afrol News, 23 September - Since the US military defeat in Somalia in 1994, Africa has been left alone to send troops to the failed nation. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki today demanded more UN and Western engagement in Somalia.
President Kibaki in a speech at the UN General Assembly in New York today called on the UN Security Council to abandon what he called its "hands-off approach to Somalia" and strengthen the African peacekeeping force in the war-torn country to counter the threat from Islamist militants and terrorism.
"Somalia continues to suffer benign neglect from the international community leading to many lost opportunities to resolve the crisis," the Kenyan leader told world leaders in New York.
"The perceived reluctance of the United Nations Security Council to engage with Somalia has been a matter of great concern for those of us who suffer the greatest consequences of the conflict," he added, reaffirming the central role of the UN in global governance.
Africa had already taken the responsibility to find both military and political solutions to the Somali conflict, Mr Kibaki explained. The African Union (AU) is now increasing its 5,000-strong peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by another 2,000 troops from the region to help the transitional Somali government to fight Islamist terrorists.
"Unfortunately, the support needed to implement these decisions by the international community has not been forthcoming," President Kibaki declared. "It is against this background that Kenya urges the UN and the entire international community to seize the opportunity created by the African regional initiative and lend support to the proposed measures."
Somalia has not had a functioning central government since for nearly two decades, during which it has been torn apart by factional fighting, most recently between the transitional government and Al Shabaab Islamists and other militias.
"Today, the security situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate and threaten peace and stability across the entire region and beyond," the Kenyan leader declared. "Needless to say the threat posed by today's Somalia to international peace and security is greater than in any other conflict in the world."
The Al Shabaab Islamists lately have developed into an outright terrorist group, loosely associated to Al Qaeda and implementing terror attack inside Somalia and in the East African region. Al Shabaab controls around half of Somalia's territory.
While Al Shabaab has been placed on international terror lists, seen as a threat to world peace, international support to fight the radical group in Somalia is low. The AU has been left with the military support to Somalia's transitional government, and almost all AU troops in Somalia come from East Africa.
Non-African countries have been reluctant to get militarily involved in Somalia after the humiliating defeat and withdrawal of US troops from the country in 1994. Now, the AU at least expects greater financial and logistical support in its own branch of the "global war against terror."
Kenya, a neighbour to Somalia, is among the countries most strongly threatened by Islamist terror attacks. Kenya is also the country hosting most Somali refugees. Meanwhile, Uganda and Burundi are the counties with most troops in Somalia.
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