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Saudi-Owned Daily Writer Criticizes `Vague` US Policy for `Serving` Iran
Al-Hayah Online
February 21, 2013


Article by Hassan Haydar: “Obama the Iranian”

The Americans are taking their time. They are in no rush. Their new secretary of state, who is carrying “ideas” to convince Al-Assad to step down, will soon launch a tour in Europe and the Middle East, aiming to listen to the viewpoints regarding Syria. It is as though the two years that have gone by since the eruption of the Syrians` uprising were not enough for Kerry to learn about this file, and as though the death of around 90,000 people in the war launched by the regime in Damascus against its people failed to convince the veteran secretary that the Syrians do not have the luxury to wait. As for Washington`s calls for the departure of the Syrian president, they have turned into shy statements about the inevitability of change and coordination with the international partners to reach a diplomatic solution.

But these partners, i.e. the Russians, and the partners` partners, i.e. the Iranians, are laughing out loud, and not covertly, as they listen to the American justifications for the prevention of the delivery of weapons to the opposition, and Washington`s adoption of their concerns over the mounting numbers of extremists in the revolutionaries` ranks. In the meantime, they are supplying Al-Assad`s army with everything it needs to proceed with the security solution, and helping it - along with Hezbollah - to form an Alawite militia to prevent the “fall of Tehran after Damascus.”

For its part, Israel is riding this wave of concerns. Indeed, as soon as the attack being waged by Hezbollah via thousands of its fighters inside the Syrian territories was exposed, it rushed to provide a cover for the regime, and its military leaders raised their voices by warning against the threat posed by the party on the security of the Hebrew state, the seriousness of its acquisition of untraditional weapons and the necessity of including it on the European terrorism list. This all took place in the context of the convergence of interests to defend a regime which opted for slogans instead of liberating its land.

As for the American position towards the situation in Syria, it falls in a wider context, i.e. that of the attitude towards Iran. And until now, unlike his speeches and his eloquent statements, most of Barack Obama`s positions and policies in the region during his first term and at the beginning of his second term have served and are still serving, whether directly or indirectly, the Iranians` untiring attempts to expand their influence in the Arab and Islamic worlds and enhance the strength of their allies in it. This was seen when Iraq was surrendered to them, when Tehran was given more time to realize its nuclear dream and when a call was issued for the organization of direct bilateral talks which any novice in politics knows they imply a prior and mutual recognition of the interests of each side, and consequently the recognition of Iran`s right to interfere in the affairs of the neighboring states, as it is happening in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen and Egypt.

In the face of this leniency towards Tehran, Obama`s administration has nothing left but vague and tested promises regarding its attempts to “pressure” Israel to achieve settlement at the level of the Palestinian file, knowing that these promises have been reiterated for the thousandth time, and that Israel knows - if such attempts are actually being deployed - how to contain and maneuver around them. This has reached the point where its acceptance of the Palestinian state has become less attainable than it was prior to the American “pressures,” especially since it is diligently proceeding with the imposition of a settlement-geographic reality that will not be easily changed.

In conclusion, and through his Iranian policy - and consequently his Syrian one - Obama is taking a risk whose outcome will neither serve the Americans` interests, nor those of the Middle East region. Indeed, Tehran will not voluntarily recant its nuclear policy and its interferences to undermine the stability of the neighboring states, as long as it feels that Washington`s main objective behind the imposition of economic sanctions is merely to weaken its position in the direct negotiations, and not force it to change this policy. As for the international partnership on which the Americans are insisting, it is linked to the balances of power on the ground and not to the principles of the others, at a time when the Syrians are paying the price out of their blood.

(Description of Source: London Al-Hayah Online in English -- Website of influential Saudi-owned London pan-Arab daily; URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Says Political Solution Only Way Out in Syria
Al-Hayah Online
February 22, 2013

Report by Ra`id Jabr from Moscow: The Egyptian Foreign Minister to Al-Hayah: The Political Solution IS the Only Way Out in Syria

Egyptian Foreign Minister Muhammad Kamil Amr has emphasized that the political solution is the only way out for a situation in Syria to keep the country away from a great disaster, and said that his country seeks to work out an initiative that is based on the idea of coordinating “the quadruple efforts of Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia” while adding the initiative of Mu`adh al-Khatib, leader of the Syrian Coalition, after expanding it and placing it under the auspices of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation.

In an interview with Al-Hayah during his visit to Moscow to participate in the meetings of the Arab-Russian Forum along with an Arab ministerial delegation, Amr said that there will be no role for Syrian President Bashar al-Asad in the new Syria, and stressed the need that “the dialogue begins between the opposition and an acceptable party of the government.” He pointed out the existence of many aspects on which there are close stands between the Arab and Russian sides while there are differences on many files.

He said that the Russians have emphasized during the dialogue sessions their adherence to their clear stand toward the Palestine question and their rejection of the Israeli settlement activities. The talks also tackled the need to activate the international Quartet and that it does not change into an objective in itself but should be an effective tool to revive the peace process, he said.

He added that the Syrian issue has occupied a large part of the discussions, and “the Russian stand is known, and they clearly say that they are not defending the idea that Al-Asad remains in power, since this is something that is left for the Syrian people, but they insist on the need to stop violence and start a dialogue that will lead to the transitional stage.” He also said that Russia is an important country in the Security Council and it has a power and influence in this respect and “we have earlier expressed, through the stand adopted by the Arab League, our support for the Syrian people`s will, dignity, and social justice.” He stressed that what is needed is to spare the Syrian people more suffering and more destruction and division, weather it is a material division or a sectarian or ideological division.

The Egyptian minister emphasized the Egyptian stand that is opposed to the military solution, which “will only result in more destruction and bloodshed.” He expressed belief that the required political solution is through the negotiations between the opposition, headed by the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and the other side, which should be acceptable to the opposition. He stressed that Egypt “does not see a role for President Al-Asad in the new Syria,” and “there are other opinions that see a role for him, while the Egyptian stand does not see this.”

Amr reminded of the initiative of President Muhammad Mursi which is based on coordinating the efforts of Turkey, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt, pointing out that his country seeks to work out an idea that mobilizes more efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria and revive the Egyptian initiative that is based on what Mu`adh al-Khatib, head of the Syrian Coalition, has proposed concerning the readiness for dialogue to reach a transitional government that leads the stage of restoring calm to the country, and that “this concept should be expanded, and the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the UN envoy should participate in this endeavor,” so that the three sides become the sponsors and guarantors to render this initiative successful and to implement it.

He explained that Cairo is currently studying a number of the ideas that have been presented in order to develop and crystallize them into an integrated initiative. He pointed out that the Egyptian efforts will continue during the Friends of Syria meeting, due to be held in Rome soon.

On the expected Iranian role and his country`s relations with Tehran, Amr said that Iran “is a regional power that no one can ignore, but there are determinant factors for the relationship, and Egypt has firm determinants to which it adheres,” which are “the noninterference in the internal affairs of any country, and Egypt does not interfere in the internal affairs of any country and does not accept that any country interferes in its internal affairs. The second thing, is not to carry out any sectarian activity in other countries. The third point is a file that is considered one of the priorities in the Egyptian politics, which is the Gulf security,” which he described as “part of Egypt`s security,” stressing that Cairo will not establish relations with any side at the expense of the Gulf security and will not allow any side to toy with the Gulf security.

The Egyptian minister referred to the Egyptian initiative to sponsor a conference on making the Middle East an area free of weapons of mass destruction, and said that this file will remain on the table, and Cairo is waiting from the main players, particularly the United Nations, to carry out their duties toward this issue.

He added that a certain country has obstructed the convening of the conference, which had been agreed to be called for in 2010, and the United States, England, Russia, and the United Nations, which were the parties that should have made the invitations, had failed to do so due to the opposition of one country that has not signed the Nonproliferation Treaty, in reference to Israel.

He also said that there is a collective Arab stand and it will not be relinquished which is that “this subject will have results that we hope will not be great because its results will be banning the proliferation in general (sentence as published), which is something that had not been adhered to as it was agreed on in 2010.” He explained that the next steps will be starting broad consultations that are attended by all parties and to work out a specific agenda for these consultations, and this should take place under the umbrella of the United Nations.

(Description of Source: London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic -- Website of influential Saudi-owned London pan-Arab daily. URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Prominent Saudi Writer Criticizes Iranian `Occupation` of Syria
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
February 21, 2013

Article by former chief editor Tariq al-Humayd: “If We Lose Syria We Lose Tehran”

The best description of Iran`s relationship with Syria, and the magnitude of Tehran`s loss if the tyrant of Damascus were to fall, was summed up by an Iranian cleric, Mehdi Taeb, a man tasked with combatting the soft war currently being directed against Iran. He said, “If we lose Syria we cannot maintain Tehran . . . But if we lose the province of Khuzestan (to the Al-Ahwaz Arabs) we could regain it as long as we keep Syria.”

Taeb not only said this, but also that “Syria is the 35th province and a strategic province for us. If we were to attack an enemy in order to keep Syria or Khuzestan, the priority would be to keep Syria.” In light of these statements, how can it be argued that what is happening in Syria is a sectarian war by proxy, or that the Syrian revolution is being orchestrated by extremists? The truth is that it is a revolution of the people who want to be free and rid themselves of the clutches of Iranian occupation, which has been a feature throughout the Assad era. These blunt statements, which seem to have been made as a result of the shock of what is happening on the ground in Syria, show the predicament of the Iranian project in the region, and not only in Syria. The fall of Assad would be the largest and most severe blow to be dealt to the Iranian project, and the concept of exporting the Khomeini revolution, and it would also mean that Iranian extremists would have to face up to the internal dues they have long evaded.

Remarkably, Taeb not only illustrated the importance of Syria for his country; he went further than that and spoke openly about the 60,000-strong forces overseen by Iran in Syria, saying, “The Syrian regime has an army, but it lacks the ability to conduct a war in Syrian cities. Therefore the Iranian government proposed to formulate an urban warfare force, consisting of 60,000 combat troops, to take over the war on the streets from the Syrian army.” This figure exceeds what was revealed recently about the number of troops supervised by Iran in Syria, which was said to have been closer to 50,000, and thus Taeb`s statements not only reveal the importance of Syria to Iran, they also reveal the extent of Iranian involvement in the Syrian bloodshed. Furthermore, they tell us that if we do not deal with the Syrian issue seriously, with international efforts, then this Iranian interference will pass by unchecked, and this means more extremism and sectarian conflict in the future, and this is a danger to the region as a whole.

These Iranian statements and others must not lead us to the conclusion that Iran should be given an official role in Syria, rather they should lead to international action to overthrow Bashar Assad and bring about his inevitable downfall, striking the Iranian expansionist project in the region. It is no exaggeration to say that the fall of Assad will serve as the first serious step towards halting Iran`s nuclear project. The fall of Assad does not necessarily mean the fall of Iran, but it means the Mullahs would return to their natural borders within Tehran, and this is what we need. Then the extremists of Iran will have to face their dues in the Iranian domestic scene, but that is their story. Our story is about a region that has been stricken by Iran and its interventions, its fifth column operating among us, and its men deployed in Syria who will remain silent as usual and not say a word about the Mehdi Taeb`s remarks.

(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in English -- Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance; URL: )

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


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