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
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Polly Borgen at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012
peopleThe Emmy award-winner starred in Cape Fear, the Sopranos and Desperate House Wives
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
News
Dennis Rodman has confirmed he is not going to the Middle East to 'talk to with the leaders of Isis' as claimed in a recent satirical report
people
News
people'Bring It On' actress says her legal team will combat the 'vultures'
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
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

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teaching Assistant required in ...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: North Manchester Teaching Assistant...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Nursery Nurses needed in Manchester...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Nursery Nurses and Assistants requi...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam