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Chronic failures of US-led “war on terror” bolstering Somali and Afghan extremists

23 April 2008

Chronic failures of US-led “war on terror” bolstering Somali and Afghan extremists

President Bush must implement a Fast Track ‘Surge for Peace’ to bring stability to Somalia

Recognition of Somaliland a political necessity in fight against extremism
LONDON – The current US-led War on Terror approach is creating a political space in which extremists such as Al-Shabab in Somalia and the Taliban in Afghanistan have become legitimate political actors, said ICOS at the release of its latest report on Wednesday. In its report Chronic Failures of the War on Terror: From Afghanistan to Somalia, ICOS said that a number of abject policy failures of the Bush Administration in Somalia, such as aerial bombings, support of the Ethiopian troops in the country and the ill-timed designation of Al-Shabab as a terrorist organisation had been successfully exploited by the Somali insurgency to boost its support and recruitment bases.

“The lack of strategic acumen present in the “War on Terror” in Somalia and Afghanistan is in fact enabling the spread of the insurgencies present throughout both countries,” said Norine MacDonald QC, President and Lead Field Researcher of ICOS. “The United States is the common denominator in both countries – instead of containing the extremist elements in Somalia and Afghanistan, US policies have facilitated the expansion of territory that Al-Shabab and the Taliban have psychological control over.”

“The international community is complicit in Somalia’s troubles, standing idly by as the United States continues with its failed and inflammatory policies,” added Paul Burton, Director of Policy Analysis at ICOS.

“President Bush has the perfect opportunity to adorn the twilight of his final term in office with a success story in his self-proclaimed War on Terror – a Fast Track “Surge for Peace” to end the current Somali crisis.”

Immediate humanitarian aid needed in Somalia

A critical element of such a Fast Track solution would be the delivery of immediate humanitarian aid to Somalia, which is suffering from its worst humanitarian crisis since 1993. A brutal guerrilla war, three years of drought, and restricted aid access has once again created an emergency situation in the country. According to Phillippe Lazzarini, the United Nations’ Head of Humanitarian Affairs for Somalia, 2.5 million people are in need of food or other assistance.

“The international community has to find a way to provide immediate humanitarian assistance,” said MacDonald. “Not only would this alleviate the suffering, it would starve the militant groups of potential recruits.”

In a list of further recommendations, ICOS called on President Bush to end all bombing operations in Somalia, back a phased withdrawal of Ethiopian troops in tandem with the creation of a UN Stabilisation Force and neutralise the power of Transitional Federal Government President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed who is named as contributor to the increasingly violent situation in Somalia.

President Yusuf must be neutralised

“President Yusuf has contributed to the escalation of the violent conflict in Somalia and has constantly undermined any attempts at reconciliation, instead opting to use his Presidency to advance the interests of his own clan at the expense of his country” said MacDonald.

“The United States must end its backing for President Yusuf and instead give unconditional support to Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and the UN’s Special Representative to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah. Their efforts to bring peace and stability to Somalia provide a small beacon of light in an otherwise dark landscape.”

A roadmap for Somaliland recognition

The report also emphasized the need for official recognition Somaliland. The self-declared, yet internationally unrecognized state has proven to be a beacon of stability in the years of Somali conflict.

“Official recognition for Somaliland would send a clear message to all Somalis that peaceful transitions from stability are possible without the need to use overpowering military force, and will be rewarded” said MacDonald. “Up to now, Somaliland has toiled in relative anonymity without any recognition of its extraordinary success in creating the conditions for a viable, stand-alone state, and resisting the spread of extremism found in Somalia.

“President Bush can find a success story in the fight against extremism by recognizing Somaliland. A clear and quick path to recognition should be part of President Bush’s “surge for peace” to address the Somali conflict.” she added.

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