Copyright 1989 The Heritage Foundation
Heritage Foundation Reports
December 26, 1989
PRESERVING AMERICAN SECURITY TIES TO SOMALIA
Michael Johns, Policy Analyst
Trouble is looming in Somalia, the Horn of Africa's eastern-most
political support for its regime appears to be eroding. This
problems for the United States.
Though the Somali government of President Mohammed Siad Barre
was once a
Soviet client, since 1977 it has been one of America's few allies
in the region.
Somalia granted the U.S. access to Somali military bases and
has served as a
balance to Soviet military involvement in the Horn of Africa
and the Arabian
Rebel Gains. Though Siad still enjoys strong political support
from much of
his native Marehan ethnic clan, based in south-central Somalia,
outside these areas has diminished greaty. The Ethiopian-supported
National Movement (SNM) rebels, who have fought the Siad government
reportedly have taken substantial control of the country's northern
with the exception of Hargesia, the regional capital, and four
But early this month even Hargesia came under rebel attack. n1
And last month
the rebels claim to have captured Galcaio, a town in central
Somalia. Even in
the capital, Mogadishu, support for Siad is diminishing. The
Hawieh clan, the
largest in Mogadishu, recently formed an opposition political
Somali Union Congress.
n1 Robert Dowden, "Somalia is disintegrating into anarchy,"
The Independent(England), October 10, 1989, p. 10; and Agence
France-Presse, "IntensiveOffensive Reported," December
7, 1989, Foreign Broadcast Information Service(FBIS).
Siad is also losing stature in the international community
because of his
regime's alleged human rights abuses. A U.S. State Department
August charges that the Somali Armed Forces "appears to
have engaged in a
widespread, systematic and extremely violent assault" on
unarmed civilians, and
a September 1988 Amnesty International report contains similar
Additionally, Siad's advancing age (he is believed to be over
questionable health have led even his trusted inner circle of
advisors openly to
discuss a change of leadership.
n2 Robert Gersony, Why Somalis Flee: Synthesis of Accounts
of ConflictExperience in Northern Somali Refugees, Displaced
Person and Others, Bureau forRefugee Programs, Department of
State, August 1989, p. 60. and Somalia: ALong-term Human Rights
Crisis (New York: Amnesty International, September 1988).
Critical Bases. Siad's political weakness presents a dilemma
not only in the Horn of Africa, but also in the Indian Ocean,
Red Sea, and
Persian Gulf. Siad grants American warplanes landing rights at
American warships use of port facilities at Berbera, a northern
Somali port town
on the Gulf of Aden, and at Mogadishu, the country's capital,
which borders the
Access to these facilities have played an important role since
American military plans to respond to crises in the Middle East,
and Sub-Saharan Africa. The airstrip at Berbera, constructed
by the Soviets in
1976, is over three miles long, making it among Africa's longest.
Iran hostage crisis in 1979, Jimmy Carter viewed the Somali bases
as one of the
few potential launching points for American forces attempting
to rescue the
American hostages in Tehran. The facilities also counter the
Soviet air and
naval facilities in Ethopia, South Yemen, the Socotra island
off the South Yemen
coast, and on the Dahlak Archipelago off the Red Sea coast of
The loss of American access to Berbera and Mogadishu would
U.S. access to the region, and tilt the regional power balance
favor of the Soviet Union.
Shopping the Globe. To make matters worse, relations between
Mogadishu are at the lowest point in Siad's 20-year reign. To
hold back the
rebels, Siad needs outside military assistance. But American
which amounted to $7.5 million in 1987, was suspended in July
1988 because of
Somalia's poor human rights record. This has forced the Somali
leader to shop
the globe for military equipment, even, it seems, requesting
Libya and the Soviet Union. Also because of human rights abuses,
cancelled a proposed military exercise with Somalia, called "Bright
scheduled to have taken place last month.
As it has turned out, Washington's decision to trim its strategic
military cooperation with the Somali government has done nothing
human rights in Somalia. As recently as July, Somali troops reportedly
fire on demonstrators in Mogadishu, killing dozens. n3 With the
facing an arms shortage, the SNM has been able to attack areas
previously at peace, thus endangering political stability in
the nation and
forcing the government into a state of desperation. Human rights
continue to be
violated and peace appears to be further away than ever. America's
suspending strategic and military cooperation with Somalia, therefore,
failed to achieve its objectives.
n3 The Human rights group, Africa Watch, estimated that as
many as 450 peoplewere killed in this fighting, but government
estimates were that the fatalitiesdid not exceed 23. Jane Perlez,
"Report for U.S. Says Somali Army Killed 5,000Unarmed Civilians,"
The New York Times, September 9, 1989, p. 5.
Countering Moscow. Because the Soviets are deeply entrenched
the Horn of Africa, the U.S. needs some military presence to
Somalia is one of the few appropriate locations for this. If
however, a new regime could deny American access to the Somali
prevent this, Washington should modify its policy of disengaging
Somalia. The Bush Administration should work to ensure that Somalia
fall into hostile hands and prod Siad to improve his human rights
record and to
move toward free elections.
To achieve these objectives, the U.S. should:
¥Revive the military assistance program with Somalia.
¥ Urge the Somali government to upgrade security at the
in Berbera and Mogadishu to defend them from attacks from the
Movement and other insurgents.
¥Extend the access agreement, first signed in 1980, to
the Berbera and
Mogadishi facilites when it comes up for renewal in 1990.
¥Promote reconciliation talks between the Somali government
and the Somali
National Movement, the United Somali Congress, and other opposition
¥ Open contact with the Somali opposition to encourage
them to accept a
cease fire and initiate talks with the government.
¥Demand that Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam cease
support for the Somali insurgents.
FROM COLONIALISM TO INDEPEDENCE
Located in eastern Africa, Somalia's coastline borders the
Indian Ocean and
the Gulf of Aden. Before achieving independence in 1960, Somalia
was a colony
of both Britian and Italy, each of which controlled separate
regions of the
country. Britain controlled what was called British Somaliland,
Somalia; Italy controlled what was called Italian Somaliland,
Somalia. British-controlled areas remained under London's rule
from 1886 until
June 1940, when Italian troops, following their declaration of
war on Britain,
overran British garrisons. As part of its military operations
Italian East African Empire in 1941, Britain captured all of
United Nations General Assembly ruled in November 1949 that Italian
should be placed under an international trusteeship for ten years,
with Italy as
the administering authority. Following the ten-year trusteeship,
Somaliland was to be granted independence.
Britain, meanwhile, took steps to prepare for independence
Somaliland. Legislative assembly elections were held in British
February 1960, and the new legislature on April 6, 1960 called
independence from Britain and declared its intention to unite
Italian Somaliland. British Somaliland was granted independence
on June 26,
1960, and five days later, it joined Italian Somaliland to form
nation, the Somali Republic.
Somalia borders the African nations of Djibouti, Ethiopia,
and Kenya. With
its Horn of Africa location, Somalia is Africa's gateway to the
Gulf of Aden and
the Arabian Peninsula. As such, Somalia has been one of the few
whose trade and travel contact with the Arabian peninsula dates
Somalia is a member of the Arab League and (with almost all of
professed Muslims) the Organization of the Islamic Conference
international organizations dominated predominately by Middle
It is also, understandably, a member of the Organization of African
Somalia's 5.4 million people inhabit a nation about the size
making it one of the more sparesly populated nations in Sub-Saharan
country lacks modern transportation and communication networks,
discouraged foreign investment. There is no rail system, and
a large portion of
the country lacks phone service.
Ethnic Tensions. Unique for Africa, Somalia is composed of
only one ethnic
group, the Somalis, that share a common language (Somali) and
They are divided into six major clans, the Darod, Digil, Dir,
and Rahanwein, that have traditionally been rivals. With the
Somalia, these tribe-like clans were forced to govern and live
side by side,
causing ethnic tension.
Like its Horn of Africa neighbors, especially Ethiopia and
Sudan, Somalia is
extremely poor. It lacks many of the natural resources, such
diamonds, gold, and manganese, found in abundance elsewhere in
Africa. Its work
force is largely unskilled, working almost exclusively in agriculture,
and livestock. Though petroleum exploration has been undertaken,
have been disappointing. Sound economic statistics are hard to
come by in
Somalia. The U.S. Department of Commerce's most recent analysis
of the Somali
economy reports that for 1987 gross domestic product per capita
(compared, for example, to $368 to Kenya, $950 for Nigeria, and
Mexico). In 1988, Somalia exported $1.4 million worth of products
to the U.S.,
mainly soybeans, corn oil, wheat, and corn meal. The U.S. exported
million worth of products to Somalia, mainly instruments, appliances,
n4 "Foreign Economic Trends and The Implications for
the United States," U.S.Department of Commerce, International
Trade Administration, prepared by U.S.Embassy Mogadishu, August
1988, p. 2; also, U.S. Department of Commerce sources.
Nationlist Parties. Somalia adopted its first national constitution
1961, providing for a European-style parliamentary democracy.
were numerous and based on the different clans. The most prominent
Somali National League, the United Somali Party, and the Somali
Though nationalist sentiments were strong, tension developed
between the clans
in the northern and southern territories. Political divisions
between those nationalist parties such as the Somali Youth League
that wanted to
bring territories in Ethiopia and Kenya inhabited by ethnic Somalis,
unified Somali state, and the so-called "modernists,"
represented by the Somali
National Congress, a coalition of former members of the Somali
and the Somali Youth League, who were more concerned with economic
and improving relations with other African nations. n5
n5 "Background Notes: Somalia," U.S. Department
of State, April 1986, p. 4.
One Somali political party, the Somali Youth League (SYL),
won enough support
from the diverse clans to assume political power in Somalia in
1967. The SYL's
party leader, Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, was elected prime minister
in 1967. He
maintained Somalia's democratic political structure and worked
to foster closer
relations with neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya.
Socialist Regime. Egal's rule lasted only two years. Constitutional
democracy ended in October 1969 when Somalia's army and police,
led by Major
General Mohamed Siad Barre,. overthrew the government in a bloodless
new regime governed through a 20-member Supreme Revolutionary
with Siad as chairman. And in an apparent effort to obtain military
support from Moscow, Siad announced in October 1970 that he was
The U.S. was strongly allied at the time with Emperor Haile
government in neighboring Ethiopia, and Siad's rise to power
offered the Soviets
an opportunity for greater influence in the Horn of Africa. The
embraced Siad and signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation
with Somalia in
1974. In the three following years, the Soviet Union sent an
million in military support to Somalia.
In the mid-1970s, Siad began training a rebel movement in
the Ogaden region
of eastern Ethiopia called the Western Somali Liberation Front
Ogaden, which is populated predominately by ethnic Somalis, was
viewed by Siad
as part of a greater Somalia. Siad hoped that by formenting unrest
Ogaden, he could someday detach it from Ethiopia and annex it
Strategic Prize. Siad ordered his forces to invade the Ogaden
region in July
1977 to support the WSLF in their fight against Ethiopia. The
however, in a startling reversal of policy, the Soviet Union
support of Siad and began sending military assistance to Ethiopia's
Mengistu Haile Mariam, who took power following a two and a half
with the coalition that had toppled Emperor Haile Selassie in
This dramatic shift in Soviet policy was due in part to Moscow's
that it could take advantage of the increasingly tense relations
Washington and Mengistu, spurred primarily by Mengistu's human
violations. Another reason for the switch was Mengistu's more
ideological commitment to Marxism-Leninism.
Perhaps most important, in the choice between aligning with
Somalia, the Soviets simply viewed Ethiopia as the greater strategic
prize -- as
it surely is. Soviet military presence in Ethiopia gave Moscow
access to the
Red Sea at ports only 200 miles from oil-rich Saudi Arabia. The
inherited existing American military facilities, like the communications
in Asmara, near the Red Sea. n6 Since 1977, Moscow clearly has
strategic alliance with Mengistu, sending Ethiopia some $7 billion
n6 For a fuller discussion of Ethiopia's strategic value,
see Michael Johns,
"A U.S. Strategy to Foster Human Rights in Ethiopia,"
Backgrounder No. 692. February 23, 1989.
Breaking With Cuba. Following Moscow's embrace of Mengistu,
all Soviet advisers in November 1977 and abrogated the friendship
the Soviet Union. That month, too, because of Cuba's extensive
the Ogaden War, Siad also broke diplomatic ties with Cuba. n7
military backing, Somalia's forces were forced to retreat from
the Ogaden in
March 1978, though the WSLF continues to carry out guerrilla
activity in the
region to this day.
n7 Cuba's Fidel Castro sent some 22,000 troops to the Ogaden
to assistEthiopia in its fight against Somalia. Diplomatic relations
between Cuba andSomalia were just reestablished this year.
THE U.S. AND SOMALIA
Upon breaking with Moscow in 1977, Siad turned to the U.S.
assistance, though the U.S. was initially reluctant to help him
because of his
support for the Ogaden insurgents in Ethiopia. Eventally, however,
became convinced of the need to counter Soviet involvement in
the region, and
responded favorably to Siad's request for closer relations.
As a result, the U.S. opened an Agency for International Development
office in Somalia in 1978. Current AID programs include a livestock
station designed to breed healthy cattle, management training
health services. AID also provides the Somali government with
advice on expoert
competiveness. The U.S. has provided Somalia with $300 million
assistance since 1985, most of which has been used for economic
food aid, and management training programs.
U.S. Military Aid. The U.S. in August 1980 signed an agreement
giving the U.S. access to airfields and dock facilities in Berbera
Mogadishu. The same year the U.S. began providing Somalia with
assistance. Since then, the U.S. has given Somalia $133.5 million
in such aid,
in addition to military training. U.S. lethal military aid to
Somalia has been
mainly rifles and other small weapons. When Ethiopia forces invaded
summer 1982, the U.S. airlifted military supplies to help Somalia
Relations between Washington and Magadishu were close from
1982 until last
year, though military aid for Somalia was cut from around $25
million a year to
$5 million a year in 1987 because of across-the-board reductions
Pentagon's African military assistance budget. Siad visited the
U.S. in 1982.
Along with Zaire, Somalia has been viewed widely as one of the
allies in Africa.
As reports of significant human rights violations by the Siad
the West, the U.S. suspended its lethal military aid for Somalia
in July 1988,
and $21 million in economic assistance was redirected to other
this August. Another reason for the suspension was U.S. unhappiness
refusal to talk with the SNM rebels. Siad since has expressed
talk unconditionally with the SMN, has released most political
has appointed a commission to provide recommendations on a return
but the U.S. ban on military aid to Somalia has not been lifted.
Staying Engaged. As a result, U.S. policy toward Somalia is
in limbo. There
is significant congressional opposition to reactivating U.S.
economic assistance to Somalia, though both the Pentagon and
reportedly have expressed support for renewed assistance. "We
don't want to
give a signal of withdrawal," a State Department spokesman
commented in October
1988. "We want to stay engaged." n8 Earlier this month,
the U.S. Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State for East Africa Irvin Hicks visited
talks with top Somali officials. He reportedly praised Siad's
to explore the possibility for a multi-party system in Somalia,
but made no
announcement about restoring U.S. economic or military assistance.
n8 David Ottaway, "Congress Blocking Aid to Somalia,"The
October 26, 1988, p. A20.
n9 Mogadishu Domestic Service, December 14, 1989, Foreign
BroadcastInformation Service, December 7, 1989.
Congressional opposition to aid to Somalia has been led by
Representatives Howard Wolpe of Michigan and William H. Gray,
Pennsylvania. This September, Gray introduced a Sense of the
Resolution that insisted upon "significant improvements
in the area of human
rights as a precondition to the resumption of foreign assistance
n10 Congressman William H. Gray, III, letter to congressional
colleagues,September 25, 1989.
SOMALIA'S STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE
Somalia-U.S. trade relations are very limited, and Somalia
natural resources required by the U.S. The U.S. interest in Somalia
almost exclusively to the African country's strategic value:
its location along
the coastline to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, two strategically
The Somali coastline is the second largest on the African
South Africa. An estimated 500,000 barrels of crude oil passes
through the Gulf
of Aden each day, much of it destined for Europe, North America,
allies in Asia. n11 Given the volatile nature of the region,
created by such
unpredictable countries as Ethiopia and Iran, as well as the
Soviet Union's deep
military involvement, it is necessary for the U.S. to maintain
naval and air
power in the region. The Soviets have built a major military
facility in the
Dahlak Islands in the Red Sea, and have air and naval bases on
the southern tip
of the Arabian Peninsula at Aden and on the Yemeni Island of
Socotra in the Gulf
of Aden. These facilities enable the Soviets to dock and refuel
reconnaissance flights in the region, and to project air and
naval power in the
Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea.
n11 Petroleum Economist, October 1989, p. 325; and Department
Renewing the Bases Agreements. The bases in Somalia allow
the U.S. to
counter Soviet military power in the region. In accord with the
agreement, the U.S. can operate Navy flights out of the air strips
and Mogadishu, conduct joint exercises with Somali forces, dock
ships, and conduct military repairs. The air strips at Berbera
enable the U.S. to fly reconnaissance flights in the region,
and could be used
for combat air operations in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, or
the Indian Ocean.
Berbera said Mogadishu also are used for military training exercises
region. The option for discontinuing the agreement comes up next
year, but the
Siad government has said it wants to renew it.
Political instability in Somalia, however, could make renewals
Siad is at war with the Ethiopian-backed Somali National Movement.
SNM's close ties with Soviet-backed Ethiopia, its victory over
potentially could end U.S. access to the Berbera and Mogadishu
Such a development could lead to not only greater instability
in the Horn of
Africa, but also to the expansion of Soviet military power into
Major General Mohamed Siad Barre has ruled Somalia with an
iron hand since
taking power in October 1969. He has permitted little dissent
and at times has
crushed such dissent with force. Though his rule has been authoritarian,
Somalia's human rights record, while heavily criticized, has
been much better
than that of Mengistu Haile Mariam in neighboring Ethiopia. Over
Ethiopians have died, primarily as a result of atrocities committed
Mengistu's government and by the man-made famine created by Mengistu
in 1984 in
an effort to crush areas of political opposition. n12 Unlike
Siad recently permitted human rights investigators from Amnesty
the Department of State, the General Accounting Office (GAO)
institutions to visit Somalia and investigate the country's human
n12 See Johns, "A U.S. Strategy for Foster Human Rights
in Ethiopia," op.cit. Also, Michael Johns, "Gorbachev's
Holocaust: Soviet Complicity inEthiopia's Famine,"Policy
Review, Summer 1988, p. 74.
Findings by these human rights organizations over the past
have revealed significant human rights violations under the Siad
conditions are widely reported to have deteriorated since May
1988 when the
Somali National Movement (SNM) launched it largest offensive
to date against the
Siad regime. A September 1988 Amnesty International report found
had engaged in "a consistent pattern of torture, lengthy
and often arbitrary
detention of suspected political opponents of the government
and often unfair
trials of political defendants." n13 Amnesty International
is planning a
follow-up report on Somalia's human rights condition.
n13 Somalia: A Long-term Human Rights Crisis, op. cit., p.
Room for Miscalculation. Another human rights report by Robert
consultant for the State Department's Bureau for Refugee Programs,
this August that the Somali government was responsible for the
murder of "at
least 5,000" unarmed civilians who belonged the Issak clan.
n14 The Gersony
report must be viewed skeptically, however, because it relies
on interviews with
Somali refugees and displaced persons, which leaves room for
Gersony's 1988 human rights report on civilian murders by the
National Resistance (RENAMO) was done in a similar fashion, prompting
condemnations of the report's methodology. n15
n14 Gersony, op. cit., p. 61. n15 See, for instance, William
Pascow, "The Controversial State DepartmentReport on Mozambique,"
Heritage Foundation Backgrounder Update, No. 75, May 4,1988.
Nonetheless, the number of accusations against Siad, coming
sources, leave little doubt that a very serious human rights
problem exists in
Somalia. But such abuses are not restricted to the governments.
major armed rebel movement, the Somali National Movement, also
criticized for violating human rights. According to Gersony:
first three months of its 1988 offensive in northern Somalia,
killed unarmed civilians in individual instances which together
resulted in the deaths of at last several hundred or more persons
. . . .
During its presence in Burao (in northern Somalia), the SNM conducted
executions of fifty or more prisoners, some after perfunctory
n16 The fierce tactics of both the government and the SNM in
have forced some 400,000 Somalis to seek refuge in Ethiopia.
n16 Gersony, op. cit., p. 62.
Positive Steps. Human rights accusations have not been the
leveled against Siad. Many Somalis contend that Siad has granted
privileges to members of his native Marehan clan. Government
trade licenses reportedly often have been granted first to Marehans,
been enormously frustrating to other Somali clans, especially
the Issaqs. This
practice has intensified ethnic-based tensions.
In the past year, however, Siad has taken positive steps.
In February, an
estimated 100 political prisoners were released and last month
a commission was
appointed to prepare constitutional amendments that will allow
political system. Siad has also remarked recently that elections
could be held
as early as next year. n17
n17 "Siad Barre Says Free Elections Planned for 1990,"Agence
France-Presse,November 12, 1989, Foreign Broadcast Information
Service, November 13, 1989, p.3.
U.S. POLICEY TOWARD SOMALIA
Washington now faces a challenge in Somalia. Siad is an aging
diminishing support among his people, and his departure from
power is widely
believed to be imminent. The Bush Administration must anticipate
departure and prepare for relations with his successor. In doing
Administration should have two main objectives: 1) continued
American access to
Somali airfield and seaport facilities in Berbera and Mogadishu;
and 2) a
peaceful transfer of political power in Somalia that will, among
improve the human rights condition.
In pursuit of these objectives, the U.S. should:
** Revive the military assistance program with Somalia. Denying
military aid it needs to defend itself against a foreign-supported
and an aggressive Soviet-Supported neighbor, Ethiopia, does not
Somalia's domestic human rights climate and may aggravate the
creating a sense of desperation among the Somali armed forces.
Such a policy
also could push Siad into such hostile hands as Libya and the
Soviet Union. The
U.S. should revive its military assistance to Somalia, providing
defensive-oriented military aid for use against rebel advances,
while urging the
Siad government to open peace talks with the rebels designed
to reach political
reconciliation and democracy.
** Upgrade security at American military facilities in Somalia.
As the civil
war in Somalia rages, chances increase that the Somali National
or other armed insurgents may attack American facilities. The
SNM is already
fighting in Berbera. The U.S. should ensure that these Somali
properly defended by upgrading their security. Because the bases
are not owned
by the U.S., this will require close cooperation with Somalia.
** Renew the U.S.-Soviet access agreement to the Berbera and
facilities when it comes up for review in 1990. The airport and
facilities at Berbera and Mogadishu respectively offer U.S. forces
access to the
Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea. Given the volatile
this region, it is critical that the U.S. maintain such access
to defend U.S.
security interests. The access agreement with Somalia enables
the U.S. to fly
Navy flights out of the air strips, conduct joint exercises with
dock and refuel ships, and conduct military repairs.
** Open talks with Somalia's opposition. To foster reconciliation
the government of Somalia and the Somali opposition groups, the
Administration should establish diplomatic contact with the Somali
Movement (SNM) and other opposition groups. The SNM refuses to
talk with the
Somali government until Siad leaves power. The U.S. should urge
the SNM to
change this policy.
** Demand that Ethiopia's Mengistu not destabilize Somalia.
dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam is providing arms, trucks, fuel
military assistance to the Somali National Movement. This aid,
in part, has
been used to attack Ethiopian refugee camps in Somalia, resulting
fatalities. SNM forces, for instance, attacked two refugee camps
in Agabar and
Las Dhure, killing an estimated 43 people in May 1988. n18 The
inform the Ethiopian leader that unless he ends his destabilizing
Somalia, the U.S. will terminate all diplomatic contact with
n18 For a fuller discussion of human rights violations by
the Somali NationalMovement (SNM), see Gersony,op. cit., pp.
40-42, pp. 51-52, and p. 62.
** Link further U.S. economic assistance to Somalia to improvements
country's human rights record and to progress toward democracy.
terminating military assistance to Somalia over human rights
will endanger U.S. security interests and potentially push the
into the hands of hostile nations, the U.S. should offer Somalia
economic assistance as human rights improvements are made and
steps are taken
toward democracy. Siad has already set up a commission to explore
constitutional options for a return to democracy, and the U.S.
this commission to present such a plan as quickly as possible.
Once a new
constitution providing for a restoration of democracy in Somalia
is agreed upon,
the U.S. immediately should restore the economic assistance program,
estimated at $21 million before Congress suspended it this August.
should inform Siad that once free and fair elections are held
in Somalia, the
U.S. will be prepared to double this assistance.
Somalia has been one of America's closest allies in Africa
since 1977. This
useful relationship need not be sacrificed because of Siad's
and poor human rights record. Instead, Washington should use
influence in Somalia to encourage political reconciliation between
factions and to promote human rights improvements, while at the
safeguarding U.S. security interests in the region by ensuring
to Somali air and naval facilities.
Constructive Force. Human rights have been violated systematically
Somalia, but Siad has made modest progress in the past year.
prisioners have been released, commissions to explore steps toward
democratization have been appointed, and Siad has expressed interest
restoring a multiparty system and opening negotiations with Somali
groups. Washington's abandoning Somali will not improve human
Somalia, but could only open the way for increased Soviet and
Instead of disengaging from Somalia, the U.S. should work
more closely with
Siad to democratize Somalia and respect human rights, while still
U.S. security interests through a restoration of the military
and greater cooperation on protecting the security of the important
facilities in Berbera and Mogadishu. As such, the U.S. can protect
security interests in the region while becoming a more constructive
influential force in fostering a more humane and stable Somalia.
Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily
reflecting the views
of The Heritage Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder
the passage of any
bill before Congress.
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