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Guarded Optimism on AMISOM

The Heads of State and Government of the Troop and Police Contributing Countries (T/PCCs) to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) met in Djibouti on 28 February 2016, to discuss the political and security situation in Somalia, a day after the ministerial preparatory meeting. The Summit was chaired by Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti.

The Summit made some pronouncements based on the commitments by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) towards an inclusive electoral process within the constitutional mandated timeline of 2016. Sometimes I wonder whether such elections are really necessary. It is the pure liberal peace approach to peace which has terribly failed in Iraq and other parts of the world and closer home in Libya. I always have reason to maintain reservations on the democratic liberal theories in post-conflict reconstruction. The fact that Somalia cannot per se be categorized a post-conflict situation makes matters even worse.

Nevertheless the leaders strongly condemned the recent attacks perpetuated by Al Shaabab in Mogadishu, Leggo, Janaale, and El Adde and, the continued asymmetrical warfare by this terrorist group. I have no idea why this was necessary. After all each in their turns have continuously condemned such attacks. Others had the audacity to call them cowardly. I am sure many are not. For instance overrunning a military base as Al Shabaab did in a recent attack at El Adde through which “unknown” number of Kenyan troops was killed should never be termed cowardly since indeed it wasn’t cowardly. Anyway the leaders condemned the attacks. Does that make any difference for Al Shabaab? I doubt. My guess is that they are immune to condemnations; in fact they enjoy them. Condemning therefore leaves us exactly where we started.

The summit welcomed the efforts made by the AU Commission and other stakeholders in the re-vitalisation of AMISOM operations. Well a broke AU largely only makes resolutions which are never followed by concrete actions anyway. Instead it, like a baby, begins crying for support. For instance now that the EU has made a decision to cut its aid to AMISOM, we can be sure AU may end up doing nothing about its resolutions on AMISOM. After we people’s of Africa often want to pose as paupers who have nothing to offer in terms of money. The more reason we are often asked to put the boot on the ground while others only wire money and send equipments. If there is an attack an American armored vehicle will be destroyed and as usual an “unknown” number of poor African soldiers will die. I thought it is time Africa also said it is giving material and not human contribution. Sounds good?  

The Summit apparently also stressed the need for effective AMISOM command and control in order to achieve synergy of the mission’s efforts against Al Shaabab. Let such a statement not shock anyone for what often appears obvious is never so to our leaders, after all common sense is never that very common. Many years after AMISOM was deployed, it is now that the troop contributing countries seem to realize that there is need to synchronize the control and command and to synergise the operations. So in that light the Summit was gracious enough to emphasize the need for better coordination of operations and logistics through the establishment of enhanced mechanisms and structures, as appropriate, between AMISOM, SNSF and UNSOS. Also the Summit directed that there be full and urgent deployment in all AMISOM sectors of operations especially in the Gedo region in order to enhance the efficiency of AMISOM operations and consolidate security gains across Somalia. They further directed the AU Commission with other relevant stakeholders to undertake a comprehensive review of AMISOM mandate and CONOPs. Let us not forget that the AU heads of state summit was just concluded recently and actually it came up with a resolution on AMISOM but again now the Djibouti declaration wants to task the AU Commission to carry out a review. Why was it not wise for the troop contributing countries to meet a head of the AU Summit so that they already recommend for these measures be undertaken by the AU Commission and reported to the just concluded heads of state Summit?

A part from the expected condemnation of the EU for its plan to cut financial support to AMISOM, the Summit went on to emphasize the need to undertake a review of immediate requirements for AMISOM and SNSF operational effectiveness with a view to implementing remedial actions aimed at improving offensive operations against Al Shaabab and directs UNSOS to provide the identified support requirements as agreed with AMISOM and SNSF leadership.

The Summit further underscored the critical importance of enhanced support to AMISOM and specifically re-iterates the need for the generation and deployment of operational enablers and force multipliers. The UN should fasten the processes of authorization. It is nothing else other than signing deals to get money.

Other things included encouragement of other international partners to contribute and deploy air assets in order to facilitate AMISOM operations; to enhance coordination especially in information sharing and communications; support to the SNSF through timely, enhanced and better coordinated training and, through the provision of appropriate infrastructure, equipment and ammunition; effective implementation of the Gulwaade plan; effective implementation of stabilisation efforts in liberated areas through improved local governance by the FGS with the support of the international community; establishment of social infrastructure; concerted efforts by AU Commission and the international community to identify and disable channels utilised to finance Al Shabaab and other terrorist groups and the recruitment and training of foreign fighters in Somalia.

The Summit also encouraged IGAD to continue its efforts in support of the AU to stabilise Somalia; expressed appreciation to the AU Commission as well as to international partners and organisations that are currently providing financial, material and technical assistance to AMISOM and Somalia. Before departing those in attendance also appreciated the Government of Djibouti for hosting the meeting, for the hospitality accorded and all the arrangements made for the smooth conduct of the meeting.

After this our dear leaders returned to their respective countries very tired and extremely excited for the achievements and progress made in securing Somalia. I do not want to gaze into the budget that was spent and the funders of the budget for fear of scandals. This is Africa, we love our continent and we are indeed working hard through the very able support of our leaders to achieve regional peace and stability but then this way and at this pace how long shall it take our continent to taste mere negative peace (absence of violence) in the region? While I do not want to be accused of pessimism, I choose to guard my optimism. 

Guarded Optimism on AMISOM Guarded Optimism on AMISOM Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on March 01, 2016 Rating: 5

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