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Tuesday, 25 April, 2000, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Somalia: Should foreign countries broker peace?

Since the fall of the former dictator Siad Barre in 1991 Somalia has been riven by ethnic conflict between competing clans.

News and Information for Africa
Some regions of the country have split away and declared autonomy with greater or lesser degrees of international recognition.

The Djibouti government is in the process of organising its third attempt to broker peace in Somalia but several factions and self-declared autonomous regions are refusing to attend.

Should Djibouti bother to try to bring peace to Somalia? Should Somalis be left to sort out their own problems? Is interference by foreign countries in the internal conflict of another nation ever justified? Or does the international community have a moral duty to try to bring peace?

A selection of your emails will be broadcast on Focus on Africa during the 1705 edition on Saturday.


Certainly, the involvement of Djibouti to bring peace to Somalia is a laudable one. That said personally, I do not subscribe to the International countries brokering peace in Somalia as antecedents would show. The last time the world (USA) tried to enforce peace in that war-torn country their sons were senselessly killed by the various warlords/factions. Hence, let foreign countries give Somalia and its warlords a wide berth for once bitten twice shy. It is an internal matter and it should be so solved.
OB Silla, Gambian in USA



Normally, a country should sort out their problems by themselves. But the question is: Is the Somali situation normal?

Dr Hussein Mursal, Rwanda
Somalia has gone through tough times in the past 10 years. Normally, a country should sort out their problems by themselves. But the question is: Is the Somali situation normal? Definitely not. It is about a few armed groups who will not survive in a stable, peaceful environment against a majority of peace loving, normal people who are unarmed and kept as a hostage.
So, telling Somalis to sort out their problems is like telling a group of passengers kept hostage in a plane by a group of armed men and we tell the passengers, "Guys, you and the armed group are in a similar situation, so sort out your problems. We will not interfere"
Dr Hussein Mursal, Rwanda

Djibouti is playing an important role in bringing Somali people together. This is what we are expecting from our brothers, they know where the problem lies since we share the same language. I would like to add that the international community should support the Djibouti's plan of peace for Somalia.
Omer Abdi Maalin, Somalia



History has proven that Somalis can never be reconciled by a third party.

Abdirahman, Somalia
History has proven that Somalis can never be reconciled by a third party. Is Djibouti a third party? No. At least the Somalis don't see her as an "outsider". She is characterised by whatever is true to Somalis, including clan-culture. The question remains: "Could Djibouti avoid being a partisan in Somali clan-politics?" There are already rumours that it has taken sides in the Somali clan rivalry - the Achilles heel of Somalia. This Achilles heel is what prompted the secessionist tendencies of the clan in the north of Somalia.
Abdirahman, Somalia

The problems in Somalia are partly the result of some countries in Africa which do not want to see a strong and prosperous Somalia. It is well known that these countries have played an active role in starting the tribal war in Somalia and this trend is still continuing.
In particular countries which have political interest in Somalia. In fact Djibouti has no political interest in Somalia. But there is strong suspicion that it may entertain the interest of other countries. Any Somali who lives in any part of the world has no objection to the mediation of this particular country but there is rumour going around that Djibouti has a hidden agenda. In my opinion peace in Somalia can only be achieved if the countries which have interest in Somalia are excluded from the meeting.
M.G.Olad, Norway

The Djibouti Plan is a very valid one and an absolute necessity. The Warlords destroyed the country and continue to stifle any efforts to reconcile and patch the government for fear of losing their power grip.
It's the Moral Obligation of the international community to keep hammering away at finding solution to this appalling situation Somalia has found itself in or the "International Community" will loose credibility in handling future Somalia's.
Mullah, Somalia



The best solution right now would be to allow the separatist regions to become independent.

David Halligan, USA
The best solution right now would be to allow the separatist regions to become independent. Perhaps then the power of the warlords would be too fractured to allow continuation of the current situation. Third party negotiation would only work with a private group of individuals conducting negotiations in a neutral country. Third state intervention in Somalia is rather a waste considering that, for all practical purposes Somalia does not exist as a sovereign state any longer.
David Halligan, USA

I In my opinion, I don't think that the Somalis are ready to perform any kind of a central government for now. It's not easy to reveal peace into Somalia for a several reasons. First, the tension between clans is high, people who have murdered their beloved ones in front of their eyes will not forget in an easy way. Nobody will compensate them for their pain and sorrow.
Abdirahman Abdullahi, Canada



Good to know that there are still some countries who care about Somalia and want to bring peace to it.

A A ALI, Finland
Good to know that there are still some countries who care about Somalia and want to bring peace to it. Djibouti is well positioned for the draconian task. It was in 1976 when the people of Somalia were doing all they could to help Djibouti get its independence from France. If President Guelle and the people of Djbouti stood up for the pay back and trying to help Somalia get peace and its dignity back, well and good, but ultimately Somalis themselves bear the responsibility to put their house in order, any help is welcome though. Somalia doesn't stand for only clan wars and stupid warlords, there are millions of innocent civilians who are crying for peace and they deserve to live like normal human beings. Somalia is not dead yet, but is sick and in a deep dark hole. Hopefully it will rise up one day, but hope only is far from enough.
A A ALI, Finland

No interference is necessary. Any foreign assistance should be limited in two basic efforts:
1.Protection: Enforcing the arms embargo, protecting the international boundaries, protecting the natural resources including marine resources and the environment.
2. Support: The private enterprises of public health, education and skilled man power development in all fields of academic research and governance. Support for Somali private companies in joint ventures with foreign companies in the development of existing natural resources in marine, petroleum, alternative energy, agriculture, transport, and basic public services including the private security business.
In about 15 years, the Somali people will develop the most efficient, transparent fully functioning democratic, tax free governance in Africa.
Arte, USA

To my point of view one should not turn a blind eye to what could turn out to be a major humanitarian disaster. The world should help the starving anywhere and anytime.
As far as the Djibouti peace initiative is concerned I would say; there is and has never been a "bad peace". The problem the Djibouti authorities are facing is that warlords are not in favour of relinquishing their power. Besides I have the feeling that the Djibouti government has not made the peace proposal quite clear to those it concerns, namely Somali politicians. One cannot just ignore them. Many Somali's ask themselves whether Djibouti is imposing some kind of dictatorship on Somalia. What they don't see is that Djibouti is not that much powerful.
Abdisadiiq, A Somali in the Netherlands



Djibouti's effort is very noble. But it won't cure Somalias political ills.

Liban Mahamed, Somalia, (in USA)
Djibouti's effort is very noble. But it won't cure Somalias political ills. What Somalia needs is credible political groups (parties), and wise leaders. It would be far more fruitful if the regional countries including Djibouti engage and evaluate all factions.
Engagement would lead to co-operation with those willing to rebuild their country. Also, isolate those who are intent on perpetuating the war and civilian suffering.
For Djibouti and other IGAD members the situation in Somalia poses a real danger. Regional leaders would be wise to act now. The alternative could be a potential regional disaster that engulfs everybody.
Liban Mahamed, Somalia, (in USA)

I'm very glad to hear the voice of Somalis, what they need is to get peace and government, although the warlords have rejected that. But now we Somalis know who are our enemy is and who created the hostility among the people.
Abdisamad, Somalia

In my opinion, the international community have a moral obligation to bring peace and dignity for Somali's people.
Ibrahim A. Araho, Canada

Our brothers and sisters in the great land of Somalia should and must work their differences out largely on their own, if not for the sake of Somali, for the sake of their children. If any outsider gets involved it should be the African nations that have borders with Somali. But I do not believe either Ethiopians or our brothers in Djibouti should mediate because both of these countries seem to have an invested interest rendering it difficult to find a true and lasting solution.
Tefera Gezmu, Ethiopia

I'm very happy to hear that Djibouti is trying to bring peace to Somalia. It's a good idea and I hope this will work and end the conflict between those groups who are claiming to be presidents.
Abdifeysal, Canada



It is proved that Somalis can't solve their problems and now the problem is an international one.

Abdi D Gammadid New Zealand
I think Djibouti government has the right to interfere and try what they can do. Not only for the benefit of the Somali people but also for their own security and social interests, and I'm sure they are on the right truck now. The international community has a role to play to make sure that the remaining few innocent children and elderly people are saved from the horror. It is proved that Somalis can't solve their problems and now the problem is an international one.
Abdi D Gammadid New Zealand

As a Somali Citizen I feel that Somalia has paid the cost of the civil war. Now Somalia should be left alone to solve their own problems and they should learn that no one else can solve their problem but themselves. Because International intervention has failed over and over and did not produce any peace. Therefore, please leave the Somali problems for the Somali people to solve.
Abdullahi Del USA

I believe Somalia's neighbours including Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya as well as the OAU should work hard in bringing peace in Somalia.
The international community should also assist the Somali people to have a lasting peace. The former colonial powers (Great Britain, Italy and France) that are responsible for dividing the people of the horn of Africa, have a "moral duty" not only to bring peace in Somalia, but also assist its people to eradicate poverty.
Haile, USA

Would Somalia, like Bosnia, be abandoned to its fate if it were not an African state? Whilst the rebels who bring shame to their people elsewhere face War Crimes Tribunals, those of Africa are urged on - in the interest of the trade in weapons and natural resources - to aspire to be Presidents.
S. S. Adzei, Ghana



The International Community has a responsibility to help Somalia to reconstitute itself again.

Nasir H. Omer, Canada
The International Community has a responsibility to help Somalia to reconstitute itself again. Somalia is a country in the world, they are people like any other people, therefore, they should live as normal as other people do. International observers naively say it is the Somalis who are responsible the destruction of their country. Well, we are not. It is merciless, greedy warlords who care nothing but only their selfish race of becoming a president. Djibouti conference will help the ordinary Somalis to be heard. We ask the international community to help the Djibouti conference.
Nasir H. Omer, Canada

If a situation is catastrophic as in Somalia, who could object to foreign powers trying to negotiate a settlement? But one shouldn't expect to much. One of the fundamental assumptions of a negotiated settlement is that both/all sides want peace. And this is clearly not the case in countries like Somalia, Angola and DR Congo. One should expect too much from diplomacy, though that shouldn't preclude the attempt.
Brian Farenell, USA

I believe that peace in Somalia will only be achieved by the people of Somalia. The Djibouti peace plan might not bring peace to Somalia, but it might be a wake up call for the people of Somalia and the evil warlords. The warlords will see that Somalia wants peace back and the people of Somalia will start to realise how bad they want peace in Somalia back.
Mohamed Mohamed, Canada

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See also:

14 Apr 00 | Africa
Somalia braced for emergency
27 Mar 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Mogadishu: Law but not much order
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