Foreign Troops Must Leave Somalia – Rep. Donald Payne
United States Congress (Washington, DC)
By Donald Payne | December 29, 2006
The invasion of Somalia by Ethiopian forces, despite claims of invitation by the weak Baidoa-based Transitional Federal Government, only leads to more suffering and instability in the Horn of Africa region. United Nations Security Council resolution 1725 clearly stated that “all Member States, in particular those in the region, should refrain from any action in contravention of the arms embargo and related measures.”
Using military force instead of negotiations is a deliberate and ill-advised measure that will further destabilize and increase the suffering of the Somali people. I strongly condemn this aggression and call for the immediate withdrawal of Ethiopian and all foreign forces from Somalia.
The African Union and the Arab League have called for Ethiopian and all foreign troops to immediately leave Somalia. Unfortunately, the inaction by the United Nations Security Council has once again failed the helpless people of Somalia. The international community should be supportive of an all-inclusive peace process and the deployment of a peacekeeping force as stated in resolution 1725. The Union of Islamic Courts has consistently stated and indeed participated in negotiations with the Transitional Federal Government.
A negotiated settlement is the only guarantee for a lasting peace, not war. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia accuses the Union of Islamic Courts as Jihadist and extremist. He also justifies his action against Somalia because of the threats he claims the Courts pose against Ethiopia. The fact the matter is Ethiopian forces are in Somalia and not the other way around. Besides, how is it possible for a non-conventional force to really pose a threat against the largest armed forces in Sub-Saharan Africa? Ethiopia’s military adventure not only diminishes hopes for a negotiated settlement, but confirms the suspicion of Somalis that the TFG is a proxy of Ethiopia.
For those who deliberately ignore the reality on the ground, it is important to remember what the Courts have done since June 2006. They brought about relative peace and stability in the area they controlled and ended the brutality of the so-called warlords. How is it possible to effectively fight those terrorists roaming around or hiding in the region, if Somalia is turned into a battleground for foreign armies with their own agenda? We must never forget the helpless civilians who have endured over a decade of hardship and untold suffering. A generation of Somalis are growing up surrounded by violence and poverty. The millions being wasted in a military campaign against innocent civilians could be spent to build schools, hospitals, or feed the hungry.
Donald Payne represents the tenth district of New Jersey in the U.S. House of Representatives and is the incoming chair of the Subcommittee on Africa Global Human Rights and International Operations of the House International Relations Committee.