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Posts Tagged ‘Somalia’

Note: Remarks about the situation in Algeria included here.

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Remarks With President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
January 17, 2013

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. It is a great privilege for us to be welcoming President Hassan Sheikh and his delegation here to the State Department. Today’s meeting has been a long time in the making. Four years ago, at the start of the Obama Administration, Somalia was, in many ways, a different country than it is today. The people and leaders of Somalia have fought and sacrificed to bring greater stability, security, and peace to their nation.

There is still a long way to go and many challenges to confront, but we have seen a new foundation for that better future being laid. And today, we are taking an important step toward that future. I am delighted to announce that for the first time since 1991, the United States is recognizing the Government of Somalia.

Now before I talk about what comes next for this partnership, it is worth taking a moment to remember how we got here and how far we have come together. When I entered the State Department in January 2009, al-Shabaab controlled most of Mogadishu and south and central Somalia. It looked at the time like it would even gain more territory. The people of Somalia had already endured many years of violence and isolation, and we wanted to change that. We wanted to work together, not only with the people of Somalia but with governments across the region, the international community, and other likeminded friends.

In early 2009, the final Transitional Federal Government began its work. Somali security forces, supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia, and troops from Uganda and Burundi and now Kenya and Djibouti began to drive al-Shabaab out of cities and towns. Humanitarian aid finally began getting to the people in need. Local governments resumed their work. Commerce and travel began to pick up. Now progress was halting at times, but it was unmistakable. And today, thanks to the extraordinary partnership between the leaders and people of Somalia, with international supporters, al-Shabaab has been driven from Mogadishu and every other major city in Somalia.

While this fight was going on, at the same time, Somalia’s leaders worked to create a functioning democratic government. Now that process, too, was quite challenging. But today, for the first time in two decades, this country has a representative government with a new president, a new parliament, a new prime minister, and a new constitution. Somalia’s leaders are well aware of the work that lies ahead of them, and that it will be hard work. But they have entered into this important mission with a level of commitment that we find admirable.

So Somalia has the chance to write a new chapter. When Assistant Secretary Carson visited Mogadishu in June, the first U.S. Assistant Secretary to do so in more than 20 years, and when Under Secretary Sherman visited a few months ago, they discovered a new sense of optimism and opportunity. Now we want to translate that into lasting progress.

Somalia’s transformation was achieved first and foremost by the people and leaders of Somalia, backed by strong, African-led support. We also want to thank the African Union, which deserves a great deal of credit for Somalia’s success. The United States was proud to support this effort. We provided more than $650 million in assistance to the African Union Mission in Somalia, more than 130 million to Somalia’s security forces. In the past two years, we’ve given nearly $360 million in emergency humanitarian assistance and more than $45 million in development-related assistance to help rebuild Somalia’s economy. And we have provided more than $200 million throughout the Horn of Africa for Somali refugee assistance.

We’ve also concentrated a lot of our diplomacy on supporting democratic progress. And this has been a personal priority for me during my time as Secretary, so I’m very pleased that in my last weeks here, Mr. President, we’re taking this historic step of recognizing the government.

Now, we will continue to work closely, and the President and I had a chance to discuss in detail some of the work that lies ahead and what the government and people of Somalia are asking of the United States now. Our diplomats, our development experts are traveling more frequently there, and I do look forward to the day when we can reestablish a permanent U.S. diplomatic presence in Mogadishu.

We will also continue, as we well know, to face the threat of terrorism and violent extremism. It is not just a problem in Somalia; it is a problem across the region. The terrorists, as we have learned once again in the last days, are not resting, and neither will we. We will be very clear-eyed and realistic about the threat they continue to pose. We have particular concerns about the dangers facing displaced people, especially women, who continue to be vulnerable to violence, rape, and exploitation.

So today is a milestone. It’s not the end of the journey but it’s an important milestone to that end. We respect the sovereignty of Somalia, and as two sovereign nations we will continue to have an open, transparent dialogue about what more we can do to help the people of Somalia realize their own dreams.

The President had a chance to meet President Obama earlier today at the White House, and that was a very strong signal to the people of Somalia of our continuing support and commitment. So as you, Mr. President, and your leaders work to build democratic institutions, protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, respond to humanitarian needs, build the economy, please know that the United States will be a steadfast partner with you every step of the way. Thank you.

PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH: Thank you, Madam Secretary, for the great words that you expressed on the realities on the ground in Somalia and the future of Somalia and the future of the relationship between Somalia and the United States.

First of all, I would like to thank the Government and the people of the United States of America for the warm welcome accorded to me and to my delegation for the last two days. I am very pleased and honored to come to Washington and to meet Madam Secretary to discuss on bilateral issues and the mutual interests of our two countries. And Somalia is very grateful for the unwavering support from the United States to the people of Somalia. U.S. is a major donor to Somalia, which include humanitarian assistance and help toward security. We both have common interests and common enemy, which we must redouble our efforts to bring peace and stability in Somalia.

Somalia is emerging from a very long, difficult period, and we are now moving away from the chaos, instability, extremism, piracy, an era, to an era of peaceful and development. We are aiming to make a valuable contribution to the region and the world at large.

Today I provided an update of the huge progress made in the areas of security, political development, social services, and establishing reliable and credible governance institutions to Madam Secretary. This is an excellent time to me to visit the U.S.A. and to meet with U.S. leaders here in Washington, as Somalia is entering a new phase which requires from all of us to work hard with a very few to bring peace with a heart and view to bring peace and stability in Somalia.

Today, we had fruitful and frank discussions on many subjects that are of mutual interest to all of us and to the world at large. I am encouraged by the (inaudible) the energy, the willingness of interest shown to me and my country, and I am hopeful that Somalia will reclaim its role in the international landscape and play a more active and useful member of the nations of the world.

We are working for a Somalia that is at peace with itself and with its neighbors, where its citizens can go about their daily lives in safety, provided their families with confidence and gratefulness. Instability, violent extremism, and crime in Somalia are a threat not only to Somalia, but to the region and the world at large. We look to the future with hope, pride, and optimism.

And finally, I wish Madam Secretary all of the best for her future, and we all miss her greatly, and a warm welcome to the new Secretary of State and the new administration that will take over. Somalia will remain grateful to the unwavering support from the United States Government in the last 22 years that Somalia was in a difficult era. We remain and we will remain grateful to that (inaudible). And I say in front of you today thank you, America.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Mr. President. (Applause.)

MS. NULAND: We’ll take two questions today. We’ll start with CBS News, Margaret Brennan, please.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, it’s good to have you back at the podium.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Margaret. I’m glad to be back.

QUESTION: A question for you. Is there anything you’d like to see the Algerians do differently in response to the hostage situation that’s underway? And more broadly, are there security or policy implications for Westerners, Americans in the region because of what’s happening in Mali?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Margaret, thanks for asking that very timely question, and let me start off by saying that I spoke with the Algerian Prime Minister Sellal yesterday. I expect to speak with him again this afternoon. Our counterterrorism experts have been in close contact with their Algerian counterparts throughout the last days. And we’ve also been in close consultation with partners around the world, sharing information, working to contribute to the resolution of this hostage situation as quickly as possible.

Now let me say the situation is very fluid. It’s in a remote area of Algeria near the Libyan border. The security of our Americans who are held hostage is our highest priority, but of course we care deeply about the other Algerian and foreign hostages as well. And because of the fluidity and the fact that there is a lot of planning going on, I cannot give you any further details at this time about the current situation on the ground. But I can say that more broadly, what we are seeing in Mali, in Algeria, reflects the broader strategic challenge, first and foremost for the countries in North Africa and for the United States and the broader international community.

Instability in Mali has created the opportunity for a staging base and safe haven for terrorists. And we’ve had success, as you know, in degrading al-Qaida and its affiliates, leadership, and actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve seen the great cooperation led by African troops through the UN mission that we were just discussing in Somalia. But let’s make no mistake: There is a continuing effort by the terrorists, whether they call themselves one name or al-Qaida, to try to destroy the stability, the peace and security, of the people of this region.

These are not new concerns. In fact, this has been a top priority for our entire national security team for years. We’ve worked with the Government of Yemen, for example, in their efforts against al-Qaida in the Arabic Peninsula. We’ve worked in something called the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, which works with 10 countries across the region. So we have been working on these problems, trying to help build capacity, trying to create regional networks to deal with problems in one country that can spill over the border of another, and working to provide American support for the disruption of these terrorist networks.

At the UN General Assembly in September, we made the situation in Mali an international priority with a central focus on working to have an international response. I certainly am among a number of officials in our government who’ve met and worked on this issue over the last weeks. In fact, in October, I flew to Algeria for high-level talks with the President and others in responsible positions in this security area trying to determine what more we could do to strengthen our security ties. In November, I sent Deputy Secretary Burns and a team to Algeria to really get into depth about what more we could be doing. And then in December, we began to reach out more broadly in the ongoing counterterrorism discussions that we have.

Now, I say all of this because I think it’s important that we put this latest incident into the broader context. This incident will be resolved, we hope, with a minimum loss of life. But when you deal with these relentless terrorists, life is not in any way precious to them. But when this incident is finally over, we know we face a continuing, ongoing problem, and we’re going to do everything we can to work together to confront and disrupt al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

We’re going to be working with our friends and partners in North Africa. We are supporting the French operation in Mali with intelligence and airlift. We’re working with a half a dozen African countries, as we did with respect to Somalia over so many years, to help them be prepared to send in African troops. In fact, by this weekend, U.S. trainers will be on the continent to offer pre-deployment training and sustainment packages for ECOWAS troops. And we are prepared to fund airlift for those troops into Mali.

This is difficult but essential work. These are some of the most remote places on the planet, very hard to get to, difficult to have much intelligence from. So there is going to be lot of work that has to go into our efforts. But I want to assure the American people that we are committed to this work, just as we were committed to Somalia. There were so many times, Mr. President, over the last four years when some people were ready to throw up their hands and say al-Shabaab made an advance here and this terrible attack in Mogadishu. And we kept persisting, because we believed that with the kind of approach we had taken we would be standing here today with a democratically elected president of Somalia.

So let me just say that this is about our security, but it is also about our interests and our values and the ongoing work of how to counter violent extremism, to provide likeminded people who want to raise their families, have a better future, educate their children, away from extremism and to empower them to stand up against the extremists. And I think it’s something that we will be working on for some time, but I am confident that we will be successful over that time to give the people of these countries, as we have worked to give the people of Somalia, a chance to chart their own future, which is very much reflective of the values and interests of the United States.

MS. NULAND: Last question today, Somalia Service of VOA, Falastine Iman, please.

QUESTION: Thank you. And I have question, one for the Somali President and one for Madam Secretary. For Somali President, how would you describe the U.S.-Somali relationship at this moment?

My other question is: Madam Secretary, sometime ago you announced a dual-track policy, which means dealing Somali Government and regional administrations. Are you still going to pursue these two approaches?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Could you just repeat the end of that? I think I lost a little bit.

QUESTION: You announced dual-track policy, which means dealing with the government and the regional administrations. So are you still going to pursue these two approaches?

PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH: Yeah. Thanks, Falastine. Regarding for Somalia, I think this is a new era, and the United States Government and Somalia serving our relationships in this – the independence of Somalia in 1960s, and the signs and the symbols and the remains of this long-term relationship is still visible in Somalia. The schools built by the Peace Corps in the early 1960s is still functional in Somalia. These schools are still used by different people and different parts of Somalia. And from then onward, the support that the United States Government give to Somalia is still visible in Somalia.

And the last one I was telling is the last 22 years that Somalia was in a difficult times, the United States has always been the country that never left Somalia and have been engaging Somalia with difficult times at different levels, including when the existence of Somali nation was threatened in early ’90s. It was the United States forces that saved more than 300,000 lives of Somalis. Had that intervention not been there, it would have been difficult and different today, the situation in Somalia. So that relationship is there and the commitment and the unwavering support of the United States has always been.

And Somalia is part of the international community and part of the world. Somalia – United States is a role model country for the democracy, for the freedom of people, for the development of human capital. And this model we are going to pursue, of course, as the rest of the world. So the relationship was there in the past. It’s now there. And today, I am here standing in front of you to further improve that relationship in the context of the current realities in Somalia, in the region, and the continent of Africa. So it’s there and it will be there in the future.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much for those very strong words, Mr. President. Today, we are taking a new step in our engagement with the recognition of the government. We believe strongly that the successful conclusion of Somalia’s political transition – with a new president, a prime minister, a parliament, a constitution – marks the beginning of a new era of Somali governance. And therefore one of the reasons we wanted the President to come was to discuss the way forward.

Now, we still have the excellent work by U.S. Special Representative for Somalia Ambassador Swan, who leads a team, as you know, committed to working with the Government and people of Somalia. But our position now is the work that we did to help establish a transitional government, to support the fight against al-Shabaab, to provide humanitarian assistance, is now moving into a new era, as the President said. I believe that our job now is to listen to the Government and people of Somalia, who are now in a position to tell us, as well as other partners around the world, what their plans are, how they hope to achieve them.

So we have moved into a normal sovereign nation-to-sovereign nation position, and we have moved into an era where we’re going to be a good partner, a steadfast partner, to Somalia as Somalia makes the decisions for its own future.

Thank you all very much.

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Other than this one article, I have no evidence that this is true – nothing from the State Department or any other source,  but since it is dated today and is of moment, I thought I would go ahead and share.  I prefer to have at least two sources, but here it is for what it is worth.

Sunday, November 4th, 2012 at 06:48 am

BREAKING NEWS: Hillary Clinton to visit Somalia on Sunday

Mogadishu (RBC) The U.S. state department secretary Hillary Clinton is arriving Somalia capital, Mogadishu on Sunday morning, Somali government sources told RBC Radio.

It is the first high level visit from U.S. officials to this war-torn country for more than 25 years, the sources said.

Mrs Clinton is scheduled to land at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde airport aroubd 8:30 am as she will have closed door meeting with the new Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the prime minister Abdi Shirdon and the speaker of the parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari.
Read more >>>>

**UPDATE**   5:15 Sunday November 4, 2012

This just arrived from the State Department.  Perhaps it was not the SOS after all.  They might have expected her, but apparently it was not she who visited but Under Secretary Sherman instead,

Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s Travel to Somalia

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 4, 2012

 


 

On November 4, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman visited Mogadishu, Somalia to meet with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahamud, Speaker of the Federal Parliament Mohammed Osman Jawari, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Force Commander Lieutenant General Andrew Gutti, the UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for Somalia, and leaders of Somalia’s civil society and business community. Under Secretary Sherman is the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Somalia in more than twenty years, and her visit underscored the U.S. Government’s commitment to Somalia’s stabilization efforts.

Under Secretary Sherman welcomed the announcement by Somalia’s Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon that he has named his new cabinet. Under Secretary Sherman noted that the United States is pleased to see that the new cabinet includes two women, which is a positive reflection of the important role women play in all aspects of Somali life. Somalia’s parliamentarians will soon meet to consider the new cabinet.

In her comments to senior Somali officials, Under Secretary Sherman stressed her conviction that Somalia is now a place of hope, not of despair. She congratulated the Somali President and Speaker of Parliament on the important political progress made in Somalia, including the August 20 formation of Parliament and September 10 election of President Hassan Sheikh. The Under Secretary affirmed the centrality of the Somali government and people in guiding international support to the country.

Under Secretary Sherman urged the Somali leadership to continue to consolidate gains by helping local governance structures emerge through community dialogue and reconciliation, rapidly providing services, drafting legislation to facilitate implementation of the provisional constitution adopted in August, and addressing al-Shabaab defectors and the charcoal stockpile in the port city of Kismayo.

The Under Secretary congratulated AMISOM Force Commander Gutti for AMISOM’s recent success in driving al-Shabaab out of strategically important population centers and acknowledged the courage and professionalism of the AMISOM forces in achieving these gains. Ambassador Sherman underscored the continued U.S. commitment to support AMISOM and the Somali National forces in their critically important responsibility of extending security throughout Somalia.

Under Secretary Sherman congratulated the Somali business community for its efforts to sustain the Somali economy during Somalia’s 20 years of civil conflict and civil society for its provision of services to the Somali people in the lack of a functioning government. The Under Secretary encouraged Somalia’s civil society and business community to continue giving robust voice to their constituencies in engaging the emerging governmental institutions and holding them accountable as the new government establishes itself and its priorities.

 

 

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The picture is not from this event but, rather, from the previous event, but I do not have a photo or video from this speech yet, so this will have to suffice.

Remarks at a UN Secretary General Summit on Somalia

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City
September 26, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Under Secretary General. And let me join in congratulating both the new President and the new Prime Minister. We very much appreciated the President’s statement outlining your government’s six objectives, and we stand ready to assist you in fulfilling them. I also want to thank former President Sheikh Sharif for a smooth and peaceful transition, the first in decades for the Somali people.

Let me make three areas of emphasis that deserve our attention quickly. First, we have to continue improving security. The United States has strongly supported AMISOM and the Somali national forces, and we will work closely with the new government as it takes more of a leading role. We will maintain our support for the security sector and focus on sustainable and comprehensive reform. As more areas are liberated from al-Shabaab, the government will need to establish police forces and courts. And we view the Joint Security Committee as a promising mechanism for coordinating efforts between the Somali Government and international partners.

Second, stabilization efforts must continue across the country. Although there has been encouraging progress so far under the National Stabilization Plan, more than 2 million people in Somalia still need lifesaving humanitarian assistance. Many more face hunger and malnutrition and can’t get basic services, such as clean water and adequate electricity. And the former combatants, who are defecting from al-Shabaab will need to be reintegrated into local communities.

In addition, we have to continue to keep focus on the refugee population. Kenya has been extremely generous in sponsoring hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees, and we have to continue to work overtime to relocate those refugees back in their homes.

So meeting these challenges will require the government to work with local communities as well as the international efforts to really focus, especially on southern and central Somalia, and that will give us a chance to try to provide enough stability for the government to get about its business.

And finally, with respect to the government, transparency and accountability must be required. We urge the new government to appoint a cabinet of people who will work to promote the interests of the Somali people and respond to their needs and maintain the confidence of international donors so future collaboration can continue.

So we look to the government to build transparent and accountable institutions.

Now, what’s been accomplished in Somalia – and I remember being in this room and other rooms over the last four UNGAs and hearing a lot of despair about whether or not there could be a positive outcome. But what has been accomplished has exceeded what many thought was possible. And it’s taken a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice, first and foremost from the people of Somalia. But many of the international representatives around this table have also been extraordinarily generous and committed.

So now we have to help in the next phase for the people of Somalia, and we look forward, on behalf of the United States, to doing everything we can to make it a success.

 

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Statement on the Election of New Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 11, 2012

I want to congratulate President Hassan Sheikh and the Somali people on yesterday’s election. I commend former President Sheikh Sharif for his humility in conceding the election. With the election of a New Federal Parliament and Speaker, the national constituent assembly’s adoption of a provisional constitution, and the election of a new president, Somalia has completed its political transition. This significant achievement is the result of years of hard work – by Somalis and the international community. I especially want to thank the African Union, the United Nations, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development for their critical contributions.

We applaud these steps toward a responsive, representative and accountable government and Hassan Sheikh’s commitment to inclusive governance. But there is still more work to be done. The United States calls on Somalia’s new leaders to continue the reform effort and to work together to create a better future. We are committed to helping the new government strengthen democratic institutions, improve stability and security, and deliver results for the Somali people.

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Yesterday, we  saw how a visit from Hillary Clinton served as the catalyst to an agreement between Sudan and South Sudan in a dispute as long as South Sudan’s independence.  On the ground in Juba only a few hours the previous day, HRC hailed the long-awaited settlement while a senior State Department official made it very clear that she alone deserves the credit.

The Secretary went to Juba in order to use her diplomatic influence and credibility to strongly encourage President Salva Kiir and the leadership of the South Sudan Government to embrace an acceptable and reasonable agreement that would bring to an end one of the most difficult and thorny issues left unresolved prior to that government’s independence from Sudan. She achieved that.

And it should be seen as her achievement; it should be seen as a major diplomatic success.

Also yesterday, in Nairobi,  Mme. Secretary attended this meeting.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with meets with Somali Roadmap Signatories at the Intercontinental Hotel, in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. At far right is Somalia President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, next to Somalia s Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

For years I have marveled at the strength of  the bonds Hillary has generated among her supporters.  We have stuck together over the years in a way I have never seen around a former candidate who has not said that she will run for office again.  If she is a catalyst for progress,  she is also a strong element of cohesion as became evident in Nairobi this morning in the wake of Mme.  Secretary’s departure.  The Signatories negotiations, scheduled to continue through today were disrupted when TFG President Sharif abruptly walked out of the meeting and left for the airport.  No Hillary, no cohesion.

Somalia: President Sharif Walks Out of Signatories’ Meeting in Nairobi

5 August 2012

Nairobi — Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed reportedly stormed out of a meeting signatories were having in Nairobi on Sunday, Garowe Online reports.

Somali signatories of prior agreements such as the Roadmap, met with US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton in Nairobi on Saturday, to discuss the political process and the end of the transitional government.

After the meeting on Saturday, signatories remained in Nairobi to discuss possible amendments to the political process in the remaining two weeks.

Read more >>>>

The minute she turns her back!  Don’t make me come back there!

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with meets with Somali Roadmap Signatories at the Intercontinental Hotel, in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. At far right is Somalia President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, next to Somalia s Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with meets with Somali Roadmap Signatories at the Intercontinental Hotel, in Nairobi, Kenya, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. Across the table from Clinton is Somalia President Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Remarks at a Meeting With Somali Roadmap Signatories

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Intercontinental Hotel
Nairobi, Kenya
August 4, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress) pleased I am to have this opportunity to meet with Sheikh Sarif, President of the Transitional Federal Government, and other high officials of the TSG and other high officials from across Somalia.

We are very encouraged by the progress that the leaders have been making to meet all the requirements of the roadmap by the August 20 deadline. And I will be looking forward to discussing with the President and others the remaining tasks to be concluded and then the work that will begin after August 20th to support the new government and to provide the kind of international sustainability that the people of Somalia so deserve so they can have the opportunity for a peaceful future with prosperity and development for the betterment of all the Somali people. Thank you.

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Adoption of Somalia’s Provisional Constitution

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 2, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I want to congratulate the members of the Somali National Constituent Assembly and the Somali people on yesterday’s historic vote to approve Somalia’s Provisional Constitution. By laying the foundations for a mutually agreed upon system of governance, this vote moves Somalia closer towards lasting stability.

Made up of 825 Somalis from across the country, the National Constituent Assembly represented the diverse concerns of the nation as it reviewed and ultimately approved the Provisional Constitution. Despite significant logistical difficulties, political pressure, death threats, and two attacks on the National Constituent Assembly venue, this vote affirms that the Somali people will not be intimidated by violence as they work to rebuild their country. The people of the United States applaud the members of the National Constituent Assembly for their dedication and conviction.

The next step in Somalia’s political transition is for Somalia’s traditional elders to select a new parliament that will elect a speaker of parliament and president. We urge that these remaining tasks be completed quickly and transparently so that the transition ends on schedule, and Somalia is able to usher in a new era of governance that is more responsive, representative, and accountable. Our support for Somalia and the Somali people will continue beyond the end of the transition. We stand with the people of Somalia on your path toward peace, stability, prosperity.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

Press Availability on the London Conference

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Foreign Commonwealth Office
London, United Kingdom
February 23, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good evening. And I want to begin by thanking the prime minister and the foreign secretary for hosting us. This has been a busy and quite substantive day, and I highly congratulate the government for making this conference one that we all felt at the end of it had been worthwhile and hopeful that we’re going to be able to continue our efforts successfully. Before taking your questions, I want to touch briefly on a few highlights, both from the conference and from other meetings that I have been holding up until about 10 minutes ago.

I’ll begin with Somalia. Today’s conference coincided with the halfway point of the roadmap to end the transition in Somalia, which spells out the steps for building a stable government after decades of erratic rule. On August 20th of 2012, the Transitional Federal Government’s mandate expires, and the international community has been clear that we do not support another extension. It is time to move forward to a more stable and unified era for the Somali people.

Today, the international community and Somali political leaders discussed what needs to happen next, in particular, the steps Somalis themselves agreed to in December: convening an assembly to approve a constitution, forming a new parliament, and electing a president and speaker. We also addressed the security dimension, from piracy to al-Shabaab. As the AU mission and the Somali national security force expand control of territory – and just yesterday, as you know, al-Shabaab lost control of a key southwestern city – we must all keep al-Shabaab on the run. That means making additional financial and training contributions to AMISOM as the United States continues to do, and implementing the Security Council’s ban on imports of Somali charcoal.

Al-Shabaab’s announcement recently that it has joined al-Qaida proves yet again it is not on the side of peace, stability, or the Somali people. Negotiating with al-Shabaab would be the wrong path. But the United States will engage with Somalis who denounce al-Shabaab’s leadership and embrace the political roadmap and the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Somalis.

Today, I announced the United States is providing an additional $64 million in humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa, bringing our total emergency assistance, since 2011, up to more than $934 million, including more than 211 million for Somalia alone. And looking ahead, as the security and political situation improves in Somalia, the United States will consider a more permanent, diplomatic presence there.

Now turning to Syria, first let me say that our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Marie Colvin and Remy Ochlik, the two journalists killed this week, and with the thousands of families of Syrians who have been killed and wounded in the brutal onslaught that the Assad regime continues to rain down on their own people.

Today, I had a chance to meet with a number of key partners and allies in preparation for tomorrow’s Friends of Syria conference in Tunis. This meeting comes on the heels of the overwhelming vote in the UN General Assembly, which condemned the Assad regime’s widespread and systematic violations of human rights and backed the Arab League’s plan for a negotiated, peaceful, political transition to solve this crisis.

Tunis will be an important opportunity to begin turning international consensus into action. We look forward to concrete progress on three fronts: providing humanitarian relief, increasing pressure on the regime, and preparing for a democratic transition. To that end, we hope to see new pledges of emergency assistance for Syrians caught in Assad’s stranglehold and international coordination and diplomatic pressure on Damascus to convince it to allow humanitarian aid to those who need it most. We also expect additional nations to impose effective sanctions against the regime, and we look to all countries to aggressively implement the measures they have already adopted.

Finally, we hope to hear from the Syrian opposition about their vision for a post-Assad Syria that is governed by the rule of law and respects and protects the universal rights of every citizen regardless of religion, ethnicity, sect, or gender, because, after all, we must never lose sight of what this is about: a regime making war on its own people, families suffering in cities under siege, a nation brought to the brink of chaos. We cannot allow the obstruction of a few countries to stop the world community from coming to the aid of the Syrian people. And that is what we will discuss tomorrow.

Next, Pakistan. Foreign Minister Khar and I had a constructive discussion of our common concerns, from confronting violent extremism, to supporting Afghan-led reconciliation, to improving our bilateral relationship. Building and sustaining a relationship based on mutual interest and mutual respect takes constant care and work from both sides, from the daily engagements of our embassies to high-level meetings like the one we had today. Now, I am sure we will continue to have our ups and downs, but this relationship is simply too important to turn our back on it for both nations. And we both, therefore, remain committed to continue working to improve understanding and cooperation.

Finally, I also consulted with allies and partners about a range of other issues, particularly Iran’s continued refusal to address international concerns about its nuclear program.

So it’s been a full day, and I think it’s a testament to the leadership of our hosts on so many critical issues that so many leaders gathered and not only attended the conference but worked diligently all day to try to translate the words of the conference into future actions that we are all committed to taking.

I’m very grateful, once again, to the prime minister and the foreign secretary for their hospitality and their partnership. We look forward to welcoming the prime minister to Washington in a few weeks to continue the discussions that we have had on a regular basis that are so important to us both.

I’d now be happy to take your questions.

MODERATOR: We’ll take four today, the first one from Reuters. Arshad Mohammed.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, a U.S. official said that the Friends of Syria are going to challenge Assad to provide humanitarian access to besieged civilian populations within days. What are you going to do if Assad does not provide access within days?

Second, you said you had a constructive discussion with Foreign Minister Khar. What, if any, commitments did she give you to try to improve the relationship, work together on Afghanistan and on counterterrorism?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, look, as I’ve said, Arshad, the efforts that we are undertaking with the international community, continuing with the first Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis tomorrow, are intended to demonstrate the Assad regime’s deepening isolation and the resolve of a vast majority of nations to support the Syrian people in their demand that the violence end, that the suffering be addressed, that the democratic transition begin.

So tomorrow, we will be discussing a range of options, from tightening sanctions to increasing humanitarian relief to helping the opposition, which will be represented in Tunis, in its efforts to represent all Syrians – Sunni, Allawi, Christian, Druze, Kurd, minorities, women – to be able to strengthen their position as the voice of so many Syrians whose voices cannot be heard right now from Syria.

Our immediate focus is on increasing the pressure. We’ve got to find ways to get food, medicine, and other humanitarian assistance into those affected by violence. We have begun to explore ways with our partners as to how that might be done.

But this takes time and it takes a lot of diplomacy, old-fashioned outreach, dialogue, planning that we’ve been doing now for several weeks which we continued in meetings today. But I think there is a great resolve and commitment and there is an openness to exploring what can work.

So I can’t prejudge the outcome of Tunis tomorrow other than to say there will be a very broad cross-section of nations and organizations represented. We believe that the Syrian National Council, which will be there sitting at the table, will show that there is an alternative to the Assad regime, one that respects the rights of all Syrians. And we’re going to take this day by day, but I am encouraged by the progress we are making together.

Now, regarding Pakistan, as you know, the Pakistani Government is in the midst of a process that includes their parliament being able to speak on issues concerning our bilateral relationship. And when the government, including the parliament, has completed this process, we will consult on the way forward. But as always, today’s conversation gave us a very important opportunity to keep the lines of communication open, because there’s always, in difficult times, which I admit we are in with respect to our relationship with Pakistan, a lot of swirling in the air of who said what, when, et cetera, that does not accurately reflect the state of the relationship.

And we’re continuing to do a lot of work together. The work hasn’t stopped. And I value these regular consultations, and we will be proceeding based on the broad discussion we had of about an hour and a half today.

MODERATOR: Next question, Ali Dahir, Shabelle Media Network.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Here comes the microphone, sir.

QUESTION: Sorry. Thank you. Secretary of State, thank you very much. You just indicated in your speech that Somalia will inform their own parliament and choose president as well as the speaker of parliament and they will be appointed by prime minister. And Somalis are sick and tired of a political representative that has been selected rather than by – elected by Somali people. So would that mean business as usual, another years of anarchy and chaos in Somalia? Because there will be a government that does not have the trust and confidence and support of people.

Second things: U.S. policy toward Somalia was a dual-track policy which most of Somalis see this another way of dividing the country and undermining the TFG or maybe American Government. Would – that policy will be still in place after post August 2012?

And my final question is: Will you support air strike in al-Shabaab-controlled area, and will you please guarantee that there will not be a civilian casualty in Somalia? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, the roadmap calls for elections, it calls for a new parliament to be formed that is much smaller but more representative than the large, unwieldy body that exists now. But legitimacy comes through elections, so it is our intention to support very strongly the drafting of a constitution that takes into account the interests of all Somalis – not from one region, one clan, one subclan, but all Somalis; that it also is our intention to see this constitution adopted through a vote of the representatives of the people.

And I made very clear in my remarks this morning that speaking for the United States, there will be no more delays. We think the Somali people have waited long enough. And there is every reason to believe that given the right political environment, the Somalis – people of all parts of Somalia – can govern themselves very well. They do a lot of that today on their own with no help from a government in Mogadishu or any outside help.

So we have no doubt that, structured properly, the right kind of constitution, the right set of elections, the right people being elected, will put Somalia on a much more secure path forward. We also believe in a unified Somalia. Now, how Somalis themselves determine what that means is up to you. Our country has 50 states; we are a federal system. So that may be something that you would look at. Or take another example of a state that is arranged differently but takes into account the legitimate constituencies that exist throughout the country.

What was so important about this conference and why we are grateful to the Government of the UK is that it comes at the halfway point. The roadmap is six months in, six months to go.

Now regarding your last question, I think that the AMISOM forces, the TFG forces, the Ethiopian forces, others, the Kenyans who will be integrated into the AMISOM forces, are doing a very good job. We see a lot of progress on the ground. I am not a military strategist, but I think I know enough to say airstrikes would not be a good idea. And we have absolutely no reason to believe anyone – certainly not the United States – anyone is considering that. The progress that is being made on the ground by the forces who are trying to free Somalia from the grip of al-Shabaab has to continue. But it is, I think, encouraging to see how much has been accomplished.

MODERATOR: Next one, Wyatt Andrews, CBS News.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, going back to the humanitarian aid, this is a long time coming. I mean, what makes you or the members of this alliance believe that Assad will simply allow in the humanitarian aid where he hasn’t done so before? And following up on the previous question, is there a plan if he simply refuses to allow the aid in?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well —

QUESTION: Secondly, if I might, do I understand you correctly on the SNC? Does the United States now consider the Syrian National Council to be a credible alternative to Assad? Because that sounds new.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they will be at the conference tomorrow. They will have a seat at the table as a representative of the Syrian people. And we think it’s important to have Syrians represented. And the consensus opinion by the Arab League and all the others who are working and planning this conference is that the SNC is a credible representative, and therefore they will be present.

It’s also true, Wyatt, that I cannot, standing here today, predict exactly how this will unfold. But we are seeing increasing defections. We are seeing a lot of pressure on the inner regime. There is growing evidence that some of the officials in the Syrian Government are beginning to hedge their bets – moving assets, moving family members, looking for a possible exit strategy. We see a lot of developments that we think are pointing to pressure on Assad. We hope it will pressure him to make the right decision regarding humanitarian assistance. But in the event that he continues to refuse, we think that the pressure will continue to build.

So it’s a fluid situation. But if I were a betting person for the medium term and certainly the long term, I would be betting against Assad.

MODERATOR: Last one today, Glen Oglaza, Sky News.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I just wanted to pick up on the airstrikes in Somalia, first of all, because about an hour or so ago in this room, the prime minister of Somalia said that he would welcome airstrikes against al-Shabaab. So I just wondered if the Americans would contain that or possibly even participate in it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have to – I wasn’t here to hear what the prime minister said, but I have no military rationale for airstrikes in this kind of conflict. If there is some argument to be made, I would certainly be interested in it, but I don’t know who would do it.

QUESTION: On Syria, isn’t the reality that Assad is intent on annihilating the opposition, as his father did before him; and without the Russians and the Chinese, and short of military intervention, there’s frankly nothing anyone can do about it?

And I wondered if I could ask you about Christopher Tappin, who is a 65-year-old British man who’s being extradited to the States tomorrow. He’s accused of supplying missile parts to the Iranians. He says he’s innocent and that he should be tried in British courts, not extradited to the United States. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to the last question, we have an extradition treaty, as you know, between us, and there are certain laws and procedures to be followed. They have been followed in this case. The gravamen of the complaint is based in U.S. law, and that’s where he will be tried.

Regarding Syria, I think the – the fact is that when Assad’s father conducted his horrific attacks back in the early ’80s, there was no internet, there was no Twitter, there were no social communication sites. There was no satellite television. There were no on-the-ground witnesses. It’s much harder, and thankfully so, to have that level of brutality, shelling with artillery your own people, not be known by everyone, most particularly your own people, not after the fact but in real time. Therefore, I think that the strategy followed by the Syrians and their allies is one that can’t stand the test of legitimacy or even brutality for any length of time.

There will be increasingly capable opposition forces. They will, from somewhere, somehow, find the means to defend themselves as well as begin offensive measures. And the pressure will build on countries like Russia and China, because world opinion is not going to stand idly by. Arab opinion is not going to be satisfied, watching two nations – one for commercial reasons, one for commercial and ideological reasons – bolster a regime that is defying every rule of modern international norms.

So I know it’s not a satisfying answer to say we have to take this day by day, but that’s my answer: We have to take this day by day. But it is clear to me that there will be a breaking point. I wish it would be sooner, so that more lives would be saved, than later. But I have absolutely no doubt there will be such a breaking point. And I want the Syrian people who are suffering so mightily to know that the international community has not underestimated either their suffering or their impatience, and we are moving in an expeditious but deliberate manner. And I also want those Syrians who are still uncertain about what would come after Assad – and there are so many of them with understandable reasons who fear what would happen to them because of who they are or what – how they worship, or what their political beliefs are – I want them to understand that we also appreciate their concerns and fears. But we think that – there is no doubt in our mind that a political transition that respects the rights of every Syrian and puts in place a democratic process will be, by far, the best outcome for them and their children.

So thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you all very much.

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Intervention at the London Conference on Somalia

Intervention

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Lancaster House
London, United Kingdom
February 23, 2012

 


(In progress) parliament and electing a president and speaker. Now that it has agreed to these tasks, we must help them accomplish those. The Transitional Federal Government was always meant to be just that: transitional. And it is past time for that transition to occur and for Somalia to have a stable government.

The outcome out last week’s meeting of Somali leaders in Garowe is an encouraging signal that more progress will be forthcoming soon. And I am pleased to see representatives from so many Somali political groups here today in a sign of their dedication to this effort. But time is of the essence, and I want to be clear: The international community will not support an extension of the TFG’s mandate beyond the date set in the roadmap, August 20th.

Now, yes, the goals we expect to achieve under this timeline are ambitious, but the people of Somalia have waited many years. They have heard many promises, they have seen many deadlines come and go, and it is time – past time – to buckle down and do the work that will bring stability to Somalia for the first time in many people’s lives. The position of the United States is straightforward: Attempts to obstruct progress and maintain the broken status quo will not be tolerated. We will encourage the international community to impose further sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes on people inside and outside the TFG who seek to undermine Somalia’s peace and security or to delay or even prevent the political transition.

As we proceed with political action, we must also keep advancing security, and there has been progress this past year. The AU mission in Somalia and the Somali National Security Forces are now in control of all of Mogadishu and are expanding their control beyond the capital. And a few weeks ago, the United States announced that the famine that killed tens of thousands of Somalis and displaced tens of thousands more has ended – though food security remains a serious concern. Now we must keep the pressure on al-Shabaab so that its grip on Somalia continues to weaken. The UN Security Council’s vote on Wednesday to increase AMISOM’s troop ceiling by nearly half and expand its mandate significantly is an excellent step.

More and more Somalis are seeing the threat that al-Shabaab poses to Somalia’s peace and security, as well as to the peace and security of Somalia’s neighbors. Especially in south-central Somalia, it has turned an already bad situation into a nightmare. It has dragged fathers and sons from their homes, forced them to fight in a hopeless, bloody conflict. It has forced young girls to marry foreign fighters. And when extreme food shortages struck last summer, al-Shabbab mercilessly helped turn those food shortages into a famine by blocking humanitarian assistance and letting children starve.

With its recent announcement that it has joined the al-Qaida terror network, al-Shabaab has proven, yet again, it is not on the side of Somalis but on the side of chaos, destruction, and suffering. It has also proven something else as well. It is weakening. Al-Shabaab and al-Qaida have turned to each other because both are embattled and isolated, especially now as the democratic revolutions, underway in many countries, are showing young people who might once have been attracted to extremist groups that a more constructive path is open to them. That is the future; Al-Shabaab and al-Qaida are the past.

Now all those who have not yet joined this effort to unify Somalia, who are sitting on the sidelines or actively obstructing progress, have a choice to make. They can support this movement and join their fellow Somalis in moving past the divisions and struggles for power that have held their nation back or they can be left behind. For our part, the United States will engage with all Somalis who denounce al-Shabaab’s leadership and the violence it espouses and who embrace the political roadmap and the fundamental rights and freedoms that all Somalis deserve. But we adamantly oppose negotiating with al-Shabaab.

Now the international community has a responsibility to provide effective help, and when I say international community, I include the people of Somalia, whether they live within Somalia in refugee camps outside the country, or as members of the large and thriving diaspora here in the UK or the U.S., Canada, Italy, Kenya, and elsewhere. Our success depends in no small measure on their participation, because after all, they are the ones with the most at stake.

I want to briefly mention three specific issues: First, we must cut al-Shabaab’s remaining financial lifelines. One of the reasons that they apparently agreed to join with al-Qaida is because they think they will obtain more funding from sources that unfortunately still continue to fund al-Qaida. We welcome the Security Council’s decision to impose an international ban on imports of charcoal from Somalia and urge the international community to begin implementing it immediately. The illicit charcoal trade provides funds to al-Shabaab while also causing environmental harm and threatening food security.

Second, we must seize this opportunity to strengthen development, particularly in areas recently liberated from al-Shabaab. Somalis need to see concrete improvements in their lives. For our part, the United States will work with Somali authorities and communities to create jobs, provide health and education services, build capacity, and support peace building and conflict resolution. And today I am announcing the United States is providing an additional $64 million in humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa countries, bringing our emergency assistance since 2011 up to more than 934 million, including more than 211 million for lifesaving programs in Somalia.

Third, we must continue to fight piracy, which is still rampant off Somalia’s shores. The United States supports programs that strengthen the Somali judicial system so it can tackle piracy from onshore. We are considering development projects in coastal communities to create alternatives to piracy for young men. And we support additional international coordination, for example, to the regional anti-piracy prosecutions intelligence coordination center, soon to be launched in the Seychelles. We welcome the increased willingness of many of Somalia’s neighbors to incarcerate pirates. And as the UN helps build judicial and prison capacity in Somalia, it is imperative that more nations step forward to jail and prosecute pirates who have been caught seizing commercial vessels that are flagged, owned, and crewed by citizens of their countries. And we welcome the UK’s initiative to create an international task force to discourage the payment of ransoms to pirates and other groups to eliminate the profit motive and prevent the illicit flow of money and its corrosive effects.

As the security and political situation improves, the U.S. will look for ways to increase our involvement in Somalia, including considering a more permanent diplomatic presence. We will continue to deliver support of all kinds and to help build a broad and durable partnership with both the Somali Government and people.

For decades, the world focused on what we could prevent from happening in Somalia – conflict, famine, terrorism. Now, we are focused on what we can build. I think the opportunity is real, and now we have to work with the TFG as it transitions out of power to build a durable peace for the Somalia people and to support a government that delivers services and offers democracy and prosperity, uniting Somalia after so many years of division and chaos.

Thank you. (Applause.)

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Terrorist Attack in Somalia

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 4, 2011

The United States strongly condemns today’s vicious attack by al-Shabaab against innocent civilians in Mogadishu. Many of the victims were students working to earn scholarships to continue their education and help them realize their potential. This cowardly act of terrorism once again demonstrates al-Shabaab’s complete disregard for human life and Somalia’s future.

Al-Shabaab continues to threaten and kill aid workers. They have murdered the very people they claim to want to protect. At a time when the world is focused on helping Somalis who are suffering from drought and famine, al-Shabaab is ignoring calls by the Arab League, international community, and the people of Somalia to allow the uninhibited delivery of urgently needed relief to those desperately in need of assistance.

Our condolences go out to the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims. The United States is committed to standing with all Somalis who seek peace — including Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government — as they work toward stability in Somalia and throughout the region.

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