(from the archives - Last edited May 2, 2008)
“Twenty years ago we had a strong government, with maritime forces and armed forces, and ships to defend our waters,” says Abdi Haji Gobdoon, spokesman for the Somali government. “There was never any problem like this.”
“At the moment, we have no ability to protect the waters or defend against the pirates,” he said by telephone from the Somali capital. The fledgling government controls only a small portion of the capital, let alone its 1,879 miles of coastline. He added that requests for financial assistance or technical help had been made repeatedly to donor nations, but continued to fall on deaf ears.
“No one wants to help us with this. I don’t know why, because it is a problem for everyone now,” he said. “They send ships but we need stability on land.”
According to Amnesty International, the girl was 13 and had been raped by three men.
Officials say she was 23 and had confessed adultery before an Islamic court.
The stoning, which took place on October 28, is the first public killing in war-torn Somalia for two years.
Convicting a girl of 13 for adultery would be illegal under sharia law but the authorities said she had lied about her age. Print and radio journalists who were allowed to attend the execution put her age at 23.
Amnesty and Unicef, the UN children's agency, said that the girl, identified as Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, was raped while travelling to see a relative in Mogadishu, the Somalian capital.
Her family is said to have tried to report the crime to the militia who control Kismayu, only for Aisha to be arrested and accused of adultery. None of the men she accused of rape was detained.
There are various news reports of activity off Somalia today, looks like the French are still active.
The French Navy intercepted the pirates in two small boats about 115 miles (185 kilometers) from the nearest coast, finding anti-tank missiles, other weapons and ship boarding gear on the boats.Another news report quotes the state minister of Puntland Abdi Qadir Yusuf as saying “We received nice (criminal) pirates from French navy forces today and we will put them on trial soon.”
The nine were handed over to Somali officials, and French officials received assurances that the prisoners would be treated according to international conventions.
From the American perspective, Susan Rice and Jendayi Frazer have been at the center of the country’s policies towards Africa, albeit instructed by their knowledge of the continent’s problems and interest in the welfare of the people. I have heard Dr. Frazer argue, off the record, against the counterproductive outcome of Africa’s dependency on foreign assistance, loans, and grants. Susan Rice, during her tenure at State Department had “in your face” attitude towards protecting the lives of displaced people on the continent when she had to communicate with the ruling class elements at hostile spots on the continent. With Susan Rice in charge of United States policy towards Africa in an Obama administration, the Darfur issue will be solved. Because of these instances, I’d advise Pres. Obama to keep one of these ladies in the White House and the other at the State Department.
Another advantage for Africa for keeping Susan Rice and Jendayi Frazer in an Obama administration is the fact that they are aware of the aspects of United States’ policies towards Africa in the past 15 years that the African people disagree with. For example, Africanists have held the view that the selective approach towards eligibility to participate in the AGOA program has tended to single out countries on the continent characterized by “good governance” for reward. It is believed that not offering similar opportunities to all countries on the continent tends to hurt the citizens of the countries who already suffer from lack of “good governance” conducted by their rulers.
This is the story of Somalia’s booming, not-so-underground pirate economy. The country is in chaos, countless children are starving and people are killing one another in the streets of Mogadishu, the capital, for a handful of grain.
But one particular line of work — piracy — seems to be benefiting quite openly from all this lawlessness and desperation. This year, Somali officials say, pirate profits are on track to reach a record $50 million, all of it tax free.
“These guys are making a killing,” said Mohamud Muse Hirsi, the top Somali official in Boosaaso, who himself is widely suspected of working with the pirates, though he vigorously denies it.
More than 75 vessels have been attacked this year, far more than any other year in recent memory. About a dozen have been set upon in the past month alone, including a Ukrainian freighter packed with tanks, antiaircraft guns and other heavy weaponry, which was brazenly seized in September.
The pirates use fast-moving skiffs to pull alongside their prey and scamper on board with ladders or sometimes even rusty grappling hooks. Once on deck, they hold the crew at gunpoint until a ransom is paid, usually $1 million to $2 million. Negotiations for the Ukrainian freighter are still going on, and it is likely that because of all the publicity, the price for the ship could top $5 million.
In the first day of their meeting, NATO Defense Ministers found common ground in the fight against Somalian piracy.
NATO officials said the seven frigates from a group that were to have taken part in an exercise in the Suez Canal region would arrive off the Somali coast within two weeks in response to a request from the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP).
Robert who? The New Republic and Paul Wolfowitz have come up with the same idea. The James Kirchick at the New Republic argues that Robert Mugabe is only President of Zimbabwe because we believe him. But if we don’t, then what’s he going to do?
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, is the legitimately elected president of Zimbabwe. Or at least he should be. … So here’s a question for Senators Obama and McCain. Back in April, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer declared Tsvangirai the winner of the March 29th election, and certified that he won over 50% of the vote. Recognition of him as the duly elected president of Zimbabwe — with all of the diplomatic measures that would imply, specifically spelled out today in a New York Sun editorial — should have been forthcoming, yet the State Department has been reluctant to go that far. With Tsvangirai hiding in the Dutch Embassy for fear of his life, will either of you call upon the United States to recognize him as the elected president of Zimbabwe?
Washington - When Pentagon strategists sought to create a new military command to oversee Africa, they believed they could build one that deemphasized military might and would serve as an exemplar of what so-called US soft power could do around the world.
But in recent months, the Pentagon has had to scale back its ambitious vision to adapt Africa's political terrain, military officials acknowledge, adding they remain committed to the original idea of a military command to promote peace in the region.
For now, officials have ruled out basing the headquarters anywhere in Africa and may in fact locate it on the East Coast, a senior defense official says. They have also backed away from selling the new command as a full "interagency" organization that spans military and nonmilitary entities.
UNITED NATIONS, May 1 (Reuters) - Eritrea, which earlier this year obliged a U.N. peacekeeping force to leave its disputed border with Ethiopia, is now calling for the Security Council to wind up the mission altogether.
The demand, in a letter from the Red Sea state's permanent U.N. representative, came after the council, in a statement issued late on Wednesday, said it would consult Eritrea and Ethiopia on the future of the 1,700-strong force.
The force, known as UNMEE, had patrolled the border since 2000, when a two-year war between the Horn of Africa neighbors ended. It pulled out in February, saying Eritrea had cut off fuel supplies, and most of its troops have returned to their countries of origin.
Eritrea said countrywide fuel shortages had prompted the cutoff, but has made no secret of its disillusion with the United Nations for failing to enforce a border ruling by a boundary commission that favored Asmara.
In its latest statement on the issue, the Security Council again condemned Eritrea for its actions but said it was "ready to assist the parties to overcome the current stalemate, taking into account the interests and concerns of both parties."
"The Security Council will, in the light of consultations with the parties, decide on the terms of a future U.N. engagement and on the future of UNMEE," it said.
This apparent increase in the brutality of attacks may be caused partly by a recent American decision to classify the Shabab (youth), the Islamic Courts Union's former military wing, as a terrorist group. Battered by Ethiopian attacks and by infighting between sub-clans engaged in the insurgency, Shabab fighters now probably number fewer than 400. But America's decision to demonise them has boosted jihadist commanders such as Aden Hashi Ayro, strengthening his reputation for piety and anti-Americanism, which has itself been boosted by recent missile attacks that have accidentally killed civilians.
But it is not all gloom. Al-Qaeda's bid to make Somalia a base for its global franchise has so far failed. There are probably no more than a few dozen foreign fighters left in the country. Of the three al-Qaeda men believed to have been involved in bombing the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, one, Abu Talha al-Sudani, has been killed; another, Saleh Ali Nabhan, is said to be isolated and close to being captured or killed. A more formidable al-Qaeda man, Fazul Muhammad, may have been in Kenya several times in the past year but is no longer thought to command Somali jihadist fighters. Informants say he is on the run and that, when he has the time, he likes to watch classic Disney films.
So Somalia is not yet a lost cause. After 17 years of anarchy and bloodshed, its GDP per person is still higher than Ethiopia's or Eritrea's. Somali traders still influence the price of commodities across the region. The country limps on, even without much aid; the trade in livestock to Saudi Arabia during thehaj is worth a lot more than foreign assistance.
Moreover, there has been progress on the political front. Moderate Islamists and elders from the disaffected Hawiye clan, which provides the secular nationalist bit of the insurgency with most of its fighters, say they are ready to strike a deal with President Yusuf. The price of a unity government would be the departure of the hated Ethiopian troops but it is no longer a precondition. A deal must offer the Hawiye enough to keep them on board, but not so much that it alienates other clans. Finding the balance in a maelstrom of hunger and killing will be hard, but not impossible.