Full backing for US resolution on piracy

Full backing for US resolution on piracy

New York: After overcoming serious misgivings among Security Council members about taking the fight against Somali pirates ashore, the US won a unanimous 15-0 endorsement for such aggressive measures.

Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice also announced that the US expected to persuade the Security Council to authorize a UN peacekeeping force in Somalia before the end of the month.

“History has demonstrated again and again that maritime operations alone are insufficient to combating piracy," Rice said at a meeting of the council that was attended by several foreign ministers.

She and others noted that piracy was just one symptom of an 18 year absence of a functioning government in Somalia and the need for peacekeepers.

"While the conditions may not be auspicious for peacekeeping, they will be less auspicious if chaos reigns in Somalia, and we have to turn at some point to peacemaking," Rice said. Critics called the piracy resolution and the peacekeeping proposal ill considered, last minute Bush administration initiatives.

"The Security Council continuously throws ill-defined peacekeeping operations at fundamentally political problems," said John Prendergast of the Enough Project, an anti-genocide campaign, who is a former Clinton administration official on Africa.

A peacekeeping force would just serve as a rallying point for Islamic insurgents battling the transitional government, Prendergast said. He and others suggested that a pronounced effort to shore up internal political negotiations in Somalia would be a better alternative to peacekeepers. Rice and other ministers also talked of the need to bolster internal peace talks.

Asked if President-elect Barack Obama had endorsed a peacekeeping force, Rice said that President George W. Bush remained in office, and added, "No American administration is going to want to see chaos in Somalia."

It took intensive negotiations to overcome objections, notably by Indonesia, that the authorization for foreign military forces to take the battle against pirates ashore was too broad. The final wording narrowed the application of force by saying it would require the express consent of Somalia's government and should be pursued with an appropriate level of intensity.

©2008/The New York Times