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Intervention

 

     In January 1992, Andrew Natsios, head of the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, testified before Congress that “Somalia was the greatest humanitarian emergency in the world” (35).  At around the same time, the United Nations made a similar statement, saying that it was alarmed at the heavy loss of life and widespread damage resulting from the conflict in Somalia (36).
     Newly sworn in UN Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali made the first move toward peace.  In February 1992 he invited representatives of Muhammad Ali Madhi and Muhammad Farah Aideed to UN headquarters in New York (37).  There, on March 3, the two sides reached a vague cease-fire agreement.  The UN Security Council then established an Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) in order to monitor the cease-fire and provide emergency humanitarian assistance (38).  The cease-fire, though, was used only to provide food and medical assistance rather than to help facilitate a permanent peace plan (39).  As time 
went on, the fighting and looting resumed (40).
     In July 1992, the crisis started to make headlines in the western media.  Pictures of starving children and newspaper stories with titles such as The Hell Called Somalia raised public awareness and increased pressure on the United States to do something.  The UN food supplies were no longer getting to those who needed them.  Much of it was stolen by the warring clans and sold.  More and more Somalis were starving to death (41)
     The United States responded in August 1992, as President George Bush announced that a U.S. military aircraft would be assigned to transport food to Somalia’s interior.  Like the UN relief effort, though, much of the food was stolen. 
“Although the airlift provided the needed food, the policy failed to recognize the political challenges that state collapse posed.  The problem was never predominantly insufficient food but the absence of political authority and security for a civil society to operate (42).” 
     After the failed attempt by the United States, the United Nations' security force authorized UN Resolution 751, which ordered a 500-member security force to Somalia.  The operation was made up of 500 lightly armed Pakistani soldiers.  Aideed and his followers forcibly restricted the Pakistani’s to their barracks, allowing them to accomplish nothing (43).  Another mission had failed, as the death toll from starvation continued to rise.

                                                 Muhammad Farah Aideed

 

     On November 26th, President Bush (who recently lost his bid for re-election) pledged 30,000 troops for a U.S. led-UN military operation in Somalia (UNITAF).  While President Bush wanted the effort to be mainly a humanitarian effort, Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali insisted that the troops promote peace (44).  The mission began by securing airports and transportation routes in order to get food to the remote areas of the country, where most of the starving people were.  President Bush also called on Robert Oakley, a former ambassador to Somalia, to begin talks with the warlords (45).
     Oakley met with Aideed and Ali Madhi on December 11, succeeding in getting them to sign a cease-fire and general truce agreement.  The warlords, scared of the strength of the U.S. military, let the forces have their way.  The troops brought food to the starving, disarmed many citizens, and raided several sites where powerful weapons were stored (46).   The mission was regarded as a huge success.  Oakley again met with Aideed and Ali Madhi in order to form a police force so the U.S. could eventually pull out of Somalia (47).
 
 


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