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Friday, July 31, 2009

Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks Exclusively to ABC News

Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News in an exclusive interview today that he is increasingly concerned about Americans becoming radicalized and turning to terrorism.

"I mean, that's one of the things that's particularly troubling: This whole notion of radicalization of Americans," Holder told ABC News during an interview in his SUV as his motorcade brought him from home to work. "Leaving this country and going to different parts of the world and then coming back, all, again, in aim of doing harm to the American people, is a great concern."

Holder said the ever-changing threat of terror and the pressure to keep up with it weighs heavily on his mind as he tries to ensure that the government has done all it can to anticipate the moves of an unpredictable enemy.

"In some ways it's the most sobering part of the day," Holder said of his morning intelligence briefing, in which he gets the latest report on the landscape of "the organizations, the people who are bound and determined to do harm to our nation."

Recent events, such as the arrests of alleged members of a home-grown terror cell in North Carolina, the return of several Somali-American men to their home country under questionable circumstances and the filing of charges against a New York man who allegedly received al Qaeda training in Pakistan and took part in a rocket attack against U.S. forces, bring the threats to national security into sharp focus.

"But, you know, in the hierarchy of things, it's hard to figure out how to prioritize these things in some ways," he said. "The constant scream of threats, the kind of things you have to be aware about, the whole notion of radicalization is something that didn't loom as large a few months ago ... as it does now. And that's the shifting nature of threats that keeps you up at night."

He noted, however, that the Bush administration "left us an infrastructure that I think is very good," and that national security officials are constantly striving to put the country in a safer position.

"The American people would be surprised by the depth of the threat, but also reassured to see the assets that have been deployed around the world," Holder said, adding that the United States interacts closely with its foreign partners.

Wow. So 1) white men with NRA allegiances aren't the number one threat to the U.S. (quick tell Miz Napolitano) and 2) Bush did something right. I guess they started serving a little coffee in D.C.

Source: ABC News

Wings Over Somali Waters

The international anti-piracy task force operating off the coast of Somalia, also has its own air force. About ten manned and UAV aircraft are available, all currently based in Djibouti. Three of these aircraft are being transferred to Kenya, where they will better cover the east coast of Somalia. This will enable the task force to monitor pirate mother ships (usually stolen fishing ships) that are going more than a thousand kilometers from the coast, to seek out larger, and more valuable (in terms of ransoms) ships coming out of the Persian Gulf, and making their way south to go around the southern tip of Africa.

So far this year, there have been over 250 attacks, most of them in the Gulf of Aden. Despite the 34 warships on duty, 78 merchant ships were boarded, and 31 of them taken. There have been more casualties this year, with six merchant seamen killed, 19 wounded and 561 taken hostage. Although the pirates have received over $100 million in ransoms, the pirate activities have cost shipping companies nearly $15 billion so far, in the form of increased insurance, fuel (moving at higher speeds, or taking detours) and crew (danger pay) costs.

Recently, Japan sent two P-3C maritime reconnaissance aircraft to Djibouti. Last year, Spain sent a P-3. The U.S. and France also have naval reconnaissance aircraft there, although the U.S. planes (P-3s and UAVs) are also there for counter-terrorism missions.

The site of most attacks has been the Gulf of Aden, which is one the busiest shipping lanes in the world (with nearly ten percent of all traffic). Each month, 1500-1600 ships pass the northern coast of Somalia. Last year about one ship out of every 400-500 was captured by pirates. With the pirates getting more and more ransom money for each ship, the number of pirate groups operating in the Gulf of Aden is growing. An increasing number of mother ships, usually captured fishing trawlers (able to stay out for weeks at a time, and carry speed boats for attacks) are traveling farther from the coast in the search of victims. The P-3s can search large areas of the high seas in search of these mother ships, which warships are now hunting down.

Most merchant ships are wary of pirate operations, and put on extra lookouts, and often transit the 1,500 kilometer long Gulf of Aden at high speed (even though this costs them thousands of dollars in additional fuel). The pirates seek the slower moving, apparently unwary, ships, and go after them before they can speed up enough to get away. For the pirates, business is booming, and ransoms are going up. Pirates are now demanding $2-3 million per ship, and are liable to get it for the much larger tankers and bulk carriers they are now seizing. The P-3s seek out the mother ships, and alert warships to the location where the pirates are operating.

But there are some problems. The American built P-3C maritime reconnaissance aircraft is getting old. The average age of the U.S. P-3Cs is 28 years. The P-3 entered service in 1962. The current version has a cruise speed of 610 kilometers per hour, endurance of up to 13 hours and a crew of eleven. The 116 foot long, propeller driven aircraft has a wingspan of nearly 100 feet. The P-3C can carry about ten tons of weapons (torpedoes, mines, or missiles like Harpoon and Maverick).

The 63 ton P-3 is based on the 1950s era Lockheed Electra airliner. The last P-3 was built in 1990. A more likely replacement for these elderly search planes, are UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), like Global Hawk or smaller aircraft like Predator. These UAVs typically stay in the air for 24 hours, or more, at a time. What maritime reconnaissance aircraft need, more than anything else, is endurance or, as the professionals like to put it, "persistence."

Spain sent 90 personnel (air and ground crew) to Djibouti, while the Japanese sent 150. There is already a French Falcon business jet fitted out with maritime surveillance radar and other sensors.


Loyalty and Cooperation Are Two-Way Streets

On Saturday, July 25th, local Muslim leaders met with Congressman Keith Ellison to discuss the community’s state of affairs and address challenges currently facing Muslims in Minnesota. The discussion focused on everything from positive contributions to the growth of the community, including the free Muslim-run health clinics in the Twin Cities, to the missing Somali men and Muslims’ cooperation with law enforcement. Congressman Ellison encouraged everyone to contribute to America and answer President Obama’s call to service.

I recalled a similar meeting in the past with a few law enforcement and government officials, including Thomas Heffelfinger, the former U.S. Attorney for Minnesota. I spoke during and after the meeting to these officials that cooperation requires trust. I gave them an example of a Canadian-Arab, Maher Arar, who was traveling to the US, stopped by homeland security and then sent to Syria to be tortured. I explained that these stories, passing in our grapevines, create fear and distrust of law enforcement. I further explained that loyalty is a two-way street and encouraged them to speak to their higher-ups about how such abuse makes it difficult for us to conscientiously encourage cooperation with the FBI.

Fast forward in time and the Muslim leaders are discussing a case of the missing Somali Youth and this time before Congressman Keith Ellison. Senator Joe Lieberman, who rushed to hold a Senate hearing on the missing Somali youth, was invited by Congressman Ellison to visit Minnesota and meet the Somali community. This was an excellent move by Congressman Ellison, who is one of few officials to meet with Somali leaders and treat them with the dignity and respect that they deserve as fellow Americans.

Senator Lieberman refused to accept the invitation. It is interesting to note that Senator Lieberman rushed all the way to Israel to meet the fascist and anti-Arab Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's new foreign minister, and invited him to the US but he has refused to meet a community that he is leading a terrorism investigation on. This is not ethical and calls into question Lieberman's qualifications in the current missing Somali men investigation. We need to demand that those holding Senate hearings are doing so in the spirit to promote safety and cooperation and not for political reasons.

According to Somali Voices, a coalition of nearly a dozen local Somali organizations, the entire Somali community has been under suspicion and scrutiny for the misguided actions of a handful of men. In a recent press release, they stated: “..members of the Somali community have reported being stopped on the streets and in the malls, Somali businesses have been raided, students have been approached by federal agents in campus libraries, community leaders have been denied boarding passes without due process, agents have talked their way into homes without warrants, non-English-speaking Somalis have been interviewed without translators, agents in unmarked cars have staked out in front of Somali mosques, informants have allegedly been sent inside the mosques.”

More troubling is that the Minneapolis FBI holds a civil rights meeting every three months consisting of local community leaders working on civil right issues. The Muslim and Somali voice is completely void at these discussions since no legitimate Somali or Muslim organization is invited to attend.

This week, I was rather disgusted to read an action alert by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that the FBI allegedly sent an informant to a family’s home, falsely claiming that the father and three sons had been injured in a car accident. This scheme was developed to convince the wife, who had previously lost a teenage son in a car accident, to travel to the hospital where a fake “doctor” arrested her.

CAIR wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and requested he investigate the matter and take appropriate action on this issue, but there is silence from the public at large. The public and the media have a responsibility to challenge the abuse of power and the cruel tricks deployed by law enforcement on a politically weak community.

Again, loyalty and cooperation is a two-way street.

Source: StarTribune

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Briefing on Secretary Clinton's Upcoming Trip to Africa

Johnnie Carson

Assistant Secretary

Bureau of African Affairs

Washington, DC

July 30, 2009


MR. WOOD: Okay. Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome. Today we have for you Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Johnnie Carson. He’s going to speak to you about Secretary Clinton’s upcoming trip to Africa. He’s – Assistant Secretary is going to make some brief remarks and then take your questions. But before asking your questions, if you could just identify yourselves and your news organization, we would greatly appreciate it. So I’ll turn it over to Ambassador Carson.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Robert, thank you very much. A pleasure to be here with you this afternoon to talk to you a little bit about Secretary Clinton’s forthcoming trip to Africa. Secretary of State Clinton will travel to Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde, starting on August 4 and returning to the United States on August 14. The trip will start at the U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, known mostly as the AGOA Forum, in Nairobi, Kenya, where she will deliver a speech at the ministerial opening ceremony of the forum on August the 5th.

The Secretary’s trip comes just three weeks after President Obama’s successful trip to Accra, Ghana, and will highlight and underscore the Obama Administration’s commitment to making Africa a priority in U.S. foreign policy. This is the earliest trip by the Secretary of State and the President to Africa of any previous administration.

The Secretary will underline America’s commitment to partner with governments, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and private citizens to build societies where each individual can realize their full potential. The Secretary’s trip follows the themes laid out by President Obama during his visit to Ghana: supporting strong and sustainable democratic governments; promoting sustainable economic development; strengthening public health and education; assisting in the prevention, litigation, and resolution of conflicts around Africa.
The United States wants to partner with African leaders to advance the President’s vision which is also a vision shared by many African leaders as well.

Secretary Clinton will stress also the importance of facilitating social and economic entrepreneurship, encouraging a new generation of young African scientists, small business leaders, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders who are trying to seek real solutions to Africa’s challenging problems. The Secretary will also discuss ways to foster good, regional governance, partnering with regional leaders to ban together to prevent conflict and violence, including gender-based violence, democratic erosions, and transnational threats that challenge Africa. The Secretary will also meet with President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the President of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government. That meeting will occur in Nairobi, Kenya.

Let me say briefly a little bit about the seven countries and the Secretary’s schedule in those countries. In Kenya, as I mentioned, she will be attending the AGOA Forum, speaking at the ministerial opening ceremony. She also intends while she is in Kenya to meet with President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga. She will encourage both of those leaders to move forward with their efforts to rewrite the country’s constitution and to prevent a return to the kind of violence that erupted in that country in January and February of 2007 following the very difficult and flawed presidential elections there.

From Kenya, the Secretary will move on to South Africa, where she will have an opportunity to meet the leadership of South Africa’s new government. She will meet with President Jacob Zuma, and she will also meet with South Africa’s new foreign minister, Ambassador Mashabane. This will give us an opportunity to talk with South African leaders about issues such as Zimbabwe and HIV/AIDS. The United States and South Africa have much in common. The Secretary will use this to strengthen an important relationship in South Africa with a country which is the engine of that region’s growth.

From South Africa, the Secretary will move on to Angola. Angola is one of the largest energy producers in Sub-Saharan Africa and is a major supplier of both petroleum and LNG to the U.S. market. The Secretary will meet with President Dos Santos, and she will also renew her acquaintance with the Angolan foreign minister with whom she met here in Washington approximately a month ago. It is the desire to strengthen that relationship with one of Southern Africa’s emerging countries, a country which has enormous economic potential.

From Angola, the Secretary will move on to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the Congo, she will have two stops. She will go to Kinshasa first and then will proceed the next day to Goma in the eastern region. She intends to meet with President Kabila and the Congolese foreign minister. During that stop, the Secretary wants to put a great deal of focus on the issue of sexual- and gender-based violence which is occurring in the eastern Congo.

As many of you know, the eastern Congo has been torn by civil strife, a great deal of conflict since 1994, 1995, largely as a result of the movement of ex-genocidaires from Rwanda into the eastern Congo. The Secretary is deeply concerned about the gender-based violence, which is occurring in the eastern Congo, will underscore America’s commitment to try to end this gender-based violence, and will meet with some of the victims who have suffered from it.

We will also – the Secretary also intends to encourage and push the Congolese Government as well as MONUC, the UN peacekeeping force there, to take a much more aggressive stance against gender-based violence. The Secretary will also encourage the Congolese Government to continue its democratic progress, and will also encourage the government to take action against corruption and to improve its economic and fiscal management so that it can – its country’s resources can be used for development.

From the Congo, the Secretary will fly to Abuja, Nigeria. Nigeria is probably the most important country in Sub-Saharan Africa: 140 million people, 75 million of whom are Muslims. It is also a major source of petroleum imports for the United States. It provides approximately 8 percent of America’s petroleum and the largest supply of our (inaudible) sweet crude. Nigeria has also been a major contributor to stability and peacekeeping in West Africa.

The Secretary will discuss with the Nigerian Government a range of issues, including West African security, the need to continue to move forward in strengthening its democracy, dealing with corruption, and also promoting stronger economic development.

From Nigeria, the Secretary will move on to Liberia. Liberia is one of our historically most important relationships in Africa. The Secretary wants to reaffirm U.S. support for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the only female African president. Liberia, before Johnson Sirleaf became president, had faced 20 years of intermittent and often very violent conflict. The Secretary wants to use this visit to show and demonstrate U.S. support for the democratic progress that has occurred in Liberia, support and reaffirm U.S. commitment to helping in the development assistance area, and in security sector reform.

And the final stop on the President’s trip will be in Cape Verde.

QUESTION: The President’s trip?

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Sorry, the Secretary’s trip.


QUESTION: Almost. (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR CARSON: That may have been a Freudian slip. But the Secretary’s trip, she will end it in Cape Verde. Cape Verde is an African success story. It is a country which is democratically run, well managed, and a country which has used the economic assistance that it has received from the United States, including a large Millennium Challenge Account Grant, extraordinarily well. It will reaffirm our friendship with Cape Verde.

I’ll stop right there, no Freudian slips, and take a few questions.

QUESTION: Okay. Matt Lee with the Associated Press. I want to ask about the meeting with the Somali president in Nairobi and what the Administration’s thinking is right now as to how to deal with this. Ambassador Rice was on the Hill yesterday, had some very strong words for Eritrea and is warning Eritrea about, you know, the role that it’s playing in Somalia. But I’m just wondering what the thinking is right now on how to deal with this. Are you considering sending more ammunition and military supplies and providing more training to the Somalis?

AMBASSADOR CARSON: The United States strongly supports the Djibouti process, the Transitional Federal Government, and the government of Sheikh Sharif. We think that this government, which has the support of IGAD, which is a regional organization, as well as the AU, offers the best possible chance for restoring stability to southern Somalia, which has been troubled over the last 20 years by enormous violence and civil conflict.

We think that the problems in southern Somalia have started to bleed regionally and internationally. We see in neighboring Kenya to the south some 270,000 refugees in the Dadaab refugee camp, five to six thousand Somali refugees flowing across the border each month into Kenya, putting enormous stress on that country’s infrastructure and also a burden for the UN.

Largely, in the international arena, we’ve seen the emergence of piracy as a major issue, in large measure because of the continuing instability in Somalia. We think that the support for Sheikh Sharif and his government offers an opportunity to be able to restore some stability, fight against the Somali Islamic extremists of al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam, the two groups that are working against them.

Yes, we are prepared to provide additional assistance to the TFG government. Yes, we are prepared to continue to support AMISOM, which has Ugandan and Burundian troops on the ground. And yes, we are prepared to work with the IGAD states and the AU in finding solutions to the problem of Somalia. And yes, we believe that the Eritrean Government has not played a positive role in helping to resolve the problem. Somalia is a place where they have been spoilers. We would hope that they would cease and desist their support for al-Shabaab, that they would not allow their country to be used as a safe haven or a conduit or vehicle for moving people, munitions, or money into the hands of extremists in Somalia.

They have an opportunity to play a positive role in the region. We would hope that they would do so. I think Ambassador Rice made our position quite clear. Time is running out on Eritrea. This is not just an opinion of the United States, this is an opinion of IGAD, this is an opinion of the African Union.

QUESTION: In terms of specifics and aid, do you expect anything new to be announced in terms of –

AMBASSADOR CARSON: I do not think so. This meeting between the Secretary and Sheikh Sharif will give the Secretary her first opportunity to meet with President Sharif, and we’ll – hopefully, we will get an opportunity to hear from him how he sees the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: Sue Pleming from Reuters. You said that part of the reasoning behind the Secretary and the President going so soon to Africa was to show Africa as a – you know, a key foreign policy priority. How are you going to be able to do that when the Obama Administration has so many other foreign policy priorities; for example, it’s dealing with Iraq, Afghanistan, you know, Middle East, Iran, and North Korea? What do you plan to do to make it a foreign policy priority? Are you going to look more to investment? The African continent as a whole is quite cynical in many ways about, you know, the U.S. making promises and not coming through with them.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: The Administration is committed to Africa. The Administration is capable of handling multiple foreign policy issues at one time. I think that you will see it demonstrated not only in the presence of senior U.S. officials who visit the continent, I think you will see it unfold in terms of support for old initiatives that remain valid, but also new initiatives that the Administration is committed to pushing forward. One of these initiatives which is starting to take place is in the area of food security. The Administration has made that a high priority. The Secretary has made it a high priority. She will talk about it a great deal in Africa, in Kenya, and a number of the other stops. The President has spoken about the need to help Africa deal with its agricultural crisis and concerns. It was a focus of the President’s main initiative at the G-20 meeting in L’Aquila approximately three weeks ago. And we all know that agriculture remains a centerpiece in Africa’s economic fabric. Some 70 percent of all African households depend either primarily or secondarily on agriculture as a source of their livelihood. It is an issue that deserves attention, especially in light of the fact that the green revolution, which has helped to transform much of Asia and Latin America over the last 20 or 30 years, has not yet reached Africa.

This initiative is aimed at helping Africa meet its food crisis and challenges, as well as helping to stimulate greater agriculture productivity and agro business. The Administration can handle multiple foreign policy issues, and is determined to do so. Six months into the new Administration, it has gotten off to a faster start than any previous administration with respect to its focus and interest on Africa, dealing with the challenges, and hoping to work with African states to open up the opportunities for greater economic progress and development.

MR. WOOD: Folks, we have time – we only have time for one more question. We have to get Assistant Secretary Carson to another meeting. Just a quick one.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Okay, go – one, please.

QUESTION: You talked for 20 minutes. We got to – there’s a lot – there’s seven countries.

QUESTION: There’s so many countries.

QUESTION: Oh yeah, it’s an 11-day trip and seven countries. I don’t think we can --

MR. WOOD: We’ll have plenty of time to talk about that.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: And I hope that many of you will be joining the Secretary on her trip. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Can I ask about the --

AMBASSADOR CARSON: That’s perfectly, perfectly all right. I have nothing against the press, just don’t like to be quoted by it.



QUESTION: Just – I’ll keep it brief. Sean Tannen with AFP. I was wondering if, on Zimbabwe, how much that’ll factor into the trip, the (inaudible) talks with the South Africans and with other nations. Could the trip be a moment to actually have any sort of new initiative on Zimbabwe, either – the Obama Administration has reached out in many parts of the world, say, Cuba, Iran. Could this be a time to reach out and try something new, or could this be a continuation of policies trying to further isolate the Mugabe government?

AMBASSADOR CARSON: The Secretary certainly intends to talk about Zimbabwe with the leadership in South Africa. We’ll seek their views on how they see the situation evolving, encourage the South Africa as a primary leader in SADC to continue to press the government of Robert Mugabe to fully implement the global political agreement that he signed with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. And we will also seek to work with South Africa and the regional states to ensure that the GPA is fully implemented, and that that country is able to return to democratic rule and its people allowed to have some opportunity for economic progress.

We have tried to reach out to the Zimbabwean Government. In the past three weeks, I myself have met with the vice president of Zimbabwe. I’ve also met with President Robert Mugabe – I think the first time that a senior U.S. official has done so in many years – again trying to encourage reform, progress, commitment to the GPA, improved human rights. And we will continue to do so. My meeting was a little bit difficult, but we continue to try to make progress.

QUESTION: Sorry, just --


QUESTION: Janine Zacharia with Bloomberg. Just really quickly on the oil countries that you’re going to, can you be a little bit more specific about what she’ll be looking for in Nigeria and Angola besides reforms? I mean, obviously, Nigeria’s election was a disaster. I mean, what specifically does she want from those energy-producing countries? And if you could address the China – potential rivalry there in those countries as well, if that’s spurring her to go there?

AMBASSADOR CARSON: No. The Secretary is going there because we have serious political, economic and hydrocarbon interest in those countries. In Nigeria, U.S. oil companies play a significant role, both in investment and production. U.S. investment in Nigeria in the oil production and service industry is well in excess of $15 billion. We are one of the leading purchasers of South African – sorry, of Nigerian oil. And we think that it’s important to discuss with Nigeria a range of issues. We are concerned about having a good energy relationship with them. We’re interested in seeing them continue to play a positive regional role, including providing peacekeepers to key conflict areas. We also believe it is also important for them to deal with some of their domestic issues. We’d like to see greater improvement in their electoral performance and strengthen – which will help to strengthen their democracy.

We’d also like them to address issues of corruption and transparency. When there is an absence of transparency and when there is a great deal of corruption, it makes the business environment extremely difficult. I think it was a point that the President made in his speech to the parliament in Accra, Ghana. If in fact you have democratic governance, respect rule of law, it is easier to draw in investment and business opportunities because people are certain and assured that they will be treated fairly. These are all issues – the range of issues were there.

The Secretary is going because we have interest in working with Angola and Nigeria in strengthening our relationship with two major countries, oil-producing countries on the continent, working with them on issues in the global environment and the community that are important to them as well as us. Our presence there has nothing to do with anyone else’s operations on the continent. The mention of our colleagues from Asia is a Cold War paradigm, not a reflection of where we are today.

QUESTION: The Chinese are not putting as much pressure on those countries in terms of governance. They are not being – not lecturing the Africans as much as, say, – or that’s the view of some people – as the U.S. is. So –

AMBASSADOR CARSON: I hope the United State is not lecturing anyone, but in effect, having diplomatic discussions and dialogues, respectful and those that are mutually beneficial and important for the United States and the countries that we deal with. I think it’s important to respect African governments and leaders, to work with them to resolve problems and challenges that they have, and to engage and be able to engage on these issues. We have and should encourage countries, wherever they are, to do the same thing. If countries are not paying attention to human rights issues of child soldiers, bad governance, mismanagement, we need to talk to those governments about encouraging them to do the right thing, which is not only right for them, but also the countries that they deal with.

MR. WOOD: Okay. Thank you all very much.

US Prepared to Give Further Aid to Somali Government

The State Department's top Africa envoy said Thursday the Obama administration is prepared to provide more military help to Somalia's embattled Transitional Federal Government, the TFG. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton begins a seven-nation Africa trip next week that will include a Nairobi meeting with the TFG President, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.

The Obama administration is making clear its readiness to continue helping the Somali administration fend off an offensive by hard-line Islamic rebels with alleged ties to al-Qaida, and it is renewing its call on Eritrea to cease its aid to the militants.

The comments from Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson came as Secretary of State Clinton prepared to leave next Monday on an ambitious 11-day, seven nation African tour that will focus on problem issues including Somalia and political trouble in Zimbabwe.

The United States has in recent weeks provided about 40 tons of ammunition and supplies to the transitional Somali government, which is under siege by insurgent groups led by the al-Shabab militia, which is viewed by the U.S. as a terrorist group.

Briefing reporters on the Clinton trip, Carson said the TFG, which has the support of the African Union and its peacekeeping mission AMISOM, offers the best chance for restoring stability in Somalia and he made clear the United States is ready to continue its military support.

"Yes, we are prepared to provide additional assistance to the TFG government. Yes, we are prepared to continue to support AMISOM, which has Ugandan and Burundian troops on the ground. And yes, we are prepared to work with the EGAD states and the AU in finding solutions to the problem of Somalia," he said.

Carson, echoing comments made to a congressional panel Wednesday by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, criticized Eritrea for supporting al-Shabab and trying to undermine the TFG.

"The Eritrean government has not played a positive role in helping to resolve the problem. Somalia is a place where they have been spoilers," he said. "We would hope that they would cease and desist their support for al-Shabab, that they would not allow their county to be used as a safe haven or a conduit or vehicle for moving people, munitions or money into the hands of the extremists in Somalia.

Clinton will meet the TFG leader during a busy first stop of her trip, in Nairobi, that includes meetings with leaders of both main parties in Kenya's national unity government, and a conference of the U.S.-African trade-promotion grouping, AGOA.

She then visits South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and the island state of Cape Verde on a mission to advance the themes of President Obama's policy message in Ghana earlier this month of U.S. support for African democratization, economic growth and conflict-resolution.

Carson said the political situation in Zimbabwe will be a key issue for Clinton in South Africa and that she would encourage that country to press Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to fully implement his power-sharing accord with former opposition leader and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangerai.

He said Clinton would urge Nigeria and Angola to combat corruption and build transparency in their economies, but he said, she does not intend to "lecture" those countries, which have emerged as key U.S. energy suppliers.

Source: VOA

Reliability and Credibility of News

Coverage in Somaliland and Somalia

AllAfrica Global Media is a multi-media company headquartered in the United States and Africa. Growing rapidly, AllAfrica's web site logs over six million monthly page views and the company is the largest electronic distributor of African news and information worldwide. Clients include Comtex, Lexis-Nexis, CNN, Reuters Business Briefing, Financial Times Information, CompuServe, Bloomberg and iSyndicate, and for wireless devices, OmniSky and AvantGo. AllAfrica Global Media is highly reputed news company.

AllAfrica was established on 1999, and it earned remarkable trust between the African readers in very short period of time. AllAfrica led many of its readers to realize that good journalism is vital to the health of the democracies in Africa. It tells its readers most of what they know about the world beyond their own experience by going where its audience cannot or will not. It keeps watch on the government and other powerful institutions, exposes wrongdoing and injustice, and shares the endless fascinations of everyday life. AllAfrica reaches the voiceless communities across Africa including women and children.

However, AllAfrica´s sources in Somaliland and Somalia failed to implement the principles of journalism, and provide biased reports that bash countries or groups. AllAfrica Media use the reports by politically motivated Somali News Websites like (Garowe Online Media) and (Shabelle Media Network). The reports of such websites don´t respect the values of ethical journalism and are unreliable.

For example, AllAfrica Media republished report by Garowe Online about recent violence between two Somaliland tribes at the border between Somaliland and Ethiopia particularly Ceel-Bardaalle town, where four people were killed by armed bandits. The report can be reached by opening this link:

The report says that fighting took place at Hargiesa Suburbs. This is an attempt to show the world that the Capital of Somaliland is witnessing violence and fighting like Mogadishu, Somalia. The Ceel-Bardaalle town is located 100 Km west of Hargiesa, and is between Gabiley and Awdel Regions. This was politically motivated report by Garowe Online Media.

Unfortunately, Garowe Online misled AllAfrica many similar issues to downgrade Somaliland´s stability and security. However, both Garowe Online and Shabelle Media are unreliable and biased to many Somali and international news agencies. The owners of aforesaid news websites are from Ex-Italian Somalia and politically motivates against independence of Somaliland. Such behavior undermines the values of journalism.

Garowe Online Media is promoting Puntland as third legitimate government in the former Somalia, and campaigning to determine Puntland as the third administration in future Somali Unity – if that happens again. Somali Republic was established on 1st July 1960 after British Somaliland and Italian Somalia united. At that time, Puntland was under Italian Somalia, but Garowe Online is running to promote Puntland as third uniting party – if former Somalia unites again – at the expense of Somaliland. We can say Garowe Online Media is an official mouthpiece for Puntland administration led by Pirate President Cabdiraxman Faroole.

Puntland Administration and Garowe Online are campaigning to force AU and World community to accept Puntland as an existing power within former Somalia, and to have good share in next impossible Somali reconciliation process, which will give Puntland equal share to Italian Somalia and Somaliland.

Puntland Administration use piracy, human trafficking and drug smuggle to catch the world attention. However, Puntland´s crocodile tear over piracy catch the interest of US Congressman Mr. Payne. Pirate President was recently invited to US Congress by Mr. Payne, who failed to understand the true color of Faroole. The entire Somali Pirates operate from Puntland; Human Trafficking operates from Puntland; kidnapping foreigners in common in Puntland; Terrorist organizations, like Al-Itahad Al-Islamiya, are active in Puntland; Garowe Online Media don´t even highlight all these illegal activities in Puntland.

Garowe Online Media publishes articles bashing Somaliland and supplies to outside world; Allafrica Media need to reexamine the credibility of their sources inside Somalia including Puntland owned Garowe Online Media and Shabelle Media Network. Allafrica Media need to establish their own offices across peaceful parts of former Somalia.

Garoowe Online Media is highly corrupted, biased and tribal; it supports the policy of Puntland Administration led by father of the Editor of Garowe Online Media Cabdiraxman Faroole – Maxamed Cabdiraxman Faroole is son of Puntland President and one of the major editors in Garowe Online. Another word, Garowe Online Media is the official mouthpiece of Puntland.

Advice to AllAfrica Media:

AllAfrica Media shall review the policies of their news sources in Somaliland and Somalia, in order maintain the image of the media in Somaliland and Somalia. What is reality is that news of Garowe Online Media is not reliable because the policies of Puntland Administration influence the news portal. Good journalism is about unbiased reporting and unveiling the realities to the world, and discovering the truth of the stories.

Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi

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Somalia: More Than 500 Somalis Demonstrate in Greece

More than 500 Somalis in Greece have made largely organized demonstration in Greece, just after government police forces detained more than 200 Somalis morning there, witnesses told Shabelle radio on Thursday.

Reports say that demonstration came as the police forces of the Greece government entered forcibly in a house where more Somali people lived on Thursday morning and sent to the jails in that country.

50 year old Somali woman who was taking part the demonstrations told Shabelle radio that she was in a trip for a at least 17 years and was absent from her motherland pointing out that they decided to be part of the demonstration against to the arrest of the Somalis.

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"The police of this country arrested 200 hundred more Somalis including pregnant women. The soldiers have dealt with the Somalis brutally; they also tortured then took them with seven mini buses. We don not, we do not know the reason of the arrest," she said as she was tearing.

It is unclear the real aim that the Greece police forces arrested the Somali people in its country so far. But reports say that soldiers accused the Somali people making illegal passports which caused the more than 200 Somalis to be jailed.

There had been hundreds of detained Somalis who were in the jails which reportedly said that the police of the Greece conduct with black people with good manner.

There is no comment from the Greece government about the large complaining demonstrations made by the Somalis there.

Source: AllAfrica

German Ship Ransom Increased to $4 Million, Somali Pirate Says

Somali pirates holding a German container ship for ransom increased their demand to $4 million from $3 million after the raiders disagreed among themselves on how to divide the money, a member of the gang said.

The German-flagged Hansa Stavanger has been held since early April, when it was seized between the Seychelles and Kenya.

“We had previously agreed $3 million with the owners but due to some circumstances, mainly because we are so many and we have had the ship approximately four months, we decided to ask them to add an additional $1 million,” Ahmed Hassan, a pirate whose gang hijacked the ship, said in a phone interview today. “It was intended to release the ship after the ransom but now it seems that it will take extra time because the owners haven’t yet answered our offer to increase the money to $4 million.”

Should $4 million be paid, it would likely be a record for a vessel seized by Somali pirates. Ransoms have tended to range from $500,000 to $2 million, though $3 million was paid for the Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star last year, the Congressional Research Service said in a February report.

Calls to the Hamburg-based owner of the ship, Leonhardt- Blumberg, weren’t answered. The 21,000 deadweight-ton vessel was seized about 400 miles (645 kilometers) from land, in an area where pirates hadn’t previously been active.

Source: Bloomberg

Somaliland is Undermined by Tribal Chauvinism

By Mohamed F. Yabarag

From the outset, Somaliland is peaceful, democratic, tolerant, and inclusive; a place where the rule of law is abided by all its citizenry and where people are equal in the eyes of the law. Is it? If you dig deep and explore further, however, you will come up with a different picture, an astonishing picture entirely different than what was portrayed of the country over the years. You will a see a country held back by tribal divisions and whose relative gains in terms of peace and social cohesion over the years is about to be reversed by a combination of events that are the products of its medieval and unjust social and political system – tribal power sharing.

Tribal power sharing should have been a short term solution, but seems to be staying put for a very long period, if not permanently. And this is bad news for all of us.

When most people were expecting Somaliland to take further strides towards democratization and possible statehood, it hit head on a brick wall. A process of undoing of what was achieved over the past 18 years seems to be under way in earnest. All those achievements made over this period with the support of perhaps the most peace-loving but clan-sensitive people in all Somali-inhabited territories are about to be reversed by an incompetent government and a society that failed to realize time and again the perils of tribalism.

Nowadays, tribalism is the buzz word in Hargeisa and elsewhere in the country. You look no further than the tribal websites of Somaliland to see how things are bad and getting nastier by the day. Somaliland may have been in relative peace for a long period of time, but it was never at ease with itself. The system on which it based its short and long term strategic policies - a power-sharing based entirely on tribal quota - is untenable and fragile to say the least.

Every clan is suspicious and will always be about the intentions of the other, hence prepared to defend its ground and beliefs to the bitter end at the expense of national unity. For instances, if a government minister is relieved from his post, his replacement will come straight from his immediate clan or sub-clan, even if a better candidate for the job is available elsewhere. Even the educated class is not immune from this craze. Either they are overwhelmed by the majority nomads, or have become willing partners of this tribal madness. They are at the center of this lunacy. There is no social cohesion in Somaliland; only fragmented tribes who are all jostling for privileges and political posts, often unfairly.

The fact that we put more faith on tribal power sharing than effective government institutions exacerbates our problems further. What we have now and seem to be proud of is tribal quota. Those with smaller and insignificant tribes (insignificant only in the eyes of big tribes) will never be able to reach their potential highs under this unjust system. Government institutions exist only in name and serve the interest of the ruling party as well as a few tribal chiefs who switch their allegiances depending on who has more money than the other. Despite the good name they amassed over the years, the un-elected and mostly illiterate Guurti are currently the worst of all.

The over-dependence on tribal power sharing system and the lack of trust in the existing government and civil institutions makes all clans edgy, suspicious and fearful of losing their standing in the tribal hierarchy that is part and parcel of Somaliland’s social system.

As we have seen on many occasions in many parts of the country, the simplest of incidents can trigger a tribal skirmishes which sometimes leads to all out war between communities in the same locality, often leading to the demise of innocent bystanders who are not part of the conflict like those murdered between Gabiley and Dilla road in a broad day light. The fact that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are still at large and protected by their members in higher places in Gabiley and even in the central government is an illustration of how tribalism is effectively shielding criminals from justice in Somaliland. According to the latest reports from Ruqi, a village about a few miles from the disputed area, local farmers are constantly being terrorized and harassed by Gabiley militia that has the full support of the local government officials to the extent that they did not plough their farms this year.

Even the leader of the opposition Kulmiye party, Ahmed Siilaanyo, has shied away from condemning these murderers outright for fear of losing votes in Gabiley region. In an interview with the BBC’s Ahmed Saeed Egeh, instead of condemning the Gabiley murderers, he waffled on the issue and blamed everything on the government, not because they failed to apprehend the culprits but because of what he perceives a government’s failure to implement an earlier arbitration which favoured the Gabiley militia. This land dispute between the brotherly communities in Ceel Bardaale is a typical example of what is in store for Somaliland and how such incidents can break up the country into tribal fiefdoms. If people in Somaliland think they are immune of what is happening in other parts of Somaliland, notably Mogadishu and its immediate environs, they are living in cloud cuckoo land. There is potential banana skin everywhere.

Despite the efforts of Somaliland elders to diffuse the conflict between the aforementioned communities, the next battleground is already drawn as other clans, who are not part of the dispute, have already been drawn into the conflict to support their clan kinships. This may even further escalate if not properly addressed.

The recent national registration system in which all Somaliland regions have swelled their ranks to a ludicrous level is another example of how the whole Somaliland society prefers to gain favours through a fraudulent tribal means. The head of Inter peace recently admitted in a BBC interview that they will never be able to correct the “server problem” in the same way crimes cannot be eliminated from streets. Disappointing but true statement! The next presidential election may further be delayed because of the inability of Somaliland government and its institutions on one side and the uncompromising attitude of certain die-hard regions who want the continuation of the status quo on the other.

On the other hand, the so-called political parties are divided along tribal lines. There are no ideological and political differences as such between the three main parties. The only differences being which tribe supports which party i.e. tribal allegiance. The chairmen of these parties will never allow to be challenged for the leadership of their respective parties until they retire or bow out for their own sake.

Ahmed Siilaanyo fought tooth and nail to avoid challenge for Kulmiye leadership, while President Rayaale has won the Udub leadership without facing a single contestant. He simply walked away with it. Faisal Ali Waraabe reiterated on more than one occasion that he will not allow anyone to challenge him because he “built the party from scratch and would not allow an outsider to walk into the leadership”, his words. In effect, he is saying over my dead body! An attempt to form alternative political parties for the disenchanted and disgruntled has exhausted following government insistence that no such parties are allowed by the constitution in spite of Somaliland lawyers saying on the contrary. Somali Landers are in a vicious cycle. In this perspective, their current choice is “take it or leave it”.

So, what is the solution to this immediate and acute problem? Although I would continue and make a few comments of my own about what the possible solutions may be, I would also appreciate if the reader takes time and makes his/her say on this.

First and foremost, whichever government comes to power in the next election (if there is an election) should make institutional-building as its priority number one in order to minimize the over-dependence on the unfair tribal power-sharing system. Not only the country badly needs institutions, but it needs independent and effective government and civil institutions that are free from tribal bias and government manipulation. If citizens know government institutions such as police and others will do their job effectively and bring criminals before a court of law that is not only independent but seen to be fair and independent in the eyes of the public, the role of tribal arbitration will be minimized.

Somaliland government should empower its institutions and minimize the role currently played by its growing number of tribal chiefs, who seem to be increasing at an alarming rate. Tribal chiefs have become a de facto institution in Somaliland and have almost taken the roles normally reserved for government and civil institutions. How can someone who declared his allegiance to his clan can be trusted and be fair? Highly unlikely!

Moreover, the country’s growing intellectuals, both in and outside the country, should take a lion’s share in this effort by educating the public about the pitfalls of tribalism and how relying on it heavily can be catastrophic and create more divisions. There are so many social problems facing us today, but I believe tribalism is the deadliest of all.

Mohamed F. Yabarag


Somalia warns of possible A/H1N1 flu outbreak, appeals for int'l support

The Somali government on Wednesday warned of a possible spread of the A/H1N1 pandemic into the war-wrecked Horn of Africa nation, calling on the international community and the World Health Organization (WHO) for assistance.
"We know of no case of the A/H1N1 flu in the country but we worry about the possibility of the spread of the disease because of the fact that cases of the disease were found in neighboring countries with whom we have pervious borders," Qamar Aden Ali, Somali Health Minister told Xinhua.

Ali appealed to the international community and WHO for assistance in preventing the occurrence of the flu whose presence in the country is not yet known.

"We lack the technical capability to diagnose the disease and the necessary drugs to treat it. So we call upon the international community particularly the World Health Organization to give us the necessary drugs and technical advice and training for our health staff," said the minister.

Some cases of the epidemic were found in neighboring Kenya last month. Kenya shares long and largely unprotected border with southern Somalia.

The A/H1N1 flu was declared global pandemic by WHO after it spread out of Mexico to reach as far as Asia, Europe, and Africa.

The Somali government has been struggling with an Islamist insurgency since it was established in 2004 after protracted peace talks between warring clan-based Somali factions in Nairobi, capital of Kenya. The Horn of Africa nation's health infrastructure has but collapsed during years of conflicts.

Source: Xinhua

Statement by the UN Special Representative for Somalia

UN Security Council meeting on Somalia

29 July 2009

Mr President,

Permanent Representatives,

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am grateful for this opportunity to brief the Security Council.

While the situation remains fragile, there are positive developments in Somalia. As I told the Council previously, a new paradigm is being implemented. Despite multiple constraints, the Government is resisting and repelling multiple attempts to overthrow it and seize power illegally by force. It is also overcoming the two decades of skepticism over Somalia.

Mr President

I believe that today we are at a turning point. It is clear that the population and its traditional leaders reject violence and those behind it. Therefore the support of the international community is even more crucial at this time. In that context I would like to recognize once again the extraordinary help provided by members of the Organization of Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States, the African Union, the European Union and the Commission, the Contact Group including the US, Norway and many others especially IGAD the sub-regional organization. They have mobilized quickly to provide critical assistance on the ground, as pledged during the Brussels Conference in April, chaired by the UN Secretary General. To facilitate this process, the Somali Government has employed the services of an international accounting firm to ensure transparency.

The Government has made significant progress in training, equipping and paying its security forces. However more needs to be done especially in the area of coordination and organization. At the same time, the political process is also moving forward. The Djibouti Agreement signed in August last year remains open to those who want to address the Somali situation through peaceful means. Recently an important agreement was signed between the Government and the well respected, religious group Ahlu Sunna-wa Al Jamma which has already shown results on the ground. There has also been the inclusion of some elements from an opposition group, and one of its leaders has become a Minister of State. That open door policy should be continued.

My understanding is that the Government would welcome members of those currently in the opposition, whether leaders or simple members of the rank and file of their groups. Somalis should discuss peace among themselves in their own country. Those who fail to join the peace process will miss an opportunity to contribute to rebuilding the country. My office stands ready to assist and help the continued discussion among Somalis.

The time has come to focus on the needs and interests of the ordinary Somali citizens who are denied food to alleviate their hunger and protection against fear. Their suffering should strike at the heart of all Somali patriots and should be the main international concern. Their country has been taken hostage by a small group interested only in their own immediate profit. Indeed insecurity is becoming a source of revenue and power.

The Somali people have endured too much – they have seen their loved ones killed and maimed, been forced to flee their homes again and again and suffered endless abuses of their human rights. Their suffering must be ended to help them to live a normal life as in many other African countries.

Mr President

In this context, I condemn the abduction of all innocent Somalis and foreigners who are being held for ransom and call for their unconditional release. I appeal to all those, Somalis and non Somalis, who can help, directly or indirectly, to do so through telephone calls, emails and so on to help free the unfortunate hostages. It is impossible to see how such inhuman actions could help Somalis or the image of Somalia in any way. Likewise I condemn the looting of the UN offices in South Central Somalia as well as efforts to silence the media through intimidation, extortion and the targeted killing of journalists.

The question of justice must be seriously addressed. Fighting impunity and various abuses against civilians should remain high on the agenda. In this regard the international community should help the Somalis decide the way forward. This is why my office is organizing a meeting on this issue in the middle of next month. The Monitoring Group based in Nairobi is active in trying to identify those who might face sanctions.

Mr President

Past failures should not discourage us from taking future action to help stability. In the short and medium term, there are concrete steps that can be taken by this Council:

•While the Government has made important strides, it still requires immediate support, political and financial, to improve the situation. The authorities in Puntland and Somaliland also need resources to ensure the stability endures.

•Immediate and concrete support to AMISOM. The African Union troops have shown remarkable courage and dedication in solidarity with the Somali people. They deserve the backing of all Council members.

•Support for IGAD, the sub regional organization, and the African Union in their decisions on Somalia will be most helpful. Due to their proximity, knowledge, and interest in Somalia, IGAD member states should be recognized as having a leading role on Somali issues.

•The time has come for the United Nations to show it is serious about moving to Somalia. Our temporary presence in Nairobi has lasted for too long. We can only work effectively for peace with the Somalis and address pressing humanitarian needs if we are close to the victims of famine, violence and different abuses. My office and other leading UN agencies, including humanitarian ones, along with concerned diplomats and NGOs, should move to Mogadishu. The establishment of a Green Zone, similar to those elsewhere, will facilitate this process.

•Continuing support against piracy. The international maritime presence has been a remarkable show of solidarity with Somalis among a large number of nations and has been effective. This maritime presence should continue while support for the establishment of the Somali coastguard is being provided. At the same time, the question of addressing the problems on land, particularly the issue of youth employment, must been taken up as a matter of urgency.

Somalia is indeed a difficult case to say the least - but challenges always exist and should not be a reason for inaction. The international community should never surrender its obligation towards the people. Effective action is needed now because if not now - then when? If the Council does not act, then who will act? We know all too well that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing.”

People all over the world strive for peace, security and dignity – the people of Somalia are no exception. They have been denied this modest aspiration for the past 20 years. Last year’s Security Council visit to Djibouti was a tremendous boost to the region – if the Council can help to restore stability to Somalia, it will go a long way towards elevating further the UN’s reputation in Africa. It seems to me that now is the time for action.

Thank you

Four held in Belgium over Somali 'terror' links

Four men apprehended in Kenya last week allegedly en route to a jihadist training camp in Somalia were arrested in Belgium on a Dutch warrant on Thursday, prosecutors in The Hague said.

In a statement, the Dutch national prosecuting authority said the four -- three Dutch citizens and a Moroccan with Dutch residency status, and all aged 21 -- were arrested at Brussels airport "after being expelled from Kenya".

They are "suspected of participation in a terrorist organisation," it said, after they were stopped last Friday in Kenya from where they were allegedly "on their way to a jihadist training camp in Somalia."

It was not immediately known why Kenyan authorities had not sent the four directly to the Netherlands. One of the three Dutchmen is of Somali origin and the other two of Moroccan origin.

The Netherlands, where police have opened an investigation into "possible involvement in terrorism," is seeking the four men's extradition from Belgium.

The prosecutors' statement said investigators searched two homes linked to the men in The Hague on Thursday morning and seized "a large number of documents," the nature of which was not divulged.

One among the group, it added, was held in Azerbaijan in November 2005 on suspicion of planning to take part in a jihad with two others. It was unclear what happened to him after he was sent to the Netherlands at the time.

The radical Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab Islamists in Somalia have been battling the government and have admitted to receiving backing from foreign fighters in their bid to topple President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

Kenya, which shares a long border with the lawless Horn of Africa country, is wary of a possible attack on its soil and has been on the alert.

Source: AFP

‘Radicalisation’ of Americans worries top official

US Attorney General Eric Holder warned yesterday of increased “radicalisation” of Americans in recent months, two days after seven people were arrested in North Carolina for allegedly plotting attacks overseas.

Holder, the top US law enforcement officer, expressed significant concerns about people going abroad and then returning to the United States with the “aim of doing harm to the American people.”

“The constant screams of threats, the kind of things you have to be aware about, the whole notion of radicalisation is something that didn’t loom as large a few months ago … as it does now,” Holder said in an interview with ABC News.

Prosecutors on Monday unveiled a seven-count indictment charging seven people in North Carolina with plotting to carry out attacks overseas and numerous weapons possession charges.

The leader of the group, Daniel Patrick Boyd, trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 1989 to 1992 and used that experience to set up his own organisation to train fighters, raise money and carry out attacks abroad, according to the indictment.

He was also accused of drawing his two sons into the group.

The United States has been on heightened alert for security threats since the September 11 attacks in 2001, when al Qaeda militants using hijacked jetliners killed 2,749 people.

In the worst case of home-grown terrorism in the United States, Timothy McVeigh was executed — three months before the September 11 attacks — for the killing of 168 people in the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

In the interview, Holder also expressed concerns about a group of young Somali men leaving the Minneapolis area to join an Islamist group fighting a civil war in Somalia.

“What you see in Somalia with al Shabaab, and potential connection to people in the Midwest part of the US … is of great concern,” Holder said.

Al Shabaab — seen by Western security services as al Qaeda’s proxy in the Horn of Africa nation — controls large swathes of south and central Somalia.

Al Shabaab, which means “Youth” in Arabic, has vowed to rule the majority Muslim nation by a hardline interpretation of Islamic law.

The FBI has been investigating whether the teens from Minnesota were recruited by the group to fight in an insurgency against Somalia’s Western-backed government.

Source: Reuters

US steps up warnings to Eritrea over support for Somali extremists before Clinton Africa trip

US warns Eritrea over activity in Somalia

The Obama administration on Wednesday criticized Eritrea for destabilizing activities in Somalia, warning it could soon face sanctions unless it stops support for Somali extremists.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Wednesday that Eritrea’s backing of the extremists, some of whom have been linked to al-Qaida, is destabilizing the Horn of Africa and posing a threat to international security.

Rice’s warning came ahead of a visit to the region next week by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who planned to meet in Kenya with the Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, president of Somalia’s feeble transitional government.

“It is unacceptable and we will not tolerate it and nor will other members of the Security Council,” Rice said in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We will continue to discuss with colleagues in the Security Council appropriate measures, including potentially sanctions, against Eritrea for its actions in Somalia.”

Rice renewed U.S. allegations that Eritrea is “arming, supporting and funding” al-Shabab, an Islamist militia group that was designated a terrorist group by Washington in 2008, and other extremists.

The current Somali government is backed by the United Nations, the African Union, which has a small peacekeeping operation in Somalia, and the United States. The U.S. has supplied the Somali government with at least 40 tons of military equipment, small arms and ammunition, to counter the extremists.

Rice did not outline what sanctions Eritrea might face, but the Bush administration had begun a review to determine if the country could be designated a “state sponsor of terrorism,” which brings with it a host of economic penalties.

Rice added that Eritrea, a small nation on the Red Sea, is also playing a negative role elsewhere by ignoring U.N. demands for an explanation of a military incursion last year into neighboring Djibouti.

Eritrea “has essentially stiffed and stonewalled” the United Nations and others on the Djibouti situation, she said.

“There is a very short window for Eritrea to signal through its actions that it wishes a better relationship with the United States and indeed the wider international community,” Rice said. “If we do not see signs of that signal in short order, I can assure you that we will be taking appropriate steps with partners in Africa and the Security Council.”

Eritrea has repeatedly denied it is supporting extremists in Somalia despite reports from U.N. investigators that document such arms shipments. But it has made clear its disdain for the lengthy negotiations that led to the formation of Somalia’s transitional government, whose legitimacy Eritrea questions.

Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991 when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other, plunging the country into chaos and anarchy.


Alarm Over Somalia's Child Soldiers

For years, warlords have conscripted children to fight in bitter conflicts over money, power and land. The BBC Somali service's Mohamed Mohamed reveals widespread alarm that the practice is now becoming entrenched in Somalia.

Children as young as eight years old are going missing.

Some are drugged, others brainwashed and some paid $50 (£30) for every month they fight.

Most people are frightened to speak openly, but those who can afford it are sending their children out of the country to safety.

An elderly man who did not want to be named publicly told how his 15-year-old son had vanished.

He said he had looked everywhere for his boy, and even asked the militant Islamist group al-Shabab whether they had seen him.

They said they had not, but he later found out that al-Shabab had convinced the boy to join their jihad so "he would go to heaven if he died".

Children as shields

"After a long search I found out that my son is being held in a training camp on the outskirts of Baidoa," he said.

"They are using our children as a shield. But the children of people who claim to be leaders are not in the camps. They are not fighting.

"Al-Shabab only use children from the poor as fighters."

A Mogadishu resident says he has seen 10-year-old children on street corners in Mogadishu armed with AK47s.

"A child of about 12 years old, armed with a gun and a whip works at a crossroads in Mogadishu's Bakara market," he says.

"The boy stops public transport and checks if there are men and women passengers sharing the seats.

"If he finds them, he tells them to get off the bus and flogs them in public while other members of al-Shabab sit under roadside trees nearby."

Trained by foreigners

Hundreds of Somali youngsters are recruited and trained in camps in southern Somalia by al-Shabab, according to a senior police officer.

"The people involved in training children are foreigners who speak English or Arabic and they use translators to help them," says Colonel Abdullahi Hassan Barise.

"They are from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chechnya and other countries."

He said a few months ago, the police caught a small bus carrying teenagers at a police checkpoint outside Mogadishu.

The children were from villages and towns in Lower Juba and they had been transported by al-Shabab.

In their inquiries, he said they had found that some of the children had been threatened while others were brainwashed into believing that they would go to paradise if they took part in what was described as the defence of Somalia and Islam.

"Some of the children said that a Pakistani trainer used to spike their drinks with something," he said.

He also said some of the street children in Mogadishu are recruited as they are the most vulnerable, because there is no family to look after them.

American jihadists

Even Somalis who live overseas are not safe from the child recruitment effort of the Islamists.

In the US state of Minnesota, some young men from the Somali community have been recruited to fight with al-Shabab, and have been killed.

In October last year, at least one of them, Shirwa Mohamed, carried out a suicide attack against security services in Bosasso in north-eastern Somalia.

Omar Jamal, a community leader in Minnesota, blames local jihadists' influence on young people.

"They were targeting young, vulnerable boys at colleges and universities to indoctrinate them and tell them to join and fight the jihad," he says.

"Some of them were provided with cash and Somali passports and they were persuaded to join this global jihadist ideology and they fall for it.

"We want this to come to an end and we want the US government to investigate."

Meanwhile, the FBI is already looking into how and why these Somali youngsters choose to leave a comfortable life in the US for the dangerous conditions in Somalia.

A worker for a children's rights group in Somalia says that, while using children as soldiers is not new, the scale, number and age of those involved is worrying.

Parents try to stop their children from being recruited - but the lack of schools or other activities as well as, in some cases, peer pressure makes it difficult.

Source: BBC News

Exclusive Interview: Pirate on When to Negotiate, Kill Hostages

For his story on the economics of Somali piracy, WIRED contributing editor Scott Carney spoke to one of the ocean-going hijackers. They talked about how to negotiate a ransom, when to kill a hostage, and how to avoid the Navy. Here’s the uncut version of that interview:

What was your job before you start this one or what forced you to become a pirate?

Every government in the world is off our coasts. What is left for us? Nine years ago everyone in this town was stable and earn[ed] enough income from fishing. Now there is nothing. We have no way to make a living. We had to defend ourselves. We became watchmen of our coasts and took up our duty to protect the country. Don’t call us pirates. We are protectors.

How do you pirates decide on what ransom to ask for? What makes them negotiate downwards?

Once you have a ship, it’s a win-win situation. We attack many ships everyday, but only a few are ever profitable. No one will come to the rescue of a third-world ship with an Indian or African crew, so we release them immediately. But if the ship is from Western country or with valuable cargo like oil, weapons or then its like winning a lottery jackpot. We begin asking a high price and then go down until we agree on a price.

How do you know a ship in far away coast in the first place and its flagship?

Often we know about a ship’s cargo, owners and port of origin before we even board it. That way we can price our demands based on its load. For those with very valuable cargo on board then we contact the media and publicize the capture and put pressure on the companies to negotiate for its release.

From what I’ve seen, initial demands tend to be about 10 times the previous publicized ransom, is this a rule of thumb?

We know that we won’t get our initial demands, but we use it as a starting point and negotiate downwards to our eventual target. But as a rule, yes, that’s about right.

Does the length of a hijacking change the ransom that pirates are willing to accept?

Yes. Armed men are expensive as are the laborers, accountants, cooks and khat suppliers on land. During long negotiations our men get tired and we need to rotate them out three times a week. Add to that the risk from navies attacking us and we can be convinced to lower our demands.

Under what conditions would you kill the hostages?

Hostages — especially Westerners — are our only assets, so we try our best to avoid killing them. It only comes to that if they refuse to contact the ship’s owners or agencies. Or if they attack us and we need to defend ourselves.

What are the key factors to making a successful attack on a ship?

The key to our success is that we are willing to die, and the crews are not. Beyond that, in my case deploy a boat with six men to get close to the ship and leave another in reserve near the coast just in case we need backup. We use sophisticated equipment that allows us to spot our targets from a distance. We always have to be close to the main sea lane and keep in touch with each other using talkie phones.

What is the easiest way to board a ship?

One person has to board first and then throw a rope or ladder over the side for the rest of the men to climb aboard. It works best if he isn’t resisted.

How much does it cost to outfit a pirate mission?

A single mission with 12 armed men and boats costs a little over $30,000. But a successful investor has to dispatch at least three or four missions to get lucky once.

How are the pirates organized? (Are there pirate leaders, financiers, and specialists?)

The financiers are the most important since they organize and plan the big shot operations and are able to pay running cost[s]. Financiers always need to forge deals with traders, land cruiser owners, translators, business people to keep the supplies flowing during operations and manage the logistics. There is a long supply chain involved in every hijacking.

How do the pirates know that the Navy won’t shoot or arrest them once they leave the hostages behind?

Whenever we reach an agreement for the ransom, we send out wrong information to mislead the Navy about our exact location. We don’t want them to know where our land base is so that our guys on the ship can manage a safe escape. We have to make sure that the coast is clear of any navy ships before we leave. That said, there is no guarantee that we won’t be shot or arrested, but this has only happened once when the French Navy captured some of our back up people after the pirates left the Le Ponnant.

Are there internal conflicts within the pirate gangs?

No. In piracy, everyones’ life depends on everyone else’s. There is some professional competition between groups, but we cooperate with information and logistics when it’s required. We won’t fight amongst ourselves as long as the money is paid as promised. We have never had any conflicts within my group.

How dangerous is it to be a pirate?

Very dangerous. Sometimes you run out of rations far from the coast and die hungry and in the cold with nothing to show for your efforts. Sometimes you drown while boarding a ship, or die when they fight back.

[Wanna learn more about on pirate financing? Play Cutthroat Capitalism: The Game]


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Man arrested in Seattle, charged with Rochester murder

A Rochester man was arrested Saturday in connection with the shooting death of Ryan Nissalke.

Muhidin Omar Abukar, 20, was arrested about noon Saturday on a routine traffic stop.

He is one of two men facing second-degree murder charges, accused of killing the 30-year-old Nissalke at his northwest Rochester apartment a week ago. The second suspect, Abdulkadir Ali Mohamud, remains at large. Warrants were issued for their arrests Friday by the Olmsted County attorney's office.

Police Capt. Brian Winters said Abukar was arrested in Seattle and is in custody at the King County Detention Center. He allegedly was speeding and was stopped by law enforcement. Winters said he has been told that Abukar gave a different name, and authorities there didn't discover the warrant until after they learned his real identity hours later. Rochester police were notified late Saturday afternoon.

Abukar will be taken to court in Seattle to see if he will waive extradition back to Rochester, or will challenge extradition. If he does not contest the extradition, he could be back in Rochester by the end of the week.

If he challenges extradition and says he is not the person Rochester authorities seek, then local authorities will need to obtain a governor's warrant. That paperwork is filed with the governor of Minnesota, then forwarded to the governor of Washington, who also has to sign the paperwork. The process can take weeks.


Warrants issued for suspects in Rochester homicide

Warrants were issued this morning for the arrest of two Rochester men now facing murder charges in the shooting death of Ryan Nissalke on Monday.

Charged are Abdulkadir Ali Mohamud, 24, and Muhidin Omar Abukar, 20.

Police Capt. Brian Winters said the warrants were filed at 9 a.m. today, and the complaints are sealed to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, which could lead to additional arrests.

Witness information led to identifying Mohamud and Abukar as those who fled the crime scene in a vehicle, which was later found and impounded by police, Winters said.

Mohamud goes by the street names of "D-Dog" and "Slim" while Abukar is known as "K.O.," Winters said.

He said both suspects have lived in Rochester for several years and have families that live in the city. He said investigators have been in contact with the families, and the whereabouts of the two suspects is unknown; it's possible they left Rochester.

Anyone with information about their whereabouts should call police at 328-6888. Winters said both men have histories of assaultive behavior and know police are trying to arrest them; he urged people to not confront the men

Other suspects may have been involved in Nissalke's death and could be charged, Winters said.

Robbery is believed to be a motive, but with the criminal complaints sealed, no more information is available about that or the suspects' relationship to Nissalke.

Police were called to Nissalke's residence at 4417 14th Ave. N.W. at 12:11 p.m. Monday. They found Nissalke bleeding from gunshot wounds. He later died at Saint Marys Hospital.

On Wednesday, Winters said multiple gunshots were fired inside the residence and Nissalke suffered wounds to his upper torso.

Several witnesses told police they saw a vehicle flee the scene. On Monday, police seized an SUV now identified as the one seen leaving the Nissalke apartment area.

Two occupants of that vehicle were seen running into a nearby apartment complex. Police learned that the two occupants were given a ride to a residence off Second Street Southwest. Police searched that residence but didn't find the suspects or any evidence.


Mogadishu Fighting Puts Children at Risk

Banadir Hospital, the biggest mother and child hospital in Mogadishu, cares for children with digestion-related problems, including malnourishment and diarrhea.

In the hospital compound, parents lie under the trees with their sick children, who are waiting to be seen.

The head of the hospital, Mohammed Isse Abdi, says more and more children are arriving every day. He says he's thankful that – with the help of UNICEF -- the hospital now has a feeding center.

Fadumo Noor Ali is one of a number of mothers waiting with her child at the hospital's feeding center. With her is her seven-year-old daughter, Idman Omar Jama. She says when she brought her daughter here in mid-May, she only weighed 12 kilograms. Now, she's recovered and is waiting for the hospital to let her go home.

Some parents in Mogadishu cannot afford to pay for their families' needs, so many children seek menial jobs.

Twelve-year-old Bashir Ali Omar polishes shoes every day until noon, when a popular stimulant, the narcotic leaf known as khat, arrives in the markets. He then sells the discarded leaves left on the ground. He says he only earned 60,000 Somali shillings -- about $2.00 per day -- which he's happy to take home to his mother and two younger brothers.

Bashir lost his father two years ago in fighting in Mogadishu between Islamic insurgents and occupying Ethiopian troops. He says his father used to work and provide for the family, but now that's his job. He says his mother does not have a job, she's just a housewife. Bashir would like to go to school and learn but now he has no time or money.

For some children there is hope. A local NGO called DBG, the Somali abbreviation for Social Welfare Network [Daryeel Bulsho Guud], has opened nearly two dozen schools on the outskirts of the city for internally displaced persons. DBG is funded by the NGOs Bread for the World and Dakonie Emergency Aid.

The speaker of the DBG, Mohadin Ali Jimale, says the agency is working to build up to 20 more schools. DBG provides them with latrines, and also food and water for the hundreds of internally displaced children attending the schools. Many of the school teachers are internally displaced themselves. They teach basic education.

Jimale says, "We are also planning to open other schools so that the underprivileged children will get opportunity to learn and education is free of charge. This allows the children who were displaced to maintain their education."

While some may be able to attend the schools, others are not so lucky. Many of the city's children have been killed in the fighting, and those who survive must work if they want to eat.

Source: VOA

18-Month Extension of Temporary Protected Status for Somalia

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Somalia from its current expiration date of Sept. 17, 2009 through March 17, 2011. During the past year,DHS and the Department of State have continued to review conditions in Somalia.

Based on this review,Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has determined that an 18-month extension is warranted because the armed conflict is ongoing, and the extraordinary and temporary conditions that prompted the last TPS designation of Somalia on Sept. 4, 2001 persist.

Under the extension, individuals, who have already been granted TPS, are eligible to re-register and maintain their status for an additional 18 months. There are approximately 250 nationals of Somalia who are eligible to re-register. Certain Somalis may be eligible for late initial registration if they meet regulatory criteria. TPS does not apply to Somali nationals who entered the United States after Sept. 4, 2001.

Nationals of Somalia (and people having no nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia) who have been granted TPS must re-register for the 18-month extension during the 60-day re-registration period beginning July 27, 2009 and remaining in effect through September 24, 2009. Somali TPS beneficiaries are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible following the start of the 60-day re-registration
period to allow sufficient time for USCIS to complete all routine security checks and further application processing.

Given the timeframes involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, DHS recognizes the possibility that all re-registrants may not receive new Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) until after their current EADs expire on Sept. 17, 2009. Therefore, USCIS has automatically extended the validity of EADs for eligible Somali TPS beneficiaries for six months through March 17, 2010. This extension will allow sufficient time for USCIS to process and re-issue new EADs for these beneficiaries without any lapse in their employment authorization.

Additional details on this extension of TPS for Somalia, including the application requirements and procedures, appear in the Federal Register notice published today at

USCIS has also posted on its Web site a list of questions and answers on this extension of TPS for Somalia. For additional information, call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. TPS forms are available by calling the USCIS forms line, 1-800-870-3676, or online at:

Somali Youth Summit tackles tough problems

The three-day event was aimed at educating Somali youth and providing opportunities for leadership.

Minneapolis, which has the largest Somali population in the country , has recently seen gang violence, a series of murders and the mysterious disappearances of about 20 men, two of whom were charged with aiding terrorists. In hopes of finding ways to solve such issues, the second annual Somali Youth Summit was held at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Sunday marked the end of the three-day summit where hundreds of Somali youth discussed solutions to the problems facing the community.

Abdisalam Aato , the founder of the Somali Youth Summit, said the goal of the summit is to identify and tap the leadership potential of Somali high school and college students.

“We hope to create young leaders who can help solve problems in the community,” Aato said.

Abdulkadir Salah , the event’s coordinator, said after the problems were identified, the participants were asked to come up with concrete solutions for the problems, Salah said.

Islamic cultural identity and surviving peer pressure were among the topics discussed.

Salah said the Cedar-Humphrey Action for Neighborhood Collaborative Engagement (CHANCE) helped make the summit a reality.

“We think that empowering young people to address the challenges that we are all facing is the right place to start,” CHANCE coordinator, Merrie Benasutti said.

Mohamud Treek , co-founder of the summit, said the event helped young Somali-Americans learn how to become better leaders.

“There are conflicts within the community here in the U.S. and back home,” Treek said. “The only people who can solve such problems are the youth. So, they need leadership skills.”

Fatuma Hussein, a nursing student from Nashville, Tenn., said she has learned a lot about leadership.

“Meetings like this will, indeed, change the lives of many young people who simply need role models,” Hussein said.

University economics and literature senior, Abdulahi Hussein , said he thinks this year’s summit covered more issues that concern the community compared to last year’s summit, which he watched on YouTube .

“The speeches of last year’s summit were mainly about religion,” Hussein said. “However, this year we had a bit of everything that was significant to be addressed.”

Last year the summit was held in Columbus, Ohio, which has the second-largest Somali population in the United States .


Somali president claims victory over militants

Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has claimed victory over the militant groups trying to topple his government.

President Sheikh Ahmed made the remarks Tuesday after Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces regained the control of the strategic town of Beledweyne in the central Hiran region.TFG managed to drive Hizbul Islam militants out of the town.

The African Union-backed government troops entered Hiran region on Sunday after days of heavy clashes with al-Shabaab fighters. Government troops say they have inflicted a crushing defeat on anti-government militants during clashes in the region, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Somali officials say the recent victory in Beledweyne is just the first in a string of planned operations against opposition fighters.

Beledweyne –the capital of Hiran– is considered strategic since it connects the central regions of Somalia to the capital Mogadishu where the al-Shabaab and the Hizbul Islam militants are bent on overthrowing President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s government.

Somalia has been without a strong central government since 1991 when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on one another.


INTERVIEW - Some Somalis in Dubai may aid piracy - UN envoy

* Envoy wants UN council to support Somalia's government

* UN operations should be moved to Mogadishu - envoy

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, July 29 (Reuters) - A small group of Somalis granted asylum by the United Arab Emirates are suspected of supporting piracy in the lawless Horn of Africa nation of Somalia, a senior U.N. envoy said.

U.N. special envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that he believed "some elements of the Somali community in Dubai are involved in a number of activities which are undermining peace in Somalia."

Those activities include piracy, illegal weapons transfers that skirt a U.N. arms embargo, and possibly indirect financial support for Islamist-led rebels who the government is struggling to subdue, he said. He added that the number of individuals involved was small, probably around half a dozen.

"But this is big money," Ould-Abdallah said.

The U.N. envoy stopped short of urging the authorities in Dubai, the financial hub of the Middle East, to crack down on any Somalis involved in such activity. But he called on those with asylum not to get involved in any illegal activity.

Ould-Abdallah will brief the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday on the situation in Somalia. Among the things he said he would urge the 15-nation panel to do is to voice its support for the transitional government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and to ask him to continue talking with the opposition.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to meet Sharif during a seven-nation trip to Africa next week on the sidelines of an annual trade forum with sub-Saharan countries in Nairobi, the State Department said on Monday.

Washington has repeatedly pointed the finger at Somalia's neighbor Eritrea for supporting rebels in Somalia intent on toppling its weak government. Asmara has denied the allegations, but members of the Security Council are considering the possibility of sanctions against Eritrea for its suspected aid to Somali rebels.

The council will also hear a report from its Somalia sanctions committee on Wednesday. Council diplomats told Reuters that the issue of Eritrea's involvement in Somalia may come up during that report.


A two-year insurgency has killed at least 18,000 people and sent another million or more fleeing from their homes. Hundreds of thousands have died of war, famine and disease since the collapse of a dictatorship brought anarchy in 1991.

Somalia's army -- a mix of former rebels, clan militias and a few ex-army officers -- has been unable to beat al Shabaab militants or rebels from another Islamist group, Hizbul Islam.

An international naval operation aimed at cracking down on piracy in Somali waters, where dozens of ships have been hijacked this year, has improved the situation and shown the people of Somalia that the international community cares, Ould-Abdallah said.

He said it was time for the United Nations Somalia operations to move its headquarters from Nairobi to the Somali capital Mogadishu to show solidarity with the Somali people.

"We should build a 'green zone' in Mogadishu, like there is in Iraq," the envoy said, referring to the heavily fortified zone where the U.S. military and others have had their headquarters.

Ould-Abdallah has repeatedly called on the Security Council to approve a U.N. peacekeeping mission to replace a struggling 4,300-strong African Union force in Somalia. But council members are reluctant to do so before the political situation in the country has stabilized. (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Source: Reuters

Has the TUG become the Somali story: ii shub, ii shid, ii sheekee?

Governing a nation is not easy even in the best of times where there is peace and prosperity. Nonetheless, governing a broken nation is hellish and anyone who would lead Somalia under the circumstances deserves a lot of sympathy and support. However, when the leadership is not up to the job there is a cause for concern, it becomes a duty to excoriate.

Once again the Somali people’s hope for peace and a functioning government is slipping away. For 18 years, Somalia’s biggest problem has been insecurity and lawlessness. The primary task of any Somali government should be to establish peace and security in the country. However, the Transitional Unity Government (TUG) is failing and flailing. To understand its failure before one looks at external factors, one must look first at the TUG itself to see what went wrong.

There was no lack of goodwill. To see Somalia to stand on her feet, the TUG had a lot of support from the Somali public, the region and the international community. However, the TUG is not the one to turn any support into anything. It is suffering from a blanket of ineptitude and incompetence. Its preoccupation has been priorities other than the interests of the nation. One of its fixations is gathering funds for which it has no progress to show for.

From its inception in Djibouti in January 2009 to its relocation in Mogadishu, the TUG had no idea how to tackle the problems of the nation including the insurgency. Politically it could not advance the peace initiative. Other than the empty phrase ‘our door is open’, they have come up with little or no input. Militarily too the TUG had shown ineptitude. Even if it were to withstand the opposition, this is a war of attrition which is going nowhere. No matter who gets pushed one day they will be there the following day. We do not have to be in the military to know that no one wins urban warfare. We know what went on in the Lebanese civil war which started in 1976. During 16 years of warfare, no faction was ever thrown out of Beirut. In Somalia, vital issues concerning peace and security needs to be tackled differently in the early days of a new administration.

Successive transitional governments have failed in Somalia. A major cause of failure has been the pursuit of power for the wrong reasons. In Somalia, the pursuit of power has become like a fashion accessory where anyone says: “I want that.” Ironically, in a nation in ruins and destitute to the bare bone, power is pursued for personal gain. Regrettably, in Somalia, the type of ‘each for himself’ greed based pursuit of power has made requirements such as competence — not the first — but the last thing on the mind of aspirants.

Among other things, the purpose of power is to tackle issues, solve problems, and serve people. It is also to institutionalize and deepen good governance and prosper a nation. For Somalia to stand on her feet, the primary responsibility lies with the Somalis themselves. Others can help so much to that end. In fact the whole world is helping to see the recovery of Somalia. Only recently, it was the United States which has given millions in arms and cash so that the TUG may organize itself. The African Union too did not spare any type of assistance to the TUG. Thousands of Ugandan and Burundi forces remain in the capital fighting alongside the transitional government. At the end of the day one has to help himself. Unfortunately, the TUG has shown total dependency on others for everything including the expectation others to do its job. The following Somali tale may encapsulate the level of its total dependency and what it had become.

In the 1970s, in a Somali town lived Ali Ahmed also known as Ali Yare. One morning, an acquaintance had requested Ali to buy him tea. Ali took his friend to a teashop in their town. As two cups of tea were laid on the table, the friend asked Ali if he could spare a cigarette. Ali gave him a cigarette. The friend now demanded matches which Ali provided. While the two were sipping tea and puffing cigarettes, the man now demanded Ali to tell him a story. Saddened by his friend’s total loss of pride and complete dependency on others for everything, Ali now blurted out: Waxaagu waa ii shub, ii shid iyo ii sheekey. (Yours is pour me, light me up and tell me story).

The analogy of the story seems to match the way the TUG is conducting itself. In 1969 Somalia had a government which came to power under the banner: iskaa wax u qabso (self-reliance). At least the military government knew what it was doing. In 2009, Somalia has a transitional government which is wishing anyone to intervene in Somalia. It is calling for the French to intervene and to rescue its two kidnapped citizens as though anyone knows where they are.

Like Ali in the story, no-one seems to know why the TUG is showing dependency on other nations for everything. The TUG expects the world to pay the money, supply the weapons, and provide the man power to fight its war. Only recently having left a conference in which all African leaders have assembled in Libya, Sheikh Sharif was travelling in the region asking for additional troops when already there are over 4500 Uganda and Burundi forces under the AMISOM mandate.

In its wish for others to do its job, the TUG is also attempting to play the terror card to lure the U.S into what is primarily a Somali problem. Even if the U.S or other powers were to intervene, how long would it last without competence and local support?

The least expected of those who seek to lead is leadership itself. The TUG is squandering a lot of goodwill and a golden opportunity to establish a functioning government for Somalia. With a large internally displaced population and millions scattered around the world, Somalia has Herculean crises and challenges. There is the need for a leadership with comprehensive vision to solve the crises of the nation. However, a major obstacle to achieve a functioning government remains the pursuit of power for the reasons other than to further the interests of the nation. Every time such individuals gain power Somalia falls further down the abyss.

The blame for the formation of successive inept governments must lie with the Somali people themselves who engage in the costly habit of clan politics. The consequence has been endless cycle of inept governments which fail at the face of challenges. If we do not overcome the habit of promoting a narrow interest rather than the nation’s interests and success, Somalia is the one to continue to suffer. Not to mention Somalia shall remain the laughing stock it has become.

Because of successive inept governments, Somalia remains anarchic and stateless as ever. Even if it was to win the war of attrition in the capital, the question is where would Somalia go from there with the TUG at its helm? It is obvious that the TUG has neither good intentions nor the tools of vision and leadership to govern the country for the better. It takes leadership to lead a functioning nation. It will require exceptional leadership to mend a broken nation.

There is a lesson to be learnt from the failure of successive inept governments. At the end of the day it will take leadership to lead a nation. The Somali public must be careful whom they entrust the leadership of our nation. The issue of who should lead must always remain above clan consideration. Nobody hires a chauffer who cannot drive because of clan preference, why should we entrust the leadership of our own nation other than the right person for the job? It is only the right leadership, not clan preference, which can bring the competence needed to do the job!

Abdullahi Dool