Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ethiopia, Kenya decided to takeover Somalia implementing their recently concluded regional security cooperation agreement and reaffirming their indefinite military occupation of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have decided to takeover and perhaps later annex Somalia under the cover of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).  Since only Ethiopia exercises uncontested power within the Organization, on December 6, 2012, IGAD Joint Committee of Ethiopia and Kenya under the auspices of former Kenyan Minister, Mr. Kipruto Arap Kirwa, IGAD Facilitator for Somalia Peace and Reconciliation (IFSPR), issued a statement and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Grand Stabilization plan (GSP) for South and Central Somalia.
As explained in the prerelease statement, the GSP covers political reconciliation, local administration, national security, rule of law, and delivery of necessary assistance to communities in need. In addition to Ethiopia and Kenya, a Somali team liaised with the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Somalia and led by former head of the Somali National Security Services (SNSS), General Mohamed Sheikh Hassan attended the IGAD Joint Committee deliberations in Addis Ababa. It is not clear if the new federal government had full knowledge of the team’s existence, working responsibilities and accountability.
The Office of IFSPR is independent from IGAD’s Secretariat. The IGAD Facilitator is based in Addis Ababa, while the IGAD Secretariat is based in Djibouti. For further background information, on April 28, 2010, aMemorandum of Understanding on Somalia has been signed among AMISOM, UNPOS, and IGAD Facilitator. This tripartite MoU marginalizes IGAD Executive Secretary, Inj. Mahboub Maalim who is of a Somali-Kenyan origin from Somalia peace process.
The new IGAD Joint Committee initiative takes place while the international community- the donor countries, the United Nations, the Arab league, the Organization of Islamic Countries and the African Union are reviewing their strategic cooperation with the newly elected post transitional federal government in the light of the decisions reached during the Mini Summit held in New York in September 2012. Furthermore, it comes out after the first official visit of the president of the federal government, Dr. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to Ethiopia and Djibouti and in the midst of his official visit to Turkey with which the federal government has signed important economic and security agreements.
Fortunately with unblinking honesty, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG), Peter de Clercq published a brief titled “What next for the United Nations in Somalia?” in the Tumblr blog of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) in which he highlighted the ongoing strategic review process dictated by the new political dispensation. While reading the brief is more informative, the DSRGS made the following critical points:
  1. That the federal Government has sought UN and AU support for rebuilding the security apparatus (national army and police force), rebuilding a credible judiciary system, implementing a decentralization and local/regional administrations as well as undertaking a comprehensive capacity building of Somali Institutions;
  2. That the UN has committed to align itself along the “six pillars” plan announced by the President of Somalia and the new UN mission will concentrate on state and peace building. He quoted President Hassan Mohamud saying to the UN Review Mission: “If you don’t start treating us as a viable State, we will never become one.”
  3. Finally that the ambitions of the new administration match the challenges ahead and that the administration has asked a space to think through and implement the new strategy laid out by the president in his “six pillars” strategy.
It is absolutely buoyant to see that an official of UNPOS is capable to voice such a rightful and honest statement in opportune time so that the end of transition would not be a farce. The DSRSG argued forcefully that “peace building is a complex business, but not giving this important [Somali] initiative a chance brings even bigger risks.” Time will tell if his views are embraced wholeheartedly and implemented without delay by his leaders. 
Rather than reinforcing the message of his deputy and five days before the signing of the MoU in Nairobi, Kenya planned for December 13, 2012, the SRGS, Dr. Augustine Mahiga, issued a statement  in which he welcomed the IGAD Facilitator Initiative for Somalia. The assertion that the new initiative is a Somali-owned, led process is far from the truth.
The content of MoU raises many questions and concerns. It consists of a preamble and 9 articles. The preamble stresses the threat of terrorism, threats of State, human insecurities, other emerging security concerns, commitment of government of Somalia to work within IGAD’s framework and stabilization, and the “required partnership engagement” for greater stability in Somalia. Article 5 of the MoU overrides and restricts the constitutional, political and administrative responsibilities, prerogative and citizens’ relationship of the Somali Government.
First and foremost, the MoU delegitimizes the federal government and pre-empts its sovereign leadership role in the internal and external affairs of Somalia. It attempts to completely abort the prospect of the international efforts geared towards statebuilding and peacebuilding in Somalia. It is takeover, not support of Somalia. Above all, it ignores the political arrangement created by the adoption of the provisional constitution, the ending of the transitional period and the rehabilitation of Somali State in accordance with the political platform announced by the new Government.
Other glaring shortcomings of the MoU include the exclusion of Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda, Djibouti and Burundi, and the empowerment of IGAD Facilitator over UN/AU Facilitators. The MoU creates multiple overlaps and weakens the centrally guided and coordinated implementation of the approved Somali National Security and Stabilization Plan (NSSP), which outlines in detail the establishment of complex structures at national, regional and district levels and the legislations required to create a secure and safer Somalia. These tasks fall under the jurisdiction of the President, Federal Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
During his first visit to Kenya in November 2012, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia stated that his country views Kenya as a strategic all-weather partner and friend in a troubled region. He also defended Kenya’s direct control of the process for setting up administrations in Jubba and Gedo regions in violation of Somali sovereignty, provisional constitution and UN resolutions.
It is interesting to see if the international community and the United Nations are willing to go along with the Ethiopian and Kenyan takeover of Somalia in violation of the latter’s independent self-governance and political transformation. The Ethiopian bid to secure its regional power role at a time of state failure, civil conflicts and undemocratic regimes in power could be potentially a destabilizing factor rather than a stabilizing power in the region.
As a matter of urgency, the federal government has to streamline its strategic dealing with the international community, develop and practice protocols and procedures for uprooting its internal dysfunctional behavior and creating disciplined working habit that will strengthen its decision making and execution process. The basis of this reform must be the development of a national political platform that will boost national loyalty to a clear domestic and foreign policy agenda. In a nutshell, to diminish the unwarranted external influences and interferences, the federal government must act quickly by mobilizing the public awareness on citizenship, sense of patriotism, justice, social harmony and common interests.

Mr. Mohamud M Uluso

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Horn of Africa: rebuilding or in meltdown? | beyondbrics

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There could hardly be a more poignant or devastating reminder of divisive instability that has spread throughout the Horn of Africa.
On Monday, I moderated a discussion panel on how arts and literature can help rebuild society in the Horn of Africa. But I shouldn’t have been there at all.
Yusuf Hassan, the intended moderator and a Kenyan MP of Somali descent, was absent because of a stark symbol, not of society rebuilding itself, but of society in meltdown: a bomb attack.
The parliamentarian was injured by shrapnel from an explosion in his Kamukunji constituency in Eastleigh, a largely Somali community in Nairobi, on Friday evening. A boy who had come up to greet him was killed instantly, among five who died. It was the second blast in three days.
Kenya’s only Nairobi MP of Somali descent, who has regularly spoken out against the al-Shabaab jihadis who control some of central Somalia, Hassan says he doesn’t know if he was the intended target of the attack.
“In the case of Eastleigh we had no idea maybe a year ago we’d be affected by some of the problems that affect people from the Horn of Africa. Many of these people have fled war, they came here for sanctuary,” he said from his hospital bed. Both his legs are fractured; his right ankle is almost severed.
“It appears the attempt is to create discord and conflict. These communities [in Eastleigh] have lived side by side for over a century,” he said of relations between Somalis and non-Somalis who commute into the city each day for work.
Somalis have become accustomed to fatal tumult in more than 20 years of instability and war. A recent return to fragments of stability as the threat of al-Shabaab ebbs may not be enough.

Ayan Mahamoud
“We have a state but we don’t have a nation,” said Ayan Mahamoud, managing director of KAYD Somali Arts and Culture, which helps put on the Hargeisa International Book Fair. She was among the panelists co-hosted by Kwani Trust, a Kenyan literary network, and the Nairobi forum, a research body managed by the Rift Valley Institute, discussing how arts and literature can help in societal reconstruction.

Hadraawi, speaking from the audience
“Poets are more important than politicians in Somalia,” she said, pointing to audience member and poet Hadraawi, famed as the Somali Shakespeare and hailed for helping to bring down the dictatorship of Siad Barre in 1991. He was imprisoned for his popular criticism for five years in the mid-1970s and later joined the opposition in exile.
Hassan, whose father was a social historian, said poetry had always had great power throughout the Horn and played a big role both in war and reconciliation. “Every poem has a role in society for peace and reconciliation after a devastating war – usually used to send a signal of peace to the other side,” he said.
The discussion is part of a week-long event, Conversations with Writers from the Horn, part of the biennial Kwani? Litfest. While Kenya’s art scene thrives, participants from other countries experience first-hand the depravities, indignities and fear of being threatened for their work.
Eighteen media figures have been killed in Somalia this year, many of whom spoke out against al-Shabaab. Panellist Meaza Worku confines her work in Ethiopia to the realm of social ills – comic books to combat HIV, radio plays to combat sexism – but dares not drift into politics. Many more write from exile.

Ayan Mahamoud, Joseph Eluzai and Katrina Manson.
Joseph Eluzai, South Sudanese short story writer and panellist, heard the shot that last week killed fellow writer, critic and columnist Isaiah Abraham outside his Juba home. Abraham, pen name for Diing Chan Awuol, regularly criticised government corruption in his writings.
Little more than a year after words from one of Eluzai’s poems were incorporated into the world’s newest national anthem, when South Sudan arrived on the map in July 2011, he is disheartened by the direction of his country’s independence project.
“The space for expression is being narrowed down to pro-government,” says Eluzai.
Photos by Paul Munene/Kwani

Sunday, December 9, 2012

AMISOM Somali troops capture Islamist stronghold Jowhar

African Union, Somali troops capture Islamist stronghold
NAIROBI — African Union troops and Somali forces seized the formerly Islamist-held town of Jowhar Sunday, wresting control of one of the largest remaining towns held by the Al-Qaeda linked Shebab, officials said.
"We took control this morning and are now establishing security in Jowhar," Colonel Ali Houmed, a spokesman for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), told AFP.
"AMISOM troops alongside Somali National Forces entered the town, there was little fighting as the Shebab largely fled ahead of us."
The loss of Jowhar is a significant blow to the Shebab, who have lost a string of towns in recent months to the 17,000-strong AMISOM force, as well as to Ethiopian troops who invaded Somalia last year from the west.
Shebab spokesman Abdiaziz Abu Musab confirmed to AFP that the extremist forces had pulled out of the town, which lies some 90 kilometres (55 miles) north on a key road from the capital Mogadishu.
"We have withdrawn our troops from Jowhar for strategic reasons," Abu Musab said, adding that the forces had pulled out without suffering any casualties and remained "close by" to the town.
"We will hunt the invaders from inside and outside Jowhar," he added.
Jowhar, the regional capital of Middle Shabelle region, had been under the Islamists' control since 2009, after Ethiopian troops in a US-backed invasion pulled out in the face of a bloody insurgency.
Its capture brings a step closer the prospect of AU troops pushing northwards being able to link up with Ethiopian soldiers ahead in the Hiraan region.
Shebab fighters are on the back foot, with AU troops also battling to open up the road northwest from Mogadishu to link the capital with Baidoa, which is held by Ethiopian soldiers.
The fighters have largely retreated ahead of each assault, with some reportedly relocating to the Galgala region of the northern Golis mountains in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region.
The Golis mountains, straddling the porous border between the autonomous state of Puntland and self-declared independent Somaliland, are honeycombed with caves and difficult to access.
The northern mountains have been under longtime control of warlord, arms dealer and Shebab ally Mohamed Said Atom, on UN Security Council sanctions for "kidnapping, piracy and terrorism."
Kenyan troops -- who invaded Somalia a year ago before later integrating into AMISOM -- have also pushed up from the south, and seized the Shebab bastion and major port of Kismayo in September.
But the Shebab remain a potent threat, still controlling rural areas as well as carrying out guerrilla attacks -- including suicide bombings -- in areas apparently under government control.
The Shebab, who abandoned fixed positions in the war-torn capital Mogadishu last year, have also carried out a series of guerrilla attacks there.
The hardline insurgents still control the small port town of Barawe, lying some 180 kilometres south from the capital.
Somalia has been in political chaos and deprived of an effective central government since the fall of President Siad Barre in 1991.
However, a new administration took office in September, ending eight years of transitional rule by a corruption-riddled government.
Over a million Somalis are displaced inside the country while over a million are refugees in neighbouring nations, according to UN figures.
The United Nations this month appealed for $1.3 billion to support 3.8 million people -- about half the population of the war-torn country -- it said are in need.
In 2011, famine in the country caused by extreme drought exacerbated by conflict caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people and affected more than four million people, according to the UN.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ethiopian forces will stay in Somalia

By Solomon Bekele   
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 09:28
The African Union Peace Keeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Ethiopian Defence Forces will stay in Somalia for an unspecified period.
“The Ethiopian Defence Force trains our security officers. The Somali Armed Forces are fighting side by side with AMISOM and the Ethiopian Defence Forces in the ongoing clash against the Al Shabab who are now largely on the run,” the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, said during a press conference at the national palace on Wednesday, November 28, 2012.
The largest gang that continues to wreak havoc in Somalia, Al Shabab, was chased out of the port town of Kismayu, in recent mop-up operations. “Our challenge now is how to implement a new legal system as opposed to the previous highly centralized government. Somalia has adopted a federal system based on the federal constitution. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past, so we are now working to empower the local people to administer themselves as per the federal constitution,” the President said. The history of Somalia statehood, after independence, informs us that there has always been a highly centralized Government.
When he was asked about the timetable for the departure of the African forces, the President didn’t openly set the date. “When the right time comes, they will depart,” he replied.
“The Ethiopian Defence Force is in Somalia to support the peace process. We are waiting for AMISOM to replace us. When we are replaced, we will pull our forces back immediately. But until we get that assurance we will remain there. We have to be sure that Al Shabab will never come back to that place again,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn said.
Asked about the situation Al Shabab is in, the President of Somalia replied that they are being defeated on the battlefield, one by one. “What we have learned from the past is that, when they faced this kind of heavy defeat, they melt away hiding within the Somali society and take time to reorganize themselves. This time, we have to carefully organize ourselves and be alert to respond before they get reorganized,” Mohamud said.
There was a reconciliation conference that took place in Addis Ababa in 1993. This process is still going on with the support of the Ethiopian government and the United Nations up to now. “We are trying to incorporate all concerned groups who wish to work together and accept the constitution and the new federal system.  Negotiations will continue until we achieve that,” he said.
The President added,  “In our joint ministerial meeting this morning we have discussed, apart from security and peace building, there is a window of opportunity for Somalia to form a stable country with the support of Ethiopia. The parliament is in place, a new president has been elected and an effective cabinet is in place. Ethiopia will assist us a lot in this administration building process.  Plus, we want to take heed of the big lesson learned from the Ethiopian federal system, which has been working effectively for the last 20 years or so.” 
PM Hailemariam on his part said that the Ethiopian government is ready to help the government of Somalia, particularly in training Somali officers, who are the backbone of peace and security and for the stability of Somalia.

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Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.