On December 12, 1992, the U.S. 28,000 soldiers into Somalia under the cover of the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) in what they said was a “humanitarian mission” to bring food to starving people.
Black Hawk Down Story
The invasion came when a several-year drought that had taken tens of thousands of lives was actually abating. At the time, the evening news showed images of thousands of starving Somalis. What people didn’t see was the U.S. In ten months, more than 10,000 Somalis died as the U.S. Resistance among Somali women, men and even children to the foreign troops became widespread. The Somali people have a long and proud history of resistance.
They fought for the freedom of their country from Italian, French and British colonialism and they resisted the U.S. 90 million on “Black Hawk Down” alone ‘while millions of people in New York and around the country are facing layoffs, evictions, cuts in health care, attacks on their pensions and more. A new war in Somalia “Somalia Possible Target” is now a common sentiment echoed in newspaper headlines and statements of Bush administration officials. In some ways, a new war against Somalia has already begun. In November, the U.S. Somali-owned Al-Barakat money transfer company, which provided the only way for Somalis living out of the country to send back much-needed funds, known as remittances, which are often vital for family members’ survival.
Up to eighty percent of Somalis ‘which is hundreds of thousands if not millions of people’ rely on funds sent by relatives living outside of the country. This exposes the pretext given by the U.S. 1992 intervention ‘said then to be a mission to help to starve people ‘because now the U.S. Somali people to starve because they are unable to afford food. The U.S. also shut down Somalia Internet Company, denying all Internet access to Somalis, and has severely restricted international telephone lines. This is really the beginning of strangulation of the country.
Following this, Kenya and Somalia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on April 7, 2009, to resolve a “maritime dispute” between Somalia and Kenya. This case still hampers the Somali government from correcting the legal ambiguity in its territorial waters. Knowing Somalia is at a disadvantage, Kenya insists on negotiating its maritime demarcation based on the MOU. Moreover, Somali government, particularly the cabinet and the parliament, are absent from these discussions, albeit the president’s office is actively involved.
To Help The Somali People Be Better
In addition to institutional amnesia and the negative perceptions against Kenya’s perceived land and resource annexation, there is an apparent lack of capacity with respect to the Somali government. Somali leaders have shown poor capacity in understanding and handling these complex maritime issues. Besides division among Somali authorities, politicians lack clarity when it comes to formulating policy on this issue. Somali politicians have issued contradictory positions. Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, submitted two contradictory letters one defending the MOU with Kenya and the other supporting the Somali parliament’s rejection of the deal.
The Parliament continues to oppose any action related to Somalia’s maritime territory and most of the Somali media champion the 1972 Law of the Sea and charge the government with committing treason any time this issue is raised. Besides lack of institutional memory, perception of Kenyan annexation of Somali territories and poor capacity, the international community’s practices toward Somalia perpetuate the status quo. Three reasons are provided. First, the international government ignores on-shore solutions and bypasses Somali authorities.
Instead, to contain the problem of piracy, many members of the international community support short-term off-shore solutions – sending in the navy, encouraging on-board private security guards and the adoption of best management practices. Second, in order to prosecute pirates, western nations encouraged neighboring countries to prosecute pirates. Finally, the international community often dismisses illegal fishing and toxic-waste dumping concerns of Somalis. These practices have contributed to the disinterest of Somali authorities in tackling piracy. In addition, based on many interviews, governments, IGOs and some industry leaders dismiss illegal fishing and toxic-waste dumping practices in Somalia.
Some call it “unsubstantiated” and others consider it ‘paranoia.’ In fact, one western diplomat argued that countries that fishing from Somali waters are largely from the region, not Europe. This is not helpful because it perpetuates the grand conspiracy mentality against the Somali resources. The behavior of Somali politicians has a great deal to do with the way the international community treats them. The division among competing groups, opportunism and more importantly, the culture of corruption discourage donors, governments, and IGOs to take them seriously. However, the implication of relying on off-shore solutions and non-Somali partners is that it has affected the Somali government’s capacity to patrol and secure its coast.
We have examined the factors that have prevented from Somali governments to develop anti-piracy legislation. We have argued that loss of institutional memory, the perception that Kenya was annexing part of Somalia, lack of capacity, and international community’s practice in outsourcing the functions of the Somali state explain the slow progress in addressing this issue.