Monday, October 22, 2012

Ethiopia sacks the president of Somali Region | Somalilandpress.com

AFRICA

Ethiopia sacks the president of Somali Region

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Abdi Iley
The Ethiopian federal government has sacked the president of the Somali regional state according to reports in the regional administrative capital Jigjiga.
The ouster of Abdi Mohamud Omar comes on the heels of growing local, regional and international accusations of widespread abuses in the region.
Mr Omar has been accused of torturing, killing and the disappearance of hundreds of Somali civilians in the restive region in eastern Ethiopia.
He is said to have been using the notorious and often lawless paramilitary Liyu Police and until recently no evidence of the abuses has reached the outside world. The Liyu police operate in the same manner as Sudan’s janjaweed militia who are said to be responsible for much of Darfur’s unrest.
Swedish Television released last month video evidence smuggled out of Ethiopia documenting and revealing gruesome human disaster of staggering proportions. Many villages in the Dagahbur district were leveled to the ground during 2010 operations.
This year the Liyu police also carried out summary detentions and execution of civilians in Gashaamo, Harshin and Baligubadle towns. Human right groups said, more than 50 civilians have been executed by the group led by Mr Omar.
The international court of justice has not so far issued a warrant for his arrest for his roles to known and well documented abuses despite new evidences.
According to reports in the region, the Ethiopian government equally plans to scrap up the Liyu Police militia and replace them with the regular federal army.
The exact motives behind the sacking of the Somali State premier is not clear but he was recently summed up to Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian government fears the growing anger over Abdi’s rule and his militia might further fuel reprisals and help create new armed groups in the conflict-ridden region. Since his appointment the conflict spread into new regions that was relatively stable prier to his appointment two years ago.
This is some what a damage control for the government under its new leadership. No one has been appointed so far but his deputy, Abdifatah Mohamud Hassan is the acting state regional president.
All the leaders of the region has been ousted by Addis Ababa even before completing their terms unlike the other federal states in Ethiopia.
The latest effort to bring the government and the rebel ONLF group to a round table collapsed last week in the Kenyan capital. The Ogaden group accused Addis Ababa of blocking negotiations by urging them to accept the Ethiopian federal constitution as precondition for further mediation.
Bordering Somalia and Somaliland, the Somali regional state is one of nine federal states in Ethiopia and is mainly inhabited by ethnic Somalis.
The footage below shows Abdi Mohamud Omar visiting villages where hundreds have gone missing just hours before and after his visit. People who spoke against his crimes have disappeared all together and relatives of the missing civilians have urged the international community to arrest Mr Omar. They say they deserve justices and their voice should be listened to like the people of Libya, Syria and South Sudan who for many years lived under repressive regimes.
Somalilandpress

Sunday, October 21, 2012

AMISOM and Somali forces take Wanla Weyn - YouTube

AMISOM and Somali forces take Wanla Weyn - YouTube: ""

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African Union troops take over Kismayo airport - YouTube

African Union troops take over Kismayo airport - YouTube: ""

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Somalia’s fishermen make a comeback - Somali Breaking News & Video Community


 Somalia’s Fishermen Make A Comeback

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Somalia’s fishermen have long struggled to make a living, in the face of piracy and illegal fishing by foreign trawlers. Increased demand for fresh fish is making the industry lucrative once more, but fishermen say they need more protection from the government. Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri reports from Mogadishu.

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Somali pirates free ship after nearly 2 years - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) - A pirate commander in Somalia says that a cargo ship was freed after being held captive for nearly two years.
Hassan Abdi said Saturday that a $600,000 ransom was paid for the MV Orna on Friday. But he said six hostages are still being held by the pirates on land. Pirates shot and killed one of the ship's crew members in August over delayed ransom payments.
Abdi said that other ships towed the vessel away because it had run out of fuel.
The MV Orna, which is owned by a UAE company, was hijacked 400 nautical miles northeast of the Seychelles in December 2010.
Indian Ocean pirate hijackings are down drastically this year thanks to improved on-board defenses, but pirates still hold six ships and some 170 crew members.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hamburg Court Hands Down Somali Pirate Sentences - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Lawyers argued that their clients had acted out of desperationZoom
DPA
Lawyers argued that their clients had acted out of desperation
A court in Hamburg has handed down prison sentences to 10 Somali pirates who hijacked the German freighter cargo ship MS Taipan in 2010. The trial lasted almost two years, making it one of the longest in postwar German history. It was hampered primarily by linguistic difficulties and problems establishing the age of the defendants.
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Lasting 105 days, one of the longest trials in postwar German history ended on Friday with the judges sentencing 10 Somali pirates to between two and seven years each behind bars.

ANZEIGE
Prosecutors charged the men with attacking the MS Taipan in the Gulf of Aden, some 900 kilometers (560 miles) off the Somali coast, in April 2010.
The crew of the Taipan, which sailed under a German flag, fled to a secure room within the vessel and cut power to the engines. Dutch naval forces from an anti-piracy vessel boarded the container ship after its captain issued an SOS and overwhelmed the Somalis, who were handed over to German authorities several months later.
A Mild Verdict
The court found the 10 pirates guilty on charges of kidnapping and conducting an attack on maritime traffic.
The men's ages range from 19 to 50 but remain unverifiable, since they did not all know their exact date of birth.
"I was born under a tree," one of them had replied when asked about his place of birth.
The three youngest were given two-year sentences, while the other seven were given sentences of six to seven years.
The court ruling in Germany's first piracy trial in around 400 years will come as a disappointment to public prosecutors, who had called for sentences of six to 12 years for the seven oldest of the accused and four to five and a half years for the two youngest.
Their defense lawyers had variously argued for acquittals, reduced sentences and for the case to be dropped.
Critics also described the expensive, potentially precedent-setting trial as a waste of taxpayer money.
Roots of Piracy
At the opening of the trial, defense lawyers issued a joint statement saying the real cause of piracy in the region was political unrest in Somalia and over-fishing of its waters by Western nations.
In personal statements, the defendants appealed to the court for leniency, citing the humanitarian situation in Somalia. Millions in the wartorn country are threatened by acute food shortages and a lack of basic necessities.
"My home country has fallen apart," said one of the defendants through his interpreter. "I ask the judge to be fair."

The second to the last day of the trial, the defense lawyers declared that a case like this never should have been permitted to take place in Germany in the first place. "We are presuming here to apply law according to our German ideas on people whose living situations we cannot even begin to imagine," said Rainer Pohlen, the lawyer for the youngest defendant.
The court, however, disagreed, finding claims that the defendants had been coerced into the kidnappings to lack credibility. In the ruling, leading judge Bernd Steinmetz said the court had been "certain that all 10 defendants should be convicted." He said the pirates had hoped for a ransom payment of at least $1 million. Looking at the defendants, he said: "Each of you had been expecting a share, even if just a small one."
Representatives of German shipping companies supported the decision to try the Somali pirates in Hamburg. "Piracy is a crime, and criminals belong in court," Ralf Nagel, the head of the German shipowners' association (VDR). Nagel said that because the ship had German registry, the trial had to be held in Germany.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Breakdown of who financed African force in Somalia - The Washington Post


  •  Major contributors to financing and equipping the counterinsurgency force in Somalia:
        
         — The U.S. has dedicated $338 million to training and equipping AMISOM and Somali troops.
         — U.S. money has equipped AMISOM with ammunition, a “small” number of rifles, armored personnel carriers, communications gear and hand-held surveillance drones. Before the troops deploy, the U.S. buys them boots, uniforms, bullet proof vests and helmets. And U.S. money supports Somali troops with non-lethal equipment.
         — The U.N. in 2009 began giving logistical support, food, and housing. The support budget for AMISOM troops in 2012 was $437 million.
         — The European Union pays the soldiers of AMISOM $1,028 a month and trains Somali troops at a site in Uganda.
    Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 Major contributors to financing and equipping the counterinsurgency force in Somalia:
         — The U.S. has dedicated $338 million to training and equipping AMISOM and Somali troops.
     — U.S. money has equipped AMISOM with ammunition, a “small” number of rifles, armored personnel carriers, communications gear and hand-held surveillance drones. Before the troops deploy, the U.S. buys them boots, uniforms, bullet proof vests and helmets. And U.S. money supports Somali troops with non-lethal equipment.
     — The U.N. in 2009 began giving logistical support, food, and housing. The support budget for AMISOM troops in 2012 was $437 million.
     — The European Union pays the soldiers of AMISOM $1,028 a month and trains Somali troops at a site in Uganda.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

IGAD request lifting of arms embargo, time extension for AMISOM

The member states of Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) requested that both permanent and temporary members of the United Nations Security Council lift the arms embargo imposed on Somalia and extend the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) before the end of October 2012 through their diplomatic mission in Addis Ababa last Friday.
The request was thought to be the result of improved  peace and stability in Somalia.
“The current situation in Somalia both politically and militarily is hopeful. It has a new constitution, parliament speaker, two deputy speakers, President and Prime Minister. We in IGAD are extremely happy with the peaceful manner in which the election was conducted. This indicates that Somalia has opened a new chapter of peace and stability. We are encouraged by the new development in Somalia,” said Birhane GebreKirstos, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia while speaking about the current situation in Somalia and the need to lift arms embargo imposed on Somalia two decades ago last Friday in his office.  
“Al Shabab has been weakening both politically and militarily. It has been politically isolated by Somali people in particular. The people are extremely fed up with recurrent war, conflict and unrest. They are really looking forward for a normal life which a major development,” added the acting Minister.
The request was the result of a meeting of Ambassadors of IGAD member states that took place on October 05, 2012 in Addis Ababa. The ambassadors addressed successful power transition, underlined the achievement of AMISOM and Somali National Security Force, stressed the need to build an enhanced level of security for the whole of Somalia by integrating all armed Somali National Security Forces under one command structure, the need to lift the arms embargo on Somalia and the renewal of the AMISOM mandate.     
Recently, Al Shabab lost control of some strongholds including Mogadishu, Afgoye, Baydowa, Merka, and Kismayo. It has been squeezed out from other territories in Southern and Central Somalia with the help of the Ethiopian and Kenyan Military Forces leaving vast territory to the hands of Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG).   
Asked when the Ethiopian armed force would withdraw from Somalia, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, said that ‘no need for rush to withdraw’.
“The decision has all along been to help the TFG. We will withdraw our troops as soon as possible. We are not going to create a vacuum in the transitional government. We expect AMISOM troops to be able to fill the gap before we withdraw. So, at this stage there is no need for rush to withdraw,” argued the late Primer. It seems the same holds true this time around too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Somalia: Fighting Erupts Near Burhakaba On Afgoye--Baidoa Corridor

Photo: Capital FM
Al Shabaab members (file photo).
Wanlaweyn — Fierce clashes has erupted on Tuesday between Somali forces backed by AU peacekeeping soldiers and Al shabab militants in the main road linking Mogadishu to Baidoa city, reports said.
The combat reportedly sparked this morning as Somali and AMISOM forces moved closer to the rebel-held Buurhakaba city, just about 180 Km northwest of Mogadishu.
Local residents reported that both sides have used heavy artilleries fire and machine-guns during the clashes, forcing people to stay in doors and stop movement in Leego and Yaqbariweyne villages outside the town.
It was immediately unclear whether there have been any casualties in the battle on either warring sides or local civilians.
But, Ibrahim Yarow, an army commander told Shabelle Media that his forces have executed on Tuesday a pre- planed and over measured attack against the Al shabab in the city, seizing two strategic villages close to Buurhakaba town located on the main road to Baidoa city.
Though Al-Shabab has been pushed back in the ongoing offensives, their deadly ambush and face-to-face attacks and bombings still haunt theLower Shabelle region.

Minneapolis’ Somali experience may hold lessons for Toronto police - Somali Breaking News & Video Community


As Toronto police try to find and prosecute those responsible for shootings that left six young men of Somali descent dead in just four months, there could be lessons learned from Minneapolis police, whose recruitment strategies are helping bring down crime in that city’s Somali enclave.
All six men in Toronto were fatally shot since June, and only one arrest has been made — that of Christopher Husbands, who has been charged with murder in the death of Ahmed Hassan at the Eaton Centre on June 2.
Police and relatives of the other victims have made numerous pleas for information in those deaths, but there have been no breakthroughs.
Abdulle Elmi, whose cousin of the same name was shot and killed on July 5, wants answers.
“We want the community to come forward,” said Elmi, said, speaking of the approximately 18,500 people in the Toronto area of Somali origin.
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“It’s not a matter of the community not assisting the police, it’s more the community and the police not developing an understanding, cohesion or any form of trust to have a very constructive conversation about how to deal with these situations.”
Until about five years ago, Minneapolis was struggling with a similar problem among its large Somali-American community, a significant portion of which is concentrated in the Cedar-Riverside neighbourhood — also known as “The Motherland” — in the south of the city.
In mid-2006, the police force deployed Mohamed Abdullahi, an officer who came to the United States as a refugee in the 90s from Somalia, in south Minneapolis, including the Cedar-Riverside neighbourhood. He was joined in 2008 by another officer of Somali descent, Abdiwahab Ali.
Since 2007, several key crime statistics, including robberies, thefts, burglaries and aggravated assaults, dropped in the area. There were no homicides in the area in the past two years, although a triple homicide occurred in nearby Seward in 2010. And Minneapolis police are attributing the drop in crime in part to the efforts of the two officers.
“People thought: ‘Well, you have this large Somali population, and you really don’t understand them, and you know, they’ve got different cultural ethnicities or centrics that you really don’t understand. How could I as a Caucasian?’” said Richard Stanek, the sheriff of Hennepin County, where Minneapolis is located.
“What we’ve told them is it doesn’t matter which culture it is. Once you have that robust community outreach and you build those trusted partnerships and relationships, we fall back on our community-oriented policing philosophy and strategy in order to build those relationships with the community itself.”

‘It’s all about respect’

The team assigned to Cedar-Riverside, known to locals as officers Mo and Ali, walk the beat and patrol the neighbourhood in their cruisers. CBC News came along with the officers during their patrols in September, and the two displayed an intimate knowledge of the neighbourhood and a familiarity with its residents.
“You kind of humanize yourself. Later on they don’t see you as wearing blue, it’s like ‘Hey, what’s up guy?’ They’re more open to telling you stuff, because they’re more comfortable,” said Abdullahi, who lived in the area before joining the police department.
On one drive through the neighbourhood, Ali noticed what he believed was a new car parked on the street, which he identified as belonging to a suspected gang member who was arrested but never convicted on a murder charge.
A few minutes later, the officers come across the alleged gang member playing basketball. Speaking in Somali, the officers urge the men to stick to basketball for the day, which they said they would do.
“See how we’re having a regular conversation with him? That’s weird, yeah? But it’s all about respect. Nothing personal,” said Abdullahi.
And on another patrol of the neighbourhood, the officers are approached by a man who says he is willing to identify a gunman who fired shots in the area two nights earlier.
Speaking in Somali, he says he didn’t call 911 at the time, but he’s happy to give details to the two officers.

Increased enforcement not always the answer

One neighbourhood resident praised the two officers for turning around the area.
“They are good people. I think they are the neighbourhood’s saviours. They help out the neighbourhood a lot,” said Abdishakur Ahmed, who came to Minneapolis from Somalia 18 years ago and has family in Toronto.
“Before they came here, there was a lack of communication between the [Minneapolis police department] here and the young folks. Now we’ve come to an understanding and we can see the neighbourhood is really safe and is a good environment to walk around in.”
Police in Toronto also have a strategy to target troubled neighbourhoods. The Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy has teams of specially trained officers engage with high-crime neighbourhoods by day and conduct patrols and step up enforcement at night.
But Toronto police said they don’t keep track of the ethnic origin of their recruits, although police noted they do have a dedicated language line that callers who don’t speak English are directed to.
Flooding a neighbourhood with police, however, is not a tactic the Minneapolis police employ, although Stanek, the sheriff, says it helps to a degree when there has been a spate of crimes in the area.
“That is not the way to police a community or a particular ethnicity. And the reason is is because it’s very suppressive,” said Stanek.

Somalia’s Fragile Hope Is Linked to Ethiopia - Somali Breaking News & Video Community


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By Hassan Hussein — MINNEAPOLIS — No sooner had Somalia’s clan-appointed legislators elected a president, the first in more than 42 years in this Horn of Africa nation, than Kenyan troops dislodged the Islamist military group Al-Shabab from its last stronghold, the port town of Kismayo. As important a turnaround as this is, it hardly signals that two decades of anarchy have been overcome.
Although African Union troops have diminished Al-Shabab’s capabilities, this translates neither into its defeat nor increased legitimacy of the fledgling Somalian government. More importantly, a viable exit strategy is as elusive now as it has always been.
Moreover, the death in August of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, architect of Somalia policy, presents both opportunities and dangers. Although the first official act of his successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, was to attend the swearing-in of Somali’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, he lacks sufficient footing within the Ethiopia’s military, security, and political establishments to wield real power. He also faces a host of mounting internal challenges, not least the growing discontent among Ethiopia’s restive Muslim population.
Somalia has long confounded the world. Numerous attempts to reconstruct a legitimate state have failed. Turning the current glimmer of hope into the dawn of a new beginning requires a departure from the well-travelled road of leaving the region’s interlocking web of insecurity unaddressed.
The unstable nature of the region’s security is a fitting metaphor to describe both the redrawing of Africa’s sacrosanct colonial borders and the birth of liberation movements.
Ethiopia is the geographic, demographic, political, and economic center of the Horn. It shares boundaries with each of the countries of the Horn: Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, and South Sudan. All major ethnic groups living elsewhere also live in Ethiopia. Its religious, ethnic, and linguistic diversity is unrivalled. As such, developments in Ethiopia reverberate throughout the region.
The nature of Ethiopia’s regime fuels Somalia’s instability. While making up a mere 5.8 percent of the population, the predominantly Orthodox Christian Tigreans maintain absolute monopoly over all levers of power. Despite its dominance, the Tigrean oligarchy is possessed by a pervasive sense of paranoia.
This plays out in projecting an aggressive stand against both domestic and foreign threats, real and imagined. The new prime minister, Hailemariam, is from an even smaller ethnic group, the Walayta, which comprises 2 percent of Ethiopia’s population of 94 million. His elevation to the premiership has not altered Ethiopia’s power equation.
Somalia’s troubles are far from over. How to fully integrate the south with the autonomous region of Puntland and the de facto independent state of Somaliland is not even broached. Reconstituting Somalia would be a staggering endeavor even in the best of circumstances. More so when that task is entrusted to the deeply insecure Tigrean minority elite that harbor a perennial fear of Somalia becoming a launching pad for Ethiopia’s opponents. This remains the weakest link in the Somalia strategy.
The strategy confronts Somali leaders with a perennial dilemma: On the one hand, to appeal to their compatriots and risk arousing the fear of external powers, mainly Ethiopia or, on the other hand, to gain Ethiopian sponsorship and alienate their base. The lot of Mohamoud is no different. The attempt on his life in September during a meeting in Mogadishu highlights the fragility of the situation.
Al Shabab’s defeat is necessary but insufficient for Somalia’s regeneration. Solving Ethiopia’s internal insecurities through democratization is also essential. Al-Shabab is a byproduct of Ethiopia’s 2006 disastrous intervention in Somalia.
What has Ethiopia’s democratization to do with stabilizing Somalia? Everything.
To an extent, today’s Ethiopia is analogous to apartheid South Africa of the 1980s. Growing domestic resistance in South Africa plus brutal cross-border operations by the military wing of ANC in Angola, Mozambique and Namibia was a nightmare scenario for the apartheid regime that led to increased domestic repression. Once democratic elections in 1994 ushered in majority rule under Nelson Mandela, the country ceased to be an exporter of instability.
As was the case with apartheid South Africa, Ethiopia’s stability is a facade bought at a stiff price—repression of domestic dissent and Somalia instability.
Zenawi’s death opens a window of opportunity. Unless the nexus between regime insecurity in Ethiopia and Somalia’s instability is seized upon, the African Union’s courageous efforts could be easily reversed—Al-Shabab and a plethora of clan militia wait on the wings to fill the vacuum should the effort falter.
Hassen Hussein teaches courses on leadership and decision-making at the Minneapolis campus of Saint Mary’s University. He contributes to the website opride.com. He can be reached athxhussein@gmail.com.

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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.