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President Koroma's Morally Guided Decision Versus Al-Shabaab's Threat [RSLAF; To Withdraw or Not To Withdraw From Somalia]?
By Captain Saio S. Marrah (Rtd)Expert in International Relations and Security Studies
Nov 19, 2013, 17:00
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Amidst Al-Shabaab's terrorist threat against innocent and peaceful Sierra Leoneans for no other reason rather than committing our troops to help normalise Somalia, this piece attempt at analysing President Ernest Bai Koroma's Ethical Foreign Policy and Sierra Leone's Humanitarian Intervention in Somalia. The article considers moral, ethical, political and foreign policy debates within the framework of the newly propounded concept of the Responsibility to Protect and concludes that, President Ernest Bai Koroma's decision to send our troops to Somalia was the right decision and Al-Shabaab's threat shouldn't warrant a reversal of His Excellency's morally guided decision.


If our troops are not withdrawn from Somalia, the notorious and nefarious terrorist group Al-Shabaab will unleash terror and carnage in Sierra Leone.......argues Critics and Alarmists! Question, but do we have to submit to the command of Al-Shabaab - a mere fanatic and extremist group that has gone astray and determined to demonstrate and perpetuate barbaric and savage acts against hunger-prone Somalis? Before arriving at hasty or rather commonsensical conclusion about our troops involvement in Somalia in tally with Al-Shabaab's threat, it's apt and essentially appropriate to understand the multifaceted problems in Somalia. Somalia is simply the number one and thus an archetypical FAILED STATE in the world. That means she has lost the monopoly of power or the use of legal monopolised force within the territorial domain of Somalia. To illuminate further, it suggests that, Somalia as a state has other domestic rival powers that are effectively challenging its authority, autonomy, self-governance and sovereignty; to the extent that she can no longer guarantee the safety of the state and the people.


According to universally agreed principles of International Relations and International Law in congruence with ethical and moral considerations within the framework of Cosmopolitanism, if a state like Somalia cannot protect her citizens and its territory from harm, or cannot provide basic necessities for the citizens; two basic principles are assessed before action is taken. That is whether Somalia is (a) UNWILLING or (b) UNABLE to perform its intrinsic and rational duties as a state? It's an unequivocal and explicit fact that Somalia is very willing but rather unable to protect and provide for the people.Consequently, if Somalia as a state cannot perform these duties, and the poor and innocent people of Somalia continue to perish as a result of rogue and scoundrel groups such as Al-Shabaab, Pirates, War Lords, Clan Politicians, Secessionists and other international criminal gangs operating within Somalia - what will be the faith of our brothers and sisters in Somalia? Remember the protracted and Octopus like intra-state conflict in Somalia actually started in 1990 (ca 23 years ago) and it's still raging.

Captain Saio S. Marrah (Rtd)

If Somalia is unable (though not unwilling) to protect innocent women, children and the aged from an ever raging conflict that is capable of consuming anything and everything on it way, the community of nations must put national interest aside and act morally and ethically in defence (if not for Somalia as state), but to save innocent lives especially those of women and children.  In terse, it meant that the international community has the responsibility to protect the people of Somalia hence the latter is unable to perform same.  When president Koroma put all these into perspective, in retrospect of our civil conflict and the subsequent intervention of ECOMOG and UN Troops in Sierra Leone that subsequently led to the end of hostilities; he felt morally and ethically obliged to commit our troops in Somalia so that they can also achieve the peace and tranquillity we are now enjoying.


President Koroma's decision didn't emerge as a coincidence but rather well thought-out; hence a defining characteristic of the contemporary era has been the extent to which world political leaders have placed ethical and moral considerations at the epicentre of their foreign policy discourse. Our president is convinced that the current international politics has witnessed tremendous and fundamental changes, such that the protection of individual rights acquires equal if not greater priority than the traditional focus on state sovereignty. 

As a fervent Christian, President Koroma is of the view that focussing more on moral and ethical issues rather than narrowly defined (materialistic) national interest will be beneficial not only for the people of Sierra Leone and Somalia but for the entire human race. Such ethical foreign policy of President Koroma has invariably included a commitment to promote human rights and to a greater or lesser extent, discursive endorsement for the principle of protecting or advancing freedom and democracy in Somalia.


President Koroma's resolute assertion about the need to consider the rights, freedoms and wellbeing of Somalis portray a meta-geographical imaginary of a universal moral right where everyone, everywhere is governed by the same moral rules and stretching of state responsibility to protect beyond national borders (extra-territoriality). In light of this therefore, it becomes crystal clear that President Koroma is performing his responsibility to protect the vulnerable people of Somalia from sanguinary despots such as Al-Shabaab and their affiliates.


Based on this emerging norm (R2P) President Koroma has placed the victims of gross human rights violations in Somalia and elsewhere at the centre of his decision making process with the objective of halting massive and systematic violations of human rights. World Best Ernest Bai Koroma is a strong believer in upholding human rights and dignity in Somalia and he is convinced that states should not intervene on the basis of self interest only. The fundamental values of common morality, which maintain that humans have rights not as members of particular community, but as members of human community sharing a common moral world renders Al-Shabaab's threat against Sierra Leone as irrational, illogical and absolutely unfathomed.


Why do I say this? It's cognitively inherent in this piece that these principles (Ethical Foreign Policy and the Responsibility to Protect) provide the basis and moral obligation for people to help one another. The link between common morality and intervention is quite obvious, because the most basic human rights are universal moral rights. If oppression is going on in Somalia, other states have the moral duty and obligation as fellow members of the human community to act for the sake of saving humanity. Reflect and contextualise the ferocity of the violence in Rwanda against the vulnerable and unarmed Tutsis, which left nearly a million of them killed in three months.Questions.. Should brave, morally groomed and ethically minded President Ernest Bai Koroma cowardly withdraw our troops from Somalia due to the irrational and illogical threat from a rogue and despotic Al-Shabaab? Or should Sierra Leone actualize the adage "one good turn deserves another" - by working hand in gloves with other nations in preventing genocide in Somalia by the sanguinary Al-Shabaab extremists?

President Koroma is of the view that the power of character does not consist exclusively in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining a delicate balance between politics and morality in spite of all else.  President Koroma has demonstrated that Judgment and principle must "function like a ship's compass, which records the slightest variations however rough the sea" (Clausewitz; On War).Therefore, notwithstanding Al-Shabaab's threat, I will encourage President Koroma to maintain our troops in Somalia to help rescue it citizens just like we were rescued yesterday. We trust in the wisdom and ingenuity of the President because his track record indicates that he is an innate tactician and a proficient strategist..Al-Shabaab and any other threat(s) will be taken care of accordingly.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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