Today I saw this piece on Somalis condemning the move by Sierra Leone to deploy the first batch of AMISOM peacekeepers to join the forces of Uganda and Burundi on the ground in Somalia.
Lumping the AMISOM forces in with those of Ethiopia and Kenya, it attacks this move as yet another invasion of Somalia. There are many things wrong which such an idea some of which I feel need to be pointed out. Firstly, this lumping together does not help anyone and is difficult to substantiate. Ethiopia and Kenya (though now nominally under AMISOM command) did invade Somalia and, whatever their aims or motives this will always be the case. On the other hand AMISOM is controlled not only by the AU but by the UN with strict rules governing it's actions. Even if you do not believe that these institutions are there to help Somalia there is the simple fact that AMISOM could not hope to occupy or control territory with the number of men under it's command. It would be swiftly defeated, if not only by Somali forces but by the international community as well.
Secondly, it must be remembered that Sierra Leone has had it's fair share, both of civil war and foreign troop occupation. After a horrific war broke out between the government and a collection of nasty rebel groups headed by the infamous RUF the country saw intervention from Executive Outcomes (a private military company formed of mainly UK and South African ex-special forces), the United Kingdom and the United Nations. Not only does Sierra Leone harbour no real ambitions that would damage Somalia it is mildly insulting for such accusations of invasion to be made.
The fear of invasion is an issue that must be swiftly resolved before the issue gets out of hand. There is no clear way out of the political mess represented by Somalia but the last thing that is needed is infighting between Somalis and those of the AU who are there to try and help. The worst outcome of this perhaps is that the international community will move on to focus on another problem and leave Somalia to what would almost certainly be another protracted period of civil war.