Following is the transcript:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of International Information Programs
CO.NX Webchat: Is there hope for Somalia?
Guest: Greg Garland
Date: June 16, 2009
Time: 8 a.m. EDT (12:00 GMT)
Gregory L Garland: Hello everybody! Thanks you for taking the time to participate today. I won’t be able to answer all the many questions you have, so please be understanding. I’ll try to answer those that have a broad interest and applicability. Let’s start!
Q [Mbekwe]: What are the main factors driving problems in Somalia?
A [Gregory L. Garland]: The two biggest factors? A shattered economy that magnifies the temptation for young men to enter into piracy, and the lack of a rule of law that could enforce national and international law. There are a variety of other factors unique to Somalia, such as illegal fishing, but lack of effective governance in much of the country and few jobs opportunities are the keys.
Q [Rooble]: Why the US government is not taking a brave step to recognize Somaliland ???as the first step to settle things in Somali ? The most stupid question,from Somaliland separates . They need to learn American History http://www.cyberessays.com/History/86.htm
Q [jigoli]: Do u think imposing shariff to the presidency will solve the Somalian problem?
A [Gregory L. Garland]: No one person can solve the country’s problems. What is needed is effective and inclusive governance that extends nation-wide.
Q [Joseph]: What role will USA play in fixing Somalia?
A [Gregory L. Garland]: Somalis themselves will fix Somalia. The United States, along with the rest of the international community, will play a vital role in maintaining levels of humanitarian assistance, such as food and medicines. We are also participating in the international, multilateral Contact Group on Somalia to devise long-term ways and programs that can bolster the efforts of Somalis to establish rule of law and revitalize their economy.
Comment [Shakur]: Of course, both Somaliland and Puntalnd regional administrations can be seen as good role models.
Q [Rooble]: Why the American government is not doing anything effective about the piracy in the Somalia’s waters with those huge warships?
A [Gregory L Garland]: In fact, there is considerable evidence that the multinational naval presence off the coast of Somalia has become an effective deterrent against piracy. But it is only a short-term answer, a band-aid let’s say. The long-term solution is on-shore — the establishment of effective governance throughout Somalia and the revival of an economy that will offer employment alternatives.
Q [Joseph]: How would you repair Somalia as a country?
A [Gregory L. Garland]: Somalia has gone almost two decades without an effective central government. Thus, it’s necessary to establish effective national authority that extends into the interior and all along the coast. That, in fact, is the goal of the Transitional Federal Government that is situated in Mogadishu but controls little beyond the capital. Once that authority is established, there should be a return to the rule of law based on Somali traditions. The economy will rebound once rule of law has been established. The international community — East Africa, the Arab world, East Asia, Europe, and the United States — has a vital role to play to nurture the economy while in the meantime maintaining levels of humanitarian assistance.
Amelia Vance IIP Washington: Thank you everyone for your questions! Mr. Garland is currently reviewing them and will respond shortly. If you are new to the web chat, please let us know where you are from. Thank you!
Q [Mukesh Williams]: Marine piracy has a long history though ‘illegal waste dumping’ is new. Since 1992 environmental rules in the Anglo-American world became quite strict and it became increasingly difficult for companies to dispose toxic and nuclear waste illegally in the civilized world. In such a climate, politically or economically weak countries were easily exploited. Poor and politically weak Somalia became an ideal victim. The solutions proffered today do not take account of this factor and are therefore not acceptable by the Somalis themselves. What should the world do?
A [Gregory L Garland]: You’re statement in general is correct. First, about the history of marine piracy. It is one of the oldest professions. But it is controllable, as recent history has taught in the Straits of Malacca. Piracy thrives where there is weak governance and poor economic choices — the formula in Somalia today. As for dumping of illegal waste, there is considerable evidence that a problem has existed in Somalia, with damage to its waters. This does not excuse or even explain the motives behind the wave of piracy, it is a factor that certainly ought to be assessed and dealt with as part of the long-term solution. At the end of the day, it is Somalis themselves who have to come to terms with the root causes of piracy with effective, inclusive governance throughout their country.
Q [Shakur]: I must admit that I find it difficult to understand the word “international community”! Eretria, Ethiopia, North Korea, Iran, etc – are members of the international community, the definition of international community may be as wide as you cannot imagine. That is the reason why I think America has to take the lead?
Shakur: I think the federal government deserves the maximum support, without compromising peace and stability in other regions. Yet, we learned from past interventions that there are seemingly disagreements from within the international community. I would think, Somalians are ready to grip the opportunity, provided America takes the lead of international help.
Amelia Vance IIP Washington: America.gov just released its new feature on piracy, so after the chat anyone interested can check out http://tinyurl.com/n96534 . There will also be a chat specifically on piracy in the 21st century on June 30, 09:00 am EDT (13:00GMT) at http://statedept.connectsolutions.com/conx . For more info on the chat, check out http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=89483129015.
Q [Mukesh Williams]: Many African leaders within and outside Somalia believe that instead of attacking the pirates and extremists it is wise to negotiate with them. Western leaders however feel otherwise. They feel that there can be no negotiation with pirates or extremists. The only way out is military action like the one successfully mounted in the wake of the hijacked US cargo ship Maersk Alabama. Both these approaches seem to be fraught with problems. What is your solution to break this impasse?
A [Gregory L Garland]: I have to disagree with the conclusion that an impasse exists. The multinational offshore naval presence is a short-term bandage supported by United Nations Security Council resolutions and contribution worldwide. Nobody pretend it is the solution. What is has succeeded in doing is keeping major shipping lanes more or less clear. Meanwhile, Africans, Middle easterners, Europeans, Americans, and Asian have gathered numerous times in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to discuss all aspects of the problem. Somalia’s TFG is an active participant, as is the African Union, Kenya, Yemen and Egypt. I know because I have attended meetings as a U.S. head of working group in Cairo and New York and have worked closely with the Africans (including Egypt) in particular. Force has rarely been used, and no country argues that it is an answer — though it makes for sensationalist television footage. The solution, all agree, is for effective governance to be reestablished throughout Somalia with a revived economy.
Q [Shakur]: Greg. It is not up to the Somalians any longer. You see, we are on life support machine; our country has been destroyed by million and one conflicting interests. Today so many countries call themselves as “the stake holders” Stake holders of what I wonder?
Comment [dia alesawi]: guys we forget the that there’s a countries like Ethiopia and Eretria supporting some of militia against the other they bring to them the money and the weapons and if they stop it gona fix some of Somalia problem
Q [Guest]: Hiiraan Online: Why the international community is out financed by the extremist’s elements in Somalia? Due to the financial situation in Somalia, young improvised Somalis are flocking to extremist camps; however these same young men could be recruited to the Somali Security Forces if the international community comes forward with promised financial support to TFG
A [Gregory L Garland]: You’ve hit upon one of the short-term answers — there has to be economic incentive to wean young men away from the temptation of piracy to other means of earning a living. The U.S. believes that the TFG is the best path for establishing effective governance in Somalia. Our support has and is taking many forms, including humanitarian assistance and starting work on building a coast guard. Can we do more? Yes, and that’s what we’re mapping out in the international Contact Group on Somalia (separate from the one on piracy).
Comment [Shakur]: Dia, they will not stop. They need to be told enough is enough. Take the case of Afghanistan, the neighboring countries were told to stay away mainly because of the direct interest they may have. In Iraq, again same applies. It is only when it comes to Somalia that we consult Ethiopia, Eretria, Kenya – that seems double standard to me.
Q [Rashid Ebrahim]: Hello Everyone…I’m From Bahrain where as many of you know the anti piracy task force is stationed (The US 5th Fleet). My question is Will we ever really put an end to this pirate menace?
CO.NX Moderator (Mark): For those of you just joining the webchat, welcome! Feel free to introduce yourself.