No stability in sight for Somalia
June 20, 2013
The international community had hoped that Somalia would soon stabilize. But the recent attack on a UN compound shows that the security situation is still precarious and the terrorist militia al-Shabab is still active.
In early May this year, the United Nations passed a resolution to support Somalia by sending in up to 200 experts to advise the government and local authorities. The aim was to stabilize the security situation in the country. At the time, security expert Ahmed Abdi Hassan, a former senior official with the national security forces, expressed the hope that "the resolution would help the Somali government to improve its security situation."
But the United Nations` additional forces could not prevent Wednesday`s (19.06.2013) suicide bombing at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) building in the Somali capital, Mogadishu that killed 15 people, including four foreign nationals.
South African arms manufacturer Denel confirmed that two of its employees were killed in the attack. Via Twitter, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack. In an interview with the German Press Agency (dpa), the newly appointed UN Special Envoy to Somalia, Nicholas Kay, condemned the attack as a “desperate attempt to derail Somalia from its course towards reconstruction and peace.”
Earlier, 34 people were killed on 14 April 2013, in a series of coordinated suicide attacks. The UN Special Envoy for Somalia at the time, Augustine Mahiga, warned then of further “terror attacks” by al-Shabab. The security situation was also the main topic at the Somalia conference in London in early May, a conference which was also overshadowed by an attack aimed at a high level delegation from Qatar.
Spirit of optimism dampened
The attacks are part of the asymmetric form of warfare, with which the Somali al-Qaeda splinter group al-Shabab (Arabic for “the boys”) is trying to discredit the new government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
After his victory over transitional President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (widely regarded as corrupt) in September 2012, the new president has addressed a number of burning issues in the country. His priority list includes building institutions based on the rule of law, establishing a powerful army and police, fighting corruption and increasing public security. This has been well received by his local partners.
A clear sympathy bonus for the engineer and later university dean is the fact that he has no political background, unlike the usual representatives of the Somali political class.
However, as a member of the influential Hawiye ethnic group, he knows how clan leaders can be an indispensable instrument of power in a country dominated by ethnic loyalties.
Mohamud`s new prime minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid is also a close ally, which raises hope that in this new government there will be no wrangling between the president and prime minister.
The new government is regarded positively by Somalis in the diaspora. Many Somalis who lived in the US, UK and neighboring Kenya are now returning home. Some have given up well-paid jobs and a secure existence in order to come back and help in the reconstruction of their home country or establish business connections.
The few airlines that fly to Mogadishu are fully booked for weeks in advance. The legendary beaches of Mogadishu, once dubbed the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” by Italians, are once again open for bathing. The shrill tones of mobile phones, strictly prohibited by al-Shabab militias, can be heard again.
But attacks like the one on the UN office are dampening the euphoria in the country. Moreover, “the progress that one would wish to see, has failed to materialize,” says Markus Hoehne from the Max Planck Institute in Halle.
According to Hoehne, this is not surprising, especially when you look at the difficult situation that Somalia has been going through. He sees merely “baby steps towards a possible stabilization of Somalia.” Annette Weber, from the Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin and a long-time observer of Somalia, agrees.
“The main dilemma of the Mogadishu government is the fact that it exists only in Mogadishu and it has no influence in other areas of the country,” Weber told DW. It is crucial, she says, that the central government should extend its authority, mainly to southern Kismayu, the former stronghold of al-Shabab.
© 2013. Deutsche Welle.
Website alleges police corruption hampering security in Somali capital
BBC Monitoring Africa
April 20, 2013
Although Mogadishu is witnessing signs of emerging peace, some government officials are standing in the way of progress on security in the city. General Abdullahi Hasan Barise is the commander of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Somali police force. He is also the police spokesman.
When National Security Agency and police conduct security operations in Mogadishu, they sometimes seize key Al-Shabab members and then detain them at the CID headquarters. However, these detained men are easily freed from the government custody after bribery payments are made to Gen Barise.
It is not new to the ears of the Somali people that Al-Shabab detainees easily get freed. Government forces often capture Al-Shabab men while hurling grenades in Mogadishu. The same men are seen again throwing bombs in the city.
Some government security officials have lost trust in Gen Barise. When they arrest suspects, they take them to Villa Somalia, the presidential palace, for further investigation and to extract information from them. Some detainees turn out to be not Al-Shabab members, but instead of being released right away, they are kept incarcerated until their relatives pay bribes.
What is going on at the CID headquarters cannot be ignored. The majority of government leaders are not aware of what goes on there. President Hasan [Shaykh Mahmud] is aware of the existence of corruption at the CID, but has taken no corrective action.
On another note, early this month, several government soldiers were detained at the CID headquarters after raping a woman in Ceelasha Biyaha settlement [on the outskirts of Mogadishu]. They were all freed from the CID headquarters through bribery to prevent them from receiving the death penalty, a punishment the president had earlier prescribed for murder and rape.
It is also worth mentioning that most people held at the CID headquarters are not taken to court; they are held until they bribe their way out.
When the media tries to question Gen Barise about the corruption accusations levelled against him, he vehemently opposes giving interviews. But whenever a bomb explosion occurs in the capital, he appears in the media and vows that what he calls terrorists will be captured.
Looking at the CID headquarters, which is located at KM4 [Kilometre Four] intersection in Mogadishu, you will see that it is in a filthy condition.
In a nutshell, it is incumbent upon the Somali government to serve its people with dedication. It must also deal with its officials hampering the country`s security.
Source: Dhacdo.com website, Hargeysa, in Somali 19 Apr 13
© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Failed state of Somalia starting over
Fort McMurray Today
April 12, 2013
Man wearing a t-shirt with a picture of newly elected Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on it, waves a Somali flag as he celebrates in southern Mogadishu. AFP PHOTO / ABDURASHID ABDULLE ABIKAR
There have been no elections in Somalia since 1967 and there won`t be any this year, either. But the country has a new parliament (appointed on the advice of clan elders) that has elected a new president, and the new government controls a significant part of the country. The world`s only fully “failed state” may finally be starting to return to normality.
A failed state is a horrendous thing: No government, no army, no police, no courts, no law, just bands of armed men taking what they want.
Somalia has been like that for more than 20 years, but now there is hope.
So much hope, that last month the United Nations Security Council partially lifted its embargo on arms sales to Somalia in order to let the new Somali government buy arms, and last week the U.S. government followed suit.
The new government replaces the “Transitional Federal Government,” another unelected body that had enjoyed the support of the UN and the African Union for eight pointless years.
Then, last year, a World Bank report demonstrated the sheer scale of its corruption: Seven out of every 10 dollars of foreign aid vanished into the pockets of TFG officials before reaching the state`s coffers.
Fully a quarter of the “national budget” was being absorbed by the offices of the president, the vice-president and the speaker of parliament.
The fact that after all that the TFG still controlled about only one square kilometre of Mogadishu, the capital, while the rest of the shattered city was run by the Islamist al-Shabaab militia, an affiliate of al-Qaida, also contributed to the international disillusionment.
That tiny patch of ground, moreover, was being defended not by Somali troops, but by thousands of Ugandan and Burundian soldiers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
More than 500 of them had lost their lives defending the useless TFG, and the foreign donors were losing faith in the mission. But the AMISOM soldiers did achieve one major thing: They fought al-Shabaab to a standstill in Mogadishu.
In August 2011, the Islamist militia pulled its troops out of the capital. That created an opening and the international community seized it, ruthlessly initiating a process designed to push the TFG aside: Somali clan elders were asked to nominate members for a new 250-seat parliament, which was then asked to vote for a new president and government.
It was obviously impossible to hold a free election in the country, much of which was still under al-Shabaab`s control, but this process also had the advantage that it allowed the foreigners to shape the result. The corrupt officials who had run the old TFG all re-applied for their old jobs, but none of them succeeded.
The new president who emerged from this process, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was once the chancellor of the University of Somalia.
No whiff of corruption clings to him, and he has worked tirelessly to bring about national reconciliation. And he has the wind at his back: Just after he was chosen last September, a Kenyan force evicted al-Shabaab from Somalia`s second city, Kismayo.
With strong UN and African Union support, he now has a chance to create a spreading zone of peace in the country and start rebuilding national institutions.
So last week, the United States declared that it is now willing to provide military aid, including arms exports, to Somalia. Weirdly, that actually means that thing are looking up in the world`s only failed state.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.
© 2013 Sun Media Corporation
Writer says top Somali leaders opposed to formation of southern administration
BBC Monitoring Africa
April 19, 2013
With the advent of Somalia`s new federalism, Somalis should be allowed to put their regions in order and govern themselves, or else the country will revisit another dictatorship era.
In the eyes of many people, the prime minister`s visit to Kismaayo is anything but a sincere one, partly because his statements concerning what he saw in Kismaayo and his decisions do not match and are in total disagreement.
Kismaayo is where the embattled Jubbland Process is taking place. The Prime Minster visited the town and set foot on where the Jubbaland process is currently taking place. But it appears that he felt threatened when he saw all that big numbers of Somali elder delegates hailing from Somali clans, willing to fulfil their desire.
The Jubbaland process is aimed at creating a Jubbaland State consisting of three regions: Lower Jubba, Gedo and Middle Jubba. In fact, Somalia`s new federal constitution points out that any two or more regions, based on their will, can form a federal state, which is accountable to the country`s central government; and the Jubbaland`s process stems from this legality. Furthermore, the process is not based on clannish ideologies, but is based on territories, meaning that all Somali clans that reside in the above mentioned regions are entitled to be part of the Jubbaland State and take their fair shares.
But Somalia`s current administration cannot swallow this fact and both President Hasan Shaykh Mahmud and his Prime Minster Abdi Farah are averse to the Jubbaland process. They also affirm that whatever comes out of the process will not be accepted to them. This is sort of a concealed dictatorship. How can they defy and subdue the will of the people or behave as if they are above the law of the land? Needless to say, the country`s current administration has already shown signs of vanity and defiance. Consequently, the administration`s popularity is souring because it is seen to be developing biased attitudes concerning the country`s federalism.
I pinpointed in an earlier article right after President Hasan`s election in September 2012 how the Somali people were in a dire need of a fair administration that would align their fracture and bring them together to rebuild Somalia and its dignity. Actually, I thought that hundred thousands of suffering Somalis in refugee camps would soon come home, and that many bottom-up reconciliation processes would be held in the country. But it seems that my hope at the time is shrinking now, simply because the bottom up process in which to reconcile Somalis and bridge their gap is not progressing at all. All that is taking place in the country are visitations and rhetorical speeches.
A vivid example of this fact is prime minister`s recent visit to Kismaayo. He waved arms, shook hands, laughed with cohorts and delivered rhetorical speeches. However, he brought nothing positive to the Jubba region, but disturbed its peace process.
Neither Darod nor Hawiye, nor other Somali clans can claim the sole proprietorship of Somalia. Somalia is for Somalis, as a Somali adage goes. Hence, every Somali clan must get its fair share under the country`s new constitution, and the Jubbaland process is not expected to deprive any clan of the region of its fair share and entitlement. If that is the case, the central government of Somalia should not be hindering the peace process aimed at enacting a federal state of the country.
Now that Somalia is a federal country, its people should be allowed to govern themselves and put their regions in order to prevent the nation from slipping back into a new dictatorship era.
Writer: Muhammad Bakeyr
© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Federal Government Violates Constitution, Imperils Stability in Somalia
February 26, 2013
Feb 26, 2013 (Garowe Online/All Africa Global Media) -- The Federal Government (FG) of Somalia is violating the country`s Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC), which the elected leaders were sworn to uphold.
The FG has actively interfered with the formation of emerging Federated States, such as Jubaland in southern Somalia, directly contradicting the principles and provisions of the PFC and abandoning the aspirations of the Somali people, who hope for responsible and accountable governance that paves the way for peace, stability and development, and promotes justice, political cohesion, outreach and national reconciliation.
Instead of focusing on principal priorities, the FG has adventured illegitimately on resource exploitation by hiring foreign advisers to build the `Somalia Petroleum Company` and actively pursue oil companies - former concession holders as well as new companies - to renegotiate old concession or sign new Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) to areas that are not under FG`s control. This is contrary to the PFC and the FG should refrain from such broker activities until all Federated States are formed, so the Somali people have a role in the fundamental decisions of their future.
This unilateral move is a dangerous ploy that threatens to unravel political cohesion and potentially imperil stabilization progress in Somalia. The FG is advised to invest its time and energy on repairing and rebuilding the disintegrated Federal Republic, instead of attempting to sell what little remains of Somalia.
The PFC clearly defines power belongs to the people, as represented by the Federated States, and defers political power distribution, revenue sharing, and natural resources management, until the Federated States of Somalia is completed and a negotiated settlement is reached between the Federal Government and the Federated States.
Until such time, Puntland State shall retain and exercise powers endowed in the Puntland Constitution. Puntland calls on the FG to adhere to the country`s Federal Constitution, to support the formation of the remaining Federated States, to speed up establishment of the Upper House of Federal Parliament, to promote national reconciliation and justice, and to shun unreasonable maneuvers that trigger political crises in Somalia.
© 2013 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved