Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ethiopian Kenyan Scramble for Jubaland Southern Somalia

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Influential Somali political actors from the Jubba and Gedo regions of southern Somalia have been engaged in discreet talks in Nairobi in the last two months aimed at cobbling together a broad-based cross-clan interim administration to take charge of the region once the port city of Kismayu is liberated.
Somali sources close to the Karen talks, sponsored by Kenya and attended by officials from Ethiopia and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, admit the negotiations have been “difficult”, but add modest progress has been achieved, without going into details.
Journalists have been locked out of the talks and delegates are believed to be under strict instructions not talk to the media. A group of disgruntled delegates were threatened with expulsion last month after their grievances were aired on Somali radio stations.
The veil of official secrecy surrounding the talks is feeding the rumour mills and making it difficult to independently verify the claims of progress, but there are indications Kenya’s efforts to stabilise the Jubba Valley may be finally disarming the sceptics and paying dividends.
A Western diplomatic source in Nairobi said “a positive momentum has built up, likely to improve the chances of success”.
This may not be a ringing endorsement, but certainly indicates a subtle positive shift in the international community’s attitudes towards Kenya’s attempts to influence the post-Shabaab politics of the Jubba Valley.
This is diplomatically significant and Kenya does now appear to be getting a few things right.
However, to earn greater trust, but above all to succeed, it must proceed with caution and resist the temptation to impose a solution.
1. Greater inclusivity: Much of the past opposition to the Kenyan-backed political initiative to create a regional government in Somalia’s Jubba Valley rested on the perception it was not adequately inclusive. After much debate and extensive consultations the Kenyans have realised the process was not sufficiently representative.
Since the beginning of the year, Kenyan officials have been busy reaching out to some of the aggrieved clans like the Harti Darod and Bantu Wagosha communities.
While it is not yet clear if the fears and reservations voiced by these clans have been sufficiently addressed, the mere fact representatives from these clans are now engaged in the talks to create a more inclusive administration is in itself positive.
This in effect reopens the political process and complicates the Azania leadership’s timetable and plans to relocate to the liberated territories, but it is the right way to go. A stable and well-governed Jubba that affords Kenya a measure of security is only feasible when a more inclusive administration is created.
However long or difficult the process to create such an administration, that must be the goal. Anything else will be a quick fix unlikely to serve Kenya’s national interest;
2. Keeping Ethiopia and Somalia on side: Ethiopia is now involved in the Jubbaland talks and appears to be working closely with Kenya to encourage Somali clans to reach a political settlement on a post-Shabaab administration.
This is a positive step that may in time ease the recent tensions, rebuild trust and mitigate against the risks of destructive rivalry and competition in Somalia. The presence of Somali officials at the talks is also crucial and must be maintained to ensure wider Somali buy-in and ownership;
3. Amisom and stabilisation: By joining Amisom Kenya has undertaken to work towards the stabilisation of the whole of Somalia and not just one part of Somalia. The initiative to stabilise Jubba and the broader stabilisation plan for Somalia are not mutually exclusive.
It may sound obvious, but nonetheless it is worth repeating: Kenya’s chances of securing its national security interests in Somalia are best served through multilateral action and by working with the rest to achieve wider stabilisation. It is not possible to stabilise one part of Somalia when the rest of the country is engulfed in war and conflict.
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

For Somali pirates, July high water high patrolling difficult t


Private guards and international naval patrols – and some rough seas – have prevented successful high-seas hijackings by Somali pirates since June 19, the first zero-attack month since 2007.

By Mike Pflanz, Correspondent / August 8, 2012
Five Somali pirates, who have been sentenced to a jail term of 20 years each, sit in court at the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa August 8.
Joseph Okanga/REUTERS
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NAIROBI, KENYA
As the trade winds shift on the Indian Ocean and Force 7 gales kick up fierce swells, all but the hardiest of Somalia’s notorious pirates stay home with their boats pulled up on the beach. 
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There have always been a few, however, who continued to roam what have become the world's most dangerous waters, continuing the hijacks even as the weather worsened during July and August. 
But new figures from the International Maritime Bureaushow something different for this year’s monsoon, currently in full force on the waters off the Horn of Africa
Since June 19, Somalia’s pirates have not successfully taken any vessel hostage, and since June 26, they have not even tried to carry out a hijack. 
This marks the longest unbroken stretch of peaceful shipping off Somalia since piracy emerged as a major menace in 2007, and the drop has been attributed to a greater use of armed guards on ships, international naval patrols, and the bad weather. 
“This is traditionally a quiet time for pirate attacks, but there have still always been a handful [of] incidences even during the monsoon months of July and August,” says Cyrus Mody at the IMB’s office in Britain.
“However since June 26 this year, we have seen no activity whatsoever in the southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Arabia, or the Somali Basin.”
This is already after a 60 percent reduction in pirate attacks in the first six months of 2012 compared to the same stretch last year, from 163 incidents to 69. Despite this, Somali pirates still hold as many as 191 crew and up to 14 merchant vessels and fishing boats. 
“We’ve learned a lot about piracy and we’re being a great deal more proactive in disrupting their activities,” says Rear Adm. Duncan Potts, operational commander of the European Union’s anti-piracy mission, Operation Atalanta.
Roughly three dozen warships from the US Navy, Britain's Royal Navy, EU countries, NATO,RussiaChina, and India are currently on anti-piracy patrol in more than 2.5 million nautical square miles of sea off the Horn of Africa, an area the size of the continental United States


Their new tactics have involved helicopter gunship attacks on pirate logistics bases onshore for the first time, and targeting teams working together in what are called “pirate action groups.” Merchant ships' captains have been taught how to accelerate and maneuver to evade attack. Hulls are festooned with barbed wire and powerful water hoses are used to deter pirates as they try to climb aboard. 
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Efforts have also been made on shore to increase alternative ways for people to earn a living, in theory robbing the pirates of manpower. Perhaps most importantly, there has been a significant surge in the use of armed guards on vessels. 
“There has been a quantum increase in the number of private armed security contractors being deployed by the shipping industry, and they have had to date a 100 percent success rate preventing hijacks,” Adm. Potts says.   
A majority of vessels passing through the Gulf of Aden and the northwest Indian Ocean are now thought to be carrying contracted armed guards, who are mandated to protect ships first with warning shots and then with direct fire. 
“The naval forces would perhaps dispute this, but I would say that private security is by far the major factor, not the warships,” says Stig Jarle Hansen, an expert on Somali piracy based in OsloNorway. “Pirate commanders I have spoken to onshore tell me that it's those armed guards they’re most afraid of. It means that they just don’t target the most valuable ships any more.” 
In 2009, the most successful year for Somali pirates, one in three vessels that were targeted ended up hijacked and their crews held hostage.
By late last year, that figure was as low as one in 20 for the most valuable prizes, most of which now carry private security staff. 
That has forced the remaining pirate cells to target fishing boats of limited value rather than large oil carriers, cargo ships, or private yachts. 
“No-one really wants to hijack a Tanzanian fishing dhow, hold it for a year, and then get almost nothing at the end of it,” says Mr. Hansen. 
“The return on investment is now just too low, and pirate leaders are basically saying that they are getting out of piracy and going into other business, like kidnapping.” 
That does not mean that the pirates have beached their boats for good, however. Once the monsoon passes, many are expected to be back at sea. And there were warnings that international cartels who fronted the investment to put pirates to sea would “bide their time and then come back” once the flotillas of warships left or on-board private security was cancelled. 
“All of this tactical and operational progress is however easily lost if we do not irreversibly change the strategic context on the ground that allows piracy to exist in the first place,” Potts says. 
“If all of our vessels moved on, and the shipping industry slowed down its vigilance over security, word would soon enough get around. Piracy still is one of the best ways to earn a living in Somalia.”


IN PICTURES: Somali pirates

Friday, August 3, 2012

Somalia: National Constituent Assembly Adopts New Constitution

Mogadishu — Delegates to the Somalia's National Constituent Assembly (NCA) adopted Wednesday a new constitution for the horn of Africa country in 9-day gathering, the first in 52 years, ending the transitional period.
An 825-member constituent assembly, with delegates representing Somali clans and civil society debated the constitution for night-days, approved the constitution with 621 for, 13 against and 11 abstained from voting.
Somali prime Minster Abdiweli Mohamed Ali announced at the end of the approval session that Somalia has a constitution and the transitional period is ended, saying: "Today is a historic day for the Somali community and our country. today is the end of piracy and terrorism."
Aside from approving the new constitution,Somalia's leaders must before then also select a new 275-seat parliament and elect a new president on august 20.
For the duration of meeting, there have been two explosions, one on Wednesday (July 2, 2012), a gruesome suicide attacks by two bombers that detonated their explosive belts near the main entrance of the talks venue inMogadishu's Hamar-jabab district, after the security guards opened fire on them and shot them dead before entering the site.
A soldiers was injured in the suicide attack, witnesses said.
Al shabab, which tied to Al Qaeda, claimed the responsibility for the attacks.

About Me

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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.