By Omar Salad
As Ethiopian occupation entrenches, Farce congress of reconciliation is talked as a panacea for the grave insecurity created by such occupation and deep socio-economic and political abyss Somalia is in and exacerbated by humanitarian crisis rapidly going from worse to worst. Meantime, international community directly and indirectly blesses and supports the stifling, murderous and destructive Ethiopian occupation and a farce reconciliation congress designed by Ethiopia for the approval of its colonial occupation.
I. ENTRENCHING ETHIOPIAN OCCUPATION
Needless to remind Ethiopia invaded and occupied Somalia from 24 December 2006 without being provoked and in breach of the international law specifically the UN Charter Article 1 paragraph 1 which states ‘All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or of use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United States,’ and the UN Security Council Resolution 1725 (December 2006) paragraph 3 in which the same Council reiterated and insisted ‘that all Member States, in particular those in the region, should refrain from any action in contravention of the arms embargo and related measures, and should take all actions necessary to prevent such contraventions’.
But unfortunately the UN and its Security Council totally failed to hold Ethiopia accountable for its blatant violations of Article 1 of its Charter and as well as the afore-said resolution to condemn Ethiopia for its aggression against Somalia, order to withdraw its troops and pay compensation for the massive loss of life and property.
This is not only complete failure of duty on the part of the UN to take the appropriate steps on these violations but that has been perceived by the Somali people and all good peoples and states that the UN is in favour of Ethiopian invasion and occupation which committed (still commits) mass genocide and war crimes, robs, and loots public and private properties, strips Somali Nation of its political independence, sovereignty, freedoms and tears the country into shreds. Sadly the UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs, Mr. B. Lynn Pascoe, after meeting Ethiopian Prime Minister in Addis Ababa on 11 June stated ‘What many long-time observers are telling me is that this is the best opportunity for peace that Somalia has had in the past 16 years’(Media) and he lauded a ‘excellent job’ done AU peacekeeping force – that understandably, since he did not say Ugandan troops (the only AU or AMISOM troops there), such his superlative praise extends to the Ethiopian troops’ occupation and brutalities.
Some, including certain UN member States, may argue out of context that Ethiopia was threatened by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Somalia by calling a jihad against Ethiopia. But that is not true. The ICU called Jihad against Ethiopia after its troops penetrated deep into many Somali regions including Gedo, Bakool, Bay, Hiran, Mudug, Galmudug and Galgadud and according to Islam as well as Somali Islamic culture jihad (struggle or defence) is a legitimate means one has to resort to when ones country, people, family and property are attacked by a foreigner.
As for the entrenching or deepening Ethiopian colonialism in Somalia, there are plenty of evidences.
1. At the time of the invasion the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told the world that he would withdraw his troops from Somalia in a couple of weeks although most Somalis did not believe that. That did not happen. Month after month, he re-reiterates that he is going to bring back his troops just to mollify Ethiopian, Somali and international public opinion. But in reality his real policy is to maintain the colonial system he created in Somalia.
2. The Ethiopians changed the TFG from its original reconciliatory mission to non-reconciliatory one and emptied its form and content based on the notorious Four Point Five (4.5) clannish power-sharing formula. About one third of the ‘Parliament’ (the patriots) either replaced illegally, intimidated, humiliated, isolated, died or resigned. The hundred or so ministers and vice ministers based on the Four Point Five formula were sacked in august 2006 replaced with 31 pro-Ethiopian ones by the explicit and published order of the Ethiopian foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin. Again that reduced pro-Ethiopian cabinet was reshuffled and those who spoke against the invasion and occupation or had a different view have been sacked or relegated to unimportant portfolios once more totally elimiting any residue left from the political balance. The outcome of such sinister plan of undermining the original TFG form and content, is a pro-Ethiopian subservient trio: ‘President’ Abdullahi Yusuf, Prime Minister Ali M. Gedi and speaker Sheikh Adan Madoobe to lead the sham show of TFG devoid of any legitimacy and power. Many of the remnant pro-Ethiopian ministers and MPs themselves are constantly subjected to intimidation, humiliation and confinement to Baidoa under order and guard. Only the minister of interior and vice minister of defence are seen or heard serving as spokesmen for the Ethiopian Ruling military General through the TFG name as a cover in addition to the above named top triumvirate.
3. On 5 May 2007 the Ethiopian Foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin as usual came to Mogadishu for a working tour and supervision of his occupation troops in charge of Mogadishu and above all to open own embassy in the capital which he did under Ethiopian heavy military and tanks presence – a tank diplomacy imitating the gunboat diplomacy existing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meantime, he accorded audience for his client Somali ‘President’ and ‘Prime Minister’ ostensibly talking with them about close relations between the two countries while the real purpose of the meeting was to tell them the decisive role the embassy will have and the similar roles the 30 or so Ethiopian ‘expert advivers’, brought with him and attached to Somali ministries and security organs, will play as well as in the forthcoming farce national reconciliation congress designed to approve their invasion and occupation which has to perpetuate. Seyoum’s latest tour of duty, were preceded by four, if not more, similar tours to Baidoa and Mogadishu.
4. Dependent on Ethiopia since its formation in early 2003 and now on its troops, the TFG has never been allowed to form its own security forces (police and army) except three militia battalions which ‘President’ Abdullahi Yusuf recruited and brought from Puntland which he calls national army. That was why the TFG, after three years of existence, is still unable to on its feet and is set to be under the mercy and protection of Ethiopian troops for a long time to come.
5. on 5 May 2007, when almost everything fell in place - the heavy fighting in Mogadishu subsided (after the freedom fighters changed their confrontational fighting to guerrilla tactics), embassy opened and many Ethiopian ‘expert advisers’ took charge in various Somali ministries and rudimentary security organs (police and intelligence units), Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi paid a surprise visit to Mogadishu and he accorded audience to his client Somali TFG president and prime minister in one session, in another for Governor-cum-mayor of Mogadishu and police commander, and in still another session for selected Somali elders posing himself as the supreme colonial ruler of Somalia and instructing all these subjects the things he wanted them to do. On 9 May after returning to his original country, Meles declared that the ‘situation in Somalia is very encouraging’ which can only mean ‘Somalia is under my firm control with international recognition and support’. As a lip-service and public opinion consumption, he re-iterated his usual sham promise that his troops would withdraw from Somalia with condition if AU troops come, although come or not come, they will not be able to challenge or reverse the Ethiopian occupation and then they will have no other option but to supplement the occupation unless the US or the UN Security Council decides to order Ethiopia to leave Somalia. Any withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops should not be left to be a prerogative or the volition of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia but it should be a clear and firm UN Security Council decision. Otherwise there will not be a complete withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.
II. WAR CRIMES AND WORSENING HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
For the last 16 years of civil war and international neglect the majority of Somali people have been impoverished. Severe long droughts in 2005-6 and devastating riverine floods in 2006 made many more people destitute and helpless. The concerted efforts of the Islamic Courts Union and Somali philanthropic donors helped alleviate the plight of hundreds of thousands people in need in the late half of 2005 and in 2006 before the invasion. For political reasons or lack of conscience, the TFG showed no concern at all for the plight and suffering of the millions of Somalis while it has been the recipient of huge sums of international aid. The international community (governments, UN agencies, international NGOs) also neglected or hardly provided humanitarian and relief aid to the people in need especially from 2006 to-date for political reasons while making reasons of true and untrue insecurity.
1. War Crimes and worsening Humanitarian Crisis
In August 2006, six months prior to the Ethiopian invasion, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian affairs (OCHA) estimated that 1.8 million Somalis were either in Acute Food and Livelihood crisis or in humanitarian emergency situation. That figure related to people stricken and made destitute by the 2005/2006 severe droughts, riverine alluvial floods plus 400,000 protracted internally displaced persons (IDPs) during the 16 years civil war. But such dire humanitarian situation turned much worse from 24 December 2006 when the US-backed Ethiopian invasion and occupation in Somalia started. Thereafter, the local welfare and relief networks and the trickle of international humanitarian and relief aid were intentionally disrupted and blocked by the invading and occupying Ethiopian forces and their client TFG.
In addition to the already 1.8 million destitute and helpless people, the UN reported that 400,000 civilians were displaced from Mogadishu by the carpet and indiscriminate bombardments on civilian residential areas in Mogadishu by the Ethiopian troops from February to April 2007. But well-informed people and local NGOs on the ground believe that the UN estimate is very conservative and the real figure of these IDPs is over 500,000. Of these Mogadishu IDPs 84,000 went to Lower Shabelle Region, 63,000 to Middle Shabelle Region, 109,000 to Galgaduud Region, and 40,000 to Galmudug (former South Mudug). If you take the 400,000 for Mogadishu IDPs (the UN figure) and add this to the August 2006 UN identified figure of 1,800,000 as people in emergency you get 2,200,000 people in desperate need. Out of this number how many people died for hunger/famine and curable diseases since August 2006? If you take the lowest 3 per cent of this latest total number of highly vulnerable people you get 66,000 perished for lack of care caused by the Ethiopian occupation in addition to those 3,586 killed and 7,3586 maimed and injured deliberately by bombardments and bullets by the same occupation troops. UN and media agencies reports say that only 114,000 out of the 400,000 IDPs from Mogadishu IDPs could be reached and provided some form of help in mid May 2007. It is also reported by these agencies that only 90,000 of the Mogadishu IDPs returned to the city. The TFG, in a malicious attempt to minimise the war crimes it and their Ethiopian controllers committed, dismissed the number of IDPs from Mogadishu only to 40,000 and that all have returned back to the city!!
The other gross humanitarian law violations which must not be forgotten or be investigated into are the genocide and war crimes committed by the Ethiopian troops and the TFG accomplices of killing 3,586 civilians including women and children wounding and maiming 7,344 other civilians including women and children since 24 December 2006 (document issued by the Diaspora Somali Standing Committee for the Somali crisis in May 2007 London) and these crimes still continues on. These included scores of armed civilian freedom fighters who were exercising their inherent right to defend their own country from foreign enemy invasion and occupation. Some may say that is this not genocide. But if the definition of genocide is deliberate extermination of a people or nation, who can disprove that the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia, as a traditional arch-enemy, is not a premeditated and deliberate action to decimate and ruin Somalia? which is exactly the reason why it came to Somalia to do and is still doing this.
2. Onset of Economic Collapse
On top of that the basic livelihood means (properties, businesses, jobs, local relief aid and welfare networks) of the most people in Mogadishu have been disrupted, destroyed or blocked by indiscriminate carpet bombardments by the Ethiopian troops, looting, robbery and destruction of the shanty quarters and street trade where poor mostly women who used to sell countless petty goods (foods, fabrics, cigarettes, kat, etc., etc.) on open ground bazaars, stalks, tea shops, etc. etc. to find daily living for their children and extended families. This massive destruction and disruption massive economic activities created more armies of destitute people whose basic livelihood entitlements have been so wiped out without being provided alternative markets to make their transactions or means to live on. The UN and other humanitarian agencies have noticed the only 400,000 Mogadishu IDPs but may not yet noticed the massive destruction and dislocation of the economic activities and mass unemployment and destitution it created for hundreds of thousands of people who are still in the capital city. The whole economy of Mogadishu and nearby regions is on the brink of complete collapse due to the stifling occupation which makes almost everything impossible for trade and flow of goods from one place to another, normal business transactions and safe keeping of money exacerbated by increasing compulsory lump sum advance payments imposed on business people by the TFG as a form of tax, high port tariffs, roadblocks, rampant sea pirates which hijack or scare commercial ships or those carrying humanitarian aid, and extortion, rape, killing, looting and robbery of money and valuables (by breaking into homes and businesses), kidnapping businessmen and taking from high rates of ransom by TFG militias and Ethiopian troops, and armed thugs and thieves everywhere in the city and roads leading to the regions. Businessmen and ordinary people after being disarmed become vulnerable to the robbery of Ethiopian soldiers, TFG militias and armed thieves.
On the monetary side, the TFG imports of printed valueless Somali paper money and pays its militias, staff and services and at the same exchanges dollars from the market. The devaluation and additional negative economic impact such dumping of valueless money have on the already fragile and unprotected Somali shilling, prices of goods and services and the economy as whole is not yet known. But it is already publicly known that the price of goods especially the food, medicines and basic necessities sky-rejected due to scarcity of goods and the above enumerated multiple problems. Because of such highly insecure environment many business people transferred their money abroad and stopped trading in Mogadishu and nearby regions and many others will of course follow suit unless these above problems are tackled.
3. Ethiopian PM Satisfaction about
Accomplishment of his Colonial Enterprise
This is the real current social, security, economic and political situation obtaining in Somalia which the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi hailed as ‘the situation in Somalia very encouraging’ after his visit to Mogadishu on 9 June 2007 and five days before him the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia John Holmes cogently described as ‘In terms of numbers of displaced people, and our access to them, Somalia is a worse crisis than Darfur or Chad or anywhere else this year.’ Why for Meles Zenawi the catastrophic situation in Somalia is so ‘very encouraging’? To discern his logic is simple. Ethiopia, a traditional enemy country that came with premeditated policy of revenge to decimate the Somalis and ruin their country to the maximum, must have been happy for the plight and suffering of the Somalis. You never heard Ethiopian government officials or its ruling military authority in Mogadishu speaking about the suffering of the Somalis. The Somali saying Nin ku gowracay har kuuma jiido (he who kills you does not drag your corps under a shady tree) explains the Ethiopian troops’ actions and the glee of their prime minister. Meantime, in an ostrich tactics the Ethiopian military occupation authority shifts the responsibility of the blame of their atrocities in Mogadishu on the TFG. So is the responsibility for blocking the humanitarian and relief aid from the millions perishing of famine and diseases to dodge from internal and external blame.
4. TFG Leaders Blockage of
Humanitarian Aid Revealed
Under pressure of the Somali people (both inside and outside he country), many international NGOs such as Oxfam, MSF, UNICEF, Safe the Children, ICRC, Care, etc. and concerned international community members such EU commission, international good-willed groups and individuals and individuals the UN and some members of the ICG broke the silence about the atrocities of the Ethiopian troops and TFG and that secret was divulged that the TFG leaders officially blocked the humanitarian agencies and aid from coming into the country to these needy affected by famine and epidemic diseases (cholera, watery severe watery diarrhoea, etc.) especially the 400,000 or more Mogadishu IDPs who were languishing and dying in open air camps without food, water, medicine, and shelter and many more others who already destitute and desperate. Then it has transpired that personally the prime minister of the TFG wrote a letter to the UN and humanitarian agencies that they could cannot come or bring in humanitarian aid. The WFP local representative in Mogadishu revealed that the Agency wanted to distribute 320 metric tones of food to the IDPs in the Afgooye area but TFG militias blocked seizing the convoy carrying the food and they put back into stores in the city under guard. At that point when the minister of interior of the TFG was asked by BBC reporter, he said ‘all humanitarian aid must be authorised by the TFG and come through it to be distributed, and we stopped this particular shipment of food for the safety and health of our people lest they would not be poisoned by these agencies’. This is not an answer of a responsible minister whose people are dying for lack of food but understandably he was forced to give such a ridiculous reply by his Ethiopian superior authority.
As the row of accusation and counter-accusation between the TFG and international humanitarian agencies about the obstruction heated, on 23 April 2007 the TFG was forced to rescind its blockage order on humanitarian aid and they declared that only civilian airports open to humanitarian aid to come in words not followed by deeds. To increase the pressure on them, on 28 April 2007 the Chief UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mr. John Holmes sent ‘an open letter’ to’ Somali leaders, military commanders, elders and community representatives calling for unimpeded access for the delivery of assistance to and provision of protection to Somalis’. To press TFG even harder (and of course their Ethiopian controllers), Mr. John Holmes visited Mogadishu and met ‘President’ Abdullahi Yusuf and ‘Prime Minister’ Ali M. Gedi and on 14 May 14 May 2007. After returning to Nairobi, Mr. Holmes made this true but alarming statement that ‘In terms of numbers and access to them, Somalia is a worse displacement crisis than Darfur or Chad or anywhere else this year.’ And the UN Human Rights Council reported 12 June belatedly deplored the ‘deteriorating human rights situation’ in Somalia mentioning killing, mass displacement, robbery, rape, lack of water, food, shelter, medical care, and intimidation and threats to the population. Even so, up to now the humanitarian agencies succeeded to reach and provide food only 114,000 people out of the 400,000 IDPs from Mogadishu (media. Yet, the international community especially the rich countries are not responding to the humanitarian disaster in a way commensurate to the magnitude humanitarian disaster alarmingly acknowledged and urgently called repeatedly by John Holmes, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator. Despite of this, the UN OCHA Situation Report Ro. 40 of 25 May, informs that only $10 million are available as Central Emergency Response Fund for this massive humanitarian crisis which surpasses Darfur tragedy and still continues to worsen further because the rapacious occupation which is intent to create as much catastrophic as possible.
III. THE SOMALI PEOPLES’S LEGITIMATE
RESISTANCE AGAINST ETHIOPIAN-OCCUPATION
The unprovoked, aggressive and illegal US-based Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia from 24 December 2006 to-date has not been accepted and will never be accepted by the Somali people. The false pretexts of the invasion and occupation by Ethiopia and its US sponsor such as presence of ‘Alqaida’, ‘extreme Islamicists’ or ‘Islamic terrorists’ posing threat to Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa and the world were and are still baseless. The Islamic Courts Union (ICU) which in 2006 established peace and order in the southern and central regions of Somalia never threatened or harmed any Ethiopian and American or other countries’ interests. Only after Ethiopian troops entered inside Somalia, namely, the Bakol, Gedo, Bay, Hiran, Galgadud, north Mudug and Galmudug (the former South Mudug), the ICU began to denounce this intrusion and call for jihad to defend their country from the ongoing foreign aggression. Then the US-sponsored Ethiopian regime, which had its own sinister designs against Somalia, stepped its fictitious accusation that the ICU posed threat of jihad against Ethiopia. In actual fact, it was the Ethiopian regime that provoked the ICU and the Somali people to call and resort to jihad against its invading forces. In Islam in general and the Somali Islamic culture, jihad is a legitimate means to resort to if a foreigner invades your country, people, family and property. The jihad called by the ICU and supported by the majority of the Somali people was in that context and not as distortedly and conveniently interpreted and publicised by the Ethiopian regime and their US sponsors and the western media as well.
Therefore, the Somali insurgents or anti-Ethiopian occupation fighters, whether they are members of the ICU or other Somali patriots are not violence mongers, extremists, terrorists or Al-qaida members and associates as wrongly accused by Ethiopia, its client TFG, the Americans and the bulky of the western media, but these fighters are freedom fighters. They did not start the violence but it was Ethiopia which started such violence and violently subjugates the Somali people, causing on them all sorts atrocities and misery in their in their own country. Who gave Ethiopia the right to occupy Somalia, indiscriminate-ly kill Somalis en masse and destroy their property and basic livelihoods, and declare Somali freedom fighters as ‘terrorists and Alqaida to be hunted down’, and export many Somalis like goods to the Ethiopian Guantanamo Bay-style dungeons and exclude Somali freedom fighters and politicians from in any political process?! The answer is nobody. Therefore, anti-Ethiopian occupation Somali freedom fighters have every inherent and legitimate right to respond violence to the violence perpetrated on the Somali people and land by the Ethiopian occupation troops and their Somali hirelings and puppets.
If Ethiopia wants peace and friendship with the Somali people as it alleges, it must withdraw its troops completely from Somalia without further delay and conditionality. Ethiopian occupation troops have no right whatsoever to stay in or rule Somalia let alone hold ‘a reconciliation congress’ for Somali people under their guns and boots. That is a gross insult added to the painful injury of the invasion and occupation. The international community should have moral qualms not support, condone or apologise for this ugly and brutal occupation of Somalia by its arch-enemy and it must take clear-cut stand and decision on how this occupation should be ended soon. The international community also ought to reject the unfounded and far-fetched accusations labelled on the Somali freedom fighters as ‘al-qaida’, ‘terrorists’ and ‘extremists’. These immoral, unjust and brazen lies concocted for political convenience by Ethiopia by its backers to pursue their own geopolitical ends in Somalia at the cost of the independence and welfare of the Somali people should stop. Because such baseless accusations will not only be counter-productive as regards the realisation of such aims or even resolving Somali crisis but alienate most Somalis and harden their attitudes towards the accusers even more.
III. THE FARCE NATIONAL RECONCILIATION CONGRESS
Since the Ethiopian troops have given a lift to it to Mogadishu, the TFG has neither gained any political and military power nor legitimacy. It is living under the Ethiopian protection from the Somali people as it was six months ago when it was in Baidoa. On the contrary the political and military powers, legitimacy, and authority fictitiously claimed by the TFG went from the worse level they were to the worst one due to the high treason act for accepting Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia and for being accomplice of the above described gross war crimes this inimical occupation committed in its name. The TFG talk about holding a national reconciliation process and relevant congress can only be understood and scorned off as a complete farce. Such a sham apolitical and clannish national reconciliation congress has been planned by the Ethiopians in the name of the TFG for three reasons: a)to hoodwink the internal and international public opinion; b)to approve the Ethiopian invasion and its continued occupation, c)to keep the TFG in its puppet nature and high state of dependency on Ethiopia; and d) to exclude civil society including the freedom fighters of diverse political and religious persuasions.
Therefore, with such sinister intentions behind it, this bogus national reconciliation congress organised by the TFG and their Ethiopian controllers, if at all it takes places, because it has been postponed for three times and lastly scheduled for 15 July 2007, can neither bring legitimacy to the TFG nor peace and security in Somalia. For the following reasons this so-called reconciliation congress is devoid of any credibility and legitimacy let alone to bring peace, security and lasting political settlement:-
1. The brutal and total Ethiopian occupation and control - a situation which is very far from being conducive to hold a genuine national reconciliation congress.
2. The apolitical nature and sinister intentions the Ethiopians and the TFG have in holding this so-called congress which are to approve the Ethiopian invasion and its continued occupation and keep the TFG in its current powerless client form;
3. The members of the organising committee of the congress are far from being neutral and independent as they were selected and appointed by the TFG president and approved by the Ethiopians. Prior to his nomination the chairman of the organising committee was invited to Addis Ababa by the Ethiopian Prime Minister to be told what he would do and after that the TFG ‘president’ nominated him and other members who similarly have no integrity and credibility whatsoever. So there is no independent and neutral organising committee.
3. The current leadership of Ethiopia and TFG leaders are notoriously famous for intolerance to dissenting views, political opposition and scorn for any democratic principles and genuine political participation and settlement. They are totalitarian regimes which care of only maximising their total grip on power using mediocre, ignorant and corrupt individuals and every trick in the book.
4. The Ethiopia and TFG leadership have not made even only one concession or acceptance of the demands and proposals for solution of the crisis contained in the two petitions to these authorities by the Mogadishu opposition Elders sent to take steps to stop the war crimes of deliberate mass massacres and destructions and a host of gross transgressions on the dignity, freedom and property on the people of Mogadishu and nearby regions. These demands and proposals were completely belittled and ignored.
5. And more importantly, the people of Mogadishu especially the opposition Council of elders, the politicians, the anti-occupation freedom fighters, and civil society have zero relations and zero trust with the TFG and their Ethiopian-controllers which make impossible to have a genuine national reconciliation congress and have meaningful and lasting political settlement under Ethiopian occupation and the TFG through the afore-said dependent and partial Organising committee.
6. The real dictatorial and brutal behaviour of the Ethiopian and the TFG have been graphically evinced by:-
a) The mass genocide and other war crimes they committed and still commit to the people of Mogadishu;
c) Continuous of arrests and disappearances of countless innocent people, the intimidation and terrorisation, large and widespread looting and robbing of the wealth of the people (businesses, families, individuals);
d) Terrorising raids on the homes, intimidation, harassment, manhandling and detentions of members of the opposition elders of Mogadishu especially the detention of their chairman Haji Abdi Imam, similarly respectable politicians like former president Mr. Abdikasim Salad Hassan (whose residence was raided and ransacked), and arrest of Dr. Mohamud Mohamed Uluso, Mr. Ali Iman the head and partner of Hornarfik radio, and many others. Mr. Haji Abdi Iman and these politicians were detained in a filthy and dreadful underground dungeons already cramming to the brink with innocent people without the least conditions for human living and without due legal process or justice. These dignitaries were lastly were thanks to internal and international criticisms and pressure. All these terrorising acts and arrests followed the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s tour of duty in Mogadishu as a stern warning message to the opposition like ‘this is a foretaste of what I can do to you and nobody can stop me from doing this. You must change your opposition to the occupation, submit yourselves and attend the coming reconciliation congress we are holding soon to approve my colonial enterprise’. The local media, though reopened, are forbidden to speak about the atrocities committed by the Ethiopian troops and TFG unruly militias or misery and humanitarian catastrophe prevailing in the city.
e) Close-down of the local media such as Hornafrik Radio, Furan Radio, Shabelle radio, etc. following the visit of Mr. Meles Zenawi not to report the atrocities going on in Mogadishu.
Such infringements on individual liberties and political freedoms of these dignitaries, the entire population of Mogadishu and the freedom of the media plus the grave war crimes committed and still being committed illustrate clear picture that there are not the minimum security and freedom requirements needed by a genuine national reconciliation congress. That is why this hoax congress has been postponed for the third time and is boycotted by the most apolitical delegates selected by the TFG let alone the unarmed opposition and anti-occupation freedom fighters.
In a word, as noted above, the forthcoming hoax congress is just a sinister project intended to mislead the international community and approve the Ethiopian invasion and its continued occupation and keeping dysfunctional and much hated client TFG in place so that it will always be heavily dependent on Ethiopia and its manipulation.
6. First Somali President
Buried under Occupation
Since the black December 2006 when the Ethiopian occupation started in Somalia, it is the most depressing and painful moment for the Somalis that the body of their beloved first President Adan Abdulle Osman, who passed away in Nairobi on 8 June 2007, was returned and buried in Mogadishu on the 11th of the same at a gloomy moment when his beloved country, of which freedom he struggled and become its first president, was under the occupation of its traditional arch-enemy of Ethiopia. Neither Somalis nor President Adan Abdulle Osman have ever imagined that this could happen to their motherland. Tens of thousands of Somalis attended his funeral to pay him the respects he deserved while in deep grieve and consternation not only for his death but also for humiliating situation the death and funeral of their beloved first president coincided. Many Millions of Somalis inside and outside the country have had similar movements of double grieve. The death of President Adan Abdulle Osman and the sad occupation under which he was buried, will strengthen the will and resolve of many Somalis to liberate their motherland from the colonial occupation of Ethiopia and restore their statehood.
7. Unwanted and Misplaced Amnesty
On 16 June the TFG prime minister held a meeting for his ministers to talk about amnesty for the Somali ICU members and other anti-Ethiopian Somali freedom fighters and suggested to the TFG president to grant amnesty for these fighters and for those hundreds of innocent people illegally detained in Mogadishu. In his turn, on the 17 June 2007 the president signed a decree for such amnesty. This is absolutely not the idea of the Ethiopians or the TFG but clearly they yielded to pressure of the international community has been suggesting to the TFG that it should enter dialogue and reconciliation with the opposition including members of the ICU and other resistance fighters and supporters. But the question is who committed crime, the freedom fighters or the TFG itself which invited ,accepted and collaborated the Ethiopian inimical invasion and occupation in committing such grave war crimes? The obvious answer is that the freedom fighters did commit any crime in defending their country from foreign invasion and domination but it is the TFG leaders who committed crimes of high national treason and are the real culprits to be prosecuted or offered amnesty. Mr. Sheikh Sharif Ahmed Chairman of the Executive Committee of the ICU dismissed this amnesty as unwanted and misplaced one because ICU and other anti-occupation fighters did not commit any crime but did heroic national duty. Mr. Haji Abdi Imam the Chairman of the opposition Mogadishu Elders had expressed a similar view about this amnesty. But both men welcomed the release of hundreds of innocent civilians detained by the Ethiopian troops and TFG militias without offence and without any due legal process and justice.
IV. ROLE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
Since the invasion six months ago, views and positions of the members of the international community dealing with Somalia have in general been disconcerted, contradictory and inconsistent. Some have been supportive of the Ethiopian occupation and their puppet TFG(E.g. The US, AU, UN, Britain, Kenya)in various degrees and some have been critical of the occupation and the irresponsible behaviour of the TFG (EU Commission, Germany, Kenya, Italy, Norway, Arab League) also in varying degrees. As for the mass genocide and other war crimes committed by and ensuing humanitarian catastrophe, the EU representative based in Nairobi alone showed prompt concern and reported the seriousness of the matter to his superiors, and the UN belatedly showed some concern about humanitarian disaster and announced that it would make a probe if there were war crimes. But the progress and findings the EU and UN made on these issues, or whether real investigation will is not yet unknown to the Somalis. But there is there is high expectation that some justice will be done some day.
The US led International Contact Group (ICG) on Somalia which also includes, Britain, Kenya, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Tanzania, IGAD (with only Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda actively attending), AU, UN and Arab League, has taken the liberty to name itself to get involved in the Somali crisis but has not taken concrete steps about the invasion and occupation of Ethiopia; building Somali national security forces; influencing the TFG in the right and preventing it from political fragmentation and deterioration; and war crimes and the escalation of the humanitarian catastrophe and prolonged suffering of millions of Somalis prior to and during the occupation. The ICG behaviour seems to support, and/or condone and play delaying tactics to give the Ethiopian occupation more time to take its course and implement its sinister mission. The ICG holds occasional meetings and issue confusing and non-committal statements as opposed to coming up with clear, concrete and concerted policy about resolving the Somali protracted and deteriorating crisis and putting in place pertinent decisive action plans. Its latest meeting is case in point.
1) The Latest UN ICG Meeting
The communiqué issued by the last IGC held in London on 6-7 June 2007 was as confusing and indecisive as ever except supporting the TFG and condoning to the Ethiopian occupation and its continuing war crimes. The communiqué issued by the ICG included the usual stereo-type general political phrases such as ‘genuine inclusive reconciliation, fair and equitable representation, comprehensive and meaningful political process, process leading to permanents and peace and stability, continue to work all parties to ensure that all humanitarian needs of the Somali people are addressed, etc.). But the real meat of the ICG Communiqué was the following points which are supportive of the apolitical hoax congress planned by Ethiopia and its client TFG:
a) ‘The Contact Group welcomes . . . the assurances given by the Transitional federal Government that the reconciliation Congress will be fully inclusive and that no clan or sub clan’, ’or individual members of them who renounce violence and are selected by their clans’;
c) ‘The Contact Group agrees to funding the Congress’
b)‘The Contact group strongly condemns actions of extremists and terrorists and those looking to under undermine the political and reconciliation process’ an unfortunate misnomer and reference to the Anti-Ethiopian occupation freedom fighters whether they belong to the ICU or are other patriots.
The language of the ICG as ‘actions of violence’, ‘extremists’ and ‘terrorists’ that ‘undermine the political and reconciliation process’ that it ‘strongly condemns’ clearly refer to the Somali Ethiopian anti-occupation insurgents or freedom fighters struggling to liberate their country from the Ethiopian occupation. If these freedom fighters are labelled or called ‘extremists’, ‘terrorists’ and ‘Alqaida’ and their demands are so offhandedly dismissed or ignored, a question begs: with whom the TFG reconciles and what kind of reconciliation the ICG supports? All these terms and phrases of the ICG seem to be supportive of the real agenda of the Ethiopian and their client TFG which are exclusive and not conducive to any peace, reconciliation and stability in Somalia.
The other big folly of the ICG is that they avoid the mention of or do something about the war crimes and brutalities of the Ethiopian troops, their continuing predatory actions, and setting a timetable of ending this brutal occupation. For six months now, the ICG or the international community has been talking about AU troops deployment which are not forthcoming because either they are not deliberately funded by those rich countries which would pay the bill or that the would-be troop contributing African countries are reluctant to send their troops to Ethiopian occupied Somalia least their troops would not be a supplementary to such occupation or that their troops would not killed by furious Somali freedom fighters in futile mission. The second AU peacekeeping contribution is expected to be Burundi and according to reports these troops are destined to Kismayo, a volatile city second to Mogadishu, instead of the latter. But the big question is: can 1,700 Burundi troops make a difference in Kismayo without meaningful political dialogue and reconciliation with the various rival communities and factions as well. The diversion of the Burundi troops to Lower Jubba Region is indicative that the Ethiopian troops are not withdrawing from Somali but to stay while the six month term AU mission is almost over to give way to the proposed pending UN mission.
.2) The Commendable Ugandan position and peacekeeping role
Only Uganda timely deployed its own quota of AU peacekeeping troops to Somalia and distanced its troops from participating in the mass carnage and destruction in Mogadishu by Ethiopian troops. Ugandan troops which are doing peacekeeping work at Mogadishu Port and Airport and at other public installations already earned respect and trust from the Somali people. Also, the Ugandan government took an objective, honest, and courageous independent decision to contact and negotiate with the Somali anti-Ethiopian occupation fighters in Mogadishu and aboard convincing them that Uganda is neutral and has no vested interest in Somalia but to help restore peace abd stability, unlike Ethiopia and other self-interested foreign countries which regard and call the Somali anti-occupation fighters as ‘extremists, terrorists, and Alqaida’. This astute policy and independent approach worked well for Uganda not only earning respect but safety of its troops in Mogadishu. The six Ugandan soldiers killed in Mogadishu were killed either by their mistake of being in the wrong place or by accident and that fact was acknowledged by the Ugandan government. Also the AU Ugandan command and Ugandan government take open and accountable approach in reporting what happens to their troops such as death, injury and how that happened, etc. and kind humane policy for their soldiers serving in Somalia. For example, the six Ugandan soldiers killed in Somalia have not only been acknowledged but also compensated their families handsomely with $100,000 for each of the fallen soldiers – perhaps the biggest ever compensation for an African soldier. Ethiopia is quite the opposite – no openness or accountability of crimes and atrocities its soldiers commit in Somalia or about disclosing the large numbers of soldiers it lost in Somalia (many hundreds, if not thousands, killed or wounded)let alone paying compensation to their families like those of Uganda.
3. The Proposed UN Mission for Somalia
There are a lot of questions what will the UN mission be like? From which countries troops are to be drawn? Will the frontline or other controversial countries participate in this UN mission? What is the mandatory power of this mission - to administer Somalia or to help and supplement the dysfunctional and hated TFG? Or will it be one of ‘a coalition of the willing’ which the UN Secretary General mentioned a couple of months ago that ‘Somalia may need’? Will the mission be different from the ill-advised, biased and failed UNISOM one of 1992-1995? How long will the term be? The answers of these questions especially how neutral the contributing countries are, role, mandate and term and in relation to the TFG of the UN mission have great significance and importance for the success or failure of the proposed UN mission.
Such mission to be successful, the UN Security Council needs that it critically learn lessons from the past: the failed 1992-1995, the irreparable nature of the TFG, the destructive Ethiopian invasion and occupation and the havoc its continued presence can play with Somalia, the notion of ‘coalition of the willing’ as mentioned earlier by the UN Secretary General if it means voluntary interested countries pursuing their own objectives or doing what they deem fit (which reminds one the disaster in Iraq) and can spell similar catastrophe in Somalia, the counter-productive effects the politically motivated slogans and labels of ‘Islamic terrorists’ and ‘Alqaida presence’, etc., the deliberate exclusion of the civil society (especially intellectual/professionals, civilian politicians old and new, titled legitimate traditional and religious elders, women and youth groups).
4) Need to recognise and address
root-causes of violence and extremism
It should be borne in mind by the International community or specifically by the ICG that the violence that has been going on in Somalia for the last two decades or so has not been chosen by the Somalis but that it is caused by a combination of factors such as poverty, ignorance and foreign negative foreign involvement especially the long time constant Ethiopian direct negative interventions (e.g. taking sides and supply of arms and other resources to favoured factions, etc.) which boiled down to their current rapacious and degrading occupation in Somalia.
Any genuine Somali political leadership or movement and the international community should understand, recognise and address these root-causes (e.g. grinding poverty, ignorance, interested negative foreign interventions and the present occupation) instead of putting the blame on the Somali people for tribalism or lack of national consciousness and demonising various factions or groups like the ICU for ‘extremism’ and/or terrorism’, and the most wild accusation as ‘Al-qaida connections’ or depicting Somalia as a ‘haven for terrorism’. These are assessment and characterisation of the Somalis and their social and political behaviours are either stemming from hopeless misconceptions or ideologically and politically driven intentions that can only help weaken Somalia and push it to continued violence and ruination
V. SOME RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
1. Need for change of perception and
review of Somali Politics and Crisis
First and foremost the international community, UN, ICG, EU, AU, Arab League Arab, etc. must review their perception and appraisal of Somali social, economic and political crisis by looking at the following critical issues:-
a) review its support, condoning or evasive approach of the Ethiopian invasion and occupation in Somalia and its enormous damages and dire consequences;
b) review the unconditional support to the TFG and its irreparable nature especially after being deeply fragmented and become even more dysfunctional TFG since its formation rather than developing and gaining strengthening itself;
c) the prevailing humanitarian disaster and the impending complete collapse of the economy of Mogadishu city and the whole country because of the devastating effects of the occupation which still go on;
d) the root-causes of violence and extremism or ‘terrorism’ as widespread grinding poverty, ignorance and negative and interested foreign interventions and not the Islamic religion;
2. Steps to be taken
a) first and foremost to address the speedy and complete (repeat complete) withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia which are and, if continued, will be the main source of violence and misery in Somalia;
b) address proactively, promptly and effectively the humanitarian catastrophic of the Mogadishu IDPs, their return and the wider needy population everywhere in Somalia;
c) take urgent steps to tackle the quickly collapsing economy in Mogadishu and possibly countrywide because Mogadishu economy has been largest mainstay of the weak, fragile and unprotected Somali economy;
d) speed up the deployment of more neutral AU forces (like Uganda ones) or UN whichever now is on the UN Security Council agenda to have early complete withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops;
e) then begin a genuine national reconciliation congress participated by all stakeholders including TFG, ICU members, old and new politicians, professionals and NGO leaders, titled and formal traditional and religious leaders, women and youth groups under safe and free environment in Somalia under neutral and fair mediation and facilitation of the international community or ICG with a projected outcome of genuine and workable political settlement.
By Omar Salad
E-mail: [email protected]