Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 11, 2008

Behind 'Fighting Piracy'

The guy who probably knows best about piracy around Somali is Andrew Mwangura. He has been involved in many negotiations of ransom payments for captured ships. His view (h/t b real who does a great job in keeping MoA readers informed of the issue):

"Piracy can't be solved by a military solution," Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenyan branch of the East African Seafarers' Association, told journalists in Nairobi. "We need to go back to the origin. Don't call them criminals ... let's have dialogue, sit down and talk."
...
"If you are not going to invite the local community, it is not going to work," he said. "We need to come up with a regional piracy information centre, security in Somalia and a regional action plan on illegal fishing and toxic dumping."

Fishermen began targeting ships in the early 90s, saying they were defending their coastline from illegal fishing and boats dumping toxic waste in Somali waters.

The Somali informal coast guard, aka the pirates, seem to be somewhat successful with regards to illegal fishing. David Axe is currently in Mombasa, Kenya. He writes:

Mombasa itself is safe from pirates: the distance is too great, and the Kenyan navy is out in force. But Mombasa-based shippers, mariners, shipping agents and myriad others who depend on regional sea trade have suffered greatly from the steady rise in Somali piracy in the last decade. Habib Hakem operates a deep-sea fishing company whose boats can range as far as the Somali border. But piracy has put a dent in his trade. Last year he had 60 clients. This year, just 15. He pins the decline on fishermen’s fear of kidnapping.

Habib Hakem may "suffer greatly" now that his illegal fishing business is down. But this is a great success for Somalia's informal coast guard. Others have helped. The Indian navy sunk a Thai trawler which was illegally fishing in Somali waters. They thought it was a pirate mother-ship. It was not, but from the Somali point of view, the Indians hit the right target and created a good deterrence effect .

Fighting the pirates does not make sense from an economic standpoint. Of some 20,000 ships going through the area only some 100 have been attacked this year and only some 40 were actually captured. Nobody was killed. Ransom was payed and the ships went back to the oceans.

Galrahn calculates the cost and benefit for the European Union fleet just sent to 'fight the pirates':

[T]he starting point to estimate the cost of the whole operation should be around $129 million. Other costs associated with a heightened operational tempo could increase the cost by another $20 million or more.

As of the first part of October this year, pirates have collected an estimated $30 million in ransoms in 2008.

It is cheaper to pay the toll the pirates demand, than to fight them. But the EU does not care about the cost or about piracy at all. It is happy it finally managed to launch some military action, even if senseless, without a U.S. lead. The whole idea behind this action is to prepare its population for a more military interventionist and imperial EU attitude.

The U.S. would not have that for long. It now presses for a U.N. resolution to intervene on Somali grounds:

It proposes that for a year, nations "may take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia, including in its airspace, to interdict those who are using Somali territory to plan, facilitate or undertake acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea and to otherwise prevent those activities."

That is carte blache for anyone to kill Somalis. The AP is not shy about the U.S. motive:

Without committing more U.S. Navy ships, the Bush administration wants to tap into what officials see as a growing enthusiasm in Europe and elsewhere for more effective coordinated action against the Somali pirates.

Read: The U.S. wants to use the EU as a proxy force to press its own imperial designs on the Horn of Africa.

The pirates are a nuisance, not a danger to world commerce. They have a grievance that pushes them into the business. If one intends to solve the problem helping Somalis to keep foreign illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping away from their coast would be the best approach.

But no one but the pirates themselves seems to have that intention at all. World powers simply use the issue to press their various designs to snap up African resources.

Posted by b on December 11, 2008 at 03:40 AM | Permalink

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"On the good ship.. False Flag Op..."


Pirates and Emperors - Schoolhouse Rock especially beginning at 0:24 seconds in...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 11, 2008 4:25:30 AM | 1

We must be careful how the issue of these illegal fishermen is addressed, celebrating the death of 16 village fisherman forced to sail from Thailand to Africa because their own waters have been depleted by large scale intensive fishing should never be part of any humanists program.
Most MoA-ites live in cities and get what seafood they do eat from shops prolly outta cans or at the very least frozen, but that is not how the vast majority of the world got their most accessible form of protein until quite recently.
Whole cultures are being wiped out as trans national fishers vacuum up the world's accessible coastal seafood resources at an alarming rate.
I am certain that the bulk of seafood on sale in cities today is seafood which has been stolen from the mouths of the traditional fishers, who would have conserved the resource for the last thousand years or more. Not so any more. Two seasons vacuum cleaning from the sea floor to the surface, across ancient reefs is usually sufficient to turn the most prolific fishery into a desert and turn a handy profit for the foreign fishers who usually only have to pay for what they catch. When the fish run out their costs go down and price of the 'resource' goes up. Adam Smith's invisible hand strangling millions of humans.
Most people are also unaware of the endemic corruption that goes hand in hand with fishery.
For example in NZ which always tends to rate in the top 2 or 3 nations with the least institutional corruption according to transparency international - (I disagree - these guys are only looking at 'unacceptable' corruption rather than the fact that all capitalism is by nature corrupt - that every government puts corporates ahead of citizens) but that said NZ which is meant to suffer from bugger all institutional corruption cannot shake the bribers out of the fishing industry game. A form of 'conservation' in fishing has been practised here for the last three decades or so strict limits are set across all species and all areas, the quotas put up for tender and time and time again the agents for the big fishery corporations have been found to have been paying off pols and bureaucrats.
That is here where the argument over fishery protection has been strong for half a century and robust systems to discourage bribery have been in place for even longer.

Other nations whose culture has always depended on limited 'kick-backs' and whose notion of the need to enforce conservation practises is much newer haven't stood a chance against the sustained siege their fishery resources have been put under.
So many people can no longer feed themselves from the sea. most of the Pacific was chewed up by amerikan and taiwanese tuna boats decades ago and the same has been repeated around the world.
These thai fisherman would have been resorting to the extremes that so many before them have had to. Fishing is their life and their own fishery has run out so usually a group sometimes a whole village will borrow sufficient from a moneylender to lease or charter a large vessel to travel further afield to somewhere there still are fish, usually somewhere the corporations are too nervous to go to because of war or such.
I think I've written in here before about "Eyebrows" a trawler skipper I used to know who had sailed from Northern Australia to the persian gulf in search of a catch back in the mid to late 80's.
Some cowboy amerikan in a FA-18 or some-such didn't like the cut of Eyebrow's jib or something I suppose. Anyway he fired a missile at the trawler. It went straight through the wheelhouse, right where Eyebrows was working at the time turning Eyebrows into a cloud of red mist and meat.
The Oz goverment harrumphed a bit all embarassed to have let one of their citizens get hisself killed by the empire. Nothing came of it apart from that. Except some of us still remember how dangerous it was to fall asleep after too many beers. One would wake up sans eyebrows which is how my friend got his name. He would strain to stay awake longer than everyone else so he could give us all a trim. Annoying yes but hardly a capital crime. but I digress.

The big crims stay away from somalia. As we see so often in these fucking tragedies when times are tight, it is the poor who are struggling with each other, while the rich pricks puff their cigars and harrumph about the need to give johnny blackfella a dose of cold steel or hot lead.

Yes the somalians are doing the right thing with their coastguard if it weren't for them the whitefellas of the north would have sliced and diced up all of somalia's resources and there would be no fishery left to protect. But the solution has to encompass much more than somalian resistance.
It should be an international crime punishable with prison terms for the corporations' board and their shareholders for anyone to traffic in seafood which has been taken from other humans' traditional fishing grounds.
Any government, or official of any government which attempts to sell off any of it's citizens' fishery should be rounded up and sent off to the Hague for sentencing, followed by a spot of re-education long-lining in a dug-out on the high seas. The term 'up shit creek without a paddle' would finally have meaning for them.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 11, 2008 5:07:11 AM | 2

For those trying to fathom how the "anti-piracy campaign" fits into broader strategies, it can't be irrelevant that the Debka site has now offers its own spin and "original contribution" to our (mis)understanding. There seems to be a very strong inverse correlation between how widely reported a crime is, and its gravity.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 11, 2008 5:25:08 AM | 3

It is still a heckuva lot easier to put pirates into the same category as Afghani poppy farmers and South American coca growers: a threat to America's stability, authority and trade that has to be eradicated with all means available...

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 11, 2008 6:11:04 AM | 4

Umm.. one comment here:

It is cheaper to pay the toll the pirates demand, than to fight them.

True, but it's at best a perverse incentive, and we should all be aware that these pirates are really just seagoing thieves, not courageous eco-crusaders - they're going after valuable targets, not environmental bad actors.

Now, if I were one of those poor Somali sods, I'd probably be liking the idea of piracy versus atrocious grinding poverty in that ghastly failed state, but I do bleieve that turning a blind eye to piracy is not just unlikely, but ultimately a bad idea.

All that being said, the naval patrols don't seem to be terribly effective, and I have signifcant doubts as to how effective they are likely to become. Getting Somalia out of failed state hellhole status is doubtless the only ultimately viable solution, but much easier said than done.

Cheers!

Posted by: Stephen Johnson | Dec 11, 2008 10:58:13 AM | 5

from DoD's briefing w/ adm. mullen on wednesday

Q: Admiral, Ethiopia is pulling its troops from Somalia by the end of this month. When that happens, it's likely that Somalia will become an Islamic state under the Islamic Courts Union. What does that mean for the U.S. military?

ADM. MULLEN: Part of our -- a significant objective in Afghanistan and Pakistan is to not have a safe haven. And I am concerned about the potential for a safe haven in Somalia, as I am in Yemen. And I try to pay a lot of attention to the evolution of potential safe havens, these two in particular and specifically to the one in Somalia. So I'm extremely concerned about that.

And I think -- certainly we, but the international community -- we need to do all we can to impede the arrival of more safe havens out of which we can be threatened.

Q: Specifically, what can the U.S. military do if the Islamic Courts Union takes over in Somalia?

ADM. MULLEN: Well, I'm -- as far as the -- it wouldn't be the U.S. military, quite frankly. It would be, what would be the policy be of the United States of America and other countries? And there are lots of options there.

Posted by: b real | Dec 11, 2008 12:12:46 PM | 6

i didn't point it out in #6, but i'm presuming that most here already know that adm mullen has, for years now, been the leading advocate for the 'thousand-ship navy'

---

on the draft resolution, lloyd's list, in the article Vulnerable vessels may get EU armed guards, reports that

it is already being suggested that Russia and China will prevent the resolution from being carried.

Posted by: b real | Dec 11, 2008 1:42:19 PM | 7

Expert: Navy doesn’t need war on piracy

The U.S. Navy and its international allies should take care they don’t start a “war on piracy,” as the U.S. declared “wars” on terror and drugs, a top maritime security analyst said Tuesday.

Piracy will never be completely eliminated, Rand Corp. researcher Peter Chalk said, but it can be managed and defended against to the point that it becomes just another cost of international commerce. What’s more, the international system can probably withstand a great deal more attacks and hijackings beyond the recent spike off Somalia, he said, given the scale of global trade.

...

As with other piracy experts, Chalk said the lawlessness off Somalia’s coast was a symptom of its anarchy on land. The absence of authorities gives pirates the ability to hijack ships and take them to ports where no police will try to free them. Also, pirate payoffs give locals a stake in helping the attacks continue. Short of invading the coastal towns that serve as pirate havens, experts have said, there is no way to strike at more than the symptoms of piracy.

Chalk also echoed other experts with his view that the U.S. and European naval patrols off Somalia could never stop all the attacks over hundreds of square miles, nor even serve as a deterrent for pirates who have proven to be wily, inventive operators. As such, the European Union’s new anti-piracy patrol, with four ships, won’t have much of an effect, Chalk said.

...

But Chalk suggested there were nonmilitary techniques that could at least help cut back on the number of hijackings. If foreign agencies tried to spur local development in the pirate-haven towns, it could lessen the appeal of the money that came in from piracy, he said, although he cautioned that some attacks probably would still take place.

He also cautioned that pirates’ recent successes could presage new maritime terrorist attacks. There’s almost no hard evidence linking Somali pirates with Islamic terrorists, Chalk said, but terror groups could use the lessons from pirate attacks for future operations. Terrorists could also become regular third-party buyers of weapons and other goods seized by pirates.

Posted by: b real | Dec 11, 2008 2:37:49 PM | 8

from a reuters article thursday

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 11 (Reuters) - The ranks of Somalia's army and police have been gutted as most soldiers and police officers have deserted, often taking their weapons and vehicles, according to a new U.N. Security Council report.

The chairman of the council's Monitoring Group on Somalia said on Thursday that this was one of the main sources of weapons and ammunition in Somalia, along with illegal imports from Yemen and purchases of arms for opposition groups with funds from various domestic and foreign financiers.

There has been "an 80 percent erosion and attrition in the (interim government's) security sector, by which over 15,000 soldiers and police had deserted or defected along with their arms, uniforms, skills and vehicles in some cases," South Africa's U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo told the council.

...

In a four-page summary of the monitoring group's biannual report for the council, Kumalo also said his committee had observed a "steady disintegration" of the government since he gave the group's last report to the Security Council in May.

...

On the topic of piracy, [Kumalo] described it as a "multimillion dollar industry, with a total of 1,000-1,500 pirates employed, using over 60 small boats and mother ships."

He added that pirates were invoking "legitimate Somali grievances regarding foreign exploitation of marine resources and degradation of the marine environment, thus gaining community support." He was referring to illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping in Somali waters.

...

Regarding allegations of complicity between Puntland officials and pirates, he said the regional authorities' steps against the menace were "selective" and that "senior government officials had been so compromised that these measures would be of little consequence."

though the new rpt is not posted there at this moment, the monitoring group's archived rpt are found here

el mundo had a bit more on that u.n. rpt & some comments from the conference in kenya as part of their interview w/ puntland's muse

Northern Somali leader urges more resources to combat piracy

Gen Mahmud Muse Hirsi has no qualms about acknowledging the scant capabilities of his administration. "We haven`t been able to pay the military personnel for the last six months. And do you know how much they earn a month? Fifty dollars (around 40 euros). How do you want us to fight the pirates like that?", says the president of the Somali territory of Puntland from behind his bulky dark glasses.

The economic logic is overwhelming. In contrast to the hypothetical 40 euros a month, the experts estimate that a pirate earns between 5,000 and 8,000 euros per hijacking. The territory of Puntland, a state which proclaimed itself independent from Somalia in 1998, has a budget of around 8m. The pirates have obtained between 25 and 40m this year.

Based on these premises, the "president" of this territory, where the Somali gangs which operate in the Indian Ocean and in the Gulf of Aden work, acknowledged in an interview with this daily yesterday the "enormous difficulties" his troops face against a network of increasingly well-equipped militiamen.

...

Although the leader of Puntland avoids the question, the experts present at this gathering agree that among the new recruits who have joined the raiders on the Horn of Africa is, as a matter of fact, an indeterminate number of ex-members of the coastguard service of that rebel region who were trained by a firm from the United Kingdom between 1999 and 2002. It just so happens that at that time the leader of Puntland was none other than Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad, the current president of Somalia, who the international community supports.

"In 2005, there were only 300 armed pirates. Today there are 1,500 and the majority have been recruited from among the ranks of the coastguards, which means they have extensive maritime knowledge", explains one local specialist in piracy who did not wish to be identified - an assertion which the region`s coastguard director himself, Abdiweli Ali Tar, corroborates. "It`s true, the majority are ex-coastguards, but also former policemen and soldiers. No-one was paying them, so they went with the pirates".

...

A report written by military staff and specialists under the auspices of the United Nations to which El Mundo had access confirmed that Puntland - whose independence has not been recognized by any international body - has not only "become the epicentre of piracy", but also that it "has penetrated all levels of society, including the government. There are several ministers from Puntland who are suspected of engaging in piracy".

...

The supremacy of the pirates is such that for the first time they have begun to operate beyond the division of clans which has marked the recent history of Somalia. "That had never happened. The Faina (the Ukrainian cargo ship carrying some 30 tanks hijacked on 25 September) is controlled by three different gangs. Between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of the ships held are in the hands of members of intermingled clans", said the same expert quoted previously.

The conference on piracy has also confirmed the spectacular rise in the amount of the ransoms, which went from around 50,000 euros at the beginning of the 1990s to a minimum of 800,000 at present.

The business has been structured in such a way that, according to the document drawn up by military personnel and piracy specialists, the criminals now divide up the bounty with a certain entrepreneurial spirit: "Twenty per cent for the bosses, another 20 per cent for future missions (purchase of weapons, fuel and food), 30 per cent for the armed men and another 30 per cent for the members of the government", reads the United Nations-sponsored text.

an AP story from wednesday quotes michael weinstein & ties the diaspora into one faction of the hijackings

Somali piracy backed by international network

The dramatic spike in piracy in African waters this year is backed by an international network mostly of Somali expatriates from the Horn of Africa to as far as North America, who offer funds, equipment and information in exchange for a cut of the ransoms, according to researchers, officials and members of the racket. With help from the network, Somali pirates have brought in at least $30 million in ransom so far this year.

"The Somali diaspora all around the world now have taken to this business enterprise," said Michael Weinstein, a Somalia expert at Purdue University in Indiana. He likened the racket to "syndicates where you buy shares, so to speak, and you get a cut of the ransom."

Weinstein said his interviews with ransom negotiators and Somalis indicate the piracy phenomenon has reached Canada, which is home to 200,000 Somalis.

John S. Burnett, a London-based author working on a book about hijackings off the Somali coast, said there is no doubt Somali pirates are part of "transnational crime syndicates." He said information from sources, including people involved in ransom negotiations and payouts, indicates the money goes as far as Canada and capitals in Europe.

"Places like Eyl are getting only a portion of the millions in ransom being siphoned off," he said. "The Somali diaspora is huge."

...

The pirates acknowledge using foreign help.

"All I can tell you is we have people in Nairobi, Djibouti, we have people in Dubai and many other countries," said Gamase Hassan Said, a pirate in Eyl speaking by telephone.

Aden Yusuf, another pirate in Eyl, told The AP that foreigners in Dubai, Nairobi, Djibouti and elsewhere help pirates get sophisticated equipment, such as money-counting machines seen at foreign exchange bureaus, in exchange for a cut of the ransom.

Roger Middleton, an expert on East Africa at Chatham House think tank in London, said ransoms in the past have been "channeled to expatriate Somalis around the world." But pirates appear to be opting for direct cash payouts more often now — bypassing even the hawala tranfer system — because of concerns about scrutiny by governments, he said. In one instance at the beginning of this year, he said, the pirates wanted the money delivered through the Gulf but nobody was prepared to take it.

"That may be an indication that the (UAE) government was stepping up pressure," said Middleton, whose information comes from private security firms and people party to hostage negotiations.

let's not go through the whole hawala fiasco again

Posted by: b real | Dec 12, 2008 12:44:40 AM | 9

Somali Pirates to acquire Illinois Senate Seat

December, 2008 (Bloomberg)—After a successful hostile takeover of U.S. bank Citigroup, the Somali pirates are on track to secure a seat in the United States Senate. According to Pirate spokesman Ali Hashimi Mohammed, capital secured by Citigroup from the U.S. Treasury’s TARP program along with the booty of various captured ships is being used to finance a leveraged buyout of the seat previously occupied by President-elect Barack Obama. A letter of intent seen by Bloomberg puts the acquisition price at $1.2 trillion.
...

Posted by: b | Dec 12, 2008 8:58:50 AM | 10

Refuting Stephen Johnson @5 : The Somali coast guard is busy doing its job: Somali pirates seize two Yemeni fishing vessels

NAIROBI, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Somali pirates have seized two Yemeni fishing ships with 22 fishermen on board in the Gulf of Aden, a regional maritime group confirmed on Friday.

Posted by: b | Dec 12, 2008 11:08:13 AM | 11

ap: NATO ends piracy mission, but says threat growing

NATO is considering mounting another naval mission to the Horn of Africa.

[Italian Adm. Giovanni] Gumiero said deterring pirate attacks has proven very challenging, mainly because it is almost impossible to differentiate between pirate boats and fishing vessels.

"They use the same boats, they wear the same clothes, and if you see these guys they look like ordinary fishermen," he said.

Posted by: b real | Dec 12, 2008 12:09:50 PM | 12

Two districts of Somalia on the coast are in effect independent, outside of Central control (huh, what control ..) According to the Swiss press, the pirates are the new stars, rich guys, investing in their villages, and taking extra wives (that feeds ppl.)

Hebdo last week, amongst others, interviewed a fisherman who has 6 children, 3 of them starving, so he is going off on his first assignment. The risks are very high, but the gains are potentially staggering, and even the tiny trickle-down for a minor support position will feed 6-8 for many years...and permit the building of a new roof. What else to do?

Cartoon strips in Somalia (yes it has press and artists) show these new Robin Hoods reaping dollars out of the sea with water logged briefcases and cooking a snoot at the World Powers, for ex. Or flashing bling-bling with a Sarkozist mien and three wives all of them surgically arranged! Really funny..hysterical cynicism..the best satire...(couldn’t find any pix on the net.)

http://www.hebdo.ch/_1025_.html>hebdo, in french, summarised and without pictures

Of course the Somalia 'authorities' love it and turns a blind eye and makes BS statements. Rapacious ‘capitalism’ - read gangsterism - tends to spread! It is worthy of investment! (see b real.)

-there is a reason why full articles from the swiss press are not available on the net. or are only so for one day or a few more...

Posted by: Tangerine | Dec 12, 2008 1:10:57 PM | 13

haven't time to track this one down right now -- unable to find the original copy (what is "RG"?) -- but mareeg is running an obvious propaganda piece

Russian anti-piracy efforts off Somali coast outlined-radio

Russia's anti-terror units are prepared for operations against the Somali pirates. This is what Feliks Makiyevskiy, former first deputy commander of the Vympel USSR KGB special unit, said on this score.

Our special forces have already joined the operations against the pirates. Naval infantry units and a special commando team are now based on the patrol ship Neustrashimyy guarding merchant ships off the coast of Somalia.

...

This special reinforcement was more than timely. Disturbing news had been reported from London by Lloyds, the biggest insurance fund and premier underwriter of maritime transportation. According to its information, the Al-Qa'idah terrorist organization has formed its own flotilla of 20 ships displacing 200-300 tons. It is concentrated in small harbours and island shelters in the area of the Horn of Africa and among the numerous islands of the Indonesian archipelago. Rapid-fire automatic guns and man-portable air-defence missile systems have been installed on the vessels. In terms of combat employment they are subdivided into assault boats and kamikaze ships: fast patrol craft capable of carrying up to three tons of explosives. Many experts observe that Al-Qa'idah terrorists could perfectly well borrow the tactics of the modern-day freebooters from Somalia, disguising their ships as a pirate fleet.

spun from whole cloth. there were no such stmts in any article on lloyd's list.prove me wrong. these guys see what they want to see, both in print & at sea

Aleksey Bolshov, colonel of the FSB of Russia reserve and former high-level officer of the USSR KGB Anti-Terrorism Department, said in conversation with your RG correspondent that an increase in the number of such special units in the area of the Horn of Africa could be expected in the immediate future.

...

"But the fight against piracy only with the Navy will be ineffective unless the Somali authorities permit special forces to 'operate' on their territory. For all the pirates' bases are on the coast. And special forces, which would conduct operations on land, destroying the pirates' vessels also, would be required for their elimination. They could be both put ashore and air-dropped. This was the case in Indonesia's Aceh Province, which was a local pirate base: special forces practically destroyed the entire pirate fleet and supply depots. Now things are relatively quiet in the Strait of Malacca."

The colonel emphasized that it would be necessary to operate not only against illiterate bandits. According to Western sources' information, there are among the pirates high-class military personnel and experienced sailors and also mercenaries from various parts of the world, Europe included.


Posted by: b real | Dec 12, 2008 2:08:59 PM | 14

reuters: Armed guards would deter Somali pirates-US Navy

MANAMA, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Shipping firms should use armed security guards much more to protect their vessels against pirates off Somalia, the top U.S. Navy commander charged with tackling the problem said on Friday.

Vice Admiral Bill Gortney said more cooperation between navies, a legal basis for detaining and trying pirates and stabilising Somalia would also help to crackdown on the piracy, which has surged in the region in recent months.

But Gortney expressed scepticism about going after pirates on land or targeting them with air strikes, even though a draft U.N. Security Council resolution drawn up by Washington seeks authority for such actions.

"I see people trying to look for an easy military solution to a problem that demands a non-kinetic solution," Gortney told reporters travelling with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates at his headquarters in Bahrain.

"If you're going to do kinetic strikes into the pirate camps, the positive ID and the collateral damage concerns cannot be overestimated.

"They're irregulars -- they don't wear uniforms," said Gortney, who commands the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and oversees a coalition of navies fighting piracy off Somalia.

...

Gortney said the risk to shipping from Somali pirates was still relatively small

"Statistically from January to the end of November ... just in the area north of Somalia, your chances of getting pirated were 0.14 percent," he said.

But he said even one attack was unacceptable.

"We almost romanticise pirates now as a result of, well, 'Pirates of the Caribbean' (movies) -- I can't get away from it, my miniature schnauzer's name is Captain Jack Sparrow," he said.

lloyd's list: Armed guards on ships could raise liability issues

PUTTING European Union military guards on vulnerable vessels in the piracy-prone Gulf of Aden may raise knotty liability problems from an insurance viewpoint, shipping sources have warned.

...

A war risks underwriter for a mutual commented: “If armed guards are on board, there are potentially quite serious insurance implications. Certain flag states prohibit weapons being carried on board ships as well.”

Cover would not automatically be invalidated, he believed, and shipowners resorting to armed guards may well argue that in so doing, they are simply acting as prudent uninsureds.

“An underwriter could say, well, we think you are not acting as a prudent uninsured and there would be potential implications on cover... There may be impacts on any potential claims recoveries.”

War risk insurers cover crew members killed or injured in pirate incidents. However, armed guards are not considered part of the crew of a ship.

“If you have armed guards on board, the threat escalates. There’s more likely to be a claim. I do not see many insurers particularly wanting increased exposure. We wouldn’t be covering them, absent any special agreement to do so.”

Posted by: b real | Dec 12, 2008 4:47:45 PM | 15

India Captures 23 Pirates Near Somalia

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I am, at how bloodthirsty those HuffPost commenters are...

The BBC piece on the above news includes:

When asked by the BBC if the US intended to attack the pirates' land bases, [DOD Secretary] Mr Gates replied that the US and its allies would first need to acquire better intelligence on who is behind the ongoing attacks on shipping.

He said he believed that just two or three Somali clans were responsible and that the individuals involved needed to be targeted accurately to avoid killing innocent civilians.

Posted by: Alamet | Dec 13, 2008 7:51:38 PM | 16

Hmm - local competition? Somali forces apprehend five suspected pirates

MOGADISHU, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in northwestern Somalia said Saturday that local security forces captured five men suspected of planning to carry out piracy activities off the coast of the region, reports reaching here said.

The local coast guards managed to apprehend the five men along with their weapons and boat following a short exchange of gunfire in the Sanag province, Abdulahi Ismael Irro, a local Interior Minster, told reporters in Hargiesa, the capital of the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland in northwest Somalia.

Irro said at a news conference in Hargeisa that there were no casualties from the gun fight between the suspected pirates and local coast guards, adding that the men were from the neighboring semiautonomous Somali region of Puntland, hotbed for the piracy off Somalia.

Somaliland has not received international recognition for its secession from Somalia since the collapse of the Somali government in 1991. However the region enjoys relative stability and has its separate self-government, flag, police and military forces and currency.

Posted by: b | Dec 14, 2008 3:37:22 AM | 17

somaliland's riyale wants to offer berbera to the u.s. again, telling the washington times he

plans to offer its harbor on the Gulf of Aden as a base for U.S., British and Indian warships to battle pirates.

...

"We will place the deep-water port of Berbera at the disposal of the U.S., British, Indian and other navies, but our [proposal] goes well beyond that," Mr. Kahin said.

...

Mr. Kahin said his government had yet to finalize the strategy and make a formal submission to other countries, but that preliminary plans include five main points:

* Berbera would be the hub of operations, given that it is close to the affected area and large enough to host the vessels being used to fight the pirates.

* The port would be available as a "safe house" to any vessel - merchant, military or private - whose captain believed his ship was vulnerable to attack. Naval vessels would be welcome to escort these craft in and out of the harbor.

* Somaliland would help set up a pool of shared intelligence with other nations whose ships were at risk.

* Somaliland would receive and hold captured pirates pending their prosecution or extradition. International prosecutors, human rights groups and lawyers to defend the pirates would have access to the prisoners.

* Somaliland would seek help in setting up a 24-hour early warning system that would alert all shipping in the area when pirates were active.

Posted by: b real | Dec 16, 2008 1:07:09 AM | 18

UNODC Proposes Measures to Stop Piracy in the Horn of Africa

VIENNA, 16 DECEMBER 2008 - To counter the threat of maritime piracy in the Horn of Africa, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has put forward a number of proposals. The recommendations come as the Security Council meets to examine ways to improve international coordination in the fight against piracy, and in the wake of an International Conference on Piracy around Somalia which took place in Nairobi on 11 December.

"Pirates can not be keel-hauled or forced to walk the plank, nor should they be dumped off the Somali coast", said the Executive Director of UNODC Antonio Maria Costa, "they need to be brought to justice".

UNODC has proposed a number of measures designed to deter, arrest and prosecute pirates.

"Ideally, suspects should be tried in the country where they came from, or in the country that owns the seized ship. But the Somali criminal justice system has collapsed, and countries like Liberia, Panama and the Marshall Islands - where many of the ships are registered - do not want to deal with crimes committed thousands of miles away", said Mr. Costa.

A second option is for the suspects to be sent to stand trial in the countries whose ships captured them: most probably the European Union, India or the United States. "But this is also unlikely since there are strict international standards about protecting human rights and handing over suspects within a short period of time", said the head of UNODC.

A third, and more realistic option, proposed by UNODC is for the pirates to be tried in the region, having been arrested by local policemen. "I encourage 'ship riders' to be deployed on warships operating off the Horn of Africa in order to arrest pirates and bring them to justice in neighbouring countries", said Mr. Costa. Such an arrangement (subject to a special agreement) would enable a law enforcement officer from, for example, Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania or Yemen, to join a warship off the coast of Somalia as a 'ship rider', arrest the pirates in the name of their country, and then have them sent to their national court for trial. The practice has been employed in the Caribbean to arrest drug traffickers.

The key is to strengthen the capacity of criminal justice systems in the region to effectively investigate and prosecute piracy cases. UNODC is therefore helping States implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and other relevant international instruments to fight crime.

...

Fourth, the piracy threat must also be tackled on land. "The pirates' coastal bases in Somalia and their support networks need to be dismantled, in exchange for development aid to improve local administration and create job alternatives to piracy and smuggling", said the Executive Director of UNODC. "Shipping and insurance companies should provide assistance to prevent further attacks instead of exacerbating the problem by paying ransoms", said Mr. Costa.

Fifth, UNODC proposes going after the financial flows. "Somali pirates are in it for the money, so we should try to capture their treasure", said Mr. Costa. "Unlike buccaneers of old, Somali mafias are not burying their booty in the sand. While some transactions are made in cash or the hawala system, pirates are increasingly working through intermediaries in financial centres. This is where we need to hit them", said the UN's chief crime fighter.

"Piracy is organized crime, and should be confronted as such. Gunboats are necessary, but not sufficient. These bandits can be defeated in the courts, the banks, the ports as well as on the high seas using the weapons of international law and multi-lateral cooperation", said Mr. Costa.

Somali pirates may release supertanker within 72 hours - paper

MOSCOW, December 16 (RIA Novosti) - The owners of a Saudi supertanker seized by Somali pirates in November have agreed to pay a ransom for its release, a Saudi newspaper said on Tuesday, citing a participant close to negotiations.

"Negotiators on behalf of the owners of the Sirius Star have agreed to pay the ransom," the Okaz newspaper quoted one Abu Bakr Dary as saying.

He also told the paper that the supertanker and its 25 crewmembers would be released within 72 hours of the ransom being received.

The pirates initially demanded $25 million dollars for the release of the vessel. There have been unconfirmed reports that they have now agreed on around half this sum.

Posted by: b real | Dec 16, 2008 12:25:56 PM | 19

reuters: China to send ships to tackle Somali piracy - paper

China plans to send naval ships to the seas off Somalia to join a growing fleet of international warships fighting piracy area, an official paper said on Wednesday, quoting a military source.

Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei had told the United Nations that China was "seriously considering" the mission, which would be an unprecedented deployment of the country's navy, but the China Daily said it was already decided.

"There will be a significant peacekeeping operation," it quoted the unnamed source saying, but added he declined to specify its size.

China's Defence Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

...

The China Daily said joining the anti-piracy campaign would be an opportunity for the country's navy to "get in the thick of the action".

"Apart from fighting pirates, another key goal is to register the presence of the Chinese navy," naval research professor Li Jie told the paper

Posted by: b real | Dec 17, 2008 12:58:48 AM | 20

Chinese ship rescued from pirates in Gulf of Aden

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A multilateral force rescued a Chinese ship from Somali pirates on Wednesday, in a sign foreign navies patrolling the shipping lane linking Europe to Asia are adopting tougher new tactics.

The Chinese boat Zhenhua 4 was one of four vessels seized by pirates on Tuesday, the same day the United Nations Security Council took a strong stand against the attacks and authorized countries to pursue the gunmen on land.

A Kenyan maritime group said the crew locked themselves in their cabins and radioed for help. A warship and two helicopters came and fired on the pirates, but did not kill them, it said.

Chinese state media said a "multilateral" force with helicopters hovered over the ship and successfully fought off the pirates.

...

Mwangura said on Wednesday the Chinese vessel, with 30 Chinese crew, and a yacht with two on board had been seized off Yemen a day earlier.

there's a chinese cargo ship by the name zhen hua 4 which was supposed to be in sudan on dec 12th. it's one of a fleet used to ship port machinery (e.g., cranes in the pix at that link & elsewhere)

but a bloomberg article refers to the vessel involved as a fishing boat

The pirates boarded the Chinese fishing boat, the Zhenhua 4, with its crew of 30 late yesterday, Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur, said by phone from the city today.

so is the coalition protecting ships involved in licit trade or boats engaged in illegal fishing? does one fish commercially from cargo ships?

Posted by: b real | Dec 17, 2008 11:23:05 AM | 21

reading other news coverage on the zhen hua 4, i'm assuming the bloomberg description is a mistake. perhaps they had it confused w/ the chinese fishing boat captured (arrested?) in november.

here's a link to the china today story cited in #21
Navy ships may head to Somalia

Posted by: b real | Dec 17, 2008 12:17:58 PM | 22

The Chinese government confirmed Thursday that it would send naval ships to the Gulf of Aden to help in the fight against piracy there. The mission, which is expected to begin in about two weeks, would be first modern deployment of Chinese warships outside the Pacific.
China confirms its navy will fight Somali pirates
"We are preparing and making arrangements to send naval ships to the Gulf of Aden to protect the sea lanes there," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told journalists. "We will make a formal announcement when the time comes." Liu's comments come after the state-run Global Times newspaper, citing maritime officials, said China would send two destroyers and a supply ship to the Gulf of Aden to help the international crackdown on piracy there. The fleet will depart from China's south sea naval base on Hainan island after December 25 for a three-month tour of the Somali coast, the paper said.
Beijing to send warships to combat pirates

Posted by: b real | Dec 18, 2008 10:37:19 AM | 23

two tidbits from inner city press wrt tuesday's u.n. meetings

tuesday:

Hours after the UN Security Council's Somali pirate session ended, a few blocks south through the snow, Inner City Press learned yet more about the day's proceedings. The Somali foreign minister had asked to speak first, before the vote, for a mere five minutes. But the Croatian President of the Council said no, because Permanent Five members said that their ministers should speak first, their time was more important. Or were they concerned that the Somalis might not agree to turn their territory over to foreign intervention?

Earlier at the Contact Group on Somalia meeting, two of the Permanent Five opposed each other on what a peacekeeping mission in Somalia should look like. US versus the UK -- as it was in Kenya, Inner City Press' snarky sources say...

wednesday:

There was other UK-U.S. intrigue, it emerges, in Tuesday's Somalia meetings. In a closed-door session of the Contact Group on Somalia, a participant tells Inner City Press that the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "got into it" with the UK's Deputy Permanent Representative Karen Pierce. We'll opine in this footnote that we like Ms. Pierce's spunk, if not the UK Mission's sometimes opaque exclusivity. But the tiff was continued up into the Security Council chamber between Ms. Rice and her British counterpart David Milliband. The Secretary General was unclear why things were being delayed, and launched into his prepared testimony. Only at the UN...

Posted by: b real | Dec 18, 2008 10:50:50 AM | 24

excerpts from

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Remarks Following the UN Security Council Meeting on the Situation in Somalia
New York City, New York
December 16, 2008

I`ve just attended a very successful Security Council session on piracy. The Security Council adopted Resolution 1851, which is a very strong resolution that deals with issues of detention of pirates, with the prosecution of pirates, with the ability to use all necessary means on land as well as at sea, because we know from history that it isn`t really possible to contain this problem just as a maritime issue.

We talked a good deal about the need for coordination on intelligence, on information sharing. The United States is going to lead a Contact Group on Piracy on the Somali Coast.

...


..it was a very fulsome discussion. But ultimately, all members spoke to the need to deal with the root cause of the problem, which is the instability in Somalia. There is great support, as the United States supports the Djibouti process and the hopes for peace as Somali factions begin to try and chart a course ahead.

...

Finally, we talked about the security situation. We very much respect and support AMISOM, the AU force, for what they are doing. And the United States has been a big supporter. We`ve trained – helped with training and logistics and financial support. But we believe that a proper UN peacekeeping force, as is called for by the African Union, is a necessity here.

...

And so the United States believes strongly that we ought to have a Security Council resolution as soon as possible. In fact, we believe that by the end of the year we should try and have such a Security Council resolution. And so we`ll take that matter up separately. It was not something that we took up today. We are still in consultations.

---

QUESTION: ..do you see the eventuality of U.S. troops going ashore in Somalia to catch the pirates?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don`t want to take a kind of speculative look at this. I think it`s better not to comment in theory. ... what we do or do not do in issues like hot pursuit or so forth, I think we`ll have to see and you`ll have to take it case by case. So I don`t want to commit in a speculative way or in a hypothetical way to anything for the United States. But again, the authorization was a very important authorization.

...

QUESTION: ..a U.S. military commander in the area has expressed reservations about going ashore, so I`m wondering if that means that the resolution lacks teeth and if there is a disagreement between the State Department and the Pentagon on the use of force.

SECRETARY RICE: I wouldn`t be – I would not be here seeking authorization to go ashore if the United States Government, perhaps most importantly the President of the United States, were not behind this resolution. And therefore, any voices about this are voices that need to be understood in the context that I was sent here to get authorization to go ashore so that we did not create a dividing line that was a maritime-to-land sanctuary for the pirates. And that is a position that is supported by the United States Government as a whole.

...

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, would the U.S. commit troops to a UN peacekeeping force, and do you know if Barack Obama supports your push for a UN peacekeeping force?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President of the United States is the President of the United States, and we are seeking this and we believe that this is the best answer. I do know that no American administration is going to want to see chaos in Somalia. We`ve been there, we`ve done that; it didn`t look very good. ... And I really don`t imagine American forces being a part of a peacekeeping operation. American forces are pretty busy these days.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I wonder if we could get you to look more philosophically at diplomacy at the end of 2008 going into 2009 after your eight years in the government, and to see in a new world that is not unipolar, not multipolar, what we can – what lessons we can draw out of especially today`s discussion about Somalia and a piracy issue...

SECRETARY RICE: ..I think that the United States, under President Bush, has actually used the mechanisms and the councils of the United Nations more than they've been used maybe ever...

Posted by: b real | Dec 19, 2008 12:11:38 AM | 25

newsweek: Q&A: Somali Pirate Explains How To Steal Ships

NEWSWEEK's Rod Nordland interviewed Shamun Indhabur, who is thought to be the leader of the pirates who took the Faina, and the Sirius Star, a Saudi supertanker with $100 million worth of oil aboard. The interview was conducted by satellite telephone to the bridge of the Faina, through Somali translator Abukar al-Badri.

on capturing the mv faina

When we intercepted the ship and saw the shipment [of arms], then we thought it was going to Somalia and belonged to the Ethiopians [whose army is supporting the transitional government in Somalia], but the captain told us that it was going to South Africa. Then later we saw that it was going to southern Sudan, after we forced the captain to show us the manifests.

newsweek: What's the situation on board the Faina now?

shamun indhabur: The middlemen tried to steal some of the money we agreed on [estimated at more than $3 million]. And now we can't trust them. They're trying to take the money, and we are the criminals. We can't accept that.

hmm. if there was any legitimacy to the earlier reported claims by the cia-affiliated michele ballarin of being a negotiator dealing w/ these two ships....

..the European Union is sending an additional naval force. Are you worried about the increased naval presence?

We know the EU and NATO forces are coming, but that is not the solution. The solution is to restore peace in Somalia so that we can have a better life and more job opportunities. I can tell you that sending forces will not stop us going into piracy. They can arrest us if they find us out at sea, they've arrested our friends several times, but that will never deter us from this business. The only thing that can stop piracy is a strong government in Somalia.

The most friendly forces in Somali waters are the U.S. forces. They arrest us and release us, because they know we are not going to hurt them. But the French and the Indians treat us badly and sometimes they don't know what they're doing. The Indians sunk that Thai boat [a fishing vessel reportedly taken over by pirates this month] and said it was pirates, but I tell you there was not a single pirate on that boat.

the quip re the u.s. brings to mind that article by the british reporter, aidan hartley, who wrote

in recent months I have heard repeated allegations that US Navy ships have enjoyed friendly relations with pirates off Puntland.

In one story, pirates were invited aboard a US Navy ship for a cup of coffee and a smoke, while the Americans showed gang members national flags of ships that should be left alone.

wrapping the newsweek interview

How are the Somali pirates organized? Do you all coordinate your actions?

The pirates belong to different groups, but we have umbrella groups. There are two main groups, one in Puntland and the other in south and central Somalia, which is my group. I am a member of the seven top committee members in south and central. We are a group of men with norms and terms, and we respect them.

The pirates holding the Sirius Star have threatened to dump its oil if their demands are not met. Is that a serious threat, and do they realize how much damage that could do not only to Somalia but other countries as well?

Those holding the Sirius Star and the MV Faina I'm aboard now, we are the same group. And we know the risk of spilling the oil shipment. But when evil is the only solution, you do evil. That is why we are doing piracy. I know it is evil, but it is a solution.

there is quite a bit of useful information on the different groups in the u.n. monitoring group on somalia's dec 10 rpt which can be accessed from the second link in #9 above

Posted by: b real | Dec 19, 2008 1:13:32 AM | 26

not sure what's actually been said, but al jazeera is running a story that quotes a fighter supposedly from al shabaab making some wild boasts that couldn't come at more opportune time, for the u.s. that is!

Somali fighters warn Western powers

In Marka, just 90km from the capital Mogadishu, Ibrahim Almaqdis, one of the fighters, told Al Jazeera: "We wish to tell Bush and our opponents our real intentions.

"We will establish Islamic rule from Alaska and Chile to South Africa, Japan, Russia, the Solomon Islands and all the way to Iceland, be warned, we are coming."

the story also quotes abu mansur.. well, actually here's how the article announces him

"We are fighting to lift the burden of oppression and colonialism from our country ... We are defending ourselves against enemies who attacked us," Abu Mansoor, the leader of al-Shabab, said.

abu mansur is not "the leader of al-shabab". he is the chief spokesperson for al shabaab and is also commander of forces in two regions - bay & bakool.

AJ is disseminating, at the least, misinformation on this.

and there's a related article they have up --
Somali fighters undeterred -- intended to provide a bit more depth on al shabaab which states

Little is known about the al-Shabaab but it is considered to be a well-organised, hierarchical organisation that really means business


contrast that to the dec 10 u.n. monitoring group on somalia assessment (linked earlier)

Shabaab military organization is collective, decentralized and fluid, leaving considerable autonomy with local commanders. As a result, regional commands appear to operate independently of one another, and there is often evidence of friction between them.

now that's more in line w/ what one would expect from a guerrilla mvmt

again, maybe abu mansur & a fighter did make some reckless stmts to the press - it's certainly happened before. however, the AJ staff are themselves irresponsible in trying to conflate any such stmts w/ the whole of the mvmt.

Posted by: b real | Dec 19, 2008 4:02:29 PM | 27

Somali MPs to carry on impeachment

BIADOA (Sh. M. Network) — The Somali parliaments are supposed to carry on the impeachments that they were against to the Somali president Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed in Biadoa town in Bay region on Saturday.

The Mps are going to come together in a meeting today in their parliamentary centre in Biadoa and desire to go ahead their motion against to the president of Somalia Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed for the following hours. As our correspondent in Biadoa reports.

The parliaments have called for the president to come and attend their meeting early on the past Wednesday but it is not clear whether the Somali president Abdullah Yusuf will attend the meeting which the parliament want to hold in the seat of the transitional government today.

i'm sure they didn't wait too long for him to show up

Somali president travels to Kenya


NAIROBI (Sh. M. Network) —Somali president Abdulahi Yusuf Ahmed has left from baidoa to Kenya, officials said on Saturday.

...

Mohamed Mohamud Hubsired, a spokesman for the Somali presidential palace told Radio Shabelle that the president is scheduled to meet Jendayi Frazer, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in Nairobi.

Posted by: b real | Dec 20, 2008 11:46:50 PM | 28

President Yusuf, PM Nur Adde to meet in Kenya: sources

NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 21 (Garowe Online) - Informed sources in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, tell Somali news agency Garowe Online that President Abdullahi Yusuf and disputed Prime Minister Mr. Nur "Adde" Hassan Hussein are expected to meet soon.

President Yusuf arrived in Nairobi yesterday..

...

Nur Adde reportedly arrived in Nairobi later Sunday, after spending two days in Djibouti City to reinforce the peace process with an opposition faction.

Unconfirmed reports said Ms. Jendayi Frazer, the U.S. government's top Africa diplomat, is in Nairobi and will attempt to mediate between the Somali leaders.

IGAD Imposes immediate sanctions on Somali President

ADDIS ABABA (Sh. M. Network)-The ministers in Addis Ababa at the meeting of the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the regional body spearheading the Somali peace process, agreed on Sunday to impose immediate sanctions on president Abdulahi Yusuf.

"IGAD regrets the attempts by President Abdullahi Yusuf to unconstitutionally appoint a new prime minister that IGAD does not recognise and decides to impose sanctions on him and his associates immediately," it said in a statement.

...

IGAD said it supported Kenya's intention to take action against Yusuf and called on other member states, the African Union and the United Nations to take similar steps.

PM Nur Adde confidence vote 'never happened': 80 MPs

BAIDOA, Somalia Dec 21 (Garowe Online) - A group of lawmakers in Somalia say a recent vote-of-confidence declared by Speaker Adan "Madobe" Mohamed did not take place, Radio Garowe reported Sunday.

About 80 MPs held discussions in Baidoa, an inland town located 250km northwest of Mogadishu, the national capital. Somalia's federal parliament has been based in Baidoa since 2006, due to prevailing insecurity in Mogadishu.

"We discussed the so-called votes of Dec. 15 and Dec. 17, which never happened," said MP Ismail Ali Nur, who spoke on behalf of the dissenting lawmakers, while urging people to "watch video footage recorded from that session."

He indicated that the constitution requires a parliament quorum of no less than 139 MPs present for votes, but that "only 95 MPs" showed up.

not being able to read lips in somali, it's hard to discern anything from that video other than bedlam

Posted by: b real | Dec 22, 2008 12:07:03 AM | 29

ridiculous wapo propaganda piece, a radical islamist takeover drives the young from somalia, contains this bit not found in any somali media as of yet

On Sunday night, advisers and supporters of President Abdullahi Yusuf -- who has been accused of obstructing a possible political compromise to help end the insurgency -- said that he would resign Monday, although as with everything in Somalia, the situation remained fluid.

what is the reporter's source - someone in the state dept?

Posted by: b real | Dec 22, 2008 2:34:27 AM | 30

b real, thank you for the Mamdani article at the South Sudan thread. It is a must read!

I found this one through the Ukraine link Estouxim posted over at that thread also:

Faina’s owner asks US ambassador to prevent American mediator from interfering in negotiations with pirates

(...)
“Convincing arguments and justifications were presented to the pirates several weeks ago and we persuaded criminals to take real amounts of ransom. Negotiations have passed to a final phase, and uneasy work has begun to define acceptable ways and conditions for the release of the vessel and crew,” noted the owner.

According to the ship-owner, at this stage U.S. citizen Michele Lynn Ballarin interfered in the negotiations “without any notification, without orders and powers. Using the links with the leaders of Somali clans, Mrs. Ballarin cynically and hard started and is still trying to switch the negotiations on herself”.

“Offering fantastic, not proved by anyone or anything amount of ransom, claiming the existence of some powers from the Ukrainian authorities, as well as from the U.S. Navy, of which Waterlux AG is unaware, Ballarin has reached a main, unfortunately, negative result - a real negotiation process has been again suspended, the suffering of sailors and their families again continue, and their chances to meet the New Year and Christmas in the warmth of a home are rapidly declining,” the letter says.

“We don’t want and don’t require explanations and motives of Ballarin’s dirty deeds, according to the ship-owner. Presently, the most important thing for us and all who render assistance in release of sailors and Faina vessel is to put an immediate and actual end to interference of this lady in the talks with pirates and to inform the latter about this decision.”
(...)

A pirate phoned to UNIAN on Dec.18 and said that a U.S lady who knew the situation well helped them. “She helps greatly, holds talks and promises to apply to Congress,” he said.

“The Ukrainian sailors would be released if this woman did not interfere,” Dragaev said in his interview to UNIAN on Dec. 19. “I don’t rule out the fact that the sailors will be released within a week if there is no interference from outside,” he said.

Posted by: Alamet | Dec 22, 2008 11:58:52 AM | 31

alamet, this is

Michele Lynn Ballarin

Select Armor is a private military corporation based in Virginia. It describes itself as "...a woman-owned enterprise HQ in The Plains, VA with offices in Santa Fe Springs, CA, Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, Salzburg, Austria, and Baghdad, Iraq whose core team competency is Force Protection technologies, Security and Emergency Preparedness, Tactical and CBRN training."[1]

The company's CEO Michele Ballarin[2] is also known as Michele Golden-Ballarin, under which name she runs the "boutique investment bank" Cambridge Wealth Management Ltd. In 2004, Ballarin and the bank's operations in Austria were the subject of an investigation by the Austrian public prosecutor.

.....

Contents
[hide]

* 1 Alleged involvement in planned covert operations in Somalia
o 1.1 Meeting with the UN and roughing it in Kampala
o 1.2 The UN claims they were just talking about training police officers
o 1.3 Somalia's TFG denies the allegations
* 2 Personnel
* 3 Competing for a slice of a $500m anti-terrorist contract
* 4 Contact details
* 5 SourceWatch resources
* 6 References
* 7 Other external links
o 7.1 selectarmor.com website
o 7.2 Articles

check it out..

Posted by: annie | Dec 22, 2008 1:36:47 PM | 32

more


Michele Lynn Ballarin (aka Michele Lynn Golden-Ballarin)[1] is President and CEO of Select Armor, Inc. She also runs Cambridge Wealth Management Ltd. (aka Cambridge Asset Management),[2] a horse training and breeding business,[3] and offers her services in the Middleburg, VA area as a real estate agent.[4]

The fact that Michele Ballarin and Michele Golden-Ballarin are the same person is established beyond doubt by the WHOIS record for Cambridge Wealth Management Ltd. The domain is registered to Michele Golden-Ballarin, at the same postal box used by Select Armor (whose CEO is Michele Ballarin).[5]

* 1 A private military corp CEO praises "a gentler way of going about living"

Ballarin features in a 1997 article about Washington's snobby Green Book:

"We are very, very pleased," said Michele Golden-Ballarin, 42, who with her husband was finally listed in the 1998 edition after sponsoring polo parties for years from their home in Middleburg, Va. "It's wonderful to be cross-referenced with our friends and neighbors ... and supporters of equine sports."

Golden-Ballarin and her husband, who runs a private club in Georgetown, live in the mansion once owned by Civil War Gen. Turner Ashby -- a man so well-behaved around company he was dubbed the "Knight of the Confederacy." Golden-Ballarin wouldn't mind a few more Ashbys in the world, and says the Green Book is a testament to them. "The book symbolizes old ways of doing things which have really rattled against change," she said. "It symbolizes a gentler way of going about living."[6]

Posted by: annie | Dec 22, 2008 1:40:20 PM | 33

@annie - Michele Ballarin is CIA. The Guardian back in 2006: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329573101-119093,00.html

The leaked communications between US private military companies suggest the CIA had knowledge of the plans to run covert military operations inside Somalia - against UN rulings - and they hint at involvement of British security firms.

The emails, dated June this year, reveal how US firms have been planning undercover missions in support of President Abdullahi Yusuf's transitional federal government - founded with UN backing in 2004 - against the Supreme Islamic Courts Council - a radical Muslim militia which took control of Mogadishu, the country's capital, also in June promising national unity under Sharia law.

Evidence of foreign involvement in the conflict would not only breach the UN arms embargo but could destabilise the entire region.

One email dated Friday, 16 June, is from Michele Ballarin, chief executive of Select Armor - a US military firm based in Virginia. Ballarin's email was sent to a number of individuals including Chris Farina of the Florida-based military company ATS Worldwide.

Ballarin said: 'Boys: Successful meeting with President Abdullay Yussef [sic] and his chief staff personnel in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday ... where he invited us to his private hotel suite flacked by security detail ... He has appointed is chief of presidential protocol as our go to during this phase.'

She refers to one 'closed-door meeting' with a senior UN figure and mentions there are 'a number of Brit security firms' also looking to get involved.

Ballarin claimed she has been given 'carte blanche' to use three bases in Somalia 'and the air access to reach them'.
...

Posted by: b | Dec 22, 2008 3:34:05 PM | 34

thanks for that link, alamet. in #28 i pointed to an interview where one of the somalis onboard mentioned that someone in the middle was stealing or trying to steal the ransom.

Posted by: b real | Dec 22, 2008 11:41:39 PM | 35

also, as we already know & have pointed out in multiple threads now, the real owner of the faina is not dragaev, as the article incorrectly states, but vadim alperin. and, previously at least, his spokesperson has been mikhail voitenko. not sure what is up there. also, the dates are incorrect.

Posted by: b real | Dec 23, 2008 12:00:43 AM | 36

russ feingold:

Djibouti – [Saturday], U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) called for a new strategy to address instability, terrorism and the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and the Horn of Africa while visiting Djibouti, which is hosting the Somalia peace process. Feingold, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, met with the President and Foreign Minister of Djibouti, the Prime Minister of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the leadership of the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, the United Nations Special Representative for Somalia, the President of Somaliland, and members of Somalia's civil society. He also visited the U.S. base in Djibouti, home to the military's Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.

"There is both an urgent need and an opportunity for a new U.S. policy for Somalia and the Horn of Africa," Feingold said. "With the security and humanitarian crisis deepening, the expansion of the Shebab terrorist group, the announced withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia, and a fragile peace process, it is critical that the incoming Obama Administration take immediate steps to develop a new, comprehensive strategy for Somalia and the region. Disjointed policies in Somalia have often undermined one another, ultimately proving counterproductive. Moving forward, we must address direct threats at the same time that we confront the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis, supporting legitimate governance institutions, promote accountability and rule of law and work to undercut the appeal of violent extremism. The current situation is not just a disaster for the people of Somalia and the region. It is a direct threat to America's national security."

sigh... these guys are so wicked

Posted by: b real | Dec 23, 2008 12:21:53 AM | 37

Frazer meets with Somalia leaders 'at Kenya airport'

NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 22 (Garowe Online) - The U.S. government's top African affairs diplomat, Ms. Jendayi Frazer, held separate meetings with interim Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf and disputed Prime Minister Nur "Adde" Hassan Hussein Monday at an airport in Kenya, Radio Garowe reports.

Ms. Frazer was reportedly 'on transit' when she held private meetings with the Somali leaders, who have been feuding for months with Yusuf refusing to recognize Nur Adde as Prime Minister.

The meeting was originally supposed to be held at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, but it was unclear why the venue was changed to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Journalists were not allowed to attend either of the two meetings Ms. Frazer held with the Somali leaders, but a source close to Mr. Nur Adde said the ongoing political dispute was discussed at length.

"Discussions were centered around the IGAD decision to impose sanctions on the President [Yusuf] as well as Yusuf's decision to appoint a new Prime Minister," the source said.

...

Ms. Frazer, the U.S. State Department's Assistant Secretary for Africa affairs, has been deeply involved in the Somali conflict and has paid visits to Baidoa and Hargeisa, in Somaliland region, over the past two years.

deeply responsible for the current situation, as well. awful lot of blood on that woman's hands

---

voa: Report from Somalia: Islamists Oppose Pirates on Somali Coast

On Sunday, the remote pirate stronghold of Hobyo in the Galmudug region of central Somalia fell to Islamist militants. The growing strength of Islamist groups in the coastal area may be tied to local anger over piracy and deepening poverty.

Thirty-year-old Hobyo resident Sharif Wadad Ade speaks with bitterness about the pirates based here, describing them as outsiders who use the village only as a convenient hide-out.

Ade says if the pirates were from Hobyo, they would be spending their share of the ransom money to help the community. But he says the pirates come from different parts of Somalia, so they do nothing to help the people.

snip out some propaganda about how "the villagers ... just want the international community to come here and help"

Such anti-pirate sentiment contradicts recent media reports that suggest residents in Hobyo and other coastal towns have a close relationship with pirates. Those reports say pirate activities have provided much-needed jobs and the pirates contribute to local economies by spending lavishly.

But there is little in Hobyo to suggest that the residents are benefiting from the millions being paid to pirates. There are few goods on sale in the main market. The village has no running water or power. There is a pharmacy, but no doctors. There is a school house, but there are no teachers or students.

if those rpts were true, you know there'd be videos of pirate bling bling all over the place. somali's are the most wired-in africans on the continent. i've yet to see any GEOINT to back up the sensational rpts about a boom in mansions, etc...

A pirate, who identifies himself only as Kahiye, says because Hobyo has been under the authority of local clans, it has been easy for pirates belonging to the same clan groups to use Hobyo as a haven.

But Kahiye says all pirates in central Somalia are under severe pressure from Islamists to disband.

He says in recent months, pirates trying to go ashore in any area controlled by the Islamists have been threatened and chased away.

Somali sources tell VOA that the Islamists' tough stance against piracy has prompted many poor people in coastal communities to quietly begin supporting the return of Islamist rule.

And that is what they say may have emboldened local Shabab fighters to seize Hobyo on Sunday. According to eyewitnesses, the Shabab launched a surprise attack against pirates in Hobyo and the two sides fought a ferocious battle in the village before the pirates retreated.

Posted by: b real | Dec 23, 2008 1:48:03 AM | 38

from the executive summary of a new international crisis group rpt - Somalia: To Move Beyond the Failed State

One way or the other, Somalia is likely to be dominated by Islamist forces. It makes sense for the international community to use the incentive of international recognition and extensive support for such a regime to ensure that it draws in a wide spectrum of militia elements, including not only ARS-A but also Al-Shabaab elements; respects the territorial integrity of its neighbours, including Ethiopia, and the internationally guaranteed rights of its people; and renounces any relationship with terrorists.

full rpt is linked at the above

that is certainly a more realistic stance. however, don't hold your breath waiting for it to register w/ the USG

we've already seen a full-on hysterical propaganda blitz to demonize the insurgency (esp al shabaab) from the professional media in accordance w/ 'u.s. officials say' stenography

as 'appendix b' in the ICG rpt notes of the last go around, two years ago

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer surprised observers in December 2006 when she stated in the media that the UIC was “controlled by al-Qaeda cell individuals”, and “the top layer of the courts is extremist to the core, they are terrorists”. This position both exaggerated the radicalism of the UIC and, more ominously, globalised what had been an essentially regional conflict

don't be surprised to see the insurgency take control of mogadishu next week

and expect frazer to bark madly & ranneberger to burst a blood vessel or two

Posted by: b real | Dec 23, 2008 1:15:04 PM | 39

latest michael weinstein analysis -- Somalia's "Stakeholders" Fail to Fill a Perceived "Security Vacuum" -- this one "devoted simply to reporting the failure of external actors to serve what they claimed to be their own interests," adding, "not to provide any new insight, but to make it crystal clear that Somalia can expect nothing from the 'international community' but the accustomed malign neglect accompanied by fits of destructive meddling" and concluding: "No doubt, the external actors will continue to mount their dreary performance and continue to cripple Somalia thereby"

Posted by: b real | Dec 24, 2008 1:35:41 AM | 40

Yusuf 'pondering resignation' after U.S., IGAD pressure

BAIDOA, Somalia Dec 24 (Garowe Online) - The President of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, is 'pondering resignation' from public office following a meeting with the U.S. government' s senior Africa affairs diplomat, inside sources tell Garowe Online.

...

On Tuesday, a somber President Yusuf returned to Baidoa, home to a fractured and disorderly TFG Parliament.

He declined to speak with journalists and was promptly ushered to his residence, under the heavy guard of Somali and Ethiopian troops.

A lawmaker in Baidoa, who spoke with Garowe Online on the condition of anonymity, said Frazer offered the Somali leader two options.

"Option one was that he [Yusuf] work with [Prime Minister] Nur Adde's government and endorse the Djibouti peace deal," the MP said, adding: "The second option was that the President resign."

According to our source, President Yusuf was given "a list of consequences" if he refused to accept one of the two options, including U.S. government support for sanctions imposed by IGAD and an International Criminal Court case against the ailing leader.

...

Yusuf reportedly informed Frazer that he would not work with Nur Adde, but "requested time to consult with allies in Baidoa," the MP said.

The Somali president, a former warlord in his 70s, is holding consultations with supporters and allies across the country before making a final decision.

...

President Yusuf's political misfortune is deeply rooted in the U.S. government's efforts to save face in the waning days of the Bush years.

The use of Ethiopian troops to defeat Somalia's Islamist militia has backfired spectacularly, with Islamists controlling nearly all regions lost before the 2006 war and now poised to overrun Mogadishu.

This failed militarist policy was preceded by another, a botched CIA plot in 2005 and 2006 to halt or potentially destroy the rising wave of Islamists by aiding Mogadishu's hated warlords.

The Djibouti Agreement gives Ethiopia legal cover to withdraw its troops from Somalia, without any mention of the Ethiopian army's alleged war crimes in Mogadishu and elsewhere on Somali soil.

Likewise, the Bush administration will point to the Djibouti Agreement as a formal document calling for a ceasefire – which has never been implemented on the ground – and the timely withdrawal of Ethiopian forces, as stipulated under the peace deal.

It will give Washington, D.C., and Addis Ababa, two allies in the 'war on terror' campaign, a bargaining chip in the blame game for yet another failure in Somalia.

Yusuf, who indirectly opposed U.S.-Ethiopian interests by rejecting the Djibouti Agreement, played into the hands of his detractors, who were desperately seeking a scapegoat for the Somali fiasco.

and now they're using the leverage of selective ICC prosecution for war crimes, a court the u.s. refuses to recognize b/c they claim it could be used for political purposes against them.

Somalia's unrecognized Prime Minister resigns

BAIDOA, Somalia Dec 24 (Garowe Online) - A lawmaker who was appointed Prime Minister of Somalia by interim President Abdullahi Yusuf on Dec. 16 has resigned, Radio Garowe reported Wednesday.

MP Mohamed Mohamud "Gamodheere" handed over resignation papers to President Yusuf, who is in Baidoa, the seat of parliament.

Sources close to Mr. Gamodheere said the MP consulted with President Yusuf before deciding to resign from the post "in the interests of saving the government."

or saving his ass when u.s. bombers reappear in the skies over central somalia

Posted by: b real | Dec 24, 2008 3:53:23 PM | 41

Somali president decides to resign: spokesman

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has decided to resign, his spokesman said on Wednesday, in a move the African Union said would be positive for the peace process in the Horn of Africa nation.

Yusuf has been accused by donor countries and regional governments of being an obstacle to U.N.-hosted peace talks.

what - no mention of frazer & yusuf on the tarmac in nairobi? actually, no mention of washington in the entire article. good thing we don't rely on reuters for our understanding of what really goes on in the world. seems like they've been planning this forced resignation for a while now, feeding the media & others rumors that yusuf will resign. he may well be going to do that, but even this article is, in the end, only speculative. he hasn't actually resigned yet.

"The president has already written his resignation letter and he is expected to announce it on the coming Saturday," Hussein Mohamed Mohamud, a presidential spokesman, told Reuters, declining to give a reason for the decision.

...

"I think it's positive and I hope there is a mechanism for letting Yusuf go with some sort of dignity," said a diplomat in the region, adding that his departure should smooth the way for a new government and an extension of its mandate.

"It will help the process go forward and the timing is right because any new unity government should look at the question of leadership ... I don't think it's going to do any damage."

...

..Washington is very wary of Islamists gaining power, because it fears Somalia will become a breeding ground for al Qaeda..

Posted by: b real | Dec 24, 2008 4:07:26 PM | 42

re the faina story @ 28, 38-9

this letter, allegedly from relatives of fiana's crew, posted at voitenko's other employer

To the President of the United States of America

Dear Mr.President!

We, relatives of m/v Faina crew, still kept by Somali pirates, and owner of m/v Faina, ask your assistance with release talks and saving the lives of our beloved ones – 20-member crew on board of highjacked vessel. Release talks were not easy from the very beginning, due to the nature of cargo on board – tanks and other military equipment and ammunition. We are very grateful for what USA already done, by Faina blockade immediately after highjacking.

...

..on a final stage talks were interrupted by a new party, new person endangered the whole tantalizing process, and this person happened to be US citizen, one Michele Lynn Ballarin...

...

Right now the only goal she achieved is halting near-succes talks under pretence that if she is allowed to step in as a mediator everybody will be happy – on whose account, she didn’t bother to explain. From all the information we managed to get, looks like she is promising clan leaders and pirates on board she could talk shipowner to much more ransom than already agreed. If she succeeds at least in one highjack case, that will seriously worsen the whole situation in region, because she is promosing pirates they‘ll get much more than they’re getting now – that means, shipping in Gulf of Aden will be much more vulnerable to piracy risk than it is already now. Madame Ballarin calls pirates on board of m/v Faina every day trying to convince them to drop achieved agreements and actually, start it all over again, on Madame Ballarin’s terms and ideas.

We don’t know what are real Madame Ballarin’s intentions or goals, nor do we want to, but we are sure of one thing – her activity is highly doubtful either legally or morally.

We are asking you, Mister President, on behalf of our imprisoned husbands, sons, fathers and brothers, to either stop Madam Ballarin activities or influence her in any way you find appropriate in order clear up way for soonest possible release of the vessel and crew.

Posted by: b real | Dec 24, 2008 11:50:14 PM | 43

Madame Ballarin is quite the fixer.

Posted by: annie | Dec 25, 2008 12:05:31 AM | 44

(ignore the stock foto w/ the story)

Suspected US Plane falls in Baidoa

BAIDOA (Sh. M. Network)-A suspected unmanned US spy plane fell in Baidoa, the seat of the transitional parliament, Radio Shabelle’s Mahyaddin Husni reported on Thursday.

Our reporter says the plane was small one, mounted with cameras and crashed at the north side of Baidoa airport.

The Ethiopian troops in Baidoa took the plane to the airport and refused to the reporters to take photos from it.

No one was hurt in the accident.

US spy planes have been flying over many Somali towns since the Islamic Courts Union was defeated by allied government and Ethiopian troops.

this is at least the 2nd reported crashed UAV in somalia in the past year

Posted by: b real | Dec 25, 2008 9:29:22 AM | 45

b real @ 46,

At least one small part of the mystery appears to be solved. The Captain Dragaev of # 28 is included in the list here "on behalf of shipowner". He is another spokesman, I guess.

Posted by: Alamet | Dec 25, 2008 1:45:48 PM | 46

in #45 i mentioned the propaganda campaign of sources "feeding the media & others rumors that yusuf will resign". VOA even ran one article stating that yusuf would resign "before christmas". now here's the president's spokesman, the same one the reuters article quoted ("Hussein Mohamed Mohamud, a presidential spokesman, told Reuters"), apparently saying he didn't say what he was reported as saying. is this serious, in that yusuf is standing up to u.s. pressure to resign? or is it a calculated stmt of damage control, buying time while yusuf works out all his alternates?

President’s spokesman disproves 'that the president wants to resign'

MOGADISHU ( Sh. M. Network)-The spokesman of the Somali president Hussein Mohamed Mohamud (Hub Sired) has held a press conference in the Somali presidential palace in Mogadishu and has disproved the reports which are saying that the president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed wants to resign on Thursday

Mr. Hub Sired has said that the reports that are saying the Somali president Abdullahi yusuf Ahmed is planning to quit is not right and he also told to the reporters that there is no reason to resign the president at this current time.

"It is baseless propaganda that the Somali president is going to resign and wants to leave from the office for the following Saturday even it is false that the international community and the federal parliamentarians are putting pressure to the president about the resignation," the spokesman said.

Hussein Mohamed Mohamud has also condemned some of the news agencies those have said that they have quoted from the president that he has submitted his resignation and is going to mention that before the Somali parliament.

The Statement of the president’s spokesman comes by a time there are more remarks and speculations relating that the president is planning to resign for the following days.

Posted by: b real | Dec 26, 2008 1:01:57 AM | 47

on that UAV crash near baidoa, sounds like it could have been shot down, unless there were some explosives onboard

garowe online: 'Unmanned spy plane' crashes in Somalia

Ethiopian troops rushed to the crash site, which is located somewhere between the Baidoa airstrip and the ADC Hall, home to the Somali parliament, according to local reports.

"We heard two loud explosions, and then we heard [reports that] a plane crashed," said a witness who did not want to be identified.

The witness described the aerial device as "too small to cause major damage," while confirming other witness reports that the drone had been flying overhead for at least 24 hours.

Earlier in 2008, an unmanned drone plane crashed near Marka, the provincial capital of Lower Shabelle region.

In both cases, locals said the drones were U.S. 'spy planes' on aerial surveillance missions.

Posted by: b real | Dec 26, 2008 1:21:58 AM | 48

hiiraan online: ARS Troops in Central Somalia Join Al-Shabab Forces

Friday December 26, 2008(HOL) - Troops belonging to the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) in central Somalia have joined Al-Shabab forces. This is the first time troops from the ARS wing officially join Al-Shabab forces.

In a ceremony to celebrate the unification of the two forces, senior officer from the two sides talked about the reasons for the unification and the importance of unity between the two groups.

Sheik Shuriya Moalim who spoke on behalf of the troops that joined the Al-Shabab forces said that they decided to join Al-Shabab forces after realizing that ARS has deviated from the original purpose the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) was established. He added the unification of the two forces will strengthen the continuation of Jihad.

...

Recently there have been divisions among Islamic forces in the city of Beledweyne which led to parts of the city being controlled by opposing sides. Elders of the city later solved the disagreement.

Posted by: b real | Dec 26, 2008 4:13:48 PM | 49

all so strange. having trouble figuring out wtf is going on here.

al-sharq al-awsat: Regional Leaders Reportedly Ask Somali President Not To Resign

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf seems to have gone back on his decision to tender his resignation from his post, which he was scheduled to declare yesterday, Thursday (25 December), before the parliament from the stronghold of the interim government in the southern city of Baydhabo.

High-level Somali sources told Al-Sharq al-Awsat that over the past few hours President Yusuf received a series of telephone calls from the leaders of Yemen, Libya, Uganda, and Sudan as well as from the US ambassador in Nairobi, and that he has been coming under regional and international pressure to persuade him to go back on his resignation and wait until his term in office ends in September, accordance to the peace negotiations held in Kenya in 2004.

Unofficial information has been circulating that President Yusuf intends to visit Tanzania, the current chairman of the African Union (AU), as well as Uganda, which, along with Burundi, have contingents in the AU`s peacekeeping force in Somalia.

In a statement to Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Husayn Muhammad (Hubsired), official spokesman for the Somali president, denied that Yusuf intended to resign yesterday, but he declined to give any justification or explanation for the sudden postponement. He also denied the existence of a lady named Liwak Hasan who alleged to be a spokeswoman for President Yusuf and who absolutely denied that he intended to resign his post. It is to be recalled that a satellite television channel broadcast a statement attributed to Liwak Hasan in which she said that "President Yusuf will remain as president of the interim government in the country, and that he does not intend to resign his post."

i never saw any mention in the somali media i follow suggesting that yusuf was going to resign on thursday. only that one VOA article, quoting a somali parliamentarian. as posted above, the stmts were that he was going to resign on saturday, though that was then denied. was that a move to backtrack after some arrangement was made to allow yusuf to stick out his term, ending next oct 10? and where did this hasan woman appear from? first mention i've seen of her anywhere.

not sure how much of this rpt is credible. there were some comments on one forum about non-somali names, assumedly arabic, popping up recently in stories about yusuf's resignation. maybe that's what this is about, however i entirely missed that & am guessing it was covered only in the non-english media, perhaps as a perception mgmt campaign of some effect.

if true, maybe cutting yusuf loose poses too many problems for ethiopia & the u.s.? yusuf has long been perceived as working under addis ababa interests & it's said that he has a strong influence in the eastern somali region of ethiopia, where he could further exacerbate issues for meles. and his influence on puntland remains large & if he were to resign & return to his darod family, he could align clan forces against the largely hawiye-led nur adde / sheik sharif faction of the TFG, further reducing chances of political stability.

this is all just speculation at this point. again, the story may foreign propaganda & not credible at all, for the momentum has certainly been to generate the environment for nur adde & his supporters to usurp yusuf's authority & implement some form of rule w/ the compromised wing of the ARS (which, btw, announced wednesday that it was relocating from djibouti to mogadishu).

the al-aswat rpt also mentions the crashed UAV, but rather than ethiopian soldiers responding to the scene, as garowe online reported, they're saying that

According to eyewitnesses ... Western soldiers, most likely from the forces concentrating off the Somali coast, immediately proceeded to the crash site to retrieve the wreckage.

Posted by: b real | Dec 27, 2008 1:01:46 AM | 50

signs pointing an actual resignation

Legislators flee from Baidoa

BAIDOA (Sh M. Network)-Some Somali parliamentarians have left from Baidoa to northern Somali regions for security grounds, radio Shabelle’s Muhidin Husni reported on Sunday.

Two planes took some legislators from Baidoa airport to Puntland and Somaliland regions.

The parliamentarians said they feared for their security and decided to leave Baidoa, the seat of the transitional parliament.

They had closed door meeting with Somali president Abdulahi Yusuf Ahmed in the state house of Baidoa before their departure.

Security guards of president Yusuf leave Mogadishu

MOGADIHSU (Sh. M. Network)-The Security guards of the ineffectual Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed have left from Mogadishu to Puntlnad regions, witnesses said on Sunday.

A special plane took 120 of security guards with their families and other soldiers loyal to the incompetent president of Somalia Abdulahi Yusuf from Aden Adde international airport in Mogadishu to their home towns in north eastern Somalia.

The departure of the soldiers comes as media reports speculating that President Yusuf will step down, under U.S. pressure. But the Somali president has not addressed a full parliament yet and his final decision remains unknown.

Key Somali official says president to quit Monday

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia's president will resign Monday to try to end government infighting before the country's Ethiopian allies leave, a senior ally said Sunday in the latest in a series of conflicting statements on the leader's future.

President Abdullahi Yusuf will address a special session of the country's parliament to announce his retirement from politics, said Abdirashid Sed, a confidant of Yusuf and the most senior figure to comment so far on the president's plans.

Posted by: b real | Dec 28, 2008 12:37:59 PM | 51

Somalia's interim President Yusuf resigns

BAIDOA, Somalia Dec 29 (Garowe Online) - The i nterim President of Somalia, Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, has told the country's federal parliament that he is stepping down as head of state after four years in power, Radio Garowe reports.

President Yusuf told lawmakers on Monday that his resignation was "a personal decision," but cited consultations with loyal lawmakers in Baidoa, the seat of parliament.

...

He handed his resignation papers over to Adan "Madobe" Mohamed, the Speaker of parliament, who becomes the acting President under the transitional constitution.

Mr. Yusuf told the MPs that he is "ready to work with" whoever becomes the country's next president.

...

Yusuf's resignation ends a months-long feud with interim Prime Minister Nur "Adde" Hassan Hussein, who enjoys the backing of the international community.

i've read that there are rumors around mogadishu that some expect sheikh sharif to become the next president, keeping the TFG, and thus ethiopian control over somali politics, alive

Posted by: b real | Dec 29, 2008 9:50:43 AM | 52

following yusuf's resignation, the "UN Political Office for Somalia", commonly known as UNPOS -- which is pretty much on-the-mark when you interchange that other common usage of 'POS' (i.e., 'piece of ...') -- has a press release all ready to go, entitled UN Special Representative for Somalia: “A new page of Somalia history is now open”.

ould-abdallah & his supporters obviously consider this "new page" a chance to spin the situation in somalia to their advantage

UN Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, said in response to the President’s decision that “a new page of Somalia history is now open.

“Indeed President Yusuf has taken his courageous decision on his own and in total independence. I have no doubt that members of his family, his friends and allies support this decision,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah said.

...

“I am very pleased by the organized manner in which the President has resigned."

i harbor no sentiment for yusuf, however "courageous decision on his own" is quite a stretch considering the report linked earlier of the pressure put on him by jendayi frazer's option of war crimes prosecution under the ICC if he chose not to resign

the push now will be to make it look like the djibouti agreement has legs, scapegoating yusuf as the core obstacle

reality on the ground, however, will be a bit tougher to swallow

also today, jeffrey gettleman subtly crafts the NYT coverage to support the "new page", largely through omission of the key actors in booting yusuf

Resignation of Somalia's president offers opportunity

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, Somalia's combative former warlord of a president who has been widely blamed for his country's deepening crisis, resigned Monday, casting Somalia into a deeper political abyss, but at the same time possibly creating an opportunity.

...

His exit will most likely kick off an intense, clan-based scramble for his post, which in reality has become increasingly irrelevant as the government has veered toward collapse. Somalia's transitional government controls only a few city blocks, and it has been continuously beset by poisonous infighting.

Earlier this month, Yusuf, who has been president since 2004, tried to dismiss Somalia's prime minister, but the Parliament refused. Several of Somalia's neighbors, including Kenya, then threatened to impose sanctions on Yusuf and his family, accusing him of being an obstacle to peace.

"including kenya" is literally correct, but why no mention of ethiopia's lead on this? ethiopia is the primary foreign agent involved in the entire affair - the TFG is essentially ran by ethiopia, yusuf was their guy for the longest time, the sanctions clause originated out of addis ababa, and it has been the ENDF keeping the TFG alive in those "few city blocks" it controls. kenya is a bit player in this. but why also no mention of jendayi frazer's meeting w/ yusuf last monday?

also in gettleman's article

Over the weekend, fighting broke out between moderate and radical factions in the first obvious sign of tensions within Somalia's Islamist community.

On Sunday, a powerful, newly militarized Islamist group declared a "holy war" against the more militant Islamist factions, and it seems to have the muscle to back up its threats. The group, the Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama, killed more than 10 fighters from a rival Islamist faction that was known as one of Somalia's toughest in fighting over the weekend.

The group called on its followers to "prepare themselves for jihad against these heretic groups," referring to some of the more hard-line factions and "to restore stability and harmony in Somalia and achieve a genuine government of national unity."

Many analysts had been predicting exactly this would happen: that as Somalia's transitional government disintegrated, the Islamist insurgents of varying agendas would begin to slug it out themselves.

saying this is the "first obvious sign of tensions" is a ridiculous stmt unless one is completely new to the topic. there have been obvious rifts of all sorts w/i the opposition, from the ideological to numerous firefights over the past two years

rather, what "first obvious" may refer to is the payoff from the rumored "awakenening council" operations which i have pointed out previously, where attempts were being made to recruit militias to engage al shabaab in support of the compromised wing of the ARS, which has now reportedly joined forces w/ forces from the TFG to provide protection for the govt inside mogadishu

Posted by: b real | Dec 29, 2008 3:07:42 PM | 53

john kerry, reporting for duty..

Kerry urges caution on 'hot pursuit' in Somalia

WASHINGTON (AP) — As a young Navy swift boat commander in Vietnam, Sen. John Kerry was no stranger to the perils of hot pursuit in combat.

He was awarded a Silver Star for beaching his boat after a rocket attack and racing ashore to chase down and kill a Viet Cong fighter armed with a rocket launcher.

Nearly 40 years later, as incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry favors using hot pursuit against pirates in the waters off Somalia, but urges a cautious approach before U.S officials consider sending American forces to chase them ashore. Kerry plans committee hearings next year looking at the problems posed by piracy.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who was on President-elect Barack Obama's short list to be secretary of state, said a hot pursuit policy on Somalia's coastline is "long overdue." But he warns against any "haphazard, sloppy" military missions.

"You gotta know what you're getting into and where you're going and under what circumstances," Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, said in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I mean, if you send five police officers raging into the center of Mogadishu, you are asking for trouble. You gotta be smart."

five police officers? pulled that one straight outta his ass, he did

---

from an la times article on the "new page" after yusuf's resignation

Parliament is supposed to elect a new president within 30 days, but some lawmakers said they would likely wait until a new parliament is formed under the terms of the pending reconciliation deal. Lawmakers hope to convene the expanded legislature, including a large opposition faction, by February.

"It's a positive step that Yusuf has moved on," said one U.S. official was not authorized to speak publicly and so requested anonymity. "But now we are focused on succession plan. We'd like to see that done in 30 days."

or else? remember, the farce that is the TFG parliament will now have 500 members

so how's ethiopia's 'withdrawal by the end of the year' coming along?

15 people killed in Mogadishu clashes

MOGADISHU, Somalia Dec 29 (Garowe Online) - More than 15 people were killed Monday in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, after insurgents attacked an Ethiopian army base, Radio Garowe reports.

Hundreds of people rushed to the ex-pasta factory, an Ethiopian base in north Mogadishu, after rumors spread that Ethiopian soldiers had vacated the premises.

"The bullets started suddenly, after we rushed to the [ex-pasta] factory," said the witness, adding: "I saw at least 10 dead bodies, including many insurgents."

Ethiopian forces regained control of the area, which is located in Huriwa district, a hotbed for insurgent attacks.

Mogadishu's Bakara Market, the largest marketplace in the country, was shelled by Somali government troops after insurgent mortars targeted the presidential palace, Villa Somalia.

At least five civilians were killed and more than 10 others wounded at Bakara, witnesses reported.

Ethiopian troops return Hiran region

JAWIL ( Sh. M. Network)-The Ethiopian troops have returned back in Hiran region and made new military bases in Jawil town in Hiran region on Monday, witnesses told Shabelle radio

Residents have confirmed that they have seen more Ethiopian troops accompanying with many battlewagons and patrolling near Kalaberka intersection in Jawil town in Hiran those have been making military bases there.

Reports from the region say that Ethiopian troops have entered the region from the side of Mustahil and Feer-Feer in the semi-autonomous land of Somalia in Ethiopia and leading other soldiers of the former transitional federal government administration in Hiran control but lately routed from Hiran region by the Islamists.

"The Ethiopian troops have come back to Hiran region specially Jawil town and kalberka junction and they immediately began to search the transportation those travel on the central regions of Somalia." Witnesses said.

Posted by: b real | Dec 29, 2008 11:36:31 PM | 54

typo above - meant to type 550 parliamentarians. for somalia. no joke...

Posted by: b real | Dec 29, 2008 11:38:41 PM | 55

US hails resignation of Somali leader

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States hailed the resignation of Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed on Monday, but called for a swift election of his successor and formation of a national unity government.

...

"We support and respect President Yusuf's decision to resign as president of the transitional federal government and welcome his commitment to continue supporting the Djibouti peace process," said US State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid.

"We acknowledge president Yusuf's contributions to long-term peace and stability in Somalia," he [joked].

...

The United States, he added, wanted the country's leaders "to intensify efforts to achieve a government of national unity and to enhance security through formation of a joint security force."

The United States will provide five million dollars to support the formation of such a joint security force, Duguid said.

Posted by: b real | Dec 29, 2008 11:50:14 PM | 56

an example of scapegoating yusuf, taking advantage of the "new page"

bloomberg article on yusuf's presidency mentions some content from the december 10th u.n. monitoring group on somalia (MGS)

Somalia’s government was also plagued by corruption and mismanagement and currently controls only parts of Mogadishu and the southern town of Baidoa. A printing press for producing Somali shillings was kept inside the compound of Yusuf’s presidential palace in Mogadishu, according to a report released by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia this month.

The report cited a senior official from Somalia’s central bank saying the bank had no control over the printing press, and noted that the central bank and Finance Ministry “appear to exist in name only.”

The same report found that a $32 million donation from Saudi Arabia for a 2007 peace conference in Somalia had been misappropriated by Yusuf’s office.

i've linked articles earlier in the year on the widely-reported counterfeiting that was going on in puntland. the TFG & puntland regimes were trying to make bank there for a little while. there was a crackdown by some mullahs, resulting in a truckload of phony shillings set ablaze. haven't seen any reports on counterfeiting in the media there since, though i wouldn't be surprised that it continues on in some scale.

here's what the MGS rpt says about stories of a printing press in the presidential compound

198. For example, a senior official of the Central Bank of Somalia interviewed by the Monitoring Group stated that a printing press for Somali Shillings, with no links to the Central Bank, is kept at the compound of the President of the [TFG] -- a claim that the Monitoring Group has heard independently corroborated by several sources.

now if the TFG had a printing press to print all the money they wanted, how is it there were so many problems paying out salaries to TFG security personnel, which has been an oft-cited reason for their high rates of defection and/or looting of the bakara market, selling weapons & uniforms in the markets, setting up protection rackets, etc...? could be that the press was there, however it was made basically worthless since the local businesses would refuse to launder their phony paper.

on the $32 million donation, the MGS rpt also had a short case study on that money which the previous PM gedi raised for one of the bogus national reconciliation conferences. it accounts for total expenditures of $3,665,000 related to military spending, which it finds in violation of the u.n. arms embargo (and the rpt essentially acknowledges that everything going on inside somalia falls into that category) and leaves it at that, w/ no mention of accounting for the remaining $28,335,000 million. this is quite clear in the paragraphs of that case study which state:

202. In February 2008, the Monitoring Group wrote to the Somali Office of the President, which had authorized the expenditures, seeking clarification of the documents, which appeared to represent violations of the embargo.

...

203. The attempts of the Monitoring Group to obtain additional information from Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and current Minister of Finance Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade have also been futile. In addition, efforts by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia to obtain further clarification on the outlined military expenses by the [TFG] authorities have not borne any results. In the absence of information to the contrary, the Monitoring Group has no choice but to conclude, on the basis of the prima facie evidence, that the Office of the [TFG] President authorized the misappropriation of a significant portion of the Saudi donation for Somali reconciliation, in a manner intended to either openly violate or circumvent the arms embargo.

yet the bloomberg article misleadingly that

The same report found that a $32 million donation from Saudi Arabia for a 2007 peace conference in Somalia had been misappropriated by Yusuf’s office

if you remember back to the days of the previous PM gedi's rifts w/ the president yusuf, there were multiple reports that gedi pocketed the majority of that money for himself & the u.s. allowed him to walk w/ it if that's what it took to get him to resign so that they could get nur adde into office in his place.

one example of that reporting at the time was this feb 9, 2008 special report by steve bloomfield in the independent, which told readers

President Yusuf and his prime minister, Ali Mohammed Gedi, never really got on. The final straw was a row over a donation of $32m Saudi Arabia made to the government for a national reconciliation conference. Gedi kept most of the money for himself. Frustrated by the impasse, the Americans took control. Gedi was summoned to Addis Ababa where he spent two days locked in meetings with US and Ethiopian officials.

In return for stepping down, Gedi was given asylum in the United States and was allowed to keep the remains of the Saudi money.

a little different story on the money than bloomberg presents

Posted by: b real | Dec 30, 2008 1:15:19 AM | 57

Thanks again b real for all your digging. It would be great if b could give you a sidebar for your stream.

Posted by: biklett | Dec 30, 2008 1:20:10 AM | 58

I'd like to second biklett's thanks. I certainly have no expertise regarding the HOA, so b real's work and the links it provides constitute a window opening views toward new azimuths there. One thing that does seem to emerge rather clearly is that the "official truth" regarding events around the HOA is at best woefully inadequate for understanding what's happening there, and at worst fully functional as a rudely woven fabric of illusion. The extent to which the weavers believe their own fabrications is itself open to discussion, but the tragic element of this deceit lies in the lives sacrificed on the basis of those tattered rags.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 30, 2008 3:11:20 AM | 59

AU calls for early appointment of a new president for Somalia

APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) The African Union (AU) Commission on Tuesday called for an early appointment of a new president for the Transitional federal Government (TFG) of Somalia.

The call was made following Monday’s resignation of President Abdulahi Yusuf who served for four years as president of the TFG.

“The Chairperson urges the Somali stakeholders and, in particular, the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP), in accordance with the provisions of the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC), to take all necessary steps for the early appointment of a new President to enable the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) overcome the current problems facing them and contribute effectively to the advancement of peace and reconciliation in Somalia,” the AU said in a statement issued in Addis Ababa.

mirrors the u.s. call for "a swift election of his successor", which counters voices like the parliamentarian featured in a VOA story

Ibrahim Nur is a Somali parliamentarian and a member of the transitional government. He tells reporter Peer Clottey there was no need for the Somali parliament to rush in choosing the successor to president Yusuf.

"When the president resigned, automatically the speaker of parliament takes over as a temporary president until we elect a new president. In our constitution, states that in 30 days and within those 30 days, we have to elect a new president. But this comes at a time when we are already in the process of the Djibouti Peace Agreement and if that process is finished within that month then maybe we would go to Djibouti and elect with the reconciliation a new president, from the Somali opposition and the Somali government," Nur noted.

He said there was no need to rush into electing a new president.

"You know, we don't just want to hurry automatically, but we want to see if the opposition would all come together because we need all the opposition to be part of the Djibouti process. Until we reach that stage, we want our speaker to be the temporary president and we want to really go into real reconciliation so that the speaker would continue to be the temporal president as we continue to resolve problems in the country," he said.

several problematic premises w/ all of the above: that the TFG is a legitimate govt; that the djibouti agreement is the process for moving forward; that a stable, representative parliament exists at this moment, or can even be assembled w/i 30 or so days

the TFG is an imposed govt by outsiders & is widely viewed by somalis as a puppet govt controlled primarily by ethiopia & washington. it has never held any authentic power nor controlled any real terroritory outside of small portions of mogadishu & baidoa.

the djibouti peace agreement was a far-from-inclusive process, instigated by washington & addis ababa, and is largely recognized as unrealistic & symbolic.

parliament is a mess, as a number of members fled to puntland on sunday after yusuf told them he was going to resign, no announcements have been made yet on the additional 275 members to be named, and, as the video of the purported confidence vote linked earlier shows, parliament is considered a farce, if not a zoo. w/ nothing to show for the past two years, other than collecting a paycheck & getting in on institutionalized corruption, confidence in a TFG parliament is somewhere around its nadir.

Posted by: b real | Dec 30, 2008 12:13:27 PM | 60

itar-tass: Faina ship seized by pirates has enough food, running out of fuel

Somalia pirates that seized the Faina M/V want to negotiate with the ship owner, not with a British law firm it has appointed as its representative, Sovfracht Maritime Bulletin editor-in-chief Mikhail Voitenko said earlier after a telephone talk with the editor-in-chief of a website of the biggest Somalia community abroad.

“As far as the Faina is concerned, I was told there is water and food, but fuel supplies are running out. The physical condition of the crew is satisfactory, but they are depressed morally, and the pirates are trying to pep them up,” he said. “The pirates can’t wait to leave the Faina. They are tired of it just as it is of them. And I was also told that the ideal solution for the pirates is to bring the money aboard the ship,” Voitenko said. The Faina carrying weapons has set a record in terms of “entanglement and confusion in the talks on release,” he noted. “Such confusion surrounds only the Faina,” Voitenko said, adding that “a large amount of time has been spent to remove obstacles in the talks.”

December 25 was three months since the seizure of the ship. The company Waterlux, the owner of the Faina asked US businesswoman, Michelle Lynn Ballarin, who is also known among Somali pirates as Amira, to stop interfering in the talks on the release of the ship and its crew.

The company appealed to US Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor to interfere and help.

actually, the letter was addressed to the POTUS - see #46 on previous screen

so you'd think the state dept would be clued in on it - right? i mean, ambassador taylor would pass that info right on to his superiors, and since it specifically addressed the president...

well, the state dept spokesman is playing dumb

DoS daily press briefing from dec 23rd

QUESTION: Somalia? Pirates? Looks like there is a new twist in this saga of the high-jacked Ukrainian Vessel, MV Faina. There are numerous press reports stating a certain U.S. businesswoman, a CEO of the private security company Select Armor, whose name is Ballarin, I believe, is trying to negotiate with the pirates. The owner of the vessel, of the MV Faina, published an open letter to U.S. Ambassador in Kyiv yesterday, asking U.S. Government to interfere, because they say that her efforts basically undermine the process of trying to release the vessel. Anything on that? Where are you – what are you going to do in this situation? Have you seen this letter?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not – yeah, I’m not aware of these particular efforts.

QUESTION: Is she somehow representing the U.S. Government?

MR. MCCORMACK: Not to my knowledge. Not to my knowledge, no.

QUESTION: Well, are you going to do anything about it?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not sure that it’s within our purview to do anything about it. I’m sure we’ll take a look at it. I’m not aware of the reports that you refer to.

and speaking of taking a look at it -- not necessarily the faina, though it is owned by an israeli national -- thought this was interesting, but not unusual when you can look at the google map views to see we're all being watched from space

Pirates Are Being Watched from Space

Disjoined attempts of different countries aimed at curbing pirates do not yield desired effect though up-to-date techniques of satellite imagery of Earth from space allow receiving remotely detailed information on activities and infrastructure of pirate groups.

Thus, the Israeli company-operator ImageSat International N.V. utilized highly-detailed small satellite EROS B to receive a series of images with spatial resolution of up to 0.7 m featuring the area offshore Somalia where vessels seized by pirates are clearly seen.

The company ImageSat Int. provided ScanEx RDC with satellite images showing villages and bases of pirates on the coast of Somalia, moorings of their speedboats and motorboats.

The capabilities of the up-to-date EROS B satellite hardware allow detection of the entire infrastructure of the Somali pirates. But the situation with the pirates reflects the paradox of our times: enormous technical capabilities are not utilized for finding solutions to regional political and economic issues.

the entire infrastructure? who you trying to fool, fool? your customers or yourselves?

also of interest, dr. muhammad shamsaddin megalommatis' latest posting on the faina & related HOA piracy news @ american chronicle (h/t for the DoS link btw) expands a bit on israel's interests in watching over the red sea region

Somalia perches on the most important maritime channels in the world. Through this passageway passes Arab oil on its way to European and American markets. It is also a relatively inexpensive route for the shipment of Western industrial products to Asia and Africa. The maritime channel has special strategic significance for Washington and Israel. For the former, it serves as the vital link between the US's Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and its Fifth Fleet stationed off the coast of Bahrain and its Seventh Fleet in the Indian Ocean. Tel Aviv, meanwhile, has not forgotten that Egypt together with Yemen closed the Bab Al-Mandeb upon the outbreak of the 1973 October War, which came as an additional blow to Israeli and international shipping with the closure of the Suez Canal following the Israeli occupation of Sinai in 1967. Israel has been pressing for the internationalisation of the Red Sea. With its ships no longer confined to a narrow lane as they pass to and from the port of Eilat, it would have much greater maneuverability in those waters as well as the opportunity to secure supply lines for its naval units. There is no overstating what a military advantage this would bring to the Hebrew state and what a threat this would pose to Arab national security.

Because the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden are integrally connected with the Bab Al-Mandeb, the Red Sea and, some would add, the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba, those powers are keen to see immediate results in these vitally strategic waters. Indeed, the Western drive to form an international naval force in the Red Sea is, perhaps, the most salient proof that the internationalisation of the Red Sea is coming and only waiting for the Western powers and Israel to reach an accommodation over their shares of the pie.

[more...]

Posted by: b real | Dec 31, 2008 12:31:34 AM | 61

hard time believing this one, but no mention of ballarin & it contradicts the stories that she advises the pirates to keep holding out for bigger ransoms

EXCLUSIVE: Pirates honor Saudi king, may abscond seized ship-sources

The Somali pirates holding the Saudi super tanker may land the ship in honor of Saudi king’s request of the tanker’s release, mediator tells Mareeg online.

Mohamed Said the mediator of the pirates holding the ship and Saudi government who contacted to Mareeg online office in Mogadishu that the ship is on verge on to be freed by the pirates.

“The pirates told me that they want to release the ship in hours, because they want to give high regards to Saudi king” Said told Mareeg online by VHF radio from central Somalia location.

As Said handed over the phone to one of the pirates Noh Adde he told Mareeg that they received no ransom money but want to release the ship to respect Muslim government, but sources close to the pirates told Mareeg that they’ve received half of the ransom money they received.

Said has noted that the crew of the ship are safe and happy the good news of their release.

Posted by: b real | Dec 31, 2008 12:48:45 AM | 62

Ethiopian troops disarm government soldiers

MOGADIHSU (Sh. M. Network) - The Ethiopian troops have disarmed some government soldiers in Mogadishu, witnesses said on Thursday.

The move came after some government soldiers started to defect from their bases and surrendered to the Islamist insurgents.

Residents said government soldiers handed over their weapons to the Somali, Islamist insurgents in Mogadishu.

Sources say the Ethiopian troops ordered government soldiers based in Florenza area, in Mogadishu, to hand over their weapons to the Ethiopian soldiers and now the Ethiopian troops moved to the base.

Somali government soldiers have been surrendering to the Islamists since Somali president Abdulahi Yusuf resigned and the Ethiopian government announced plans to withdraw its troops from Somalia.

mareeg online reports

Witnesses at Hararyale area in Mogadishu told Mareeg that they’ve seen many government soldiers being ordered to put their guns and to go away by the Ethiopian soldiers.

...

Another eyewitness Mohamed Abdi tells Mareeg that he saw other government soldiers based near presidential house whose guns have been forcibly confiscated after they were suspected of trying to escape to the insurgents.

This comes following 13 government soldiers have deserted to the Islamists on Wednesday.

the december 10th report from the u.n. monitoring group on somalia mentioned that

The Government of Ethiopia informed the Monitoring Group in October 2008 that it had trained 17,000 Somali security personnel, but did not specify how many were police and how many military. Of that total, Ethiopia believes less than 3,000 may still be effective, suggesting an attrition rate of over 80 percent. Since most soldiers who desert or defect take their weapons and uniforms with them, this represents some 14,000 new weapons entering Somali territory.

since the ethiopian govt is still publicly making noises about pulling its troops out of somalia in the first week of january, maybe that attrition rate will approach 100 percent. no wonder the ENDF want to start collecting weapons.

too bad they missed these ones..

Government Soldiers kill Radio Shabelle’s reporter

AFGOI (Sh. M. Network) –Government soldiers have killed Radio Shabelle’s Hassan Mayow Hassan in Afgoi district 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of Mogadishu, his father and witnesses said on Thursday.

Mayow Hassan, the deceased journalist’s father told Shabelle that the government soldiers based in Afgoi shot and killed his son.

"They used to accuse him that he is supporting the Islamist insurgents and threatened to kill him before," his father said.

Eyewitnesses told Shabelle the government soldiers called the journalist and shot him on the head.

The deceased journalist has been Shabelle Media Network’s correspondent since 2006.

He is the first journalist killed in the New Year 2009 and at least ten journalists have been killed in Somalia for the last two years.

Posted by: b real | Jan 1, 2009 6:18:15 PM | 63

inner city press: At UN, Somalia Peacekeeping Dream Dies a Quiet Death before New Years, US Buckles

UNITED NATIONS, January 1 -- As mortar fire rained down in Mogadishu on the palace of the President, who just resigned, in the UN the Security Council resolution for a peacekeeping force which the United States had said was a priority died a quiet death on December 30.

...

While most insiders consulted by Inner City Press had expected the U.S. to push for a vote on its resolution by the end of the year, since its passage would be much less likely with South Africa and Italy leaving the Council, ultimately the U.S. backed down, not wanting an open conflict with the UK. Therefore on December 30 it was said that attempts will be made in the new year to somehow merge the conflicting U.S. and UK drafts.

Thus the U.S. which backed the ill-fated Ethiopian incursion into Somalia during the Christmas to New Years period in 2006 ended up further selling out Somali civilians during the same period two years later. On New Years Eve in front of the Council, outgoing U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad did not mention Somalia, only Gaza. The same was done by UK Ambassador John Sawers: Gaza only. Afterwards, Inner City Press tried to get Africa answers but was told that its coverage is too negative.

i sure wouldn't call it a sellout to somalis that the hopes of the u.s. to get a peacekeeper resolution in by the end of the year died. meles & his regime may feel otherwise, of course. the actions of the united nations have been far from neutral, or helpful, in the context of somalia, and sending in blue hats at this point would fare no better.

but the failure to get this resolution through, esp after ms. rice's comments on the 16th, could be construed as a deserved strike against the unilateral impositions of washington.

Posted by: b real | Jan 1, 2009 6:57:03 PM | 64

still insisting that they're pulling out this week, ethiopian forces are being used for some cleanup after their former client yusuf's return to puntland

Somalia PM defends Ethiopia army security operation in Mogadishu

SANA'A, Yemen Jan 1 (Garowe Online) - Somalia's interim Prime Minister Nur "Adde" Hassan Hussein has defended an ongoing security operation led by Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu, Radio Garowe reports.

Prime Minister Nur Adde, who is currently in Yemen to attend the Sana'a Forum, said the Somali government is "aware" of the recent arrest of Mohamed Dheere, Mogadishu's former mayor.

"All the security operations led by Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu and elsewhere [in Somalia] are intended to restore order and will continue," the Prime Minister said.

He did not provide an official reason for Mohamed Dheere's arrest, but press reports have repeatedly linked the arrest to Prime Minister Nur Adde's efforts to disarm powerful warlords.

On Thursday, Ethiopian troops raided the home of Gen. Mohamed Darwish, Somalia's national intelligence boss and a close ally of resigned President Abdullahi Yusuf.

Reliable sources confirmed to Radio Garowe that the soldiers confiscated weapons and vehicles from Gen. Darwish's residence.

Also, Somali soldiers loyal to ex-President Yusuf at the Villa Somalia presidential compound reportedly vacated checkpoints in Wardhigley district and were replaced by Ethiopian troops.

on dheere's arrest, a commenter in mogadishu writes

The other stooge who came to Mogadishu on Amhara tank was on run since yesterday. We were told he was hiding in one of Mogadishu household big names to save his sick skin. To surprise of many, another Amhara lover sold his whereabouts of K4 to Abyssinian invaders. Imagine Abyssinians arresting fake Somali government members…… To the laughing of many, when they arrest him they put his head a hood (plastic bag) similar to that FBI does to Muslim warriors all the time. He was begging behind the plastic bag to get fresh air though to no avail. They whisked him to unknown location after shoving him like sack of rice into back of their car. Why they arrest him?! Simple: Amhara is doing min de-Yeeyfication_to pave the way Sh. Sharif and other players to fill the gap. Will it succeed? No way.

an editorial on the closing of 2008 at wardher news points out the irony of dheere's arrest:

The year 2008 would go down in history as the year when Ethiopia‘s Meles Zenawi has committed one of the most heinous human rights abuses in the history of the African continent, the details of which would emerge in the future. The Bush administration has been a prominent culprit in the commission of the killings of thousands of innocent Somalis in the past year.

What else is odd about the year 2008? It is the unholy marriage between the Somali mullah, Sheikh Sheriff Sheikh Ahmed, and Meles Zenawi against former president, Mr. Yusuf. It was not long ago when former president, with the help of the merciless Ethiopian forces, was on the hunt of Mullah sheikh Sherif. With the closing Year 2008, we have a complete role reversal of events!

Year 2009 would be, in so many ways, the same as 2008, and 2007, and beyond. In all those years of civil strife, a common thread has been that Ethiopia’s foxy Meles manipulated the political figures in the Somali Theater. Whoever thought 2008 would conclude with Meles Zenawi, on behalf of Sheikh Sherif, disarming Mohamed Dhere, a known CIA agent and a former protégé of Meles Zenawi, who himself notoriously hunted down innocent Somalis in exchange for cash and arm cache?

also, sheikh sharif, who used to work under the warlord dheere in jowhar, is apparently serving the same external players as dheere has -- ethiopia & the CIA

Posted by: b real | Jan 2, 2009 12:56:03 AM | 65

Ethiopian troops pouring into Somalia

BALADHAWO (Sh. M. Network)-Ethiopian soldiers have reached in Burdhubo and Balad Hawo towns in Gedo region in south western Somalia on Sunday, witnesses told radio Shabelle

Units of Ethiopian soldiers accompanied by other Somali government soldiers led by Colonel Barre Aden Shire (Hirale), a Somali MP have reportedly reached the southern towns of Balad Hawo and Burdhubo in Gedo region and the residents say the soldiers are meeting with the traditional elders and scholars in the region.

Residents say the Ethiopian soldiers with more military vehicles started search operations in the towns in the region and it is not known the reason of their arrival in Gedo region in Somalia.

Islamist insurgents who were controlling the towns left when the Ethiopian soldiers reached in the towns and it is not known where the Somali Islamists are at the moment.

On the other hand, Ethiopian troops have reportedly reached in Beer Gadiid village about 400 kilometers north of Mogadishu in central Somalia.

Ethiopian troops re-enter Gedo, Al Shabaab retreat

BARDHERE, Somalia Jan 4 (Garowe Online) - Ethiopian troops have reportedly re-entered parts of Gedo region and forced Islamist rebels to retreat inward, Radio Garowe reports.

Al Shabaab insurgents have left every major town in Gedo region, except the key town of Bardhere where the guerrillas ordered an around-the-clock curfew, which started midday Sunday, residents said.

The insurgents retreated from at least three districts in Gedo region, including the provincial capital Garbaharey and the trading town of Beled Hawo.

Col. Warfa Sheikh Aden, a Somali militia commander, told the media that local clan militias had taken over the districts without a fight.

He denied media reports that Ethiopian troops were aiding their advance into Gedo, a region along the Somali-Ethiopian border that has recently seen an upsurge in insurgent activity.

...

Unconfirmed reports said Ethiopia is re-arming Col. Barre Hirale, a notorious warlord-turned-lawmaker, who was forced out of the port city of Kismayo four months ago by Al Shabaab insurgents.

Col. Hirale, who enjoys clan support in Gedo region, fled to Ethiopia in August but plans a military comeback to Kismayo.

Somalia Leaders in Ethiopia for a Meeting

Saturday January 03, 2009(HOL): Somalia's acting interim President who is also the Speaker of the interim Parliament Sheik Adam Mohamed Nur (Sheik Adam Madobe) and the Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Mr. Nur Hassan Hussein (Nur Ade) are currently in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

The two leaders are reportedly meeting with senior officers of the Ethiopian government and the African Union (AU) to discuss the current situation in Somalia.

...

The presence of the top two leaders in Somalia's TFG comes at a pivotal time when the interim Parliament is expected to elect a new interim President after the resignation of the former interim President Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf as well as at a time when Ethiopian forces are expected to withdraw from Somalia in just few days.

Posted by: b real | Jan 4, 2009 1:54:24 PM | 66

reuters is reporting

Burundi, Uganda seek new role for troops in Somalia

BUJUMBURA, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Burundi and Uganda said on Sunday they wanted their troops serving in the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia to be allowed to take action against insurgents.

...

"First, we want AU to revise AMISOM's mandate so that our troops can lead offensive attacks against any insurgent group preparing to attack our positions," said Burundi's Defence Minister Germain Niyoyankana.

"We also want AU to persuade all countries which had accepted to supply troops to do so," he told reporters after a meeting with his Ugandan counterpart in Bujumbura.

...

Niyoyankana said the two eastern African nations asked the AU to update the force's military equipment and increase its financial support. Failure to do so could force them to consider withdrawing their troops, he said.

"We are not saying that we are quitting Somalia because this could lead to a disaster, but this is an urgent request," he said. "We hope AU will quickly give a positive response to our demands."

uganda's new vision is reporting

Uganda to review Somalia deployment

UGANDA is reconsidering the continued presence of her forces in Somalia following the pull-out of Ethiopian forces from the volatile country.

Foreign affairs state minister Okello Oryem yesterday said consultations were ongoing to assess the magnitude of the risk facing the UPDF soldiers serving on an African Union peace keeping mission.

“Our commanders and those of Burundi are in consultation with the AU to determine the amount of risk and if it is established that the level of risk is high, then a pull out is the most prudent thing,” Oryem said without specifying where the consultations were taking place.

There was no point, Oryem said, for the UPDF to remain on the peace keeping mission in light of the Ethiopian pull­-out when other countries that had pledged to contribute soldiers towards the mission were not honouring their pledges.

...

“The Ethiopians were in-charge of Mogadishu town and the surrounding areas of the city. They would provide a buffer. If their (Ethiopians) pullout means the warlords are going to begin taking on our troops, we will just pull out,” he said.

this is what ugandan officials have been saying for more than a month now - that they will pull out when the ethiopians do. they made this point clear to the AU chairperson ping, as he acknowledged at the time

whatever burundi's DM said, the reuters article, given the focus of the headline, must be propaganda. revising AMISOM's mandate from peacekeepers to occupiers? not that they are not already viewed as the latter, since there is hardly any peace to keep right now, but that move would be suicide, so i'm not sure how anybody could buy it. it would involve much more than simply changing some txt on a piece of paper.

so who's the propaganda msg targeted toward? the UN, to pressure the secgen to give them some blue helmets and int'l funds? that's very possible, since it's the US which has largely supplied training, funding & logistics for burundi & uganda forces there, and it's the US which failed to get in a late 2008 resolution authorizing int'l forces on the ground in mogadishu. or is it a desperate attempt to provide a scapegoat for when AMISOM does pull out? or is it just another layer of propaganda working to vilify al shabaab in the public mind?

Posted by: b real | Jan 5, 2009 1:05:04 AM | 67

voa: Somalia Leaders Race to Form Government, as Islamists Advance

Somalia's transitional leadership is struggling to form a new government, following the resignation of former president Abdullahi Yusuf, and trying to prevent Islamist extremists from taking control as Ethiopian troops withdraw. Somalia's two top leaders are on a whirlwind tour of East African capitals.

Somalia's prime minister and acting president flew from Addis Ababa to Nairobi as they try to shore up their weak transitional government...

...

In an airport interview after three-days of talks with Ethiopian officials, Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, widely known as Nur Adde, said lawmakers are faced with a tough choice.

"There are two options, one is to have the election within 30 days on the basis of the transitional charter, and at the same time there is this issue of Djibouti agreement which provides an enlargement of the parliament and a national unity government and election of the leadership," he said. "So this is not yet finalized, it is up to the parliament to decide."

Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin was at the airport to bid farewell to his guests. In a VOA interview, Seyoum said that as the current head of the East African regional grouping IGAD, he had urged Somalia's leaders to put aside the Djibouti accord and immediately choose a new president.

...

The two Somali leaders will be in Nairobi for the next few days for talks with representatives of the international community on ways of augmenting the 3,400-strong African Union peacekeeping force.

the u.s. has already publicly expressed its view that a new president should be named ASAP. we'll have to see who all nur adde is meeting w/ in nairobi.

meanwhile,

Ethiopia misses deadline

MOGADIHSU (Sh. M. Network)-Ethiopia missed a deadline Monday about the complete withdrawal of its troops from Somalia.

Residents in Mogadishu expected the Ethiopian troops to have gone by Monday 5 January 2009, according to the Ethiopian government pledge.

Posted by: b real | Jan 5, 2009 2:58:58 PM | 68

The West might be more the pirate in Somalian waters


...

This is the context in which the ''pirates'' have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a ''tax'' on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent ''strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence''. No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters, especially those who have held up World Food Program supplies. But in a phone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said, ''We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas.''

Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants? We won't act on those crimes the only sane solution to this problem but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of the world's oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.

The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the 4th century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know ''what he meant by keeping possession of the sea''. The pirate said, ''What you mean by seizing the whole Earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor.'' Once again, our great imperial fleets sail but who is the robber?

Posted by: b real | Jan 6, 2009 12:02:42 AM | 69

while there's a press campaign telling readers about how ethiopia is withdrawing from mogadishu...

Ethiopians taking over towns

BARDHERE (Sh. M. Network)-Hundreds of Ethiopian troops and Somali militias led by Col. Barre Aden Shire reached in Bardhere town some 490 km west of Mogadishu, witnesses said on Tuesday.

Col. Barre addressed the people in Bardhere district in Gedo region and vowed they will continue fighting to force the Islamists out of Gedo region.

The Ethiopian troops made bases in the north side of the town. Earlier Islamists who were controlling the town left.

On the other hand Ethiopian troops with more military trucks attacked Dinsor district in Bay region and captured the town from Al-shabab insurgent group.

Residents, who took refuge in the bush from the Ethiopian soldiers told radio Shabelle that the Ethiopian troops met strong resistance from the insurgents, but they could not confirm any casualties.

Ethiopia troops capture two districts in southwestern Somalia

Residents said the Ethiopian army garrison that arrived in Qansah Dheere district, in Bay region, were dispatched from bases in neighboring Gedo region.

"The people [of Qansan Dheere] have begun fleeing their homes, because they fear war," said resident Isak Nurow.

A brief gunfight erupted in the outskirts of town as the Ethiopian force, which included some Somali soldiers, advanced towards Qansah Dheere, he added.

Separately, Ethiopian troops peacefully captured the town of Garbaharey, provincial capital of Gedo region.

Nur Mattan, a member of Somalia's federal parliament, is reportedly leading clan militiamen under the guise of Ethiopian-backed government troops, local sources said.

Al Shabaab fighters who controlled much of Gedo have reportedly withdrawn to Bardhere town, with MP Mattan vowing to attack Bardhere and "expel the terrorists."

Ethiopia has began pulling its troops out of Mogadishu, but Ethiopian soldiers have spearheaded incursions into Gedo region in recent days.

another garowe online article rpts that

A new round of fighting is expected to erupt in Mogadishu among rival factions, some re-armed by Ethiopia, in a new scheme to keep Islamist hardliners embroiled in an endless domestic conflict.

Already, the new war has emerged with violence reported in erstwhile quiet Galgadud [why is it so quiet ? see below], a region in central Somalia.

Various sources have confirmed that Ethiopian-backed clan militias are battling for control of the region against Al Shabaab, fighting under the banner of a Sufi group [ahlu sunna waljama].

Ethiopia's new strategy to use clan militia against a divided and fractured Islamist movement in Somalia will ignite a new war, reopening clan hostilities and denying Somalis another chance at stability.

UN says fresh fighting displaced 50,000 in Somalia

NAIROBI, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- The UN top relief official for Somalia said on Monday that fresh fighting in Somalia has uprooted another 50,000 Somalis, further worsening the already severe humanitarian crisis.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden also voiced grave concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the strife-torn nation, where fresh clashes last week have reportedly killed more than 40 people and displaced over 50,000.

According to a UN news release on Monday, about 90 percent of the population of Dhuusamarreeb and Guriceel towns, in Galgaduud region in central Somalia, have fled their homes since fighting began on Dec. 27, 2008.

[continued]

Posted by: b real | Jan 6, 2009 2:47:58 PM | 70

[..cont]

Urgent help needed for thousands displaced in Galgadud

NAIROBI, 5 January 2009 (IRIN) - Local authorities in the central Galgadud region have appealed for urgent help for at least 80,000 people displaced by fighting in the towns of Dusamareb and Guri-Eil.

Fighting between the Al-Shabab and Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a Islamist groups has been continuing in the area for the past 10 days.

"Almost the entire population of the town [30,000] and thousands of displaced [about 10,000] from Mogadishu fled the town after intense fighting between the two groups," Ali Sheikh Mahamud, the Guri-Eil district commissioner, told IRIN on 5 January.

Most of the displaced have scattered across rural villages, which are hard to reach because of rampant insecurity and limited resources, he said, impeding any aid delivery.

The IDP population was mixed, with some households previously displaced from Mogadishu and others newly displaced from other parts of Galgadud, Mahamud said.

In Dusamareb, the regional capital, 500km north of Mogadishu, some 7,000 families have been displaced, according to civil society sources.

"Our estimate is that 7,000 [42,000 people] have been displaced and most of those are the previously displaced from Mogadishu," Aded Sheikhdon, a civil society activist, told IRIN.

Sheikhdon said the displaced were spending their nights in the open, under trees: "The nights are cold while the days are very hot." The IDPs desperately needed shelter material, food and water, he said.

UN proposes Green Zone-style base in Somalia


...

The U.N. now keeps its international Somalia staff members in Kenya to shield them from the risk of attacks and kidnappings. In 2008, at least 13 aid workers were killed in Somalia, which has not had an effective government since 1991.

"It is very difficult to address (the) Somali situation from Nairobi (the Kenyan capital). I think it is even negative," [UN envoy to Somalia] Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said during a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya. "We should have a Green Zone, if necessary, in Somalia."

Ould-Abdallah did not give a time frame for creating a fortified, walled-off area like the Green Zone in Iraq used by U.S.-led forces, but it would be costly and time-consuming.

green zone? thought they already tried that once

from aug 2007
Somalia to create Iraq-style "Green Zone"

NAIROBI, Aug 14 (Reuters) - The Somali government is trying to create a Baghdad-style safe "Green Zone" in Mogadishu to protect senior officials and foreign visitors from insurgent attacks, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said on Tuesday.

...

"At the moment, the government security agencies are trying to create a Green Zone where international community workers, and those vulnerable, can stay for their security purposes," he said, without giving more details.

"I hope that we will achieve positive results very soon."

Posted by: b real | Jan 6, 2009 2:48:31 PM | 71

jan 03: Sheikh Sharif and Sheikh Aweys to meet: sources

MOGADISHU, Somalia Jan 3 (Garowe Online) - Two Islamist leaders in Somalia who have parted ways following the Ethiopian invasion of 2006 are planning to meeting soon, informed sources tell Garowe Online.

Arab governments, including Egypt, are spearheading efforts to reconcile differences between Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the sources added.

...

"Sheikh Sharif and Sheikh Aweys have [both] accepted requests to meet in Cairo," said a source closely associated to Sheikh Sharif, who is currently in Egypt.

In 2006, the two men were the twin heads of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) militia that captured Mogadishu and more than half the country, prompting the U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion later that year.

...


The two men broke ties earlier this year after Sheikh Sharif entered into peace talks with the Somal interim government, but Sheikh Aweys steadfastly refused to enter the negotiations until Ethiopian troops withdraw.

jan 06: Sheik Aways denies meeting Sheik Sharif

ASMARA (Sh. M. Network)-Sheik Hassan Dahir Aways, the leader of an Islamist opposition group based in Eritrean capital Asmara denied talks saying that he and Sheik Sharif were going to meet in Cairo Egypt; Radio Shabelle interviews him on Tuesday.

"I can meet Sheik Sharif but that does not bring any change according to our differences,"Aways told radio Shabelle.

"We are not dealing with the enemy (Ethiopia) which is killing and displacing our people until it leaves Somalia."

Sheik Hassan Dahir Aways denied reports that emerged earlier about mediating efforts relating that Sheik Sharif and Sheik Aways were going to meet in Cairo, Egypt.

Sheik Aways said Somalis must be free from outside intervention to decide the future of their country.

jan 07: Somali Islamist leader says under pressure to join rival group

The chairman of the Asmara-based Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia [ARS], Sheikh Hasan Dahir Aweys, said he was being pressured by the international community to join the ARS wing of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad.

Speaking to Mareeg online by phone, Aweys said the international community was pressuring him to join Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad since they support the Djibouti-based ARS.

Aweys said the rift between his side and that of Shaykh Ahmad was based on opinion and that some of the issues that caused the disagreement could be amended.

He said if amending the issues that had caused the disagreement becomes difficult and the enemy [Ethiopia] becomes stronger in the country, then they could possibly join the [Djibouti-based] alliance.

However, he said they would prefer to stick to their opinion which they belief in.

Aweys denied reports on a planned meeting said to mediate between him and Sheikh Ahmad in Cairo, Egypt, according to international media organizations.

Posted by: b real | Jan 7, 2009 12:04:23 PM | 72

latest analysis from michael weinstein is up at garowe online, offering an excellent summarization of the last several weeks, adding a few items that eluded my eyes & tying it all together in a smart narrative (something i find myself lacking the spare time to even attempt these days - but then i don't have 50 years of experience in political science either!)

Somalia's Political Circumstances in a New Year

Posted by: b real | Jan 8, 2009 12:02:30 AM | 73


Your short of 50 by 3 years b-real ... tx's for your excellent work on a place with such limited coverage. I've learned a great deal.

Posted by: BenIAM | Jan 8, 2009 12:11:26 AM | 74

short by waaaay more than that, BenIAM. no idea where you're getting those numbers - still years to go before i will have even existed for 50 of 'em. glad to see you're around, though. & now for the sounds of dr. nico & his bro on their heavenly guitars - orchestra african fiesta

Posted by: b real | Jan 8, 2009 1:15:27 AM | 75

correction on my musical attribution above - nico & déchaud are not on that version of mokitani ya wendo. it is performed by african fiesta national in 1968, three years after nico & tabu ley split up african fiesta. instead, there are three other guitarists, playing heavenly rumba, in the nico style, nonetheless. my confusion stems from a collection a friend recently passed to me - instrumental versions of eighteen of arrangements by tabu ley & nico and labeled l'orchestre african fiesta. they are exquisite - lead guitars replace the vocal parts, putting the sole emphasis on the song arrangements & nimble fretwork of some soukous masters. not having the original liner notes, i was under the impression that these recordings featured the lineup from african fiesta and, being still somewhat new to the classic congolese scene, made a speculative extrapolation that i could have easily debunked by looking at the liner notes of the sterns rochereau collection from which the video selection came.

--

the attribution of weinstein's 50 years as a political scientist was based on this october 2007 interview

Posted by: b real | Jan 8, 2009 10:59:18 AM | 76

Somalia’s Acting Interim President: We Have 21 Days to Elect a President

Thursday January 08, 2009(HOL) - The acting interim President of Somalia who is also the Speaker of the interim Parliament Sheik Aadan Mohamed Nuur (Sheik Madoobe) told some Somalia lawmakers in Nairobi that there are only 21 days left for the election of a new interim President.

The Speaker told the lawmaker to prepare to go to Baidao, the seat of the interim Parliament to participate in the formation of committees to work on the election of the President.

The Speaker did not mention the Djibouti Accord which calls for the expansion of the Parliament to form a broad based unity government.

...

So far only one person, Mr. Mohamed Afrah Qanyare, who is a member of the interim Parliament, has announced his candidacy for the presidency. Former interim Prime Minister Mr. Ali Mohamed Geedi is also rumoured to be interested in the position.

nuur has just returned from nairobi, full of motivational advice from IGAD officials & most probably ranneberger - all of whom evidently still fantasize that the TFG still exists or something...

but sheik sharif is a little more grounded

Sheik Sharif warns 'electing new president for the Somali transitional government'

TRIPOLI ( Sh. M. Network)- Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the Chairman of the Alliance for Re-libration of Somalia Djibouti wing who is in Libyan capital Tripoli has warned [against] the Somali transitional government to elect new president; Radio Shabelle interviews him on Thursday,

Mr. Sharif has told Shabelle radio by phone from Tripoli that [a] new president elected by the TFG is not needed at the moment and does not bring any solution for the Somali people before uniting the two Somali parliaments set up in Djibouti by the transitional federal government and the Alliance for Re-libration of Somalia.

"It is not good for the transitional government to hasten presidential election at this current time but to join the two Somali parliaments is better than electing new president for interim government so I would suggest to unite the newly elected legislatures in Djibouti," Sheik Sharif said.

this goes against outside pressure to expedite an election

the shabelle article also mentions that

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed has spoken of the delay of the Ethiopian soldiers and stressed that the deadline of the Ethiopian troops’ withdrawal has ended saying he [is] not aware of any extra time that the presence of the Ethiopian troops in Somalia added.

meanwhile, aweys says 'told ya so'

Islamist leader says Djibouti peace deal meant to deceive Somalis

The chairman of the Asmara-based Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia, Sheikh Hasan Dahir Aweys, has said the agreement signed in Djibouti between the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia [TFG], and the Djibouti-based ARS led by Sheikh Sharif Shaykh Ahmad was meant to swindle the Somali people, saying the Ethiopian forces are still carrying out their operations in parts of the country.

Aweys, who is an elected chairman of the Asmara-based Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia, told Mareeg online by phone that the aim of the Djibouti peace agreement was to mislead the people on their political and military stand, and their objectives towards the Somali people, as he put it.

He said since the beginning of the Djibouti peace talks between the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and some members of the ARS, there were pressures to convince them to join the talks, which they had refused after realizing that the peace talks was not in the interest of the Somali people and the country at large.

Aweys stressed that let alone joining the ongoing talks, they are urging the group led by Sheikh Sharif to return to the ARS.

...

Aweys said Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmad was cheated, even on the implementation of the Djibouti agreement with TFG. He said the Ethiopian troops which had pledged to start withdrawing by December 2008 are now even moving to other regions in Somalia.

Aweys said the Ethiopian forces did not even start withdrawing by 5 December, which they had set the time themselves.

[Aweys] "Not a single soldier has pulled out, to the contrary they are entering the country as usual. They have entered several other regions. They have entered Gedo Region [southwestern Somalia] and they would possibly enter other regions. They have entered central Somalia regions, Balamballe, Guri El, Abud Waq and they are stretching their presence in the whole country. They have not moved a single soldier. No pact was reached with them and as it is evident they do not keep their words. So, they still have the same objectives they had from the beginning, so what there is nothing new."


Posted by: b real | Jan 8, 2009 2:58:27 PM | 77

Saudi tanker 'freed off Somalia'

A Saudi supertanker that was captured by Somali pirates in November carrying two million barrels of oil has been released, reports quoting pirates say.

A regional maritime group also said pirates had left the Sirius Star, Reuters news agency reported.

A negotiator for the pirates told the BBC a $3m (£1.95m) ransom was paid.

A small plane was seen apparently dropping the ransom by parachute onto the tanker. The ship's owner has refused to comment.

i'm curious - how big of a container would it take to hold $3 million in cash? that's a lot of money, no matter how you break it down. 30,000 benjamins? this article says that one mill in 100 bills weighs "almost 20 pounds (9 kilos)" and "filled 643 cubic inches (~8" x 6" x 13")", which is "about the size of a 15" television".

multiply that by 3 and you talking roughly 60 pounds of paper taking up 1929 cubic inches

the beeb article has a picture of the drop. looks possible - though it seems small for what one would expect of 3 mill

The release took place at midday, according to one of the negotiators for the Somali pirates, who spoke by phone to the BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan in the capital, Mogadishu.

The negotiator said the pirates had disembarked from the Sirius Star and were heading back to their homes in central Somalia, and the vessel's crew was safe.

The pirates agreed on Thursday night to accept a ransom of $3m from the ship's owners, although they had wanted more, he added.

The owner of the Sirius Star refused to confirm or deny any details when contacted by the BBC.

Posted by: b real | Jan 9, 2009 3:52:06 PM | 78

two more instances of 'awakening council' counterinsurgency factions engaged in battles w/ the main power on the ground, al shabaab, this past w/e

30 killed in fighting between Islamists in central Somalia

GURIEL (Sh. M. Network) - at least thirty people mostly fighters have been killed and more than fifty others wounded after heavy fighting between Islamist fighters of Al-shabab and Ahlu Sunna has flared up in Griel town in Galgudud region on Sunday morning, Shabelle’s Bulhan reported

Locals say that the fighting started after Al shabab fighters attacked bases of Ah lu sunna forces in the town which both rival Islamist forces exchanged heavy weapons.

Residents say that Ahlu Sunna forces have recaptured Guriel town in Galgudud region in central Somalia.

Al-shabab officials said earlier they seized Guriel town after fighting early on Sunday morning.

The casualties of the fighting are increasing hour after hour and more than 50 injured people were reported to have been rushed to the hospital in Guriel town, but the fighting stopped.

One killed in fighting between Islamist rivals

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)-At least one fighter from the Islamic Courts Union has been killed and three others have been wounded in fighting between Al-shabab insurgent group and Islamic Courts Union in Balad town 30 km north Mogadishu, witnesses said on Saturday.

The Islamic Courts Union fighters have seized Balad town from Al-shabab after fierce fighting early on Saturday, but Al-shabab recaptured the town from the Islamic Courts Union on Saturday afternoon.

Islamic Courts Union officials have declined to comment on the issue, but Al-shabab officials who contacted radio Shabelle said forces from Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia have attacked and defended them.


Posted by: b real | Jan 12, 2009 1:03:52 AM | 79

can someone explain this to me?

Five Somali pirates drown as they squabble over their $3million ransom

on a 1 to 10 believability factor, 10 being believeable, i would rate this a 1.

complete w/unconvincing visual props.

Posted by: annie | Jan 12, 2009 11:25:14 AM | 80

don't miss this part

It is not known what happened to the money or those who survived.

notice the big bright orange canister in the photos? it's missing.

Posted by: annie | Jan 12, 2009 11:28:18 AM | 81

annie - that acct is silly

didn't get the time to read broadly on this, but as al jazeera put it on saturday

Six members of a group of Somali pirates who hijacked and later released a Saudi-owned oil tanker are reported to have drowned along with their share of a $3m ransom.

The pirates were among eight men whose boat overturned off the coast of Kenya in a storm as they left the Sirius Star following a two-month standoff that ended on Friday, a pirate and a relative of one of the dead men said.

"Six of our boys perished at the sea while coming from the released Saudi supertanker," Mohamed Said told the AFP news agency.

"The small boat that was carrying those killed and eight who survived was overloaded and at high speed, we have been told by the survivors.

"They were afraid of a chase from outsiders [foreign naval forces] who invaded Somalia waters," he said.

The group's $300,000 share of the ransom was also lost, he said.

Three pirates reached shore after swimming for several hours, pirate Daud Nure said on Saturday.

"There has been human and monetary loss but what makes us feel sad is that we don't still have the dead bodies of our relatives. Four are still missing and one washed up on the shore," Abukar Haji, the uncle of one of the dead men, said.

there were reportedly more than a dozen somalis on the ship throughout the past weeks - some rpt "dozens" - the guys in the boat didn't have the full booty

on sunday there were rpts of a body washing up w/ $153,000 in his pockets

not sure how the money was split up, but the numbers reported raise eyebrows - six of a boat accounted for $300,000 yet one body shows up w/ more than half of that?

the december 10th rpt by the u.n. monitoring group on somalia lists the following breakdown for ransom payouts:

30% maritime crew
10% ground crew
10% local community
20% financiers
30% sponsor

saw a lot of skeptical comments last night as i was reading some somali media. some speculation that the boat was shot by foreign militaries; some that these guys were doublecrossed by greedy partners or foreign agents

personally, i haven't seen enough info to make a judgement call

if i come across any reliably-sourced details, i'll pass it on

Posted by: b real | Jan 12, 2009 12:04:52 PM | 82

b real-

Excellent news-gathering and reporting! Thanks.

Annie@83,

I thought the same thing when I read the first news brief.

Posted by: David | Jan 12, 2009 12:08:49 PM | 83

looks possible - though it seems small for what one would expect of 3 mill

Inflation.

I think the real reason we are deluged with so much bad art on the media, throughout modern society, is to convince us to believe bad theatre when it plays out before our eyes.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 12, 2009 12:19:16 PM | 84

some speculation that the boat was shot by foreign militaries;

perhaps that unhelpful woman from virginia, the ceo of the stabilization security company. maybe it was some of her cohorts.

Posted by: annie | Jan 12, 2009 1:09:31 PM | 85

curiouser & curiouser

afp: Captain of hijacked Ukrainian tanker in appeal for help

NAIROBI (AFP) – The captain of an arms-laden Ukrainian cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates appealed Monday for its Israeli owner to engage in direct talks with its captors and end its crew's 15-week ordeal.

Speaking to AFP by satellite telephone from the MV Faina, Vladimir Nikolsky complained that no direct contact had been made by the owner with the leader of the pirates since the vessel was seized on September 25.

"I think Vadim Alperin, the real ship owner, doesn't know the real situation.... The owner's representative I think has been hiding information from him," said Nikolsky in his first interview since the hijacking.

...

"The leader of the pirates Mohammed Abdi is ready to establish contact with the ship's owner and he now refuses to make any contact with any other party," he said.

...

Saeed Hasan, a Somali academic acting as an intermediary and translator for the pirates, told AFP ...

"Direct contact from the ship owner is the only solution.... The owner created his own problem by resorting to unknown Somali and other foreign intermediaries for the negotiations," Saeed Hasan said.

Nikolsky said Alperin's direct involvement could yield a breakthrough.

"In this case, he (the leader of the pirates) thinks that the mediation will run quick and successfully," he said.

no new english language postings on this @ voitenko's maritime news russia

as we read multiple times previously, voitenko was being reported as alperin's official representative - he was also busy talking to the press about how ballarin was interfering w/ ransom negotiations

anyone know wtf is really going on?

Posted by: b real | Jan 12, 2009 3:53:42 PM | 86

When the owner of a ship cannot be found, one can assume that the owner wants the ship to be in the position it is in.

When one hears the names Israel and Ukraine popping up together, one may assume worse.

Whether the owner is fronting for state actors or other interests, it seems clear to me that everything, including reporting in the corporate media and NPR, is designed to rile people up, rather than to solve the sort of real crisis we are being told exists: non-state pirates hijacking legitimate shipping because of poverty.

At the very least, it provides a convenient excuse for intervention should it be deemed advantageous. I would not be surprised if the same parties were financing, directing and training the pirates, providing the "victim" ships, and intervening to "prevent piracy." We have seen this pattern before with Al Qaeda being used as a convenient excuse to intervene in another area of the world.

Problem, reaction, solution.

I don't know what to make of the competing claims that the waters off the Somali coast are being illegally used as a toxic dumping ground, and as a fishing ground -- although it is conceivable that Western governments would dump radioactive waste into the water and then feed radioactive fish to their people.

To me, it all shows just how hard it is to get accurate information, and how good governments are at surpressing the truth and confusing the emergence of an accurate narrative with false information.

There are many programs around to train new foreign journalists which bear the mark of Soros inspired "democracy" programs, training the journalists to rely on official sources sanctioned by the "International community" as an integral part of maintaining "professional impartiality," and perhaps, less nobler, as a way to advance one's career.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 12, 2009 4:39:11 PM | 87

ecoterra's january 11th press release on the faina alludes to the problems w/ too many players trying to affect the outcome - stalling one, most obviously

Efforts for a peaceful release continued, but the now over three and a half months long stand-off concerning Ukrainian MV FAINA is not yet solved finally, though negotiations through middlemen are said to have continued.

Information directly from the MV FAINA case indicates that things are not going well and most communications are still coming from sideline negotiators and informers rather than from the real sources.

i reckon that's why the acting captain has gone on the record now - the crew is getting desperate to go home - they know they're pawns in much larger games & that, in the end, they're disposable. not on behalf of the pirates, who have been treating them quite decently, according to most legit accounts, but by the big fish - the ones distributing arms to their clients in the region. their letter(s) to the u.s. president & state dept didn't get any public traction. coming up on four months now of sitting around in closed quarters - they're ready to sing.

is it unreasonable to assume that ballarin & the agency are interested in making sure they don't get the platform to tell all they know?

but what i also find interesting is that the translator, making it very clear that the somalis want to open a direct line of communication w/ alperin, speaks his having no one to blame but himself for "resorting to unknown Somali and other foreign intermediaries for the negotiations" - is this a reference to voitenko, as well? has alperin's official representative also been working for another intel outfit? or is it a tactic to continue elminating middle(muddle)men, get some grip, and just get away from this powderkeg?

Posted by: b real | Jan 12, 2009 6:04:44 PM | 88

cnn has an "exclusive" w/ yet another story - no storm or powerful winds responsible for capsizing the boat this time

"Other pirates on the shore wanted a tip from the pirates on the Sirius Star, so they started to fire in the air as our people approached the land," Libaan Jaama told CNN. "When our pirates heard the shots, they thought they would be robbed, so they tried to return to the tanker. In that quick turn the boat capsized."

other pirates on shore wanting a cut? or perhaps islamists? i've linked to several stories which make it clear that the islamists are fighting the pirates too. remember that the hijackers moved the oil tanker after serious threats from the ICU & al shabaab on land

an earlier story in the somali media gave this version that featured two boats travelling to shore together, but no explanation for the capsizing

“The pirates were coming towards the shore of Haradhere in Mudug region after having taken 3 million dollars from a Saudi oil tanker which they have set free on Friday afternoon they were on board two speed boats singing in colorful tone, and exchanging some ridiculous words unfortunately one of the boats carrying 9 Somali pirates capsized and five of the pirates who were not simmers were drown in the sea the while the other four swum to the shower” said Ali Yussuf a resident of the pirates invested town of Haradhere speaking to Somaliweyn radio shortly after the tragedy occurred.

...

some reports we are getting from the ground says that pastoralists traveling along the shore have slowly collected dollars floating on the surface of the sea, and some brought by the ebb tide to shore.

Posted by: b real | Jan 13, 2009 2:15:21 AM | 89

Ethiopian troops vacate north Mogadishu

MOGADIHSU (Sh. M. Network)-The Ethiopian troops in Somalia have vacated four military bases in north Mogadishu, witnesses and officials said on Tuesday.

Ethiopia announced plans to withdraw its troops from Somalia last year, but Ethiopia has not completed its troop pull out from Somalia yet.

Residents say the Ethiopian troops have moved from former Spaghetti factory, Hayle Barise building, Carafat neighbourhood and Towfiq intersection, all bases of Ethiopian troops in north Mogadishu.

Suleyman Olad Roble, the information secretary of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia told radio Shabelle that the Ethiopian troops are primed to pull out from Somalia today.

Suleyman said a farewell ceremony would be held for the Ethiopian troops in the presidential place in Mogadishu at about 9:00 local time 06:00 GMT, and would leave the country.

A lot of people have gathered in the bases the Ethiopian soldiers vacated. Residents expressed hope to return to their houses after two years.

Asked about the security vacuum, Suleyman said joint forces from the transitional government and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia would handle the situation and pointed out that the bases in north Mogadishu which the Ethiopian troops vacated “were residential areas not military bases and does not necessarily need troops to be deployed”

today the press mentions a new u.s. draft resolution "on UN force in Somalia"

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States circulated a draft resolution calling for a U.N. peacekeeping force to be deployed in Somalia to replace a small African Union force, but leaving the Security Council to make a final decision by June 1.

The draft resolution, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, would renew the mandate of the African Union force, known as AMISOM, for six months and urge African nations to beef up troop strength from the current 2,600 to the 8,000 originally authorized.

It expresses the council's "intent to establish a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Somalia as a follow-on force to AMISOM, subject to a further decision of the Security Council by June 1, 2009."

The resolution is drafted under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which is militarily enforceable, and declares that "the situation in Somalia constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the region."

however, inner city press points out

In perhaps another sign of disinterest or priorities being elsewhere, there is Somalia, a peacekeeping for which Condoleezza Rice had projected before the end of 2008. While a resolution is slated to be adopted before January 20, as Inner City Press exclusively reported at New Years, it will be a largely UK-drafted proposal, different than which Condi Rice had said.

Posted by: b real | Jan 13, 2009 2:15:51 AM | 90

Confusion over timetable for Somalia's presidential election

BAIDOA, Somalia Jan 11 (Garowe Online) – The timetable for electing Somalia's next president has been thrown into confusion following the emergence of two separate agendas, Radio Garowe reports.

Sheikh Adan "Madobe" Mohamed, the Acting President who is also the parliament Speaker, met with a group of lawmakers in the town of Baidoa Sunday and held a press conference afterwards.

"We discussed issues relating to the election and we only have 17 days left," said the Acting President, who took office after former President Abdullahi Yusuf resigned in late December.

Sheikh Adan Madobe, Acting President of Somalia
He indicated that Jan. 26 will be the day when the 275-seat Somali Transitional Federal Parliament will elect Somalia's next president, adding that the election will take place in Baidoa, the seat of parliament.

...

But conflicting reports have emerged following a Saturday meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that issued a public statement that contradicts the Acting Somali President's position.

Mr. Said Yusuf Nur, the Somali ambassador to Ethiopia, told the BBC Somali Service on Sunday that the meeting was attended by the defense ministers of Somalia, Uganda and Burundi, as well as representatives from the United Nations, the African Union and the Somali opposition group ARS.

"It was agreed to expand the parliament to include the ARS [Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia] before electing a new president," Ambassador Nur said, adding that the vote is supposed to be held in Djibouti later this month.

The Djibouti Agreement, signed between the Somali government and the ARS, called for the creation of a 550-seat parliament and the establishment of a 'unity government.'

Dispute deepens over Somalia's next president as violence worsens

The Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), a divided opposition faction led by Islamist politician Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, says its representatives are ready to implement the Djibouti Agreement and form a 'unity government' by joining the Somali parliament.

"On our side, we have completed the representatives required from us and we are ready to work together and to respect the Djibouti Agreement," Sheikh Sharif said in Djibouti, while warning against the collapse of the peace agreement.

Another official, Saleban Olad Roble, the ARS information secretary, told reporters in Mogadishu Monday that "there are no obstacles [coming] from our side," adding: "We recognize the international community's commitment to bring together TFG and ARS to Djibouti and elect new leadership."

...

Meanwhile, Somali Prime Minister Nur "Adde" Hassan Hussein landed at Mogadishu's Aden Adde International Airport after visiting Kenya and Ethiopia.

He did not speak with reporters, but government spokesman Abdi Haji Gobdon said the Prime Minister was discussing security matters with commanders from the Ethiopian army and the African Union peacekeeping force.

Prime Minister Nur Adde has supported the ARS position by calling for the expansion of parliament to 550 MPs, as stipulated by the Djibouti Agreement. The new parliament would then elect a new Speaker and a new President, who appoints the next Prime Minister.

the TFG is dead. everyone's given up on it. only madobe doesn't understand that. it appears that the "international community" is now ready to focus on creating yet another new imposed govt -- misleadingly terming it a "unity govt" -- based on the manipulated/able actors involved in the djibouti agreement.

Posted by: b real | Jan 13, 2009 2:16:54 AM | 91

b real:

I appreciate your political postings but these hijacking stories are beyond me. Perhaps it is tangential, but maybe you or b can help me out here.

How do you hijack an oil tanker? These ships are immense. I assume that these speedboats -- which seem to have serious problems remaining upright -- can easily pull alongside a moving vessel. But then what? How do they attach themselves to the moving ship? How do they scale the gunwhales, which must be 10-20 feet, minimum, above them? Since they are climbing up, how do they prevent crewmembers from easily firing down on them in their unprotected state? How do they get these things into the shoreline? That can only be done with special huge tugboats and specially trained pilots, and only in special deep water ports.

I'm sure there are a million other questions I don't understand, but if these few can be addressed than I would have an easier time following the narrative you lay out.

humbly,
former oil worker

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 13, 2009 4:55:59 AM | 92

But the EU does not care about the cost or about piracy at all. It is happy it finally managed to launch some military action, even if senseless, without a U.S. lead.

Nobody spends money and risks life and limb, especially Germans, for a "senseless" adventure.

We talk a lot about US Imperialism on this blog, but let's remember, the Europeans wrote the playbook, and they still have Imperial interests and multi-national business interests throughout the globe -- all of which need expanding and protecting.

Perhaps we don't know the real reasons yet, or what the interests are -- but I assure you, they are there.

If one intends to solve the problem helping Somalis to keep foreign illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping away from their coast would be the best approach.

If one knows anything about the history of the modern fishing and whaling industries, expecting Europeans to help Somalis defend themselves against illegal fishing is like expecting the fox to guard the henhouse.

I don't know anything about European waste disposal, but it wouldn't surprise me if European governments did not use crime networks, the way the US has traditionally used the Mafia, to do its dirtywork.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 13, 2009 5:11:44 AM | 93

How do you hijack an oil tanker? These ships are immense. I assume that these speedboats -- which seem to have serious problems remaining upright -- can easily pull alongside a moving vessel. But then what? How do they attach themselves to the moving ship? How do they scale the gunwhales, which must be 10-20 feet, minimum, above them? Since they are climbing up, how do they prevent crewmembers from easily firing down on them in their unprotected state? How do they get these things into the shoreline? That can only be done with special huge tugboats and specially trained pilots, and only in special deep water ports.

A loaded oil tanker is lying deep in the water and to climb on board only needs a metal hook with a 10 feet rope attached. Even the huge tankers have only crews of 20 people a third of which are asleep and some are in the engine-room, eating etc. So the available crew is fast down to two deckhands who have to cover several soccer fields of ground. Usually merchant ships do not have ANY weapons on board. Some use water hoses against pirates.

There are some natural deep-water harbors near the long Somali coast and any capable captain can get there and lower the anchors without the need for tugs or pilots.

Posted by: b | Jan 13, 2009 6:44:36 AM | 94

malooga - b is correct. a telescoping ladder is all that is needed. the tanker was at full capacity, ircc, low enough to the water that it's only a matter of minutes for a couple of small boats to pull up alongside, get on board, and to the steerhouse. it's like hijacking a plane - you do not bring your own pilot and it can travel anywhere it'd normally be able to so long as the fuel supply holds out.

here's a satellite photo of one location the sirius star was being anchored at on nov 20th

it wouldn't surprise me if European governments did not use crime networks, the way the US has traditionally used the Mafia

yes, that's certainly part of it. we've linked to these allegations before. for instance, this 2005 VOA story

Warnings about a potential health and environmental disaster from illegal waste dumping began circulating as early as 1992, a year after a coalition of Somali warlords overthrew the government of dictator Mohammed Siad Barre and turned the country into a violent, lawless state.

At the time, a UNEP official in Nairobi, Mustafa Kamal Tolba, told reporters that he was convinced that European firms were dumping hazardous waste in Somalia because there was no government to stop such activities. But Mr. Tolba declined to name the companies.

A Brussels-based Somali environmental activist, Amina Mohammed, tells VOA that an Italian television journalist named Ilaria Alpi soon took up the investigation. But in 1994, Ms. Alpi and her cameraman were killed while traveling in Somalia.

Ms. Mohammed says she believes the journalist was assassinated.

"She was killed because there were many things that she discovered," he explained. "There are Italian companies. There is the Mafia. There are Somali warlords. There is a whole range of people, dealers, and brokers involved in this task."

Ms. Mohammed says the journalist had been investigating allegations that Mafia-run companies in Italy were regularly transporting industrial waste to Somalia for dumping. The organized crime group is estimated to control about 30 percent of Italy's waste disposal companies, including those that deal with toxic waste.

Ms. Mohammed says Ms. Alpi discovered that much of the waste was being carried from Italy to its former colony aboard fishing vessels belonging to a company called the Somali High Sea Fishing Company.

"This company was owned by the Somali government and it is now in the hands of a manager who is also presently a member of parliament," she added. "His name is Munye Said Omar. He is presently in Yemen and all the boats are in Yemen harbor."

Ms. Mohammed says the television journalist had evidence proving that the warlord was using some of the money generated from waste dumping to purchase arms to fuel the country's civil war.

In 1998, one of Italy's largest weekly magazines, Famiglia Cristiana, alleged that although most of the waste dumping took place after the start of the civil war in 1991, the activity actually began as early as 1989 under the former regime.

Posted by: b real | Jan 13, 2009 9:37:50 AM | 95

oops... fingers are still a little stiff this morning. "ircc" should have been iirc - if i recall correctly

Posted by: b real | Jan 13, 2009 9:39:31 AM | 96

from ecoterra international's january 12 press release on the status of the mv faina

Numerous sides reacted to the alert sent out by the acting Captain Vladimir Nikolsky, held on the weapons-carrier. What has transpired also in the meantime is the fact that the Ukrainian officials focus only on another crew-picture, which the pirates had adhered to upon the requests from the US navy already several times. The efforts to sneak away from the responsibilities to care for the crew are blatant. Likewise it has become clear that blaming third parties is part of the non-negotiation tactics on the side of the owner and the Ukrainian officials, since the Captain stated clearly that there had been no direct contact - not even between the owner and the captives since the vessel's seizure. With Kenya - who certainly has a strong influence in this case - openly refusing any negotiations and more or less condemning the crew and vessel to rot in the surging sun at Somalia's coast the humanitarian crisis becomes obvious. If governments and ship-owners fail or are unwilling to solve the crisis, the families and next of kin must have the right to seek assistance from the United Nations or other bodies willing to mediate with the goal to save the lives of the seamen.

Posted by: b real | Jan 15, 2009 1:11:29 AM | 97

Somali pirates on tank ship sack ransom brokers

MOGADISHU, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Pirates holding a Ukrainian cargo ship loaded with tanks have sacked Somali middlemen trying to secure its release and are negotiating directly with the owners, an associate of the gang said on Thursday.

...

Osman Farah, an onshore associate of the gang on the Faina, said his colleagues now expected more than $5 million after they sacked the middlemen negotiating on their behalf.

"Somali brokers had been delaying the process by reporting only half, or less, of the ransom being offered," Farah told Reuters by telephone from the coastal town of Haradheere.

"So the pirates are now directly negotiating with the Ukrainians and we hope things will be better now ... they are expecting more then $5 million and the ship will be freed soon."

The Faina's owners could not immediately be reached.

Somalia PM announces he will run for presidency

MOGADISHU (AFP) — Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein will run for the country's presidency, he announced Thursday.

"I served the nation as premier and I want to be elected president and promote peace and harmony," he told reporters at Mogadishu airport before flying out on a trip to Djibouti.

...

Somalia's parliament will on January 26 elect a president to replace Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who [was forced to resign] on December 29 after [U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer reportedly threatened the president with war crimes charges in the ICC during a brief conference at the airport in Nairobi].

...

Hussein, 70, was appointed prime minister in November 2007.

He launched the [Washington-led] internationally-backed peace process that saw the signing in Djibouti of a ceasefire with the moderate Islamist opposition in October 2008.

He and the Yusuf clashed on their approach to the opposition: during his time as president Yusuf had poor relations with the opposition, who accused him of obstructing the peace process.

Somalia's parliament will elect its new president by secret ballot.

Posted by: b real | Jan 15, 2009 11:30:17 AM | 98

US envoy-designee to UN skeptical of Somalia force

WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The proposed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations voiced strong skepticism on Thursday over the merits of a U.N. peacekeeping force in Somalia and said the incoming Obama administration would closely examine the plan.

Earlier this week, the outgoing Bush administration circulated a draft Security Council resolution that would firm up a plan to deploy a U.N. peacekeeping force in war-torn Somalia to replace an existing African Union force.

That plan, which African countries have long been calling for, has been supported by outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but U.N. officials and some Security Council members have objected the situation is too dangerous.

the general consensus is that there is no peace to keep. for one, there has been no real peace agreement between the actual parties to the conflict, and the djibouti agreement has once again been shown to be worth nothing more than the paper it was written on.

"This (Somalia) is an enormously difficult and important challenge that the international community faces," Susan Rice said at a Senate committee hearing to confirm her designation as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Asked by Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, whether she thought a proposed U.N. force had any merits, Rice said such a move would have to be very carefully weighed.

"I am skeptical too, about the wisdom of a United Nations peacekeeping force in Somalia at this time," said Rice, who is no relation to the outgoing secretary of state.

ethiopian troops have abandoned their bases inside mogadishu, turning over confiscated weapons caches to TFG security forces (how many are left?), which is most likely in violation of the arms embargo

various insurgent forces have moved in to take over the police stations and secure neighborhoods. these include forces loyal to the ARS-djibouti faction, the ICU, and al shabaab. while the western media is reiterating the talking points concerning a power "vacuum" in the city -- for instance, a cnn headline reads "'Terror group' joins Somali capital takeover" -- so far everything is proceeding relatively smoothly, according to somali media.

even the u.n.'s IRIN media service acknowledge such

Meanwhile, the last Ethiopian troops left the Somali capital on 15 January. "There are no Ethiopian soldiers in Mogadishu today [15 January]," said Abdi Haji Gobdon, the government spokesman. "They left peacefully and there were no major incidents."

A local journalist told IRIN there had been no clashes among the various insurgent groups and between them and government forces, as many had expected.

"Up to now, the much talked-about fighting between Somali groups has not happened and many residents are holding their breath and praying that things stay the way they are," he added.

this should be good news for most people, and it was hardly unexpected, but apparently it's not going down well w/ at least one puppet of addis ababa

Mogadishu governor says 'Djibouti peace deal was disrupted'

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)-The newly elected governor of Banadir region, Mohamed Osman Ali (Dhagah tuur) has held a press conference in Mogadishu and said that the Djibouti peace deal has been disrupted by what he called unknown groups on Thursday.

Mr. Dhagah-tuur, Mayor of Mogadishu and governor of Banadir region has said in the press conference he held in his home in Mogadishu that the Djibouti agreement has failed adding that unknown groups those were not part of the Djibouti peace deal have taken control of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

"The promise was to replace the vacated bases of the Ethiopian troops to a joint forces of AU peace keeping (AMISOM), ARS and TFG but it did not happen so far.,"Dhagah-tuur said.

Mr. Dhagah-tuur has lastly requested from the international community to interfere the current problems of Somalia so as to keep the security and reiterated that unfamiliar groups have seized the capital and bases where the Ethiopian troops moved.

The statement of the governor Mr. Dhagah-tuur comes by a time Islamist forces loyal to the United Islamic Courts took over the control most of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Posted by: b real | Jan 15, 2009 4:45:37 PM | 99

a hint of things to come in a USJFCOM press release thursday?

Command prepares Horn of Africa joint task force staff

(SUFFOLK, Va. – Jan. 15, 2009) -- U.S Joint Forces Command and the soon-to-be Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) headquarters element teamed up for the final phase of a mission rehearsal exercise (MRX) to prepare service members for operations in the HOA.

During CJTF-HOA 09-1, the USJFCOM training team from the Joint Warfighting Center (JWFC) simulated potential missions, problem sets and adjusted scenarios to accommodate real-world events the CJTF-HOA may encounter during its deployment.

...

As part of the ongoing training process, the JWFC will send a team forward at some point during the deployment, re-connecting with the joint task force it trained to provide staff assistance, gather key lessons, and identify improved processes to share with warfighters who will assume this mission for future rotations.

“The training is designed to give us the tools of how we work in the area, some cultural awareness and then the rest of our turnover we'll conduct with the folks that have been on the ground over the past year when we get into theater,” said Kurta. “I’m confident that all of that training will allow us to play the role that we have assigned to us whether it's dealing with issues in Somalia or anywhere else in the Horn of Africa.”

Posted by: b real | Jan 15, 2009 11:35:34 PM | 100

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