Pontus Marine LTD- Leader of fishing industry in Somaliland

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Iftar at Pentagon sends a message


(Medeshi)
Iftar at Pentagon sends a messageBarbara Ferguson Arab News
WASHINGTON: The Pentagon opened its doors to celebrate Iftarwith Muslims in the military and their families Thursday night.
The event also was open to anyone who works in the Pentagon and drew over 200 people making it the largest Iftarevent ever hosted at the Pentagon. This came on the heels of an Iftardinner held at the White House earlier this week.
Muslims — uniformed military personnel, civilians and family members — joined together for prayers, and then with the other guests shared a meal that began with dates.
Guest speakers included Dalia Magahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and a member of the president’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; James Zogby, head of the Arab American Institute; and Farah Pandith, State Department’s special representative to Muslim communities.
US Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Jamal Baadani was the master of ceremonies for the event. He said holding Iftar at the Pentagon is important because of the “message it sends throughout the military community.” “We’re able to practice and celebrate our faith here, at the heart of the US military, in the strongest country of the world,” said Baadani.
The event was organized by the Pentagon Muslim Community, but Baadani said two people were directly responsible for the Iftar. “The first was Zadil Ansari, who is the lay leader for all the Muslims at the Pentagon. “The second person was the Pentagon sponsor — you need a Muslim who works in the Pentagon — and that was Air Force Lt. Col. Timothy Oldenburg.”
Many hoped the event would help foster greater understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims. “Tonight is a true representation of what American stands for,” said Nihad Awad, the head of Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, “and for what all Americans can do for themselves and others in this country.” Navy’s Abuhena M. SaifelIslam, who led the Maghreb prayer said it was important to hold Iftar in the Pentagon, which was struck by terrorists in September 2001. “The Pentagon has its own gravity; it would probably lose the significance if we don’t hold it here in the Pentagon.”
But he admitted the event was becoming so popular it was becoming crowded. This was not only due to direct invitations, but also to the fact that “the Iftar invitation was displayed throughout the Pentagon, so anybody working here — including non-Muslims — could attend if they wanted to.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ethiopia: Ethnic Federalism and Its Discontents


(Medeshi)
Ethiopia: Ethnic Federalism and Its Discontents
Africa Report N°153
4 September 2009
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), led by its chairman and prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has radically reformed Ethiopia’s political system. The regime transformed the hitherto centralised state into the Federal Democratic Republic and also redefined citizenship, politics and identity on ethnic grounds. The intent was to create a more prosperous, just and representative state for all its people. Yet, despite continued economic growth and promised democratisation, there is growing discontent with the EPRDF’s ethnically defined state and rigid grip on power and fears of continued inter-ethnic conflict. The international community should take Ethiopia’s governance problems much more seriously and adopt a more principled position towards the government. Without genuine multi-party democracy, the tensions and pressures in Ethiopia’s polities will only grow, greatly increasing the possibility of a violent eruption that would destabilise the country and region.
The endeavour to transform Ethiopia into a federal state is led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has dominated the coalition of ethno-nationalist parties that is the EPRDF since the removal in 1991 of the Derg, the security services committee that overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974. The EPRDF quickly institutionalised the TPLF’s policy of people’s rights to self-determination and self-rule. The federal constitution ratified in 1994 defined the country’s structure as a multicultural federation based on ethno-national representation.
The government has created nine ethnic-based regional states and two federally administered city-states. The result is an asymmetrical federation that combines populous regional states like Oromiya and Amhara in the central highlands with sparsely populated and underdeveloped ones like Gambella and Somali. Although the constitution vests all powers not attributed to the federal government in them, the regional states are in fact weak.
The constitution was applauded for its commitment to liberal democracy and respect for political freedoms and human rights. But while the EPRDF promises democracy, it has not accepted that the opposition is qualified to take power via the ballot box and tends to regard the expression of differing views and interests as a form of betrayal. Before 2005, its electoral superiority was ensured by the limited national appeal and outreach of the predominantly ethnically based opposition parties. Divided and disorganised, the reach of those parties rarely went beyond Addis Ababa. When the opposition was able to challenge at local, regional or federal levels, it faced threats, harassment and arrest. With the opportunity in 2005 to take over the Addis Ababa city council in what would have been the first democratic change of a major administration in the country’s history, the opposition withdrew from the political process to protest flaws in the overall election.
The EPRDF did not feel threatened until the 2005 federal and regional elections. The crackdown that year on the opposition demonstrated the extent to which the regime is willing to ignore popular protest and foreign criticism to hold on to power. The 2008 local and by-elections went much more smoothly, in large part because the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) was absorbed with internal and legal squabbles, and several other parties withdrew after their candidates experienced severe registration problems. The next federal and regional elections, scheduled for June 2010, most probably will be much more contentious, as numerous opposition parties are preparing to challenge the EPRDF, which is likely to continue to use its political machine to retain its position.
Despite the EPRDF’s authoritarianism and reluctance to accept genuine multi-party competition, political positions and parties have proliferated in recent years. This process, however, is not driven by democratisation or the inclusion of opposition parties in representative institutions. Rather it is the result of a continuous polarisation of national politics that has sharpened tensions between and within parties and ethnic groups since the mid-1990s. The EPRDF’s ethnic federalism has not dampened conflict, but rather increased competition among groups that vie over land and natural resources, as well as administrative boundaries and government budgets.
Furthermore, ethnic federalism has failed to resolve the “national question”. The EPRDF’s ethnic policy has empowered some groups but has not been accompanied by dialogue and reconciliation. For Amhara and national elites, ethnic federalism impedes a strong, unitary nation-state. For ethno-national rebel groups like the ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front; Somalis in the Oga­den) and OLF (Oromo Liberation Front; the Oromo), ethnic federalism remains artificial. While the concept has failed to accommodate grievances, it has powerfully promoted ethnic self-awareness among all groups. The international community has ignored or downplayed all these problems. Some donors appear to consider food security more important than democracy in Ethiopia, but they neglect the increased ethnic awareness and tensions created by the regionalisation policy and their potentially explosive consequences.
Nairobi/Brussels, 4 September 2009

Waris Dirie : The supermodel from Somalia


(Medeshi)
The supermodel from Somalia
Threatened with an arranged marriage when she was 13, Waris Dirie fled to London where she was working illegally as a cleaner before being spotted by a photographer. Arifa Akbar reports on the film that tells the extraordinary story
Saturday, 5 September 2009
(Yesterday, Dirie was at the Venice Film Festival to unveil Desert Flower, a film about her life, named after her internationally bestselling biography)
It is the story of a girl born to a clan of nomadic goat herders in Somalia who flees her remote village at the age of 13 when she discovers her family have arranged for her to be the fourth wife of a man more than twice her age.
She travels from Mogadishu to London where she works illegally as a cleaner until she is "discovered" by a fashion photographer, and propelled into a life of international fame and fortune.
So reads the true story of Waris Dirie, a former supermodel and face of Revlon who also appeared in the James Bond movie, The Living Daylights.
Yesterday, Dirie was at the Venice Film Festival to unveil Desert Flower, a film about her life, named after her internationally bestselling biography. The film, which has already received critical acclaim, stars some of Britain's best character actors including Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall, Juliet Stevenson and the comedy writer, Meera Syal. Dirie is played by Liya Kebede, an Ethiopian model who was in Robert De Niro's The Good Shepherd.
Speaking about the making of Desert Flower yesterday, Dirie, who now lives in Austria, said she wanted the film to focus on the secret which she revealed at the height of her modelling career in 1997, that she had suffered genital mutilation at the age of five.
The revelation transformed her into the "face of female genital mutilation", she said. "Before I spoke about it, no-one talked about female genital mutilation. I felt divided. There was half of me that said 'go ahead, I can handle it', and the other half said 'no'. I never thought I would get this far."
But it sparked an astonishing global response. She became a human rights campaigner, a UN special ambassador and received numerous humanitarian awards, including the French Chevalier de la légion d'honneur in 2007.
The film's director, Sherry Hormann, said she made a promise to Dirie that "the mutilation scene would be in the script" and that the film "would entertain as well as move people".
Hormann decided to make the film in Djibouti, which borders Somalia and Ethiopia. Desert Flower's subject matter upset some of the local people there. Genital mutilation is still a custom in some communities. "Hundreds of police had blocked the [marketplace] area for the shoot but then, all of a sudden, they all disappeared. Chaos broke out, members of the crew were being attacked with stones," she said.
However, Dirie said it was vital that the mutilation scene was shot close to where it had happened to her; although seeing it re-enacted in front of her was a painful experience. "That moment when I sat and watched the filming [of the mutilation] brought me back my whole life. It felt as if that part of it was real," she said. As the crew finished filming the scene, two women ran to them screaming and said they had just passed a bloodied rock where young girls had been mutilated. "As we were filming it [the mutilation], it was happening there," said Dirie.
Hormann was determined to film Dirie's life story as authentically as possible. She used local families as extras in the film as well as a real circumciser. "In Djibouti, I realised that Desert Flower would become the first film to focus on Somali culture and its Islamic roots. We filmed nomads who had never seen a camera before. We took the risk to get a real circumciser who was willing to allow herself to be filmed."
The director also shot scenes in London with a hidden camera, in which Kebede roamed among the homeless people in Soho. Kebede, who in 2007 was the 11th highest-paid model in the world, according to Forbes, said she was mistaken for a real homeless person. She said: "We filmed at 3 or 4 in the morning. I was in a pink jilbad [traditional Somali dress], and Sherry was hiding. I had a microphone in my ear and the camera was hidden ... A couple of Somali guys came up to me and said 'are you OK?'"
She said prior to being cast in the film, she had read about Dirie's "extraordinary life story" and sought to portray her courageous, campaigning spirit as faithfully as possible.
Dirie said seeing the film was emotionally difficult – "I don't think I could see it again, it hurt me". However, she hopes it will expose and help stop the brutal practice of female genital mutilation. "I want the movie to make a change. I know the world knows it's wrong ... I have to think of the children of tomorrow. I want to say 'don't touch them ... I'm coming.'"

UN envoy welcomes UN delegation visit to Somaliland

(Medeshi)
UN envoy welcomes UN delegation visit to Somaliland
2009-09-05
NAIROBI, Sept.4 (Xinhua) -- A United Nations top envoy for Somalia on Friday welcome a visit to Somaliland by a delegation of UN officials from the Somalia office.
The delegation from UNPOS, led by the UN Deputy Special Representative for Somalia Charles Petrie, visited Somaliland this week to meet officials, with a focus on the continued and strengthened engagement of UNPOS in Somaliland.
UN Special Representative for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said in a statement issued in Nairobi that the delegation also met members of the government as well as various political parties and civil society representatives to hear their viewpoints.
"Somaliland has an impressive history of resolving its internal tensions peacefully and I hope this tradition will be used to address the current challenges," said Ould- Abdallah.
The delegation held a constructive meeting with President DahirRiyale Kahin. Ould-Abdallah said he hoped it was proof of Somaliland's determination to move towards peace and compromise.
"For the past two decades Somali landers have followed the path of dialogue and denounced violence," he added. "I believe Somaliland can provide many lessons in finding peaceful solutions to the internal crisis."
Editor: Lin Zhi

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Somaliland : In perplexing limbo

(Medeshi)
March 17, 2004. (David Bebbe/Reuters)
Somaliland's perplexing limbo
Despite peace and stability, the territory is not recognized as a state.
By Tristan McConnell- GlobalPost
Published: September 3, 2009
HARGEISA, Somaliland — This month in a country that doesn’t exist an election is due to be held to choose a government that will not be recognized. This is not a hypothetical puzzle, it is the actual state of Somaliland.
Somalia is the world's most glaring example of a failed state: For the past 18 years Somalia has not had a functioning government and has been marked by widespread violence and chaos.
Just a few hundred miles to the north, Somaliland has maintained peace and democracy since it declared its independence from Somalia in 1991. Yet Somaliland has not been recognized by any country in the world and it struggles in a legal limbo.
Somaliland's achievements are impressive. Since it broke away from Somalia, Somaliland has disarmed militias, reconciled warring parties, rebuilt ruined cities, established a government, written a constitution, held two elections considered broadly democratic by observers and gradually become a rare example of peace and stability in the Horn of Africa, a precarious region marked by authoritarian regimes.
Somaliland's record of peace and stability puts the likes of Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea to shame but with a presidential election postponed for 17 months now expected to be held at the end of September, the fragile post-war democracy in this self-declared chunk of semi-desert in northwest Somalia is facing its biggest challenge yet.
More on Somalia and Somaliland:
Somaliland's addict economy
How to stop the Somali pirates
Somali refugees' path of hardship
In an interview in his Hargeisa office, President Dahir Rayale Kahin told GlobalPost: “I am committed that this election will go ahead on 27th September, under any circumstances. We will not continue to postpone the election anymore.”
But that’s the problem. The seven-strong electoral commission is widely criticized for failing to adequately prepare the ground for the elections. Their biggest failure was to allow what many observers saw as widespread fraud in the voter registration process.
“The voter register was supposed to prevent fraud but the registration itself was fraudulent!” explained one frustrated civil society activist.
In July, Somaliland’s government threw out Interpeace, a donor-funded peace-building organization, which was trying to clean up the electoral roll in preparation for the elections. In response the two opposition parties — Somaliland’s limited democracy allows only three parties in a bid to avoid the kind of atomized clan politics that dominates in Somalia — said they would boycott the campaign period and even the vote itself.
This latest electoral turmoil follows a series of delays that have brought Somaliland to the brink of constitutional crisis time and again. At the same time human rights groups have warned of a growing authoritarianism in President Kahin’s governing UDUB party.
“Somaliland now faces a moment of real danger," warned an outspoken report published in July by Human Rights Watch. "The president may be intending to prolong his mandate without elections for as long as possible, and his administration risks doing lasting damage to Somaliland’s emerging democratic system in the process.”
The report highlighted harassment of journalists, extra-judicial sentencing and oppression of political opposition.
All this is bad news for Somalilanders who live in grinding poverty, surviving largely on remittances sent from relatives abroad, because the lack of legal recognition means the country cannot benefit from full engagement with major donor nations like the U.S. or international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The delays to the election have disappointed Somaliland’s foreign minister Abdullahi Duale who called them “regrettable” but he was still adamant that his country should be judged by its broader achievements.
“Somaliland has played a leading role in the regional geopolitical democratization process,” argued Duale. “We have fought terrorism, we have fought piracy, in fact we have been the good guys in a very rough neighbourhood. Somaliland is a de facto state. All we are lacking is recognition,” he said.
The contrast with Somalia — where there is no functioning government and no hope of any kind of national election — is stark. By the time President Mohamed Siyad Barre fled the Somali capital back in 1991 he was disparaged as the Mayor of Mogadishu since his control didn’t extend beyond the city limits. The former coup leader left behind him a pillaged economy, a state in ruins and a power vacuum at the top that has been filled ever since by warring clan-based and religious militias.
In Somalia, the nsurgents who had coalesced to fight Barre turned on one another the moment he was gone but in Somaliland the rebel Somali National Movement plotted a different course.
More on Somalia and Somaliland:
Somaliland's addict economy
How to stop the Somali pirates
Somali refugees' path of hardship
Employing traditional methods of dispute resolution and reconciliation that had been left more or less intact by Britain’s very hands-off colonial approach in Somaliland, a traumatized society was rebuilt from the bottom up through a series of grassroots peace conferences held over several years.
This local ownership of the state-building process is the key to Somaliland's success, but in Somalia — despite the years of international support to shore up a series of governments with little or no support on the ground — it has never happened.
Tristan McConnell traveled to Somaliland on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on CrisisReporting.

Puntland : Modern Sea Pirates


(Medeshi)
Puntland : Modern Sea Pirates
Michael Stevens
Korea has recently sent the Daejoyeong a 4,500-ton KDX-II destroyer, to Somali waters to replace one that has operated there under a U.S.-led multinational anti-piracy campaign since April.
Over the last year we have read in The Korea Times many articles dealing with the issue of the pirates that are plaguing the shipping routes off the coast of Somalia. Korea has joined the international effort to help resolve this dilemma by dispatching its own naval ship and military personnel in order to protect commercial ships against these pirates.
Many believe that the only effective way to deal with the increasing danger posed by Somali pirates is to do so on land ― by either arresting the pirates and/or demolishing their bases and boats. However, this may not be a viable solution given the chaotic state of the Somali government and its national military or police force.
Until recently, modern piracy was treated by the international community as a minor nuisance and at best an almost comically insignificant threat. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. The Somali pirates have come out in full force and have taken merchant ships and humanitarian aid ― unarmed vessels. This has made the rest of the world sit up and take notice. Where it was once a minor issue, we now have large groups of experts and consultants rushing to come up with solutions to what is now a legitimate threat.
Yet, what is the best way to deal with this ongoing menace?
I believe that the current method in dealing with this complex issue is truly ineffective and this fact should be said very clearly and affirmatively: There is no permanent military solution to this threat.
The money that is being spent on sending both destroyers and military personnel in order to stop these relatively small scale pirates is astronomical; yet, the money being saved by intercepting the pirates is minimal, if not non-existent.
It is like using a baseball bat to kill a mosquito. It doesn't matter how many battleships and destroyers there are off the coast of Somalia, it is truly na?ve and foolish to think that every Somali fisherman that has a speedboat and a rifle should be destroyed. Over the years these fishermen turned pirates have been increasing in number and most likely they will continue to find ways to get around the naval ships. In addition they have become more dangerous as they become more desperate.
However, even if we could capture or destroy all the Somali pirates in the region, it is more vital that we consider if we really want to operate in such a manner as to indiscriminately punish them.
We know that most Somali pirates are not hardened criminals or ruthless murderers ― unfortunately, the vast majority are fishermen who can no longer work for a number of reasons and are unable to find other employment due to the dangerous and unstable environment that is now modern Somalia.
Regrettably, the Western world has abused the absence of a stable Somali government by overfishing Somali waters and dumping toxic and nuclear waste illegally.
This has put legitimate working Somali fishermen out of a job and threatened their livelihoods, which has lead many of them to believe they are fighting against foreign oppression, and that the best way to feed their families and protect their homes is to take to the seas as pirates. Often calling themselves ``the Volunteer Coast Guard of Somalia'' ― and it's not hard to see why.
It was reported in a recent survey that over 70 percent of the Somali people strongly support piracy and believe that it was in fact a form of national defense of the country's territorial waters.
Can we really believe that starving Somalis would stand passively on their beaches; while the world dumped nuclear waste and watch as they stole their greatest natural resources? The international community didn't act on those crimes against the Somali people ― however, when the fishermen responded to this clear threat to both its people and its national sovereignty the world calls foul.
Although this is not to say that there aren't a few ruthless and opportunistic criminals among the Somali pirates ― to say otherwise would be foolish. Nevertheless, it is clear the complexity of this situation calls for a solution that is more complex and less heavy handed than the current gunboat diplomacy that is currently being implemented.
A stable and effective Somali government must be supported and propped up, and international abuse of its territorial waters must be stopped.
The international community including Korea needs to work with the government and the people of Somali to build a stable country where not only is piracy not tolerated, but not needed.
If we really want to deal with piracy, we need to stop its root cause ― other countries crimes against the Somali people ― and only then will we have a lasting and complete solution to the problem of modern piracy.
Photo added by medeshi

Al-Shabaab leader warns Somaliland

(Medeshi)
Al-Shabaab leader warns Somaliland
By: webmaster on Sep 3rd, 2009
Mogadishu (Alshahid) –Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Subeyr, the leader of Al-Shabaab Insurgents has warned Thursday the leaders of the breakaway republic of Somaliland against dealing with Ethiopia.
In a recorded message broadcasted by Mogadishu local radios, Abu Subayr said Somaliland leaders handed over Berbara sea port to Ethiopia.
He also warned Somaliland people against renting their houses to the Ethiopian people and dealing with them.
“Ethiopia is planning to capture new Somali territory and it is the driver of Somaliland authority,” Abu Subayr said.
Speaking about the elections of Somaliland which is due to be held on 27 of this month, he said “the elections are against the Islamic Sharia and the book of Allah”.
“Somaliland officials handed a lot of Somali people to Ethiopia and arrested in Ethiopian jails,” he added.
He called for Somaliland people to defend what he called for problems by the Ethiopian government in Somaliland.

The Great Hargeisa Goat Bubble


(Medeshi)
The Great Hargeisa Goat Bubble
by Julian Gough
The snow had stopped. The world lay paralysed beneath it. We would be here for some time.
"Ibrahim Bihi," he said, extending his right hand. "Dr. Ibrahim Bihi. I am Somali. Oh, it is a long story."
"Jude O'Reilly," I said, extending mine. We shook. "Please, tell the story. I like stories."
"Very well, if you are sure..."
He cleared his throat, and began.
"I eked a meagre living, exploiting a fundamental structural discrepancy in the price of Goats." He looked me in the eye.
I nodded. "You've lost me," I said.
"I must apologise," he said. "My degree is in economics, and it has had an unfortunate effect on my conversational English. Allow me to begin again..." He composed himself. "My story is a sorry tale, of the Dismal Science, in the heart of the Dark Continent..."
"Lost me," I said, nodding.
"A story. Of Economics. In Africa."
"Ah, grand. I have you now," I said, entirely gratified by this excellent clarification. I'd known he had it in him, if he simply made the effort. "Now we're sucking diesel! Sound man. On you go."
He recomposed himself and, after a pause, continued.
"After the final collapse of the Somali state, the confiscation of my property, the destruction of my possessions and my repeated relocation due to the to-ing and fro-ing of multiple overlapping civil wars, I eventually found myself in Hargeisa, owning only a goat."
"What was she called?"
"Who?"
"The Goat."
"She was a goat. She didn't have a name."
"I find it hard to follow a story without a name," I said. "It is a weakness in me."
"Call her anything you like."
"Can I call her Ethel?" I said, for I had a fondness for the name, it being the name of the unmarried sister of the Orphanage Cook. Ethel gave us all a bag of Emerald sweets to share every Christmas. Thus, every third year I got one and, by rationing my consumption of it to a judicious lick at bedtime, could usually make it last till the taking down of the decorations on January 6th, or a little later. The sweet wrapper itself, stored under my pillow, often maintained a trace of coconutty, chocolatey fragrance till March.
"Feel free to think of the goat as Ethel."
"Thank you." I closed my eyes. Ethel the Goat shimmered and came into hard focus, replacing the faint, nebulous, nameless goat Ibrahim Bihi had originally introduced. Ethel chewed meditatively, and tilted her head to one side, looking at me unblinking.
Opening my eyes again, I urged him to continue.
He continued. "The forced sale of a goat in wartime is unlikely to realise the full value of the goat."
I mentally substituted the word "Ethel" for the terms "a goat" and "the goat", and the meaning became entirely clear. I closed my eyes and smiled fondly at Ethel, as he continued.
"Alternatively, the slaughter and personal consumption of the goat, while keeping one alive in the short term, would lead in the medium term to having no goat, and no money. In the long term, with neither assets nor capital nor cashflow, death would inevitably ensue. Luckily, my PhD had been devoted to aspects of arbitrage; the exploitation of price discrepancies in imperfect markets. I thus resolved to apply my knowledge of temporary market inefficiencies to my Goat."
He thus resolved to apply his knowledge of temporary market inefficiencies to Ethel, I said under my breath.
"This final, or ultimate, goat, on which all my hopes rested, had only three legs, due to shrapnel from a mine stepped on some weeks previously by my second-last, or penultimate, goat, on the trek to Hargeisa."
Hastily naming the penultimate goat Charles, I exploded it immediately before I could bond with it, and removed Ethel's rear left leg.
"Thus the surviving goat's movements were slow, and my search for arbitrage opportunities was limited to the immediate vicinity of Hargeisa airport, where I was sleeping at the side of the runway, for the UN presence at the airport made it a safer place for the homeless, friendless wanderer than in the lawless town proper."
I remembered seeing a postcard of Knock Airport sent to Brother Patrocles by Monseignor James Horan to congratulate the orphanage on winning the Harty Cup. I imagined Knock Airport, removed the drizzle, clouds and fog, drained the bog, covered it in sand, and increased the temperature by twenty degrees. As an afterthought, I mentally located, just over the horizon, all the stories I had heard the older orphans tell of Limerick City, including the one about the lad getting stabbed in the head with a screwdriver, the one about the ten-year-old in the Bus Station toilets, and how Aengus McMahon smuggled the bar-stool out of Driscoll's after the Microdisney gig.
"I thought long," he continued. "I thought hard. I ate the final remnants of my penultimate goat, which I had cured in salt and carried on the tottering back of my ultimate goat to Hargeisa. I came up with a plan. The next day, I ate the mutilated fourth leg of my ultimate goat, as I refined the plan. I wiped my mouth as I finished, and drew a deep breath. It was now, or never. I had neither friend, nor relative, nor roof, nor occupation: I had, in all this world, one solitary three-legged goat. This poor goat, which I had come to love: its hazel eyes: its trim beard: its dry dugs: this poor beast comprised all the Surplus Value I possessed. It was the Rock of Capital on which I stood, raised above the perilous sea in which so many of my countrymen around me desperately swam or, ceasing their struggles, drowned."
In life, in front of me, Dr. Ibrahim Bihi closed his eyes and drew a deep breath, perhaps in unconscious echo, or memory. His voice began again, filled with a strengthening passion.
"That poor goat was my stepping-stone to a safer world, a better world, some greater island raised higher above the perilous waves of Life. My first stepping-stone to the Capitals of Capital: to London, Tokyo, New York, thrusting so far above the sea of subsistence that the people there think the world dry land, so that their inhabitants till recently flew from great Island to great Island far above the sea of suffering, never looking down. Some glanced perhaps out the windows of their planes: but if they saw us they must have thought us waving, not drowning, for they did not come to save us. They did not come. I believe some troops arrived in Mogadishu. Eighteen died: they went home. A million of us not worth eighteen of them. A million not worth eighteen. America, who built her wealth upon the surplus labour of twenty million African slaves. There was no Marshall Plan for Africa."
"What happened to Ethel the goat?" I said, somewhat appalled that he appeared to have forgotten her plight. In my mind's eye, she teetered bravely on her three legs, yet still stood proudly erect, the hint of a tear in her hazel eye.
"Hmm? Oh." Dr. Bihi opened his eyes. "I waited until the daily UN food plane was committed to its final approach: as its wheels touched down at the far end of the dusty runway and I saw the puffs of dust, I drove my goat out of the long grass and into the middle of the runway and, leaving her standing bewildered and blindfold where the tyre-tracks were thickest, I ran back into the long grass. The plane was laden, the suspension heavy, the engines slung low: the propeller took her head off and the headless corpse went under the wheels."
"Oh no," I said, wishing now that I had not visualised Ethel quite so intensely.
"Oh yes," he said. "I went straight to the control tower and demanded to see the airport manager. In Somalia, it is the custom to pay a man double the market price if you accidentally kill his beast. I had the price of two goats in my hand before the plane had finished taxiing back to the terminal."
"What luck!" I cried. "What did you do with the money?"
"I went to the market, of course, and bought two goats."
"They could be friends to each other," I said, pleased.
"The next day I drove the two goats into the path of a Gulfstream jet from Riadah."
"Ah!" First upon my fingers and then in the quiet caverns of my mind I extrapolated from one to two: from two to four: from four to eight: and so on for some time. "And thus," I said after a while, "You quickly became infinitely wealthy."
"Sadly, no," he sighed. "It is the tragedy of arbitrage opportunities: they are killed by those who love them. The Market abhors a price discrepancy... But oh, it is beautiful to watch the market corrected by the invisible hand! The success of my scheme was noted by others: by the third day, rivals were driving goats onto the runway ahead of me. Our competition in the market that afternoon drove up the price of goats. Thus, the market price of two goats, paid to us that morning at the airport for each one of our slaughtered goats, was by that afternoon unable to buy us two goats in the market. Goat hyperinflation had set in, for at the airport the next morning we demanded double the new market price for the goats we drove into the path of an old Aeroflot Tu-144. The airport manager agreed the new rate of compensation. Thus, the compensation now being indexed to the market price of the goat, where the price of the goat is n and the compensation is 2n, capital was in effect free: no matter how high the goat price soared, the fresh capital for the next round of goat finance soared along with it. The tap was held artificially open, and a speculative bubble made inevitable.
However, soon the doubled and redoubled prices paid out by the airport manager had reached such giddy heights that the merchant class grew greedy and joined in. No other asset could offer so high a rate of return as the goat, so capital was now diverted into goats and out of every other asset class, and all but the goat traders were starved of investment. Men sold their very houses to raise the price of a single goat.
Word had spread, and men drove goats in any condition to Hargeisa from all over Somaliland, and even the other statelets of the fragmented Somalia: from Puntland, from Middle Shabelle and Lower Jubba in the chaotic southern rump state, even from Ethiopia. The market was soon flooded with goats, many of them sick or lame. However this did not matter, for the demand for goats had become infinite. The runway, being entirely unprotected around its perimeter on either side, was the Platonic ideal of a free market: there were no barriers to entry.
However, planes were by now reluctant to land in Hargeisa."
Wishing to pull my weight in the conversation, I ventured, "Too many goats on the runway?"
Ibrahim Bihi shook his head. "The goats were not the problem. Certain economic firebrands, frozen out of the goat market, had attempted to introduce the cow as an element of trade at the airport's morning meetings."
"Ah," I said.
"The goat cartel fought this fiercely, as it endangered their near monopoly, and threatened an uncontrolled, overnight devaluation of the goat which could badly shake confidence in the market. Also, the pilots were very unhappy. More importantly, the UN, as issuers of fresh capital and guarantors of the liquidity of the market, opposed the introduction of the cow. Any decent sized aircraft could plough through almost unlimited numbers of the lightweight native Somali goat without risking much more than a puncture from a shattered pelvis or horn, but a couple of cows could take the undercarriage off a passenger plane. The replacement cost of an aircraft dwarfed even the inflated cost of the goats, and the UN made an informal deal that if we kept the cows off the runway, they would continue to pay out for the goats.
"That was good?" I ventured.
Dr Ibrahim Bihi nodded. "Of course, some fiscal conservatives within the UN wished to unilaterally halt the goat payments entirely. It was, however, too late to do this, as an enormous re-allocation of capital had already occurred, and the personal wealth of the entire Hargeisa middle class, and indeed that of many enterprising UN employees and most of the pilots and crews flying the route, was by now tied up in goats. To abolish the payments would have lead to a collapse in market confidence, the panicked sale of goats, a flooded goat market and subsequent price collapses that would have ruined most. As you can see, we had entered a classic momentum market, where the price of the goat had decoupled from the fundamental value of the goat: the cost of a goat now vastly exceeded the capital returns which were possible over its lifetime from sale of milk, cheese, and, ultimately, meat and skin. However, vast fortunes can still be made in strong momentum markets, regardless of fundamental values, as long as you are not the one left holding the goat when the reversion to fundamental value occurs. And so I stayed in the market, fully invested in goats.
By this time the goat craze had become a mania. A severe shortage of goats, and infinite demand, led to excesses. The price of goats became ludicrous, and many animals were led to the town market which were loudly proclaimed to be goats but which on closer inspection proved to be dogs, dressed up. They were purchased anyway, the frightful animals, at grotesque prices.
The sheer length of the boom was now leading to increased confidence. There was a loosening in credit. It seemed madness not to lend to a man who could pay you back handsomely the next day. And as a creditor, once you'd borrowed and repaid with interest a couple of times, the banks began to persuade you to borrow more.
Soon the shortage of actual goats led to a booming market in goat futures, goat options and increasingly arcane goat derivative products. This trade in young, unborn, and even theoretical goats allowed yet more money into a market whose only bottle-neck or brake up to this time had been the physical shortage of actual goats.
So crucial to the economy were goats now, and so fatal to our people any collapse in the goat market, that the UN appointed a UNICEF Official with Special Responsibility For Goats. Around him swiftly sprung up a bureaucracy. A well-meaning man, his attempts to stabilise the goat market were well-intentioned. However, this intervention by the authorities was, as ever, late and ineffectual, indeed, counterproductive. Reassured that the UN wouldn't let the market collapse, prices soared higher. It had become a one-way bet.
The Airport Manager had by now begun to fly in goats, to sell at market for nearly twice what he was paying out, thus financing further imports. This meant both more goats and more planes arriving to run them over. Now that everybody was benefiting there seemed no need for the boom ever to end. True, the UNICEF budget for Somalia was paying out increasingly large compensation fees to the owners of dead goats, but one of the first moves by the UNICEF Official with Special Responsibility For Goats was to make the goat compensation fund self-funding by hedging much of it in goat futures. Now, every time UNICEF pushed up the price of goats by paying out double the market price, it regained the money fourfold as its goat futures contracts soared in value.
The only drawback was that the slaughter on the runways each day was by now so great that it was becoming a hazard to land, and it could take till nightfall to execute the day's quota of goats, with planes forced to slaughter animals all the way down the runway, then often all the way back again, to hit the ones they'd missed and to finish off the wounded, and then again all along the taxi-route back to the terminal. Takeoffs were being delayed while the bodies were removed from the runways, which lowered the number of flights and thus the potential revenues generated for all. This was solved by bringing in an electronic Goat Accident and Compensatory System to replace the cumbersome physical system. Now, instead of herding your one, then two, then four, then eight, then sixteen goats onto the runway each afternoon, each of which then needed to go through the laborious process of being hit by a landing aircraft's undercarriage, wingtip or propeller, you simply input your goat numbers into the GACS. The airport manager input all the flights due in that day, each flight was allocated its goats, and the compensation due each trader came up on the Big Screen.
The numbers we dealt in were by now so vast that the few remaining physical goats were a financial irrelevance of purely historical interest, and, indeed, a source of slight embarrassment to the newly wealthy traders of goat derivatives. The vast new electronic Goat Exchange replaced the old, dung-stinking Central Goat Market, from which the last surviving obsolete goats were released to wander where they would.
Some missed the blood-soaked runway of the old system, the shouts of the traders, the roar of the engines and the shriek of the goats, but all acknowledged the increased efficiency of the new system. Often two full trade cycles could be executed in a day, doubling turnover. By the end of the year, Hargeisa contained fourteen thousand millionaires and UNICEF were running a paper profit of over a trillion dollars." He sighed.
"Then what happened?" I said.
A curious sorrow seemed to fill him. "Now that we were trading virtual goats, a peculiar lassitude began to sweep through the trading classes. Oh, certainly, paupers were becoming millionaires, and millionaires were soon billionaires by merely getting out of bed and showing their faces at the beautiful new Goat Exchange, but the heady joy of the early days had gone. The millionaires envied the Billionaires: While the Trillionaires feared the millionaires. Trade became vicious yet meaningless. Everyone was growing richer, yet somehow more anxious. Without a solid goat to give value to the figure, one's wealth only had meaning in relation to another's wealth, and was thus never enough. Someone, somewhere, always had another zero. On the day I became a billionaire, I felt poorer than when I had owned but a single goat. What could you do but trade more, trade harder? The social anxiety and sense of failure felt by the millionaires and billionaires in a city of trillionaires caused despair, self-harm, even suicide.
Trade went on all night now: men hardly slept, or saw their wives or families. They spoke of nothing but goats, yet had soon forgotten what the word goat had once referred to: many younger traders had never seen a goat.
Yet the new wealth was meritocratic: old money, in property or cocoa, or oil, was easily overtaken by that of young, brash goat traders who better understood these new rules.
Confused by all I had wrought, and by now so rich that there was no word in common use that could describe my wealth, I returned one day to the old Hargeisa airport runway, the site of my glorious notion. It was disused now, of course, for our wealthy nation had outgrown the source of its wealth. The transport of goats was no longer necessary, and we no longer needed aid. Our luxury goods arrived through the new, modern airport and electronic Goat Exchange on the far side of Hargeisa.
The long grass had spread from both edges to reclaim the old runway. And there I found, munching quietly, disregarded in the long grass of the abandoned airfield, two goats."
Nell and Mick, I thought to myself, and saw them clear as day before me. Though grumpy (I thought), they love each other. Mick nuzzled Nell. Nell kicked him.
"And what happened then?" I asked, as Mick mounted Nell in my mind.
Dr. Ibrahim Bihi sighed. "While I stared at the two goats I received a frantic call from my office: the arse had fallen out of it, and we had all lost everything. But who could have predicted that?"
"Who, indeed?" I said.
"The dream had ended, and it all went away. The luxuries, the money, the gleaming towers of steel and glass. The people lost faith in the system: good companies followed bad into ruin, for it turned out that those not trading goats had yet been corrupted by them. Envious of our billions, they had fiddled the figures and diddled the books. Now all that had seemed sane behaviour in the long dream of the bubble looked criminal madness in the cold light of day. Heroes of the goat market were fired, divorced, jailed for the very ambition and creativity that had made them heroes. All fell apart. The delicate fabric of society unravelled. Somaliland lay again in ruins. I again had nothing. It was as though it had never been... I cut a stout stick from the bushes, and slept at the edge of the runway to escape my hostile creditors, investigators, prosecutors."
"What did you do then?" I asked. "Poor, alone, and friendless, again, in poor Somaliland?"
"I had learned my lesson. I had heard that the US were conducting tank exercises, across the border in Djibouti. In Djibouti," said Dr. Ibrahim Bihi, "it is the custom to pay a man triple the market price if you accidentally kill his beast. I raised my stout stick, and drove my two goats North, before me, through the minefields. But that is another story."
Unregarded, it had begun to snow.
"Please," I said. "Tell me the story. I like stories."
In my mind, Mick got off Nell. Yes, in Spring, there would be a baby goat. A kid.
"Very well," said Dr. Ibrahim Bihi, and cleared his throat.
I closed my eyes, as the first flakes fell. Yes. I would call her Ethel.
Photo added by medeshi

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Somalia / Immigration : Press Release

(Medeshi)
Somalia / Immigration

MOGADISHU, Somalia, September 2, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General.

The UN refugee agency reports that 16 people have drowned in the Gulf of Aden over the weekend in two separate incidents involving smuggling boats sailing from Somalia.

Some 44 passengers were on board the first boat that capsized early Saturday night after the smugglers began to push the passengers overboard into the waters off the coast of Yemen. Thirty-four passengers made it to shore. Seven bodies were recovered and buried in a nearby cemetery by UNHCR’s local partner agency. On the second, it is believed that the smugglers, fearing detection by the Yemeni authorities, forced some 42 passengers to swim to shore. Thirty people made it but others reportedly drowned. In the past five days, a total of 17 boats carrying 835 people arrived in Yemen after making the perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa.

Still on Somalia, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that civilians continue to be the victims of heavy fighting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Some 3.8 million people — that is half the Somali population — are still in need of livelihood and humanitarian support. The situation is made worse for thousands of people by a drought crisis in the Mudug, Galgaduud, Hiraan and Bakool regions.
SOURCE
United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General
Posted in Somalia, UNITED NATIONS - ONU

Internal Criticism for Bureau of African Affairs

(Medeshi)
Internal Criticism for Bureau of African Affairs
by Scott A Morgan
While Most Advocates for African Issues and Pundits were focused on other things such as the Visit to Africa by Secretary Clinton and the Comprehensive Policy Review towards Sudan,an Internal Investigation by the State Department into the Bureau of African Affairs revealed some unique and chilling remarks.
What did this report reveal about what the Bureau that will be dealing with what will be the next test in US Foreign Policy? This Department is underfunded, facing staffing shortfalls, burdened with demands, has a public diplomacy program that in the words of the report is "failed", and has questions regarding the priorites of long term planning. Despite these shortcomings the report by the State Department Inspector General Praised the Work of the Bureau.
The evaluation into the Bureau took place between April 20th and June 9th of this year. It should be noted that Johnnie Carson who was nominated by President Obama to this post assumed this position while review was underway. Before Mr. Carson took over Philip Carter III was the acting Undersecretary. The review viewed that the time under the stewardship of Mr. Carter was a time of "renewal". The report sees Mr. Carson as a Strong Leader for this position.
Some of the lowlights that were also revealed in this report were that Several Unnamed Embassies have significant morale, staffing and leadership issues. There was also a lack of communication from the regional desks to the front office and disinterest in all posts but those that deal with Crisis Situations. All in all this does not bode well for the Secretary of State but could adversely affect decisions made by the President as well.
The Lack of foresight in planning affects several aspects of US African Policy. One glaring example was in Food Aid. Quoting the report" The United States feeds Africa,it is not focusing as it might (should) on helping Africans feed themselves." Another example was in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The US funds programs that focus more on medication than on prevention of the Spread of this Deadly Disease. The Main function of most humanitarian programs centered around PEPFAR and little if any resources were allocated for education and combating HIV/AIDS.
Another point of controversy is AFRICOM. This newest command of the US Military was resented by members of the Bureau. More often than not the reason was that the Military was getting More Money allocated to it then their State Department Counterparts. For Example A Military Information Support Team dealing with Somalia received $ 600,000 while the State Department got $ 30,000. It should be noted that the Military has resources that State either dreams about or resents. The IG also suggested that the Peacekeeping Training and Support Programs be transferred to AFRICOM if the funding does not increase.
The IG report found that AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act) has had margainal success due to several factors including poor infrastructure, lack of credit and not meeting the goal imposed by Washington. It also found that within the Bureau that Somalia is the hot button issue but in the grassroots here in the US the Militia Activites are a rising concern as well.
This report is a good news/bad news for the Administration. Africa does have high hopes and expectations of the President. The Military Command is better funded for some missions. Morale is low but the job is increasingly become more and more crucial on a daily basis. Nothing changes poor morale like having some successes. Clearly the State Department needs some when it comes to Africa.
The Author Comments on US Policy towards Africa and Publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet.

Puntland : Another banner pirate season


(Medeshi)
Another banner pirate season
The best efforts of the world’s navies and a fractured Somalia are unlikely to prevent it
By Alan Jamieson ( The Globe and Mail)
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Wednesday, Sep. 02, 2009 02:57AM EDT
In the religious wars that plagued Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, the aim was to achieve states confessing only one religion. In the nationalist conflicts that racked Europe from the late 18th to the mid-20th centuries, the aim was to achieve ethnic homogeneity.
Judged by these parameters, Somalia should be one of the world's most perfect states – 99 per cent of its population is Sunni Muslim and more than 90 per cent is ethnic Somali. Yet Somalia's reputation is as the world's No. 1 failed state. Clearly, religious and ethnic homogeneity are not enough to overcome humanity's perverse capacity to find differences worthy of slaughter.
Despite its apparent unities, Somalia's Sunnis come in a variety of hues, from the laxer pale green of some northern communities to the deep green of the south, which is home to the most extreme Islamists, currently led by al-Shabab. And while Somalis claim a common ethnicity that leads to demands for reunion with Somali populations in neighbouring countries such as Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, their primary loyalty is to competing clans. Even within the main clans, there are family groupings that find grounds for dispute.
The same contrast applies to piracy, the activity that accounts for most of Somalia's international attention at the moment. To many outsiders, Somalis seem like a monolithic nation of pirates, but the reality is much more complex, and worthy of examination as a new piracy season approaches.
Somali piracy is not a nationwide phenomenon. The self-declared state of Somaliland in the north has no pirate activity, while the Islamists in the centre and south of Somalia claim to be hostile to all piracy. The bandits are restricted to Puntland, the autonomous region in Somalia's northeast. The main pirate bases are on the Indian Ocean shore, with a few others on the Gulf of Aden.
These pirates have spent the monsoon season, when bad weather discourages them from going to sea, running down their stock of captured vessels by concluding ransom negotiations. Usually, the pirates have around a dozen captured vessels in their ports, but this has dwindled to five large ships – two Greek-owned, two German-owned and one Turkish-owned. The recent escape of two captured Egyptian fishing boats and their crews has been an embarrassment for the pirates, but this loss has been more than compensated by ransoms totalling at least $8-million (U.S.).
The monsoon season is now ending, and the pirates look forward to a new spate of attacks and captures. But will that happen? Are changes taking place on sea and land that might curb their activities?
The number of countries patrolling off Somalia continues to grow. The navies of the United States, Britain, France and Canada have long been active in the area, but they are now being joined by warships from a group that includes Turkey, Iran, India, Malaysia and South Korea. Even Japan has cleared constitutional obstacles to participating. Soon, as many as 40 warships and support vessels may be patrolling together.
The fact remains, however, that the areas to be patrolled remain immense, even with air support. If warships are concentrated on the Gulf of Aden, the pirates will strike north off Oman or south off the Seychelles. The pirates will undoubtedly find more warships hunting them this year, but their small, swift craft may continue slipping through to make captures.
It is usually said that the long-term solution lies not at sea, but on land. Piracy will be halted only when a stable national government is established in Somalia for the first time since 1991. However, this has been an elusive goal. The current Transitional Federal Government (TFG) rules only part of Mogadishu. It may be internationally recognized, but few Somalis pay it much heed.
To boost its power, Washington has obtained a special exemption from the United Nations Security Council to break the embargo against arms shipments to Somalia. Seventy tonnes of arms are to be supplied to the TFG, with training. Sadly, though, two of the trainers, from the French special forces, have already been kidnapped. And skeptics say most of the new arms will be stolen, captured or sold, ending up in the hands of al-Shabab and other armed groups.
The TFG has also appealed to neighbouring countries for troops. But since Ethiopia is unlikely to want to repeat its recent military intervention in Somalia, the appeal was largely aimed at Kenya and the Kenyans have declined. The small African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu has recently departed from its supposed neutrality by assisting TFG forces in clashes with al-Shabab, but even remandated and reinforced, it would be unlikely to be able to establish TFG authority in Mogadishu, let alone the entire country.
If the establishment of a true national government seems as far away as ever, recent developments in Puntland seem to point toward a further splintering of Somali political authority. Two pirate clans have been fighting each other at Harardhere, and there seems to be growing unrest that is undermining the regional government's already limited authority. Will this chaos undermine pirate activities, or increase it?
In any case, the chance of a land-based authority curbing piracy remains very remote. At sea, there will be more opposition than in the past, but the risk of capture will still be outweighed by the potential rewards. The pirates will not be much deterred in the coming season.
Alan Jamieson is author of Faith and Sword: A Short History of Christian-Muslim Conflict.

Somalia: conflict and drought compound civilians' woes


(Medeshi)
Somalia: conflict and drought compound civilians' woes
Nairobi/Geneva (ICRC) – The longstanding armed conflict in Somalia is taking a heavy toll on the country's population. Thousands of people continue to flee the hostilities in Mogadishu. They either find refuge with relatives or host families or look for shelter in makeshift camps. In cooperation with the Somali Red Crescent Society, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) completed a distribution last week of items such as blankets, kitchen sets, jerrycans, sleeping mats and clothes for 75,000 displaced people (IDPs) from Mogadishu in southern and central Somalia.
In the drought-affected Sool region, in the northern part of the country, 36,000 displaced people received a two-month ration of beans, rice and oil. In addition, 120,000 displaced people and residents in various parts of the country were given seed that will enable them to harvest tomatoes, onions, carrots and other vegetables in the upcoming months. The dire humanitarian situation is particularly difficult for children to bear.
"Somalia's children have never known what it is like to live in peace; armed violence has ravaged the country ever since they were born," said Dr Ahmed M. Hassan, the president of the Somali Red Crescent. "Although they have adapted their short lives to the situation, they deserve all the support they can get."
Thousands of children have to cope with the task of surviving in a hostile environment where there is a constant danger of being caught in crossfire. Child-care institutions across the country are doing their best to provide children with food, clothes and medical care, at a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult for civilians to contend with the deadly violence.
During the fasting month of Ramadan, the ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent are supplying various orphanages in Mogadishu and the Shabelle region with food. Around 5,800 children are receiving rice, flour, dates and oil. For Eid al fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, the orphans will receive clothes.
The ICRC has been working in Somalia since 1977. It focuses on providing emergency aid and restoring family links for people directly affected by armed conflict, often in combination with natural disasters, and runs extensive first-aid, basic health-care and other medical programmes to treat the wounded and sick.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Anti- Somaliland websites feast on Somaliland’s short comings.

(Medeshi)
Anti- Somaliland websites feast on Somaliland’s short comings.

Garowe On-line feasts on Somaliland political short comings through Meltwater and AllAfrica.com which has the publishing rights of Garowe.on-line news. Most of the articles in Meltwater come from Garowe Online which is owned by the son of the current Puntland president.
Garowe online openly denies Somaliland Sovereignty and considers Somaliland as part of Somalia. bGarowe Online starts any article about Somaliliand as = Somalia: the breakaway secessionist republic of Somaliland ....and more
Some of these articles are:
· Somalia: 'Fearful' Somaliland minister addresses crowd, police fire bullets
http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Fearful_Somaliland_minister_addresses_crowd_police_fire_bullets.shtml
· Somalia: Somaliland appoints fact-finding committee to resolve crisis
http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Somaliland_appoints_mediation_committee_to_resolve_crisis.shtml

· Somaliland troops 'seize parliament,' UK mediator arrives
http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Somaliland_troops_seize_parliament_UK_mediator_arrives.shtml

Plus endless other articles that are targeted towards the English speaking people around the globe.
There are also many partial websites within Somaliland that cater to the Somaliland adversary websites. Many of those are supporters of the opposition parties. These websites lack the ethics of writing as most of their writing touch the personalities of the political party leaders of Somaliland and are more in smear campaign then in disseminating genuine information. These website disregard the need to promote the interest of people in this young democracy and, therefore, resort to creating hatred and violence in order to achieve their ill-goals.
Somaliland has had enough of people who disguise themselves behind the current Internet Media age and put their personal gains before the public needs.
I t is about time that Somalilanders wake up and join defending their homeland through the media which is currently monopolized by those who are opponent to the independence of Somaliland .
Medeshi

Ethiopia’s ex-president accuses government of "pre-election harassment"

(Medeshi)
Ethiopia’s ex-president accuses government of "pre-election harassment"
Monday 31 August 2009
August 30, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — Only few months remaining for the national election to be held, Ethiopia’s former president and current parliamentarian Dr. Negasso Gidada accused the government of making situations impossible for opposition parties to carry out their pre-election campaigns by deliberately disrupting their public political meetings.
Dr Negasso has hold the Ethiopian government responsible for the recent disruption of a political meeting organized by an opposition party, Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ),in Adama town, Oromiya’s regional capital.
"The Mob was not a spontaneous disrupting group. There were some GPDO/EPRDF Cadres among the mob. I myself could recognize at least two government cadres with whom I worked in the organization before I resigned from it in June 2001. It is obvious that the disturbance was an organized one." Dr Negasso said.
The opposition MP says that The UDJ got permission from the local authorities to hold a public meeting. "The Municipality even rented its town hall to the UDJ."
But the town administration later forbid the UDJ from posting posters to the town and from going around in the town to announce about the meeting and invite the public to attend the meeting.
Several hundred residents of Adama and Ethiopian Social Democratic Party, Binyam of the South Coalition, Hadi of the Ethiopian Democratic Unity Movement, Siyye Abraha, former Defence Minister, (all members of the Forum for Democratic Dialogue) and the former president were there to attend the meeting as guests of honor.
According to sources collected from the opposition group, around 50 people started to disturb the meeting while Eng. Gizachew Shiferraw, vice chairperson of the UDJ was addressing the meeting.
The former president in his letter to the Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, in complaint to the disruption of the meeting said that he was disappointed that this happened in a country in which the regime claims that there is respect of the constitution, the law and order.
"This is so sad to see it happened in a state where the ruling party claims that there is democracy, the respect of democracy and human rights. In a country where the constitution provides the right of using any language, and where the members of the federation have promised to respect the federal constitution," he said.
Dr. Negasso said that as to him this is a clear indication that there is no pre-election leveled playground for political parties in Ethiopia.
"This confirms that the complaints of the opposition political parties that there is no democratic political space, is absolutely true."
"I call on all those who stand for the respect of democracy and human rights, for peace and stability of this country and for economic development of this country to do something today and not tomorrow" Dr. Negasso stressed.
Following the incident North American support groups for the opposition group, unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) organized a teleconference with the former president to discuss on the alleged harassment.
(ST)

Occupied Somalia : The Ogaden suffering part 2

(Medeshi)


Djibouti rebels claim to beat back troops


(Medeshi)
Djibouti rebels claim to beat back troops FRUD spokesman says at least four soldiers killed by rebels in weekend clash in Mablas region.
DJIBOUTI - A rebel group in Djibouti on Tuesday claimed that it had fought off a military attack, killing four soldiers and wounding 20 others in the weekend clash in the small Horn of Africa nation.
The ethnic Afar Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) said that on Sunday, troops had attacked a rebel position in the Mablas region, with two helicopter gunships in support.
But according to a statement signed by FRUD's envoy for external relations, Hassan Mokbel, the soldiers "were pushed back and had at least four dead in their ranks, while 20 were injured, some of whom were evacuated by helicopter."
The FRUD rebels sustained no casualties, the statement said.
There was no immediate official comment on the claims.
The FRUD, which comes from northern Djibouti, almost overturned the regime of President Hassan Gouled Aptidon at the beginning of the 1990s, and fights to protect Afar interests from domination by the Issas, the other major ethnic group in Djibouti.
A moderate wing of the FRUD signed a peace pact with the government in 1994 and joined the ruling coalition. The movement's historical leader, Ahmed Dini Ahmed, laid down arms in 2001 and has entered the political opposition.
Strategically located at the gateway to the Red Sea, the largely desert nation of half a million people houses France's biggest military base in Africa as well as the only US military base on the continent.
MEO

Somaliland: Dialogue, Discussion and Consensus: A winning formula

(Medeshi)
Somaliland: Dialogue, Discussion and Consensus: A winning formula
Ahmed Kheyre August 31, 2009
Talk about a load of clap-trap, a recent article in a certain anti-Somaliland website, funded by pirate ransom money states that Somaliland should re-consider viewing a changing Somalia. What changing Somalia? Why should the people of Somaliland even contemplate such a ludicrous proposition?
It is so delusional that it is borderline dementia. Where is the change in Somalia? A place rife with terrorist and warlords, awash with guns and drugs. A place in which its citizens are fleeing in their thousands, and more dying of starvation and living in fear. A place in which the so-called central authority controls only a few blocks of the capital. A place without law or order, without democracy. A place that has become a haven for pirates, brigands and terrorists. Are they serious?
The people of Somaliland have made their choice clear, and for those, growing fewer with each passing day, and at times, so hysterical they lose all sense of objectivity and argument, and point to every political issue in Somaliland, such as the recent disputes between the Somaliland political parties with regard to forth-coming Presidential elections slated for the September. Rest assured that the political leadership and the people of Somaliland will resolve these issues through dialogue, discussion and consensus, these hysterical opponents fall into silence, once again.

No sane Somalilanders would like to follow the anarchic examples of other parts of the region. The people of Somaliland are far too mature to squander their hard won sovereignty. The people of Somaliland will resolve any issues through dialogue, discussions and consensus. The elections will be held, and any transfer of power will be peaceful and orderly, in other words, it will be democratic.
The reality of Somaliland´s existence is that for nineteen year it has remained stable and democratic. Free of warlords, pirates, and the cancer of self-consumption that plagues other parts of the region.
Somaliland has withstood many challenges, so a few angry voices in the wilderness spouting the same, old failed policies is not a serious threat to its sovereignty, however, the people of Somaliland will respond to these naysayer through democratic principals, economic development, through peace and stability and by continuing to resolve all issues through dialogue, discussions and consensus.
Any political issues in Somaliland will be resolved peacefully, and once again, Somaliland's opponents will carry on using their own peculiar formula, of anarchy, destruction and death on their long suffering citizens. What a pity

Monday, August 31, 2009

Millions facing famine in Ethiopia as rains fail


(Medeshi)
August 30, 2009
Millions facing famine in Ethiopia as rains fail
The Independent
International aid agencies fear that the levels of death and starvation last seen 24 years ago, are set to return to the Horn of Africa. Paul Rodgers reports
The spectre of famine has returned to the Horn of Africa nearly a quarter of a century after the world's pop stars gathered to banish it at Live Aid, raising £150m for relief efforts in 1985. Millions of impoverished Ethiopians face the threat of malnutrition and possibly starvation this winter in what is shaping up to be the country's worst food crisis for decades.
Estimates of the number of people who need emergency food aid have risen steadily this year from 4.9 million in January to 5.3 million in May and 6.2 million in June. Another 7.5 million are getting aid in return for work on community projects, as part of the National Productive Safety Net Program for people whose food supplies are chronically insecure, bringing the total being fed to 13.7 million.
Donor countries provided sustenance to 12 million Ethiopians last year, more than half of it through the UN's World Food Programme (WFP). Having passed that total only eight months into this year, and with the main harvest already in doubt, aid agencies fear the worst is still to come. "We're extremely worried," said Howard Taylor, who heads the Department for International Development's office in Ethiopia. DfID has given £54m in aid to the country this year, and Britain has also contributed through the EU. "This is exactly the time when we shouldn't turn away from the people in need," he said.
"Critical water shortages" were reported in some areas by the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs last week with water-borne diseases such as acute diarrhoea spreading as communities resort to drinking from insanitary wells and ponds. Unicef said that the outbreaks are putting extra pressure on its Out-Patient Therapeutic Programme, which provides healthcare in some of the most needy areas.
In Somali, the hardest hit region with a third of the humanitarian caseload and complications caused by a low-intensity insurgency, the mortality rate for infants has risen above two per 10,000 per day according to a regional nutrition survey, which gives newborns roughly a one-third chance of dying before their fifth birthdays. While there is no clear definition, one widely used threshold for famine is four infant deaths per 10,000 per day.
Declaring a famine is a political decision. While it can galvanise public opinion and bring millions into aid programmes, it is widely seen as a political failure. President George Bush challenged his officials to avoid the word, a policy known as "No famine on my watch". Ethiopia's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission is charged with preventing famines of the 1984-85 type, the sort that bring down governments, argued Tufts University academics Sue Lautze and Angela Raven-Roberts in a 2004 paper.
Dismissing the warning signals, Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, said earlier this month that there was no danger of famine this year. And Berhanu Kebede, Ethiopia's ambassador to Britain, said at the weekend: "We are addressing the problem. Food is in the pipeline."
The main practical difference between a food crisis and a famine is whether enough aid arrives to keep the starving alive. So while the scope of the problem can be measured in the number of hungry people, the severity depends on the generosity of those in the rich world. And this year they have been miserly. Despite the promise of G8 leaders at their summit in L'Aquila, Italy, last month to provide $20bn (£12bn) to improve food security in poor countries, contributions have slumped dramatically this year as donor states have shifted priorities to supporting banks and stimulating their own economies. "The international community is not living up to its promise to the World Food Programme," Mr Kebede said.
The WFP had little trouble raising its $6bn budget last year, but in 2009 it has collected less than half of that. Its Ethiopian operation, which had $500m in 2008, is short $127m this year, equivalent to 167,000 tonnes of food. The Famine Early Warning Network forecast this month that the shortfall would reach 300,000 tonnes by December. Rations for the 6.2 million people receiving emergency food aid have, as a result, been slashed by a third from a meagre 15kg of cereals, beans and oil a month to just 10kg. Even if the shortfall were made up today, it would take three months for supplies to be loaded on to ships bound for Djibouti, then transferred to trucks for the arduous overland journey to land-locked Ethiopia.
Aid agencies are worried about the main harvest this autumn, arguing that the time for action is now, not when the food runs out in November - usually the driest month - let alone when starving children with distended bellies capture the attention of the West's television viewing public. Despite its good intentions, Bob Geldof's Live Aid came towards the end of the 1984-85 famine, which killed more than a million people. Since then, Ethiopia's population has doubled to 80 million.
Mr Zenawi's government has set up a strategic food reserve which has at times reached 500,000 tonnes - though it is currently thought to be just 200,000 tonnes - which it uses to speed up delivery. As soon as they get funds, aid agencies can borrow food from this reserve, replacing it with supplies from abroad when they arrive. Although the government could release this food without promises of replenishment, it would soon run out; after covering the WFP's 167,000 tonne shortfall, the stockpile would be barely enough to feed a million people for three months.
The underlying problem for Ethiopia is the erratic behaviour of the country's climate, or rather its regional micro-climates. Moisture-bearing clouds scudding in from the Indian Ocean can pass over the parched eastern lowlands to dump generous amounts of rain on the fertile western highlands. The famine of 1984-85, revealed by BBC reporter Michael Buerk, was actually two separate famines, one in Tigray, in the north, the other in Somali, in the south-east.
Two main rains sustain the people of Ethiopia, the belg in spring and the kiremt, which usually start in July. Both are influenced by variations in sea-surface temperature. The El Niño phenomena in the eastern Pacific usually bring droughts to Ethiopia, and America's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the current El Niño will strengthen over the next six months. The belg has failed for two years running now, while the kiremt started three weeks late this summer and the amount of rainfall when they did come was below normal. Aid agencies fear that the season could end early, or, equally bad, produce delayed downpours just when farmers need dry weather for the harvest. Even if the kiremt ends on time in October, some crops may not reach maturity because of the late planting.
Ethiopia is overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture, and some 90 per cent of its crops are watered by nature rather than by man-made irrigation systems. During droughts, farmers and nomadic herders tend to sell off their assets to buy food, leaving them with nothing when the next growing season begins. It can take three to five years for pastoral tribes to rebuild their herds.
Although Ethiopia is particularly hard hit, drought has also affected neighbouring countries. Resources in Somali are under additional strain because nomadic tribesmen from Somalia and Kenya have driven unusually large numbers of cattle across the border in search of water and pasture. Estimates of the number of cattle coming into the country range from 95,000 to 200,000.
The spike in global food prices in 2008 exacerbated a worsening situation, hitting the urban poor particularly hard. While they have fallen back this year, the price for grains in the markets of Adis Ababa are still some 50 per cent higher than their average in the four years to 2007.
The Ethiopian government is acutely aware of the danger of famine, not least to itself. Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed a year after the 1973 famine and the Derg military junta led by Lt Col Mengistu Haile Mariam was overthrown in 1991 after a civil war driven in part by the 1984-85 famine. While most other countries with food shortages allow charities to distribute food, Ethiopia's government insists that the bulk of food aid must pass through its hands.
The irony is that the Zenawi regime has done a reasonable job of boosting food production, achieving self-sufficiency in the late 1990s. One agency described it as the "bread basket" of Africa, harvesting more grain in a good year than South Africa. The government promotes best practices and distributes fertiliser to farmers. It also has an ambitious scheme to relocate 2.2 million people to more fertile areas. But even it can't control the rains.
Many Africans blame climate change for the erratic weather patterns and resulting food shortages. Jean Ping, the chairman of the African Union, said last week in Adis Ababa: "Although Africa is least responsible for global warming, it suffers most from a problem it didn't create."

Occupied Somalia: Ogaden suffering under the Ethiopian regime (Video)

(Medeshi)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In Somalia, troops for peace end up at war


Medeshi
In Somalia, troops for peace end up at war
African Union soldiers contend with a vague and underfunded mission with no cease-fire to enforce. Among the troops who have died, some apparently succumbed to illness due to malnutrition.
By Edmund Sanders
August 29, 2009
Reporting from Mogadishu, Somalia
When a mystery illness swept through the African Union peacekeeping mission here, killing six soldiers and sickening dozens, doctors were stumped.
With help from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they ruled out swine flu, tropical infection, rat-borne bacteria and even deliberate poisoning, as claimed by Somalia's insurgents.
But the culprit, doctors fear, is just as alarming: beriberi, a vitamin-deficiency disorder typically seen only in famines. Simply put, African Union soldiers appear to have died from a form of malnutrition.
It's the starkest example yet of how the mission in Somalia, which is authorized by the United Nations and largely funded by Washington, has become one of the most dangerous, yet least supported, peacekeeping operations in the world.
More than two years after the AU launched its effort to try to turn around this Horn of Africa nation, only 5,000 of the pledged 8,000 troops are on the ground, nearly all from Uganda and Burundi. Experts say even the full 8,000 would be half of what's really needed.
Though the new commander says he is intent on taking a tougher stance against insurgents who have growing ties to Al Qaeda, his force covers only about 8 square miles -- roughly one-third of Mogadishu, an area that includes the capital's airport, seaport and a cluster of buildings around the presidential palace that are occupied by the weak, internationally backed government.
The mission's projected $800-million-a-year budget has never been fully funded, with the U.S. contributing about $200 million this year. Funding shortfalls have forced commanders to depend also on donations, such as the new hospital building paid for by Britain and food rations from the U.N.
U.N. missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the western Sudanese region of Darfur each have four times as many troops, even though Somalia is the only operation in Africa where peacekeepers are routinely targeted by insurgents with mortars, roadside bombs and suicide attackers. Also, unlike other missions, there is no cease-fire agreement or U.N.-brokered treaty to enforce.
"How do you do a peacekeeping mission in a place that has no peace?" asked Maj. Anthony Lukwago, an AU commander from Uganda.
At a hillside AU outpost along Mogadishu's craggy coastline, soldiers have learned to improvise. They aim their 120-millimeter mortars using three sticks in the dirt, capped with upturned old cigarette packs marking the direction of insurgent strongholds miles away. Only recently did soldiers receive upgraded flak jackets and armored personnel carriers capable of withstanding the kind of roadside bombs they face.
On the campus of Mogadishu University, now serving as headquarters for Burundi's contingent, soldiers face roadside bombs virtually every time they leave the base. Nevertheless, they can't get basic bomb-detection devices to sweep the streets or equipment to defuse the bombs.
Their solution? Drive fast and travel at irregular hours, according to Brig. Gen. Prime Niyongabo, commander of the Burundian contingent.
"There is so much we need," he said.
Erin Weir, a peacekeeping advocate with Refugees International, credited the AU presence with preventing Somalia's transitional government from being chased out of the country altogether, but added that the worsening security situation has altered the character of the mission. "What they are doing is not peacekeeping," she said. "It's more a military task."
It's little surprise that the mission has become one of the deadliest in Africa. Thirty-three AU soldiers have been killed, mostly by roadside bombs. Eleven of these troops died in a suicide truck attack this year. An additional 20 have succumbed to malaria and other diseases, AU officials said, including last month's suspected beriberi outbreak
Most of those sickened were recovering thanks to vitamin B1 injections, according to AU doctor James Kiyengo. That treatment was followed by preventive thiamine supplements for all soldiers and a reexamination of meal plans. Soldiers complain that the mission supplies them with meat just two or three times a week, no eggs and only rarely fresh vegetables. Commanders said they hadn't come to a conclusion as to what caused the illness.
The peacekeeping mission has also grappled with a vague, ill-fitting mandate that tightly restricts troops' ability to combat insurgents, who scarcely existed when the mission started. The mandate calls for the AU to protect the government and its institutions. Safeguarding Somalia's beleaguered civilians, half of whom survive on international aid, is not part of its responsibility.
As a result, the mission, known as AMISOM, is frequently dismissed as weak and ineffective. "If they are going to hide behind their sandbags while people are suffering, they should go back home and enjoy a glass of wine," said Mahdi Ibrahim, 23, a frustrated Mogadishu resident.
AU officials have attempted to court public opinion by sharing their water supply with neighbors and opening their clinics to the public.
But officials said the mission's mandate mainly permits self-defense. Insurgents "could have a party in front of our gate and we couldn't do anything unless they attacked us first," said Maj. Barigye Ba-Hoku, the mission's spokesman.
Speaking at AU headquarters inside a whitewashed, bombed-out mansion overlooking the Indian Ocean, Ba-Hoku said insurgents use the AU's mandate and rules of engagement against it. For instance, he said, they often fire mortar shells from residential neighborhoods because they know AU troops won't fire back at civilian areas.
He said that once a busload of insurgents disguised as civilians approached an AU base, singing as if members of a wedding party. As they left the vehicle, they drew guns and attacked.
Soldiers say they've grown tired of being on the defensive -- and of the criticism that comes with it. Many are itching for a fight.
"We could overrun Mogadishu in no time at all," Lukwago said, noting that the AU force is the only one in Somalia with tanks, Katyusha rockets and long-range mortars. The troops' foes, he added, "are not military guys."
"They are a bunch of boys. They are not trained."
Until recently, AU political leaders and the U.N. resisted requests by AU military commanders that their troops be allowed to go on the offensive, fearing such a move would only escalate the violence and allow insurgents to taint the soldiers as "foreign invaders."
But the newly arrived force commander, Ugandan Maj. Gen. Nathan Mugisha, said he had received a green light to get tougher. "We can preempt," he said. "We don't have to be like sitting ducks, waiting to be beaten like a drum."
In an instance of the new approach, AU troops last month responded to an insurgent attack on the presidential palace by engaging for the first time in a sustained street battle, pushing the insurgents back more than four miles. It was the farthest AU troops had fought beyond their zone.
Two weeks ago, in a show of force, an AU convoy patrolled through an insurgent stronghold, drawing fire. No one was hurt.
Somalia's president, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, is encouraging the AU to jump into the fight, saying operations against insurgents are justified under the mission's mandate to support the government.
"Mogadishu is the seat of the government and it should be free of insurgents," Ahmed said in an interview at Villa Somalia, the heavily guarded presidential palace. "There are many different forms of self-defense. Preemptive defensive action can be taken."
Ahmed said the AU's positions in the capital have allowed his army, which is really a collection of allied militias, to take its battle to different parts of the country. In recent weeks, government forces have made headway near the Ethiopian border.
But analysts worry that unless more international support is forthcoming, the AU force will become overstretched. Michael Weinstein, a Purdue University political science professor, blamed Somalia's limbo on the international community's hesitance.
"The West has been reluctant to go full throttle, and they've ended up with a wishy-washy policy," he said. "Meanwhile, AMISOM is stranded. They're stuck in a box."

African soldiers in Somalia may have died from vitamin deficiency

Medeshi
African soldiers in Somalia may have died from vitamin deficiency
By Edmund Sanders
Los Angeles Times
Published: Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009
MOGADISHU, Somalia — When a mystery illness swept through the African Union peacekeeping mission here, killing six soldiers and sickening dozens, doctors were stumped.
With help from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they ruled out swine flu, tropical infection, rat-borne bacteria and even deliberate poisoning, as claimed by Somalia's insurgents.
But the culprit, doctors fear, is just as alarming: beriberi, a vitamin-deficiency disorder typically only seen in famines. Simply put, African Union soldiers appear to have died of a form of malnutrition.
It's the starkest example yet of how the mission in Somalia, which is authorized by the United Nations and largely funded by Washington, has become one of the most dangerous, yet least supported, peacekeeping operations in the world.
More than two years after the AU launched its effort to try to turn around this Horn of Africa nation, only 5,000 of the pledged 8,000 troops are on the ground, nearly all from Uganda and Burundi. Experts say even the full 8,000 would be half of what's really needed.
While the new commander says he is intent on taking a tougher stance against insurgents who have growing ties to al-Qaida, his force only covers about eight square miles — roughly one-third of Mogadishu, an area that includes the capital's airport, seaport and a cluster of buildings around the presidential palace that are held by the weak, internationally backed government.
The mission's projected $800-million-a-year budget has never been fully funded, with the U.S. contributing about $200 million this year. Funding shortfalls have forced commanders to depend also on donations, such as the new hospital building paid for by Britain and food rations from the U.N.
U.N. missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the western Sudanese region of Darfur have four times as many troops, even though Somalia is the only operation in Africa where peacekeepers are routinely targeted by insurgents with mortars, roadside bombs and suicide attackers. Also, unlike other missions, there is no cease-fire agreement or U.N.-brokered treaty to enforce.
"How do you do a peacekeeping mission in a place that has no peace?" asked Maj. Anthony Lukwago, an AU commander from Uganda.
At a hillside AU outpost along Mogadishu's craggy coastline, soldiers have learned to improvise. They aim their 120-millimeter mortars using three sticks in the dirt, capped with upturned old cigarette cartons marking the direction of insurgent strongholds miles away. Only recently did soldiers receive upgraded flak jackets and armored personnel carriers capable of withstanding the kind of roadside bombs they face.
On the campus of Mogadishu University, now serving as headquarters for Burundi's contingent, soldiers face roadside bombs virtually every time they leave the base. Nevertheless, they can't get basic bomb-detection devices to sweep the streets or deactivation equipment to defuse the bombs.
Their solution? Drive fast and travel at irregular hours, according to Brig. Gen. Prime Niyongabo, commander of the Burundian contingent.
"There is so much we need," he said.
Erin Weir, a peacekeeping advocate with Refugees International, credited the AU presence with preventing Somalia's transitional government from being chased out of the country altogether, but added that the worsening security situation has altered the character of the mission. "What they are doing is not peacekeeping," she said. "It's more a military task."
It's little surprise that the mission has become one of the deadliest in Africa. Thirty-three AU soldiers have been killed, mostly by roadside bombs. Eleven of these troops died in a suicide truck attack this year. An additional 20 have succumbed to malaria and other diseases, AU officials said, including last month's suspected beriberi outbreak
Most of those sickened were recovering thanks to vitamin B1 injections, according to AU doctor James Kiyengo. That treatment was followed by preventive thiamine supplements for all soldiers and a re-examination of meal plans. Soldiers complain that the mission supplies them with meat just two or three times a week, no eggs and only rarely fresh vegetables. Commanders said they hadn't come to a final conclusion about what caused the illness.
The peacekeeping mission has also grappled with a vague, ill-fitting mandate that tightly restricts troops' ability to combat insurgents, who scarcely existed when the mission started. The mandate calls for the AU to protect the government and its institutions. Safeguarding Somalia's beleaguered civilians, half of whom survive on international aid, is not part of its responsibility.
As a result, the mission, known as AMISOM, is frequently dismissed as weak and ineffective.
"If they are going to hide behind their sandbags while people are suffering, they should go back home and enjoy a glass of wine," said Madhi Ibrahim, 23, a frustrated Mogadishu resident.
AU officials have attempted to court public opinion by sharing their water supply with neighbors and opening their clinics to the public.
But officials said the mission's mandate mainly permits self-defense. Insurgents "could have a party in front of our gate and we couldn't do anything unless they attacked us first," said Maj. Barigye Ba-Hoku, the mission's spokesman.
From the AU headquarters inside a white-washed, bombed-out mansion overlooking the Indian Ocean, Ba-Hoku said insurgents use the AU's mandate and rules of engagement against it. For instance, they often fire mortar shells from residential neighborhoods because they know AU won't fire back at civilian areas.
One time, a busload of insurgents disguised as civilians approached an AU base, singing as if they were part of a wedding party. As they disembarked, they drew guns and attacked.
Soldiers say they've grown tired of being on the defensive — and the criticism that comes with it. Many are itching for a fight.
"We could overrun Mogadishu in no time at all," Lukwago said, noting that the African Union force is the only one in Somalia with tanks, Katyusha rockets and long-range mortars. Their foes, he added, "are not military guys. They are a bunch of boys. They are not trained."
Until recently, political leaders at the AU and the United Nations resisted requests by AU commanders to go on the offensive. Many fear such a move would only escalate the violence and allow insurgents to taint the soldiers as "foreign invaders."
But newly arrived force commander, Ugandan Gen. William Ward, said he received a green light to get tougher. "We can pre-empt," he said. "We don't have to be like sitting ducks, waiting to be beaten like a drum."
In an example of the new approach, AU troops last month responded to an insurgent attack on the presidential palace by engaging for the first time in a sustained street battle, pushing insurgents back more than four miles. It was the farthest AU troops had fought outside of their zone.
Two weeks ago, in a show of force, an AU convoy patrolled through an insurgent-stronghold, drawing fire. No one was hurt.
Somalia's president, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, is encouraging the AU to jump into the fight, saying operations against insurgents are justified under the mission's mandate to support the government.
"Mogadishu is the seat of the government, and it should be free of insurgents," Ahmed said in an interview at Villa Somalia, the heavily-guarded presidential palace. "There are many different forms of self-defense. Pre-emptive defensive action can be taken."
(Optional add end)
Ahmed said the AU's positions in the capital have allowed his army, which is really a collection of allied militias, to take its battle to different parts of the country. In recent weeks, government forces have made headway near the Ethiopian border.
But analysts worry that unless more international support is coming, the AU force will be overstretched. Michael Weinstein, a Purdue University political science professor, blamed Somalia's limbo on the international community's hesitance.
"The West has been reluctant to go full-throttle, and they've ended up with a wishy-washy policy," he said. "Meanwhile, AMISOM is stranded. They're stuck in a box."