December 8, 2008

The Role of International Actors in Somalia

There are at least two distinct and important layers to the crisis in Somalia: the internal dynamics that are directly responsible for driving the conflict forward and the exacerbation of those dynamics by external actors. Foreign states and interstate organizations have played a central role in Somalia during the past two decades and in some cases that role has been destructive.

Since the collapse of Somalia's last government in 1991 the international community has veered between intense engagement with and complete neglect of the country's problems. From 1992 to 1995 a massive UN peacekeeping operation, UNOSOM, attempted to restore peace and secure badly-needed humanitarian relief to Somalia.[235] The intervention ended in total failure, brought on in part by the killing of 18 US Rangers in the streets of Mogadishu in 1993.[236]

UNOSOM's example has left many international actors with a profound unwillingness to re-engage deeply with Somalia in the years since then. The UN Arms embargo on Somalia, in place since 1992, has been almost entirely ineffectual and no real effort has been made at enforcing it.[237] For the better part of a decade most international actors went no further than sponsoring a seemingly endless series of peace conferences. The last negotiations in 2004 produced the TFG, which received little international support until the Islamic Courts Union began consolidating their control, triggering Ethiopia's 2006 intervention.

Since the end of 2006, the nature and scope of international involvement in Somalia has changed greatly, but has not had benign effects. Ethiopia is now a central party to the conflict triggered by its military intervention in support of the TFG. Eritrea continues to back insurgent forces, reportedly providing arms and other supplies as well as hosting some hard line leaders.[238] The United States, which has long had concerns over the presence of individuals with alleged terrorist connections in Somalia, has seen its support for the Ethiopian intervention and intermittent air strikes contributing to the violent collapse of order and the rise of Al-Shabaab in south-central Somalia. While the calamitous effects of the conflict on civilians has gone largely unremarked, the uncontained spread of Somalia's chaos has gained greater prominence in late 2008 due to increasing piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

In 2008 collective international engagement with Somalia has coalesced around the Djibouti peace process, which has brought together moderate ARS leaders with TFG officials and key international actors including Ethiopia.[239] International support for the Djibouti process has been broad, but limited political progress between the parties has not translated into an effective ceasefire or end to attacks on civilians-in large part because the most militarily powerful insurgent actors have rejected the process altogether. While the agreements around the Djibouti process all envisage a strong regional or international force to replace the Ethiopian military and provide stability, memories of UNOSOM's failed intervention loom large in the minds of policymakers loathe to contribute forces to such a mission.

Ethiopia

The rise of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Mogadishu was the primary reason for Ethiopia's military intervention in Somalia in late 2006. Many analysts characterized the decision to intervene as disastrous and ill-conceived although Ethiopia had genuine concerns. Ethiopia and Somalia have a long history of mutual enmity and the two countries fought a costly war in 1977 when Somalia's military invaded Ethiopia in a doomed attempt to annex what is now Ethiopia's Somali Region.[240]

In 2006 some ICU leaders took actions and made statements that stoked Ethiopia's fears of what a resurgent and hostile Somalia could mean for its own stability. Hardliners within the ICU declared war against Ethiopia. Some also publicly voiced irredentist claims on Ethiopia's Somali Region-the same claims used to justify Somalia's 1977 invasion. The ICU also courted the support of Ethiopia's arch-foe Eritrea, which has made a policy out of waging proxy wars against Ethiopia through client rebel movements. All of this took place while Ethiopia was waging a brutal counterinsurgency campaign at home against the ethnic Somali Ogaden National Liberation Front-an armed group Ethiopia did not want enjoying the patronage of any potential ICU-led government.

But irrespective of Ethiopia's motives for intervention in Somalia, there is no justification for the numerous violations of the laws of war and human rights abuses committed by Ethiopian forces in the country.

Diplomatically, Ethiopia has also by and large failed to play a constructive role. The Ethiopian government has more diplomatic leverage over Somalia's TFG than any other foreign power-most analysts believe that the TFG would crumble without the backing of ENDF forces on the ground.[241] In August 2008 Ethiopia made important diplomatic efforts to mediate a dangerously widening political rift between TFG Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf.[242]  But Ethiopia has applied no discernable pressure on TFG officials to rein in the abusive conduct of their security forces and militia fighters. Instead, ENDF forces have themselves committed serious human rights abuses in operations they have conducted alongside those TFG forces.[243]

Ethiopian government officials have refused to investigate or respond in any meaningful way to allegations of international human rights and humanitarian law violations by ENDF forces. Instead, Ethiopian officials have dismissed and angrily denied all such allegations of abuse, no matter how well documented.[244] A November 2008 communiqué from the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC to Human Rights Watch stated that the government was "unaware of any specific instance" where Ethiopian troops fired indiscriminately into civilian crowds or indiscriminately fired mortars or "Katyusha" rockets (the latter being inherently indiscriminate weapons unsuitable for use in urban environments).[245] This mirrors the Ethiopian government's response to criticisms over its domestic human rights record, including war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by ENDF forces in Ethiopia's own Somali and Gambella regions.

Somalia's Other Regional Neighbors

The Eritrean government has viewed Somalia primarily as a convenient theater of proxy war against Ethiopia.[246] It provided training, arms, and other support to military factions of the Islamic Courts Union prior to 2006 and initially played host to the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia in the wake of the ENDF's intervention in Somalia. But ultimately, Eritrea's efforts to control the ARS and coerce its leaders into rejecting the idea of a negotiated peace were a primary reason that the mainstream core of the opposition alliance relocated to Djibouti in 2008.[247]

Eritrea continues to play host to a small breakaway faction of the ARS led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and has reportedly continued to provide weapons and funds to abusive insurgent groups.[248] One member of the ARS central committee in Djibouti told Human Rights Watch that, "Eritrea will make a maximum effort to make the [Djibouti peace] agreement fail."[249]

The Djiboutian government has actively supported peace negotiations between the TFG and opposition groups. It has hosted ARS leaders Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Hassan Sharif since the mainstream ARS left Asmara. Djibouti has also been the site of the ongoing peace talks between TFG and ARS officials.

Kenya has played host to enormous numbers of Somali refugees since the collapse of the Siyad Barre government in 1991, but as discussed above, the number of Somali refugees in Kenya has increased dramatically in 2008.[250] This influx of refugees has occurred despite the Kenyan government's closure of its border with Somalia. The border closure has served as a serious impediment to would-be refugees and rendered them more vulnerable to abuse at the hands of smugglers and corrupt police.

The border closure is due in part to Kenya's own security concerns regarding Somalia. Memories of the August 1998 US embassy bombing in Nairobi and the 2002 attack on an Israeli-owned resort near Mombasa have left Kenya fearful of the potential for terrorist attacks originating in Somalia.[251] Three terrorist suspects which the United States accused the ICU of sheltering in Mogadishu in 2006 were wanted in connection with those attacks.[252] The refugee issue is also difficult politically in Kenya, with many local communities and politicians increasingly unhappy about the growing and seemingly permanent refugee presence in northern Kenya.

The government of Yemen has also been host to tens of thousands of new refugees in 2008, most of whom brave an extremely perilous crossing of the Gulf of Aden to reach Yemeni beaches.[253] In 2008 the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia reported that it had "repeatedly received information" that weapons were being supplied to Somalia from Yemeni government stocks, in violation of the UN arms embargo.[254] Many Arab states have taken an interest in the crisis in Somalia. For instance, Saudi Arabia has provided diplomatic support to the Djibouti peace process and has reportedly indicated a willingness to help fund an eventual UN stabilization force if conditions more conducive to a successful operation come about.[255]

African Union

The African Union has deployed a peacekeeping force to Somalia pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1744.[256] The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has an authorized troop strength of 8,000 but has never come close to reaching that number. As of October 2008 only 2,850 troops had been deployed, all of them from Uganda and Burundi. Other African states have been reluctant to contribute troops to the mission, at least partly due to the lingering memories of the United Nation's disastrous Chapter VII intervention in Somalia beginning in 1993. That hesitation has only been reinforced by increasingly frequent insurgent attacks on AMISOM forces, including a sustained barrage of attacks in September 2008.[257]

In comparison with other international military interventions, AMISOM's mandate is limited. It does not include the protection of civilians in Somalia. Instead it focuses primarily on providing protection for TFG officials and infrastructure, contributing to the secure delivery of humanitarian assistance, and the "re-establishment and training" of Somali security forces.[258] Because of its mandate and overall lack of capacity, AMISOM's activities have largely been limited to VIP protection, mainly for TFG officials; protection of Mogadishu's airport, seaport, and presidential villa; and occasional patrols through parts of Mogadishu. This has led Al-Shabaab and other insurgent groups to see AMISOM as a party to the conflict allied with the TFG.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has repeatedly stated that AMISOM or a broader international force should play a more central and assertive role in providing security in Somalia.[259] Many analysts and diplomatic officials have expressed concerns that a pull-out of Ethiopian forces without an adequate international stabilization force would risk a TFG collapse and further civil strife.[260]

The agreement signed between ARS and TFG officials in Djibouti in October 2008 envisages an ENDF relocation away from conflict zones in Mogadishu, with AMISOM forces maintaining security until a joint ARS-TFG police force is up and running.[261] As of the time of writing it is not clear whether AMISOM has the capacity to fulfill such an ambitious mandate, especially given that Al-Shabaab and other hard-line groups have not backed the agreement.

Intergovernmental Authority on Development

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is a regional intergovernmental body that brings together Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda to cooperate in areas related to economic development as well as regional peace and security. Eritrea joined IGAD in 1993 but suspended its membership in 2007 due largely to its hostile relationship with Ethiopia.

In theory, IGAD provides an ideal mechanism to engage with the crisis in Somalia, and the AU force on the ground in Mogadishu was originally conceived as a force under the auspices of IGAD. In fact, IGAD has proved largely irrelevant on Somalia, partly due to the internal tensions among its members. An IGAD meeting in October 2008 in Nairobi, however, brought together key regional governments with TFG and US officials, and provided a forum for a public dressing down of TFG officials by regional leaders angry at the TFG's failure to establish itself or make any progress in transitioning towards a permanent government. The meeting closed with a demand that the TFG meet concrete benchmarks towards achieving transition to a permanent government.

United Nations Institutions

The current UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, played a leading role in cobbling the Djibouti peace process together and has been the focal point of international support for the talks. In April 2008 Ould-Abdallah was made chair of the International Contact Group, which brings together and seeks to coordinate the policies of governments playing direct roles in Somalia. He has consistently and very publicly called for an end to human rights abuses on all sides, for accountability for past abuses, and for more robust international engagement with the crisis in Somalia.

Despite his widely acknowledged dynamism, the political mandate of the SRSG and some of his initiatives pose challenges for wider UN and NGO humanitarian operations. The SRSG has advocated the use of donor funds to equip and pay TFG police forces-who at best have behaved as an abusive front-line combat force and, at worst, as armed criminals (see Direct Donor Support to TFG Security Forces, below). Critics of the SRSG feel that this has blurred the perception of neutrality that humanitarian organizations require to work safely and effectively in conflict situations.

In 2008 the size of the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was increased from three to five staff, with a mandate to carry out expanded human rights monitoring as well as capacity-building. However the placement of the OHCHR staffers within the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), headed by the SRSG, raises serious concerns about its ability to maintain independence from the SRSG's political agenda.

Human Rights Watch believes that the OHCHR presence should be expanded further, should include sufficient numbers of staff with expertise in child protection and sexual and gender-based violence, and that human rights monitoring should be more of a priority. Wholly inadequate monitoring to date has contributed to weak international pressure on TFG and Ethiopian officials to address and prevent human rights and humanitarian law violations. While security remains a serious challenge, the current staffing levels neither meet the scale and gravity of the human rights crisis nor reflect the potential for investigative work that could be undertaken in stable areas of Somalia and in refugee destinations.

United States

Under the administration of President George W. Bush, US policy in the Horn of Africa has focused on combating the threat of terrorism and prioritizing strong relations with the Ethiopian government, Washington's only stable and reliable ally in the Horn. This narrow policy framework has exacerbated serious human rights problems across the region. Rethinking policy on Somalia means rethinking policy across the wider Horn.

The United States has consistently failed to exert significant pressure on the Ethiopian government to improve upon its dire human rights record-even though Washington has considerable leverage as the aid-dependant country's largest bilateral donor and most important political backer.[262] Some high-ranking US officials have rejected all evidence of human rights violations to insist that they do not know whether abuses in Ethiopia have taken place at all. In 2007, for example, US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer publicly stated that allegations of ongoing ENDF war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ethiopia's Somali region were "unsubstantiated," rather than express concern about the abuses to Ethiopian officials.[263]

The same policy framework has driven United States policy in Somalia. As in Ethiopia, Washington has turned a blind eye to ENDF laws of war violations in Somalia. US law forbids the US government from providing assistance to foreign military units involved in serious human rights abuses.[264] But US officials have made no credible effort to investigate and determine whether ENDF units implicated in abuses in Somalia are past or potential beneficiaries of US military training and assistance to Ethiopia.[265] 

As the ICU consolidated control in Mogadishu, Washington came to view it as a terrorist threat. In mid-2006 the United States sought the handover of several non-Somali terrorist suspects who it believed were being sheltered by the ICU, but ICU leaders reportedly ignored those requests. Washington responded by backing a coalition of Somali warlords, each in command of personal militia forces, in a bid to oust the ICU from Mogadishu. The warlords, who played upon US terrorism concerns by branding themselves the "Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism," were defeated by the ICU in mid-2006.[266]

When Ethiopia decided to intervene militarily against the ICU and empower the TFG later that year, the United States provided staunch political and material support. Since then the United States has failed to publicly criticize the Ethiopian government over the serious and widespread abuses carried out by ENDF forces in Somalia or even acknowledge that those atrocities have taken place-the same approach Washington has taken with regard to ENDF abuses, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, inside of Ethiopia. High-level US officials have equally failed to demand accountability for TFG officials who are responsible for those abuses or to support the conditioning of donor support for TFG security forces on improvements in their appalling human rights record.

The US government continues to place central emphasis on efforts to eliminate so-called high-value targets with alleged links to al Qaeda in Somalia. The United States has carried out at least two airstrikes on Somali soil in 2008, both aimed at killing prominent Al-Shabaab leaders. The first, in Dhobley in March, did not find its target but injured several civilian residents of the town.[267] Many analysts believe the target of that raid was Hassan Turki, a prominent Al-Shabaab commander who controls Dhobley as well as the surrounding countryside.[268] The second, in Dhusamareb in April, killed Aden Hashi Ayrow, a prominent Al-Shabaab military commander who was on the US government terrorist list. The US government designated Al-Shabaab itself a terrorist organization on March 19, 2008.[269]

There is strong evidence that US policies in Somalia have aggravated the very concerns about terrorism they seek to address. Because of Washington's unreserved backing of Ethiopia's military intervention in Somalia, many Somalis see the United States as complicit in the military occupation of their country and in the atrocities they have suffered at the hands of ENDF forces. Washington has expressed strong support for an international stabilization force to replace the ineffective AMISOM contingent, but some insurgent leaders have sought to criticize the plan as an attempt to channel more international support behind the TFG.[270] The aftermath of US airstrikes have left a more lasting impression in the minds of many Somalis than US funding for humanitarian assistance.[271] 

European Commission

Most European states do not maintain ambassadors in Somalia and have channeled much of their development assistance through the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. The Commission's policy in turn has been driven by the notion that donor resources should be used to empower moderate TFG Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein.

 

This largely reflects a broader trend that has seen western governments, donors, and UN institutions frame policies around their hopes that Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein would prove able to chart a more constructive course for the TFG than TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf. Many donor representatives privately acknowledged to Human Rights Watch that in doing so they are also seeking to marginalize President Yusuf and the perceived hard liners around him.[272] Donors and independent analysts alike see Yusuf as being resistant to the Djibouti peace process and as being tied to many of the worst abuses and failures of the TFG since the end of 2006.

This approach has, however, led to a disastrous effort by the European Commission and other donor states to push for direct and unconditional financial support for TFG security forces responsible for serious human rights and humanitarian law violations. This policy is discussed in more detail in the Appendix below.

[235] There were actually three separate missions-UNOSOM (The UN Mission in Somalia) I, which was quickly replaced by a US-led Unified Task Force (UNITAF), which was in turn replaced by UNOSOM II.

[236] The infamous "Black Hawk Down" episode led to the withdrawal of US forces from Somalia, which signaled the eventual death-knell of the overall peacekeeping operation. At least several hundred Somali militiamen and civilians died in the battle in October 1993 and 73 other US soldiers were injured.

[237] Human Rights Watch interview with UN official, Nairobi, September 21, 2008. See also "Anatomy of a Sanctions Regime: A Case Study of Failed Efforts to Effectively Implement Sanctions in Somalia," Security Council Report, September 16, 2008.

[238] See below, Somalia's Other Regional Neighbors.

[239] See above, Background.

[240] Ethiopia's Somali Region is populated largely by ethnic Somalis and following independence many Somalia nationals believed that the Horn of Africa's entire ethnic Somali population-including those in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, should be united under the flag of Somalia. Somalia was ultimately routed from Ethiopia's Somali Region in 1978 by Ethiopian forces after the Soviet Union withdrew its backing to Somalia and adopted Ethiopia as its primary ally in the Horn.

[241] Human Rights Watch interviews with independent analysts and civil society activists, Nairobi and Hargeisa, July 2008.

[242] Ethiopia called both men to Addis Ababa for mediation after a dispute over the Prime Minister's sacking of Mogadishu mayor Mohammed 'Dheere' caused the resignation of several cabinet ministers and a dramatic deterioration of relations between the President and Prime Minister.

[243] See above, Laws of War and Human Rights Violations by Ethiopian Military Forces.

[244] For example, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to Human Rights Watch's August 2007 report on Somalia with a statement that called the report "morally repugnant" and a "carefully framed attack on Ethiopia," while denying all allegations of ENDF abuse. Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Morally Repugnant-Human Rights Watch's report on Somalia," A Week in the Horn, August 17, 2007, http://www.mfa.gov.et/Press_Section/Week_Horn_Africa_August_17_2007.htm (accessed October 27, 2008). When Amnesty International reported in April 2008 that 21 people were killed by ENDF soldiers in a raid on a Mogadishu mosque, the government did not investigate the incident but immediately dismissed the allegations as "unsubstantiated lies and propaganda." "Ethiopia Denies Amnesty Mosque Killing Allegations," Reuters, April 24, 2008.

[245] Communique on file with Human Rights Watch.

[246] The Eritrean government hosts and materially supports a broad range of Ethiopian rebel groups including the Oromo Liberation Front and the Ogadan National Liberation Front, both of which maintain armed forces in Eritrea along with the residences of their top leadership. Eritrea has supported those groups, along with the ICU and then the ARS-Asmara, with the primary aim of destabilizing Ethiopia. See International Crisis Group, Beyond the Fragile Peace Between Ethiopia and Eritrea: Averting a New War, Africa Report No. . . . , http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5490&l=1 (accessed November 11, 2008).

[247] Human Rights Watch interviews with ARS central committee members, Djibouti, July 2008.

[248] The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia said in its April 2008 report that "the monitoring group received information that the Government of Eritrea continues to provide support to groups that oppose the Transitional Federal Government in the form of arms and military training to fighters of the Shabaab" as well as to Kismayo-based warlord Barre Hiraale. See United Nations Security Council, Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security Council resolution 1766 (2007), S/2008/274, April 24, 2008, pp. 20-21.

[249] Human Rights Watch interview with ARS central committee member, Djibouti, July 16, 2008.

[250] For more on the situation in Dadaab see above, Abuses of Displaced People and Refugees.

[251] Two hundred and nineteen people died in the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in downtown Nairobi. The 2002 bombing of the Paradise Hotel near Mombasa killed 13 hotel guests and wounded dozens more. A simultaneous attack using shoulder-fired missiles was made on an Israeli airliner but the missiles failed to find their target.

[252] Those were Faizul Abdallah Mohammed (a Comorian national); Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan (a Kenyan national); and Abu Taha Al-Sudani (A Sudanese national).

[253] See above, Abuses of Displaced People and Refugees.

[254] UN monitoring group on Somalia report, para. 101.

[255] Human Rights Watch interviews with diplomat and independent analysts, Nairobi, July 2008.

[256] The UN Security Council passed resolution 1744 in February 2007. United Nations Security Council, Resolution 1744 (2007), S/RES/1744 (2007), http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/sc8960.doc.htm (accessed October 28, 2008).

[257]See above, Civilian Deaths and the Destruction of Mogadishu.

[258] United Nations Security Council, Resolution 1744, para. 4.

[259] See, e.g., Tsegaye Tadesse "Ethiopian troops to stay in Somalia, wait for AU," Reuters, October 16, 2008, http://africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnJOE49F0LU.html (accessed November 11, 2008); Human Rights Watch interviews with UN and diplomatic officials, Nairobi, September 2008.

[260] Human Rights Watch interviews with diplomatic officials and analysts; see also Menkhaus, "Somalia: A Country in Peril," p. 7.

[261] Modalities for the Implementation of Cessation of Armed Confrontation, Art. 6, signed October 26, 2008.

[262] Total US development and humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia totals several hundred million dollars annually. A small fraction of that total consists of military aid, mainly training for ENDF forces.

[263] Peter Heinlein, "US Official Urges Greater African Involvement in Somalia Peace Efforts," Voice of America, September 9, 2007. Human Rights Watch documented patterns of ENDF abuses in the Ogaden in detail. Human Rights Watch, Collective Punishment: War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia's Somali Regional State, June 2008.

[264] The so-called "Leahy law" prohibits US government assistance to units of foreign militaries that are implicated in "gross violations of human rights" unless the governments concerned take appropriate action to address the abuses. The full text of the law (separate versions for State Department and Defense Department assistance) is available online at: http://leahy.senate.gov/issues/humanrights/law.html (accessed November 11, 2008).

[265] The Leahy law does not prescribe specific actions State Department and Pentagon officials must undertake to gather the information they need to determine whether specific military units have been implicated in gross human rights abuses. But the law has little meaning unless policymakers undertake proactive measures to gather such information. In the case of Ethiopia, US officials have repeatedly told Human Rights Watch that they simply have no credible information that units have been involved in human rights abuse in or outside of Ethiopia, or that they do not know which ENDF units are stationed in a particular place at a particular time. Ibid.

[266] See International Crisis Group, Can the Somalia Crisis be Contained?, Africa Report No. 116, August 10, 2006, http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4333&l=1 (accessed October 23, 2008), pp. 11-14. Also see above, Background.

[267] Jennifer Daskal and Leslie Lefkow, "Off Target: When missile strikes at alleged terrorists go awry," Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2008.

[268] Hassan Turki is a member of the Ogadeni clan and a former prominent member of the now-defunct Islamist group Al-Itihaad Al-Islamiya. At the time of the attack, some US government officials claimed that the target of the attack was Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan wanted in connection with the 2002 bombing of a Kenyan coastal resort.

[269] US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, "Executive Order 13224- Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions with Person who Commit, Threaten to Commit or Support Terrorism," http://www.treasury.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/terror/terror.pdf (accessed October 23, 2008).

[270] ARS-Djibouti opposition officials have offered cautious support for the idea of an international stabilization force, which is envisaged in the Djibouti accord. However prominent Al-Shabaab leaders have rejected the idea along with the accord itself.

[271] See, e.g., Daskal and Lefkow, "Off Target," Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2008.See also Menkhaus, "Somalia: A Country in Peril, a Policy Nightmare," p.8: "In short, the average Mogadishu resident is shocked, desperate and furious with the violence visited on the public by both the TFG and the insurgents. But most of their anger is currently directed at the group of actors they hold immediately responsible for the disaster-Ethiopia, the TFG and the United States government."

[272] Human Rights Watch interviews, Nairobi, July and September 2008.