Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 29, 2009

A Carrier Group To Attack Somalia

The U.S. supported Ethiopian army has finally retreated from Somalia and the Al-Shabab group has taken the city of Baidoa, the seat of the U.S. installed provisional war-lord government.

Meanwhile a lot of military ships are cruising the Somali coast to prevent the Somali coast guard/pirates from taking cargo ships for ransom. Even the Japanese are joining the party.

Economically this does not make any sense. With more of 20,000 ships passing the Gulf of Aden each year, a few captured ships will slightly increase the insurance premium for passing the area. But that hardly justifies to have over 20 expensive navy ships with thousands of sailors protecting it. There were 293 acts of piracy worldwide last year. Only 111 of them took place at the Somali coast. Yes, the area is important for world trade, but others with even more pirate action are too without getting this much attention.

Is this just a show of force by everyone to impress competing nations? Maybe.

The U.S. has so far not taken any real action in the area. But that may well change. The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is on its way to the area and it carries a very unusual number of helicopters.

The new wing configuration has two full squadrons for a total of about 19 aircraft, with their leadership aboard, all under the carrier air wing and strike group commander. These helicopters are heavily armed and will take over missions such as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and supporting SEALs or other special operations troops.

I doubt that a carrier with so many helicopters is the best platform to fight piracy. A few smaller ships with one or two helos each could cover a much bigger area. But a carrier strike group may well be an asset for land attacks on targets in Somalia.

Steve Clemons muses about such an endeavor:

In the period between President Obama's November 2008 victory at the polls and his taking office on January 20, 2009, members of Obama's transition team began talking to military planners about various options that might be available for dealing with Somali pirates.
...
But the source recounted to me that those asking for the development of these option plans seemed more focused on whether a low-cost, low loss-of-American lives action could be quickly taken in a strike against pirates because of the need to demonstrate that Americans could still strike hard and achieve their military and political objectives.

The source worried that in my source's opinion, there was perhaps not enough consideration of what it might be like to potentially open yet a third active military front in that region.

military front."Kill some people to show the world Obama has balls? Sure, but patrolling against pirates is not an "active military front." Special operations on ground targets would constitute one.

So I expect the fighting piracy theme will now be used as a fig leaf to justify attacks on Al-Shabab and other groups that might take power in Somalia against the wishes of Washington DC.

For lack of intelligence such attacks by the U.S. will fail to hit these groups but kill a lot of innocent people. Nothing new here. Just another "crappy little country" again throw against the wall.

Posted by b on January 29, 2009 at 02:10 AM | Permalink

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hmm must be more to the Somalia coast than just that.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/12/20/iran.pirates/

Posted by: outsider | Jan 29, 2009 2:18:59 AM | 1

In December I wrote:

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.

Now someone at the Chatham House comes up with the same idea:

Chatham House's Middleton recommends creating an internationally administered coast guard for Somalia, run by the African Union or the United Nations. "Navies are not designed for dealing with criminals, they are designed for fighting wars," he says. "In the absence of a police force inside Somalia, this might be the most effective way of doing it." Such a project would present tremendous challenges, however, from finding qualified individuals within Somalia to determining when and how to hand over such a body to the Somalian government. Murphy suggests the coast guard could be funded by the shipping industry "under UN mandate as a more honorable cost of doing business than ransom."

Posted by: b | Jan 29, 2009 5:09:59 AM | 2

Hi

When some french soldiers liberated some hostages and tried to get back the ransom (ie attacking the fleeing cars on land), they had severe issue with the number of choppers at hand : the typical "one per frigate" wasn't providing enough. Thus they had to do with not enough, and had to let some of the pirates go (they left with the ransom in separated convoys, and the french intercepted only one of them).

As such, a large number of helos might just be to be able to go after the pirates when the ransom is paid.

Just my 2cents !
++

Posted by: ZedroS | Jan 29, 2009 6:22:32 AM | 3

b as usual, you are on to something - I've noticed there is the same movement afoot regarding Gaza as well. I don’t know what to make of it but I’m offering some random links in hopes that they will add more pieces to the picture. Here are a few sample stories (posted in several posts to appease typepad):

Israeli navy stops Iranian aid ship bound for Gaza

The story changes character considerably:

The U.S. Navy refused to comment, but informed sources said the U.S. last week intercepted an Iranian-owned vessel found to be carrying weapons, including rockets, mortar and artillery shells. It is suspected the ship was attempting to reach the Egyptian Sinai area. If successful, the delivery would have represented a major escalation by providing Hamas with artillery, something the terrorist organization is not thought to possess.

The ship is now docked at an Egyptian port on the Red Sea after being escorted by the U.S. Navy out of the Suez Canal, which leads to the Mediterranean, the defense officials said. Due to complicated maritime laws, the U.S. and Egypt may let the ship sail to the Mediterranean, where either Israeli or Egyptian naval units would need to decide whether to entirely halt the vessel.


Posted by: bea | Jan 29, 2009 6:58:04 AM | 4

@bea - I believe those are two different ships in question.

Posted by: b | Jan 29, 2009 7:03:27 AM | 6

Here is one of the justification stories:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article5581382.ece”> Iran is the Bogeyman

According to the document, the Iranians are attempting to smuggle munitions from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where the arms shipments are loaded onto commercial vessels.

In recent weeks at least two Iranian destroyers have been sent to the Gulf of Aden on the pretext of fighting piracy. The Israelis suspect that the destroyers, which are currently in port in Aseb in Eritrea, may have had some role in the shipments.

In January 2002, Israeli naval commandos stormed the Iranian cargo ship Karine A in the Red Sea. They found 50 tons of arms, long-range rockets and explosives being shipped to Yasser Arafat, then the Palestinian leader. Israeli defence sources believe the same route and methods are being used again.

According to the sources, once in the Red Sea the cargo is taken on one of two routes. The first is to dock in Somalia and Sudan, where professional smugglers carry the cargo overland to Sinai. In Sinai, Bedouin specialists smuggle the shipment into Gaza through the notorious border tunnels.

Despite intensive Israeli bombing, some tunnels remain open. Palestinian sources in Rafah, the Gaza Strip’s southern town, estimate that 100 tunnels are still in action, about 20% of the pre-war total.

A second arms smuggling route into Gaza has also been used by Tehran, according to well briefed sources. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has sent shipments through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean to anchor off the Gaza coast, inside Egyptian territorial waters, where the Israeli navy is barred.

After dark, Iranian frogmen transfer weapons in sealed containers to Palestinian fishing boats. This can prove dangerous as the Israeli navy may open fire without warning, but according to the sources it has worked well in the past.

The intelligence report suggested that Iran plans to ship Fajr rockets with a 50-mile range to Gaza. This would bring Tel Aviv, its international airport and the Dimona nuclear reactor within reach for the first time....


Posted by: bea | Jan 29, 2009 7:07:33 AM | 8

maybe it's a tempest in a teapot but it seemed like an awful lot of naval activity to me... just sayin'...

Posted by: bea | Jan 29, 2009 7:08:32 AM | 9

what we're living through is another scramble for africa, as witness to the international fleets amassing in the gulf of aden will attest. force projection is only the surface of it. there are a multiplicity of intersecting interests here - shipping lanes, energy resources, protection of IUU fishing fleets, access to raw materials, 'breeding' the pretexts necessary to continue perpetuating & waging a 'war on terror', moves on the global chessboard, etc.

the u.s. has been drafting the u.n. resolutions that have permitted these incursions into somali waters, and which i've pointed out have questionable legal basis given the lack of an authentic govt or parliament approval in somalia. so far, the u.s. has failed to extend the authority to expand the incursions onto land.

actually, attempted hijacks have been pretty sparse this month. weather conditions (strong winds) have limited smaller vessel mvmt in the region for most of january. there is also a seasonal pattern to hijacking activity too, in part based on fishing. and then the presence of so many armed warships in the area, some of which have indiscriminately fired on fishermen, has also played a role in curbing some of the hijacking attempts.

there's been a push to use helicopters there. not only to quickly respond to distress calls, but for convoys, recon, force projection, and so on.

the u.s. recently signed an agreement w/ kenya to turn over suspected 'pirates' captured by the u.s. military for detention and, maybe, trials. afaik, the u.s. has not previously been apprehending any suspected pirates, so this would be a sign that they indeed plan to.

whether by sea or land is the open question

Posted by: b real | Jan 29, 2009 11:03:32 AM | 10

this could be related to the pressure for the faux-parliament, relocated to djibouti, to officially select the u.s. choice for somalia's new "unity govt" by friday evening so he can attend the AU summit on saturday. less critical international response if there is at least the semblance of a legit govt in somalia before any land-based intervention commences. or maybe it just helps press forward the pending resolution authorizing such, removing obstructions from the majority of nations in the security council

Posted by: b real | Jan 29, 2009 11:13:16 AM | 11

from the NYTimes:
In 2008, maritime piracy reached its highest level since the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center began tracking piracy incidents in 1992. Global piracy increased 11 percent, with piracy in East Africa up a stunning 200 percent. Of the forty-nine successful hijackings, forty-two occurred off the coast of Somalia, including the capture of an oil supertanker, the Sirius Star. Five hijackings were off the Nigerian coast, though the IMB suggests attacks in that area are underreported. In other areas of the world, including Indonesia, piracy dropped.

The US Navy, like the US Air Force, is currently in survival mode, looking for missions. At a time when the army and Marines are highly stressed the navy is looking for missions to sustain its huge budget.

One of the stated missions of the navy, perhaps the most essential one that they have identified and talk a lot about, is protecting the freedom of the seas -- waterborne commerce. When there are highly publicized cases of piracy on one or more main shipping lanes, and the navy does nothing about it, this supposed main naval mission is called into question. The heart of the navy is its battle carrier groups, so it is natural in order to demonstrate the need for a navy that a carrier group be sent to counter the efforts of pirates in small boats.

Recently a newly created coalition anti-piracy task force has been created, CTF-151, and its function is to thwart pirates in the Gulf of Aden in cooperation with the forces of other nations, the EU and whoever else shows up. There are currently 14 nations and some 20 ships operating in the Gulf of Aden, including a Chinese warship. The primary focus is preventing attacks and halting those in progress before a ship is hijacked.

recent news report: Somali pirates hijacked a German gas tanker and its 13-man crew Thursday in the Gulf of Aden, the third ship captured off the Horn of Africa this month.
The MV Longchamp, registered in the Bahamas, is managed by the German firm Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which said in a statement that seven pirates boarded the tanker early Thursday.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 29, 2009 11:13:43 AM | 12

Great catch. So what has become of the mighty fleet from all around the world that was needed to crush the vicious pirates (starving men in speedboats who rarely hurt their captives)?

The US flotilla is preparing to bomb Somalia proper, while also harrassing Iranian commercial vessels (how is boarding an Iranian vessels on the high seas to see if there is anything we want to confiscate NOT piracy?). The European flotilla is now being offered to patrol the Gaza coast in a desperate attempt to salvage an Israeli victory from the Israeli "victory." The Indian flotilla has been great at blowing up Thai fishing boats, but not so good on the piracy issue. The Chinese flotilla is there mainly to prove that the world has changed and the Chinese navy can go anywhere it wants. The Japanese flotilla is there to keep an eye on the Chinese. The Russian flotilla barely even slowed down while passing through on its World Tour 2009.

All the mighty nations have gathered together to confront this hideous evil and accomplished what, exactly?

Posted by: Bill | Jan 29, 2009 11:15:21 AM | 13

recently pointed out the following

Russia is to set up a military base on Socotra Island but the timing for the establishment of the base has not been identified yet, Russian military officials have said.

look at that map link to understand the location

and the news from japan on the pending operations mentions

It also plans to send a fact-finding mission to Djibouti and other countries near Somalia in early February to explore the possibilities of establishing an operational base somewhere in the region, they said.

Djibouti, which borders northwestern Somalia, is seen as a candidate country to host a base for the aircraft. The ministry`s fact-finding mission may also visit Yemen and Oman to look for a supply base for MSDF vessels, the sources said.

and here was a recent article on German navy in operations off Somalia

Under the banner of the fight against piracy, international disputes are beginning over commercial routes and sea lanes that can result in violent military conflicts.

Already in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the "war on terror" has been used to justify imperialist politics. The German government is now fashioning a close link between the fight against "terrorism" and its anti-piracy operation.

Posted by: b real | Jan 29, 2009 11:29:19 AM | 14

@Bill - how is boarding an Iranian vessels on the high seas to see if there is anything we want to confiscate NOT piracy?

Officially the U.S. ship asked and the captain of the Iranian ship agreed to "voluntary search". I don't know where the guns pointed during the negotiations.

Posted by: b | Jan 29, 2009 11:43:36 AM | 15

b real, you've been doing a lot of good research on africa, thanks. It has been interesting reading.

Bill@13-With NASCAR running into financial troubles, maybe, just maybe, we could get all these various navies to paint sponsor colors on 'um and race 'um around some kinda course to see whose navy is the fastest...Google Earth could cover the event. Good fun, and distracting as hell so the folks at home, I mean sitting in the shelter, have something to occupy their time (as opposed to riots), now that they're all out of work.

Posted by: David | Jan 29, 2009 11:47:07 AM | 16

article at lloyd's list wednesday states that

As of February 1, the existing Maritime Security Patrol Area — introduced by coalition navies last year as a safe passage corridor — will be replaced by two separate five-mile wide eastbound and westbound, separated by a two-mile buffer.

The shake-up comes on account of the increase in number and repositioning of warships in the region, and is also designed to reduce risks of collisions.

here's a good pdf high resolution map from UNOSAT of Reported Incidents of Somali Pirate Attacks and Hijackings in the Gulf of Aden for 2008. the sidebar shows that there were only 4 reported successful hijackings in all of december. add the 3 for january, and that's a very low ratio in comparison w/ the traffic.

one cannot help but recall the timing of u.s. military intervention in somalia in the early 1990's under the pretext of humanitarian work after the worst of the famine had subsided. would they really be so stupid to use 'piracy' as a pretext this time?

Posted by: b real | Jan 29, 2009 12:03:34 PM | 17

Somehow I cannot imagine Abdi al Mussa (a somali pirate) being played by a contemporary Johnny Deep in Pirates of the Indian Ocean in 300 years from now.

Or maybe not in Bollywood?

This looks like getting chess pieces in place for an Indian/Pakistan war.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jan 29, 2009 12:07:36 PM | 18

@ CP - Looks like dick waving to me.

:P [sorry]

Posted by: beq | Jan 29, 2009 12:49:36 PM | 19

two news items on building up AMISOM forces

Algeria pledges 1,700 troops for Somali AU mission

APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) Algeria has pledged to send 1,700 troops to Somalia under the African Union Mission In Somalia (AMISOM).

The announcement of this new pledge by Algeria was made by African Union Commission chairperson, Jean Ping who addressed the opening of the AU executive council meeting on Thursday here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ping did not however indicate when the Algerian troops’ deployment in Somalia will be effected.

The Algerian troops will join the 3, 600 troops from Burundi and Uganda, deployed there since 2007 to support the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia in stabilizing the country, which remains without a central government for the past 18 years.

Ping said that such kind of new pledges will help the commission to fulfil its mission in Somalia.

Algeria also pledged to give technical support to AMISOM.

Earlier, Burundi and Uganda who already have troops in Somalia also pledged to send additional one battalion (850 troops) each.

Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria also pledged since 2007 to send troops to Somalia.

However, they are still unable to send their troops due to financial and other constraints.

not so sure that ghana's new president mills has actually pledged anything other than to consider the request


Nigerian set to deploy troops to Somalia, says senior military officer

APA - Lagos (Nigeria) The out-going Commander of the Nigeria Armoured Corps Centre and School in Bauchi in northern Nigeria, Major-General Sale Maina, disclosed here Wednesday that the Nigerian government has concluded arrangements to deploy troops to Somalia as part of a United Nations mission to restore peace in that war-torn country.

Speaking during the handing over ceremony of the Corps to the newly appointed Commander, Major-General Sunday Idoko on Wednesday in Bauchi, about 420km from Abuja, Maina said that a battalion of the Nigeria Army had been picked to take part in the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, adding that the soldiers would soon leave for Somalia.

whether these forces actually ever materialize in somalia is another thing

and there's also the east african standby brigade, but that is not expected to be ready for operations until sometime in 2010

Posted by: b real | Jan 29, 2009 1:21:33 PM | 20

hmm, i became a little suspicious when i read bea's #5 links..the stars and stripes?? what kind of msm report is this w/the lead 'Media outlets are reporting'? so i google the story to find out the 'news' source after first checking the web where of course via israelnationalnews and such bonafide rightwing mouth pieces as captainsjournalblog..and 'foreign policy. com is now channeling debka files?

its politics! the election!

Israel's foreign minister Tzipi Livni flew to Brussels Wednesday, Jan. 21, to discuss adding the European Union to the understanding she signed with the US last Friday for ending the flow of smuggled Iranian weapons to Gaza. Washington and Jerusalem hope to bring European governments aboard this understanding, capitalizing on the momentum generated by Israel's unilateral ceasefire and the support shown by six European leaders when they visited Egypt's Sharm el Sheik and Jerusalem Sunday Jan. 18.

Egypt and Israel are negotiating Cairo's end of the operation for stifling the influx of smuggled arms to Gaza. Livni is after undertakings by as many European governments as possible to allow their anti-piracy patrols with the CTF 151 to double for missions to intercept Iranian arms smuggling vessels. Our sources in Brussels report that she cannot count on getting all them all to join because some EU members willing to combat piracy may hold back from attack Iranian shipping.

of course we have to announce to the world we are stopping iranian ships and blathering unconfirmed accusations all over the globe.

here is our ever so reliable propaganda mouthpiece timesonline ratcheting up the fear..

AN American naval taskforce in the Gulf of Aden has been ordered to hunt for suspicious Iranian arms ships heading for the Red Sea as Tehran seeks to re-equip Hamas, its Islamist ally in Gaza.

According to US diplomatic sources, Combined Task Force 151, which is countering pirates in the Gulf of Aden, has been instructed to track Iranian arms shipments.

With a general election due on February 10, conservative Israeli politicians have been scathing at the government’s failure to eliminate the threat from Hamas, the militant faction that seized control of Gaza in June 2007 and remains a proxy for Iran.

A document circulated to ministers by Israeli military intelligence last week suggested that despite the bombardment, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is well advanced with a huge programme of arms resupply for Gaza.

According to the document, the Iranians are attempting to smuggle munitions from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where the arms shipments are loaded onto commercial vessels.

In recent weeks at least two Iranian destroyers have been sent to the Gulf of Aden on the pretext of fighting piracy. The Israelis suspect that the destroyers, which are currently in port in Aseb in Eritrea, may have had some role in the shipments.

the attack on gaza was the pretext for the witch hunt on iran, and the whole world is taking orders from israel!

so far ONE 'regular' US msm report which tells a somewhat different story.

Officials said the search was conducted as part of the Navy's normal maritime security role in regional waters that stretch from the Arabian Sea to the Mediterranean.

The incident came to light amid media reports that the U.S. Navy has been ordered to intercept suspected Iranian shipments to rearm Hamas following Israel's 22-day Gaza offensive against the Palestinian militant group.

The officials declined to say what kind of weapons were found or how many. They also would not be specific about where or when the incident occurred.

and who is responsible for all these 'media reports'? this is just very very very weird. the whole thing is weird. re arm? they killed like 10 israelis? plllease.


Posted by: annie | Jan 29, 2009 3:18:42 PM | 21

and half of them were 'friendly fire'. this is so bogus. maybe japan and all the others are showing up just to be witness in case anyone feels like starting a new world war.

Posted by: annie | Jan 29, 2009 3:23:17 PM | 22

who's the official maritime police for the red sea? maybe that is what this is about.

Posted by: annie | Jan 29, 2009 3:27:45 PM | 23

Sweden to deploy three vessels against piracy off Somalia coast

STOCKHOLM, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Sweden's government decided Thursday to send naval vessels to join European Union's anti-piracy mission off Somali.

The Swedish contribution to the EU's mission, code-named Operation Atalanta, would consist of two corvettes, one support ship and a security force, the government said in a statement.

Sweden's participation in the mission is intended to begin in the first half of 2009 and last for a maximum of four months.

Posted by: b real | Jan 29, 2009 6:12:30 PM | 24

some excerpts from thursday's blogger roundtable w/ rear admiral terry mcknight, commander of task force 151

...the goal of all of us out here is free commerce. And no matter what our navies do, we have to make sure that we have free commerce throughout the open seas and throughout the world

on the problem w/ distinguishing who might be a pirate

Q: And they use small skiffs to sail in that many -- miles out into the ocean?

ADM. MCKNIGHT: Unbelievable, yes. We see them out here all the time. And they're not only the pirate craft, but they're fishermen. I mean, these things are not much bigger than, I would say, you know, seven, eight nine, at the most 11 meters, you know. So they're out here.

And the one problem that we found out is, the first corridor that we set up put us right through a lot of the Yemeni fishing zones, so starting on the 1st of February, we're going to bring it down a little bit to get it out of the zone, so hope we can -- you know, deconfliction between the pirates and the fishermen.

more like between pirate hunters and the fishermen, a number of which have been killed and wounded so far this year

a question from david axe

we've been hearing that the CTF-151 is going to have more aggressive rules of engagement than -- well, than CTF-150 did. Can you talk about that some?

ADM. MCKNIGHT: Right now we're looking at the -- what we call a phase two operation -- (audio break) -- after the pirates and take them, you know, basically like a -- round them up like a police force would, and basically take them to a country. And it was announced on the 16th of January that Kenya has agreed to take the pirates if we capture them. Now the lawyers are at work for the particulars, and as soon as we (can?) get those mechanisms in place, then we will shift our operation to go -- to possibly go after some of the pirates and take them to Kenya. And they will be of course prosecuted in the Kenyan courts.

on the perceived mandate and the limited activity

Can you tell me your mission objective? I mean, Somalia is such a complex place. We all know Somalia -- or piracy can only be solved on land. What is it that 151 is -- what is our objective with 151? Is it simply to allow the free flow of commerce, I mean, very generically, a sea mission? Can you kind of summarize this, as far as a mission statement, where we know we can point to something and say that's tangible success, this is working?

ADM. MCKNIGHT: Well, first of all, I mean, like I said earlier, you know, there's the -- (audio break) -- of our navies to make sure we have free flow of commerce -- (audio break). For that, I mean, that -- we have to be out here to secure that. To deter -- and the other thing is to basically deter piracy. I have had several conversations with people -- (audio break) -- working in the maritime community and also about this, that they know -- (audio break) -- know that we're out here. They know that we're out here and that means we're going to deter piracy. Since December 1st we have seen very little pirate activity out here. And the European Union's been out here. We've been out here. So I would say, if I had to -- (audio break) -- it's to deter piracy and allow the free flow of commerce throughout the Gulf of Aden region.

Q: So there's nothing as far as Somalia itself is concerned. This is just specific to guarding -- essentially guarding the access to the seas.

ADM. MCKNIGHT: That's correct. I have nothing -- (audio break) -- go after, you know, land targets or anything like that. That's, you know, a lot -- I mean, people would say -- and you're right that to solve it, you've got to fix it in Somalia. But -- (audio break) -- you know, it's a failed state. People are -- there's actually mention of, you know, at least let them establish, you know, a coast guard- type -- you know, that they could just patrol their own coast. But -- (audio break) -- is basically -- (audio break) -- runs right now vice a(n) organized government.

later on

Like I said, since the first -- (audio break) -- there has not been a successful pirated event. There's been several attempts, but there -- so we've gone almost two months without a successful ship being pirated. So whether that's the weather or our forces out here, it's -- we would have to wait and see. But I think we've had an effect, because, like I said -- like, I've talked to people in the intelligence -- (audio break) -- that the pirates know we're out here, so they're going to try their best to avoid us.

...

And let me just clarify one thing here. I don't think we'll ever stop pirates. We will do our best to bring the numbers down. When you think of the number of ships that pass through here a year, between 23(,000) and 25,000 vessels -- and the chances of getting pirated here are pretty slim. But we think that we've had a pretty good success rate in the last couple months.

Posted by: b real | Jan 29, 2009 6:50:55 PM | 25

curiouser and curiouser... can someone do a little digging on CTF 151? what in the heck is that?

Posted by: bea | Jan 29, 2009 10:24:45 PM | 26

bea - CTF-151 is a new multi-nation task force dedicated to fighting 'pirates', 'herding' ship traffic thru the gulf of aden, and coordinating the int'l activities there. it's spun off of CTF-150, whose mandate is restricted to arms trade & illicit drug shipments. the story is that not all of the int'l navies in 150 were authorized by the govts to partake in counter-piracy ops, so the split allows them to continue fulfilling their mandates while 151 focuses in on this so-called 'scourge'.

need to find out more info about this "phase two" operation. i assume that is a reference to the traditional phases of military campaigns:

0. shaping
1. deter/engage
2. seize the initiative
3. decisive operations / dominate
4. transition

PHASE II–SEIZE INITIATIVE

The primary focus of ‘Phase II’ operations is to deny the enemy its objective. This is done by executing offensive operations at the earliest possible time, with the aim of delaying, impeding, or halting the enemy’s aggression, and otherwise creating the conditions for the exploitation, pursuit, and ultimate destruction of enemy forces. During this phase, joint forces strive to gain access to infrastructure and to stabilize all lines of communication.

Posted by: b real | Jan 29, 2009 11:24:27 PM | 27

caught this in ecoterra int'l's jan 25th update

Major oil companies who declared force majeure on their Somali assets in the 1990s are reviving their claims to blocks in the unrecognized but relatively peaceful Republic of Somaliland. Industry sources told African Energy that oil companies operating in the territory had received letters from major oil firms including BP (which took over former Somalia player Amoco) and Conoco Phillips warning them to stop work. This represents a dramatic shift in policy by the majors, whose lawyers had previously told them to ignore any companies or government officials working in Somaliland, and may reflect expectations of a change of US policy in the Horn of Africa under President Barack Obama.

Posted by: b real | Jan 30, 2009 12:09:57 AM | 28

this is from the jan 26th update

Members of the U.S. 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are participating in counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, a spokesman for Marine Corps headquarters said, as Trista Talton reports in the Marine Corps Times. Amphibious transport dock San Antonio, the flagship for Combined Task Force 151, is carrying a reinforced Marine platoon, said 2nd Lt. Josh Diddams. Officials will not say how many Marines are on the ship, which left Camp Lejeune, N.C., in late August with the Norfolk, Va.-based Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group. A typical Marine infantry platoon consists of about 40 troops. Task Force 151 is a multinational force recently organized to conduct land and air attacks on pirate bases along Somalia´s coast. The task force is operating in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea. Sailors and Marines on the San Antonio spent weeks preparing the ship for its role as the command ship and afloat forward staging base for the task force, according to a Navy report. Marines on the ship include those with 3rd platoon, Golf Infantry Company, a military police detachment and intelligence personnel, according to the report. The MEU, which recently left Kuwait after two weeks of training at Camp Buehring, did not respond to questions about the anti-piracy mission.

a running archive of ecoterra international's reposted press release updates is available here under various headlines. it is a good resource, esp wrt following the mv faina

Posted by: b real | Jan 30, 2009 12:51:45 AM | 29

as expected, sheikh sharif sheikh ahmed was the winner in the presidential contest held in djibouti today. he will appear at the AU summit tomorrow as the president of somalia's new "unity govt". i reckon that the u.s./a.u./u.n. will be using this manufactured "good news" to press for int'l authorization for increased peacekeeping operations in somalia and the okay for land-based missions led by CT-151

Posted by: b real | Jan 30, 2009 5:03:14 PM | 30

here's garowe online, a news source in puntland, capturing the excitement in somalia over the election of sheikh sharif as the president of the new (cough!) 'unity govt'

Islamist politician elected president of 'unity government'

DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti Jan 30 (Garowe Online) - A moderate Islamist largely supported by Western governments was elected Friday as the president of a 'unity government' in Somalia, Radio Garowe reports.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed won in the third round of a presidential election, defeating his closest challenger, Maslah Mohamed Siad Barre, with 293 votes to 126.

[in the second round sharif beat siad barre's son like 200+ to 69 or something, so i have no idea why they pushed a third round other than to allow more parliament members to vote as they kept swearing new ones in. what a circus.]

...

As president, Sheikh Sharif inherits a country that is teetering on collapse and faces strong opposition from different corners of Somalia.

In Somalia's northwest, the separatist republic of Somaliland has rejected the peace process altogether and maintains its political stance as an independent country, although the region remains unrecognized internationally.

Neighboring Puntland, which is part of Somalia but demands regional autonomy, new President Abdirahman Farole has refused to recognize the Djibouti process, complaining that Puntland was excluded from the negotiations.

Al Shabaab, an Islamist faction that broke off from the Islamic Courts and now controls five regions in southern Somalia, has rejected the Djibouti talks and continues attacks on African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu.

It is not clear what a 'unity government' can do for Somalia, especially with so much domestic opposition and a worsening humanitarian crisis.

However, this marks the first time the West has openly campaigned for an Islamist politician to become the president of a Muslim country.

this was completely expected in somalia, as i've pointed out in another thread. i don't expect the response to be too favorable overall, as the tone of the above article gets across. even amongst the hawiye. sheikh sharif lost alot of cred when he signed on w/ the ethiopians & u.s.-americans

Posted by: b real | Jan 31, 2009 1:37:04 AM | 31

Posted by: b real | Feb 1, 2009 11:46:20 PM | 32

Posted by: b real | Feb 2, 2009 1:20:15 AM | 33

US supports the new Somali president

Addressing the swearing in ceremony of the new Somali president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad, which took place in Djibouti the US special envoy to Somalia, John Yates, said he welcomed the outcome of the Djibouti election.

He added that his country supported the outcome of the Djibouti talks and was pleased with the election results, especially the victory of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad.

"My country is ready to support the new administration, which was formed in Djibouti and we are ready to provide political and financial assistance", said Yates.

Yates was among officials who attended the presidential election which was held last night in Djibouti and he was the first official to congratulate the new president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad.

"Our previous assistance to Somalia, which was mainly humanitarian [!!!], will now be replaced by other kinds of support in which we will stand next to the Somali government", said John Yates, adding that the new government will bring a lot of changes to the current political situation in Somalia.


sheikh sharif is now is addis ababa, enemy territory, while, surprise surprise, ethiopian forces are back inside somalia

Ethiopian troops occupy strategic crossroad in central Somalia

BELETWEIN, Somalia Feb 1 (Garowe Online) - Ethiopian troops have reentered parts of Hiran region, in central Somalia, weeks [only days] after completely withdrawing from Mogadishu and other parts of the country, Radio Garowe reports.

The Ethiopian army contingent backed by armored trucks took control of Kala-Beyr crossroads, gaining a foothold in a strategic road that links north Somalia, south Somalia and the Somali-inhabited Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia.

Witnesses said travelers and vehicles passing through the crossroads are being stopped and searched by Ethiopian soldiers, although no major problems were reported other than delays.

Unconfirmed reports said ex-Somali government officials and a small number of Somali soldiers are working with the Ethiopian force.

The Ethiopian government maintains a major army base at Fer Fer, across the border from Kala-Beyr crossroads.


UN chief urges new Somali President to prioritize national reconciliation

1 February 2009 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged newly elected President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia to reach out to all people and parties in the strife-ridden country.

...

“The United Nations has supported this process and stands ready to help the new Government in its efforts towards national reconciliation and the establishment of effective security,” Mr. Ban said in a statement attributable to his spokesperson.

For its part, he stressed that the UN will provide logistical support to the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM and help strengthen Somalia's own security forces.

...

“The Security Council will decide in the months ahead, the appropriateness of a UN peacekeeping operation to support the Somali political, economic, and social development,” Mr. Ban said.

Posted by: b real | Feb 2, 2009 2:02:17 AM | 34

B real, thanx for all your research and links, priceless.

Re annie's question on who's the official maritime police for the red sea? If in doubt, its fair to assume the US's got plans:

The preceding accounts establish that, just as with Washington's stationing of third position, potential first strike, interceptor missile sites in Eastern Europe, North Korea and Iran are pretext rather than cause.

And the underlying, unremitting, ruthless strategy is for expanding and maintaining global military deployments for both blackmail and attacks.

If the US's Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan aims at insuring among other tasks US and allied naval control of the Indian Ocean; if Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines brings Western naval power into Southeast Asia; if Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa solidifies control of the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, with recent assistance from NATO and the EU in Operation Atalanta; if NATO's Operation Active Endeavor controls all navigation into and throughout the Mediterranean, complemented by the German and other NATO nations' naval blockade of Lebanon, soon to be replicated with Gaza; if all these operations secure domination of critical parts of the world's oceans and seas, the Proliferation Security Initiative is increasingly the overarching structure that integrates them all.

And lying behind and underpinning the PSI is what the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US armed forces Michael Mullen, while developing this strategy as Chief of Naval Operations, called the Thousand-Ship Navy in an October 29, 2006 column in the Honolulu Advertiser.

The 1,000-Ship Navy, Mullen said, “[Is] a global maritime partnership that unites maritime forces, port operators, commercial shippers, and international, governmental and nongovernmental agencies to address mutual concerns."

The following year the US Navy publication Navy Newsstand summarized the matter:

"Vice Adm. John G. Morgan, Jr., deputy chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy and Rear Adm. Michael C. Bachman, commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, explained that the 1,000-ship Navy is a network of international partner navies who will work together to create a force capable of standing watch over all the seas. "Vice Adm. John G. Morgan, Jr., deputy chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy and Rear Adm. Michael C. Bachman, commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, explained that the 1,000-ship Navy is a network of international partner navies who will work together to create a force capable of standing watch over all the seas. "'A new naval era is coming and we’re doing exciting things in preparation for it,' Morgan said. 'The Navy is being challenged.. ..The Navy’s traveling around and getting the idea of a 1,000-ship Navy to patrol the seas, out to the world.” “'This 1,000-ship Navy idea is all about a global maritime network, a huge network of sharing,' said Morgan. 'That’s the biggest challenge we’re facing: a network of many integrated countries’ navies with one goal in mind of patrolling the world’s seas.'"


Posted by: Juan Moment | Feb 2, 2009 9:16:03 AM | 35

Posted by: b real | Feb 2, 2009 11:30:53 AM | 36

Xinhua also reports the 30+ dead.

Hospital sources say nearly 14 civilians were admitted to the main Media hospital while nine dead were brought to the hospital morgue for identification.

"In our hospital we have so far received nearly 14 wounded civilians with gunshot wounds and nine bodies that was not identified at the scene of the incident," Dahir Mohamoud Mohamed, deputy director of Medina hospital told Xinhua.

Other medical centers around Mogadishu report receiving similar number of civilian casualties from the attack which occurred in the south of the restive city around a base of the African union forces.

Ba-Hoku Barigye, spokesman for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), denied his forces were responsible for the killing of civilians, saying that after the roadside bomb attack, the forces came under intense fire to which they responded.
...
The AMISOM forces which currently number nearly 34,00, from Uganda and Burundi, have previously come under criticism from local clan elders for indiscriminate firing of weapons after insurgent attacks on their forces.

Posted by: b | Feb 3, 2009 5:37:18 AM | 37

Islamists urge holy war on AU troops

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network) — The Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab Tuesday urged its fighters and Somalis to intensify a holy war against African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Mogadishu.

Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansoor, the spokesman of al-Shabaab, held a press conference in Baidoa, the ex-seat of parliament a day after AMISOM troops were accused of killing about 40 civilians in Mogadishu.

"I call on the Somali people and the insurgents to attack the African Union troops, who massacred our people,” said Abu Mansoor.

"You are not peacekeepers, you are peace destroyers and you came to our country to massacre our innocent civilians as you did yesterday. I call to the African Union troops to pull out our country immediately or they will face strong resistance,” he added.

Abdirahin Isse Adow, the spokesman of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) said they would not tolerate “any more brutal actions” against the civilians.

an AFP article also quotes robow as saying "We are telling them that we don't need their help if they are going to be massacring our people and I urge all holy fighters in the country to step up their struggle against them"


Al Shabaab declare war on Somalia's new president

KISMAYO, Somalia Feb 2 (Garowe Online) - Islamist militants who spearheaded a bloody insurgency in Somalia have declared war on the Horn of Africa country's new president, even as a global council of Islamic scholars issued a document supporting him, Radio Garowe reports.

Sheikh Hassan Yakub, spokesman for the Al Shabaab rulers in the port of Kismayo, 500km south of the capital Mogadishu, said the war will continue until Islamic law is restored across Somalia.

"Sheikh Sharif declared jihad in 2006 and now he chose America over Islam," Sheikh Yakub said.

...

Sheikh Yakub said foreign governments are interfering in Somalia's political affairs, while suggesting that Sheikh Sharif's election victory was "organized by the enemies of Islam."

...

A global council of Islamic scholars, chaired by Sheikh Yusuf Al Qardawi, has called on Al Shabaab and the Eritrea-based Islamist hardliners led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys to support President Sheikh Sharif's new government.

"The Islamist groups are expected to work with Sheikh Sharif and to help restore security in Somalia," read a document issued by the Islamic clerics.

Sheikh Al Qardawi said the Islamic group is ready to dispatch scholars to Somalia in an effort aimed at mediating among Islamist factions, adding that the mediation process can take place anytime or anywhere.

Mediation efforts undertaken by Somali Muslim scholars have largely failed, further deepening the divide among ICU factions.

Posted by: b real | Feb 3, 2009 10:24:31 AM | 38

the wire services are picking up on this story now [stripped out link to get past typepad filter]

Ethiopian troops crossing back into Somalia

MOGADISHU (AFP) — Ethiopian troops have crossed the border back into central Somalia, only days after Addis Ababa completed a military pullout from its neighbour, witnesses and officials said Tuesday.

An official for the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), the movement of newly-elected Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, said some Ethiopian troops had crossed from the border town of Ferfer to the village of Kalaber.

"The Ethiopian forces are violating the basic integrity of Somalia again and they entered the Hiran region only days after their government announced its complete withdrawal from the country," Ahmed Osman Abdalla, ICU commander in the nearby western town of Beledweyn, told AFP by phone.

"If they do not pull out of our country, we will fight them to death," he added.

Local residents said that Ethiopian forces had set up a checkpoint in Ferfer and were checking trucks and other vehicles crossing the border.

"They stopped a bus I was on in Ferfer and I could see they were checking all vehicles passing in the area," Osman Adan said.

Local elders in Beledweyn also expressed concerns over the return of Ethiopian forces in the region.

"The move shows that Ethiopia is still creating insecurity in Somalia because they sent their troops back to Somalia and they are now only 25 kilometres (16 miles) from our town," Beledweyn elder Haji Adan Mohamed said.

Posted by: b real | Feb 3, 2009 10:29:41 AM | 39

from a bloomberg story on the AMISOM massacre

Ibraahim Mohamed Hussein Jeekey, director of Universal TV, a London-based satellite-television broadcaster, confirmed one of his cameramen, Niganiyd Nyjtar Abdulle, had his equipment taken by Ugandan soldiers while filming yesterday.

A camera was confiscated while Abdulle “was recording an event where dozens of civilian were massacred,” Jeekey said in an interview. “They told us that they will give the camera back tomorrow and will erase the recordings.”

hiiran online: Somali Fishermen Accuse AMISOM Troops of Harassment, Intimidation and Violence

Fishermen who fish on the Shore of the Indian Ocean near Mogadishu are complaining that UNISOM troops guarding Adam Ade International Airport and the city’s port often fire on them.

Abdirisaaq Mohamed Jama who is one of the fishermen in the area said that AMISOM troops fire on them when they approach Mogadishu waters and that there are people who died as a result of fire from AMISOM troops.

“In the beginning they used to warn us not approach Mogadishu waters but nowadays they fire on us using heavy weapons, including B10 guns” said Abdirisaaq Mohamed Jama .

Mr. Adirisaq said that they fish in the areas between Jazira and Dhanane and that they travel on deep see waters to catch fish. “In the past it took us an hour and half but nowadays it takes us 4 hours to make the trip (as a result of traveling further away from the shore to avoid UNISOM troops) said Mr. Abdirisaaq.

AMISOM troops in Mogadishu regularly patrol the sea between the port and the airport to ensure that they are not attacked from the sea.

Posted by: b real | Feb 3, 2009 3:10:28 PM | 40

from a garowe online editorial on sheikh sharif's new job

A cautious welcome and a word of caution for Sheikh Sharif

Outside Mogadishu, only the regions of Middle Shabelle and Hiran have expressed outward support for President Sheikh Sharif. In clan terms, all the above-mentioned regions are predominately home to Sheikh Sharif's Hawiye clansmen. The Isaaq-dominated separatist government of Somaliland does not recognize the new president. In Puntland, predominately home to the northern Darod clans, new regional President Dr. Abdirahman Mohamed "Farole" has refused to recognize the Djibouti peace process altogether – which led to Sheikh Sharif's election – claiming that Puntland was excluded and that the process violated Somali federalism. In the south, protestors in the town of Baidoa – home to Rahaweyn clans – expressed their opposition to Sheikh Sharif, although reports say the protest was organized by Al Shabaab guerrillas. In the Jubba regions, home to the southern Darod clans, Al Shabaab leaders in the port of Kismayo have declared war on Sheikh Sharif and his new government, labeling it another puppet of the West.

The dangerous clan dimension cannot be ignored in Somali politics. The Djibouti process that ushered in Sheikh Sharif's presidency is widely seen as a Hawiye clan affair, since no powerful political players from any other major clan participated. Secondly, the Djibouti process is seen as an instrument hurriedly used by foreign powers with narrow agendas in Somalia, a fact Islamist hardliners like Al Shabaab will likely exploit to recruit fresh fighters. President Sheikh Sharif's success will largely depend on whether or not he distances himself from the foreign agenda – foreign troops to be more precise. If the new president says Somalia does not need foreign peacekeepers, and calls for international support in re-establishing a national security force, he will gain the support of many Somalis who are wary of imperialism and genuinely concerned about the future of the Somali nation-state.

his international backers will continue to push for more international forces. i doubt that sharif will have much say in the matter. as you can see, he has remained silent on the AMISOM situation.

here's what sheikh dahir aweys had to say re his former partner's promotion in an interview w/ the london-based paper al-hayah

"In my opinion, the election of Shaykh Sharif is a loss. Neither he, nor we gain any benefit from his election, because his goal is to confront the Islamic resistance and cause a clash within the same nation."

Aweys, who admits that some of his forces are in the capital, Mogadishu, said Ethiopia and America`s goal is to "make the Islamists clash with each other, so that they may shake each other, exactly as the Somali saying goes `An elephant`s bones break each other.`"

He pointed out that his disagreement with Ahmad is not caused by a personal grudge against him. Rather, he added, it is a disagreement based on principles because the policy of the Coalition for the Re-liberation of Somalia "rejects dialogue with a government of criminals and those who reconcile with it."

"it is a disagreement based on principles"

here is what sheik sharif told the saudi gazette (in that interview linked in #32 above) about the disagreement w/ the asmara faction of the ARS

Q: What about the differences between the two wings of the coalition?

A: We didn’t differ over principles. The dispute and difference was over the attitude and behavior. We are in the process of achieving a breakthrough. So we hope from our brothers in Asmara Wing to overweigh the country’s and people’s interest.

still a big gap there, i'd say

Posted by: b real | Feb 4, 2009 1:20:36 AM | 41

desperation...

voa: UN Envoy Suggests Disinformation in Somalia Massacre Story

The highest-ranking U.N. official for Somalia has angrily denounced reports of a civilian massacre by African Union peacekeeping troops in Mogadishu, saying the story is designed to distract attention from positive developments in the country. U.N. Special Representative Ahmedou Ould Abdallh is calling for a moratorium on reports written outside Somalia based on information supplied by local Somali journalists.

U.N. Special Representative Ahmedou Ould Abdallh says he does not know the exact details of Monday's incident in Mogadishu. He is in Addis Ababa U.N. Special Representative Ahmedou Ould Abdallh says he does not know the exact details of Monday's incident in Mogadishu. He is in Addis Ababa, where he is accompanying Somalia's new president Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed on his triumphal debut at the African Union summit.

But in a VOA interview, he suggested the report of a massacre by AU peacekeepers was contrived. He called it part of a media war to discredit peace efforts in Somalia, and compared it to the radio station Mille Collines, which incited the Rwandan genocide a generation ago.

"What happened is to divert attention from what is going on here, and as usual to use the media to repeat Radio Mille Colline, to repeat the genocide in Rwanda," said Abdallh. "We had a good election. The president had a good welcome. He is trying to work closely with the region."

AU officials in Addis Ababa declined to comment on news reports that AU AMISOM peacekeepers had fired on civilians in Mogadishu, killing many. They asked for more time to investigate.

...

U.N. envoy Ould Abdallah noted that few international news agencies actually have reporters in Somalia, but base their stories on information supplied by Somali journalists there. He charged most of the journalists have been compromised through threats and intimidation, and called for a moratorium on second-hand reporting about events in Somalia.

"There is a need to have a truce, one month truce in reporting on Somalia," he said. "There is a need to double check the sources with your correspondent. Because they live under tremendous pressure. I am sure they are professionals. They would like to help their country. But the time has come for one month truce on reporting till there is double, triple checking, because Somalia is exceptional. We have to have exceptional checking of the news."

crazy, man, crazy

i haven't found any pix from the scene yet like i did for the jan 24th shootings. only some ambiguous shots in the somali mirror from a hospital. and nothing further on the reported film footage mentioned in the bloomberg article

Posted by: b real | Feb 4, 2009 12:57:48 PM | 42

Sharif Ahmed meets with Meles

The newly elected Somali President Shariif Ahmed met with Ethiopian Prime Minister. Meles Zenawi on Tuesday.

It is the first such meeting between Shariif Axmed and Ethiopian leader.

Seyuum Mesfin Ethiopia’s foreign minister who was also present at the meeting told the media that the talks were fruitful.

...

Sharif Ahmed told the press that the Ethiopian leadership were ready to support the reconciliation and stabilization of the war ravaged country of Somalia.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed who used to be the leader of Somali Islamic Courts union was asked if he will implement the Islamic sharia law in Somalia, he said their was no need to change the current constitution.

not a good move. somalis are starting to wonder when (or if) sheikh sharif will set foot in mogadishu or jowhar. making deals w/ meles, let alone just meeting w/ him, is not sitting well w/ many. and then to prefer the foreign-imposed constitution as is - well, he's put himself into an increasingly difficult position

at least he (sorta) spoke out against the AMISOM massacre

Somali President describes Amisom response to attack as disproportionate

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed today described the response of AU peacekeepers to an attack that led to the deaths of 39 civilians in Mogadishu as “disproportionate’’.

The fighting came after a convoy of Ugandan AU peacekeepers was ambushed.

Addressing a press conference in Addis Ababa today on the sidelines of the AU summit, Mr Sharif said: “I understand the challenging situation for the peace-keepers on the ground" but, "any action taken by AMISOM should be proportionate."

two relevant political cartoons from amin amir - 1, 2

Posted by: b real | Feb 4, 2009 11:37:37 PM | 43

Islamist groups merge to fight Sheikh Sharif

MOGADISHU, Somalia Feb 4 (Garowe Online) - Opposition to Somalia's newest leader, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, gained disturbing momentum Wednesday after four factions announced plans to merge and declare war on the new government.

Sheikh Hassan Mahdi, a senior member of ARS-Eritrea faction, told reporters that all the groups merged to fight new President Sheikh Sharif and the anticipated 'unity government.'

He said the new group's name is Hisbi Islam ("Islamic Party") and described the four group as: Islamic Courts–Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys faction; Jabhatul Islamiya ("Islamic Front"); Mu’askar Ras Kamboni; and Anole.

"The decision to form a united front came after many meetings among these groups, and we united to continue the jihad and to rule the country [Somalia] under Islamic law," Sheikh Mahdi said.

He strongly criticized Sheikh Sharif for adopting a secular constitution and "turning away from Islam," while describing the new government as "the same as [ex-President] Abdullahi Yusuf's government."

According to Sheikh Mahdi, the Al Shabaab faction is not a member of the newly-formed Islamic Party, but noted that the two sides have taken "identical positions" and suggested plans to begin merger talks soon.

Posted by: b real | Feb 5, 2009 10:49:31 AM | 44

from garowe online

One of the most notorious pirates in Somalia was killed Monday in Garowe, the capital of Puntland, a self-governing region in northeastern Somalia.

Bi'ir Abdi, described as a pirate master, was killed alongside a fellow pirate named Khame Mohamud Arale after two gunmen opened fire on their vehicle, officials said.

Garowe police commander Ahmed Dheere told Radio Garowe that the suspected killers were apprehended moments after the fatal shooting.

Abdulkadir Osman "Food-Adde," Garowe's city mayor, congratulated the local police force for capturing the killers, who are being kept under police protection to prevent possible retaliation.

Some reports said the group of pirates disagreed over financial shares, forcing one group to prepare a sneak attack on the other.

Pirate gangs have turned against each other several times in recent months, but this marks the first time a well-known pirate was killed.

Inside sources said the late Bi'ir was involved in numerous ship hijackings ever since pirate attacks surged in 2007.

Posted by: b real | Feb 5, 2009 4:37:07 PM | 45

from ecoterra intl's press update on the release of the faina

"ECOTERRA Intl. observes with great relieve and thanks to all who at the end worked together to achieve the peaceful release of MV FAINA, that we do no longer have a dreadful hostage situation and a potentially devastating danger posing at the Somali Indian Ocean coast off Hinbarwaqo", Dr Hans-Juergen Duwe, spokesman for ECOTERRA Intl. stated to the press.

Dr Duwe renewed ECOTERRA's final demands. He requested that a medical team assists the seafarers immediately and establishes also any exposure to radiation, while the corps of deceased Captain Kolobkov is transferred to his widow in Russia with highest priority.

ECOTERRA also called for those UN agencies tasked with peacekeeping and arms-embargoes in the region as well as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) or the IAEA - concerned with nuclear hazards - as well as other relevant organizations to inspect the cargo after the ship is released.

"As humanitarian organization we also have to seek a final clarification concerning the destination of the weapons and an independent investigation if the transported ammunition contains depleted uranium (DU), but for now we are happy that nothing serious happened during the 3200 long hours the Faina was held," Dr Duwe added.

...

For us the release of MV FAINA means also the end of a 134 day long ordeal during which we suffered like the abducted seafarers and their families not only from the ignorance of the Somali captors but also from the neglect shown by politicians and diplomats, officials and negotiators as well as the ignorance and cruelty of the ship-owners and their lackeys.

Having been engaged in efforts to rescue the crew from the very first moment when the abducted vessel sailed back to the Somali coast, shadowed first by most likely a Russian vessel and then by a US-American frigate, we have to say that the over 4-month long stand-off was completely unnecessary and an inhuman negligence on the side of those responsible for crew, vessel and cargo.

Already after the first few days the unofficial negotiations reached at exactly the same level for the ransom, which was now finally agreed to by the owner after needless maneuvers, which kept the crew hostage under terrible conditions.

Most of the month-long pseudo-negotiations carried out by people, who stayed in a top-luxury hotel in Nairobi, and during endless days were useless, while all efforts had to be made to not allow the falcons to push a military solution through, which would have certainly ended in a catastrophe for the crew as well as the people at the coast.

The suffering of the families, friends as well as the crew were enhanced by the intimidation, outright threats and persecutions, which even brought a seafarers' rights defender into one of Kenya's most cruel prisons."

"For many the saga of the weapons will continue, but for us the most important chapter is closed with the peaceful release of the crew, the rescue of the lives of these seafarers and with the disappearance of a serious and extremely hazardous problem from the Somali waters.

...

In a weird twist the Iranian news agency PressTV claimed a Somali military official had said that Sudanese forces may attempt to destroy the Ukrainian vessel which has just been released by pirates.

After its arrival at the port city, Sudanese soldiers might attempt to blow the ship up in order to eliminate the possibility of the weapons falling into the wrong hands, Press TV's correspondent quoted military official Abdulle Hassan Amin as saying.

pressTV has since pulled the article from their website

Gaddafi defends Somali pirates

AU chairman Muammar Gaddafi has said that his priority will be to claim colonial compensation and to limit the power of Western nations

The Libyan leader further said he believed that piracy was a way of counter defence against the greedy Western nations.

Col Gaddafi expressed the sentiments Thursday morning when he paid his first day official visit to African Union head quarter in Addis Ababa. He addressed AU officials and staff.

Col Gaddafi wore a colourful shirt decorated with Africa Union founding fathers portraits including Tanzanian Julius Nyerere, Ethiopian Haile Selassie, Kenyan Jomo Kenyatta, and Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah.

During the inaugural tour, Col Gaddafi revealed his plan for the next seasons, saying he doesn’t believe that Somalia piracy was a crime.

“It is a response to greedy Western nations, who invade and exploit Somalia’s water resources illegally,’’ he said.

“It is not a piracy, it is self defence. It is defending the Somalia children’s food,” Col Gaddafi argued.

He pointed out that some countries, particularly Western nations, were penetrating into a Somalia’s sovereign water territory, against the international law .

European, the US and China fleets are entering in the sovereign Somalia territory, because Africa doesn’t have strong and modern defence to push them back, Col Gaddafi said.

Nowadays, Somalis are reacting for justice and trying to defend their country against the unfair exploitation of resources, but Western countries have labelled it as piracy, Gaddafi explained.

The long-serving Libyan leader said he planned to convince other African leaders to claim compensation from colonial masters for their crimes and exploitation during the colonial era.

He disclosed that Libya will this week be claiming quarter billion dollars per year for the next 20 years compensation from Italy.

He said it was a time to ask Western world to pay for Africa’s past suffering and exploitation.

Italian parliament has agreed to pay the money to Libya, he said

...

During my term in AU, I will initiate an organised compensation claim for Africa and I will fight for a greater voice for Africa in the United Nations Security Council.

“If they (Western nations) do not want to live with us fairly, it is our planet and they can go to other planet,” Gaddafi added.

Posted by: b real | Feb 6, 2009 12:11:55 AM | 46

better late than never, i suppose, but too bad these groups haven't done this for every major shooting or shelling by either the ethiopian troops or 'peacekeepers' over the past two years

hrw: New Violence Highlights Need for Independent Inquiry: Top UN Official Should Retract Irresponsible Statements About Somali Media

(New York) - A new incident involving African Union troops in Mogadishu that left at least 13 people dead underscores the urgent need for an independent inquiry into laws-of-war violations by all forces in Somalia, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch also called on the top UN official in Somalia to immediately retract a statement comparing Somali journalists reporting the incident to those who incited the Rwandan genocide.

...

Reliable sources reported to Human Rights Watch that at least 13 Somalis were killed and at least 15 more were wounded by the bomb blast and ensuing gunfire. Most of the dead, many or all of whom were civilians, were killed by gunfire.

...

This is not the first time AMISOM troops have been implicated in indiscriminate attacks on Somali civilians. In September 2008, witnesses, journalists, and rights activists told Human Rights Watch that African Union forces responded to attacks on their positions by indiscriminately shelling Mogadishu's Bakara Market area. The market has long been a stronghold of insurgents opposed to the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

...

Human Rights Watch said Ould-Abdallah's statement was especially disturbing because many Somali journalists have risked their lives and livelihoods to report on the crisis in their country. The day after the UN official's remarks, unknown gunmen shot and killed the director of Somalia's independent Horn Afrik radio network, Said Tahlil Ahmed, while he was on his way to a news conference in Mogadishu. Since the conflict in Somalia escalated in early 2007 at least 10 other Somali journalists have been killed, many in targeted attacks, making Somalia one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists.

"Somali journalists have paid an enormous price to continue reporting on the crisis in Somalia," Gagnon said. "The UN should be making every effort to support independent Somali media and civil society at this critical time, not comparing journalists to war criminals."


Amnesty International Calls for Investigation of Civilian Deaths in Somalia As Allegations Point to Shooting Incident by African Union Peace Operation

(New York) -- Amnesty International today called for an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into allegations that AMISOM, the African Union peace support operation in Somalia, opened fire indiscriminately in the capital of Mogadishu, killing civilians on Monday, (February 2).

...

“It is crucial that an effective public investigation is conducted into accusations that AMISOM troops unlawfully killed civilians. This would send a message to the Somali population that AMISOM is willing to uphold standards of international humanitarian law, in a situation where all parties to the conflict have unlawfully killed civilians with impunity,” said Michelle Kagari, deputy director of Amnesty International's Africa program.

Posted by: b real | Feb 6, 2009 10:54:34 AM | 47

inner city press: As Somalis Are Killed by Peacekeepers, Censorship Urged by UN's Ould Abdallah


...
So the UN's top envoy to Somalia, a country the UN and international community have mis-served for more than a decade, is calling for censorship of reports of Somali civilians killed by international "peacekeepers."

Despite Inner City Press' request at UN headquarters for the UN's statement on the shooting, Ould Abdallah's comment have not been repeated from the UN podium. Calls are growing for him to retract the statement, for him to step down.

Inner City Press has obtained a copy of the media strategy designed by Ould Abdallah and his spokesperson, a former BBC correspondent named Susanna Price, and puts it online here. [link at the original]

When Inner City Press attended the surreal negotiations in Djibouti between the UN-supported Transitional Federal Government and London-based supposed opposition leaders in mid- 2008, it left written questions with Ms. Price about who had paid for the hotel bills at the Kempinski in Djibouti. The question was never effectively answered. Now comes word that the re-invented Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed has recently paid ... many of his supporters' plane tickets. With what money?

The press strategy for the Somali diaspora, which Inner City Press is putting online here, presaged Ould Abdallah's February 3 comments:

"There has been some extremely negative reporting about the UN for example... with regards to UNDP. There is a perception that the UN is partial and is supporting the TFG and that it is helping the security services."

The irony is that comments like Ould Abdallah's on February 3 are a part, but only one part, of why "there is a perception that th UN is partial." Rather than modify his partiality, at least to the extent of acnknowledging and trying to avoid pro-TFG soldiers' killing of civilians, Ould Abdallah has decided to try to silence the media by outrageously mis-playing the Rwanda genocide card.

The UNPOS strategy also contradicts Ould Abdallah's call to censor media outside of Somalia in praising the impact of pro-UN members of the Somali diaspora:

Apart from their financial input, the diaspora have important ties back home with their clans and political groups and wield much influence on affairs inside Somalia. A number attended Arte and Mbagathi conferences and became MPs. Many of the MPs, and the leaders from the Government and opposition side in the first round of Djibouti talks were, like the Prime Minister, UK passport holders.

Their support is extremely important for the UN and can help to change perceptions.

The largest numbers of Somalis in the West are in UK (London, and other cities) and North America (Toronto, Minneapolis, Columbus Ohio) with slightly smaller concentrations in the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Australia. There are also significant numbers in Kenya, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and they are one of the largest immigrant communities in Dubai

It is very important to let the Diaspora know that we value their contribution, support and input and we want them to be involved and informed. We also need the Diaspora to recognize the work that the UN is doing in Somalia and to inform them that the UN is working inside Somalia for the benefit of the country.

This last may be a definition of propaganda, which UN Spokesperson Michele Montas last month said is not allowed in UN press briefings. What will happen to UN envoy Ould Abdallah? Watch this space.

i've noted it before, but very funny on various levels is the acronym for the UN's political office for somalia - UNPOS

as in p-o-s, as in 'piece-of-sh!t'

they definitely have been trying to shape the spin, so the media strategy, while not really too damning, comes as no surprise

there have been accusations in somalia that some of the deluge of somali media sites operate at least in part w/ direct assistance/agenda from the UN. hiiraan online, for instance.

there seems to be some momentum building in the press wrt the latest AMISOM massacre & ould digging a hole for himself. he's no doubt frustrated, being cast into an unenviable position doing the beckoning of his western overlords

will that diaspora that the UN so hopes to manipulate now end up using its power to boot ould abdallah?

Posted by: b real | Feb 6, 2009 1:40:17 PM | 48

interview w/ andrew mwangura @ the daily beast

The Pirate Whisperer

Somali pirates were just paid $3.5 million—the largest ransom ever—for the release of a ship off East Africa. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Beast, negotiator Andrew Mwangura reveals the secrets of the murderers [sic] he does business with.

one case of a murder, of all the reported incidents off the coast of somalia. that hardly qualifies the sensational description "murderers"

some interesting info in the interview, nonetheless

When you make contact, how do you figure out exactly who you’re dealing with?

There are seven pirate clans in Somalia, and they do not go into each other’s areas. So the location of the ship tells us much about which group we were dealing with. As soon as I figure out the group, I try to link up with its leader through our contacts in Somalia. That's how we operate. Sometimes they call us before we call them.

The pirates paint themselves as Robin Hoods, hijacking ships that are responsible for stealing through overfishing, and then redistributing the profits through the ransoms they collect. Is that how you see them?

When we started, things were very quiet. We made our job to tell the world what was going on in this part of the country. So the warlords came to us and talked about what was happening in Somalia—the foreign ships that were overfishing and dumping toxic wastes. And they said, “We are not the pirates. We are not the enemies.”

But we came to get a real picture of them. One of the groups in Somalia, the Kismayu group, is known as National Volunteer Coast Guard and focuses on small boats close to the shore. They do not use the word “ransom.” They call what they collect a “fine” for illegal acts. The Merkah group has fishing boats with longer-range fire power. And the most sophisticated groups have names like the Central Regional Coast Guards, Ocean Salvation Corps and the Somali Marines. They have a capacity to operate at greater distances off the coast. We believe they are responsible for 80 percent of the attacks in 2008.

...

You were arrested after briefing reporters on the Ukrainian freighter the MV Faina and accused of feeding the press false information. Did your arrest surprise you?

No. I had been expecting this for a long time. We all know that the government of Kenya is corrupt. From what I understand, the plan wasn’t just to arrest me. It was to silence me. And you know what I mean when we say “silence” in Africa. They wanted to silence me by way of assassination. I was to be taken out of the police cell and in the middle of the night and maybe shot somewhere. So when they came to my cell in the middle of the night, I refused to go. I said, “Come tomorrow in the daylight.” The other inmates in the cell joined me and said, “Take him tomorrow.” The next day they took me to a prison. They kept me there for three days before releasing me.

Your next hearing is scheduled for April 1. What do you think is in store for you?

I don’t know. The government is looking for something to pin on me. And it is a danger because we’re dealing with international organizations. I have to watch over my shoulder. In this part of the world, you don’t know who is who.

mwangura has so far refused to give any quotes to the east african standard, the nairobi daily that set up the meeting where he was arrested last year

there is a buzz right now expressing skepticism about the u.s. role in the pirate activity, what w/ the release of the faina in the past hours. the u.s. navy has been monitoring the faina round the clock since day one. today they boarded the ship, checked the crew, supplied some food & fuel, and will escort the vessel to mobasa over the next few days.

the skepticism comes about in the u.s. not arresting or pursuing any of the hijackers. there have always been rumors that some of the 'pirate' activity is supported by other govts, for a variety of reasons, but i have yet to come across any info offering up more than just speculation

if mwangura knows anything, he's certainly not likely to talk openly about it after his run in w/ the u.s.-supported mt. kenya mafia

the int'l activity in the gulf of aden continues to increase as the number of hijacking attempts remains at a low, leaving us to conclude that the pirate threat is merely a pretext for other ends

meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, where murders actually are an ongoing reality

Gunmen attack security vessel in Niger Delta

GUNMEN have killed the Nigerian captain and wounded another crew member on the Red One security vessel in the Niger Delta.

The Red One was attacked by militants in two boats yesterday and Nigerian armed forces returned fire as they protected oil production facilities of Swiss-based operator Addax Petroleum.

The ship was operating in oil mining lease 123, near Nigeria’s Antan tanker loading terminal.

Addax has developed several fields in the Adanga area in OML 123 and exports oil through the Fred. Olsen Production-operated Knock Adoon FPSO.

Addax was unavailable for comment on the incident.

There have been 10 other similar attacks in the Niger Delta offshore region already this year.

Posted by: b real | Feb 6, 2009 3:30:30 PM | 49

this will probably turn out to be a psyop story to further split the opposition, but i'll put it up in case there's any bit of truth in it or at least just to document what's going on in the country

Shabab leader to join the new government

Somalia’s new president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed said on Friday he will go back to the capital Mogadishu on Saturday to meet with the spokesman of the islamist rebel group of Al-Shabab Mokhtar Robow ‘Abu-Mansor’ to end the hostility and support the new government.

...

“I will meet with Robow and leaders of other rebel groups and I hope they will support our government,” said Ahmed. “I will also have talks with officials representing Asmara-based Islamist group,”

There have been secret telephone contacts between President Ahmed and spokesman of the radical group of Al-Shabab Mokhtar Robow Abu-Mansor after the election, sources close to both sides told Waagacusub.

Robow, who is now in Baidoa town which has recently fallen in the hands of his militant group, is preparing to travel to Mogadishu in secrecy where he will be meeting face to face with the new leader Ahmed over matters relating to solve the political deference and ending the rebellion.

Some reports say Robow is willing to join the new government which might anger his Islamist companions and push them deep to further enmity.

“If Sheik Robow joins the government, we will double the fighting against the secular government and this will not stop our ambition to build an Islamic state in the Somali territory,” said one of the Islamic militant who requested not to be named.

The militant leader, who is among the Islamic terrorists wanted by the US government, seems to be defecting from his group and casting off what he called the Jihad against the foreign troops and the Somali government.

Posted by: b real | Feb 7, 2009 3:32:08 AM | 50


its fascinating how slow the West has been to recognize that the days when Africans could be controlled just by getting to their leaders are long gone. Today, theres hardly any African leader of a country or movement who can brazenly or publicly act unilaterally of his/her people. Not even Mugabe, who has to answer convincingly to the veterans & other nationalists, many amongst the youth. Theres Mubarak as an exception though he's probably going to be the last to be allowed such latitude & powers by his people.

what this means is that ongoing Western efforts to assert authority & control over Africa are self-defeating. They will have the opposite effect & will also do major damage to Africa's affinities for the West.

Somali has been a massive disaster for the West. The leaders of the current resistance essentially came out of nowhere and have successfully routed the USA/Ethiopia invasion. And I suspect that many if not most of the current leadership of the resistance were regular people leading typical lives until a few years ago. I also doubt that the USA/Ethiopians have a complete understanding of who these guys are, their hierarchy or how they operate. In the past, a leader like Sharif could have gotten away with appeasing the West but today, he loses almost all credibility for doing so.

many Somali's, even those who view the pirates as a distracting nuisance will note that the cost for deploying a huge anti-pirate armada to patrol the waters of the Somali coast far exceeds what it would have taken to keep the illegal fishing trawlers & toxic-waste dumpers away.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Feb 7, 2009 7:53:31 AM | 51

lot of eyes watching this one

east african standard (nairobi): ‘MV Faina’ finally enters Kenyan waters

The Ukrainian ship, MV Faina, has entered Kenyan territorial waters but has been slowed down by a bad engine.

Security sources told The Standard that the ship, laden with military hardware released by Somali pirates after five months, was limping towards Mombasa after one of its engines failed.

"She is somewhere in the sea near Lamu but is on one engine after the second one malfunctioned," a security source at the port of Mombasa said.

The scenic Mama Ngina Drive near Kilindini was full though it was a weekday, on Monday.

Residents eager to catch a glimpse of the vessel, whose capture made international news headlines, have been flocking the vantage point.

Mr Osborne Odhiambo, a commercial photographer at Mama Ngina Drive, said his clients had made orders of the vessel’s picture as it arrives.

"Clients have approached me requesting that I capture Mv Faina as she enters the port,’’ he said.

...

Navy officers who spoke on condition of anonymity said police and senior Government officials are expected to board the vessel outside the Kilindini channel for inspection and other formalities before the Navy officers take over from the US marines escorting it.

Meanwhile, the State has failed to produce enough witnesses in a case in which a maritime official is alleged to have issued alarming statements over the arms on the ship.

This follows the prosecution’s admission in a Mombasa court that the case against Mr Andrew Mwangura, the East Africa Seafarers’ Assistance Programme Coordinator, could not proceed due to lack of witnesses.

...

Mr Mwangura is accused of issuing alarming statements over MV Faina, and being in possession of bhang.

Earlier, Mr Kamau had admitted during cross-examination by Mwangura’s lawyer Francis Kadima, that he inspected the suspect after arrest, but never found any bhang on him.

The hearing of the case commences on April 1.

(wondering if kenya recognizes aprils fools day...)

add'l details on mwangura's case from the february 4th ecoterra intenational update

Andrew Mwangura, the fearless seafarers'-rights defender, attended Mombassa law courts early this morning for a hearing of his case [see earlier reporting], whereby one witness testified and his evidence was recorded by Mwangura's Attorney. The matter has been fixed for mentioning on 4th March, 2009 and a hearing on 1st April, 2009. Strangely but expectedly the witness gave evidence which could not hold any water, for when asked by the defence lawyer to table the warrant for Mr. Mwangura's arrest, he could not do so. He was also unable to table any copy of any alarming statement Mr. Mwangura allegedly had made and could also not provide any evidence about the possession of four marijuana joints of which Mr. Mwangura was accused of being in possession. Mr. Mwangura meanwhile had recorded a statement with the Kenya National Human Rights Commissioner (KNHRC - Nairobi office) on the 10th December last year and was promised that his case would be brought to the attention of the Attorney General to provide protection. Strangely since then the KNHRC seems to have not been active. Mr. Mwangura was arrested by police officers from the Criminal Investigation Department Mombasa upon allegations of "making alarming statements to foreign media touching on the security of the country".

He was arrested outside the Kenya Television Network (KTN) studio in Mombasa at around 21h00 local time on 01. Oct. 2008 and detained for five days at the police cells at Central Police Station Mombassa and for two nights at the infamous Shimo La Tewa maximum security prison. He was brought before Mombassa law courts on 2nd October 2008 and charged for making alarming statements and being in possession of four marijuana joints. Mr. Mwangura has categorically denied as well as objected to any such allegations. He attended court on 7th October 2008 for the mentioning of his case whereby his counsel made an application on constitutional reference concerning free speech. He also attended court on 13th October 2008 whereby his application for constitutional reference was dismissed. Following he attended court on 30th October 2008 for hearing of his case whereby the same was adjourned at the instance of the prosecution. He then attended court on 11th December 2008 for hearing of his case whereupon again the case was adjourned to 4th February 2009 at the instance of the prosecution (the prosecution witnesses were absent).

As per the laws of the Republic of Kenya he could be held for up to 24h without charge but he was detained for a total of 9 days contrary to the laws of Kenya. Mr. Mwangura in addition has constantly received phone-calls from Kenyan and Somali officials trying to muzzle him in his efforts to secure the lives and well-being of seafarers taken hostage in Somalia. Prior to his arrest he had been requested by family members of the Ukrainian seafarers on board MV FAINA to do everything he possibly can do to secure their safe release and he had made respective pleas on the 7 o'clock TV news in Kenya on the fateful day of his arrest. Mr. Mwangura also caters firmly for the interests of Kenyan seafarers and has been instrumental in the unharmed release of many seafarers and their vessels from Somalia. His untiring efforts to assist members of ship crews from all over the world and their families have been acknowledged and recognized worldwide. Mr. Mwangura and several international organizations believe strongly that his arrest without having done anything unlawful and without any proven charges was an affront by various players, who tried to further cover up on the unfolding saga of the Ukrainian arms shipment, which was intercepted by Somali Pirates and whose crew from three nations could have faced a bitter end in case the still pending stand-off is not resolved peacefully.

Posted by: b real | Feb 9, 2009 2:47:53 PM | 52

there may be some legs to the story i linked in #50

Somalia president meets with Al-Shabab leader

Somalia’s new president Sharif Sheik Ahmed on Sunday had face-to-face meeting with the spokesman of the Al-Qaeda linked Islamist group of Al-Shabab Mokhtar Robow ‘Abu-Mansor’ confidential sources told Waagacusub Media- as Ahmed said earlier he was ready to open dialogue with the Islamist rebels.

Despite there is no full information on agenda raised in the talks by the president and his rival, aide sources confirmed Waagacusub Media that Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade, a parliament member who is belong to Robow’s clan, was accompanying with Shabab’s leader at the meeting.

The talks which were behind close door took place in the presidential house in Mogadishu.

“Abu-Mansor came to villa Somalia with tens of his special security guards escorted by the war vehicles of Islamic Courts, he got off the car of Ibrahim Habsade as his Islamist men armed with heavy machine-guns stopped at the main gate of the presidential residence, “said Waagacusub reporter who reached the area.

Al-Shabab’s spokesman, who had already called President Ahmed as a person that deserted the Jihad barracks, is now confirmed that he is willing to get a position in the new government after he had at odds with the top leader of Al-Shabab Ahmed Abdi Godane.

The clash came when Godane appointed Khali Addale from Galgadud region as the mayor of Bay region in southwest Somalia.


Al Shabaab spokesman 'meets' Somalia president: reports

MOGADISHU, Somalia Feb 9 (Garowe Online) - Unconfirmed reports from Somalia's capital Mogadishu indicate that the spokesman for Al Shabaab hardliners has secretly met with the country's new interim president, Radio Garowe reports.

Muktar Robow "Abu Mansur," the fiery spokesman for Al Shabaab, arrived in Mogadishu with armed trucks and loyal gunmen after Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed relocated to the capital for the first time since being elected in late January.

A source close to President Sheikh Sharif's office said a closed-door meeting took place at the Villa Somalia presidential compound, whereby Sharif and Abu Mansur privately discussed new changes in Somalia.

...

Radio Garowe could not independently confirm this story.

However, during his most recent radio interview, Abu Mansur did not directly condemn President Sheikh Sharif's new government but instead dedicated his comments to distancing Al Shabaab from the brutal slaying of Radio HornAfrik's late director, Said Tahlil Ahmed.

...

If confirmed, Abu Mansur's visit to President Sheikh Sharif presents a divide within Al Shabaab, most of whose young fighters were part of the Islamic revolution in 2006 when Abu Mansur was the ICU's deputy defense secretary.

President claims progress over insurgents’ dialogue

Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the president of Somalia said on Monday he had reached an agreement with some of the leaders of radical Islamist groups like; Al-Shabab, Raaskamboni, Jabhatul-Islamiya and Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia Asmara wing.

In an interview with Waagacusub Media, Ahmed confirmed the news but declined to give details about his talks with the Islamic insurgents.

“My plan was to travel to Djibouti this afternoon but I stayed for an important meeting with officials of Raskamboni camp and Al-Shabab who demanded to discuss further and I hope we solve this tonight and tomorrow, I will be flying to Djibouti to appoint the new prime minister for the government,” said Sharif Sheik Ahmed.

He noted that he did not yet meet with Sheik Hassan Turki, a leader of Raskamboni camp but now planning to have talks with him. Hassan who is on Washington’s list of terrorist groups is now in Mogadishu with heavily armed Islamist militias.

If the meetings with the insurgents became successful, it would be good development for the government led by the young cleric Sharif Sheik Ahmed.

Posted by: b real | Feb 9, 2009 11:43:23 PM | 53

now this on the latest opposition coalition

Islamists accept mediation efforts

MOGADSHU (Mareeg)-A newly formed coalition group known as Hizbal Islam (Islamic Party) has accepted mediation efforts between them and the Somali government, officials said on Tuesday.

Abdulahi Abukar Dhere, a political spokesman of Hawiye Traditional Elders said the leaders of Hizbal Islam accepted their mediation efforts.

Hawiye Traditional Elders met Somalia’s newly elected president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed on Sunday and said they would mediate between Somali government and the Islamist insurgents who opposed the peace process.

Hassan Mahdi, the spokesman of Hizbal Islam said they have welcomed the mediation efforts of the elders and talked the elders about many things.

The leader of Hizbal Islam, Sheik Omar Iman, who returned from two-year exile in Eritrea on Saturday, said they would continue fighting against African Union peace keepers and what he called “apostate” government referring to the Somali government.

Sources very close to Al-shabaab spokesman, Sheik Mukhtar Abu Mansoor confirmed that Abu Mansoor had a meeting with Somalia’s president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed in the presidential palace and returned back to Baidoa.

The sources also indicated that the southern military leader Sheik Hassan Turki had met with the president.

that last bit contradicts sharif's stmt in the previous comment that he had yet to meet w/ turki

re hizbal islam - picked this up in comments

This is 101 for Xisbul Islami

1) Jabhadda Islamka (Jabiso)......waxay ka kooban tahay H, D, I and D&M brothers. All of them are members of the core of Salafi Jihadist in Somalia. Their founders were at one time Ikhwan back 70’s, Jamacal Islamiyah then Itixaad then JABISO.

2) Kiyambooni, the base of Somali J business. The oldest military academy Somali Islamist ever kept running for 18 years without interception. Mostly are from D, H and I and D&M. Due to its military academy nature and located at end of Indian Ocean, the core of its leaders are Ogaden. Some times the core of it commando's too are Ogadens.

3) ICU wing Asmara led by Xasan Dahir Uways/Dr Omar Iman. They are mostly from HG, Abg, Og, Mj, Isq and other tribes etc in different degree. They are salafi jihadist like above group. They are battle harden former al-Itixaad warriors.

4) Faruq (Caanoole) group....relatively Salafist Jihadist new group. Founded couple of years ago by a MJ brother. Mostly from MJ in Kismaayo and Jamame

All Wacdara ayay ka dhigeen sida walaalahooda alshabaab dagaalkii lagula jiray gumeysigii Axmaarada ee dalka soo weeraray.


The denominator of the above military J groups they are salafi jihadist. They believe Islamic State should be established in Somalia. Morever, they are determined to stop any secular regime by all means including military means. They are all well educated, well organized and sometimes fragmented due to geo politics. For instance while Xasan Turki believed all along only Jihad action will clean up Somalia fiasco….other groups have different take on Somalia. It seems now they are all reading same page.

what's lacking from these reports in my last two comments are stmts from the opposition (actors and/or group communiques) on these alleged meetings, so skepticism is well-warranted

Posted by: b real | Feb 10, 2009 12:02:45 AM | 54

the latest analysis from michael weinstein is reposted at garowe online - Sheikh Sharif's Power Play

curiously, he downplays the u.s. role in the new president's selection, attributing it to a temporal "panic" in the face of ethiopia's withdrawal from mogadishu, and paints sheikh sharif as a machiavellian "prospective prince", a "seasoned politician who is unashamed to exploit the successes of his rivals and prey upon the weaknesses of potential supporters"

i tend to disagree w/ both of his readings. particularly in terms of the installation

we have seen over the past two years how sharif was used by the u.s. to divide the opposition, from his early 2007 "rescue" from kenya by ranneberger & crew, to his relocation from asmara to djibouti

we watched as PM gedi was forced to resign to make room for a replacement from the outside, nur adde, who was seen as more amenable to mediation w/ the moderate islamists of the ICU/ARS & ended up usurping yusuf's TFG

yusuf himself was forced to resign to make room for sharif

the western "panic" over a power-vacuum in somalia was largely hyperbolic media-generated propaganda. a longer-term plan has been in play, definitely not one that has smoothly progressed along the lines of every objective -> implementation -> result, but relatively true to the overriding goal: controlling somalia's political institutions while waging, by proxy, evolving counter-insurgency operations against radical political islam.

to wit:

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

and push that succession plan through they did, as the commented links i've posted across a number of threads trace out

Posted by: b real | Feb 10, 2009 2:35:54 PM | 55

this NTIS synopsis of a post in a 'jihadist' forum also characterizes the elections as a forced rush job

Husayn Bin Mahmud described the recent election of Shaykh Sherif Ahmad as the new president of Somalia as “take away elections,” noting that they were held in Djibouti and” elected by unknowns in an unknown way and through an unknown system.”

Mahmud wrote that the elections were held “in a hurry” because the “Christians” did not have enough time to “have their deliberations” and “stage the elections” because the “mujahidin” and the “Islamic youth movement” had entered Baidoa, the seat of the provincial Somali Government, and were “at the outskirts of Mogadishu, were even inside Mogadishu, and had taken back many military sites from the hands of the beaten and routed Ethiopian forces.”

again, i disagree, based on the information i've assembled. the insurgents did not enter baidoa until after most of the parliamentarians in baidoa had been relocated to djibouti & the ethiopian forces pulled out. the press for the elections began as yusuf was mulling over his choices as presented by frazer in nairobi.

after yusuf pulled his clan members & other loyalists out of baidoa, there weren't a whole lot of other pariliamentarians remaining. the u.s. did not want the elections to be held in baidoa b/c [1] of security risks (cia & state dept officials -- sometimes the same thing -- stand out like a sore thumb in lower somalia, making easy targets in hostile territory) and [2] the accomodations in djibouti presented the image of a more professional parliament (not the zoo in 'zoomalia' that we saw w/ the 'confirmation' vote for nur adde a couple months ago.)

so they helped w/ the air travel to bring everyone to djibouti

and the pressure for holding elections w/i the 30-day period after yusuf's resignation was constant & public, as the los angeles times blurb i cited above makes clear. there was last minute rhetoric that it was necessary to elect a new president by that friday in order to make it to the AU summit in addis ababa, but i presume that was largely targeted toward the officials involved, as an extra push to keep the succession plan rolling along to meet this goal, which had been decided upon at some earlier point. one article at mareeg online noted that sheikh sharif was the only candidate for president that had campaign materials plastered around the city. this was not a last-minute "election", though it was indeed rushed.

back to the article

The article accused the US of resorting to the tool of “sectarianism” because it realized that “sectarian conflicts in the Muslim world are the most successful means to weaken and dissuade the anti-occupation efforts,” writing that this method was used in “Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, and Chechnya, as every jihad group that becomes powerful is classified in such a way that it goes with that region.”

...

The article accused the US of “learning from the Afghani example” that “whomever they appoint” needs to “be popular and trusted by the public” as this would make “passing the US agenda much easier.” Husayn bin Mahmud wrote that if given the chance, the US would not have appointed Hamid Karzai as the president of Afghanistan.

they were working on sharif, who has always been considered a 'moderate', for at least two years

Posted by: b real | Feb 11, 2009 12:37:40 AM | 56

if waagacusub media is to be believed, sheikh sharif practically met w/ every opposition group during his brief stay in mogadishu

President reconciles with Islamist rebels

Somalia’s new president Sharif Sheik Ahmed is reported to have reached an agreement in secret talks with Yousuf Mohamed Siad Indha-Adde, former warlord, but now an Islamist leader linking to the Islamic wing based in Asmara, Eritrea, reports confirmed Waagacusub Media.

The meeting, which last for two hours, happened in Mogadishu’s presidential house under the protection of African Union Peacekeepers before the president left for Djibouti to announce a new prime minister to form a unity government.

During the talks, President Ahmed and Indha-Adde made telephone contacts with Sheik Hassan Aweys who is now in Asmara but no information yet on what they raised in their talks.

Hassan Turki, a leader of Raskamboni camp, an Islamist group of Islamic Party, who refused to meet with president Sharif Sheik Ahmed in Villa Somalia but Turki met with the traditional Hawiye Council and Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade, a parliament member who goes between both sides.

Spokesman of Hawiye elders Ahmed Dirie Ali told Waagacusub Media that most of the differences resolved and confirming the meetings with Hassan Turki and Hassan Mahdi, Islamic Party spokesman both in Mogadishu.

An officer of Islamic Courts Union who requested not to be named told Waagacusub Media that President Ahmed also had a telephone conversation with the Islamic Party leader Omar Iman Abubakar who recently declared war with the government.

the article in #54 above had more on omar iman's negotiations

and speaking of negotiators..

Ethiopia releases former Kismayo Governor, Sheikh Ahmed Islan

Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islaan, the former Islamic governor of Kismaayo under ICU administration in 2006 was set free by Ethiopia and he is now in Djibouti where he is expected to occupy his parliamentary seat and a possible cabinet portfolio.

Sheikh Ahmed was wounded by American air strike in Lower Jubba region January 2007, and was captured by USA Special Forces who flew him to a warship based in the Indian Ocean. Sheikh Ahmed was sufferering 13 wounds inflicted upon him. The Americans later handed him over to Ethiopian government who put him into the maximum security prison known as Alambaqo in Addis Ababa. It was reported that Sheikh Ahmed was tortured severely.

He was later freed from prison but was but under strict condition that he can’t go to anywhere.

His release followed after he was included the newly sworn parliament members from ARS headed by Sheikh Shariif, the new president. Though he is not sworn into the parliament, his name includes the parliamentarian members from the ARS (Alliance for re-liberation of Somalia) he is number 135 of the 200 list.

Sheikh Ahmed is a well-known Islamic figure and widely respected by all struggle armed groups, despite his inclusion of TFG raises eye brows, insiders say he is potential mediator between Sheikh Shariif and the armed resistance groups.

He was one of the founders of Raaskambooni Military School in Sept 1993 soon after the Al Itihaad Movement went underground. Sh Ahmed Madoobe and his close friend Sh Hassan Turki refused to disband their army and started to mobilise forces. The Military school has been functioning ever since.

Posted by: b real | Feb 11, 2009 1:12:20 AM | 57

@b real - thanks - I agree with your interpretation.

Could send me an email-ping?

Posted by: b | Feb 11, 2009 5:16:20 AM | 58

US Navy seizes 7 suspected pirates off Somalia

CAIRO (AP) — The U.S. Navy has seized seven suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden after a merchant ship sent a distress call saying gunmen had tried to board it from a skiff.

Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, says the Marshal Islands-flagged Polaris sent the call on Wednesday afternoon.

The USS Vella Gulf raced to the location where U.S. sailors boarded the skiff.

Christensen says the suspects were armed with AK-47s and RPGs. They will eventually be handed over to Kenya.

It was the Navy's first arrest since a new U.S. anti-pirate task force was established to deal with the escalating piracy problem in the Gulf.

It also follows an agreement last month with Kenya for the U.S. to hand over arrested pirates.

Posted by: b real | Feb 11, 2009 5:44:20 PM | 59

a little late, but a strong msg today from the national union of somali journalists

Somali Journalists dismayed by statement of the Special Representative of UN Secretary General as a worrying signal to journalists and entire media fraternity

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) was dismayed by statement made by the Special Representative of UN Secretary General, Ambassador Ahmadou Ould-Abdallah, on Somali media as he was denouncing local media reports of a civilian massacre by African Union peacekeeping troops in Mogadishu during the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

U.N. Special Representative said the report is part of a media war to discredit peace efforts in Somalia, and compared it to the radio station Mille Collines, which incited the Rwandan genocide, according to news reports.

“This statement sends a worrying signal to journalists and entire media fraternity in Somalia, particularly when it is from United Nations’ Highest Ranking diplomat for Somalia,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

...

“Such public statement raises serious questions regarding the willingness of the UN Special Representative for Somalia to help protect Somalia’s endangered media professionals. It rather motivates the criminals and warlords who have been committing unpunished crimes against journalists to keep on their merciless war against media,” Omar Faruk declared.

“As simple human being, who are not always 100% perfect, all Somali journalists may not be perfect, but they are working in an extraordinarily difficult environment by the fault of politicians, and toothless diplomats, and that furthermore the comparison with Radio Mille Collines is insulting, ignorant and dangerous as that radio had become a legitimate military target in Rwanda.

“Given the focus of their journalism and the lack of evidence presented by the U.N. Special Representative for Somalia, we demand from the Ambassador to immediately withdraw allegations against Somali media and make public apology on his statement as these allegations are totally untrue, unjustifiable and unfounded, and only aimed at tarnishing the good name of Somali media and the credibility of Somali journalists” Omar Faruk added. “If the UN Ambassador does not meet our demand, it only confirms a hidden and dangerous agenda by the UN official.”

Posted by: b real | Feb 12, 2009 1:07:18 AM | 60

from an abc news rpt on the first u.s. navy arrests of suspected pirates

According to U.S. officials who spoke to ABC News on the condition of anonymity, last Thursday the Joint Chiefs of Staff last week issued a Counter Piracy Execute Order that charged the military with pursuing and apprehending pirates who threaten commercial ships in the Horn of Africa region off the coast of Somalia.

Officials say the order creates an operating zone to go after pirates about 500 nautical miles out to sea and spans from the Gulf of Aden near Yemen down to the borders with Kenya and Tanzania.

In other words, it is now open season for the U.S. Navy to go after Somali pirates that have haunted one of the world's vital shipping lanes.

Posted by: b real | Feb 12, 2009 1:27:52 AM | 61

propaganda outfit abc news bags sheikh sharif's "first interview with American media"

Somalia President Promises 'Peace and Dignity'

A soft-spoken former schoolteacher is Somalia's new president, tasked with calming one of the bloodiest, most brutal conflicts on the global map.

...

Sheikh Sharif was elected last month by a parliament in exile; the threat of violence in Somalia is so dire that voting took place in the neighboring country of Djibouti.

...

On piracy, which has surged since he left office, Sheikh Sharif said the Somali navy would patrol the coast while state security forces address the issue on land. Somali pirates are holding seven vessels with 123 crew members hostage, according to the International Maritime Bureau. Sheikh Sharif called on those pirates to release the captive ships and pledged to work with the international community on counter-piracy efforts.

"Fighting piracy is inevitable but cooperating as two states, Somalia and the United States, would be a good solution," he told ABC News.

the somali navy? there is no somali navy. yet.

One asset the president is cultivating: a warm, working relationship with the Obama administration. Despite America's role in his ouster, Sheikh Sharif sees U.S. policy as supportive of his efforts toward a stable Somalia. He told an Egyptian newspaper last week that the United States is a "force for peace" in East Africa.

"America has been honest in pushing the peace process ahead, and they encouraged us to get involved in this process," he told ABC News. "And they have remained steadfast; that's why we have a new goodwill toward America."

Congratulating Sheikh Sharif on his appointment, the U.S. government commended him on working "diligently on reconciliation efforts in Somalia." In a press statement, the Obama administration said it looked "forward to cooperating with President Sharif and his broad-based government on these efforts to establish democracy and achieve peace in Somalia."

"one asset the president is cultivating".. heh. nice spin. actually, sharif as president is the asset the u.s. is cultivating.

on these reported negotiations between sharif & robow

"I went back to Somalia to consult with them and to woo those who have, until now, been against peace to come into the fold," the president said. "I haven't directly met with Shabaab, but I have sent some people, emissaries, to talk to them, to stop the bloodshed and to put down their arms."

Abu Massor [sic], who refers to himself [sic] as the spokesman for Al Shabaab, told ABC News through a translator that nearly all the leadership has agreed to accept the new president if he meets the group's conditions. The three most important of those conditions are that the country be ruled under traditional Shariah; that foreign forces, including the African Union and the U.N. peacekeeping troops, not be allowed on Somali soil; and that Al Shabaab members have significant roles in the new government.

"If he recognizes our presence on the ground, and he is going to accept Shariah law to be applied in the country, we are going to accept him," Massor said.

The president has not said whether he will meet Al Shabaab's demands, which could complicate his desire for better relations with the United States.

But forming a government that includes individuals who refuse to renounce their allegiance to al Qaeda and other extremist groups will not be acceptable to either Ethiopia or the United States.

abc doesn't even know the guy's name, for pete's sake. and swearing allegiance to AQ? get out of here w/ that nonsense. more al shabaab booga-booga, and entirely skipping the fact that other groups have already come forth and declared war against the so-called unity govt while al shabaab, as a whole, has not

but there's sharif acknowledging that he didn't personally meet w/ robow, which proves the waagacusub media stories to be manipulative, as i speculated initially. and robow makes clear that the meetings that did take place were strictly negotiations to put forth the terms for working w/ sharif, rather than any type of attempt to leave al shabaab to join sharif's forces

Posted by: b real | Feb 12, 2009 2:21:51 AM | 62

lots to catch up on after several days away, but here's a couple items of interest i've noticed so far

michael weinstein's latest analysis is more realistic than his feb 10th one

Situation Brief #1

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad's chances of success in holding together Somalia's Transitional Federal Institutions took a hit on February 13 when he appointed Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke as his prime minister. The weak protagonist
in a fragmented conflict, Sh. Sharif is most immediately hobbled by a tug of war for his political will between the "international community," upon which he depends for diplomatic and financial support, and his base of clerical support represented in his Djibouti faction of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (A.R.S.-D), which controls 200 seats in the expanded 550 seat transitional parliament. The donors want Sh. Sharif to be "inclusive;" his clerical base wants him to implement Shari'a law. By selecting Sharmarke, Sh. Sharif caved in to the donors and chose their replacement for Nur Adde Hassan Hussein - a humanitarian bureaucrat without a political base, who mentioned nothing about implementing Shari'a when he addressed the press after his nomination. Simultaneously, Sh. Sharif announced that he would implement Shari'a law, attempting to mollify his clerical base.

Sh. Sharif's selection of Sharmarke sets up a formally identical relation to the one that characterized the Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.) in the preceding administration under Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Nur Adde, with Sharmarke playing Nur Adde's role of handmaiden to the donors and Sharif trying to grab control of the transitional mechanisms and make his base the core of a machine that might spread out (in the best-case scenario) to form a governing coalition. The tension set up between what Sh. Sharif and Sharmarke represent weakens Sh. Sharif's potential hold on the T.F.G.,requiring him either to compromise with the donors or to fight Sharmarke as Yusuf fought Nur Adde.

you think maybe they're doing that intentionally?

Ethiopian troops return back to Somalia

BAIDOA (Sh. M. Network)-Eyewitnesses said Wednesday more Ethiopian troops with about 60 military vehicles have re-entered in Bakool region in south western Somalia.

The Ethiopian troops entered in Rabdhuure and Yeed Villages in Bakool region, where they have reportedly arrested some civilians in the area.

...

It is not known why the Ethiopian troops have returned back to Somalia, but Meles Zenawi, Ethiopian prime minister, said on Friday that Somali president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed could not give him guarantee that Somalia would not plunge into chaos.

and, not any surprise, but

Ethiopia arming Somali militias

MOGADIHSU (Sh. M. Network)-Ethiopia started arming and training Somali militias in Mustahil District in the Somalia regional state of Ethiopia, witnesses said on Tuesday.

Sources say the Somali militias led by former warlords who were forced to flee from Hiiraan ,Gedo, Bay and Galgaduud regions in Somalia are regrouping in Mustahil, where Ethiopian officers are training their militias

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Friday he would support any group that wants assistance to face al-Shabaab and recapture the territories they used to control.

...

Meles said Ethiopia has no objection to Sheikh Sharif forming an Islamist government, if that's what Somalis want. But diplomats say Ethiopia is never pleased with strong Somali government next door and that is why Ethiopia is always arming and training rebel militias.

that & it keeps the foreign money and military equipment flowing in to ethiopia in its role as a willing GWOT proxy partner

Posted by: b real | Feb 18, 2009 5:37:47 PM | 63

shabelle media: Islamic clerics issue prominent articles in Mogadishu

MOGADSHU (Sh. M. Network)-Islamic clerics who have been meeting in Mogadishu issued Thursday articles relating to the situation of the country.

The clerics built an Islamic Council in their meeting and elected Sheik Bashir Ahmed Salad as the chairman of the Somali Clerics Council.

They issued these articles

...

3. The Islamic clerics suggested to the government to practice Shari law and the Somali parliament has to officially announce with in 90 days from the first of March 2009 that the country would be ruled under the Sharia.

4. After the clerics read the charter of the transitional government, the council saw Articles against Islamic Sharia law, as article 8 reads, so it is compulsory to the government to change that article or remove it from the charter.

5. The clerics said the government has to tell the foreign troops in the country to leave with in 120 days from the first of March 2009. Extra troops must not be sent to Somalia and the foreign troops can not be attacked with in the period mentioned above.

voa: AU Envoy Says Somalia's National Unity Government to Be Secular

The African Union special envoy to Somalia said Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has assured him the national unity government now being formed will be secular.

...

Special envoy Nicholas Bwakira is appealing to the international community for sustained diplomatic and political support for efforts to establish a stable administration in Somalia. After briefing the AU Peace and Security Council, Bwakira said he had been assured by Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a Somali cleric, that his government would not be religious.

"He also indicated that ... on the matter of religion, it would be the government, the State which will outline the policy, not the clerics," he said.

...

The envoy said Nigeria, Uganda and Burundi will soon be sending reinforcements for the African Union peacekeeping force known as AMISOM. He did not specify a date, though senior AU officials had previously said the force would be strengthened from its current 3,500 to more than 5,000 by the end of this month.

Deploy More Peacekeepers to Somalia, U.S. Tells Nigeria

Lagos - United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has called on Nigeria to hasten efforts in deploying its peacekeepers to strife-torn Somalia, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

Nigeria has recently pledged to send a battalion to Somalia as part of an AU peacekeeping force.

The US envoy on a visit to Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Prof. Joy Ogwu on Friday at the Nigerian House in New York said the United States is currently pursuing a UN peacekeeping commitment in Somalia.

"In this regard, we want to know what is holding back Nigeria's pledge to send a battalion of peacekeepers to Somalia," she said.

...

"A firm response from Nigeria on the deployment of its troops will facilitate the (UN) Security Council 's planning process and decision by June 1," the ambassador said.

vanguard: Why Nigeria delays sending troops to Somalia—Minister

ABUJA—Defence Minister, Dr. Shettima Mustapha disclosed yesterday that the Nigerian government would only send troops to help quell the crisis in Somalia when the time and situation on ground in the war-torn country allowed it, saying going there now will mean fighting to enforce peace.

...

Speaking against the backdrop of the controversy over the deployment of Nigerian troops to Somalia, the minister said, “If you recall, when Nigeria committed herself to sending troops in 2006 or thereabout, it was for peacekeeping because the situation then could be handled.

“But over the years, the situation has changed. Today, what is needed in Somalia is the enforcement of peace because from our findings, there is no government on ground. What we have are various groups controlling several areas. It means you will fight to enforce peace there. So if you go there, you will be fighting several groups.

“Our duty is to advise Mr. President appropriately. So all I will say is the Ministry of defence is assessing the situation on ground to be able to advise the President because the situation has changed”.

Posted by: b real | Feb 20, 2009 12:55:00 AM | 64


The USA hass to first repair its image as a positive influence in Somalia (an almost impossible task) to have any hope of convincing any country, African or otherwise to send contingents of peace-keeping troops capable of making a difference.

Because such troops will be perceived as nothing other than American proxies.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Feb 20, 2009 7:37:56 AM | 65

president sharif & his PM returned to mogadishu on monday, leaving their bloated parliament behind in djibouti and trying their hand at the same kind of security operations that the TFG and ethiopians never had any luck with, unless the culling & scattering of "problem" neighborhoods can be considered a measure of success. rather it helped to unify the opposition.

21 killed in 'worst battle' since Ethiopia pullout

MOGADISHU, Somalia Feb 24 (Garowe Online) - At least 21 people were killed and dozens wounded Tuesday in Somalia’s war-torn capital Mogadishu, Radio Garowe reports.

The fighting erupted after African Union (AMISOM) peacekeepers and Somali government forces expanded into several Mogadishu districts under insurgent control, witnesses said.

Fighters loyal to two insurgent groups – Al Shabaab and Party of Islam – took to the streets and sparked “the worst battle since Ethiopian troops left,” according to Radio Garowe’s correspondent in Mogadishu.

Medina Hospital officials said more than 50 wounded people were admitted for treatment, adding that the fighting was still ongoing and more wounded people were expected.

...

Most of Mogadishu's Islamist fighters were reported to be fighting on the same side of the war, dealing a severe blow to President Sheikh Sharif's calls for peace and dialogue with the rebels.

latest analysis from michael weinstein was written prior to tuesday's battle, but provides a good context

Situation Brief #2 [analysis]

During the week of February 16, Sh. Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the weak protagonist in Somalia's political situation and president of the country's recently expanded Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.), made his first moves to establish control over the transitional institutions and to achieve security in Somalia's official capital Mogadishu, so that his administration could re-locate there from its present base in Djibouti.

...

The stage has been set for civil conflict/war over the nature of the future Somali state, if there is to be one.

Posted by: b real | Feb 24, 2009 5:46:01 PM | 66

Mogadishu battles intensify, death toll hits 35

MOGADISHU, Somalia Feb 25 (Garowe Online) - Battles between African Union-backed government forces and Islamist rebels continued into the second day Wednesday, as rebel chief Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys vowed to continue the war, Radio Garowe reports.

At least 35 people have been killed and more than 130 others wounded in the most intense fighting seen in Mogadishu since Ethiopian troops withdrew a month ago.

Many civilians were killed after shells hit homes in areas far away from the fighting, as AMISOM peacekeepers and Somali government forces defended against attacks initiated by Islamist insurgents.

...

Hospital officials in Mogadishu reported a total number of 130 wounded victims, with that number growing by the hour.

...

Sheikh Aweys, formerly legislative head of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), told Al Jazeera TV from his base in Eritrea that the fighting will continue until AMISOM troops leave Somalia.

"They [AMISOM] are the enemy of the Somali people," Sheikh Aweys said, while urging Islamist insurgents to continue to war.

He condemned Somalia's new government, saying that it was established by the West to 'weaken the muqawama,' a reference to the Islamist insurgency.

...

Further Sheikh Aweys distanced his group, Party of Islam, from the recent fatwa issued by the Islamic clerics, saying: "The sheikhs tried but they should not issue a fatwa on the war, which is defensive. Every person will use medicine to fight a disease."

Posted by: b real | Feb 25, 2009 11:11:49 AM | 67

Government minister is unhappy of AU soldiers shelling

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network) -- The Minister for Youth and Sports in the newly formed government of Somalia said Friday he was saddened by the shelling of residential areas by African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu which led to the death and injury of people and the further displacement of new returnees.

The statement comes after two days of intense fighting between fighters of the insurgent group of Hizbul Islam, and peacekeepers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) backing Somali government forces.

"We are saddened that AMISOM have bombed people who have now started to return to their homes and have restarted to flee again. We hope that would stop," said Suleiman Olad Roble.

Roble also indicted in a news conference in Mogadishu that the peacekeepers have responsibility to protect the civilians instead of harming them.

The exchange of heavy artillery fire in residential areas early this week caused the death of nearly fifty people mostly civilians and the injury of almost a hundred others.

This is an unprecedented statement from the Somali government which relies mainly on the peacekeepers for its protection against armed insurgent groups opposed to its existence.

Posted by: b real | Feb 27, 2009 11:52:37 AM | 68

A friend sent a link about the conversion of the USNS Lewis and Clark into a prison ship to operate off the Somali coast, with plans to convert more similar ships. There are a bunch of links in the article. He also mentions:

While the UN uses UNOSAT to watch the seas from space, the Navy is using “an unmanned aerial spy plane known as the ScanEagle for target surveillance.” In what Navy Commander Stephen Murphy has described as “sort of racial profiling at sea,” the drone’s aerial footage is used “to help determine whether those on board the skiff are ethnic Somalis, and thus more likely to be pirates, or simply fishermen from elsewhere.”

Of course the "simply fishermen" are mostly equally pirates.

The guy throws out a lot of words, but he has interesting ideas about borders, mostly in a post titled Towards a Nomadic Fortress.

I thought this was relevant to the Kenya Somali border (among many others):

This border doesn’t take the defensive posture that borders traditionally have in the past, but instead is on the move and on the hunt for a new class of would-be border crossers who’ve been bound together in a dangerously wide-cast surveillance net that is incapable of distinguishing the refugee from the enemy combatant, the migrant from the smuggler, laborer from insurgent.

And he draws a global hydrologic picture of borders I thought interesting. It certainly makes sense to the visual imagination:

… capital is devising an unprecedented perimeter that encircles the global south through a flexible and strategic militarization of cross-border flows and refugee internment.

Since commerce, goods, and information now flow freely within a kind of liquid society of transnational interplay, the substrata of cross-border migration has become more of a parched landscape where liquidity and fluidity (in terms of movement) have been extremely deprived. Instead, the nomadic routes of migrants and refugees are dictated by tactical arrangements of concrete embankments, unsurpassable berms, dangerous ditches, trenches, and other deployed dikes and levees strictly designed to prevent the north from being flooded by the populations of the south. We can think of these floodgates as goliath mechanisms of bio-political hydrology, re-flooding certain labor zones and reservoirs with migrants ripe for exploitation while drying up other labor wetlands altogether where manufacturing industries have evaporated or moved on to different regions. Today’s border fences are less about stopping the flows of mass migration than they are about engineering a whole taxonomy of barriers that can identify and redirect them, informally outsourcing the pools of global labor from one geography to another. And while some routes are pushed deeper underground by all of this, other subterranean passages are merely forced to the surface. This massive border hydrology is shifting human resettlement patterns for generations to come.

Posted by: xcroc | Feb 27, 2009 6:51:20 PM | 69

thanks for those links, xcroc

a couple recent ecoterra int'l press releases mentioned rumors of a guantanamo at sea, so that's probably it. there's a real problem in trying to figure out what to do w/ apprehended suspects. some other navies have ended up holding suspects for a long period of time, only to end up releasing them due to problematic legalities. the T-AKE would fit in w/ the 'phase two' operations that the task force 151 rear adm acknowledged. but are they really expecting to capture that many 'pirates'? i've seen the strategy page a few times before & it's usually wrong or half-informed on the topic covered, so i'm skeptical that somalia would be getting "several servrons". or would the capacity be to detain large numbers of suspected 'terrorists' inland? but then i can't easily believe there would be any u.s. boots on the ground in somalia either.

and i wonder if the u.s. deal w/ kenya is maybe not working out like they were planning since garowe online is reporting today that U.S. Navy to 'transfer' 9 pirate suspects to Puntland

GAROWE, Somalia Feb 27 (Garowe Online) - The U.S. Embassy in Kenya has contacted authorities in Somalia's self-governing State of Puntland to 'transfer' over a group of suspected pirates, Radio Garowe reports.

Inside sources said the U.S. Navy apprehended the pirate suspects in the Gulf of Aden and has been holding them aboard one of the U.S. Navy ships.

i did catch an AP story from a couple weeks back on the use of a drone(s) to monitor fishing vessels in the area. wondering too if they also help report tuna (or other species) locations to paying fishermen, who often use their own small aircraft to assist a fishing fleet. adding value & all that, ya know...

Posted by: b real | Feb 28, 2009 1:11:05 AM | 70

and why does that subtopia post on somalia lead off w/ a pic of MEND on the other side of the continent? couldn't find any menacing photos of somalis?

Posted by: b real | Feb 28, 2009 1:27:03 AM | 71

in the quote he doesn't say "sharia", but it will be a pivotal event (w/ big ripples) if he honestly follows thru on this

New president to rule country using Islamic law

MOGADISHU, Somalia Feb 28 (Garowe Online) - Somalia's new leader has said that he will rule the country using Islamic law, Radio Garowe reports.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the Horn of Africa country's new president, told a Saturday press conference at the presidential palace Villa Somalia in Mogadishu that recent attacks against African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) has brought much suffering to Somali civilians.

...

He stated that the Somali government has "accepted a ceasefire request" from the armed opposition, which was delivered by Mogadishu's clan elders, who served as mediators.

...

He indicated that AMISOM commanders assured him they would not shell residential areas in response to insurgent attacks.

"I will rule the country [Somalia] using Islamic law," President Sheikh Sharif said bluntly, while rejecting "misinformation spread by people with private interests."

Nicolas Bwakira, the African Union's special envoy to Somalia, recently told the Voice of America that President Sheikh Sharif's government would be 'secular.'

...

It is the first time President Sheikh Sharif, formerly the moderate leader of the Islamic Courts movement, has publicly stated that he intends to rule Somalia under Islamic law.

Posted by: b real | Feb 28, 2009 5:36:16 PM | 72

the truce is reportedly between the govt & hizbul islam, who have agreed to pull their fighters out of several neighborhoods in order that residents who have fled their homes previously may return. saw one comment from someone inside mogadishu who said it is media hype over tentative mediations & that hizbul islam started distancing itself from any agreement w/ sharif later on saturday, but i have yet to find any corroboration to back that.


Parliament will endorse introduction of Sharia, speaker

MOGADIHSU (Mareeg)-Somalia’s deputy parliament speaker Osman Elmi Boqorre said Sunday that the parliament will endorse the implementation of Islamic Sharia.

“Somali people are hundred percent Muslims so there is no reason that the parliament can reject to endorse the Sharia,” said Osman Elmi Boqorre.

Somalia's President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said Saturday he accepted a proposal by local and foreign religious leaders for a truce with hardline Islamists and the implementation of sharia, or Islamic law.

...

"The mediators asked me to introduce Islamic sharia in the country and I agreed," he added.

cnn rpt'd that

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said Saturday he will give in to a rebel demand that he impose Islamic law, or sharia, in an effort to halt fighting between Somali forces and Islamic insurgents.

However, Ahmed told a news conference he won't agree to a strict interpretation of the law, which forbids girls from attending school, requires veils for women and beards for men, and bans music and television.

no english language comments that i can find yet on what the clerics think of this or whose interpretation of sharia will make it to parliament

Posted by: b real | Mar 1, 2009 2:37:06 AM | 73

the corroboration i was seeking in #73

Somali hardliners reject truce offer

MOGADISHU (AFP) — Hardline Islamists in Somalia rejected on Sunday a ceasefire offer which had been accepted by new President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and vowed to keep up their attacks on government forces.

The president, elected on January 31, reached out to hardliners on Saturday by accepting mediators' requests for a ceasefire and offering to introduce sharia law across the war-torn country.

But Hizb al-Islamiya (Islamic Party), a group of hardline Islamists who claimed bloody attacks in the capital last week, rejected the proposals.

"The information regarding a ceasefire plan between our group and the government is baseless. We will attack the enemy and their stooges anytime we want," spokesman Muse Abdi Arale said.

...

..Arale, the rebel spokesman, said his group had met with the mediators but only discussed plans for a partial withdraw of its fighters.

and on the mention (#70) of issues w/ the u.s. deal to turn over suspected pirates to kenya for trials, there's this from the east african this weekend

Trials of Somali pirates are putting Kenya at risk

An agreement between Kenya and the US to try pirates arrested in the Indian Ocean in Kenyan courts could have unwittingly exposed the country to terror attacks.

The risk of Somali-based terrorists, including al Qaeda-affiliated groups, launching attacks against Western interests in Kenya has risen significantly.

The agreement, announced by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, will see dozens of Somali pirates transported to Mombasa, before being arraigned in Kenyan courts. Over the past three weeks alone, more than 30 pirates have been apprehended.

A Kenyan court in Mombasa is already trying eight pirates apprehended last year by the British navy.

“The active involvement of Kenya in the anti-piracy campaign will strengthen perceptions among Somali extremists of Kenya as an ally of the Americans and the West in the so-called war on terror,” Dr Adams Oloo, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi’s political department, told The EastAfrican.

“Because the extremists cannot reach the US directly, they could settle for a symbolic attack on its interests in the region,” he added.

i think the argument is more hype than a realistic assessment though, since the so-called islamist extremists don't support the acts of piracy in the first place, nor are they involved in it. but public sentiment can play a role in putting pressure on the govt when they percieve they're being subjected to unnecessary risks due to foreign interests. and kenya has a large muslim & somali population that have a history of being treated unfairly by kenya's govt(s) and an influx of somali nationals being put through the paces of kenya' injustice apparatus does have the potential to foment internal unrest. that's probably one reason why the agreement w/ the u.s. (and the uk too, from what i've read) has never received a whole lot of coverage.

Posted by: b real | Mar 1, 2009 7:23:43 PM | 74

b real, @70 I hadn't thought of fish spotting, but that seems entirely possible, insult to injury.
@71 I wondered about the picture of MEND too. I sort of shrugged it off at the time. But I got curious and went back this evening and asked.

Posted by: xcroc | Mar 2, 2009 7:04:39 PM | 75

@ xcroc - i made that remark mostly tongue-in-cheek after following some materials on how spotters were esp a problem in tracking (and thus contributing to the overfishing of) schools of tuna, and are illegal in at least the atlantic, but evidently not the mediterranean. it certainly would be an example of 'adding value' to u.s. military ops, but i wasn't being too serious. (though nothing surprises me anymore)

Posted by: b real | Mar 3, 2009 11:24:30 AM | 76

weinstein has a very good wrap-up of the political situation in somalia last week

Somalia Begins a Cycle of Civil Conflict

Recreating the split between A.R.S.-D and A.R.S.-A, the conflict in Mogadishu between the T.F.G. and Hizbul Islam (H.I.) indicates that the emerging cycle of Somalia's political history can be understood better as a struggle over the nature of a possible future state among contending political forces than as a drama in which the weak protagonist Sh. Sharif attempts to establish a functioning government against his armed antagonists. Sh. Sharif has lost momentum and room for initiative, and is now one player among several.

...

The winners of the week are the I.C.C. and H.I., which has not joined the reconciliation process. Sh. Sharif's clerical base had its demand met, and southern and central Somalia is on its way to rule under some mix of Islamic political formulas. Sh. Sharif has broken the tug of war over his will between the clerics and the international coalition by falling into the arms of the former, yet by doing so he has lost a good deal of his room to maneuver. His embarrassing failure to bring H.I. on board the T.F.G. signals his lack of power even in Mogadishu, much less the other southern and central regions; he has taken a hit and has yet to feel the likely backlash from disaffected clans and the sub-state of Puntland. Sh. Sharif ended the week in a less favorable power position, downgraded from protagonist to player.


and

The developments of the week placed the entire south of Somalia under at least the nominal control of al-Shabaab and its allies, rendering null any hope for Sh. Sharif to influence developments there.

and

With political conditions in Somalia transmuting before its eyes, the Washington-inspired I.C.G., which had originally been a coordination and pressure group of Western donor powers with the token African participation of Tanzania, but has now grown to include every conceivable external "stakeholder" in Somalia that supports the T.F.G., met in Brussels on February 26 and 27, chaired by the U.N.'s special representative to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah.

The group's communique was pure boiler plate..

Prolonged analysis of the communique is not required to grasp its emptiness - its repetition of promises that have never been kept, its toothless "calls" for contributions, its maintenance of the illusions that Somalia has a National Unity Government and that it is making progress, and its neglect to note that southern and central Somalia appear to be set on a course of adopting different variants of an Islamic political formula.

and finally

The one constant is the tendency towards adoption of Islamism in every region.

...

It will take much more than wishful thinking to reverse the process towards cantonization, which has now become the most likely outcome of Somalia's new political cycle, and seemingly unthinkable to reverse the tendency towards an Islamic political formula. The Ethiopian occupation of Somalia from December 2006 to December 2008, and the international coalition's chronic negligence seem simply to have interrupted temporarily a multi-faceted Islamic revolution in which the cleric becomes the dominant social type.

the whole analysis is very informative

Posted by: b real | Mar 3, 2009 11:25:08 AM | 77

this won't go over very well, nor help the situation

500 African Union peacekeepers arrive in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia Mar 3 (Garowe Online) - A new batch of African Union peacekeepers arrived in Somalia's capital Tuesday, days after 11 Burundian peacekeepers in Mogadishu were killed in a suicide bomb attack, Radio Garowe reports.

A military transport plane delivered 500 new soldiers from Burundi, which will reinforce a 3,500-strong AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM.

neither will this

New 'unity government' minister declares war on media

MOGADISHU, Somalia Mar 3 (Garowe Online) - A minister in Somalia's new 'unity government' has declared war against the Horn of Africa country's free press, Radio Garowe reports.

Mr. Abdirahman Ibbi, the new Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, told reporters that the Somali government will fight against the independent press "similar to the war against the warlords."

"The media is a destroyer not a builder, so our priority is to fight them," the Minister said, although he did not elaborate.

Minister Ibbi accused Somali journalists of "misreporting political developments" and "exaggerating the government's mistakes."

"The reporters are opposition, or they are threatened by the opposition [to misreport]," the Fisheries Minister alleged.

...

Mr. Ibbi, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, was a key member of the ARS faction that now dominates the 'unity government.'

Posted by: b real | Mar 3, 2009 11:37:52 PM | 78

mother jones: Blackwater's New Frontier: Their Own Private Africa

To companies seeking entrée to the continent, the military's new Africa command could provide a key foothold. To pursue its mission of security, diplomacy, and development, africom's outreach and partnership director, Paul Saxton, told a packed audience at the conference, the command plans to enlist the help of the private sector. "We're reaching out."

...

[AFRICOM's] frosty reception should have come as no surprise, Eeben Barlow, the former South African soldier who founded Executive Outcomes, commented on his blog in November. "Looking at...US administrations' record in Africa, it is one long script of betrayal, destabilisation, political blackmail and even worse." African nations, he noted, "remain extremely reluctant and wary to allow the wolf to guard their sheep."

But africom's start-up problems have not dampened the enthusiasm of Barlow's cohorts in the security industry. They also see opportunities in other federal initiatives—such as a massive, and little-known, State Department contract, the Africa Peacekeeping Program. Worth some $1 billion over five years, it covers work in countries including Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, everything from logistics support and construction to training and advising African troops, flying aerial surveillance missions, and improving coastal security. Triple Canopy and Blackwater are said to be among those that submitted proposals.

At the ipoa conference, we spoke with two Blackwater representatives, who during that morning's panel discussion had taken seats beside africom's Paul Saxton. With Somali pirates' seizure of a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 battle tanks fresh in the news, they told us, the company saw opportunity in the area of "maritime security." In mid-October, Blackwater had announced that its 183-foot, helipad-equipped ship, the McArthur, was standing by to assist shipping companies in the area. (After being contacted by at least 70 shipping and insurance firms interested in its anti-piracy services, Blackwater in December held three days of meetings in London with prospective clients.) But the core of Blackwater's ambition in Africa is to transition away from the high-profile "personal protection" work that has brought it so much opprobrium in Iraq and Afghanistan; to that end, its representatives told us, it has opened an office in Nairobi, Kenya, the better to go after opportunities to train African military and security forces.

Posted by: b real | Mar 3, 2009 11:50:08 PM | 79

Thanks b real. As always very valuable and helpful.

Posted by: b | Mar 4, 2009 1:29:34 AM | 80

if this article is accurate, this would indicate that the so-called peacekeepers have an expanded mandate or perhaps the UPDF is conducting military operations inside somalia outside of the AMISOM mandate

AU troops wound Somali fisherman

MOGADISHU(Sh. M. Network)--The African Union troops in the Somali capital Mogadishu have wounded a Somali fisherman and destroyed boats of fishermen Wednesday near Aden Ade International airport, a witness told radio Shabelle on Thursday.

“We were fishing about 40 miles south of the airport when Ugandan troops on small boats reached us they suddenly opened fire on our boats with out talking to us. One fisherman became injured and they destroyed our boat,” said Hassan Mohamud Jiisow, a Somali fisherman.

“We thought they were peacekeepers but after this time we will consider them as enemies. We are not pirates we are fisherman who are chasing their daily bread in the sea,” he added.

Fishermen accused the Ugandan troops of harassing and called for them to stop targeting the fishermen.

Shabelle tried to talk about the accusation to the AMISOM spokesperson but could not reach him.

also

Thousands rally in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network) - Thousands of people Thursday rallied in the Somali capital Mogadishu in favour for peace and the decisions made by Somali clerics in Mogadishu, calling for the withdrawal of African Union peacekeepers and demanding the sharia to be practiced.

Somali clerics concluded a meeting in Mogadishu last month and called for the government to rule the country by the Islamic law and demanded the withdrawal of AU peace keepers.

People rallying at the national football stadium carried posters and chanted slogans in support of implementing the Islamic law and called for the government to rule the country with in the Sharia.

Sheik Ahmed Dahir Aways, who is a member of the Somali clerics and a brother of the influential cleric Hassan Dahir Aways, spoke to the demonstrators and called for the Somali people to take Allah’s book and work for the peace which he described as the only solution for the Somali problems.

“We demand that this country be ruled with the sharia law because we believe it is the only law for Somalia which is an Islamic country,” said sheik Abu Shayba, a member of the Somalia's Union of Islamic clerics.

Mohamed Hassan Haad, the leader of Hawiye clan elders, the largest in Somalia, said at the rally that Mogadishu people do not want any fighting.

The demonstrators were chanting slogans to support the sharia and the peace of Mogadishu.

Posted by: b real | Mar 5, 2009 11:26:55 AM | 81

in #70 i mentioned the story of the u.s. navy turning over several detained pirate suspects to puntland rather than kenya after having inked a deal w/ the latter to take & try suspects before a court of law. according to stories earlier this week they were released to puntland b/c the u.s. navy did not have any good evidence to continue to hold them. so after more than two weeks detention aboard the lewis & clark (from feb 12), they were released. the stories at the same time in the puntland media did not provide this context & stated that the suspects would be held & tried there. i am assuming that both sets of stories are referring to the same group of somalis released by the navy since i have not seen evidence of multiple releases to puntland.

so the deal w/ kenya is still intact

and others are taking it up too

EU signs pirate deal with Kenya, German navy holding 9 men (roundup)

Berlin - The European Union signed an agreement with Kenya on Friday, providing for the handover of pirates seized off the coast of Somalia, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The agreement was signed in Nairobi by Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetang'ula and the Czech ambassador to Kenya, the spokesman said. The Czech Republic holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

The spokesman, Jens Ploetner, said no decision had been made whether nine pirates captured Tuesday by the German Navy would be transferred to Kenya.

Independent prosecutors in Hamburg first need to decide whether the men should face trial in Germany.

The pirates are being held on board the German frigate Rheinland Pfalz, which apprehended them on Tuesday when they attacked a German merchant vessel off Somalia with anti-tank missiles and firearms.

The frigate forms part of the EU's anti-pirate mission Atalanta, operating in the Gulf of Aden.

A specially convened commission, representing Germany's Interior, Foreign, Defence and Justice ministries, met this week to discuss the legal status of the pirates.

The German navy has handed over all its evidence to the Hamburg- based prosecutors, a spokesman said. They now need to decide whether German interests were at stake during the attack.

If this were the case the pirates could be brought to Germany to face trial.

Since the MV Courier, owned by a Bremen-based shipping company, had been sailing under an Antiguan flag, with a non-German crew, this is considered an unlikely outcome.

For this reason the deal with Kenya was crucial, as it has cleared the way for the nine men to be handed over to face prosecution there.

the legal grounds for trying somalis in other countries is, as brought up previously, contentious & controversial. and as the second link in #74 points out, these deals w/ kenya will continue to reinforce its negative image among other african nations as a primary gateway for external actors to interfere w/ african sovereignty.

relatedly,

Renditions, American-style: how Kenya joined the War on Terror

Kenya’s government illegally detained and rendered 150 citizens in a US-influenced ‘counterterrorism’ operation, a report reveals today.

The report, compiled by REDRESS and Reprieve, reveals the devastating effect of US policies on human rights in Africa, as Kenyan officials aped and obeyed their powerful ally in jettisoning hard-won legal rights in the region.

The 150 people, of 21 nationalities and including children, were seized near the Kenyan border over three months from December 2006. Many were fleeing to Kenya from the conflict in Somalia. Held beyond the rule of law, some were tortured and subjected to cruel and degrading treatment, while up to 120 were ‘rendered’ to Somalia and Ethiopia outside of any legal process.

One Kenyan citizen, Abdulmalik, was handed to US forces and rendered to a US secret prison in Djibouti, Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and an unidentified secret prison in Kabul. Abdulmalik finally ended up in Guantanamo Bay, where he has been held for two years without charge and without being shown any evidence against him.

This incident demonstrates the pernicious effect of US counterterrorism policies worldwide, and the urgent need for the Obama administration to publicly renounce the illegal practice of extraordinary renditions.

the full 67-page report, kenya and counter-terrorism: a time for change , is available for download at the link

an excerpt:

As a result of the attacks against US interests in Kenya and its geographical proximity to Somalia, the US has identified Kenya as a key strategic ally in its “war on terror” and has provided Kenya with substantial funding in this regard. Kenya receives a range of assistance from the US to pursue its counterterrorism strategies, including: “military training for border and coastal security, a variety of programs to strengthen control of the movement of people and goods across borders, aviation security capacity-building, assistance for regional efforts against terrorist financing, and police training. [The East African Counterterrorism Initiative] EACTI also includes an education program to counter extremist influence and a robust outreach program.” According to the Kenyan media, the US “has increased its military aid to Kenya by nearly 800 per cent since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.”

In 2006, for example, the US Ambassador to Kenya announced the donation of six boats to the Kenyan Navy, estimated at $3 million USD to “help the Government of Kenya combat insecurity and terrorism. This is timely in view of heightened concerns by Kenya about potential exploitation of the Kenyan coast by criminal groups and terrorists. The donation of the boats is part of a much broader effort to help the Government of Kenya protect its borders. This is particularly important in view of the deteriorating situation within Somalia.” In May 2007, the US and Kenya announced $14 million USD of “new funding to Kenya’s security forces aimed at countering “terrorist activities” in the Horn of Africa.” The assistance was described as including:

• Training and equipment of various Kenyan law enforcement and security programs, $5.5 million

• Training and equipping of four coastal security patrol units, $1.5 million

• Construction of Coastal Maritime Training Facility on Camp Manda, $3 million

• Through Port Security Initiative, provide training on security management and planning at Mombasa, $450,000

• Grant of two boats with equipment for Mombasa Port, $260,000

• Provision of secure IT network and case management project for [the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit] ATPU, $2.08 million (over two years)

• Support of cyber forensics lab and cyber crime training, $1.24 million (over two years)

• Border Control Management course to enhance operational planning skills, $200,000.194

Despite the US’ central role in the development and implementation of counterterrorism measures in Kenya, it is not clear how proactively the US requires such measures to be taken in full compliance with Kenya’s international human rights obligations. To the contrary, the US’ approach to counter-terrorism under the Bush administration has been regularly condemned for its failure to accord with basic human rights standards.

Posted by: b real | Mar 6, 2009 11:29:17 AM | 82

two notable extracts from ecoterra international's somali marine & coastal monitor (SMCM) update from feb 12th

MV FAINA, the ill-fated weapons transporter owned by the Israeli-Ukrainian Vadim Alperin, one week after her release finally reached Mombassa harbour in Kenya under US naval guard, which usually would only be a 2-3 days trip away from her place of release near Hobyo in Somalia. The public does not really believe that the voyage had to take so long due to engine problems but think that the time-delay was required to spin numerous stories as well as to allow for preparations to stage a public welcome in Kenya derailing the public attention from the crucial questions of the 134 day long hostage saga as well as the true destination of the weapons comprising of 33 ex-Sowjet T-72 battle tanks with 125mm ammunition reportedly of the 3BM-32 type, which contains a penetrator made from depleted uranium. Neither the World Health Organization or UNEP nor IAEA, the three organizations tasked with surveillance of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, to which Kenya is a signatory, showed up to inspect the ammunition. Ukrainian Human Rights Ombudswoman and member of Parliament, who arrived with a special flight from Ukraine in Mombassa is gathering detailed information concerning the saga, which is subjected to investigations by parliamentary committees in Kenya and Ukraine as well as in the flag-state of the vessel Belize.

and

You wonder why every fish poacher on earth tries to get his hands on Tuna from Somalia? Why they risk being arrested or even face death? The answer is very clear: The low-mercury tuna fish from the waters of the South-Western Indian Ocean and especially from Somali waters is a high priced though not high enough priced commodity in rich countries ranging from the Middle East through Europe and North America to top buyer Japan, where the mercury levels in their own fish-stock are so high that the local catch actually should be handled as toxic substance.

from the feb 17th update

A Russian daily claims Somali pirates hijacked Israeli-owned Ukrainian vessel MV FAINA after a tip-off about its destination and cargo. A Georgian cell operator directed the call from the port city of Odessa, Kommersant quoted Ukrainian security sources as saying. Pirates captured the arms-laden MV FAINA along with its 21 crewmembers in the Indian Ocean on September 25, 2008, sparking international concern over the possible sales of its sophisticated military cargo. The ship was released after 20 weeks on February 5, when pirates received a $3.2 million ransom. MV FAINA's Israeli owner Vadim Alperin was accused of delaying the release by refusing to directly negotiate with pirates. The seizure by Somali pirates of the MV FAINA vessel carrying tanks and other military equipment was not a special operation instigated by Ukraine's competitors on the weapons market, said Mykola Malomuzh, the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence Service. Meanwhile the MV FAINA cargo has been fully loaded on rail wagons in Mombassa - ready for onward transfer to the Kahawa Barracks in Nairobi, KBC reports. Sources say the cargo is awaiting an official flag off to start the trip anytime later Tuesday or early Wednesday. The consignment aboard the Ukrainian ship included 33 T-72 battle tanks (MBT), several ZPU-4 quad-barreled 14.5 mm towed anti-aircraft guns mounted on four-wheel carriages, rocket propelled grenades, an armored truck and spare parts as well as a huge amount of ammunition. Military officials, led by Colonel George Kabugi, Deputy Commander of the Kenya Army Armored Brigade, told journalists that they were happy to receive the cargo. When the vessel arrived in Kenya, Defence Assistant Minister David Musila said the equipment would be transported to Kahawa Garrison and then to Isiolo and Lanet Army barracks.

The exercise was interrupted several times - as KBC puts it due to tidal waves on the ocean and other logistic hiccups. Media outlets also raised questions over the real destination of the cargo, citing sources in Somalia who claimed the shipment was purchased by Kenya to arm Sudanese rebels in the Darfur region. The Kenyan government has denied the allegations. Jane's Information Group, who publishes Jane's Defence Weekly, stated, however, that though Kenya has repeatedly issued claims to be the end user of the weapons, Jane's sources state that this consignment is, in fact, the third and final batch of MBTs and heavy weapons ordered for use in southern Sudan. ...

The sources of Kommersant-Ukraina newspaper state that MV FAINA´s owner Vadim Alperin allocated only a half of money out of now allegedly spent US $4 million. The rest of fundraising was reportedly guided by the President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko. Unknown businessmen from Ukraine appropriated the rest of funds. The editor-in-chief of the Maritime Bulletin-Sovfracht Mikhail Voitenko, who was taking part in the negotiations with the pirates, confirmed the data. According to him, Alperin assigned even less than a half of funds that were sent to the pirates. "MV FAINA would be remaining in the captivity of the pirates for a long time without assistance of Ukraine´s authorities", Mikhail Voitenko said. He also confirmed the data whereby a great amount of funds (US $800,000) were spent for "other charges". "For example, delivery of food and water was necessary for the sailors at the ship. By the way, Ukraine paid the British who were serving like negotiators till January" [after which the real negotiations started]. Governmental internal oversight however is urged by observers to scrutinize the ransom paid and the bill of "other charges", since earlier reports claimed that only 19,000 USD were paid to the vessel for food, fuel and water.

In a further scandal surrounding the MV FAINA it was revealed that the information about possible compensation worth 1,3 million grivna (about $180.00) to the sailors of the Ukrainian weapons-ship is wrong. This was declared today by Stepan Havrych, National Security and Defense Council First Deputy Secretary. Seafarers had been expecting the compensation, but "This information is a misuse of materials, prepared in National Security and Defense Council. It has nothing to do with reality. I apologize to the sailors and their relatives", — said Havrych.

and

While the cargo of MV FAINA has now been offloaded nobody has yet counter-checked on the 812 tonnes of 125 mm battle-tank ammunition said to contain 3BM-32 warheads with penetrators made from depleted uranium (DU). Non of the three international organizations tasked with such duties (WHO, UNEP and IAEA) nor the New York based global arms transparency instrument - the UN Register of Conventional Arms, which even does not cover ammunition transfers - have reacted so far.

In this context it must be known that:

(1) The use of DU weapons goes against established principles of humanitarian law, notably principles of the Geneva Conventions and some UN guidelines relative to:

the protection of civilian populations (See Articles 48 and 51.4 above)

the limitation of unnecessary human suffering (Art.35.2)

the limitation of damage to the environment (Art. 35.3 and 55.1)

Art. 35.2: It is prohibited to employ weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering.

Art. 35.3: It is prohibited to employ methods or means of warfare which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long- term and severe damage to the natural environment.

Art. 55.1: Care shall be taken in warfare to protect the natural environment against widespread, long-term and severe damage. This protection includes a prohibition of the use of methods or means of warfare which are intended or may be expected to cause such damage to the natural environment and thereby to prejudice the health or survival of the population.

also

Questions emerged about whether the U.S. Navy can continue to hold a group of suspected pirates captured on the high seas and kept for now in floating jail cells ringed with barbed wire. At issue are nine men, probably Somalis, seized off a small skiff in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday. A Navy ship fired warnings shots and sailors boarded the skiff and arrested the men after a distress call from an Indian-flagged merchant ship. Although defense officials would not be specific, several acknowledged that there may not be enough evidence to hold the men for trial and that some or all might be returned to Somalia. If a case can be brought, it will be among the first under a new arrangement with Kenya to take on prosecution of suspected Somali pirates. Somalia has no effective government or recognized court system, and until now foreign navies have been reluctant to detain suspects because of legal uncertainties over where they would face trial.

"They obviously had some strong suspicions about these individuals and are right now mulling through the evidence they have to determine whether or not they can be prosecuted", Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Friday. "If there is insufficient evidence to do so, they'll have to make another determination, and that could well be repatriating them". Morrell said the men would not be allowed to keep weapons including a rocket-propelled grenade launcher seized from their boat. For now the group is being held aboard the Lewis and Clark, a U.S. Navy ship equipped with bare-bones holding cells. Pentagon video footage showed thin black pallets and pillows spread on the floor and surrounded by coils of barbed wire. The nine suspected pirates are the second of two groups seized by the U.S. Navy this week off the coast of Somalia. Defense officials said there are not the same concerns about the strength of evidence against the first group seized by the United States. Those seven suspected pirates were detained Wednesday after they allegedly tried to board a merchant ship flagged in the Marshall Islands. The Pentagon said there is no deadline by which a new U.S.-led anti-piracy consortium must decide what to do with the men, who in the meantime were being treated "humanely". Increasingly drone aircrafts that have been used by the US military in Afghanistan and against insurgents in Iraq are now being used to combat pirates off the Somali coast. The US Navy revealed over the weekend that the destroyer Mahan has been using the unmanned aircraft to keep an eye on small vessels that are suspected of carrying pirates. Sources told the Associated Press that the spy flights played a role in last Thursday´s capture of nine suspected pirates. Newly created Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) created under US command to fight piracy around the Horn of Africa has meanwhile been joined by Britain, Denmark, Turkey and Singapore, U.S. officials said.

Meanwhile also Ben Rawlence of the New York-based Human Rights Watch told VOA that his group is concerned that in its eagerness to bring pirates to justice, the United States may be overlooking a critical problem in Kenya, which is likely to affect the way pirates are detained and prosecuted. "There are major, major problems with the Kenyan justice system", he said. "No one really is guaranteed the right to a fair trial in that system. The police have a terrible record of long periods of detention without trial, terrible conditions in the prisons, very poor record of access to legal representation, interminable delays in the court process. The Kenyan justice system is in a terrible state".

and

The U.S. Navy finally confirmed that a sailor from the USS San Antonio was missing after he and two others fell from an inflatable boat used to transfer personnel from one ship to another during an anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden. The 5th Fleet´s Bahrain headquarters said the other two sailors were rescued uninjured. The identity of the missing sailor was not disclosed. USS San Antonio. Nelson and Charity Ansong said now they are willing to accept their eldest son´s death after he fell overboard from a U.S. Navy ship in the Gulf of Aden last week, but they just want to know what really happened. U.S. Navy officials said that Engineman First Class Theophilus Kwaku Ansong, 34, of Bristow, disappeared Wednesday. According to a U.S. Navy news release, Ansong and two other sailors were thrown from an inflatable boat that flipped Wednesday while being lowered from the Norfolk-based USS San Antonio in the Gulf of Aden, near Somalia, where the ship had been stationed for counter-piracy operations. The two other sailors were rescued unharmed, but Ansong was not found. Navy officials said a search-and-rescue mission for Ansong lasted more than 24 hours before being called off. But the Ansong's parents want to know more about what happened and what caused their son´s death. Charity Ansong said her son left on the USS San Antonio about five months ago. He said he could not tell them where he was going, but he regularly called and e-mailed to tell his parents he was all right, she said. Then last week, on Wednesday night, two Navy officers came to the Ansong´s Bristow home with bad news. "They came here and delivered a message that ... something had happened," Nelson Ansong said, resting his head in his hands as he spoke. The Navy officers said that Ansong had not been found, but his life jacket was recovered, zipped and buttoned, Nelson Ansong said. "How can somebody slip from a life vest that´s zipped up? That´s what we want to know. That´s what we have to know", Nelson Ansong said. He said the family also hopes that the Navy will recover Ansong´s body, so that they can bury him and a cause of death can be determined. "As of now, that is all we want", Nelson Ansong said. "If he´s dead we need the body and the cause of his death. We need that answered".

plenty more material in just that one long update

from the feb 24 update, bringing us back to the main focus of this thread

The pirate threat off the Horn of Africa is now so bad that the Pentagon has deployed a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the area. Rear Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, commander of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, has announced that the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower has been dispatched to patrol nearly 7.5 million square miles in the Middle East region, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Sunday. The obvious reason for this is that American nuclear-powered super-carriers, because they are much larger than the far smaller conventional carriers that the rest of the world operates, can carry a far larger and more formidable complement of aircraft. They therefore can patrol far larger areas of sea at the same time and launch fast response attacks with powerful squadrons far more often and easily. But nuclear-powered super-carriers have other advantages as well. Because they are nuclear-powered, they can stay at sea for an infinite period of time without being refueled. That vastly reduces the logistical problems of keeping them operationally active and deployed on station for long periods of time, and, sure enough, the Eisenhower has been sent to the Gulf for a five-month mission, its captain said. Tidd said the Eisenhower, which left its home port in Norfolk, Va., Saturday, will offer a strong message to U.S. naval allies, "standing shoulder by shoulder with them in some of the dangerous parts of the world". However, the pirates are hard to combat. Armchair strategists repeatedly have suggested reviving the World War I British expedient of "Q-ships" -- apparently harmless merchantmen that can open fire on pirate attackers with devastating force. But this is a pipe dream. The pirates attack their targets in extremely fast speedboats, and all they would have to do is speed off like lightning when the "Q-ships" revealed their true nature. More and more details are revealed concerning a pending major attack by naval and special forces against pirate land-bases like Eyl in March.

Posted by: b real | Mar 7, 2009 1:52:28 AM | 83

Kismayo Islamists say 'no threat to Kenya'

KISMAYO, Somalia Mar 7 (Garowe Online) - Islamist gunmen who control southern Somalia's Jubba regions, including the strategic port town of Kismayo, have said that they are not a threat to the security of neighboring Kenya, Radio Garowe reports.

Sheikh Hassan Yakub, spokesman for the Al Shabaab guerrillas in Kismayo, told a Saturday press conference that Kenya has been "misinformed" by U.S. intelligence about emerging terror threats from Somalia.

"There is ongoing propaganda intended to destroy the security and order of the Jubba regions," Sheikh Yakub said, while referring to Middle Jubba and Lower Jubba regions in Somalia's deep south.

The Kenyan government has beefed up security along the Somali-Kenya border since 2008, when a series of violent incidents including attacks on Kenyan border troops raised threat concerns.

But Sheikh Yakub insisted that Al Shabaab fighters in control of parts of south-central Somalia posed "no threat" to Kenyan security and blamed the U.S. government, saying: "They [U.S.] are against the application of Islamic law in Somalia."

Kismayo, a port town 500km south of the capital Mogadishu, fell under the control of a coalition of clan militias and Islamist fighters in Aug. 2008.

The port town has been relatively peaceful since.

Posted by: b real | Mar 7, 2009 10:29:43 AM | 84

major attack by naval and special forces against pirate land-bases like Eyl in March.

how frustrating. makes me feel like pulling my hair out.

Posted by: annie | Mar 7, 2009 11:09:26 AM | 85

waaga cusub media has printed a transcript of the recent al jazeera interview w/ al shabaab spokesperson abu mansur, who is also a leader of one of the group's otherwise decentralized regional commands

some excerpts

on the origins of the youth mvmt

Al-Jazeera: Why was Al-Shabab formed and how is it different from the other groups that are currently operating in Somalia?

Abu Mansur: Al-Shabab was formed not too long ago after people returned from the fighting in Afghanistan in which the Taliban was ousted. Some officials of the Islamic movements who were in the country at the time held a meeting having felt that their groups were not that active as far jihad was concerned. There were various Somali Islamic movements that have in the past tried to carry out jihad but they were faced with many obstacles and dropped their operations altogether.

The men who were previously in these groups held a meeting and decided to form a movement and take part in the jihad and spread the religion. They decided to spread the religion alongside the Jihad. Thank God, these efforts have been realized and God has blessed their efforts, resulting in exposure of many harmful plans that hatched by unbelievers. Many of the men who were part of these movements have been chosen by God to be martyred on his behalf. More than 10 people who were among those who formed this group [Al-Shabab] have been martyred so far, among them Shaykh Ibrahim Hashi, our brother Abu Qutayba, our brother Ma'alin Adan Hashi Ayrow, and our brother Umar Dheere alias Abu Jabal. Many of those who were present during the formation of the group have also been martyred. Those who are still alive are also looking forward to death, in order to die for the same cause that others before them died for. The first time the general public came to know about Al-Shabab was during the fight against terrorism which was led by the nine warlords who had reached agreement with the US government.

These warlords used to abduct the mujahidin and hand them over to the then US administration, through their offices in Djibouti. Among those who were abducted [by the warlords and handed over to the Americans] were two mujahidin who were abducted from the house of Adan Ayrow. One of them is now taking part in the jihad and the other one is imprisoned in Hargeysa. When the warlords became too much in trading in the blood of the mujahidin the mujahidin decided to fight back and they attacked the airport that was used to carry out these operations and those who were in custody at the time were also released. After that, our group and the Islamic courts started carrying out joint operations and the support we got from the public played a big role in the fighting. Al-Shabab has since become popular in the country.

on ties to al-qa'idah

Al-Jazeera: There are people who say that your group has close relations with Al-Qa'idah, what is the truth of the matter?

Abu Mansur: The relation we have with them is the same as the one all muslims have with other fellow muslims. It is an Islamic principle [quotes an Arabic phrase meaning support them or oppose them, which is to distance yourself from the unbelievers and be close to fellow Muslims and love them. That is the kind of relationship we have [with Al-Qa'idah]. They pray for us and we pray for them.

They sometimes broadcast advice on the internet which is very beneficial to us or sometimes they send us messages via the internet and we are very excited about that, last of which was the tape sent by our brother, Abu Yahya Al-Libiyi.

We are usually very pleased with such statements. There is no close relationship between our two groups in such a way that they are part of us or we are part of them, but we belong together as Muslims. They are mujahidin and our enemies are one, they fight the Americans and we fight them. They fight the other unbelievers whom we also fight. They want to implement Shari'ah law and so do we.

We are opposed to the fake borders that have been established by the colonialists banning people from Iraq to go to Jordan or the Saudi to go to Yemen. We are saying that all Muslim countries be united as one and they also want the same thing. That is all there is to it. We are not part of them but we love them very much.

on some of the propaganda

Al-Jazeera: ... is demolishing of graves or instilling of Shari'ah Law in Alaska, United States among your first priorities?

Abu Mansur: I will first of all concentrate on Baidoa and instil God's law. Afterwards, I will go to Diinsoor which is among towns in Bay Region and I will also sort it out and that is how it will continue. When you want to climb a tree, you start from the stem; you do not just jump to the leaves. Those reports were broadcast by Al-Jazeera English after speaking to a man who was very upset and said that he will implement Shari'ah law in Alaska. Similar statements have been made by members of Islamic courts.

I heard about those statements, but I did not hear them say it in person. They also said they will pray the Eid prayers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and that did not happen. We are not personally known to those who made these statements but I can tell you that they are not part of our strategy. We do not want to transgress against anyone. We want to establish order in our country. Our religion, Islam, is not one into which people are forced. As for the graves, do not believe if you are told that these graves have been demolished by Al-Shabab.

Does the Shari'ah Law accept the demolition of these graves yes or no? That is a debate for another day and it can be discussed at length at an appropriate time. We know what is written in the book but discussing that now is another issue altogether. You are aware that Islamic Shari'ah gives priority to what is in the interest of the people and things that are generally harmful to people. Whenever we are doing anything, we always think about whether it is appropriate to do it at this time or no. If for example demolishing of these graves will force some clans to take up arms and result in the illegal spilling of blood, then we have an obligation to stop its demolition until these people can be made to understand the issue from a religious point of view. The incident [of demolishing graves] occurred in Kismaayo where there is a three sided administration, Raas Kaambooni, Canoole brothers and Al-Shabab movement.

The administration there is an independent one and its decisions are not influenced by each of these groups who are part of it. We believe that we should move forward with caution. As an example, when alcohol was being outlawed, it went through three stages. The prophet was told [presumably by God] that people will ask you about alcohol and gambling. Tell them both are a big sin although they have things that might be beneficial to people [Chapter 219]. The Second phase was Do not go for prayers while you are intoxicated, or at least until you know what you are actually saying, [Chapter 43] and at last it was said Those of you who fear God, alcohol, gambling and worshiping of idols are evil doings, distance yourselves from it so that you may be blessed [Chapter: 90] These are the steps that are the steps that our religion prescribes.

Al-Jazeera: The things I hear from your group and what I am hearing from you now are totally different. You are accused of committing atrocities of the highest level and that whoever disagrees with you is sentenced to death. Has there been a change in your group's rhetoric?

Abu Mansur: Look at the way I am [looking rough with signs of bodily neglect]. I am away from my family and children, I do not have any money or houses in this world and I can comfortably choose to engage in business like others. To live in this kind of harsh life and then go to hell fire tomorrow [when I die]; I seek God's protection from that. It is not possible to kill the person that disagrees with your opinion, that is forbidden. Everything that is said [about us] is propaganda that is being spread by the enemies of God. We have been in this town for few weeks now and nobody has been killed other than a man who killed his mother. Before we came, at least ten people used to be killed in the town everyday.

How can we kill people who disagree with our opinions at a time when we forgave the same ones who were fighting us yesterday? [Al-Shabab had captured some government officials and members of the Federal Somali parliament in Baidoa and set them free] Our Prophet Muhammad when he went back to Mecca, he brought together all of those who displaced him from the town earlier on and said, "What do you think I will do to you?" and they said "You are a good brother whose father was also a good brother". They were seeking his compassion and the prophet told them "You are free to go." That is the kind of forgiveness that Islam teaches. I am surprised by the rumours that are being spread on the internet. A man with a knife is reading Koran and trying to behead another man. The one trying to behead the other man cannot even properly read the Koran. Then they go ahead and say this is what Al-Shabab movement does. We do not do that at all, I am the spokesman for Al-Shabab and I would have the authority to speak for the group.


on the so-called pirates

Al-Jazeera: There are people who are saying that you have ties with Somali pirates, is there any truth in that?

Abu Mansur: We are accused of many things. We are accused of killing people without reason. So that is among those accusations. We are not pirates and we do not have any relations with them. We eliminated the pirates during the Islamic court rule and you know that very well. The pirates have been formed by the United States and other western nations. They are the ones that gave them arms and bought the boats and other equipments for them.

They were afraid of the Mujahidin youth who are travelling from Saudi Arabia and Yemen and are headed for Somalia. They told them Watch out for the boats that are coming from these countries and hand us any Arab who is in these boats. The Americans themselves are pirates because they shoot at Somali fishermen and they imprison others accusing them of being pirates while they release the actual pirates and even fund their activities. There are those who rob from the sky and they are the Americans. If you were in this town [Baidoa ] yesterday, you would have seen American planes flying in our air space. Houses shook because of its sound. They have no mercy for the elderly and those in hospitals. They fire their arms and kill whenever they want whichever way they want. This is the kind of piracy that we have a problem with. They are the pirates and they are the ones that fund the pirates.

Posted by: b real | Mar 8, 2009 3:26:15 AM | 86

very grateful for your posts b real

#86 excellent

Posted by: annie | Mar 8, 2009 3:46:13 AM | 87

thanks annie

here is the video for an earlier al jazeera interview w/ abu mansur, which i mentioned upstream. it is also very enlightening. i will try to find a transcript for that one, or else supply one myself based on the captions b/c there is much to take away from it


Posted by: b real | Mar 8, 2009 2:15:34 PM | 88

from an article in nairobi's daily nation, march 5th, on robert mueller hanging out w/ michael ranneberger and discussing the u.s. somali policy

FBI director meets Kenya govt officials

The US Federal Bureau of Investigations director Robert Mueller on Thursday made a one-day visit to the country where he discussed anti-corruption issues with government officials.

...

Mr Muller had stopped over in the country after visiting Pakistan on Wednesday over a terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team early this week.

The FBI has rated Kenya as one of the severe potential terror targets due to its proximity to Somalia, which is home to the Al Shabaab – a terror group, linked to Al-Qaeda.

Kenyan authorities have acknowledged the alert for possible terrorist attacks and intensified security at airports and borders.

Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist cells carried out near-simultaneous bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, killing 224 people and injured some 5,000. In November 2002, other Al-Qaeda-linked militants bombed an Israeli-owned resort hotel near Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, where 15 civilians were killed.

Mr Muller said that since Somalia has a new president, it was America’s hope that this would stabilise the country and restore peace in the horn of Africa country. He said that the president Sheikh Sharif Ahmed would device new ways of dealing with insurgents in Somalia and ensure stability in the country.

“It is too soon to tell but we are hopeful that the governance structures been put in place (sic) will help bring down the threats,” said Mr Muller.

fbi & cia, eh?

daily nation on sunday - Somalia pledges to improve ties

Somalia’s leader Sheikh Ahmed Sharif arrived in Kenya on Sunday for talks with President Kibaki and pledged to improve ties between the two.

President Ahmed, who is on a two-day state visit, will today discuss security issues, training of Somali’s police and border guards with President Kibaki, besides seeking bilateral support.

“I will do everything in my power to restore stability and get regional support,” he said.

one mogadishu commenter at a somali blog writes "according to some protected info, robert mueller is still in kenya and will meet sharif". unable to find confirmation that mueller was back in nairobi nor that he had ever left, but i did not execute an exhaustive search. sharif's handlers are already cia so i wonder what interests the fbi director has here. he has been pushing the fatuous somali-islamist-national-security-threat storyline as of late. maybe there's something coming down the pike?

garowe online's story on sharif's trip has this angle

Somalia's leader might push for end of African Union mission

MOGADISHU, Somalia Mar 9 (Garowe Online) - Somalia's president traveled from the capital Mogadishu Sunday on a foreign trip that includes official visits to three capitals in East Africa, where he might request the withdrawal of the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM), Radio Garowe reports.

President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed held a private meeting with Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake and parliament Speaker Adan "Madobe" Mohamed the night before flying out to Nairobi, Kenya.

No official reports emerged from the closed-door meeting at the presidential palace Villa Somalia, but sources close President Sheikh Sharif's office said the Somali leader told the Prime Minister and the Speaker that he will bring up the issue of the continued presence of the AMISOM peacekeeping force in Mogadishu.

...

President Sheikh Sharif is expected to meet with donor countries in Nairobi, after which point he will travel to Kampala and Bujumbura, the capitals of Uganda and Burundi, respectively.

not sure how to interpret that, based on the limited information. was someone leaking legitimate info (but then 'bringing up the issue' of AMISOM is not the same thing as 'pushing for the end of' AMISOM)? the security forces being trained by kenya (& its sponsors) or whomever may be seen as the ultimate replacement for AMISOM forces, but that is still somewhere out in the future. or was this a calculated leak to buy sharif's TFG some time w/ opposition groups & shape public opinion? or to try & exert some leverage in negotiations w/ the donors? lots of questions & not very many answers at this point.

Posted by: b real | Mar 9, 2009 12:13:44 AM | 89

maybe this will help precipitate an end to the AMISOM mission?

Uganda plane crash kills 10

A Soviet-era jet caught fire and crashed into Lake Victoria on Monday after taking off from Uganda's main airport, killing 10 people, including three top Burundi army officers, officials said.

The burning Ilyushin 76, which was headed to Mogadishu from Kampala's Entebbe airport, plunged into the lake, which is next to Entebbe.

...

"It was carrying 10 people and water purification equipment en route to Mogadishu," Uganda's Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Ignia Igundura said.

"All people on board are feared dead," Igundura said, adding the plane had three or four crew.

...

Burundi army spokesman Adolphe Manirakiza said there were three Burundian officers on the plane, including a brigadier general and a colonel.

"They were on board a small plane and according to information we are receiving fire broke out on board and then the plane crashed," Manirakiza explained.

The three officers were part of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, known as AMISOM, and were travelling with Ugandan troops, Manirakiza said. Uganda's military spokesman confirmed the details.

Posted by: b real | Mar 9, 2009 11:04:44 AM | 90

body count is now listed as 11

both the daily monitor and new vision report that
The plane, a Russiian Illyushin 76 cargo aircraft registration S9-SAB operated by Aerolift and chartered by an American company, DynaCorp was carrying tents and water purification equipment for AMSOM.

that should be DynCorp and AMISOM, respectively

no western wire services are yet mentioning that the plane was chartered by dyncorp or the u.s. role

Posted by: b real | Mar 9, 2009 11:21:19 AM | 91

Party of Islam rebels vow more attacks on African Union peacekeepers

MOGADISHU, Somalia March 9 (Garowe Online) - The chairman of a recently-formed rebel alliance in Somalia has condemned the country's new government as an instrument of the West, Radio Garowe reports.

Dr. Omar Iman, chairman of the Party of Islam rebel faction, told a Sunday press conference in the capital Mogadishu that they will continue attacks against the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM).

"There is no government we recognize in Somalia, but the government created in Djibouti is an instrument of American interests," said Sheikh Iman, who is a highly educated Islamist politician.

Party of Islam rebels were behind two days of battles in late February that killed upwards of 50 people and attracted condemnation from Mogadishu's community.

The Party of Islam was created in January and consists of four Islamist rebel factions, including the Eritrea-based Islamic Courts faction led by Islamist hardliner Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who is on the U.S. list of terrorists.

"The AMISOM soldiers are trained by the U.S. military and are instructed to fight against Islamists in Somalia," Dr. Iman alleged.

Posted by: b real | Mar 9, 2009 2:31:56 PM | 92

The giant, four-engined Russian transport plane had just taken off from Entebbe airport when it was seen bursting into flames, hitting two fishing boats and crashing beneath the waves.

The American-based charter company which leased the Russian cargo plane, US Dyncorp, confirmed the crash in an email to Digital Journal, but has released no other information.

...

There was no immediate word on what caused the crash."We're not ruling anything out, and we're not ruling anything in," [Ugandan Information Minister Matsiko] Kabakumba said, adding that the plane was a real workhorse: it had flown some 20 missions in recent weeks.

...

The Somalian conflict is beginning to take a heavy toll of Burundian soldiers: three weeks ago, eleven Burundian soldiers were also killed in a suicide bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia and 15 injured.

The plane, registration S9-SAB, was operated byAerolift, an international cargo company with offices in South Africa. It was chartered by Dyncorp, the US military and intelligence contractor, to fly emergency supplies to Somalia.

DynCorp International's director of media relations, Douglas Ebner, told Digital Journal today by email from Virginia in the United States that he 'can confirm that an aircraft chartered by DynCorp International crashed in Lake Victoria, Uganda, early Monday morning local time." No further information was forthcoming from the company.

However, Ignie Igunduura, spokesman for the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority, says it was taking off from Entebbe airport to Somalia with tents and water purification equipment for the African Mission to Somalia (AMSOM).

Huge Russian Ilyushin-76 burst into flames before crashing

tents & water purification equipment, eh? we'll see what they recover from lake victoria. and aerolift has a bit of history in controversial flights re somalia & throughout africa too.

Posted by: b real | Mar 9, 2009 2:50:15 PM | 93

preliminary remarks at Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre mention that "All eleven people on board are feared dead but there are conflicting reports about how many were on board" and "The aircraft was on a support flight carrying water purifiers and other equipment for ugandan peacekeeping troops in Somalia"

photo of s9-sab

Posted by: b real | Mar 9, 2009 3:03:47 PM | 94

new vision:
Entebbe place crash kills eleven

The accident occurred moments after the Ilyushin cargo plane, S0-SAB, operated by Aerolift left the airport. Dynacorp, an American company, had chartered the plane.

The aircraft plunged into the water at a place referred to as Magombe, loosely translated as graveyard, owing to the disasters that have occurred there in the past. Several boats have reportedly capsized in the area, fishermen disclosed.

Magombe, according to a statement from the Civil Aviation Authority, is about 5.5 nautical miles (9.9km) south of the airport. The plane burst into flames before it hurtled into the water and got submerged, witnesses said.

“It left the airport after a Kenya Airways flight but it made an awkward sound. It caught fire soon after it got off the ground,” an officer at Kigungu Police post said.

A policeman, Gerald Ssesanga, who resides near the airport, said he saw the blaze but thought it was a fire lit along the shore. Juma Kalanzi, a fisherman, also saw the fire but initially thought it was on the nearby Nsaze Island.

“I realised it was a plane when the fire started spreading on the lake,” he stated.

So big was the blaze that it caught the attention of the early risers along the shores of the lake.

A search and rescue team comprising the army, the Police and CAA staff rescued two tired fishermen, Karim Mubajje, and another only identified as Deo. Mubajje and Deo narrowly survived after their boat capsized as the blazing plane plunged into the lake where they were fishing.

Mubajje recounted hearing a loud explosion as they drew nets out of the water. “In a few seconds, the plane spun several times and tumbled into the water, capsizing our boat,” he said.

They held onto the wooden pieces of their boat for four hours until they were rescued.

...

Responding to a question on whether the crash was the work of terrorists, Masiko remarked: “I am not ruling out anything and I am not including anything. Don’t speculate. Let us wait for the investigations.”

On the plane’s airworthiness, the minister disclosed that it was okay, adding that it flew to Somalia 20 times in February.

20 times in the shortest month of the year? is that correct?

daily monitor: Plane crashes into L. Victoria

The plane, an Illyushin 76 operated by Aerolift and chartered by Dynacorp, was on a regular trip to Somalia, where the Ugandan contingent there was waiting for fresh supplies to be delivered.

...

The airworthiness of the plane, on its twentieth trip to Mogadishu, was not in doubt, according to [Uganda Information Minister Kabakumba] Matsiko. “It is not the first time that this plane was carrying out this mission to Somalia,” she said.

“The Civil Aviation Authority is not really worried about the airworthiness of this plane.”

...

The aircraft crashed into Lake Victoria “soon after take-off, 5.5 nautical miles [9.9 km] south of the airport, at 5.14 this morning,” the CAA statement, signed by public affairs manager Ignie Igunduura, said.

“An investigation team is being constituted by the Minister of Works and Transport to determine the probable cause of accident.”

Efforts to establish the identities of the investigators were futile; all the relevant authorities, including Mr Igunduura, could not be reached by telephone for details about the scope of the investigation.

...

Mr Gerald Ssesanga, a resident of the nearby Kigungu shores, said the crash happened a few minutes after another plane, possibly a Kenya Airways flight, had left the airport.

“I first saw light coming out of the rear part of the plane but thought that it was the usual back fire that some aeroplanes pass out. I was surprised to see it being consumed by [a] fire,” Mr Ssesanga said.

Rowdy people are said to have stolen parts of the wrecked aircraft still floating on the lake, and two men were in custody.

still barely any mention of dyncorp in the press. for instance, i get zero results searching google news on the crash w/ the keyword "dyncorp" (e.g. entebbe burundi Ilyushin crash dyncorp) but if i drop "dyncorp" i get 604 news articles (e.g. entebbe burundi Ilyushin crash). some filter, eh?

and i have yet to see any mention at all of AFRICOM, which has a lily-pad (cooperative security location) at entebbe -- 'where the United States has built two “K-Span” steel buildings to house troops and equipment', quoting africa scholar daniel volman -- and has been involved in the logistics & training of AMISOM forces all along. were they not involved? where did the equipment come from before being loaded on the russian transport?

Posted by: b real | Mar 9, 2009 11:15:20 PM | 95

I did find this Polish story on the crash, that gives a few names.
I've been playing around with the searches because I do not trust google on some things. I know when the Abu Ghraib story broke, Google was far less reliable and comprehensive than Yahoo on that story. They recently announced they are no longer strictly using page rank, but will do some human intervention/editorializing in their search results: googlewashing.

Posted by: xcroc | Mar 10, 2009 11:37:32 AM | 96

You have probably already seen that dreadful news of the 2 human rights workers mudered in Kenya, probably by the police.

Assassination of Kenya human rights defenders

This evening, two leading human rights defenders, Mr. Oscar Kamau King’ara and Mr. John Paul Oulu (also known as GPO), both of Oscar Foundation, were executed in cold blood by a group of men in two vehicles. The two were driving to meet Mr. Kamanda Mucheke of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights at his office. Eyewitnesses have said that the assassins were policemen. In fact, the minibus driver was in police uniform.

An eyewitness at the scene was also shot in the leg and was later taken away from the scene by policemen. We are calling upon the police to reveal the whereabouts of this man since he might be the only one who can positively identify both the assassins and their vehicles. Therefore, we fear for his life.

Oscar was a trained lawyer and a human rights advocate who was the Chief Executive Officer of Oscar Foundation. He was a member of the Law Society of Kenya.

Mr. GPO Oulu was a former student leader, and an educationist who has worked for many human rights organizations, including the Youth Agenda. He left the Youth Agenda recently to join the Oscar Foundation as the Communications and Advocacy Officer.

Oscar Foundation is a registered charitable organization that offers free legal services to the poor. Some of its major projects include organizing caravans to offer free legal aid to the poor around the country. They have a strong track record researching corruption in the police force, the prisons, and police brutality against the urban poor. The latest activity was researching and documenting cases of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings.

The Oscar Foundation has been a major source of information to Parliament on atrocities playing out against the poor in the country. On February 18, 2009, before Parliament debated the motion on extra-Judicial killings, he presented Oscar Foundation’s findings on ongoing extra judicial killings to Hon. Peter Mwathi, the motion’s mover. Their last engagement with Parliament was a presentation to the Kioni Committee investigating organized gangs a couple of days ago.

We believe they were killed because of the sensitive information they had shared with both the Prof. Philip Alston the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, and with the MPs

.

And L. Muthoni Wanyeki writes:

We are clearly in dangerous times. The Kenyatta and moi regimes reserved assassinations for those among the political powers that be. Human rights defenders and other intellectuals contended instead with illegal detentions, torture, forced exile. In the Kibaki/Odinga regime, the goalposts have shifted. Backwards. This does not portend well. For any of us. For any of us.

To his credit, Odinga came out loud and clear following the assassinations, calling for independent, external investigations. We wait to see what Kibaki will do. And that will tell us whether we’re all headed to the grave.


Among other results, any fuzzy legalities around the "trials" of the Somali pirates are less likely to receive scrutiny.

Posted by: xcroc | Mar 10, 2009 11:54:23 AM | 97

charlotte observer: Myers Park graduate helping Navy use unmanned drones to track down suspects

[Liz] Clarke, 23, is an intelligence officer aboard the Navy's USS Mahan, a destroyer on duty off the coast of Somalia.

Unmanned drones from the Mahan scour the sea and relay photos of suspected pirate “motherships.” The drones – with nicknames such as Jack Sparrow – have led to the capture of more than a dozen suspected pirates.

...

Clarke, a 2003 graduate of Myers Park High, is in charge of the ship's drones and supervises four civilians and three intelligence specialists.

...

Q. These pirate boats don't fly the Jolly Roger. So how do you find them?

We identify people or vessels that do not appear normal. We look for specific tripwires: dual outboard motors, flashy clothing, no visible fishing gear, and weapons.

...

Q. What happens when a drone finds pirates?

We analyze the photos for tripwires that imply pirate activity. We report everything to the task force, which coordinates U.S. and allied aircraft.

The Mahan has played a role in capturing two separate pirate vessels and 16 suspected pirates.

Q. Had any close encounters with pirates?

Sadly, no. The Mahan is not particularly equipped to handle suspected pirates so any we capture are taken aboard other ships.

Q. Anything at all resemble the “Pirates of the Caribbean” image?

Unfortunately, no. That would certainly make them easier to identify. Modern-day pirates don't exactly have a talking parrot perched on their shoulder. They look like your traditional fishermen and often are.

you don't say...

Posted by: b real | Mar 10, 2009 2:41:08 PM | 98

afp: US closely watching China in Africa: official

US intelligence agencies are keeping close tabs on China's expanding influence in Africa, especially in oil-producing countries like Nigeria, a top US official said Tuesday.

"We are doing so, and we will continue to," US intelligence director Dennis Blair told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Republican Senator James Inhofe had asked Blair to address "the problem of China" and its influence in Africa, saying that "anything that is new and shiny was given to them by China everywhere you go."

"China has not been our friend in Somalia or in Sudan," said Inhofe. "I would just hope that our intelligence community can be watching very carefully the activities of China on the continent of Africa."

in somalia? what is inhofe smoking? actually, he's just blowing smoke, in hopes of diversion from what his own govt is doing to that country

webcast of the hearing is avail here

actually, blair mentions the role of china in somalia in assisting in protecting illegal fishing & dumping anti-piracy ops

references to somalia in blair's prepared testimony

East Africa. We judge the terrorist threat to US interests in East Africa, primarily from al-Qa’ida and al-Qa’ida-affiliated Islamic extremists in Somalia and Kenya, will increase in the next year as al-Qa’ida’s East Africa network continues to plot operations against US, Western, and local targets and the influence of the Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabaab grows. Given the high-profile US role in the region and its perceived direction—in the minds of al-Qa’ida and local extremists—of foreign intervention in Somalia, we assess US counterterrorism efforts will be challenged not only by the al-Qa’ida operatives in the Horn, but also by Somali extremists and increasing numbers of foreign fighters supporting al-Shabaab’s efforts.

in the section on africa:

In the Horn of Africa, the ongoing conflict in Somalia and the collapse of the country’s economy have given rise to a piracy epidemic in the Gulf of Aden and have created a terrorist safehaven in southern Somalia.

...

Somalia
(U) Somalia has not had a stable, central government for 17 years and continues to be mired in conflict. A UN-brokered agreement between the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and key opposition leaders in mid-2008 is unlikely to bring peace to Somalia in the near term. Ethiopia has withdrawn the troops it deployed to protect the TFG and oust the Council of Islamic Courts (CIC) in late 2006 and resurgent Islamic extremists are expanding their operations throughout the country. The new unity government is facing multiple challenges, including the continued dominance of clan politics and lack of a viable security force. While the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops removed a key rallying point for the extremist opposition group al-Shabaab al Islamiyah, Islamic militants have shifted their focus toward attacking a modest African Union peacekeeping force charged with protecting the TFG. Worsening violence as militias compete for territory is likely to displace thousands of additional Somalis, adding to this humanitarian crisis.

Lawlessness in Somalia already has prompted a surge in piracy in the Gulf of Aden. The number of successful pirate attacks has increased almost fourfold since 2007 after the pirates received several multi-million dollar ransom payments in early 2008. Local authorities’ unwillingness or inability to stem piracy also has fueled the proliferation of hijackings. The growing number and sophistication of Somali pirate attacks threaten to restrict the options for countering them, and they could take root in Somali society if left unchecked.

somalia is already being contained, if you think about it. there's a hostile int'l presence along the coasts. and in mogadishu, AMISOM guards the main seaport.

to the south, well i've already pointed out the recent warnings to kenya against increased activity & propaganda along its borders w/ somalia.

and to the west, ostensibly in response to the uptick in ethiopian miltary battles w/ the ONFL et al,

Ethiopia masses troops along Somalia border after rebel attacks

..fighting in Mustahil district, in eastern Ethiopia's Somali-inhabited region, killed at least 25 people and wounded scores last week.

In response, the Ethiopian army deployed hundreds of troops backed by military trucks to the area along the border near Somalia's Hiran region, local sources reported.

Commercial truck drivers who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed that the movement of civilian and commercial vehicles has come to a standstill, as Ethiopian soldiers hunt for Somali rebels.

Ethiopian troops also cut off an important road that links Mustahil district to Fer Fer district, which serves as a major Ethiopian army base and a crucial point for civilian and commercial traffic traveling between Ethiopia and Somalia.

The Ethiopian government has not commented on the ongoing military operations.

something is afoot

Posted by: b real | Mar 10, 2009 3:17:06 PM | 99

on the russian transport plane the went down in flames into lake victoria

what caused the reported explosion & fire?

a couple birds flying into an engine?

musty tents?

combustible water purification tablets?

or how about arms shipments?

this involved, after all, the known gun-runners aerolift

20 flights/shipments to mogadishu this year (or perhaps february alone)?

Posted by: b real | Mar 10, 2009 3:31:42 PM | 100

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