Somalia

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  • Rajat Dubey asked: What is the approach and contribution of India towards fighting humanitarian crisis in Somalia?

    Ruchita Beri replies: India recognises Somalia as a neighbour across the Indian Ocean and is in favour of an early resolution of the humanitarian crisis in the country. Towards this end, it supports all the initiatives led by the United Nations (UN) for return of peace and stability in Somalia. India also recognises that the piracy in the Gulf of Aden is rooted in the instability in Somalia.

    In terms of efforts towards conflict resolution, India in the past has been involved in the UN peacekeeping missions in Somalia. During 1993-94, a large group of Indian peacekeepers, led by Brigadier M. P. Bhagat, had participated in the UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) II. At the last India Africa Forum Summit, held in Addis Ababa in April 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a contribution of $2 million towards augmentation of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Moreover, the Indian Navy has been involved in anti-piracy patrolling in the Gulf of Aden since 2008.

    In recent years, India has provided developmental and humanitarian assistance to Somalia. India has extended assistance to Somalia in capacity building through human resource development, and has recently increased the number of scholarships to the country. Somalia is also among the partner countries of Pan-African e-network project, a joint initiative of India and the African Union. This project aims at connecting 10,000 African students in 54 countries across the continent with Indian universities. At the same time, the Pan-African e-network would provide for tele-medicine services through consultations of African medical practitioners with their counter parts in India. In addition, in September 2011, India announced a contribution of US$ 8 million towards humanitarian assistance for countries in the Horn of Africa region (Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti) to be distributed through the UN World Food Programme.

    Somali Piracy: A Form of Economic Terrorism

    Piracy over the years has been driven by geography, political instability and the availability of safe havens. Apart from these established factors, economics too play a role. This article reviews and examines Somali piracy, which has flourished due to the international community ignoring the growing instability in Somalia, the rampant illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping. It examines the international response, the legal and economic factors and advocates that piracy be viewed as a form of economic terrorism and be combatted as such, as well as by land-based operations.

    March 2012

    Rajat Dubey asked: What could be a feasible solution for the political and humanitarian crisis in Somalia, and how should the world respond to it?

    Ruchita Beri replies: Since the collapse of Said Barre’s regime in 1991, anarchy, insidious clan conflicts and political fragmentation seem to characterise Somalia. The recently released Failed State Index, published by the journal Foreign Policy, places Somalia at the top of the list. There have been number of initiatives to resolve the Somali crisis. The most notable attempt was that of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) that brought the warring factions to come to an agreement on a Transitional National Charter in 2003, followed by inauguration of the TFG in Kenya. The TFG however was opposed by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) that in 2006 controlled the entire South and Central Somalia. The TFG managed to get rid of the ICU with help from Ethiopian armed forces and the United States of America. However the TFG’s attempt to control the region was challenged by Mogadishu-based militia Al Shabaab. In 2008, after an agreement with the moderate Islamists, their leader, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was elected as the president of Somalia in 2009.

    However, despite the presence of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops, the conflict continues to rage in south and central Somalia. It will be prudent to mention that Somalia at present comprise of three fragmented political entities: First is Somaliland that lies in the north and is comparatively stable. However, it is not recognised as an independent state by the international community. Second is Puntland, a breakaway territory that has been in news as the hub of pirate activity. Third is South and Central Somalia, where the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) rule is limited to Mogadishu while the rest of the countryside is largely under the control of Al Shabaab.

    There are number of challenges towards the road to peace in Somalia. Internally, the TFG is faced with multiple problems, including shortage of resources and lack of effective coordination. The international community has helped train the Transitional Federal Armed Forces; however, desertions are very high due to factors, such as, the lack of clear command and control structures and delays in payment of salaries, etc. At the same time, the lasting peace in Somalia will not be possible without recognising the concerns of external powers such as Ethiopia that fears the establishment of an unfriendly regime in the country. The continuing rivalry between Ethiopia and Eritrea in the region (with reports of each country supporting rival groups) compounds the problem. The final option that remains with the international community and the TFG is to open peace talks with members of Al Shabaab group.

    Piracy in Somalia: Addressing the Root Causes

    Rampant piracy off the Somalia coast has brought the strife-ridden country back into attention. Economic hardship, and a deep resentment and anger against foreign exploitation of Somalia's maritime resources, have inspired the pirates to declare themselves 'coast guards of Somalia'. However, the growing attacks by the pirates have had an adverse impact on global commercial shipping. The international community has responded to this predicament by massive naval deployments in the Gulf of Aden.

    May 2011

    Flotsam and Jetsam: Towards Ending Somali Piracy on Shore

    Since the overthrow of its last ruler Siad Barre in 1990, Somalia's conditions have worsened and, barring a few islands of peace, are degenerating rapidly; its waves of insecurity surge beyond its shores. Piracy off Somalia is a consequence of its present volatile insecurity on shore, and 20 years of conflict resolution efforts have come to naught. As piracy increases and anti-piracy operations intensify, efforts at finding lasting peace on shore have run aground.

    March 2011

    Need to secure the Lakshadweep Islands

    While India is augmenting the security of the Lakshadweep islands, implementation of the coastal security scheme on the ground has been slow.

    December 13, 2010

    Tackling Somali Piracy Ashore: Maritime Security and Geopolitics in the Indian Ocean

    As high-profile incidents of piracy become more common off Somalia, strategists have taken to urging the US government to send expeditionary forces ashore. The article uses history and Clausewitzian theory to estimate the nature of the threat and the likely efficacy of a land campaign. Even successful operations would entail costs exceeding the value of the political stakes. For this reason alone, going ashore is inadvisable.

    September 2010

    Peacekeeping Partnerships: Cooperation or Conflict

    This paper seeks to understand the nature of cooperation between the UN and other IGOs in ongoing conflicts. It will examine the security framework in which these multilateral arrangements were created, the gaps they were trying to cover, and the problems and areas of opportunities.

    May 24, 2010

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