Center for Peace and Democracy (CPD)

Friday, May 19, 2006

US committed to working with 'partners' to end unrest in Somalia

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House expressed its commitment to working with "regional and international partners" in Somalia to establish a functioning central government, and to prevent Islamic extremism from taking root there.

"The United States strongly supports the transitional federal institutions in Somalia, because they are trying to reestablish a functioning central government within Somalia that can bring the Somali people out of the period of civil conflict," White House spokesman Tony Snow said at a press conference.

Snow said that Washington has long been concerned that ongoing unrest could turn lawless Somalia into a haven for terrorists.

"You've got instability in Somalia right now, and there is concern about the presence of foreign terrorists, particularly al-Qaeda, within Somalia," Snow told reporters.

"In an environment of instability, as we've seen in the past, Al-Qaeda may take root, and we want to make sure that Al-Qaeda does not in fact establish a beachhead in Somalia," he said.
"These are problems that we've seen in other ungoverned regions in the past. The terrorists are going to seek to take advantage of the environment and use that kind of chaos in order to put together camps and therefore mount operations around the world," the spokesman added.

"We will continue to work with regional and international partners wherever we can to crack down on terrorism and also to try to prevent its rising," Snow said.

Somalia has been engulfed by deadly violence, with the latest surge of violence over the past several days around the capital Mogadishu killing nearly 140 people.

The US spokesman on Wednesday skirted questions as to whether the United States was supporting one of the parties in the conflict the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT).

The horn of Africa nation of some 10 million people has been without a functioning central authority since the 1991 fall of strongman Mohamed Siad Barre plunged it into anarchy, with warlords battling for control of a patchwork of fiefdoms.

More than a dozen attempts to restore stability have failed, and the current government has been racked by infighting and unable to assert control.

Snow said that the unrest in Somalia has implications for US security interests.
"The president has said that his primary responsibility as commander-in-chief is to keep the American people safe. That's a solemn task," he said.

He added: "In the long run, the answer to your concerns is an effective, functional government of Somalia, which obviously we do not at the moment have."
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Foreign Islamist Fighters Are Reported in Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 (AP) — A secular alliance of warlords battling fundamentalist Islamic militias in Somalia said Wednesday that the militias were being strengthened by fighters from the Middle East, Pakistan and elsewhere, and said it had the bodies to prove it.

"Foreigners were fighting alongside the local terrorists and were killed," said Hussein Gutale Ragheh, a spokesman for the alliance. No one was caught alive, he said, but among the dead were Arabs and others who looked like Pakistanis, Sudanese and Oromo fighters from neighboring Ethiopia.

The report could not be verified.

The possible presence of foreign Islamists has heightened fears that Al Qaeda is trying to make Somalia a staging ground, a State Department spokesman said Wednesday. The United States is widely believed to be supporting the secular alliance, but officials refused Wednesday to confirm or deny that.

"Our concerns with regard to Somalia and terrorism lie primarily in the potential presence of foreign fighters in Somalia," said Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman. The United States is working with a wide spectrum of leaders, and he said he did not know whether that included the warlords.

Somalia, which has had no effective central government in 15 years, has been roiled by a surge in violence that has killed more than 140 people this month in and around Mogadishu, the capital. Most victims have been civilians caught in cross-fire or hit by shells.

The Islamic fundamentalists portray themselves as capable of bringing order to the country. Their growth in popularity and strength, and the possibility that they have outside support, is reminiscent of the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the late 1990's.

Somalia's descent into chaos began in 1991 with the overthrow of the longtime dictator, Mohammed Siad Barre. Since then, warlords who divided the country into clan-based fiefs have fought one another, though some recently joined a United Nations-backed interim government.
On Wednesday, hundreds of Somalis marched through Mogadishu chanting, "Down with the warmongers and down with their supporters!" and carrying signs saying, "War is not a solution." But some groups that had helped plan the rally boycotted it after militia members showed up.
A cease-fire was signed over the weekend, but its effect was limited.
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Transitional government hails visit by UK minister

NAIROBI, 18 May 2006 (IRIN) - The Somali government has described a surprise visit on Wednesday by British international development minister Hilary Benn to the town of Baidoa as a sign of the UK's support to the fledging government.

"It showed Britain's solidarity with the Somali people and a recognition of their new institutions," said Abdirahman Dinari, the government spokesman, on Thursday. "We hope that other powers will do the same.

"Baidoa, 240 km southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, is the current base of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia.

Benn, who was visiting the East Africa region, met Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi and pledged to boost aid to the government. "He promised support in institution-building and humanitarian assistance," Dinari said.

The TFG has a long road ahead in establishing stability in Somalia, which has had no functioning government for almost 16 years. In Mogadishu, hundreds of people took to the streets on Wednesday to appeal for peace, three days after a ceasefire that ended seven days of fighting between heavily armed militias, in which at least 190 people were killed and hundreds more injured.

The demonstrators, including women and children, marched to express their anger at the recent violence between the Islamic courts and the newly created Alliance for Peace and the Fight Against International Terrorism, which comprises several Mogadishu-based faction leaders, some of whom are also cabinet ministers. Carrying banners and chanting slogans for peace, the protestors demanded an end to the carnage, a resident said.

Abdullahi Shirwa, a member of a civil-society group that organised the event, said the demonstrators later converged at the Mogadishu stadium where Mahamud Hassan Ade, the governor of Benadir [Mogadishu and its environs], delivered an address. He appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance for thousands displaced by the fighting.

Shirwa said people who had left their homes because of the fighting were still at makeshift camps "under the most difficult conditions and in desperate need of help.

"Meanwhile, militia loyal to the Islamic court were involved in clashes on Wednesday with those loyal to Muhammad Omar Habeb, the self-proclaimed governor of Middle Shabelle Region, near the village of Warsheikh, 40 km northeast of Mogadishu. "The clash took place at a checkpoint manned by militia loyal to Muhammad Dheere [Habeb, a member of the anti-terror alliance]," a resident said. "Conflicting reports put the death toll at between two and five." The clash was the second outbreak of fighting since the ceasefire was announced on Sunday, which raised fears of renewed violence.

"It is an unfortunate incident, but I don't believe it would have much effect on Mogadishu," Shirwa said. "It is more likely to have an impact in Jowhar and Middle Shabelle."

"These skirmishes indicate that the two sides may take their differences to other regions," said another source in Mogadishu. "The Islamic courts may be telling Muhammad Dheere that if he keeps coming to Mogadishu, Jowhar [his stronghold] won’t be safe.

"In a related development, the prime minister has issued an ultimatum to cabinet ministers who have refused to come to Baidoa. "The PM has given them seven days [from Wednesday] to come to Baidoa," said Dinari, who added that Gedi would take "appropriate action" if the ministers failed to comply.

The order is reportedly aimed at three Mogadishu-based cabinet members who are also part of the so-called anti-terror alliance, said a Somali observer. "The main targets of this order are Qanyare [Muhammad], Yalahow [Muse Sudi] Finish, [Muhammad Omar].

" President Yusuf recently warned ministers that they could not expect to be in the cabinet and wage war against the Somali people.

The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Warlord Terrorism & the Devil’s Pact in Somalia

This short essay examines the etiology of terrorism in Somalia
Abdi Ismail Samatar University of Minnesota ©
I. Introduction:
For the last fifteen years of military rule (1976 -1991) the Somali people longed for the return to democratic rule. Unfortunately, they failed to establish nation-wide organizations that could develop the appropriate strategy to make the fanshen feasible. Instead, opportunist elements of the elite organized clanist networks and militias to fight the regime. These sectarian clicks refused to cooperate with one another and each pursued a tribalist agenda. The emergence of sectarian entrepreneurs reinforced the regime’s own divide and punish strategy. Others who were aware of the dangers of such a duo were too inert and risk averse to take up the challenge.
As the regime pursued its scourged earth policy against select communities and the absence of an alternative civic movement, people mistakenly sought refuge in clanist associations. Once the regime collapsed so did the nationalist order. The leaders of the organized sectarian opposition were in no mood to give up their sovereignty over “tribal fiefdoms” in order to re-establish national government.
Furthermore, the civil war turned nasty as the faction leaders, particularly within groups in the south, fought for supremacy and ruined whatever little economic, political and cultural infrastructure the old order left behind. The only partial exception to this mindlessness has been the northwest of the country where the public rejected naked intra-communal violence as the vehicle for political primacy. Despite the absence of undisguised terror in the latter region, armed intimidation is never far from the surface. Elsewhere violence continues to be the only instrument of political discourse and warlords have been its masters.

Warlord rule means personal and total appropriation of public power and assets, and the use of private militias to control the population. This system has turned the population into hostages since 1992 and, as a consequence, the quality of life has declined drastically. For instance, fewer than eight percent of school aged children receive some kind of instruction compared to nearly 40 percent in the mid-1980s. Moreover, life expectancy has declined by as much as 9 years since the early 1990s due to the destruction of the public health infrastructure, hunger and violence. Essentially, the merchants of violence have turned the southern region of the country and particularly the old capital city into a huge concentration camp.

The international community, led by the USA, attempted to restore peace and public authority in the early 1990s but that effort ended in disarray. Three factors led to this failure. First, the operation’s mandate was unspecified. Second, the militias in Mogadishu, which was the operational center of the intervention, were not disarmed and that gave the faction leaders enough opportunity to do mischief. Finally, the international community accepted the notion that this was a tribal civil war rather than a struggle among factions over power and resources. The combination of these factors led to the withdrawal of international troops from Somalia and initiated a new phase of the civil war. There were only two warlords in Mogadishu at the time of the UN departure, but their numbers have proliferated since, and consequently the city and the region have been Balkanized into warlord Bantustans.

II. The IGAD Process: “Empowered the Warlords and Enfeebled the Civics.”

The world turned away from Somalia and the population was left at the mercy of the warlords. Numerous attempts were made to strike a compromise among the warlords in order to form a national government but they failed to terminate the chaos. Each and every reconciliation conference was subverted by several unhappy warlords who could not achieve everything they lusted for and who were instructed to do so by their Ethiopian overlord. The government of Djibouti, pained by the abominable predicament of the population endeavored to take a stab at Somali reconciliation and invited delegates from various communities to take part in the Arta conference.
Many Somalis responded but most warlords refused to join in as they demanded to have a veto power over the selection of delegates. In spite of Arta’s shortcomings, such as the use of genealogical groups as political units, the conferees agreed to a draft constitution, selected members of a transitional parliament, and appointed a president and cabinet.

Most Somalis were relieved that, at long last, a consensus has emerged and hoped for the appointed leadership to deepen reconciliation and fully discharge the responsibilities enunciated in the charter. Their wish, as in so many other instance came to naught. Five factors perverted the promise of revival.
First, the appointed leaders failed to grasp the significance of the moment, the fleeting nature and contingent support of the public, and gave precedence to self-enrichment and personal rule. Second, the donor community was skeptical from the start and refused to give the TNG the diplomatic and material support necessary to sustain it until it gained the ability to restore order and collect taxes. Third, the regime in Addis Ababa, which was envious because its warlord clients could not gerrymander events in Arta argued that the peace process was still incomplete as it was not inclusive and that senior members of the new government had links to Islamic terrorists. Consequently, it provided military and diplomatic support for a number of warlords to form the SRRC, who opposed the TNG. Fourth, Mogadishu-based warlords refused to join the government and work for the stabilization of the Banadir region. Finally, the absence of a purposively organized national civic movement meant that the public watched from the sidelines as the promise of Arta pulverized. Such combination of forces orphaned the TNG and dashed the people’s hope.

As the TNG floundered, the Ethiopian regime intensified its subversive efforts and finally convinced the IGAD states and donors of the need to “complete” the Arta process. Consequently, another reconciliation conference was held in Kenya in which the so-called International Partners sanctioned a process completely dominated by warlords. A few individuals within the donor camp were horrified by the prospects of a world engaged in a global war on terrorism midwifing and chaperoning a government of warlords.
The outcome of the torturously long process was the triumph of Ethiopia and its clients warlords. In spite of the distaste the public had for the odious “peace process” they reluctantly accepted its outcome with the faint hope that the warlords cum government would lead.
Unfortunately, it took only a few months before the new masters of Somalia demonstrated that they were only interested in sustaining the rule of the armed men rather than restoring the rule of law. Further, some of the key figure of the TFG openly revealed their devotion to their Ethiopian handlers rather than to the Somali people. Nearly a year and one half has lapsed since its inception and no progress has been made except the never ending attempts to reconcile the warlords within the government. Thus, the people’s business languishes. In the meantime, members of the international community continue to utter their vacuous expression that they are ready to help Somalia once Somalis come to a serious agreement. The pertinent question for the internationals is which Somalis they have in mind: the hostage or the jail keepers (warlords) whom they brought to power?

III. Warlords are Terrorists

A bit over two month ago the warlords in and around Mogadishu formed what they called the Alliance against terrorism and restoration of peace. Their declared objectives were to root out a foreign terrorist cell which they claim to be in the city and the Islamic Courts in Mogadishu that supposedly harbor them. They also allege that they have been encouraged and financed by a major power and members of the international community engaged in the war on terror. It appears that there is a rock of truth in the pronouncement as substantial amount of foreign exchange has found its way into their hands. It is the cash deliveries that have opportunistically united the same individuals who have recently fought against each other and that have supported different factions of the TFG.
The Alliance initiated their first attack on the Islamic Courts in late February and this engagement led to the murder of nearly several dozen innocent victims in addition to death of scores of militia gunmen. Contrary to their public claims the alliance has suffered a major setback during this first assault and they have been regrouping to reverse their defeat. They have rejected the mediation efforts by all intermediaries of goodwill and the slaughter of the innocent is on again. Meanwhile, two of the three most seniors “leaders” of the TFG have uttered either contradictory statements –in support of or against the warlords – or irresponsibly suggested to the two sides to go to the outskirts of the city and fight it out. It is as if the latter is eager to see this tussle go to the finish since that will weaken two of his strongest opponents in Mogadishu regardless of the human cost.[1]

The people of Mogadishu are scurrying for refuge as another nasty conflagration has begun. Several hundred innocent people (including many children) have been killed and thousands of indigents are displaced. This atrocity will fortify the cage the population has been in for over a decade while the international community seems least moved by the unfolding disaster and the internment of an entire people.
The plight of the Somali people is tantamount to a life in terrorist camp. In spite of the absence of a commonly accepted international definition of terrorism, I offer the following: terrorism is cruelty against civilians with the intention of causing fear in order for the perpetrators to maintain illegitimately gotten gains, including political power. As the recent BBC[2] panel on the subject noted state and non-state actors can commit terrorist acts. This definition succinctly portrays the abominable activities the warlords have been engaged in for over a decade. The costs of warlords terrorism, as we noted earlier, have been the death of hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, and two to three million others who exist under some of the most inhumane conditions in the world. In addition, millions of children’s lives have been stunted and condemned to a blighted future.

IV. What is Next? No More Terrorism!

In spite of the stereotype that Somalis are violent people, the vast majority of the population has not been involved in the endless civil war except in self-defense. In fact, their reluctance to proactively challenge the merchants of violence is partly why the warlords’ tyranny has endured this long. The public has been willing, for the sake of “peace,” to forgive their tormentor and accept whatever they demanded, including a claim to the mantle of national leadership.[3] But it has become apparent that the warlords are not interested in turning the page and embrace the rule of law. This is the etiology of terror in Somalia.

The interplay between several factors prolongs Somalia’s agony. First, the apparent disorganization of civic minded Somalis and their not daring to challenge the warlords is a major obstacle to change. Second, the Ethiopian government which is opposed to Somali unity and independence (see the long record since the 1940s) has attempted to impose its agenda on the Somali people through it Trojan warlord horses. Having failed to do so, it stokes the forces of violence and social fragmentation. Third, the international community’s lackadaisical attitude has not been robust enough to help Somalis help themselves by establishing a national government that will serve them as well as honor its international obligations. These conditions have created a milieu that serves neither Somalis nor the international community and which therefore is not tenable. What then must be done?

Several things must occur in a graduated sequence in order to transform circumstances that reward terror and restore civilized norms to Somalia. First, international actors who support some of the warlords as allies against terrorism must accept responsibility for the massacre of hundreds of innocent people and the thousands displaced, and urgently redirect their involvement in support of the civics and the ailing TFG. To paraphrase the words of Somalia’s most immanent democrat, those who support the warlords must recognize that they are involved in a “devil’s pact.” Second, concerned Somalis can no longer be spectators waiting for someone else to salvage their domain. Instead, they must come to the fore and form a broad based civic organization whose purpose is to help form a national government dedicated to democracy and accountability.
Given the poverty of resources in the country and the dangers involved in challenging domestic terrorists, the international community -for reasons of self interest- should support this movement materially and diplomatically. Further, it should treat local and international terrorist alike and seriously warn the warlords to cease their heinous activity and disband their militias. Such stance will galvanize the majority of the population and rekindle the nationalist project – the key to the creation of a sane political order. Third, those involved in the Shariica courts must understand that the only way for a cultured Islamic nation to reemerge is through the rule of law. As the country’s nationalist poet laureate forewarned nearly four decades ago:

Darajada Ilaahay ninkii doonaya hele / Those who toil for Allah’s blessings are rewarded
Nin ka duday distoorkiyo waxyiga diinti ka carrowye / Those who stray from the constitution and the divine revelations are outcasts
Dugsi male qabyaaled waxay dumiso mooyaane / Clanist politics provide no solace, it only destroys
Hadaydaan xumaanta iyo dilkiyo daynin kala qaadka / If we do not terminate this savagery and mend our ways
Dibaddan ka joogna sharciga daacada Illaahe / We are beyond Allah’s grace
Danbarkeygu waa jahanama iyo dobobki naareede / Its reward is jahanama, the cruelest purgatory of all
Abdillahi Sultan Timacadde, 1968

Timacadde’s prophetic words enunciated the close affinity between the divine and constitutional accountability. Those in the Islamic courts need to understand that without constitutional accountability Somalis risk losing their cherished faith. Thus, if they are keen for Islam flourishing in this land, then they must distinguish themselves by laboring for such a salvation. Abdi Ismail Samatar is Professor, geography and global studies at the University of Minnesota and can be reached at: E-maill: samat001@umn.edu

[1] This “distraction” might give other Ethiopian backed warlords the opportunity to step up into the vacuum after the fighting exhausts both sides!
[2]www.bbcnews.co.UK. May2, 2006.

[3] Such generosity is significantly due to the realization that the international community is unwilling to come to the rescue of the innocent hostages, particularly after the warlords’ terrorist tactics traumatized UN forces in 1993.
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Is US Embassy in Nairobi 'unaware' of ex-CIA chief's visit to Somalia?

Adulsamad Ali, The East African: The United States embassy in Kenya has denied knowledge of the alleged visit by the former Central Intelligence Agency director Porter Goss to Somalia in February over terrorism links in the country.

Two weeks ago, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf publicly criticised the US over claims that it was funding warlords in the country.

However, sources well versed in Somalia affairs told The EastAfrican that the former CIA chief was indeed in the country, during which time strategies for fighting al-Qaeda in Somalia were formulated. The sources, one in the Kenyan armed forces and the other in the transitional federal government of Somalia, said the director’s visit was followed by a trip by CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agents to Mogadishu, where selected warlords were given money to help identify and arrest suspected al-Qaeda operatives in the country. Leadership in Somalia is divided between clan warlords, the increasingly popular Islamic courts and the transitional federal government.

US support for the warlords is making it difficult for a democratic government to be put in place, sources close to the transitional government say."It is not clear to us why the US is funding the warlords. If they want to fight terrorists, they should first help us have a functional government, then use it to get them, said a senior advisor to Prime Minister Abdul Ghedi.

It is now feared that Islamic extremists are gaining ground. The support for the once popular warlords has now shifted to their rivals, the extremist Islamic groups, and by extension to al-Qaeda," said a government advisor. Ms Barnes, however, said the US policy towards Somalia is designed to support the re-establishment of a functioning central government capable of bringing the Somali people out of civil conflict.

"An effective, functioning central government in Somalia is the most effective long-term means of addressing the threat of domestic terrorism against Somalis, and international terrorism from Somalia," she said in a statement.She said the United States strongly supports the establishment of transitional federal institutions in Somalia and shares the concerns of a majority of the Somali people regarding the presence of foreign terrorists, specifically al-Qaeda. "The United States remains gravely concerned that a small number of Somalis are harbouring foreign terrorists inside Somalia, which undermines the efforts of those seeking to establish peace in Somalia and threatens the stability of the Horn of Africa, she added.
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Is US Embassy in Nairobi 'unaware' of ex-CIA chief's visit to Somalia?


Adulsamad Ali, The East African: The United States embassy in Kenya has denied knowledge of the alleged visit by the former Central Intelligence Agency director Porter Goss to Somalia in February over terrorism links in the country.

Two weeks ago, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf publicly criticised the US over claims that it was funding warlords in the country.

However, sources well versed in Somalia affairs told The EastAfrican that the former CIA chief was indeed in the country, during which time strategies for fighting al-Qaeda in Somalia were formulated. The sources, one in the Kenyan armed forces and the other in the transitional federal government of Somalia, said the director’s visit was followed by a trip by CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agents to Mogadishu, where selected warlords were given money to help identify and arrest suspected al-Qaeda operatives in the country. Leadership in Somalia is divided between clan warlords, the increasingly popular Islamic courts and the transitional federal government.

US support for the warlords is making it difficult for a democratic government to be put in place, sources close to the transitional government say."It is not clear to us why the US is funding the warlords. If they want to fight terrorists, they should first help us have a functional government, then use it to get them, said a senior advisor to Prime Minister Abdul Ghedi.

It is now feared that Islamic extremists are gaining ground. The support for the once popular warlords has now shifted to their rivals, the extremist Islamic groups, and by extension to al-Qaeda," said a government advisor. Ms Barnes, however, said the US policy towards Somalia is designed to support the re-establishment of a functioning central government capable of bringing the Somali people out of civil conflict.

"An effective, functioning central government in Somalia is the most effective long-term means of addressing the threat of domestic terrorism against Somalis, and international terrorism from Somalia," she said in a statement.She said the United States strongly supports the establishment of transitional federal institutions in Somalia and shares the concerns of a majority of the Somali people regarding the presence of foreign terrorists, specifically al-Qaeda. "The United States remains gravely concerned that a small number of Somalis are harbouring foreign terrorists inside Somalia, which undermines the efforts of those seeking to establish peace in Somalia and threatens the stability of the Horn of Africa, she added.
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Somali born Dutch Mp Ayaan Hirsi Ali sucked

I came to Holland in the summer of 1992 because I wanted to be able to determine my own future. I didn’t want to be forced into a destiny that other people had chosen for me, so I opted for the protection of the rule of law. Here in Holland, I found freedom and opportunities, and I took those opportunities to speak out against religious terror.

In January 2003, at the invitation of the VVD party, I became a member of parliament. I accepted the VVD’s invitation on the condition that I would be the party’s spokesman for the emancipation of women and the integration of immigrants.

What exactly did I want to achieve?

First of all I wanted to put the oppression of immigrant women -- especially Muslim women – squarely on the Dutch political agenda. Second, I wanted Holland to pay attention to the specific cultural and religious issues that were holding back many ethnic minorities, instead of always taking a one-sided approach that focused only on their socio-economic circumstances. Lastly, I wanted politicians to grasp the fact that major aspects of Islamic doctrine and tradition, as practiced today, are incompatible with the open society.

Now I have to ask myself, have I accomplished that task?

I have stumbled often in my political career. It has sometimes been frustrating and slow. However, I am completely certain that I have, in my own way, succeeded in contributing to the debate. Issues related to Islam – such as impediments to free speech; refusal of the separation of Church and State; widespread domestic violence; honor killings; the repudiation of wives; and Islam’s failure to condemn genital mutilation -- these subjects can no longer be swept under the carpet in our country’s capital. Some of the measures that this government has begun taking give me satisfaction. Many illusions of how easy it will be to establish a multicultural society have disappeared forever. We are now more realistic and more open in this debate, and I am proud to have contributed to that process.

Meanwhile, the ideas which I espouse have begun spreading to other countries. In recent years I have given speeches and attended debates in many European countries and in the United States. For months now, I have felt that I needed to make a decision: should I go on in Dutch politics, or should I now transfer my ideas to an international forum?

In the fall of 2005 I told Gerrit Zalm and Jozias van Aartsen, the leaders of the VVD, that I would not be a candidate for the parliamentary elections in 2007. I had decided to opt for a more international platform, because I wanted to contribute to the international debate on the emancipation of Muslim women and the complex relationship between Islam and the West.

Now that I am announcing that I will resign from Dutch politics, I would like to thank the members of the VVD for my years in parliament – to thank them for inviting me to stand for parliament, and -- perhaps more importantly -- for putting up with me while I was there, for this has been in many ways a rough ride for us all. I want to thank my other colleagues here in parliament for their help, although some of our debates have been sharp. (Femke Halsema, thank you especially for that!). I would also like to thank the 30,758 people who in January 2003 trusted their preference vote to a newcomer.

But why am I not remaining in parliament for my full term, until next year’s election? Why, after only three and a half years, have I decided to resign from the Lower Chamber?

It is common knowledge that threats against my life began building up ever since I first talked about Islam publicly, in the spring of 2002. Months before I even entered politics, my freedom of movement was greatly curtailed, and that became worse after Theo van Gogh was murdered in 2004. I have been obliged to move house so many times I have lost count. The direct cause for the ending of my membership in parliament is that on April 27 of this year, a Dutch court ruled that I must once again leave my home, because my neighbors filed a complaint that they could not feel safe living next to me. The Dutch government will appeal this verdict and I grateful for that, because how on earth will other people whose lives are threatened manage to find a place to stay if this verdict is allowed to rest? However, this appeal does not alter my situation: I have to leave my apartment by the end of August.

Another reason for my departure is the discussion that has arisen from a TV program, The Holy Ayaan, which was aired on May 11. This program centered on two issues: the story that I told when I was applying for asylum here in Holland, and questions about my forced marriage.

I have been very open about the fact that when I applied for asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, I did so under a false name and with a fabricated story. In 2002, I spoke on national television about the conditions of my arrival, and I said then that I fabricated a story in order to be able to receive asylum here. Since that TV program I have repeated this dozens of times, in Dutch and international media. Many times I have truthfully named my father and given my correct date of birth. (You will find a selection of these articles in the press folder). I also informed the VVD leadership and members of this fact when I was invited to stand for parliament.

I have said many times that I am not proud that I lied when I sought asylum in the Netherlands. It was wrong to do so. I did it because I felt I had no choice. I was frightened that if I simply said I was fleeing a forced marriage, I would be sent back to my family. And I was frightened that if I gave my real name, my clan would hunt me down and find me. So I chose a name that I thought I could disappear with – the real name of my grandfather, who was given the birth-name Ali. I claimed that my name was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, although I should have said it was Ayaan Hirsi Magan.

You probably are wondering, what is my real name?

I am Ayaan, the daughter of Hirsi, who is the son of a man who took the name of Magan. Magan was the son of Isse, who was the son of Guleid, who was the son of Ali. He was the son of Wai’ays, who was the son of Muhammad. He was the son of Ali, who was the son of Umar. Umar was the son of Osman, who was the son of Mahamud. This is my clan, and therefore, in Somalia, this is my name: Ayaan Hirsi Magan Isse Guleid Ali Wai’ays Muhammad Ali Umar Osman Mahamud.

Following the May 11 television broadcast, legal questions have been raised about my naturalization as a Dutch citizen. Minister Verdonk has written to me saying that my passport will be annulled, because it was issued to a person who does not hold my real name. I am not at liberty to discuss the legal issues in this case.

Now for the questions about my forced marriage. Last week’s TV program cast doubt on my credibility in that respect, and the final conclusion of the documentary is that all this is terribly complicated. Let me tell you, it’s not so complex. The allegations that I willingly married my distant cousin, and was present at the wedding ceremony, are simply untrue. This man arrived in Nairobi from Canada, asked my father for one of his five daughters, and my father gave him me. I can assure you my father is not a man who takes no for an answer.
Still, I refused to attend the formal ceremony, and I was married regardless. Then, on my way to Canada -- during a stopover in Germany -- I traveled to the Netherlands and asked for asylum here. In all simplicity this is what happened, nothing more and nothing less. For those who are interested in the intimate details of my transition from a pre-modern society to a modern one, and how I came to love what the West stands for, please read my memoir, which is due to be published this fall.

To return to the present day, may I say that it is difficult to live with so many threats on your life and such a level of police protection. It is difficult to work as a parliamentarian if you have nowhere to live. All that is difficult, but not impossible. It has become impossible since last night, when Minister Verdonk informed me that she would strip me of my Dutch citizenship.

I am therefore preparing to leave Holland. But the questions for our society remain. The future of Islam in our country; the subjugation of women in Islamic culture; the integration of the many Muslims in the West: it is self-deceit to imagine that these issues will disappear.

I will continue to ask uncomfortable questions, despite the obvious resistance that they elicit. I feel that I should help other people to live in freedom, as many people have helped me. I personally have gone through a long and sometimes painful process of personal growth in this country. It began with learning to tell the truth to myself, and then the truth about myself: I strive now to also tell the truth about society as I see it.

That transition from becoming a member of a clan to becoming a citizen in an open society is what public service has come to mean for me. Only clear thinking and strong action can lead to real change, and free many people within our society from the mental cage of submission. The idea that I can contribute to their freedom, whether in the Netherlands or in another country, gives me deep satisfaction.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as of today, I resign from Parliament. I regret that I will be leaving the Netherlands, the country which has given me so many opportunities and enriched my life, but I am glad that I will be able to continue my work. I will go on.

Voor meer informatie: vvdvoorlichting@tweedekamer.nl

The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

U.S. Secretly Backing Warlords in Somalia

More than a decade after U.S. troops withdrew from Somalia following a disastrous military intervention, officials of Somalia's interim government and some U.S. analysts of Africa policy say the United States has returned to the African country, secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.

The latest clashes, last week and over the weekend, were some of the most violent in Mogadishu since the end of the American intervention in 1994, and left 150 dead and hundreds more wounded. Leaders of the interim government blamed U.S. support of the militias for provoking the clashes.

U.S. officials have declined to directly address on the record the question of backing Somali warlords, who have styled themselves as a counterterrorism coalition in an open bid for American support. Speaking to reporters recently, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States would "work with responsible individuals . . . in fighting terror. It's a real concern of ours -- terror taking root in the Horn of Africa. We don't want to see another safe haven for terrorists created. Our interest is purely in seeing Somalia achieve a better day."

U.S. officials have long feared that Somalia, which has had no effective government since 1991, is a desirable place for al-Qaeda members to hide and plan attacks. The country is strategically located on the Horn of Africa, which is only a boat ride away from Yemen and a longtime gateway to Africa from the Middle East. No visas are needed to enter Somalia, there is no police force and no effective central authority.

The country has a weak transitional government operating largely out of neighboring Kenya and the southern city of Baidoa. Most of Somalia is in anarchy, ruled by a patchwork of competing warlords; the capital is too unsafe for even Somalia's acting prime minister to visit.

Leaders of the transitional government said they have warned U.S. officials that working with the warlords is shortsighted and dangerous.

"We would prefer that the U.S. work with the transitional government and not with criminals," the prime minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi, said in an interview. "This is a dangerous game. Somalia is not a stable place and we want the U.S. in Somalia. But in a more constructive way. Clearly we have a common objective to stabilize Somalia, but the U.S. is using the wrong channels."

Many of the warlords have their own agendas, Somali officials said, and some reportedly fought against the United States in 1993 during street battles that culminated in an attack that downed two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters and left 18 Army Rangers dead.

"The U.S. government funded the warlords in the recent battle in Mogadishu, there is no doubt about that," government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari told journalists by telephone from Baidoa. "This cooperation . . . only fuels further civil war."

U.S. officials have refused repeated requests to provide details about the nature and extent of their support for the coalition of warlords, which calls itself the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism in what some Somalis say is a marketing ploy to get U.S. support.

But some U.S. officials, who declined to be identified by name because of the sensitivity of the issue, have said they are generally talking to these leaders to prevent people with suspected ties to al-Qaeda from being given safe haven in the lawless country.

"There are complicated issues in Somalia in that the government does not control Mogadishu and it has the potential for becoming a safe haven for al-Qaeda and like-minded terrorists," said one senior administration official in Washington. "We've got very clear interests in trying to ensure that al-Qaeda members are not using it to hide and to plan attacks." He said it was "a very difficult issue" trying to show support for the fledgling interim government while also working to prevent Somalia from becoming an al-Qaeda base.

A senior U.S. intelligence official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was a "Hobbesian" situation -- that the transitional government operating from Kenya was in its "fifteenth iteration" and that it, too, was a "collection of warlords" that played both sides of the fence. The official said that it presented a classic "enemy of our enemy" situation.

The source said Somalia was "not an al-Qaeda safe haven" yet, adding, "There are some there, but it's so dysfunctional." U.S. officials specifically believe that a small number of al-Qaeda operatives who were involved in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania are now residing in Somalia.

Analysts said they were convinced the Bush administration was backing the warlords as part of its global war against terrorism. "The U.S. relies on buying intelligence from warlords and other participants in the Somali conflict, and hoping that the strongest of the warlords can snatch a live suspect or two if the intelligence identifies their whereabouts," said John Prendergast, the director for African affairs in the Clinton administration and now a senior adviser at the nongovernmental International Crisis Group.
"This strategy might reduce the short-term threat of another terrorist attack in East Africa, but in the long term the conditions which allow terrorist cells to take hold along the Indian Ocean coastline go unaddressed. We ignore these conditions at our peril."

"Are we talking to them and doing some of that? Yes," said Ted Dagne, the leading Africa analyst for the Congressional Research Service. "We fought some of these warlords in 1993 and now we are dealing with some of them again, perhaps supporting some of them against other groups. Somalia is still considered by some as an attractive location for terrorist groups."

The issue of U.S. backing came to the forefront this winter when warlords formed the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism after a fundamentalist Islamic group began asserting itself in the capital, setting up courts of Islamic law and building schools and hospitals.
Soon after, the coalition of warlords were well-equipped with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and antiaircraft guns, which were used in heavy fighting in the capital last week. It was the second round of fighting this year, following clashes in March that killed more than 90 people, mostly civilians, and emptied neighborhoods around the capital.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council this month, the world body's monitoring group on Somalia said it was investigating an unnamed country's secret support for an anti-terrorism alliance in apparent violation of a U.N. arms embargo. The experts said they were told in January and February of this year that "financial support was being provided to help organize and structure a militia force created to counter the threat posed by the growing militant fundamentalist movement in central and southern Somalia."

In March, the State Department said in its terrorism report that the U.S. government was concerned about al-Qaeda fugitives "responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and the November 2002 bombing of a tourist hotel and attack on a civilian airliner in Kenya, who are believed to be operating in and around Somalia."

The United States relies on Ethiopia and Kenya for information about Somalia. Both countries have complex interests and long-standing ties and animosities in the country. In December 2002, the United States also established an anti-terrorism task force in neighboring Djibouti, with up to 1,600 U.S. troops stationed in the country.

Africa researchers said they were concerned that while the Bush administration was focused on the potential terrorist threat, little was being done to support economic development initiatives that could provide alternative livelihoods to picking up a gun or following extremist ideologies in Somalia. Somalia watchers and Somalis themselves said there has not been enough substantial backing for building a new government after 15 years of collapsed statehood.

"If the real problem is Somalia, then what have we done to change the situation inside Somalia? Are we funding schools, health care or helping establish an effective government?" Dagne said. "We have a generation of Somali kids growing up without education and only knowing violence and poverty. Unless there is a change, these could become the next warlords out of necessity for survival. That's perhaps the greatest threat we have yet to address."

Somalis far from the factional fighting in Mogadishu said they were waiting for anyone to help ease their destitute lives during the worst drought in a decade. In Waajid, a dusty town about 200 miles northwest of the capital, thousands of villagers have left their farms for squalid camps, searching for water and living in open, rocky fields under low-lying, fragile shelters of sticks and rags that look like bird's nests.

Many people here say they feel that the United States has ignored Somalia since the failed 1993 military intervention. Today many Somalis said they regret that chapter in their history and thank the United States, the largest donor of food and funding for water trucks during this season's drought.
However, they said that news that the U.S. government was talking with warlords has awakened feelings of resentment.

"George W. Bush, we welcome the Americans. But not to back warlords. We need the U.S.A. to help the young government," said Isak Nur Isak, the district commissioner in Waajid. "We won't drag any Americans through the street like in 1993. We want to be clear: We don't want only food aid, but we do want political support for the new government, which is all we have right now to put our hopes in. We can't eat if everyone is dead."Wax reported from Waajid, Somalia, and Nairobi. DeYoung reported from Washington.
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Monday, May 15, 2006

Secretary-General calls for immediate ceasefire in Somali capital Mogadishu

12 May 2006 – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the warring factions in the Somali capital Mogadishu to declare an immediate ceasefire, after days of fighting claimed the lives of more than a hundred people and displaced thousands of non-combatants in the worst violence to grip the city in almost a decade.

Speaking to reporters in New York, his spokesman said Mr. Annan was “deeply concerned” at the increasing violence and “urges all parties to support the Transitional Federal Institutions in their effort to implement the Transitional Charter,” referring to efforts to bring peace to the impoverished Horn of Africa country.

The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Ghanim Alnajjar, also backed calls for an end to the fighting, highlighting that “in situations like these, most of the victims are civilians who are caught in the crossfire, some of which are children.”

“I appeal to these militia forces to end these hostilities immediately, and I wish to remind all concerned of the need to fully respect humanitarian law during conflict and of the duty to protect the human rights of civilians at all times,” said Mr. Alnajjar, who carries out his duties on an independent voluntary basis.

It is reported that up to 120 people have been killed and scores injured during the past five days in what is the second round of fighting this year in Mogadishu, following violence in March that reportedly killed 90 people.

Yesterday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour told reporters that Somalia urgently needs international attention, saying there was frustration that “the international community was insufficiently engaged in a country that needed a huge amount of assistance and where a large part of the country still needed governance to take root.”

On Wednesday, the Security Council re-established for a six-month period the mandate of the Monitoring Group on Somalia, set up to investigate the 1992 arms embargo, and the top United Nations envoy to the war-torn country appealed for all sides to end the bloody violence in the capital and “step back from the brink.”

The latest report from the Monitoring Group highlighted that “arms, military materiel and financial support continue to flow like a river to various actors, in violation of the arms embargo,” and the Group identifies the Transitional Federal Government, the Mogadishu-based opposition alliance, the militant fundamentalists, the business elite, pirate groups and feuding sub-clans as “the main actors” receiving the arms.

Somalia has been torn by factional fighting ever since the collapse of President Muhammad Siad Barre’s regime 15 years ago.
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mogadishu Islamic Court Justice: Stabbing to death in public

“For we have reached the place … Where you will see the miserable people, those who have lost the good of the intellect". (Canto III) DANTE, Inferno (Adopted from Links by Nuruddin Farah)
A few days ago in Mogadishu, a young boy of 16 stabbed his father’s killer to death in front of hundreds of spectators who watched as a photographer from Shabellenews took pictures that portray the graphic horror that unfolded before them.

No one tried to stop the horror. The poor man, who stood near a tree, with a hood covering his head and chains tying his feet and hands, fell to the ground after being stabbed in the neck. The boy finished him off by stabbing him repeatedly in the chest while the poor soul lay writhing on the ground.

Regardless of the guilt of the man, the manner of his execution makes one shudder in disgust and horror. It seems that the death sentence and mode of execution were passed by one of the multitude of Islamic courts that sprang up in Mogadishu with the lack of a strong central government.

Islam instructs us to slaughter sheep humanely by using a sharp knife that cuts the jugular vein quickly to prevent the suffering of the animal. In Saudi Arabia , one of the few countries that practice public beheading, the executioner uses a sharp sword that cuts the head of the accused with one stroke bringing immediate death. The barbaric execution that took place in Mogadishu violates these instructions and gives us a picture of cruelty, barbarism, misguided justice and failure to appreciate the value of human life.

This cruel execution brings to my mind a story in the novel links by the great Somali Writer Nuruddin Farah in which the main character in the book, Jeebleh, stops a young boy from torturing an Alsatian dog in labour. Jeeble intervenes forcefully and drives the boy away. He then helps the dog deliver its litter. Jeebleh nearly lost his life when two young men sneak into his hotel room and try to murder him. Jeebleh wonders whether the assassins were after him for the way he treated the elders of his clan in an earlier encounter or for helping the Alsatian.

When I saw the pictures of the execution, I thought that I was in a dream and reading a chapter from Links. But this is was no fiction. It is a real story that actually took place in Mogadishu. Only in this case of the poor man stabbed to death by a 16-year old boy, the crowd lacked a courageous soul like Jeebleh to prevent the barbarous act. Any one trying to protect the poor man would probably have faced the same fate.
The case of this man raises an important issue apart from the way that he was executed. Was the man from a small clan that could not protect him and demand a proper way of execution?
There are precedents to this in Somalia.

A friend of mine told me about a man from the south who was hanged by a mob in a village between Qardho and Bosasso. The man allegedly raped an old woman in the village and his punishment was death by hanging. Another friend of mine told me about a woman that was stoned to death in Hargeisa after the city fell to the SNM. Although the three incidents are different, they share the same mode of barbaric and cruel execution. They also share the fact that the executed person may have hailed from a minority clan that could not protect his/her poor soul.

In Mogadishu there are hundreds of murderers who kill and rape with impunity. Their crimes go unpunished because of the strong clans protecting them. The Islamic law of Mogadishu seems to apply to the poor, weak and unprotected. No one condones the act of murder committed by the executed man, but the manner of his execution is reprehensible. If there was a need for his execution, it should have been carried in a proper Islamic manner.

This incident clearly portrays the need for a strong central government in Mogadishu that brings back law and order to this troubled city held hostage by warlords and Islamic courts controlled by cruel individuals who practice laws that are far removed from true Islam.
Let us all condemn this barbaric act and pray for the people of Mogadishu.
Ali H Abdullaaliegeh@gmail.com
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Friday, May 05, 2006

Somalia’s plight: What can be done?

History has taught us that nations are born, grow and develop like a child, and it is their leaders who organize and assist the people in becoming more productive. Leaders provide the boost and the citizens carry on improving the quality of life for individuals, families, communities and society as a whole. But we know that any country’s standard of living is calculated on how its people have access to the basics of food, housing, education, health services, employment, safety and security and so forth. When the people of a nation take pride in their citizenship, their country also becomes increasingly competitive and is looked upon with respect of its social, cultural, political, and economic achievements.

However, many people are not sure if Somalia is a nation or merely a bunch of factions. Somalia has an ambassador at the United Nations but there are no formal public institutions, defence, banking system, schools, hospitals or police force. The fact is that the power of authority is in the hands of warlords and their prowling gunmen.

In my point of view, I would equate Somalia’s situation as a damaged house that is not completely destroyed. I say that it is not all destroyed because the land, livestock, people with some know-how and skills, the exchange of money, even modern communications are still there. Yet, it is perplexing that no one seems to know what can be done and that Somalis do not seem able to help themselves?

When I am raising these questions, I am not implying that there is no big problem in Somalia, or that collapsed countries like Somalia do not need help from the other world. I am not saying that Somalia’s problem will not affect the interdependency of other countries. There are big problems and there regional issues to take into consideration. Nevertheless, I think we Somalis have a character of waiting to have our job done from the outside. Perhaps we inherited this culture of passivity from our colonizers who introduced civil government and its institutions to us. If this is the case, especially if such government was imposed, then we have never really had a sense of ownership over the government form the world expects of us. Is it our choice or theirs to return civil government and the civil society to Somalia?

Even when no one is interested in us, we are inclined to find excuses that we do not have enough resources, knowledge, expertise, or funds to build up ourselves. We say that we need assistance to develop an economic foundation so that we will reach the point where we can do business equally with other nations.

Moreover, some of us are very skilful in creating crimes, violence and civil wars as determinants of financial gains and profits (as in the case of latest Mogadishu fighting), which are conversely the causes and consequences of Somalia’s dilemma, and poverty. These harmful and deadly actions happened because of certain elements’ wrong assumptions and choices. The results reflect who they are.

When I discussed these issues with some of my colleagues, many of them cite the problem as a lack of leaders who can lead the people not with killing but with negotiation and contract. The assumption is that our Somali leaders cannot steer the ship even when the sea is calm because of their lack of vision. furthermore, those so called leaders do not have a sense of selecting good knowledgeable persons to do for them what job they want to be done; a case of the blind leading the blind (leaders and the people), resulting in both going down into the ditch.
This observation points out that the warlords have many obedient civilians, who are unable to stand up for their own rights. Civilians who feel that warlord’s needs and rights are more important than their own. Civilians who presume that their own ideas are worthless compared to that of the warlords. Further, the warlords are stuck with their old preferred leadership style of corrupting and punishing, despite having proved to go nowhere for more than fifteen years. They are reluctant to change according to the will and the needs of the people.

Naturally, when your house is damaged your common sense encourages you to consider at least a number of options, such as fixing the damaged part of the house, building the house portion by portion until the entire house is installed, or completely abandoning the old house and immediately putting up a new house.

Based on my experience in working with people seeking help in managing their situational problems, people like Somalis need help to gain some control over their troubled feelings of distress. A sense of control will enhance their ability to cope with the changing demands of their lives. Nonetheless, the will, intention, and action for change have to come from the Somalis.

The impression is that as a nation, our future should depend on us by putting together our passions with our best interests, and combining our honest efforts, education, and skills. Since we have been talking our rights for about sixteen years, we may start demanding our rights and confronting every warlord who is not accepting the reality that they cannot fit anymore the situation or the society in a meaningful way. We should understand that our life time is very limited and that now is the time to do it right.

Definitely, our success will be easy if we recognize our desires, coordinate our thoughts, aims and actions. If some Somalis cannot believe these ideas and their application in Somalia, it doesn’t matter. Every society has some people who spend all their day walking through the forests, but who may never see firewood at all. On the other hand, other views supported the idea that Somalia’s present situation makes it necessary to work with these unkind leaders with tolerant caution. As the saying goes, “Give the suckers an even break, may be they will not be so bad after all”. This concept gives priority to working together with the existing regional administrations, by creating and funding programs designed to help people who are in a disabling decease, injury or addictions to return to normal functioning.
They are considering the fact that there is always an affinity between leaders and the people they are leading, which is our today’s reality that we have to face. They also express their feelings of disappointment regarding today’s world leadership, particularly the United States, which preaches democracy when speaking publicly but practically rewarding the wrong behaviour of some world leaders, who are not good for their people, while punishing other heads of states who are good for their people and their people like them.

In any case, I don’t think that we can deny that some of us are opportunity wasters. For years we have been waiting help from others, or we behaved believing that somebody will do it someday. But someday may never come. It is now, the present and the only time that we have. We have to try to do it now with positive thinking, nerve and courage. Even if we can’t work collectively, we can work individually with the right mental attitude and hope that it may later converge with collectivism. We should replace our closed and clanish drained mind with an open and national mind. As the saying goes, “Minds are like parachutes, and if they are closed they won’t hold you up”.

Fred Frohock (1979), in his book of public policy-scope of logic, states three main types of political actions that leaders can use according to the situation. They are: power control, bargaining, and gaming. He suggests that a leader can give an order only when she/he has law enforcement that can back-up and support it. If not, the leader has to use the bargaining, give and take method to reach a satisfactory outcome since people cannot, or will not control one another. If both of the above are not possible, Frohock indicates gaming (Dhuumaashow/ Kadhimay-Kadhim) as the only remaining tactical option. It is the condition of no authority and probably the true situation of Somalia. Therefore, if the Somali leaders are unable to lead because nothing would or could work for them, then he/she should accept the last option, which is submitting his/her resignation. They cannot lead by corrupting or killing the people. It won’t work.

In conclusion, I believe at least that if we as individuals think good, feel good and do well for our people and the country, it will help infuse new hope into some of the core causes of Somalia’s conflict such as economic anguish, social injustice and political oppressions. Trust me. This will restore our communication, and when our communication is restored, everything will be possible. It can make a difference. Just try it.


Omar Ugas, Master of Social Work and Registered Social Worker
Ottawa, Canada
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Sunday, April 23, 2006

North-Eastern Province: Shame of a semi-arid region condemned to self-destruction

Most Kenyans are too young to remember that the only external war that our army ever fought concerned what we now call North-Eastern Province (NEP). So the question is vexed: For what good reason did we pour untold resources to retain a region in which we were not really interested?

A section of displaced villagers camping at Dukana Primary School prepare a meal in the open. For the glaring fact is that, ever since we won that war, our successive governments have done exactly nothing to make the NEP an integral part of Kenya.

Actually, the problem has much deeper historical roots. Like most political problems that now beset us, we owe it squarely to colonialism – specifically to the Berlin treaty of 1885 by which Europe arrogantly partitioned Africa.

The first poser that faced Mzee Jomo Kenyatta upon independence in 1963 was how to defeat a secessionist rebellion in the eastern part of what the colonial regime called Northern Frontier District (NFD).

The NFD was composed of what is now North-Eastern and the northern sections of Eastern and Rift Valley provinces. But this secessionist bid was confined to the eastern part, the one inhabited by ethnic Somali.

Security alert: Armed homeguards form a shield around residents of Dukana location in Marsabit district camping at Dukana Primary School. This follows heightened tension between warring communities along the Kenya-Ethiopia border.Photos by William Oeri The rebellion had two completely understandable causes. The first was a burning "pan-Somali" desire. As it had done to many other African peoples, colonialism had divided the Somali nation into many colonies.

There were Djibouti (French Somaliland), Ogaden (Ethiopian Somaliland), Juba (Italian Somaliland), Punt (British Somaliland) and eastern NFD (also administered by Britain but from Nairobi).

As independence approached (for Punt and Juba), the Somali nationalists committed themselves to Somalia Irredenta (Unredeemed Somalia) and swore that Uhuru would be complete only if the five lands reunited.

It was in this spirit that the Somali Republic (Punt and Juba) sponsored the secessionist movements in the NFD and Ogaden and went on to fight (and lose) debilitatingly costly wars with both Kenya and Ethiopia.

Divide-and-rule

The second reason was paradoxical. The British were past masters at the divide-and-rule tactic which Roman imperialism had perfected for them 2,000 years earlier. Because the Somali, a Hamitic people, have skins a shade lighter than the other "natives", the British grouped them with the Asians and the Arabs on a social rung a tad higher than the other natives.

Yet, for all that, colonial Nairobi invested absolutely nothing in developing the NFD. The probable reason was that the region was arid and semi-arid and did not seem to have any economic promise.

Semi-aridity is what may, at least partly, also explain why the British invested more in educating the Kikuyu, the Luo and the Luhya than in educating such Nilo-Hamitic peoples as the Kalenjin, the Maasai and the Turkana.

At independence, then, colonial neglect, and the kith-and-kin question, gave the ethnic Somali the quite understandable feeling that they would be much better off in Somalia than in Kenya and Ethiopia.
But to succumb to Mogadishu's demands would have opened a can of worms all over the continent. How many other peoples – divided or not – would not have demanded separate ethnically solid republics of their own?

Consider, for instance, the Luo cluster. They were (and still are) in Tanganyika, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, the Sudan and what were once Belgian Congo and French Central Africa.

To carve out a single entity incorporating all the Luo peoples would have entailed dismantling the entire Berlin boundary system which defined all the newly independent African states.
Even the redoubtable nationalist Kwame Nkrumah defended Berlin, pointing out that to redraw the borders according to tribal affinity would logically end up in puny mono-ethnic states with hardly any economic viability.

But it is true that Berlin has caused independent Africa insuperable problems. To its division of the continent without any regard to ethnic and cultural affinity is the cause of all our border demands and counter-demands.

To its lumping together into single colonies of many hitherto independent ethnic entities – with disparate economic and demographical fortunes – we owe the entire phenomenon of tribalism.
Yet Nkrumah was right. Berlin is by far the more cost-effective reality that we must live with. To attempt to redraw Africa's political map would be mind-bogglingly costly, not only in terms of money, but even in terms of temper and war.

Cheaper solution

The much cheaper solution was to try everything possible to bridge the yawning gaps of material progress that existed between the various tribes that the European powers had lumped into single colonies.

This remains the only solution to tribalism. If, instead, tribalism is intensifying all over the continent, it is because these material differences now gape more widely than the Rift Valley.
Put another way, it is because we have not tried to satisfy proportionately the providential needs of all the ethnic components of what we claim to be "nations".

This is probably the most spectacular of all the countless failings of Africa's entire nationalist and post-nationalist leadership.

All African heads of state and government have ruled as tribal chieftains – allocating resources and apportioning crucial decision-making jobs to members of their tribes, clans and families. They have thus succeeded only in terribly alienating other tribes, clans and families, thus making the task of ruling much more difficult for themselves. Africa's multi-party politics is basically inter-tribal conflict.

Kenya's successive leaders are excellent examples of failure at conflict-resolution. You cannot diffuse a conflict by stoking the fire that has caused it. Inter-tribal discord is now more intense than ever.

The refusal to invest in the NFD to make its people feel that they are a part of Kenya – and thus to rule them with their consent and, therefore, with greater ease – is the most glaring failing of presidents Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki.

It does not make any sense that hundreds of northerners and their livestock perish every year for lack of food and water when people in other parts of Kenya drown in floods which are then allowed to go to complete waste.

If we were willing to channel all our April downpours into huge reservoirs linked through huge pipes to all our arid and semi-arid areas, we would have put paid permanently to the problem of drought.

If we dealt effectively with drought, we would obviate the deadly struggle for life which daily pits tribes against tribes, clans against clans, families against families and individuals against individuals.

Public resources

Resources abound (which I hope to describe later). But they include an armed force which has never fought a war since the Shifta menace of 1963, but which daily guzzles huge public resources for doing sweet nothing.

Our military has the best engineers, hydrologists, agriculturalists, doctors, vets, every kind of expert. The need is to deploy them to the NEP to help that part of Kenya onto the path of economic self-sufficiency.

All Kenyans should willingly pay even more for it because it is the only way we can proudly say that the NEP people are our brothers and sisters.
Source: Daily Nation, April 23, 2006
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Somali Lawmakers Make Baidoa Temporary Seat

Somalia's parliament has voted to move the country's temporary capital to the southern town of Baidoa.

Somali officials say the government will be based in Baidoa until the official capital, Mogadishu, can be made safe again. Two rounds of fighting between rival factions in Mogadishu have killed around 100 people this year.

Somali political leaders have been split for months over where to set up the country's transitional government, formed in Kenya in 2004.

One faction led by the parliament speaker (Sharif Hassan Shaikh Adan) has pushed for Mogadishu, while another faction concerned about security has insisted on the town of Jowhar.
The interim parliament met in Baidoa as a compromise in February.

The government has yet to assert its authority over Somalia, which has been essentially lawless since warlords overthrew dictator Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991.

About two-thirds of the 275-member parliament approved the Baidoa motion in Saturday's vote. More than 90 legislators were absent.Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

Source: VOA, April 23, 2006
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Factional fighting kills 3, wounds 9 in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - At least three Somalis were killed and nine wounded in Mogadishu on Sunday as fresh clashes erupted between rival militia groups responsible for the capital's worst violence in years, witnesses said.

They said fighting was triggered when forces allied to the Islamic courts tried to pass a newly-established checkpoint held by militiamen linked to the Mogadishu Anti-Terrorism Coalition, an alliance of powerful warlords.

The same factions were behind clashes that killed up to 90 people last month.
"We're escaping from the new clashes in Hamarweyne district," said Haji Abdi Yusuf, 56, running down a road.

Frightened locals said they could still hear gunfire and many were afraid it would spill to neighbouring districts.

"The fighting will spread to new areas, unless there is a quick ceasefire," resident Hassan Mohamed told Reuters.

Analysts say the upsurge in street battles between the two sides suggests the failed Horn of Africa state is becoming a new proxy battleground for Islamist militants and the United States.
Washington has long viewed Somalia as a haven for terrorists and many Somalis believe it funds and equips the warlord alliance.

The U.S. government denies the charge but the widely held perception prompted Islamist hardliners to confront the warlord forces hours after the coalition was formed in February, in a fight that killed 37 people.

Many residents say the Islamic courts, which have created a semblance of order in lawless Mogadishu by providing justice under sharia law, want to fight any move to undermine their authority in the city of 1 million.

Reports that re-armed fighters from both sides have moved to strategic positions have fuelled fears of worse to come.

Somalia descended into lawlessness in 1991, when warlords ousted military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

The fighting in Mogadishu shows how little control a fledgling government formed in Kenya in 2004, but weakened by internal power struggles, has over the nation of 10 million.
On Saturday, Somali lawmakers voted to seat the government, which hitherto had no fixed location, temporarily in the southern city of Baidoa. President Abdullahi Yusuf has long argued that Mogadishu, where he is an outsider, is still too dangerous to host the government.

Source: Reuters, April 23, 2006

The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

US appeals for Peace in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, April 21 -- The United States appealed for calm in Somalia, urging leaders to work together and exercise restrain as tension mounts over a new round of fighting for control of the capital, Mogadishu.

A statement issued by the US Embassy in Nairobi on Thursday urged the Somali leaders to seek reconciliation through dialogue, calling on all parties to cooperate with the Transitional Federal institutions.

"In response to reports of increasing tensions in Mogadishu, the United States calls upon all Somalis to work together to encourage restraint and calm in the city," the US said in a statement.

"Provocations and fresh outbreaks of violence in Mogadishu can serve only the interests of extremist elements," it added.

The US statement came amid reports that two factions which recently clashed in Mogadishu are moving militias to strategic positions for a fresh round of battle for control of the Somali capital.
Mogadishu residents said tension in the city was high as each side stockpiled weapons and ammunition, moved fighters into position and strengthened their 'technicals' -- flat-bed trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns.

"The United States urges all parties to seek reconciliation through dialogue and cooperation with the Transitional Federal Institutions," the US said in a statement.

The fighters have been observing a temporary cease-fire from last month but efforts to secure a permanent cease-fire between rival militias have hit a snag after one of the groups delayed sending emissaries to the venue of the talks.

Many Somalis believe the United States is funding the influential warlords as part of Washington's war on terrorism but the U.S. government denies it.

Source: xinhuanet, April 21, 2006

The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Experts warn of humanitarian emergency in the south

NAIROBI, 19 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - At least 1.7 million people in Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance following the failure of rains in 2005, the Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned on Thursday. The situation is particularly acute in the southern regions, according to a recent FSAU food security and livelihood survey. Malnutrition rates, the FSAU added, had reached over 25 percent in some areas and were expected to get worse in the coming months."Fifteen percent is a humanitarian emergency and we are already at 25 percent," Nick Haan, FSAU chief technical advisor, told reporters in Nairobi.FSAU estimated that crop production for this year would be 50 percent of the post-war average - the lowest cereal production in over 10 years. Cattle deaths in the worst affected areas had reached 20 to 30 percent and could reach 80 percent by April."Currently, we are in a humanitarian emergency. We are one phase away from famine," Haan said. "If it [famine] will happen, it will happen very quickly."The worst affected areas are Gedo, Lower and Middle Juba, and Bay and Bakool. FSAU warned that there was a "moderate risk of famine" in the Gedo region and surrounding areas before the next expected rainy season in April-June 2006.UN Somalia resident representative and humanitarian coordinator, Maxwell Gaylard, noted that although the humanitarian agencies had some resources, the scale of the crisis was beyond what the Somali people, the Transitional Federal Government or the aid agencies could cope with."We need external assistance," Gaylard said. "It is not a dry season or a drought period, it's a drought," he added.Christian Balslev-Olesen, the representative of the UN Children's Fund Somalia, warned that the longer a large-scale intervention was delayed, the longer people continued to suffer and the worse the security situation would become. "It will deteriorate the political situation," he noted. "People will start looting, they will start hijacking and insecurity will get worse very quickly."He urged the Somali authorities to use the looming crisis as a political opportunity, however, to encourage rival factions to work together to mitigate the suffering. Gaylard also urged donors to take into account the regional dynamics of the drought, which has also affected northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. With a regionally coordinated approach, he noted, mass cross-border movements towards areas that were receiving more generous assistance than others could be avoided."This crisis easily compares with any other humanitarian crisis going on around the world today," the FSAU's Haan said."Early predictions are already forecasting below average rainfall during the Gu [rainy season] in April, May, June," he warned. "This would take the crisis to a whole different level, it doesn't bode well." Haan said, however, that there was still a window of opportunity "to prevent the starving baby images". Agencies were already responding, he added, but assistance needed to be "ratcheted up" urgently. "Under normal conditions, Somalia is one of the poorest and most food insecure countries in the world, and these are not normal conditions," Haan added. "It is a humanitarian crisis - it is a food crisis, a water crisis, a health crisis and a protection crisis."
[ENDS]
Source: IRIN, Jan. 19, 2006
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Drought sparks food shortage in Africa

DENAN, Ethiopia - Two months ago Ayan Abdi struggled to tell her newborn twins apart. Tragically, she has no difficulty now.
The skin of her malnourished son Nemo stretches tightly over his tiny skeletal frame, while his sister Asma still retains some of her rounded features. Ayan, who earns $7 a month selling firewood, is so weak from malnutrition herself she can produce only enough breast milk to feed her daughter.Millions are at risk of famine in eastern Africa after a potentially devastating drought wiped out this year's crop. Aid organizations warn that unless urgent supplies of food, water and medicine are delivered to the region, more people could die than perished in the drought of 2000 - which killed nearly 100,000 in Ethiopia alone.
"People will die because we are already too late with our help," said Abdullahi Ali Haji, the government's health officer for this area of eastern Ethiopia. "This is our warning that without immediate help a famine will soon follow."
Preliminary assessments show those affected by the drought include an estimated 3.5 million in Kenya, 1.75 million in Ethiopia, 1.4 million in Somalia and 60,000 in Djibouti.
Poor rains over the last nine years have left many families living on a knife's edge. This year the rains failed completely. Food prices are up as much as 50 percent, while the value of prized livestock has plummeted, hitting hard the nomads who rely on cattle, sheep, goats and camels for food and income.
The warning signs of famine appear long before it takes hold in this corner of Ethiopia, about 870 miles southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa. The bones and rotting carcasses of cattle mark the landscape. Children, whose immunity systems are hopelessly compromised by insufficient nutrition, are beginning to fall sick.The handful of malnourished children that used to be brought to Haji's hospital in Gode, about 50 miles southwest of Denan, has now turned into steady trickle.
The two doctors assigned to cover 1 million people in the region are totally overwhelmed. They have just a handful of drugs to combat widespread measles and diarrhea from drinking dirty water."As ever, women and children will bear the brunt of this disaster," said Bjorn Ljungqvist, the U.N's Children's Fund Country Representative.
Aid agencies do not have money to buy food from districts with surplus harvests to feed those hit by the food shortages, said Peter Smerdon, spokesman for the World Food Program."WFP is short $44 million now to feed 1.1 million people because of the drought," Smerdon said in Kenya on Tuesday. "Without new donations, WFP will run out of food to distribute in drought affected areas by the end of February."
Efforts to help the region's hungry have also been troubled by a low-level conflict between the Ethiopian army and separatist rebels in the area. In recent months, trucks carrying food aid have been attacked and, in some cases, burned.
Violent clan disputes, a spillover from the feuding warlords in neighboring Somalia, have deterred aid workers and the U.N. from entering the region.
"We have received nothing," said Aden Abdi, who has nine hungry mouths to feed in the wind-blown town of Kelafo. Water wells are empty and the nearby Wabe Shebelle River, which at this time of year can be as much as 65 feet wide, is now easily traversed by foot.
"We have been forgotten," the oval-faced woman sighed, sitting outside her one-room stick shack where her family struggles to survive on $8 a month. "No one cares if we live or die, as long as they don't see."In Kenya, however, British International Development Secretary Hilary Benn met President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday and pledged $5.3 million to help alleviate the crisis, according to a statement released by the president's office.
One-third of the money will go to dealing with food shortages and the remaining two-thirds will go to providing water in drought-stricken areas, the statement said.
In Ethiopia, one aid group has been working on a project to help cattle herders develop ways of coping with drought in the region.
The project, developed by the U.S.-based aid agency CARE with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, will help cattle herders negotiate access to land when a crisis develops, provide a market so they can sell part of their herds and supply emergency food and water.
"We hopefully are going to get away from these emergency responses in the region," said Carey Farley, a program manager for CARE, from the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
Associated Press Writer Chris Tomlinson contributed to this report from Nairobi, Kenya.
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"