Critical security progress on the ground raises hopes for stability
Eng. Mahboub M. Maalim *
African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) contingent commander for Uganda, Brig. Gen. Paul Lokech (C), and his field commanders, and a member of the Somali National Army (SNA) are seen in this handout photo taken on May 25 and released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team. AFP photo
Somalia continues to dominate the agenda of the IGAD region, and the recent 20th Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa on January 27, 2012 is empirical evidence of furthering of that regional commitment. We have made critical security progress on the ground collectively as a region, in which Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, all IGAD member states, are paying immense sacrifices. The majority of these are also contributing troops to AMISOM to ensure that peace and stability are achieved in Somalia.
The concerted effort on the ground in terms of security and the measures taken by Somalia’s neighbors have brought hope that demonstrates things are changing, and changing for the better, in long-suffering Somalia.
Parallelly, new interest from the international community has emerged with respect to Somalia since the visit of Turkey’s prime minister, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to Mogadishu on August 19, last year. This courageous initiative brought a complete paradigm shift in the way the world perceives Somalia and a subsequent shift in the media’s portrayal of the country. It would be a remiss on my part if I did not recognize Turkey’s commendable role in bringing this paradigm shift in IGAD’s member state Somalia.
The people of Somalia are now full of hope that soon their country will stand on its own feet and contribute its fair share in building peace and stability in the troubled Horn of Africa. Of course, one should underline the fact that the Horn of Africa as a whole is changing for the better, and I would like to emphasize the role Turkey is playing in this regard in taking the initiative to encourage its citizens to invest their resources in the IGAD region. Needless to state that the region needs more of this in a sustainable manner.
Going back to the issue of Somalia, since Erdoğan’s visit, Turkey has been engaged with IGAD on how best to move the Somalia peace and national reconciliation agenda forward. It has already hosted several meetings involving Somali actors and the international community, which revamped further interest on how best to assist Somalia and make the progress not only sustainable but also irreversible. A follow-up meeting to this effort is now planned for May 31 and June 1, 2012. This is another welcome development that will put further pressure on the Somalis, especially those who are ready for peace, to show progress in taking concrete steps not only to accomplish the transitional tasks but also to ensure the sustainability of the rule of law, good governance, inclusiveness, transparency and respect for human rights, which are important principles that must be taken into account in finalizing the post-August political arrangements. All these will, of course, usher in a smooth ending of the Transition Period in August 2012.
The will of Somalis
The Istanbul Conference on Somalia concentrates on issues related to ending the transitional period on time, ensuring continued support to the country’s security sector and setting an agenda for longer-term stabilization and peace-building, including economic development in key sectors. This process can only be successful if it underscores the importance of the Somali people’s ownership of the ongoing peace process supported by a united action against spoilers, including targeted sanctions. IGAD, the AU and the U.N. SRSG have already given clear statements on this matter in May 2012.
In this process the TFG Stabilization Strategy, IGAD Strategy and Stability Principles agreed upon in London will provide the basis for a coordinated approach. In this regard, we need to emphasize close and complimentary collaboration between IGAD, the AU and the international community, especially Turkey, which has accorded the Somali peace process high priority status.
I can’t emphasize enough Turkey’s role and commitment as well as its significant efforts geared toward assisting the Somali people to help themselves. The timeliness and complementariness of the Istanbul Conference on Somalia underline the importance of Turkey’s engagement in mitigating the challenges faced by the people of Somalia.
* The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Executive Secretary Mahboub M. Maalim