Bronwyn: In some respects, I would say yes, of only in a sense that it’s really clear that the African union and Ethiopian in particular and the United Nations is still a strong backer of the TFG. And as long as a lot of the international community is still backing this entity it doesn’t do a lot of good for the US. They just say, no we’re going in on our own and we’re going to let them die. However, I would point out that Sheikh Sharif is still in office and the TFG is still alive because there is a ring of international soldiers that’s protecting them, AMISOM, the African union mission to Somalia. Those peace keepers are target for the Shabaab. The Shabaab fires at that and in response the TFG and AMISOM hits some order back and they always hit densely populated urban neighborhoods so that there have been massive casualties of innocent civilians as the TFG and the Shabaab have fought each other. There is an absolute stalemate between them. There’s no chance that the TFG is going to take control of the country. And likewise, there is precious little chance that the Shabaab is going to oust the African peace keepers. So what you have is not a government that’s functioning in any way. It doesn’t control anything more than a few blocks in Mogadishu. It doesn’t deliver services to the population, it doesn’t collect taxes, it doesn’t protect Somalis from the Shabaab, it doesn’t prevent Al-Qaeda from forming safe havens throughout the country, so it doesn’t do any of the things that the United States or the Somali people really care about but what it does is decrease the security of the average citizen and it provides a rallying point for extremists forces that would ordinarily not have very much to agree about. So effectively, their presence is prolonging the conflict and that hurts US interests. So yeah, I don’t think it’s too soon to pull the plug, I really don’t.

Moderator: Well, let’s talk about the center point you make in your report and this policy you’re still suggesting putting forward of what you called constructive disengagement. Just explain to us what that actually means in policy terms, how would it work out.

Bronwyn: Sure. Yeah, absolutely and we’ll make this the last point before we turn over to general discussion, but you know constructive disengagement I would really just want to emphasize more than anything else, is not a policy of fencing off Somalia and leaving the Somalis alone with their problems. Constructive disengagement is effectively a solution that says a lot of Somalis problems are caused by the interference of regional and international actors, and Somalia needs to be given the space to resolve its own problems as it was doing before 2001. It means that they will continue, as you pointed out, to be some selective counter terror operations. There are bad guys in Somalia who need to be taken out. They’re not Somalis, they’re people who are capitalizing on the conflict and importing chaos and violence, and they are bad people and I have no problem with getting rid of them. Constructive disengagement means that the United States have to make effort to defend Somalia from incursions by Ethiopia, by Kenya, by any actor including Eritrea for example that has malign designs on the country. And finally, constructive disengagement does involve internal activities. In the first place, it involves a posture of co-existence with the Shabaab as long as they agree to certain behavioral conditions, and it means focusing on development. I really believe that development is the best thing that the United States can be doing in Somalia; the economic incentives for cooperation among the clans and humanitarian relief that allow people to go with the business of living and ultimately will provide the solution for Somalia that is not radical Islamist’s solution, the only real effective way forward and that’s a long term solution. It’s not going to look good in one year or two years or three years but we can’t go on with Somalia in another two decades like in a way it does now.

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