History repeats itself. “The African Union is considering an ambitious plan to stabilize Somalia that could involve using thousands of Ethiopian troops to open a new front against the Shabab militant group, officials of the union said Thursday. The African Union’s peacekeepers are already battling the Shabab in Mogadishu, the capital, and Kenyan forces have recently begun fighting the Shabab in southern Somalia near Kismaayo. But the prospect of the Ethiopian Army returning to the country under the African Union’s banner is highly charged because of Ethiopia’s bitter history in Somalia. An official of the Somali government said Thursday that Ethiopian troops had already begun to move across the border, discomfiting Somalia’s president, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed…The Somali official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the topic, said that Sheik Sharif was not happy with the prospect that Ethiopian troops would return, “but he has no choice” because his government ruled only a small area of the capital and was powerless to block the move. The Ethiopians are expected to work closely with Somali clan militias in the Baidoa area and are not likely to enter Mogadishu again.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/w2XL6n)
Myanmar’s BIG Coming Out Party
It wasn’t that long ago that ASEAN was thinking of booting Myanmar from its ranks; the United States was threatening harsher sanctions; and Aung Sang Suu Kyi was languishing in a seemingly endless house arrest. How things have changed in just one year. Aung Sang Suu Kyi announced today she will re-join the political process; ASEAN announced it Myanmar will serve as its rotating chair in 2014; and President Obama announced Hillary Clinton will visit the country next month. “The decision to send Mrs. Clinton came shortly after Myanmar took another step away from its diplomatic isolation on Thursday when its neighbors agreed to let the country, which had been run for decades by the military, take on the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014. Myanmar has long coveted the rotating chairmanship of the organization, known as Asean. The country renounced its turn in 2006 in the face of foreign pressure over human rights abuses…Myanmar inaugurated a new civilian system this year after decades of military rule. The new government, led by Mr. Thein Sein, has freed a number of political prisoners, taken steps to liberalize the nation’s heavily state-controlled economy and made overtures to Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel peace laureate who was released from house arrest last year.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/sfU6VU )
If the Security Council Fails on Syria, Why Not Try the General Assembly?
Faced with a potential veto from Russia and China at the Security Council, a group of western countries are looking to the General Assembly to condemn Syria’s ongoing violent crackdown. It’s not a bad idea — and may just inspire the Security Council to act.“ The BBC’s Barbara Plett, at the UN in New York, says that with Russia and China having vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning government violence in Syria, European nations are looking for a new route to condemn the Syrian government. They have turned to a key committee of the General Assembly where there are no vetoes. The fact that Thursday’s move was backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Morocco is significant, our correspondent says. Western diplomats hope that a leading Arab role will eventually help overcome opposition in the Security Council, because requests from the region where the conflict is taking place strongly influence the positions of members, our correspondent says.” (BBC http://bbc.in/tjT58C)