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Friday, October 2, 2009

Somaliland: Is democracy failing?

(M e d e s h i)
Somaliland: Is democracy failing?
Somaliland has been a beacon of democracy in East Africa and the Horn since 1991. Recent developments, however, are beginning to raise serious questions about its future among persons such as myself who have admired its success in building democracy.
The constitutionally-mandated term for the current president and vice president ended in May 2008. Because Somaliland was not ready to hold elections at that time, the upper house of Parliament voted to extend the presidential term to May 2009. A number of developments conspired to delay the elections even further. The future is cloudy.
Michael Walls , co-coordinator of the international election observation for the Somaliland presidential election and lecturer at University College London, published a thoughtful analysis titled "Somaliland: Democracy Treatened" in September 2009.
The piece is about the increasingly serious situation in Somaliland. Walls notes that while the constitutional dilemma is a fundamental component of the impasse, widespread doubt over the technical ability of the National Electoral Commission to organize a free and fair election is also a key problem.
Walls concludes that if the government and opposition parties do not compromise and reach agreement soon, Somaliland faces a real possibility of "instability and a more authoritarian governance system." This would be a serious setback to both the residents of Somaliland and to the region generally.
Posted by Amb. David H. Shinn
Labels: Chatham House, Somaliland

Why Do Ethiopians Eat So Much Raw Meat?


(M e d e s h i)
Why Do Ethiopians Eat So Much Raw Meat?
Posted by Tim Carman on Oct. 2, 2009
You likely know about kitfo, the finely chopped beef mixed with spiced Ethiopian butter and served with awaze or a berbere spice blend or fresh crumbled cheese. (Or perhaps all three at once.) If you’re lucky — and don’t look like a total Anglo wimp — the Ethiopian restaurant at which you’ve ordered kitfo will serve it to you raw. If you do look like a total Anglo wimp (and I’m looking at you in the mirror, my man), you will have to practically beg to have it served raw.

Kitfo, of course, isn’t the only raw meat offered in Ethiopian cooking (or non-cooking). There’s also tere saga, sometimes known as kurt, but that is much harder to find in U.S. Ethiopian restaurants. I’ve only seen it at Abay Market and Meaza. But back in Ethiopia, tere sega is considered a traditional ceremonial dish, often seen at weddings.
I mention these two dishes as prelude to a question I hadn’t thought about until this week: Why do Ethiopians eat so much raw meat? The question was raised to me by Jabriel Ballentine, a native of the Virgin Islands who’s doing some consulting work for Almaz on U Street. He knew the answer.
He tells me that raw meat was a war-time invention in Ethiopia — or perhaps “necessity” is a better word, given that troops that cooked their meats were sniffed out by the enemy and slaughtered in their sleep. Ballentine said the troops finally learned it was the smell of roasting meats, and the smoke from their fires, that gave them away. Raw meat, then, was an act of self-preservation.
Or at least it was a century or centuries ago. Ballentine couldn’t remember exactly which war inspired the raw-meat cuisine.
But sometimes Ballentine likes to tease his Ethiopian friends. “The war is over now,” he’ll tell them. “We can cook the meat now.”
Just to double-check this tale, I consulted Marcus Samuelsson’s excellent cookbook, The Soul of a New Cuisine. There, on page 295, is a recipe for “steak tartare.” (I guess when you’re a celebrity chef with a book to sell to America, you prefer fine-dining terms over those icky foreign words.)
The first sentence of Samuelsson’s recipe for kitfo reads: “Legend has it that kitfo — the Ethiopian Steak Tartare that inspired this recipe — came about during one of the many wars between the Christian Gurage and the Muslims, when the Gurages were hiding out in the mountains and needed to develop quick-cooking meals they could prepare without attracting attention from big, smoking fires.”
There’s either some truth here or a wonderful Ethiopian myth.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Somaliland takes steps towards peace and success

(M e d e s h i)
UN- Somaliland takes steps towards peace and success
Source: United Nations
Posted on: 2nd October 2009
The top United Nations envoy to Somalia today congratulated officials in the Republic of Somaliland for striking an agreement to end a stalemate on delayed presidential elections.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, hailed the parties for taking a “courageous step towards a peaceful and successful outcome to the impasse that had characterized their political life of late.”
The Memorandum of Understanding signed by officials, he said, is a “step in the right direction” which should result in a free and fair plebiscite.
The agreement is a “testament to the Somalilanders’ tradition of resolving internal conflict peacefully as well as a credit to the public officials who understand their role as civil servants,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah noted.
It should also encourage all Somalis to achieve peace through dialogue, compromise and tolerance, he stressed.
“Violence will never achieve what peaceful dialogue can.”

Saudis: Wahabists or descendants of the companions

(M e d e s h i)
Turki Al-Dakheel Al-Watan
When foreign workers first come to Saudi Arabia, they consider us the descendants of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), that we are the best of God’s creatures and we are immune from any vice.
This optimistic outlook soon changes when there comes a conflict with the worker’s sponsor, or with the sponsor’s devilish sons, or with the neighbors throwing tomatoes and rotten eggs at them. These workers see the “descendants of the companions” — old and young alike — beating cats with sticks and shoes.
This makes the poor foreign laborers change their bright views of us. Before arriving in our country, they harbor a notion that they are coming to a nation that won’t inflict upon them injustices; a nation that is pure and unpretentious.
With the advent of modern technology, like the Internet or Bluetooth, the descendants of the companions have been exposed. In the past, people never talked about the crimes of rape and sexual harassment, but today we read and hear about these crimes every day. This shows that we are no different from any other society. Like other societies in the world, we have our ups and downs.
A study recently conducted by professor Abdullah Al-Rasheed about “virtue in Saudi society” concluded that about 70 percent of the messages circulated among youths contain pornographic content. The study also found that the memory cards of the mobile phones confiscated from Saudi teens were replete with shameful and violent scenes. Furthermore, a report by the Commission to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice purports Saudis constituted about 56.8 percent of morality infractions discovered by the moral authorities. This is a far cry from a virtuous society pretending to be pure and innocent!
The title “descendants of the companions” echoes back to a time when the title was bestowed on the Saudis by Asians before they came to experience or witness the dark underbelly of the society. With this revelation the foreign worker has bestowed a new nickname on the Saudi: “That guy with a lot of money.”
I think we need to be more humble and reform our reputation. The figures mentioned by professor Al-Rasheed in his study were not his own invention. He took them from government departments.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ottawa to pressure Ethiopia to release Canadian


(M e d e s h i)
Oct 01, 2009
Debra Black
Staff Reporter
Minister of Transportation John Baird hopes to go to Ethiopia later this month to pressure the Ethiopian government to release a Canadian citizen who is serving a life sentence there.
Bashir Makhtal, who was convicted in August of being a member of a separatist group and engaging in an armed struggle against the Ethiopian government, is an ethnic Somali born in Ethiopia's Ogaden region. The former Torontonian was arrested more than two and a half years ago. He and his family here have always maintained his innocence.
Baird said he has been increasingly frustrated by the case and the government's many attempts to meet with senior Ethiopian officials both in New York during the UN meetings last week and in Addis Ababa.
He has attempted to go to Ethiopia and meet with officials there on several occasions, but his trip has repeatedly been postponed because senior officials were unable to meet with him. "I'm frustrated," said Baird. "Bashir's family is frustrated. We need to step it up a notch and take the case directly to senior officials in Addis Ababa."
Baird said he has applied for a visa to travel to Ethiopia and hopes to fly there during the Parliamentary break after Thanksgiving weekend. Baird said he respects the fact Ethiopia is an independent country, but the Ethiopian government must understand for the Canadian government this case continues to be an "important priority."
"I'm prepared to take the case to Addis Ababa directly on behalf of the government and the people of Canada," Baird said. "He's (Makhtal) a Canadian and there is no evidence he has done a thing wrong and his government is standing behind him 100 per cent. We'll keep up the fight for Bashir. We're not going away on this. My desire to go to Ethiopia underlines the priority the government gives the case. We consider Ethiopia a friend and we want to make the case directly to that friend."
Baird's comments come just before a news conference that took place this morning on Parliament Hill with Bashir Makhtal's cousin Said, representatives from Amnesty International, the NDP, and Bashir Makhtal's Canadian lawyer Lorne Waldman.
The group plans to plead for direct intervention in the case from the Prime Minister of Canada. Said Makhtal – while appreciative of Baird's repeated attempts to help his cousin and other efforts by government representatives such as Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Deepak Obhrai and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon – is also frustrated by what he sees as a lack of action.
"I've been getting all kinds of promises that our government is doing the best it can ...but I would like to see some results from that. We have given enough time to the Ethiopian government to settle the case. I want Prime Minister Stephen Harper to bring my cousin back to Canada. The government admits it's a wrongful conviction. What are we waiting for? I'm asking the government of Canada to forcefully request the release of my cousin. I believe the pressure has to come from the Prime Minister of Canada."

Mad Mullah : It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

(M e d e s h i)
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
How Somalia's legendary 'Mad Mullah' prefigured the rise of Osama bin Laden—and the 'forever war' between Islam and the West.
By Jeffrey Bartholet NEWSWEEK
Published Oct 1, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Oct 12, 2009
At Dul Madoba, which means Black Hill in Somali, a jihadist known to his enemies as the Mad Mullah enjoyed a great victory in 1913. It is a place and a moment of legend in these parts, but the site remains as it was, a wilderness of thorn bushes and termite mounds. No heroic memorial marks the spot. No restored ruin, no sturdy plinth holding up a statue. The place is venerated in other ways.
Every Somali with an education knows what happened here, back when the area was a protectorate ruled by British authorities. Some have memorized verses of a classic Somali poem written by the mullah. The gruesome ode is addressed to Richard Corfield, a British political officer who commanded troops on this dusty edge of the empire. The mullah instructs Corfield, who was slain in battle, on what he should tell God's helpers on his way to hell. "Say: 'In fury they fell upon us.'/Report how savagely their swords tore you."
The mullah urges Corfield to explain how he pleaded for mercy, and how his eyes "stiffened" with horror as spear butts hit his mouth, silencing his "soft words." "Say: 'When pain racked me everywhere/Men lay sleepless at my shrieks.' " Hyenas eat Corfield's flesh, and crows pluck at his veins and tendons. The poem ends with a demand that Corfield tell God's servants that the mullah's militants "are like the advancing thunderbolts of a storm, rumbling and roaring."
They rumbled and roared for two full decades. The British launched five military expeditions in the Horn of Africa to capture or kill Muhammad Abdille Hassan, and never succeeded (though they came close). British officers had superior firepower, including the first self-loading machine gun, the Maxim. But the charismatic mullah knew his people and knew the land: he hid in caves, and crossed deserts by drinking water from the bellies of dead camels. "I warn you of this," he wrote in one of many messages to his British foes. "I wish to fight with you. I like war, but you do not." The sentiment would be echoed almost a century later, in Osama bin Laden's 1996 declaration of war against the Americans: "These [Muslim] youths love death as you love life."
History doesn't really repeat itself, but it can feed on itself, particularly in this part of the world. Sagas of past jihads become inspirations for new wars, new vengeance, until the continuum of violence can seem interminable. In the Malakand region of northwest Pakistan, where the Taliban today has been challenging state power, jihadists fought the British at the end of the 19th century. In Waziristan, a favored Qaeda hideout, the Faqir of Ipi waged jihad against the British in the 1930s and '40s. Among the first to take on the British in Africa was Muhammad Ahmad, the self-styled "Mahdi," or redeemer, whose forces killed and beheaded Gen. Charles George Gordon at Khartoum. But no tale more closely tracks today's headlines, and shows the uneven progress of the last century, than that of Muhammad Abdille Hassan.
His story sheds light on what is now called the "forever war," the ongoing battle of wills and ideologies between governments of the West and Islamic extremists. There's no simple lesson here, no easy formula to bend history in a new direction. It's clear, even to many Somalis, that the mullah was brutal and despotic, and that his most searing legacy is a land of hunger and ruin. But he's also admired—for his audacity, his fierce eloquence, his stubborn defiance in the face of a superior power. Among Somalis, the mullah's sins are often forgiven because he was fighting an occupier, a foreign power that was in his land imposing foreign values. It is a sentiment that is shared today by those Muslims who give support to militants and terrorists, and one the West would do well to better understand.
The Rise of the MullahMuhammad Abdille Hassan was slightly over six feet tall, with broad shoulders and intense eyes. Somalis called him Sayyid, or "Master." (They still do.) He got much of his religious training in what is now Saudi Arabia, where he studied a fundamentalist brand of Islam related to the Wahhabi teachings that have inspired Al Qaeda.
Stories abound about how he came to be called the Mad Mullah. According to one popular version, when he returned to the Somali port of Berbera in 1895, a British officer demanded customs duty. The Sayyid brusquely asked why he should be paying a foreigner to enter his own country. Other Somalis asked the Brit to pay the man no mind—he was just a crazy mullah. The name stuck.
Many Somalis would come to think him mad in another sense—that he was touched by God. "He was very charismatic," says historian Aw Jama Omer Issa, who is 85 years old and interviewed many of the Sayyid's followers before they died off. "Whenever you came to him, he would overwhelm you. You would lose your senses…To whomever he hated, he was very cruel. To those he liked, he was very kind." His forces wore distinctive white turbans and called themselves Dervishes.
The first British officer to hunt the mullah and attempt to crush his insurgency was Lt. Col. Eric Swayne, a dashing fellow who had previously been on safari to Somaliland, hunting for elephant and rhino, kudu and buffalo. He was dispatched from India, and brought with him an enterprising Somali who had once worked as a bootblack polishing British footwear. Musa Farah would serve one British overlord after another. He would gain power, wealth, and influence beyond anything he could have imagined, including a sword of honor from King Edward VII.
Swayne's orders were to accept nothing short of unconditional surrender. For intelligence he relied on Dervish prisoners, who sometimes gave him false information. "We were in extremely dense bush, so I decided to move on very slowly, hoping to find a clearing, which was confidently reported by prisoners," Swayne wrote in one after-action report. But the bush only became thicker. Soon the Dervishes were advancing from all sides. Men and beasts fell all around, as great shouts of "Allah! Allah!" rang out. Somali "friendlies" panicked and fell back. Pack animals stampeded—"a thousand camels with water tins and ammunition boxes jammed against each other…scattering their loads everywhere."
The British faced an enemy "who offered no target for attack, no city, no fort, no land…in short, there was no tangible military objective," wrote Douglas Jardine, who served in the Somaliland Protectorate from 1916 to 1921 and later wrote a history of the conflict. One defeat was so humiliating that some British soldiers imagined they had seen a "white man" among the Dervishes—how else could these "natives" be inflicting so much pain? At times, the British coordinated with forces from Christian Ethiopia in an attempt to trap the mullah. The Dervishes were able to avoid capture by crossing the border into Italy's colonial territory to the south.
A Mouthful of SpitSomali jihadists engage in a similar type of war today. The Qaeda-connected group Al-Shabab, based in the area that was once colonized by Italy, targets Somali land to the north. On Oct. 29 of last year, six suicide bombers hit the Ethiopian trade mission, a United Nations office, and the presidential headquarters in Hargeisa, killing at least 25 people. A few of the plotters were later captured and are being held at a 19th-century prison in Berbera, along with others convicted of terrorist attacks.
When I visited the Berbera prison recently, the warden told me the militants wouldn't see visitors. The guards didn't want trouble. "These men are serving life sentences and have nothing to lose," said one. "They don't give a damn." Finally the warden agreed to let a Somali colleague and me walk past the barred cell, which housed all 11 of the men. It was part of a decrepit free-standing building that stood in the center of a dirt compound.
We could see figures in the shadows behind the bars. I asked from a distance if anyone spoke Arabic. One bearded man emerged and said with a smile (in Arabic), "Accept God's word, and you'll be safe." Another prisoner, older and larger, told him to shut up, then shouted in our direction: "Get lost, dog," and blew a mouthful of spit. Our guards hurried us away. My Somali interpreter said later that the spitting prisoner was known as Indho Cade, or "White Eyes," and was serving life for shooting an Italian aid worker in the head.
The Islamist radicals see parallels between their struggle and the war waged by the Sayyid. Osama bin Laden's "enemies may call him a terrorist," one top Shabab militant told a NEWSWEEK reporter in 2006, defending the Qaeda leader. It is "something that exists in the world"—a form of infidel propaganda—"to name someone a terrorist, [just] as the British colonialists called the Somali hero Muhammad Abdille Hassan the Mad Mullah."
The militants have sometimes used the mullah's words as a rallying cry. During the American intervention in Mogadishu in the early 1990s, pamphlets appeared in the city with a copy of the Sayyid's poem to Richard Corfield. "Say: 'My eyes stiffened as I watched with horror;/The mercy I implored was not granted.' " It's impossible to gauge the impact the poem had on the thinking of Somali fighters. What is known is that sometime later, militants dragged the nearly naked bodies of American soldiers through the streets, images that were captured on camera and beamed back to the United States.
In an age before television, the Internet, and streaming video, the mullah used poetry as a propaganda tool, both to gain sympathy and to terrify his foes. Today poetry is also written and recited by bin Laden and just about every other Qaeda leader with a following. The poems proliferate on jihadi Web sites.
The Final CampaignAs the mullah gained strength and power, some British politicians argued for a more aggressive stance—a "surge," in today's parlance. Others thought the whole enterprise was a waste of re-sources. Among the latter was Winston Churchill, who briefly visited Somali-land in 1907 when he was undersecretary of state for the colonies.
Churchill had already engaged other "mad mullahs." As a young man, he served as a military correspondent in the North-West Frontier province of what is now Pakistan, where he battled jihadists and wrote about it in his first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force. Then he fought the followers of the Mahdi at Omdurman, in Sudan. He disparaged Islam. "Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities…but the influence of [this] religion paralyses the social developement [sic] of those who follow it," he wrote in The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan. "No stronger retrograde force exists in the world." (In the same passage, he also noted that the "civilization of modern Europe" had been able to survive largely because Christianity "is sheltered in the strong arms of science.")
After seeing the Somaliland port of Berbera, Churchill wrote a tough-minded report. "The policy of making small forts, in the heart of wild countries…is nearly always to be condemned," he wrote. Britain should withdraw from the interior and defend only the port of Berbera. After much debate, London ordered a policy of "coastal concentration." Officers in Somaliland could further arm the "friendlies," but were not to engage the mullah themselves. Chaos ensued, as clans battled each other for ascendancy and loot. Tens of thousands of Somalis were killed.
This was the dilemma that Corfield faced in 1913. The son of a church rector, he had a moralistic streak. But he'd also served in the Boer War and was "made of stuff that does not thrive in offices," wrote biographer H. F. Prevost Battersby. When the Dervishes began marauding against friendly clans, Corfield rashly defied orders and went in pursuit. A Dervish soldier shot him dead 25 minutes after the battle at Dul Madoba began. Some of the mullah's fighters later took Corfield's severed arm as a war trophy to present to their master. "It was a great morale booster for the Dervishes, no doubt about it," says the Somali-born Rutgers historian Said Samatar. "Corfield was a symbol—the British colonial man. In a sense it was a blow against colonialism."
To some in Britain, Corfield was a fool who damaged national prestige by disobeying orders. To others, he was a man of principle—he was "the straightest, whitest, most honorable man I have ever met," said one colleague, displaying the casual racism of the time. The prevailing view was that Corfield's death had occurred, in part, because the British had encouraged the mullah by withdrawing to the coast and seeming reluctant to fight. It "had been proved once more that 'there is nothing so warlike as inactivity,' " wrote Jardine.
The decisive turn in the conflict came only years later. In 1920 a decision was taken to send warplanes—one of the early uses of air power to put down an insurgency. Churchill, by now the minister of war and air, had become convinced that air power could do what ground forces had never been able to accomplish. He was instrumental in getting backing for the mission.
The Z Unit arrived in Somaliland disguised as geologists, and assembled the de Havilland 9A planes on site. By this time, the mullah had grown tired of running around the bush and had built many stone forts. On Jan. 21, 1920, he awoke at his fort in Medeshi expecting nothing out of the ordinary. He was sitting on a balcony with his uncle, other Somalis, and a Turkish adviser.
According to Jardine's account, Somali aides suggested the spectral objects coming out of the sky might be the chariots of God coming to escort the Sayyid to heaven. But five minutes after a first pass, the pilots returned and dropped bombs. "This first raid almost finished the war, as it was afterwards learned that a bomb dropped on Medeshi Fort killed one of the mullah's amirs on whom he was leaning at the time, and the mullah's own clothing was singed," wrote Flight Lt. F. A. Skoulding, who took part in the raid.
For two weeks the planes provided air support to ground forces—including some organized by the mullah's Somali nemesis, Musa Farah. But the mullah, hiding in caves and outwitting his pursuers, again managed to escape. The British made a peace offering; the mullah responded by listing conditions of his own, including a payment of gold coins, diamonds, cash, pearls, feathers of 900 ostriches, two pieces of ivory, and books, all of which he said had been taken from him. Somali allies of the British chased him farther into the bush, where he aimed to rebuild his forces once more. But the mullah succumbed to flu later that year. With his death, his Dervish movement died out.
Jardine didn't gloat. "Intensely as the Somalis feared and loathed the man whose followers had looted their stock, robbed them of their all, raped their wives, and murdered their children, they could not but admire and respect one who, being the embodiment of their idea of Freedom and Liberty, never admitted allegiance to any man, Moslem or Infidel," he wrote.
Up the Black HillIn the mullah's old battlegrounds, the tensions of the past are alive and the divisions are complex. Ever since the overthrow of the Somali government in the early 1990s, southern Somalia has been a Mad Max landscape of warlords, terrorists, and pirates. (The mullah's statue once stood in Mogadishu, but looters long ago tore it down and sold it for scrap.) The northern territory of Somaliland, however, is relatively stable. The region, dominated by a clan that generally aligned itself with the British during the protectorate, declared its independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991. Somaliland has held free elections and maintained a very fragile stability, while the rest of Somalia has become a void on the political map.
Somalilanders are pleading for diplomatic recognition—as an autonomous region if not a full-fledged state—so the area can attract foreign investment and be a part of the world. As it is, So-ma-li-land's public schools lack books and other supplies, and the number of private madrassas is growing. Young people with no opportunities smuggle themselves across deserts to Libya, hoping to board a creaky vessel to Europe, or they jump aboard a dhow to Yemen. Others join Al-Shabab. "The whole nation is a big prison," says Abdillahi Duale, Somaliland's foreign minister. "We are nurturing an infant democracy under trying circumstances in a tough neighborhood…and all we're getting is a slap on the back."
Many Somalis, not surprisingly, are ambivalent about the mullah. Rashid Abdi, who follows current wars and abuses in the region for the International Crisis Group, recalls learning the Sayyid's poetry as a child, and can still recite some of his verses by heart. He's also aware that the mullah was a warlord who committed abuses very similar to those that Abdi chronicles today. "There is nobody who can claim to be a Somali historian who can whitewash the atrocities of Muhammad Abdille Hassan," Abdi told me on a phone call from Nairobi, Kenya, where he's stationed. "He wanted to unify the Somalis, and if he had to break a few clans to do that, he would. In the evening he might craft a poem about his dying horse, and the same day he might have burned down whole villages, killing hundreds of people. It's the nature and the tragedy of how Somalis have existed all through the years and centuries."
Hadraawi, a renowned Somali poet who goes by a single name, has mixed feelings about the Sayyid. "He was a power maniac…a dictator," he says. Still, Hadraawi admires the man for his unequaled talent as a Somali poet and the leadership he showed in the struggle against colonial powers. "He was the light I was following in my youth—my guide," says Hadraawi, who was a teenager during the heady days of Somali in-de-pend-ence in 1960. "It was later on that I realized his mistakes." Hadraawi still rejects the name Mad Mullah—mostly, he suggests, because it's a simplistic caricature.
Hadraawi is my companion on a trek to the Black Hill. The journey from the capital, Hargeisa, is long, but not as difficult as it was in Corfield's time. To get there, a foreigner is required to fill out an "escort-authorization form" for the "Special Protection Unit" of the police and hire two armed guards for $20 a day. The area is much safer than the chaotic mess to the south, or the pirate-infested coastline of Puntland to the east. But ever since terrorists killed the Italian aid worker and two British teachers in 2003, the government has required foreigners to travel with armed guards.
Hadraawi, who has spent time in London, has found a way to honor Hassan without admiring all that he was. Rather than dwelling on his more violent and divisive poems, he has focused more recently on the mullah's astonishing knowledge of the natural world. "The poems I like are not political," he says. "He writes about trees and stars, the rivers and rains and seasons…He'll tell you about the camel, and he'll capture the innermost nature of the camel."
When Hadraawi and I trek up the Black Hill, we know there is no victory monument to the Sayyid there. But we've heard of another memorial, a marker for Richard Corfield. One source has suggested that it's a pillar three meters high; another believes it's made of white stone. Perhaps it has some writing on it. Nobody really knows: it's out there in the bush.
At the tiny village of Dul Madoba, we pick up a guide who thinks he can find the place. Then we travel on a road more populated by goats than by vehicles, until we turn off the tarmac between thorn bushes and drive a short distance till we can go no farther. With guards in tow, we get out and hike. We pass termite mounds that stand like giant sentries. A neon-yellow grasshopper flits by, and a wild hare dodges among some brush.
Up the Black Hill we march. As the sun is near to setting, we come to a giant pile of large brown rocks. It's a burial place, and the guide insists this is Corfield's tomb, but his tone doesn't inspire confidence. The rock pile looks more like a tomb from the Cushitic period, before the advent of Islam. We scout around a bit more, but the monument can't be found. Soon we spy another giant pile of rocks on another small ridge. It seems there are several tombs up here of uncertain origin. But none of these are likely for Corfield. Nor are they Dervish graves. The Sayyid's soldiers, anxious to make off with their lives and their loot, left their dead as they fell on the field. They believed the souls of their Dervish brothers were already enjoying the pleasures of paradise.
Verses from the poem "The Death of Richard Corfield" come from a translation by B. W. Andrzejewski and I. M. Lewis.

Kenya : The Water Wars

(M e d e s h i)
Mau: Downstream disaster
By James Morgan
BBC News, Kenya
Peter Ole Nkolia picks his way through a pile of black ash and brittle bones - the remains of his latest cow to die of thirst in Narok, western Kenya.
This is supposed to be the rainy season. But the rivers in his town are dry. And his wheat fields are brown and bare.
"Before this drought, I had 50 cows. Now I have only four," says the farmer.
“ What you are going to see here is the skeletons of cattle - and maybe people ” Peter Ole Nkolia
Narok farmer
"And the ones remaining - you can see they are weak. They need help in the morning, just to stand up.
"The water they drink, it comes from Mau forest. But the river is going down."
Mr Nkolia is one of hundreds of thousands of farmers in Narok and Kajiado whose cattle have keeled over and died in the heat.
About 80% of their livestock have perished this year - forcing farmers to sell off their weak animals for slaughter for as little as 1,000 shillings ($13; £8) per head.
Progressively worse
The droughts here have grown progressively worse since the turn of the century - ever since the growth of settlements and illegal logging upstream in the southern (Maasai) Mau forest.
Climate change has played its part - reducing the rainfall throughout much of Kenya.
“ It's not true - We are not affecting Kenya in any way ” Kipkorir Ngeno Farmer, Mau forest
But here in Narok the impact of global warming has been amplified by the destruction of the Mau - Kenya's largest water catchment.
Maasai farmers like Mr Nkolia are angry with the predominantly ethnic Kalenjin settlers upstream, accusing them of "stealing" the forest and the water.
And there is a real fear that human suffering could precipitate a civil conflict. An explosion of simmering ethnic tensions after elections last year left some 1,300 people dead across the country.
"If the destruction of Mau shall continue, I can assure you that a lot of people will suffer," warns Mr Nkolia, who has six children to feed.
"If those people up there are not careful, all rivers in lowland Narok will dry and up and the result - nobody will survive.
"What you are going to see here is just the skeletons of cattle - and maybe people."
(This Maasai pastoralist says the river water tastes of cow urine)
Soil and urine
The outlook is all the more incredible when you consider that Narok is known as the "breadbasket of Kenya" for its fertile farmlands.
But the water shortages here now are acute. The few boreholes in the area are salty - making them often unsuitable for drinking.
And because the rivers are low, the water is becoming more hazardous to drink.
"It tastes of soil and urine from cows," says a pastoralist, filling her jerry can in near Narok.
"But what else can we drink? It's all we have.
"I hope for nothing but that they [the settlers in Mau forest] leave."
'Somebody's mistake'
Local area MPs are demanding action in Mau - and their warnings have a menacing edge.
"There is a lot of suffering in my constituency... and it was somebody's mistake," says Nkoidila Ole Lankas, MP for Narok South.
“ The culprits have to be punished... We'll get a better Kenya ” William Ole Ntimama,
MP for Narok North
"All of those people involved in this illegal allocation - the law should take its due course."
His words are echoed by William Ole Ntimama, MP for Narok North, and the longest-serving member of the Kenyan Parliament.
"I feel that these 20,000 people in the forest are destroying the lives of millions of people downstream," says the 80-year-old.
"The culprits have to be punished. We'll get a better Kenya.
"If you ask the ordinary Maasai moran [warrior] he is ready to go to the forest and take action. But I am telling him to wait."
Peter Ole Nkolia is one such Maasai. He has only one calf remaining - and he fears that the next drought will wipe his herd out completely.
"I cannot stay here suffering, when they are enjoying," says Mr Nkolia.
"When my field is drying, I will come where they are [the forest].
"The result will be conflict. Where we are going is not good."
Are you in Kenya? Have you been affected by the issues in Mau forest? Send us your comments. Story from BBC NEWS:

Behind Somalia's Islamist rivalry

(M e d e s h i)
Behind Somalia's Islamist rivalry
The fighting in Kismayo between rival Islamist groups could be the beginning of the end of their national alliance - and good news for the embattled interim government.
It is not unexpected that the two Islamist groups - Hizbul-Islam and al-Shabab - would fall out.
Al-Shabab - Alleged to have links with al-Qaeda - Has foreign fighters in its ranks - Well organised militarily and logistically
Hizbul-Islam - Led by Hassan Dahir Aweys - Aweys led al-Itihad al-Islamiya, put on US terror list in 2001 - Home-grown Islamist movement
But what is surprising is the timing.
It was thought that their alliance would last until after they had unseated the UN-backed government, which now controls only a few key areas of the capital, Mogadishu.
Both sides have tried to play down rivalries that have been bubbling below the surface for some time.
Hizbul-Islam is thought to have more fighters than al-Shabab, but this is not to say it would necessarily gain the upper hand countrywide if it came to an all-out battle.
Al-Shabab, which is alleged to have links with al-Qaeda and has foreign fighters in its ranks, is better organised logistically and militarily.
Eyes on the palace
Ideologically the groups are similar: They both want Somalia to be an Islamic state.
The interim government also wants Sharia imposed, but in the areas under control of al-Shabab, the interpretation of Sharia has been very strict.
Traditionally, Somalis have practised a moderate and tolerant form of Islam.
“ Although the battle lines appear to have shifted, local clans tend to have allegiance to one group over another ”
But under al-Shabab, music is not allowed, cinemas have been closed down and traditionally colourful women's robes have been replaced by hijabs made from heavy dark material.
Hizbul-Islam, a home-grown Islamic movement, has been more moderate in its rulings.
However, the crux of the dispute between Hizbul-Islam and al-Shabab is the battle for power and who will get to occupy the presidential palace.
A full-scale fall-out of the allies could cause further misery for Somali civilians - most villages and towns in central and southern Somalia have fighters from both Hizbul-Islam and al-Shabab.
Since 1991 the country has experienced almost constant warfare - although until 2006 it was mainly along clan lines.
And although the battle lines appear to have shifted, local clans tend to have allegiance to one group over another.
Arms
Al-Shabab has its roots in the Union of Islamic Court (UIC) which controlled much of the country for six months before Ethiopia invaded in December 2006 to oust them.
It was the UIC youth wing and one of its main leaders - Aden Hashi Ayro - had allegedly been trained in Afghanistan.
He was killed last year in a US air strike - and little is known about the leadership of the group, except that it has international backing.
Hizbul-Islam too comes from the remnants of the UIC. Its leader is Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys - one-time UIC leader.
Before the UIC he led al-Itihad al-Islamiya - now a defunct group which was added to the US list of terrorist groups in 2001, although Mr Aweys has always denied any terror links.
He is a bitter enemy of fellow UIC leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who became Somalia's president in January.
His battle with the president is personal - and he is resisting attempts by the government to engage in reconciliation talks.
Despite a UN arms embargo neither group will have a problem finding arms.
Mogadishu has a well-stocked arms market and weapon shipments can come in across the country through airports and ports under their control.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Somaliland: Democracy Threatened

(M e d e s h i)
Somaliland: Democracy Threatened
Briefing Note
Michael Walls,
September 2009

Summary Points
·
Somaliland currently faces a critical constitutional and political dilemma.
Successful negotiation of this dilemma would mark a significant step forward
in the evolution of the Somaliland political system, but failure with
consequent instability and a more authoritarian governance system remains
a distinct possibility.
· The presidential election scheduled for 27 September has again been
postponed, with no new date yet announced. The President’s and Vice-
President’s already extended terms in office expire on 29 October 2009, and
there is currently no constitutional means for addressing the power vacuum
that will arise in the absence of an election one month before that date.
· The National Electoral Commission’s (NEC) technical ability to organise a
free and fair election has been widely questioned, exacerbating the political
and constitutional problems.
· In the absence of a constitutional remedy, the Somali tradition of dialogue
and consensus-building remains the only real avenue for resolution of the
crisis. A recently agreed Memorandum of Understanding establishes the
conditions in which that dialogue might take place, but the hardest decisions
remain to be made.
· Somaliland is one of the few secure and democratic territories in the Horn of
Africa. The destabilising effect of a failure to successfully tackle the current
crisis can only contribute to further deterioration in an already unstable part
of the African continent.
Download Paper here

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Memorandum of Understanding Signed today in Hargeisa

(M e d e s h i)
Memorandum of Understanding Signed today in Hargeisa
Thursday, 01 October 2009
In an elaborate meeting attended by the leaders of the three political parties in Somaliland, and members of the international community represented by the Ethiopian delegation and John Marshal (Addis Ababa British Embassy), the proposed memorandum of understanding introduced by the Donor nations that brought the parties together was signed today in Hargeisa at the presidential palace.
In an effort to jump start the process and to get everyone involved on the same page, the international delegation seem to be engaged in a proactive campaign to minimize future conflicts by getting everyone commit in writing and in public agreements made privately. There are strong indications that the aim is to depoliticize contemptuous issues that have managed to trip up and repeatedly delayed presidential elections in Somaliland.
In addition of getting all the principals sign the memorandum and formally make it official, discussion have taken place addressing the replacement of the Election Commissioners where the Guurti and the Lower House will be called back into session to address the matter and replace the existing EC with new members
The technical team debugging the server is also putting the stakeholders on notice and are encouraging the parties to agree and sign a code of conduct before the new Voter List is released to pre-empt a repeat of what took place earlier where there was a strong disagreement on the final Voter List.
Apparently this ambitious plan presented by the Donor nations is time sensitive and anticipates completing all the necessary work within weeks and not months. This optimist forecast is made possible by the friendly reception it received by all the parties involved in the dispute, and perhaps the realization that this may be the last chance of getting things right and actually bringing about the much delayed election.
All indications are that the Donor nations delegation in Hargeisa is making good progress and might succeed in moving the process along to its natural conclusion, but it is still too early to tell whether a leopard can lose his spots and entrenched hostilities and distrust might surface and take everyone to the brink yet again.
Let’s hope for the sake of this troubled nation, this time the sun will shine and elections will take place.
See below the document signed by the three leaders today in Hargeisa.
MEMORANDUM OF THE UNDERSTANDING ON THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF SOMALILAND

Paragraph 1
Given the shortage of time remaining before 27 September 2009, which is the jointly agreed time for the next election, the parties accept that the Election be postponed, the new time for the election to be decided as per what is stated in paragraphs 4 and 5 below.
Paragraph 2
The Parties agree that all options, including changes in the leadership and composition of the National Election Commission, need to be considered to restore public confidence in the Commission and to make sure that the Commission is able to perform the role expected of it under the Constitution.
Paragraph 3
The three parties have agreed that there is a need for a Voters Registration List as legally provided for, for this and future elections. In this regard, taking note of the shortcomings of the existing Voter Registration List, the three parties accept that there is a need to further refine the list and to consider whether further safeguards are required to avoid multiple voting.
Paragraph 4
The parties have agreed to invite independent international experts to assist the National Election Commission in reviewing Somaliland’s electoral preparations. The Experts will be invited to submit their recommendations to the Commission including on how to refine the provisional voter list, and on the timetable under which the remaining preparations for the election can be held. The Commission shall then fix the new date for the election based on the amount of time required for the final election preparations to be made.
The Parties also decided that detailed Terms of Reference for the experts should be agreed with the political parties and the Commission.
Paragraph 5
On the basis that the determination of the date of the election is depoliticised, with the date to be fixed by the Commission, in light of the recommendations by the experts as set out in paragraph 4 above, the parties have agreed that the term of office of the President and Vice-President should be extended to a date not more than one month after the date to be fixed by the Commission for the elections.
Paragraph 6
The parties underline the need for Friends of Somaliland to continue their engagement with the three parties with the view to contributing to the faithful implementation of the understanding contained in paragraphs 1 to 5 above and assisting the Somaliland authorities to carry out free, fair and peaceful elections critical for preserving the stability, security and credibility of Somaliland.


Signed in Hargeisa on ________________ 2009
UDUB

Kulmiye
UCID


Mahdi Gabose
EAPI www.eastafricapi.com

Gaddafi Tells UN That H1N1 North American `Swine Flu` Virus is Military Bio-Weapon


(M e d e s h i)
Mathaba - Colonel Mu'ammar Gaddafi, the self-proclaimed "King of Kings" and former "Leader of the Libyan Revolution" during his visit to set foot on U.S. soil for the first time in order to attend the latest session of the United Nations (UN) organization's General Assembly, made a "90 minute long rambling speech referring to scribbled notes on a piece of scrap paper", according to U.S. media reports.
The reports state that Gaddafi claimed that the H1N1 virus is a "military bio-weapon", a theory which has been confirmed as fact already by several experts, but which is likely to have further credibility difficulties due to the U.S. media's easy case to make fun of Libya's eccentric King.

The 90-minute speech of Gaddafi has received no notable coverage within any media, and what little coverage there is pokes fun at some of the general points such as the H1N1 pronouncement, his difficulty in finding anywhere to pitch his tent and the length of his speech given the officially allowed time-slot of 15 minutes, as well as his throwing of the UN charter paperback booklet over his shoulder several times, hitting the current Assembly Chairman, Dr Ali Abdussalam Treiki.
Libya is currently president of the General Assembly through 2010. The General Assembly carries no force with the UN dictated by the nuclear powers which sit on the "Security Council", which Gaddafi branded the "Terror Council" whilst again calling for its abolition. He has been regularly calling for the UN Security Council to be abolished for the past 40 years.
The video below addresses some of the issues concerning the H1N1 North American Flu popularly known as 'Swine Flu':


While Washington Fetters About Sudan Still is in Crisis


(M e d e s h i)
While Washington Fetters About Sudan Still is in Crisis
by Scott A Morgan
Within the next few days the Obama Administration will unveil its Policy towards Sudan. When the Congressional Hearings were held in July the Advocates for the situation in Darfur were not pleased. One of the Proposed Actions was to Remove Sudan from the State Department List of Countries that Sponsor Terrorism.
Having contacts with the Sudanese Government is not a bad idea. It is a good way to make contact. But to Refer to offering incentives to a Government as akin to giving a Child Cookies is bad PR. It give the impression that the person advocating such a strategy as being naive. But there have been several events since the US Congress held its hearings that should impact whatever decisions the White House makes.
In Recent weeks there has been a Military Offensive in North Darfur. This Operation which has been conducted by the Sudanese Military is just such an operation one party would conduct before Peace Talks. Meanwhile in the South Several Parties with the exception of the ruling NCP and their allies met to plan the upcoming Presidential Elections that are scheduled to be held in April 2010. These Elections are to proceed a vote for Southern Independence in 2011.

According to reports an Advisor to President Al-Bashir referred to the situation in Darfur as a Conflict between farmers and herdsmen before being transformed into a conflict by other actors. It is interesting that the charges of Slavery were not discussed by the Delegation from the African Union or the Sudanese Government. In the same meeting the advisor blamed Chad, France and Israel for aggrevating the crisis which has been ongoing since 2003. It is true that there was currently a lull in the fighting until earlier this month however.
Another tactic that Khartoum is using is conducting a Proxy War against the South. The NCP had used the LRA a Ugandan Militia and the Lou Nuer Tribe in a Proxy war designed to maintain its influence in the South. The Security Situation in the South is so dire that if a Declaration of Independence is made that not only will Civil War be reignited within Sudan but GOSS may not adequately protect its own citizens.
What will the US do? Or better yet what should the US Do? The US Needs to enforce the CPA Strictly. Khartoum seems to believe that there is some wiggle room. As long as they think that is the case the better the chance for renewed conflict. Sudan should stay on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list not only for the Tribal Conflict but for Supplying the LRA as it moves from the Congo into Sudan, the Central African Republic and according to recent reports possibly to Chad.
The Pentagon has been providing some assistance to the Army of GOSS. This probably will continue just to hedge bets. Ukraine and Kenya have been providing asssitance to the South as well. Offering Financial Aid such as what has occurred in Zimbabwe could be a good first step. But an step that could be more respected that what has been suggested which can be seen as Carte Blanche.
The Author publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet. It can be found at

Court to weigh lawsuit against Gen. Mohamed Ali Samater

(M e d e s h i)
Court to weigh lawsuit against Gen. Mohamed Ali Samater
(AP)
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will consider throwing out a human rights lawsuit against a former prime minister of Somalia who is accused of overseeing killings and other atrocities.
The court said Wednesday it would review an appeals court ruling allowing Somalis to sue Mohamed Ali Samantar of Fairfax, Va., who was defense minister and prime minister of Somalia in the 1980s and early 1990s under dictator Siad Barre.
The lawsuit alleges that Samantar was responsible for killings, rapes and torture, including waterboarding, of his own people while in power, particularly against disfavored clans. The lawsuit was filed in 2004 at federal court in Alexandria under the Torture Victim Protection Act.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema tossed out the case in 2007, ruling that Samantar was entitled to immunity under a separate U.S. law, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
But the appellate court ruled that the law does not extend immunity to individuals, only to foreign states themselves and their agencies.
The high court will consider whether Samantar is immune from the lawsuit. The case will be argued early next year.
The case is Samantar v. Yousuf, 08-1555.

The Somali Al Shabaab: the model for Chadians

(M e d e s h i)
The Somali Al Shabaab: the model for Chadians
30 Sept,2009
Chadian Islamic Front ( Translated by RAMADJI.com)
(press release of the Chadian Islamic Front)
الله أكبر, الله أكبر, الله أكبر, الله أكبر
Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest
اشهد ان لا اله الا اللهاشهد ان لا اله الا الله
I certify that there is no true god except Allah and I bear witness that there is no true god except Allah I confirm that Mohamed is the messenger of Allah, I declare that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah
حي على الصلاةحي على الصلاة
Come to prayer Come to prayer Come to the bliss Come to felicity
الله أكبر الله أكبر
Allah is the greatest Allah is the greatest
لا اله الا الله
There is no true God except Allah
Children of Chad, the solution against the evil Deby is to follow the steps of our Somalis brothers of Al Shabaab. Today, the majority of soldiers of the UFR (Union of Resistance Forces) want to follow the example of our brothers of Al Shabaab in Somalia and the AQIM in Mali, Mauritania and Algeria. But the leaders are still hesitant. Children of Chad, pray to Allah that your leaders will listen.
A lot of good news is coming up. Jihadis in Guinea are preparing to expel the miscreant Moussa Dadis Camara. In Chad, too, everything is ready. The Chadian Islamic Front is growing every day. Our great leader Sheikh Tijani Ahmat Ismael Bichara will be released soon from prison and will lead us to kick the devil out.
Children of Chad, watch the following movies. The proud Somali Al Shabaab in action. Good Al Shabaab who serves with honor Sheikh Osama.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzuFjgqcY10&feature=relatedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5wrWDnZ1eI
الله أكبر
Allahu Akbar
اشهد ان محمد رسول اللهاشهد ان محمد رسول الله حي على الفلاح حي على الفلاح
Ahmat Umar
ahmat.umar2@gmail.com

Monday, September 28, 2009

Somaliland : Safe water for Berbera communities

(M e d e s h i)
Public-private partnerships bring sustainable, safe water to Somaliland communities
By Iman Morooka
BERBERA, Somaliland, 28 September 2009 – Until recently, a run-down urban water system dating from the 19th century delivered scant, low-quality water to the residents of Berbera, a coastal town in Somaliland. But that has changed recently.
(In Berbera, north-west Somaliland, Amina Farah works as caretaker of the water kiosk at the Jamalaaye settlement for the displaced)
In Somalia as a whole, only 29 per cent of the population has access to safe water, due to the lack of adequate water supply facilities and systems. Children under the age of five bear the brunt of the water-borne diseases that result from this situation.
Water system repaired
To address the problem in Berbera, UNICEF – with funding from the European Union – supported the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing water system. The project included the cleaning and protection of the town’s Dubar Springs water source and boreholes. The collection wells and main collection chamber for Berbera were also repaired to guard against contamination.
The manager of the Water Authority in Berbera, Abderahman Artan, says the old pipes were cracked, and some were completely blocked.
“One third of water from Dubar Springs nearly didn’t reach the town, causing scarcity of water,” he notes. “But since the replacement of old pipes, water runs smoothly to the town, and I’ve never had to change a pipe.”
Aid for displaced
Through the construction of three new water kiosks in Jamalaaye, a settlement area for the displaced population living in Berbera, these residents also have benefitted from the project. Previously, many children and women in the area were unable to get to school or to market in the mornings because they had to spend hours searching for safe water.
(At the Jamalaaye settlement for displaced people in Berbera, water kiosk caretaker Amina Farah (left) hands residents jerry cans filled with safe water)
“We extended a 3.5 km pipeline to the eastern part of the town, where there was shortage of water in the [displaced persons] settlements,” said UNICEF Somalia Water and Sanitation Officer Osman Ahmed. “One purpose of this project was to avail water for those marginalized [families] who couldn’t reach water points.”
The water kiosks are run by community residents such as Amina Farah, a mother of four who has been living in the Jamalaaye settlement for four years. Serving as a kiosk caretaker, Ms. Farah sells water and ensures that the facility is used properly. Of the 300 shillings that she collects in exchange for each 20 litres of water, 250 shillings goes to the Water Authority for managing the system, while she keeps the rest.
(A young girl in the Jamalaaye settlement for the displaced population in Berbera)
“Although this income is not much, it helps me buy food and other necessary items for my family,” said Ms. Farah. “Before having this kiosk, we used to spend a lot of time in search of water, and my children got tired and thirsty while waiting for me. Whether it was me or my husband who fetched water, we had problems. But not anymore, thanks to the water that was brought to us.”
Innovative partnership
The newly rehabilitated water system is managed under the public-private partnership approach, which involves the community, the Water Authority and the private sector in ensuring sustainable service delivery. The water board, which was established specifically for this project, represents the various stakeholders and helps monitor and improve the water management system.
UNICEF and the European Union introduced this approach in Somalia in 1997. Since then, several other key donors have come on board to support similar projects. Today, 10 such projects being implemented to bring safe water to Somali communities across the country.
“Our partnership with UNICEF has been very constructive and innovative, in the sense that it has been working by mixing the private and public interests into the water sector,” says European Union Special Envoy to Somalia Georges-Marc Andre.
“The European Union has been supporting water projects in Somalia since 1995, investing a total of €20 million, and helped improve the situation of more than 1 million people in the country,” he adds. “I look forward to continued collaboration with UNICEF.”

The Camels of Djibouti

(M e d e s h i)
by Ann Pyles
The camels of Djibouti have one hump and are called dromedary camels. They are very interesting and always around - on the road, by the road, in the villages, in the cities, in the countryside. Usually a nomadic family will have a herd of goats, a few camels and maybe sheep. The camel may be used to transport wood, water, building materials, food etc. But, most are sold to Dubai where they are fattened up and slaughtered for their delicious meat. Djiboutian camels are prized and much sought after in the Middle East. I am told that there are no large camel producers. Buyers of camels for the meat market, purchase the camels from individual nomads, consolidate them and ship them amass to Dubai for processing.
We see the camels hobbled at night and tethered to trees near the villages. The baby camels are many times seen enclosed in a makeshift cage around a tree for shade inside the village compound itself.
At this time of year, at the end of the hot season, the camel is without much fur. But as the season gets cooler they will get furrier. The group of camels you see pictured are contained and awaiting transport via ship out of Djibouti City to Dubai. They are brought here in open trucks, from as far away as Ethiopia, traveling on their knees for 2 days or more. This website gives some interesting information about the dromedary camel

Somalia / Somaliland Dwarf Ethiopia in Mobile Marvels

(M e d e s h i)
Somalia / Somaliland dwarf Ethiopia in Mobile Marvels
Sept. 26 Economist offers a knockout, 14-page report on "Mobile Marvels," or how, "Once the toys of rich yuppies, mobile phones have evolved in a few short years to become tools of economic empowerment for the world's poorest people. These phones compensate for inadequate infrastructure, such as bad roads and slow postal services, allowing information to move more freely, making markets more efficient and unleashing entrepreneurship."

This focuses on three trends: the spread of mobile phones in developing countries and the accompanying rise in home-grown mobile operators that exceed the heretofore Western incumbent firms; the rise of China's two leading telecoms-equipment makers from low-cost, low-quality operators to high-quality and innovative powers; and development of a raft of new phone-based services in the developing world, which go far beyond text messages and phone calls, with new data services including agricultural advice, health care and financial transfers. And whereas government-run phone monopolies do remain in places like Ethiopia, they are being dwarfed in impact and innovation by the real competition one finds in spots like war-ravaged Somalia, a poor nation with no real government where a dozen mobile operators seek market share and explain a far greater "mobile teledensity" (how many phones one finds per 100 people) than Ethiopia. As telling are the many ways in which it's now apparent that the spread of phones promotes economic development, especially money transfers or mobile banking, which derives from the custom in the developing world of using prepaid calling credit as an informal currency far more efficient than physically sending it from one place to another.

"In the grand scheme of telecoms history, mobile phones have made a bigger difference to the lives of more people, more quickly, than any previous technology. They have spread the fastest and proved the easiest and cheapest to develop. It is now clear that the long process of connecting everyone on Earth to a global telecommunications network, which began with the invention of the telegraph in 1791, is on the verge of being completed. Mobile phones will have done more than anything else to advance the democratization of telecoms, and all the advantages that come with it."
The Huffington Post

Somalia: Al-shabab execute two Somalis


(M e d e s h i)
Somali militants execute 'spies'
Islamist militants in Somalia have executed two people they accused of spying for foreign organisations.
(Typical Al-shabab execution - Medeshi file photo)
Hundreds watched as a firing squad arranged by the al-Shabab group shot the pair in the capital, Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab officials said the men had been found guilty of working for the US CIA and African Union peacekeepers.
Analysts say the killings may have been in retaliation for a US raid earlier this month, in which an al-Qaeda suspect is said to have been killed.
The US regards al-Shabab as a proxy for al-Qaeda in Somalia, and says the group threatens to destabilise the region.
One witness to the execution told AP news agency that 10 al-Shabab fighters shot the pair in Mogadishu's main livestock market in front of hundreds of people.
Al-Shabab's Sharia courts, usually held in the open, have in the past sentenced people to execution, amputations and public floggings.
Humanitarian crisis
Two weeks ago, US forces launched an attack from helicopters in southern Somalia, reportedly killing Kenyan-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan who was wanted by the US for attacks in Kenya.
It was the first such US incursion into Somalia for years.
Days after the raid, suicide bombers attacked an AU base in Mogadishu and killed at least 16 people.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility, saying the attack was in revenge for the US raid.
Islamist rebels control much of central and southern Somalia, including parts of the capital city.
Al-Shabab is attempting to impose an extreme brand of Islamic law on the areas it controls.
Its fighters are battling troops loyal to the government - which controls little territory and is backed by the US, UN and peacekeepers from the AU.
Other radical Islamists, who are allied to al-Shabab in some areas and fight them in other places, also vie for control of large parts of the country.
The country has been wracked by conflict since 1991, when it last had an effective national government.
Some three million people - half the population - need food aid, while hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country.
Story from BBC NEWS:

SOMALIA: Puntland cracks down on migrants


(M e d e s h i)
SOMALIA: Puntland cracks down as potential migrants gather in Bosasso
A Somali refugee in Aden, Yemen (file photo): Thousands of Somalis and Ethiopians are in Bosasso, the commercial capital of Somalia's self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, attempting to cross the Gulf of Aden into Yemen
NAIROBI, 28 September 2009 (IRIN) - The authorities of Somalia's self-declared autonomous region of Puntland have begun cracking down on would-be migrants and people smugglers, who have been using its ports to reach the Gulf States, a senior police officer told IRIN.
He said thousands of Somalis and Ethiopians had gathered in Bosasso, the commercial capital, with the aim of attempting to cross the Gulf of Aden into Yemen.
"We estimate there are between 3,000 and 5,000 migrants currently in and around Bosasso," said Col Osman Hassan Awke, the Bari regional police chief.
He said security units had taken over some of the beach ports used by smugglers to pick up migrants.
"Marere beach [10km south of Bosasso], which was one of the main ports used by smugglers, is now a police post," Awke said, adding that despite the police effort in Puntland to stem the flow of migrants, "they still continue. We shut down one or two known ports and then they find another one."
He said the police would continue to set up posts on "most of the important beaches". However, he said the police did not have the means to stop the smuggling completely, without help from the international community.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, a total of 924 boats and more than 46,700 people have made the journey to Yemen from the Horn of Africa since January.
"So far this year, 322 are known to have drowned or went missing at sea and are presumed dead," Roberta Russo, spokeswoman for UNHCR Somalia, told IRIN on 28 September.
A local journalist, who requested anonymity, told IRIN the region's authorities had in the past tried to stem the migrant flow without success.
"They even tried to repatriate them to their homes in Ethiopia or southern Somalia but it did not work," the journalist said.
He said many migrants simply returned: "These are desperate people and no matter what, they will get on the boats if they want to."
Awke said the police had stopped repatriating migrants because "as soon as we send them they are back, and we don’t have the resources to keep sending them back".
He claimed aid agencies were not doing enough to help with the situation, adding that there was not even an official camp to host the migrants. "They are all over the place, which makes policing them that much more difficult."
However, Russo said: “In 2006 there was an attempt to create a camp for the migrants, but the initiative failed as, instead of protecting its inhabitants, the camp became a breeding ground for all kinds of violations.”
In 2009, the agencies and authorities reconsidered the option of opening a camp but abandoned the idea.
Russo added that UNHCR and its partners were distributing information on the dangers of crossing the Gulf of Aden and the options for migrants and asylum seekers.
The journalist said Puntland had a long coastline and would be hard-pressed to police it. "They [the authorities] don’t have the resources to effectively patrol it."
Smugglers were reportedly charging each migrant US$150 to $200 for the trip to Yemen, said the journalist. "Many migrants will have to work for over a year to make that kind of money."

Fresh appeal for sanctions on Eritrea

(M e d e s h i)
Fresh appeal for sanctions on Eritrea
September 28th, 2009 by addis portal
The east and Horn of Africa regional bloc Igad has once again expressed its disappointment at the international community’s failure to take practical action against Eritrea.
Mr Kipruto arap Kirwa, the peace and reconciliation facilitator in Somalia, told reporters in Addis Ababa that Igad had “conclusive evidence” that Eritrea and al-Qaeda were supporting and financing militant groups in Somalia.
Go beyond words
Mr Kirwa called on the international community to take immediate and effective action, to go beyond words and act against all spoilers in the region. Igad and the African Union recently made strong recommendations for sanctions against Eritrea and other entities, “aiding, financing and facilitating resources for the al-Shabaab and other negative entities”.
The resolutions were tabled before the UN Security Council in June. The US has also pushed for an immediate endorsement of the proposals. However, other Security Council members: China, France, Russia and the UK, are divided on the resolutions.
Sea blockage
The resolutions had proposed air and sea blockage in the region to prevent the flow of arms and foreign combatants to Somalia. They also proposed freezing the assets and imposing travel ban against individuals involved in the Somalia crisis.
Eritrean top officials on the list include Yemane Gebreab — head of political affairs and presidential adviser at the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) party, Ali Abdu — Information minister and Teame Abrehasillase — Intelligence chief. They are among the individuals allegedly involved in arms smuggling activities in Somalia