Pontus Marine LTD- Leader of fishing industry in Somaliland

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

US drones protecting ships from Somali pirates

Gitmo: Why Musicians Are Right, Liz Cheney Is Wrong

Rapists, hunger and hyenas attack Somalia's displaced women

Ethiopia says British, Saudi firms find gold

Somalia/Somaliland: Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin

African leaders adopt landmark refugee convention

Rising numbers of illegal immigrants enter Somaliland

(Medeshi News)
Immigration officials in the self-declared republic of Somaliland have expressed concern over the increase in the number of illegal Ethiopian migrants entering the region, with claims that up to 90 people are arriving daily, against 50 in 2008.
An immigration official, who requested anonymity, said most of those arriving in Somaliland were asylum-seekers from the Oromiya region of Ethiopia. Others transit through Somaliland en route to the Arabian Peninsula.
The exact number of Ethiopian refugees in Somaliland is unclear as the region's authorities and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, have different figures.
Mohamed Ismail, the director of social affairs in the Ministry of Interior - charged with overseeing refugee affairs and asylum-seekers – said: "We consider 4,000 individuals as Ethiopian refugees but all the other people who live in Somaliland are not refugees; [they have] come to Somaliland for a better life."
According to UNHCR Somalia, Somaliland has 1,600 Ethiopian refugees and more than 14,000 asylum-seekers.
"UNHCR has the responsibility of engaging in strong information campaigns targeting Ethiopians on their right to seek asylum if they are fleeing persecution in their country and of the rights they have as refugees," Roberta Russo, a spokeswoman for the agency, told IRIN on 22 October.
However, a source in the Ministry of Interior said the last estimate by the ministry and UNHCR in 2006 was that at least 8,000 Ethiopian refugees were in Somaliland.
Saleban Ismail Bulale, chairman of the Horn of Africa Human Rights Organization, based in Hargeisa, said: "UNHCR has granted refugee status to only 1,500, but it is estimated that there are thousands of Ethiopians in Somaliland."
Living on the streets
Asha Abdi, an Ethiopian mother of six living on the streets of Hargeisa, told IRIN: "My children and I left our home in Babuli town in Ethiopia's Oromiya Region several months ago; we came because we had suffered lack of food for a long time."
Hers is one of several Ethiopian families trying to survive on Hargeisa's streets. "We live in the shade of local houses and beg for food to survive," Asha said.
An Ethiopian official, who requested anonymity, told IRIN it seemed the UNHCR office in Hargeisa was encouraging asylum-seekers to enter Somaliland.
"Ethiopians emigrate to Somaliland in search of a better life; for example, they want to be relocated to a foreign country. You see them coming here and then going back to their homes after registering with the UNHCR office in Hargeisa as asylum-seekers," the official said. "When their time comes for their relocation, they come back to Hargeisa."
However, Russo said UNHCR did everything possible to inform the refugees of their rights and to ensure the protection mechanisms put in place were not abused.
In very few cases, she said, UNHCR offered the option of resettlement to a third country if the refugees faced insecurity in the country of asylum or if it was impossible for them to integrate. Russo added that this opportunity was offered to the most needy cases.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Somali pirates seize Panama-flagged ship off Somalia


(M e d e s h i)
Somali pirates seize Panama-flagged ship off Somalia
2009-10-22 19:31:04
NAIROBI, Oct. 22 - Somali pirates have hijacked a Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier in the pirate-infected waters off Somali coast with 26 crew members aboard, a regional maritime official confirmed on Thursday.
Andrew Mwangura, the East Africa' Coordinator of Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) said the MV Al Khaliq headed for the Kenyan port of Mombasa with 24 Indians and two nationals of Myanmar aboard when it was seized on early Thursday.
"The MV Al Khaliq with Panamanian flag was hijacked early this morning in the Indian Ocean waters with 26 crew members," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone from Mombasa.
Mwangura also said the pirates also attempted to attack a second carrier, the 32,000-ton Italian vessel Jolly Rosso, as it was sailing north of the Seychelles.
"The Italian Jolly Ross managed to evade the pirates as the vessel was sailing north of the Seychelles," Mwangura said.
The latest attack off the coast of Somalia brought to 47 the number of shipjacking cases this year despite the presence of multi-national navy forces in the world's most dangerous waters.
The latest figures published by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) on Thursday indicated a sharp rise in the attacks in Somali waters, compared with the 12 cases reported in the same period in 2008.
According to the IMB, piracy worldwide mounted 306 attacks from January 1 until September 30, compared with 293 in all of 2008. Of the incidents this year, Somali pirates accounted for 54 percent after launching 168 attacks.
The bureau said most of them took place off the east coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, a major shipping route between Yemen and Somalia.
The Somali pirates successfully hijacked 32 vessels and took 533 people hostage.
An estimated 25,000 ships annually cruise the Gulf of Aden, off the Somali northern coast. Over 10 ships and 200 crew members are still held by Somali pirates.
The Gulf of Aden, off the northern coast of Somalia, has the highest risk of piracy in the world.
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Somalia: President's Plane Shelled, Fighting Kills 20

(M e d e s h i)
MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Mortars fired by Islamic militants slammed into Somalia's airport as the president was boarding a plane Thursday, sparking battles that killed at least 24 people when return fire hit residential areas and a market, officials said.
(Photo: The president of Somalia during a visit to the US)
The president was unhurt and his plane took off safely, police said, but the deaths of civilians is fueling a growing anger toward African Union peacekeeping forces that are stationed in Mogadishu to help protect the U.N.-backed government.
Somalia's capital sees near-daily bloodshed as a powerful insurgent group with links to al-Qaida tries to overthrow the fragile government and push out some 5,000 AU peacekeepers. Both sides have been accused of indiscriminate shelling.
At least 20 bodies, most of them civilians, lay in the streets after Thursday's fighting, said Ali Muse, the head of Mogadishu's ambulance service. Four people later died at the hospital. Muse said about 60 people were wounded as mortar rounds slammed into residential areas.
The shelling started soon after insurgents fired toward President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed's plane, said police spokesman Abdullahi Hassan Barise.
Thursday's violence – deadlier than many recent clashes in this once-beautiful seaside city – follow a pattern that witnesses say is becoming all too common. First, insurgents fire at government or AU targets. Then those forces respond by shelling insurgent bases, most of which lie in residential areas.
The result is that most of those killed in Somalia's war are civilians.
The same situation has exists in Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO forces are battling Taliban militants. The militants fire on international troops from residential areas in hopes of drawing return fire that kills civilians – a propaganda victory for the militants. The U.S. commander in Afghanistan has sought to reduce such return fire, which turns Afghans against U.S. and NATO forces.
But in Somalia, the AU denies firing into residential areas. AU peacekeeping force spokesman Barigye Bahoku said insurgents are actually shelling the residential areas they control to make it appear the AU is responsible. But many Somalis doubt such assertions.
"What cannot be denied is that most of the fire comes from the bases of the African Union, and they hit and kill civilians in the rebel-controlled areas," said Ahmed Abdulahi, a businessman in Mogadishu. "People have eyes and ears, they know what is going on."
Sheik Ali Mohamud Siyad, the trader's chairman of Bakara Market which was hit with mortar shells Thursday, said: "It is ruthless and inhumane to target innocent civilians, but it happens every day here and nobody bothers to mention it."
Anger is growing toward a peacekeeping force that has long lamented that it is undermanned. The force is meant to have 8,000 troops, but reinforcements have not arrived. The troops, from Uganda and Burundi, come under regular attack and mostly are confined to bases in Mogadishu for safety.
Somalia has not had an effective government for 18 years, since warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. The warlords then turned on each other, plunging the Horn of Africa nation into chaos and anarchy.
Somalia's lawlessness also has allowed piracy to flourish off its coast, making the waterway one of the most dangerous in the world.
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SOMALIA: Puntland investigating "flying poachers"

(M e d e s h i)
SOMALIA: Puntland investigating "flying poachers"
NAIROBI, 22 October 2009 (IRIN) - Authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, are compiling data on foreign helicopters said to be poaching and stealing wildlife from the area while at the same time scaring off the farm animals.
"We have been getting reports in the past few months of unidentified helicopters swooping in from the sea and attacking and taking wildlife," Abdiqani Yusuf Ade, Puntland's Environment Minister, told IRIN.
He said the authorities did not have a clear picture of “who was involved or from what countries”.
Ade said Puntland was calling on countries whose forces were stationed off the Somali coast as part of the anti-piracy efforts to stop the poaching if they were involved.
(Photo: Puntland officials say the most common game in the area is gazelle (such as this one above) and ostrich (file photo)
He said the authorities had asked residents in the coastal villages to take photographs of the helicopters. "We are trying to get visual evidence to show the world. If the information we are getting is correct, what is happening is illegal," he said. "These forces are here to fight piracy; they should not be poaching our natural resources."
Noise pollution
Abdiaziz Aw Yusuf, the district commissioner of Jariban, near the area where the helicopters are alleged to be poaching, told IRIN it had been going on for some time. "They usually operate in an area between the coastal villages of Eil Danan and Dhinowda Digdigle."
He said the helicopters scattered the wildlife and once they had landed, two or three men captured the animals. He said the most common game in the area was gazelle and ostrich.
Yusuf said the noise of the helicopters was affecting the local population and their livestock. Many were lost after being frightened by the planes and stampeding. He said some had been eaten by predators.
"We have forwarded our complaints and what information we have collected to the Puntland government," Yusuf said.
Easy access
Ahmed Aden, an elder in Garad town, 5km south of the area, told IRIN the helicopters came from ships that could be seen from the land.
(A helicopter used for aid delivery: Puntland authorities are compiling data on foreign helicopters said to be poaching and stealing wildlife from the area (file photo)
Aden said because the area was flat and grassy, it was easy for the helicopters to land. He said the dust raised disoriented the animals, allowing the men on board to capture them.
"It has become normal to see them on a daily basis," Aden said. "They [foreign forces] claim to be guarding against pirates but who is guarding us and our resources against them?"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

World pirate attacks surge in 2009 due to Somalia






(M e d e s h i)
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia
Pirate attacks worldwide in the first nine months of 2009 exceeded the whole of last year's total because of more frequent raids in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Somalia, an international maritime watchdog said Wednesday.
Far more of this year's attacks have involved guns, the report said.
The number of attacks rose to 306 between January and September, surpassing the 293 incidents recorded throughout 2008, according to a statement released by the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.
Vessels were boarded in 114 cases and 34 were hijacked so far this year, with 661 crew taken hostage and six killed, the bureau said in its quarterly report.
The use of guns in the attacks more than doubled to 176 cases in the first nine months of 2009 from 76 in the same period of last year, the report added.
The higher number of attacks was due mainly to increased Somali pirate activity off the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest sea lanes, and the east coast of Somalia, which combined accounts for 147 cases, the report said.
Somalia has been ravaged by violence and anarchy since 1991 and piracy has flourished off its coast, making the Gulf of Aden one of the most dangerous waterways in the world.
The International Maritime Bureau said Somali attacks decreased in the third quarter of 2009 compared to the first half of the year because of monsoon-related poor weather. However, the pirates have recently started to increase attacks after a period of quiet.
The pirates use sophisticated equipment and so-called larger "mother ships" to enable them to strike hundreds of miles (kilometers) offshore. The multimillion-dollar ransoms they share are a fortune in their impoverished country.
Among other nations that reported significant attacks over the same nine months, Nigeria had 20, Malaysia reported 14, Bangladesh had 12, while India and Peru recorded 10 each.
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Water flows again for Beer Somaliland community

(M e d e s h i)
Water flows again for a Somaliland community

Source: Mercy Corps
Date: 21 Oct 2009
Beer (pronounced Bayer) village in Somaliland lost its water system in 2005 when flash floods hit the region, swept away water delivery pipes, and left a seasonal community well clogged with silt. Parents looked to their children for help and in turn students stayed home from school to help ferry water for livestock and household use.
Mercy Corps, with funding from USAID, recently replaced old water pipes and the pump dynamo, refurbished the community water standpipes and constructed a new reservoir at the school.
Today the community's rehabilitated stand pipe bubbles with running water and Mohamed Jama Harale, a Beer community elder, exudes excitement as he explains, "I am happy that my animals can now get water and my three sons and one daughter who are school age can get time to go to school."
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Somaliland : Life-saving water in Togdheer

(M e d e s h i)
Somaliland - In Somaliland's drought-stricken Togdheer region, Medair is delivering emergency truckloads of water to dozens of remote communities to save the lives of the most vulnerable.
"We have lost many livestock due to this drought. It's a lot of pain," said Mohamed Abdi Farah, who lives in the small village of Atena and supports a large family of 18 children. "We have been preparing to move away, since we can no longer stay here and just wait for death."
Across Somaliland, severe drought conditions have led to a mass exodus from rural areas, and the looming threat of famine and death. In May, the government declared a drought emergency, and appealed to Medair and other NGOs in "the most strongest terms" (sic) to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to those made vulnerable by the drought: 40 percent of the population.
"The situation we are facing is most frightening," wrote Mohammed Mohamed Muse Awale, Commissioner of Somaliland's National Disaster Management Committee.
Medair conducted an immediate assessment of the most critical villages, together with the Ministry of Water and Mineral Resources and a local partner. The team concluded that drinking water was urgently needed in rural communities which rely on berkads or water cisterns to collect and store rainfall.
"Unfortunately, many of these berkads are cracked and have fallen into such disrepair that what little rain does fall cannot be held within them," said Daniel Ndege, Medair's Water and Sanitation Project Manager. "Another source of water is urgently needed."
Water Trucks en Route
And so, within 10 days of the government appeal, Medair began sending trucks filled with water to villages where the need was greatest. Tearfund New Zealand provided strong funding support to make this life-saving intervention possible—an intervention that is still underway today.
We discovered that the most vulnerable people (including elderly, children, women, and the disabled) have often been left behind in these parched villages. With so little rain, and no water supply, they are left alone to die. Finding and helping them is Medair's top priority in rural Togdheer region.
"I am old and have no strength to move and look for water," said 60-year-old Guled Mohamed Agararan. "I was waiting to die because no one was left in the village. They all had moved in search for water. But Medair came to my rescue. God protect Medair and give them more funds to help the needy."
Medair also provides water for families who would otherwise join the exodus of people leaving their home villages for the long migration in search of water, like Mohamed Adbi Farah and his large family.
"We thank Medair and the donor who has given this money because we were preparing to move, since we could no longer stay here and wait for death," said a grateful Mohamed Abdi Farah. "We were like a woman suffering in the pain of labour with no midwife to help, and Medair came just before the child died. Long live Medair and the donor!"
Emergency Efforts Continue
Since May, Medair has trucked in a total of 2.9million litres of water and saved the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in Somaliland. Our efforts continue to this day, with water currently being trucked to 48 villages in southern Togdheer region.
"Once this emergency phase passes, Medair will continue with critical health, nutrition, and water and sanitation activities in the region," said Henrieke Hommes, Country Director. "We are also seeking funding to rehabilitate the broken-down community berkads so that people will be able to collect and store more water when rain is scarce."
"Medair has saved many lives since they started the water trucking in this region," said Abdirisak Mohamed Ajep, Director of Water in Togdheer region. "We have informed the president of Somaliland what Medair has done, and he has thanked the donor who funded the process.
"In addition, my people in Togdheer have asked me to give Medair a certificate of appreciation to express gratitude for the live-saving water which has kept many people alive today."
After an extensive assessment process in 2007, Medair launched a new integrated Health Services and Water and Sanitation programme in Somalia/Somaliland in March 2008 to respond to the high level of need of the vulnerable population. Our programmes focus on rural areas where conflict- or disaster-affected populations have not received sufficient humanitarian assistance, or where current humanitarian capacity is insufficient to address the most critical needs. Medair works through local partners to build the technical and management capacity of local NGOs, health workers, and national staff.
Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991. Their independence has not been recognised by the international community.
Medair brings life-saving relief and rehabilitation in disasters, conflict areas, and other crises by working alongside the most vulnerable. Its internationally recruited staff are motivated by their Christian faith to care for people in need, providing practical and compassionate support, regardless of race, religion, or politics. Founded in 1989, Medair has an unwavering commitment to bring hope to the world's most vulnerable.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Somaliland readies for presidential election

(M e d e s h i)
Somaliland readies for presidential election
Matt Brown, Foreign Correspondent
October 20. 2009
Dahir Riyale Kahin, who has ruled the autonomous region for seven years, will face two challengers.
Tim Freccia for The National
Hargeisa, Somaliland . Inside the compound of the presidential mansion here, there is a circle of blue and white tiles about a metre across lying on the ground over a dirt mound. The decorative hump amid a dusty car park seems out of place, until a guard explains that it is a memorial.
Almost a year ago, a suicide bomber drove a lorry through the front gate of the compound and blew himself up at this spot, just metres from the president’s lavish two-story house. Five people died in the blast including the president’s secretary. Another 25 died in two other simultaneous attacks in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.
Dahir Riyale Kahin, the president of Somaliland, was upstairs in his house when the bomb went off and was uninjured. Local authorities blamed the attack on al Shabab, an Islamic militia with ties to al Qa’eda that has been waging war in southern Somalia for the past two years.
The October 2008 Hargeisa bombings, a rarity in the normally stable northern breakaway region of Somaliland, underscored the threats faced by the man living in the president’s mansion.
An upcoming presidential election could install a new man in the president’s house for the first time in seven years, or it could put Mr Riyale back in the hot seat. Security will be a major issue of the campaign, as will gaining international recognition for Somaliland’s independence.
Unlike southern Somalia, which has been at war for two decades, Somaliland has a functioning government and security forces. It declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but so far no other nation recognises this and Somaliland remains a country that does not exist.
“Recognition will come sooner or later,” Mr Riyale said in an interview from his mansion. “The international community will come to the conclusion that we have a right to self determination. We are a functioning state. There is no state in southern Somalia. We have become a victim of a failed state.”
Critics say Mr Riyale, the former vice president, has not done enough to achieve recognition since he ascended to power following the death of the previous president in 2002. He has yet to articulate a concrete plan for gaining recognition for Somaliland.
The last time Somaliland held a presidential election, in 2003, Mr Riyale beat his nearest challenger, Ahmed Mahamoud Silaanyo, by a mere 80 votes out of almost 500,000 cast. Then, an amazing thing happened: Mr Silaanyo stepped down quietly. Unlike in other African countries where hotly contested elections often lead to bloody protests, Somalilanders accepted the results peacefully and went on with nation building.
This year, Mr Riyale is back seeking another five-year term. Mr Silaanyo, a 72-year-old former resistance fighter, and Faisal Ali Waraabe, a professor who spent many years in Finland, are again his main challengers.

The election, which was scheduled for April 2008, has been delayed several times, most recently on September 27, because of security and logistical constraints. Politicians say it will now take place in January at the earliest.
As president, Mr Silaanyo, an economist and former minister of commerce, said he would empower women and youth, develop the country’s natural resources including exploiting potential oil reserves and keep the nation safe from Islamic insurgents.
“The president has passed his mandate, and he doesn’t deserve to be there,” he said in an interview from his quiet residence in the former house of a British colonial official. “If we agree [with the ruling party] on one thing, that is the need to protect ourselves from al Shabab. We do recognise the threat that they represent. We are on our guard as much as we can.”
The most comprehensive plan to achieve international recognition for Somaliland is from Mr Waraabe, 58, a soft-spoken Finnish citizen who entered Somaliland politics in 2001. Mr Waraabe, the dark horse candidate in the election, said he can achieve recognition within one year if elected.
“First we need to make a viable state that respects human rights,” he said. “Then we will activate the more than 400,000 Somalilanders in the diaspora and use them to lobby to get recognition in their home countries.”
Mr Waraabe said a strong government would serve to counter violent extremism. “Terrorism is a result of anarchy. If we make a strong state, there won’t be groups like al Shabab.”
While he did not outline a specific plan to achieve recognition, Mr Silaanyo said self-determination would come once the international community realised Somaliland is the most stable region of Somalia.
“We pride ourselves in being an oasis of peace,” he said. “It is the only asset we have … Once we are more developed, we will be able to sell ourselves to the international community.”
Mr Riyale, for his part, is running on his record of creating security in Somaliland. Suicide bombers did manage to kill innocent Somalilanders last year, but that was an isolated incident, he said, and al Shabab and its sympathisers in Somaliland have been pushed underground.
“We are the only government in the Horn of Africa that is fighting terrorism,” he said. “I am doing a lot to bring stability to this country.”
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London: UDUB, Somaliland’s ruling party, in disarray


(M e d e s h i)
London: UDUB, Somaliland’s ruling party, in disarray
In the past two months, I have attended two meetings in London organised by UDUB, the ruling party of Somaliland, one in Shepherds Bush and the other in Woolwich. After this experience, I can confidently state that UDUB is in disarray. The organisers clearly lack both coordination and communication skills, as no more than 50 people were present at both meetings – despite the presence of more than 50,000 Somalilanders in London. I also observed power struggles among the organisers, as they blamed each other for the lack of supporter turnout. Most of UDUB’s so-called executives seemed to be self-nominated and without portfolio.

The best example of UDUB’s unprofessional organisation involved the scheduled arrival at Heathrow of the Somaliland Minister of Interior Affairs in the evening of Monday October 19, 2009. I was amongst those invited to welcome the minister, and others had made the effort to travel all the way to London from Sheffield, a journey of several hours. I arrived at the airport at 9.30pm, well ahead of the expected arrival time of 10pm. After spending 20 minutes fruitlessly wandering around the arrivals terminal, I called one of the UDUB representatives who had invited me to the welcoming event. I was surprised to learn that the minister had arrived at 8:30pm and already been taken to a hotel in north London by his relatives. This is an example of how poorly the UDUB party operates – both inside and outside the country. The same miscommunication and mismanagement is happening in Somaliland, but mainly escapes publicity because of the lack of freedom of press.

I have come to realise that the quality and professionalism of UDUB members is low compared to those of Kulmiye. While Kulmiye supporters include the educated and elite, they have a better chance of ruling Somaliland properly. UDUB appears to be supported by clan-oriented people who care little for the welfare of their fellow citizens. The ministers of Public Works Department, Finance, Interior Affairs and, in particular, Foreign Affairs are all examples of UDUB members who are in power because of their clan lineage.

It is about time that the people of Somaliland wake up and take the opportunity to promote those who will support good governance, democracy and prosperity for the country. In my opinion all the current Somaliland political leaders have had their day, so the public’s choice in the upcoming elections is to pick the lesser of two evils. I still believe that Somaliland needs and deserves new political leaders with fresh visions for the future, regardless of who wins this next election.
Written by M. Ali with editing of Sarah Howard
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A Young Man in Hargeisa Marries Two Women in the Same Night


(M e d e s h i)
Hargeysa, Somaliland - According to Haatuf Newspaper, a young man has married two women in the same night in Xero-Awr, Hargeysa. Even though polygamy is not uncommon in the Somali culture, marrying two women in the same night is only the second time it has been heard of in Somalia. This wedding surprised many Somalis and would even be a stranger in present day western societies.

The groom, Ismail Osman Abdillahi and the prides Gaasira Muhumed Husein and Shukri Osman Ahmed reportedly had a lavish wedding attended by a large crowd who were surprised by this rare wedding. “It is a destiny that I bring my two wives home in the same night”, said the groom Ismail Osman Abdilllahi in
response to a question about how he managed to marry two women in the same night.

On the other hand, the two prides reportedly said that they are happy to have a shared wedding with their husband.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

US drone 'shot down over Somalia'


(M e d e s h i)
US drone 'shot down over Somalia'
Islamist insurgents say they have shot down an unmanned US spy drone off the coast of southern Somalia.
An al-Shabab official said the drone had been hit by anti-aircraft fire and had fallen into the Indian Ocean near the port of Kismayo.
The claims could not be independently verified.
US forces last month launched a helicopter raid in southern Somalia and said they had killed a senior al-Qaeda suspect who was working with al-Shabab.
The BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the incident increased Islamist suspicions of US activity in Somalia.
He says that, if confirmed, it would be the first time that al-Shabab fighters had shot down a US drone.
An Islamist official told the BBC: "The suspected US aircraft had been flying in Kismayo airspace for days before being shot down two miles north-east of the town on Monday morning.
"It fell into the water and our fighters are trying to locate it."
Al-Shabab and other Islamist groups control much of southern Somalia, while the UN-backed government controls only a few parts of the capital, Mogadishu.
US forces have long been working against Somalia's Islamist groups from their military base in Djibouti, north-west of Somalia.
Story from BBC NEWS:
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Ethiopia languishes 25 years after The Great Famine


(M e d e s h i)

Ethiopia languishes 25 years after The Great Famine
Korem: "The closest thing to Hell on Earth"
Twenty-five years ago this week, Michael Buerk of the BBC filed the following report from Ethiopia, which is described as "by far the most influential pieces of television ever broadcast", about the Great Famine of Ethiopia. It is estimated that more than 1 million
people died in Ethiopia and present-day Eritrea. For much of the world, Ethiopia has become a byword for famine and suffering to this day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Somali Week Festival 2009

(M e d e s h i)
Kayd Somali Arts and Culture Presents
Somali Week Festival 2009
Friday 23 October to 31 October 2009
Oxford House
Derbyshire Street, London, E2 6HG

Kayd Somali Arts and culture in partnership with REDSEA-ONLINE.COM, and a range of national, international and local community organisations is pleased to present the Somali Week Festival as part of Black History Month. Somali Week offers the best of Somali culture both old and new, through an eclectic mix of events including, poetry, literature and music. This year’s Somali Week Festival
will focus on Censorship.
The SWF is an established festival within the Somali communities in London, nationally and internationally. It celebrates and explores the uniqueness of Somali art and culture. The festival will showcase this year mix of poetry, prose literature, Plays and music.
The festival will be launched by the Deputy Mayor of London, Richard Barnes and Ahmed Saleebaan Bidde
We are proudly expecting a range of guests including renowned Somali and non-Somali artists, academics and commentators: Amina Abdilahi, Boon hirsi, Ali Banfaz, Mahamed Jama Kayd, Ahmed Saleebaan Bidde. Said Salah Ahmed, Rashid Sheekh Abdullahi, Sheikh Mahamoud Sheikh Dalmar, Maxamed Hasan “Alto”, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Cllr Ahmed A. Omer, Hudaydi, Dararamle, Abdirahman Yusuf Arten, Warsan Cismaan Saalax, Sa’id Jamac, Suad Armiye, Shukri Sha’ni, Jaango, Ali Seenyo, Beeldaaje, Suldaan, Keyse Mohamed Yusuf, Maryan Mursal, Nimo Degan, Gaadaco, Farhaan Xidig, Abdifitaah yare, Prince Abdi, Ismail Aw-adan Ahmed Abdillahi , Abdalah Shafey, Aisha Lul , Warsan Shire., Abdi Bahdoon, Michael Newman, Global Citizenship Schools Project Worker from Tower Hamlets council, Lynn Fredriksson from Amnesty International, Abdiraxman Abees, Mustafe TIT, Beeldaaje, Aar Band, Kaltun Bacado, Yusuf Dheere Jookhle, Abdi-aziiz Ali Ibrahim Xildhibaan, Abdurrahman “Abees” Durta, Faysal Aw Abdi Anbalash, Abdilahi Awed Igeh, Ahmed Abdilahi , Awale, Abdalle Ismaan Shafey, Abdirahmaan Mahamed Abtidoon, Umar haaji-Bile Aadan, Jama Musse Jama, Mahamed Baashe H Hassan, Martin Orwin, Said Ali Shire, Mohammed Ahmed Ali (Webmaster of www.medeshi.com ) and many other dignatories..
The international aspect of the festival is an important continued development and partnership work with artists and organisations in Somali speaking territories.
For more information about the festival programme visit http://www.kayd.org/ or call 07903 712 949, please email ; http://uk.mc245.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=ayan_mahamoud@kayd.org
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US security firm to ‘protect’ Somalia


(M e d e s h i)
security firm to ‘protect’ Somalia Email This Post
October 18, 2009 by POPEYE Filed under US News
(THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS) A Grand Rapids-based security firm is taking on a job few would envy: Protect the transitional government of Somalia, a failed state and breeding ground for terrorism and international piracy.
According to the Somali government, CSS Global Inc. has been contracted to provide security consulting services and training for government forces.
In a statement released Wednesday, Somali special envoy H.E. Ali Hassan Gulaid said he is “confident the expertise of the CSS Global senior staff will prove to be a valuable asset to us in our efforts to establish a safe and secure Somalia for our citizens.”
CSS Global, an affiliate of Ada-based CSS Alliance, has furnished counterterrorism services in other African nations and provided security and logistics in Iraq. Its operations team comprises former military and law enforcement personnel, including Special Forces.
“It is going to be a huge challenge,” said Chris Frain, chief executive officer and co-owner of CSS Alliance. “This is a brand-new government being stood up with the help of the international community.”
Frain said he is optimistic CSS can get the job done.
“Our protective operations team has the experience and focus to provide strategic security services and support operations in any situation,” he said.
But in a landscape that some analysts warn could be a virtual Petri dish for al-Qaida, the challenges are daunting. Most of Somalia has remained lawless or in the hands of rival clans and warlords since the central government collapse of 1991.
The country is remembered by Americans for the 1993 battle of Mogadishu, depicted in the film “Black Hawk Down,” in which 18 U.S. soldiers died and defiant Somalis dragged the corpses of several through city streets.
More recently, Somali pirates have hijacked dozens of ships off the coast, including the brief takeover in April of a U.S. cargo ship that ended when Navy snipers killed three pirates and rescued the captain.
There is hope the contract could help the government crack down on pirate attacks, which have threatened international shipping since the 1990s.
One expert in African security issues called the political environment in Somalia “extremely difficult.”
“Somalia has been a failed state for more than 15 years,” said Fabienne Hara, vice president of the International Crisis Group, an independent nonprofit conflict resolution advocacy group. Hara served as acting chief of the United Nations mission in Sudan in 2007 and as central Africa project director for the International Crisis Group.
As clans and various Islamic factions continue to vie for power, the potential threat from al-Qaida is a “growing concern,” Hara said.
“There are foreign elements among the Islamic factions,” Hara said.
In September, U.S. special forces attacked a car in southern Somalia, killing one of Africa’s most wanted al-Qaida militants. Kenyan-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was suspected of constructing the truck bomb that killed 15 people at a Kenyan hotel in 2002.
The moderate Islamic government of Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, who became president in February, is regarded by many as the country’s best chance for stability in years.
Frain and his brother, Tim, have built CSS from a small detective and corporate security agency in the 1990s to a player in international security.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it contracted with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to protect commercial buildings and trailer parks. At its peak, it had 600 employees in the New Orleans area.
In Iraq, the firm won a Department of Defense contract in 2007 to provide personal security and convoy security as it set up a compound about a mile outside the heavily fortified Green Zone. It later won contracts to build and transport cement barriers and modular housing used by the military.
The work was not without danger: Three CSS operatives were killed in 2007 by roadside bombs while escorting convoys, two in an incident near the border with Iran and the other in northern Iraq.
Hara noted that Somalia has already undergone more than a dozen peace initiatives since the early 1990s.
Frain said he could not comment on the size of the contract or number of security forces CSS would employ because the new government is “very sensitive” to the impact that publication of that information might have on opposition forces. He said funding for the transition government comes from the Arab League and other members of the international community.
Despite the obstacles to stability, Frain insisted that it might not be as tough as the environment the firm faced in Iraq.
“As important as this is to the world that this transitional government succeed, our opinion is that maybe this would be a little bit easier,” he said.

Occupied Somalia: Ethiopian security forces seize weapons cache in Daforqalt


(M e d e s h i)
Sunday 18 October 2009
October 17, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopian security forces seized 3.7 tons of chemicals which has been in the hands of a rebel group that Addis Ababa designate it as "terrorist group", police said on Friday.
The state-run Ethiopian Television (ETV) displayed the seized chemicals and other related materials, which police said were under preparation to be assembled as explosives by the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).
The dangerous chemicals were uncovered at the remote eastern region of Somali’s Daforqalt local area, where it was kept buried. Police said some 7,ooo bullets of various types and with a potential of producing 1,850 explosives were among the unearthed from the ground.
The seizure was possible after a tip-off from an ONLF member, Abdi Mohammed Awhasen, who recently turned himself in to Government forces.
According to Police sources, Abdi Mohammed Awhasen was ONLF’s military affairs coordinator and has been coordinating the group’s activities over the past ten years in the Somali region, where the rebel group is active.
On April, 2007, members of the ONLF attacked a Chinese-run oil field in Abole, Somali region, killing some 65 Ethiopians and 9 Chinese nationals.
Founded in 1984, The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) fights seeking right of self-determination for the ethnically Somali Ogaden region saying their region has never been part of Ethiopia.
(ST)
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In Koran contest kid winner takes home AK-47 and grenades in Somalia


(M e d e s h i)
The 17-year-old winner of a Koran recital and quiz organized by rebels in southern Somalia got an AK-47 gun, two hand grenades, a computer and an anti-tank mine as prizes.
The runnerup in the month-long competition by the al Shabaab group - for contestants age 10 to 25 - received an AK-47 and ammunition at the ceremony.
Somalia's 18-year conflict now pits al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam rebels against the UN-backed government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
The radical al Shabaab is seen as Al Qaeda's proxy and has been targeting Somali children in neighboring Kenya for radicalization and recruitment.
Reuters

Somalia says Eritrea deserves punishment for chaos


(M e d e s h i)
By Abdiaziz Hassan
NAIROBI - Eritrea should be punished for threatening the Horn of Africa region by supporting Somali rebels, Somalia's foreign affairs minister said on Sunday.
The United States, Britain, United Nations and the African Union (AU) accuse Eritrea of fanning the chaos in Somalia, through provision of arms and logistical support to the radical al Shabaab rebels, seen by Washington as al Qaeda's proxy.
"Enough is enough. Eritrea has defied calls from the international community and individual countries to play a positive role," Ali Jama Ahmed told Reuters.
Early this month, Britain told the U.N. Security council it was ready to punish Eritrea for its role in Somalia.
The government in the Eritrean capital Asmara rejects accusations that it arms the al Shabaab insurgents.
Ahmed said that while the region had been trying to engage Eritrea constructively, its leadership had chosen to continue to be part of the Somalia problem.
He said Asmara had to re-engage with the region in its search for an end to the fighting and human suffering in his country.
"Eritrea has to take the right trail or face sanction which we hope the Security Council will impose soon," he said in the Kenyan capital on his way to Kampala for a meeting on Africa's 17 million refugees.
Somalis displaced from their homeland by the fighting account for a substantial proportion of those refugees.
MORE PEACEKEEPERS NEEDED
The minister said al Qaeda's presence in Somalia was not a secret and called for the AU to send additional troops.
"It is no longer in dispute that al Qaeda is active in Somalia and al Shabaab is promoting global jihad centres which is worrying Somali leadership and the region," he said.
"We need to focus on strengthening Somali security forces ... we hope AMISOM (AU peacekeepers) will be strengthened and the deployment of the original 8,000 troops will be completed soon."
Only 5,000 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers have been deployed of the 8,000 promised by the AU.
Somalia's 18-years conflict has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and driven another 1.5 million from their homes.
Pledges by the international community to help the Transitional Federal Government, in its war against al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam rebels need to be fulfilled on time, he added.
"We have to do everything in a concerted and comprehensive manner. The world has to come forward and play a more active role," Ahmed said.
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Reuters

In Somalia, a New Template for Fighting Terrorism


(M e d e s h i)
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
Published: October 17, 2009
Somalia isn’t just a nagging geopolitical headache that won’t go away. It is also a cautionary tale. Few countries in modern history have been governmentless for so long, and as the United States has learned, it would be nice to think you could ignore this wild, thirsty, mostly nomadic nation 7,000 miles away. But you can’t.
(ANARCHY : Two policemen lay dead last July. But a new government may now have an interest in allowing attacks on terrorist leaders. )
Al Qaeda is working feverishly to turn Somalia into a global jihad factory, according to recent intelligence assessments, and the way the United States chooses to respond could serve as a template for other fronts in the wider counterterrorism war. Just last month, American helicopters swept over the dusty Somali horizon to take out Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a wanted Qaeda suspect who had been hiding out in Somalia for years and training a new bevy of killers; some of those trainees are believed to be Somali-Americans who could easily slip back into the United States and do some serious damage as suicide bombers.
In a way, the daring daylight strike against Mr. Nabhan, which was supposedly part of the Obama administration’s shift from targeting terrorists with cruise missiles that often kill civilians, was a flashback. Few in Somalia — or the American military — have forgotten Black Hawk Down, the battle in October 1993 when Somali militiamen in flip-flops killed 18 American soldiers, including members of the Army’s elite Delta Force. It was a searing humiliation for the Pentagon, which had just emerged from the first gulf war pumped up on smart bombs and laser-guided missiles, but in Somalia found itself back in a Vietnam-style quagmire where high technology was no match for local rage.
Black Hawk Down made the United States gun-shy for years, contributing to its failure to intervene against genocide in Rwanda and, for a time, in Bosnia, too. The battle itself was immortalized in a so-so film and a great book — required reading for some courses at West Point.
“Never again, that was the message,” said John Nagl, a retired Army officer who was on the team that wrote the military’s new counterinsurgency field manual. “People were saying this is what happens when we get involved in small wars in places we don’t understand.”
But American policy has pivoted since 1993 to another question: What happens when we don’t get involved?
The experience in Somalia speaks to that concern as well — to the problems of ignoring any patch of ungoverned territory, especially in the Muslim world, whose anarchy might tempt the arrival of the likes of Al Qaeda.
Concern about the perils of lawlessness is not new to American policy planning, of course; it was an element in the Reagan administration’s abortive effort to help calm Lebanon in 1982. But it has acquired intense urgency since Sept. 11, 2001, and now figures heavily in calculations about Afghanistan and Pakistan, about the pace of extracting American forces from Iraq — and in a reprise of 1993, about what to do in Somalia.
The United States has never really understood this place. “I frequently marveled at how little Washington seemed to care about what was happening in Somalia during 1989-90, but as an old African hand I simply chalked it up to the low level of priority that the department almost always attached to African affairs,” said Frank Crigler, American ambassador to Somalia from 1987 to 1990. “The only question people asked us was, ‘What happens after Siad?’ ” His reference was to Siad Barre, the dictator who was ousted by clan warlords in 1991, ushering in the chaos that reigns today.
“We hazarded a few guesses” about what would follow Siad’s rule, Mr. Crigler said, “but we never came close to imagining the scenario that eventually unfolded or the humanitarian nightmare.”
A drought that swept the country in 1992 killed several hundred thousand Somalis. There was probably enough food in the country at the time. But the clan warlords, for whatever calculations, were blocking aid shipments from reaching the parched interior. In his final months in office, President George H. W. Bush set in motion an enormous peacekeeping mission — nearly 30,000 American soldiers — to feed the Somalis. This was during the heady days of the post-Soviet “new world order.” The aid eventually got through and probably saved half a million lives. But even as it was turning over the mission to the United Nations, the new Clinton administration allowed itself to get sucked into Somalia’s vortex of warring clans.
On Oct. 3, 1993, the 18 Black Hawk Down soldiers were killed during an attempt to arrest the pre-eminent warlord of the day, Muhammad Farah Aideed. In the end, Mr. Aideed’s extortionist sins were forgiven by the Somali people, who were desperate to rally around someone resembling a national leader. The United States pulled out early in 1994, having acquired a cautionary new military term still widely used today: mission creep. The United Nations left the next year, as Somalia tumbled into chaos.
Just as the United States all but forgot about Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew with their tails between their legs in 1989, the United States all but forgot about Somalia after the American military slunk away five years later. And the same thing happened. Both countries are almost purely Muslim; in both places a grass-roots Islamist movement emerged as the panacea to disorder; and in both places, Al Qaeda was not far behind. Actually, Osama bin Laden’s men may have gotten to Somalia first; Somalia is believed to have been the staging ground for the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
One widely held misperception about Somalia is that it is rabidly anti-American. This may come from the indelible images of gleeful Somalis dragging the corpses of American soldiers through the streets after militiamen shot down the two Black Hawk helicopters and a heavily armed mob finished them off. Later American policies did little to curb antagonisms. In 2006, the C.I.A. shoveled a few million dollars to predacious warlords in an attempt to stymie a competing Islamist movement. When that didn’t work, the American government supported Ethiopia, Somalia’s historic enemy, when it invaded. What followed was a nasty guerilla war that ended only when the Ethiopians agreed to leave earlier this year and the Islamists were allowed back in. Essentially, the 2006 status quo was returned, minus 15,000 Somalis, now dead.
Still, “most Somalis are not anti-American,” said Afyare Abdi Elmi, a Somali-Canadian political scientist at Qatar University’s International Affairs Program. “Most Somalis are pragmatic and they do not inherently oppose America’s involvement in Somalia per se. They reject when such involvement is associated with warlords or Ethiopians. Neither condition exists now.”
This could spell an opportunity, as the Obama administration seems to think. The United States and other Western powers have provided the new Islamist government with weapons, money and diplomatic support. While terribly weak, the government has proven to be relatively moderate, vowing to repel terrorist groups, and seeking a middle path in its interpretation of political Islam.
The United States, for its part, is helping the government in a crucial way, with pinprick counterterrorism attacks like the commando raid that killed Mr. Nabhan; these presumably advance the mutual interest of eliminating Qaeda terrorists and weakening the Somali insurgency, while avoiding civilian casualties.
So a new template for fighting terrorism may be emerging as the United States shows less desire to get involved in the local intricacies of nation building and more interest in narrowing its focus to Al Qaeda. The focus so far has been precise, limited and often covert, with attacks carried out with a parallel diplomatic strategy.
American attacks along the Afghan-Pakistani border seem cut from a similar pattern, but it may be that Somalia will prove an easier place to make the techniques work.
To Mr. Nagl, in fact, Somalia is a counterterrorism planner’s dream, with its desert terrain, low population density and skinny shape along the sea; no place is more than a few minutes’ chopper flight from American ships bobbing offshore. “It’s far, far harder to do counterterrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan than in Somalia,” he said.
What the two fronts have in common, he said, is that “you can’t kill or capture your way out of this problem. You have to change the conditions on the ground.”
The question is, after nearly 20 years of unrelenting chaos, after Black Hawk Down, the failed C.I.A. strategy and the Ethiopian occupation, does America finally understand what’s going on in Somalia?Read Medeshi feed here: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/medeshi/lhmK

The Italian Job : Bribing the Taleban


(M e d e s h i)
Silvio Berlusconi’s Government must explain payments made to insurgents in Afghanistan. There is a case for local deals, but none for unilateralism
War, said Clausewitz, is the continuation of politics by other means. The Times reported this week on a distinctive political strategy adopted by Italy in the war in Afghanistan. Italian intelligence officers have paid money, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, to the Taleban in protection money. Under the arrangement, neither side would attack the other.
When the Italians were replaced by French troops in the Sarobi district of Afghanistan last year, the newcomers believed the region to carry only a low risk, as there had been only one Italian fatality in the previous year. But the Italians neglected to mention the payments. Within a month of their arrival, ten French soldiers were killed and 21 were wounded in a Taleban attack. Related Links
US admits tackling Italy over Taleban 'bribes'
The Italian Government has furiously denied our report, including our statement that the US Ambassador submitted a formal complaint about Italian payments to local insurgents in Herat province. Opposition politicians in France are demanding explanations, and ought to receive them. We unreservedly stand by our account. Since its publication, a Taleban commander and two senior Afghan officials have confirmed that this strategy has been practised by Italian forces in this and other regions of Afghanistan.
The Italian strategy is a scandal. It is important to be clear how and why. Clausewitz’s famous dictum is often misinterpreted. The politics that the great military thinker referred to included not only the chosen goals of the State but also the external conditions within which they were pursued. And adjusting the goals to fit the constraints is part of any military strategy that has a prospect of success.
The fortunes of the US-led coalition in Iraq were transformed by the appointment in late 2006 of a new military command that had thought deeply about the requirements of successful counterinsurgency. The new strategy recognised that political gains could not be made till security was established in Baghdad and the surrounding areas. With a surge in Allied troop levels, coalition commanders deliberately sought those local elements of the insurgency that were biddable, and bid for them. The strategy was to fracture a highly heterogeneous set of forces, leaving the remnants of irreconcilable Islamist and Baathist fanaticism.
It was a calculated risk. It worked. Al-Qaeda sustained serious damage and lost important sanctuaries in Baghdad and Anbar provinces. Instead of flooding into the country, foreign jihadists turned and fled. That is the outcome that Afghanistan needs, for the welfare of its people and for Western security. It is reasonable, and conceivably even far-sighted, for coalition forces to use economic inducements to scatter the Islamist enemy. That approach would be wholly consistent in principle with the observation of General Stanley McChrystal, the Nato commander, that the coalition must operate in ways that minimise casualties and damage.

But it is unconscionable and dangerous for a nation within the coalition to pursue a unilateral strategy without consulting their allies. The campaign against the insurgents is a collective operation, conducted through Nato, designed to provide collective security. There is a role for local deals. However unprincipled they may appear to the purist, they are far preferable to the tortuous drip of military strikes that inadvertently kill and maim civilians, and cost the counterinsurgency public support.
Deals that are negotiated locally cannot be deals that are negotiated separately, however. That is the route to Allied discord, disarray and unnecessary death. That is the charge against Italy’s strategy in Afghanistan. Silvio Berlusconi’s Government must answer it.
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Source : Times Online