AU Mission to Somalia Faces Deteriorating Situation With Inadequate Resources

On Aug. 7, the government of Burundi again announced that it would delay sending its planned contingent of 2,000 troops to Somalia to bolster the embattled African Union (AU) peacekeeping force there. Burundi officials blamed the failure on delays in the delivery of communications and transport equipment from France and the United States, but the decision underscores the fragility of the AU peace mission there.

In June 2006, war-torn Somalia experienced a new phase in its 15-years-old civil war when militiamen from the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) took over the capital, Mogadishu, and other important parts of northern Somalia. By the end of the year, the ICU controlled a major part of Somalia. African and Western governments alike became alarmed that power shifts within the movement were empowering its most radical elements, including some individuals with ties to Islamist terrorist movements. On Dec. 24, 2006, Ethiopia sent its military into the country. Assisted by foreign countries --including the United States, whose armed forces launched supporting air strikes and naval artillery bombardments of suspected al-Qaida fighters -- the Ethiopian forces drove the ICU out of Mogadishu and other populated regions of the country.

On Jan. 19, 2007, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) authorized the establishment of an African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and its rapid deployment into the country. The governments charged AMISOM with assisting the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to stabilize the situation in the country and promote further dialogue and reconciliation among the conflict parties; facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance; and contribute to creating conditions for the transition to a United Nations operation that will support the long-term stabilization and post-conflict reconstruction of Somalia.

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