Who are the sponsors of the first think tank in Somalia?
The Indian Ocean Newsletter
February 01, 2013
The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS)
The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS), the first think tank in Mogadishu which was launched on 15 January, states it is an independent non-partisan research centre. However, a number of the institute`s sponsors and officials have links with the Islamic group Ahlu Sheikh which is close to the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar. Moreover, one of Ahlu Sheikh`s eminent members is the former President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. The director of HIPS, Abdi Aynte, a former journalist with the BBC, Voice of America and Al Jazeera English, is the son of one Sheikh Sharif`s political allies and a partisan of Ahlu Sheikh. The deputy director of HIPS, Abdirashid Khalif Hashi, is a former minister under Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo, the former Prime Minister of the TFG affiliated to Ahlu Sheikh. Fahad Yasin Haji Dahir, who is close to the current minister Farah Sheikh Abdiqadir [Farah Sakiin] and a former Al Jazeera journalist, is another key figure in the HIPS.
According to a source in Somalia, he played a role in channelling funds from Qatar to finance the election campaign last year of the current President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Qatar could therefore also contribute to HIPS`s funding. HIPS`s other sponsors are Somalian businessmen, with trading links with Sheikh Sharif and with Turkey. Moreover, the Turkish ambassador to Somalia, Cemalettin Kani Torun, was present at the launch of HIPS in Mogadishu. This think tank also has an international aspect, as it includes a number of foreign “stars”, such as BBC journalist Mary Harper, Laura Hammond, senior lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and Jason Mosley, Associate Fellow of the UK think tank Chatham House.
© Copyrights 2013 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved
The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS)
Kenya`s military actions not enough to stabilise Somalia
February 17, 2012
NAIROBI: The Kenyan army says it has crippled Somalia`s al-Shabaab rebels four months after launching its offensive - but its superior firepower alone is unlikely to win the battle, analysts say.
Military officials claim air strikes and ground assaults have scuttled the al-Qaeda-linked militants and disrupted their revenue sources since the incursion - Kenya`s first since independence in 1963 - began in October.
“Al-Shabaab is considerably weakened,” said Kenyan army spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna. “In our own assessment, 75 percent of revenue collection of al-Shabaab has been disrupted.”
But the troops have gained little ground in the 17 weeks since they announced (on October 16) that their tanks had rolled across the border.
Their advance was bogged down at the start by mud and bad weather; then slowed by |al-Shabaab`s guerrilla tactic of mingling with civilians before attacking.
“The Kenyans` military strategy as well as political strategy has so far not achieved much. There was a lot of over-optimism on the Kenyan side for success, and that has clearly not turned out to be the case,” said Rashid Abdi, an independent Horn of Africa analyst.
“You need a combination of measures. You need a clearly well thought-out military plan, but at the same time one which is complemented by a political strategy,” Abdi said.
Politically, Kenya had hoped to form a new security administration inside the southern Somali regions of Gedo and Lower and Middle Juba - together also known as Jubaland - and had trained Somali forces for the buffer territory.
But the idea has gained little traction, and the international support from Western allies in terms of the military aid Kenya had hoped for has at best been modest.
“Kenyan officials were seriously out of touch with how the world operates, if they went to war without adequate funds and counted on the international community,” said J Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council think tank.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a November report that Nairobi should cool its high hopes of defeating al-Shabaab, a ruthless and resilient militia fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government in Mogadishu.
“Downscaling expectations must start with reorienting the mission towards the one modest goal that is achievable in Somalia - degrading al-Shabaab`s military capabilities and encouraging a negotiated solution,” the group said.
Kenyan officials have also contradicted one another on whether the operation`s ultimate goal is to capture Kismayo, a port town in southern Somalia and a key revenue source for al-Shabaab, or to simply secure Kenya`s borders.
“The military must resist the temptation to seek spectacular gains,” the ICG said.
“It makes perfect military sense to target Kismayo port… but it should be done deliberately and other measures such as an economic - not humanitarian - blockade of the port, and the attrition of fighting on multiple fronts allowed to work.”
Beyond its military offensive, Kenya should seek a wider strategy to restore stability in Somalia, a lawless country that has had no effective central government for 21 years, experts warn.
“Kenyans have an opportunity to broaden their aim - it shouldn`t be just creating this buffer territory,” said Abdi. “They should be seeking to stabilise the whole of Somalia.”
Kenya acted militarily after a number of raids into Kenya by militants to kidnap foreign tourists.
© 2012 Independent Newspapers (Pty) Ltd
Think-tank calls to involve Somali Islamists in political process
December 24, 2008
December 23, 2008 (NAIROBI) - A think-tank said to day that the announced withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia by the end of this month could open the door for a possible political process to end the Somali crisis. In a report issued on Tuesday, “Somalia: To Move Beyond the Failed State”, the International Crisis Group (ICG) called for the involvement of the Islamist insurgents in any effort to settle the 17 year political crisis in the country since the collapse of Siad Barre government. The ICG underscored that withdrawal of Ethiopian troops could create a dynamism for a political solution. “The announced withdrawal at year`s end of the Ethiopian army, which intervened in December 2006, opens a new period of uncertainty and risk but also provides a chance to launch an inclusive political process,” the ICG said. Ethiopia sent troops to Somalia to support the western backed Somali transitional government and helped it to control the capital Mogadishu.
However, the Islamist El Shebab movement controls now most of the country`s south. The ICG stressed that the Islamist groups should take part in any comprehensive and practical solution “Despite the reluctance of the international community to engage with the Islamist opposition, there is no other practical course than to reach out to its leaders in an effort to stabilise the security situation with a ceasefire and then move on with a process that addresses the root causes,” the report said. The Think-tank expressed doubts over the latest US move to promote the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Somalia due to the lack of viable peace process there but also because no enough troops can be found for the mission. The African peacekeepers (AMISOM), initially deployed to relieve the Ethiopian troops, are not able to fulfil their mission and prevent a power vacuum, warned the ICG. After the start of the Ethiopian withdrawal, the Islamist insurgents have closed in on the capital Mogadishu after taking most of the country, leaving government and AU troops to control only a handful of locations. Today the African Union extended the mission of the 3,400-strong force for two months. The AMISOM is due to expire at the end of the month. More then 10,000 civilians have been killed during the two-year insurgency, a million people uprooted and a third of the population need emergency aid in a humanitarian crisis that has been described as one of the worst in the world.
© Copyright 2008 Sudan Tribune - All rights reserved.
Odds Against AU Peacekeepers
by Ernest Mpinganjira
March 04, 2007
Nairobi, Mar 04, 2007 (The East African Standard/All Africa Global Media) -- Despite inadequate funding and equipment, Uganda, sent 1,700 troops, 200 more than it had pledged to contribute to the peacekeeping force in Somalia.
The troops arrived in the southern city of Baidoa, the temporary seat of the government, unannounced on Friday morning to a lukewarm reception, pointing to the potential hostility they are likely to face.
The deployment of the African Union peacekeepers came just after a team of 30 senior military officers sneaked into the war-torn country on Thursday morning.
The deployment of the troops was devoid of any attempts to spell out their mandate to the public to stem the growing perception that the peacekeepers are an occupation force.
Mr Mohammed Guled, a member of a London-based Somali think-tank, expressed the fears on Friday, saying the Ugandan peacekeepers - to be joined by Nigerians later this month - risked being slaughtered by the fiercely nationalistic Somalis and supporters of the ousted Islamic Courts Union (ICU).
Guled said the force is too small compared to the 28,000 well-equipped American contingent that was hounded out of the country in 1994.
“The African peacekeeping force is too small and ill equipped. While ordinary Somalis would rather the Ugandan, Tanzanian or Nigerian forces were deployed to restore order instead of traditional Ethiopian enemies, the pan-African army is likely to meet stiff resistance from Islamic fundamentalists,” he said.
The Ugandans have done little to cover their recent flirtation with Washington, which is suspected to be firmly behind the peacekeeping initiative.
President Abdullahi Yussuf`s government has faced resistance since capturing Mogadishu in January.
Somali warlords were opposed to the deployment of peacekeepers even during the two-year peace talks in Nairobi and it unlikely that they will yield to their presence now.
A number of them, especially from the populous Hawiye clan, broke ranks with the interim government after it asked for foreign military assistance and sided with Islamic militias suspected of being funded by a local al Qaeda terrorist cell.
The transitional government is perceived as foreign, which accounts for the daily mortar, rocket gun attacks in Mogadishu. The government blames the insurgency on Islamic fundamentalists, but analysts link the attacks to failure by the government to initiate inter-clan political reconciliation.
Last Tuesday, President Yoweri Museveni, defied the wise counsel of other African governments, which have pledged to contribute peacekeepers, that the size of the force so far is small and ill prepared for the theatre of brutal murder that has become Somalia.
Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Algeria and Burundi have also agreed to donate troops, bringing the total number to 4,000 out of the 8,000 required for the latest bid to restore order after 13 previous failed attempts.
Both critics and cynics of the Somali peacekeeping mission point out that the interim government has never made deliberate attempts to initiate intra-clan and inter-clan peace talks to rally support for the government.
Breakaway Somaliland and Puntland are being cited as proof that mobilisation at the grassroots works. “It is the most important thing because this is how Somali society works.
You sit down under a tree and you sort yourselves out. It is the only thing that has not been tried,” a diplomat said.
The African peacekeepers should take into account the fact that since the ouster of former dictator Said Barre, a Hawiye, clan interests have overridden national interests.
There is a possibility that the AU peacekeepers would be perceived as President Yussuf`s mercenaries.
Both the AU and UN have not factored ethnic and political reconciliation into the peacekeeping mission. The two-year peace talks never addressed the matter and instead concentrated on getting the warlords to lay down their arms. “The militias have no good reason to worry about us because we are going there to help them rebuild their state,” said Museveni.
“We shall engage the militias. We are not here to disarm them. We are here to help the transitional government form a national army,” Museveni said at a Press conference in Kampala. To political observers, Museveni`s perception of the magnitude of the military-religious imbroglio in the Horn of African nation is driven by naivetE.
Despite sanctioning the African peacekeeping mission the United Nations did not provide any financial backing leaving the European Union and the US to underwrite the mission.
For the past 14 years, law and order in the Somali capital have been as vain as the hunt for the biblical Holy Grail and the trigger-happy militia forces have divided the country along the clan lines.
The pictures of bodies of 18 US marines being dragged in streets to the thunderous cheer of decidedly anti-US Mogadishu residents in 1994 is still fresh in the world`s memory.
A missing component in the long, convoluted search for peace in Somali, analysts aver, has been the exclusion of the Hawiye clan.
According to media reports, ICU draws strong backing from the clan that fears prosecution by the interim government. Ever since Yussuf returned to Somalia two years after his election in exile in Kenya in October 2003, he has never initiated a national reconciliation process to bring closer the warlords and clans that feel marginalised.
The perception of Yussuf as a puppet of the West, if not a stooge of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, has further alienated the transition president from his own people.
Kampala has apparently overlooked these scruples and to observers of the Somali conflict, the odds against the peacekeepers are strong and not many people would be surprised if they fail.
Which is why President Museveni`s assertion that the Uganda contingent draws inspiration from its courage, in spite of lacking financial and material backing, sounds naive.
© 2007 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved
Somalia peace talks on brink of collapse: think tank
March 06, 2003
NAIROBI, March 6 (AFP) - Talks aimed at ending more than a decade of anarchic bloodletting in Somalia are on the point of falling apart, the International Crisis Group (ICG) warned Friday.
“The peace process in Somalia is at a critical point. Talks that began with great promise are in danger of collapsing unless the mediator, the international community and the Somalia factions themselves provide strong leadership,” ICG said in a new report.
“The Somali public`s flagging interest and support for the peace process needs to be revived and improvements are required in the negotiating process or the parties will be unable to tackle many difficult outstanding issues,” the report said.
Somali warlords, clan leaders, interim government officials and representatives from the civil society are currently meeting in the Kenyan capital in a third round of talks aimed at restoring the first semblance of national administration since the 1991 collapse of President Mohammed Siad Barre`s regime.
ICG said the international community has remained reluctant to throw its full weight behind the talks, organised by the Inter- Governmental Authority on Development, or to take a tough line with those who are undermining them.
“This in turn has exacerbated the many divisions within both the warring Somali factions and the Somalia civil society.
“Without new energy and focus, the peace talks will likely fissure along all-too-predictable lines - federalism, the role of clans, land and property issues and how to tackle the problem of breakaway Somaliland,” the ICG said.
A truce signed last October, the only tangible progress made, has been repeatedly violated by rival factions mainly in the capital Mogadishu.
© Copyright 2003
The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS)