Peace Accord and Peacekeepers in Somalia — But Still Not Enough

In the midst of a slew of what seems like the typical bad news out of Somalia — killings by insurgents, killings by Ethiopian troops, hijackings by pirates — two developments of the last two days may give at least a flicker of hope.

The U.N. Security Council authorized on Tuesday an African Union force in Somalia for another six months, a day after Somalia’s government signed a peace agreement with some opposition figures.

A unanimous resolution also asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to work with the AU to strengthen U.N. logistical, political and technical support to help bring the African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM, up to U.N. standards.

Even taken in concert, these two steps will by no means end the chaos reigning in Somalia. For one, not all of the groups responsible for violence in Somalia — including the most intransigent extremists — signed the accord reached yesterday. For another, the re-authorization of AMISOM’s mandate simply represents a continuation of an all too unstable status quo. Nonetheless, with Nigerian units forthcoming, if the UN can follow up on its commitment to upgrade the AU force, then this will represent the best feasible scenario for the moment, when rashly deployed UN peacekeepers would likely only fall into the trap of struggling to maintain an incomplete peace.