Lifting UN arms embargo could spark new anarchy — ICG

NAIROBI (AFP) — A leading international policy group on Tuesday warned of fresh anarchy in Somalia if the United Nations Security Council lifts a 13-year-old arms embargo on the shattered country in order to enable the deployment of a regional peacekeeping force.
The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a statement that “Somalia faces a serious threat of greatly expanded violence” if the Council, meeting on Thursday, approves an African Union (AU) request to lift the embargo.

Members of the AU early July called for a lifting of the bar on weapons sales to Somalia to allow the deployment of troops to support President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed’s transitional federal government.

“Under the right circumstances and with adequate planning, the proposed mission could contribute to restoring peace and government,” ICG President Gareth Evans said in a letter last week to UN chief Kofi Annan and permanent representatives of the Council.

“Right now, however, the exemption would be premature and counterproductive,” Evans said.

At the request of Yusuf, AU has already allowed the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy the force, but a section of powerful warlords and influential clerics have outrightly vowed to oppose the deployment.

“The problem is that the interim president’s appeal for foreign troops is very deeply divisive in Somalia, and has yet to receive the unambiguous approval of the Transitional Federal Institutions,” ICG said in the statement.

“An external military intervention in the Somali conflict at this stage would, in Crisis Group’s judgement, undermine both the prospects for peace in the country and development of the AU’s peacekeeping capacity,” it added.

ICG warned that an absence of a truce between warring factions in the tattered African nation posed a new threat to the effectiveness of a global initiative to restore a semblance of a national government in Somalia in 14 years.

“Lifting it for any reason at this critical time risks destabilising the transitional institutions, derailing the peace process and rekindling civil conflict,” the policy group added.

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