Sunday, 5 October 2008

“ Nepotism” mars VOA Somali Service

Washington, October 5 (Somali Press Review)—The work of the Voice of America Somali Service is being affected by nepotism, according to a report published in the Somali website
The report coincides with the recruitment of Abdullahi Nur ( aka Colombo ) by the VOA Somali Service. The report alleges that "Abdullahi Colombo has taken a standard VAO test at the time Fred Cooper was the head of Somali section of VOA. Fred assigned the test to be marked by a staff member with secret number given on his test paper. Abdullahi Colombo failed the test to the lowest grade.” Another new recrurit, "Ibrahim Hassan Dandurey, has failed the standard test taken by Nagusa Mengesh deputy director of African division in Toronto and still Yabarow helped him out to get around the process by assigning him stringer level from Toronto and, later hired him full time contract.” It is also alleged that Abdirahman Yabarow the editor in chief of VOA Somali Service assessed the test of Idil Osman unfairly, leading Fred Cooper, former VOA Somali Service Chief to assign “non staff member to correct the test again, the findings was stunning. She scored the highest grade.” Allegations about nepotism will have impact on the morale of the staff at Somali Service if the VOA Africa Service management does not investigate the matter,” says a Somali media analyst in London. The VOA Somali Service was launched in February last year. The Somali Service editor was not available to comment on the nepotism allegations.

© Somali Press Review 2008

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Somalia: Slate magazine corrects story on Somali MP

Somalia: Slate magazine corrects story on Somali MP

London, September 27 (Somali Press Review)—The online magazine, Slate, has corrected a story on the former Somali warlord ( now a member of Somalia's Transitional Federal Parliament) Mohamed Qanyare Afrah. Somali Press Review published a feature article on the Slate magazine story in August under the headline “memory fails Qanyare over a recent Somali parliament brawl.”
Our story has come to the attention of the Slate magazine piece author, Emily Meehan, who, in an email to Somali Press Review, wrote: “Mr. Qanyare told me the correct story but my tape recorder wasn't on. Later someone else told me the other story and I confused the two, and misquoted Qanyare. As you know, Somali politics are very confusing and especially for a foreigner.”
Mr Qanyare was unintentionally misquoted as saying he remembered “ the Somalia parliament chair fight was over President Abdullahi Yusuf's decision to invite Ethiopian troops to overthrow the Islamic Courts Union in Mogadishu.”
The Slate story with a correction note has been republished. The “ article incorrectly summarized Mohamed Qanyare Afrah saying he was present at a parliamentary chair fight over the Somali president's decision to invite Ethiopian forces to combat an Islamist uprising in Somalia. Qanyare remembered the incident as is historically accurate: It was a manifestation of government divisions not relating to an Islamist uprising, which occurred only later,” the correction note at the bottom of the piece reads.
© Somali Press Review 2008

Somalia: Come off it, DONALD B. KIPKORIR


Writing in Saturday Nation Donald B. Kipkorir, Kenyan lawyer, has called for the annexation of Somalia by Ethiopia and Kenya now that the entire Somali Transitional Parliament was airlifted to Kenya. Mr Kipkoris is unhappy about the actions of Somali pirates who captured a cargo ship carrying tanks and other ammunitions for Kenya.
Why is the distinguished lawyer keen on ‘letting’ Kenya and Ethiopia annex Somalia while both countries are buckling under economic and social pressures similar to those that led to the disintegration of Somalia? The answer, we presume, lies in short memory on the part of Kipkorir. Kenya is still smarting from the scars wrought by tribal civil war after the disputed elections several months ago.
Where was Mr Kipkorir when innocent Kenyans were being massacred solely for their tribal affiliations? His suggestion that “Kenya is an existential enemy of Arab countries, Sudan included” is far fetched given the fact that Kenyans will never find solace in Kipkorir’s exhortations for they know that corruption has cost them the better standard of living they are entitled to. Kenya is now based on flimsy compromises made after Kofi Anan, former head of the United Nations, succeeded to convince President Kibaki and Prime Minster Odinga to share power and rein in their supporters who held Kenya hostage for more than two months.
Donald Kipkorir could benefit from a sense of history: in 1980 the former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam and the former Kenyan leader Daniel Arap Moi signed joint defence pact against Somalia. The former Somali dictator, Mohamed Siyad Barre in a speech to people who attended a mammoth rally, likened the Kenyan and Ethiopian defence pact to Hitler’s plan to liquidate Jews. “That plan failed miserably, and this will too, “ Siyad Barre said. Ministrial delegation led by the late Justus Ole Tipis arrived in Mogadishu. The rest, to use a cliché, is history.

© Somali Press Review 2008

London, October, 28 (Somali Press Review)—A new report from Chatham House on the Somali pirates has implicated Somali president in the surge in piracy

London, October, 28 (Somali Press Review)—A new report from Chatham House on the Somali pirates has implicated Somali president in the surge in piracy off the coast of Somalia. The report coincides with the ongoing standoff between the US warship and Somali pirates who seized the Ukrainian cargo vessel carrying tanks and other weapons.
The report is an in-depth analysis of the threat Somali pirates pose not only to cargo ships but also to ships carrying relief supplies for drought stricken and war ravaged people in Somalia.
“ Money [ from piracy ] will go to [president] Yusuf as a gesture of goodwill to a regional leader” , Roger Middleton, the report writer quoted an expert on Somalia as saying although the Somali president thanked the French president , Sarkozy, for the French navy’s action to capture Somali pirates now on trial in Paris.
The Somali president’s remarks further angered pirates who overwhelmed Puntland security structure and caused more mayhem on the high seas. Somali Press Review asked Roger Middleton of Chatham House’s Africa Programme, if there was solid evidence showing the Somali president’s pecuniary association with the pirates. “Because of the lack of stability in Somalia it is very hard to trace payments, “Roger Middleton said. The Somali presidency has not so far challenged the quote in the Chatham House report.
© Somali Press Review 2008

The World Arms Pirates While It Disarms Somaliland Navy

The International community’s imprudent strategy of giving millions of dollars to pirates for ransom while refusing to provide tangible trainings and equipments for Somaliland navy because of fears that such a move would tantamount to recognition has resulted triple disasters—not only for the people of Somaliland, but also for the vessels sailing through the Gulf of Aden and for the region itself. Never before has the economic lifeline of Somaliland—exporting livestock to the Middle East—been threatened by pirates. Never before has the world seen so many hijacked ships and their crews suffering in the hands of pirates. Never before has the Golf of Aden faced environmental catastrophe. Thanks to the millions of dollars paid for ransom to free ships and their sailors. Few foreign sailors may have been set free, but the economic backbone of millions of Somaliland people as well as the safety of the Gulf of Aden face uncertainty. And the danger—environmental disasters—is growing by the minute. It is now clear that the ransom paid to pirates is equivalent to nearly Somaliland’s yearly budget. The shipping authority, Lloyd's List, warns that “ransom paid to pirate raiders off Somalia could spiral to $50 million this year, fueling copy cat attacks.” Most of this money would be spent on hiring more hijackers—they are now numbering over 1000 strong men—buying sophisticated speed boats and the state of the art weapons through the black-market. Soon pirates would be a fearless force to reckon with, in the Golf of Aden. On the other hand, in 2007 Somaliland’s modest yearly budged was only $55 millions. Worse yet, unlike the pirates it doesn’t have millions of dollars at its disposal. Additionally, because of the U.N. arms embargo imposed on Somaliland, it cannot buy weapons to defend its territorial waters. Yet the international community continually enjoys Somaliland’s cooperation in combating “terrorism” and piracy. Evidently, despite Somaliland’s meager resources, it is has launched its own anti-piracy covert military operations and apprehended pirates where a court convicted them. And unlike the Somali Transitional Government TFG and Puntland—the epicenter of sea piracy, Somaliland is known to launch strikes against pirates and human-traffickers in its territory. (Somali Regime: Epicenter of Sea Piracy U.N. slams Puntland leaders for having connections with pirates ) And clearly Somaliland’s bold moves against piracy and human-trafficking explain why its coast remains safe despite sharing both land and sea borders with Puntland. But things are now changing for worse. Currently, Somaliland navy patrols its waters, escorts ships loaded with livestock from its ports to safe areas, and meets cargo ships destined to Somaliland ports in highs seas. But pirates should by now have more boats and weapons than Somaliland navy has. Additionally, if pirates get away with it, soon their deadly arson will include 33 T-72 tanks—far more tanks than probably Somaliland has—rocket launchers and other weapons. And this changes the whole equation. The fast-growing number of pirates and the enormous cash at their disposal promoted Somaliland president to seek help from Europe. Alarmed or frightened by the power of pirates, recently President Dahir Riyale Kahin quickly flew to France, Germany and Britain as to shore up support for combating piracy which now threatens Somaliland’s economy and soon will choke its lifeline—exporting livestock—if immediate action is not taken. Multinational navies increase their presence in the Golf of Aden, and so do pirates The Europeans, Americans, Russians, Indians, and Indonesians, among others, have deployed their navies to Somalia’s waters as to fight piracy off, but to no avail. As it seems, as the number of foreign navies moving into Somalia’s sea waters increases and so does piracy. This is odd, isn’t it? But does anyone wonder why? Like any other problem, the best approach to piracy is to study its root-cause and then cooperate with the locals. In the Somali world, piracy effects Somaliland, TFG and Puntland in different ways. While the TFG and Puntland clearly benefit from piracy and human-trafficking, Somaliland suffers because of chaos in high seas. Clearly, Somaliland is the only authority capable of curbing piracy—provided that its navy is modernized to meet the challenges that piracy poses—but also Somaliland is the only effective government in the area. So what is the world waiting for, you may ask? Rebuilding Somaliland Armed forces could pose a real challenge for pirates—a far more threat than multinational navies could pose. What a ludicrous claim to make, you’d think? Evidently, the International forces would rather fire few missiles from a ship or from a helicopter than fight on the ground and get their hands dirty. And the cost of maintaining hundreds of International war warships in Somalia’s volatile waters could amount to billions of dollars. To the contrary, Somaliland holds the key to solving mayhem in high seas. For one thing, Somaliland forces require a fraction of the money that the world currently spends to battle against piracy and pays for ransom, in the Golf of Aden. For another, due to Somaliland’s indispensible expertise in the region, its people and its trains, its army would be able to launch air, ground, and naval attacks against pirates’ bases deep in Puntland and in Somalia, before pirates attack ships in the Golf of Aden. Undoubtedly, any way you look at it, rebuilding Somaliland’s armed forces is not only a cost-effect strategy to curtail piracy, but it will also bring a far better result than the multinational navy forces could deliver. However, rarely ever do military approaches alone work without offering an alternative economic incentives to those who are involved in piracy. Just as military strategies alone failed to eradicate terrorism, and so will they fall short to prevent piracy. But reconstructing the devastated Somali fishing communities, providing local fishers training and fishing equipments, cleaning up the toxic waste dumped as well as stopping the incursions of illegal foreign fishing fleets into Somalia’s sea waters, is yet another effective tactic to minimize piracy in the region. This strategy will give the Somali pirates a reason to be decent citizens again. Also, the world must not ignore the impending environmental disasters looming on the Golf of Aden. All it takes for the pirates is to attack a gigantic oil tanker and pierce a hole through its massive oil tank with a bullet from a machinegun. In short, give Somaliland what it deserves and watch piracy dwindle before your eyes. The alternative is to carry on the status queue: keep Somaliland’s hands tight behind its back, pay millions of dollars to pirates for ransom, and kiss goodbye to the Golf of Aden. And surely, the closure of the Suez Canal will soon follow. The choices are clear. The world must act now. Dalmar Kaahin javascript:top.opencompose('

Somalia: Piracy or Privateering?

Merchant and pirate were for a long period one and the same person. Even today mercantile morality is really nothing but a refinement of piratical morality.”Friedrich Nietzsche
The current situation in Somalia is bleak and disheartening. The only thing that takes our minds off our seemingly perpetual misery these days is the growing number of pirates some of whom have shown discipline, organization, courage and daring to hijack foreign ships under the very watch of the navies of powerful countries such as the US and France that have established sizable bases in our sister state of Djibouti on the pretext of monitoring terrorists based in the horn of Africa in general and Somalia in particular.
While maritime piracy is robbery committed at sea, privateering is a state sanctioned robbery also committed at sea. Privateering was used until the 18th century by some countries such as England and France to capture or destroy the ships of rival countries. Elizabeth I used to equip merchant ships to hijack and loot the ships of rival states.
The action of the Somali pirates off the coast of Somalia is difficult to categorize in many ways. While some of our pirates are in it for the money and can be classified as mere robbers, others may be classified as privateers who took it upon themselves to protect Somali shores against polluting, looting and trespassing by foreign fleets. In a recent interview with the BBC Somali Service, Sugulle, the official spokesperson for the pirates, portrayed his group as guardians of the Somali coast. He characterized the hefty ransoms demanded by them for releasing the hijacked ships as a form of deterrent for foreign ships to avoid entering Somali shores. It seems that the world is dealing with a sophisticated network of modern pirates who use modern communication methods to negotiate with the owners of the hijacked ships.
The most recent catch of the pirates is a Ukrainian ship laden with Russian T-72 tanks and rocket launchers destined for Southern Sudan, although Kenya has claimed ownership of the tanks. Since Somalia, the only enemy of Kenya in the area, is weak and needs a long time to recover and become a viable state capable of demanding and recovering the territories it lost to Kenya during the reign of the British colonialists, the tanks are most probably destined to Southern Sudan, a territory rich in oil and inspiring to break away from the largely Muslim North with the help of some western and African countries. The Somali pirates exposed this fact after getting hold of the manifest on the ship.
While Piracy is illegal, uncivilized and un-Islamic, some of the Somali pirates may be doing a great service to our lawless country. Their brazen and bold actions will definitely put the fear of God into the polluters who dump toxic waste into our unguarded waters; the looters who plunder our fishing grounds; and the trespassers who enter our territorial waters without our knowledge or prior consent.
As children, some of us may have read Treasure Island depicting a fictitious pirate known as Long John Silver and his daring exploits. The recent trilogy of the fictitious Captain Jack Sparrow in pirates of the Caribbean captures the imagination of our young generation born or raised in the West. There were also a number of real and famous pirates who captured the imagination of the west such as Blackbeard and Barbarossa, the red bearded Turkish pirate. It seems that there is something about Pirates that appeal to our human psyche.
So, will our pirates enter history as the protectors of Somali shores and inspire our future writers to spun tales around their daring exploits? Will Sugulle, the current spokesman for the pirates, and his compatriots become legendary figures such as Blackbeard and Barbarossa capturing the imagination of our future generations? Only history will tell.
I take this opportunity to wish all Somalis wherever they are a blessed Eid and a speedy end to the misery of the thousands of refugees displaced by war and drought. May God help us extricate ourselves from the mess we are in to take over from the pirates to protect our shores in a more civilized and legal way.
Ali H. AbdullaEmail:
____________Disclaimer: This article is not intended to encourage Piracy in any form and should not be interpreted as such.

Somalia: A Disappointment in the Affairs of Puntland

The Disrupted Diaspora Conference
Back in March 2008 a prominent Puntlander contacted a few of us in the Diaspora to discuss the possibility of organizing a conference in Puntland and to address the deteriorating situation there. He asked us to help him on the selection of the participants with the added instruction that the choice of the participants should be based on their character, skill, education, and experience, but also mindful of the regional and the clan balance. He also requested Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC), the premiere institution of Puntland, to host and seek funding for the conference. Eventually, we submitted the names, set the date, and suggested a tentative agenda and a schedule of the conference. PDRC also secured funding, and the conference was scheduled to start on the second week of August.There was nothing sinister about the conference and none of us had any ulterior political or personal motives. We had pure intentions and a clear purpose; just to persuade and bring the attention of the people and the government to the worsening situation of Puntland; nothing more and nothing less. Most of the participants took time from their families and work to serve a cause they thought was higher than themselves. Little did we know and perhaps naïve we were about the crude and the coarse political high jinks of Puntland. Upon arrival, the Puntland Diaspora was told that the conference was suspended and an order was issued from the highest offices of the government that no conference should take place without the prior knowledge of the Puntland government. However, PDRC informed the President and the relevant ministries, no less than three times, about the impending conference, and were given the permission to hold the conference. As a matter of fact, either the President or the Vice-President was slated to open the conference, and ten members of the government, five from the legislative and 5 from the executive, were included as participants. Therefore, we considered the suspension of the conference as capricious and arbitrary; today’s Puntland is not short of murky and arbitrary set of rules. More stunning than the ruling itself, were the poor and inadequate reasons given for suspending the conference, and some of the Ministers of Puntland were also too cavalier in using inflammatory and provocative remarks over the airwaves. Nonetheless, PDRC heeded the command and decided to postpone the conference. They also requested us to refrain from any controversy that could impair the reputation of Puntland. Therefore, I would like to applaud PDRC for choosing the moral high-ground; revenge is a dish best eaten cold.
II. A Bait and a Bizarre Invitation The President then requested a meeting with the Diaspora after he heard a growling protest from some respected elders and probably to put the best face on a bad situation. The invitation piqued our interest and we accepted it, but we also decided to express our dismay and disappointment with his decision of opposing the conference. He came to the meeting accompanied by his circle of useful idiots including the leadership of the parliament. First to speak was the vice President, a straitlaced arrogant fellow. Pursing his lips and barely able to contain his anger, he started his speech with a stridently sardonic comment, ‘Waxaan u haysanaa in shirkan uu ahaa mu’aamarad dhabarka nalaka tooganayey” which can be poorly translated into “this conference was a conspiracy and a political plot against us.”We heard an earful from him and from few other bozos, professing a pack of lies. Finally, the President spoke and admitted that PDRC informed him about the conference. He came across as more polite and respectful than his more truculent servants. However, he tried to shrink-wrap and seal the clear and unforgivable mistake he made. Most of his speech was also tangential and unrelated to the topic at hand, and was more on his obsession of drilling oil in Puntland. He could not tell us a reason or a rationale of refusing us to hold the conference.
The Dire Situation of Puntland and A Need for a Change
Puntland is at a cross-road, albeit a dangerous one. It is teetering on the brink of a collapse, and saving it needs a moral fortitude and a political will; dispositions currently lacking in the leaders of Puntland. It is facing an existential crisis caused by an unbridled greed and an insatiable appetite for power and money. The corruption that permeated Puntland and the lack of sound basic institutions created a culture of impunity where the pilfering of the public resources became a shameless and a criminal activity. The government is filled with rogue and runaway ministers who are just there to rack up the meager resources. The creation of Puntland 10 years ago gave hope and meaning to so many lives. However, many others were reluctant to believe that such a political entity will survive in the clan politics of Somalia. It so now seems that their premonition may come to pass, and so many fanatic devotees have come to believe that the whole entity might have been a futile exercise. I disagree, but I also believe that the nature of the people of Puntland is to blame for the current affair of their state. They allowed few feeble minds to rule them and wreak havoc on their future. It is not the system that determines the character of a country, but the character of a people that determines the kind of country it will be. The great British Statesman, Edmund Burke is quoted to have once said “believe me, it is a great truth, that there never was, for any long time …….a mean, sluggish, careless people that ever had a good government of any kind.” The people of Puntland are not mean and sluggish but they sure are careless about the affairs of their land. Burke also added that “great empires and small minds go ill together.” Small minds wedded to dimwitted egos cost Puntland a great deal. The young are confused and perplexed about this feckless generation that destroyed their future and the old are only left with nostalgia for the moral clarity and the mighty role they always played in the political affairs of Somalia.
IV. A Bad Omen That Might not Bode Well with UsThere is a high probability that the current Puntland administration might win the next election in January, as the alternative candidates failed to offer any substantive policy and political agenda. The likelihood of returning this regime to power might be unpardonable but clearly quite predictable. The people of Puntland are now looking forward for this upcoming election not with merriment but with melancholy and sadness. They deserve better and should do better. I am also hopeful that somehow, somewhere, things will change for the better. There might be a Houdini out there who will carry the lamp and lead the way for a better future. Let us wait and see.
Abdiweli M. Ali, Ph.D.Associate Professor of EconomicsNiagara University, NY