubble.

Eventually, the terrorists of al-Shabaab – the East African wing of al-Qaeda – captured most of southern Somalia and imposed their pitiless version of Islamic rule. In the words of one Somali leader, the country became a “danger to itself, to its neighbours, to the region and to the entire world.”

Today, all that has changed. Brave African soldiers mobilized by the African Union Mission in Somalia – known as AMISOM – turned the tide against al-Shabaab, driving the terrorists out of Mogadishu and liberating thousands of square miles.

The official government was able to return to Somalia and begin the painstaking task of rebuilding a state from nothing. In 2013, Britain reopened our embassy, sending our diplomats to help lead the international effort that has allowed Somalia to rise from the ashes.

And in February this year, a milestone was reached when President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed took office in Mogadishu following a peaceful transfer of power.

After decades of bloodshed and anarchy, this is a remarkable story of recovery. But a huge amount remains to be done.

That’s why I will co-chair a conference in London on May 11 designed to take forward the progress achieved at such cost.

So far, AMISOM troops have borne the brunt of the fighting against al-Shabaab, waging this campaign with training and funding from Britain and other Western countries.

When I was in Mogadishu, I was privileged to meet the British soldiers who are helping to improve the skills of their AMISOM counterparts.

But Somalia cannot rely on outsiders forever: its own forces will have to take responsibility for the security of their country.

One of my priorities for the London conference will be to conclude a new security pact.

Put simply, I want to strike a bargain whereby Somalia’s leaders carry out vital security reforms – including drawing up a clear plan for a national army – in return for more help and training from the international community. And when conditions allow, Somali troops will take over from their AMISOM allies.

This will require far-sighted political agreements, including a division of power between the central government and federal states. Our ultimate goal is for Somalia to hold one-person, one-vote elections in 2021.

Yet one potential calamity looms over all of these immense tasks. Somalia is now enduring a terrible drought, inflicting hunger and hardship on millions.

As I write, the number of Somalis who need emergency food supplies stands at six million – and there is a grave risk of famine.

No one should forget that the last time famine struck Somalia in 2011, some 260,000 people died.

If we act swiftly and decisively, then disaster can still be avoided. Britain is leading the way, providing food, water and medicine to more than a million people.

When I was in Mogadishu, I saw how a specialist cell from the United Nations can predict exactly which areas will suffer the worst food shortages.

So, the UN and the international community need to deliver the help that Somalia needs. And the country’s leaders must do their bit by ensuring that aid agencies are able to distribute food to the hungry – wherever they happen to be – in safety and without hindrance.

Sorting out security, dividing up power between the centre and the regions, avoiding another famine – all of these are daunting challenges. Hence the importance of the London conference this week. The stakes are so high that we dare not fail.

- Advertisement -

Stay Connected

144,011FansLike
1,872FollowersFollow
786FollowersFollow
18FollowersFollow
5,520FollowersFollow
2,902SubscribersSubscribe

SOMALI NEWS

US military kills Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist in Somalia airstrike

An American airstrike on Thursday killed at least one terrorist of the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group in Somalia, officials said.
- Advertisement -

Young Somali doctor shares her story of treating COVID-19 patients in Mogadishu hospital and falling sick herself

Hamdi Abdirahman Ahmed has spoken about her experiences as a doctor treating Coronavirus patients at a Mogadishu hospital at the start of...

Al-Shabaab destroy communication mast in Garissa

Al-Shabaab militants attacked and destroyed a communication mast in Korakora area, in Garissa County.  Locals said about 20 gunmen staged the attack...

Somalia: Spare the civilians, Red Cross and Red Crescent tell warring parties

Mogadishu (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) call on all armed...

Security Council Press Statement on Terrorist Attack in Mogadishu

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack of 28 December 2019 at the Ex-control...

MORE NEWS

Farmaajo should stop hiding behind election law to extend term

By PETER KAGWANJA All things being equal, more than 6 million eligible voters, half...

Somali barber in Turkey hopeful despite coronavirus setback

Amid fears over the coronavirus pandemic, people around the world have adjusted to the new normal and began taking preventive measures,...

Ayaan Hirsi Ali blasts Ilhan Omar over call to remake US

Somalia-born human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Friday over recent comments in which the lawmaker called for "dismantling...

Turkey’s president formally makes Hagia Sophia a mosque

The president of Turkey on Friday formally reconverted Istanbul’s sixth-century Hagia Sophia into a mosque and declared it open for Muslim worship,...

Ethiopian Naval Ambitions: One of Ethopia’s long-term geopolitical objectives

Ethiopia is gradually and steadily opening up doors and minds to international relations. Testament to this was when French President Macron sealed...
- Advertisement -

FEATURED POSTS

Somali barber in Turkey hopeful despite coronavirus setback

Amid fears over the coronavirus pandemic, people around the world have adjusted to the new normal and began taking preventive measures,...

Ayaan Hirsi Ali blasts Ilhan Omar over call to remake US

Somalia-born human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Friday over recent comments in which the lawmaker called for "dismantling...

Ethiopian Naval Ambitions: One of Ethopia’s long-term geopolitical objectives

Ethiopia is gradually and steadily opening up doors and minds to international relations. Testament to this was when French President Macron sealed...

Israel Hawks Are Spending Big To Unseat Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar

Right-leaning pro-Israel groups are targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat and outspoken critic of the Israeli government who is one of...