Attacks draw new parallels between Libya and Somalia.

Halkaan ka akhri

In March 2010, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union called upon the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone and block sea ports in Somalia in order to prevent infiltration of foreign elements into the country, and to cut off support funnelled to insurgents, such as flights and shipments carrying weapons and ammunition to armed groups inside Somalia, including the Al Shabaab militia.

In October of that year, the AU body again expressed grave concern over the security and humanitarian situations prevailing in Somalia, and reiterated its call to the UN to impose the no-fly zone and naval blockade to “prevent attacks against the Transitional Federal Government, the African Union Mission in Somalia and the Somali population.”

To date, these requests have not been realised.

Contrast this with the situation in Libya: It took a total of 24 days to have a UN resolution on the imposition of a no-fly zone passed.

The first calls went out on February 21; by March 17, the resolution had been approved by the UN Security Council with 10 votes for and five abstentions by the 15-member Council, effectively authorising the use of force in Libya to protect civilians from attacks.

The two veto-wielding members of the Council — China and Russia — abstained from the vote along with Germany, Brazil and India.

The military intervention in Libya is having a psychological impact on the situation in Somalia, with some analysts drawing parallels between the two countries.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni in particular, is taking the air strikes in Libya as an opportunity to draw attention to Somalia, by pointing out the inconsistencies in the response of the international community to the crisis in the two countries.

“We have been appealing to the UN to impose a no-fly-zone over Somalia so as to impede the free movement of terrorists… without success,” wrote President Museveni.

He went on to ask: “Are there no human beings in Somalia similar to the ones in Benghazi? Or is it because Somalia does not have oil that is not fully controlled by western companies on account of Gaddafi’s nationalist posture?”

Diplomatic commentator Raghida Dergham, writing in the Huffington Post, draws another parallel between the two countries.

She writes that humanitarian intervention is important in Libya, but a quick fix and a quick exit would only leave Libya in the state that Somalia was left in in the aftermath of the US-led “humanitarian” intervention in the 1990s.

It would seem that the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu still resonates deeply in the international community, particularly the US.

Kojo Acquaisie at the UN Political Office for Somalia says that the swift response of the international community to Libya compared with the lukewarm response to Somalia is the result of a reluctance to be seen in Mogadishu as a meddling force, or worse, an invading power.

“When it comes to Somalia, the international community really wants the AU to take the lead and not be seen as interfering,” he said. “Libya occupies a wholly different niche in global interests, and it would be a long shot to try to group Libya and Somalia together in that regard.”

Source: The East African

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