Dec 19, 2008

Somaliland: “Recognize or Protect”

Active ImageUK House of Lords speech promotes protection of democratic Somaliland.



Below is a speech published by

Lord Avebury: My Lords, a few hours ago [4 December 2008] the Minister said that we invaded Afghanistan to prevent it becoming a haven for international terrorism. She did not remind your Lordships that that was also one of the excuses given for the invasion of Iraq, which, as President Mubarak said at the time, was likely to create 100 bin Ladens. He was probably out by a factor of 10, but that has happened. It has also involved us, as the noble Baroness said, in a £700 million contribution so far towards reconstruction, has placed huge burdens on our Armed Forces, and is an ingredient in the motivation of terrorists across the world.


It is a losing battle to deal with individual acts of terrorism while ignoring the hatred and violence that is, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said, spewed out by thousands of madrassahs, which, I may add, are funded by oil money, and which churn out graduates indoctrinated with loathing for Governments and people who do not conform with their ideas of Sunni orthodoxy.


At the same time we need to address, as has been said by several noble Lords, the genuine grievances of Islamic populations throughout the world, and particularly the failure to arrive at a proper solution for the sufferings of the Palestinian people and to implement the declared intention of the international community to assist in creating a two-state solution.

In Somalia, we seem to have no idea what to do about the security vacuum that will be heightened by the departure of the Ethiopian forces at the end of the year [2008]. It spells the end for President Abdullahi Yusuf, and, as I suggested several years ago to the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, when he was a Minister, we put too many eggs in the basket of the TFG without having a plan B.

The Secretary-General’s last-minute development of the concept of an international stabilisation force was not pursued by the Security Council’s November [2008] resolution, so that 3,000 AMISOM troops who had been hanging on in the hope of being reinforced are also certain to be withdrawn. They had been helping the Ethiopians to protect the two major cities of Mogadishu and Baidoa, leaving the rest of the country to the extreme faction of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, under Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who is in fact on the UN list of terrorist associates. It is only a matter of time before these terrorists take control of the capital, making it impossible for the international community to continue its recognition of the TFG. The moderate Islamist leader of an ARS faction, Sharif Ahmed, who signed a new deal with a faction of the TFG last week, appears to control no territory at all. What does the Minister think that the international community should do at the end of this month [December 2008], when all these things arise?

Eritrea’s involvement in Somalia, which includes hosting Mr Aweys’s base in Asmara and probably giving him logistical help, may have been one way of its retaliating against Ethiopia for Meles’s prevarication over the boundary commission determination of April 2002. I remind your Lordships that, under the distinguished chairmanship of the British jurist Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, the commission tried to get agreement on physical delimitation but finally had to admit defeat in September 2006, contenting itself with expressing the border in terms of its co-ordinates. If the UN had been much firmer since then with Addis Ababa in calling for unconditional acceptance of the commission’s determination, for removal of their troops from Eritrean territory and for demilitarisation of the legal boundary, it would have allowed both countries to divert enormous amounts of money and manpower lavished on their armed forces over the last six and half years into peaceful development. It would have meant that both countries might have been co-operating in the development of a peaceful political settlement for Somalia.

If the AU cannot persuade member states to reinforce AMISOM and the Security Council ignores the problem, the AU should consider how at least to protect Somaliland, which has been de facto independent for the past 18 years, now under a democratically elected Government. The Minister told me in a Written Answer that we were reassessing the situation in Somaliland to see how we can implement our programmes of assistance and opportunities of enhancing our support. One way would be to encourage the AU to recognise Somaliland, so that it would have the backing of international law against any attempt by Mr Aweys to occupy it, and to stabilise it against further acts of terrorism. Somalia is already a haven for terrorists and pirates, and we should at least seek international agreement to prevent them extending their control over a law-abiding neighbour.

The UN is already overstretched, and member states are having difficulty meeting requests for contributions to peacekeeping forces elsewhere in Africa. The Security Council decided on a Chapter VII mandate for Darfur as long ago as August 2006, but the hybrid UN/AU force deployment timetable has slipped yet again, as has already been mentioned, to reach 80 per cent of its final strength in March 2009. That has dire consequences for the region as a whole, as the noble Lord, Lord Ashcroft, has said. There has been deterioration in the security situation, including deadly attacks on peacekeepers. Their freedom of movement is undermined repeatedly by government-imposed restrictions. UN helicopters have come under fire several times and, although the Government say that they are committed to a ceasefire, they bombed villages in November [2008], and, in the previous month, their militias attacked dozens of villages, killing 40 innocent civilians.

The long history of broken promises has not yet come to an end. The Security Council should insist that all aggressive operations by the armed forces of the country should cease and that the persistent obstruction of humanitarian agencies should also come to an end. One of the items on the “to do” list of Mr Djibril Bassolé, the UN chief mediator, should be to get agreement on independent international monitoring of ceasefire violations to resolve the arguments about responsibility that arise whenever civilians are killed or injured. It would be useful to know whether that has been discussed with Khartoum.