«PEACEMAKING IN THE MIDST OF WAR : AN ASSESSMENT OF IGAD’S CONTRIBUTION TO REGIONAL SECURITY Sally Healy Royal Institute of International Affairs ...»
In the case of Sudan, regional relationships had soured to such an extent that by 1996/7 the ‘peace process’ resembled a hostile encirclement by IGAD neighbours in support of the SPLA. This was not unhelpful for the ‘IGAD process’. Military action by Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda provided a level of pressure that persuaded the government of Sudan to negotiate seriously with the South. In later years, when regional alignments had changed, external (particularly US) pressure helped to maintain the incentives for a settlement. Similarly, the Somali process amply demonstrates the willingness of IGAD member states to persist with military means to achieve their preferred conflict-resolution outcomes. The reports to the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Committee on the Somali arms embargo consistently recorded the existence of military assistance from Ethiopia to its allies among the Somali factions throughout 2003/4 when the Somali National Peace Conference was in progressn (Expert Group and Monitoring Group on Somalia 2003-2005). Eritrea’s assistance to Islamist opponents of the TFG scaled up from 2005 onwards, reaching a peak in late 2006 just before Ethiopia’s intervention (Expert Group and Monitoring Group on Somalia 2006). The two member states thus actively undermined the IGAD peace process.
The phenomenon of militarised ‘peace processes’ can be seen as part of a regional culture in which a high proportion of IGAD leaders came to power through violent means and several show a continuing propensity to project military power beyond their own borders. This creates a particularly difficult environment in which to build regional structures for peace and security. These require member states to surrender a degree of sovereignty, either by agreeing to be bound by regional rules and decisions or by giving the IGAD Secretariat some independent authority. Moreover, IGAD’s leaders have not felt constrained by the limitations of the organisation’s remit and have been willing to disregard IGAD’s legal framework and to adopt bold initiatives that were technically outside its mandate. Examples include launching the Sudanese peace process in 1993 and the authorisation of an intervention force to support the TFG in Somalia in 1995.
The authoritarian political culture of the region militates against the IGAD secretariat attempting to play a proactive or autonomous role in peace and security. Leaderships that enjoy unfettered power in the domestic arena are not well disposed to accept regional constraints that rely primarily on consensual arrangements. IGAD member states seek instead to direct IGAD activity in pursuit of their own interests. This in turn compromises IGAD’s capacity to maintain the neutrality required of a regional mediation body. Furthermore, the IGAD region lacks a clearly distinguishable lead country capable, by virtue of its superior size and strength, to play unchallenged the role of a hegemon as South Africa and Nigeria can in their respective regions (Mwaura and Schmeidl, 2002). Ethiopia’s recent efforts to secure this position for itself (e.g. in Somalia) appear to have made matters worse.
The region’s most enduring failure since the establishment of IGAD’s peace and security mandate has been the inability to dissuade Ethiopia and Eritrea from settling their differences on the battlefield in 1999 and 2000. Although the two sides signed a peace agreement under OAU auspices in December 2000, implementation has been stalled since 2002 over the question of boundary demarcation. IGAD has been powerless to persuade Ethiopia and Eritrea to normalise relations or to finalise a peace settlement. Their intense mutual hostility 12 continues to poison regional relations and exacerbate other conflicts. It remains the key obstacle to any progress towards developing an improved regional security framework.
At the technical level, IGAD’s Secretariat continues to do innovative work on peace and security. The programme funds of the IPF have generated analysis and project work that deepens analysis and recommends action. It has developed an early warning mechanism, the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), which is monitoring three areas of pastoral border conflict (Apuuli 2004). A second IGAD security-sector programme is the IGAD Capacity Building Program Against Terrorism (ICPAT), tasked with ‘building national capacity to resist terrorism, and promoting regional security co-operation’ by tightening border control and enhancing judicial measures against terrorism (ICPAT 2006).
Whatever the value of such programmes, the IGAD Secretariat has played no visible role in containing the serious conflicts of the last five years in Darfur, in the Ogaden, in Mogadishu, in Kenya, in South Sudan or between Eritrea and Djibouti.
Measuring Success in Sudan and Somalia IGAD’s conflict-resolution activities have displayed a clear, unresolved tension between IGAD, the political forum − characterised by mutual suspicion, alliance-building and power play among member states − and IGAD, the regional organisation − seeking to develop the institutional capacity to improve peace and security and give practical assistance towards conflict resolution. Where IGAD has been able to claim some success it has more often found itself reaping the whirlwind of regional and international power politics than advancing classical mediation and peace-building processes.
The key question is what impact IGAD’s reconciliation activities have had in enhancing peace in the region, among states as well as within Sudan and Somalia. In the case of Sudan an assessment of the success of the CPA cannot ignore the conflict that erupted in Darfur towards the end of the CPA negotiations. The negotiation of the CPA could be seen as a contributing cause of the Darfur rebellion because it provided an example to other marginalised groups that armed struggle could secure political advantage (Woodward 2004).
It also aroused fears among the Darfuris that their own marginalisation would be entrenched since the CPA negotiations purported to be a national settlement but involved only two parties (Nathan 2007).
Despite bringing an end to the war in the South, the CPA has been widely criticised for the limited scope of the negotiation to address the problems of Sudan as a whole It was confined to the Northern government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (excluding other key constituencies in the country, including in the South) and failed to involve civil society or other stakeholders who were needed to build a sustainable peace (Young 2007). Some of its weaknesses are implicitly a product of how the problem was framed when the organisation was first seized of the matter (Cliffe 2004). As befits a forum for regional co-operation, IGAD’s frame of reference was to settle a troublesome conflict rather than to achieve the transformation of Sudan. It was about empowering the South, upholding their right not to live under Sharia law and giving them the option to gain independence. On all these scores the CPA can be regarded as a considerable success.
Four years on the CPA has maintained the peace and provided for the injection of significant financial resources into the South and the large-scale return of refugees. The South has established a government of its own, the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), and maintains its own armed forces. The CPA will culminate in a referendum in 2011 when 13 Southern Sudan can vote on self-determination, including the option of full secession. Trust between the two parties is sorely lacking. Both sides are spending heavily on military equipment, with unofficial estimates as high as 60 percent of GOSS expenditure on security and defence in 2008 (Thomas 2009). A number of external factors – such as reduced oil revenues and the International Criminal Court action against President Bashir – are putting additional strain on the relationship between the two sides at a time when co-operation is needed to complete implementation, including settling boundaries and agreeing procedures for the referendum (Natsios 2008). IGAD, however, has not been involved in the implementation process.
The benefits of the IGAD peace process in Somalia have been less evident than those of the CPA in Sudan. The government arrangements negotiated in Nairobi did not secure real compliance and as soon as the process ended Abdulahi Yusuf appealed to the African Union for a 15,000-strong military force to help establish his government’s authority. The January 2005 IGAD summit (held in Abuja) authorised the deployment of a peace support mission to Somalia (IGASOM) consisting of 10,000 peacekeepers.8 Many Somali parliamentarians vehemently opposed such a deployment, which they saw as cover for Ethiopian military intervention in support of Abdulahi Yusuf. To counter these suspicions IGAD Foreign Ministers agreed that the first phase of IGASOM’s proposed intervention would exclude neighbouring states and involve only troops from Uganda and Sudan (IGAD 2005). The IGASOM mission was authorised by the AU’s Peace and Security Council in May 2005, but no resources were available to mount the operation. These decisions, however, laid the foundations for the interventions that were to follow. IGAD’s disregard for the strong feelings expressed against an external intervention harmed IGAD’s neutrality and credibility in Somali eyes.
The prospects and purpose of external intervention changed dramatically in 2006 when the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) took power in Mogadishu. This introduced new dynamics and sharply raised US interest in the situation in Somalia. Ethiopia warned that radical jihadists associated with Al Ittihad Al-Islami dominated the ICU leadership (Zenawi 2006). The US government accused the ICU of harbouring international terrorists associated with the 1998 East African embassy bombings. Ethiopia shored up its military support to TFG and IGAD’s rhetorical support for the TFG as the ‘legitimate’ government of Somalia amplified. Somalia urgently needed mediation between the TFG and ICU. But IGAD proved ‘ too narrow a forum and too internally conflicted to provide the kind of direction needed’ (ICG 2006).
The AU’s Peace and Security Council backed IGAD and reaffirmed that a peace-support mission would ‘greatly contribute to peace and stability in Somalia’ (African Union 2006a).
Ignoring the ICU’s repeated objections to the use of foreign troops, the PSC endorsed an IGASOM deployment (African Union 2006b). With hostile international attention focused on Mogadishu, the UN Security Council (2006) authorised IGAD and AU member states to establish a military mission in Somalia to protect the TFG. On one key issue, however, IGAD’s authority was upheld and this proved to be a determining factor in the events that followed. IGAD’s 2005 decision to exclude troops from neighbouring states was carried over into the text of the UN resolution, and prevented Ethiopia from representing its subsequent 8 In agreeing to this IGAD’s political organs were ahead its institutional development: there was no provision in IGAD’s founding agreement to allow intervention in a member state. IGAD itself lacked any institutional mechanisms for the political oversight of such a mission. Coincidentally, such mechanisms were in the process of being established for EASBRIG, the projected East African Standby Brigade, which was already under development with the participation of several IGAD member states 14 intervention as a peace-support operation. Therefore, when Ethiopia moved against the ICU in Mogadishu in late December 2006, it did so unilaterally. Ethiopia provided justification for its military intervention on three grounds recognised under international law: the right to selfdefence in face of clear and present danger, against terrorist threat and at the invitation of a legitimate government (Yidhego 2007).
The AU, with IGAD and the Arab League, called for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops and renewed dialogue in Somalia (AU, LAS & IGAD 2006). Ethiopia calmed the situation with a pledge to withdraw quickly. On 19 January the AU Peace and Security Council established AMISOM (in place of IGASOM) and with UN authority 1,700 Ugandan troops were deployed to Mogadishu with US assistance.9 The security situation in Mogadishu deteriorated sharply as Islamist insurgents mobilised against the Ethiopian presence and Ethiopian forces responded with massive military operations, killing hundreds and putting tens of thousands of people to flight (Human Rights Watch 2007). IGAD lined up firmly behind Ethiopia and
‘appreciation to the Ethiopian Government for all the sacrifices it has made to promote the common position of IGAD Member States, which is fully consistent with the commitment of the organisation to the success of the TFG and to the interest of the people of the IGAD region to achieve peace and stability and to protect the region from terrorist and extremist forces’ (IGAD 2007b).
Eritrea, whose government was sheltering the ICU leadership, demonstrated its dissent by announcing the suspension of its membership of IGAD.
Ethiopian forces remained in Somalia for two years propping up the TFG. Abdulahi Yusuf failed to make his government more inclusive and the Islamist insurgency grew in violence and popularity, in a nationalist reaction to an Ethiopian occupation (Menkhaus 2007).
Eventually, in December 2008, Ethiopia announced the withdrawal of its forces and Abdulahi Yusuf resigned from the presidency. AMISOM has remained in Mogadishu, a target of the insurgency that continues unabated. The UN presided over negotiations between moderate elements of the TFG and the ICU to produce a successor to Abdulahi Yusuf in the person of Sheikh Sharif, former head of the ICU. Throughout the violence neither IGAD, nor the AU and the wider international community showed any disposition to protect Somalia’s civil population, of whom 1.3 million were displaced and 16,000 killed. The legacy of the Ethiopian intervention has been violent insecurity and heightened radicalisation (Menkhaus 2008). These factors continue to undermine prospects for lasting peace and security in the region.