By Sophia Tesfamariam
On my flight back from London, UK, I decided to catch up on my reading and began by going through some articles that were compiled for me by a friend. It was amongst the pile that I found the piece on Somalia by J. Peter Pham; it turned out to be yet another lazy analysis… I say lazy because his entire piece was a patching together of “cut and paste” paragraphs collected from various dubious self-serving sources. Pham´s incoherent piece was an elaborate apologia for Meles Zenawi, the only terrorist lurking in the Horn of Africa, who bears full responsibility for the carnage in Somalia. Pham has become one of the most vocal apologists for the minority regime in Ethiopia and his latest “cut and paste” piece is a regurgitation of the regime´s often heard narration (tantrums), as it scrambles to get itself out of yet another self-created quagmire.
Those of us who have been observing development in the Horn region know Meles Zenawi´s modus operandi. This latest piece by Pham is a desperate and transparent attempt to divert attention away from the ill-advised, illegal and immoral US-backed Ethiopian invasion and 2-year occupation of Somalia, and international crimes committed by Meles Zenawi´s regime in Somalia. Sanctioning Eritrea (for not toeing Washington´s line on Somalia) is supposed to give Meles Zenawi a respite from his self created quagmire. For Pham and his cohorts, blaming Eritrea is somehow supposed to absolve Meles and those responsible for the crimes committed in Somalia. It may take time, but sooner or later, Meles Zenawi and his handlers will pay for the destruction of Somalia and the deaths of thousands of innocent Somalis. It is Meles Zenawi´s hands that are drenched with the blood of Somalis, not Eritrea´s. Pham is barking up the wrong tree.
My first instinct was to ignore the dishonest individual and his “cut and paste” propaganda piece, which he attempts to pass of for an intellectual analysis on Somalia. But since there may be some lawmakers who might take his statements for fact and believe his misinformation, once in a while, as we have done in the past, it’s important that Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis, as citizens of the Horn, call him out and expose his hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty. This ordained Catholic priest (a credential rarely mentioned in his articles) has traded his priestly collar for a “falfalina” (bow tie), and replaced the morals and teachings of the Catholic Church, with lies and deceptions in his new found (much more lucrative) vocation as a hired gun (or is it hired pen). This embedded priest exposes the ugly side of academia and how much US Foreign Policy is damaged by self serving, morally bankrupt operatives such as Pham who have no qualms about deceiving the US public and lawmakers in order to advance their own illicit (often illegal) agendas.
Horn residents are not surprised by J. Peter Pham’s latest piece in defense of Meles Zenawi and the minority regime in Ethiopia. One of the “intellectuals for hire” that has provided the minority regime political shield in Washington with “testimonies in Congress”, Pham has deliberately lied to, and misled, lawmakers and the American public with is faulty analysis on Somalia, Somaliland, the UIC and more. Pham´s thinking is not just beyond the pale, it´s willfully dangerous and evil. This self appointed “expert” on Africa believes his brief stint as a “Vatican envoy to East Africa” gives him the credentials to write at will, without providing a single shred of evidence to support his far fetched assertions. “Cut and paste” paragraphs fit together to fit Meles Zenawi´s narratives will not cut it. Distorting the facts, omitting the truth and fabricating lies is not a Christian thing to do…as a former priest, he ought to know better.
It is no secret that Pham is closely associated with the conservative neocolonialist cartel; a dubious alliance of fundamentally different and even ideologically opposed religious and political factions such as the coalition of evangelical Christians (also known as the New Christian Right) and the aggressive political ideologues commonly known as the Neoconservatives who have launched an unprecedented evil campaign against Eritrea for the last 10 years in order to advance their hegemonic agendas in the region. Pham is also closely associated with Joseph Greibosky, the author of several erroneous reports on Eritrea and Iran and whose organization, the Institute for Religion and Public Policy, enjoyed a lucrative arrangement-to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars –with the Bush Administration´s State Department.
As a consultant for U.S. intelligence agencies who has helped place former students in intelligence positions, Pham knows a thing or two about that industry and its connections in Somalia. Pham, more than anybody else, knows that Eritrea has no interest in destabilizing Somalia. Despite what Jendayi E. Frazer and her cohorts purport, neither she, nor her hired guns have been able to provide any evidence to back up their evil allegations against Eritrea. It has been almost three years since Frazer and her accomplices fabricated the outlandish UN reports on Somalia, and to this day, neither Frazer nor her accomplices(Ethiopia, Kenya and the illegitimate TNGs), or any other independent party has been able to substantiate its contents-none. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN Envoy for Somalia for Somalia, has admitted as much.
Pham, who in a recent Washington Post article had the audacity to preach to President Barack Obama about the law, continues to justify Meles Zenawi’s lawlessness and belligerence in Somalia and numerous violations of international law and over two dozen UN Security Council resolutions. Exposing his bias and pro-Ethiopia stance, distorting the facts and deliberately omitting from his latest piece, the Final and Binding decision of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) which was delivered on 13 April 2002, which unequivocally awarded Badme, the casus belli for the 1998-2000 border conflict to Eritrea, Pham attempts to divert the issue by mentioning the Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission (EECC), a body that chose to address an issue in 2005 that was outside of its Algiers Agreement mandate.
Had Pham done his homework, instead of parroting Meles Zenawi’s tantrums, he would have known that the Algiers Agreement, in addition to the EEBC and EECC, also called for the establishment of a Commission by the African Union and the Secretary General of the United Nations, whose mandate was to investigate the origins of the conflict. The African Union, now an appendage of Menelik Palace has yet to fulfill its obligations under the Algiers Agreements-ditto for the UN. Ethiopia continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme, in violation of international law.
Eritrea´s principled position on Somalia has been consistent from day one. As far back as 1993, Eritrea has been consistently calling for non-interference in the internal affairs of Somalia and has repeatedly called on the international community to respect Somalia´s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Eritrea does not recognize the Transitional National Government of Somalia, not because of the individuals involved, but because it is an illegitimate regime that has been imposed on the Somali people against their wishes. The previous externally imposed TNGs that have been “propped up” in Mogadishu have been repeatedly rejected by the Somali people, who want to choose their own leaders. Eritrea’s non-recognition of the externally established TNG is not what is destabilizing Somalia; rather it is the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia and the installing of illegitimate TNGs in Somalia that will be amenable to the West and its allies that has threatened the peace, security and stability in the region.
Like Meles Zenawi, Pham is a flip flopping street smart “intellectual for hire” and knows how to sell his services. The man has no principles. He says one thing today and something different tomorrow, as long as it suits his handlers. There was a time when Pham opposed externally imposed TNGs in Somalia. Here is an excerpt from a piece he wrote before his conversion. On 25 May 2007, in a piece he wrote for the National Review, he said:
“…If anything, the very existence of the TFG – or any central government which in the Somali context is always viewed as an imposition from the outside – is a provocation that invites resistance and gives destabilizing forces an easy entry…”
In another article (”Do Not Resuscitate,” The National Interest Mar.-Apr. 2008) Pham went further to explain why an externally imposed TNG in Somalia would not work. He wrote:
“…It should be clear that the way forward in imported states is not to mindlessly repeat mantras about dialogue aimed at shoring up “transitional governments” that are congenitally incapable of governing. Rather, what is needed is the clarity of vision and the political courage to squarely face the facts on the ground. The interests of the international community, as well as those of great powers (like the United States) most likely to become involved in the conflicted regions like the Horn of Africa, require security and stability. That will not be achieved by propping up inherently illegitimate and destabilizing regimes constructed at some international conference center…”
In a June 2009 article he mocked the TNG led by Sheikh Sharif Ahmed:
“…Even as it was struggling to maintain control of what little bits of its capital it still holds, the TFG continues the charade of being a sovereign government…”
This embedded priest ought to know about charades.
On 02 Jul 09 Pham wrote the following in World Defense Review:
“…What this approach ignores, however, is that if the failure so far of no fewer than fourteen internationally-sponsored attempts at establishing a national government indicates anything, it is the futility—indeed, hubris—of the notion that outsiders can impose a regime on Somalia, even if it is staffed with presumably moderate Somalis duly vetted and anointed by the international community. Instead, in the context of the decentralized reality among the Somali, the concerned international community in general and the United States in particular need to invest the time and resources to seek out local partners who are actually capable of partnering to create a modicum of stability—societal, economic, and, ultimately, governmental—rather than throwing money and arms at a “Transitional Federal Government” which, as a former U.S. ambassador who dealt with Somali issues told me last week, “is neither transitional, nor federal, nor a government.”…”
Is Pham going to accuse this anonymous “former US ambassador”, as he did Eritrea, of being a spoiler, of destabilizing the Horn region? I doubt that.
Pham’s latest hypocritical piece is a perfect example of the dangers inherent in using “intellectuals for hire”. In pursuit of myopic political agendas such greedy, fame seeking individuals like Pham who have no qualms manipulating and distorting the fact lack scholarly integrity and credibility. Seldom held to account for the ramifications of their writings which are always shaped to advance a particular agenda-in this case, absolution of Meles Zenawi’s regime for its numerous international crimes, these “intellectuals for hire” have damaged US credibility and integrity in the world. US Policy for Africa is incoherent and racist because of self serving “advisors” and “analysts” like Pham.
This Islam phobic, incoherent US policy for Somalia is precisely what is threatening to destabilize the entire region. Pham and the other “intellectuals for hire” should be held accountable for the fire they helped fuel in Somalia with their faulty “analysis” and incessant lobbying on behalf of the regime in Ethiopia. With Meles Zenawi, Jendayi E. Frazer instigated and planned the invasion and occupation of Somalia. The pulverization of Somali villages and farms, the deaths of over 12000 innocent civilians, the displacement of over 2 million Somalis, the extra judicial massacres of individuals labeled by Pham and others as being “fundamentalists” and “extremists”, the indiscriminate bombings of Somali markets etc. etc. that followed is the cause behind the greatest humanitarian disaster in the history of Somalia.
The Obama Administration can do itself a favor by investigating Pham´s role in this sordid and destructive affair and ask him why he is hell bent on fueling the carnage in Somalia and campaigning for the dismemberment of Somalia. Whose interests/agenda is he promoting? Certainly, his agenda is not in the best interest of the United States or Somalia…
The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle.