Britain's new year resolution: intervene in Somalia

Cameron claims failed East African state poses a direct threat to British interests

Britain plans to deepen its involvement in Somalia – a land that has become a byword for instability and violence – in the new year.

Click HERE to view graphic

David Cameron describes Somalia as "a failed state that directly threatens British interests" and will convene a summit in London in February to bring together the countries currently active in the Horn of Africa state. A number of key decisions are expected to be made there, ranging from humanitarian aid to military missions.

The Prime Minister's decision to tackle the Somalia quagmire is seen by some as being fuelled by the success of the Libyan venture.

Mr Cameron is concerned about tourists and aid workers from the UK being attacked and kidnapped, the rise of piracy and the potential for the East African country to become a place of extremist indoctrination for increasing numbers of young Muslims from the UK.

The last point, in particular, is an acute security concern, with MI5 head Jonathan Evans warning that Somalia has become the next destination after Pakistan for terrorist training due to the presence of al-Shabaab, an extremist group with links to al-Qa'ida. The would-be jihadists are not just of Somali background, but include those from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Yemen and north Africa, resident in Britain. There is a real risk, Mr Evans has stressed, that returnees from Somalia could carry out bomb attacks in British cities.

The UK has also been linked to the piracy in the Indian Ocean, with claims that members of the Somali diaspora are involved, with financial connections through Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates with the highly lucrative hijacking of vessels bringing in an estimated $12bn (£7.6bn) a year.

Critics claim that rather than looking at Britain's recent involvement in Libya for inspiration, a closer analogy is provided by Helmand. The Afghan province was described by Tony Blair's government as "ungoverned space which is a source of threats to Britain" through terrorism and narcotics.

Helmand provided 25 per cent of Afghanistan's total opium crop and around 80 per cent of heroin on British streets came from Helmand. Three years after UK military deployment, the province was producing 49 per cent of the national opium. The military mission, scheduled to last two years, will continue until 2014.

Robert Emerson, a security analyst specialising in African conflict zones, said: "David Cameron has acquired a taste for foreign adventures. It is true that what goes on in Somalia is of interest and we must be wary of the terrorist threat. But how far does one get involved?

"Of course there are no British boots on the ground, but the British and the Americans are funding Amisom [the African Union force in Somalia] and are thus seen by some Somalis as the enemy.

"People are going to be wary of any form of mission creep."

Whitehall officials point out that African Union forces, augmented by troops from Kenya and Ethiopia, have recaptured 95 per cent of Mogadishu from al-Shabaab, which also suffered a significant blow when Fazul Abdullah Mohammed – said to be their contact man with al-Qa'ida and the organiser of the 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa – was killed last summer.

British officials maintain that with the militants on the back foot, this is the time to help Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

A number of other countries are already active in Somalia, led by Turkey, whose Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently visited Mogadishu, Qatar and the UAE. Mr Erdogan's visit is seen in diplomatic circles as another example of his mission to recreate the influence of the Ottoman Empire following trips to north Africa and the Middle East. The Qatari intervention is the latest in a series into states in conflict after supplying arms to the rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and backing the Syrian uprising.

The London conference will be attended by the TFG, countries in the region and neighbouring states including Kenya and Uganda as well as aid agencies. However Eritrea, which has been accused of supplying arms to al-Shabaab, has not been invited and it is unclear at what level Somaliland would be represented.

The US is a major contributor to the AU force in Somalia. A senior US diplomat said: "We are fully behind the London conference. Yes, you could say that everyone will have their agenda, including the British. Our own Somali diaspora have links with both the good and bad guys in Somalia, the British much more so, so it's natural they want to be involved.

"Where does it all lead to after London? We'll see."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz