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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of African Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2006: African Affairs Remarks

Somalia: U. S. Government Policy and Challenges

Jendayi E. Frazer, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
Remarks before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs
Washington, DC
July 11, 2006

Thank you, Chairman Martinez and Senator Feingold, for calling today's hearing. I appreciate having the opportunity to discuss: "Somalia: U.S. Government Policy and Challenges." Somalia is one of the most pressing challenges facing the United States, within sub-Saharan Africa today and I look forward to exploring how we can work together to address our multiple interests in Somalia and the Horn of Africa. With your permission, I will submit my longer written testimony for the record.

Continued instability in Somalia has exacerbated already poor humanitarian conditions within Somalia and threatens regional security more broadly throughout East Africa. Moreover terrorists have been given sanctuary in this uniquely failed state. A common theme that was reinforced during my recent trip to the region—Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia--is that to address the challenges posed in Somalia, we must work in coordination with our international partners and Somali leaders to achieve our common goals to restore peace and stability in Somalia by strengthening the Transitional Federal Institutions, assisting the Somali people, preventing Somalia remaining a haven for terrorists, and building regional security and stability.

Among the realities that we have to face since September 11th are several that are germane to Somalia. First, civil conflict and war in another country cannot be safely ignored. Second, the United States faces a global network of terrorists who seek to harm Americans. Last, failed states often become breeding grounds for terrorists, criminality, and arms trafficking that spread chaos beyond the borders of a single country. Without an effective central government, nations are more vulnerable to exploitation by violent extremists.

The continued existence of a failed state in Somalia poses such a threat. For all of these reasons, President Bush and Secretary Rice have made it a priority to confront the ongoing turmoil in Somalia with a multilateral coordinated strategy. One of the priorities of the International Somalia Contact Group is engaging the parties in Somalia to encourage dialogue and inclusion or broad participation as the basis for establishing a stable and legitimate government. The United States--with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), African Union, United Nations, European Union, and Arab League--view the Transitional Federal Institutions and Charter as the legitimate governing body in Somalia. We will work to strengthen it’s capacity and continue to urge dialogue between the TFI and Islamic Courts Council.

Clearly the situation in Somalia is very fluid. Developments on the ground are constantly changing. We view the June 22 meeting in Khartoum that resulted in a seven-point agreement that recognized the legality of the Transitional Federal Institutions as the governing institutions of Somalia and the reality of the Islamic courts as positive. While there still must be follow-up actions to demonstrate both sides commitment to working to reestablish effective governance in Somalia, we hope this dialogue will continue at the next meeting in Khartoum on July 15. In addition, it is imperative that Somali leaders reach out to other key stakeholders, such as the business community, clan leaders, civil society, and religious leaders, to broaden the level of participation in the Transitional Federal Institutions.

In our efforts to make Africa both safer and better, we will continue to engage the African governments in the region in an effort to support their efforts in Somalia and the Horn. Leaders in the region are urging stronger U.S.G. engagement. They understand that it is especially important to address the political stability and security situation in Somlia because of its implications for the entire Horn of Africa. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and economic migrants have fled into neighboring countries and continue to flee conflict, drought, and persecution. The terrorists attacks on U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killed more Kenyan and Tanzanian citizens than Americans. As did the attack on the Mombasa hotel in 2002 that was planned from Somalia.

Given all of these moving pieces, U.S. policy will encourage and support regional leadership, especially IGAD and the AU. There is no resolving the situation in Somalia, without taking its neighbors into account. We speak with one voice (except Eritrea) in opposing an extremist/Jihadist take over of government in Somalia. American policy remains holistic. While making sure to address counter-terrorism concerns, U.S. policy also focuses on governance, institution building, humanitarian assistance for the Somali people, and a general improvement in regional security and stability.

Taken together, this multi-pronged approach will require Congressional support to achieve. We believe with your support that we are on the right course in both the short term and in the years ahead. Thank you again for calling this hearing today, and now I would be happy to take any questions that you may have.

Released on July 11, 2006

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