Thursday, December 31, 2009
Former hawiye warlords and members of the now defunct CIA-funded Alliance for Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism
It was not that long ago when ruthless warlords, aided and abetted by the Bush administration, promised to bring peace to Mogadishu; but they caused more devastation to the already devastated city. The Abdullahi Yusuf-Geeddi and, later on Abdullahi Yusuf –Nur Cadde Transitional Federal Government (TFG1), did not either grow beyond the sandy beaches of this troubled City. The chaotic but short and tranquil period of the Islamic Courts Union ended up eroding all civil liberties to give way to several fundamentalist splinter groups that are now threatening what is left of the Somali fabric. And the current Sheriff - Sharmarke feeble administration is sadly confined to the besieged presidential palace of Villa Somalia (The New Yorker, December, 2009).
After all is said and done, the only two things that had consistently flourished in Southern Somalia (Mogadishu area) in the last 20 years are a culture of violence and an uneducated and corrupt leadership who seek phantom power at the expense of their devastated community.
Meanwhile, the two regional governments of Puntland in the northeast and Somaliland in the northwest have been registering gainful cultures of peace and functioning administrations, notwithstanding challenges in capacity building. It is this contrast between the culture of violence in Mogadishu versus the evolving peaceful civic cultural life in Puntland and Somaliland that forces us to question the model so far utilized.
We loudly wonder how Mogadishu would bring peace to any other region in Somalia when it is not at peace with itself! Would it be asking too much to suggest that Puntland and Somaliland are rather in a better position to bring peace to Mogadihu?
With similar internal debate raging among the Somali community, WardheerNews spoke to Said Samatar, an expert on Somalia, whose forthcoming book is addressing this very debate. Mr. Samatar is of the opinion that in order to foster comprehensive peace in Somalia, it is imperative that Mogadishu be treated as nothing more than a mere region in the tribal web of Somalia, thus forcing Mogadishu to first seek solutions for its own problems from within.
After all, that is what other regions, particularly Puntland and Somaliland, first did to secure their own peace and governance. They successfully utilized their own devises to foster local peace before moving into helping others. With the hope that Mogadishu would change course and follow suit, we urge belligerent groups in Southern Somalia to tackle their problems on regional basis, thereby trying to first secure the peace and order for Mogadishu from bottom up.
To attain a peaceful southern Somalia, the following steps must be taken:
That International community desist from further attempts to establish a Mogadishu-centred centralized national government for all Somalia's regions. This model - a top down approach - has repeatedly failed despite massive political investment by the United Nations Organization and the African Union.
Like Puntland and Somaliland, Mogadishu and the rest of Southern Somalia commence a grass roots based peace-building through their traditional elders and moderate religious leaders.
All non-Southern political operatives in the Mogadishu-based Unity Transitional Federal Government of Sheikh Sheriff Ahmed vacate their positions and begin in an orderly manner to return to their home regions or any other peaceful region of their choice in the country.
Both Puntland and Somaliland administrations should begin to give moral and material support to the afore-mentioned grass roots based peace and reconciliation efforts between groups/clans in Mogadishu.
After proven and tested peace culture is established in Mogadishu and full pacification is achieved among the competing interests in Southern Somalia, the administrations of Puntland and Somaliland shall open up talks with a united Mogadishu-based administration on ways to establish a united federal structure for all Somalia. Somalia’s frontline states must in the interim respect Somalia’s territorial integrity and assist these entities in developing integrated economies and capacities to ward-off threats emanating from Al-Shabab terrorist group.
After twenty years of employing futile and faulty models with grandiose goals, there is a lot to gain by going back to the basics, articulate a vision that endorses that wise motto of "small is beautiful," and take baby steps to get to the big goal of pacifying Mogadishu. In the interest of Somalia, a grass roots based approach to pacifying violent Mogadishu is one alternative that deserves due consideration.
MOGADISHU, Somalia – In a setback for U.S. investigators probing links to the attempted attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, a Somali official said Thursday that another suspect who tried to board a plane with chemicals already had been freed.His release earlier this month will hamper efforts to learn if the incident in Mogadishu was linked to the attempted attack against the U.S.-bound plane on Christmas Day. Terrorism analysts had said the arrest in Somalia could prove highly valuable to the U.S. investigation.Somali Police Commissioner Gen. Ali Hassan Loyan said a Somali court released the suspect Dec. 12 after ruling that officials hadn't demonstrated he intended to commit a crime. The man, whose name has not been released, said the chemicals were for processing camera film.In light of the attempted attack on the Detroit-bound plane, Loyan said Somali authorities would share information and the confiscated materials with U.S. officials."Somalia's federal government affirms that it is ready to double its cooperation with the countries in the world, particularly with America, for it is clear that the incident that happened in Mogadishu and the one that happened in a region in America are similar," Loyan told a news conference in the Somali capital.The Somali case drew little attention before the attempted attack on the U.S.-bound plane. The Homeland Security Department did not learn of the November incident at 's international airport until Wednesday, when U.S. officials began investigating for links between it and the Detroit case.State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Wednesday that linking the case to the Christmas attack "would be speculative at this point."A Nairobi-based diplomat, though, said the incident has similarities to the attempted attack on the Detroit-bound plane. The Somali was said to have a syringe, liquid and powdered chemicals — tools similar to those used by the Nigerian suspect on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information.The Somali suspect was arrested by African Union peacekeeping troops before boarding the Daallo Airlines plane bound for the northern Somali city of . The plane was then headed to and Dubai. Officials on Wednesday said he was arrested Nov. 13; Loyan said he was arrested Nov. 6. The reason for the discrepancy wasn't clear.A Somali security official involved in the Mogadishu arrest said the suspect had a 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) package of chemical powder and a container of liquid chemicals, items that Loyan displayed on Thursday.A government-appointed expert concluded that the materials could not have brought down the commercial airliner. Loyan said the expert did conclude though that the materials were a danger to the aircraft.For the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly hid explosive PETN in a condom or condom-like bag just below his torso. In the Somali case, the powdered material smelled strongly of ammonia.Michael Stock, the president of Bancroft, an organization that advises AMISOM, the African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu, said after officials discovered the chemical materials on the Somali suspect the materials were provided for analysis to Western embassy officials involved in supporting AMISOM.U.S. investigators say Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian suspect held in the Detroit case, told them he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in , which Western officials say is a jumping-off point for foreign fighters slipping into . Large swaths of Somalia are controlled by an al-Qaida-linked insurgent group, al-Shabab.Abdulmutallab is charged with trying to destroy an aircraft. U.S. authorities allege he tried to ignite a two-part concoction of PETN and possibly a glycol-based liquid explosive, setting off popping, smoke and some fire but no deadly detonation.If the Somali suspect was planning anything similar, it wasn't known what his specific target might have been. Most passengers on Daallo's Mogadishu route are Somali. The carrier's Web site calls it the national airline of Somalia's neighbor, Djibouti.Some 1,800 U.S. troops are stationed in Djibouti, while Dubai would offer the greatest range of West-bound flights along the route in question.http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091231/ap_on_re_af/af_somalia
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Maritime officials said the Pramoni - a 20,000-tonne Indonesian-owned vessel - was seized en route to India and was now heading towards Somalia.The ship has a crew of 24, most of whom are Indonesian.Last Monday Somali pirates captured two other ships with 45 crew off the East African coast.
A UK-flagged chemical tanker, the St James Park, was captured in the Gulf of Aden while on its way to Thailand from Spain.The Navios Apollon, a Panamanian-flagged Greek cargo ship with 19 crew, was hijacked north of the Seychelles.In the latest incident, the captain of the Singapore-flagged Pramoni reported by radio that the ship had been hijacked but all the crew were well, the EU counter-piracy force Navfor said.The ship's crew consists of 17 Indonesians, five Chinese, one Nigerian and one Vietnamese, it added.Pirate attacks are common off the Somali coast and international navies have been deployed to counter them.Somali pirates seize Indonesian chemical tanker -
Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, told AFP pirates armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades launched the attack from a skiff off Somali waters.
"The Somali pirates chased the tanker and sprayed bullets early Wednesday in a bid to hijack the ship," he said."Fortunately, the tanker managed to escape the pirates," Choong said, adding there were no reports of injuries to the crew.He urged seafarers to be on high alert as pirates were attacking ships on "all fronts.""Pirates are expanding their areas of attack. They are now operating in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and in the Indian Ocean," he said.National oil conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp. said later that none of its large fleet of tankers had been attacked, but an industry source told AFP the vessel in the report could belong to a private company based in the emirate.Several other Gulf and pan-Arab oil tanker companies are based in Kuwait.Somali pirates captured a freighter, bulk carrier and a chemical tanker recently, defying foreign warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden and ending the year with millions in ransom.The marauding sea bandits' latest catch was the St James Park, a British-flagged chemical tanker with a crew of 26 from nine different countries, which was seized on Monday.Since the resumption of pirate attacks following the end of the summer monsoon season three months ago, Somali pirates have expanded from the Gulf of Aden into the wide open seas of the Indian Ocean, venturing as far as the Seychelles and beyond, Choong said.Despite the increased international military presence off Somalia's coastline -- the longest on the African continent -- pirates have raked in huge ransoms.Alongside the EU, the United States and other national navies deployed warships off the Somali coast in December 2008 to protect vessels and secure maritime routes in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
Somali-American men are returning to their homeland to fight alongside Al Shabab, an insurgent group with ties to Al Qaeda. Some experts think an organized recruiting effort is responsible for luring them back to Somalia.Michael B. Farrell Staff writer / December 30, 2009 Seattle Nearly two decades after their parents fled war and famine for the safety and abundance of Minnesota, Ohio, and the wet suburbs of Seattle, a steady stream of young Somali-American men are headed back into the
They are going to wage jihad in a homeland they barely know, driven by a heady brew of nationalist and religious fervor and lured by what experts say is a sophisticated recruitment network exploiting vulnerabilities in the Somali diaspora.
As many as six Somali-Americans are believed to have died after taking up arms with Al Shabab, the Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants battling the transitional government in Somalia. Shirwa Ahmed, who traveled from Minneapolis to help execute an attack on Oct. 29, 2008, that killed 20 people, is believed to be the first American suicide bomber.
Somali refugees in North America and Europe began returning to their homeland to fight after Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006, routing the Islamist coalition then governing much of the country. The incursion provoked a declaration of holy war by Somalia’s Muslim hard-liners against their neighboring Christian nation, and, more broadly, the United States for its perceived support of the invasion.
Since then at least 20 young Somali-Americans have gone to join the insurgency. Their path to radicalization, and perhaps eventually to the ranks of militant Islam, represents a pressing concern for US counterterrorism officials today. Many of the young men who traveled to the battlefields in the Horn of Africa have died, but a handful have returned.There’s no evidence yet that these Al Shabab (the Youth) fighters have targets outside their homeland, federal officials say, but radicalized US citizens or legal residents present a unique challenge – they can come and go with relative ease.“That is the single most significant issue,” says David Gomez, assistant special agent-in-charge of the Seattle field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Once someone has been radicalized and trained by militants, he says, “he is then a viable recruitment target for any terrorist group.”A string of recent counterterrorism cases adds new weight to this concern. In December, five young Americans from the Washington, D.C., area were arrested in Pakistan for reportedly trying to join a militant training camp connected to Al Qaeda. In Chicago, David Headley has been charged with traveling to India to help orchestrate the 2008 Mumbai (Bombay) attacks that killed about 170 people.And a federal terrorism case against a Denver airport shuttle driver, arrested in September, claims that he intended to use bombmaking know-how obtained in Pakistan to blow up New York subways.“The question remains: How do we protect ourselves from threats that emanate from overseas? We cannot close our borders or cut off the Internet. We must start at the source,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said earlier this year in a talk to the Council on Foreign Relations.
To say the least, these challenges are formidable and, if not carefully attended to, could cumulatively have serious repercussions for the existence and wellbeing of Mr. Faroole’s government.
A bit background is due here: At the wake of establishing the Puntland regional state in 1998 by the then victorious former faction leader Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who had successfully ejected violent Islamic groups from the territory, the vision was to create an all Somali sanctuary with an autonomous status in the northeastern flank of stateless Somalia. More importantly, the following goals were embedded in the vision:
|1. ||To create an autonomous regional administration within a future federal government system for Somalia; |
|2. ||To challenge Somaliland's claim for a unilateral secession by placing claim on all Harti-inhabited regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn; |
|3. ||To create an oasis marked by free market-based economy and a bottom-up peacemaking. |
The consequences of Mr. Faroole’s policy change could be one of two: This change could foster good relationship between his government and that of Somaliland, hence ultimately sacrificing the Dhulbahante question by effectively letting Hargeysa administer the disputed regions; or this could lead, if remotely, the formation of Sool/Sanaag/Cayn resistance forces to reclaim their region and seek a clan-based regional state independent both from Hargeysa and Garowe. The former case seems to be more likely to happen in the event that Mr. Faroole stays course and decides to squeeze any potential opposition to Somaliland’s authority. But this would come with a price, primarily a prospective instability fomented in Puntland.
President Abdirahman Faroole meeting with Ethiopian officials
Despite a counter claim made by the Puntland authority that at least "one prisoner died from tuberculoses-related illness," it is plausible that the Faroole administration wanted (out of his mishandling of ONLF members) to send at least two messages: (1) Puntland administration is not going to tolerate anything that may threaten its regional benefactor, Ethiopia; and (2) Puntland would stand only for the sole interest of its "stakeholder.” In other words, Puntland leaders are going to pursue only their local interest and forfeit any other higher ideals that were in the past recognized, such as safeguarding the rights of all Somali speaking people.
One possible result from alienating ONLF, which at times plays on the primordial feelings of the larger Ogaden clan, could be a retaliation by ONLF or ONLF sympathizers exacting casualties against all business interests and transhumance movements associated with Puntland that move in and out of the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia.
But the most debilitating challenge to Faroole's position on the Ogaden prisoners comes from the powerful Chairman of the African Subcommittee of the US Congress, Congressman Payne, who in his rebuke of Puntland, stated the following:
|"This is not the first time Puntland authorities have harassed, tortured, killed, and handed over men of Ogadeni origin to Ethiopian security. Over a year ago, two senior members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) were handed over to Ethiopian security by a Puntland minister. They came, with the permission of Puntland authorities; to discuss the murder of an elder.....I strongly condemn this abusive and dictatorial behavior and demand the immediate release of the prisoners. I also call for those responsible for the killing of the prisoner and intimidation of Ogadenis to be held accountable, including senior officials who authorized these measures. Failure to act quickly on this matter will have serious consequences." |
|Mr. Faroole and some members of his cabinet meeting with Congressman Donald Payne in the US Embassy in Nairobi. |
The Puntland administration, if it intends to weather these challenges, must bring peace and order into its region, coupled with good governance by taking some of the following corrective measures:
- Puntland must seek cooperation and consultation with Congress Payne and his staff on matters concerning the rights of ONLF and other non-combatant Ethiopian refugees in its region. In a post Rwanda world, African human rights issue are no longer peripheral matters to be left alone to small time dictators or rulers of mini states in a distant country.
- Puntland should be able to explain the cause of death of the concerned prisoner in Puntland. Furthermore, it has to bring all the rest of "ONLF" prisoners to an open and legitimate court, where Amnesty and Red Cross observers are invited to hear and, if need be, represent said prisoners. This may present both challenges and opportunities for Puntland in showcasing its court system.
- Puntland must quickly rescind its decree to arrest Dhulbahante elders and bring them back to the table for consultation on their question. Puntland has every right to denounce war and confrontation against Somaliland. It is not, however, prudent to antagonize groups who are part of the "original stakeholder" of the Puntland regional state.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In 2007 and 2008, al-Shabab, a militant group with ties to al-Qaida, rallied Somalis with calls for nationalism and consolidated vast amount of territory in southern and central Somalia and large areas of Mogadishu. In recent months, al-Qaida-trained foreign militants have reportedly taken over much of the training and operations of the organization. A vicious suicide bombing in Mogadishu earlier this month that killed and wounded 60 people increased fears in Somalia and in the West that the country is on the verge of becoming a significant base for al-Qaida.
On Monday, the information official for al-Shabab in the Juba region, Hassan Yacqub Ali, declared it would be impossible for anyone to challenge al-Shabab's power in southern Somalia. He dismissed the conference in Dolow town as a publicity stunt designed to attract money from the West.http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Somalis-Regional-Government-South-29DEC09--80274442.html
Somali pirates hijack chemical tanker-official,Somali Pirates Seize Cargo Ship, British Tanker - International , Somali Pirates Seize 2 Ships, Hold 45
MOGADISHU, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Somali pirates have hijacked a UK-flagged chemical tanker sailing to Thailand from Spain, a maritime official said on Tuesday. Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya-based East Africa Seafarers' Association said the St James Park sent out a distress signal on Monday from the Gulf of Aden and had now changed course for the Somali coast. Somali pirates told Reuters late on Monday they had hijacked another vessel but did not give any details. (Editing by David Clarke)http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE5BS05S.htm
File: The St. James Park, a U.K.-flagged chemical tanker is seen on the River Thames at Northfleet in Essex, England.
NAIROBI, Kenya — Striking into the heavily patrolled Gulf of Aden, Somali pirates seized a British-flagged chemical tanker — the first merchant vessel to be hijacked there in nearly six months, the same day that a ship was taken by brigands in the Indian Ocean, officials said Tuesday.
The double hijacking late Monday shows that, a year after an international naval armada began deploying off Somalia to protect shipping, piracy remains a problem. Monday's attacks occurred more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) apart, indicating the wide range of territory prowled by pirates and underscoring the difficulty of policing such a large area. Cmdr. John Harbour, the spokesman for the European Union's anti-piracy force, said the
Somali Pirates Seize 2 Ships, Hold 45 Crew Members
It was less than 3 days when the security personnel of Ahlu-Sunnah Waljama have apprehended 4 men carrying explosive things in the same district of Dolow.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest
American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.
Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi.
“They provided sanctuary to international criminals. It is a rogue state. We petitioned for sanctions on behalf of IGAD and it is gratifying that members of the UN Security Council adopted the resolution.” The minister observed that Eritrea tried to attack an IGAD member state, Djibouti, and recruited rebels to destabilise it. The two countries have a border dispute.
“We are going to demand for more stringent sanctions from the international community against that country. It’s a spoiler.” The resolution said Eritrea’s actions undermined peace and reconciliation in Somalia. It called the dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea a threat to international peace and security. The Security Council demanded that Eritrea makes available information on Djiboutian combatants missing in action since the clashes in June 2008. This, the UN said, would enable those concerned to ascertain the presence and condition of the prisoners of war. The UN sanctions imposed last week constitute an arms embargo, travel bans on key leaders and freezes of their assets and businesses. The resolution was backed by 13 votes out of 15. China abstained while Libya voted against. The resolution directs Eritrea to “cease arming, training and equipping armed groups and their members, including al Shabaab”. The latter is accused of having links with al Qaeda. The asset freeze is expected to curb the finances of the individuals and businesses that fund the Eritrean regime, while the travel ban is aimed at the military and political leaders. The African Union, during its summit in Sirte, Libya last July, asked the UN to impose sanctions on Eritrea.Eritrea has repeatedly denied that it supports Al Shabaab militants fighting to topple the Somali government. “The Security Council has decided to impose sanctions on Eritrea on fabricated lies, mainly concocted by the Ethiopian regime and the US administration,” said Eritrea’s ambassador to the UN Araya Desta. However, the UN monitoring group found that the Eritrean government secretly shipped arms, including missiles and explosives, to Islamic insurgents in Somalia http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/12/705451
U.N. Security Council orders arms embargo on Eritrea
Sheikh Hassan Yakoub Ali, the Information Officer of al-Shabaab Administration in Juba region, spoke on the pro-Islamist Radio, Al-Andalus, in Kismayu town, 500 kilometres south of Mogadishu, telling the listeners that no other group can form a state in Southern Somalia.Sheikh Yakoub was responding to claims by Mr Aden Mohamed Nur alias Saransour, an influential politician in southern Somalia, who announced on Saturday, that a meeting was held on the issue in Dolo town, 370 kilometres southwest of Mogadishu.Mr Saransour had stated that the objective of the conference was to plan ways of establishing a semi-autonomous state for six regions in Southern Somalia.The town of Dolo is at the strategic border junction between Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.According to Mr Saransour, 200 delegates participated in the meeting representing the inhabitants of Gedo, Bay, Bakol, Lower Juba, Middle Juba and Lower Shabelle regions, all of them lying southwest of Mogadishu, the capital. "What the 200 delegates discussed is how to liberate the south-western regions from Islamist radical groups opposing the TFG," said Mr Saransour.
Mr Saransour indicated that a technical committee was formed to work on the way forward. He also stated that pro-government officials that participated in the talks included three legislators, namely Barre Aden Shire Hirale, Abdullahi Sheikh Ismael, a former Foreign Affairs Minister, and Mohamud Sayid Aden.If realised, the proposed state will join other states like Galmudug and Puntland that were respectively formed over the years in the central and north-eastern regions of Somalia. Somaliland in north-western Somalia, however, declared its independence from the rest of Somalia in May 1991, but remains without international recognition.http://allafrica.com/stories/200912281349.html
Designation of Al-Shabaab
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