A Crucial Moment for the Future of Somalia

A Crucial Moment for the Future of Somalia

For two decades, Somalia and its people have been caught in a vicious cycle. Political instability and economic strife have provided recruiting fodder for militants, pirates and terrorist organisations such as Al Shabaab. Violence and criminal activity have in turn hindered attempts to build institutions of government and business. As the years go by, these problems reinforce themselves.

While Somalia may at first seem far removed from the US or UK, its problems are a threat to our interests and national security. British and American commercial shipping has been threatened by pirates and nationals of both our countries have been taken hostage.  Al Shabaab has shown its willingness to expand outside Somalia’s borders by sponsoring attacks in Uganda and aligning itself with Al Qaeda. Continued instability in East Africa will only demand more of our attention and resources, if we don’t take action now.

The UK is taking the lead on encouraging the international community to act, and more importantly, to act together in a cohesive and comprehensive approach. Tomorrow, senior representatives from more than 50 governments and international organisations, including Secretary Clinton, will arrive in the UK for the London Conference on Somalia, chaired by Prime Minister Cameron.

For the first time in years, there is a real chance to make progress in Somalia. Al Shabaab is militarily weakened and increasingly on the back foot, pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union forces. A fragile peace process is making progress. And there is growing international will to stamp out piracy.

The goals of the Conference are wide-reaching, but also practical and implementable. We are focusing on both the underlying causes of instability and its symptoms, such as famine, piracy and terrorism. Our hope is to reach agreement on: injecting new momentum into a political process that will create a more transparent and representative government that is better able to provide development and security for its people; strengthening the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia; building stability at the local level through humanitarian aid and economic development; and tackling the piracy and terrorism that threatens to destabilise the Horn of Africa.

Ultimately decisions on Somalia’s future rest with the Somali people. The role of the international community is to facilitate Somalia’s progress and development: our strength is in unity and coordinated support to Somalia. As Foreign Secretary Hague said;

“A more stable Somalia is vital to our national security here in Britain; it is essential to the stability of the Horn of Africa; and it is long overdue for the people of Somalia who have endured twenty years of desperate suffering.”

Our goals are ambitious, but realistic. We know they can’t be achieved overnight and certainly not without international cooperation. We are pleased the United States is standing with us at this important moment, as we have stood together so many times in the past. Coordinated leadership is vital to making a reality of our shared vision of a more stable Somalia.





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