| UNITED NATIONS
UNITED NATIONS Jan 12 The United States
circulated a draft Security Council resolution on Monday that
would firm up a plan to deploy a U.N. peacekeeping force in
war-torn Somalia to replace an existing African Union force.
The plan, which African countries have long been calling
for, has been supported by outgoing U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, but U.N. officials and some Security Council
members have objected that the situation is too dangerous.
The draft sent to Washington's 14 partners on the Security
Council, expresses the council's "intent to establish a United
Nations peacekeeping operation ... in Somalia as a follow-on
force" to the current AU force, known as AMISOM.
It says, however, that this should be subject to a further
decision of the Security Council by June 1. Diplomats said the
resolution was likely to pass because it did not specifically
authorize a force or set a date for deploying one.
AMISOM was originally meant to consist of 8,000 troops but
only 3,200 Ugandans and Burundians are so far deployed and have
been able to do little to stem the rampant factional violence
in the Horn of Africa state.
Islamists control most of southern Somalia, feuding clan
militias hold sway elsewhere, and 3,000 Ethiopian troops
backing the weak government are now pulling out.
The U.S. draft calls on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
to develop by April 15 a mandate for the proposed U.N. force,
whose tasks, it says, should be to assist aid delivery, protect
politicians and U.N. staff, monitor ceasefires and build up
Somali security forces.
The U.S. plan envisages that AMISOM would eventually be
incorporated into the new force. It urges the AU to increase
AMISOM to the originally planned 8,000 troops and asks Ban to
set up a trust fund to provide financial support.
Rice got a skeptical reception from some when she pushed
for a U.N. force at the United Nations last month.
"The situation is not ripe, the conditions are not
favorable," Ban said. Asked if Rice's proposal was realistic,
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said: "No, it is
not ... We think it's not feasible and it's not desirable."
Previous involvement by outside powers in Somalia ended
badly. Eighteen U.S. soldiers died and 73 were wounded in the
"Battle of Mogadishu" in October, 1993. The battle, which
inspired the film "Black Hawk Down," marked the beginning of
the end for a U.S.-U.N. peacekeeping force that left in 1995.
Ban told the Security Council last November a multinational
force of around 10,000 troops would be needed to stabilize
Somalia. Only after that could a U.N. peacekeeping force of
some 22,500 troops be deployed.
But after contacting some 50 countries, Ban said none had
volunteered to lead a stabilization force and only one or two
would be willing to provide troops.
(Editing by Chris Wilson)