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FEINGOLD, IN DJIBOUTI, CALLS FOR NEW STRATEGY FOR SOMALIA AND THE HORN OF AFRICA

Monday, 22 December 2008 SMC

Djibouti – Today, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) called for a new strategy to address instability, terrorism and the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and the Horn of Africa while visiting Djibouti, which is hosting the Somalia peace process. Feingold, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, met with the President and Foreign Minister of Djibouti, the Prime Minister of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the leadership of the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, the United Nations Special Representative for Somalia, the President of Somaliland, and members of Somalia's civil society. He also visited the U.S. base in Djibouti, home to the military's Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.

"There is both an urgent need and an opportunity for a new U.S. policy for Somalia and the Horn of Africa," Feingold said. "With the security and humanitarian crisis deepening, the expansion of the Shebab terrorist group, the announced withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia, and a fragile peace process, it is critical that the incoming Obama Administration take immediate steps to develop a new, comprehensive strategy for Somalia and the region. Disjointed policies in Somalia have often undermined one another, ultimately proving counterproductive. Moving forward, we must address direct threats at the same time that we confront the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis, supporting legitimate governance institutions, promote accountability and rule of law and work to undercut the appeal of violent extremism. The current situation is not just a disaster for the people of Somalia and the region. It is a direct threat to America's national security."

Feingold has led efforts in the Senate to focus on this critical region of the world. He authorized legislation, passed by Congress, requiring the administration to develop a comprehensive stabilization and reconstruction strategy for Somalia and has consistently called on the international community to commit the necessary resources and attention to stabilize Somalia and rebuild its institutions. Recently, insurgent militias in Somalia have overtaken several strategic towns as they march toward the capital city of Mogadishu. They now control territory throughout southern and central Somalia. Ethiopian troops supporting the TFG have announced plans to withdraw at the end of the year, which could lead to a power vacuum. Feingold has stated that instability in the country has enabled the recent rise in pirate attacks off the Somali coast.

On March 11, 2008, Feingold chaired a full Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy options for the Horn of Africa. The New York Times has labeled Feingold "the Senate's leading expert on Somalia." This is his ninth official visit to Africa. He last visited the continent in August 2007 when he traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. He is on a three-country tour that includes Germany, the headquarters of the Department of Defense's Africa Command, and Tanzania.

http://feingold.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=306155

Somaliweyn Media Center “SMC”

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