Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 10, 2009

Somalia Thread

b real continues to give us fascinating and disturbing insight into U.S. machinations in Somalia. Skim through this thread's comments and you will learn quite a bit on how the empire manipulates the various parties of the conflict and the media reports on it.

What did the Illyushin 76, operated by Aerolift and chartered by Dynacorp, carry when it went down in the Victoria Lake during a flight from Entebbe, Uganda, to Mogadishu, Somalia? Who financed the 20 or so flights it did this month alone?

b real helps us to first ask, and then to find answers to those questions.

Somalia is not your problem? Well - we pay for these misguided empire policies through our taxes now and we will have to pay when the usual backlash will appear near to us.

Posted by b on March 10, 2009 at 04:39 PM | Permalink

Comments

I just wanted to say, 'b real' deserves a Pulitzer Prize, for hir work. You rawk da fuggin houz...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 10, 2009 6:10:57 PM | 1

I'll second that.

Posted by: beq | Mar 10, 2009 7:12:15 PM | 2

Yep, third that!

Honestly, why don't any media outlets ever report on this story, and other similar abuses and travesties of empire?

Posted by: Maxcrat | Mar 10, 2009 8:47:59 PM | 3

i am in debt always to the researchers of my beloved moon

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 10, 2009 9:09:30 PM | 4

b real deserves his own virtual office.

Posted by: biklett | Mar 10, 2009 10:16:05 PM | 5

Pulitzer for b real! Big Up ...

Posted by: BenIAM | Mar 10, 2009 10:40:57 PM | 6


if b real did not exist, we would have no idea how to create him.
Not just anywhere but right there where he came from in the pristine whereabouts of the Zambezi river.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 10, 2009 11:40:50 PM | 7

Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe (ie. the US's neglected "Back Yard"), the usual suspects are hard at work:

Washington, DC,-- Caribbean Central American Action's (CCAA) 2nd Annual Central American Energy Supply Security Forum will feature sessions focusing on "Creating Energy Partnerships for Sustainable Supply." The forum will take place at the Real InterContinental Hotel in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on May 6-7, 2009.

This 2nd Annual Central American Energy Supply Forum will address how the global situation has affected the investment and policy environment in the region. Forum sessions will bring together energy sector executives, regional private sector leaders, government officials, investors and academics to highlight current and future regional and hemispheric energy partnerships between governments, the private sector and non-governmental institutions. Discussants will also seek to examine Central American fossil fuel use; the future of regional electricity interconnection projects in the face of disparate national agendas and volatile costs; regional conservation policies and campaigns as countries work towards the Central America Integration System's (SICA) Sustainable Energy Strategy of 2020; and the opportunity for a U.S.-led hemispheric energy partnership.

Confirmed sponsors for the forum include Chevron and Exxon Mobil. CCAA is also pleased to announce the American Chamber of Commerce of Guatemala as a key collaborating organization.

To register and get access to the agenda for the 2nd Annual Central American Energy Supply Forum, please click here. For sponsorship opportunities package, please click here. We also encourage you to visit our website www.c-caa.org for updates or to call 202-466-7464 ext. 24.

Posted by: D. Mathews | Mar 10, 2009 11:50:23 PM | 8

daily monitor: Crashed plane ‘not inspected’

“Obviously, no CAA inspector checks civilian planes that do military operations,” an aviation expert, who preferred anonymity so he could speak comfortably, said yesterday.

According to the expert, who is familiar with the operations of the CAA, the agency does not have much say over what happens at the old airport, often used by VIPs and the military.

Former minister Mike Mukula, a qualified pilot, added yesterday: “Not many of our people, the flight safety fellows, are conversant with Russian-made aircraft.”

But Mr Ignie Igunduura, the public affairs manager at CAA, refused to confirm that the CAA does not inspect civilian planes heading out for military assignments, saying only that “we give them clearance”.

and if they didn't? besides, as the link to the aerolift article provided earlier makes clear, there is alot of pressure from these operators to ignore regulations & keep the cargo rolling

Works and Transport Minister John Nasasira told the Government Assurances Committee in Parliament yesterday that sabotage had been ruled out as a likely cause of the crash.

“As soon as it took off, the people in the control tower saw fire in the two engines, and we think the engines had a problem,” Mr Nasasira told lawmakers on the committee.

The Illyushin-76 cargo plane carrying 16 tonnes of supplies including tents and water-purification equipment for Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers in Somalia plunged into Lake Victoria soon after take-off from Entebbe Airport.

obviously it wasn't 16 tonnes of tents & water-purification equipment for a reported 3700 AMISOM troops. so what were the other supplies?

No bodies had been found by press time last night [Tuesday] and rescuers said strong lake currents were hindering efforts to recover items from the crash.

Fishermen discovered the tail end of the plane at a beach called Chilenga, near the town of Abayita-ababiri, some 27 km away from the scene of the crash, Information Minister Kabakumba Matsiko said yesterday. “[It] means that things are drifting.”

Mr Nasasira told Parliament that some of the bodies are believed to be lying in water 26 metres deep and that the government had asked the United States embassy in Kampala for help in retrieving them.

why? are there u.s. citizens laying around down there too?


new vision: Bodies, wreckage elude search team

THE wreckage of a plane that crashed into Lake Victoria has eluded a search team 30 hours after the Monday morning accident.

For over eight hours, a joint team of the Police and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) experts backed by two Americans, yesterday sought for the fuselage in vain.

...

On whether Uganda would seek assistance, Igundura stated: “We need to know what kind of assistance we need before we can request for it.”

American experts reportedly promised to fly in divers from Djibouti if the Government formally appealed for help.

Explaining why the names of the deceased have not been disclosed, internal affairs state minister Mathias Kasaija told MPs that authorities were still informing the next-of-kin.

Pledging that the list would be publicised by yesterday evening, Kasaija said three bodies had been retrieved by 8:00am yesterday.

However, Igundura refuted Kasaija’s claims and said the search would continue today.

sure leads one think that there may indeed have been some additional passengers on that flight

Posted by: b real | Mar 10, 2009 11:53:15 PM | 9

OT, but Charles Freeman, the man considered too even-handed about the Palestinian/Israeli situation and who was attacked and smeared, has withdrawn his name from consideration for the post of NIC chair. I'm assuming Obama did not want to go to the mattresses to fight to keep him.

I'm somewhat stunned, but, indeed, AIPAC won.

Juan Cole has the letter. And Max Blumenthal provides background on how the attacks went down.

Another administration toes the line.

Posted by: jawbone | Mar 11, 2009 12:27:50 AM | 10

There is a reuters video of efforts and debris around the Lake Victoria crash site here.

Posted by: xcroc | Mar 11, 2009 2:31:27 PM | 11

SA plane crash victim identified

Pretoria - He had spent four-and-a-half years in Iraq without getting hurt, but two months after his return, he died in a plane crash in Uganda.

Duncan Rykaart, a former special forces operator and colonel, was one of 11 people aboard a Ilyushin 76 cargo plane that crashed into Lake Victoria on Monday.

He had been working for Bancroft Global Development, an American company specialising in research on explosive devices and landmines, since January. The company advises the African Union's peacekeeping troops in Somalia.

"Duncan wanted to do something completely different and so he started working for us from January," said Rocky van Blerk, programme director at Bancroft on Tuesday.

how completely different?

africa confidential from 23rd November 2001: Guns for hire again

A born-again Executive Outcomes operation is at the centre of allegations of a military contract between ex-South African Defence Force soldiers and the Sudanese army. A former director of EO told Africa Confidential that the contract was widely known in 'military circles' in South Africa and involved training Sudanese special forces officers in counter-insurgency operations to guard the oil fields. He described the firm involved as 'the rump' of EO. 'Those of us in the company who made enough money are out of it, those who didn't are still in the game,' he added. EO was formally wound up in December 1998.

We hear South African security has established a link between a local company known as NFD and the Sudan contract. Military sources say this was signed this March after six months of negotiation with the Khartoum government. It's modeled on similar work undertaken for Libyan state security in late 1999, which recommended the South African company to Khartoum. The Libyan project involved using helicopters with infra-red cameras on 'search and destroy' operations. Some equipment used in the contract was obtained from Kentron, a subsidiary of South Africa's Denel defence company. Other elements in the contract included training in infiltrating rebel bases and intelligence gathering. Some 20 former SA soldiers are involved.

NFD's directors include Duncan Rykaart (ex- colonel in the SA Defence Force's Five Recce Brigade), Frederik Christoffel Grove (ex-deputy commander of SA's paratroopers) and Nick van den Berg, described as a sleeping partner. All worked at senior level in EO; NFD has bought EO's former premises at 13 Gouws Avenue, Raslouw, north of Johannesburg.

NFD Operations Manager Rykaart denies any knowledge of the Sudan contract, though SA military sources pinpoint him as taking the lead role in the negotiations with Khartoum. 'Someone has been masquerading, misusing our company name to get work,' Rykaart told Africa Confidential. 'This happened a lot with Executive Outcomes in the old days'. Rykaart insists his company has no foreign security contracts currently, although the NFD website boasts a client base in Egypt, Congo-Brazzaville, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Angola and Bulgaria.

Posted by: b real | Mar 11, 2009 2:36:59 PM | 12

voa: Experts Discuss Challenges for Renewed Somali Engagement

The U.S Institute of Peace and The Center for Strategic and International Studies held discussions Tuesday on the topic "Somalia Challenges for renewed engagement" [video & audio at link; currently no transcript]

Tuesday's conference examined current developments in Somalia and the possibilities for greater U.S. and international engagement. Speakers at the conference included the United Nations Special Representative to Somalia, Ambassador Ahmedu Ould- Abdallah, The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Africa Subcommittee, Russ Feingold, and Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Phil Carter, as well as various security experts, including Somalis.

...

"The United States will provide funding for the deployment of at least two additional AMISOM (African Union Peace Keeping Mission in Somalia) battalions to aid in this effort I addition to the four we are supporting. And we have publicly committed proving about five million dollars to support this establishment of the joint security force. We will not be alone in the effort, one of the issues we've discovered with regard to the contact group discussions is a wide range of interest among a bunch of different donors and countries to support this effort in terms of stability and security for the new government," [Acting US Assistant Secretary of Phil Carter] said

Posted by: b real | Mar 11, 2009 3:08:14 PM | 13

big, big kudos to dr. michael weinstein for his remarks at the CSIS event yesterday. (i was surprised that they invited him.) a truth teller in a den of intellectually-bankrupt sycophants. the mp3 of the panel on "Current Political/Security Situation" is linked here. completely called feingold out on his bullshit & tried to correct the narrative. worth a listen if you follow somalia.

companion article up at csis' online forum - No Simple Narrative in Somalia Drama

As the coalition of Western donor powers, the United Nations, the African Union, and regional African states, such as Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda and Burundi, see it, the narrative of Somalia’s contemporary political history pits the country’s new and expanded Transitional Federal Government (TFG) against an armed “insurgency” composed of “spoilers,” “extremists,” or “terrorists” operating under the banner of “radical Islamism.”

Just a cursory reading of that narrative shows that it has nothing to do with an objective political analysis of the most complex and complicated conflict in the world today, but is a piece of propaganda—a good guys vs. bad guys drama straight out of a Hollywood B movie—that would awaken contemptuous amusement were it not for the fact that the parties promoting it appear to believe it themselves and to formulate their policies and strategies in its terms.

It is to be expected, of course, that the coalition’s rhetoric would be tendentious. Its members were the ones who contrived the new TFG or found it in their interests to support it, and, as a consequence, want to believe that it will be able eventually to succeed in governing Somalia, which has been effectively stateless since 1991, and to convince others to share that belief.

Nonetheless, the narrative is a sheer expression of baseless hope that is meant to pass for a plausible projection.

Posted by: b real | Mar 11, 2009 6:06:09 PM | 14

new vision: Body parts of plane crash victims found

SOME body parts of the 11 people killed in the Monday cargo plane crash in Lake Victoria were retrieved yesterday.

Residents at the lake shore tipped the Police that some limbs were floating at Gerenge near Garuga, Kasenyi landing site and near Kalangala Islands.

A search team comprising the army, the Police and the Civil Aviation Authority rushed to the three sites and picked the limbs.

Security sources confirmed the development, but were cagey on where the parts had been taken.

daily monitor:

A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press, said polythene bags containing body parts had been taken to a military base in Entebbe.

CAA officials could not confirm this information, insisting the search was still unsuccessful.

say what?

Mr Yusuf Buga, a fisherman, said he heard an explosion first and then about 10 miles away from where he was winding up his fishing, a fireball fell from the sky into the lake.
“It was not a plane that plunged into the water; by the time it hit the water, it was a fireball that continued to burn on the water surface for about an hour,” Mr Buga says.
Mr Charles Kiwanuka, 19, seems to have seen even more action than Mr Buga.

“By 5:00am, we were all packing up because we fish at night. From our boat we heard an explosion and, on looking up, saw a fireball headed for the waters where two other fishermen dozed on their canoe. The aircraft exploded from the air before falling into the lake as a fire.”

The two fishermen Mr Kiwanuka refers to, who survived by holding onto a piece of crap from the shattered aircraft...

lol

Posted by: b real | Mar 11, 2009 11:16:03 PM | 15

Posted by: ...---... | Mar 11, 2009 11:37:57 PM | 16

humorous moment when feingold had what could be construed as a freudian slip during the end of his "propaganda" speech at the csis event on tuesday:

It could not be more timely that CIA..CSIS has brought all of you together today.

Posted by: b real | Mar 12, 2009 12:32:22 AM | 17

Uncertainty about UN force for Somalia

UNITED NATIONS -- Somalia's volatile political climate has fueled "uncertainties" about whether a U.N. peacekeeping force is the right tool to support the new government's efforts to establish itself and promote national reconciliation, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.

Ban said in his quarterly report to the U.N. Security Council that he would provide further advice and recommendations on the deployment of a peacekeeping operation by April 15.
...
The secretary-general said a technical mission he sent to the region to look into the possibility of a U.N. peacekeeping operation reported that basic conditions need to be in place for a mission to be effective.

He said "important benchmarks" include the formation of a government of national unity, a credible cease-fire, and consent to the U.N. deployment by all major parties. None of the benchmarks has so far been met.

Ban also outlined plans to provide additional U.N. logistical support to the African Union force so it can beef up its troop strength to the 8,000 originally authorized.

He also said the U.N. peacekeeping department estimates that 22,500 troops and over 2,600 police would be needed for a U.N. peacekeeping mission.

UN troops to Somalia - not going to happen ...

Posted by: b | Mar 12, 2009 4:09:00 AM | 18

ban ki-moon's quarterly rpt from march 09 is avail here

an excerpt

53. With regard to the request by the Security Council for a report by 15 April on the possibility of establishing a United Nations peacekeeping operation, the technical assessment mission noted the need for basic conditions to be in place that would allow a peacekeeping operation to operate effectively. Important benchmarks would be (a) the formation of a Government of national unity in Somalia, inclusive beyond those represented in the Djibouti process; (b) the establishment and initial operation of the Joint Security Force in Mogadishu; (c) the implementation of a credible ceasefire; (d) the lifting of illegal checkpoints; (e) active outreach by the parties to groups that remain outside the Djibouti process; (f) consent to the deployment by all the major parties; and (g) adequate pledges of troops and the required military capacities by Member States.

...

116. I envisage that, with the support of all partners, the steps outlined in my letter of 19 December 2008 (S/2008/804) would take Somalia to a stage where it could benefit from the deployment of a multidimensional United Nations peacekeeping operation that would take over from AMISOM, expand operations beyond Mogadishu and work together with other partners to build the Somali State. In this regard, it is important that all the conditions necessary for a peacekeeping operation to be effective be in place. At the same time, I note that the Council has not yet made a decision to deploy a peacekeeping operation, and that there remains uncertainty about whether peacekeeping is the right tool to support the political process in Somalia. As requested in resolution 1863 (2009), I intend to provide further advice and recommendations on the deployment of a peacekeeping operation by 15 April. In the interim, the Secretariat will continue to update and refine the contingency plan for a United Nations peacekeeping operation within the framework of the integrated mission planning process.

there was alot of pressure from the previous u.s. regime on pushing this through. so far the other members of the security council have been a little more grounded in their assessment of the situation there. the u.s. pulled the u.n. into a boondoggle in somalia back in the early 1990's, under the pretext of humanitarianism, that really damaged that institution's image. however, the u.s. still dominates the u.n. and it's yet to be seen what impact the new administration will have on how they further (or differentiate) their interests in the HoA

AU peacekeepers to stay in Somalia 3 more months

ADDIS ABABA, March 11 (Reuters) - The African Union (AU) on Wednesday agreed to extend the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Somalia for another three months.

...

The chairman of the AU Peace and Security Council, Edouard Aho-Glele, said he hoped the United Nations would take over peacekeeping duties in Somalia at the end of that period.

"We have also asked the UN Security Council to lift the embargo on armaments to the country in favour of the transitional government of Somalia, to allow it to address the security issues," he told Reuters

...

In a report to the council, AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping said: "I recommend that the council extend the mandate ... including protecting its personnel, installations and equipment and the right of self-defence."

that last bit is already in the mandate from 2007, linked above

the lifting of the embargo is a different issue altogether. unless the actors involved have changed their ways since the end of 2008, all of the training & arming of somalis on all sides continues in violation of the arms embargo. that's part of what makes the 20 flights into mogadishu so interesting. and the u.s. sponsored training by the ugandans, rwandans, and kenyans (and possibly even south africans)

Posted by: b real | Mar 12, 2009 11:14:53 AM | 19

some relevant background material

US hires military contractor to support peacekeeping mission in Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya: The United States has hired a major military contractor to provide equipment and logistical support to the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, bringing U.S. dependence on private military companies in several hot spots to a particularly troubled corner of Africa.

The DynCorp International contract is the latest in a series of deals that allow the United States to play a greater role in African military matters, without having to use uniformed troops who are needed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The African contingent that DynCorp will be supporting, which began deploying Tuesday, is the first peacekeeping mission in Somalia in more than 10 years. When the first Ugandans arrived in Somalia's capital on Tuesday, they were greeted with a mortar attack and a major fire fight.

The U.S. wants to improve the quality of African soldiering and promote greater peace and stability in the region. It also wants to improve U.S. ties to governments in a region that is becoming a major oil and mineral producer and could become the next battlefield in the war against terrorism.

...
The State Department has committed US$14 million (about €10 million) to support the African Union peacekeeping mission to Somalia and has asked Congress for US$40 million (about €30 million) more. DynCorp has been awarded a US$10 million (about €7 million) contract to support 1,500 Ugandan troops assigned to Somalia, a State Department official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

DynCorp spokesman Greg Lagana confirmed that the Virginia-based firm had been contracted until April to help with the "moving of supplies and people" engaged in the Somalia mission, including supplying tents, vehicles and generators.

"We have an overall contract for African peacekeeping, this is a specific task order for Somalia," he said. "But we are also present in Liberia and southern Sudan."

The Somalia contract set aside US$8 million (about €6 million) for equipment while US$2 million (about €1.5 million) would be spent on transportation, the State Department official said.

DynCorp, with services ranging from military maintenance contracts to paramilitary security forces, provided logistics for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Somalia from 1992-95. It was not immediately clear if DynCorp employees would work inside Somalia under the new contract, signed three weeks ago.

...

DynCorp, with annual revenues of over US$2 billion (about €1.5 billion) a year, has held the overarching State Department contract since 2004 to do work on "peacekeeping, capacity enhancement and surveillance efforts" in Africa. The contract is valued at between US$20 million (about €15 million) and US$100 million (about €76 million).

The company is on standby to provide services anywhere on the continent to include "support of peacekeeping missions by training specific countries' armed services to enhance their ability to deploy through air and sea, provide logistics supports to mission and work with regional organization to prevent and resolve conflict," according to bid documents.

16 days later

Cargo Plane Shot Down in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia, March 23 -- A huge cargo plane that had delivered equipment for Ugandan peacekeepers in the Somali capital was shot down by a missile during takeoff Friday, the owner of the plane said. A witness said the aircraft crashed in flames after one of its wings fell into the Indian Ocean.

The fate of the 11-member crew was unknown.

Egi Azarian, acting head of Transaviaexport, confirmed that one of the company's planes had been shot down Friday. Transaviaexport, based in Minsk, Belarus, operates only Ilyushin-76s, one of the largest cargo planes in the world.

from the wikipedia entry 2007 Mogadishu TransAVIAexport Airlines Il-76 crash

Four of the personnel onboard the accident aircraft were engineers who had worked on repairing another Il-76[2] that had been the subject of an attempted shootdown 14 days earlier. In that incident, an Il-76 that was carrying Ugandan peacekeepers made a successful emergency landing, after having been struck by a rocket propelled grenade. Somali officials claimed both aircraft incidents occurred due to technical failures rather than armed attacks. Much of the equipment on board Il-76 EW-78849 was for repairing the aircraft damaged earlier; the rest of the cargo was humanitarian aid. The first aircraft was still crippled at the departure time of the second Il-76, EW-78849, and TransAVIAexport were considering whether to cannibalise it for re-usable parts.

There has been a report of unverified claims circulating on the Internet that this first aircraft had in fact been carrying a secret load of infantry fighting vehicles for Ugandan troops.

external links available at the link

transAVIAexport was another viktor bout startup

In the same year the military base he was serving at was dissolved due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and Bout and his colleagues found themselves highly trained, but without jobs. He then started the Transavia Export Cargo company, which aided Belgian soldiers in Somalia in 1993. Russian sources have claimed that, in return for a cut of the profits, Bout was staked three Antonovs by the GRU of which he may well have been a member, given his association with the GRU school of foreign languages.

Posted by: b real | Mar 12, 2009 5:52:09 PM | 20

new vision: More body parts recovered at Entebbe

SEVEN headless parts of victims who perished in the Monday’s plane crash have been recovered, the works minister, Eng. John Nasasira, has said.

Appearing before the parliamentary physical infrastructure committee yesterday, Nasasira said the parts were recovered from Lake Victoria.
DNA will be used to match them, he added.

Nasasira said American experts would cooperate with a team headed by Rtd. Col. Chris Mudoola as the investigation gets underway.

Civil Aviation Authority public affairs manager, Ignie Igundura, described the recovered parts as “very unsightly”.

The hunt for the wreckage, he said, was affected by people, who gave false leads.

As the search for the wreckage entered the fourth day, a torso was swept ashore in Entebbe.
The remains were reportedly of a white man.

Responding to a call from residents, a team on a green army boat dashed to the scene and removed the body parts.

The discovery occurred about 10 hours after three body parts were recovered from Gerenge near Garuga, Kasenyi and near Kalangala, a far-flung island on Wednesday.

According to security sources, the parts were taken to a military hospital at Katabi in Entebbe.

hard to make out the picture, captioned "A fisherman pulls out remains believed to be of one of the 11 plane crash victims", but it looks pretty much stripped to the bone

daily monitor: Aviation authority confirms retrieval of body parts of plane crash victims

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced yesterday that it had found body parts believed to be the remains of some of the 11 victims of the Monday plane crash into Lake Victoria.

But the search for bodies was far from over, as the plane’s fuselage, in which some of the bodies are thought to be trapped, had not been found, the authorities said.

“What we recovered are just a few body parts,” Mr Ignie Igunduura, the CAA public affairs manager, said yesterday.

The remains, including a man’s torso, were found floating near some fish landing sites, sources on the rescue team said.

The discovery of the body parts comes after three days of a fruitless search. In Parliament, Works and Transport Minister John Nasasira told legislators that “seven body parts” had been taken to a medical laboratory for DNA tests.

...

About 10 rescue workers have been on the look-out for floating body parts on Lake Victoria, and some divers have tried, unsuccessfully, to locate the missing fuselage.

The team has reportedly widened the search area, but it could take weeks to locate and retrieve all the wreckage, according to Mr Nasasira.

Posted by: b real | Mar 13, 2009 3:12:51 PM | 21

daniel volman & william minter: Making Peace or Fueling War in Africa

The government has presented AFRICOM as a cost-effective institutional restructuring and a benign program for supporting African governments in humanitarian as well as necessary security operations. In fact, it represents the institutionalization and increased funding for a model of bilateral military ties — a replay of the mistakes of the Cold War. This risks drawing the United States more deeply into conflicts, reinforcing links with repressive regimes, excusing human rights abuses, and frustrating rather than fostering sustainable multilateral peacemaking and peacekeeping. It will divert scarce budget resources, build resentment, and undercut the long-term interests of the United States.

...

While AFRICOM may be new, there's already a track record for such policies in programs now incorporated into AFRICOM. That record shows little evidence that these policies contribute to U.S. or African security. To the contrary, there are substantial indications that they are in fact counterproductive, both increasing insecurity in Africa and energizing potential threats to U.S. interests.

insert -> Record Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold on Lord's Resistance Army

Mr. President, I rise today to express my grave concern at the continuing massacres, kidnappings and terror orchestrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army, the LRA, in northeastern Congo and southern Sudan.

...

As a 17-year member of the Subcommittee on African Affairs and someone who has been involved with AFRICOM since its conception, I would like to offer some thoughts on this matter. While I supported AFRICOM’s creation, I have been concerned about its potential to eclipse our civilian agencies and thereby perpetuate perceptions on the continent of a militarized U.S. policy. It is essential that we get this balance right and protect chief of mission authority. By doing so, we can help ensure AFRICOM contributes to broader efforts to bring lasting peace and stability across Africa.

...

Mr. President, to put it bluntly, I believe supporting viable and legitimate efforts to disarm and demobilize the LRA is exactly the kind of thing in which AFRICOM should be engaged.


Posted by: b real | Mar 14, 2009 2:12:58 AM | 22

also related, ACAS Bulletin 78 : The Politics of Africom

This Special Issue of the Bulletin looks at AFRICOM, and is guest co-edited by Daniel Volman, whose research on US military spending and AFRICOM has provided much of the groundwork for a US-based opposition movement to this planned re-division of the US empire’s map of global territories and strategic interests. Volman is an ACAS Board Member, and is Director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC, and has long researched security issues in US/Africa relations. We welcome Daniel’s expertise, and the data and analytical resources he provides our readers on this significant new problem in African studies and policy debate. Our issue opens with an overview essay from Daniel, followed by several tables delineating US military spending throughout Africa and the various programs they comprise.

Olayiwola Abegunrin next provides a perspective on the African rejection of AFRICOM, at popular, institutional, national and Pan-African levels. Seeing this as a form of attempted recolonization that will in fact destabilize the Continent by drawing it into the U.S. “war on terror,” Abegunrin refutes the professed security interests of this new US policy. Focusing on the case of Kenya, Volman and Benjamin extend this argument with the specific example of this long-time US ally. While Kenya has joined its neighbors in rejecting the AFRICOM project en toto, it nevertheless maintains numerous military agreements many of which are enumerated herein. Further, links are posited between this ongoing military relationship and Kenya’s deployment of force against its own citizens, most recently in the post-election conflict in that country.

The analysis provided in these four contributions is followed by a section on activist responses to AFRICOM. This section also opens with an introduction and overview by Daniel Volman, which reviews the various grassroots participants in US-based opposition to AFRICOM, and rehearses the basic issues in an activist-oriented formulation that our readers will find useful in taking these concerns to a wider audience. This is followed by the Resist AFRICOM Statement of Concern, outlining the basic facts, concerns, and alternatives, and assembling a growing coalition of partners in opposition to this increasing militarization of the African continent.

We conclude the issue with two essays on the need for peace activists to resist AFRICOM, the first from ACAS Board Member and longtime activist Horace Campbell, and the second from Grannies for Peace. Campbell’s article engages the history of US militarization, the context of AFRICOM, the Middle East context, the centrality of Africa’s oil and other resources, and global power posturing, before turning to the need for resistance in Africa and throughout the world at the grassroots. We conclude this issue of the Bulletin with coverage brought to us from GIN of the recent Teach-In Against AFRICOM organized by Grannies for Peace in New York, that included Sonia Sanchez, Emira Woods, Frida Berrigan and Horace Campbell, among others.

We hope the information contained here is both informative and useful for our readers as you contemplate the meaning of AFRICOM and your own involvement in efforts to respond to and resist this latest initiative in US policy relations with Africa.

Posted by: b real | Mar 14, 2009 2:21:39 AM | 23

12 dead bodies 'discovered' in Baidoa, Ethiopia accused

BAIDOA, Somalia Mar 14 (Garowe Online) - Islamists who control several regions in south-central Somalia have accused Ethiopian troops of committing massacre after discovering the remains of 12 dead persons, Radio Garowe reports.

Muktar Robow "Abu Mansur," the spokesman for Al Shabaab fighters, invited local reporters to the ex-Hasey factory in the southwestern town of Baidoa, formerly the seat of Somalia's federal parliament.

Pointing at the bones, Abu Mansur said: "These people were killed by the enemy troops [Ethiopia] who were here [Baidoa] for two years and these people were killed for their faith."

An independent journalist who saw the dead body remains described all the victims as males, who were buried while wearing "Islamic clothing," including the ' imama popularly worn by devout Muslim men.

"This is history for the Somali people and the crimes committed here will be blamed on the government of Abdullahi Yusuf, Ethiopia and the United States," Abu Mansur said, while referring to Somalia's former president who resigned in Dec. 2008.

Abu Mansur vowed that Al Shabaab will continue the war until African Union peacekeepers serving in Mogadishu leave the country.

Sheikh Hassan Mohamed "Abu Ayman," the Al Shabaab administrator in Baidoa, said the world must know that Ethiopian troops "committed massacres during their occupation of Somalia."

Hundreds of Baidoa locals watched as the body remains were removed one after another for proper burial at the cemetery.

al shabaab's kataaib is saying 13 bodies, though i am only counting seven skulls in the images posted

Posted by: b real | Mar 14, 2009 8:19:40 PM | 24

not exactly a man of conviction now, is he...

afp: Somali president defends plans for Islamic law

KAMPALA (AFP) - Somalia's President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on Friday defended plans to implement Islamic law in his war-wracked country, saying it was aimed at appeasing militants opposed to his government.

"The purpose of this decision is to ensure that he who claims that he is fighting to have sharia no longer has a reason to fight," he told reporters in the Ugandan capital, where he met President Yoweri Museveni.

Posted by: b real | Mar 15, 2009 2:16:46 AM | 25

weinstein analyzes the CSIS event & what to expect from the u.s.

The Donors and the Diaspora at C.S.I.S

The conference, at which the present writer was a panelist, provided a forum for the exchange of ideas, and revealed a divide in perspectives between the donors' and the diaspora's priorities, both of which, as one would expect, were interest based. On stage, the conference was dominated by the viewpoints of the international coalition; on the floor, the Somali diaspora activist intellectuals had their own agenda, which was at variance with the coalition's. There was some, but not very much, dialogue between the two sides in the question-and-answer periods, with diaspora opinion surfacing at luncheon tables and in conversations within and outside the meeting room.

As a major mainstream Washington-based foreign policy think tank, C.S.I.S. has an interest in fostering dialogue within the parameters of the discourse of Western internationalism, and to influence governmental policies in the direction of diplomatic paths to conflict resolution, although it does not eschew military approaches within the context of international stability – its perspective can be summarized as one of enlightened self-interest for the West and its "partners." Within that broad sector of interest, there is ample room for differences and even deep disputes over policy, which were expressed on stage; yet basic goals tend towards a single definition. That is not a criticism of C.S.I.S.; a policy-oriented think tank is invariably a player rather than merely an observer, and, in the case of his conference, there was no attempt to impose a specific policy, but only to work within a general definition of the political situation in Somalia that was articulated by the keynote speakers.

The choice of Sen. Feingold to open the conference and to set its tone was consistent with C.S.I.S.' mission.

...

Representing his perception of U.S. enlightened self-interest, Feingold's address made it clear that Washington, even at its most generous, can be expected to continue to make counter-terrorism its over-arching priority and to organize any other aims around it. Criticizing the narrowness and self-defeating consequences of the Bush administration's "manhunt" for terrorists, Feingold did not abandon that policy, but argued that it needed to be embedded in a broader context that included state building – a better and more effective way of fighting terrorism, rather than a redefinition of goals. It is not necessary to doubt the sincerity of Feingold's commitment to stabilize Somalia and to bring peace to that country to note that he finds that he must brand it as a counter-terrorism strategy in order to sell it to the executive branch. Since his position is unlikely to be adopted by the Obama administration in full strength, if at all, the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that U.S. policy is going to remain on its current track with, perhaps, a bit more diplomatic "engagement."

...

..Somalia stands low on the list of Washington's priorities ... The result of an over-full plate in which Somalia is near the bottom is a practice of triage in which the more pressing perceived interest are dealt with first and the others are deferred, kept on hold and internally prioritized, which means that with regard to Somalia, counter-terrorism and anti-piracy take the lead.

...

In addition, and even more unpalatable, is the continuing calculation that Ethiopia, with its strategy of weakening Somalia, must be kept as Washington's major "partner" in the Horn of Africa, despite the fact that its invasion and occupation of Somalia were bungled. Indeed, Ethiopia was the elephant in the room at the conference that no one seemed to see and no one mentioned, as if Addis Ababa was not training warlord militias that would destabilize the T.F.G. and had not mobilized forces on its border with Somalia, ready to repeat incursions into the country in the name of counter-terrorism. A change in Washington's policy depends on the collapse of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's regime, which might lead to Ethiopia's fragmentation or destabilization, which, in turn, might force Washington to recalculate its interest (a longshot at best). That scenario, of course, is one of Washington's many nightmares.

For an analyst, who, as one Somali activist intellectual aptly put it, has "no dog in the fight," the C.S.I.S. conference revealed profound disconnection of perspectives and silences that were more significant than what was said. The bottom line is that for the donors the "challenges" are too formidable to encourage robust "engagement," leaving the diaspora empty handed.

Posted by: b real | Mar 15, 2009 12:03:59 PM | 26

following #25 - sharif was in kampala meeting w/ museveni re AMISOM committments. shabelle media rpts

The president said to the Somali community in the Ugandan capital Kampala that there is no[t] any suspicion about the Somali government’s decision for ruling the country with Sharia law and warned to the people not to commit crimes for the sake of mistranslating the religion of Islam.

“It is not good for the people not to trust a person who wants to rule the country with the Sharia law and we are urging to the people not to create unrest or problems and I warn committing crimes by claiming the religion of Islam,” president Sharif said.

iow, trust the guy quoted as saying that his purpose for implementing sharia in somalia is as a tactic to neutralize his opponents

Posted by: b real | Mar 15, 2009 12:18:38 PM | 27

More info on extrajudicial killings by the Kenya police, courtesy of a participant, now deceased. From Nairobi Chronicle:

Testimony [June 2008] by a former member of a Kenya Police death squad reveals the extent to which senior police officers ordered the killings of thousands of people. … For those Kenyans who support police death squads on grounds of eliminating Mungiki, Kiriinya revealed in his taped testimony that police officers killed people in order to steal money and property. … The Police Commissioner recommended for promotion several police officers who excelled in death squad operations. A Mr Maina was promoted overnight from a Corporal to Inspector of Police. His colleague was promoted from Constable to Corporal under similar circumstances. There are many such promotions that continue to take place within the Kenya Police force.

Police commanders encouraged financial fraud in order to reward death squad operatives. Senior officers in the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) ordered junior officers to make false overtime claims in order to get paid for their secret activities. The officers complied and went home with Shs10,000 each ($125).

Giving individual police officers the power to decide between guilt and innocence is a disaster in the making. Kiriinya’s testimony reveals that the officers involved in death squad operations are driven by the desire for wealth and glory. Police officers get overnight promotions for torturing and killing people. Others do it in order to steal money, vehicles and other property.

Surely, this is a lawless society. Unless death squads are stopped and the guilty officers brought to book, the future of Kenya is in doubt. And for this, President Mwai Kibaki must accept responsibility.

The testimony, with his signature on every page, can be read at PDF signed confession by Bernard Kiriinya,
16 pages.

The Kenyan human rights workers have good reason to fear, considering the recent murder of two by police. The Kenyans are ultimately responsible for this, but US interference in the Kenya election and ongoing US Somalia/Kenya activities help enable and expand these extrajudicial killings.

Posted by: xcroc | Mar 15, 2009 6:46:54 PM | 28

thanks for catching that one, xcroc. the kenyan police have been killing mungiki & others w/ outright impunity for as long as i've been following the news there. you probably recall the period when that nut michuki was minister of internal security back in 2007, b/c i pointed it out in comments in the 'understanding AFRICOM' thread, but good lord..

Police have been given a new shoot-to-kill order. "An illegal weapon in the hands of a criminal has no other purpose except to kill an innocent person. It is, therefore, justifiable for the law enforcers to take equal measure against such a person," Internal Security minister Mr John Michuki declared, moments before he set ablaze 8,000 illegal light weapons.

In a solemn ceremony, which captured the magnitude of the loss families have suffered in the hands of roving bands of armed criminals, the minister appeared to shrug off growing criticism by human rights groups - who have accused the Government of sanctioning extrajudicial killings - and directed police officers to gun down armed criminals.

A tough-talking Michuki said law enforcers were justified in killing criminals in possession of illegally acquired guns "as their motive was evil".

of course the next few days saw michuki's orders used to justify why suspects in a stick-up were gunned down even though the witnesses reported they didn't have a weapon on them at the time

i haven't had time to do more than scan the headlines in the standard and the daily nation these past weeks but i see that the unresolved presidential self-coup is still preventing the country from healing. i guess i also stepped back a little after getting frustrated that the things we were pointing out during the entire ordeal continually were brushed aside by people that would benefit the most from it -- kenyans -- even though our analysis has largely been confirmed since then.

Posted by: b real | Mar 15, 2009 11:44:00 PM | 29

ironically wrt the last two comments, two news items out of mogadishu today

'Weapons ban' declared in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia Mar 16 (Garowe Online) - Somalia's national police command has declared a weapons ban in the capital Mogadishu, as Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake appointed a committee to manage government revenue, Radio Garowe reports.

Col. Abdullahi Hassan Barise, the Somali police spokesman, told a Sunday press conference in Mogadishu that no civilians can carry weapons in public.

"No person can carry a weapon in Mogadishu and anyone who does so will be investigated," Col. Barise declared, adding that the decree was issued from the office of Gen. Abdi Qeybdiid, the national police chief.

Mogadishu roads are manned by soldiers in military uniform, with the public complaining that the soldiers collect extortion money from commercial drivers.

"We will fight against anyone who wears government uniform and disturbs the flow of commercial and human traffic," Col. Barise said, while indirectly referring to the unruly soldiers.

The Somali government has imposed weapons ban orders on Mogadishu in the past with no success.

Somali PM Sharma’arke says government will start crackdown on soldiers’ robbing

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network) – the Prime Minister of the Somali transitional government Omar Abdirashid Sharma’arke has said on Sunday that the government will start a crackdown on the soldiers’ robbing of the people in the Somali capital Mogadishu as soon as possible.

Mr. Sharma’arke said that they will not tolerate more than that about the banditry actions, robbing mobiles and the other belongings of the people in the Somali capital which is committed by some of the government soldiers.

...

The statement of the Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharma’arke comes as many Somali people in the capital Mogadishu are complaining and fed up with the government soldiers for robbing and opening fire at them.

Posted by: b real | Mar 16, 2009 12:18:37 AM | 30

there's been alot of really stupid propaganda in the western media, esp in the u.s. lately, to shape public perception of what's going on in somalia - particularly focusing in on al shabaab. here's an glaringly silly bbc article, Somalia's text message insurgency, that targets a more credulous, uninformed readership who would believe such grafs as this bit of evidence submitted as proof of foreign fighters in somalia

In January there was a failed suicide attack against AU peacekeeping positions in Mogadishu.

The governor of Banaadir Region, Mahamed Osman Ali, told the BBC Somali Section soon after the attack that the assailant was a foreigner, possibly of Arab extraction.

"We found a human hand in the wreckage of the exploded vehicle which belonged to the suicide bomber," he said. "I think it was an Arab hand."

that's it - no additional explanation for why he thinks that is provided to the reader

and then, unless the author of the piece has just freshly arrived from a trip to the future in his time machine, there's this bit of complete misinformation

The Somali transitional federal government implemented Sharia law in the country in March in an effort to drain support for the radical Islamist guerrillas.

or disinformation:

a senior police officer in Mogadishu - who also asked the BBC to withhold his name - said the government's move would not stop the killing because al-Shabab had a "hidden agenda... to make the world unsafe".

The police officer said al-Shabab was led by foreigners...

pure hogwash

Posted by: b real | Mar 16, 2009 1:09:33 AM | 31

the east african: Queries raised over ‘condemned’ aircraft that plunged into Lake Victoria

..as efforts to recover the wreckage and the bodies continued into the weekend, reports were emerging that the aircraft should not have been in Ugandan airspace in the first place because the Civil Aviation Authority had banned aged Russian-type planes from operating in the country in 2005.

Even more intriguing were reports from patrons of a popular pub in Entebbe that the crew drank well into the night before their 5.14 am departure on the flight.

...

Conceding that the authority suffers from political interference that limits its capacity for safety oversight over ad-hoc operators, highly placed sources in the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority told The EastAfrican that the flying coffins were back in force, operating on the authority of powerful political figures who exert considerable pressure on the regulator.

It was not the only one operating here, an official said. “We have so many letters from higher-ups asking us to let this one or that other applicant operate for a short while. Accidents don’t need months to happen as you can see now,” he said.

After a spate of accidents involving old Russian aircraft in the DR Congo and Uganda in 2004, the Ugandan CAA gave operators of the type up to the end of January 2005 to cease operations in Ugandan airspace.

But it now emerges that, contrary to that decision, well connected businessmen have continued to lease the condemned types, which freely operate in Ugandan airspace.

In this particular case, the aircraft, registration S9-SAB, was registered in Sao Tome but was being operated by South African charter operator Dynacorp, which had leased it to Aerolift, an outfit owned by an American. [?]

Aerolifts’ points-man in Uganda was businessman Sam Engola, who is the ruling party’s chairman in Lango region.

Mr Engola was one of the main airlifters for the Uganda People’s Defence Forces during the time they operated in eastern DR Congo.

okay, the article refers to these old planes as flying coffins, but i wonder if, w/ the ongoing deaths of AMISOM forces in mogadishu since ethiopia pulled out (and i've seen rumors on somali forums of up to 50 burundi 'peacekeepers' being killed as opposed the reported 11 or so), if some of those 20 missions that the plane reportedly made into mogadishu could be to pick up & fly out coffins of dead soldiers?

& perhaps the alcohol -- i.e., a still-drunk crew -- played a role in the crash?

from the aviation herald entry on the crash

Uganda's Transport and Works Ministry said, that the air traffic controllers at Entebbe's control tower watched the airplane as it took off and saw two engines on fire immediately after liftoff.

...

Eyewitnesses on the ground reported, that 2 of the 4 engines of the aircraft flamed out during the initial climb.

A police officer at Entebbe Airport reported that the IL-76 took off just after Kenya Airways flight KQ-417 to Nairobi and sounded awful during its takeoff run and liftoff. It caught fire soon after liftoff.

Posted by: b real | Mar 16, 2009 1:45:30 AM | 32

Apparently Korea will be hosting US Navy SEALS, too..

The Gang Gam-chan will carry Navy underwater demolition team/sea air land (UDT/SEAL) special forces who can carry out underwater demolition and defensive operations against pirates. The destroyer will reinforce its close-range defense weapons and systems, including 12.7 mm machine guns, to prepare for attacks from pirates, who typically use small boats.

My surface level research suggests that ship, while equipped for defense against seaborne attacks, is mostly for blowing up stuff on land.

I hope this link is not a repeat of something b_real already posted....

Posted by: Jeremiah | Mar 16, 2009 3:01:31 AM | 33

@Jeremiah - the Navy SEALs on board of the SoKo destroyer are Korean, not U.S. SEALs. They are likely the shooters when it comes to taking on pirates. For any larger land attack they would need much more troops.

Posted by: b | Mar 16, 2009 5:46:09 AM | 34

i posted a couple earlier links on south korea's pending mission in another thread here. there's a pic of the udt/seals preparing for a landing at the korea times article linked there.

The Korean warship will carry enough high-end weapons systems to combat the heavily armed pirates operating high-powered speedboats and using RPG-7 rocket launchers and global positioning systems (GPS), the source said.

[who is feeding the soko military this info? heavily armed? RPGs? or is it the reporter being fed bad intel?]

...

The 300-strong Korean contingent, involving some 30 UDT/SEAL special naval forces, will focus on escorting South Korean commercial ships in efforts to protect the nation's economic interests, but will also conduct operations to stop and seize pirates vessels, using force if required, in cooperation with other navies there, JCS officials said.

The KDX-II destroyer is equipped with a Mk. 45 127mm gun, Harpoon ship-to-surface missiles, RAM Mk 31 ship-to-air guided missiles, a 30mm Goalkeeper system for engaging sea-skimming anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.

The 150-meter-long, 17-meter-wide ship, built in 2003, is able to sail at a top speed of 29 knots and carries two Lynx anti-submarine helicopters and rigid inflatable speedboats (RIBs).

Posted by: b real | Mar 16, 2009 10:44:06 AM | 35

missed this one last week - another (big) sign of phase two operations ("seize the initiative") or maybe even three?

USS Boxer Becomes Flagship for CTF 151

USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Boxer (LHD 4), homeported in San Diego, assumed the role as flagship for Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 March 8 after arriving in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations as part of a regularly-scheduled deployment.

...

"We've had a great deal of success in deterring piracy to this point," said Rear Adm. Terence McKnight, commander, CTF 151. "We've conducted counter-piracy operations on the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17), two guided-missile cruisers -- USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) and USS Monterey (CG 61) -- and now we're going to continue our mission on Boxer, which continues our line of extremely flexible platforms. Boxer has a lot to offer in the fight against piracy."

let's look at that again from the perspective of a marine times rpt

The flag for Combined Task Force 151, the Navy’s counterpiracy flotilla, has moved to the amphibious assault ship Boxer..

...

Previous flagships have been the cruisers Monterey and Vella Gulf, and the amphibious transport dock San Antonio.

Along with a Navy helicopter detachment, Boxer also has embarked Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which includes several types of combat aircraft from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (reinforced).

back to the CT-151 public affairs release:

Capt. Mark Cedrun, Boxer's commanding officer, said the amphibious assault ship provides an exceptional and diverse array of options to commanders in tracking, identifying and deterring piracy at sea.

"We bring unique and very effective tools to the theatre to accomplish any mission or assignment," he said. "Whether it's humanitarian assistance or counter-piracy operations, we're ready."

Boxer's embarked units include the Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 Detachment 3, Naval Beach Group 1, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5, ACU 1, Beach Master Unit 1, Fleet Surgical Team 5 and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

The 13th MEU is comprised of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced), Combat Logistics Battalion 13 and Battalion Landing Team 1/1.

wikipedia entry on the boxer states

The sixth USS Boxer (LHD-4) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship of the United States Navy.

the entry on wasp class amphibious assault ship states

The Wasp class amphibious assault ships of the United States Navy are designed to land forces on hostile shores, and they are the largest vessels of this type in service anywhere in the world. They are named after former aircraft carriers, United States Marine Corps battles such as the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7), and previous amphibious assault ships. The Wasp class has an air group of helicopters that are used to ferry Marines and equipment to the shore from the ships. These helicopters are supplemented by a squadron of up to eight AV-8B Harrier II V/STOL ground-attack aircraft. Up to 20 Harriers can be embarked when the ship is used as a temporary STOVL or "Harrier Carrier."[2] They also possess a "well"-deck for launching smaller landing craft, up to three Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft or Landing Craft Utility (LCUs).

...

In addition, the Wasp class are 24 feet longer to better accommodate the LCAC landing craft. Each Wasp class warship has 600 hospital beds and six operating rooms.

oh boy

Posted by: b real | Mar 16, 2009 11:51:07 AM | 36

@b & b real: thanks for the clarifications.

Posted by: Jeremiah | Mar 16, 2009 1:29:34 PM | 37

this is specifically wrt kenya, but i missed this one from march 6th, which builds on earlier work

Kenyans accuse US envoy of meddling in nation’s affairs

Two prominent Kenyans sharply criticised US ambassador Michael Ranneberger at a forum in Washington on Thursday, with one calling for his immediate replacement.

Citing Mr Ranneberger’s recent description of the Kenyan military as a highly disciplined force, civil society activist Gladwell Otieno said the ambassador “has largely not helped the situation.”

The envoy’s comments came in the wake of accusations by a UN official that the military was involved in rights violations in Mount Elgon District.

“We look forward to the day when the Obama administration will appoint a new (ambassador) and that should be sooner rather than later, given the fragility of the situation,” said Ms Otieno, a founder of the rights group, Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice.

Mr Salim Lone, an adviser of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, also criticised Mr Ranneberger’s performance.

The ambassador “sometimes goes much too far,” Mr Lone said, adding that the US, through its representative in Nairobi, had shown “strong support” for the re-election of President Kibaki.

Mr Lone said that it was also inappropriate for Mr Ranneberger to suggest that Kenya does not need a grand opposition. “That’s not the role of the US ambassador — to tell Kenyans whether they need an opposition of not.”

Mr Maina Kiai, former chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, did not mention Mr Ranneberger by name but said it was wrong for the United States to utter “words of praise” for the coalition government, which “does not deserve any praise.”

“This is a time for tough love” towards Kenya on the part of Americans, Mr Kiai suggested.

...

The Kenyans were speaking at a forum organised by the non-governmental Centre for Security and International Studies [CSIS] entitled “Kenya: The Aftermath of the Crisis and the Challenges Ahead.”

ironic that this took place at CSIS, where the events last year provided a good deal of insight into ranneberger's machinations & kiai's appeals for the release of the exit poll figures fell on deaf ears

the panelists' charges against ranneberger only scratch the surface, of course, and u.s. policy strategies in somalia have largely been conducted out of the embassy in nairobi as well

Posted by: b real | Mar 17, 2009 1:28:51 AM | 38

new times: Rwanda pledges support to Somali Government

Rwandan ministers are set to review with their Somali counterparts different areas of cooperation in an effort to help the latter’s transitional government, the two countries’ Presidents decided yesterday.

The new President of the Transitional Federal Government of the Somali Republic, Sheikh Ahmed Sharif, is in the country on a two-day state visit.

As part of his visit, the Somali leader yesterday held talks with President Paul Kagame yesterday at Urugwiro Village, a meeting that was attended by several ministers from both countries.

Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rosemary Museminali who also attended the meeting, said that areas of cooperation between the two countries are likely to include training the Somali army, advising on setting up the country’s different governance institutions and their reconciliation process.

...

Museminali said that President Ahmed asked Rwanda to support his country’s government as he also presented its plans to pacify the country through unifying different insurgents and building the country’s institutions.

...

He came to Rwanda after paying similar visits to Burundi, Kenya and Uganda.

Posted by: b real | Mar 17, 2009 10:30:12 AM | 39

from an editorial at garowe online

The showdown over Islamic law

The "international community" – a convenient phrase often used to sugarcoat the West's global hegemony – is not ready for the genuine practice of Shari'ah, or Islamic law. Yet, in Somalia, a country torn apart by 18 years of civil strife, economic depression and natural disasters, the "international community" is willing to endorse the supposed introduction of Shari'ah as national law.

...

Somalia's expanded parliament – 550 MPs for a population of about 8 million people – is expected to debate and ratify Shari'ah law soon. Sheikh Sharif's Cabinet has already passed Shari'ah law and clearly what is being sought is the introduction of a "moderate form" of the law; that is to say, a form that pleases the West while giving the Somali people only a portion of what they yearn for.

The upcoming and inevitable showdown over Islamic law will have major repercussions in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa as a whole. This is a region where a Muslim majority has been at best neglected, and where an all-Muslim country (Somalia) has been allowed to rot for so long that even the international community has now acceded to some form of Islamic law!

The presence of foreign troops, i.e. African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) in Mogadishu, cannot go hand-in-hand with Shari'ah law, unless Sheikh Sharif's version of Shari'ah is exclusively unique to him. Thus far, the Somali President has not offered a national vision of how he intends to restore order in Somalia or what he intends to do about AMISOM in the near future.

In political circles, Sheikh Sharif is described as a power-hungry politician who enjoys the West's admiration of him as a "moderate" Islamist. He has surrounded himself with powerful elements of the Hawiye clan, while the Darod clan members of his government, including Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake, are seen as puppets who are unrepresentative of their constituents. It is not a coincidence that Al Shabaab fighters are being attacked in central Somalia, home to the Hawiye clansmen, while Al Shabaab have full and orderly control of Darod and Rahaweyn homelands in southern Somalia, including Kismayo and Baidoa. Ultimately, the "international community" backs Sheikh Sharif's government insofar as it declares war on Al Shabaab. Still, the clan dynamics to Somalia's political structure cannot be ignored.

The recipe for a widespread and catastrophic clan and religious war is in the making.

575 Somali soldiers in Uganda for training

Ugandan President Yuweri Musevani and his Somalia’s counterpart, Sharif Sheik Ahmed were on Sunday present in Ibanda District in Uganda observing the kickoff of training of 575 Somali soldiers by Ugandan UPDF military.

The ceremony marred by secrecy due to the sensitivity of the event, and barred from media scrutiny marked the first of its kind in which the new Somali government sends troops to foreign country for military training.

President Museveni is quoted as saying “You can’t see your neighbour in a problem and you remain silent.” reminding those present the role played by former Tanzanian president to stabilize Uganda.

President Sharif flew hours later to Kigali, where Rwandan presidential statement read “the visiting Somali president will be visiting Gako military academy”, a move that shows significantly how Sharif and his government are already onboard to a military capacity building mission in such a short time after their election, rather than the much expected resettlement of displaced millions of Somalis by Ethiopian troops.

The training funded by the African Union and the Ugandan government, is first of its kind since the formation of Sharif’s government.

The recruits will form a nucleus of the future Somali army. Earlier, Uganda trained about 100 Somalis for VIP protection.

Posted by: b real | Mar 18, 2009 12:11:58 AM | 40

AFRICOM to stay put

WASHINGTON — AFRICOM will likely stay based in Stuttgart for another five years, the head of the new command told Congress on Tuesday.

Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said keeping the headquarters in Germany until 2014 makes sense as military officials build up operations for the command.

"We will benefit from the stability of staying in one location where we can polish out operational processes, cement our relationships with our partners on and off the continent and consolidate our gains," Ward said.

The command, which should boast about 1,300 personnel by this summer, has been based in Stuttgart since it was stood up in October. Military officials for the past two years had discussed basing operations in Africa, but resistance from governments there prompted the Germany decision.

"As time goes by, I’m sure we’ll revisit the location," Ward said. "But right now it does not affect our capacity to reach out."

AFRICOM does have two forward operational sites — one at Ascension Island, a dependency of the United Kingdom located 1,000 miles off the west coast of Africa, and another at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti — as well as cooperative agreements with several sites under control of EUCOM and CENTCOM.

ward's prepared testimony runs 30 pages. have only skimmed it at this point, however the framing looks entirely predictable & in line w/ their mandate. e.g.,

Other trends pose serious challenges to U.S. interests. ... For example, large-scale oil theft by disparate groupings of armed militants in the Niger Delta is a significant problem. Observers estimate that Nigeria’s oil exports have been reduced by 20 percent due to banditry fostered by lingering societal and political grievances. Theft of oil within the country costs the state untold revenues that could be used to improve services for the population.

of course, there is an entirely different view of who is stealing oil from the niger delta to the detriment of the local population...

Posted by: b real | Mar 18, 2009 10:56:35 AM | 41

and i should have added to my comment in #41 that much of that illegal bunkering, esp the large-scale jobs that require tankers or similar vessels, have been traced directly back to nigeria's military and local officials

- - -

new vision: US divers to search for plane wreckage

American divers arrived on Sunday to help retrieve the wreckage of the plane that crashed into Lake Victoria killing 11 people.

It is not clear how many divers came with a team from Djibouti, but at least four visited the scene of the crash on Sunday afternoon, sources said.

Posted by: b real | Mar 18, 2009 11:36:45 AM | 42

re #35
Korean ship escapes pirate attack

The North Korean vessel, mv Chong Chon Gang, was attacked 400 nautical miles off the Kenya-Somalia border, said East Africa Seafarers Assistance Programme Coordinator Andrew Mwangura.

“The vessel was attacked by pirates sailing in a small skiff launched from a mother ship. They fired rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons in an attempt to force the vessel to stop,” he said.

“The captain took evasive manoeuvres including altering course, increasing speed and activating the vessel’s fire hose and was able to escape, though it (ship) suffered damages,” he said Wednesday.

The injured crew member was treated on the ship and is out of danger.

...

Mr Mwangura disclosed [unrelatedly] that a crew of Chinese, Filipinos, Vietnamese and Kenyans was being detained at the port of Dar-es-Salaam for allegedly engaging in illegal fishing in Tanzanian waters.

the mv chong chon gang is registered as a cargo vessel, though south korean trawlers are well-known IUU violators of somali fish stocks. if it was flying a soko flag, then it's understandable why this vessel was targeted.

this incident involved RPGs. in #35 i interjected a comment expressing skepticism to the korea times excuse that

The Korean warship will carry enough high-end weapons systems to combat the heavily armed pirates operating high-powered speedboats and using RPG-7 rocket launchers...

having followed reports on incidents over the past two years, there just aren't that many claims of RPGs actually being fired in any incidents. they do have them, sure, but it's not clear how many & in what shape. there have been a few reported firings on ships so far this year, but most rpts are that the arms used in hijackings & attempted hijackings are secondhand (if not relics, like the kalashnikov in #19 of this nice photo spread) and that most of the so-called pirates tend to inexperienced in weapons handling. the contention that warships w/ "high-end weapons systems" are needed to battle "heavily armed" somali pirates is a crude exaggeration.

Posted by: b real | Mar 18, 2009 4:13:03 PM | 43

from the prepared stmt of AFRICOM's gen. ward linked in #41 above

Also key to operational support is U.S. Africa Command's Adaptive Logistics Network (ALN) approach to logistics on the continent. Our goal with ALN is to develop a flexible network of logistics capabilities that has ability to respond to logistics demands. The heart of ALN will be comprehensive, real-time knowledge of available logistic capabilities and capacities across the continent of Africa. ALN will be the key to integrate the distributed network of FOS [forward operating sites] and CSL [cooperative security locations].

for an ideal of the supply chain models the combatant command is focusing on, the notes on slide 8 in an AFRICOM powerpoint presentation on the ALN concept read:

Looking to partner initially with

Coke – bulk liquid distribution and GLOCs [ground lines of communication?] [Customers] Can get a coke in 56 countries.
Caterpillar – Prepositioning
Exxon – Petroleum stability and Infrastructure improvements

interestingly, of the four 'collaborative logistics principles' listed on another slide, principle 2 reads

Collaboration...share knowledge, support and enable common goals

Posted by: b real | Mar 19, 2009 12:23:02 AM | 44

u.n. security council info on somali pirates taken from ban ki-moon's march 16th Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolution 1846 (2008) on piracy off the coast of somalia

5. It is reported that the most prominent pirate militias today have their roots in the fishing communities of the Somali coast, especially in north-eastern and central Somalia, and that their organization reflects Somali clan-based social structures. There are two main piracy networks in Somalia: one in “Puntland” and the other based in the southern Mudug region. It is also reported that in “Puntland”, the most important pirate group is located in the Eyl district, with other smaller groups operating from Bossaso, Qandala, Caluula, Bargaal and Garacad. By the end of 2008, the “Eyl Group” was holding hostage six vessels and their crew and was expected to have earned approximately $30 million in ransom payments. The “Mudug piracy network” operates from Xarardheere. It was this group that held the MV Faina, together with three other ships, for a period of approximately five months from September 2008 to February 2009. It is widely acknowledged that some of these groups now rival established Somali authorities in terms of their military capabilities and resource bases.

6. The NATO Shipping Centre cites four main areas from which current piracy operations are conducted:

(a) For ships seized in the Gulf of Aden, the Aluula Pirate Refuge Port is sometimes the first port of call for pirates, as a base for re-supply before carrying on to main pirate home port bases in Eyl, Hobyo and Xarardheere. This is also one of the few coastal villages with a usable flat dirt airstrip;

(b) The Gulf of Aden and Mogadishu pirate attack zones are served by “mother ships” based in Bossaso and Mogadishu, and in Al Mukallah and Al Shishr in Yemen;

(c) Ships hijacked in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean are anchored near Eyl and Hobyo, where on-shore support networks supply pirates and hostages with food and supplies pending ransom payments and release;

(d) The Xarardheere Pirate base, largely under the control of the Suleiman/Habar clan, is also linked to piratical acts in this region.

Posted by: b real | Mar 19, 2009 12:55:11 AM | 45

AFRICOM will likely stay based in Stuttgart for another five years

chalk one up for africa

Posted by: annie | Mar 19, 2009 1:03:55 AM | 46

from a transcript of the alleged UBL audio tape released today, "Fight On, Champions of Somalia", as to

the case with Shaykh Shareef. He was the president of the Islamic Courts and with the Mujahideen, but as a result of inducements and offers from the American envoy in Kenya, he changed and turned back on his heels [as an apostate], and agreed to partner infidel positive law with Islamic Shari’ah to set up a government of national unity, and this partnering is greater polytheism which expels one from Islam. How can intelligent people believe that yesterday’s enemies on the basis of religion can become today’s friends? This can only happen if one of the two parties abandons his religion. So look and see which one of them is the one who has abandoned it: Shaykh Shareef or America?

aside from all questions on the origin of the tape, the reference to "inducements and offers from the American envoy in Kenya", which of course is ambassador ranneberger, is supported by the observations & analysis we have developed here since january 2007. that ranneberger's role is explicitly referenced like this makes speculation on the tape's source all that more interesting

Posted by: b real | Mar 19, 2009 11:36:49 AM | 47

Kenya to raise taxes for Somalia

Kenya's government is to collect taxes for Somalia's government at their common border, to help the embattled administration raise revenue.

...

Announcing the deal, Kenya's foreign minister said tax collection was the cornerstone for a government to work.

...

Much of Somalia's imports pass through Kenya.

The official trade is worth up to $160m a year but the true figure is likely to be much higher.

The trade in the mild narcotic khat leaf - chewed by many people in Somalia and grown in Kenya - is worth at least $300,000 a day.

Under the deal signed on Wednesday, revenue officials from Kenya and Somalia will collect taxes on goods being taken into Somalia at three places - Wilson Airport, which handles the bulk of air traffic to Somalia, as well as the border points of Mandera and Liboi.

Kenya will also help train Somali civil servants.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said that by helping Somalia's government raise revenue, the deal would help boost security in the region.

haha. fat chance of somali's ever seeing any of that money, much less somalia itself. kenya is one of the most corrupt nations in africa.

Posted by: b real | Mar 19, 2009 2:40:07 PM | 48


if the USA had gone about putting Africom together by starting off with a small base on a large enough parcel of land in an African country with a friendly enough leader and then gradually scaled it up piece by piece, theres little doubt they would have pulled it off. Namely the "lets put a huge military base in Africa" part of the plan.

but Africom was intended to be a high-profile show of force for the attention of all, most particularly China as well as the Africans too. To demonstrate that the USA intends to be the dominant hegemony over Africa's affairs. Mostly because thats the way its supposed to be. Never mind that its a loony idea.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 19, 2009 8:13:40 PM | 49

bizarre sentence in a one-sided reuters "analysis" piece on somalia

[President Sharif] has said he backs sharia law for Somalia -- a statement that could soften opposition to him among Islamist groups, although his brand of sharia is unlikely to the strictest form favoured by Afghanistan's Taliban rebels.

Posted by: b real | Mar 20, 2009 10:36:02 AM | 50

adding to #38 above (on page one), somehow i completely missed this NYT article on ranneberger's overt role in throwing the election in kenya, which provides more supporting evidence for the analysis in last year's thread Coup In Kenya Part II: Exploring U.S. influence in the Kenyan Elections.

i suppose i can be forgiven about missing the NYT story by seven weeks since it hardly compares to the fact that it's taken them over a year to even publish any serious reporting on what we watched happen in real time more than a year ago! not even when the IRI finally released the poll data five months ago!

A Chaotic Kenya Vote and a Secret U.S. Exit Poll

As tensions mounted, Kenneth Flottman sat in Nairobi and grew increasingly frustrated. He had in his hands the results of an exit poll, paid for by the United States government, that supported the initial returns favoring the challenger, Raila Odinga.

Mr. Flottman, East Africa director for the International Republican Institute, the pro-democracy group that administered the poll, said he had believed that the results would promptly be made public, as a check against election fraud by either side. But then his supervisors said the poll numbers would be kept secret.

...

An examination by The New York Times found that the official explanation for withholding the poll — that it was technically flawed — had been disputed by at least four people involved in the institute’s Kenya operations. The examination, including interviews and a review of e-mail messages and internal memorandums, raises questions about the intentions and priorities of American observers as Kenyans desperately sought credible information about the vote.

None of those interviewed professed to know why the institute withheld the results. But the decision was consistent with other American actions that seemed focused on preserving stability in Kenya, rather than determining the actual winner.

...

After insisting for months that the poll was flawed, the institute released it last August — long past the point of diplomatic impact — after outside experts whom it had hired determined that it was valid. It showed Mr. Kibaki losing by about six percentage points.

...

Heading the institute’s Kenya operations in 2007 was Mr. Flottman, on leave from his job as a senior counsel for a major defense contractor. His position put him in close proximity to Western officials in Kenya, including the American ambassador, Michael E. Ranneberger, a career diplomat appointed in 2006. Mr. Flottman said he was surprised when, before the election, Mr. Ranneberger made public comments praising Mr. Kibaki and minimizing Kenyan corruption.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Flottman recalled, the ambassador was even more direct. A few months before the election, Mr. Ranneberger proposed releasing a voter survey showing Mr. Kibaki ahead and trying to block a roughly simultaneous one favoring Mr. Odinga, according to Mr. Flottman, who said he witnessed the episode during a meeting at the ambassador’s office. The suggestion was dropped, he said, after the embassy learned that the pro-Odinga results were already out.

“It was clear, in my opinion, that the ambassador was trying to influence the perceptions of the Kenyan electorate, and thus the campaign,” Mr. Flottman said.

...

Another episode deepened Mr. Flottman’s unease. As the institute assembled its monitoring delegation, the ambassador objected to plans to include his predecessor, Mark Bellamy, according to two delegation members and a former State Department official. The institute withdrew the invitation, citing budget constraints.

“I don’t know the reason why the ambassador wanted Mark off, but he did,” said one delegation member, Joel D. Barkan. He added, “Perhaps somebody in the Kenya government made comments along the way.”

Mr. Flottman reached the same conclusion during a conversation in which the ambassador remarked that the Kibaki camp viewed Mr. Bellamy as “antigovernment,” according to an e-mail message that Mr. Flottman sent to institute officials in Washington shortly afterward.

“In sum,” Mr. Flottman wrote, “the ambassador indicates respect for our independence, but seems to have some agenda in regard to the election itself.”

...

Under its contract, the institute was expected to consult with the Agency for International Development and the embassy before releasing the exit poll results, taking into account the poll’s technical quality and “other key diplomatic interests.”

Quality was not expected to be a concern. In addition to retaining a local polling firm it had used since 2000, the institute contracted with Clark C. Gibson, chairman of the political science department at the University of California, San Diego, to oversee the design of the questions, the surveying of voters and the collection of data.


When the voting ended and ballot-counting began, Mr. Gibson and others involved in the exit poll said they expected its results to be announced soon.

But senior institute officials decided to withhold it. Most opposed to releasing the numbers, Mr. Flottman said, was Constance Berry Newman, the institute board member leading the monitoring delegation. In an e-mail message to another delegation member shortly after the election, Mr. Flottman said Ms. Newman opposed “any kind of release from the outset — essentially suggesting it would be inflammatory and irresponsible.”

Ms. Newman, who had worked with Mr. Ranneberger when she was the Bush administration’s assistant secretary of state for African affairs, declined to comment.

...

Mr. Gibson said he told the institute that its technical concerns were baseless, to no avail. His contract barred him from publicly disclosing the polling data for six months, and in March of last year the institute asked him to sign a new contract that would have restricted him from speaking publicly about the institute’s polling program without written permission.

“I think they were trying to shut me up,” he said. “I refused to sign it.”

In July, after his contract expired, Mr. Gibson and one of his doctoral students presented their analysis of the data at a seminar in Washington. A month later — one day before Mr. Gibson was to testify before Kenyan investigators — the institute announced that, after the outside review, it “now had confidence” in the poll and released the results.

very interesting info on ranneberger's behind the scenese incident w/ bellamy & the inclusion of barkan, since all three of them still played nice at the CSIS event we highlighted. whatever worries ranneberger may have had about bringing bellamy on, he was still obviously complicit w/ the entire fraud. and barkan was part of the contingent of observers.

Posted by: b real | Mar 20, 2009 3:29:16 PM | 51

London to boost funds for peacekeepers in Somalia

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – The government said Friday it would contribute an additional 10 million pounds (14.4 million dollars) in support of African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Somalia as the Somali foreign minister pressed the UN to lift its arms embargo.

Britain's UN Ambassador John Sawers told a Security Council meeting on Somalia that London would give the additional funds this month to the UN trust fund for the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

"This is in addition to the five million pounds that we have already given directly to the African Union for AMISOM," Sawers said. "We encourage others also to contribute."

Newly-appointed Somali Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar asked the AU to deploy three additional battalions of Ugandan and Burundian troops to beef up its mission.

"This needs to be undertaken immediately with improved equipment, logistics and medical facilities," he added.

AMISOM comprises Ugandan and Burundian contingents totalling around 3,400 men in Mogadishu...

Omaar also urged the Security Council to lift its 17-year arms embargo to help Somali forces properly equip in their bid to defeat hardline Islamist fighters.

The Security Council embargo imposed in January 1992 has been constantly violated with weapons mainly coming from Yemen and financed by Eritrea as well as Arab and Islamic donors, according to a recent UN report.

what the AFP omits, if you read the rpt, is that [1] there are provisions for exemption already in place, however the embargo itself is not taken seriously, esp by the west, [2] the inflow of weapons is "low-level" and [3] a good deal of it comes from the international community's support for the TFG:

Although provision exists for exemptions to the embargo to be granted by the Security Council under resolutions 1725 (2006), 1744 (2007), 1772 (2007) and 1816 (2008), no exemption for delivery of arms and ammunition or other lethal support to any Somali armed force or group has ever been granted. Consequently, the Monitoring Group believes that every armed force, group or militia in Somalia, their financiers, active supporters and, in some cases, foreign donors are currently in violation of the arms embargo.

The volume and pattern of arms transfers to Somalia has remained fairly constant since Ethiopian military intervention and the overthrow of the Council of Somalia Islamic Courts in January 2007. Somalia’s is a relatively low-intensity conflict characterized by small-scale engagements of limited duration, poorly disciplined and irregular forces armed with conventional infantry weapons, sustained by a constant, low-level flow of weapons and ammunition.

...

Another principal source of arms, ammunition and military materiel to Somalia is external support to the forces of the Transitional Federal Government. Although such contributions are intended to contribute to security and stabilization in Somalia, and are eligible for exemption from the arms embargo, most are not authorized by the Security Council, and thus constitute violations. As much as 80 per cent of such support has been diverted to private purposes, the Somali arms markets or opposition groups. On balance, contributions to the Transitional Federal Government security sector have represented a net source of insecurity in Somalia, and an obstacle to stabilization efforts.

...

..external contributions to build the capacity of the Transitional Federal Government security forces have provided an important loophole through which arms, equipment and military skills are diverted to the open market or to armed opposition groups.

perhaps the call for lifting the embargo is to facilitate the covert awakening council arming of forces at the clan level as we've seen taking place in parts of central and southern somalia. ethiopia has already been deeply involved in this, and sharif just came back from favorable meetings in kenya, uganda, rwanda & burundi

continuing w/ the AFP story

Omaar hailed the integration of transitional government troops and a faction of the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) into the Joint Security Forces (JSF) following UN-brokered reconciliation talks in Djibouti last year.

"If the JSF is to be equipped by the international community to partner with AMISOM and to secure peace, the embargo on the government has to be re-addressed," he added.

"The JSF is not funded, resources or equipped up to now. Yet it is the essential partner of AMISOM for peacekeeping."

...

..Omaar stressed the importance of the [upcoming] April 22 Brussels conference, sponsored by the AU and the UN to raise funds for AMISOM and Somali security forces.

"Without these resources, visible and effective demonstration of the authority of the state and the rule of law will not be achieved and peace will not be secured," he noted.

lot going on here. more on this later

Posted by: b real | Mar 20, 2009 6:33:05 PM | 52

solid analysis from michael weinstein on the three main currents of political islam at play right now in somalia

Somalia’s Contending Islamic Ideologies

The contenders over what Islamic political formula might become regnant in Somalia are the same as those that appear everywhere in the Muslim world that political Islam emerges: Transnational Revolutionary Islam, Islamic Nationalism, and Islamic Reformism. The first is represented in Somalia by the Al-Shabaab movement and Hizbul Islam (Party of Islam); the second by the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia based in Asmara (A.R.S.-A); and the third by Sh. Sharif, his faction of the A.R.S., and the clerics associated with his movement.

As it became clear in March that political Islam had triumphed ideologically in Somalia, the contending tendencies and actors enunciated positions that were more well defined and detailed than had previously been the case, in particular, Al-Shabaab.

In an important interview with Al-Jazeera on March 3 that deserves serious attention [and which i highlighted in an earlier comment here], Al-Shabaab’s spokesman, Sh. Mukhtar Robow, provided the clearest statement to date of the movement’s ideology and current strategy. Confirming a closed source on the ground who says that Al-Shabaab is the only political actor that has a coherent program, Robow presented a systematic account that moved from fixed strategic goals to flexible and adaptive tactics, nearly mirroring the Leninist theory and practice of Bolshevik revolution, with, of course, an Islamist content. Those who believe that Al-Shabaab is a collection of mindless “extremists” and “spoilers,” who are simply “anti-peace” (U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s term) need to think twice.

In commenting on whether Al-Shabaab was linked to Al-Qaeda, Robow said that it was not organizationally, but was ideologically, stating that both groups shared the goals of implementing Shari’ah, rejecting “false borders and entities created by colonialism,” uniting Islamic countries, and restoring the Caliphate – a succinct definition of Transnational Revolutionary Islam.

Just as Lenin insisted that goals remain fixed, but that tactics must be altered pragmatically according to circumstances, Robow said that whenever al-Shabaab considers taking an initiative, “we always think about whether it is appropriate to do it at this time.” Currently, Robow explained, “we believe that we should move forward with caution.” In particular, Robow stressed, it was most important that Al-Shabaab not get ahead of the people (another Leninist dictum).

...

It is not the purpose here to judge whether or not Al-Shabaab can or will apply consistently Robow’s “What is to be Done” interview, but just to reveal it as vintage modern vanguardist revolutionary ideology in Islamic dress. The point is that Al-Shabab has a rather sophisticated program that gives it an ideological advantage over other contenders.

In contrast to Robow’s positive and considered strategy, the A.R.S.-A’s Islamic Nationalism remains a resistance ideology based on national liberation.

...

Leaving aside A.R.S.-A’s relative lack of traction on the ground, Aweys’s version of Islamic Nationalism, centered, as it is, on liberation rather than on a program, lacks focus, leaving the future open to an unspecified range of Islamic political formulas. Aweys’s vision was appropriate when Somalia was subject to Ethiopian occupation and one could speak of a resistance movement; it is less relevant in a period of civil conflict, in which actors control and attempt to administer blocks of territory as they contest them with other actors.That Aweys should say that Ethiopia’s rhetorical support for Sh. Sharif, which must be coupled with its harboring and training of warlord militias, means that Addis Ababa is “still in charge,” indicates his failure to adjust to the new political cycle.On March 19, A.R.S.A announced that it would form an alternative government to the T.F.G.; it remains to be seen whether it will generate a vision of an Islamic state and a program to achieve it.

...

As a compromise formation precipitated from the cross-pressures of base and donors, Sh. Sharif’s Islamic Reformism is the weakest of the ideological contenders by virtue of its transparent use of political Islam as a means to the end of saving the T.F.G. and its resulting vagueness.

Ideology is not the determining factor in shaping political developments, but it provides an orienting vision of the future and a basis for mobilizing support and organizing action. As such, it is a form of power and an indicator of momentum. Considered in those terms, among the major domestic actors in southern and central Somalia, Al-Shabaab’s programmatic perspective has the edge over A.R.S.-A, which is locked in the past, and the T.F.G., which appears to be purely reactive.

Although the analogy is only suggestive and speculative, it would be wise to keep in mind that Lenin’s Bolsheviks prevailed over the populist and nationalist Social Revolutionaries, and the reformist Mensheviks in the Russian Revolution.

Posted by: b real | Mar 21, 2009 12:20:18 AM | 53

inner city press: UN Still Won't Answer Who Funds Somali Government, Ould Abdallah Bemoans Media

UNITED NATIONS, March 21 -- While Somalia's new foreign minister Mohamed Abdulahi Omaar painted a strangely upbeat picture of the last two months in Mogadishu, UN envoy Ahmedou Ould Abdallah stood by but clarified his call for a moratorium on reporting of the killing of civilians by peacekeepers. Neither man would say on-camera who funds the new Somali government.

Inner City Press asked Mohamed Abdulahi Omaar, who responded that the airport is now under government control and can be taxed. Is that enough to pay the Parliament, the number of members of which has recently doubled? No, he conceded, it is not. He said the "international community" is making up the difference. ... More generally, he called for more peacekeepers, from Uganda and Burundi.

Ould Abdallah, whose comments likening those who reported on the killing of bystanders by African Union peacekeepers with the Milles Collines radio station in Rwanda triggered calls by human rights and press freedom groups for retraction or resignation, expressed frustration that every time there is good news about Somalia, "some Somali grabs the headlines" with a violent act. He said he had "expected a grenade" to be thrown on Friday, to overshadow the UN Security Council proceedings. ...

Ould Abdallah graciously asked Inner City Press about its June 2008 visit to the Somali peace talks in Djibouti. Who paid for the talks, Inner City Press asked for the second time. Ould Abdallah referred the question to his spokesperson Susie Price. But when Inner City Press followed up with her off-camera, all she would say is "ask UNDP." An email to UNDP resulted in a generic statement to look on UNDP's website, or to await some subsequently answer, which will be reported after receipt.

In 2008, it emerged that the UN was paying at least $14 million to the Somali government. But from which donors did the money come, and what was is used for? After the stakeout on Somalia, an advisor to Ould Abdallah told Inner City Press that while the government now controls the port, opponents are opening for business another port, which will deny revenue to the government.

Inner City Press asked Ould Abdallah about the disclosure in the UN's most recent report on Somalia that a UN staff member had been held by kidnappers since mid-2008. This is an important question, Ould Abdallah said, promising to look into it and give an answer by telephone.

this next story is from waagacusub media so retain some skepticism, but

New anti terror forces formed

New highly trained and heavily armed Somali forces dressed in special uniform with battle-wagons have been seen for the first time in the Somalia capital Mogadishu and other cities in the country, officials and witnesses told Waagacusub Media on Friday - as they are doing military exercise around the areas near to Somalia beaches.

Reports say that these troops with their vehicles written on “Gulf Security Group” were said to have long been training inside Somalia including navy, commandos and security forces.

The chief commander of the Gulf Security Group Ismael Haji Noor who was speaking to Waagacusub Media said his GSG forces which numbers 600 soldiers will carry out mission against the terror groups of Al-Shabab militants and pirates to help restore peace and stability in Somalia adding that they are not under the control of the new government but supports it.

“The work of the Gulf Security Group is to assure the safety of the Somalia commercial companies, we want to hunt down and focus our target on the Al-Shabab officials, we will arrest the foreigners that involves in the terror acts in Somalia,” said Nor.

...

Asked whether their military operations as part of supporting the new government led by Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the GSG commander replied “our mission is not meant to support the current government but we are doing this to save Somalis from the risk of terror attacks by radical groups,”

Ismael Haji Nor who is among Somali businessmen also asked about the reports saying that his group is working for the Western powers and he said “ we do not work for Westerners but we could not watch to the country´ s disasters caused by the Al Qaeda linked groups and pirates,”.

whois lookup

domain: gulfsecuritygroup.com
created: 07-Mar-2009
last-changed: 12-Mar-2009
registration-expiration: 07-Mar-2010

registrant-firstname: Ismail
registrant-lastname: Noor
registrant-organization: 1st euro finance ldt
registrant-street1: 16/18 Circus Road
registrant-street2: PO box 8505
registrant-pcode: NW8 6PG
registrant-state: LND
registrant-city: London
registrant-ccode: GB
registrant-phone: +44.2082024546
registrant-email: ihajinoor@hotmail.com

---

domain: 1steurofinance.com
created: 09-Mar-2008
last-changed: 12-Mar-2009
registration-expiration: 09-Mar-2010
registrant-firstname: Ismail
registrant-lastname: Noor
...

small web trail doesn't appear to turn up anything immediately suspect other than that noor hardly looks "chief commander" material from the video advert above. unable to find video to accompany the stills in the waagacusub article

50 government soldiers join al-Shabab

MOGADSHU (Mareeg)--Fifty government soldiers armed with heavy weapons reached in Hudur town in Bakol region in southwestern Somalia late on Friday where al-Shabab officials have reportedly welcomed the soldiers, witnesses told Mareeg Online on Saturday.

This is a very big blow to the government officials who are against the al-Shabab movement in the region.

The move came after clan elders and al-Shabab officials talked about the issue of the soldiers and lastly al-Shabab officials agreed the soldiers to join them and be part of al-Shabab Islamist fighters.

The soldiers are said that they are the same tribe as Sheik Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, the spokesman of al-Shabab and they will get training before they fully become members of al-Shabab fighters.

Posted by: b real | Mar 22, 2009 12:57:56 AM | 54

Somalis condemn foreign minister’s request

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network) ---Somali clerics and elders in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu have strongly condemned Saturday the demand by Somalia’s foreign minister Mohamed Abdulahi Omaar.

Omaar said during speech before the Security Council on Friday it was urgent that extra battalions from AU to be sent to Somalia to bring the AMISOM peacekeepers closer to their target strength of 8,000 and that the domestic joint security force be funded and equipped.

Abdulahi Hassan Abukar known as Abdulahi Dhere, a spokesman for the Hawiye Clan Elders told Shabelle Media that it was a surprising thing about the demand of extra foreign troops and said the speech by the foreign minister was not the interest of the Somali people and called for the minister to rescind it.

“In fact we see the issue of demanding foreign troops as amazing thing, because the current foreign troops have a deadline to leave the country and no extra troops are needed in Somalia. We will fight any one who demands foreign troops as we did before,” said Abdulahi Dhere.

Sheik Ahmed Abdi, a leading member of Somali clerics also condemned and described the demand as a regrettable one.

“We are independent people, so demanding foreign troops is something against our religion and our sovereignty,” said Sheik Ahmed Abdi.

The decision by Somalia’s foreign minister Mohamed Abdulahi Omaar angered many Somalis who live in the capital and still remember the difficulties they met during the two-year occupation of the Ethiopian troops.

Islamic clerics say Somalia does not need foreign troops

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)--Delegation of Islamic clerics from the Islamic world who reached in Mogadishu on Friday talked about the request of extra foreign troops by the Somali government and Osma Bin Laden’s remarks of Somali issues on Saturday.

Sheik Abdirahman Al-Nueimi, a member of the Islamic clerics from the world said Somalia did not need any foreign troops and it was not the solution of Somali problems.

...

“We heard from the media that the government demanded foreign troops, but in fact Somalia does not need foreign troops at this time. We met the cabinet ministers and they told us the issue was not something fully agreed,” said Al-Nu’eimi.

Sheik Al-Nu’eimi also talked about the tape by the leader of Al-Qaeda Osama Bin Laden, who urged Somalis to topple their president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed.

“Somali affairs do not concern Sheik Osama but they are for the Somali people and their clerics,” Al-Nueim added.


Disagreement in Somalia over U.N. peacekeeper plan

MOGADISHU, Somalia Mar 21 (Garowe Online) - The long-standing dispute over foreign troops has resurfaced in Somalia following reemergence in the interest of expanding the under-staffed African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) into a full-fledged U.N. peacekeeping force, Radio Garowe reports.

...

Mr. Ahmed Abdullahi "Fanah," a Somali lawmaker, told reporters that Foreign Minister Oomar is "alone" in his comments.

"Parliament did not ratify the Foreign Minister's call for U.N. peacekeepers," MP Fanah said, adding: "Somalia does not need new foreign troops, but we need help in building Somali security forces and to remove AMISOM, since the government has approved Islamic law."

...

The 550-seat expanded Somali Parliament, composed of clan-based and Islamist politicians, is expected to debate and ratify President Sheikh Sharif's request for Shari'ah law soon.

Somali MPs have always been divided over the issue of foreign peacekeepers, reflecting on the country's general distaste of foreign soldiers.

Posted by: b real | Mar 22, 2009 1:10:08 AM | 55

from ecoterra international's march 20th SMCM (somali marine & coastal monitor) update

on the iranian fishing vessel detained by puntlanders

An Iranian vessel was hijacked off the coast of Somalia by armed fishermen reports the Seafarers Assistance Program office in Mombassa, Kenya. Andrew Mwangura, program coordinator for SAP, told the press that a group of angry Somali fishermen have hijacked an Iranian fishing vessel near the coast of Somalia. Early reports say the hijacking took place after the fishermen confronted the ship for fishing illegally in Somali waters, according to Mr.Mwangura. "I hear that the villagers have taken it because of fishing illegally or for damaging fishing equipment", Mwangura said. "Vigilantes usually move when you destroy their nets or boats and hold the ship until they are paid back", said Mr. Mwangura. On March 16, Puntland residents detained the ship for illegal fishery activities, and residents said they will free the ship when the material damages have been paid. Actually the Iranian-flagged vessel is a industry-ship with a huge fish-processing capability and not just a fishing vessel. The tuna targeting factory ship named "SAFARI" has 14 Iranian crew on board and is now held near Kulub (close to Garcad) pending decisions, if the case could be legally tried somewhere.

other fishing vessels


The Yemen fishing boat, during whose capture actually the captain was reportedly shot and killed, has been recaptured by a local militia which guarded its illegal fishing. The vessel is reported now to load more fish off Eyl and is set to sail back to Yemen.

The identity of a Chinese fishing vessel arrested at Bargaal north of Eyl end of February could not yet be established.

...

The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) says also another fishing vessel was chased by a skiff with six pirates armed with automatic weapons about 540nm off east coast Somalia. The fishing vessel increased speed and headed into the waves and swell and prevented the skiff from coming alongside. Later, the skiff aborted the attempt and left the area. The IMB says that the fishing vessel's crew and are safe and continuing passage. The IMB, however, would not reveal the name of the possibly illegally fishing vessel and if it believes that the location was reported correctly.

...

Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme disclosed that in Tanzania a crew of Chinese, Filipinos, Vietnamese and Kenyans was being detained at the port of Dar-es-Salaam / Tanzania for allegedly engaging in illegal fishing in Tanzanian waters on board of the China-flagged vessel F/V TAWAQ. The vessel was arrested earlier this month by Tanzanian authorities, who said the operation of the vessel had fraudulently bagged 300 tonnes of tuna instead of the permitted 70 tonnes.

on the heavily-armed soko fleet

A South Korean warship has begun its voyage to Somali waters to join international efforts to fight piracy in the region, marking the first dispatch of the nation's warship since the navy was created 64 years ago.

...

The dispatched "Cheonghae" unit consists of a 4,500-ton KDX-II destroyer, a Lynx anti-submarine helicopter, a RIB speedboat and 300 personnel, including UDT/SEAL special naval forces. The KDX-II destroyer is equipped with two 30mm Goalkeepers capable of firing up to 4,500 rounds per minute, two Mk. 45 127mm guns, eight Harpoon ship-to-surface missiles and 32 SM-2 ship-to-air missiles, the news agency said.

...

The Korean contingent will not only escort Korean commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden, a vital route for international energy transport, but will also conduct operations to monitor, inspect, stop and seize pirate vessels, using force if required. The task force's deployment mission expires Dec. 31. The mission shows, according to governmental statements, that South Korea, the world's 13th largest economy, is willing to play a bigger role in protecting fishing and cargo vessels and their crew from Somali bandits..

...

So far only one Korean merchant ship was sea-jacked by Somali pirates - the 15,000-ton bulk carrier Bright Ruby - holding eight Koreans and 13 Myanmarese in captivity for 36 days, while Somalis still remember the arrest of several illegal Korean fishing vessels, including the tuna fishing ship Dongwon with 25 crew members who were released in return for payment after 117 days of captivity in 2006. In November 2007, two other illegally fishing boats, Mavuno No. 1 and No. 2, were also seized and held with their crew for 174 days until a settlement could be achieved. Many observers fear that Korea actually dispatched its warship only to secure the illegal fishing activities of its fleet, reaping multi-million dollar loots from the Indian Ocean.

Meanwhile two Korean fishing vessels are reportedly operating illegally off the Hobyo coast in Somalia with local militia protection.

on the renditioning of suspected pirates to kenya

The decision by Kenya to prosecute Somali pirates will either expose its population to attacks by pirate sympathisers or bring it out as a hero of preservation of global peace and security, legal analysts have said, according to Steve Mbogo, asking in his Business Week article: "Will prosecution of pirates open country to revenge attacks?" Since January, Kenya has signed two bilateral agreements, one with the United States and the other with European Union, allowing them to hand over arrested pirates to Kenyan Police for prosecution. The analysts are surprised at the zeal of Kenya in signing the agreements, especially because all other eastern Africa coastline nations declined similar partnerships with the EU and the US. Kenya has been a victim of three major global terrorist attacks, and was expected to be more cautious on agreements that could expose its citizens to similar attacks. But it appears the foreign policy priority favoured playing a key role in preservation of maritime security, whose consequences could go either way. There is nothing wrong with Kenya´s decision to agree to prosecute the pirates, some analysts say, because any member of the United Nations can sign a bilateral agreement with the other that includes exchange of suspects.

The fact that some pirates are arrested in international waters, where no country can claim their citizenship makes Kenya´s offer of prosecution practically acceptable. Mohammed Guyo, a Horn of Africa security dynamics expert with the Institute of Security Studies in Nairobi, said the legality of Kenya accepting pirates is questionable because the country does not even have relevant law to prosecute pirates. He said for political correctness, agreements on the prosecution of pirates should be made between the Somalia government and the countries hunting down the pirates. But he said every member of the UN has a responsibility to preserve global peace and security, and Kenya´s decision to prosecute pirates could be based on this conviction. " Trying pirates in Kenya is very risky!", states renowned scholar and professor of terrorism and counter-terrorism studies at Murdoch University, Australia, Sam Makinda.

The agreement the Kenyan government is reported to have signed with the US and UK governments as well as the EU to have Somali pirates tried in Kenyan courts is without precedent. The trials carry substantial risks and security threats, and their legality could be challenged under international law, says Prof. Makinda. There is no doubt that the surge in piracy off the Somali coast in the past few years has threatened free international trade, caused shipping insurance premiums to rise and invited strong measures from the international community. Piracy is a war-like criminal activity, but those who participate in it are neither soldiers nor terrorists. Moreover, piracy often takes place outside the territorial waters of most states, which renders the prosecution of pirates complex. To some extent, the prosecution of pirates on the high seas appears to contravene the conventional freedom of the high seas. However, because of concept of universal jurisdiction, actions have been taken against pirates without objection from any country. This situation appears to have changed when the UN Security Council last year passed several resolutions under Chapter VII of its charter authorising member states to use all powers necessary to deal with piracy off the Somali coast. These resolutions went beyond the traditional legal powers and permitted those fighting pirates off the Somali coast to pursue the pirates inside Somalia´s territorial waters and on dry land.

as we followed at the time, those resolutions were penned by the u.s.

Posted by: b real | Mar 22, 2009 1:57:02 AM | 56

Clan elders call for AU not to send extra troops

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)--Hawiye clan elders called for Sunday the African Union not to send extra troops to Somalia and requested Ugandan and Burundian troops to be withdrawn from Somalia.

The spokesman of Hawiye clan elders, Ahmed Dirie Ali said that the people of Mogadishu were sick and tired of foreign troops and did not need them any longer.

Somalia’s foreign minister Mohamed Abdulahi Omaar demanded on Friday extra three battalions from Uganda and Burundi, but his request angered many clerics and intellectuals in Mogadishu.

Some parliamentarians from the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, the bloc of president Sharif Sheik Ahmed described the demand by the foreign minister as personal.

“We will fight the African troops as we fought the Ethiopian troops who killed our civilians and destroyed our capital city Mogadishu,” Ahmed Derie Ali said.

“The foreign minister can not spare your lives in this country,” he added.

Mohamed Tahlil Warsame, a leader of a newly formed Somali Council called for the government to rescind its demand as soon as possible and give apologize.

“The people who were injured by the foreign troops are still in hospitals and the houses they destroyed have not been rebuilt yet,” said Mr. Warsame.

Islamic scholars ask government to rescind its demand for foreign troops

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network) -- Islamic clerics which support the Somali government have joined wide opposition against Somali government's request for the deployment of further African Union peacekeepers, Sheik Bashir said Sunday.

...

Sheikh Bashir Ahmed Salad, chairman of the Somali Islamic Scholars Association, said Somali Islamic scholars were "unanimously opposed" to any further deployment of foreign forces in Somalia.

The scholars' group, which previously recommended to the Somali government that the African Union peacekeepers be sent back to their respective countries, is one of the staunchest supporters of the new government dominated by moderate Islamists.

"The scholars were surprised to learn that the government was requesting for more troops when what we expected of it was to send those already here back to their countries because that was our recommendation to the government," Sheikh Salad said at news conference in Mogadishu.

...

Sheik Hassan Mahdi, a member of Hizbul Islam said 600 troops from African countries have been secretly deployed in the country and added that they were brought to massacre the Somali civilians.

600 troops? is that a reference to the "gulf security group" from the link in #54?

Dead bodies that Ethiopians killed found in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU(Sh. M. Network)--Five dead bodies that the Ethiopian soldiers killed months ago have been found in a mass grave in Aslubta compound outside Mogadishu, a former base of Ethiopian troops, witnesses and officials said on Sunday.

Relatives of the dead bodies told to the reporters that the five bodies were all young men who were traveling in a car in front of the compound when the Ethiopian troops captured and killed them.

They said that two of them were brothers and described the incident as a massacre by the Ethiopian troops during their two-year of ill-fated occupation in Somalia.

...

Sheik Abdirahim Isse Adow, a spokesman for the Islamic Courts Union, who visited the mass grave, told reporters that his fighters will investigate all formerly Ethiopian-based compounds and surrounding areas so that the remains of other slain civilians may be searched.

“We know Ethiopians caused heavy damages on our people and this is part of their massacre against Somali civilians,” said Sheik Abdirahim.

Al-Shabab Islamists discovered 13 dead bodies a week ago from former Ethiopian military base in Baidoa.

Posted by: b real | Mar 23, 2009 12:21:09 AM | 57

essentially, there is no indigenous support for foreign peacekeepers in somalia, period.

Info Minister contradicts FM, rejects peacekeepers

MOGADISHU, Somalia Mar 22 (Garowe Online) - The dispute over foreign peacekeepers deepened in Somalia on Sunday when the country's new information minister contradicted the foreign minister, Radio Garowe reports.

Information Minister Farhan Ali Mohamud told reporters in the capital Mogadishu that Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Oomar is "alone" in his request for additional peacekeepers to boost the understaffed African Union force (AMISOM) serving in the Somali capital since March 2007.

"The Government supports the Muslim scholars' decision that AMISOM leave within 120 days," the Information Minister stated.He rejected Foreign Minister Oomar's appeal at the U.N. Security Council for the deployment of additional peacekeepers, saying: "Somalia does not need more foreign troops."

He rejected Foreign Minister Oomar's appeal at the U.N. Security Council for the deployment of additional peacekeepers, saying: "Somalia does not need more foreign troops."

Somalia's new government, which controls only a few neighborhoods in Mogadishu, came to power in January after the conclusion of U.N.-facilitated peace talks.

...

On Sunday, a group of MPs held a press conference in Mogadishu to reject Foreign Minister Oomar's peacekeeper plan.

MP Abdinasir Garane, who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers, told reporters that the government's decision was to train and equip Somali soldiers.

"Islamic law and foreign soldiers cannot go hand-in-hand," MP Garane said, adding that there is "no necessity" for additional peacekeepers.

He called on President Sheikh Sharif's Government of National Unity to "remove" AMISOM peacekeepers currently serving in Mogadishu.

Foreign peacekeepers are deeply unpopular in Somalia, a Horn of Africa country with a long history of violence against foreign troops.

the west's plan is not getting traction. i was hoping to have time this w/e to transcribe some of john prendergast's 8 points in the CSIS panel on "options for u.s. and int'l engagement" in somalia from two weeks ago, which were quite candid on the need to make it look like the TFG was taking ownership for this. my schedule didn't work out, so maybe i can get to it this week. the audio is avail at the link to the event somewhere upstream.

1,700 UPDF train for Somalia

A total of 1,700 UPDF soldiers expected to replace the peace-keeping troops in Somalia have completed the first phase of training.

The contingent acquired skills in peace-keeping procedures at Singo Military Training School in Kapeeka, Nakaseke district.

They were trained by French and Belgian military experts and will today start further training to be conducted by US army officers, for one month at the same school.

The team will leave for Somalia in October this year, the army said.

Speaking at the pass-out ceremony on Friday, the defence state minister, Lt. Gen. Jeje Odongo, warned the troops against indulging in irresponsible sexual behaviour.

He also warned them against drunkenness, saying it would compromise their performance.

LOL. warning against drunkenness at "the pass-out ceremony"!

“What you are going to do in Somalia is good for Africa,” he said.

...

The commander of the French Forces in Djibouti, Gen. Philippe LeFort, said the UPDF’s contribution to peace was a sign that Africans were organised to face future crises on the continent.

“You are the hope of all people striving to live in peace. The process of regional integration and setting up of a framework for peace and security is bearing fruit,” said LeFort.

He said as long as Somalia failed to take care of its own security needs, there would be need for international support.

Uganda has so far sent three batches of peace-keepers to Somalia under the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Burundi and Nigeria also sent some troops.

nigeria has not sent any troops, afaik. unfortunately, that's not the only wrong information being dispensed w/i the article...

Posted by: b real | Mar 23, 2009 12:57:10 AM | 58

PM sharmarke, another asset of the u.s., is forced to distance the TFG from the foreign minister's request last week

Premier regrets foreign minister’s demand of foreign troops

MOGADSHU (Sh. M. Network) -- Somalia’s Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali, held a press conference in the presidential palace in Mogadishu on Monday and made an apology about the foreign minister’s demand of extra foreign troops.

...

Clerics, Intellectuals, and civil society organizations in Somalia condemned the demand of the foreign minister.

Posted by: b real | Mar 23, 2009 11:11:56 AM | 59

EA standby force to be ‘operational’ by Nov

Countries in East Africa and the Horn will soon be obligated to intervene in trouble-spots like Somali and Darfur, instead of relying on help from the entire continent or the United Nations.

This is expected to become a reality next year after the East African Standby Brigade meets the requirements set by the African Union.

The director of the East African Standby Brigade Co-ordinating Mechanism (EASBCOM) Simon Mulongo, told The EastAfrican that the brigade will complete its field training in November after which it will be certified as fully operational.

...

The creation of the East African Standby Brigade, to be co-ordinated from Karen in Nairobi, is part of the AU Peace and Security Architecture, which requires the five regions of Africa to develop their own standby brigades.

The East, North, West, Central, and Southern Africa regions are expected to develop their own brigades that will ultimately form an African Standby Force equipped to intervene in conflicts, meaning the continent will no longer have to depend on the United Nations every time a conflict breaks out.

Military commanders from the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region met in Nairobi early this month for a one-week conference that analysed conflicts and disasters in the region, and how to respond to them as a region. The generals came from Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Rwanda.

...

But as the region moves to strengthen its capacity to respond to conflicts before they escalate, the new arrangement will not have it smooth.

One area of concern remains the political dynamics and ideology of member countries which could lead to some not being willing to contribute or accept troops from countries with which they are in dispute or on the basis of religious differences.

However, there is a provision that the standby force can only be deployed at the request of the country in conflict.

...

Initially, the East African Brigade was meant to have 13 countries, namely, Tanzania, Kenya, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Union of the Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius.

But currently, the East African Standby Brigade will only have 10 active members with Tanzania, Madagascar and Mauritius having joined SADC. Still, Mr Mulongo revealed that Tanzania is considering participating in the group as an observer.


Ethiopia PM silent on cost of military mission

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who is the commander-in-chief of the country’s defence forces, has refused to disclose the cost of the Somalia military intervention.

Opposition MPs expressed their disappointment after Mr Meles refused to disclose how many soldiers were killed or wounded during Ethiopia’s two-year military intervention in Somalia.

The PM last week told Parliament that he was neither obliged to make the disclosure, nor was it necessary for Parliament to know the details of the operation.

He, however, told Parliament how the Ethiopia intervention was important and successful, and that it was highly appreciated by the international community.

Opposition MP Temesgen Zewide said whatever the cost, both Parliament and the public were entitled to know.

The only independent MP and former Ethiopia President Negasso Gidada said Mr Meles’s position was an insult both to Parliament and the public.

Mr Lidetu Ayalew, the chair of Ethiopia Democratic Party (EDP), the only opposition party that supported the Ethiopian intervention, also expressed his disappointment by the Prime Minister’s refusal to disclose the cost.

“The public, who made the sacrifices, have a right to know,” Mr Lidetu said.

In his recent press briefing, Mr Meles refused to answer the same question from journalists, saying only that, the loss and causalities “were minimal”.

Ethiopia sent about 10,000 troops to Somalia in 2006 till early this year.

more on that

Meles tells parliament it does not need to know how many soldiers died in Somalia

The PM added he is neither obligated to disclose, nor is it important for the House to learn, the details of the casualties and fatalities suffered by Ethiopian soldiers. Ethiopia's spending in Somalia was also not discussed by the PM.

"The parliament is the one that has ordered the measure in self defence and it is not only its right to learn the details of what its decision has resulted, but it is also responsible and accountable to oversee its decision and its implementation," MP Lidetu Ayalew explained to Capital, adding that the PM's response was "not appropriate".

Lidetu, who chairs the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP), which took a different stance from most of the opposition groups by supporting the government's proposals on Somalia, said like the parliament, the nation too has the right to the information.

"It is the nation that made the sacrifices and for it to be part of such future efforts it needs to be informed what endured.

"We can never tell this nation to simply pay the price and not know the cost. The PM is accountable to the House and when the House asks questions it was not appropriate to say 'I am not obligated to detail' when in fact the PM is very much obligated," Lidetu added.

He referred to international practices, like in the US, where the public is updated daily on its sons and daughters sacrifices in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dr. Negasso Gidada, the former president, who was the only candidate to win an independent seat back in 2005, said it was outrageous for Meles to respond as he did: "He just insulted us by trying to determine which information should be important for us and which isn't.

"The boss should be the parliament, but it was seen to be the opposite."

Without going into details, the Ethiopian government on various occasions reported that its soldiers came across very weak resistance from the Somalia jihadists and terrorists groups that had their operations orchestrated by the Eritrea government.

The PM told parliament spending was kept very low, as the soldiers were trained to keep their costs down almost to the level they would have spent if they were home.

However, MPs like Temesgen Zewdie argue that whatever the cost may be, both parliament and the public are entitled to full disclosure.

"It is becoming common in Africa as one way of building a complete dictatorship. Here in Ethiopia it is the executive that controls everything, but I hope we will see a day when there will be accountability, including for what really happened in Somalia," he commented to Capital.

Posted by: b real | Mar 23, 2009 3:07:44 PM | 60

Somalia's leaders shy away from extra peacekeepers

MOGADISHU, Somalia Mar 23 (Garowe Online) - Somalia's interim President and Prime Minister have distanced themselves from comments attributed to Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Oomar calling for additional peacekeepers, Radio Garowe reports.

Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake, who chaired a Cabinet meeting in Mogadishu Monday, told reporters that the Government of National Unity is opposed to anything that will create more problems for the public.

"We apologize for the [Foreign Minister's] comments, which frustrated the public," Prime Minister Sharmake said, adding that the Cabinet "agreed" that Minister Oomar will convene a press conference to discuss the issue.

In Khartoum, visiting Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed met with Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, where the two leaders discussed the Somali reconciliation process and Sudan's role in helping Somalia recover from 18 years of civil war.

Sheikh Sharif, who spoke with Sudanese media, said he opposes the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant for the Sudanese President Al-Bashir.

He shied away from direct comments about Foreign Minister Oomar's speech at the U.N., whereby he called for additional peacekeepers to reinforce the small African Union mission [AMISOM] in Mogadishu.

"There is a strategic plan to withdraw AMISOM peacekeepers from the country [Somalia]," President Sheikh Sharif was quoted as saying in Khartoum.

...

Foreign Minister Oomar has not publicly responded to the Somali leaders' position on the issue of additional peacekeepers yet.

Posted by: b real | Mar 23, 2009 6:03:09 PM | 61

Somalia: ‘New African peacekeepers secretly enter’: Indho Ade

MOGADISHU, Somalia Mar 23 (Garowe Online) - A former warlord with close ties to Somalia’s powerful Islamist movement has claimed that new African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) ‘secretly entered’ the country over the past week, Radio Garowe reports.

Yusuf Mohamed Siad “Indho Adde,” the ex-warlord of Lower Shabelle region, told reporters Monday that the new peacekeepers came from Uganda and Burundi to reinforce a 4,000-strong AU contingent currently serving in Mogadishu.

“Military transport planes delivered 1,820 new soldiers since March 17,” Indho Ade claimed.

He accused Somalia’s new unity government of “violating” a declaration by Somali Muslim scholars, who called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of AMISOM peacekeepers within 120 days, starting on March 1.

Uganda deploys more peacekeepers in volatile Somalia

KAMPALA, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Uganda has deployed another battalion of soldiers in volatile Somalia bringing the total number of its soldiers there to over 2,000, a top military commander here has said.

Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, Chief of Defense Forces of Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF) told reporters on Tuesday that the battalion left for Somalia on Sunday to beef up the already 1,700 Ugandan peacekeepers deployed in the capital Mogadishu.

"With the new president, parliament, reinforcement of AMISOM, we hope to begin seeing faster reconciliation in Somalia," he said.

...

The new deployment in the Horn of African country comes two weeks after the Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed visited Uganda and Burundi seeking for more help.

Crispus Kiyonga, Uganda's minister of defense told parliament early this year that Burundi would also be sending another battalion to Somalia to beef up its other battalion already deployed there.

He said that the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia had agreed to raise another 10,000 troops internally, to pacify the war-torn country.

Nyakairima said in January that once the troops are on the ground, two battalions, one battalion from Uganda or Burundi together with another from the local joint force would be deployed in Baidoa to protect parliament.

they would have to fight to regain baidoa first - al shabaab controls that area - and then try to move parliament there again. not likely to happen. in any case, reinforcing AMISOM will not bring "faster reconcilation", though it may speed the demise of the faux 'unity govt'

Posted by: b real | Mar 24, 2009 2:21:31 PM | 62

8 nov 2007: U.S. army boss for Africa says no garrisons planned

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Formation by the United States of a unified military command for Africa is not a move to push more troops onto the continent and impose American policy, the unit's commander said on Thursday.

...

"Africa Command is not here to build garrisons and military bases," Ward said.

25 march 2009: On the way to being an enduring base

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti - There’s a wonderful view of Camp Lemonier from a lofty watch tower smack in the middle of the base. In one direction, you can see row after row of housing units stretching into the distance. In another, you can see neighboring Djibouti International Airport. The tower is so tall that a keen-eyed spotter can see all the way to the beach that marks the post’s boundary.

This tower in the center of Lemonier was once actually near the edge of the camp. Increasing American activity in the Horn of Africa has propelled Lemonier from a sleepy 97-acre post to a 500-acre base that’s become one of the military’s major installations on the continent. Last year’s stand-up of U.S. Africa Command means the base is only going to get busier.

"As AFRICOM matures, Camp Lemonier will transition to supporting long-term [theater security cooperation] efforts and establishing strong and enduring regional relationships," Gen. William "Kip" Ward, the AFRICOM commander, said during testimony to the House Armed Services Committee in March 2008.

...

Congress has set aside more than $100 million for camp improvements between fiscal 2007 and 2010 — including a new chapel, post office and dining facility, said Lt. Cmdr. Matt Motsko, Camp Lemonier public works officer. Leaders are even considering building barracks in fiscal 2012 or 2013.

Motsko noted that these permanent buildings will have to be used for five or 10 years to see efficiencies over the temporary buildings that now dominate Lemonier, a sign that the camp isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

"With a little bit of effort and a desire for it to be enduring, it definitely could be," Motsko said. "I think the writing’s on the wall."

But the most telling indicators of the camp’s larger role may be the new infrastructure that will allow it to serve as a support hub for Africa Command. Crews have already broken ground on new taxiways to increase its ability to manage aircraft. Leaders are considering putting in a "hot pad" that will allow planes to refuel, rearm and get back on their way quickly.

Lemonier is now set to be an enduring base of operations for Africa Command.

google map view of camp lemonier

Posted by: b real | Mar 24, 2009 11:53:06 PM | 63

first there were reports out of uganda on a number of u.s. divers helping in the recovery of whatever was lost on the russian transport chartered by the u.s. state dept via dyncorp that went down in flames in lake victoria. now they're bringing in AFRICOM

ug pulse: US Army to help Uganda in plane crash recovery

The US government is scheduled to assist the government of Uganda in conducting search and recovery operations of human remains and the flight data recorder from the wreckage of an Ilyushin 76 aircraft that crashed in Lake Victoria recently.

Service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, a US body based in Djibouti are expected in Uganda to help in the rescue mission, according to a press statement from the body.

This follows a request by the U.S. Embassy in Uganda and the government of Uganda for U.S. military assistance in recovery operations at the crash site.


stars and stripes: Uganda enlists help of U.S. sailors to locate plane crash wreckage

U.S. Navy sonar technicians from Sigonella are in Uganda helping to locate wreckage of an airplane that crashed earlier this month killing 11 onboard.

Sailors with Area Search Platoon 804, a support element to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team Mobile Unit-8, began their work Tuesday, using unmanned underwater vehicles with side-scan sonar capability to search the depths of Lake Victoria, which at 26,560 square miles, is Africa’s largest lake.

"We’ve been called to assist … to locate and map out the debris field for the aircraft and assist divers in the recovery of bodies and the flight recorders," Chief Petty Officer Manuel Ybarra, a sonar technician who has served in the Navy for 24 years, said in a recent interview.

...

The Navy’s unmanned vehicles let technicians map the crash site, narrowing the search area for divers. Without such equipment, the technicians calculated it would take 275,000 hours to search the entire lake, said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Beauregard.

"When a plane hits the water, it tends to break apart," he said.

they don't name 'em petty officers on account of their insight, you know ;)

Posted by: b real | Mar 25, 2009 11:40:41 PM | 64

The Development of Events in Somalia? Answered by Shaykh Hamid al-Ali

The problem in Somalia is not a dispute between the holders of a single Islamic project so that a solution can be reached by initiating reconciliation projects. It is a confrontation between an American project represented by the Sharif- Sharmarki government after agreeing to take a Muslim, through which it hides this dangerous project, along with the same puppets that were with Abdullahi Yusuf and the same hired faces that are carrying out the American project. Sharif—taking advantage of his Islamic past--added Islamic personalities that either do not know his truth, or are in partnership with him, or they are deceiving themselves that they will find Islamic solutions within the framework of the American project in line with desires, may God curse desire. Similar to what some Islamic parties that were fooled in some Islamic countries practice.

...

It is clear that the new government led by America`s man `Sharmarki`, who studied there and holds Canadian citizenship, and who held various positions at the United Nations in Darfur, Sierra Leone, and was previously Abdullahi Yusuf`s (former Somali president) ambassador in Washington, cannot take a single step unless it is consistent with the American agenda.

...

This explains Shaykh Sharif`s inability to meet the minimum demand made by the mujahidin to end the confrontation situation in Somalia, which is a clear and direct solution that spares the political games under the slogans of reconciliation! They are as follows:

1. The return of the Union of Islamic Courts to apply Sharia rules as it used to before the entry of the Ethiopian army.

2. The exit of all foreign forces from Somalia, besides being an occupying force, and based on Islamic doctrine which strictly prohibits the existence of any foreign weapons that belong to foreign hands on Islamic land, in addition to bases or forces. In addition to this they are also -- I mean the African Union forces that guard Sharif`s palace as NATO guards Karzai`s palace -- merely pretexts for the same enemy who has allowed the entry of the Ethiopian troops to Somalia. It is the vindictive American enemy that moves everywhere to pre-empt any Islamic project, regardless of the relationship of this project with what they call international terrorism, even if this project is a local resistance that has no international relation; for example the case of HAMAS. The American hostility is hostility towards Islam and to every renaissance that gives hope to the Islamic nation to get rid of the Zio-American imperialism.

It is unknown to many that Sharif personally gave the orders to withdraw from Mogadishu at the beginning of the Ethiopian occupation after the Union of Islamic Courts had prepared a solid military plan to attack the Ethiopian army in Mogadishu. It was a decision that caused shock and surprise to the military leaders of the Union of Islamic courts; who are still questioning it!

The call for a deadline extension will certainly be proposed if the Islamists do not prevent the foreign project for the withdrawal of the foreign forces and work to apply Sharia ruling. It is an attempt to buy time in order to avoid the Islamic project until they can remove the jihadist status from the Somali people and arrange the political situation in a way that satisfies the American project, and guarantees the achievement of AFRICOM`s objectives in Somalia and then the entire Horn of Africa as I demonstrated in a previous article.

...

It is known that the Islamic Courts originally ruled according to Shariah in a society that did not have any life complications and their experiment was amazingly successful. The call to give the government time to gradually apply the Sharia ruling is pointless. It is an exposed trick and is a forbidden matter that should absolutely not be approved in the case of Somalia and similarly is case for a deadline for the withdrawal of foreign forces. The Islamic Courts and the mujahidin who defeated the Ethiopian forces are able to maintain the country`s security, and to manage it in a few moments. They now control most of the Somali land and work according to the provisions of Islamic Sharia, praise be to God.

There is no sense to give foreign troops time to withdraw, except to bow to the American trap.

...

The advice to the Somali people is to follow the faithful who defeated the Ethiopian occupation, and the mujahidin should be keen on winning the people to their side, in addition to directing their weapons in the face of all who try to tamper with the achievements of the Somali jihad and politically pre-empt the American project by educating the Somali people about their goals and assuring them that they are the same Islamic courts that had governed them through wisdom and guidance until it managed to solve all the problems of Somalia in a short time.

Posted by: b real | Mar 26, 2009 1:01:07 AM | 65

GAO report on Africom.

NYT

A report issued Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office acknowledged that the command had taken steps recently to win the trust of American diplomats and development experts, as well as African leaders. But it said the command must do a better job explaining what it does to build credibility among its United States government partners and with the African nations it is seeking to help.

“The military’s large size brings the promise of increased resources,” the report said, but that size also stirs concerns among African nations “about potential encroachment into civilian responsibilities like development and diplomacy.”

In an interview here on Monday, before the G.A.O. issued its report, Gen. William E. Ward, the head of the command, said many of the misperceptions about the command had been dispelled.

Posted by: b | Mar 26, 2009 6:10:32 AM | 66

Parliamentarians call for to endorse clerics’ edicts

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)--Members of the Somali parliament called for Thursday to endorse the edicts by the Somali clerics and also demanded to stop the deployment of foreign troops in Somalia.

The deputy speaker of the Somali parliament, Osman Elmi Boqore called for to support the edicts of the clerics and their efforts for peace.

The clerics had previously stipulated that violence should be stopped to give the government time to implement the Islamic sharia law in Somalia and to ask AU forces to withdraw from the country.

MP Suleyman Mohamed Ibrahim says “the foreign troops can not bring peace in to the country and it is good to take the advice of the clerics,”

two more chemical tankers intercepted

Somali pirates seize two European tankers

NAIROBI, March 26 (Reuters) - Suspected Somali pirates have hijacked two European-owned tankers within 24 hours in the highest-profile strikes since foreign navies deployed en masse to the region's busy sea lanes.

"These are the biggest attacks this year. The pirates are showing they are very much alive," said Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, which monitors piracy in the region from the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

The 9,000-tonne MT Nipayia, a Greek-owned and Panama-registered ship with 19 crew on aboard, was taken on Wednesday 450 miles east of Somalia's south coast, the European Union and NATO said on piracy-monitoring websites.

The 23,000-tonne MT Bow Asir, a Norwegian-owned and Bahamian-registered ship, was seized on Thursday 250 miles east of the south Somali coast, they said.

...

Citing information from other maritime organisations, Mwangura said the Bow Asir was carrying caustic soda, whereas the Nipayia was empty or "in ballast."

...

"They are staying away from the security zone in the Gulf of Aden. They are trying to destabilise the security system the foreign navies have set in place," Mwangura said.

...

"Once again, the Somali pirates are making fools of all of them," said a diplomat who tracks the piracy phenomenon.

lloyd's list: Nigeria rivals Somalia for ship attacks

ATTACKS on vessels off the Nigerian coast are going unreported and could exceed those occurring off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, International Maritime Bureau divisional director Michael Howlett has warned.

While there were 40 attacks reported in Nigerian waters in 2008, Mr Howlett said the actual figure was closer to 150 or 200. “We need owners to come forward,” he told a London Metropolitan University seminar.

BIMCO chief security officer Giles Noakes confirmed that the situation in the Gulf of Guinea was as bad as that in the Gulf of Aden.

...

As of Wednesday night there had been 48 attacks in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somali reported since the start of the year. Five vessels were hijacked, 102 crew members taken hostage and a further 24 vessels fired upon, Mr Howlett said. Seven ships and 118 crew were still in detention.

The number of vessels that have actually been hijacked had been steadily dropping because of the increased presence of naval forces patrolling in the gulf.

While in October last year the ratio of attacks to hijacks was one in three, this ratio had dropped to one in 19 by this month. “The naval presence is working, but if you take the ships away then the problem will come back,” he said.

Posted by: b real | Mar 26, 2009 11:51:15 PM | 67

US military finds crashed Russian plane deep in Ugandan lake

The United States Military ... is presently still conducting the salvage operation of the gigantic Russian transport plane, which crashed into Lake Victoria near Entebbe Airport in Uganda. They only located the wreckage yesterday with some of the most sophisticated sonar equipment available. It was located about 24-26 deep and also embedded beneath 10 meters of silt, said Lieutenant Colonel Gregory Joachim, U.S. Embassy, Uganda Defense and Army Attache today.

...

Service members from AFRICOM's combined joint task force Horn of Africa this week left from New Orleans in Louisiana for Uganda to help in the search and recovery of human remains and the flight data recorder from the crashed Ilyushin II 76 aircraft wreckage.

...

The tail of the aircraft, believed to hold flight data information has not yet been found. As wreckage is hopefully identified with the Sonar systems, divers will go down in an effort to find and retrieve the aircraft flight data information.

among other noteworthy items, the article fails to mention that dyncorp is under contract to the state dept

Posted by: b real | Mar 27, 2009 12:16:58 AM | 68

just to add on, a march 19th article in the daily monitor had reported that

Minister Nasasira announced that the fuselage of the air carrier had been recovered, raising possibility the flight data recorder could soon be found.

Posted by: b real | Mar 27, 2009 12:25:13 AM | 69

this was quite obvious to me, which is why i didn't bother giving any time to zakharov's ploy

AVIATION OBSERVERS DISMISS MISSILE THEORY

The air crash off Entebbe two weeks ago took another twist a week ago when the Russian owner made wild allegations in South Africa, that he suspected a missile to have been fired at his aircraft when it was taking off from Entebbe around 5:00 am for Mogadishu, Somalia with supplies for the AU peace-keeping forces. All aviators this column contacted since then completely rubbished the theory, more so as the Russian owner had specifically referred to the American-built Stinger missile being used, which is not known to be available to terror groups or militias, unlike the Russian-built SAMs, a more likely tool for such groups. Aviators preferring anonymity also suggested an ulterior motive of the owner to deflect the public scrutiny from his own track record in the airline business, when he made the presently baseless allegations and accusations.

In any case, while accident investigators and the Ugandan CAA did not rule out nor, in fact, rule in any likely cause of the crash, which is standard procedure until the investigations are complete; informed speculation in Uganda’s aviation sector is rife over maintenance issues connected with the aircraft’s crash. This cautious attitude, however, did not prevent several government officials from condemning in the strongest possible terms the Russian’s utterances, which one official, preferring to remain unnamed, described as ‘crackpot.’ Meanwhile, in the latest development, foreign divers have reportedly found the tail section of the crashed plane and are making efforts to retrieve the wreckage for further inspection.

this headline is sorta misleading

Ugandan, US divers recover plane wreckage

A COMBINED team of Ugandan and US divers on Wednesday found the tail of the sunken Ilyushin plane that plunged into Lake Victoria early this month, killing 11 people on board.

...

The wreckage raises hope that the over two-week long rescue-turned salvage operation could come to an end.

The airforce spokesman, Capt. Tabaro Kiconco, yesterday said: “We are sure that tangible results could come by the end of the day. I am sure they will recover the black box. ”

The US Mission in Kampala, in a statement issued yesterday, said the 27-man team was working with the UPDF and the Civil Aviation Authority in the recovery mission.

...

The Americans have been tasked to retrieve the remains of the dead, recover the black box and advise the investigation team based at the Civil Aviation Authority offices in Entebbe. “US service members are in the Horn of Africa to build relationships with partner nations,” Anthony Kurta, a US commander, said.

“We have deployed a team to support Ugandans in the operations. We work beside Ugandan military forces on a regular basis as part of our efforts to strengthen their own security capacity,” he added.

Two Russians; a captain and the co-pilot, two Ukrainians, three senior Burundian army officers, two Ugandans, a South African and an Indian died in the March 9 incident.

The remains of the Ugandans, Burundians and Ukrainians have been buried.

Posted by: b real | Mar 27, 2009 4:47:49 PM | 70

the individual i highlighted in #54, ismail haji noor of the suspicious security outfit Gulf Security Group, now turns up dishing out disinfo to AFP in a silly piece of propaganda

Lawless Somalia draws influx of foreign fighters

NAIROBI (AFP) – Egged on by Osama bin Laden and drawn in by Ethiopia's pullout, foreign jihadists have flocked to Somalia in recent months, joining forces with local fighters to turn the country into an Al-Qaeda haven.

Somalia now shelters an estimated 450 foreign fighters who are working with the Shebab, a home-grown hardline Islamist group that has spearheaded a bloody insurgency since 2006.

While foreign fighters wanted for links to Al-Qaeda have long used Somalia as a backyard, their numbers have swollen dramatically in 2009, experts say.

"There were maybe 100 foreigners last year but now our estimate is up to 450," said Ismail Haji Noor, a former Somali security official who has established a secular militia bent on rooting out the Shebab and their foreign allies.

Noor said the foreign jihadists come from the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia and often enter the country on regular airlines from the northern semi-autonomous state of Somaliland.

Most of them are concentrated in Garowe, in the northern breakaway state of Puntland, and the southern towns of Baidoa, Merka and Kismayo.

"The risk is being taken increasingly seriously that they will look outside Somalia for their operations now," said one Nairobi-based diplomat.

...

"They will be targeting Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia. Western powers will focus their efforts on protecting those neighbouring countries instead of tackling the problems inside Somalia," Noor warned.

He said Somalia's new moderate Islamist president, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, needed to be urgently shored up if the threat was to be neutralised.

puntland's govt was not amused

Puntland Government rebukes AFP report

It is disappointing to learn that a worldwide news agency with a good reputation like France’s AFP could publish such unsubstantiated and unfounded allegations against the Puntland State of Somalia.

The article’s main allegation, that most foreign fighters in Somalia are “concentrated in Garowe,” the capital city of Puntland State, has in fact provoked anger from our people and the Government as well, inducing us to believe that unscrupulous writer is devoid of journalism ethics and has no thought as to the consequences of his action. We dread to think how such an unprincipled person could gain access to such prominent global news agency.

The Government of Puntland categorically denies the claim of this AFP writer that there is an influx of foreign jihadists in Puntland, particularly in Garowe, and condemns the baseless report published by AFP and the interview it conducted with a former soldier named Ismail Haji Noor, who the interviewer himself described as a warlord who established a militia to fight Al Shabaab and their foreign allies. It is unfortunate that such character can get access to AFP and provide misleading information.

It is a mystery as to how such a large number of foreign fighters chose to set up base in Garowe, a relatively small town where there is law and order and a functional intelligence service, while there is unhindered fertile ground to operate in other parts of Somalia. It is even more mysterious as to how foreign fighters can roam freely in Garowe without raising public safety concerns or attracting the Government’s response.

so what's the story on this noor fellow? was the earlier rpt on his spearheading a group of 600 mercenaries into somalia legit? who is financing this outfit? was the u.n. monitoring group notified? the 'unity govt'? who was the contact to set up the interview w/ the AFP correspondant? why didn't that org vet the story first?

noor's contact info is posted in #54. maybe someone has the time to investigate...

Posted by: b real | Mar 28, 2009 5:39:53 PM | 71

African Union to send more troops to Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya – The African Union will soon send more peacekeepers to protect the government of war-ravaged Somalia, a spokesman said, but he did not say how many would be deployed.


The Somali government had asked the AU to nearly double its current deployment of troops to the maximum 8,000 allowed by an agreement struck in 2007, Nicolas Bwakira, AU envoy for Somalia, told The Associated Press Friday.

AU members have previously been unwilling to send troops because of the high level of violence by Islamist insurgents against Somali and Ethiopian forces backing the government.

Bwakira did not say which countries would send troops nor how many.

...

The AU has been in the country since March 2007, and last weekend the number of soldiers reached 4,000 for the first time. Bwakira said the organization was planning to put in more troops.

"We are doing it now. We will send more troops to Somalia soon," he said.

The AU is seeking to put more troops into the country amid concerns that the insurgents will make further gains against a weak government that controls only small pockets of territory.

...

The Somali president is in a delicate position, said Rashid Abdi, a Somali expert at the International Crisis Group. "If (the president) comes out and openly calls for the increase of peacekeepers he will immediately collide with the powerful traditional elders and the clerics," Abdi said. This would be a propaganda coup for the insurgents.

The AU force guards key government institutions, like the capital's main airport, seaport and the presidential palace. They also protect top government officials and train national security forces.


President says AMISOM troops will stay until Somalia gets its own forces

MOGADSHU (Sh. M. Network)--Somali president Sharif Sheik Ahmed held a press conference in Mogadishu on Saturday and said he talked about Uganda and Burundi governments about Somalia’s issues and how they can help the Somali government.

“AMSOM troops are part of the peace agreement signed in Djibouti and we told Uganda and Burundi that we want to build our forces and to reconcile with the opposition,” said president Sharif Sheik Ahmed.

He also said that they met with Libyan and Sudan’s leaders and had told them they would mediate between his government and the opposition.

President Sharif Sheik Ahmed said they will unite the former TFG government soldiers and the Islamic Courts Union forces.

a rpt at garowe online adds

"They will leave the country at our request."

...

He urged Somali media to refer to government forces as "national troops"..

Posted by: b real | Mar 28, 2009 6:39:33 PM | 72

some excerpts from ecoterra international's march 26 SMCM update

on the hazards of being actual fishermen:

Fishermen in Yemen and Somalia suffer from navy atrocities. The war on piracy going on in the waters off the coast of Somalia and Yemen may be making this important shipping lane safer for global commerce, but local fishermen become collateral damage, reported now also Arab News on similar cases as they were reported from Somalia already. Some navies seem to be clearly out of bounds.

There are approximately 12,000 fishermen along the coast of Yemen´s Hadramout province supporting over 3,000 families using more than 4,000 boats of various sizes, according to the Fisheries Cooperative Union (FCU), and Yemeni fishermen have told now stories of brushes with both pirates and the navies that are fighting them.

According to the FCU, an Indian frigate aggressively boarded the tuna trawler Al-Tayser about 69km from Al-Mukulla, the largest port city in the western portion of the country. The Indian seamen allegedly boarded the vessel and tossed all but one of the fishermen overboard. The mishandled fishermen there had to tread water until the search of the vessel was complete. During the interrogation the Indian naval commando even was striking one of the men. After a search of the vessel, the Indian navy men returned to the frigate and left the area. There were no serious injuries or deaths reported in that incident, different to when the Indian Navy just blew the fishing vessel Ekanawat Nava 5 out of the water a few months back.

Part of the problem is that the traditional fishing routes run between the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, and the fishing crews are comprised of men from both countries. At its narrowest, the distance between Somalia and the coast of Yemen is about 300 km in a body of water separating the Gulf of Aden from the Arabian Sea.

Fishermen have also complained of harassment by the pirates when they fish nearer the Somali side of this rift. They say the pirates are using them as decoys and human shields and purposefully trying to mix in with the fishing routes to confuse the pirate hunters.

"We have been working in fishing for ages and our fishing route has been from Al-Mukulla to the coast of Somalia", said Mohammed Omer Bin Dehbaj. "Our crew consists of two Somalis and five Yemenis. We left Al-Mukulla on the morning of Jan. 18, heading toward Somalia. When we were in Somali waters, a group of pirates on a fiberglass boat rammed our boat". The armed pirates boarded the fishermen´s vessel and ordered them to retrace their route. The men say the pirates wanted to use them as decoys or human shields. Eventually the pirates found another Yemeni vessel hailing from Hudaidah (a coastal Yemeni port city on the Red Sea) and commandeered that vessel, letting the others go. After breaking from the pirates, the eight men said they headed to Abd Al-Kuri, a tiny, barely populated island between the diving haven of Socotra and the coast of Somalia. Ten days after leaving Al-Mukulla, the men headed home — but their adventure didn´t end there.

On Jan. 29, a day after leaving the island, about 110 km south of Al-Mukulla, the men encountered two looming battleships. "We didn´t know the identity of the giant ships, but they seemed to be from the coalition forces´ Navy which were sent to combat piracy", said one of the men. "When they saw us, a helicopter took off from one of the ships and, without sending any warning, it started to fire bullets heavily and indiscriminately toward the vessel. One of the crew got injured who was rushed later on to Al-Mukulla. The helicopter hovered overhead for two hours then went back to the ships, which left shortly after".

Omer Gambeet, the head of the FCU in Al-Mukulla, the umbrella organization for all of the fishermen in the 360 km long coast of Hadramout, told Arab News that his biggest concern is the treatment of fishermen by the Indian naval forces. "Because they are unable to understand their language, the Indians mistreated the Yemeni fishermen severely and, in many cases, they tossed them into the sea like dogs, which is entirely beyond the pale", he said, without stating that there have been any deaths involved in these incidents.

"Piracy and these actions by the navies has posed a serious threat to the Yemeni waters and the safety of the local fishermen", he said. "It has terrified the fishermen´s families and if the problem remains unresolved, many will feel obliged to abandon fishing. That would aggravate the ongoing problem of unemployment and the import of fish from outside Yemen". In a conference held last month and devoted to discussing the stakes of the pirates and the coalition forces on the Yemeni fishermen, Yemeni Coast Guard Forces Commander Ali Ahmed Ras´ee said that some ships of the coalition forces have harmed the local fishermen greatly. The commander urged countries involved in anti-piracy patrols to work more closely with the countries caught between the sea bandits and the forces aimed at stopping them.

a reprint from some form of promotional material by noor & gulf security corp:

Gulf Security Group (GSG) comprises of Somali nationalist elite security forces manned by seasoned, well trained and equipped military and intelligence professionals. Most members have also a good basic education and - coming mainly from the Somali Diaspora in Europe, Scandinavia and the GCC - they have a much wider horizon than local Somalis, who have been trapped for 20 years inside the country and saw nothing but violence, corruption and crime. GSG officers are enlisting in increasing numbers to repulse radical criminal elements, who are guilty of murdering and oppressing innocent families throughout Somalia.

...

GSG is pro-government and although operating totally independent is working in clear agreements with the government as well as within the Somali and international laws. GSG can conduct these rather independent operations through reliance on their own resources.

GSG elite direct action strike forces and marine expeditionary commandos share the common goal to totally eradicate fundamentalist and radical Islamists who perpetuate - with so far no consequences for them - terror and human rights violations of epic proportions in Somalia. This situation has now changed. The Somali nationalist commando elements within GSG are highly trained for night raids are accompanied by sniper units, which leave the radicals no place to hide. Night operations will soon be supported also by air and naval capabilities.

GSG marine expeditionary forces are targeting criminal enterprises incl. those engaged in piracy and have focused on hard-line Islamists who have directed their interests on kidnapping, human trafficking and hijackings, attractive to them due to large ransoms which they plan to use to further their terrorist activities on land. The Marine Expeditionary Units have unrestricted access to the entire Somali coast line.

The Somali nationalist assault forces of the Gulf Security Group are greeted with cheering and prayers for success in all the areas they are conducting operations. Now more than 600 in number and backed by the financial and logistical support from the international Diaspora of Somalis [bullshit], GSG is steadily increasing in strength.

...

The Somali Elite Strike Forces of GSG hit now back with the same fierce aggression and even harder, but observe clear rules of engagement in combating enemy elements inside Somalia, who have demonstrated no respect for human life or suffering and have displayed a sense of brutality highly offensive to the Somali people, who resent and lament seeing nearly every part of Somali culture being crushed along with their hopes of ever regaining a semblance of normalcy and peace.

Extreme violence had emerged with the arrival foreign terrorist elements, who are supplying Al Shabab and other Al-Qa'ida groups with funds, weapons, vehicles and training. State sponsors of the foreign criminals faintly disguise their culpability and complicity in promoting a violent extremism unknown and unwanted by the vast majority of Somalis.

GSG intelligence units are operating aggressively throughout the regions where the radical extremists hide. These GSG officers are equipped with encrypted communications systems, which are virtually impossible to detect, track or identify as they are widely supported by the local Somalis where they are conducting operations. Additional commando units are anticipated shortly to arrive, who are specialized in interrogation techniques in order to uproot even the last radical element in the country.

wtf? GSG elite direct action strike forces and marine expeditionary commandos? GSG intelligence units? "now conducting operations"? in their heads maybe...

on the international flotilla in the gulf of aden:

Natural Resources & Armed Fish Poachers: Foreign navies entering the 200nm EEZ of Somalia and foreign helicopters and troops must respect the fact that especially all wildlife is protected by Somali national as well as by international laws and that the protection of the marine resources of Somalia from illegally fishing foreign vessels should be an integral part of the anti-piracy operations. Likewise the navies must adhere to international standards and not pollute the coastal waters with oil, ballast water or waste from their own ships but help Somalia to fight against any dumping of any waste (incl. diluted, toxic or nuclear waste). So far and though the AU as well as the UN has called since long on other nations to respect the 200 nm EEZ, none of the countries to which the most notorious vessels and fleets are linked has come up with a declaration nor has any of the navies operating in the area pledged to stand against illegal fishing. So far not a single illegal fishing vessel has been detained by the naval forces, though they had been even informed about several actual cases, where an intervention would have been possible. Illegally operating Tuna fishing vessels (many from South Korea, some from Greece and China) carry now armed personnel and force their way into the Somali fishing grounds - uncontrolled or even protected by the naval forces mandated to guard the Somali waters against any criminal activity, which included arms carried by foreign fishing vessels in Somali waters.

LLWs / NLWs: According to recently leaked information the anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden are also used as a cover-up for the live testing of recently developed arsenals of so called non-lethal as well as sub-lethal weapons systems. (Pls request details) Neither the Navies nor the UN has come up with any code of conduct in this respect.

Posted by: b real | Mar 29, 2009 1:03:54 AM | 73

the east african: Uganda deploys more soldiers in Somalia despite Osama threat against Sharif

In the wake of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) withdrawal from a three-month operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kampala has quietly deployed another 1,000 soldiers in conflict-ravaged Somalia, The EastAfrican has learnt.

Senior army officers in Kampala confirmed last week that at least 1,000 troops have been on Somali territory for over a week now, despite growing concerns that the presence in Somalia of Uganda’s army poses a serious terrorist danger to the country.

“We’ve completed deployment of another battalion. We now have two battalions standing in Somalia,” said General Aronda Nyakairima, UPDF Chief of Defence Forces.

Army spokesman Major Felix Kulayigye added that this is an “augmentation force” deployed at the request of the African Union. In the same sprit, Burundi, the other country that has an AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia, will also send more troops to reinforce its contingent.

With 1,600 UPDF soldiers already in place, the new force brings to 2,600 the number of Ugandan troops in the Horn of Africa country.

the papers in kampala put the official number deployed last w/e at 800, but that doesn't mean there couldn't have been more since last sunday

despite the spin of the article, starting w/ the headline, the threat to the AMISOM forces has absolutely nothing to do w/ any stmts attributed to UBL - foreign troops have never been acceptable to somalis & there is near unanimous opposition to those of AMISOM who have been imposed on the country by western powers. as gen. nyakairima even spells out in the article,

"[UBL] will not stop us, because we have been invited by the international community and Africa union (AU)."

600 is a number that seems to be popping up frequently as of late. first, the mysterious security outfit GSC (see previous comments) was reported to hae brought 600 mercenaries into somalia to wage a counterinsurgency.

continuing w/ the east african article

During Mr Sharif’s visit, it emerged that Uganda had been secretly training nearly 600 Somali nationals on Ugandan territory, under a programme jointly funded by the AU and Kampala. The trainees have passed out and are now deployed alongside the Ugandan troops in Somalia, sources said.

This is not the first time Uganda is training Somali troops, having earlier concluded training of another special unit of 100.

that second number may be low, depending on how it's qualified

the article also adds

a Muslim scholar Imam Kasozi said that by deploying more troops, Uganda was signalling that “we are now preparing for war” against al-Shabaab.

“Let’s not forget, we went into Somalia on behalf of the US, which two years ago paid Uganda $10 million to enable the troops to travel to Mogadishu. But two years later, is there any peace to keep in Mogadishu? No. It means they are now preparing for war.”

press release: AMISOM welcomes Somali President's stand

Sunday 29th March 2009, The Special Representative of the Chairperson of The African Union Commission for Somalia Nicolas Bwakira welcomes the firm declaration by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed that AMISOM should remain in the country to continue the important role it is undertaking.

The AU Special Representative who is on a two day visit to Somalia was speaking at the Somali State House today while paying a courtesy call on President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed yesterday clarified his government’s position on the issue following speculations emanating from forces opposed to the peace process that AMISOM is not needed and should therefore leave Somalia.

The AU Special Representative of the AU for Somali Nicolas Bwakira assured the Somalia Government that AMISOM is committed to supporting the establishment of a professional security force to help ensure peace and stability in the horn of African country.

Posted by: b real | Mar 29, 2009 1:43:28 PM | 74

Kenya police abuse Somali refugees: rights group

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Corrupt and violent Kenyan police abuse and extort money from hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled volatile Somalia, a human rights watchdog said on Monday.

Kenyan officials did not immediately comment on the report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which also accused the authorities of forcibly deporting hundreds of asylum seekers desperate to reach the world's largest refugee settlement.

More than 250,000 people eke out a living in Dadaab's three overcrowded camps near the Somali border in the arid and impoverished northeast of Kenya, the region's biggest economy.

Aid agencies expect to see 100,000 new arrivals there this year as a tide of Somalis flee the conflict between an Islamist-led insurgency and the new government in the capital Mogadishu.

"People escaping the violence in Somalia need protection and help, but instead face more danger, abuse and deprivation," said the report, "From Horror to Hopelessness: Kenya's forgotten Somali Refugee Crisis."


from that rpt's summary:

The continuous cross-border movement gives the impression that the closing of the border by the Kenyan government in January 2007 has not affected Somali asylum seekers' ability to seek refuge in Kenya. In reality, however, it has led to the Kenyan police forcibly returning asylum seekers and refugees to Somalia in violation of Kenya's fundamental obligations under international and Kenyan refugee law, and to serious abuses of Somali asylum seekers and refugees. Emboldened by the power over refugees that the border closure has given them, Kenyan police detain the new arrivals, seek bribes-sometimes using threats and violence including sexual violence-and deport back to Somalia those unable to pay. By forcing the closure of a UNHCR-run registration center close to the border, the Kenyan authorities have also seriously aggravated the humanitarian assistance needs among Somalis arriving in the three camps near Dadaab town.

...

Kenya officially closed its border with Somalia days after the Ethiopian military intervened to oust the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) from south-central Somalia. Apparently aimed at preventing the entry of fleeing supporters of the UIC into Kenya, the border closure has had an extremely negative impact on Somali civilians trying to flee the violence.

The border closure has allowed Kenyan police to forcibly deport Somali asylum seekers and refugees in flagrant violation of international law and has caused Kenyan political authorities to turn a blind eye to police corruption and abuses in the border areas and the camps. The authorities have also forced the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to close its refugee transit center near the border, and for well over a year Kenyan authorities have failed to respond to calls for new land to decongest the camps.

...

Under its Immigration law, Kenya has the right to regulate the presence of non-nationals in its territory and may, therefore, prevent certain people from entering or remaining in Kenya, including those deemed a threat to its national interests. However, international and Kenyan law obliges Kenya to allow all people claiming to be refugees ("asylum seekers") access to Kenyan territory to seek asylum with the Kenyan authorities or with UNHCR, and every asylum seeker has a right to have his or her case considered.

Since the border closure, the Kenyan authorities have deported hundreds, possibly thousands, of Somali refugees and asylum seekers, thereby violating the most fundamental part of refugee law, the right not to be refouled-forcible return to a place where a person faces a threat to life or freedom on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. Under its obligations in the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of the Refugee Problems in Africa (1969 OAU Convention), Kenya is also bound not to send refugees or asylum seekers back to situations of generalized violence, such as in Somalia.

Posted by: b real | Mar 30, 2009 11:17:48 AM | 75

this was destined to happen

As international efforts to protect shipping around the Gulf of Aden have grown, so have the pirates adapted their tactics. Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers Assistance Program, notes that the pirates are moving their operations farther south along the East African coast to avoid the international warships. Sailors are also becoming concerned about greater levels of danger to themselves: in the past, the crews of hijacked ships were relatively sure they'd survive the ordeal precisely because the pirates were so invincible — all the captives had to do was remain calm and cooperative while the shipping company negotiated the ransom. But now that the pirates are being confronted by foreign navies — and sometimes arrested or killed — they are using more force and the danger to their hostages has increased, Mwangura says.

"They are coming to be more violent than they were in the past," Mwangura tells TIME. "I think they have changed their modus operandi. Now they realize it's do or die."

Posted by: b real | Mar 31, 2009 11:53:12 PM | 76

from a press release by CJTF-HOA's public affairs outfit: U.S. Horn of Africa Personnel Dive for Aircraft Wreckage in Lake Victoria

U.S. Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa have located the wreckage of an Ilyshin II 76 aircraft that crashed in Lake Victoria and are conducting diving operations to retrieve information.

...

The divers have found the aircraft tail.

"It was very tall, and it was in the flight path, so we splashed divers on it and there it was," said Lieutenant Junior Grade Scott Bryant, the on-scene diving operations officer. "We also located portions of the fuselage, that are not enclosed, they are cracked open like an egg."

According to Bryant, divers have also located both wings, landing gear with four tires and what they believe to be one of the engines. However they believe the other engines are sunk and will confirm over the next few days.

"Most of the heavy stuff is underneath the silt. We found parts of the tail that are sunk and the divers had to dig five feet under," he said. "This is very difficult diving and potentially very hazardous. Probably some of the most difficult I've seen in 19 years of service. There is no visibility, especially once you touch the bottom; a powder, like talcum powder, floats up everywhere and you can't see at all. Because of the wreckage, there are very sharp medal objects pointing everywhere and we have fishing nets to deal with."

Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh water lake in the world. The wreckage is 80 feet under water, buried in approximately 15 feet of silt and 6.8 miles from the closest pier.

...

CJTF-HOA brought personnel and equipment to Uganda from Bahrain, Italy and Djibouti. Equipment includes sonar systems, self contained under water breathing apparatus (SCUBA) gear, surface-supply diving equipment, a hyperbaric chamber for emergencies and three boats. CJTF-HOA is part of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

of course the pr piece omits any mention of dyncorp or its contract w/ DoS so that it can portray ("shape" is the popular term these days) the operation as assisting the ugandan govt.

that's alot of expensive equipment to bring in for the recovery operations. fortunately for them nobody really is asking any important questions.

here are the captions from three images in the accompanying photo gallery at the site

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Petty Officer 2nd Class John Handrahan, assigned to the forward-deployed U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 (EODMU 11), dives into Lake Victoria in Africa March 28, 2009 as part of a search and recovery operation being conducted by the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and the government of Uganda. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Cory Drake)

and

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Members of U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 8 (EODMU 8) receive a briefing on the Ilyushin 76 transport plane March 24, 2009, which is the same model as the one which crashed into Lake Victoria in Africa March 9. EODMU 8 is part of a search and recovery operation being conducted by the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and the government of Uganda. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Cory Drake)

and

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Lieutenant (junior grade) Scott Bryant, assigned to U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 2 (EODMU 2), directs a team member to approach a safety boat provided by the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority on Africa's Lake Victoria March 27, 2009. Bryant is the diving officer-in-charge of a search and recovery operation being conducted by the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and the government of Uganda. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Cory Drake)

at least 3 EODMU units on the scene?

according to the website global security, this represents both "Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 1" (EODGRU 1) and "Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group Two" (EODGRU 2)

on the former,

The mission of EODGRU 1 is to provide the Pacific Fleet with the capability to detect, identify, render safe, recover, evaluate, and dispose of explosive ordnance which has been fired, dropped, launched, projected, or placed in such a manner as to constitute a hazard to operations, installations, personnel, or material.

on the latter,

EODGRU 2's mission is to provide combat ready EOD and Diving & Salvage forces to the Fleet per unit ROC & POEs. Eliminate ordnance hazards that jeopardize operations conducted in support of the national military strategy. Clear harbors and approaches of obstacles. Salvage/recover ships, aircraft and weapons lost or damaged in peacetime or combat.

nothing in either of those missions about recovering tents & water purifiers ;-)

and not much in the two major media sources in kampala lately. two briefs in tuesday's new vision

Bad weather foils search for plane wreckage

Bad weather has affected the team of US and Ugandan divers who are searching for the wreckage of the Ilyuhsin plane that crashed into Lake Victoria on March 9.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Ignie Igundura yesterday said: “The weather is not helping. It is stormy and this affects the work of the divers.”

‘Aeroplane was not hit by missile’

The aeroplane that crashed into Lake Victoria early last month was not shot down by a missile, John Byabagambi, the state minister for works has said.

Speaking to MPs at Parliament yesterday, Byabagambi said: “We suspect the pilots saw fire and were trying to turn the aircraft around after take off.”

He said while turning the aircraft to the runway, the pilots did not get the time to communicate with the control tower.

which is more likely -

1. the EODMU's are looking for evidence of sabotage
2. the EODMU's are looking to recover ordnance

Posted by: b real | Apr 1, 2009 1:50:25 AM | 77

no time right now to dig more into this one, but our friend the mysterious "american AQ leader" in al-shabaab turned up in an AFP propaganda piece yesterday based on a new video "made public" by the notorious SITE intel group

Somali terror group raps in English for recruits

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A propaganda video by Islamic extremists in Somalia features appeals to foreign recruits from an "American" fighter along with English rapping and songs, a US monitoring group said Tuesday.

The 31-minute video made public by the SITE Intelligence Group, which shows a purported ambush of Somali and Ethiopian troops in July 2008, has an on-camera narrator who is identified as "Abu Mansour the American."

Representing the militant Islamic group Shebab, Abu Mansour makes a pitch for new overseas recruits after praising one militant fighter killed in the apparent ambush.

"So, if you can encourage more of your children and more of your neighbors and anyone around to send people like him to this jihad (holy war), it would be a great asset for us," he says.

The light-skinned and bearded Abu Mansour speaks in a soft US accent, possibly from the northern United States, and wears a camouflage hat and combat fatigues. He looks to be in his late 20s or 30s.

...

The video was released after the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned this month that "radicalized clusters" of Somali-American youths as young as 12 were being recruited by Islamic terror groups.

"This is a priority for the FBI," Philip Mudd, an official with the bureau's national security branch, told a Senate committee hearing. "We are looking at individuals who are sending kids in the wrong direction."

...

The new video shows Abu Mansour translating passages from the Koran into English for a circle of fighters, and is interspersed with rapping and singing. It concludes with a rhyming attack on former US president George W. Bush.

"The American dream has fallen, Bush is going down like Stalin, the economy is crawlin', the widows are bawlin', you dead you be haulin', while our takbeers (chants of Allah is Great) keep callin'."

will have to write more on this when time permits. you can search MoA for our earlier coverage of what is known so far about this fellow & his apparent parallels to ali mohamed. whether or not he actually is an infiltrator, this new move is ridiculously surreal propaganda. word.

Posted by: b real | Apr 1, 2009 10:54:26 AM | 78

i should add that one clue that this is obvious propaganda is that al shabaab, like other islamists groups, have well-known bans on western music & dancing

Posted by: b real | Apr 1, 2009 11:02:23 AM | 79

thx b real - fascinating stuff - the Dynacorp plane must have carried some precious stuff ...

Posted by: b | Apr 1, 2009 11:53:48 AM | 80

the fools at VOA are spreading it thick today

Islamic hard-liner group al-Qaeda has so far refused to recognize the new Somali government, vowing eventually to take over the country through violence.

Posted by: b real | Apr 1, 2009 2:27:54 PM | 81

i've drawn attention recently to some really bad propaganda from AFP, but here's a story they ran on wednesday that actually has a realistic POV in it for a change

French researcher Roland Marchal, a leading specialist on the region, says however that "as so often in Somalia, the reality is more nuanced and contradictory.

"There are some Shehab chiefs who play a coordinating role with the Al-Qaeda foreigners but while much of the organisation has sympathy for its aims they stand apart," he said.

"There is in Somalia a real nationalist, almost xenophobic, dimension which means that people are not ready to take orders from a foreigner."

The Shehab, he believes, are people who "want to continue the fight with the new president but who are not in the same intellectual universe that is global jihad."

"he believes"

of course AFP could have asked al shabaab spokesperson abu mansur about that too, seeing as how he's been making that point in interviews, such as the two al jazeera ones i linked to in an earlier thread


and biyokulule online has started a "Piratestan Series" documenting the connections between puntland & piracy

Biyokulule Online brings together excerpts of news articles that relate to the transformation of Puntland Regional Government into Piratestan fiefdom. The diversity of the news coverage and the quality of news sources ensure that this Piratestan series will have a lasting impact on our readers. The theme that runs through this series is, of course, the emergence of sea piracy in Puntland, largely due to lack of an effective regional administration. The series aims for readers who need a summarizing sketch of Piratestan`s evolution. This in-depth zooming shows the importance of the agenda of truth-finding approach. The series also offer its readers to focus and examine it again and again, in order to help them develop newer, more inclusive scrutiny to the underworld of Puntland’s privateers. We hope that our selections will give you a well-rounded view from different angles.

Posted by: b real | Apr 3, 2009 12:42:51 AM | 82

UN concerned over Kenya’s forcible return of Somali asylum seekers

3 April 2009 – The United Nations refugee agency today expressed its concern over the increasing trend by Kenyan authorities to forcibly Somali asylum seekers back to their war-torn nation.

On 31 March, 31 asylum seekers – nine men, eight women and 14 children – traveling by bus to refugees camps in Dabaab, in north-eastern Kenya, were sent back to Somalia.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that it has received information from a government official that the military intercepted the bus and took the Somalis to the police station, later escorting the vehicle back to Dobley, a centre near the Somali border.

“When we requested intervention, we were informed that the police and military continue to return asylum seekers to Somalia acting on instructions from the authorities in the Provincial Headquarters in Garissa,” agency spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters today in Geneva.

Dabaab police have also confirmed that a similar incident occurred on 23 March, when 61 asylum seekers were arrested by military officers and later returned to Liboi, near the border.

In January, three Somali asylum seekers were also forcibly returned to their country.

...

Mr. Redmond said that UNHCR has formally protested the forcible returns to the Kenyan Minister of Immigration and Registration.

“Our concern is that despite bringing such cases to the attention of the Government, no action has been taken,” he said.

“UNHCR reiterates that the Kenyan Government must adhere to and show full respect for the principle of non-refoulement, as enshrined in Kenya’s Refugee Act and International Law, with regard to Somali asylum seekers in particular.”

One killed as navy vessel sinks Somali pirate ship

At least one Somali pirate was killed and two others wounded after a naval vessel patrolling the Indian Ocean fired on their boat and destroyed their mother ship, witnesses said Thursday.

Local fishermen in the pirate den of Harardhere in northern Somalia said the incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon, but the naval vessel was unknown.

"One pirate died and three others were injured after they approached a navy ship. They were given warning signals but they ignored and kept approaching and their mother boat was destroyed," local fisherman Abdullahi Isa Mohamed told AFP.

Other residents who confirmed the incident said the men were on board small boats hunting for ships to attack.

SOMALIA: Getting tough on foreign vessels to save local fishermen

NAIROBI, 2 April 2009 (IRIN) - Somalia has revoked fishing licences for foreign vessels and is planning a new law to regulate fishing in its waters, a minister told IRIN on 2 April.

...

"I do sympathise with the fishermen and we are working on a new law to regulate the activities of these [foreign] ships," said Abdirahman Ibbi, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources in the new Somali National Unity Government.

Ibbi said an estimated 220 foreign-owned vessels were engaged in unlicensed and illegal fishing in Somali waters. Most were of European origin, he added.

However, he said, it was "impossible for the new government to monitor their fishery production in general, let alone the state of the fishery resources they are exploiting".

Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan, head of a fishing cooperative in the southern coastal town of Merka, told IRIN that livelihoods were being destroyed. "Fishing is the only thing we know and without it we have nothing," he said, adding that lack of support, combined with the foreign fishing vessels, was ruining fishing communities.

...

Reports of crews of foreign-owned ships harassing and intimidating local fishermen had been made by Somali fishermen.

"They are not only taking our fish, but they are also stopping us from fishing," said Mohamed Abdirahman, a fisherman in Brava, 200km south of Mogadishu. "They have rammed boats and cut nets.”

He said a number of Somali fishermen were missing and presumed dead after encounters “with these big ships”.

Abdirahman said the number of foreign ships in the south had increased after they were chased from the north by pirates. He said the foreign ships were now being protected by the navies of their countries and “do whatever they want to us”.

Local fishermen go out late at night to set their nets, but discover in the morning that they have been cut or stolen. "They are no longer satisfied to take our fish, but they are forcing us to abandon fishing altogether," he said.

He claimed some of the foreign navies were treating Somali fishermen as if they were pirates and had occasionally opened fire on Somali fishing boats.

"We are forced to avoid going far and stay within sight of towns to avoid them and this means our catches are much smaller," Abdirahman said. "We are being driven out of business by foreign vessels protected by their navies. Who is protecting us? Our existence depends on the fish."

He said the international community was only "talking about the piracy problem in Somalia, but not about the destruction of our coast and our lives by these foreign ships".

Posted by: b real | Apr 3, 2009 10:52:54 AM | 83

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Posted by: DerekYJ_dor | Apr 10, 2009 1:02:08 AM | 84

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