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The fighting goes on in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu but at least someone is coming up with a useful suggestion.
Meeting in Addis Ababa, the capital of neighbouring Ethiopia, representatives of six Horn of Africa countries decided that a no-fly zone and a port blockade should be imposed to stop the endless flow of weapons into Somalia. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), as the regional group is known, is calling on the U.N. to impose the blockade.
This is far from being the solution to Somalia’s troubles, but stopping the guns would be an impressive start. “Arms supply is such an obvious impediment to effective government that this problem has to be tackled,” wrote Professor Ioan Lewis, a leading expert on Somalia.
The problem is there has been an arms embargo in place for more than 16 years and it has been assiduously ignored. Eritrea regularly gets the blame for sending weapons to the Islamist opposition and just as regularly the Eritrean government denies doing so — no one believes them.
But it’s not just Eritrea. For years now a U.N. monitoring group has kept an eye on Somalia’s embargo busters and produces incredibly detailed periodic reports of its findings. “Most serviceable weapons and almost all ammunition currently available in the country have been delivered since 1992, in violation of the embargo,” the group wrote in its last report published in December 2008.
Nor does the group pull its punches: “Every armed force, group or militia in Somalia, their financiers, active supporters and, in some cases, foreign donors are currently in violation of the arms embargo.”
This last sentence might explain why the current embargo is so readily broken and why the new calls for a blockade might go unheeded.