Pontus Marine LTD- Leader of fishing industry in Somaliland

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In Fight With Islamists, Somalia Asks for Help

In Fight With Islamists, Somalia Asks for Help
Published: June 20, 2009
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somalia’s Parliament pleaded Saturday for its neighbors and the international community to send in troops within 24 hours after days of intense fighting here in the capital and the deaths of several top government officials put new strains on the country’s beleaguered leaders.
“We are under attack by foreign terrorists,” Sheik Adan Mohamed Nor, the speaker of Parliament, said in a news conference. “They are planning to destabilize the security of the whole region. We ask our neighbors, like Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen, to militarily intervene in Somalia.”
Foreign jihadists have joined the battle in Somalia, but analysts say the vast majority of the fighters trying to topple the government are Somali.
Mr. Nor made his appeal Saturday as government troops lost, and then said they regained, a crucial neighborhood of the city — a claim the insurgents denied. The government also declared a state of emergency, but it controls just a few neighborhoods in the city, so it was unclear what effect the decree would have.
Ethiopia said Saturday that it “would act within the framework of the decision of the international community to provide military support to Somalia," Reuters reported. There was no immediate response from the other African countries that Mr. Nor asked for help, although news agencies reported on Friday that Kenya said it would not stand by and allow the situation in Somalia to deteriorate further.
The most fearsome of the Islamist militias attacking the government, the Shabab, warned Kenya not to intervene, saying it would attack the country and “destroy the tall buildings of Nairobi,” according to Reuters.
Ethiopian troops are already in some border areas of Somalia. Ethiopia sent troops into the country in 2006 but pulled them out in January before sending some back.
Eyewitnesses said the fighting had left at least 18 dead in the past two days, including Mohamed Hussein Addow, a member of Parliament and a key ally of the president, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed.
Mr. Addow lived in Karan, one of two neighborhoods taken over since Friday by a coalition of insurgent groups, including the Shabab. Many government officials and members of the president’s clan lived in Karan, which had been relatively calm in the past two years as fighting raged elsewhere.
The other neighborhood that fell to insurgents was Yaqshid. On Saturday, the government said it had regained control of both neighborhoods.
The fighting was so intense by the parliament building that the lawmakers had to meet in the presidential palace instead for a vote asking for intervention.
Although the neighborhood battles are another challenge for the government, it still controls strategic areas of the city, including the area around the airport, which thousands of African Union soldiers are protecting.
In Yaqshid, one resident, Ismail Yusuf, said he saw a mortar shell hit a home, killing a mother and her child.
Thousands of people were seen fleeing the renewed fighting.
“I don’t know where I am heading; I just fled the fighting with my children,” Habiba Osman said. “I don’t have anything for my children.”
More than 60 wounded people were admitted to Madina Hospital on Friday and Saturday, according to officials there.
Among the other government officials killed recently was the security minister, who died in a suicide bombing attack at a hotel where he was staying, and the chief of police in Mogadishu.
In a news conference on Thursday, the president blamed Al Qaeda for the attack on the security minister.
Most analysts say Al Qaeda is not directly involved in the attacks in Somalia, though American officials contend that the terrorist network is communicating with the Shabab

Somalia: End indiscriminate shelling in Mogadishu

AFR 52/005/2009
19 June 2009
Somalia: End indiscriminate shelling in Mogadishu
Amnesty International today reiterated its calls to all parties to the armed conflict in Somalia to immediately end indiscriminate attacks that cause civilian deaths and injuries, following the killing of at least 13 worshippers when a mosque was hit by a mortar on 17 June in Mogadishu.
It is not clear whether armed opposition groups or pro-government forces were responsible for the mortar attack. All parties to the conflict use mortar and artillery shelling as methods of warfare, area weapons which cannot accurately target military objectives in densely populated civilian areas. Entire districts of Mogadishu have been repeatedly shelled and destroyed with the intensification of conflict since the beginning of 2007.
The repeated use of mortars in densely populated areas of Mogadishu and other indiscriminate attacks by all parties to the conflict is evidence that they are all violating international humanitarian law. While some parties to the conflict have expressed concern about the plight of civilians in Mogadishu, none has taken necessary and effective measures to spare the civilian population, including refraining from using mortar and artillery shelling.
The mosque, situated in the Karan district in northern Mogadishu, was reportedly hit at dusk, around 6pm, as worshippers were leaving after prayers. There was intense fighting on 17 June in other areas of Mogadishu, as pro-Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces, reportedly reinforced by African Union troops, shelled positions of armed groups in the area of Bakara market with mortars and artillery. Five children were also killed in Hodan district as a mortar hit the balcony under which they were sheltering from the fighting.
This is the second time that a Mogadishu mosque has been hit by a mortar since the start of a military offensive by the Hisbul Islam and Al-Shabab armed groups against pro-Transitional Federal Government forces on 7 May this year. On 10 May, a mortar hit a mosque near the Presidential Palace, killing at least 14 worshippers, during attacks by armed groups on government positions.
Since the beginning of this offensive, particularly in the capital Mogadishu, dozens of civilians have been killed and several hundred wounded. Up to 122,000 civilians are displaced on the outskirts of the city, according to UN figures. Those displaced included some 40,000 who had recently returned to Mogadishu, hoping for better security with the appointment of a new President for the TFG, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Tens of thousands of civilians are said to still be trapped in Mogadishu, unable to flee because of insecurity and lack of money to pay for transport. Hospitals in Mogadishu have reported being overwhelmed by the number of wounded in need of treatment. Insecurity has also further jeopardized the access of aid agencies to civilians.
The conflict is showing no sign of abating. Yesterday the TFG Minister of Security was killed in a suicide car attack, claimed by al-Shabab, on the hotel where he was staying in Beletweyne, a Somali city near the border with Ethiopia. 20 persons are said to have died in the attack, including several TFG officials.
Public Document
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: press@amnesty.org
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ethiopia confirms first cases of H1N1

Ethiopia confirms first cases of H1N1
19 Jun 2009
Source: Reuters
ADDIS ABABA, June 19 (Reuters) - Ethiopia has confirmed its first cases of H1N1 flu virus, Health Minister Tewedros Adhanhom said on Friday.
"Since swine flu was declared in Mexico, Ethiopia has been free of the disease. But today we can confirm two cases," he said.
Both were teenage girls that arrived back in the country for a summer break from their U.S. high school, he said. (Reporting by Barry Malone)

Kenya may follow Ethiopia to invade Somalia

By Wangui Kanina
Friday, June 19, 2009
NAIROBI, June 19
Kenya will not sit by and allow the situation in neighbouring Somalia to deteriorate further because it is a threat to regional stability, the country's foreign minister said on Friday.
Hardline Islamist insurgents stepped up an offensive against Somalia's government last month and on Thursday killed the Horn of Africa country's security minister and at least 30 other people in a suicide car bomb attack.
Kenya and other countries in the region, as well as Western nations, fear that if the chaos continues, groups with links to al Qaeda will become entrenched and threaten the stability of neighbouring countries.
"We will not sit by and watch the situation in Somalia deteriorate beyond where it is. We have a duty ... as a government to protect our strategic interests including our security," said Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula.
"Kenya will do exactly that to ensure the unfolding developments in Somalia do not in any way undermine or affect our peace and security as a country," he told a news conference.
Asked about any specific action, Wetangula said an international partnership was dealing with the issue of the insurgency and instability in Somalia and it would be inappropriate to discuss details.
Al Shabaab insurgents, said to have hundreds of foreign fighters in their ranks, claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack. The rebels control much of southern Somalia and some of the capital. They want to oust the government and impose a strict version of Islamic law throughout the country.
Wetangula's comments echoed a joint statement issued on Thursday by the European Union, the African Union, the Inter Governmental Agency on Development, the League of Arab States and the United Nations.
"These extremists, both Somali and foreigners, are continuing their indiscriminate violence. They are a threat not only to the country, but to the IGAD region and the international community," the bodies said.
They condemned the latest suicide attack as "deplorable."
Al Shabaab has so far resisted government attempts to drive its fighters from the capital of parts of central Somalia.
The death of the security minister and Mogadishu's police chief this week were seen as significant setbacks given the two men were closely involved in directing the government's forces.
Analysts say the fighting in Mogadishu since May 7, in which about 300 people have been killed, is the worst for years and the chances of a negotiated peace are waning.
Wetangula, who met several ambassadors in Nairobi on Friday, urged countries who had pledged at least $213 million in April to build up security forces to deliver on those pledges as soon as possible.
"The government in Mogadishu needs to operate, they need the funds to pay their civil services, their outgoings in many ways and they need survival kits, they are under immense pressure from the rebels that are fighting them," he said.
He said the African Union was committed to beefing up its 4,300-strong peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and helping to build a police force.
Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke told the news conference the suicide attacks would not deter the government from pursuing peace in the country, mired in conflict since 1991.
"We call on the international community to stand with us and assist our security forces and AMISOM to really defeat these enemies before they pose a threat to the entire region," he said. Edited by Medeshi

Somalia Suicide Attack Snuffs out Promising Political Career

Somalia Suicide Attack Snuffs out Promising Political Career
By Peter Heinlein
Addis Ababa
19 June 2009
The suicide bomb that killed Somalia's security minister also claimed the life of a young Somali diplomat and politician who spent much of his career trying to heal the country's wounds.
Thursday was Abdikarim Farah's 39th birthday. But as was the case all too often, he was away from his family. He was in the Somali border town of Beledweyne, a few kilometers from his birthplace, trying to persuade skeptical clan leaders to support Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's embattled government.
His wife Mariam was planning to call him with birthday wishes from Addis Ababa, neighboring Ethiopia's capital, where she stays with their one-and-a-half-year-old twins and six-month old baby.
Then the news came. A suicide bomber had killed Somalia's security minister, Omar Hashi Aden, in Beledweyne. Among the scores of victims was the former Somali ambassador to Ethiopia. It was Abdikarim.
Abdikarim Farah was Somalia's youngest ever envoy when he was appointed in 2003 to the important diplomatic post of ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union. The gifts that made him a skilled diplomat, and before that a highly successful businessman, also made him a natural as President Sheikh Sharif's envoy to the clans, whose support is essential to the survival of Somalia's fragile transitional government.
The procession of diplomatic cars to his home in the Ethiopian capital Friday was a tribute to a man U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto called one of Africa's most effective and visionary politicians. Ethiopia's deputy foreign minister, Tekeda Alemu, described him as a true Somali patriot.
"I have always known him to be a committed Somali, interested in advancing the cause of peace and national reconciliation in his country," he said. "Therefore, it's tragic and a huge loss for Somalia, the sub-region and to Africa as a whole."
The government in Mogadishu issued a statement condemning the suicide attack in Beledweyne. The statement read in part, "these bloody murderers will not succeed'."
But outside Abdikarim Farah's Addis Ababa home Friday, the Somali exiles who came to mourn said efforts at stabilizing their lawless country are complicated by 18 years of virtual anarchy that has allowed criminal business interests to thrive.
Mohamud Isse was Abdikarim Farah's cousin. They were schoolmates in Mogadishu, and partners in London where their family fled when Somalia was falling apart in 1991. He says Farah was worried by the recent arrival of foreign fighters in Somalia, who see the lawless Horn of Africa nation as a safe haven.
"Now, international crime organizations, what I call extremists, have come together, and they really want to destroy the Somali government and lead Somalia," said Isse. "And its' really worrying all East Africans, not only Somalis. What's happening now is well-organized crime from all over the world."
Isse says his cousin Abdikarim Farah's diplomatic skills allowed him to work for the administration of former Somali president Abdullahi Yusuf, and to continue serving President Sheikh Sharif, even though the two leaders represent powerful opposing clans.
One of Farah's strengths was that he was not a member of either of the country's main clans.
Isse says what motivated Farah to work for both presidents was his firm belief in the need for functioning central government in Mogadishu.
Diplomats and family friends gathered at Farah's house Friday say his death, along with that of Security Minister Hashi, are a harsh blow to their dream of a unified Somalia, but not a fatal one.
Edited by medeshi
Photos from HOL

Somalia: War and Peace

Press release, 19 June 2009
War and Peace
New Somali book ‘War and Peace: an anthology of Somali literature’ edited by
Rashiid Sheekh Cabdillaahi, with English translation by Martin Orwin.
It is a great pleasure for Ponte Invisibile and Progressio to announce the new publication “War and Peace: an anthology of Somali literature”. This unique and rare collection brings together for the first time classic Somali poems and stories which deal with matters that are of great concern to Somali people; conflict and conflict mediation - in other words WAR AND PEACE.
This valuable work has been collected by Ismaaciil Aw Aadan and Axmed Aw Geeddi, both poets of great calibre, who have enormous understanding of Somali classical poets, their poetry and the historical context of their literature which extents over a period of two hundred years. The book has been introduced and edited by Rashiid Sheekh Cabdillaahi “Gadhwayne”, one of the leading Somali scholars on this topic. Rashiid’s intensive knowledge of Somali pastoral nomadic society and his expertise as a sociologist of social developments will give the reader a good understanding of a culture which otherwise could easily be considered too complex to interpret or to understand. This work would not have been complete without the translation into English by Dr. Martin Orwin with the help of Mohamed Hassan “alto”. Dr. Orwin is a Senior Lecturer in Somali and Amharic at Faculty of Languages and Cultures, School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
This publication will not only explain the structure of pastoral nomadic communities and what brought them into conflicts but will also address the question at the centre of this book which is about the role that literature played, and perhaps can play, in matters of peace, mediation of conflict and peace-keeping. It is an important recording of culture where dignity was at the heart of peace and war, and literature was a tool for both. The book will also provide Somali and non-Somali readers with a fascinating insight into the history of a creative community which may have otherwise been lost.

The book will be launched at the Mooge Festival and Hargeysa International Book Fair, 22-27 July, Hargeysa, Somaliland, where there will be a discussion about this work under the heading “the poetry and creativity of yesterday” with some of the most prominent Somali poets and scholars and those who where involved with the publication.
The book can now be ordered on-line by following this link: http://www.redsea-online.com/books. Order now “War and Peace: an anthology of Somali literature”.
War and Peace: an anthology of Somali literature /
Suugaanta Nabadda iyo Colaadda
Edited by Rashiid Sheekh Cabdillaahi (Gadhwayne),
ISBN: 978-1-85287-329-5 / 978-88-88934-09-9,
Progressio / Ponte Invisibile Ed., London, 2009.
Soft cover, 218 pp. 25,00USD, Now available online.
Your copy can be ordered from: www.redsea-online.com/books

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mooge Festival and Hargeysa International Book Fair

Mooge Festival and Hargeysa International Book Fair
Kayd and its partners Redsea-online, Ilays, Sonyo and Havoyoco are pleased to invite you to the inaugural Somali Arts & Culture Festival, to be held in Hargeysa, Somaliland, from 22 - 26 July 2009. The festival has been named “Mooge Festival” after the celebrated and influential Somali musician Mohamed Mooge. The festival will incorporate the Hargeysa International Book Fair (HIBF).
Kayd promotes freedom of expression through art and culture in the Somali territories and aims to help create a democratic culture of tolerance and widespread appreciation of the diversity of Somali culture through the promotion of learning, literacy, performance events, and debates. It focuses largely – but not exclusively – on issues relating to gender equality and active citizenship, with particular attention paid to how they affect young people. Through its projects, Kayd is addressing the importance of education in socio-political and economic development. Kayd evolved from the Somali Week Festival, which, for several years, brought artists and opinion-makers to London to present their work and engage with other artists and the general public.
Mooge Festival and Hargeysa International Book Fair 2009
We believe that any kind of change, whether it is about people’s beliefs, attitudes to social development, economic improvements and/or political awareness, can only happen through educational and cultural interventions. The festival has invited a variety of different artists to share their expertise in using their tools to examine and challenge what they perceive as inequities. Both the festival and book fair will not just work with local artists and those from the territories but also with schools and civic groups. We hope to highlight the need to strengthen and nurture the arts and cultural institutions that already exist, as well as encouraging the creation of new ones.
The festival will focus on poetry, prose literature, music and plays which will be presented and discussed by artists and audiences. Whilst the festival programming aims to celebrate creativity and discuss the important role that art can play within society in general, it will also explore how the artists have experienced acts of censorship. Some of the topics that will be looked at are: whether different artists saw past acts of censorship differently; what the artists’ reaction was to such acts; and whether the artists, with the help of hindsight, now think that they should have made other choices at the time.
We are proud to have invited a range of guests including renowned artists, academics and commentators
Mahamed Hashi Dhama “Gaariye” Maxamed Ibrahim Warsame “Hadraawi” Mahamed Yaasiin olaad (UAE) Macallin Dhoodaan, Prof: Salebaan Ahmed Guleid, Hassan Ganey, Musa Ali Faruur, Amina Cabdillahi, Sahra Ahmed, Kinsi Haaji Aden, Yusuf Sha’ir, Jamal Ali Hussien (Ivory cost), Mahamed Ismail “hudeydi” (UK), prof. Hussein Hassan Guuleed (Norway), Maxamed Baarood Cali, Prof. Daahir Maxamuud Xaddi, Ali Ahmed Rabi "Seenyo" Dr. Adan Yusuf Abokor, Jama Musse Jama (Italy), Siciid Jaamac Xuseen (UK) Mahamed Ahmed Kulu ( UK) Boobe Yusuf Ducaale, Abdi-nuur Allaale (Djibouti), Dr Maxamed Rashiid, Ibrahim Ismaacil Sugaal (Sooraan), Ahmed Sayid (sweden) Mahamed Hirsi (Sweden), Ciise Cabdi Ismaaciil (Samaale), Hassan Cabdi Madar, Dayib Askar, Abdirahman Yusuf Arten, Mahamed Hassan "Kayd" Sayid Ahmed( Sweden), Cabdillahi Awed Iggeh (UK), Mahamed Bashe (UK), Dr Xussien Abdillahi Bulhan, Abdalle Isman (Denmark), Mustafe A Nuur, Rashiid Sh Cabdillahi (UK), Ahmed Aw Geedi, Nimo Gabaydo, Dr Fadal, Dr Saad Ali shire (UK), Anab Wanweyn, Foosiya Hormuud,Mahamoud Ibrahim ( Norway) Faysal Aw Abdi "Anbalash" Mahamed Aw Ali Arten " Haldeeq", members from the local universities and readers clubsand many more.
Some of festival activities
Wide range of books on display; authors will be available to sign books and talk to visitors. Visitors can browse and read at their leisure;
Visiting regional and Diaspora artists, plus local scholars and writers to discuss with general public topics including experience on cultural censorship, with poets and composers also presenting their work;
Young people on citizenship, human rights and personal freedom;
Women’s voices and presentation of 3 documentaries: Democracy,Peace-building and refugee lives in Europe;
‘Poetry in War and Peace’- New book on Somali artistic creativity in literature over last 200 years;
Biography which focuses on Mohamed Barud’s experience as former prisoner of conscience who was tried for high treason.
Local school classes of 30-40 students to attend Book Fair for an hour or more;Reader’s Clubs and how they will engage with freedom of expression;three plays; one on gender.
The international aspect of the festival is an important part of our continued development and partnership work with artists and organisations in Somali speaking territories. The two festivals should help to facilitate collaboration and exchange between Somali territory based artists and those from the Diaspora
Kayd Somali Arts and Culture is very grateful to NOVIB Netherland, Daallo Airleness, Sorrag, Dahabshiil Money Transfer Company, Progressio for supporting this initiative.
How Can I Contribute? You can support Kayd by becoming a member, donating money and/or volunteering to help with Kayd activities. To become member or to volunteer for Kayd (either for the Mooge Festival in Hargiesa or for Somali Week Festival in London), please email

ayan_mahamoud@kayd.org and tell us your interest - whether your reasons for wishing to join Kayd as a member, or the festival you are interested in helping with. If you are able to donate to Kayd or directly to one of the festivals;
- You can deposit your contribution into our Dahabshiil Account D4256, Hargaisa.
- You can also donate online using your Credit Card through paypal. In this case, kindly
follow the following URL http://www.hargeysabookfair.com/donate
-or you can deposit your contrabution to our UK accound; Natwest, Payable to Kayd Somali Arts and Culture, Account Number; 21131457, Sort code; 501005
- or send a cheque to Oxford house, Kayd Somali Artist and Culture, Derbyshire Street, E2 6HG, payable to Kayd Somali Artist and Culture.
Join us at the exceptional festival in order to celebrate and explore the uniqueness of Somali art and culture. For more information about the Festival's Programme visit; www. kayd.org and http://www.hargeysabookfair.com or http://www.redsea-online.com More information about the program or/and stall please email to festival manager ayan_mahamoud@kayd.org
Best Wishes,
Ayan Mahamoud
Managing Director
UK Tel: 0044(0)7903712949/ Somaliland 002522 4022737/ Email: ayan_mahamoud@kayd.org
Kayd promotes Somali Art & Culture through a broad combination of poetry, literature, music, film and discussions. We wish to contribute to the creation of a culture of tolerance in the context of an appreciation of the richness of Somali culture.
Website: www.kayd.org company registration 06851116

Somalia interior minister assassinated in suicide attack

Somalia interior minister assassinated in suicide attack
By Bill Roggio
June 18, 2009An al Qaeda-backed terror group assassinated the interior minister of Somalia's struggling government in a suicide attack today that killed more than 20 people in the central part of the country.
Interior Minister Sheikh Abdulkadir Ali Omar Hashi and Abdikarim Lakanyo, the former ambassador to Ethiopia, were killed when a Shabaab suicide bomber targeted them as they left a hotel in the town of Beletwein, the provincial capital of Hiran. The men were heading to the wedding of Hashi's son when the attack took place.
Hashi was appointed Somalia's interior minister on March 17, just two weeks after his wing of the Islamic Courts Union joined the government. Hashi was a senior military commander in the Islamic Courts during the group's rise to power in 2006, its ouster by the Ethiopian Army during the late 2006 invasion, and the subsequent insurgency from 2007 to early 2009.
Shabaab, the terror group that has direct links to al Qaeda, has taken credit for the suicide strike and claimed the men were meeting with Ethiopian military officials at the hotel.
"We are responsible for the explosion that killed Omar Hashi, Abdikarim Lakanyo and Ethiopian military officers whom they were meeting," Sheikh Ali Dheere Mohammed told Garowe. "It [the suicide attack] was a response to the suffering of Somali Muslims," Mohammed said, warning of "more attacks" against government officials in Hiran.
Hashi had been working in Hiran province to organize resistance against Shabaab and the allied Hizbul Islam. Both groups control much of the region. He also had been working with the Ethiopian military, which recently moved troops into Hiran.
Shabaab has targeted Hashi at least two other times in the recent past. On March 26, Hashi was injured in a roadside bomb attack near his home in Mogadishu. On May 29, Hashi and the Somali finance minister were targeted in a roadside bomb attack as they traveled from Ethiopia to Hiran.
In mid-March, a Shabaab leader said his group would continue to target government ministers and lawmakers for "aiding the enemy."
"It is our decision to target TFG [Transitional Federal Government] lawmakers everywhere, because they allowed enemy troops [Ethiopia and African Union] into our country," said Sheikh Hassan Mohamed, or Abu Ayman, during a press conference. Abu Ayman leads Shabaab forces in Bay and Bakook provinces.
The assassination of the interior minister took place just one day after Mogadishu's chief of police was among 20 Somalis killed during a failed assault by government forces on Shabaab and Hizbul Islam strongholds in Mogadishu.
Somali Government suffers setbacks despite reconciliation
The Somali government has suffered major setbacks since the Djibouti wing of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, an offshoot of the Islamic Courts led by Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, reconciled with the defeated Transitional Federal Government in late January 2009. Sharif joined the government following the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces after a two-year occupation.
Ahmed was named president of Somalia and has since attempted to reconcile with the Asmara wing of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, an al Qaeda ally and a designated terrorist, and Hizbul Islam. Ahmed also lobbied for sharia, or Islamic Law, to be imposed. The Somali parliament passed the sharia bill into law in May.
But Shabaab and Hizbul Islam rejected offers to join the government and branded Ahmed and other Islamic Courts leaders as apostates and tools of the West. On May 14, the normally reclusive Shabaab leader Sheikh Muktar Abdirahman released an 11-minute audiotape railing against the government.
"The so-called government cannot be described as an Islamic government, because it was created to destroy Islamists in Somalia," Sheikh Muktar said, according to Garowe Online. "The so-called President flew to Addis Ababa [capital of Ethiopia] immediately after he was elected to ask for advice and troops to fight against what he calls 'extremists' in Somalia."
Shabaab and Hizbul Islam have continued to attack government forces and allied groups such as the Islamic Courts and the Ahlu Sunna Waljama throughout central Somalia and in Mogadishu.
Hizbul Islam was created in January of this year. The group was created by the merger of four separate Islamic groups: Hassan Aweys’ Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia-Eritrea, Jabhatul Islamiya (the Islamic Front), Mu'askar Ras Kamboni (the Ras Kamboni Brigade), and Anole. Hizbul Islam was led by Sheik Omar Iman Abu Bakar but he was ousted by Aweys for being too moderate. He was replaced by Aweys.
Shabaab and Hizbul Islam currently control all of the southern and many of the central provinces of Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba, Lower Shabelle, Gedo, Bay, and Bakool, as well as much of Mogadishu, where the government controls only "very little territory in Mogadishu," Garowe Online reported. Shabelle said the Somalia government "controls a few blocks in Mogadishu."
The central districts of Middle Shabelle, Hiran, and Galgadud are considered contested, with the government and allied Islamist groups in nominal control of some areasRead more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/06/somalia_minister_ass.php#ixzz0IoTNLHCs&C

UN 'runs out of aid for Ethiopia'

UN 'runs out of aid for Ethiopia'
BBC News
The UN has warned that it has run out of food to provide for nine million Ethiopians who rely on its assistance.
Rations have already been cut by a third since July last year
A UN spokesman told the BBC the port of Djibouti was seriously congested and there was little prospect of supplies arriving for the next five months.
Following a border war, Eritrea denied Ethiopia access to its ports, so the landlocked country relies on Djibouti.
Correspondents say this time of year is known as "the hunger season", three months before the next harvest.
The UN World Food Programme says breast-feeding mothers, children and refugees will be among those worst hit.
It warns after it hands out final rations this month there will be no further deliveries until September or October.
The agency says it has no option but to cut back on the food they provide, which has already been cut by a third since July 2008.
"We have a small refugee population here and their ration is being cut by half beginning this month. We run out of food and people will be very hungry," WFP's Barry Came told the BBC.
BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says in the jargon of the aid agencies, the food pipeline has ruptured.
The port of Djibouti is full to overflowing and the Ethiopian government has prioritised the delivery of fertiliser, to try to increase the next harvest.
But even when the grain gets through the WFP says there is an acute shortage of trucks, with the Ethiopian authorities preventing the agency from bringing in its own fleet from Sudan.
The UN says the Ethiopian authorities have exacerbated the situation by refusing it permission to use a fleet of trucks to transport the grain from Djibouti.

PETA wishes Obama hadn't swatted that fly

PETA wishes Obama hadn't swatted that fly

WASHINGTON (AP) — The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants the flyswatter in chief to try taking a more humane attitude the next time he's bedeviled by a fly in the White House.
PETA is sending President Barack Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside.
"We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals," PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said Wednesday. "We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals."
During an interview for CNBC at the White House on Tuesday, a fly intruded on Obama's conversation with correspondent John Harwood.
"Get out of here," the president told the pesky insect. When it didn't, he waited for the fly to settle, put his hand up and then smacked it dead.
"Now, where were we?" Obama asked Harwood. Then he added: "That was pretty impressive, wasn't it? I got the sucker."
Friedrich said that PETA was pleased with Obama's voting record in the Senate on behalf of animal rights and noted that he has been outspoken against animal abuses.
Still, "swatting a fly on TV indicates he's not perfect," Friedrich said, "and we're happy to say that we wish he hadn't."
Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said the White House has no comment on the matter.

British Government condemns the Murder of Somali Minister of Security

Murder of Omar Hashi Aden (18/06/2009)
Lord Malloch-Brown issued a statement 18 June 2009 on the murder of Omar Hashi Aden, Minister of Security in the Somali Transitional Federal Government.
He said: 'I was shocked to learn of the murder of Omar Hashi Aden, Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Minister of Security by a suicide bomber earlier today.
The British Government utterly condemns this latest horrific attack that has resulted in the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians in the hotel at Beledweyne. I offer my condolences to the families of all those who have lost loved ones and to those who have been injured.

I want to assure Somalia's long-suffering people that the UK and our other international partners continue to support the TFG and the Djibouti process, that is seeking to achieve peace and stability for the country and which the Somali people deserve'
Read article: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/newsroom/latest-news/?view=News&id=19690952

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Somalia : Burgeoning population swamps Hargeisa water supply

Somaliland: Burgeoning population swamps Hargeisa water supply
15 Jun 2009
Source: IRIN
HARGEISA, 15 June 2009 (IRIN) - Urbanisation and rural-urban migration could soon overwhelm the water supply in Hargeisa, capital of Somalia's self-declared republic of Somaliland, with city officials calling for the construction of a third pipeline to offset increasing shortages.
"The city's water supply system has not been improved since the mid-1980s, yet more and more people are migrating from the countryside to Hargeisa, Khalif Aw Abdillahi, manager of the Hargeisa water agency, told IRIN. "We produce 9,000 cubic meters of water daily, which is not enough for the city population because it is increasing; so [supply] needs to expand."
Abdillahi said a new pipeline, 25km long, was needed to provide emergency water supplies for the capital.
Each household in Hargeisa receives less water than the internationally accepted standard, according to statistics from the water ministry, Abdillahi said.
"The ministry's statistics indicate that 45 percent of Hargeisa residents do not receive the international standard quantity of water," he said, adding that the average was 14l per person per day in urban areas while in rural areas it was 8l per person per day.
Abdillahi said: "The Hargeisa water supply was established in the mid-1970s [based] on six wells and one pipeline and dam for about 75,000 people; but the population increased and in the 1980s, the supply was increased [to include] six new wells and one more pipeline, to serve 150,000 persons but in 2007, Hargeisa's population was estimated at about 800,000 and now it is about 900,000, if not more."
A former manager of the Hargeisa water agency, Ahmed Ali Dable, said Hargeisa needed at least 27,000 cubic metres of water per day. He said the city - the most populated in the Somali peninsula since 1991 - has had persistent water shortages in the past several years, especially in the north and south of the city, where most residents buy water from vendors with donkey carts.
Muhumed Aw Ahmed, a water vendor in Hargeisa, said: "I sell almost 20 barrels per day during the rainy season, compared to the dry season when I sell only seven to 10 barrels per day."
His customers are mostly internally displaced persons living in various camps around the city.
Improvements and prospects
Ali Sheikh Omar Qabil, director of environmental health in the Ministry of Health and Labour, said: "In 2000, only 35 percent of the population had access to clean water, unlike recent years [when] more than 45-50 percent of the population receive clean water."
Moreover, Abdillahi said: "We are [currently] seeking alternatives to increase Hargeisa's water supply, such as digging new wells in Ged-Deble [20km north of Hargeisa] and a water station is needed at the Beyo-Khadar wells as well as the laying of another pipe to pump more water to the city. Also, there are other places such as Humbo Weyne and Jaleelo, which have been surveyed and found to have water that can be supplied to the city."
However, the officials expressed concern about funding the additional water sources in the city.
"We need to have funds to ensure adequate supply to the city in the coming 10 years," Abdillahi said.

Somaliland: Just another day for Hargeisa's street children

Somaliland: Just another day for Hargeisa's street children
HARGEISA, 16 June 2009 (IRIN) - For the children living on the streets of Hargeisa, capital of the self-declared independent republic of Somaliland, 16 June – Day of the African child - is of little significance.
"My family lives in Burao [about 150km east of Hargeisa]," one child said. "We were so many children. One day I decided to travel to Hargeisa and never went back home."
Social workers in the city say drought and economic hardship have forced an unprecedented number of children on to the streets.
(Photo: Children begging on the streets of Hargeisa (file photo)
The children lack adequate shelter, healthcare, education, protection and guidance. Drug abuse is common and many are involved in activities such as pick-pocketing to cover drug costs.
"We interviewed 150 street children, scattered throughout the city, and 88 percent confessed to have experienced different abuse, including sexual abuse and harassment," Khadar Nuur, chairman of Hargeisa Child Protection Network, said.
His network comprises 17 organizations, including the Horn of Africa Youth Voluntary Organization, which has rehabilitated some street children.
Now, the network is spearheading the establishment of schooling for street children at the Somaliland Centre for Youth and Cultural Association (SOCSA).
"It is funded by the Hargeisa Child Protection Network and we as SOCSA are implementing [the project]," Khadar Kalil, spokesman for the centre, said. "We have more than 30 street children to teach here."
In their struggle to survive, some of the children have committed crimes and found themselves in prison.
"We know that a number of street children were sent to prison by the security committees in Hargeisa," Kalil said. "We are worried about their situation in prison because they are detained with old people, including criminals."
Lul Hassan, who is in charge of child protection at the Somaliland National Human Rights Commission, said the children's prison at Mija Asseye would be rehabilitated soon.
"Somaliland, with the collaboration of international aid organizations, [has found] the funds for rebuilding Mija Asseye child prison [for the] first time since 1991," he added.
According to the commission, an estimated 60 children join others on the streets monthly.
Many of the new arrivals are girls - a phenomenon that was previously uncommon. "We met about 15 female street children, who had suffered sexual abuse," Kalil said. "The number of female street children has increased from 4 to 8 percent."
Among other activities, SOCSA is teaching its first class Somali, maths, Arabic, religion and civic education.
"We also provide them with breakfasts and they stay here from eight to 12am, [before] they go back to the streets," Khadar said.
Nuur said the organizations that were trying to help were also worried that the children would cause insecurity.
"These street children never [learnt] good behaviour," he added. "For that reason, anybody can [exploit] them for his or her or their interests."
Theme(s): (IRIN) Children, (IRIN) Education, (IRIN) Food Security, (IRIN) Gender Issues, (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs

Monday, June 15, 2009

The pirate kings of Puntland

The pirate kings of Puntland
By Mohammed Adow in Puntland, Somalia
They don't wear eye-patches or peg legs and you won't find any parrots perched on their shoulders, but they are no less pirates for that.
Twenty-first century piracy Somali style is a far cry from the swashbuckling, sea dogs of old but, in recent months, they have captured both the headlines and the public's imagination.
Their high seas hijackings have also forced the media to focus on Somalia, arguably the globe's most neglected tragedy.
But who are these men and what drives them to carry out such audacious attacks?
I set off to Puntland, the semi-autonomous region in Somalia's north-eastern corner, to find out.
Puntland is one of the poorest parts of war-torn Somalia and it is home to most of Somalia's dreaded pirates.
The pirate's ranks have been swollen by many of the region's youths - drawn by the potentially huge profits of one of Somalia's most successful, if unconventional, business enterprises.
Faced with limited options and even less optimism for the country's future, the young pirates care little about the risks they will run at sea.
In Garowe, the capital of Puntland, I met a well-known pirate; Abdirashid Ahmed - nicknamed Juqraafi or "geography" - still flush from a recent hijacking.
Ransom negotiations
Abdirashid and his colleagues had just taken receipt of a ransom payment of $1.3m after capturing the Greek ship MV Saldanha in February.
Smartly dressed and driving a Toyota four-wheel drive, he cut the perfect figure of prosperous young Somali.
"It took us three months of negotiations with the boat's owner before we came to an agreement over the ransom money.
"We initially asked for $17m but compromised and accepted $1.3m when we realised it will take a long time to get more out of the shipping company," he tells me.
However, it was desperation, not greed, he claims, that pushed him to throw in his lot with the pirates.
"We are driven by hunger, just look at our country and how destroyed it is. We are people with no hope and opportunities, that is what is forcing us into piracy," he says.
Successful ventures like Juqraafi's have turned piracy in Somalia into a self-financing local industry. Pirate cells operate in well-organised groups, drawing in members of extended family networks.
"Those who have been paid a ransom sponsor the other pirates. For example, if a group is holding a ship and they're paid ransom and then another ship is captured, the first group will fund the second one till they too get ransom payment," says Juqraafi.
The piracy industry is controlled by criminal gangs who recruit local youths and take the lion's share of the profits. They are also well-armed with weapons ranging from Kalashnikovs to rocket launchers.
Sharing the spoils
And every pirate cell, says Juqraafi, has clear policies and guidelines for everything it does - including sharing the ransom.
"The financier is usually a businessman who sponsors the pirates and gets 30 per cent of the ransom. The pirates get 50 per cent," he explains.
"The remaining 20 per cent is given to the poor and all those who, in one way or another, help the pirates on shore and this includes local government officials who expect bribes from every successful venture."
In their search for ships, Somali pirates have spread themselves across thousands of square miles of water, from the Gulf of Aden at the narrow doorway to the Red Sea, to the Kenyan border along the Indian Ocean.
When they started out, Somalia's pirates cast themselves as the "Robin Hoods of the sea" - defenders of the nation's fisheries.
The country's tuna-rich waters were repeatedly plundered by commercial fishing fleets soon after the country's last fully-functioning government collapsed in 1991.
Somali fishermen turned armed vigilantes, confronting fishing boats and demanding that they pay a tax.
But what began as a deterrent to illegal fishing has today become a free for all.
"These youths are capable of anything," Dr Ahmed Abdirahman, a university professor in Puntland, says.
"If the world does not come up with a solution to piracy, its going to take a far worse turn," he warns.
In 2008 alone, more than 120 pirate attacks occurred in the Gulf of Aden, far more than in any other year in recent memory.
Pirates 'net $80m'
Experts say the Somali pirates netted more than $80m, an astronomical sum for a war-ravaged country whose economy is in tatters.
At least a dozen vessels and crews are currently being held hostage off the coast of Somalia.
As on every issue in Somalia, public opinion on piracy is sharply divided. To some within the community, the pirates are amoral thugs bringing yet more trouble to their shores.
But to others and, arguably, they are in the majority, these modern-day buccaneers are heroes who are robbing the rich to feed the poor.
Nowhere is the support for piracy greater than in the town of Eyl, Somalia's modern-day pirate capital.
Hidden between rocky hills, isolated and lacking good roads, Eyl is the perfect pirate hideout.
Contrary to our expectation of prosperity in Eyl, we were confronted not with palaces but a few crumbling houses - a clear indication that the millions of dollars earned from the lucrative business of hijacking passing ships are not invested in the town.
Public support
Despite this, Said Elmi Mohamud, a 55-year-old Eyl resident, began to defend the pirates to us even before we had stepped foot out of our vehicle.
"I know you are here looking for our heroes," he declared.
"I don't call them pirates – they are our marines. They are protecting our resources from those looting them. They are not criminals."
Pirates moor their captive ships off Eyl's beaches and use the town to supply both them and their hostages with food, water and other necessary provisions.
While in Eyl ourselves, we watch from afar as the Dutch-owned MV Marathon was held by pirates a little further out to sea.
Rows of battered boats lie scattered along the beach. They are used by the pirates to shuttle between the port and the ships at sea.
And whenever word spreads that another ship has been hijacked, activity in Eyl moves up a gear.
There is a lot of money to be made and nearly everybody in the town is anxious for a cut. Elders stream into the town to arbitrate disputes between their young clansmen as gold-digging women flock to Eyl from far and near to get themselves a pirate.
But not everyone in Eyl is happy about piracy.
"We hate the pirates but can do nothing about them. They are more powerful than us," Mohammed Khalif, one of the town's Islamic leaders, says."Even the international naval powers with all their warships and weapons have not been able to control them." 'Lots of killings'
He also laments the negative impact piracy has had on the town. "They have troubled us a lot. They have brought us alcohol, commercial sex workers and massive inflation. Lots of killings also take place here," Khalif says. As piracy in Puntland has become an international issue, so pressure is increasing from within to take action.
Many young Somalis are tempted by the potentially huge profits of piracy
Abdirahman Mohamed Mahmoud, Puntland's regional president, took office in January on an anti-piracy platform. He says fighting the pirates is high on his agenda.
He sends his fledgling coastguard to sea and, at night, soldiers mount roadblocks in all of Puntland's major cities.
But Mahmoud says he needs more help to tackle what is now an international problem. He is critical of the international community's approach to combating piracy, saying they will never successfully defeat the pirates without collaborating with local forces like his own on land as well as at sea.
About 15 international naval vessels, including three American navy ships, patrol Somalia's pirate-infested waters, many under an American-led anti-piracy task force. Most of the patrol vessels are concentrated in the Gulf of Aden and, as a result, the pirates have adapted, simply moving further into open seas.
"We need just a small fraction of the money the naval fleets are wasting now to effectively combat piracy. I think they are not interested in fighting piracy," Mahmoud says.
Religious leaders from all over Puntland have also embarked on a mission to battle the buccaneers. And what better place to try to reform pirates than in Eyl.
At the town square they hold an assembly. Their sermons focus on the vices the pirates have introduced with the money they earn. But not far from where they are preaching, business is brisk.
At Eyl's restaurants, women eagerly serve the pirates, their accountants, middlemen and negotiators. Their four-wheel drive vehicles are never far away.
They are, undoubtedly, the kings of Puntland.
Mohammed Adow, an Al Jazeera correspondent, gained exclusive access to Puntland's pirates throughout May.

"When it comes to Somalia, inaction is not an option",

"When it comes to Somalia, inaction is not an option",
Daniela Kroslak and Andrew Stroehlein, in The Globe and Mail
15 June 2009
The Globe and Mail
The escalating violence in southern Somalia, especially in the battered capital, Mogadishu, risks undermining the modest political gains made since last December. Unless concerted and urgent steps are taken to mediate a speedy end to this fighting, there is a high probability the country will slide into a full civil war, with ever more refugees and violent extremism as its most likely exports.
The scale and ferocity of the latest fighting between the transitional government and the hard-line Islamist factions opposed to it is unprecedented, even by Somalia's grim and bloody standards. More than 100,000 civilians have been displaced by fighting in and around Mogadishu over the past month, with hundreds killed and thousands injured. The fighting has spread to suburbs untouched by the violence, even at the height of the worst fighting throughout the last three years. It has also extended to the country's relatively less violent central regions, with the pro-government Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah movement locked in a battle for supremacy with the extreme militant Al-Shabaab.
The massive wave of dislocation, most acute in Mogadishu, is aggravating the country's humanitarian crisis and straining aid agencies' ability to deliver assistance. And, according to reports, al-Qaeda fighters have begun to leave Pakistan for Somalia because of the opportunities for jihad.
This tragic state of affairs is not exactly unexpected. It is the predictable result of a series of political missteps and squandered opportunities. The past six months have offered Somalia a rare chance to reorient and broaden the peace process and reach a durable political settlement. A rapid succession of positive political and military developments created a momentum that at last offered some hope.
Last December, the deeply unpopular president of the Transitional Federal Government was pressured to leave office. Ethiopia drew the curtains on its ill-fated two-year military intervention in Somalia, which had further radicalized the country and increased support for militant Islamist groups, including Al-Shabaab. The Djibouti peace process culminated in a peace accord between the TFG and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia faction led by Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed. An expanded joint parliament overwhelmingly endorsed him as president shortly afterward, raising hopes his Islamist credentials would enable him to reach out to erstwhile comrades who were opposed to the Djibouti process and its outcome. He quickly relocated to Mogadishu and began exploratory talks with powerful insurgent leaders, using influential community leaders and regional Islamist leaders.
But it is now clear Mr. Ahmed went into these talks ill-prepared and severely handicapped. To begin with, he misjudged the deep personal antipathy and mistrust that now animated many of his opponents. As far as they were concerned, he was a traitor and part of the enemy camp.
He also had little to offer by way of concessions and his bargaining position was undoubtedly weaker militarily. Militant factions buoyed by Ethiopia's troop pullout, successive military gains and their de facto control of large areas in southern and central Somalia had no incentive for compromise. The lack of international consensus on the inclusion of militants in the peace process also meant Mr. Ahmed was largely operating in the dark.
Some governments favoured selective engagement, while others wanted the outreach strategy to include the militants. United Nations envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah appeared unclear of what strategy to adopt and often sent contradictory signals on this critical issue.
Contacts with militant leader Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, were particularly undermined by this ambivalence. Beyond the vague promise that the TFG and Arab governments would push for his name to be removed from the U.S. list of foreign sponsors of terrorism, nothing else was offered to Mr. Aweys. It was inevitable he would soon view the whole outreach strategy as a ploy to obtain his support for the TFG on the cheap. Little surprise, then, he turned into a spoiler.
Considering the gravity and complexity of the Somali crisis, a period of international hand-wringing and confusion is perhaps inevitable, even understandable. However, inaction would be inexcusable and highly irresponsible.
The international community needs to reinvigorate the peace process to reach out to the militants and make the required meaningful concessions to win them over. Immediate talks in a neutral venue between the TFG and the militants - to discuss terms for ceasefire, safe havens for civilians and corridors for humanitarian aid - would be a start.
The other options - delays or half-measures that leave Somalia to fester and spawn extremists who could pose a serious threat to countries far beyond the Horn of Africa - do not bear thinking about.
Daniela Kroslak and Andrew Stroehlein are deputy Africa program director and communications director of the International Crisis Group.

Ethiopia plans new rail system

Ethiopia plans new rail system
By Elizabeth Blunt
BBC News, Ethiopia
The Ethiopian government has confirmed it plans to build an extensive railway system, despite some of the world's most challenging terrain.
At the moment the country has only one railway - the historic narrow gauge line from the capital Addis Ababa to the neighbouring country of Djibouti.
(Photo: The rail project has benefited from European Union funding )
But it is in very poor condition and only half of the line is operational.
The plan involves the construction of 5,000km (3,000 miles) of track, mainly for carrying goods, officials say.
Renovation project
Ethiopia's old imperial railway was built by the French for the Emperor Menelik in the early 20th Century. But it is long past its best.
There is an average of one derailment a week.
But a major European Union-funded renovation project is now under way.
Engineers are consolidating embankments, strengthening the bridges, re-laying about one-third of the track, using better quality rails and replacing flimsy metal sleepers with more solid concrete ones.
When that is done, the Ethiopian government intends to embark on its even more ambitious plan - to create a whole new rail system.
This time it will be standard gauge, electrified to make use of Ethiopia's huge hydro power potential. It is primarily aimed at goods traffic.
The man in charge, Getachew Betru, said such a system would make a huge contribution to Ethiopia's development.
One of the reasons Ethiopia had stayed poor, he said, was because it was not connected.
And, he said, railways were inherently much more popular with the poor than - for instance - the donor-funded tarmac road network that is mostly used by tourists and aid workers.
The government is still looking for partners to build the new railway.
But it says it is convinced that trains will be the transport of the future in Ethiopia.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Mobile phone banking for Somaliland

Medeshi, June 15, 2009
Mobile phone banking for Somaliland
A new system of making payments by mobile phones has been launched in the republic of Somaliland.
Telesom's Zad service means that people can send money to friends and relatives or pay bills just using their phones.
The self-declared republic of Somaliland is much more peaceful than the rest of Somalia.
(Phones - mobile and terrestrial - have thrived in Somalia)
But the telecommunications and money transfer sectors have thrived across the country, despite the conflict which has raged for the past 18 years.
Telesom deputy director Mohamud Aden Ahmed-Hadeed told BBC Somali that the service would improve the lives of people and help develop the country.
"They can have access to their accounts with a Pin number and they can send money to anywhere, anytime. People can pay their bills or buy things from shops," he said.
A similar system was launched in neighbouring Kenya in 2007, with a network of more than 7,000 agents - mostly shopkeepers.
Somalia's conflict has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee the country.
They use an informal, trust-based money transfer system known as "hawala" to send money back home.
And the lack of a government since 1991 has not prevented several mobile phone companies from setting up their businesses.
Aid agencies estimate that some four million people - a third of the population - need food aid.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Somalia gets new navy force

Somalia gets new navy force
MOGADISHU, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Drilling in the open ground of the dusty and dilapidated Old Port in the north of Mogadishu are nearly five hundred young men recruited to serve Somalia's nascent navy force, the first in nearly two decades.
"We expect this force to receive intensive training in four months and then be armed and start protecting the Somali coast against foreign intrusion and criminal activities," Admiral Farah Omar Ahmed, newly appointed Chief Somali Navy Commander, said at an opening ceremony for the navy training.
Admiral Ahmed said the force were the first batch of an expected five thousand navy force Somalia will eventually have to protect its territorial waters and fight rampant piracy, two decades after the force has collapsed with the overthrow of the late Somali government of former Somali President Mohamed Siyad Barre in 1991.
With an ever growing high seas piracy off the Somali coast and the Gulf of Aden, the east African nation's urgent need for a navy to combat the menace is ever more apparent.
The new Somali navy, with dozens of instructors, receives a minimal wage and monthly food rations during their training.
The Somali government is fighting a deadly insurgence by the radical Islamist insurgent groups of Al-Shabaab and Hezbul Islam who want to establish an Islamic state in Somalia.
Hundreds have been killed or wounded in the latest clashes between government forces and insurgent fighters in Mogadishu where more than a hundred thousand Somalis have been displaced in the fighting that started in early May.
The chaos on land in Somalia led to the growth in piracy that has wrecked havoc in the seas of the war torn country where dozens of ships, with hundreds of crews and passengers on board, have been hijacked.
Some of the abducted ships have been released following marathon negotiations with pirate leaders and the payment of huge sums of ransoms which local Somali officials believe encourages further abductions.
The scourge of piracy has not faded away even after foreign countries send naval force to the Gulf of Aden following the authorization by the UN Security Council early last year.
"This local force knows the pirates and is capable of tackling them, who mainly operate from the ground, better than any foreign navy," said Somalia's new State Defense Minister Yusuf Mohamed Siyad, known as "Indha Adde".
Indha Adde, who was a senior member of the Hezbul Islam but defected to the Somalia government last month, said the Somali government will make it a top priority the fight against piracy and that the newly establish navy would "receive all it needs to carry out its duties".
Many of the newly recruited young men are optimistic about the work they would be doing to defend the country's territorial waters and combat high seas criminal activities.
Mohamed Nor is one of the young recruits receiving training at the Old Port building in the north of the Somali capital Mogadishu. He says he is pleased with his role.
"I am really pleased that I am one of the new trainees for the Somali navy and I will serve my country and defend its honor because there are bad people spoiling the good name of our country and others taking advantage of its current situation." Admiral Ahmed calls on foreign countries to support the newly formed Somalia navy which he said would relieve the burden of protecting Somalia's territorial waters from the menace of high seas criminal activities. Source: Xinhua, June 14, 2009