Too Many Guns in Somalia

In such a lawless society, perhaps this is not surprising:

U.N. experts investigating violations of an arms embargo against Somalia report that countries and private traders are supplying weapons to warlords and militants, South Africa’s U.N. ambassador said Thursday.

Even more disturbing, though, is who seems to be providing the weapons. The UN monitoring group contends that the presence of Ethiopian troops backing Somalia’s unstable government itself violates the arms embargo and that, in addition, some Ugandan members of the African Union peacekeeping force in the country have been selling weapons back to the insurgents that they are disarming. Both Ethiopia and Uganda have denied the allegations, but they nonetheless reflect the dangerously complicated situation in a country with all too many weapons and armed groups, and not nearly enough food or humanitarian involvement.

Many Somalis already resent what they term the Ethiopian “occupation” of their country, and the UN group’s findings certainly will not improve Ethiopia’s image in their eyes. The news about the peacekeepers from Uganda, which was one of only a few countries willing to contribute troops to the severely undermanned AU contingent in the country, helps explain why South Africa’s UN ambassador — who was also the head of the committee monitoring Somalia’s arms embargo — was so excited about the Security Council’s recent agreement that they should begin planning to step up the UN presence there.

Oh yes, and pirates may be involved in the arms smuggling as well.