Somalia's Second Chance?

Thursday, February 22, 2007
Terrence Lyons
Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution, George Mason University; Author, Council Special Report "Avoiding Conflict in the Horn of Africa: U.S. Policy Toward Ethiopia"
Vicki Huddleston
Charge d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia (2005-2006); Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa (1997-1999); U.S. Ambassador to Mali (2002-2005) and Madagascar (1995-1997)
Tom McDonald
Partner and Government Policy Practice Group Coordinator, Baker & Hostetler; U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe (1997-2001)

TOM MCDONALD: (In progress) -- I'm a partner with Baker & Hostetler law firm here in Washington. I coordinate our Government Policy practice, and I had been the U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe from 1997 to 2001. My work takes me out to the continent. And I was thinking the other day I guess I've made about 25 trips out there since I returned from my tour of duty in Harare.

Let me just as a preliminary matter, indicate please turn off your cell phones. I'll say that politely. If I have to remind anybody, we'll come back to it. BlackBerrys, wireless devices, please turn off. Let me also indicate that this meeting is on the record. And we're very pleased to have a number of representatives of the press here today. They're most welcome.

The title of our program today is, "Somalia's Second Chance?" For the first time since "Black Hawk Down," that we all remember, that American military engagement in Mogadishu, Somalia, on that Sunday afternoon, October 3, 1993, over 13 years ago, Somalia is back in the news, almost on a daily basis now, for average Americans.

The whole situation changed significantly since the Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia in December of 2006. The Islamic Courts Council was routed by the Ethiopian troops, and the Transitional Federal Government was installed in Mogadishu. I would note that on Tuesday of this week, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to authorize AU, African Union, peacekeepers to be deployed. But I would also note on that same day, there was a significant amount of violence and some fighting in and around Mogadishu.

So that really the question for the day is can this TFG, the Transitional Federal Government, can they seize the moment, with outside assistance, and establish a viable government in Somalia?

To help us answer this overarching question, and many subsidiary ones, we have two very distinguished speakers with us today, and I'm very pleased to present both of them.

First, to my right, Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, a good friend. I had the privilege of working with Ambassador Huddleston, with Vicki, during my time in Harare when she was in the AF front office, the Africa Bureau, as a Deputy Assistant Secretary. I had a chance to really witness firsthand her extraordinary diplomatic skills. She most recently was our acting Ambassador in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for 15 months. She left post in December of 2006. So she's most current on developments. She had a number of regular meetings with the Prime Minister there, and I know will have some interesting insights. She also had served as our Ambassador in Mali and Madagascar, and she was Chief of the American Interest Section at the U.S. presence in Havana, Cuba.

So welcome to Vicki.

Our second speaker today is Professor Terrence Lyons, an Associate Professor, George Mason University, just across the river here in Virginia; heading up the Conflict Resolution Institute there at George Mason. He also is very familiar with the Horn, having worked on issues related to resolving disputes in Ethiopia and involving the Ethiopian diaspora here in Washington and the United States. He also was a senior adviser with the Carter Center related to Liberia and Ethiopia. I would note that Professor Lyons is a prolific writer, most recently authoring a council report that you have, that was handed to you today, entitled, "Avoiding Conflict in the Horn of Africa: U.S. Policy Toward Ethiopia and Eritrea."

So welcome, Terrence.

TERRENCE LYONS: Thank you very much.

MCDONALD: Let me direct my first question to Ambassador Huddleston.

Vicki, as we sit here today, February 22nd, what is the state of play in Somalia? What is particularly the status in reconciliation among the Somalis, the status of peacekeeping deployment on the ground? What can you tell us about that?

VICKI HUDDLESTON: Well, first of all, Tom, it's great to be here with you. It was wonderful to work with you when you were ambassador in Zimbabwe.

Good to see Terrence, because Terrence was in Ethiopia.

And nice to see both you.

LYONS: Good to see you again.

HUDDLESTON: But I'm very, very happy to be here with such an impressive audience. And I suspect all of you are very, very well versed on Somalia, Ethiopia and the Horn. So I'm looking forward very much to your questions.

And one more thing before we go to the current events, Tom. I think that we have to recognize when we get our successes. And we do have a success right now in Somalia, because so far, African Union, the neighbors in the Horn, the United States and the European Union have done the right thing.

The question is, as this seminar points out, will we go through -- will Somalia, in the end -- because that's the real question here -- and make it a complete success? Because that's where obviously the question is.

To look at the situation today, first, on the military side, as you know, the Ethiopian troops are still backing the TFG in Somalia. About a third of the Ethiopian troops have already withdrawn. I understand that it will be done in two more phases. There will be a second phase and finally a third phase that hopefully will coincide with the arrival of the peacekeepers.

The peacekeepers will be Uganda, Burundi, possibly Nigeria, possibly Tanzania. It's only beginning to really firm up, but we know that Uganda's parliament has approved and now Uganda is in the process of putting together a contingent. Our government is planning on providing 15 million (dollars) for the lift and some of the logistics.

As far as the Somalis themselves, about 10,000 Somalis have been trained. And they should be in Somalia, taking up their duties for security, very shortly. And they are representative of all the clans.

And of course, in the end, whether Somalia succeeds or not will depend on Somalia's own ability in governance and in peacekeeping itself.

On the political side -- and of course, in the end, this is now a political question; the military question has been solved -- the political question, if it is solved, will preclude further military problems. President Yusuf is organizing a conference for 3,000 clan leaders around the country. He needs to do a lot of work to make that work, but that's a great step forward. The Ethiopians have been meeting with the Ayr. The Foreign Minister has been to Mogadishu just recently, and the Ayr have been to Addis recently as well. As we know, the Ayr are kind of key to resolving this situation.

So Ethiopia is pushing hard on that, as are the international partners who will continue to look for a solution, with various conferences probably held in Nairobi.

So that's about -- I'll --

MCDONALD: Very good, Madame Ambassador. And let me delve a bit further on the military side before turning to Professor Lyons. We know, because it was publicly announced and somewhat reported that there were two AC-130 gunship raids by U.S. Air Force assets, coming out of Djibouti, that went after high-value targets along the Kenya-Somali border. What can you tell us about that?

HUDDLESTON: Well, I can't tell you a lot because I wasn't there then.


HUDDLESTON: I had left by then. But I would like to go back to the idea about how we deal with anti-terrorism. And I hope I'm not getting too far off.

But when there are terrorists in a country and the United States interests are involved -- and these terrorists were involved in blowing up two of our embassies, in Darfur and in Nairobi, as you know -- if we go after them in concert with the local government, with the local military, in a way that's acceptable to them, then I think that is exactly the way we should proceed.

And we did so in this case. The unfortunate part was, we didn't get them.

MCDONALD: Right. I would note that Mr. Maldonado, who's an American, was captured in Somalia and brought back. I would note that he was arraigned in federal court yesterday. It will be interesting to see where that all goes.

Well, Professor Lyons, it seems to me one of the basic questions in this whole matter is, can peace and stability be brought to Somalia without Ethiopia and Eritrea solving the long-simmering border dispute the two countries have been involved with and dealing with? And I would also ask as part of that, what is the U.S. government's leverage in that process?

LYONS: Thank you very much for a very broad question that will allow me to speak on a couple of different themes. My starting point is to note that to understand the recent events in Somalia, you have to understand that Somalia is simultaneously in internal Somali struggle, but also embedded within a regional set of problems, including the Ethiopia-Eritrea -- unresolved Ethiopia-Eritrea border conflict, internal problems within Ethiopia, and then on top of that, the U.S. global war on terror.

And so these things sometimes work at cross-purposes with each other, or moving forward with one piece undermines a different piece. And they don't all need to be solved simultaneously, and so there is a possibility to move forward with a political reconstruction, rehabilitation, within Somalia without solving all of the problems simultaneously. But in the long run, there is a regional dynamic, and the Ethiopia and Eritrea border dispute remains a matter that ought to be of considerable concern to the United States and others in the international community.

MCDONALD: In your view, why did Ethiopia intervene in Somalia?

LYONS: I think that from the perspective of Addis Ababa, there were -- some of the most significant security concerns were not that either al Qaeda was controlling the Islamic Courts or that the Islamic Courts were imposing Shari'a or that what the Islamic Courts were doing within Somalia, but the Islamic Courts have built alliances with Eritrea, with internal groups, insurgent groups within Ethiopia, the Oromo Liberation Front, the Ogaden National Liberation Front. And to the extent that those forces were being allowed to work from Islamic Court-controlled areas to increase their ability to engage in cross-border attacks on Ethiopia required or drove Ethiopia to engage in this preemptive strike.

HUDDLESTON: May I respond to that?

MCDONALD: Please. Please. Absolutely.

HUDDLESTON: Terrence knows I'm going to respond to that.


HUDDLESTON: I feel that the war was essentially ideological and geopolitical; ideological because we could see very clearly that the Islamic Courts were headed by a group, led by Sheikh Aweys, who were extremists. And they had two goals. One was greater Somalia, and the other was a radical extremist Islamic state in the Horn.

And as the money began to flow in, they controlled the money. They controlled the arms, and the arms were piling in and becoming more and more sophisticated. And of course, you had some foreign fighters as well. That was an ideological battle. Their idea was a base in Somalia, a base in Somalia, if at all possible, that would include Puntland, Somaliland, parts of Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya, as we know.

So I would say, first and foremost, this was an ideological war, and that's why I would say it was the greatest threat that the West faced in Africa at that time, not Darfur, which is a humanitarian crisis, but a geopolitical ideological tragedy for us would have been Somalia. The second was the geopolitical, and that was the greater Somalia.

Now, I can agree that Eritrea plays into that because Eritrea was working on making this opportunity in Somalia turn into regime change or a split up of Ethiopia. They were infiltrating into Somalia, the Oromo Liberation Front. They were working with the Ogaden Liberation Front. Clearly, Eritrea, having not been able to succeed on the border, saw this as a target of opportunity. But I think the reasons for the war were not Eritrea's seizing an opportunity, but the fact that you had radical Islamists who wanted to take over Somalia as a base for spreading their views throughout Somalia and the Horn.

MCDONALD: Professor Lyons, how would you characterize the political -- the present political situation in Ethiopia?

LYONS: Within Ethiopia --

MCDONALD: Within Ethiopia itself.

LYONS: Just one word on the Somali --

MCDONALD: Sure. Please, please.

LYONS: -- court issue.

MCDONALD: Thirty seconds a rebuttle. (Laughs.)

LYONS: Thank you so much. Is that it is my -- I would contend that the Islamic Courts -- the Union of Islamic Courts were, in fact, a very diverse set of institutions. Some were local, clan-based institutions that had developed over the years to provide security in neighborhoods and to provide services to business, and then there was, indeed, this other faction with ties to kind of global Islamist movements. But that the courts, who represented a very, very diverse conglomeration of groups, rather than, you know, al-Qaeda-driven institution.

Within Ethiopia, Ethiopia had elections in May 2005 that were just an incredible opportunity for Ethiopians to engage in political life, to vote in overwhelming numbers, for opposition parties to campaign. But after that election, the political process has really gone off the rails and become very dangerous, I believe. The -- following the election and controversy over the count, there were a series of violent demonstrations. The main political opposition leaders have been arrested and still remain in jail, on trial, along with some important civil society leaders.

And so in the aftermath of that opening, the May 2005 opening, I fear that there's been a real erosion of political space, of the ability to operate as political opposition, as a civil society organization within Ethiopia. And that leaves the government there quite fragile.

MCDONALD: Would you like to respond or?

HUDDLESTON: Just one word on Somalia. You're absolutely right -- and you are the expert, really, on clans -- that there were different clans, different moderations within the Islamic Courts. The reason that it was so worrisome, and the reason that it was a threat to the Horn and to the West, was because of the leadership that controls where the money and where the arms were coming from.

But let's turn to Ethiopia. Clearly, democracy in Ethiopia is absolutely essential for Ethiopia and indeed essential for the Horn. Did Ethiopia suffer an enormous setback with the elections and with the subsequent riots? It definitely did. Is Ethiopia back on a road toward democracy? Yes, it is.

After the riots, it took about two months, but negotiations and talks began between the government and the major opposition. At this point, there are over 150 opposition parliamentarians in parliament in Ethiopia. In addition, the rules of parliament, which were one of the major problems, have been changed, and they meet international standards.

The government and the opposition are now talking about restructuring the national election board, which is very important for the upcoming election in the spring or the summer. And in addition, the parliament is taking some very significant steps on the media law, which again is absolutely crucial in Ethiopia. I would contend that Ethiopia is definitely now on a track toward democracy. And what we need to do is work in partnership with Ethiopia to solidify and encourage that opening toward democracy that is now going forward in the country.

MCDONALD: Professor Lyons, let me go at this a different way. We know that there are a number of countries in the region -- for example, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Kenya and Yemen -- and they have interests in stake in this Ethiopia-Eritrea-Somalia conflict situation. What are those interests and how should they be addressed by the U.S. government?

LYONS: Yeah.

At the time, back in the fall of 2006, there were reports, particularly out of the United Nations, of some of the money and weapons that Ambassador Huddleston was speaking of coming through some of these other estates in the region. And that was a real worry, that it was in violation of the U.N. arms embargo. But beyond that, it really fed a conflict, made a conflict. Will there be potential for this conflict to spread across the region much greater?

And at that time, I thought there were opportunities for the United States, which had very little leverage -- to get back to another question you had -- had very little leverage over the Somali actors, but did presumably have more leverage over some of these other regional states -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia and so on -- and to use those positions to try to delink the struggles for power within Somalia from these larger global issues.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

Ambassador Huddleston, another aspect of this is really defining U.S. interest in Somalia and the region, spelling out what should be done. I would note that recently, before the U.S. Senate Africa Subcommittee, part of Foreign Relations, Assistant Secretary of State Dr. Jendayi Frazer identified U.S. interest in Somalia as eliminating a sanctuary for terrorists, promoting regional stability. How real is the terrorist threat there? And it the government, the U.S. government, too narrowly focused on countering terrorism in Somalia? And how would you respond to some of the critics who've said some of the approach has been too ad hoc as to how we have addressed the country, Somalia, and then the Horn in general?

HUDDLESTON: Let me say I think we're on the right track now. I think we are looking at Somalia now in a broader way. For a while we were looking at Somalia as a chaotic country, a failed state that harbored terrorists. Now I think we understand very clearly, from the statements the assistant secretary has said, that if you're going to go after terrorists, if you're going to deal with the terrorist problem, you have to deal with the source of the terrorist problem, which is the state. Therefore, you have to help the state build governance. You have to help, for example, the TFG, and push the TFG to be more inclusive, to reach out to all the clans so the clans are represented, as we've seen in the agreement by people and by leaders that are acceptable to all of the clan. We can't just look at terrorism as something we hit once and go away, or as the papers would say, you know, pay somebody to deal with the problem or the people who created the terrorism. The only way that Africa will become safe from terrorism is if we are working across the board for development and for stability.

And I want to talk at some point a little bit more about the new African Command and how that can be done.

MCDONALD: Very good. Well, and let's go at that. The new Africa Command -- and I think we also want to touch on how should the U.S. be organizing itself. You and I having been ambassadors, you'd have a country team meeting, you'd have all the different agencies represented; you were trying to get them to work together to be on the same page. We have, obviously, the Defense Department out there with its assets, and the presence we have in Djibouti militarily, in that very critical part of the world. But where does USAID fit in there, and where does the State Department Foreign Service officers and our intelligence assets, and so forth, with some of them being, as I understand it, assigned to Embassy Nairobi, others being in other parts of the region -- how do we get all that under one umbrella, Ambassador Huddleston?

HUDDLESTON: Well, we have a little bit of a model, and I would say that's CJTF --

MCDONALD: And what does that stand for?

HUDDLESTON: -- the Combined Task Force in the Horn of Africa. And what the Combined Task Force in the Horn of Africa is doing in Ethiopia -- and they're working also in Kenya and Uganda, but I know Ethiopia, because what I insisted with them is let's have integrated civil affairs teams. Instead of just having an all-military, you need to work with USAID. Because when you set down a military civil affairs team, let's say in Gode, where they were for some time, they go and they talk to the local people, but they also don't know the region very well. They're generally a young group of military. What you need to do is have the assistance of AID, who knows the region, and for the State Department, the embassy, who knows the local authorities, and make sure when these projects are selected that they're projects that are going to work, that they're going to work with other NGOs, that they're going to work with the government, and that they're also acceptable to the local military.

We didn't do it perfectly in Gode, and that's one of the reasons we really began to concentrate on how you integrate these teams so that they're much more effective because they include all the agencies and the various expertise that each agency brings to it.

And that's what I'm hoping we're going to see from the African Command. And they can look at the example of what we were trying to do in Ethiopia. But they can look at Afghanistan and some other places where those teams have existed.

MCDONALD: And explain that a little bit to the audience, because during my time there was EUCOM and CENTCOM. CENTCOM had East Africa; EUCOM, where I was down in Zimbabwe, was connected to Stuttgart in Europe. Maybe not the best way to do this. Explain, I think, a little bit to the audience what the significance of this Africa Command is now going forward.

HUDDLESTON: Well, one of the good ways to illustrate is that the European Command is responsible for the African Union and a good chunk of Africa, mainly West Africa and coming down across Central Africa; whereas CENTCOM, as most of you know, is responsible for a good part of the Horn. So in Ethiopia, we were always getting both commanders from -- General Jones from EUCOM and General Abizaid from CENTCOM. And if the Ethiopians weren't confused, certainly some of our allies were confused about, well, why is there another general stopping by in Addis Ababa.

So this new command will take all of Africa, but what they're also talking about -- and I don't know how far along they are; it's one of the reasons I'm talking to all today because I think some of you can make a difference -- is that what they need to do is look at how you carry out civil affairs. Because fighting terrorism in Africa is more winning hearts and minds than it is the kind of conflict, outright war that you see in Afghanistan or that you see in Iraq.

What you have to do is get into these big spaces like the Sahara where we have the North African Counterterrorism Initiative and into failed states like Somalia and have those teams on the ground working to do civil affairs projects, as well as to work with the local military in training and then broaden it out and work with the region so there's some kind of coordination both between civil affairs projects and military training in the region.

MCDONALD: Professor Lyons, we've touched on the clans and the importance, the internal conflicts, that history of Somalia, but let's drill down a little deeper into that.

Give our audience some overview of sort of the clan structure and particularly as it relates to Mogadishu. Again, where is the U.S. role here? Where is the U.S. leverage? Are we talking about property needing to be returned and compensation being paid? And how might that work?

LYONS: Let me answer that, actually, in the context of where the TFG is right now, because, as Ambassador Huddleston said, the question of will the TFG be able to form a broad-based government in clan terms is a key challenge to see if it's able to be representative of Somalia. And there has long been splits between the clans and the TFG, particularly the Hawaiye clan, which is most powerful within Mogadishu. And the Hawaiye clan, particularly sub-clans of the Hawaiye clan, have never been supporters of the TFG. They've always distrusted the TFG. They see the TFG's interest as contrary to their interests, and that was in part the fight with the Islamic Courts, some in part derived from this Hawaiye dissatisfaction.

So now the TFG, which was unpopular and weak in late 2006, has now come to Mogadishu with the support of Ethiopia, the long-time regional rival to Somalia, and with at least the tacit support of the U.S. military. These things don't -- you know, will not strengthen TFG's local legitimacy or local authority. If the TFG can reach out and form a kind of an inclusive government that brought in some new members, new political constituencies from Mogadishu, from the Hawaiye, from the Islamic Courts, I would argue -- the moderate elements, if you will, of the Islamic Courts -- then there's the possibility that that government could hold together and represent a new beginning for Somalia.

I think actually, though, that the opportunity for that to happen is closing quite quickly and that there needs to be movement very, very rapidly because the security situation is eroding and it's likely to continue to erode unless there's a political process, a broad-based, inclusive political process that the most important constituencies -- all of the most important constituencies in Somalia see as workable and as the way forward.

MCDONALD: Thank you, Professor Lyons.

Let me now turn to our audience, to our Council on Foreign Relations members. This is now your turn to ask your questions. Please wait for the mike, stand, identify yourself, state your affiliation, and by all means, address your question to one of our speakers. We'd ask you to be as concise as you can so that as many of the members who are here will have a chance to ask questions.

So, first question. Yes, sir. We have a microphone coming over.

QUESTIONER: Dane Smith from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Vicki, could you comment a bit more on the role of Eritrea? Just how many people did they put into the mix in Somalia? How effective have they been? Is this something that they basically played with and weren't very successful at? Or is it a more long-range kind of enterprise that they're engaged in with some prospect of success?

HUDDLESTON: Thank you, Dane. It's great to see another colleague from Africa. Dane was our ambassador in Senegal when I was working on Africa in Washington.

The Eritrea issue is extremely seriously, as all of you know. And the United States made a major effort throughout last year to find a resolution to the Eritrea-Ethiopia situation. I met with Jendayi Frazer and with Prime Minister Meles, and with the Foreign Minister, Seyoum, many, many times and looking for this. I believe -- and of course I'm looking at it from being our representative in Ethiopia -- that Ethiopia moved quite far in trying to look for a solution to the border situation.

I also think that Eritrea basically decided it was not looking for a solution to the border problem; that maybe through Somalia, through exfiltrating and then infiltrating back into Ethiopia, particularly the Oromo Liberation Front members, that they could so disrupt Ethiopia that they would win the war in a different way.

And so in the end, our attempt, along with the United Nations, and very close with the United Nations, to find some kind of solution did not work. A solution needs to be found. But it takes the good will of both parties to do so. Perhaps now that Somalia failed, that Eritrea did not find this as a way in which to disrupt the internal situation in Ethiopia, there can be some kind of solution between the two countries. Eritrea needs it; Eritrea needs to focus on its own growth and development. Ethiopia needs it. They, too, need to focus on their governance and their development.

So it was very important -- to get to the other part of the question -- in Somalia because they did send in men, they did send in weapons, they were a transit point for weapons coming from various countries throughout the Middle East. I don't think that the Islamic Courts would have built up so rapidly -- because I mean this was a phenomenon, from June to November and the Islamic Courts were outside of Baidoa throwing mortars. How did that happen? It certainly had to happen with a lot of outside support, and some significant support was certainly from Eritrea.

MCDONALD: Professor Lyons, do you want to very briefly respond to that?

LYONS: Just maybe to note that in my view the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace implementation process to implement the Algiers agreement is dangerously off the rails right now. The U.N. peacekeeping mission is frayed and failing. The Ethiopian-Eritrean Border Commission no longer has the cooperation of the main -- the regional states. And the international community working on the problem through the witnesses of the Algiers have seemingly not found a way -- and I take Ambassador Huddleston's point that there was an effort made last year, but it has not worked, and something must be put in place rather than just throwing up hands in despair. The Horn's a hard place, and hard issues need to be addressed.

HUDDLESTON: But you know, we worked on this for nine months, and we worked with the commission -- the border commission. Dr. Frazer went several times to London, so did Ambassador Yamamoto, who was at that time deputy assistant secretary, without success. I agree we need to find a way forward. But perhaps first Eritrea and Ethiopia need to think about how are they going to get there? Because you can't just say, "We want it to happen." We haven't been able to make it happen. So I think there needs to be some positive progress, especially in Eritrea now, but with Ethiopia, as well.

MCDONALD: Next question, please. Mr. Ambassador?

QUESTIONER: You said members.

MCDONALD: If you'd like to ask a question, you're welcome, sir. Please wait for the microphone.

QUESTIONER: Just a question to Terry.

MCDONALD: If you'd like to identify yourself.

QUESTIONER: My name is Samuel Assefa. I'm the Ethiopian Ambassador.

MCDONALD: Very good. Go ahead.

QUESTIONER: Just a question to Terry.

It has been sort of difficult keeping focus on Somalia here. And part of the time we're talking about domestic issues, issues of domestic politics, Ethio-Eritrean conflict. And this is maybe understandable because there are characterizations of Ethiopian intervention, for example, that talk of a proxy war, Ethio-Eritrean proxy war. There are schools of thought that do not draw a sharp discontinuity between domestic partisan politics and foreign policy. I thought foreign -- well, I know, foreign affairs, the journalists of the more traditional realist persuasion, but you seem to draw that kind of a connection between really partisan sort of issues domestically and motivations for entering Somalia.

But just very, very briefly, the Ethio-Eritrean conflict, of course, since '98, '97, but the problems we had with the leadership of the Islamic Courts Union clearly antedates, clearly antedates the conflict between Ethiopian and Eritrea. It goes back to '95, '96, when the chairperson of the ICU, Aweys, was the leader of Al-Ittihad.

LYONS: Mm-hmm.

QUESTIONER: And so I just want to point this out in terms of the proxy war business. Yes, it made things worse that the regional issues, which will hopefully just be dealt with -- we need to get beyond that -- came in the way, but clearly the problem antedates the Ethio-Eritrean conflict.

You've said our motivations were of a peculiar nature; they didn't overlap with those of the U.S. U.S. was talking al Qaeda. We had more particular concerns. And it's true, to some degree. Territorial expansionism, for example, is not necessarily a direct issue for the U.S. in the way it is for us.

But the al Qaeda thing was huge for us. We said, "Welcome on board" after 9/11 to the U.S., because we talked about bin Laden when nobody wanted to hear about bin Laden. The assassination attempt on Mubarak was about bin Laden.

So again, it seems to me, this goes, you know, against the facts to say that on these major issues, there isn't a sufficient overlap with respect to also motivation between, say, the U.S. public rhetoric and our own underlying motivations.

I thought you should sort of address these things that seem to suggest: Look, Ethiopia's involvement cannot be seen in very narrow temporal terms, not in very partisan terms. This leadership of the Islamic Court -- and I speak only of the leadership -- would pose a threat to Ethiopia no matter what leadership you have in Ethiopia, whether it's the Imperial Majesty, whether it's the Derg, whether it's the opposition, whoever comes in.

We have a very large Muslim population, too. They're exporting not only -- it's not only --

MCDONALD: Mr. Ambassador, it --

QUESTIONER: -- you know, large Muslim population as well -- what does it mean in terms of the balance? You know --

MCDONALD: Why don't we let Mr. Lyons respond, Mr. Ambassador? Thank you so much.

QUESTIONER: This is -- these issues are not reducible to that. I just wanted --

MCDONALD: A brief response, so we can get to some other questions.

Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.

LYONS: The fact that there have been -- there's a history of hostility, bad blood between particular leaders in the Islamic Courts and Ethiopia is absolutely clear. It goes back to Al-Ittihad and the story that you relayed.

But I still maintain that the explosiveness of the Somali issue in 2006, that what made the Islamic Courts different in December 2006 than the threat of Islamic -- political Islam in the Horn of Africa had been previously was because of the escalation of the regional proxy war dimension and the Oromo Liberation Front/Ogaden National Liberation Front piece of it.

MCDONALD: Okay. Thank you, Professor.

Next question. The lady with the glasses, with her hand up. Yeah. Right there. Yeah.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Ashley Deeks, State Department. I wonder if you could say a little bit more about the indigenous support that may or may not exist within Somalia for the Islamic Courts, and concomitantly whether that suggests there will or will not be a successful insurgency struggling against the transitional government.

MCDONALD: Ambassador Huddleston, you want to take a shot at that?

HUDDLESTON: Clearly, the Islamic Courts have some popularity, and a good deal of that popularity was because they brought stability, as we all know, to Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia.

But I think you saw increasingly, as they first of all banned khat, that made -- the mild narcotic -- that made them very unpopular. But they also just shot people in the streets who were watching movies or doing something that was not in keeping with their kind of fundamentalism. So increasingly people were not so pleased to find themselves under this kind of regime.

They also, at the same time, were becoming increasingly radicalized, and you had this group, the al-Shabab, that was led by Ardnaro, who is also on the terrorist list. And they were beginning to really indoctrinate the young people of Somalia, and changes were beginning to take place.

I think what you saw in Somalia was success. Nobody was going to go against -- all the experts said, well, the clans will start fighting again, and don't worry about it. Ethiopia, stay out. Everything will be fine. But success led to more success, and success led to more radicalization.

So can I say how popular they were or weren't? Well, I think the bottom line might be the actuality of, when Ethiopia went in, they fell apart almost immediately. I think by that time, perhaps, people in Somalia were beginning to have second thoughts about the Courts themselves, or at least the leadership of the Courts and where they were headed.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

Ma'am, please stand and identify yourself.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. My name is -- (inaudible) -- and I'm with the U.S. Foundation for the Horn of Africa, and my question is to Ms. Vicki -- Ambassador Vicki Huddleston.

HUDDLESTON: Ms. Vicki is fine. It's fine. (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER: We are talking about the Eritrea-Ethiopia-Somalia issue. And I want to move away from Somalia, because I agree with Ambassador from Ethiopia that bringing Eritrea into the issue of Somalia is unwarranted if you're trying to resolve the Eritrea border issue. And we do have a border demarcation decision that was delivered on April 13, 2002 that has yet to be implemented. And in order to implement the decision, we are talking about enforcing the rule of law. And I think the Security Council has the mandate to enforce international law, and it has failed to get Ethiopia to accept the decision, which was final and binding.

So to talk about nine months of working with Dr. Jendayi Frazer to work on implementing the decision, I think the first step you need to do is get the parties to accept the decision. And Ethiopia has yet to accept the decision. And accepting the decision in principle means you're working on getting another round at negotiating, renegotiating, revisiting the decision. And I think that's where the mistake has been, and it's been holding for four years to deal with UNMEE. And restrictions on UNMEE are tangential issues that we need to get away with, and resolve the first issue of getting Ethiopia's unequivocal acceptance of the final and binding decision.

HUDDLESTON: Well, first of all, the Prime Minister has said that Ethiopia accepts the decision as final and binding. That was one of the things that happened in that period of nine months, that Ethiopia did move from the "in principle," which everybody said, what does the "in principle" really mean? Does that mean we're going to redo Badme, we're going to talk about the whole border issue? They accepted it.

There is no border implementation of delimitation decision. There is no demarcation. If you can't talk to the other side about, where is it; is this line going to go -- you know, are we just going to send out the geographers and say, draw the line right where the delimitation says? The line crosses the road five times. The line goes through the middle of one village. The line cuts off villagers from their fields that are in one country and the town in the other country. It makes plain sense to do the demarcation with discussion.

Now I understand Eritrea is a little worried. What exactly do these discussions mean? Do they mean that we're going to tear this apart and take it down? I think Eritrea just has to take a little bit of leap of faith there and sit down and say, we're going to demarcate, and as we demarcate, we're going to discuss.

And if they find that this is not in good faith, that it means something other than that -- I mean, this is what was done on the Cameroonian-Nigerian border, this is what's done in the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border -- that this needs to start. And then, of course, you know, Eritrea has essentially crippled the army. I mean, no wonder it's down to such a small size. It's been crippled by the inability of the helicopters to fly, the removal for the first time a nation forced out from nationals of other countries from serving in the United Nations, but of course, they were United States and Europe.

I think Eritrea needs to let UNMEE work effectively, but also say, "Okay. Let's see what this actually means."

MCDONALD: Other questions. I want to make sure we get our members in here too.

Ma'am, please stand and identify yourself.

QUESTIONER: Tsehai Habtemariam, and I'm from the Eritrean Embassy.

MCDONALD: Nice to have you here.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. I'm not responding to the Ambassador. I just want to let --

MCDONALD: Do you have a question, ma'am?

QUESTIONER: It's a comment and a question.


QUESTIONER: Can I start with a comment first?

MCDONALD: Sure, if we could keep it brief, please.

QUESTIONER: I think -- okay. I'll be brief.


QUESTIONER: We've been working with Ambassador Yamamoto before he went to Addis Ababa, and we've been hammering to see what the current position of Ethiopia was. And until the day he left, he kept on saying that Meles had -- in Ethiopia it was written in -- (inaudible). Anyway, when Ambassador Yamamoto was here, he did not have a specific response as to what the position of Ethiopia was.

Ambassador -- you're Ambassador --

MCDONALD: Huddleston.

QUESTIONER: -- Huddleston is making some statement, and you have the right to make the statement, but I think at least let's stick to the facts. And Ambassador Yamamoto was Assistant Secretary of State before he left. He left within the nine months, and he did not have a serious position of Meles. And so that's what we're talking about.

If he has made a position on it, let it be public, let it be known, and then maybe there's a way to go forward. But you know, the bigger picture is here let's not misinform our audience, and I'm really -- you know, I'm not very comfortable with what I heard from you.

MCDONALD: Ambassador Huddleston, do you want to respond to that?

HUDDLESTON: Well, my statement about Ethiopia accepting it as final and binding with -- (inaudible) -- principle is -- you can read it, because there was a statement made in the Ethiopian parliament. But I am not saying that both countries don't need to work hard on this. No war and no situation like that is entirely one-sided in any way. Both countries need to look for a solution.

MCDONALD: Professor Lyons, would you like to comment, please?

LYONS: Let me step back -- well -- and maybe it's my own comment, but it's to go back to link the Somali question to these other issues.

The -- what happened in Somalia from Christmas Eve to early January, when Ethiopian troops went all the way to Mogadishu, was a dramatic transforming event, but every -- all the relationships now are under reexamination. There's a lot of fluidity in how Ethiopia and Ethiopian opposition groups and Eritrea's strategy and groups within Somalia are all trying to find a new way forward. Well, at least there's opportunities to look for new ways forward.

So I would argue that this moment, actually, is the perfect moment to renew and reengage the Ethiopia-Eritrea question and to try to settle that to get the Algiers agreement implemented so that issue no longer complicates other conflicts in the Horn of Africa, and so that this is actually an opportunity for U.S. foreign policy, perhaps a very rapidly closing window, but an opportunity to both work to advance the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process, the implementation of the Algiers agreement and to work on getting a government in Mogadishu that is broad-based, that can help reconstitute Somalia as a state.

MCDONALD: We've got a question. This woman here, please. Yeah, if you could identify yourself and -- thank you.

QUESTIONER: Juliana Pilon with International -- formerly International Foundation for Election Systems, IFES --


QUESTIONER: -- and now we're the Institute of World Politics.

MCDONALD: Very good.


As a member of the council and not a member of any embassy past, present or future, I would like to, first of all, congratulate all of you for a really fascinating briefing for all of us, and I'm really happy to hear good news, Ambassador Huddleston.

What my question very simply is: What are some lessons learned from this success that you feel could be applied elsewhere by the United States?

Thank you.

HUDDLESTON: Well thank you for a very broad question, as Terry said not too long ago.

You know, I can just go one minute to lessons and just take it for Somalia, because I was thinking what did we learn from the rapid takeover of the Islamic Courts in part of southern Somalia. And I think we learned that money and outside support was really important. We learned that governance was really important. And we learned that ideology was really important.

And I think to find the solution in Somalia, we're going to have to look at all three of those: governance, meaning a broader government of the TFG that is satisfactory to all of the Somali -- or the majority of the Somali people. Finance -- we can't just say, okay, this is a failed state and we don't want to deal with it anymore. It's going to need not only humanitarian help, but it's going to need development help and we're going to have to be very serious about putting in some serious money. Because we don't have, alas, the ideology. And I guess this is where it begins to go to the bigger picture: We don't have a radical ideology that can attract young people or can provide young people with something to do, even if it is a shooting war. And our ideology, then, has to be jobs, because in Africa, in Somalia, in Ethiopia, in Senegal and Mali, the biggest problem in Africa, in my opinion, is no future for young people. Young people don't have jobs, and so they are fodder for wars, you know, whether it's a diamond war in Sierra Leone, or whether it's the GSPC operating up in the desert of Mali and Niger, or whether it's the Islamic Courts and the Al Shabab recruiting the youth.

So for me, the big lesson is deal with the problem of unemployment in Africa. And this means very definitely the World Bank get involved in trying to provide -- if it's not a youth corps, it's some kind of mechanism where you're providing training and jobs for young people so they have something else to do other than here's some chap and here's a gun, and you're on my side in the latest effort to take a country or the gold or the diamonds or whatever it happens to be.

MCDONALD: Well, let me just comment for a second here just in my own business and travels on the continent. Empowerment is so important, wealth-creation, microenterprise, giving people on all sides of these issues opportunities. I certainly second that comment.

Did you want to respond at all on this?

LYONS: I agree completely that the underlying economic issues are key drivers of these conflicts, and finding solutions to the economic challenges are the long-term way forward.

I want to, however, again make a different understanding of what took place in Somalia in the last year, and particularly this dramatic rise of the Islamic Court Union, and then this very dramatic collapse of the Islamic Courts Union.

I would argue that the rise and the collapse were both a product not of ideology or primarily links to the outside, but alliances with other Somali actors, particularly alliances with clan leaders, alliances with business leaders, traditional courts, civil society organizations, it's that those organizations joined with the Islamic Courts because the Islamic Courts was bringing stability.

But then when this particular leadership of the Islamic Courts moved on Baidoa, threatened Ethiopia, the Islamic Courts were defeated by the Ethiopian army on the plains outside of Baidoa, and as they came back to Mogadishu, again the clan elders, the leaders of the mosques, the business people said, "It's over. It's done." And then those militias went back to their old, traditional structures rather than staying with this new, innovative social organization of the Islamic Courts. And so that there was a very Somali story behind the rise and the fall of the Islamic Courts.

MCDONALD: I think we had a question over here, sir. Please.

QUESTIONER: Herman Cohen of SAIS. Good to see you again, Vicki.

HUDDLESTON: It's nice to see you.

QUESTIONER: Let's look forward a bit to the capability of the TFG really to stabilize Somalia the way the Islamic Courts had done earlier. Going back to the time before the rise of the Islamic Courts when they defeated the warlords, the TFG was incapable of consolidating power. It had to be in Baidoa rather than Mogadishu because the warlords were bickering with each other and didn't trust each other, stabbing each other in the back. Did the rise of the Islamic Courts teach them a lesson, do you think, or are they likely to go back to their old ways and try to reestablish warlordism in the various neighborhoods?

MCDONALD: If I could respond to that, the jury is still not yet in on that question. There still is an opportunity for the TFG to reach out to new constituencies and to demonstrate that it can overcome the constraints on its popularity and its authority that represented the earlier period.

But that what I fear and is perhaps even a more likely scenario is what you'll get is a return back to 2005, the period before the Union of Islamic Courts rose, with the TFG unable to maintain order in Mogadishu because it doesn't have enough local allies and therefore security fraying again. This gets to the question of whether the Africa Union can get in on time. Very difficult, because I think time is quite short and the African Union force is likely to be quite small.

So there's an opportunity for the TFG to become something new and different, not the old TFG, which couldn't get out of Baidoa, but that it would take actions by the leadership of the TFG very, very soon to reach out to new constituencies.

HUDDLESTON: I would just add --


HUDDLESTON: Herman, it's nice to see you. It's really imperative to make this work. You know, everyone said at the beginning: If Ethiopia goes on, it will be a wider war; if Ethiopia goes in, maybe it will get beaten; wait, let's see what happens to the clans; you know, the clans will break up.

Well, a lot of experts were wrong on this issue. And Ethiopia did go in, they did help the TFG win, and now there's this huge -- not so huge -- as you say, it's coming down -- but there is this window of opportunity.

And because I am convinced that the Islamic Courts, had they been successful, would have taken over all of Somalia -- too bad about the semi-autonomous Somaliland, and too bad about the sort of autonomous Puntland, whether they liked it or not, they were about to be gone because so much money was coming in and so much subversion and corruption was happening both in Puntland and Somaliland -- I don't think that the West can afford to see this happen, because then it will break up again, we'll go back o the warlords again, as you point out, and then the Islamic Courts will come back, with the money, with the weapons, and try to impose stability and maybe be successful, and regain what they tried to gain once before, which was in this radical extremist Islamic state in the Horn of Africa. So, I'm not in the State Department anymore, but I think they need to make this one work. Ethiopia needs to make it work. Eritrea, the Horn, Africa, and African Union, which is on the frontline, have to make it work.

MCDONALD: Well, on that note, we will conclude our program. Let me thank both of our guests. Let's give them a big round of applause -- (applause) -- Ambassador Vicki Huddleston and Professor Terrence Lyons. And thank you to our audience.

LYONS: Thank you.

MCDONALD: Thanks for being here.

HUDDLESTON: Thank you very much.

MCDONALD: Have a good afternoon.

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