By Virginia Comolli, Research Analyst
Petroleum reserves and the discovery of large offshore gas fields have put Mozambique in the news in recent years. But the country is still battling the legacy of prolonged conflict during its 1964-74 war of independence and 1977-1992 civil war. More than half the population lives below the poverty line and the country relies heavily on foreign aid.
Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza (pictured) also expressed concern yesterday, in the latest IISS Oppenheimer Lecture, that piracy off the coast of Somalia could threaten offshore energy exploration – and his country’s future economic development with it.
By Hanna Ucko Neill, Global Conflicts Analyst
On the eve of today’s London conference on Somalia, the country’s prime minister, Dr Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, laid out at IISS his vision for a secure, stable and prosperous Somalia. Without a functioning national government since 1991, the country has become a haven for pirates and al-Shabaab Islamist insurgents. However, the Western-backed transitional government in Mogadishu hopes to take advantage of several recent changes on the ground to consolidate a working federal state.
The prime minister admitted it was an ‘unspeakably ambitious’ goal, but took heart in the old proverb that ‘if Somali people come together, they can even mend a crack in the sky’. He hoped today’s conference would be a ‘game-changer’ for his country, and welcomed international assistance – even ‘targeted’ air-strikes against al-Shabaab, provided these did not harm innocent civilians.
However, he stressed that the only long-term solution was a Somali one, with a robust national army, police force and coastguard.
By Hanna Ucko, Global Conflicts Analyst; Coordinator, Armed Conflict Database
At least 362,000 people have died during this period, and the weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its African Union peacekeeping allies remain embroiled in an all-out conflict with the Islamist group al-Shabaab. Ethiopia – again – and Kenya – for the first time – have both also recently sent troops into Somalia. Decades of such fighting has greatly damaged the country’s infrastructure as well as its stability.
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