Somalia’s Compromised National Reconciliation Conference

Published on PINR, by Michael A. Weinstein, July 19, 2007.

2 excerpts: On July 15, the long awaited, thrice delayed and seriously compromised National Reconciliation Conference (N.R.C.) – aimed at beginning to resolve Somalia’s multiple conflicts – was kicked off, only to be abruptly adjourned, as eight mortar rounds were fired at the meeting’s venue, a refurbished former police garage in the country’s official capital Mogadishu. The chair of the commission that organized the conference, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, said the adjournment was due to the fact that only half of the 1,325 anticipated delegates had arrived; local and international media, however, traced it to the mortar attacks. The conference is scheduled to reopen on July 19 …

… Conclusion:

On July 14, McClatchy Newspapers published parts of a recent U.S. intelligence briefing on Somalia, to which it had gained access. The report stated that the T.F.G. is perceived by Somalis as “little more than a pawn of Ethiopia, yet its continued survival, certainly in Mogadishu, remains dependent on the support of the Ethiopian military.” Under those conditions, the report goes on, extremists are able to “regain their footing and heighten inter-state tensions.”

On July 13, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, Roland Marchal of the Center for International Studies and Research in Paris, commented that Somalia’s conflicts are not rooted in clans, but in political and military divisions. For Marchal, the N.R.C. is a product of international pressure on the T.F.G., yet “the international community has been deficient on the political issue.” He continued that there would be no cease-fire in the absence of “politically inclusive talks,” offering that “alternatively you can pretend to have won, like it was done in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

PINR has reached the same conclusions as Marchal and the U.S. intelligence report, based on data from its own monitoring project. The N.R.C. is a tactical victory for the T.F.G. executive, yet it represents not a “first step” up in the reconciliation process, but another step down in Somalia’s devolutionary cycle. (full text).

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