Friday, January 09, 2009

January 9

And eight days later its still hot water bottle weather, meaning below freezing at night, rising to 2 or 3 in the daytime, but with the forecast saying it will get a bit warmer on Sunday. I haven't stirred out of the house except to attend the briefing by FCO Minister Bill Rammell MP on Gaza on Tuesday. He didn't say anything that wasn't already in the public domain. Now the Security Council has called for an immediate and durable ceasefire, but Hamas has dismissed the Resolution and the Israelis have immediately rejected the demand as unworkable. The Franco-Egyptian proposals are still on the table. The Israelis will call a halt to their attacks, which are totally disproportionate, when they have done enough damage as they see it, to Hamas's capacity to launch rocket attacks.

While the media have plenty of time and space to cover events in Gaza, other conflicts which involve even higher civilian casualties and possible international risks are virtually ignored. With the Ethiopians about to pack their bags and leave Somalia, the two possible scenarios are either a crescendo of fighting between the different factions, or the resumption of power by the extremist Islamic Courts. Either way, the so-called Transitional Federal Government exists only in name. The ineffective 'President' Abdullahi Yusuf has gone, and there is no reason to think that last-minute attempts by the UN to recruit credible additional forces for AMISOM, the AU peacekeeping force, are likely to be any more successful than previous efforts.

Phil Krone was staying with us last night, and we were fantasising about a peace mission to Mogadishu. Its noticeable that the current UN mission is to Nairobi and Addis Ababa, and if they went to Mogadishu, how on earth would they decide who to speak to, if they weren't kidnapped by pirates or assassinated by al-Shabaab on the way there? There are no scheduled flights to Mogadishu, so any peace mission, whether by the UN or Phil Krone/Eric Avebury, would have to rely on getting the Red Cross to provide a charter aircraft. What operator would be prepared to charter a plane to fly to Mogadishu and who would insure it, let alone the lives of the passengers? Who would provide security on arrival? I think we'll need another meeting to work out the minor details.

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