By Abdirashid Hashi
For a decade and half, Somalia has remained the only country in the world that does not have an effective central authority. This unimaginable situation has resulted in Somalia an unprecedented and still ongoing humanitarian crises - ranging from continues wars to prolonged absence of government services and regulations.
The source of much of Somalia’s turmoil emanate from Ethiopia, our hostile neighbor to the west. Since the collapse of the Somalia’s central government at end of December 1990, Ethiopia has been obsessed with Somalia and it unabashedly schemed to dominate, divide and rule and dictate to the Somali people. At the same time Ethiopia continued its schemes to mesmerize and manipulate the international community with regards to its wanton interferences in the internal affairs of this sovereign nation.
In spite of the fact that Ethiopian fingerprints were all over the nascent Somali Transitional Federal institutions, many Somalis (including this author) decided to hold their nose and support the new “Somali” government – hoping against all hope as it turned out – that the Somali leaders will chart a new path and untie Ethiopia’s proverbial Gordian knot on Somalia. This could not happen for Ethiopia went on its wily ways by arming warlords, clans, and individuals to simply perpetuate Somalia’s instability and absence from the international scene.
The UN Security Council Committee charged with the monitoring of the violators of arms embargo on Somalia fortunately caught Ethiopia red-handed. On November 2006, the Committee submitted to the Security Council an exhaust report on the countries that flout the UN embargo on Somalia. With regards to Ethiopia, the Committee reported, inter alia, that, “On 17 July 2006, Ethiopian military units under the command of Captain Hassey Aliow crossed the border with Somalia in the Beletweyne District, Hiraan Region … The Ethiopian military also distributed an arms shipment to the clans that consisted of landmines (anti-tank) “ 100 units and AK 47 assault rifles “ 400 units.”
The report of the Monitoring Committee further revealed that “On 29 August 2006, 607 (AK47 rifles 400 units, PKM “ 200 units and RPG “ 07 units) assorted units of weapons and communication equipments from Ethiopia were delivered in Galkayo by road … On 30 August 2006, Ethiopian military units …arrived in the border town of Balanbale in the Galgaduud region. They met few selected individuals and later on handed over the following weapons: PKM 05 units; RPG 05 units; AK47 assault rifles 230 units; hand grenades (F1) 1000 units… On 24 May 2006, the Ethiopian military sent a large consignment of ammunition, including small arms ammunition, to former Jowhar warlord Mohamed Dheere … Mohamed Qanyare, warlord … received AK 47 assault rifles 90 units and 20 boxes of ammunition, PKM machine guns 30 units and 35 boxes of ammunition, RPG 2 total of 140 units of ammunition for RPG 2 and RPG 7, and rifle fired grenades 80 units, and land mines 200 units; Abdi Qeybdiid, former warlord…held talks with Ethiopian military in Goday (Zone 5), Ethiopia, and following the talks received arms, uniforms, trucks…”
In the wake of this damning revelation which documents violations of almost all international conventions and treaties such as the anti-landmine treaty spearheaded by Canada, the Security Council adopted a unanimous resolution on Somalia. The Council this time invoked Chapter V of the UN Charter. The Security Council condemned, “the significant increase in the flow of weapons and ammunition supplies to and through Somalia”, the Council classified this breach as a “serious threat to peace and stability in Somalia”; the Security Council further insisted that “all Member States, in particular those in the region, should refrain from any action in contravention of the arms embargo…”
As this was its customary, the Ethiopian regime did not heed to the Security Council resolution; instead it went on sending more weapons and troops to Somalia. According to Reuters report on December 7, 2006 cited by The Boston Globe; “Security specialists and diplomats estimate 5,000 to 10,000 Ethiopian soldiers are in Somalia”. As I write on the Eve of Christmas 2006, international news agencies are reporting that Ethiopian military unleashed a massive land and air attack on Somalia - this time aimed at the Union of Islamic Courts – Islamists groups who cleansed the dreaded warlords from Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
The latest Ethiopian invasion is unfolding even though, the UN Security Council adopted as late as December 6, 2006 a second resolution on Somalia - this time explicitly instructing states that border Somalia “not [to] deploy troops to Somalia”.
The Somali people endured over decade and half long of Ethiopian meddling with deadly consequences. The Somali people deserve Canada’s assistance in ending Ethiopia’s warlord-arming and warmongering policies towards Somalia. Canadian help is appropriate since Canada has been championing for the noble international principal known as the responsibility to protect. As the name suggests, this made-in-Canada international precept states that it is the responsibility of the international community to protect the peoples whose government cannot provide adequate human security.
Unfortunately, Canada maybe unwittingly contributing to the misery and human rights violation perpetrated and perpetuated against the Somali people by the government of Ethiopia. According to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Ethiopia is one of the selected 25 countries that receive Canada’s bilateral assistance. CIDA acknowledges that in 2003-2004, Canada’s total assistance to Ethiopia totaled $87.6 million.
For over one hundred thousand Somali-Canadians, the Ethiopian aggression against the Somalia people is not a benign news story. Somalia is where half of our loved ones live; Somalia is where most of us consider our homeland. We love Somalia the way we and every Canadian love Canada. The ongoing Ethiopian pillaging on Somalia pains us much. Ethiopia asserts it’s fighting with the Union of Islamic Courts – which it calls as an extremists group, but cruel Ethiopian policies and brutalities have been befalling on Somalia long before the Union of Islamic Courts come to the Somalia scene. The current Islamists scare is nothing but a red herring aimed to manipulate the opinions of the terror-weary western world.
As citizens and tax payers of Canada, we are afraid our government is dolling out our hard earned tax dollars to Ethiopia - which in turn - is using to kill and maim the rest of our families (why would a responsible state distribute banned landmines to warlords).
Canada silence in this matter is a far cry from the responsibility to protect. Canada can do better; the suffering people of Somalia deserve better. As Somali-Canadians we demand Canada hold Ethiopia accountable for its crimes against the Somali people. It is unacceptable for Ethiopia to abuse our mothers, siblings and loved ones. Acquiescing and turning a blind eye to the unfolding illegal Ethiopian aggression on Somalia is un-Canadian.
Abdirashid Hashi is a Somali-Canadian Writer and a former Deputy Chief of Cabinet, Somali Prime Minister's Office (2000-2002) - E-mail: [email protected]