Posts Tagged With: Horn of Africa

Review of Horn Politics

Following Somali politics is like baby-sitting a five-year old toddler with hyperactivity. Just in the past two weeks, Somalia has managed to get another first, one-of-a-kind accomplishment: two ‘prime ministers’ for about a week despite the fact that this so-called government is under Ethiopian military occupation and controlls nothing more than couple of neighborhoods in Mogadisho and Baydhabo (Baidoa). As it happened, warlord ‘president’ Abdullahi Yusuf ‘appointed’ a new prime minister in defiance of ‘parlament’ because the current one, Nur Hussein,  has been doing too much peace negotiations with the various clan, nationalist, and religious oriented opposition groups who have been waging Iraqi-style insurgency against his Western/AU/UN backed fantasy-government.

In fact, two years ago this week, the Ethiopian military invaded Somalia with the backing of Washington and the European Union in order to get rid of Somalia its little, six-month old return to peace under the Union of Islamic Courts. Just has been the case everywhere else, the term “Islam” in the Union of the Islamic Courts’ name  brought up end-of-the-world vision for Washington and immediately dispatched CIA, not-so covert operation aimed at removing the Union of Islamic Courts, who were widely acknowledged for bringing peace and stability to the country. Instead of dealing with the Courts directly, the brilliant minds behind US foreign policy makers decided to fund warlords, who have been committing egregious atrocities against the Somali people since 1991. The strategy, like all evil-intentioned ones, backfired spectacularly. The Union of Islamic Courts, with the help of the business community and the civilian population, defeated the warlord alliances backed by the CIA in June, 2006. Six months of peace and order returned to the country. Of course this was overlooked and the UIC’s heavy sharia enforcement was focused on in the preparation of foreign invasion. The international press had a significant contribution in demonizing the Union of Islamic Courts (not that the UIC were angels), and lionizing warlords, thugs, US-backed Ethiopian invasions, and propping up bunch of murderous warlords as politicians.

Fast-forward two years later, the fantasy-government invented by the West for Somalia has essentially collapsed (not that it existed in reality in the first place). The tolerable Union of Islamic Courts has turned into a hardcore movement, Al-Shabab. The already catastrophic humanitarian mess has turned into a shitty humanitarian catastrophe. Millions of Somalis are being fed by U.N. food aid, while hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people are internally displaced into refugee camps. And piracy of the coast is thriving more than ever. With all of this mess, could there be any good news? Perhaps.

‘Prime Minister’ Nur Hussein, the one the ‘Somali Parliament’ approved, and his warlord ‘president’ Abdullahi Yusuf have been fighting over how to deal with the insurgency, the Ethiopian occupation, and the various other problems facing the country. To his credit, Nur Hussein, who is not a warlord, has been proactive in trying to negotiate an inclusive peace deal that includes the removal of foreign forces, particularly Ethiopian, from Somali soil. Warlord Abdullahi Yusuf, who has benefited from the blood and treasure of Ethiopia and the West, inexorably refuses to deal with anyone who’s interested in peace and reconciliation. Two weeks ago, Warlord Yusuf tried his last trick by first announcing his intentions to get rid of Nur Hussein, which he did not have the power to do so because it’s the parliament that can remove the PM. The parliament unanimously approved the continuation of Nur’s leadership, a blow against Yusuf’s thuggish rule. Despite pledging he would stick by the parliament’s decision, Yusuf, like all tyranical warlords, announced one of his henchman as prime minister. Everyone laughed at him, including his staunchest allies – Ethiopia, the US, and the African Union.

The AU and Kenya followed with a la carte sanction against Yusuf and his thug friends personally. Perhaps this was the silver lining. Or Warlord Yusuf simply knew it was time to go, saving his octogenarian head from certain beheading. He announced his resignation today, Dec. 29 2998, from the presidency ‘he was entrusted’ with, as he said in his announcement to the parliament in Baydhabo. He immediately flew to pirate den in Puntland, where now it will be more easy to cash in for the piracy ransom he has cultivated during his tenure. I, for one, think this is a good news. It sure won’t fix Somalia’s mess, but perhaps it will start a trend – a hopeful one where warlords are left in the pages of history rather than propped up as politicians. Ethiopia “announced” more than a month ago that it will withdraw all of its troops from Somalia by the end of 2008. Two days before the year is up, they’re still there. In the past few days, they’ve magically extended the deadline to leave Somali soil to, gasp, Jan. 5, 2009. Make up your mind, Zenawi. 

With Warlord Abdullahi Yusuf and Ethiopian occupation out of the picture, Somalia’s future, contrary to the ill-informed Western press’s favorite soundbite, is more bright today than it was yesterday. That doesn’t say a lot, but it sure won’t be worse than it was during the past two years under Warlord Yusuf and Ethiopian military occupation, as so-called ‘security/terrorism experts’ and ‘foreign correspondents’ love to invoke how Al-Shabab will take over, and obliterate everyone. No one knows what will happen in Somalia, but the departure of Abdullahi Yusuf and the Ethiopian military is a good thing all around. May 2009 be the year peace and stability returns to the Horn. 

Happy New Year, nomads.

Categories: Africa Related, East Africa, Somalia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

An Obama Administration and the Horn

Now that the dust has settled and we’ve all had a chance to either celebrate or not, let us ponder what this change in the White House may mean for the Horn of Africa. Granted, America’s overall foreign policy philosophy will not change, regardless of the Change Mantra we have gotten use to. Starting with the positives: an Obama Administration means diplomacy will have a significant role in bringing the warlords-led Transitional Federal Government and the opposition. Unlike Bush, Obama has the knowledge and pragmatism that many of the problems in Somalia require.

The negatives, however, maybe more than the positives – at least right now. Will President Obama reject anything that has to do with the Union of Islamic Courts? Will the same mentality in the State Department that has brought us such policies as handing out cash to warlords continue to prevail in Obama’s policy towards the Horn? Or will Obama’s two year stint in the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee give him an insight to develop a new course for the Horn? These are the $64,000 questions. For the first time since 1993, we Somalis should be optimistic for the future and expect some changes for the Horn’s gangsters, Abdillahi Yusuf & Meles Zenawi.

Categories: Africa Related, East Africa, Elections, Somalia | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Famine in Sight in Somalia

Woke up this morning, had a toasted sandwich and a coffee. I logged in online to read the day’s news. The catastrophes of Burma and China are still on the headlines but there is also Safia Ali‘s story on the front page of the NYT’s website. The resident of Dagaari, central Somalia and mother of five is dying. She is dying from hunger alone. She hasn’t eaten in seven days. More than likely, her five children will follow too – unless food is delivered right now.

Safia and her children are perfectly healthy but over a year of drought has caused the obliteration of their livelihood – their animals. There is no farm harvest to speak of. Not to mention the violence between the resistance and the Ethiopian military has prevented aid from reaching almost anywhere in southern Somalia. Just couple of weeks ago the next biggest town near Dagaari was bombed by the U.S. military going after Aadan Hashi Ayro, member of Al-shabaab. In retaliation, Al-Shabaab has been going after anything Western, including aid workers.

Although the drought is an act of the Almighty, the violence between the resistance and Ethiopia is hastening the complete annihilation of the Somali people. Most of us Somalis in the diaspora know exactly the ugly face of famine in Somalia. The question now is how long will it take for the international community to realize the perfect tsunami they have created in Somalia with the Ethiopian invasion and ‘War on Terrorism’ double-down? More importantly, will Somalia has to reach the famine catastrophe of 1991 before any attention is paid to Somalia again? 

But then again, thousands of Safia Alis will not get the benefit of an answer to those questions, because more than likely, they would already be dead. And I, more than likely, will block the images of dying Saifa Ali and her children the next time I’m enjoying my french toast and coffee. 

Categories: East Africa, Somalia | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

The Palestine of Africa

I’m sitting in the library of my school, very comfortable with music blasting from my laptop through my bluetooth headset wondering when I want to go eat something. Yet someone in Somalia that I know is starving, sick, or displaced by fighting. At this moment a lot of thoughts are going through my head – from regret, shame, sadness, to flat-out anger. I know I can’t do anything for those that are suffering in Somalia – former friends, schoolmates, neighbors – while I’m enjoying my life and its privileges here, yet I’m haunted and saddened by these facts. How can I wonder about when and what to eat while knowing someone that I’ve known in my previous life is unable to find anything to eat, much less than decide when and what to eat?  

Like the people of Palestine, Somalis are being punished for being human beings. Like Palestinians, they’re being occupied, denigrated,  killed, raped for being a human being. For more than a year, Somalis have been suffering under the transgression and genocide-intended occupation of Ethiopia with tacit and military support of the Great Democratizer THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Report after report, every humanitarian organization in the world has declared Somalia as the worst man-made (of course by USA) humanitarian disaster in the past 15 months- worst than Iraq (USA again), Sudan and Congo, thanks to Mr. George W. Bush.  How can someone do these horrible things and claim to be the follower of Jesus (Peace be with Him)? How can a human being do this to millions of people and sleep at night? How can he? 

Moreover, only one country in THE WORLD has spoken against Ethiopia’s illegal transgression and occupation of a sovereign nation since the invasion and that was Italy, I believe (I could be wrong). As reported by aid agencies, two million Somalis live on hand-out from humanitarian aid – that is about 25% of the whole country. And if I’m doing the math correctly, some 80% of the population of the capital city Mogadisho have either been internally displaced or murdered by an “internationally recognized troops.” Yet only few media outlets are reporting this catastrophe caused by George W. Bush and Meles Zenawi. Why? Why has the press turned its back on its duties? Why aren’t we seeing images of children with bloated-stomachs hanging from their mother’s dry breasts? Why hasn’t anyone and I do mean anyone report this injustice being done to the people of Somalia? Perhaps the world has had enough of Africa’s sufferings. It is a shame.

Categories: Africa Related, East Africa, Reality Check, Somalia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Biggest Joke on the Planet


The plight of Somalia is a joke. No, I have not lost my mind or abandoned my idealism. The fact is, it bothers me to see few people cause so much suffering and deaths. I still don’t understand why there is a civil war in Somalia. In every other civil war there is now, we can point to a cause – say, Darfur=oil, Iraq=oil, Congo=natural resources like diamonds and other gems, and so on. However, I really don’t understand what Somalis are fighting over. Did I miss some oil or diamond discovery in Somalia? Or is it that Somali politicians are the worst kind of human beings? Why can’t these tribes, clans, subsclans…get along just for the sake of their self-preservation? Or is it more lucrative to keep fighting over nothing, hate over over nothing, destroy each other over nothing? What is going on here?

I don’t want to go extreme right-wing nutcase here, but I’m inclined to agree with the argument of not sending any help to Somalis rotting in and around Mogadishu because we are our own very worst enemy, and as such, sending millions of dollars into Somalia as an Aid so the monstrous warlords, including Bush and Zenawi’s handpicked octogenarian head of warlords, can continue to savagely destroy what is left of Somalia. Nor do I want to see the destructive clannish bullshit politics weather away whatever solidarity that was left, if there were any to begin with.

A report released by the U.N. earlier this week described Somalia as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, even worst than the guilty-filled Westerner’s favorite, Sudan. It turns out that sending Somalia’s worst outside enemy to Somalia was just what the doctor ordered – how genius! Funny though, this is the same organization that blessed Ethiopia and Bush to go ahead and invade Somalia but when they realized that they made a poo-poo, they write a damn report. But my favorite bit about this report is the awesome admission of the U.N. itself that, yes, the Union of Islamic Courts were guys that were useful. In an interview with the New York Times earlier this week, U.N. Somali Director Erich Laroche, “now concede that the country was in better shape during the brief reign of Somalia’s Islamist movement last year”. Mr. Laroche admits, “It was more peaceful, and much easier for us to work,” Mr. Laroche said. “The Islamists didn’t cause us any problems.” It is funny that these over-paid knuckle heads can’t figure out the simplest problem. Somalia never needed a damn peace-keeping nor did Somalia ever needed damn warlords as leaders. Yet, the West continues to believe in warlords as the future of Somalia. Although it doesn’t help to have continues infighting for position of leadership.

I mean, what is so attractive about a leadership post in Somalia? There is no resources to leech or live in luxurious lifestyle from public funds. Perhaps I’m missing something here. There must be something that these clans value soooo much more than their own people’s welfare. As the ‘new’ Prime Minister was announced today, who is apparently from the Abgal clan to replace the recently fired Mohamed Ali Gedi, the Habergedir clan -an important clan in Mogadishu, automatically announced that they will not be supporting this new PM, even though he hasn’t been to Somalia since 1991 and have no blood on his hands…just because he is from Abgal. I mean, I would understand if they just said; “We won’t support this PM because this so-called government is illegitimate to begin with.” But no, their explanation was that this post should have been theirs. What? Why does it have to be clan thing when the government is just plain illegitimate? Man, I don’t understand Somali politics or Somali clan affiliation. However, I do understand that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how terribly stupid it is to put clan affiliation above everything else in life. It just seems mind-blowingly primitive. More importantly, it is the ultimate self-destructive tool that the rest of the world long ago abandoned. Maybe Somali will get to that in, say, 2057? I can’t wait!!


PS: This isn’t a thesis or some important manifesto. It is just my 2 cent on what is going on in Somalia so please don’t write me ‘I hate you’ or ‘you are traitor.’ I already feel that so I don’t need someone else telling me such a thing.


Categories: Africa Related, Somalia | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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