Peacekeeping: Embarrassing Embargos

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May 29,2008: Despite a sixteen years long UN arms embargo, Somalia still gets regular shipments of weapons. All through the 1990s, seaborne smugglers brought in all the arms and ammo the local market demanded. As the economy recovered, so did the volume of arms imports. Most of this stuff was AK-47s, machine-guns (including heavy, 12.7 and 14.5mm ones), RPGs and mortars. The tribal warfare and warlords didn't need anything heavier.

After Ethiopia sent several brigades of troops into Somalia last year (to shut down Islamic radicals who were organizing raids into Ethiopia), the arch-foe of Ethiopia, Eritrea, began flying in weapons and ammo for any groups that would fight Ethiopia and its Somali allies. Ethiopia also flew in more arms. UN protests were ignored, or everyone simply denied that the weapons were being brought in. The small force of peacekeepers in Mogadishu have also been involved, with several peacekeepers engaging in illegal sales of their own weapons, and weapons seized from Somalis.

An arms embargo works to stop importation of most major weapons systems (armored vehicles, aircraft and warships), but cannot stop small arms and heavy weapons.

 


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