By Ali Makel
Would someone please help me here? Is J. Peter Pham a tabloid journalist or as he claims to be an associate professor of justice studies at the reputed James Madison University? Justice studies! I’m really puzzled! When I read Pham’s first article on Somalia, I thought he was a young freelance journalist who was out to make an impression by producing an electrifying fictitious story, which even my 15 year old daughter ridiculed. Time and again, Pham continues to fabricate stories, misleads both the public and policy makers and has found a new hobby which is the dismemberment of Somalia. A man who unashamedly spreads blatant lies, misinforms the public and conceals the truth cannot promote justice and ethical values related to justice and the respect of the laws of the United States of America.
J. Peter Pham - " ... two car bombs sent by the Islamists and targeted at the most populated area in Baidoa"
Very characteristically, in his last article on Somalia titled: Not being had by Al Itihaad, Pham deliberately distorts the facts and circulates a fabricated story to conceal the truth and initiate warmongering. Mr. Pham writes “.. two car bombs sent by the Islamists and targeted at the most populated area in Baidoa”. What a lie and a cheap one! It is a common knowledge that the two cars in question where saloon cars carrying families including women and children. This is how the witnesses at the scene described the bloody incident:
First, the incident happened at a check point at the outskirts of Baidoa, which means the civilian concentration at the check point is between zero and few persons. The check point is 11/2 to 2 km away from the centre of the city. So the statement “…at the most populated area in Baidoa” is completely false. Secondly, there were Ethiopian and TFG forces at the check point and there presence was reported by eyewitnesses as well as local newspapers and radio stations. Eyewitness accounts alleged that the Ethiopian soldiers had intentionally fired on one of the cars. Then the TFG forces reacted to it and there was an exchange of gun fire. During the gun fire exchange, the Ethiopians deliberately massacred the occupants of the vehicle they initially targeted. Then the second car got involved and it was also hit. In order to cover up the massacre, the Ethiopians hit the two cars with RPGs to make look like double suicide bombing. Logic refuses to accept that a double suicide bombing was targeted at a check point. Assuming the Ethiopian troops were the prime target and knowing their numbers at the check point will be few, it will be hard to believe that a double suicide bombing would be used to blow up one check point. The TFG forces dismayed by what has happened fired on the Ethiopians and reports put the number of dead and wounded on both sides at around 4 and 7, respectively. However, the number of civilians massacred in believed to be around 8, including two children and three women.
Once more, Pham the atheist is lecturing us, the believers, about the principles of Islam. What an irony? Please read the following quote from Pham’s article “..the Somali peoples was characterised by Sufism and its relatively relaxed worldview, from its foundation Al-Ittihad has sought to establish an Islamic state in Somalia based on the an Wahhabi interpretation of Islam..” Pham is actually teaching us the difference between Sufism and Wahhabism? Does he know what he is talking about? Is there any fundamental difference between the two? NO! There is not any fundamental difference between Sufism and Wahhabism. Somalis are Shafi’ Sunni but used Sufism (which emphasises more on spiritual side) as a method of spreading their religion since religious institutions where not fully developed. However, there is no fundamental difference between the four main Sunni schools (Madhab). And Sufism is not a school but a method of spreading the Islamic teachings.
The relaxed worldview which Pham is talking about means moderation, which is the basis of Islam. Islam means peace and its teachings are based on moderation, tolerance, order, forgiveness and truth. Pham’s scaremonger of the UIC and urging the US government to do something about them before they impose what he termed as “its puritanical interpretation of Islam” typically shows how ill-informed he is about Islam. Puritan interpretation of Islam preaches moderation, tolerance, forgiveness and truth. It is the utopia of mankind to live in eternal peace and prosperous environment. Isn’t that what we (humans) all want? Islam doesn’t preach radicalism, intolerance, cruelty, hate against any of the creations of the Almighty Allah. It strongly preaches the safeguarding of the environment and warns against the consequences of not doing so. It teaches us how precious water is and how to conserve it. It commands us to be merciful to the weak, women, children, elders and animals (small or large) and respect our neighbours. Islam is what all the previous prophets taught their people including Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Jesus and lastly Mohamed (PUH).
Peter Pham’s conclusion was also a very sad one. It is a dull two sentence paragraph, which doesn’t offer any new ideas but the same old Pham rhetoric. He concluded that, “In the end, the only to confront the Islamist storm that is gathering strength over Somalia is with a health dose of realism. And that means both recognizing the ICU for what it is and supporting those effective forces-especially Ethiopia’s and Somaliland’s-actually in a position to oppose the Islamists, rather than pretending the radicals are anything other than what they are and pursuing fanciful (and dangerous) which will do nothing to stop them”.
Can you, reader, see any positive recommendations from this statement? I can only see three things: scaremongering, passion to dismember Somalia and lobbying an all out war in the Horn of Africa. Nothing else! However, Pham is either myopic or may have deliberately ignored the fact that the US government is already faltering with the difficulties in Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur. Secondly, he discounts the fact that if Ethiopia invades Somalia, a catastrophic war will engulf the regions at large. Thirdly, the world will not be a better place if a regional war sparks in the Horn of Africa. It will evidently spread across the red sea into the oil rich countries of the Gulf. Is that what Pham wants to happen? If he was able to predict that I don’t think he would have insisted that Ethiopia invades Somalia and urges the US government to back them to invade Somalia.
Now we know that J. Peter Pham is an amateur freelance journalist with little knowledge of the intertwining regional political setting and deprived of sound analytical skills in world politics. He had put his nose in a region he hardly knows anything about. Obviously, his writings are based on information passed onto him by Somali armchair warriors (Fadhi ku dirir) at Khat chewing sessions. Is it fair to compare Pham to Menkaus or David Shinn or Abdi Samater? No! The huge difference in academic, richness in experience and analytical skills are unmistakable clear.
I was hoping that Pham would come up with positive recommendations which reiterate the need to pressure the TFG and UIC to continue the dialogue and form a government of national unity. The marriage of the TFG and UIC is the only way to stop the hardliners to topple the moderates within the UIC, form a broad-based national government and achieve a lasting peace in Somalia and wider region of Horn of Africa. The interests of the US and everybody else is best served if ONLY the two political parties (TFG & UIC) sit together and agree on the formation of united national government. This is what a professor in Justice Studies should be teaching his students. In this way, he neither served the interest of the US nor that of the peoples of Somalia and Ethiopia. Mr. J. Peter Pham, you no longer qualify to comment on Somalia. You’re a discredited and compulsive liar!
E-mail: [email protected]