Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Somali Diaspora: "Ethiopian brutality continues, UN and US complicit"

While many of us are celebrating holidays of peace and good will, the Somali Diaspora Network reminds us that thousands of Somalis are still suffering and dying as a consequence of Ethiopia's US-backed invasion of their country. Its latest press release charges that the world is guilty of ignoring the tragedy and calls upon the international community, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, the Africa Union, and the United States, to:

  • Intervene immediately to stop the bloodshed, the displacement of civilians, and further destruction

  • Put pressure on the Ethiopian government to immediately withdraw all its forces from Somalia without precondition or delay

  • Facilitate all inclusive dialogue among warring groups and the formation of unity government followed by free and fair elections

  • Bring to justice those who ordered or implemented the massacre and the forced displacement of civilians

NOTE: To read more about the Somali Diaspora Network, the newly established "Somali Cause" coalition of which it is a part, and the two-day conference in December at which it was formed, click here.

U.N. Unwilling to Condemn Renewed Ethiopian Military Atrocities in Somalia

Fairfax, Virginia, USA, 24 December 2007: Once again, the Ethiopian military and militias loyal to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) have intensified their campaign of indiscriminate shelling, systematic killings, detainments, and utter destruction resulting in the deaths, injuries, and maiming of many civilians, mainly women and children and renewed forced exodus of Mogadishu civilians.

According to the United Nations, the increased violence of the past weeks has caused the forced exodus of an estimated additional 100,000 civilians, mainly women and children, as such adding another layer of complexity to the alarming humanitarian crises already underway as an estimated over one million internally displaced Somalis are suffering from lack of basic services essential to their survival.

On October 30, 2007, 40 international NGOs have released a joint statement ominously warning against a gathering cloud of humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia urging the international community to respond to this man-made calamity as the Ethiopian forces and militias loyal to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) callously prevent the delivery of food aid, and bluntly stating that “there is an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in South Central Somalia”. The United Nations’ Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche, noted trucks carrying relief supplies to southern and central Somalia are often
faced with up to 200 different roadblocks. [Source: VOA 10/26/2007]

Ethiopia’s invasion and occupation of Somalia is a flagrant violation of the provisions of Resolutions 1725 (2006) and 1744 (2007)). Ethiopia also willfully violated the UN Charter, Article 2 (1) that describes the UN as being an institution “based on the principle of sovereign equality of all its members.” Furthermore, Article 2 (7) clarifies that nothing in the UN Charter authorizes intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.

The brutality of the occupation has been described as the worst atrocity of the Somali civil war: According to The Hague Conventions, Article 23: “It is a war crime to launch an indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population in the knowledge that such an attack will cause an excessive loss of life or injury to civilians”. Moreover, the Geneva Conventions are part of U.S. law- being ratified by Congress and by the President. Therefore Ethiopian leaders and their Somali counterparts could be found guilty of war crimes under the War Crimes Act of 1996 which carries the death penalty for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

The Ethiopian occupation forces have been committing gross human rights violations, indiscriminate shelling and targeting of civilians, targeted assassinations of those opposing the occupation, and rape thus creating poisonous environment where perpetual war in the Horn is not unfathomable. These gross human rights violations have created the humanitarian tragedy currently unfolding in Somalia. The complacency of the international community at large and the United States and the UN Security Council in particular have resulted in failure to bring this calamity to the forefront, let alone prevent its continuation. A disaster Alex Perry of Time magazine describes as being “on a par, in numbers and acuteness, with Darfur. The U.N. says 1.5 million people need assistance, of which a mere 60,000 are getting it.” [Source: Time Monday, Nov. 12, 2007].

It is within that backdrop that the Somali Diaspora Network (SDN) condemns the global complicity that made it possible for Ethiopia to invade in the first place and the lack of action and outrage from the UN and the larger the international community. We regard this silence tantamount to support of the atrocities committed by the Ethiopia’s occupying force. It is particularly egregious since the United Nations and Unites States provide financial and diplomatic support to the TFG in whose name these atrocities are being committed. SDN calls upon the international community, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, the Africa Union, and the United States to:
• Intervene immediately to stop the bloodshed, the displacement of civilians, and further destruction
• Put pressure on the Ethiopian government to immediately withdraw all its forces from Somalia without precondition or delay
• Facilitate all inclusive dialogue among warring groups and the formation of unity government followed by free and fair elections
• Bring to justice those who ordered or implemented the massacre and the forced displacement of civilians

ABOUT SOMALI DIASPORA NETWORK (SDN) – SDN is a grass-roots organization committed to advocate on critical policy matters pertaining to Somali-American interest and issues of concern through communication and information sharing, raising public awareness, and educating the public and government officials.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

"Americans do not want to know the evil they have committed against the poorest nation on earth." -- Anon.

Please take the trouble to read the
comment posted by "Anonymous" regarding my recent exchange with NYU graduate student Julie W. (carried in the four entries preceding this one). Although "Anonymous" is harshly critical of my government for supporting the Ethiopian invasion and financing Somali clan warlords, I believe his complaints are generally valid and certainly worth pondering.

I also recommend taking a look at the YouTube video"Anonymous" refers to near the end of his/her comment, which he says explains "why America invaded somalia." Although dated, it shows rare footage of Somalis at work in Mogadishu while it was under the control of the United Islamic Courts, with views I had not seen before.

Here's the beginning of "Anonymous's comments." Read the rest by clicking on "Read more!"

Any human being would be shocked to know what america has been up to this year in somalia.

Not only has the united states financed financially and politically the ethiopian invasion of somalia, they have also actively took part in the war.

In one point, they killed 200 nomadic somali's in the somali countryside with powerful AC130 gunships, all this in the name of fighting terror.

The ethiopians are a poorly trained army that are deeply disliked by the somali people.
The ethiopians have batted the capital city with their tanks thereby driving 1.5 million somalis out of the capital city.

Now we have a serious humanitarian crises in somalia, where 1.5 million somalis do not have access to clean water or food or even shelter.

If anyone would like to know what made america do all this, it is because the somali people drove out the hated evil warlords who were the same ones that killed 600, 000 somalis and 18 american marines.
When the somalis got rid of the warlords that setup a new government called the islamic courts union.

There was one problem, america did not like the idea of seeing somalia having an Islamic government even though the government brought 6 months of peace and stability to somalia and chased out the warlord gangsters.

My friend, that is why somalia is not in the media, and that is why the Americans do not want know one to know the evil they have committed against the poorest nation on earth.
But the rest of the world especially the middle east watch on their screens the daily violence that america has created in somalia even though the western media make no coverage of the disaster in somalia.

Here is a video that explains, everything, why America invaded somalia, its a good interesting video, enjoy.

Now in somalia we have a terrible situation, the warlords are back in power but this time there are ethiopians that are raping and killing somalis.
So the hell that the somali people were in has become a greater hell.

I just wish that george bush and key members of he's administration can be taken to court in the future for crimes against humanity if there is any justice in this world.
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Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Why does Somalia receive less international attention than Darfur?"

Julie W., a graduate student in Global Affairs at NYU, e-mailed me a set of four thought-provoking questions about Somalia's future. With Julie's consent, I'm posting her questions and my replies in four successive posts. (To read the posts in their proper order, begin here.)

Here is Julie's fourth question:

A UN representative recently said that the current situation in Somalia was the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa. Why do you believe that the humanitarian crisis in Somalia has received so much less international attention than the situation in Darfur?

. . . and my response:

Sad to say, ever since our humiliating retreat in 1993, most Americans have not wanted to hear about Somalia at all. Our purposes in "invading" Somalia in 1992 with a massive show of military strength were far more altruistic than were the Ethiopians' last year, and the results -- at least initially -- were far more positive and humane. But, as we know, after our efforts had saved tens of thousands of Somali lives, things went sour, largely because we Americans undertook to repair the "root causes" of Somalia's problems by force. When Gen. Aideed and others resisted our repair efforts, most Americans reacted -- not unreasonably -- as if we'd had our hands bitten while trying to feed people. Never mind that it was far more complex than that, the result has been that Americans have generally been unsympathetic to humanitarian crises afflicting Somalia ever since.

What's worse, since 9/11, Americans have been led to believe by their government that Somalia, in its perpetual state of anarchy and violence, was an ideal "breeding ground for radical Islam" if not a training camp for al Qaeda suicide bombers. Accordingly, they've registered little surprise that their government has not only condoned but encouraged and supported Ethiopia's invasion of its neighbor under the banner of the "war on terror."

Darfur, meanwhile, has been a poster child for humanitarian intervention, a place where hateful Arab rulers have tormented and brutalized virtuous and impoverished black farmers by unleashing horse-mounted killers called "janjaweed" (as evil-sounding a name as you could possibly think of!) to burn their villages and rape their women. How could good and evil be more clearly delineated? How could we not come to the rescue of the people of Darfur? (To my mind, what's been inexplicable about Darfur is how slow we've been to come to its rescue. Perhaps it's because we're afraid of having our hands bitten once again. . . .)

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"When will Ethiopia withdraw its troops from Somalia?"

Julie W., a graduate student in Global Affairs at NYU, e-mailed me a set of four thought-provoking questions about Somalia's future. With Julie's consent, I'm posting her questions and my replies in four successive posts.

Here is Julie's third query:

Ethiopian troops remain in Somalia and have been engaged in hostilities with insurgents in Mogadishu in recent weeks. One incident, in which Ethiopian troops were dragged through the streets by insurgents, was eerily similar to the “Blackhawk Down” scenario involving U.S. troops. Do you think that Ethiopia now faces the prospect of being drawn into a long-term occupation of Somalia? Do you foresee a scenario under which Ethiopia would withdraw its troops?

. . . and my response:

I'm not sure what you see as "eerily" similar about the two incidents involving barbaric treatment of captured foreign soldiers by angry Somalis. But certainly they share a common theme: a suitable response to similarly barbaric treatment at the hands of foreigners:

• The 1993 incident involving brutalization of U.S. troops in Mogadishu followed on the heels of an even more brutal U.S. gunship TOW-missle attack, aimed at disrupting a meeting of several dozen respected Somali elders who had gathered, we later learned, to discuss dumping the infamous General Mohammed Farah Aideed and suing for peace with the Americans. Scores of men, women, and children were killed in the incident. (See Mark Bowden's version of the attack on "Abdi's House," pp. 72-74 of "Black House Down"; sadly, this incident was omitted from the grossly one-sided movie version of Bowden's book.)

• The 2007 incident that involved dragging captured Ethiopian troops through the streets of Mogadishu likewise occurred in the wake of a callous military attack on unarmed civilians, in this instance indiscriminate bombardment of civilian neighborhoods of the city by the invading forces; and it similarly caused a very considerable death toll and an angry response by families and neighbors of the victims.

I also question whether, or perhaps how, Ethiopia has been "drawn into a long-term occupation" of Somalia. With U.S. encouragement and tactical support, and after extensive preparation, Ethiopia launched its armed invasion of Somalia exactly a year ago (December 20), declaring of course that it had no intention of remaining there longer than was necessary to eradicate the terrorist threat it perceived inside Somalia, i.e., the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).

Background (probably unneeded): The UIC had seized control of Mogadishu from clan warlords six months earlier, imposing its own shariah-based peace on the capital and winning a substantial popular following as a result. It had also defeated an attempt by those same ousted warlords, newly armed and supported by the United States, to regain control of Mogadishu. And it had subsequently expanded its political control outward from the capital into other areas under warlord control, finally threatening to capture the Transitional Government's provisional capital at Baidoa, located on the principal highway between Mogadishu and the Ethiopian border.

It was down that same highway (the very route Mussolini's army had taken to reach Addis and conquer Ethiopia seventy years earlier) that a major force of Ethiopian troops then poured into Somalia, easily routing the UIC militia, quickly seizing Mogadishu itself, and soon expanding to control most other towns in the area. Twice, its American friends sent helicopter gunships to attack throngs of Somalis fleeing the invaders, ostensibly to prevent "terrorists" from crossing the border into Kenya. Dozens of refugees and nomads were killed in the process.

A year later, a half-million Somalis have fled Mogadishu while the Ethiopian invaders find themselves in a quagmire not unlike ours in Iraq. I strongly doubt their government intends for them to remain in Mogadishu any longer than necessary to neutralize the radical Islamist threat it perceives from that quarter; and like ourselves in Baghdad, they have installed themselves as guarantors of very wobbly government and assumed the task of training and leading a new security force (largely composed of President Abdullahi Yusuf's own rag-tag tribal militia from the north) intended to suppress its opponents. But hundreds of young Somalis have meanwhile responded by organizing and arming a sort of maquis resistance to challenge the invaders and drive them out of the country.

As a consequence, as much as the Ethiopian troops might like to pack up and go home, they now have a tiger by the tail and cannot let loose without a serious loss of dignity. President Clinton swallowed a similar Somalia embarrassment in 1993 by simply declaring our job done, lowering our flag, and withdrawing our forces; that's the only scenario I can imagine under which the Ethiopians might withdraw now.
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"Will anything concrete result from the Reconciliation Congress?

Julie W., a graduate student in Global Affairs at NYU, e-mailed me a set of four thought-provoking questions about Somalia's future. With Julie's consent, I'm posting her questions and my replies in four successive posts.

Here is Julie's second question:

A National Reconciliation Congress was held in Somalia this past August. The Congress produced some ambitious goals in their closing statement, including the drafting of a constitution and eventual free elections. However, a large opposition contingent did not participate in the Congress, and instead held a meeting in Eritrea under the banner of the Alliance for the Liberation of Somalia (ALS). Given the absence of much of the opposition, do you believe that anything concrete will actually result from the National Reconciliation Congress?

. . . and my response:

It is very difficult to achieve "reconciliation," national or otherwise, when one of the parties to the dispute is absent or deliberately excluded. This is what happened very recently at the US-sponsored Arab-Israeli peace conference in Baltimore, where some fifty nations and groups joined in congratulating each other for their high-mindedness, but Hamas, the one group whose cooperation is essential to the peace process, was excluded. Why bother convening such a useless and costly event, unless its real purpose is merely to impress the U.S. President's domestic audience?

The National Reconciliation Congress in Somalia last August was no different. The only groups and parties invited to attend were those known for their sympathies toward the TFG, transitional president Abdullahi Yusuf, and his Ethiopian patrons, and they naturally found much cause for hopeful celebration and fulsome pledges of cooperation. Systematically excluded, however, were those who were not prepared to give tacit welcome the Ethiopian invaders and condone their violent repression of opposition to the TFG. Yet without the active participation of the latter, I see no chance that anything meaningful will result, any more than the Baltimore spectacle will move Israel and Palestine any closer to peace. Again, why bother, unless the event's real purpose is to persuade foreigners that it's safe to return to Somalia?

No, I don't believe anything concrete will actually result from this "congress" any more than has resulted from the previous fourteen (if my counting is correct) Somalia gatherings that outsiders have sponsored since 1991. One of these days, though, perhaps many years from now, the Somalis will get it together and organize their own reconciliation conference without outside tutoring and management. That's when we can look for some significant "concrete results."

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Who might broker the conflict in Somalia?

Julie W., a graduate student in Global Affairs at New York University researching conflict assessment for her Master's Degree in Global Affairs, stumbled onto this blog three weeks ago and e-mailed me a set of four thought-provoking questions about Somalia's future (she has clearly done her homework!). Julie gave me permission to post her questions and my replies, which I'll do in this and three successive posts. If other readers wish to comment, I hope they'll do so, and I'm sure Julie will welcome them as well.

Here's Julie's first question:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in early November that he felt that deploying a UN peacekeeping mission to Somalia was not a viable option because of the current security situation. He suggested that the small African Union force being deployed was the most that could be expected in the near term. Given that, what role do you think that the international community could legitimately play in helping to resolve the conflict in South-Central Somalia, given that most of the major international and regional players seem to have already taken sides, either with the Transitional Federal Government or with the opposition? Is there anyone that the parties to the conflict would view as an honest broker?

. . . and my response:

Although the Secretary General's view of Somalia is discouraging, it's hardly surprising. Right now, Ban Ki-moon's attention is focused on and the task of persuading the Sudanese government to allow in the 20,000-person force the Security Council has authorized to reinforce the African Union's small contingent there. Besides, he surely recognizes that any U.N. peacekeeping role in Somalia would have to be authorized by the Security Council and therefore blessed by the US government, whose support for the Ethiopian invaders has been disruptive rather than peaceable.

As for the African Union, Burundi was supposed to send a contingent to reinforce the luckless 6,000 troops sent in by Uganda some six months ago, but as far as I'm aware, hasn't gotten around to doing so yet. Bujumbura has no doubt noted the difficulty Uganda's forces have had and the number of losses they've suffered in trying to pacify the situation. I seriously doubt that any other AU state (or anyone else, for that matter) will be willing to take on the task either, so long as there is no sign of a peace to keep in Somalia.

Brokering a truce is another matter. As you suggest, it's not easy to find a potential broker who isn't already identified as biased in favor of one side or the other. Much earlier on, the U.S. might have been -- and should have been -- helpful in identifying such a broker and promoting serious negotiations between (or among) the parties; but that opportunity is long since past, wiped away by Washington's incredibly foolish support for the Ethiopian invaders. For their part, the Europeans are viewed with suspicion by the Islamists because of their early support for the Transitional Federal Government, while the Arab governments are mostly suspected by the Ethiopians of supporting and arming the "radicals" in both Somalia and Eritrea.

If I were in a position to do so, I'd look to the Scandinavians -- especially the Norwegians -- who from early on have played a remarkably even-handed role behind the scenes, especially in channeling badly needed humanitarian aid to the thousands of victims of this foolish conflict. They have managed somehow to stay very well-informed of the tortured developments in this tangled situation, generally without raising hackles or making enemies of any of the parties. (BTW, if you're not already familiar with "Africa News Update," an excellent current events newsletter put out by the Norwegian Council for Africa "as a counterweight to traditional western news agencies" [their quote], you might check it out at . I regard it as an excellent source.)

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