IS Somalia to be the next Afghanistan? An 86-page United Nations report prepared by four security experts paints a distubing picture of large quantities of weapons being shipped into Somalia for use either by the interim government of Somalia or by the rebel Council of Islamic Courts, an Islamic group which has taken over large parts of the country. According to the report, eleven countries are supplying the arms, among them Eritrea, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Only Ethiopia, Uganda and Yemen support the provisional government. Somalia has been without a functioning government for 15 years and is a classic case of a failed state ripe for take-over and use as a safe haven for extremist organisations. It was initially hoped that the Council of Islamic Courts would establish order in a country riven by disputes among local warlords; similar hopes were initially held for the Taleban in Afghanistan. Commenting on the report yesterday UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said: “The Somali people have suffered enough without outsiders fuelling further violence, in contravention of a UN arms ban imposed 14 years ago.” The UN Security Council is due to discuss the report but it is unlikely that in present circumstances it will be able to do more than pass a mild resolution. It is currently an unfortunate fact of UN life that Security Council action is hamstrung by the situation in Iraq and all that flows from it.


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