Mogadishu Line

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The "Mogadishu Line" is a foreign policy term used to describe the point at which foreign involvement in a conflict shifts from peacekeeping or diplomacy to combat operations. It is used–in both pejorative and neutral contexts–to refer to the reluctance of the United States and other international actors to intervene militarily in another state for humanitarian reasons, often due to the fear of being engaged in combat operations which have a high human cost.

Origin of the term

The term specifically refers to external intervention in the Somali Civil War, in which several opposing factions engaged in a struggle to seize control of the state. In April 1992, following calls for action by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the UN Security Council approved the commencement of humanitarian operations into Somalia, which initially involved a small contingent of UN-approved troops (UNOSOM) followed in December by a US-dominated military force UNITAF.

In March 1993, the UN Security Council authorized a new mission, UNOSOM II, endowed with enforcement powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to establish a secure environment throughout Somalia. However, operations turned sour following the Battle of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993, when US forces attempted to launch an attack on the Olympic Hotel in search of Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The subsequent combat resulted in the...
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