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  • Title: [SW Country](STRATFOR.COM's Global Intelligence Update) Somalia Revisited: Gadhafi's Plan for Partition
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  • Date :[22 March 2000]

STRATFOR.COM's Global Intelligence Update - 22 March 2000


By The Internet's Most Intelligent Source of International News &
Analysis http://www.stratfor.com/

STRATFOR.COM Global Intelligence Update
22 March 2000


Somalia Revisited: Gadhafi's Plan for Partition

Summary

The Libyan government is sponsoring a plan that may finally bring a
measure of peace to war-torn Somalia. The plan aims to turn Somalia
- in which the United States intervened briefly in the early 1990s
- from a land of dozens of feuding clans into a unified country
ruled by two dominant factions. Ultimately, however, the Libyan
plan appears likely to partition the country. As a result,
neighboring Ethiopia will cement its access to ports on the Red
Sea. Libya will gain a steadily larger role in Africa, as well as
maintain its grip on an important airbase in central Somalia.

Analysis

The Libyan government is drafting plans that would put Somalia
under the control of a two-headed government, controlled by a pair
of the country's most important factions, the Somali newspaper
Ayaamaha reported on March 18, citing diplomatic sources. The
report stated that Libya is also urging neighboring Djibouti to
drop its plans for forming a transitional Somali government.

Since 1991, when insurgents overthrew President Siad Barre and
drove him from the country, Somalia has been in the throes of
anarchy. The Somali army dissolved into competing armed groups,
loyal either to former commanders or clan-tribal leaders. For a
brief period in the early 1990s the international community
intervened. U.S. forces withdrew in 1994, after a battle with
Somali gunmen left U.S. Rangers dead and hundreds of Somalis dead
or wounded. In 1999, two regional actors, Eritrea and Ethiopia,
further aggravated Somalia's civil war by manipulating and arming
Somali groups as part of their own war.

Now, the governments of Djibouti and Libya have put forth two plans
for stabilizing Somalia and re-establishing a functional
government. Surrounded by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, Djibouti
would like to see some stability on its borders. Libyan interests
in Somalia include access to Mogadishu's port facilities and use of
the Baledogle air base. Also, working to stabilize Somalia serves
as a short term, low-risk public relations exercise for Libyan
leader Moammar Gadhafi, who has significantly expanded his
influence in Africa by helping some of the continent's most
troubled nations.

The two peace plans are vastly different. The Djibouti plan mirrors
many international peace plans that have failed. It calls on
warlords to convert their clan-based factions into political
parties, commit to a complete and verifiable disarmament and
respect the creation of a Somali police force to replace armed
militias. The Libyan plan, however, seems more likely to succeed
because it accepts the harsh reality of the Somali situation. It
seeks to set up a government comprised of two major groups. The
first, dubbed Sodere, is named for an Ethiopian town, and is
composed of major pro-Ethiopian factions. The second group,
Salballar, would be a faction allied to the principal warlord of
the ruined capital city of Mogadishu, Hussein Mohamed Aideed.

The Libyan plan is steadily gaining support. The Ethiopian
government now backs it. Landlocked Ethiopia wants to continue to
use the Somali port of Berbera, located in the northern, self-
declared state of Somaliland, whose government would be part of
Sodere. Col. Abdullahi Yusuf, president of the self-proclaimed pro-
Ethiopian Puntland regional government in the north, and Hussein
Aideed, in the central part of the country, have both accepted the
Libyan proposal and rejected the Djibouti plan. Tripoli's plan,
after all, protects the Somali clans' interests.

The prospect of order in Somalia, however, is not permanent. It
seems likely that the two factions - one that is backed by Ethiopia
and the other led by Aideed - will probably be able to work
together and form a government. And in such a period, smaller
weaker groups will fall in line behind the two main factions. This
two-headed arrangement would probably only last for a year, at
best. The situation would be easy to manipulate in the context of
the ongoing Ethiopian-Eritrean civil war; not only would one
element of a Somali government be allied with Ethiopia but Aideed
is backed by Eritrea.

Similar Somali experiments in the past have failed in the space of
anywhere from a few months to a year. Over the long term, it seems
likely that two Somalias would emerge from the Libyan peace plan.
The pro-Ethiopian faction would control the north, Somaliland and
Puntland, and Aideed would control the central part of the country,
the Mogadishu area, along with part of the south.

The emergence of two Somalias would still stabilize the region -
while furthering Ethiopian and Libyan interests. Landlocked and
facing difficulty in using the port at Djibouti, the government in
Addis-Ababa would gain long-term access to ports on the Red Sea.
Ethiopia needs the ports to import food aid. In two recent months,
it received 46,000 tons of food aid via the port at Berbera in
Somaliland. Ethiopia receives nearly all its essential goods - from
petroleum to manufactured equipment - from the outside world, while
exporting small amounts of coffee and leather.

But the chief beneficiary of the plan would be Libya itself. The
Gadhafi government is forging an increasingly larger role for
itself in taking on the plights of African nations that the
international community has abandoned as basket cases. Bringing
peace - or at least order - to Somalia after more than a decade of
anarchy would only gain Tripoli greater influence on the continent.

As part of a greater role on the continent, Libya would enjoy
continued access to an important air base near Mogadishu. The
former Somali air force base at Baledogle, near Mogadishu, has been
under the control of Aideed. Nearly a year ago, Aideed reportedly
offered Gadhafi the base for peacekeeping purposes, as long as
Gadhafi supplied the planes and weapons. The base gives the Libyan
military an important toehold both in the Horn of Africa and within
range of parts of East Africa.

What is notable about the Libyan plan now gaining momentum and
support is that it flies in the face of what most African nations
have insisted upon in attempting to settle conflicts. Most African
nations oppose the redrawing of borders. Under the plan now taking
shape in Somalia, the Libyan and Ethiopian governments are avoiding
this prospect. But in reality, they are supporting a plan that will
ultimately partition the country.


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