The International Conference on Somalia held recently in London succeeded in bringing the impoverished and security-challenged African nation to world attention.
The United Arab Emirates for one has committed $2 million for operations of the new Local Stability Fund for Somalia in the initial year. Not only does this prove the UAE’s commitment to help the people of Somalia in overcoming their massive socio-economic problems that are compounded by the state’s weak political set-up and the severe security challenges, it sets an exemplary precedent. UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, therefore, stressed the need for funds to realize the international commitments at the conference.
The fact remains that it is the people of Somalia that are the greatest victims of the ongoing state of disarray in the country as put by Sheikh Abdullah. Stability in Somalia is of great importance for Africa and across the waters in the Arabian Peninsula. With Somalian militant group Al-Shabab officially joining hands with Al-Qaeda, the terrorism threat has now gone global. Not to forget the Somalian piracy problem that is still plaguing international marine traffic.
Therefore, the aim of the conference was to seek a solution to end the political instability and more importantly help bolster security in a country whose major parts are controlled by the Al-Shabab militants. The transitional government of Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohammed Ali has also been urged to make way for a more representative set-up by August in order to strengthen the state. While Abdiweli has called for more airstrikes to attack Al-Shabab’s strongholds, key Western leaders, including US Secretary State Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister David Cameron, have not indicated that this would form a critical component of the security plans for Somalia. Despite any international avowal for airstrikes, Friday morning brought news of a major airstrike on a militant convoy in southern Somalia killing at least six. Whether this was a US-led strike is yet unknown.
At the same time, the UN Security Council has decided to boost the strength of the African Union peacekeeping force, Amisom to 17,000. Further pledges have been also made to fight terrorism and piracy. A lot still remains to be done. Somalia had undergone the worst ever drought resulting in tens of thousands falling victims to starvation and disease. This can only happen once a more effective government is in place and more areas are regained from the militants’ control.