Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
New Minneapolis Organization Hopes to Tackle Somali Problems

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

By: Abdirahman Aynte

       Fellow, the Center for Independent Media


, MN (HOL) – No one denies that the Somali saga is complicated, but one new organization in Minneapolis says with the right spirit and spending, it can mend some fences.


Dozens of Somalis gathered breezy Saturday afternoon for the launching of the new organization, dubbed “The Somali Institute for Peace and Justice (SIPJ).”


Founders comprise of prominent Somali leaders in the Minnesota. They say they hope to “research” challenges facing the community here and back home, and “recommend” remedies to those problems.


“We know that tribalism is a daunting problem in our society,” said Abdulqadir Abdi, vice chairman of SIPJ. “But we also know that we can cure it if we get serious about it.”


Jamici & AbdulqadirWith no funding in hand, organization officials said they will turn to the community for initial funding until they identify possible sources. Participants pledged $10,000 on Saturday to keep the organization afloat for now.


“Generosity is an emblem of our community,” said Sheikh Hassan Mohamud, the chairman of SIPJ. “Our promise is to deliver critical services back to the community.”


One of the critical services they hope to deliver, he added, is to try and reconcile the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), the two remaining powers in Somalia.


UIC controls large swathe in the south and central Somalia after defeating warlords widely believed to be bankrolled by American intelligence agencies. Since ridding warlords, UIC has restored semblance of law and order, reopening Mogadishu international airport and seaport after 11 years of rivalry closure.


The TFG, which was born out of a two-year peace talks in neighboring Kenya in 2004, is the legitimate, internationally-backed authority in Somalia, but barely controls its base in Baidoa. The president escaped assassination attempt on Sept. 18, and a number of cabinet ministers were eliminated.


The two sides are scheduled for the third round of peace talks in Sudan later this month, but they've been facing off in a near-collision front.


SIPJ officials say they've already established contacts with both sides, and they can play pivotal role in closing the gap between the embattled TFG and the UIC.


But such wish might be just too daunting for a novice organization.


Next plan for SIPJ is a forum discussing Somali problems sometime soon. Among other high profile delegates, David Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and U.S. State Department coordinator for Somalia is expected to participate, according to SIPJ officials.


Abdirahman Aynte can be reached at [email protected] 


Source: HOL, Oct. 17, 2006