By Abdulkadir Mohamed
Saturday, December 01, 2007
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented” - Elie Wiesel, novelist, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor.
Following is an attempt to literally, though very difficult, translate of a very un-presidential, undiplomatic, chaotic, blatant and controversial speech that the warlord-turned-president of the Transitional Federal government of Somalia, Abdullahi Yusuf(TFG, which the Guardian Editorials called neither transitional, nor federal, nor government) delivered on November 20, 2007 to conclude a long seminar held for some officials in the ministry of planning in the provincial town of Baidao, the temporary seat of the Transitional Federal Parliament of Somalia.
It is a very controversial speech that is already creating uproar and a lot of discussion among Somalis everywhere. It is full of paradoxical proclamations. It has compulsion, rebuttals and nastiness. The sinister speech is full of incitement, hate-mongering and name calling. It contains some wicked schemes and outlandish instructions to his meek subordinates and warlord cohorts. It has mutinous and discharging pitch that is hard to make sense of.
To some, this speech maybe a shocker but many Somalis know this dreadful drivel is warlord Yusuf’s unadulterated signature speech. He is not known to be eloquent talker. Instead, he is known to be remorseless straight shooter, a clownish jester, full of scoffs, ridicule and ungainly tirade. The goading style and derisive tone of the speech bears witness to the dictatorial proclivity of Colonel Yusuf. After all, he is a callous warlord and military maniac who has been fighting some 30 years to one day become the ultimate ruler of Somalia.
Can this speech tolerated, ignored and played down as sign of the desperation and ineffectiveness of the transitional government? Or is it opportune now to expose its evilness before it is too late?
The appalling speech is alarming because of the hate-mongering and the war incitement it decrees. Many are worried of warlord yusuf’s wicked plot to usurp power through “cleansing and genocidal” means. He wants to take economic, political and social power, from the hands of what he calls (Wadaadadda) or religious establishment, from the hands of the civil society and private citizens in Somalia who have been struggling to rebuild Somalia and pacify it despite of the many hurdles they had to overcome such as the same warlord-ism and banditry Yusuf and his clique present.
There are many people who believe the sinister speech is Meles Zenawi’s evil prescription of how to keep Somalia weak and under his control and the Somali warlord president is just reiterating that wicked strategy. Yusuf and many in the Somali warlord government are dutiful puppets of Ethiopia and will do Addis Ababa bidding without any hesitations.
The warlord-turned-president wants all to be under his control: schools and universities, clinics and hospitals, mosques and markets. The Ethiopian occupiers are making easy for him and other Somali puppets to get their evil wishes by destroying many of these social infrastructures by killing, arresting, torturing and expelling many of the brave Somali teachers and doctors who decided to remain in Somalia to help their people. Thanks to all of that Ethiopian repression and destruction in Mogadishu, Yusuf and his warlord buddies can now wickedly hallucinate how to dominate all of these social services.
Another disturbing aspect of the speech is the president’s passionate contempt for the United Nations and the International Community. His ingratitude and defiance is beyond belief. Either his deteriorating senility or his feral despotism is blinding him of the maxim” don’t bite the hand that feeds you”. Warlord Yusuf fails to appreciate that it’s the International community, United Nations and the United States that are legitimizing his warlord government and decriminalizing such criminal entity to deathly detriment of the Somalia people. The man goes berserk and gets so incensed every time the UN staff or world diplomats in Nairobi talk to him about humanitarian relief, human rights issues, and freedom of the press. Democracy, free press and human rights are not in the warlord dictionary. These are alien concept to them. Can a leopard ever change his spots? To the eyes of many Somalis, Yusuf is a dictator, a warlord, and above all a very vengeful clannish hatemonger.
The United Nations humanitarian and relief agencies’ main concern and priority are to reach the millions of displaced people who are suffering because of the unremitting war, violence, famine, hunger and diseases that are going on in Somalia thanks to the Ethiopian occupation. Food and relief is non-issue for the warlord president unless it is not his warlord enterprise that is responsible for its rationing and delivery. Food is security and powerful tool to conquer and rule over the starving and poor people in Somalia.
This is a man who is the leader of nation full of turmoil and tragedy where millions of his people are dying of starvation and are being massacred and displaced. So instead of working with and being grateful to those who are trying to help and save his people, he is taunting them, verbally abusing them, calling them names and vowing to obstruct all their relief efforts. What a travesty! The warlord president is not even bit worried of the Internally Displaced millions suffering in Afgoye and Mogadishu outskirts. They are not his people and he never mentions them. According to him, they are insurgents and terrorists who must be wiped out and cleansed of Mogadishu. Anyone who comes to their support is part of the insurgency or terrorist sympathizers and that is why he is equating UN relief agencies with “insurgents”.
The warlord president assures his cohorts that a cleansing operation to displace millions more and destroy the capital is underway. He envisions the day his warlord enterprise would spread the carnage and misery to all over the county thanks to the Ethiopian tanks and probably US bankrolling and tacit support.
Mass murder, mass displacement and war crimes are being committed in the name of combating terrorism, while in reality it is poor innocent and starving Somali mothers, children, elderly women and men, who are being terrorized and became the target of indiscriminate bombardments of the occupying troops of Ethiopia and the undisciplined warlord militias. More than one million residents of Mogadishu are internally displaced people and are now refugees living in makeshift settlements in miserable conditions. Children are starving and dying because of lack of food and drinking water. There is no relief or help to save these people as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) led by sadistic warlords have setup many illegal roadblocks to prevent relief to reach the displaced and now swearing to obstruct United Nations and World Food Program
The United Nations declared the humanitarian tragedy in Somalia to be the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa, surpassing even that of Darfur in its horror and hopelessness . Somalis in the Diaspora who keep in touch with their families and relatives in Somalia are continuously receiving very distressing and precarious news, especially from Mogadishu, the Capital. The warlords and the Ethiopian occupiers are stepping up their “cleansing” military operations. And now the warlord enterprise and the Ethiopian hegemony are scheming to do whatever it takes to shut down the money wiring services and telecommunication companies that are still functioning in chaotic Somalia. Why? It is because of the Money wiring services (Hawala) that the Somalis in the Diaspora send money to their families and relatives still in Somalia. It is the telephone companies the Somalis keep in touch with their families.
The root causes of this suffering are many but the US administration; because of its shortsighted foreign policies has direct contribution to some of the immediate causes of this humanitarian crisis. Callous Somali warlords are bilking on the blind support and indifference of the so-called "civilized" western world. The world watched as millions of Tutsi-Rwandans were massacred by butchery inspired by hatemongering warlords. The same can be said of Somali hatemongering warlords such as the deputy defence minister of the TFG, Salad Ali Jeelle , the Mogadishu mayor, warlord Mohamed dheere , and the president-turned warlord of Somalia, who all boldly went public with their genocidal ethnic cleansing and warmongering campaigns. These men belong to the International Criminal Courts and have to be persecuted. Their militias and the occupying Ethiopian troops are committing war crimes tantamount to “ethnic cleansing” and genocide. If ethnic cleansing is the killing of non-combatants, the rape of women, the forcible displacement of civilians, the destruction and removal of all civilian infrastructures such as schools, hospitals and houses of worships in order to expel segments of the population for the purpose of hastening military surrender , then the tragic humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia now definitely qualifies as one.
I thought to share with you the sinister speech of Somali warlord and to translate it from Somali to English despite my limited authority of the linguistic provincial vernacular of Yusuf. This is my take on it. It is a warning. I want those in the US administration who support this warlord and others (who are probably complicit of crimes against humanity) to at least get a glimpse of the mind of monster, a Somali mini-Hitler whose only promise is doom and destruction.
Here is the speech.
I am very happy to take part this morning this ceremony to close the services you doing in Baidao for 40 days but as I have been told by the minister that it could probably take you to (another) 50 days (to finish). When the permanent secretaries were being brought from Mogadishu to here in Baidao, I was present in Mogadishu, so, if you were here before me, you stayed here for long, because I came to Baidao on October 8th, if I am not wrong, October 8th, and today the date is November 20th, So I was here for 40 days and more and you came here before me. I don’t count how many days you were here before me, you were here before me right? 40, 50, or 60 days, put it that way, you were here and you worked, you are tired, and what you did earlier, you didn’t present to us, so I can’t comment on that. If you had given us some copies (in advance), (we) would have read and would have studied (the copies), I would have said … improve it here or there. I am commending you of this beautiful book laying here but only god knows what is (written) inside. Whatever it is, if after three years we still lagging behind, and god knows what situation we were in … that now we labored a book (like a pregnant woman), first of all, it is all praises are due to god.
But, as I think, the book is papers, people’s ideas are written and if the ideas of the people are written in a book and the people who own these ideas are not working on them, then responsible people are needed to implement these (ideas). The writing of the planning (is easy), as I think, the harder and more important is how to implement these (ideas).
To implement these (ideas in the book), first of all, if you expect the United Nations and International Community and other people will help us, I don’t have such expectations, if I speak to you truthfully, I don’t believe that others would do what we don’t do.
Past days I traveled to Nairobi; The other day…you know, Baidao, in the parliament, came those who call themselves the International Community, what happened there (in the parliament) and what the parliament did, those of us present, we all know. But I don’t know if the permanent secretaries were present or not. Boo are said to each other if you are protesting in a parliament. Boo! Boo were said to the men (of the International Community)…that is if you were aware. And these two gentlemen sitting in my sides …have skinned them out (disparaged the International Community delegation in Nairobi) Because of the problems we have and god knows (how many)… they only came to us to talk to us about…the food that they say World Food Programme (WFP) delivers (to Somalia) …how it (the food) could be delivered to the (displaced) people. With all the problems we have! They talked to us that only issue! (Food delivery), did they talk to us about other issues? (Questioning) … (Their only concern was)…. Something must be done about the humanitarian assistance, so food could be delivered to (displaced) people … (their complaint was) … there are road blocks; a man (WFP chief in Somalia) delivering (food) has been arrested (by the government) and this is it …(their complaint) a radio has been closed and… it is like …they talked about these things (only). The problems we have, as insecurity ….they didn’t talk about it! The disintegration that happened to the Somali people, that the Courts (Islamic Courts Union) have a share of it, they didn’t talk about it! Politics, they didn’t talk about it! The insecurity that exists (in Somalia) ...they didn’t talk about it!…I mean the difficult program that are required from us during the transition that less than two years is left, how they could assist us with it…they didn’t talk about it!…how to pacify the country and later how to develop and re-construct and what you have ….and how to do these …they didn’t talk to us! Only they talked about the food of WFP!
In the 17 years the World Food Programme (WFP) was in Somalia, I don’t know where they delivered any food to. Never have I eaten any of their food. I swear to god, I have never seen where it (WFP food) distributed. Whatever they deliver to (Somalia) ... I don’t know what they are! First of all, what do they deliver? Do they bring sugar? Do they bring rice? Do they bring dates? Do they bring sorghum? Do they bring maize? Do they bring anything else? What do they bring then? Who knows? Do they bring beans? …they bring maize! Maize and cooking oil…there are different cooking oil types ….what kind do they deliver … White Cooking Oil … is it (the cooking oil) the one you cook food with? It is not the one you add to food (as condiment). They (International Community/UN/WFP delegation) talked to us about these (unimportant) things ….and they don’t talk about other things and they are not bringing anything else … they just sit in Nairobi!
If you want the truth, the past 17 years except the three years of this government (were in existence), these men (united Nation’s agencies, collectively) were the de-facto government and I am not lying. The three years we are claiming to be a government … the real (Somali) government that is seated in Nairobi ... is them (UN). The government that they saying to recognize; that is this government (TFG), then they should recognize and deal with it and give their aid to (through the TFG) and thus (TFG) should deliver (aid) and they must move to Somalia (from Nairobi) and reside here (instead) and then should help us and they should help us for real …that is not clear to them.
Now if they would have sit with you (here), that book you have written, as I think…you wouldn’t have written! … That is if they were here …no! As I think. That day, I said in front of the parliament (to the UN) , I am not here to confuse you and I am an elderly man, and I am a responsible man, when we meet in a talks , I will tell you my thinking… something like that, I said to them.
When I went to Nairobi, for medical check-up, they came to my hotel as a horde, they were the same people but increased (in numbers), the same man is leading them, but they were joined by others. They brought with them other ambassadors from Europe and they just continued (their complaints) from there: there are road blocks in the streets! we can’t deliver (food) to Afgoye!…we can’t deliver to Merka….and the road between Mogadishu and Baidao (forget it) …I swear to god…or .other places in Somalia…they never talked to me (about) ...maybe that is the only places (Afgoye and Merka) they want to deliver food to and the rest of Somalia…they will not deliver to…isn’t that what it looks like?
I talked to them calmly and I said to them: Are you going to talk to me other than WFP food and they all got silent … and if you are not going to talk to me of other things …you have no interest (concern) for Somalia and when you are bringing these food, I know your interest… I swear to god , Somalis don’t eat the food you deliver and the poor people you talk about …(food) would not be delivered to them ...instead the NGOs you administer and you, yourselves…the same WFP and those in their offices … who are Somalis ... that you have positioned in the Somalia cities …because you refused to came( to Somalia) …those (Somalis) will line up truck loads (of food) and start their loud engines and then only one or two truckloads are delivered to the people …the rest would be taken back and then sold it in the Mogadishu market …that is what I said to them…or the Merka market…you have made (lot of ) money and that is what you eat(live on) …so don’t accuse (use) Somalis… you are excused! …that is what I said to them.
Thus, if you don’t do either of two (options) don’t expect us to work together… with the government. Do you recognize the TFG that exist (in power) Yes or No? …contraband (food) that you are sneaking with and that no one knows when you bring in…and my ministries are not aware of, and the police and the army is not aware of it, Secret Security Forces are not aware of it …and that you are sneaking with and you doll it up and would be sold (in the markets)… what do we know? (Of such food)… that is what I said to them. Yes or No…we recognize (your government) and if you don’t make that a fact … and you don’t directly work with it and you don’t distribute what (food) you are delivering through it … us something that is a contraband (we don’t want). Do you recognize the government …yes? Then there is no de-facto government residing in Nairobi no more! From now on …move to Somalia and reside in …let us work together in Somalia …the problem in Somalia is not food or what is causing the starvation. (It is) the lack of security… it is the unemployment …it is the suffering that is there ….come and work with us for real and if you refuse that and don’t do it …we don’t recognize you! …and you don’t recognize us …and the food… deliver it to wherever you may want! ….and if you want …sell (the food) in the market! …if you could deliver it to the poor …So it be! But we will not work with you! …why we should work with you? you don’t inform us when you are bringing the food …and where (what route) you will be taking to…or the place you will deliver to it …and what is your purpose (of food distribution) … we have no clue!
So this morning we are all here; if you believe the United Nations will implement plans with us …that is not the case. And I am saying the government (of Ghedi) failed! …so as we build (form) another new government; let us not sign any deal with these men (UN). Didn’t I say that to you? This morning, in here; didn’t I make it clear? You (addressing some parliamentarian or cabinet minister in the meeting) have prepared an agreement … (No says one man in the audience) … so isn’t it the previous one? … (Not even) One agreement we wouldn’t enter (with the UN) on the condition they recognize this government and move to Somalia!
One thing I know I have worked in Puntland for so many years and became its head…Puntland is not like this agricultural land. In this farming land, whenever the rains start, and the farmers want to farm …they (UN) bring the food so that (farmers) don’t work in their farms and farm. And in Puntland, the food they (WFP) deliver… they would sell it in the market…do you understand?
If you don’t defend yourself from the men (and fight against UN/WFP staff) and if this government defends itself (from the UN/WFP) ….the men of the NGOs who prepared these things; that have names! …if you don’t fight them…and Somali people don’t oppose them and say to them…either you help us or leave us alone and you don’t say that….you will never be out of trouble ….so tell people the truth and defend yourself from them (UN/WFP)!
The food that they are selling in the market and they are in agreement (with the selling) …and everyone they appoint to office … is one that works with the insurgency ….and those who work the anarchy are them! The other days; a man (WFP head in Somalia) has been arrested as you know. Why was he arrested? He misdirects the WFP food to the mosques where the insurgents pray …that is where he took the food … talk about it! Yes! we told them … the ones (mosques) we worship to the infidels(UN/WFP) and we said… we as the real Muslims, real Somalis , who hold to the real religion, who are the majority, the mosques we pray, no food is delivered to!… that is what I said to them. The insurgent mosques (food) are brought to and the insurgents take the food and make money …they then fight with us…you don’t want Somalia to stabilize then… that is what I said to them(UN/WFP).
Thus, they (UN?WFP) either would be transferred and leave or some (new UN staff) who will work and will come …or … God be my witness … aren’t I here and them in Nairobi? I will NEVER talk to them! …if you going to talk to them …you Aliyow! (Acting PM) …you and the other ministers and the prime minister….and if you deal with the men (UN/WFP staff) like before...I don’t know …when the year comes to end … what is left (of their budget/earmarks) and how to solicit (hustle for) that (remaining budget) … that is up to you… I am not part of it!
This country belongs to us, we are its people, we have problems and we don’t have any economy, and we don’t have tools to work with, but if we strive and think, we can do something…that we can do without these men (WFP/UN). Let us teach that to ourselves.
The donors I went to them the other day, the European donors were present, the other night I was talking to them in Nairobi … (I said) if you give something to the men (UN/WFP), you have given it to them and we (TFG) have nothing to do with them… that is what I said to them (donors). And If you are giving (money) to us …let us agree on a policy and give (the money) directly to the Somali people through their government …that is what I said to them... oh you donors! Or when you hand it (money) to Leroche or you give it to the ... one with the long goiter (derisive) … that is the American …what was (his name) …the cursed one ... Cooper ? …and Waleed and you give it to them; God is with you …that is what I said …we have no business in it.
I can’t say nothing about the book now, I will be reading a copy of it … then after I read, I will be able to say something about it but the reality is what is written and practically how to work is two different things. The writing that is the most beautiful and the best plans… if you do that but how to implement goes wrong, nothing will work. And you won’t be able to implement anything if you don’t fight twenty things that are wrong that our government, in the last three years, has been doing (as a culture) and if we don’t stop it and we don’t fight it, nothing would be implemented.
Now, are we concealing things from each other? Isn’t it only us (who are present)? Are there any foreigners present here? Aren’t three years and more… wasn’t this government in existence? If you don’t have tariff to collect taxes, so listen now! … and you threw out the one the parliament decreed… and tonight you don’t have clue to anything (tools) to collect taxes, and you don’t have any budget, and of the taxes you will collect and how much investment is needed (to collect taxes), you have no clue, and you don’t have a government bank to work with, and god knows, I have these (tools) but you (parliamentarians and ministers) don’t have it. (we got it … some of the audience will shout back) and what comes in (from tax collections) we don’t know where they end up, and we don’t know where all donations end up, and let us not lie to each other, the corruption (in Somalia) the whole world knows about, how would you be able to implement any plan and where will you get money to implement things?
If you don’t fight (corruption) and the man who steals one shilling is not brought in front of the law, and isn’t persecuted on what he deserves on, and we don’t fear the law, and we don’t fear of the government and the nation, and we don’t heed on the common interest of the people, nothing will work for you.
There I am not talking about economy, I am not an economist, all of us, I think our (education) is just hearsay or so…what you graduated on Aliyoow (acting PM)? What university you graduated from? (He answers: I graduated from University and I studied agricultural economy)…OK then… so many of you sitting there, each one of you studied something, or specialized on something, and it is possible you never worked in your specialization, so it is all theory, so I will read this book and what is in it (contents) will work on. Investment should be solicited and if you we don’t get outside aid … in the situation we are in now, we can invest the little we would collect from the taxes, we should save it.
A government that doesn’t have offices, and doesn’t have building they reside, and is in hotels, are we listening to each other? Is there a ministry that has its own offices ready? And some, instead of having their homes renovated, instead, they are being rented for (to work and live) Jirdeh Hussein (Somali businessman) houses! And they are pleased with that!
Here are my office and here are my five offices, so renovate them with rent money and we will be residing there …you couldn’t say that! Oh men, let us listen to each other, and not lie to the people, there is a war going on there ( in the capital, Mogadishu), so to go to offices, to reside in homes, we are afraid of, so hotels became our preferences, out of fear. We only die once, I swear to god, there is no one who will die twice, so go to your offices and houses, and save what(money) you got, plan tariff and budgets, and you establish banks, and fight with the HAWALAS! (Money Wiring Services).
As long as there are Hawalas, our banks will not be implemented, am I lying? The hard currency that comes in, if they go to the Hawalas, where will our bank get (money)? Other than what the government took as taxes? Where else would it get (money)? No! Isn’t the bank (central) has to govern all banks? Control the money? Control the hard currency? Became government reserve? And it handles the economy? Control all, isn’t it so? Something we missed the last three years, so the two years that is left, we will see what you do! If you step in the implementation of this plan and we will give you an excuse and say these men were really sitting here for 50 days (to plan), then we will say they have contributed to something. Or if good books are written, but you lack the implementation, then we will say, what that has been studied, don’t exist, so may God bring out other group since we couldn’t do anything? Isn’t it (right) we say that?
So the government (of Ghedi) failed, a new government will be built, the new government that will be formed, would it take the same path as the previous one or would it take a new roadmap? So let me ask you, what road should it take? You tell us, aren’t you the permanent secretariat? (They all say YES!) The ministers have failed, other ministers will come, but you will be permanent and you are required to continue the administration, and if a man, whose minister is on corruption, covers (it), and then you will know, you and God and your minister will know!
These things need to be worked on, you just sat here, have you conducted any survey? Have you paid visit to the whole country? Or from now, you will be doing it? If you don’t go to every district, to every region and you don’t find out all the problems, or at least don’t find out the names (of the problem) …and you don’t be familiar with everywhere, it is all theory, what you write is not official then.
The other thing, who administers our education (system), is our education system administered by the religious men (Islamic Courts) or the ministries? Are you saying the ministry administers it? What curriculum is taught in schools? Whose is it? Duale? (Maybe, TFG Minister of Education)
Quran schools, primary and elementary schools, secondary schools, universities are all under Al-Islah, Al-Itihad, Al-so and so, what you have, and the ministry (of education)
The religious men have all the mosques, they have the education and social affairs, they own the health, they own the commerce, they own the telecommunication, they own Hawalas (the money wiring services)…nothing is in our hands… so how to deal with the religious establishment, we should discuss, are the religious establishment the government of the country? Or are we the government? Have you ever thought how we could takeover all of these wealth out of the hands of these religious men? (The audience shouts back YES!) Have you added that to the plan? (Yes, shouts back the crowd) Ok then, I am a man and I will give you a hand …these men are our enemies, do you hear me? Let us fight the men! These men are what they are because of all they got all the wealth of the country, either education, religion, or a mosque, or Hawala or the economy or telecommunication or commerce what you have, are in their hands, let us force that out their hands, and that is if you want Somalia to become Somalia.
Then if I said all of that, that is the end of my talk. I thank you a lot and I congratulate you and I will read the plan, but what is needed is to send intellectuals and people with knowledge to the country and we further investigate what is needed in everywhere, and the most imperative trouble we have is the infrastructure, we don’t have highways, we don’t have ports, if I belong to God, we don’t have roads to travel, we don’t have airports, we don’t have …what is its name …if all of these are not built, if the infrastructure is not built, first of all, can we work on the economy? (Audience shouts NO!) … then you need to think on that…whatever that could be done in our ability, should be worked on , it will finally come along.
The key of all of these is stability of the country, and as you said it is all true, then there is a plan going now and there are operations going on, we will cleanse Mogadishu soon, then the Shebelle regions will follow, and the rest of the country will be taken over! Anyone who throws one bullet, will be dealt harshly, so be aware of it, then when we stabilize the security, then is it possible that you won’t be able to continue the administration?
So I am being expected to go somewhere, so if you are willing to sit here all day, keep on sitting, and the hall is ready for you and if you have other engagements, it is up to you! Whenever the parliament is not in session, you all come to the big tree in my office, I don’t know, doesn’t the city have other trees to sit on its shade?