Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Somali Update. My (very) inside source tells me more about Somali peace talks: "Sorry if I couldn't write you the last couple days. The wasn't much going on at the People Palace recently, much of the talks were held at the Kempinski. The last 48 hours were crazy. But let me tell you whats happen last wednesday, the Ethiopian ambassador in Djibouti spoile the ongoing workshop when he show up at the workshop and then sit at the Alliance place! They all left the place and refused to comeback if he wasn't expelled (a move that the UN was not able to do). For the next day, the UN envoy decided to forbid the participation of the ambassadors (the most angry one was the Egyptian ambassador)... Let's comeback to the last 48 hours. First of all, yesterday (monday) the UN envoy for Somalia M. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah announced that the Djibouti peace talks have broken down due to disagreements over the presence of Ethiopian troops in Somalia. "I made the decision to terminate the conference," he said at a news conference in Djibouti. This guy seems to know how to play Joker... because only few hours after his decision to cancel the conference, both side annonced that they reached an 11 points agreement. The main 2 points of the agreement is that they agreed for a ceasefire to come into force 30 days from the signing of the agreement for an initial period of 90 days, renewable. Secondly, the Ethiopian forces will leave within 120 days, but that their withdrawal was conditional on "sufficient" U.N. troops being deployed before that... (will try to have a copy of the deal). Abdillahi Youssouf, the actual president of the Transitional Federal Governemnt (TFG) will be back this thursday or friday to Djibouti to ratify the document with Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed and the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS). I don't know if they will succeed to implement this agreement but what I can tell you is the people reactions (Djibouti citizens first but also the Somali citizens who were calling the Radios stations): I saw many peoples including the security, the hotel staff... etc who were cursing the conference attendees ... and suddenly when the announcement of a peace deal came out, people were congratulating each other and calling radios stations to tell about their hope that maybe, maybe this fourteen round of peace talks may succeed... We will see. The bad news is that Eritria attacked the northen frontiere of Djibouti this afternoon... It has been a while that the Eritrian were massing military forces at the northen frontiere of Djibouti:
As you know, Asmaraa (the Eritrian capital is also home of the Somali rebellion, at least the ones that split and didn't take part of the UN sponsored peace talks in Djibouti) and they choosed this afternoon to start the hostility. Somes are saying it's because of the Somali peace conference. One of my source at the Ministry of foreign affairs told me few minutes ago that the problem started when 30 Eritrians soldiers crossed the line and submitted themselves to the Djiboutian forces. The Eritrian asked them back but the Djiboutian side refused to return back the 'deserteurs'... because they did so 4 weeks ago when 4 soldiers crossed the line and they were executed in front of all the soldiers. Eritria is a small country where people are dying of hunger (the last report of FAO placed Eritria as the most touched country by the rising food prices)... and are exhausted by many many years of war with Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen.... The last thing they need is another war. And I'm not afraid for Djibouti, we have French, German and US army bases with military defenses agreement (specially with France). The things that worry me is that this war may rise nationalism on the Djiboutian side and as you said I hate nationalism.
I will keep you informed about the situation..."