elements of Somali society. It began with al-Ittihad al-Islami, now defunct or at leastdormant, and more recently al-Shabaab, which publicly emphasizes its links to al-Qaeda.The growth of the Islamic Courts in Somalia and threatening statements by someof its leaders caused neighboring Ethiopia, at the request of the Somali TransitionalFederal Government (TFG) leadership at the time, to invade Somalia at the end of 2006.I opposed this policy from the beginning. I believe the invasion contributed to the further radicalization of elements of the Somali population. Contrary to popular belief, theUnited States did not encourage Ethiopia to invade Somalia, but once Ethiopia occupiedMogadishu, the U.S. clearly urged it to stay there to support the weak TFG. Ethiopia haslargely been out of Somalia since the beginning of 2009 and no longer serves as therallying cry for Somali nationalism. Nevertheless, groups such as al-Shabaab, althoughweakened by factionalism, pose a major threat to the TFG. As the TFG became morevulnerable to attack from al-Shabaab and other groups, the African Union agreed to senda force to Mogadishu at the beginning of 2007 to replace the Ethiopians. Today morethan 6,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi are largely responsible for keeping the TFGin power in the capital. This brings us to the current role for the international community.
Time for another Major International Military Presence in Somalia?
There are some who now call for a massive UN intervention in Somalia with amandate that would allow it to occupy the country. Let me remind supporters of such a proposal that this approach did not work in the early and mid-1990s and it certainly is notthe answer today. A multinational coalition with little understanding of the situation onthe ground would immediately find itself engaged militarily with a host of radicalizedSomali groups. While the larger international force would probably win most of itsmilitary engagements, it could not possibly occupy all of Somalia and its very presencewould further radicalize additional Somalis.The United Nations currently has more than 100,000 troops, police and expertsassigned to its peacekeeping operations around the world. It is stretched thin. So far, theUN Security Council has refused to even send UN forces to supplement those troops withthe African Union mission in Somalia. It is clearly not prepared to authorize a huge UN peacekeeping operation in the country. Nor is a coalition of the willing such as the United States organized late in 1992 arealistic possibility. As I noted earlier, the United States has not sent troops back toAfrica since it intervened in Somalia during 1992-1994 with the exception of establishinga static counterterrorism support base in Djibouti in 2002. There are about 1,700 militaryand civilian personnel assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). It is my understanding, however, that any U.S. military actions inside Somalia inrecent years did not emanate from CJTF-HOA but usually from ships offshore under other commands.The international community simply does not have the stomach or thediscretionary funding to launch a major military campaign in Somalia. The internationalfinancial crisis, relatively low foreign policy priority of Somalia and the fact that a fewEuropean countries are nearly on fiscal life support underscores my belief that this is justnot a realistic possibility. Frankly, this is a good thing as I believe it would be a mistakeanyway. In fact, the sooner the TFG can stand on its own and the African Union forces2