JC History Tuition Notes Bukit Timah Bishan Bedok Singapore - How did the Somali civil war start - United Nations

How did the Somali civil war start?

What happened in Somalia?
In the 1980s, a civil war broke out in Somalia, which is located close to the ‘Horn of Africa’ (next to Ethiopia and Kenya). The internal conflict arose due to the resistance against the dictator – Jaalle Mohamed Siad Barre. In 1991, armed opposition overthrew the Barre government, leaving behind a power vacuum, such that political infighting ensued. Generally, even with the intervention of the United Nations, Somalia was embroiled in a longstanding conflict. Following the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, the UN lost its confidence and withdrew in 1995.

Topic of Study [For H1/H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security

In the next section, we will learn more about the respective roles that can explain the developments of the Somali civil war, particularly the involvement of the United Nations.

1. [Somalia] A vague semblance of order
Following the collapse of the Barre government, Somalia entered a state of anarchy as multiple military factions began to engage in violent confrontations. The Somali National Movement (SNM) occupied the northern parts (later known as Somaliland), whereas the United Somali Congress (USC) controlled both the capital of Mogadishu and the southern regions.

However, as the capital represented the seat of power, armed factions led by the USC leaders, Mohamed Farah Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohamed, fought aggressively. Then, Ali Mahdi Mohammed was recognised as the President of Somalia, even though his political influence was limited to the capital. In 1992, a ceasefire was called between the two leaders.

2. [United Nations] Humanitarian responses
In view of the humanitarian crisis in Somalia, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed Resolution 733 (23 Jan 1992) and Resolution 746 (17 Mar 1992). The purpose of these Resolutions was to assist Somalia in the restoration of peace through the provision of humanitarian support. To facilitate this process, the United Nations Operation in Somalia I (UNOSOM I) was formed. Unfortunately, the severity of internal political instability due to the military infighting between warlords hampered the UNOSOM I’s humanitarian relief efforts.

To address this setback, the UNSC passed Resolution 794 (3 Dec 1992) to authorise the deployment of the United Task Force (UNITAF). The UNITAF’s role was to facilitate the creation of a stable and secure environment for ‘humanitarian relief operations’. Notably, the UNITAF was granted SC authorization to use force and ensure that there was minimal obstruction by the local warlords in Somalia. In 1993, the UNOSOM II was deployed to sustain the provision of humanitarian support.

3. [USA] A fatal error: The Battle of Mogadishu
In Aug 1993, the US deployed a Joint Special Operations force, known as the Task Force Ranger, with the aim of capture two of General Mohammed Farah Aidid’s lieutenants. It was part of Operation ‘Gothic Serpent’, which had the main aim of seizing Farah Aidid in the capital Mogadishu.

In Oct 1993, the operation met a major setback as two US ‘Black Hawk’ helicopters were shot down by the local aggressors. All the survivors except one (Michael Durant) were killed by the Somalis at the crash site.

The failed operation had greater political implications on both the US and UN. US President Bill Clinton changed the foreign policy stance and withdrew US forces from Somalia. Similarly, other UN member states followed suit, such as Italy, Belgium, Sweden and France.

What was the outcome?
In conclusion, the UNSC issued Resolution 954 (4 Nov 1994) and called on the UN to withdraw all its forces from Somalia. Eventually, all the UN soldiers left the ‘failed state’ on 3 Mar 1995.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following questions to understand the case study better:
– Was the UN successful in providing humanitarian aid in this conflict?
– What were the determining factors to evaluate the successes and limitations of the UN operations in Somalia? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have examined the UN’s role in the post-Cold War period, we would like to introduce other JC tuition classes that you can sign up, namely the GP Tuition, Economics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition classes, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. These lessons will be useful in providing you with the resources and practices to be ready for the rigours of the GCE A Level examinations.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What happened in the Suez Canal Crisis - JC History Essay Skills

What happened in the Suez Canal Crisis?

What was the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956?
The Suez Canal Crisis broke out when Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, nationalised the Suez Canal. In response, both the United Kingdom and France retaliated and sought to regain control of the canal. Eventually, Egypt managed to retain control of the canal. Subsequently, Israel invaded Egypt, in which this invasion was also known as the Second Arab-Israeli War.

Topic of Study [For H1/H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security 

In the following section, we will re-trace the historical steps and find out what exactly happened during the Suez Crisis and how the United Nations responded to this conflict. By understanding such case studies thoroughly, you will develop a wholesome comprehension of the political effectiveness of the United Nations in handling different forms of challenges.

1. How did the Suez Canal Crisis start?
As mentioned earlier, Nasser’s nationalisation of the Suez Canal angered both UK and France the latter group’s economic interests were at stake. In particular, the Suez Canal Company was a joint enterprise owned by the two countries. Therefore, the British and France were determined to restore control of the canal.

On a separate but related note, Israel perceived Egypt as a security threat due to the latter’s involvement in the 1948 War of Independence as part of the Arab coalition forces. As such, Israel invaded Egypt on 29 October 1956, while UK and France deployed troops under the pretext of defending their economic interests (i.e. Suez Canal).

2. How did the UN respond? 
On 31 October 1956, the UN Security Council called for an emergency General Assembly meeting. The 1950 ‘Uniting for Peace’ resolution was invoked to empower the General Assembly in the planning of recommendations to end the conflict. The UN came to a decision of restraining the aggressor nations and facilitating a ceasefire. As such, the UN formed the first-ever task force, known as the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) to oversee the resolution of the Suez Canal Crisis.  The UNEF played a supervisory role of ensuring the withdrawal of the opposing forces.

3. What was the outcome?
At the initial stage, UN was unaware that these three nations (i.e. Israel, UK and France) launched coordinated attacks. Over time, the realization of this combined military effort angered USA, which threatened to impose economic sanctions should they refuse to back down. Faced with international criticisms and pressures, both the British and French forces complied and withdrew their troops by December 1956. Similarly, Israel acceded to political and economic pressures of the US and withdrew its troops in March 1957.

In the wake of the crisis, Egyptian ownership of the Suez Canal was recognised by the United Nations. By April 1957, the canal was re-opened for shipping. Although the crisis had come to an end, the absence of a peace settlement between Egypt and Israel led to the outbreak of the Six-Day War.

Unfortunately, given the principal requirement of respecting sovereign rights, Egypt’s request for the departure of UNEF could not be ignored. Hence, the withdrawal of the UN allowed tensions to rise and manifest in the form of another military confrontation.

What can we learn from this case study?
Once you have understood the general idea of this UN case study, consider the following points:
– Did the UN play an important role in the resolution of this conflict? If so, how? 
– Were structural factors of the UN more important than the domestic conditions of the conflict zone in affecting the political effectiveness of the UN? [to be discussed in class]

In the subsequent articles, we will examine other related case studies to derive a more comprehensive understanding of the UN’s role in upholding international peace and security from 1945 to 2000. As part of the Paper 1 Theme 3 topic, you are expected to be familiar with a wide range of case studies to provide evidence to support your arguments on the assessment of the UN’s performance. You can consider joining our JC History Tuition to become better in organising your content and applying your knowledge to A Level History essay questions.

Additionally, you can complement your revision for the Preliminary and Promotional examinations by attending classes, like Economics Tuition and GP Tuition that will impart you with the essential knowledge and exam-smart skills to ace the A Level examinations. 

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