Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 09, 2009

Africa Comments (4)

As b real documented in the older Africa Thread, there are currently lots of weapons moving into and around Somalia. Al-Shabab is bringing up 'tanks' to Mogadishu and another showdown with the induced government and its supporting UN troops may come soon. In the north unknown low-flying planes were observed above Garowe, the capitol of the semi-autonomous Puntland.

Unknown aeroplanes which are said to be low flying have been spotted tonight in various residential areas in Garowe [north-eastern Somalia], Puntland region. The true identity of these planes are not yet known, however, some have said that they belong to the American Navy based along the Somali coast and particularly Puntland and are fighting piracy and terrorism in the Horn of Africa.

One of the planes flew at a very low range and could be seen by residents of Garoowe who are concerned about possible military operation that might be carried out by these planes along the Puntland coast.

Low flying planes at night is a bit curious. Reconnaissance drones tend to fly high. Someone delivered something overnight by parachute?

More on Africa in the comments.

Posted by b on May 9, 2009 at 01:46 AM | Permalink

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re the rpts of those 'tanks' in the area - there hasn't been any confirmation of exactly who they belong to, or even that they are tanks. perhaps they are just technicals. there are still ex-military personnel around who may have tank training back when somalia had a military, but i wouldn't expect the militias that constitute the highly-decentralized al shabaab (the youth) to have access to actual tanks, if that's what they were, or the ability to utilize them. ethiopian forces maybe? would help if there were pix available, but i haven't seen any.

the 'calm' overnight thursday in mogadishu did not last very long

President 'accepts ceasefire', death toll hits 15

MOGADISHU, Somalia May 8 (Garowe Online) - Somalia's interim president, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, has accepted a ceasefire proposed by the Islamic mediation committee, Radio Garowe reports.

Sheikh Bashir Ahmed Salad, who chairs the mediation committee composed of Islamic scholars, told reporters in the capital Mogadishu Friday that the Somali leader had accepted the ceasefire proposal during talks at the Villa Somalia presidential compound.

"We asked the government leaders for a ceasefire, in order to find a peaceful solution to the renewed fighting in Mogadishu," Sheikh Bashir told reporters Thursday evening.

He noted that the Islamic mediation committee dispatched the same message to the armed opposition, "but there is no response yet."

Sheikh Bashir said the government leaders "accepted to immediately stop the fighting, to avoid any action that can lead to war and to avoid using the media for propaganda that could lead to instability."

Further, he condemned the renewed violence in Mogadishu, where pro-government Islamist militias and anti-government Islamist militias fought yesterday.

The death toll from Friday's fighting has hit at least 15, with medical sources saying more than 50 people were wounded during heavy battles among the Islamist militias.

if the plan was to keep 'em fighting amongst themselves, which i assume it was, it's starting to ramp up

- - -

excerpts from the may 6 ecoterra int'l smcm update

during the maersk alabama incident, there were rpts of helicopters doing a psyop on at least harardheere by dropping notes warning of possible military action - wonder if that rpt of planes over garowe that b links to in the top post could be something similar. (or drones?)

Residents of Hobyo and Harardheere flee inland. Reports from the coastal stretch along the Indian ocean coast, which has seen many of the sea-jacked vessels being held nearby, say local residents are afraid of an imminent attack by naval forces. "Fear and desperation caused our people to flee their homes in the coastal towns to hideouts inland in order to not be hit by a military operation", Sheik Ali reported and stated that coastal leaders and elders had gathered in order to decide how to respond, if their areas would be targeted by a military operation. The traditional leaders seek to calm down the population while many young fighters prepare for a full fledged war and threaten that the Hawiye clan would have to pull out from the Somali government, if it could not protect its people from foreign attacks against locations along the coast, where members of criminal pirate gangs hide among the civilian population.

The outcome of a direct attack on land by foreign forces would create a disaster for Somalia, Sheikh Ali stated. Talks are on among the foreign navies patrolling the Indian Ocean to decide whether to directly attack Somali pirates, the deputy commander for the United States military command for Africa (AFRICOM), Mary Yates, said in Nairobi. Ms Yates told reporters at the United States Embassy that "meetings are going on" on the possibility of direct military attacks on the pirates after sustained attacks against vessels even in the presence of patrol navies. Navies of several countries, including those from NATO, which brings together European and US armies, China, Japan are among those patrolling the waters to help end the menace. AFRICOM is, however, not directly involved in discussions regarding possible attacks on Somalia pirates, Ms Yates said. "Our role in Somalia currently is supporting African Union peacekeeping mission and efforts by coalition partners in the Indian Ocean," she said.

AFRICOM has donated to the peacekeeping force in Somalia and its input includes training and airlifting of equipment for the mission. Confirmation by Ms Yates adds to the ongoing speculation that the US and its allies in the Indian Ocean may consider direct military attacks against pirates. Last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somali, a group of more than a dozen countries including Kenya, was consulting "to expand the multinational response to piracy". The United Nations authorizes use of force against the pirates, through the Security Council resolution last year, which authorizes the states to "take measures that are appropriate in Somalia" to suppress "acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea". But it restricts the action to maritime territory, meaning the coalition partners cannot attack pirates inland without violating the sovereignty of the country.


should have asked her about the chartered russian cargo plane that never made it over lake victoria

re illegal dumping - it's not always necessarily as conspiratorial as one may be led to believe

The total input of marine litter into the oceans per year has been estimated at approximately 6.4 million tonnes annually, of which nearly 5.6 million tonnes (88 percent) comes from merchant shipping.

Some 8 million items of marine litter are thought to enter the oceans and seas every day, about 5 million (63 percent) of which are solid waste thrown overboard or lost from ships.

It has been estimated that currently over 13 000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square kilometer of ocean. In 2002, 6 kg of plastic was found for every kilogram of plankton near the surface of a gyre point in the central Pacific, where debris collects.

Mass concentrations of marine debris in high seas accumulation areas, such as the equatorial convergence zone, are of particular concern. In some such areas, rafts of assorted debris, including various plastics; ropes; fishing nets; and cargo-associated wastes such as dunnage, pallets, wires and plastic covers, drums and shipping containers, along with accumulated slicks of various oils, often extend for many kilometers.

excerpts from another smcm update, also dated may 6

hmmm

Not yet officially confirmed reports speak of an attack yesterday evening by three pirate skiffs launched against a naval ship. The pirates allegedly fired with RPGs against the warship, which responded and blew one of the three vessels out of the water. Six pirates apparently died while the other two skiffs escaped in the night. So far none of the navies has come forward to report the incident.

again w/ an item that i have yet to see in the western press - would that be different if those being terrorized were not african & muslim?

Local people who can afford it have already left Harardheere and Hobyo as well as other coastal settlements along the Central Somali pirate coast in anticipation of a military strike against targets in presumed pirate-lairs. 200 elders have gathered to calm the exodus and provide for peaceful solutions.

Posted by: b real | May 9, 2009 2:30:43 AM | 1

NYT: For Somali Pirates, Worst Enemy May Be on Shore

Grass-roots, antipirate militias are forming. Sheiks and government leaders are embarking on a campaign to excommunicate the pirates, telling them to get out of town and preaching at mosques for women not to marry these un-Islamic, thieving “burcad badeed,” which in Somali translates as sea bandit. There is even a new sign at a parking lot in Garoowe, the sun-blasted capital of the semiautonomous region of Puntland, that may be the only one of its kind in the world. The thick red letters say: No pirates allowed.
...
Still, the Puntland pirate bosses insist they are ready to call it quits, if the sheiks find jobs for their young underlings and help the pirates form a coast guard to protect Somalia’s 1,880-mile coastline from illegal fishing and dumping. These are longstanding complaints made by many Somalis, including those who don’t scamper up the sides of cargo ships, AK-47 in hand.
...

Posted by: b | May 9, 2009 3:33:07 AM | 2

b real

for me, you are a fucking saint - for the research you do - on africa i only research those links you have indicated

as always, thanks

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 9, 2009 1:01:12 PM | 3

so much for that earlier rpt of a TFG ceasefire endorsed by sheikh sharif

Street battles, targeted killings in Somali capital

MOGADISHU, Somalia May 9 (Garowe Online) - At least five people were wounded Saturday in the Somali capital Mogadishu as pro-government forces and insurgent militias battled over control of a police station, Radio Garowe reports.

...

A spokesman for Hizbul Islam rebel faction, who did not identify himself, told Mogadishu media that pro-government forces attacked a police station under the rebels' control.

"We [Hizbul Islam] were attacked by a government officer named Abdullahi Mo'allim, and the objective was to take control of the police station and we defended ourselves," the unidentified spokesman said.

shabelle media adds

At least seven people, most of them civilians, died in Mogadishu and ten others were injured during confrontation between pro government Islamists and other Islamist rebels on Saturday, eyewitnesses told Shabelle Media.

...

Medina hospital medics confirmed that 120 wounded people were brought in Medina hospital for the last 24 hours.


Kenyans in areas bordering Somalia deny Al-Qa'idah links

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 - Leaders from Kenya’s North Eastern Province on Friday denied reports of existence of Al Qaeda cells in their region.

They described the reports published in a section of the press in recent weeks as mere propaganda and warned those propagating the reports that they are likely to scare away donors and other international organisations keen to develop the area.

“These reports are disturbing us whenever they appear in the media because they seek to associate us with lawless groups from Somalia,” Mohammed Yusuf, a local leader said.

some context on kenya's NEP

Formerly known as the Northern Frontier District (NFD), the North Eastern Province covers most of northeastern Kenya. The region is and has historically been primarily inhabited by ethnic Somalis.[2] NFD also has a number of large refugee camps with most refugees coming from Somalia.

The Somali communities residing in the Isiolo, Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera towns of the NFD are typically from the Gugudhabe, Degodia, Ogaden, Marehan, Garre, Ajuran, Sheekhaal, and Isaaq Somali clans. Other Somali clans found in urban centers include a small number of Majeerten, Habr Gedir and Abgaal.

Throughout much of the 20th century, the North Eastern Province used to be a part of British East Africa. However, after the dissolution of the former British colonies in East Africa, Britain granted administration of the region to Kenyan nationalists despite a) an informal plebiscite demonstrating the overwhelming desire of the region's population to join the newly-formed Somali Republic, and b) the fact that the NFD was and still is almost exclusively inhabited by ethnic Somalis.

Led by the Northern Province People's Progressive Party (NPPPP), Somalis in the NFD vigorously sought union with the Somali Republic to the north. In response, the Kenyan government enacted a number of repressive measures designed to frustrate their efforts:

Somali leaders were routinely placed in preventive detention, where they remained well into the late 1970s. The North Eastern Province was closed to general access (along with other parts of Kenya) as a "scheduled" area (ostensibly closed to all outsiders, including members of parliament, as a means of protecting the nomadic inhabitants), and news from it was very difficult to obtain. A number of reports, however, accused the Kenyans of mass slaughters of entire villages of Somali citizens and of setting up large "protected villages" -- in effect concentration camps. The government refused to acknowledge the ethnically based irredentist motives of the Somalis, making constant reference in official statements to the shifta (bandit) problem in the area.

Posted by: b real | May 10, 2009 1:23:14 AM | 4

US set to give Kenya Sh3bn

The United States Congress is moving toward approval of President Barack Obama’s request for $38 million (Sh3.04 billion) in supplemental aid to Kenya.

...

“The political accord following the post-election violence in 2008 has presented an unparalleled opportunity for Kenyans to address long-standing unresolved issues,” says a report accompanying Mr Obama’s proposals.

“To address the root causes of the post-election violence requires additional resources to bolster prospects for success and sustainability of the political accord, which is critical to the future stability of Kenya and, therefore, to US interests.”

The biggest part of the new package – $21.5 million (Sh1.72 billion) would support programmes targeted at the 75 per cent of young Kenyans who are unemployed or under-employed.

...

The second-largest share of the funds – $13 million (Sh1.04 billion) – would be provided under the heading “Governing Justly and Democratically.” [!!!] This money would be used to help implement reforms stemming from the National Accord. [just as long as they don't try to use it for authentic democratic elections, right guys?]

Another $1.5 million (Sh120 million) is set aside for community-based and faith-based organisations as well as the National Steering Committee on Conflict Management and Peace Building. This money is intended to assist peace and reconciliation efforts

The remaining $2 million (Sh160 million) would be used to hire additional staff to facilitate the Obama Administration’s objectives.

- - -

more wrt the puntland govt's ongoing efforts to curb piracy

Puntland administration holds talks with pirates

Reliable sources in Puntland government have confirmed to Allpuntland website that the Puntland administration has been holding talks with some of the pirates in the last 24 hours. The meeting, which was attended by religious leaders and government officials among them Dr Bashir Ali Bihi, Abdiwali Ali Tar and others was today held in Garoowe, the headquarters of the Puntland administration.

Our sources indicate that both sides in the meeting discussed how to eradicate the problem of piracy and ensure that the youth who are seemingly joining these activities everyday do not continue to do so. Some leaders of the pirates who attended the meeting gave touching lectures and promised to end their activities and be law abiding citizens of the Puntland region.

More than 80 Somali pirates are reported to have attended today's meeting in Garoowe which was addressed by religious leaders, reformed Somali pirates and government officials.

Government officials said they will take all measures in ensuring the stability of the Puntland administration adding that they welcome the assurances given by the pirates that they will stop engaging in these activities.

The Puntland government has said that they will hold a conference in the town of Eyl on 16 May 2009, a hub for Somali pirates causing problems along the coast. The meeting will be attended by various groups that are directly being affected by the problem of piracy.

- - -

isn: The ‘Other’ Pirates

Certainly, the persistent, internal mayhem gripping Somalia, crushing penury and simple greed have helped drive piracy.

But the cold, hard fact remains that piracy has emerged as a backlash against the exploitation of Somali natural resources by foreign powers – a situation that receives much less attention in the media in part because it levies a stinging indictment against much of the international community.

Indeed, foreign governments have played a damnable role in creating and perpetuating the piracy phenomenon.

...

The neocolonial impulse to exploit the resources of Africa at the expense of local populations is nothing new. This most recent anti-piracy mobilization effort simply underscores the moral bankruptcy of much of the international community’s long-standing treatment of Africa’s people, as well as its inability to effectively combat crises borne of complex socioeconomic and political ills using military might.

Several members of the European Parliament (MEPs) protested the EU’s recent anti-piracy mission to Somalia as “military nonsense.” Portuguese MEP Ana Maria Gomes delivered a fiery diatribe on the “moral problem” underlying the naval mission, declaring it was designed solely for the protection of European economic interests in the region concluding that “nobody gives a damn about the people in Somalia who die like flies,” according to the EU Observer

As long as this uncomfortable truth persists, so too will Somali piracy.

Posted by: b real | May 10, 2009 1:52:43 AM | 5

Islamists, 'foreign fighters' make gains in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia May 11 (Garowe Online) - Islamist hardliners led by the notorious Al Shabaab militants in the Somali capital Mogadishu have made gains during four days of fighting where upwards of 50 people have been killed, Radio Garowe reports.

The fighting was concentrated along Industry Road and 30th Avenue in Mogadishu, with battles and explosions causing much death and destruction in Yaaqshiid, Wardhigley and Hodan districts.

At least 15 people were killed when a shell hit a mosque in Wardhigley district, witnesses said. Sheikh Abdirahman, who was the mosque leader for more than 30 years, was killed in the explosion alongside other civilians.

Mogadishu residents reported that Islamic Courts Union (ICU) fighters, who are seen as the pro-government Islamist militia, lost territory during Sunday's fierce street battles.

Sheikh Hassan Mahdi, a senior member of Hizbul Islam faction, said Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam fighters jointly captured the ex-Defense Ministry building, Stadium Mogadishu and Wardhigley police station from ICU militias, who were forced to flee.

Further, the Islamist hardliners now control both Industry Road and 30th Avenue, two important roads in Mogadishu.

...

Three journalists were wounded when a shell hit a press conference where Al Shabaab member Ali "Dheere" Mohamud was telling reporters of the opposition's gains.

The three wounded reporters were identified as: Abdinasir Nur Gedi, reporter for Somaliland-based Horn Cable TV; Bashir Khalif Gani and Mohamed Abdi Nahar, both reporters for Mogadishu-based Radio Shabelle.

Ali Dheere, the Al Shabaab member who was also wounded, accused African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) of shelling the Ifka Halane Islamic court, where he was holding the press conference.

The three wounded reporters were rushed to Daynile Hospital for treatment.

Pro-government militias have reportedly retreated to areas under the control of AMISOM peacekeepers, Mogadishu sources reported.

Posted by: b real | May 10, 2009 9:14:54 PM | 6

use of false narrative continues in buildup to U.S. military attacks on somalia

Obama meets US captain rescued from pirates

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama met Saturday with a US cargo ship captain who was held hostage by Somali pirates last month before a dramatic high-seas rescue by US Navy snipers.

Obama hosted Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips and his wife, Andrea, in the Oval Office for a visit that had not been publicly announced by the White House.

Phillips was also due to attend Saturday's White House Correspondents Association dinner, an annual meet of Washington's press corps elite, politicians and celebrities. Obama is set to host the event.

When the ship was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia, Phillips gave himself up as a hostage to save his crew and their ship, the Maersk Alabama.

reposted: Captain didn't surrender to save crew, engineer says

Captain Richard Phillips exchanging himself to pirates for the safety of his captured crew is one of the great stories of high seas heroism.

It was told in media reports and lauded on social network sites like Facebook, which has a fan page dedicated to him.

The story made the country feel good.

But it is untrue, according to crewmembers of the Maersk Alabama

"The captain was captured from the beginning," said chief engineer Mike Perry of Riverview.

The story of Phillips offering to exchange himself for the crew "is misleading," he said. "It is not an accurate portrayal."

Posted by: b real | May 10, 2009 10:32:06 PM | 7

Kenya to acquire 150 nautical miles of Indian Ocean in new ‘scramble’

Kenya is poised to acquire an additional 103,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean following an application to the United Nations, in what is being dubbed “the second and last scramble for the world.”

Having applied before the deadline of May 13, Kenya will be joining other African nations with similar ambitions who stand to gain additional territory beyond their stipulated 12-nautical-mile territorial waters.

Kenya entered its submissions on May 6, and is awaiting a response from the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on when it should defend its application.

...

The submission aims to delineate the outer limits of Kenya’s continental shelf outside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), so as to claim the right to explore and exploit non-living and mineral resources on the seabed and sub-soil of the extended continental shelf adjacent to the EEZ in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The anticipated benefits for Kenya, if the sovereignty is granted, will include exclusive rights to exploit the resources of this area, providing revenue for the government and employment for its citizens.

The potential resources of the extended continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical miles include petroleum and gas, iron-manganese nodules and crusts (manganese, copper, cobalt and nickel), polymetallic sulphides, and placer deposits. Others are phosphorite deposits, methane and biomedical resources.

...

Nations that do not meet the deadline will relinquish their rights to anything outside their 12-nautical-mile territorial waters and an additional 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone — areas automatically allowed by law.

...

Other African countries that had made their submissions by Friday were a joint venture by the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Seychelles in the region of the Mascarene Plateau. The others are Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius and Nigeria.

The African nations that have made preliminary submissions are Togo, Benin, Somalia and Gambia.

Tanzania, Mozambique, Congo and Gabon had not made their submissions to the UN by Friday.

After the scramble for the sea, the status of the successful nations will change from “coastal states” to “ocean states.”

The UN Commission is set up under the convention and will take over whatever ocean space the states do not claim by the expiry of the date.

The Commission is an inter-governmental body based in Kingston, Jamaica, was established to organise and control all mineral-related activities on the international seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

also oil-related is

Uganda beefs up marine surveillance on its waters

Uganda has stepped up security on its waterways and is quietly revamping its marine police in anticipation of tensions with its neighbours over the country’s natural resources.

Although the force acquired high-speed interceptor boats as part of the budget for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that Uganda hosted in 2007, it is now emerging that the acquisitions form part of a broader strategy to secure Uganda’s territorial integrity by filling in existing gaps, especially on water.

Apparently, the discovery of high-value natural resources such as oil and gas under and near Uganda’s lakes and the need to protect fisheries resources are the imperative behind moves to improve security on the country’s waters.

Officials say terror threats have also underscored the need for improving security on the country’s lakes because Uganda’s main Entebbe airport — the kind of key infrastructure usually targeted by terrorists — is located on a peninsula in Lake Victoria.

The EastAfrican has learnt that a presidential directive was issued early this year for the marine police to be made the leading force on the country’s waters, with all other forces only being allowed to conduct operations there with authorisation from the Inspector General of Police.

The Police Marine Unit has acquired four specialised boats at a cost of $8.6 million to be paid over a period of five years.

The acquisitions and keen interest in marine security come in the wake of an incident in August 2007, when Congolese troops on the disputed Rukwanzi island in Lake Albert shot and killed oil prospectors who were carrying out surveys on the Ugandan side of the lake.

...

One of the interceptor surveillance boats has been deployed on Lake Albert in the oil-rich Albertine Rift in western Uganda. Uganda has confirmed huge oil deposits in this area near the Uganda-DR Congo border, and the pace at which it is moving to start excavation has raised tension with Kinshasa.

Uganda and DR Congo have at the same time clashed over the ownership of Rukwanzi Island, currently being used for fish landing by both Ugandans and Congolese, but which could later be a strategic point in oil exploitation as it is in the vicinity of oil deposits.

and it's not just the neighbors...

from april 20: Uganda Bunyoro Kingdom Threatens Lawsuit over Oil Exploration

Cultural leaders of Uganda's Bunyoro kingdom, located on the Ugandan side of the oil-rich Albertine rift, have threatened legal action against the central government over oil exploration and production activities there, a kingdom official said Monday, but the government has promised talks to resolve the issue.

Yolamu Nsamba, the principal private secretary of the king of Bunyoro, said the government has breached the pre-independence agreement of 1955, which provides that Bunyoro is entitled to substantial amounts of revenue from mineral exploration in its kingdom.

"For years now, the central government has been dealing with oil exploration companies secretly yet the law has never been changed," he said, adding that kingdom officials have already informed the central government of its intentions.

A government official told Dow Jones Newswires separately Monday that the central government would soon start talks with kingdom officials to resolve the issue. Uganda is expected to embark on an early oil production scheme in the first quarter of 2010.

The 1955 agreement was signed between the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and the U.K. protectorate government and stipulates that in the event of mineral development taking place in Bunyoro, a substantial part of the mineral royalties and revenue from mining leases would be paid to the native government of Bunyoro Kitara.

Bunyoro remains influential in Uganda although its cultural leaders are prohibited from engaging in national politics.

Oil exploration companies operating in Uganda include Jersey-based Heritage Oil Ltd. (HOIL.LN), U.K.-based Tullow Oil (TUW.LN) and London-listed Tower Resources Ltd.(TRP.LN). Company officials estimate that the Albertine rift holds over 2 billion barrels of oil.

Posted by: b real | May 10, 2009 11:39:48 PM | 8

garowe online editorial
Somalia's deceitfully structured government near collapse

The Garowe Online Editorial Board has long reiterated its opposition to a bloated 550-seat Somali Parliament composed of clan warlords, war profiteers and so-called Islamist moderates who lack grassroots support within Somalia's powerful Islamist community. And the so-called Government of National Unity that controlled very little territory ceded whatever little areas they controlled to the armed opposition on Sunday, May 10, after four days of heavy fighting not seen in Mogadishu since the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops in Jan. 2009.

Who is to blame for this new round of violence and mass displacement of Mogadishu civilians? Certainly, Col. Abdullahi Yusuf is not around anymore and the finger-pointing cannot reach his exiled home in Yemen. Yusuf's Ethiopian army allies have retreated back to Ethiopia and continue to watch from the border as Islamist militia battle for whatever is left in Mogadishu. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), a 4,000-strong peacekeeping force with bases at the airport and port facility, is under-manned and ill-equipped to face off against Mogadishu's militants without immediate and sustained international support.

And Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the U.N.-recognized President of Somalia, has very little recognition inside the country as violently demonstrated by the bullets and mortar barrages that have made him and his weak government no different than that of Ethiopian-backed former President Abdullahi Yusuf. As they say in Mogadishu, Sheikh Sharif has "lost touch" with the Islamists' grassroots community – a gap that has been quickly filled by former ally-turned-rival Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, whose return to Mogadishu last month has inspired a new round of warfare unseen among Islamists in Somalia's contemporary history.

U.N. Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah might be excellent at producing promising statements about developments in Somalia, but he is detached from the realities and complexities of Somali politics as he has been the leading campaigner for President Sheikh Sharif and the so-called Government of National Unity whose parliament is under mortar attack and whose President hides behind AMISOM tanks. The international community has long been criticized for repeatedly recognizing, funding and supporting the "top-down approach" for the re-institutionalization of a national government in Somalia. But Mr. Ahmedou has taken that historic precedent to a new level by empowering a single faction, virtually with no constituents and no territorial control, and dressing up the faction leaders in shiny suits to pose for pictures with U.N. officials and world diplomats.

this assigns way too much autonomy to ould-abdallah, who only puts a u.n. face, i.e., a pretense of legitimacy, on this latest phase of structuring an administration that attempts to undercut the islamic revolution currently underway in somalia. he did not instigate any of this. the u.s. intelligence community was working to peel sheikh sharif off from sheikh aweys long before ould-abduallah rcvd his mandate.

The 'Ahmedou Project,' with the creation of a 550-seat Parliament facing logistical and security problems in Somalia, and the installation of an 'Islamist President' with minimal support within the Islamist community, is near collapse in the face of a fast-changing political landscape in Somalia. The millions of dollars that funded the 'Ahmedou Project' and the Djibouti-based peace process have thus far led to the outbreak of an Islamist civil war in Mogadishu. That money could have been better spent feeding the Somali masses facing war, displacement, drought, disease, and all-around desperation, mostly in the south-central regions ravaged by nearly 20 years of instability.

more likely, an intensification of an "islamist civil war" has been the desire outcome of this project all along. we watched this take shape w/ the fracture in the ARS, at one time still unified in the spirit of the ICU's grassroots revolution, that ended w/ sharif's contingent relocating from asmara to djibouti & interfacing openly w/ the members of the "international community".

this is nothing new, really, if you go back & study histories of colonial projects, esp in muslim territories of north africa & the western middle east. they worked to peel off the less militant faction in order to exploit divisions & tensions and exert control over the shape of group reactions, while preventing the further political strengthening of an islamist agenda in somalia. despite differences across clans & that of the two self-declared republics in the north, somaliland & puntland, from the remainder of the country, somalia is actually quite a homogenous nation-state. there's really only one core language & more than 90% of the population are sunni islam of the shāfi‘ī school of fiqh.

ever since the days of the colonialists there, continuous "projects" have been undertaken to frustrate ambitions for a unitary somalia. the gist of the externally-imposed transitional national govt program, which has at its core something called the '4.5 formula' that essentially makes somali politics clan-centric, has now been retained by sharif's regime. this is completely antithetical to his days as co-leader of the islamic courts union, which cut across clan lines & social heirarchies in the interest of implementing shari'a & somali nationalism. a very well-organized revolution based on pan-islamism & nationalism, that drove out of power the warlords propped up by the cia & ethiopia, and especially rejected the foreign meddling that worked to keep somalia in chaos since the cold war.

obviously this was interpreted as a dire threat to the "int'l community" and somalia's neighbors, namely ethiopia & kenay, both of which have their own pieces of somali territories, replete w/ somali populations, bequeathed, illegitimately in the eyes of most, by colonial authorities and/or conquered w/ their assistance, and both have govts that are largely in the pockets of imperialist powers & hence are used accordingly in promoting & protecting their interests. not saying that they don't each have their own national or special interests as well, however, in the era of the 'american century' which has as its pretext for preventing the rise of any challenging ideological alternatives a 'global war on terror', local interests take a secondary priority to that of their imperialist benefactors.

and so, in the case of somalia & counterrevolutionary tactics, a philosopy of 'better to keep them attacking each other rather than us' applies, no matter whether such fears are warranted or not. as was the case w/ the assessments of so many colonial security services, the real roots of organized resistance, namely political marginalization & direct socioeconomic factors, get overlooked (sometimes purposely) in order that blame can be fixated on external interference & mobilization. as if a population subjected to repression were incapable of analysing their own condition & responding internally. as if somalis would be just fine w/ their appointed leaders if weren't that damn al-qai'da!

Posted by: b real | May 12, 2009 1:56:10 AM | 9

Posted by: b real | May 12, 2009 3:12:00 AM | 10

here's johnnie! w/ no sign of change here

daily nation: US: We cannot solve Kenya problems

The US is a large and powerful nation but has no capacity to rescue Kenya from its political problems, Mr Johnnie Carson, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the US ambassador’s residence in Nairobi, Mr Carson said: “It is up to Kenyans themselves to work out solutions. We will offer assistance through the US Agency for International Development to support change in Kenya.’’

Mr Carson, who was ambassador in Kenya from 1999 to 2003 said he was pleased to be back in Nairobi on his first trip outside Washington.

...

He said the US regards Kenya as the most important country in eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa region and as such, the US embassy in Nairobi is the biggest in sub-Saharan Africa.

He said: “It is no accident that this was my first stop as Assistant Secretary of State."

He noted that the US was deeply shocked by the violence that rocked the country following [its success in preventing the actual outcome of the] disputed elections in 2007 but was pleased by the successful efforts by former UN Secretary-General in mediating an accord in 2008.

He added that a year later, "the US is concerned about the stability of the coalition and if it will implement the Annan agreement."

...

As a sign of the seriousness attached to the Kenya trip by President Barack Obama whose father was Kenyan, Mr Carson was accompanied by Ms Michelle Gavin, a senior director for Africa at the National Security Council.

Mr Carson said the Obama administration is keen to see that the Kenyan people get the kind of governance that they deserve.

...

He concluded: “We came not to threaten but to warn a partner about our deep concern. We will see in the weeks ahead what Kenya can do about reforms."

the daily nation is kikuyu-owned & operated, so they spin accordingly

however, they hint at more in another article

daily nation: US fears for Kenya Coalition

Ms Gavin said she discussed Kenya with President Obama last Friday. Mr Obama “is very concerned about the situation in Kenya,” she said.

“President Obama asked me to relay his message to the government that he is keen to see reforms in Kenya and that Washington will not do business as usual with Kenya.”

and the east african standard just rpts the story

Obama’s warning to Kibaki and Raila

US President Barack Obama has issued a stern warning to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to lower the political tension and ensure none of them goes against the spirit of the National Accord as crafted by former UN chief Kofi Annan.

In a strongly worded statement relayed through new US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, President Obama raised concern over the stability of the Grand Coalition following recent bickering and competition for important positions in Government. "The US is ready to take necessary steps should the coalition fail to implement the Annan agreement," said Mr Carson.

Without mincing words, he said: "We came here to warn a friend about our concerns. We feel the country’s stability is paramount to the region. The US is a strong partner and is ready to exercise some degree of muscle. But we will see in the coming weeks what Kenyans can do for themselves."

...

He said he had met President Kibaki, Raila, Deputy PM and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and conveyed President Obama’s message — that reforms must go ahead and the Annan agreement implemented to the letter.

...

Saying Raila has a long history of fighting for democracy and going to jail for his beliefs, Carson asked him to stand up for Kenyans.

"This cannot be the democracy you fought for when people are killed by the State. It cannot be what you went to detention for. All the things you fought for are being thrown into jeopardy by State operatives who order execution of citizens," Carson is said to have told the PM.

He said Washington would take stern action against people seen to be standing on the way to justice for Kenyans and those frustrating the implementation of the Accord.

Gavin said she discussed Kenya with President Barrack last Friday, adding that he is "very concerned about the situation in Kenya".

The two officials said Obama is keen on reforms that would address past injustices they believe were the causes of election violence.

too bad for kenyans that raila puts up w/ this crap

Posted by: b real | May 12, 2009 10:31:19 PM | 11

should have pointed out above that johnnie carson is obama's replacement for jendyi frazer. so far, wrt to kenya & somalia at least, he has read from the same script.

U.S. to give 10 million dollars to AU peacekeepers in Somalia
NAIROBI, May 12, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The United States will give 10 million dollars as parts of Washington's contribution to the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM), a senior official said here on Tuesday.

Visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State in Charge of African Affairs Johnnie Carson told a news conference in Nairobi that the funds would compliment the efforts of the pan-African military force to support a strong government in Somalia.

"Somalia's problems have gone too far for too long. The absence of a central government in Somalia [that meets our criteria] is the underlying cause of piracy and the displacement of over 100,000 inhabitants to neighboring Kenya which in turn stretch the resources of that nation," Carson told journalists in Nairobi.

He said the Djibouti Process that brought Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed to power must be supported to bring peace to the region.


wonder if that's in addition to the five mill pledged earlier

- - -

UN Somalia envoy accuses Islamist of coup attempt
ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – The United Nations' top envoy for Somalia blamed Islamist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys Wednesday for recent fighting in Mogadishu and accused him of seeking to topple the country's government.

"Aweys came to take power and topple a legitimate regime," Ahmedou Ould Abdallah told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting on Somalia at the African Union's headquarters in Addis Ababa.

"The attacks of the past few days, all that has happened in Mogadishu lately, it's an attempt to seize power by force, it's a coup attempt," he said.

Clashes that started last week between forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and radical forces including members of the Shebab group have left some 100 people dead.


the AFP, like other western press, work very hard to keep up the propagandist demonization of al shabaab. it makes one wonder if they are just repeating ould-abdallah's lies, or if this particular combination of writers & editors are intentionally misleading their readership. for whatever reason.

in this article, which centers around ould-abdallah's naming of sheikh aweys as the number one problem for his TFG 2.0 project and then details the problems w/ al shabaab, AFP fails to even mention hizbul islam. at all. aweys is a leading figure of hizbul islam. he is not part of al shabaab.

there is word that upon his return to mogadishu, aweys has tried to appeal to al shabaab to unite w/ the four groups that merged under the banner of hizbul islam into one political opposition force though this was rejected. al shabaab doesn't even have the presence in mogadishu that hizbul islam does & it is the latter that has been leading many of attacks on sheikh sharif's regime.

Posted by: b real | May 14, 2009 12:51:15 AM | 12

inner city press has a followup to the earlier story on ould-abdallah, norway & somalia's MoU re the continental shelf

UNITED NATIONS, May 13 -- Norway's role in Somalia's Law of the Sea filing, arranged by the UN's envoy Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, continued to be questioned Wednesday at the UN. The Secretariat's Hariharan Pakshi Rajan was asked what safeguards are in place that an oil-interested state like Norway does not benefit from its assistance to the filing of a poorer state like Somalia. He did not answer about any safeguards, but rather referred to a UN trust fund that poor countries can apply to.

But this simply raises more question: why would a UN envoy like Ould Abdallah, rather than looking to the UN's own trust fund, seek out or accept the potentially self-interested assistance of a state like Norway?

Inner City Press asked this question at a UN noon briefing, and was then questioned in turn by a member of the UN spokesperson's office, who rather than answer suggested that Inner City Press should "ask Norway." Inner City Press did, and on May 13 received from the the Press Counselor to Norway's mission to the UN a statement that

"How much Norway has used on assisting Somalia to lay forward preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of its continental shelf to the UN; We don’t have a separate budgetary item for this, because the work is a part of Norwegian assistance to several African countries in this matter."

How much was the assistance? Which other African countries? The questions Inner City Press submitted to Ould Abdallah's spokeswoman have yet to be answered. ... What safeguards are in place when the UN arranges for a rich, oil-interested state to assist a poor country with its legal filings?

from a radio france internationale interview w/ ould-abdallah wednesday

[Bensimon]: The Islamists of Al-Shabab have admitted receiving the help of foreign fighters. Who are they and where are they from, how many are they?

[Ould-Abdallah]: It is very difficult to give an answer to all those questions. However, I continue to say that there is likely religious dimension and the economic and financial aspects are important and this attracts a lot of people; foreigners from the region probably from the East African Community - Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania. There are elements from Asia, especially from the Middle East, but, I believe most of them are Somalis who have US or European citizenships, particularly with British or Swedish citizenship. These are young people who have difficulty integrating in their new countries and who have been destabilized by [words indistinct] who made them come and take advantage of their patriotism or their naivete or fragility.

flashback to a december 16 2008 interview w/ somaliland's president riyale

(El Mundo): Is it true that the members of Al-Shabaab, the most radical opposition group, are recruiting foreigners?

(Riyale): Yes, there are loads of Somalis of American or British origin fighting alongside the extremists in the south of Somalia.

in 2006, as the islamic courts revolution took hold in central & southern somalia, many in the somali diaspora returned for many reasons, including "the economic and financial aspects" ould-abdallah currently alludes to, which included entreprenuers, those w/ family businesses or simply family there, opportunists, etc.

Posted by: b real | May 14, 2009 1:58:03 AM | 13

[on #12, when i posted that comment the markup had been stripped out. noticing that all of the other comments were now unformatted, before reposting it i refreshed the screen, since that sometimes makes the markup appear, which is what happened. now i come back & see the markup is entirely stripped from just that one comment. and when i view the source for this screen, the source code does not match the markup in the latest comment i just posted. the anchor tags are missing in the source view, though they show up in the rendered one. very strange bug, if that is what it is.]

Posted by: b real | May 14, 2009 2:12:25 AM | 14

carolyn nordstrom wrote on this in shadows of war five years ago in her fieldwork on shadow economies in war-torn african countries

Same Firms Shipping Aid and Arms, Report Says

UNITED NATIONS, May 12 (IPS) - The military conflicts raging across Africa, Asia and Latin America have been significantly influenced by the heavy flow of illicit small arms, cocaine and rich minerals.

But, ironically, some of the air cargo companies involved in these profitable - and politically destabilising - smuggling operations are also delivering humanitarian aid and supporting peacekeeping operations, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

In some cases, these companies are delivering both aid and weapons to the same conflict zones, including in countries such as Sudan, Somalia, Liberia, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea-Bissau.

The 70-page detailed report reveals that 90 percent of the air cargo companies identified in arms trafficking-related reports have also been used by major U.N. agencies, the European Union (EU), members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), defence contractors and some of the world's leading non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to transport humanitarian aid, peacekeepers and peacekeeping equipment.

The report, titled 'Air Transport and Destabilizing Commodity Flows,' points out that some U.N. missions have continued to contract aviation services from companies that have been named in Security Council reports for wholly illicit arms movement and have been recommended by the United Nations for a complete aviation ban.

rpt available from the sipri website

Posted by: b real | May 14, 2009 2:43:37 AM | 15

garowe online

African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) in Mogadishu have established a new military base in the southern quarters of the capital, military sources said.

AMISOM peacekeepers and military equipment were seen moving from the known bases in the northern part of Mogadishu to a new base at the former headquarters of Somalia's prison guards.

That facility was a major base for Ethiopian troops during Addis Ababa's two-year military intervention in south-central Somalia that ended in January.

It is not clear why AMISOM peacekeepers established the new base, but a military source said Burundian soldiers had moved to the new base to protect a key supply route.


perception mgmt

AU says Mogadishu is manageable

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)—The African Union mission in Somalia known as AMISOM said Thursday that Mogadishu city was controllable.

The spokesman of AMISOM Barigye Ba-Hoko told Shabelle Media that he did not see anything different in Mogadishu referring to the latest fighting between government soldiers and Islamists in the capital.

He said that there is no need that people to panic and the situation is manageable.

“Well, as AMISOM we do not see anything new in Mogadishu, it is the same experience we had for two years, it is the same situation. The insurgents launch attacks and then they cool down and I have no doubt that the situation will be the same,” said Mr. Barigye

Asked about that the rebels are advancing to the presidential palace he replied that it was propaganda to demoralize the government soldiers and frighten the population.

“I am not worried at all that our mission in Somalia is failed and I can tell you that this is the first mission that has succeeded in staying this country for over two years, there is no other previous mission that has never stayed in Somalia for more than six months,” Barigye said answering about a question that AMISOM is worried about that their mission in Somali has failed.

is he strictly refering to AU missions? surely he can't be trying to pretend that UNOSOM never happened. but then AMISOM is essentially ran by the UN anyway, which has provided its authorizatio & mandate, which it keeps renewing every six months

sheikh sharif plays dumb too, pretending that earlier comments made by himself & his PM wrt their official adaptation of sharia never took place

President signs Shari'ah bill as national law

MOGADISHU, Somalia May 14 (Garowe Online) - The president of Somalia's interim government, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, has officially signed Shari'ah into law as the Horn of Africa country's national legislation, Radio Garowe reports.

President Sheikh Sharif told a press conference at the Villa Somalia presidential compound on Wednesday afternoon that he is unaware of why armed groups oppose the law.

"This is the first government ever [in Somalia] that voted to rule under Shari'ah law and I do not know why groups oppose it except to destroy the country," the Somali leader said.

He ordered government organs to implement Shari'ah law "properly" and vowed to appoint legal experts to nullify differences between Shari'ah law and the secular constitution of the Transitional Federal Government, under which he swore an oath at his election as Somali president in January.

"properly", in the eyes of the opposition, would entail removing armed foreigners, i.e., AMISOM, from somalia, which is currently the only entity protecting sheikh sharif's TFG

Posted by: b real | May 14, 2009 11:06:16 AM | 16

Somali leader urges president to step down
NAIROBI (AFP) — Hardline Somali leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who has spearheaded a deadly military offensive in Mogadishu in recent days, on Thursday urged President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed to leave office.

"I am calling on Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed to abandon his self-proclaimed presidential job in order to spare the lives of Somalis," Aweys told AFP by phone from the Somali capital.

Dozens of people have been killed since last week when insurgent forces including the radical Islamist Shebab group and Aweys' armed organisation Hezb al-Islam launched an unprecedented offensive to remove Ahmed from power.

The internationally-backed president of Somalia's transitional federal administration only controls a handful of streets and buildings in Mogadishu.

On Thursday, insurgent fighters were deployed around the presidency and the capital's key institutions, in a tense standoff with African Union peacekeepers and government forces.

"We have no real Somali government to speak of but foreign puppets who call themselves the leaders of Somalia," Aweys said, brushing off accusations by the United Nations that he was masterminding a coup.

"No country in the world will accept an imported leadership. The Somalis are equally free to reject that," he said.

Posted by: b real | May 14, 2009 11:29:12 AM | 17

Somali leader urges president to step down
NAIROBI (AFP) — Hardline Somali leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who has spearheaded a deadly military offensive in Mogadishu in recent days, on Thursday urged President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed to leave office.

"I am calling on Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed to abandon his self-proclaimed presidential job in order to spare the lives of Somalis," Aweys told AFP by phone from the Somali capital.

Dozens of people have been killed since last week when insurgent forces including the radical Islamist Shebab group and Aweys' armed organisation Hezb al-Islam launched an unprecedented offensive to remove Ahmed from power.

The internationally-backed president of Somalia's transitional federal administration only controls a handful of streets and buildings in Mogadishu.

On Thursday, insurgent fighters were deployed around the presidency and the capital's key institutions, in a tense standoff with African Union peacekeepers and government forces.

"We have no real Somali government to speak of but foreign puppets who call themselves the leaders of Somalia," Aweys said, brushing off accusations by the United Nations that he was masterminding a coup.

"No country in the world will accept an imported leadership. The Somalis are equally free to reject that," he said.

Posted by: b real | May 14, 2009 11:29:40 AM | 18

Somali leader urges president to step down

NAIROBI (AFP) — Hardline Somali leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who has spearheaded a deadly military offensive in Mogadishu in recent days, on Thursday urged President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed to leave office.

"I am calling on Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed to abandon his self-proclaimed presidential job in order to spare the lives of Somalis," Aweys told AFP by phone from the Somali capital.

Dozens of people have been killed since last week when insurgent forces including the radical Islamist Shebab group and Aweys' armed organisation Hezb al-Islam launched an unprecedented offensive to remove Ahmed from power.

The internationally-backed president of Somalia's transitional federal administration only controls a handful of streets and buildings in Mogadishu.

On Thursday, insurgent fighters were deployed around the presidency and the capital's key institutions, in a tense standoff with African Union peacekeepers and government forces.

"We have no real Somali government to speak of but foreign puppets who call themselves the leaders of Somalia," Aweys said, brushing off accusations by the United Nations that he was masterminding a coup.

"No country in the world will accept an imported leadership. The Somalis are equally free to reject that," he said.

Posted by: b real | May 14, 2009 11:30:03 AM | 19

[b - this bug w/ typepad shifting comment modes from markup-capable to non-capable is getting out-of-hand]

Posted by: b real | May 14, 2009 11:31:32 AM | 20

MEND Attack Oil Ship, Take 15 Hostages, Declares “No Fly Zone”

Nigeria’s main militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said they have hijacked an oil vessel and taken 15 foreign sailors hostage. MEND has demanded that all foreign workers leave the region following renewed clashed with the military yesterday.

The militant group also said it was declaring the Niger delta a “no fly zone” starting Saturday.

“Effective 0000 Hrs on Saturday, May 16, 2009, the entire Niger Delta region will be declared a no-fly zone to helicopters and float planes operating on behalf of oil companies.”

MEND said in a statement they hijacked the ship late Wednesday, and then destroyed five gunboats in attacks on two military bases Thursday morning, a day after clashing with security forces.

In an email to Thetimesofnigeria.com by the group’s spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, MEND warned all foreign oil workers to leave the region leave immediately.

Posted by: b real | May 15, 2009 1:10:23 AM | 21

Posted by: b real | May 15, 2009 1:38:59 AM | 22

guardian uk: Hollywood beckons for Somali pirate negotiator

Andrew Mwangura, the controversial contact for troubled seafarers and pirates alike, to be played by Samuel L Jackson.

He's a number scribbled in a captain's cabin, a name inside a Somali pirate's head, a voice of reassurance to the family of a captured seaman. His government wants him behind bars while strangers rush to shake his hand. He is, according to one headline writer, The Pirate Whisperer, and his story could soon be known around the world.

"So you're going to Hollywood," shouted a security guard as Andrew Mwangura walked through his hometown of Mombasa, Kenya, this week.

Actually, Hollywood is coming to Mwangura, who runs the non-profit East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme and has become a pivotal figure in reporting and resolving hijacking cases off the coast of Somalia in recent years. The actor Samuel L Jackson has teamed up with filmmaker Andras Hamori to secure the life rights to Mwangura's story for a new action movie about Somali piracy.

In it, Jackson is set to play Mwangura, a softly spoken 47-year-old who lives in a two-bedroom house outside Mombasa with no running water or electricity. Short of money and worried about personal safety – he says he has received several death threats recently – he keeps his office in his pocket, four mobile phones that seldom stop ringing.

"The film will be a great honour for seamen everywhere," said Mwangura, who has never seen any of Jackson's films, but agrees they bear a passing resemblance. "I hope it will tell the truth about Somali piracy."

reportedly there's no script or even a director yet, so it's more of an early public relations presser for hamori & co at this point to drum up donors. and, good lord, don't let mwangura start by watching jackson in rules of engagement, which desensitized audiences to slaughtering yemeni women & children as justification of american exceptionalism

Posted by: b real | May 15, 2009 11:18:37 PM | 23

AFRICOM’s $6 billion fiasco in Djibouti

when the Eritreans found out that the USA was building a major military base in Djibouti [google map] the Eritreans did what was prudent and made sure their military secured Eritrean high ground overlooking Djibouti.

It must have come as an unpleasant surprise for the USA military to find the entire AFRICOM base within potential range of Eritrean artillery, some 60 miles or so. One can only imagine the red-faced rage experienced by the generals in the Pentagon when they arrived at work one morning and were given the satellite images of Eritrean troops looking down from Eritrean soil on AFRICOM’s spanking new base being built on the Djiboutian coast. The Eritreans could, if they so desire, bring their artillery up onto the mountain tops and shut down the new AFRICOM base on a moment’s notice.

Eritrea, of course, is not stupid, and has no desire to start any war with the USA. Eritrea is not about to wave a red flag in the face of the USA military bull and there is no evidence or even suggestion that Eritrea has stationed any artillery overlooking Djibouti. On the other hand, Eritrea has lost a lot of blood winning its independence, something the USA was bitterly against from the very beginning, and very prudently made sure that its territory bordering Djibouti, very strategic high ground, was secure. Ethiopia has already occupied Eritrean territory on the Eritrean/Ethiopian/Djibouti border and continues to occupy Eritrean territory captured during the 2000 invasion. Eritrea, a fiercely proud and independent country, is not about to sit back and allow any further violation of its national territory.

To put it mildly, the USA is very unhappy having Eritrean troops in such a strategic position vis--vis their new base, which explains why the Djiboutian army attempted to capture the Eritrean military positions overlooking the new AFRICOM base last year. In short order, the battle hardened veterans of the Eritrean Defense Forces destroyed the Djiboutian invasion attempt and Eritrean boys still sit in their trenches overlooking the AFRICOM megabase in Djibouti.

What the generals in the Pentagon plan to do about this is anyone’s guess. The quick manner in which the Eritrean army crushed the Djiboutian incursion and the near mutinies reportedly taking place in the Djiboutian military over having to attack their former colleagues from Eritrea on behalf of the USA has left the USA with little room to maneuver.

The USA has tried bluffing Eritrea by ramming through a resolution in the UN Security Council demanding, in violation of international law and the UN’s own charter, that Eritrea withdraw its troops from its own territory. Eritrea has quite rightly denounced such demands and, with its bluff called, the USA is left with egg on its face.

One thing for sure is that the USA is not going to find it easy to swallow that fact that their new AFRICOM base in Djibouti has become a 6 billion dollar fiasco and made the USA military look like fools.

not sure how accurate the dollar amts the author cites are, and certainly the u.s. was not caught unawares that CJTF-HOA, which is an extension off the long-time french base, would be "within potential range of eritrean artillery", but this scenario does help to explain the earlier flare-up which saw djibouti weakly claim to be the victim of an agressive border dispute w/ eritrea.

US seeks SA’s backing for Africom

SA is one of the major political powerhouses in Africa that US President Barack Obama’s administration will lobby to support the Command for Africa (Africom) programme.

The US claims to have the backing of Egypt and Kenya, which are considered influential states on the continent.

egypt? that's the one african country excluded from the new combatant commands area of responsibility, although there has been mention of some form of overlap there b/w CENTCOM and AFRICOM to be defined in future memorandums.

During former p resident Thabo Mbeki’s time in office, Africom was met with scepticism by some members of the African Union (AU).

SA led the Southern African Development Community’s (Sadc’s) position against co-operating with the US on what was believed to be the militarisation of American foreign policy and aid.

The Obama administration believes that with the Bush administration out of the picture and a new leadership in SA , the attitude towards the US in general has changed.

...

The US believes there will be an increasing number of African countries buying into the Africom concept.

After talking separately to most countries, the US realises that these countries would like to be able to employ capable military forces, to strengthen their own security institutions, be able to support international peace efforts and peacekeeping, and have the ability to deter and defeat threats.

...and have an imperial superpower guarantee their regime's backing against its opposition

or even its own allies
Museveni: I see no successor in NRM

He may have ruled Uganda for the past twenty three years but President Yoweri Museveni is still hesitant to hand over power, not even to members of the National Resistance Movement, of which he is the leader.

On Thursday the president told NRM Members of Parliament that while he would be “happy” to hand over power, he saw “nobody” ready to take on the daunting responsibility of leading Uganda.

Posted by: b real | May 16, 2009 12:08:16 AM | 24

Posted by: b real | May 16, 2009 12:48:37 AM | 25

Posted by: b real | May 16, 2009 1:37:21 AM | 26

prof weinstein has a new analysis available at garowe online, The Battle for Mogadishu – Round One

the first part is a detailed chronology of events in mogadishu over the past five weeks, filling in some of the gaps i either didn't post/elaborate on or had missed, followed by a brief analysis, which concludes:

As long as AMISOM remains, the T.F.G. is unlikely to be routed altogether and will exist in protective custody with dwindling credibility, popular legitimacy and effectiveness. It will become ever more clear that the T.F.G. is a creature of external powers, which will fortify the position of the armed opposition. Ba-Hoku is correct that the armed opposition “launches attacks and then cools down,” but that hardly means that there is nothing “new in Mogadishu.” The new wrinkle is that the balance of power has changed and that the T.F.G. is no longer the protagonist in the conflict; it is simply one of the players and a weak and wasting “asset “of the Western powers and international organizations, whose pledges of financial support for the T.F.G. in April are now less likely to be fulfilled – why throw good money after bad? Even if the donors come through with their (U.S.)$213 million, two-thirds of which they apportioned to AMISOM and only one-third to train and equip the ten thousand envisioned T.F.G. forces, it is unlikely to come in time to bolster the T.F.G., especially in light of the donors’ demands for “accountability mechanisms.”

Posted by: b real | May 16, 2009 3:55:32 PM | 27

prof weinstein has a new analysis available at garowe online, The Battle for Mogadishu – Round One

the first part is a detailed chronology of events in mogadishu over the past five weeks, filling in some of the gaps i either didn't post/elaborate on or had missed, followed by a brief analysis, which concludes:

As long as AMISOM remains, the T.F.G. is unlikely to be routed altogether and will exist in protective custody with dwindling credibility, popular legitimacy and effectiveness. It will become ever more clear that the T.F.G. is a creature of external powers, which will fortify the position of the armed opposition. Ba-Hoku is correct that the armed opposition “launches attacks and then cools down,” but that hardly means that there is nothing “new in Mogadishu.” The new wrinkle is that the balance of power has changed and that the T.F.G. is no longer the protagonist in the conflict; it is simply one of the players and a weak and wasting “asset “of the Western powers and international organizations, whose pledges of financial support for the T.F.G. in April are now less likely to be fulfilled – why throw good money after bad? Even if the donors come through with their (U.S.)$213 million, two-thirds of which they apportioned to AMISOM and only one-third to train and equip the ten thousand envisioned T.F.G. forces, it is unlikely to come in time to bolster the T.F.G., especially in light of the donors’ demands for “accountability mechanisms.”

Posted by: b real | May 16, 2009 3:55:33 PM | 28

jendayi jonnie no-change
US Says Somali Government Confident in Battle Against Islamists

The new top U.S. diplomat to Africa says Somalia's government is confident it can defend itself against Islamist militia who are battling for control of the capital.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jonnie Carson told VOA's Somali Service Friday that Somalia's foreign minister has told him his government is "not in imminent danger of being defeated by the insurgents." Carson met with Somali Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Oomaar in Washington earlier on Friday.

...

Carson also repeated U.S. accusations that Eritrea is helping to support the al-Shabab insurgents and said their actions are undermining the stability of the region.

more

US alarmed at Eritrea 'arms link'

"There seem to be fairly serious and creditable reports that al Shabaab does have, amongst its fighters, a number of individuals of South Asian and Chechen origin," said Mr Carson.

"This is a very disturbing situation and reflects the seriousness of the problem in Somalia."

Mr Carson also expressed concern about flights from Eritrea were carrying weapons and ammunition to Somalia to supply al-Shabaab.

"There have been numerous reports that the government of Eritrea has, in fact, been supplying weapons and munitions to al-Shabaab.

"These are reports that we do find credible," he said.

...

In recent days there have been suggestions that the Somali government might collapse, but Mr Carson ruled out deploying the 2,000 American troops currently stationed in neighbouring Djibouti into Somalia.

"This is an internal Somali matter," he told the BBC.

"I think that there would be no case of the US re-engaging on the ground with troops."

AU may seek Nato help in Somalia crisis

The African Union says if the situation gets further out of control, it may ask assistance from NATO forces stationed in Somalia's pirate-infested waters.

As insurgency is escalating in the Horn of Africa, AU special envoy to Somalia, Nicolas Bwakira, addressing reporters in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi said the African body may ask for help from outside the continent if it feels that the crisis is out of hand.

"We will go all the way to provide support for the Somalia Transitional Federal Government. We will use AU forces for the time being. But if it becomes necessary, we will ask for help from forces outside Africa," Bwakira said while suggesting NATO forces when asked to clarify which forces outside Africa.

He reiterated that the AU peacekeepers will not violate their mandate of peacekeeping, adding that the suggestion for mandate expansion that would include peace enforcing is underway in order to fully defend the citizens caught in the fighting, a Press TV correspondent reported on Friday from Nairobi.

Meanwhile, the United Nations special envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah on Friday said he was ready to lobby for the removal of the names of Somali individuals who are on the US terror suspects list if they are willing to pursue dialogue instead of conflict.

"No one who is named on the UN Security Council list of terrorists can become a president or a prime minister. He cannot sit in an office nor even travel as a simple citizen because you may be in trouble. But those who are on the US terrorist list, I am ready to lobby for them, I put it in writing. I will help remove the names of Somalians to open political dialogue for them. It is not killing their own compatriots that will solve this problem," Ould-Abdallah said.

Posted by: b real | May 17, 2009 1:02:34 AM | 29

more $$$ must have become available cause old white eyes is switching sides yet again

Islamist leader defects to government

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)—Sheik Yusuf Mohamed Siad (Indho Ade) one of the Islamist rebels has defected to the Somali government, sources said on Sunday.

Government ministers close to president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed told Shabelle Media that the leader with 11 battle wagons left from former Past Factory, his base in north Mogadishu overnight and entered to the presidential palace.

The Islamist rebel leader is expected to meet with some government ministers in the presidential palace.

There is no word from the rebel leader and the government has not talked about the issue officially yet.

Yusuf Mohamed Siad had previously told Shabelle radio that he handed over his weapons to his brother referring to the Islamist, opposition leader Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys.

Posted by: b real | May 17, 2009 6:33:29 PM | 30

i see that the western media is playing up indho ade's latest defection as a good sign (for the TFG2) that the islamist opposition is fractioning. heh. they omit the backstory & that he made the same announcement last week before handing over some of his forces' arms & vehicles to sheikh aweys' forces. he'll probably announce that he's switching sides again in a day or two

- - -

Al-shabab captures strategic town

JOWHAR (Sh. M. Network) – Al-shabab Isalamists have captured the strategic town of Jawhar which connects Mogadishu and central Somalia towns, witnesses said on Sunday.

Jowhar is 90 kilometers south of the Somali capital Mogadishu and al-Shabab and the pro government Islamic Courts Union have fought in Garsale village about 25 kilometers south of Jowhar town.

Reports say that more of Al-shabab forces with many battle wagons could be seen in the Jowhar town specially at the centre and the police station of the town and sources say that at least 3 ICU fighters were killed in the fighting between the two sides.

Fighting among Islamists spreads, Jowhar falls

"The situation returned to calm and residents were on the streets to witness the change," said a Jowhar local, who added that businesses remained shut all day Sunday.

The administration building and the central police station in Jowhar were under the control of Al Shabaab fighters, who were dispatched from a base in Bal’ad, a district located between Jowhar and the capital, Mogadishu.

Speaking on Mogadishu radio, Al Shabaab commanders said their forces were en route to the central regions to reinforce fighters in Hiran and Galgadud when they came under attack in Jowhar.

The pro-government ICU faction that previously controlled Jowhar reportedly fled out of the town and towards the countryside.

Somali government officials declined to comment on the Al Shabaab takeover of Jowhar, a key town that lies 90km north of Mogadishu and is the gateway to central Somalia.

Currently, Al Shabaab and allied groups like Hizbul Islam control most of Mogadishu, dominate the regions of Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba, Lower Shabelle, Gedo, Bay, Bakool, and are fighting for control in Middle Shabelle, Hiran and Galgadud regions.

Somalia's new UN-backed government, led by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, controls very little territory in Mogadishu and is fast loosing control of strongholds in the central regions.

from a separate article, i found this graf humorous

Sheik Abdirahman Ibrahim Ma’ow, the chairman of the Islamic Courts Union administration in Hiran region in central Somalia said on Sunday that they will not tolerate the people who are against the peace in the region.

Posted by: b real | May 17, 2009 6:51:19 PM | 31


it almost seems a formality now that the Somali "government" is going to collapse.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 17, 2009 7:42:27 PM | 32

shit, lots of changes in one day, i just read weinstein's report last night..

thanks for keeping us informed b real.

Posted by: annie | May 17, 2009 8:08:56 PM | 33

excerpt from latest commentary by abdikarim h. abdi buh @ wardheer news

Good Bye to Proxy TFG President Ahmedou Ould Abdallah’s:
Discordant Contract (UN - trusteeship): The hour of reckoning has just arrived

The proxy president of Somalia, Mr. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, is obsessed in misinterpreting the situation on the ground as he usually does by accusing the opposition forces of toppling a legitimate government. Nonetheless, the opposition forces are nationalists who are fighting for what is their inalienable right – to run the affairs of their own country in their own way and to flesh out the foreign sponsored TFG and its AMISOM mercenaries. The Islamist cadres are aware of the appalling intention of the international community and are committed to capture or disable the three remaining foreign fortresses- Airport, Sea port and the presidential palace - before the UN campaign of organising a deplorable peace spoiler force leaves the drawing room.

Mr. Ahmedou, the proxy Somalia president, is out of touch with reality and most probably lives in a bubble of his own or may be driven to insanity by his extreme view of keeping Somalia under UN trusteeship in perpetuity. "These extremists know that they do not have the support of the Somali people and that is why they have to bring in foreign fighters who are not connected to the situation in Somalia in any way," Ould-Abdallah said in a statement. How on earth can he justify that the 5,000 strong foreign force of AMISOM troops equipped to the teeth are considered to have connection to the situation in Somalia? Despite his obviously expatriate assertions, the Islamists are enjoying the grass root support of their masses including a large segment of the Somali Diaspora who are labeled as foreigner fighters by the colonial officer as quoted above.

...

It is apparent that the war which has just started is the making of President Sharif who foolishly betrayed his comrades in arms in the misplaced assumption that the international community’s blessing could be translated into automatic local recognition - the guy lacks political experience and maturity and is not even aware of the old adage “that a political mistake committed can only be paid in blood.”

...

To safe Mogadishu from further destruction, the Sharif and his TFG should leave the political scene for the Islamists. The Islamists will definitely bring sustainable peace and stability at an affordable price as they demonstrated in the large areas they control. Somalia needs peace and security and its people are willing to temporarily trade off some of their liberties for the taste of this after sought product(peace) which the Islamists have the monopoly to deliver.

In contrast to Sharif, the Islamists are committed to earn the local recognition and relegated international recognition from the west at the bottom of their priorities. International recognition, the kiss of death in contemporary Somalia, comes with a lot of strings that are untenable and detrimental to the political independence, sovereignty and self rule of Somalia.

wonder who this anon 'western diplomat' 'in mogadishu' spreading FUD was - provided this wasn't a fictional creation of al-sharq al-awsat or a poorly-constructed sentence...

In Mogadishu a Western diplomat has warned of the fall of Somalia into the hands of Al-Qaeda, stressing that Al-Qaeda supporters are heavily and openly present in various parts of the capital Mogadishu. The diplomat, who preferred not to be identified, added: "Al-Qaeda is basically present in the southern part of Somalia in the city of Kismayu near the border with Kenya. Estimates of their numbers vary, but there seems to be a plan to make Somalia a safe haven for Al-Qaeda, from which they would work to spread and establish an Islamic state in Somalia `Al-Qaeda style`."

The same Western diplomat regarded this as possible, unless the Somali government moves in various ways to confront this plan. The source added: "The situation is serious and it has not been confronted decisively; consequently, of course, it expanded and still is expanding, and the opportunity is still there, but it needs a lot of more intensive work, the idea is for Somalia to fall and to establish a regime similar to that of Afghani Taliban. As a forgotten state, Somalia is suitable for establishing such a regime."

Al-Shabab seizes another key town

Al-Shabab militants have captured Mahaday, a key town about 23 km north of Jowhar, the regional capital of middle Shabelle Region, witnesses said on Monday.

...

The seizure of Mahaday and Jowhar towns will be a big blow to the fragile government of Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed and the Shabab will take over the whole country.

Residents said al-Shabab captured the town with no resistances from the Islamic Courts Union who were controlling Middle Shabelle region.

Three districts of the four districts of Middle Shabelle region has now fallen to the hands of al-Shabab militants.

The Somali government has been amassing troops in Mogadishu to defe[at] al-shabab and their allies. Former warlords have been reportedly active in the activity of the troop mobilization in Mogadishu.

other rpts state that it was fighters from hizbul islam, not al shabaab, which took over mahaday, w/o any resistance. and sunday's rout at jowhar was not just al shabaab. hassan turki had his fighters there too.

the previous warlord mayor of mogadishu, mohamed dhere, was at one time the warlord of jowhar, until he was defeated by the ICU in 2006. haven't seen his name pop up in the news for several weeks but i would expect that he's one of those mobilizing their loyalists to retake jowhar.

sheikh sharif is also from jowhar, so there is a symbolic aspect to its fall to the insurgency as well.

Government troops advancing to Jowhar, run over rebel commander

Sources say Somali government soldiers with more than seventy armored vehicles are reportedly advancing to Jowhar, a strategic town that connects Mogadishu and central Somalia towns.

Al-Shabab and Raskamboni fighters led by Hassan Abdulahi Hersi known as Turki captured the town from pro government Islamists on Sunday.

Residents in the suburbs of north Mogadishu said the government soldiers ran over a rebel, Islamist commander, Moalim Hashi with his militia and took from him three battle wagons.

Reports from Jowhar town in middle Shabelle region say there is fear that fighting could start in the town at any time since the government soldiers are heading to the town.

there aren't too many govt soldiers left, esp after the reported defections over the last week. more likely, these are mostly assembled militias in the pay of the govt

Posted by: b real | May 19, 2009 1:11:19 AM | 34

garowe online: Ethiopia troops enter central Somalia: Report

BELETWEIN, Somalia May 19 (Garowe Online) - An Ethiopian army contingent has entered parts of central Somalia where deadly clashes have raged in recent days among rival factions of Somali Islamists, Radio Garowe reports.

Ethiopian troops backed by 18 military trucks entered the central Hiran region Tuesday morning, where they set up a base at the strategic Kala-Beyr junction, witnesses said.

Kala-Beyr is a strategic crossroads that connects the southern regions to the northern region of Puntland and the Somali Regional State of eastern Ethiopia.

There was no report available as to why the Ethiopian army dispatched forces to Hiran region again, but Ethiopian troops have repeatedly crossed into the Somali border to carry out incursions and cross-border raids.

ICU officials in Beletwein, capital of Hiran, threatened to attack the Ethiopian troops but the ICU rulers are increasingly being challenged by Al Shabaab hardliners.

the bbc quotes one local witness as saying "some of them were digging trenches while others were guarding the whole area"

Posted by: b real | May 19, 2009 10:00:24 AM | 35

Posted by: b real | May 20, 2009 1:25:01 AM | 36

commentary taking the position 'so what if there are "foreign fighters" among the insurgency'?

Somalia and the Question of Foreign Fighters
I am prepared to accept the notion that these numbers are entirely plausible. One cannot deny that it is quite possible for foreign fighters to find their way to Somalia in order to do battle against the forces of neo-colonial oppression.

What I find truly remarkable is the brazen hypocrisy of the Western world with respect to the concept of foreign fighter. Let us begin with the example of the British army, with respect to its use of foreign fighters. During the illustrious history of the British army, one is able to identify many instances of the British employing foreign fighters in order to satisfy their military objectives. One can speak of the King’ African Rifles, during the time of the British empire, and say many a dark skinned individual has carried arms in the service of the British Crown. Even in the present day, it is quite obvious that the British army cannot do without the Ghurka soldiers who famously come from the mountainous nation of Nepal.

Let us now discuss the habits of the modern American military hierarchy, with respect to the use of foreign fighters in the service of American national interest. One only has to look at the thousands of mercenaries—currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan—who hail from far flung places such as Croatia, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, South Africa, Poland, Guatemala, and The Philippines just to name a few. Indeed, by definition an empire is an entity capable of drawing its fighters from the many nations under both its political and military influence.

Now let us return to the question of foreign fighters currently operating inside Somalia. When one puts aside the unreasonable—and frankly ridiculous assertions of the US Department of State, the UNPOS, and the AU—it is easy to see that the vast majority of the foreign fighters currently inside Somalia are there as a result of a neo-colonial scheme designed to deprive the Somali nation of its God given right to national self-determination. I state, for the benefit of all Somali people, that the foreign fighters who are most unwelcome in Somalia are the 4300 AMISOM soldiers who currently protect the illegitimate and monstrous TFG of so-called President Shariif.

The only foreign fighters—to my knowledge—causing the Somali nation a great deal for suffering are the thousands of Ethiopian soldiers who periodically make incursions inside the Somali national territory. Such military incursions are not only illegitimate but they are brazen acts of state sponsored terrorism on the part of the so-called great powers of this world.


perception mgmt game continues & there's a reason these anonymous fellas prefer to not link their names to their propaganda

Al-Shabab's pyrrhic victory?
According to a political observer in the capital, however, the capture of Jowhar may be a sign that Al-Shabab has peaked.

"In my opinion this is as far they will reach," he said. "They have entered hostile territory, where they are less popular than even the Ethiopians [troops] were." The Ethiopian soldiers were invited by the Transitional Federal Government in December 2006 to help oust the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).

Pointing to the recent defection of prominent opposition figure Sheikh Yusuf “Indha Cadde” to the government side, which he described as a boost, the observer said Mogadishu's apparent weakness "may in fact work to the benefit of the government by galvanising supporters to take the offensive".

Separately, a regional analyst, who requested anonymity, said: "The fall of Jowhar is less a sign of Al-Shabab's strength than the government's apparent disarray and paralysis.

"Either the opposition will maintain the initiative, fatally eroding the government's authority and cohesion; or the crisis will provoke a determined and unified reaction from the government."


that talking point of white eyed's latest announcement being a "boost" for the vanishing TFG has certainly made the rounds in western media. that move, along w/ talk of sheikh sharif's widespread popularity are grossly exaggerated - popularity inside somalia, that is. the west will pitch him as the last best chance (as prendergast stated before correcting his phrasing at the march CSIS panel) since he's [1] on the dole and [2] their ideal of a "moderate" somali islamist, meaning he does what they request.

there are elements in the al shabaab mvmt, which is a front group & not any single militia, which are too extreme for the vast majority of somalis. some observers believe there are foreign provocateurs infiltrating some of the militias subversively working against the mvmt. but they are a minority & most of the islamist militas are supported based on [1] their ability to provide stability, security & order where there has been little, if any, for way too long, [2] their transcendance of clan politics, something that sheikh sharif's TFG2 continues to exploit to this very moment, and [3] sovereignty & nationalist politics, first defeating foreign ethiopian forces, and now closer to toppling yet another narrow govt imposed on it by foreigners.

and if ethiopian forces are overtly entering into somalia again to block the islamists from taking over beletweyne & the rest, which would essentially complete their control of all of central & southern somalia save a few blocks inside mogadishu still held by the TFG2, it will actually be a boost for al shabaab & the rest

reuters: Anti-piracy body backs off on int'l maritime force
KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 (Reuters) - An international piracy conference on Tuesday backed off tough proposals calling for an international naval taskforce to be set up under U.N. auspices to fight Somali pirates after members disagreed over implementation.

...

The initial resolution from more than 60 countries and the European Union was watered down after a two-day conference in the Malaysian capital that brought together governments, navies and shipping bodies.

"The United Nations is invited to consider further the possibility of taking joint measures through the contact group on piracy off the coast of Somalia and its working groups to coordinate maritime force operations to suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia," the final statement said.

That was far weaker than a draft statement, seen by Reuters, that called for the United Nations to consider "the establishment of an international maritime force to suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia".

A senior maritime official who attended the conference said: "Asking for the formation of an international maritime force has legal and political ramifications".

"We are going forward too fast," the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

...

Richard Farrington, Chief of Staff of European Naval forces, told the conference there are now 25 warships from the European Union, China, the United States and Japan patrolling 2.5 million square miles of waters off the coast of Somalia.

"We need 60 (vessels) in the Gulf of Aden and another 150 in the Somali basin," Farrington said.

...

While some navies have taken robust action, others take the view it is not illegal to carry weapons in international waters and arrests cannot be made unless there is evidence of piracy.


if it were illegal there wouldn't be 25 warships in the area

Posted by: b real | May 20, 2009 1:25:42 AM | 37

Here are some updates on the violence in the Niger Delta. The JTF assault is continuing on the Gbaramatu Ijaw people near the Escravos oil installation. There are at least 5 villages that are being pounded or may be history by now.
From the Vanguard

Chief Akowei Oboko from Kunukunuma community told Sunday Vanguard that scores of persons were killed by the JTF, which stormed the town on Friday with jet and helicopter bombers, bombing everywhere. We don't know what we have done to warrant this attack by the JTF, is the Federal Government at war with us", he queried.

Chief Godspower Gbenekama from Benikurukuru community who was at Oporoza for the aborted Amaseikumo festival was among the lucky persons that escaped alive from the community, Friday, told Sunday Vanguard, "The Ameseikumo festival in Oporoza has been halted and so many people were killed when the JTF struck with helicopter, gunboats, jet bombers and warships.

Twenty five corpses have been picked up in Oporoza as at the time I fled the community, one of those injured is a traditional chief. Over 20 persons are missing and I don't know the reason for this genocide. I tell you, what the JTF came to do was to wipe out the community. How can they use such weapons on innocent and defenceless citizens. As I speak to you now, nobody in that village can sleep in his house, all of them have run and fled into the bush, it is the ones who could not run that they bombed and killed. A lot of buildings were destroyed and the youths are angry, the government should call the JTF to order.

Chief Godspower Viavrivinde also told Sunday Vanguard that 10 persons, including men, women and children were killed in Kurutie community. He fled the community through Sapele and got to Warri last Friday afternoon. Chief Oyagha Heaven said fighting was on between Okerenkoko youths and the JTF when he fled on Friday. His words, "The JTF troops were advancing towards Okerenkoko, which we hear they want to attack because of the false claim that it is the traditional headquarters of militants in the kingdom.

The youths confronted them five nautical miles away from the community. But right now, the people have fled the community, they have all run into the forest and I don't expect otherwise when they saw helicopter and jet bombers throwing bombs in the neighbouring Kurutie and Kunukunuma. We hear that Okerenkoko is next in their plan to attack and that they are even planning to trail Gbaramatu leaders staying in Warri and arrest them, this will be a dangerous development", he warned.

Clark blasts Minister of Defence, SFG: An angry Ijaw National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark whose appeal to the Minister of Defence and other top federal government officials to halt the invasion by the JTF was rebuffed berated them yesterday for the genocide meted on Ijaw people. In a text message sent to the Minister, Secretary to the Federal Government and the Commander of the JTF, Major General Sarkin Bello, Chief Clark said, "Good morning, your directives to JTF to bomb, kill and destroy the Ijaws for the past three consecutive days despite my appeal is no doubt a preconceived deliberate decision of the Federal Government to eliminate the Ijaws in order to have undisturbed, free access to our oil and gas.

And from Wednesday's Punch:

Military onslaught continues, more people killed
By Sola Adebayo, Warri
Published: Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Peace remained elusive in the Niger Delta on Tuesday as the Joint Task Force in the area, Operation Restore Hope, resumed shooting and bombing in the coastal Gbaramatu communities in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.

Tuesday’s attacks, specifically on Okerenkoko community in the area, occurred after 24 hours of respite.

Many persons were reported dead and buildings razed during the invasion of the community by the federal troops.

It was learnt that President Umaru Yar’Adua ordered a ceasefire on Monday due to the pleas by the Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and other notable South-South leaders.

The onslaught was triggered by the killing of 12 soldiers by suspected militants last Wednesday.

However, the JTF mobilised two jet bombers, 10 gunboats and a warship, NNS Obula, which was rehabilitated after it was hit by dynamite fired by suspected militants on Saturday, to the Ijaw community in the early hours of Tuesday.

A reliable source told our correspondent that no fewer than 1,000 soldiers carried out Tuesday’s operation in the Ijaw settlement.

The soldiers launched the attacks from the air and water. The jet bombers provided air support and cover for the gunboats and warships for massive shelling of the community.

A source from Okerenkoko war zone said, “The troops of JTF arrived again here (Okerenkoko) on Tuesday morning and launched attacks through the air and sea. So many persons have been killed and maimed. A lot of our people, including the injured, are in the forest as I am talking to you now.”

Tuesday’s development occurred at a time the state Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, was in Abuja to brief Yar’Adua on the security situation in the state and plead with him to stop the military operation in the area.

Yar’Adua, according to our source, asked the helmsmen of the security agency to rely solely on the rules of engagement and orders emanating from the Defence Headquarters, which supervises the security outfit.

Meanwhile, the apparent failure of Jonathan to stop the operation continued to attract condemnation by his Ijaw kinsmen in the region on Tuesday.

The Warri Ijaw Peace Monitoring Group in a statement on Tuesday asked Jonathan to resign from his exalted position since he could not come to the aid of his kinsmen.

The JTF spokesman, Col. Rabe Abubakah, confirmed the operation in Okerenkoko in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Tuesday.

He said that the exercise was in continuation of the ongoing military operation in the Niger Delta.

Abubakah asked community leaders in the areas to isolate and fish out the militants in their midst in order to avert further havoc on their communities.

He stated that the militants would be fished out and the hostages freed at all costs, adding that all prohibited weapons in wrong hands would be recovered.


Yardie does not even seem interested, it is just business as usual in the Delta:


World leaders not scared of visiting Nigeria – Yar’Adua
By Ihuoma Chiedozie, Abuja
Published: Wednesday, 20 May 2009

President Umaru Yar’Adua on Tuesday broke his silence on the ongoing military onslaught on militants in the Niger Delta, saying it would not discourage world leaders from visiting Nigeria.

Yar’Adua, who addressed a joint press conference with the visiting Togolese President, Mr. Faure Eyadema, in Abuja, said the current Niger Delta crisis was not different from what it was in the past.

“The situation in the Niger Delta region has been there remotely for decades and the escalation of violence and criminality that has taken root has been there for between eight and nine years.

Many of Ed Kashi's photos from Curse of the Black Gold are from the Escravos Gbaramatu area. Much of the movie Sweet Crude was also filmed in this area of the Niger Delta.

The Under 17 World Cup in Nigeria 2009 was supposed to feature Warri as one of the venues. FIFA was supposed to visit Warri this week. The visit was cancelled and I read today that Warri has been cancelled as a venue.

Posted by: xcroc | May 20, 2009 12:34:25 PM | 38

Links from previous post, #38, which stripped off the html:
From the Vanguard http://allafrica.com/stories/200905170002.html?viewall=1
Military onslaught continues, more people killed
http://punchng.com/Articl.aspx?theartic=Art20090520155721
World leaders not scared of visiting Nigeria – Yar’Adua
http://www.punchng.com/Articl.aspx?theartic=Art200905201505742

Posted by: xcroc | May 20, 2009 12:41:47 PM | 39

two from shabelle media

rattling the burundi AMISOM forces

[headline] Islamists attack AU troop bases in Mogadishu [/headline]

[blockquote]
The Insurgents attacked Jalle Siad Academy, and former Somali University building in south Mogadishu, bases of Burundian troops from African Union peace keepers.

The fighting lasted for about two hours and the sound of gun fire could be heard in many parts of the capital.
[/blockquote]

playing dumb

[headline] Somali government ignores Ethiopian troops’ entry in central Somalia [/headline]

[blockquote]

Farhan Ali Mohamud, the information minister of the transitional government of Somalia told Shabelle radio that they are not aware the reports saying that Ethiopian troops had come in Kala-beyrka junction in Hiran region.

“We do not know Ethiopian troops those entered in the Somali territory. But may be that they are tightening the security of their border though there are conflicts in Somalia,” said Farhan Ali Mohamud, the information minister of Somalia.

It is unclear why the Ethiopian troops entered back to Somalia but analysts say that the statement of the Somali government seems that it is ignoring the entrance of the Ethiopian troops in country.

The statement ... comes as more Ethiopian troops entered parties of Hiran region specially Jawil village and Kal-beyrka intersection in central Somalia [where] hundreds of the people are displacing from their houses..

Reports from Beledweyn town, the regional capital of Hiran region say that many displaced people including women and children reached the town as more others are still fleeing from their homes for the fear of fighting between the Ethiopian troops and the Somali Islamist forces that starts in the region.

[/blockquote]

(i inadvertently deleted the urls but the articles are at shabelle media, though there is a server malfunction there at the moment)

Posted by: b real | May 20, 2009 1:06:06 PM | 40

Govt ministers, ex-warlords 'declare war' on Al Shabaab
http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Govt_ministers_ex-warlords_declare_war_on_Al_Shabaab.shtml

-
MOGADISHU, Somalia May 20 (Garowe Online) - A meeting between government ministers and ex-warlords was held Tuesday in the Somali capital Mogadishu, where attendees agreed to 'declare war' on Al Shabaab hardliners, Radio Garowe reports.

The meeting was held at a hotel near the Villa Somalia presidential compound and attended by Justice Minister Sheikh Abdirahman Janakow and a horde of ex-Mogadishu warlords, including: MP Mohamed Qanyare, MP Muse Sudi Yalahow and MP Osman Atto.

All attendees of the meeting belong to the Hawiye clan-family, the most dominant clan in Mogadishu and its environs. Al Shabaab fighters have recently been engaged in battles for control in regions traditionally inhabited by Hawiye clans, including Middle Shabelle, Hiran and Galgadud regions.

Justice Minister Janakow told reporters that a number of decisions were reached at the meeting, including continuing such meetings and declaring war against Al Shabaab, whom he described as "anti-peace and ant-Islamic law."

"We discussed the issue of foreign fighters at the meeting and we appeal for them to return to their home countries," the Justice Minister.

MP Qanyare, who spoke at the meeting, reportedly suggested that the Somali interim government organize and use clan militias to fight against Al Shabaab, but his suggestion was "dismissed," according to independent sources.

-

Hawiye elders denounce Somali government
http://www.shabelle.net/News/ViewNews.asp?NewsID=6458

-
MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network) – Hawiye traditional elders have accused the Somali transitional government on Thursday for holding tribal meetings in Mogadishu and its statement on the Ethiopian troops’ entry in parts of Hiran region in central Somalia.

Abdullahi Hassan Abukar known as (Abdullahi Dere), the spokesman of Hawiye elders for the political affairs told Shabelle radio that it is not good for the Somali government to deal as the warlords and use tribe.

Mr. Dere said that it is also good to be remembered that the transitional government had rejected earlier forming Islamic court which one of the Somali clans wanted to form to work the security in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

On the other hand the spokesman of the Hawiye traditional elders for the political affairs Mr. Abdullahi Dere accused the statement of the government’s information minister Farhan Ali Mohamud for saying that the government was not aware any report that Ethiopian troops entered in Kala-beyrka intersection in Hiran region in central Somalia.

Hawiye elders were part of the people who were calling not to attack the transitional government though they had never announced that they were supporting it but the current statement of the elders seems rebuke to the government of Somalia.

-

Posted by: b real | May 21, 2009 11:03:04 AM | 41

@38-9
i appreciate those updates xcroc. i have been very pressed for time lately & finding it difficult to keep up on what's evolving on the east coast, much less follow this important escalation in the west

(xcroc has an informative post on the war on the niger delta at his blog, crossed crocodiles, put up on monday - http://crossedcrocodiles.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/niger-delta-communities-under-assault-by-nigerian-jtf)

Posted by: b real | May 21, 2009 11:12:49 AM | 42

Posted by: b real | May 21, 2009 3:12:42 PM | 43

asharq al-awsat: Rebel Group Leader Denies Al-Qaeda's Involvement in Fighting

..Dr. Abu-Bakr Iman Omar, leader of the Islamic Party which is opposed to the Somali president, said the interim authority was heading toward collapse and told Asharq Al-Awsat that the "causes and developments point to this, among them the fact that a large number of government officials and parliament members have left the authority's premises in Mogadishu." He added: "When the resistance pressured the government, a large number of parliamentarians left and traveled abroad and Islamic Courts members who were loyal to the government have returned and joined the resistance. Only the militias are left for this government and the latter would not have lasted a single minute were it not for the African Union's tanks."

He denied to this newspaper the reports that hundreds of Al-Qaeda organization members were involved in the recent bloody clashes between the resistance and government forces and said the Western classification of "Al-Qaeda" accuses all Muslims of joining this organization just because they pray and added: "But if they are talking about this organization that is present in mountains which are very far from us, then this is a lie. Neither Al-Qaeda nor its elements are present in the country."

But Somali and Western sources told Asharq al-Awsat that local citizens and intelligence reports talked about pro-Al-Qaeda elements, some of them Sudanese and Pakistanis, distributing videotapes of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in some areas that are under the Islamist rebels' control. The sources said the organization is trying to exploit the political and security anarchy and the prevailing situation in Somalia so as to find a safe haven for its internationally-chased cadres.

omar's stmts concur w/ those of abu mansour, turki & aweys, as pointed out previously

Posted by: b real | May 22, 2009 12:37:12 AM | 44

American Experts Train Somaliland’s Security

Berbera, Somaliland, May 16, 2009 (SL Times) – About a dozen members of Somaliland’s intelligence services are receiving training by American experts. There were no official reports from the government, but reliable sources have said that the training will include how to prevent and foil terrorism. The training started last week at Mansoor Hotel in Berbera.

Somaliland has close cooperation on anti-terrorism with both Britain and the US.

In the past, Britain and the US have provided Somaliland with equipment and transportation vehicles for anti-terrorism. But this is the first time that this type of training takes place in Berbera.
The training is scheduled to last a week.


Somaliland police detain three 'terror suspects'

BURAO, Somalia May 22 (Garowe Online) - Authorities in Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland have detained three men suspected of being linked to terror groups, Radio Garowe reports.

The three men driving two trucks were arrested Wednesday evening as they attempted to enter the town of Burao, capital of Togdheer region and the second-largest city under Somaliland control.

Police sources said the men did not have weapons or explosives in their possession, but local authorities reportedly had information about the three men.

Burao police chief said the suspects are under investigation, while telling reporters that he believes the suspects are involved in a terror plot.


Government forces launch offensive to retake Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia May 22 (Garowe Online) - Somali government forces and allied militias attacked rebel positions in the capital Mogadishu Friday morning in a bid to retake control of the capital, Radio Garowe reports.

At least four people, including a radio reporter, were killed in the clashes as pro-government forces clashed with rebels loyal to Islamist factions Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.

Abdirisak Warsame Mohamed, a reporter for the independent station Radio Shabelle, was shot and killed in the crossfire, the radio owners said.


Somalia Government Announces Plan to Defeat Insurgents in Mogadishu

Speaking in a press conference in Mogadishu, the TFG’s Defence Minister Prof. Mohamed Abdi Gaandi said that the TFG started systemic plans aimed at taking control of the entire city. Prof. Minister added that the TFG has been forced to fight and defeat insurgents after insurgents have attacked government forces in Mogadishu.

...

On the other hand, Mr. Muuse Arraale who spoke on behalf of Hisbul Islam, one of the insurgent groups fighting the government, said that TGF soldiers attacked based occupied by their forces and that their forces repelled government soldiers.

Posted by: b real | May 22, 2009 11:12:50 AM | 45

Latest Developments on the Fighting in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (HOL) - So far 20 people have been confirmed dead and 80 others wounded in the latest round fighting in Mogadishu between Islamist insurgents and pro-government troops.

...

Ali Muuse Mohamud who operates an ambulance for the aid agency Life Line Africa said that their agency transported up to sixty wounded people suffering from various wounds. He added that the victim include all age ranges.

The aid agency Imaan Voluntary Hospital also reported that the agency has been evacuating wounded people to this morning. Most of the victims in these fighting are civilians who are caught in the crossfire.

Posted by: b real | May 22, 2009 11:13:19 AM | 46

johnnie carson @ wednesday's hearing before the senate foreign relations committee, DEVELOPING A
COORDINATED AND SUSTAINABLE STRATEGY FOR SOMALIA

around 41 minutes into the webcast (click on blue title at link) feingold asks carson about u.s. public diplomacy efforts being made toward somalia

carson: There is no doubt that the al shabaab and others have helped to generate the distrust that some Somalis have of the United States. We're working very hard to improve our image and to give Somalis a very... a more comprehensive understanding of what the United States is doing and wants to do in Somalia. I have myself spoken to a number of media groups that have access to Somalia in order to indicate to them that our primary goal is to promote political reconciliation, peace and stability. And that our desire is to see a strong, stable Somalia that we can work with.

We continue through our public diplomacy efforts to reach out to the media, to talk to people, to issue press statements. And I certainly will take into account and consult with whether it is feasible for the secretary of state to make a statement that can be used on VOA, can be used on Al Jazeera, and other media groups in Somalia. That sounds like a good ideal and something that we should certainly consider.


feingold: I appreciate that and look forward to the results. I appreciate the efforts you describe but what I'm also talking about here, in addition to what you've said, is high-level public diplomacy. My sense is that well-timed statements and phone call and engagement from senior government officials, be it the president, secretary of state or even members of congress, could help bolster ongoing U.S. efforts in Somalia. I wrote the president about this. I spoke directly to the secretary of state about this. I spoke directly to the ambassador to the United Nations about this. Noone has given me a reason why this wouldn't be a good ideal nor suggested anything with regard to any intelligence which suggests this would be a bad ideal. I've seen nothing in my work on the intelligence committee suggesting this isn't a good idea, so I'm wondering what the holdup is in terms of reaching out to this government that is trying to stabilize Somalia that is under seige.


carson: Mr. Chairman, I think those are all good suggestions and I certainly will pursue them. But let me also say that we are in contact with president Sheikh Sharif's government, have reassured him of our support, we have then underlined this to others. Our ambassador in Nairobi, Mike Ranneberger, has been in regular contact with Sheikh Sharif.

to borrow one of carson's favorite words here, certainly feingold has to know the cia is driving the united state's "somalia strategy"

Posted by: b real | May 22, 2009 12:33:28 PM | 47

in this ringing endorsement of the somali president, we find out that the u.s. assistant secretary of african affairs does not even know the country

carson, starting @ 51:16 in

uh, Sheikh Sharif was, uh, uh, elected as the president of, uh, Somaliland, uh, through the Djibouti process. Uh, we think that we was a compromise, uh, candidate, uh, who represented, uh, the views of the largest number of clan participants, uh, in that uh, in that uh, election. Uh, we think that he offers the, uh, best chance for, uh, possible reconciliation and peace in Somalia, uh, that we have seen over the, uh.. over the last decade. Uh, he is not, uh, a, uh, warlord. uh, he is not, uh, a milita man. Uh, he is, uh, from a rather humble background. Uh, an educator. Uh, and is a man who has sought, uh, to, uh, unite, uh, the various clans, uh, in Somalia in a more inclusive, uh, government. Uh, we believe that is important to do as much as we possibly can to support this T-F-G government, uh, as one of the, uh, last opportunities, uh, for, uh, bringing about, sta.. stability, uh, in that country.

too funny. the u.s. flew in that "largest number of clan participants" specifically for that very reason. and someone might want to point out this well-known picture to the guy

carson could very well make jendayi frazer come across as an eloquent speaker in this role

Posted by: b real | May 22, 2009 1:15:11 PM | 48

by aligning w/ the warlords, sheikh sharif's TFG2 is shooting itself in the foot in terms of galvanizing public support in the face of collapse. it was, after all, sheikh sharif as co-chair of the ICU in 2006 that rose to popular power exactly by defeating many of these very same warlords. warlords who were in the pay of the cia under the cynical title of the "alliance for the restoration of peace and counterterrorism".

it was bad enough, in the eyes of many somalis, that sheikh sharif partnered w/ occupying ethiopia & the united states, allowing himself to be used to divide the islamists & put a 'moderate' visage on the externally-imposed TFG, constitution & continuation of the 4.5 formula.

partnering w/ the warlords may buy him some time, but it will also quickly boost support for the islamist revolution.

25 killed in Somalia government offensive against insurgents

MOGADISHU, Somalia May 22 (Garowe Online) - At least 25 people were killed in Friday clashes after Somali government forces attacked Islamist insurgents in the capital Mogadishu, Radio Garowe reports.

More than 90 people were wounded as fighting raged on several fronts, with Somali Defense Minister Mohamed Abdi Gandi saying government forces retook control of insurgent strongholds.

"We [government] started the fighting and we intend to defend the Somali people…we were forced to fight as there was no other alternative," the Defense Minister said in Mogadishu.

But Sheikh Ali "Dheere" Mohamud, the newly appointed spokesman for Al Shabaab hardliners, rejected the government's claim and stated that the insurgents remain in control of their strongholds.

Witnesses said government forces were "sitting at the edge of Bakara Market," the country's largest marketplace and the notorious stronghold of the Islamist insurgency since 2007. Bakara businesses remained shut as the fighting continued, witnesses added.

Mr. Muse Arale, a spokesman for the anti-government Hizbul Islam faction, told reporters that the attack on Bakara was "pre-planned and intended to loot the market."

"The former warlords [of Mogadishu] are leading the war," Mr. Arale alleged. Earlier this week, a senior government official met with ex-Mogadishu warlords to discuss the war effort.

Posted by: b real | May 23, 2009 12:54:33 AM | 49

Posted by: b real | May 23, 2009 2:16:48 AM | 50

@b real - I find your coverage of Somalia and the other stories you cover invaluable. I'm following these events in the Niger Delta, and will try to share some of the information as I am able.
I'm not able to submit comments from home in this past week. It may be my older Macs that are the problem. When I press Post, I get an error message that seems to think the message is empty, if I'm reading it correctly.

Niger Delta -
It is looking like an all out war on the Ijaw in the Chanomi Creeks area, between Warri and the sea. The JTF even attacked militants in Warri, closing businesses and sending people running for cover. The filmmakers of hear this from their contacts:
___

According to first-hand accounts by village residents, the JTF used gunboats and helicopters to fire on villages, with women and children among the estimated 500 casualties. Some were killed while fishing in canoes. Residents fled in terror into the bush. The villages are now deserted and as many as 30,000 civilians are displaced without adequate food or water supply.

There is no way to accurately report on the number of casualties, as aid agencies have not been able to get into the region. This leaves the injured without medical attention, as there are no hospitals in the area. It is reported that the JTF has closed the waterways, barring outside access and preventing villagers from traveling and fishing.

There is a tragic history of Niger Delta civilian communities being targeted by the Nigerian military. In 1999, Odi, a community of 5,000 was wiped out completely � all residents were killed and the village was razed. In 2005, Odioma suffered a similar fate, as did the village of Agge in 2008.


___

Ijaw elders and leaders issued the statement The Systematic Destruction of the Ijaw including:
___

b) The burning, destruction, complete razing of Okerenkoko, Oporoza, Kunukunuma, Peretorukorigbene, Kurutie and many other communities and the killing and maiming of innocent people including women and children amount to systemic annihilation of an ethnic race and this is simply genocide. It therefore deserves international condemnation.

d) The Ijaw ethnic nation contributes more than 70% of Nigeria’s wealth. We appear to be a people who have become victims of our own wealth by the use of sophisticated military hardware bought with our own petro-naira to kill our people.

e) It is indeed criminal, unjustified, inconsiderate and callous to declare full military operations on communities in the guise of undertaking a search and rescue mission for hostages and missing personnel whereas it is common knowledge that hostages and hijacked vessels are secured within the precinct of militant camps and not villages inhabited by innocent people. This is nothing but a deeply contemplated systemic killing of the Ijaw people in furtherance of the age-long crave by sections of this country to either forcefully relocate us or make the Ijaw identity extinct in the Nigerian map with a view to taking over full possession of our natural resources.

f) The Ijaw ethnic nation appeals to the United Nations Organisation to set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding this latest assault and killing of hapless and innocent people since we do not foresee the possibility of justice from a Nigerian government commissioned inquiry.


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And there is also: Niger Delta Women call for an end to genocide
___

PRESS STATEMENT – May19, 2009 STOP THE GENOCIDE IN DELTA STATE: THE CRY OF NIGER DELTA WOMEN

We, the women of the Niger Delta have noted with dismay the horrifying act of genocide meted out to innocent indigenes and inhabitants of Gbaramatu kingdom in Delta State by operatives of the Joint Task Force. This is happening despite repeated declaration by the Yar’adua government of its good intentions to address the issues and the neglect of the Niger Delta people. By this action, it has been revealed that the President feigned his sympathy for the Niger Delta problems with his much acclaimed 7-point agenda, the setting up of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta as well as the establishment of the Ministry for the Niger Delta. But the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Umar Musa Yar’dua could not pretend for long too. Perhaps, he could have been labeled a rebel to deviate from the path towed by previous administrations, especially the Obasanjo administration that ordered the razing down of Odi, a Niger Delta community, in 1999.

Thus, the Yar’adua administration has manufactured its own excuse for a greater massacre of Niger Delta women and children under the guise of fishing out militants. Beginning Wednesday, May 13, 2009 the Joint Task Force has been bombing Kurutie, Kokodiagbene, Kunukunuma, Oporoaza and Okerenkoko communities in Gbaramatu kingdom of Delta State, killing innocent persons, majority of them, women and children. Many more persons are rendered homeless; the Punch of Monday, May 18, 2009 reported that about 20,000 people are trapped in these riverine communities because the waterways are blocked by the JTF.

The displaced persons who took refuge in the Ogbe-Ijoh General Hospital were further made to flee the camp due to the invasion by soldiers from the Joint Task Force. As at Tuesday, May 19, 2009, the soldiers proceeded to carry out a house to house gruesome burning of persons and properties Okerenkoko community. The implication is that the re-branding Nigeria project has succeeded in rebranding everyone in the Niger Delta militants, including women, children, governors, aged, kings, chiefs, physically challenged et al.

Thousands of harmless women and children have been killed while some are displaced. Schooling has been disrupted for a great majority of children in the Gbaramatu kingdom of Niger Delta; having access to food and shelter has suddenly become a luxury; safety & security is far from the people; development has become a mockery; access to sanitary facilities for the women is out of the question. Many are scrambling to safety but no thoroughfare. The cries of the Niger Delta women have re-echoed. The Federal government is the killer of women and children. Instead of giving them food, education, health and security; the women and children of the Niger Delta are given bullets, blood, grief and poverty. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?


___
The general sentiment seems to be running high on anti-militant. Though keep in mind most of the political players employ "militants" and "restless youth" as thugs and paramilitaries some of the time. Comment threads have a lot of the kill them all sentiment expressed.

The people who are getting killed are mostly the people in the villages. I read somewhere that the militants, don't know which group, were threatening to come after the Northern big men who control the oil, both legal and illegal. And they did say they would come after the JTF soldiers' families as well. Of course it is not just the Northerners who are involved in the illegal oil cartels. Some of the governors in the south are deeply involved.

Posted by: xcroc | May 23, 2009 12:51:46 PM | 51

Apologies for all the bold in #51, that was an accident, I'm not quite sure how it happened.

Posted by: xcroc | May 23, 2009 12:54:02 PM | 52

(I did not put any bolding html in this comment, but the preview is showing the entire comment as bold. I've tried a bunch of things to undo this but none worked, so I'm publishing it as is, and again, apologies for the bolding, it is not intentional.)

Nigeria is currently engaged in a rebranding effort, to try and attract tourism to Nigeria. As the Niger Delta Women say, quoted in #51 above: "… the re-branding Nigeria project has succeeded in rebranding everyone in the Niger Delta militants, including women, children, governors, aged, kings, chiefs, physically challenged et al". Despite all the destruction, there is not much evidence that the JTF has laid a glove on the actual militants. There were extravagant claims of high tech weaponry that they seized from Camp 5 and Iroko. But they made a display of what they seized that was pictured in Punch by Sola Adebayo who also quoted from the House of Representatives:
___


… the Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Alhaji Bala N’Allah, observed that the House had the constitutional responsibility of ensuring that there was peace, order and good governance in every part of the country.
N’Allah disagreed with opinions comparing the development in the region to an insurrection, saying that it was “clear criminality of the highest order.”
Arguing that the rest of Nigeria had been tolerant with the militants, he remarked that “for the survival of 100 million Nigerians, we can do away with 20 million.”
___

In the story linked below there was a followup to this comment:
___

There was tension and proceedings of the House were stalled for at least five minutes before N’Allah in a veiled retraction said it was a “parliamentary joke”.
___

N’Delta Crisis: House Backs Military Action
•JTF rescues more hostages, declares militant leader, Tompolo, wanted
From Onwuka Nzeshi in Abuja and Segun James in Warri, 05.22.2009
___

Journalists were surprised that no arrests were made during the JTF operation, a situation which gives the suspicion that every moving object in the area was killed by the invading soldiers.
The military paraded what they claimed were the weapons of the militants.
Journalists were shown rusted dane guns, normally used for hunting, unserviceable collection of old guns and dirty old machetes.
It would appear that the militants’ armoury was not as sophisticated as been claimed by the JTF.
No AK47 weapon, said to be the weapon of choice of the militants, was captured by the JTF, even though several militants have been said to have died in gun battle with the soldiers.
Bello refused to name the number of persons killed so far by his man, but declared that they were prepared to kill more, while also pursuing the militants to wherever they were known to hide.
Bello’s declaration followed persistent questions from journalists over the handling of the operation by the JTF whose soldiers invaded the Ogbe-Ijoh General Hospital to harass and arrest doctors who were treating victims of the military attack on communities in Gbaramatu kingdom area of Warri.
The action of the soldiers forced the management of the hospital to close down and discharge all the patients.
The commander denied knowledge of the hospital invasion, but promised that such would not repeat itself.
___

Tompolo is still free. Supposedly the JTF captured 9 militants in Warri, but:
___

The JTF, however, failed to parade the suspects before newsmen when the Commander, Maj. Gen. Sakin Yakin Bello, addressed the world press on the activities of his command in the last one week.
Abubakar said the arrested men are “to assist the force in carrying out investigations to determine the level of their involvement in the militancy in the Niger Delta”.
In a twist, Bello declared High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) wanted dead or alive – a week after the reports claimed the militant leader had been killed.
___

Sola Adebayo has been doing terrific work covering this story from Warri for the Punch. This is his latest from today.
___
N’Delta : We have lost over 2,000 persons – Gbaramatu Kingdom
By Sola Adebayo, Warri
Published: Saturday, 23 May 2009

The people of war-ravaged Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State on Friday counted their losses arising from the seven-day military operation in the area.

A prominent leader of the area, Chief Bello Oboko, told Saturday Punch that more than 2,000 indigenes of the various communities in the kingdom had been killed in the past seven days.

Oboko, who held a traditional title of Telemowei of Gbaramatu Kingdom, said many communities in the kingdom, including Oporoza, the ancestral headquarters of the clan, Okerenkoko, Kunukunuma, Kokodiagbene and Ibafa had been razed by the rampaging soldiers of the Joint Task Force.

President Umaru Yar‘Adua had ordered a military operation in the area to apprehend some militants suspected to have murdered 12 members of Joint Task Force, including a Lt. Colonelon April 13. Yar‘Adua had ordered that the killers of the military personnel must be found dead or alive.

Consequently, the authorities of JTF on receiving the presidential order from the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike, swung into action by mobilising 15 gunboats, two warships and two jet bombers to overrun the militants‘ camps and comb the Gbaramatu communities.

Already, two militant camps operated by Chief Government Ekpomukpolo, popularly known as Tompolo, have been seized by the federal troop, who also launched premeditated attacks on the communities close to the outlawed militant hideouts.

However, Oboko in the interview with our correspondent said the military operation was ”more than a colossal massacre and genocide, adding that dead bodies counted in the various communities indicated that over 2,000 persons had been killed during the raid in the area by the federal troops.”

He identified the deceased mostly as innocent aged men and women as well as children and women.

He said his 90 year-old mother, who resided in Oporoza was yet to be found, adding that the old woman was partially blind before the invasion of the community last Friday.

Oboko said it was presumed that his mother was among the dead.
According to him, the soldiers first invaded Oporoza on Friday, May 15, when indigenes of the Gbaramatu communities within and outside the country had converged on the community for a festival.

”The military suddenly arrived with jet bombers, warships and many gunboats. They fired shots indiscriminately, throwing bombs and grenades here and there. In the process, many persons were killed.
”The operation later continued in our various communities, particularly, Okerenkoko, Kunukunuma, Kokodiagbene and Ibafa, where they killed many innocent residents under the pretence of searching for some militants and weapons.

”We are still counting the dead bodies but we have over 2,000 persons dead in the communities for now. We have not been allowed access to the bushes and forest to fish out dead bodies by the JTF .
”Many injured persons who managed to escape into the bushes and forests were reported to have died because of lack of medical aid.
”The whole of my clan, we have not seen anybody, including my 90-year old mother, who could not see properly. Many families are looking for their beloved ones in all our communities. It is likely that casualty rate would escalate.

”Our losses also included various communities that have been burnt. Many choice buildings in the communities were razed and looted by the soldiers.

”We still have a situation in which soldiers went after innocent persons who were injured and being treated in the hospitals. The medical personnel were forced to abandon the patients, especially in Okerenkoko where they were accused of treating militants.”
Oboko also spoke on the wanted Tompolo, adding that contrary to the position of the military and the Federal government that the notable militant was a peace ambassador of the Federal and Delta State governments as well as oil majors in the creeks and waterways of the Niger Delta.
He said, ”The Federal and Delta State governments as well as JTF and the oil companies have used the same Tompolo to cleanse the waterways. He is an agent of peace, who has helped them in arresting sea pirates and criminals along the waterways. He (Tompolo) was instrumental to the arrest of one John Kpoko, who was disturbing the peace along the waterways. He did that on the prompting of the governments and their agencies.
”They have used Gbaramatu people to cleanse the waterways many times. The same Tompolo they have declared wanted is the kingpin of the Delta Waterways Security Committee which has helped the government of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to achieve peace in the state.
Oboko said, ”The way forward is for us to go back to the peace process initiated by Governor Uduaghan. Reconciliation is a process and we must revert to dialogue.”

The JTF Commander, Bello, also admitted in an interview with Saturday Punch that many people had lost their lives in the operation, adding that he was not aware if innocent persons were involved.
Bello said he could not determine the actual casualty figure.
He said,”I can confirm that many have died but they are so called militants and criminals who engaged our personnel in gun duel. If an innocent person find his way into Iroko Camp and Camp 5, which we attack, I wish such a person the best of luck. No innocent person will be targeted in this operation because we are building data and sorting out data.

”We did not kill anybody in the communities. We only carried out cordon and search operation for arms and militants in the communities.”
However, fresh fears gripped coastal communities in Niger Delta on Friday following reports that the JTF was planning to raid parts of Bayelsa and Ondo States in search of the fleeing militants and arms and ammunition in wrong hands.
___


Posted by: xcroc | May 23, 2009 3:53:21 PM | 53

test un-bold fix

Posted by: b real | May 23, 2009 4:04:21 PM | 54

test closing open <strong> tag

Posted by: b real | May 24, 2009 1:56:27 AM | 55

again

Posted by: b real | May 24, 2009 1:57:44 AM | 56

what to make of this image from the slideshow attached to jeffrey garbageman's latest NYT article from somalia.. it supposedly shows a member of the sufi milita group ahlu sunnah wal jama kneeling over an open koran rested atop an AK47 w/ a playboy strap. from what i've read in somali media, ahlu sunnah wal jama is one of the proxies that ethiopia set up to divide the islamists as they began making plans to pull out. ethiopia itself was acting as a proxy for western powers, though it does have its own particular interests in preventing a legitimate ruling power in somalia. they could also be funded by the cia as part of the somali awakening mvmt to counter the perceived threat of al-qa'idah influences in the region.

in a historical context, colonialists occasionally pitted sufi against salafist for thier own agenda. garbageman omits any mentions of this in his piece. hardly surprising, given his track record.

so who is more likely to ship an AK47 w/ a playboy strap to a sufi militia? ethiopia or the cia?

Posted by: b real | May 24, 2009 1:59:16 AM | 57

sounds like the TFG2's offensive, just like those of the TFG before it, did not turn out so well for either themselves or hundreds of people still in mogadishu

garowe online: [More than] 45 people killed in single-day Mogadishu violence

MOGADISHU, Somalia May 23 (Garowe Online) - The death toll from street battles in Somalia's war-torn capital Mogadishu has reached at least 45 deaths, with locals fearful of renewed clashes between government forces and insurgents, Radio Garowe reports.

Spokesmen for the government and the insurgents have declared conflicting statements on Mogadishu media, with a government military officer claiming government security forces "retreated from captured positions" as part of a military tactic.

"We have pushed back our [government] forces from captured positions…but that does not mean the war is over," said a military officer identified only as Col. Farhan.

He indicated that the Somali interim government was "intends to use force to expel the armed opposition" and to secure Mogadishu.

But a spokesman for the anti-government Hizbul Islam faction rejected the government's claim, telling reporters that Islamist rebels now "control new areas."

"We defeated the Djibouti Group [the government] and we are not ready for war but we were attacked and we defended ourselves," said Muse Arale, spokesman for Hizbul Islam.

...

The acting chairman of Mogadishu-based human rights group Elman, Mr. Ali "Fadhaa" Sheikh Yasin, told reporters Saturday that 234 people were killed or wounded during yesterday's fierce clashes.

"We have counted 53 deaths and 181 wounded persons, according to information collected from witnesses and hospitals," Mr. Ali Fadhaa.

He urged the warring sides to stop the violence, while declaring that "fighting among civilians is a war crime."

On Saturday afternoon, there were reports of bombardment as government forces and insurgents exchanged mortar shells in parts of Mogadishu, including explosions at Bakara Market.

Local radio stations reported three deaths and more than 10 wounded, although the reports could not be independently confirmed.

afp: Terrified residents flee Somali capital

Most killed in Friday's exchanges were civilians trapped in the crossfire or claimed by mortars. As soon as things calmed down many inhabitants packed up and left Mogadishu, some on horse carts heading to camps outside the city.

"The city is quiet this (Saturday) morning and many people are fleeing to avoid upcoming attacks, I think the government is planning a further offensive," said Somali police officer Colonel Mohamed Adan.

A witness, Abdulahi Warsameh, corroborated his information, saying, "Many residents have emptied their houses in (the) Wardhigley (district) because they fear new clashes."

Posted by: b real | May 24, 2009 2:26:30 AM | 58


a bridge too far may have been crossed in the creeks of the niger delta. There may be no going back after this. And its probably still a few years away before it resolves -- the hard way.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 24, 2009 2:49:58 AM | 59

Suicide bomber kills 10 in Mogadishu, incl. six soldiers

MOGADISHU, Somalia May 24 (Garowe Online) - At least 10 people were killed Sunday including six government soldiers in the Somali capital Mogadishu when a suicide bomber targeted a military installation, Radio Garowe reports.

The suicide bomber drove a Toyota truck laced with explosives into the military installation, killing six soldiers and three civilian bystanders, military officials said.

"Six of our soldiers were killed by the suicide bombing including the soldier who shot the suicide bomber," said Col. Osman Abdullahi "Agey," commander of the military facility that was attacked.

At least nine people including four soldiers were wounded by the blast, which occurred in Hamar Jajab district of central Mogadishu but the blast was heard across town.

The wounded soldiers were being treated at a private hospital operated by the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM), which maintains a major base at Mogadishu's Aden Adde International Airport.

...

Mr. Abdifatah Shaweye, the young deputy mayor of Mogadishu, told reporters that Al Shabaab insurgents are responsible for the suicide bombing.

"The [suicide] bomber was white skinned and was not a national of this country [Somalia]," Mr. Shaweye said, adding that the government will present its findings after the ongoing investigation is completed.

No group has publicly claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Al Shabaab insurgents have claimed responsibility for previous suicide bombings in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia.

Posted by: b real | May 24, 2009 1:44:22 PM | 60

thanks for those updates, xcroc

- - - -

did he have a script in his pouch?

UN envoy visits Somali capital

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network) — UN’s special representative for Somalia Ahmedou Ould Abdalla has arrived Somali capital Mogadishu for unannounced visit, an official told Shabelle radio on Monday.

It is the first trip that the UN envoy for Somalia comes to Mogadishu since Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed was elected as president in Djibouti.

The information minister of the Somali government Farhan Ali Mohamoud said that the UN's special envoy for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah came to Mogadishu and met Somali president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed in the presidential palace.

The envoy has reportedly returned back to Nairobi immediately with out [anyone] noticing.

It is not known what president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed and the UN's special envoy for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah talked about their meeting.

Foreign fighters in Somalia are 'international criminals': President

MOGADISHU, Somalia May 25 (Garowe Online) - The president of Somalia's interim government, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, told a Monday press conference in the capital Mogadishu that foreign fighters in the Horn of Africa country are 'international criminals,' Radio Garowe reports.

"Somalia has been invaded by foreign fighters, who are using Somali factions and their objective is to keep the country in chaos and to hide international criminals," President Sheikh Sharif told reporters at the Villa Somalia presidential compound.

...

"The [Somali] government has decided to defend the honor of the country and the people…we will fight those who oppose governance and those who promote chaos," President Sheikh Sharif said, in some of his most heated comments since being elected in January.

...

He specifically addressed a recent decision by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to place sanctions on Eritrea, which is often accused arming Somali insurgents.

"It was the correct decision and the world must support it," said President Sheikh Sharif, who fled to Eritrea in 2007 after Ethiopian troops intervened in south-central Somalia to oust the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) movement, led by Sheikh Sharif at the time.

Speaking about the 4,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force (AMISOM), the President said: "AMISOM is here [in Mogadishu] legally and they will leave when they ensure the safety of the Somali people."

He noted that African peacekeepers are serving in Somalia "to help a fellow African country," while underscoring that AMISOM peacekeepers will defend the Somali government if attacked.

President calls for the International community to defend Somalia from “enemies”

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)—Somalia’s president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed has called Monday for the international community and the Somali people to defend Somalia what he called for foreigners that invaded Somalia.

“I would like to tell the world and the Somali people that there are foreigners in the country who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and want to make Somalia like those countries,” said president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed.

- - -

Al-Shabab claims responsibility of suicide attack

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)—Al-Shabab has claimed the responsibility of the suicide attack which killed two government soldiers and wounded seven others in Mogadishu on Sunday.

A suicide bomber targeted Somali military camp near Mogadishu port on Sunday.

Sheik Hussein Ali fidow, the head of policy and regions of al-Shabab who held a press conference said their organization was behind the suicide attack.

Sheik Hussein denied that the attacker was a foreigner and described the name of the attacker as Abdulkadir Hassan Mohamed and added that he was a young Somali man.

the garowe online rpt says that fidow stated that abdulkadir hassan mohamed "atir was born in medina district of mogadishu". you may recall that in an earlier suicide attack on AMISOM forces a govt official claimed that they had recovered the hand of that bomber which led him to speculate to reporters "i think it was an arab hand."

Posted by: b real | May 25, 2009 5:27:41 PM | 61

hiiraan online: Somalia President Requests Assistance from the International Community

...

“Unfortunately, however, there are some who are bent on the perpetuation of chaos and war and take orders from foreign entities and continue to de-stabilize the country” said the President who also for the first time directly asked the international community and Somalis to support his government to defend itself.

“I call on the Somali people and the international community to come to the defence of the country against foreign invaders” said the President who added that foreigners who invaded the country want to make Somalia like Iraq and Afghanistan. “We know how these groups devastated the countries they have gone to” added the President.

The President said that his government will assume responsibility to liberate Somalia from foreign invaders and that he is confident that the Somali people will not allow these invaders to fight along Somali groups who do not understand the interest of Somalis.

...

The President said that his government welcomes the “liberation wars” currently going on in the country’s central regions such as Galgadud, Hiiraan, and Middle Shabele. He called those wars noble efforts in which the Somali people are liberating themselves from those who invaded them”.
...

The President concluded his remarks by welcoming the recent declarations by IGAD and the AU to blockade air and sea ports controlled by insurgents.

cnn: Somali president calls for help in battling Islamist militias

Speaking at a news conference in Somalia's capital city, Mogadishu, Ahmed called several times for international help in fighting foreign militants whom he claims are the same fighters who have fought the "international community" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Wherever they come, they fuel violence," the president said. "The Somali people cannot and should not accept that their countries should be a launching pad for these militants to attack."

Ahmed told local journalists that he feared these foreign fighters would turn Somalia into another Iraq or Afghanistan, where U.S.-led forces are fighting Islamic extremist groups.

Posted by: b real | May 25, 2009 5:39:56 PM | 62

a very informative commentary @ mareeg online, which i am reposting in full

Sh Sharif needs to work his own exit strategy-opinion

The recent clashes between opposition groups and TFG forces was not a sudden but something that was boiling to the point where it is now, after months of threats and assassination by Ethiopian agents in Mogadishu peace was disappearing by the hour, Sh Sharif has not give much chance to peace. Having been in the ceremonial position for little more than three months, the position which had been the worst and hardest fought presidential seat in any nation on earth, the Sheikh Sharif Ahmed of Somalia now facing the worst challenges in his entire life. Sh Sharif himself has not fought for this position and spent less in terms of man and money, but simply was handed down to him by Ahmed Ould Abdallah the UN envoy for Somalia.

The recent clashes between opposition groups and TFG forces was not a sudden but something that was boiling to the point where it is now, after months of threats and assassination by Ethiopian agents in Mogadishu peace was disappearing by the hour, Sh Sharif has not give much chance to peace. Having been in the ceremonial position for little more than three months, the position which had been the worst and hardest fought presidential seat in any nation on earth, the Sheikh Sharif Ahmed of Somalia now facing the worst challenges in his entire life. Sh Sharif himself has not fought for this position and spent less in terms of man and money, but simply was handed down to him by Ahmed Ould Abdallah the UN envoy for Somalia.

How he got there?

Sh Sharif government is the fruit of one of the disgruntle UN and IGAD and perhaps the outcome of the 14th reconciliation. Previous failed government including Sh Sharif were all the architect by Ethiopians, Kenyans and Djibouti. Though Djibouti wants to balance the influence of Ethiopian-Kenya anti Muslim agendas, but does not have long reach beyond Mogadishu, unlike Ethiopians which enjoy good relationship with Somaliland and Puntland regional government something that Djibouti lost to win over them. Previous government led by Ali Mahdi in early 1990’s and Abdulqasim Salat in early 2000’s were got rid off by Ethiopian supported warlords and did not go beyond Km4 junction in Mogadishu. Ethiopia never tried to have a Somalian government established in its country, but hosted various opposition meetings only, however, its strategy had worked well in Eldoret and Embaghati reconciliation conference which attend about 24 warlords who directly had the support of Meles Zenawi and he easily picked who has to lead the country, and his choice became his long ally Abdullahi Yusuf.

Djibouti walked away from that conference and the conference was idled for over six months because of IGAD conflicts, the walk out of Djibouti and Eritrea. Since then Djibouti never recognized Abdullahi Yusuf government officially and indirectly supported the Islamic Courts Union in order to avenge for its turn against the Ethiopian orchestrated government. When Ethiopians rooted out the ICU, Djibouti never that it can assemble another opposition group and it got what it wanted, it tapped the ICU and former TFG parliamentarians who had clashed with Abdullahi Yusuf’ policy based in Asmara, Eritrea. Djibouti used Ould Abdallah influence to host the conference and offered Asmara based group to relocate in Djibouti, what would have been the dying days of Abdullahi Yusuf. Ethiopia and Mr Yusuf was furious about the Djibouti and Ould Abdallah initiatives and undermined their war against ICU, both had rejected money times the outcome of Djibouti until the US has entered the foray in a 50/50 position one way supporting pro-Ethiopians parliamentarians and another opposing how much would the ICU will take.

Sh Sharif was picked long before the conclusion of Djibouti meeting and was told to salute his sub-master Meles and disassociate himself from opposition group and to soften his stance of Somali peace and reconciliation, as well Ogadenia blights and most importantly Ethiopian crimes committed in Somalia from 2006. He firmly agreed those conditions because had no choice to balance his political needs and demands from the West’s in particular the US.

Yusuf has bagged his bags from Baidoa, the former transitional seat of TNG and he fled to Yemen. The Ethiopians and the US told secretly the speaker of parliament Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nuur to stand for president and ignore the outcome of Djibouti. Few weeks he was calling the parliament to convene for election session in Baidoa not in Djibouti, the pro-Ethiopians were nervous and knew nothing where to head. UN and AL told Sh Adan to head Djibouti and to attend the Arab conference in Kuwait, something that anti-Ethiopian Arab League wants to see Somali politician who can make decision without presence of Ethiopians. Few days later Sh Adan left for Kuwait and met large Arab delegation and was pressed to accept the demand of Ould Abdallah who also was present at the meeting. Sh Adan has been reported that if he accepts the condition his position will be untouched and will be rewarded financially, which he did without hesitating it, putting the Ethiopian pot to boil hotter than before. That was the end of between Ethiopia and Sh Adan era, which they supported him since 1995 when he was member of Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA), he was their most trusted figure in Somali political theater second to Mohamed Dhere.

He called all pro-Ethiopian MP to head Djibouti to line-up behind Sh Sharif and all went the way Djibouti wanted and Ould waste no time calling the missing and importantly figure like Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, Sheikh Hassan Turki and Sheikh Muqtar Robow (Abu Mansur). Mr Ould made no contact to these politically and militarily important to Somali stability and long term solution to participate the reconciliation because he was heading to the demands of Ethiopians and US since they were on the so-called "US terrorist lists". Even large presidential contenders and attendees surprised who the Djibouti saga was hastily concluded without taking what would be the consequence which is evident today in Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia was the outcome of Djibouti.

Ould Abdallah never visited Mogadishu and south Somali and has no idea how Somali got into this mess and how to get out, he treated the Somali conflict like the Rwanda which is contrary to what the Somali people been living in the past 20 years of the Ethiopian and US horrors.

Where are the things now heading to?

Sh Sharif and his indiscipline TFG forces trained and fed by Ethiopians and CIA has been cornered and they are in their last days. In the last two weeks we have seen the kind of government that Sh Sharif is heading, weak, pro-Ethiopians, liars and murdering and shelling the civilians with the help of so-called AMISOM the US proxy forces in Somali. Sh Sharif gives war orders his military officers who are weary of his style and political approach to the conflict. Some of these military officers work for Ethiopia and had been in the CIA payroll in the last five years.

After they have been run-out by the Opposition, Sh Sharif has been told to consult with pro-Ethiopian warlords such as Muse Sudi, Mohamed Dhere, Salad A Jelle, Qanyare Afrah, Osman Atto, Dabaged, Bare Hiiraale and dozens more. They were fling in from Nairobi and Addis Ababa and held meeting in Mogadishu, and the next day they participated his war against his former allies. He did what he has been told, he now financing these folks to regroup their sub-clan militias to confront the opposition and he also remain silent the arriving Ethiopian forces in Bakool and Hiiraan regions. He has lost all supports from his good friends and the Hawiye elders and Somalis at large, though found new friends in Addis Ababa and Nairobi.

Sh Sharif government led by Omar Abdulrashid Sharmarke is full of pro-Ethiopia and Abdullahi Yusuf group, they are there to undermine his authority which they already maximased his political career. His PM Sharmarke has even joked when the parliament passed the Islamic Sharia, he said "we are not cutting thief’s hands but we will interpret differently" which is contrary to the Islamic Sharia. The people of Somalia dismayed by his PM remarks, the debacle has been continuing in the last few months, the security minister was waging war through the media against the Opposition, the justice minister added his voice calling war and labelling the Opposition as terrorist and accusing regions of Rahanwein and Daroods as terrorist regions and waging war against his Hawiye clan, the foray continued until last minute when the Opposition said enough is enough and encircled the Sharif government.

AMISOM joined the clash and bombarded indiscriminately in the civilian population areas and killing scores of people. There are also reports that they directly participated as they were deployed in KM4 road to African Village. This is contrary to their rubbish mandate which says that they are in there to protect Sh Sharif government and peace-keeping. One would wonder what kind of peace they are keeping, since they are part of the war.

Now there is now opportunity for negotiation, and never been in the last few months, Sh Sharif was busy in foreign capitals while Ethiopian agents was dismantling his government, when settle in after he won few million dollar hard fought cash from EU and AL, he came to face the music, money only not man, similar to what Abdulqasim Salat happen. His forces are disappearing in daily basis, he has been made by false promises by pro-Ethiopian agents by providing troops to weight in the threats of Opposition, however, they just sucked his money and simply disappeared, catch me if you can!

Ethiopians now arming the warlords in border of Hiiran, Gedo and Bakool and it wants them to overtake the towns controlled by Opposition group and later on to press Sh Sharif to give up his position since he does not control any more territory.

What is best option for him now?

Abdulqasim had done it what I am proposing he took whatever he can cash in and run away, similar to Ali Mohamed Gedi and Abdulahi Yusuf. They haven’t left with dignity but shame and disgracefulness, because they bowed to the Ethiopian and anti-Somali demands and they were never faithful to their country, religion and people. Sharif still has some respect within Somali community, however, this was not a gift but he has earned because in the years when he was ICU chairman and his willingness to end to end Somali conflicts by way of reconciliation and persuasion, however, there had been obstacles that neither his government nor himself can remove those obstacles. This requires national unity not the ramshackle that Mr Ould assembled in Djibouti in order to prolong the suffering of Somali people, while our neighboring country are striving for peace and prosperity.

US and Ethiopians wants him to become Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, who cannot say a word when US drones kills thousands of Afghani children and mother, Somali cannot afford another Hamid Karzai, we have seen Abdullahi Yusuf, and that is enough.

He is a religious person and he is one of the highest among the people only if he maintains his Islamic identity and values and refuses to collaborate those wants to harm Islam and the Muslim. Given what he has been saying in the past few months and his characters, he is more or less collaborated with foreign demands which damaged in some degree damaged his reputation, but has not reach the point of his predecessor. The majority of Somalia can defend him if they would have elected him officially or through acceptable channel, not through US-Ethiopia agendas. Now his opposition groups has genuine reason to be given their turn ruling Somalia, they now control most of the country, they brought law and order in the area they control and the crimes have fallen to almost zero, while the Ethiopian trained polices and military in Mogadishu illegally set road blocks and abducting innocent civilians for ransom. The opposition are gaining momentum by the day, they outnumber the evil forces of AMISOM and those Ethiopian agents, their call for Islamic Sharia is more genuine than Sharif’s call because his own prime minister has defied him along other his incompetent ministers in his government including the one who signed our sea to Kenya.

Western and our neighboring governments do not want us to become strong nation that depends its own people and leaders, they wants us to beg through NGO’s, flee our youth from the country and risks their lives in seas, our children to die for malnutrition, out lives stock to die for diseases, our fisherman’s to be hunted because of few bad guys, our mothers to die without care, our children to grow without education and hope and our religious scholars to kill each other, our business people to be harassed in international airports and our building to remain in ruins. If Sharif has any dignity left in his heart, I’ll ask him to bow the demand of the opposition groups and resign in order to save what is left in Somalia. I believe they would listened to him directly if he choose, but if he continue the US policy of containment and isolation he will probably has few days to survive the onslaught of opposition groups, if their demand is only a national reconciliation in which they would establish a unity government which all Somali people participate without fear of reprisals from the enemy and the same time gather majority of Somali support, I don’t see that will harm to none of us.

I have strong believe that even Opposition would not oppose any commercial deals with Ethiopia if serves our interest, however, this depends restoring our leadership and government foundation, the only way now to restore such government is to have a new government established by our own people, supported by our own people and funded by our own people. As many times stated by the opposition group they are not opposed Sh Sharif personally but his political ideas which is guided through Ethiopia strategy, if they let him to lead two years ago as ICU executive leader, I do have strong believe that still there are chance for improving their relationship, because he still a figure that can have some input how things should be solved and can still rejoin his former allies in their struggle against our historical and dangerous enemy to our existence.

If he cannot work with them just he has to resign and walk away, then he will not be responsible the continuing misery of Somalia, the opposition group will be held accountable if they cannot achieve the mandate that the public will give them, including dealing with Addis Ababa dictator and bring back the dignity of Somalia, including restoring Somali image in abroad. Together we can achieve this if we throw the foreign influence in our conflict. Let us not wait for AU, IGAD, Zenawi and CIA to decide what type of government we can have and what we can't.

Ahmed Al-Ibrahim

unfortunately, today's press conference shows that sheikh sharif is playing along as things move to the next level of international intervention

Posted by: b real | May 25, 2009 6:03:46 PM | 63

Earlier today I finally had time to catch up on this thread and tried to post a comment that got eaten somehow.

But thanks so much, b real, for the updates on something evolving into yet another depressing, U.S.-manipulated disaster that is getting virtually no domestic news coverage.

Thanks to xcroc too, for the Nigeria reporting.

Posted by: Maxcrat | May 25, 2009 8:56:20 PM | 64

Sheik Aweys takes over chairmanship of Insurgent group

MOGADISHU (Mareeg)—The leader of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys has taken over the leadership of Hisbul Islam Insurgent group on Tuesday.

Dr. Omar Iman said he handed over the chairmanship of the group to Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys and added the group agreed the issue.

Sheik Aweys, who spoke to the reporters, said he accepted the leadership of Hisbul Islam and welcomed it.

It is not known the reason behind the decision of why Dr. Omar Iman handed over the power of the Insurgent group.

Posted by: b real | May 26, 2009 10:27:18 AM | 65

Here is some more info on what is going on in N'Delta.

There is a good summary of how the militancy developed in N’Delta crisis crippling oil and gas sector, including:

Mr. Kenuele Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni icon, who was put to death by the Gen. Sanni Abacha regime in 1995, in his final statement before the Ibrahim Auta tribunal on October 31, 1995, said, “I predict that a denouement of the riddle of the Niger Delta will soon come. The agenda is being set at this trial. Whether the peaceful ways favoured will prevail depends on what the oppressor decides, what signals it sends out to the waiting public.”

However, between 1995 and now, the Niger Delta agitation has taken a dangerous dimension as the youths of the region have taken to violence to resolve the Niger Delta problem rather than the peaceful path chosen by Saro Wiwa.

Olusegun Obasanjo expected to address perceived injustices in the system after he became president in 1999, worsened the matter when he ordered troops to invade Odi in Bayelsa State in retaliation for the killing of soldiers by militant groups that had started to emerge to press for resource control, shortly he took office in November 1999.

But rather than reduce militancy, the insurgency escalated with the ranks of militant groups swelling by the thousands in an attempt to force government to yield to demands of resource control and large scale developments.

Obasanjo later tried to pacify militant leaders when it was obvious that the insurgency was taking a dangerous dimension with the sabotage of oil and gas installations and resultant loss of revenue to the Federal Government.

The Obasanjo regime set up the Niger Delta Development Commission to build roads, schools, health centres and other infrastructures but the impact was not widely felt as NDDC was largely underfunded. The regime also saw the increase in oil derivation revenue to 13 per cent but most of these funds were stolen by the kleptomaniac governors that ruled in the Niger Delta during the Obasanjo years.

Indeed, the Obasanjo government lost a golden opportunity to address the Niger Delta issue through a proposed constitutional amendment that was jettisoned at the last minute due to Obasanjo’s infamous third term agenda.

The emergence of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta brought a new dimension to the campaign of sabotage as it issued orders to oil companies to vacate the oil-producing regions.

By 2006, Shell had shut down almost its entire Western operations. Chevron Western operations and Agip operations have been equally affected. Indeed, Shell had experienced a sharp production decline from one million barrels per day to an average of 380,000 barrels per day in 2008.

The Niger Delta crisis, besides being an agitation for resource control, has also provided a cover for criminals who are into different kinds of crimes. Crude oil theft has been one of the biggest crimes in the area with the crime increasing in leaps and bounds over the years. The Oil Producing Trade Section of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce puts the daily loss of the country to crude oil theft at 100,000 barrels.

The crisis is also being fueled by the theft of crude oil, which provides resources for the combatants to buy sophisticated weaponry. Kidnapping of people, which was initially started by the militants for political reasons through the abduction of expatriates, has now been hijacked by criminals, who now even kidnap children in exchange for ransom.

Also in the Punch today from Sola Adebayo, Niger Delta: 18 soldiers feared dead, eight others injured

The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Restore Hope, on Monday, said that the number of its men missing since its onslaught against militants in the Niger Delta began on May 13, 2009, had risen to 18. … Bello, however, did not give the names of the missing and the injured soldiers. One of the injured soldiers died on Sunday and had since been buried in Effurun.

According to him, bullet-riddled uniforms of one the soldiers and his service rifle were recovered from a shrine in Okerenkoko, one of the communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State.

He said there were revelations in the documents found in Camp 5 and Tompolo’s residence in Oporoza. He said the camp was operated like a normal military establishment with well-kept records of all major activities.

He said, “Our findings in the palace of the Gbaramatu king and Camp 5 were disturbing. We (JTF) gathered information on the nature of Camp 5 and secured documents and pictures of the past and present troops of the camp.

“We have the pictures of troops in the camp with guns, and we have the duty rosters and payment schedules of the troops. We saw who supplied different items to the camp and how they were paid.

“We found the roster on the number of arms and ammunition signed for various duties and posting of troops to where and when. We have many military brochures and different kinds of manuals for soldiers in training from some countries. The camp 5 is a well organised security establishment in the region.

“We are on the trail of everybody involved in all deals with the camp. We have their names from the available records in the camp and Tompolo’s house in Oporoza.”

The general said a search in a cybercafe in Oporoza showed that Tompolo was the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta.

Bello said the JTF planned to raid Odi in Bayelsa State in response to an intelligence report that an Ijaw militant, known simply as Ken was harbouring Tompolo.

He denied the reports that the troops employed maximum force in the operation, adding that the JTF did not attack individuals and communities not connected with militancy.

The Ijaw communities are being successfully terrorized. This story mentions Ondo State, but this is also reported in Bayelsa and Rivers states. In Punch N’Delta crisis: Ijaw flee riverine communities in Ondo:

Following the ongoing military onslaught against militants in the Niger Delta region, some Ijaw living in coastal areas of Ondo State have begun fleeing their communities for fear of being attacked by the men of the Joint Task Force. …

Eleitu-Uguoji who is the National Coordinator of the Ijaw Consultative Forum blamed the indiscriminate attack of civilian settlements in Delta State for the apprehension among Ijaw people all over the country.

He added that the people were afraid because they believed that the men of the JTF were looking for Ijaw people since it was difficult to distinguish a militant from innocent civilians.

He explained that although community leaders were appealing to people in their areas not to panic, he stated that it was not possible to prevent them from fleeing due to the news of killing and maiming of innocent civilians in Ijaw communities in Delta State.

He said, “Although we have not seen either military presence nor militants‘ presence in our communities the people are afraid and they are leaving, especially the women and the children.

They are afraid because militancy is not written on anybody‘s face and it will be almost impossible to know who is a militant among the crowd.

With this development, even if the soldiers wipe out all the militants today more militants will still rise up if our areas are not developed.”

The Special Adviser to the Ondo State Governor on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Bekekimi Idiarhi, told our correspondent on the telephone that he was not aware of movement of Ijaw in Ondo State to safer places. But he said that there was palpable fear among the Ijaw people living along the coast from Ondo State to Akwa Ibom State .

Posted by: xcroc | May 26, 2009 4:38:13 PM | 66

Another story in This Day reports: Militants Blow up Chevron Pipeline

The onslaught by the Joint Task Force (JTF) against militants in the Niger Delta has entered its 14th day with a new twist: the militants have blown up an oil facility belonging to United States oil giant, Chevron.

Yesterday, JTF confirmed that suspected militants attacked Chevron pipeline in Abiteye in Warri South-west Local Government area of Delta State.

The task force blamed the incident on “Kingsley Opuye and his group of militants” operating mainly in the Delta and Ondo axis of the Niger Delta.

Also confirming the incident, Chevron said one of its pipelines in the Abiteye area of the state was breached on Sunday following militant attack apparently in response to the military offensive by JTF.

In its first official reaction since the escalation of hostilities in the Niger Delta, the oil major said it had shut in 100,000 barrels per day of crude oil as a precautionary measure to ensure the protection of people and the environment.

Claiming responsibility for the attack, however, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main militant group in the oil-rich region, said in an email to journalists that it had sabotaged pipelines to flow stations at Alero Creek, Otunana, Abiteye, Makaraba and Dibi feeding a Chevron facility.
The group warned such attacks would continue.

“We will continue our cat-and-mouse tactics with (the military) until oil exports cease completely,” it said.

JTF Spokesman, Col. Rabe Abubakar, said while briefing journalists in Warri on the attack that, “While the JTF is struggling to restore peace and normalcy in the Niger Delta region, Kingsley Opuye and his group of militants, have early this morning, blown up Chevron’s pipeline at Abiteye.

“This is an act of sabotage which should not be condoned; all those involved in this latest act must be hunted and trapped down”.
Chevron’s General Manager in charge of Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Mr. Femi Odumabo, said in a statement made available to THISDAY last night that the company was assessing the security situation in the area.

He said: “Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) operator of the NNPC/CNL Joint Venture can confirm that one of its pipelines in the Abiteye area of Delta State, Nigeria, was breached at 22:30 hours on Sunday, May 24, 2009.

“In furtherance of its commitment to protecting people and the environment in all its operations, the company has shut in approximately 100,000 barrels of oil per day of production from its swamp operations in Delta State.

The task force blamed the incident on “Kingsley Opuye and his group of militants” operating mainly in the Delta and Ondo axis of the Niger Delta.

Also confirming the incident, Chevron said one of its pipelines in the Abiteye area of the state was breached on Sunday following militant attack apparently in response to the military offensive by JTF.

In its first official reaction since the escalation of hostilities in the Niger Delta, the oil major said it had shut in 100,000 barrels per day of crude oil as a precautionary measure to ensure the protection of people and the environment.

THISDAY gathered that the Presidency, which received news of the near exodus of Odi people to neigbouring communities, has directed appropriate authorities to reassure the people that the peace process in the Niger Delta was deliberate but that indiscriminate attacks on any community in the region was not on the card.

JTF has debunked the allegation, blaming it on the handiwork of some unscrupulous and unpatriotic elements in the region that are out to incense the already charged situation in the region for their selfish interest.

The task force’s spokesman said it was a “dangerous rumour” being peddled by hoodlums who might themselves be planning to attack Odi.
“This information is not true as the mandate of the security task force in the Niger Delta is not to bully innocent citizens,” Abubakar said, stating that, “We are appealing to members of Odi community to go about their normal businesses as JTF has no plans to attack anybody or group anywhere in the Niger Delta.”

He stated that the current operation by the task force was mainly prompted by the “mindless” kidnap of some JTF personnel around the Chanomi Creek of the state, while assuring members of the public “that our waterways have since been opened for both commercial and private legal businesses” with naval unit providing the needed cover or escort.

“However, personal security should always be taken into consideration by reporting any suspicious and strange movements in the waterways to JTF or any security agency for appropriate action,” he added.
Also yesterday, Senate Committee on Defence and Army met Service Chiefs behind closed doors to discuss how to halt the lingering military operations in the troubled Niger Delta region.

The meeting, presided over by the committee Chairman, Senator Ibrahim Ida, came amid the decision by the military to extend to Rivers State, its operations aimed at flushing out militants.

Yesterday’s two-hour meeting was sequel to a resolution by the Senate that the committee should investigate the military operations that began two weeks ago.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator James Manager (Delta South), had moved a motion drawing the attention of the Upper House to the military operations in the Niger Delta and asking for a decisive intervention to halt it.

But because of security considerations, the motion was not debated in plenary.

The Upper House had referred it (the motion) to the Committee on Defence and Army for detailed investigation and report back so that the issue could be dealt with in closed session.

The committee was given up to this week to submit the report of its findings.

In a bid to meet up with the deadline, the committee yesterday interacted with the Chief of Defence Staff Paul Dike, Chief of Army Staff Abduraham Dambazzau, Chief of Naval Staff Isaac Ibrahim, and Chief of Air Force Oluseyi Petirin.

THISDAY learnt that the service chiefs briefed the committee on the inevitability of the operations to flush out the militants and why the operation might continue for as long as necessary.

Manager had at plenary raised a point of order to draw the attention of the Upper chamber to the military operation and the sacking of all the communities in the oil-rich Gbaramatu community of the Warri South-west Local Government.
He had reminded the Senate that the mainstay of the Nigerian economy was oil and gas and had warned that the exploration and exploitation would be impossible in the absence of peace and security in the Niger Delta region.

According to him, “It is in the interest of the Niger Delta, just as it is in the interest of the entire nation, for peace and the attendant security to prevail in the Niger Delta for the administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to carry out his administration’s agenda of developing the Niger Delta as well as implementing the other parts of the seven-point agenda.”

He had called for Senate intervention to ensure that the operation did not spread beyond the Gbaramatu clan to other parts of Delta State and the Niger Delta region.

But Senate President David Mark had stopped Manager from proceeding with the motion and other senators from discussing it on the grounds of security consideration.

Also from This Day, Bankole, Akpabio Insist on Military Action

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Dimeji Bankole and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Godswill Akpabio, yesterday endorsed the ongoing military campaign to rid the Niger Delta of hostage takers, kidnappers and other criminal elements operating in the region. They insisted that no nation could tolerate the brigandage that had been going on in the region for this long and urged the militants to surrender their arms, embrace dialogue and the amnesty offered by the Federal Government to pave way for the planned development of the region. The two leaders spoke at the 7th National Roundtable for Good Governance organised by the Faculty Board of The Initiatives, a group in the House of Representatives.

I'm sure the people of the Delta are really inclined to trust the sincerety of the FG's amnesty. Earlier Yar'Adua appointed a guy who had advocated hanging Ken Saro-Wiwa to be in charge of the amnesty program. He had to withdraw, but the FG undermined their opportunity.

Posted by: xcroc | May 26, 2009 5:16:31 PM | 67

I've been a fan of Moon of Alabama for some time. I mostly lurk, but admire comments by many of the contributors, and am grateful to b for maintaining this site. I learn many things here I can learn nowhere else. Since I have been following the Niger Delta story, I will try and continue to provide updates. I am not the scholar that b real is, but I do try to pay attention.

One more story worthy of note:

From Sola Adebayo and Ibanga Isine in the Punch 16 foreign groups drag Yar’Adua, JTF to International Criminal Court:

Sixteen foreign-based civil society organisations have called for the prosecution of the Joint Task Force Commander, Gen. Sarkin Yarkin-Bello, over the killing of civilians in Gbaramatu, Delta State.

The groups, in a joint petition to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands also requested a probe into the role played by President Umaru Yar’Adua in the incident.

The civil society organisations include Trans Africa Forum, Centre for Civil Society, Environmental Justice Project of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the Sweet Crude, Communities for a Better Environment, the Borneo Project, the Justice in Nigeria Now and the Center for Third World Organising.

Others are Global Exchange, Rainforest Action Network, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Crude Accountability, Oil Change International, Counter Corp, Foreign Policy In Focus and Sustainable Energy and Economy Network.

The groups claimed that the military carried out land, water and aerial bombardments of Oporoza, Kurutie, Kunukunuma, Kokodiagbene, Okerenkoko, Azama, Benikurukuru and Ubefan communities in Gbaramatu Local Government Area, “under the guise of attacking militants.”

The petition reads in part, “Residents of the villages and those visiting for a festival on the day the bombing began were forced to flee their homes and villages. They are hiding in the bush and do not have adequate food or medical supplies.

“The JTF has not allowed humanitarian aid groups or journalists into the area. As of today, the coordinated aerial and ground attacks by the JTF and mass starvation continue.

“Reports suggest that thousands of innocent civilians are dead already. Reports also suggest that this was a well planned attack with the possible collusion of state government officials.

“We urge the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor to use its power to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these crimes against humanity, including Brigadier General Yarkin-Bello, who is reportedly in command of the JTF’s operations. Questions regarding President Yar’Adua’s involvement must also be investigated.”

Posted by: xcroc | May 26, 2009 5:57:22 PM | 68

Again, thanks xcroc for the Niger delta updates. This receives virtually no coverage in U.S. mainstream news outlets, and even most alternative sites do not provide coverage of this situation, nor that in Somalia, nor most of the rest of Africa. Even now in 2009, Africa is still sort of a "deepest darkest" mystery spot on the map for most of the United States. The misery and horror being rained down on these people and so many others... its gratifying to see some earnest non-profits trying to take it to the World Court, but that will not bring relief to the people who have fled their villages in terror.

Posted by: Maxcrat | May 26, 2009 8:49:23 PM | 69

interesting that nigeria named that JTF "operation restore hope" since it was the name of the tragic u.s. op in somalia in the early 90's, which tried to kickoff a pretentious humanitarian face on the military while protecting big oil interests. i see that the nigerian task force was first set up in oct 2003.

Posted by: b real | May 27, 2009 11:22:31 AM | 70

It is an oddly unfortunate name for the operation. I was trying to remember where I'd heard it before, but hadn't yet looked it up. I keep looking for a sign of Africom or mercenaries touching this operation, but haven't caught a glimpse. Of course the Nigerian government is both willing and quite capable of doing this all on its own, it is not new. N'Delta has effectively been under military occupation since 1990.

I found this quite interesting blog entry from chidi opara reports, "a network of Nigerian News Reporters and Editors" (h/t Sokari at blacklooks.org):

Saturday, May 23, 2009
Furgitive Top Nigerian Oil Militant Refused To Work For Ruling Party.

Mr. Government Ekpumupolo(alias Tom Polo), the furgitive former Lord of "Camp Five" in the Gbaramatu area of Delta State, who narrowly escaped death when the Joint Taskforce On Security(JTF) engaged the Movement For The Emancipation Of Niger Delta(MEND) in the on going fiece gun battle, attracted the wrath of the Presidency when he refused to work for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP)in the up coming 2011general elections, chidi opara reports reliably gathered. Tom Polo, a top MEND commander, is currently on the run and have been declared a wanted person by Nigerian security.

Our network members in Delta state, who have been following the Tom Polo saga report that the top oil militant prior to the present JTF onslaught have had a cordial relationship with oil majors operating in Delta state and the military high command. Contacts in the oil and gas sector informed chidi opara reports that oil majors like Chevron and Shell usually contract the security of their facilities and vessels in that area to Tom Polo. A JTF contact also told us the story of an incident in which Tom Polo's men took a soldier of the amphibious Brigade hostage last year, the then General Officer Commanding(GOC) Division 82 of the Army based in Enugu, under whose jurisdiction the Amphibious Brigade is was incidentally in Warri, when the incident was reported to him, he reportedly called Tom Polo from his mobile telephone handset, after some exchange of pleasantries, Tom Polo was asked to release the soldier, which the dreaded militant leader did.

Well placed PDP insiders revealed to us that based on Tom Polo's friendly disposition towards these institutions, PDP topshots decided to recruit the tough militant leader for "their 2011 project". We learnt further that a former governor of Bayelsa state, Mr. Diepriye Alamesigha was contacted to open up dialogue with him. Our information further has it that Alamesigha's meetings with Tom Polo on three ocassions yielded no favourable result. The militant leader was said to have insisted on unconditional release of the incarcerated former MEND spokesman, Mr. Henry Okah and an unconditional amnesty for the militants. He was said to have also insisted that further dialogues must be between the Party and a free Okah. This position, we learnt was promply communicated to the PDP national headquarters.

"From that day, the days of the so called Tom Polo became numbered", a top security contact in the Presidency informed chidi opara reports.
Posted by Public Information Project Management(PIPROM)

Alamesigha is particularly notorious for corruption of various kinds.

The Punch also tells us Warri refinery to shut down

It was learnt that the stock of crude in the crude refining plant could only last for the next few days.

The pipeline servicing the plant with crude oil from the production platforms of the American oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited, was blown up by suspected militants on Saturday, May 16.

The flow line, popularly known as Chanomi Creek pipeline, runs from the Abiteye fields of CNL in Escravos, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State to WRPC. The pipeline had been ruptured three times in the past three years.

The last repair of the pipeline gulped $57m.

Our correspondent learnt in WRPC on Tuesday that crude supply to the plant was cut off on Sunday, 24 hours after the militants launched premeditated attacks on the pipeline.

A source at WRPC said, “We have not received crude oil supplies since Sunday because of the damage to the Chanomi Creeks pipeline by suspected militants. The crude oil from the various fields of Chevron in Abiteye through the pipeline is the only source of crude supplies to the plant.

“Although we have crude in our tanks which we are using for our operation for now, what we have can only last for about one week. The management will have no other choice than to shut the plant down thereafter.”
...
Meanwhile, tension persisted in the Niger Delta on Tuesday as the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Restore Hope, insisted that the ongoing military operation in Delta State would be carried out in other states of the region.

The Commander of JTF, Maj.-Gen. Sarkin-Yarkin Bello, in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Tuesday, said there was no limit to the scope and coverage of the military operation in the region.

He said the raid on the militant camps in Delta would come to an end on Wednesday (today), adding that all the militant camps in the creeks of the state would have been captured and taken over by the agency by Wednesday evening.

But he was quick to add that the JTF would not relax the grip on the coastal Gbaramatu communities in Warri South-West Local Government Area of the state.

This too from Punch Forum calls for suspension of Bankole, Na‘Allah

By Ibanga Isine and Fidelis Soriwei Published: Wednesday, 27 May 2009 Delegates to the second All Niger Delta Peoples Assembly on Tuesday called for the suspension of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, and a member, Mr. Bala Ibn Na‘Allah, over their utterances on the region‘s crisis.

This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the assembly held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The communiqué, which was read by the Vice-Chairman of the body, Prof. Des Wilson, also described as avoidable, the killing in Gbaramatu kingdom, Delta State, and called for immediate ceasefire.

The assembly said the on-going military campaign in the region was a conscionable attempt to institutionalise genocide in the Niger Delta through the support of the House of Representatives.

It condemned the call for the extermination of people of the region by Na‘Allah, and blamed the Federal Government for failing to address the development needs of the people until their agitation degenerated to violence.

The assembly demanded the inauguration of a committee to work out modalities for a gazetted amnesty, disarmament, decommissioning, demilitarisation, rehabilitation and reintegration processes for militants.

Meanwhile, the Conference of Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta has threatened to drag the Federal Government, the Nigerian Army and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, to the International Court of Justice and the ECOWAS Court in Abuja for ”heinous crime of genocide.”

The CENND also threatened to make all the governors of the six states of the core Niger Delta defendants in the suit except they went into discussions with stakeholders in the region.

The body, in a communiqué in Benin on Tuesday, criticised Bankole for his position and the endorsement of the military action in the region which had reportedly culminated in the death of about 2,000 people and displacement of unspecified number, including women, children and the aged.

Na'Allah said in parlaiment regarding the JTF attacks on N'Delta: “for the survival of 100 million Nigerians, we can do away with 20 million.” (see comment #53 here)
I don't know how much weight this communique might carry, if any. If they can get this into the International Court of Justice and the ECOWAS Court in Abuja, that might be interesting.

Posted by: xcroc | May 27, 2009 7:28:05 PM | 71

From a roundup of news items in Punch:

Ijaw in Ondo hunt for suspected militants

The people of Arogbo Ijaw community in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State are watching the creeks for fleeing suspected militants.

Our correspondent gathered that the people of the riverine area had constituted youths into local vigilante groups and stationed them at strategic entry points into the community, to prevent militants from infiltrating the area. It was further learnt that the leaders of the community had barred visitors from coming to the area until further notice.

The secretary of the kingdom’s traditional council, High Chief Rueben Bekewe, confirmed the development to journalists on the telephone, saying the community took the measures because they were afraid of being attacked by the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta.

A delegation of Nigerian governors visited Washington, reported in This Day on May 24th. Senator Feingold asked Obama to intervene in the Delta. I don't see much chance of that happening. Johnnie Carson sounds optimistically dim, but that may be his job.

Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate, Senator Russ Feingold, has asked President Barak Obama to intervene in the ongoing military action in the Niger Delta.

Feingold in a statement, issued in Washington yesterday said “I urge the Obama administration to think creatively about how we can work multilaterally to help end this long standing crisis in the Niger Delta.

“Some military actions may be justified to stop the criminality, kidnappings and killings by militants in the Niger Delta, but such measures should be accompanied by a larger political strategy.”

“Genuine peacemaking will require not only legitimate political negotiations but a convincing case for transforming the illicit war economy into one of peace,” he stated.

Feingold lamented the killings of thousands of civilians since the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) began its operation in Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri, Delta State, about a week ago, to fish out militants taking refuge in parts of the Kingdom. He said in order to achieve a lasting peace in the region, federal government “needs to undertake a serious and sustained initiative to address the underdevelopment of the region.”

Meanwhile, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Mr. Johnnie Carson, has described Nigeria as the US’ most important strategic partner in the African continent. He disclosed this at the meeting with members of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum led by the chairman, Dr. Bukola Saraki, in Washington, last Wednesday. The Governors are in the US on a working visit. The team include Alhaji Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.

Carson expressed the need to strengthen the relationship between Nigeria and the US, while promising to push the process that will further deepen the US-Nigeria relationship. He commended the Governors for their patriotic initiative and assured them of his commitment to their cause. He said his doors were open to the Governors Forum at all times.
Carson also described the Governors’ visit as a new dawn in US-Nigeria relationship, “This is a new dawn in the relationship between our two countries. We have never had it so good,” he said. He noted that the Governors were the first foreign visitors he was receiving since he resumed office on Monday, last week.

The Governors also visited the Capitol Hill, America’s legislative power house where they had a meeting with Black America’s most powerful congresswoman, Mrs. Sheila Jackson-Lee.
Welcoming the Governors to her office, Jackson-Lee observed that the visit was the first by any delegation of Governors from Africa to any congress person on the Capitol Hill. She said she would be leading a delegation of the congress to “West African sub-region very soon”.
She commended Nigeria for her efforts in global peace-keeping, especially in Dafur, Liberia and Sierra-Leone.

Posted by: xcroc | May 27, 2009 7:57:20 PM | 72

much to catch up on

two themes really getting pushed in the western media now are

1. tales of foreign presence/intervention in somalia, so long as they're not about those installing or propping up the TFG2, that is

and

2. blame eritrea & seeking int'l sanctions against it


crazy how they've spun the real foreign meddling story on its head


and this story makes one highly suspicious & speculative about just who is pushing the buttons here

Norway embassy in Kenya threatened with attack

Norway's embassy in Nairobi and two Kenyan media organisations have received emails threatening attacks, the Norwegian ambassador and one of the media groups said on Wednesday.

...

"Yes it is true we have received an email with some threats," said Elisabeth Jacobson, Norwegian ambassador to Nairobi. "Of course it's a reason for concern and we have informed the Kenyan police," she said.

The email, seen by Reuters, said Norway had backed what it said was a Kenyan bid to claim waters of the coast of neighbouring Somalia for oil exploration and that Kenya had detained Somali "mujahideen".

"(Kenya) became the enemy of Islam ... and must (be) ready (for) Alqaeda attacks and revenge any time," the message said.

Jacobson declined further comment on the threats.

In a separate email, the Standard Group and Nation Media Group were also told they would be targeted for being "the enemy of Islam".

...

Operations at the Norwegian Embassy in Nairobi were suspended for the better part of Wednesday following the threat.

The group, calling itself ‘Worrier Brave’, sent an e-mail to the embassy offices at Lion’s Place in Westlands, Nairobi, threatening an attack.

The building was evacuated for hours as police searched it. The e-mail accused the embassy of backing Kenya to annex the Somalia coast for oil prospecting.

But police headquarters dismissed the threat adding that officers were tracking the e-mail source. Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said officers from the anti-terror unit were investigating the matter.

"They have found no substance in the threat. The claims are unfounded and we are looking for the source of the e-mail," Mr Kiraithe said.

Posted by: b real | May 28, 2009 2:28:47 PM | 73

Private armies board ships in Somalia

...

[Andrew] Mwangura sees private security contractors as yet another leech profiting from conflict in Somalia. Mwangura said the finances involved in piracy far exceeds the ransom figures reported in the media. There are ransom delivery costs, negotiation fees, lawyer fees, and increasingly, the cost of security.

"Piracy in Somalia is big business. Everyone wants to make money out of this, including the private security companies."

The debate over private security versus military intervention is misguided, said Mwangura. Ever since Somali piracy gained international attention, analysts have pointed to poverty and lawlessness in Somalia as the underlying cause. Yet all Mwangura hears is debate over what military tactic to pursue.

"The solution is not military." Conflict in Africa, Mwangura said, is often tied to the illegal extraction of its natural resources: diamonds in Liberia, cotton in the Congo, and in Somalia, fish.

"The root cause is poverty, and the cause of poverty is illegal fishing, toxic dumping, and years of bad rains."

Mwangura rattled off by memory five United Nations resolutions to address piracy in Somalia. None have mentioned the root cause, he said.

"We find it a contradiction because we have about more than 25 warships from all over the world in Somalia, but none of them has arrested fishing vessels fishing illegally in Somali waters."

- - -

Less than 2% of Africa’s Forests Under Community Control, says Report

A new report released on 26 May 2009 at a major global forestry conference in Cameroon has found that governments retain control over the world’s tropical forests’ globally, hindering action to stop deforestation and alleviate poverty among some of the world’s poorest rural peoples. Despite some progress in Cameroon and other countries including Mozambique and Tanzania, the report finds that Africa is also moving much slower on tenure reform than other regions.

The study released by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), a U.N. treaty-based agency, and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), a global coalition of non-governmental and community organizations, has found that less than 2 percent of Africa’s tropical forests are owned by or designated for use by the region’s forest communities and indigenous groups compared to nearly one-third of all forests in Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific. Previous research by RRI partners show that forest communities are as good or better protectors of forests than governments and industry where their rights are recognized.

While, in Africa, the population density relative to forest area is close to the world’s average, the deforestation rate is 4 times the world’s average. More than 70 percent of Africa's remaining tropical forests are located in Central Africa’s Congo Basin, but civil conflicts, inadequate governance, and a lack of action on land reform put much of the forest area at risk.

The report, “Tropical Forest Tenure Assessment: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities,” was presented at a meeting of forest community representatives from Africa, Latin America and Asia, ministers from a number of African countries, advocacy groups, and international organizations. Participants aim to inspire new action on securing forest tenure rights in Central and West Africa by building on recent steps to decentralize governance.

- - -

Seeking alternatives to charcoal in Somaliland

Insufficient cheaper alternatives and a large former refugee population are fuelling tree-felling and dependence on charcoal in the self-declared republic of Somaliland, adversely affecting the environment, say analysts.

Most urban households use charcoal for everyday cooking. "We use a sack of charcoal every four days because our family is large," said Zahra Omar, a mother of 12, in the capital, Hargeisa.

According to a 2007 study by the Academy for Peace and Development, more than 2.5 million trees are felled annually and burned for charcoal in Somaliland. The report stated that each household in Somaliland consumed an equivalent of 10 trees a month.

...

High and rising gas prices have also encouraged charcoal use. Previously, [resident Nimo Ahmed] said, gas was cheaper than charcoal but the price has increased dramatically, with one litre of gas now costing about Sh4,000 ($0.61) up from Sh1,500 ($0.23).

It is the preferred fuel even in hotels, which consume even larger quantities of the commodity. "I use a sack of charcoal for a day's cooking," said Anab Mohamed Ismail, a Hargeisa chef.

According to researchers, one of the main drivers of deforestation in Africa is the need for fuel.

In sub-Saharan Africa only 7.5 percent of the rural population has access to electricity, according to a 2009 report on the state of the world's forests. "As household incomes and investment in appropriate alternatives remain low, wood is likely to remain an important energy source in Africa in the coming decades..." it stated.

Forecasts made in 2001 suggested a 34 percent increase in wood fuel consumption from 2000 to 2020. "However, the rise in fuel prices in the past two years suggests that this increase is likely to be even greater. The share of wood fuel in the total energy supply is likely to decline, but the absolute number of people dependent on wood energy is predicted to grow," it stated. "The forest situation in Africa presents enormous challenges, reflecting the larger constraints of low income, weak policies and inadequately developed institutions."

"Charcoal... demand is increasing daily and burning [of] trees is increasing... but we are trying to [encourage] awareness among the people and give them other sources of income," said Abdirisaq Bashir, the emergency and environment coordinator of Candlelight, an NGO working in environmental management. The NGO is helping young people become involved in alternative activities such as bee-keeping.

bee-keeping as an alternative to fuel production?

Posted by: b real | May 28, 2009 11:13:38 PM | 74


Thanks Maxcrat, xcroc, breal:

first xcroc would be in very good company in the Niger Delta. Lots of crocodiles there.

also heres another angle on whats going on in the Delta. The Federal Govt still has things pretty much under control across the country but for how long ? Its an increasingly tense situation right now with a ruling party (PDP) that owes its prominence almost entirely to massively rigged elections in 2003 & worse in 2007. The natives are increasingly restless in many parts of the country & theres a growing mood in the land to challenge & resist voting irregularities widely understood to be inevitable come the next national poll in 2011. The militants desperately want their leader Henry Okah freed and in the past would have likely worked out concessions with then-President Obasanjo to free him but the current President Shehu Yar'Adua has been much less willing to play ball. There are probably other reasons behind recent anti-Northen sentiments voiced from the Niger-Delta that are frighteningly reminiscent of the period leading to the Biafran war. Not to overstate the point but it does bear some looking into that yet again theres a widening gulf in motion between the Niger-Delta (in the South) and the administration of Yar'Adua (a Northerner).

Should also note that up till a few months ago, there was absolutely no trace of a regional disconnect or fault-line whatsoever on the Niger-Delta issue. The main issues have been autonomy, resource-control/derivation, environmental pollution, crime & political corruption.

also, perhaps the most important observation I can share is that for whatever its worth, theres a sense of arrogance on the part of the Federal Govt thats really quite shallow given the circumstances.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 29, 2009 12:21:36 AM | 75

SOMALIA: Fears of more clashes as war-wounded overwhelm hospitals

NAIROBI, 28 May 2009 (IRIN) - Scores of civilians are fleeing their homes in the Madina district of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, amid fears of clashes between armed forces massing in the area, witnesses told IRIN on 27 May.

"Many families, including those who fled other parts of the city to seek safety here, have already left and many more are leaving," Faduma Mohamed, a resident, said.

Forces loyal to the interim government are massing in Madina, southwest of the city, in anticipation of a showdown with insurgents, allegedly supported by foreign forces.

Madina and the areas around it have so far escaped the fighting and many families from north and south Mogadishu had sought refuge there.

"Both sides have been bringing in forces," Mohamed said. "There is too much movement of troops and the atmosphere is one of war. We don't know when it will begin but we know it is coming."

...

An estimated 62,000 people have fled their homes since the latest fighting flared on 7 May, according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.


from the tale end of a guardian story: I have the hardest job in the world. We have no state

Back at the presidential compound I met one of the young commanders of the Islamic Courts, Jami`a, who was on [Sheikh Sharif Sheikh] Ahmed`s side. A thin 22-year-old dressed in stonewashed jeans and a faded white shirt, he sat flanked by two new Chinese fans. Like soldiers, the fans moved their heads, first to the left and then to the right, with mechanical precision.

Like all the young Somali fighters, Jami`a was born out of the chaos of two decades of civil war. “When I was in high school our area was controlled by two warlords, Mousa Yaljo and Omar Fenish. It was a very difficult time. Sometimes we went to school in buses and sometimes because of the fighting we had to walk. Their soldiers would steal everything, even our shoes.”

Jami`a told me how he had learned the Qur`an at university, then joined the Islamists battling Mogadishu`s warlords. After the warlords, he fought the Ethiopians. Later he took me to the frontline. We drove in two Toyota Land Cruisers along Factory Road in south Mogadishu, to our east a wasteland of shrubs and swamps where the Shabaab positions were.

We walked through the grounds of the burnt-out ministry of defence, where young, frail and underfed fighters, in tattered clothes and broken sandals, sat under trees or on broken ammunition boxes.

There was a look on their faces that I had seen before in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan. They carried guns and wrapped themselves with bandoliers of bullets but their faces gave them away: they were scared. Their enemy was somewhere across the fields, Islamists like them, heads wrapped by kuffiyas like them, holding Kalashnikovs like them, tired and underfed like them.

A week later the Factory Road frontline fell to the Shabaab, when most of the commanders I met switched sides and decided to fight with the opposition. A tiny, barely noticed footnote in the tragedy of Somalia.


and this could turn out to be a smart move...

Wedding parties banned in Kismayo

Mogadishu (Mareeg)--The Islamist administrators of Kismayo have banned people in Kismayo to have big wedding parties and ordered the cameramen in the city to register in the media office in Kismayo, an official said on Thursday.

The Islamists said it was forbidden to have big wedding parties and they also banned the integration of men and women. (sic)

Posted by: b real | May 29, 2009 12:34:27 AM | 76

Government says will launch attacks against the Insurgents

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)—The Somali fragile government said on Friday it will launch attacks against the Insurgents who are fighting against it.

At least 40 people were killed and about 200 were injured in Mogadishu when the Somali government launched heavy attack to bases of the Insurgents last Friday.

Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, the minister for planning and international relations of the Somali government told Shabelle Radio that the government was determined to launch planned attacks to the Insurgents who are fighting against the government.

asharq al-awsat republishes its interview w/ eritrea's issaias earlier this week

Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki Talks to Asharq Al-Awsat

two excerpts:

Asharq Al-Awsat: A number of officials have talked about Eritrea's role in stirring up the current conflict in Somalia. They have also said that Eritrea's relations with its neighbors in Djibouti and Ethiopia are not as they should be and that your country has military bases in some neighboring countries to support the resistance movements there. What is the truth, Your Excellency?

Afeworki: The source that is publishing such information and making the media, the satellite channels, and diplomatic circles giddy is US circles. Of course, we are surprised that we have a role in everything that is happening around us. But all these reports are part of the campaigns by the US Central Intelligence Agency. Like any other person, I have also heard in the media that Eritrea is supporting the Islamists in Somalia with arms. Naturally, the report originated in the US Department of State and within 24 hours, it turned into a Security Council resolution referring to reports that Eritrea is supplying the Islamists in Somalia with arms. What is odd about all this is that the satellite channels and all the newspapers report on this issue without verifying the source and without trying to find out whether it is fact or fiction. All these are lies, as I just said and part of the mission of the US Central Intelligence Agency. It has its own agenda and has turned the world giddy, especially since 2006. We were taken by surprise to hear that there are 2,000 Eritrean fighters in Mogadishu. So we began ask: Where did this information come from? The information is from US sources. Unfortunately, the Security Council also adopted this information and said that there are 2,000 Eritrean soldiers in Mogadishu. The Ethiopian invasion came after that and their forces entered Mogadishu but there was not a single Eritrean soldier in Mogadishu. The perplexing question that begs an answer is: Why are such reports repeated and why do some media figures accept them as a publishable fact? It would be better for these media outlets to take the information from its source and to verify it and then publish the truth. Eritrea's position in Somalia is amoral, political, and legal one. We say that no one has the right to accept the situation in fragmented Somalia. It is not in anyone's interest to have a divided Somalia and fragmented Somalis. It is not in the interest of anyone for the tragedy of the Somalis to grow day after day while the external interventions are the cause of this tragedy. We denounce and condemn foreign interventions, including US interventions in this issue. The whole purpose of these intensive campaigns is to distort the truth and point the finger of accusation at Eritrea. I am not surprised. The media outlets that propagate and inflate such false information and give a wrong impression to observers should correct their information and take it from its correct sources. They should ask the source in order to get to the facts.

Asharq Al-Awsat: So you believe that the issue is US interventions through the Central Intelligence Agency to destabilize the region?

Afeworki: No, no; this is the political culture of the US Central Intelligence Agency. I am not making haphazard accusations. The same scenario was repeated in Iraq after claiming that there were weapons of mass destruction there. They had certain stands against Saddam Hussein's regime, which was another matter altogether. The claim made by senior officials of the former US Administration that there were weapons of mass destruction there has been revealed to be a lie. A few days ago, Nancy Pelosi said that the Central Intelligence Agency distorts the facts, lies to, and deceives the members of Congress. Lying has become one of the traits of the CIA culture in several cases. It has become the source of lies that others begin to believe. The CIA releases a lie and then believes it and makes the world believe it in order to prepare for what scheme it may and use in another scenario. It leaks information to the media then picks up these leaks and publicizes them. The CIA builds on these lies as if it was not the original source that leaked them and this way the ball keeps rolling. I say that this has become a boring and broken record that has been exposed in the whole world. As I just said, the people should wonder when any information is leaked. They should verify the source and the purpose of the leak. A piece of information should be published after the facts are confirmed.

and

Asharq Al-Awsat: There are reports that Eritrea has brought in two opposites into its land - Israel and Iran. What is the truth?

Afeworki: Same thing, ask the Central Intelligence Agency that published this information in the same manner by leaking it. They leaked the information and said that they obtained it from reliable sources. What are these reliable sources? We know them but the world does not. They are the reliable sources. They want to fabricate a clamor in the region about Iran, Iran's role, Iran's influence in the region, and Iran's infiltration of the region. There is a lot of talk on this subject and one wonders: How did Iran come to Eritrea, which door did it use, and in what issue? At the same time I was recently asked about Iranian submarines in the Eritrean coasts in the Red Sea. My reply was if there are submarines, where are they? Tell us so we would know. It is very odd for some to claim that there are Iranians in the Assab Harbor in the Red Sea. How did they come? Did they come by air or in disguise? Prior to that, there was talk about Israeli bases. In the first place, after independence, one of the basic principles of this country's foreign policy is not to allow any presence of any military force on Eritrean soil; no military presence of any force regardless of its might. Engaging in such a game is not useful for us and is not strategically acceptable. This is a basic principle of our foreign policy. We do not allow any country from the region or from outside the region to have bases on our soil. The queer thing is that the reports said that Israel and Iran are present in the sea together! This is indeed laughable. The well known quarters wish to fabricate discord by publishing such reports. I advise the media that outlets that promote this process to verify and then to publish the facts.

Posted by: b real | May 29, 2009 11:30:09 AM | 77

Thanks b real and xcroc - I read every piece you post!

From today's links Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (Baghdad blogger and reporter) in Somalia:

Somalia: one week in hell – inside the city the world forgot:

Many of Ahmed's ministers and advisers huddled for safety in the Sohafi hotel, although the 17 bullet holes in my door did not promote a sense of security. In the courtyard I heard different accounts of why Somalia's Islamists had turned on each other. "They are fighting because they come from two different Islamic schools," explained one seasoned Somali journalist. "The president is from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Shabaab are Salafis."

"Nonsense," guffawed an Islamic commander. He was an ally of the president who fought the Ethiopians alongside the Islamic Courts but had good connections with the Shabaab. "We are all Salafis. The difference is between the ideologues, the young people with principles, the Shabaab on one side, and the people who see where is the maslaha [the interest of the nation] and are willing to compromise. I agree with the Shabaab that we should fight a jihad on principle but the maslaha says that we should compromise and use the opportunity we have now to build a state."

Another Somali official with a thick American accent from long years of asylum in the US told me: "It's very simple – it's about who gets to be the president. There is no ideological difference. It's all about who gets what share of the pie. Everyone wants to become a president in Somalia."

A Ugandan officer in the presidential compound offered his own jaundiced assessment: "Look. The best thing the Somalis know how to do is to kill other Somalis."

plus his pictures and audio

"An Utopian place for free marketers"

Posted by: b | May 29, 2009 1:11:20 PM | 78

who's playing pirate now? another use for the int'l navies off the coast of somalia...

Government warns businessman against using air and sea ports it closed

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)—The Somali government has warned Friday against businessmen of using airports and sea ports that the government announced they were blocked.

The Somali transitional government on Monday announced the imposition of an immediate blockade on airports and seaports in insurgent-run areas in the country.

The minister for transportation of the Somali government, Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade, held a press conference in Mogadishu and warned the businessmen against importing cargo and other items in the ports and airports that are under rebels’ control.

He said that a cargo ship for Somali businessmen to Kismayo was captured by helicopters and warships in the coast of Somalia.

Warships block vessel from rebel-held Somali port

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Foreign warships blocked a cargo vessel from entering Somalia's rebel-held Kismayu port on Friday in a new strategy to try and choke the militant insurgent group al Shabaab, the government said.

Ports and Sea Transport Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Habasade said the action was taken in line with resolutions by East African body IGAD and the African Union (AU) to try and stop supplies reaching the al Qaeda-linked movement.

"I'm confirming to you that the international warships prevented a commercial ship from docking in Kismayu," he told Reuters. "We are warning Somali traders against chartering ships to the opposition groups' strongholds, because they have sanctions imposed on them."

There was no immediate confirmation from foreign navies. They have deployed in the area since the turn of the year to try and prevent piracy that has flourished in the busy Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean shipping lanes due to lawlessness onshore.

The ship had delivered goods to the capital Mogadishu before heading south to Kismayu, the minister said. Its nationality and details of its cargo were not known.

Kadhafi wants Somali exclusion zone to fight piracy

SABRATHA, Libya (AFP) – Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi called on Friday for the creation of a Somali exclusion zone as part of efforts to fight piracy in lawless waters off the Horn of Africa country.

Speaking at an African regional summit, Kadhafi said he will "submit to the world a plan consisting of respecting the economic waters of Somalia in exchange for an end to piracy."

He described pirates who have attacked dozens of ships over the past year as "poor Somalians who are defending their wealth."

"They are not pirates but people who are defending their rights."

Kadhafi also accused unnamed "foreign countries of pillaging" Somalia's wealth.

...

Kadhafi was speaking at the opening of a two-day summit of the 28-member Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) in the Libyan city of Sabratha, a UNESCO World Heritage site west of Tripoli.

He said Africa needs an organisation such as Frontex -- the EU agency specialised in border security -- to protect "our maritime wealth" and warned against the spread of piracy.

that afp article never once mentions that the "Libyan leader" is also the current president of the african union

and, finally, the TFG taking the fight to its enemies

Government soldiers kill three teenagers in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)—Somali government soldiers have killed three Somali teenage boys in Dharkaynley district in Mogadishu, witnesses told Shabelle radio on Friday.

Residents said the government soldiers captured the boys from their houses in Dharkeynley district and killed them near their base in the district.

The soldiers have reportedly rejected the bodies to be buried. It is not known why the soldiers have been killed the boys, but it comes as a hand grenade was thrown to a base of the soldiers in the area on Thursday evening.

Locals said the teenagers were not evolved in the conflict between the government and the rebels.

Posted by: b real | May 29, 2009 2:30:16 PM | 79

Thanks Maxcrat for your encouraging remarks. And I am always fascinated and in awe of the work b real shares. Thanks also to jony_b_cool, you make an excellent summary of the present position. Nigeria is so complex, and there is so much I don't know, that I often find it overwhelming to try and figure it out and summarize what is going on. I have had some good friends from Cross River State which is what got me interested. And I remember the enormous optimism about oil wealth in the late 70s. I'm a admirer of crocodiles, though perhaps not as personal friends. I remember reading a researcher who said she had found a study on the health effects of N'Delta oil pollution on crocodiles, but found no study of the pollution effects on women and children. If any study has been done, I'm sure it has been suppressed.

Punch, punchng.com, won't let me look at the articles today without creating an identity and logging on. It wants a phone number, and won't seem to accept a non-Nigerian one. This Day had a couple of interesting articles, especially this one:

JTF Didn’t Raze Ijaw Communities, Say NEMA, Red Cross

Officials of National Emergency Manage-ment Agency (NEMA) and international voluntary relief organisation, the Nigerian Red Cross Society, have said they did not find evidence of communities that were totally razed by Joint Military Task Force (JTF), in the Niger-Delta. The officials said after visits to at least seven Ijaw communities in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State, where the security task force had extended their two-week military campaign against the militants, they could say without fear of contradiction, that certain accounts they had read in the newspapers were a far cry from the reality on ground. The officials, including South-east Zonal Co-ordinator of NEMA and his South-south counterpart, Dr Onimode Bandele and Mr Martin Osoweh, as well as Secretary, Delta State chapter of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Mr Eghworo Ovocity, made the remarks while fielding questions from local and international pressmen yesterday at Ogbe-Ijoh. They spoke at the relief camp for displaced persons, in the Ijaw communities of Gbaramatu Kingdom, located at Ogbe-Ijoh, administrative headquarters of Warri South-west Local Government, after several days of visits to the affected communities. Although a number of houses had been torched in the communities visited, there was no evidence of large-scale destruction of residential buildings as reported in some newspapers, they said. “What we found remarkable was that only women and children came out to receive the relief materials we took along with us during the visit," the Red Cross official said, noting that they had decided to take the relief materials provided by NEMA, despite reports that “no lives remained in the affected communities.”

And there was this protest, which appears to have been resoundingly ignored:

Gbaramatu Women Storm N’Assembly

A delegation of women from Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta South Senatorial District, yesterday staged a protest to the National Assembly against sacking of communities in the kingdom by the Joint Military Task Force (JTF). The lingering crisis in the Niger Delta region had broken out about two weeks ago in Gbaramatu Kingdom, following killing of no fewer than10 military officers by militants. But they were not allowed to gain entry into the National Assembly complex. The women were thus restricted to the first gate of the complex, which is a ston e throw from the Federal Secretariat building. Acting under the auspices of Concerned Ijaw Women, they said they were in Abuja to plead with President Umaru Yar’Adua to halt the military operation in the area. Miss Christine Kasikoro Tonbra, who led the women, said the recent bombardment of Gbaramatu Kingdom had left many innocent women and children homeless. She said many innocent people were also killed in the offensive. She said, “all we are saying is that our communities have been turned to war zones. Now, we do not have villages again in our places.We have been displaced; so many people are in the bush. We have pregnant women, children, parents and others who have been in the bush. We have recorded a lot of innocent deaths. “We are here in order to carry out a peaceful demonstration, to appeal to the Federal Government and the international community to come to our aid. “We know that the Federal Government too is not happy, but we are appealing to government to cease fire decreed by JTF in our communities; we do not have problem with them." No leader of the National Assembly was on hand to address the women who said they could not establish contact with any member of the leadership.

NPR had a story this morning on the JTF operation, but it was the usual on the one hand on the other hand. So the only information was that there has been some conflict around Warri. I have to give them some credit though, as their reporter was reporting from Warri.

It is the 10 year anniversary of Nigerian democracy. There are a lot of articles about it, some celebrations and observances, and a lot of people saying we have a long way to go. There has also been a lot of comparison of the current N'Delta crisis to the Biafra War. You may have already read this, but I am in the process of getting a copy. Max Siollun has written what is supposed to be a thorough and generally unbiased account of the military governments in Nigeria between 1966-76, called the best account to date:
Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture 1966-1976 I get the impression it is necessary reading to understand the background for what is going on. There was a good review at the Nigerian Village Square.

Posted by: xcroc | May 29, 2009 4:46:03 PM | 80

This is interesting, worrys about creeping democracy in Nigeria. I wonder if President Obama can reassure them.

As Ruling Party Alleges Anti-Yar’Adua Meeting in Ghana… PDP: U.S. Wants to Destabilise Nigeria

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday accused the United States government and its embassy in Nigeria of conspiracy and plotting with opposition groups to destabilise the country. Specifically, the party said that part of the plot is for the US Embassy to organise a meeting between the pro-democracy groups in Nigeria and President Barack Obama in Ghana, where the groups would seek to persuade the US President that the administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua is “illegitimate”. President Obama is expected in Ghana on July 11. The statement also said the masterminds of the “conspiracy and plot” include a “failed” presidential candidate, two former Speakers, a former Senate President and “a sprinkling of political hangers-on”. In a statement signed by the Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Bello Harilu Mohammed, the party said: “Incontrovertible information available to us also revealed that after their meeting in Kaduna, they approached the American Embassy to facilitate their plans to meet with President Obama in Ghana but they were advised to include civil society organisations in their proposed diabolical delegation as a way of portraying themselves as credible elder statesmen.” PDP also said the aim of the visit to see Obama is to disrupt the existing trade relations between the United States and Nigeria, thereby worsening the already precarious state of the economy in the face of dwindling oil revenue and the global financial meltdown. PDP urged the US “not to, by any acts of omission or commission, promote the evil plans of these unpatriotic politicians against a democratically elected government as such would raise questions about its respect for the sovereignty of other countries and the international doctrine of non-interference in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations.” The party said President Obama knows that due process and the rule of law are cardinal tenets of democracy and acceptable political behaviour anywhere in the world. “President Obama is a product of an electoral process that evolved over time just as our President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has kick-started enduring electoral reforms in Nigeria, a process which his Administration is fully committed to fulfil (fulifilling) in the shortest possible time. The advent of the Obama era is therefore a necessary tonic to our on-going electoral reforms and the development of strong democracies in Nigeria, Africa and other developing countries,” PDP said. The party also said the attempt by Nigeria’s political leaders to cause “incalculable damage” to the Nigerian economy and its peace-loving people at this critical time is “a disservice” to a country from which most of them who have held one political office or another in the immediate past and have immensely benefited. “It is indeed shameful that these dishonourable politicians did not realise that the advice given to them by the American Embassy to include civil society organisations in their team was actually exposing their irrelevance to the political process as such views are only worthy of consideration if expressed through a respectable forum as a civil society organisation,” the statement stated. PDP described as disturbing that “the American Embassy in Nigeria has chosen to lend itself to such a high-level political conspiracy against the Government and people of Nigeria while at the same time enjoying the hospitality of its host. “This, to us, is hair-raising and we urge the relevant authorities in the United States to commence investigations although we are mindful that the Embassy may have been misguided by the calibre of the people involved in this plot. But we hasten to note that we do not expect the Embassy to be involved willy-nilly in such an organised conspiracy against the political and economic well-being of the Nigerian nation.” PDP also appealed to organisers of the meeting with President Obama to shun acts capable of undermining the nation’s democracy which could endanger the collective destiny of Nigerians. According to the statement, “this time in our history calls for total dedication to the growth and development of our nation. All divisive tendencies should be discouraged. Promoters of chaos and violence should be taken from our midst and handed over to security agencies. This is the only way to go.” PDP called on security agencies in the country to wade in immediately and commence necessary investigation into the matter and several others “which we have exposed in the past”.

Punch had a related headline, but I still can't yet get at the story:
NEWS UPDATES AT 6p.m (18hrs GMT): US Embassy denies plotting to destabilise Nigeria
By Our Correspondent
The United States Embassy has denied the allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party...

And I suspect this guy may be considered a promoter of chaos and violence as per the previous story:

Opadokun: It’s Frustrating Experience

Former General Secretary of Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, yesterday described ten years of democracy in Nigeria as a frustrating and disastrous experience which calls for sober reflections. Opadokun, whose voice was laden with deep emotion during a telephone conversation, lamented that this decade of democratic government ran foul of the expectations of the pro-democracy activists who laid down their lives in the struggle for the enthronement of the system. According to him, the abject poverty in the country, coupled with alleged misgovernance on the part of Nigerian leaders, had been worsened by the deprivation of Nigerians of their rights to choose their leaders through popular elections. “It is frustrating. It is frustrating than anything else. The struggle for the restoration of democracy wasn’t secured on a platter of gold. Therefore, those of us who laid down our lives, our blood and sweat in the campaign for the restoration of democracy in Nigeria are disappointed by the ineptitude of the leadership foisted on the Nigerian nation in the last ten years. “There is too much of poverty and misgovernance in the land. As a matter of fact, the greatest disaster of our national inadequacy is the fact that the political operators have continued to undermine and frustrate the growth of democracy and democratisation. The fact that they have foisted on us a situation where our votes don’t count, is a frustrating experience,” Opadokun lamented. The former National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) scribe, added that the only hope that lies ahead is for Nigerians of spirited goodwill and core democrats, to rise up to the challenge of entrenching a valuable system by establishing a virile and resolute alternative political platform that can confront the perceived menace of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The only hope is that Nigerian people should rise to the occasion by refusing to be spectators in the affairs of their country. Nigerians of public goodwill and democrats should mobilize themselves and establish a strong, viable, resilient national political party that can provide a credible alternative against the current disaster called PDP,î Opadokun submitted.

It sounds like the PDP will treat anyone who works to "establish a strong, viable, resilient national political party" as a criminal subversive. What do you suppose the reassurance will be? Don't worry, we don't believe in democracy any more than you.

Posted by: xcroc | May 29, 2009 7:02:28 PM | 81

Any of the Africa hands here have insight into why Ghana is the Sub-Saharan country of choice for Obama's visit this summer, and insights into the significance? These decisions are usually super-vetted in advance, so a lot of thought has presumably gone into the choice.

Obama has ties to Kenya and has visited there before, and in light of all the turmoil north of Kenya (in Somalia and environs), it might have been a logical choice.

I read that the President of Tanzania was recently a guest at the White House, and presumably he invited President Obama to stop by next time he was in the area.

And South Africa - hard to ignore or leave out, since it holds so much sway on the continent. Why is he not going there?

Posted by: Maxcrat | May 29, 2009 9:26:43 PM | 82


thanks for the inputs xcroc. As a Nigeria watcher, I've learnt to pay as much attention to reactions that start to reveal sometimes weeks or months into the wake of major news events, as I do to initial reports. As you probably know, Nigeria produces more movies annually than Hollywood and its second only to India. Its an intensely media-involved country particularly for those who have reliable access to media. And you may also remember that its conflicts, notably the Biafran Civil War are fought as much in the media as on the ground. Hence, the fact that the Red Cross has reported that the damage done to the attacked communities was not as bad as initially reported is not going to stop the escalation of protest bandwidth we already see in progress on several fronts.

On the other hand, Nigeria is most certainly not free, at least not yet, from a capacity for explosive crisis, civil breakdown, accompanied on the rare occasion by mindless violence & massive loss of life.

If Nigeria has one saving grace to be thankful for, its probably that its traditional opposition and civil-society organizations are pretty top-notch by any standard. I suspect the opposition & civil-society front is in a much stronger position today than ever but then again, its a very complex place and I've been wrong before.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 29, 2009 10:31:20 PM | 83


@82.
Ghana has come a long way in the last 20 years. Its democracy, installed by Jerry Rawlings (through the barrel of a gun) is working quite well, pretty steady economic growth and its become a stable attraction for foreign investment. Also, it has become a popular destination for quite a few African-American visitors & residents.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 29, 2009 10:49:31 PM | 84

@maxcrat - xcroc has more insight into current affairs in ghana than i do, but i'll point out that obama is continuing the same u.s. push as under bush the lesser to install a significant AFRICOM presence in there to protect u.s. interests (and those of its anglo allies) in the region. nigeria itself is a powderkeg & will likely never provide a safe haven for such a colonial outpost.

ghana is seen as the most 'stable' country & economy in the area & its political democracy fits the perception the u.s. would like to align itself with for this project. the recent election didn't exactly go the way they would have preferred, however the u.s. already has a strong military-to-military relationship w/ ghana & it's an ideal location for shoring up oil interests all along the gulf, as well as capitalizing on the expansion of markets for u.s. businessmen into west africa.

Posted by: b real | May 30, 2009 1:11:44 AM | 85

two from friday's inner city press dispatches from the u.n.

once again, ould-abdallah's outright contempt for the press & the people of mogadishu shines through. or is his guilty conscious starting to seep out...

UN's Somali Envoy Says Press Is Accomplice to Genocide, No Info on Norway's Role [post @ link is seriously screwed up so here's the meat, sans inline links]

Testifying about Somalia to the U.S. Senate on May 21, a representative of Oxfam said that "the United Nations Development Program gave direct financial support for police salaries and some of these police were implicated in serious human rights abuses." On May 29, Inner City Press asked the Somali Transitional Federal Government's foreign minister Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar to respond. "I'm appreciat[ive] of that worry," he said, saying that the "concern.. speaks on behalf of the Somalia individuals who suffer." Video here, from Minute 21:36.

But when Inner City Press less than an hour later posed the same human rights question to the UN's envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, he called the question "irresponsible," the questioner an "accomplice to.... genocide" and told Inner City Press that "there will be more killing and anarchy [and] you will be responsible." Video here, from Minute 19:44.

Inner City Press pointed about that it was Oxfam's testimony, and that is seemed fair to ask how the UN is making sure the funding it gives in Somalia supports and does not contravene human rights principles. Ould Abdallah, who previously said that the press should not report on the killing of civilians by African Union peacekeepers, disagrees. He said the Somali police should be paid even if some "stole money money" or committed "abuse." This is not the UN policy. But the UN has become so out of control that no one dares to reign Ould Abdallah in, or even tries.

When Ould Abdallah attacked the media who reported on African Union peacekeepers firing into a crowd of civilians in Mogadishu, and compared these media outlets to Radio Milles Colines which stoked genocide in Rwanda, both Human Rights Watch and press freedom groups demanded he issue a retraction. Inner City Press asked about it at the UN in New York, and was later told by senior UN officials that Ould Abdallah had been told to retract it by headquarters, but had not do[ne] so. So much for accountability.

Emblematic is the lack of answers on how Ould Abdallah, according to a joint Somali - Kenyan filing under the Law of Sea's Continental shelf process, arranged for assistance from Norway and its Petroleum Directorate. Inner City Press wrote about this and asked the UN and Ould's spokesperson Suzie Price, but never received an answer.

On Friday, the question was put to Ould Abdallah and he said he is "no specialist," that he was unfamiliar with the filing that states that he prepared it. "Ask Norway," he said. Video here, from Minute 12:30. Inner City Press already has -- click here -- but Ould Abdallah's non answers on May 29 only raise more questions.

Somalia Pirates Include Pakistanis and Iranians, Russia Says an International Court Needed

While the campaign of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia is portrayed as example of global unity, there are disagreements about setting up an international court mechanism to try piracy suspects. After Friday's meeting of the Contact Group, Inner City Press asked U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary, Political and Military Affairs Greg Delawie if the U.S. favors such an international mechanism. No, Mr. Delawie said. Is this due to the U.S.'s position against the International Criminal Court?

Ironically, not only Germany and the Netherlands but also Russia favor an international court, or "mechanism within a national court," as a Russian diplomat put it to Inner City Press. He noted that the U.S. arguments against this are similar to those Russia made against, for example, the establishment of the so-called Hariri tribunal for Lebanon. He said that since Kenya, where most trials for now take place, has an Anglo Saxon system, the U.S. and UK are fine with it, Russia less so. He said that recently pirates from Pakistan and Iran have been caught and asked, why turn them over to Kenya?

Somalia's foreign minister made a pitch for money for his country's courts, and to develop an official Somali Coast Guard. Inner City Press had asked Delawie what the group would do about illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste, two roots or rationales for Somali piracy. Delawie said that things are so dangerous now, he doubts that illegal fishing persists. The answer seemed insufficient.

it was probably recited w/ the intention to mislead, unless "u.s. acting asst sec, political and military affairs" delawie is incredibly uninformed on what's going on along the coast of somalia.

on the remark of the anon "russian diplomat" that "recently pirates from pakistan and iran have been caught", which then gets turned into a sensational headline - are you sure he's not confusing the report of the "rescue" of hijacked iranian & pakistani fishermen on a fishing boat that had been commandeered by somali 'pirates' and was being used as a mother ship? we covered that story earlier. if there is a separate rpt of illegal fishermen of those countries being captured by the budding thousand-ship navy, do share for i have yet to see any such thing

Posted by: b real | May 30, 2009 1:44:15 AM | 86

video: Wole Soyinka on Nigeria's democracy

This week, Nigeria celebrates a decade of democracy - the longest period of unbroken civilian rule in the country's history.

But have the generals really beaten a retreat? And have politicians delivered on their promises first under President Olusegun Obasanjo and now under President Umaru Yar'Adua?

Focus on Africa's Uduak Amimo spoke to the Nobel prize-winning Nigerian writer and political activist, Wole Soyinka.

May 29 Not Democracy Day, Soyinka Insists

"THE ball is now in your court...Election is still two years away...What is wrong in identifying now your candidates and beginning to mobilise support for them...Why can't you invade your homeland...Use your mobile telephones now to mobilise the people and guard democracy...the way Barrack Obama used the Internet technology to mobilise the youths to strengthen democracy...Mobilise the youths to guard the ballot boxes from start to finish...Defend the vote, nobody is going to do it for you..."

With these words last night at the London Metropolitan University, Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka urged Nigerians and indeed those in the Diaspora to move democracy forward from the realm of rhetoric to action that will lead to the enthronement of genuine democracy in the country.

...

Soyinka had begun his speech on a lighter note when he humorously "corrected" the "wrong impression" by [columnist Dr. Okey] Ndibe, who spoke before him that Obasanjo promised "uninterrupted power supply" but did not fulfill.

According to Soyinka: "Really, Obasanjo did not disappoint anybody about his promise on power...He delivered...He (Obasanjo) promised 'uninterrupted power,' which is the manifesto of PDP...."

The use of the paradox on "power" drew spontaneous ovation from the appreciative crowd, just as the Professor of Literature warned against celebrating May 29 as Democracy Day.

Soyinka berated government for allegedly attempting to stop him from attending the colloquium, saying nothing has changed in Nigeria to make the day a democracy day to be elevated above June 12.

Rather, he said, May 29 has been synonymous to some of the negative things that had occurred in the last 10 years of democracy, including the mysterious killing of former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige.

He rapped the civil society, which he said "still doesn't understand what it means to struggle for democracy."

10 Years of Democracy: It's wasted years

Some leading Nigerians have given damning verdict on 10 years of Nigeria’s democracy, which was marked yesterday, May 29.

For them, the appellation, Democracy Day, is not only deceptive, it’s also a decade of wasted opportunities. Others simply waved the celebration aside.

One of those that kept mum was Prof. Chinua Achebe, credited as Father of Modern African Literature.

Asked to comment on a decade of Nigeria’s democracy, the country’s longest civilian rule, the novelist whose Things fall apart was marked globally for turning 50, was said to be very busy.

In fact, his son, Dr. Chidi Achebe, a medical director in a United States hospital, wrote back to Saturday Vanguard, saying, “It’s not going to happen. Prof has too much on his table right now.”

Posted by: b real | May 30, 2009 2:00:30 AM | 87

whoops! should rather have typed "audio" in the above

as a means of atonement, i can only offer up the following inaugural installment of

achebe vs soyinka: round one - the pissing match

chinua achebe, from the trouble with nigeria, 1983

Early in 1983 I was travelling from Nsukka to Ogidi with my wife and daughter and driver As we were driving through Awka we heard a siren and performed the appropriate motions of mild panic and pulled up. Three police vehicles - a jeep, a car and a lorry sped by in the opposite direction. From the side of the lorry a policeman was pissing on to the road and halted traffic.

You may not believe it; and I can't say I blame you. Although I clearly saw the fly of his trousers, his sprinkler and the jet of urine, I still would not have believed it if I had not had confirmation in the horrified reaction of other travellers around us, and if my wife and driver had not recoiled instinctively from the impact of that police piss on their side of the car. Fortunately for them the glass was wound up.

It was almost humourous.


wole soyinka, from ìsará: a voyage around "essay", 1989

Those soldiers had become the bane of Opeilu's life. His most scary fever had begun after their display in the seedy passages behind the cinema in Ekotedo. Nothing but physical exhaustion could have made him take the shortcut, but it had seemed safe enough at that moment. A number of late-night drinkers were out in the street, but there was no sign of soldiers. He was halfway through the passage when they burst out of the Starlight Konkoma Bar, staggering from wall to wall, all fifteen to twenty of them. There he was, trapped, and if he hadn't quickly recited Psalm 21, he would never have seen the obscure doorway, which could hardly hide a child, but he had forced himself flat against it anyway, praying like mad and psalming soundlessly. One of them gave a shout, which must have been an order because they all tried to gain some form of balance, then began to unbutton their trousers. Another shout and they all began to urinate, against the walls, into the passage, on themselves, so drunk and unbalanced were they. But the strangest sight was still to come.

When the next order came, they buttoned up - that is, those still remembered that their "objects" were still dangling out, because some were so eager to obey the next command that they forgot. And that order, it appeared, was they should take off their belts. And they began to flog one another! Opeilu knew all about egungun festivals, he had seen all types of masquerades, and he knew that there were those outings in which men held flogging contests, using palm stalks and the springy atori, applying the whips only to the legs, which were usually covered by thin trousers. But these soldiers were applying the buckle end of the belt to one another - and everywhere! Blood flowed copiously, but on they went, nonstop. Those who collapsed were simply left lying in their urine puddles. The exercise - for what else could one call it? Opeilu had demanded in his letter to the teacher - the exercise lasted some three quarters of an hour. Onlookers had gathered at a distance from the centre of the action, but there he was, trapped in the middle, nothing between him and the certainty of death on discovery but the narrow space in that doorway and the power of Psalm 21! When they were finally wearied of the exercise, their "panic-sowing and alarming show of barbarity," they flung their empty beer bottles against the houses, shattering them against the walls and smashing windows, then hauled up their wounded and staggered to their barracks, singing at the top of their voices.

Posted by: b real | May 30, 2009 2:54:07 AM | 88

re the cargo of that russian transport plane that went down in lake victoria early march w/ saffer merc duncan rykaard onboard & which we covered alot during that time in earlier "africa comments" threads. the official word was that it was carrying mostly tents & water purifiers. this story indicates what the plane really contained.

Somalia peacekeepers taught urban warfare

Somalia's Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers have years of experience battling rebels at home, but faced with Mogadishu's Islamist insurgents they have had to enlist the help of a private company.

...

Unfamiliar with the kind of guerrilla tactics that US-led foreign troops in Iraq have been dealing with, AMISOM hired Bancroft Global Development, a private outfit based in South Africa and specialising in "landmine research".

At the gate to AMISOM's fortified headquarters in the war-ravaged seaside Somali capital, members of the force's Ugandan contingent are being trained.

Wagging its tail, a black labrador is led around a grey Mercedes, which sits with doors, bonnet and boot open. It sniffs behind the tyres and on the seats: no explosives.

"Any type of explosives, the dog can find them. They are 100 percent reliable. No machine or technology could do that better," said David Schoman, a Bancroft expert wearing fatigues and a khaki T-shirt.

...

AMISOM spokesman Bahuko Barigye explained that hiring a private security company was necessary to avoid unnecessary losses.

"The Ugandan army doesn't have any experience in IEDs, so when we were confronted with that scourge, we had to find a solution," he said.

Bancroft Global Development was contracted by AMISOM donors, had already worked with the Ugandan army in the past and was an obvious choice, Barigye explained.

Bancroft expert Rocky Van Blerk explained how his company conducts research on the explosive devices, raises awareness, offers training and active protection for the Ugandan base.

"Soon there will be some dogs at the Burundian base. It is because they had no dogs that the kamikaze could enter," said Van Blerk, who honed his skills in Iraq and Afghanistan for four years before working in Somalia.

rykaard was working for bancroft at the time

Posted by: b real | May 30, 2009 3:55:53 PM | 89

I think Obama is visiting Ghana for a number of reasons. Oil and AFRICOM are high on the list. Ghana is about to come online with some moderately significant oil production, with more potential oil. Much of the oil infrastructure and staff that can be moved out of Nigeria is already being moved to Ghana, and more is due to move. Ghana is friendlier and safer. I'm sure that move will continue, although I'm sure the oil companies are bringing some unfriendliness and unsafeness with them. Ghana is stable and comfortable and friendly to US citizens. It is geographically ideally placed for monitoring and policing the Gulf of Guinea, therefore ideally placed for AFRICOM. It already has commercial ports.

Ghana is generally very pro US, although that suffered a bit under Bush. President Clinton made a very popular and successful visit there. AFRICOM already has a presence in Ghana in the US embassy, and in The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC). I think Ghana is the country the US most wants for a base or HQ for AFRICOM because of location and comfort level. They saw their best bet with the outgoing NPP administration, which was very much for sale. Public opinion prevented Kufour from inviting AFRICOM in. When the NPP ran and won in 2000, one of their selling points was they were all well off "they have their own something to chop" and don't need to steal from the public coffers. They then proceeded to loot at unprecedented levels. It was very like the Bush administration, an opportunity to loot the country for personal gain. The scandals and thefts continue to boil up daily in the press. There will be some prosecutions.

The people in charge of the Ghana military now are people who came up under Rawlings, and are inclined to similar views. I think Rawlings feels strongly that Ghana should not host AFRICOM. Whether Mills and his military commanders will follow that I don't know. Other people I know say Mills will never consent to hosting AFRICOM. I certainly hope they are correct. I am a great admirer of Rawlings, although when his second elected term of office was up I thought it was time for him to go. I supported Mills and the NDC then, in 2000, but the NPP won two terms.

The NPP also helped institutionalize the drug problem in Ghana, with lots of their high ups and money men involved in the drug trade. There were rumours and lots of indications that the diplomatic baggage was carrying a lot of drugs. The rumours say their presidential candidate, Akufo-Addo is a cocaine addict. I have no documentary confirmation of this, but people who know more than I do tell me it is true, and I certainly find it credible. He also has a profound contempt for his constituents, which many of them could see. I think the NPP drug connection would have worked very well with the US war on drugs which they are pushing as one of the ways the US can help Ghana. Mary Carlin Yates has been in Ghana recently talking this up big time. If the trade is there the need to fight it is there, keep the trade, keep the need for AFRICOM. With the NPP out the drug trade won't go away. That curse will continue for awhile. I don't know how much it may have eaten into the NDC. I haven't seen much sign of it yet, and I hope it does not make too many inroads, but the money is very tempting, and people in Ghana are poor.

Jendayi Frazer was in Ghana at the end of December right before the runoff election in Tain that settled the election. I wrote about the final runoff election here if you want more detail: Ghana runoff election in Tain today January 2. Right before the runoff there was mention in the press of power sharing. I'm sure that came from her. I think the US very much wanted to continue dealing with the NPP. The election was well managed and there was no more talk of power sharing.

The NPP are run by the Ashanti elites, the same families who opposed independence, and wanted to break away from Nkrumah and the rest of Ghana. Nkrumah told them go ahead, they'd be on their own. Ashanti is landlocked and surrounded, so that would never work. All the NPP top people are Ashanti. In that sense it is a party of minority privilege rather like the GOP. They are the pre-colonial elites, and have done well under colonialism, and by working with the neo-colonialists ever since. Not all Ashantis are NPP, and not all the NPP are such greedy sellouts.

Ghana's democracy functions a bit better than most, and that makes it a PR plus for an Obama visit, as well as the tourist trade already mentioned. The recent elections were easily comparable to US elections for reliability, fairness, and transparency, which is to say, not great, but passable, and the actual winners won. Plus, it was not just an election, the party in power changed hands, and there was no coup, as the recent one in Kenya, and no permanent one party rule, as in so many places. That is a huge success for Ghana, I hope we can continue. And it adds to the PR plus for Obama.

Posted by: xcroc | May 30, 2009 3:58:52 PM | 90


first AFRICOM came out on a very high-profile. Its real mission was to check China's rapidly growing presence in Africa. But its stated missions failed to convince most African observers and instead stirred up a lot of opposition & deep suspicions. So if Obama were to try to push AFRICOM, he would have to re-brand it & he just does'nt have much to work with. And it would be quite uncharacteristic of what we know of Obama to think he would invest a lot of cred on such a tainted initiative. His preference would probably weigh towards coming up with a "fresh" approach.

also, from a historical & political perspective, Ghana is not expected to stray very far from the "non-aligned" model. And its clear that theres significant enough opposition to hosting Africom already that there is probably not going to be enough in it for both Ghana & the USA to make it happen. Another way to put it is that Ghana is not going to want to get into anybodys business particularly Nigeria's.

Posted by: Jony_b_cool | May 30, 2009 6:15:25 PM | 91

Pictures from Mogadishu at the Big Picture

Posted by: b | Jun 2, 2009 6:28:52 AM | 92

thanks b, i've seen several of those in other media. interesting pictures that, along w/ the narrative established by the captions, paint a somewhat misleading image of what is going down in mogadishu in the minds of the boston globe readers. what is see is a juxtaposing of images primarily of kids w/ weapons as composing the insurgency, which the captions misleadingly claim have little political or popular support, against those images by the photog embedded w/ amisom which are presented as 'peacekeepers' trying to exert stability and tending to the needs of mogadishu's women & children in uganda's makeshift medical camps. it's propaganda, really. the TFG2 has more int'l support than it does local & if amisom wasn't there to protect it & guard the port & airport, it would already be toppled. the "big picture" here is shaping a context that does not match the rpts inside mogadishu & somalia.

Posted by: b real | Jun 2, 2009 7:50:43 AM | 93

Weapons intended for govt 'expected in Somalia'

MOGADISHU, Somalia June 1 (Garowe Online) - A senior military official in Somalia told Garowe Online news agency that a weapons shipment intended for the Horn of Africa country's interim government is expected to arrive soon.

The source, who refused to be named, said the weapons were "donated by some African countries," although he did not specify details.

"Some of the weapons will arrive by land via Ethiopia and Kenya, other weapons will be unloaded at the Port of Mogadishu," said the military source.

Port sources confidentially told Garowe Online that a ship transporting military hardware is expected to dock at Mogadishu's port later this week, with one port worker saying: "We were ordered to not show up for work on Thursday and we were not told a reason...but I have heard that weapons are expected."

control over police stations in mogadishu are going back & forth, w/ govt-aligned soldiers trying to take them from hizbul islam forces. at the end of monday they still remained under insurgent control however reports so far on tuesday have govt forces retaking stations in yaqshid & galbeed.

and more govt-aligned forces have moved into hiiraan where ethiopian forces have reportedly been digging in for an upcoming counterinsurgency battle to check expanding islamist influence/control.

Posted by: b real | Jun 2, 2009 11:13:48 AM | 94

I just got notice that the 2009 Global Peace Index has been released. The bottom three countries are:
142 Somalia
143 Afghanistan
144 Iraq
All of whom are receiving unwelcome military attention from the US.

Posted by: xcroc | Jun 2, 2009 11:59:11 AM | 95

excerpts from a recent le monde diplomatique article (last week?), In Somalia, With the President Besieged in a Capital Ruined by the Fighting

The threat that weighs on his head can be read in the tiniest thwarted moments of everyday life. Even to get his hair cut the Somali transition president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, cannot leave the Villa Somalia, the president`s office protected like a bunker. In Mogadishu, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) represents little more than an optimistic theory, supported by the international community and threatened by Islamist fighters.

...

President Sheikh Sharif, confined to an enclave stretched between the port, the airport, a main road, and a few pockets held by the militia members of his clan (Abgal), struggles to remain alive in Villa Somalia and to organize, on an urgent basis, armed forces while outside rages a combination of attacks, urban guerrilla warfare, mortar shelling, and assaults.

...

“There are insurgents who have infiltrated the president`s office. They have even shot at each other in Villa Somalia,” a highly placed military source reports.

In a building below Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid ali Sharmarke, another voluntary captive of Villa Somalia, tries to convince himself the international support will arrive in time. “We have held out our hand to everyone, instituted sharia,” he recalls, admitting: “Time is not on our side.”

Sunk in a velvet sofa as deep as the Somali drama, here is a familiar figure: Yusuf Mohammed Siad, “Inda`adde.” After a winding career Inda`adde has just left the camp of the Hizbul Islam insurgents to rejoin the TFG. He can talk about the arms deliveries from Eritrea, at one time he was the recipient of some of the equipment, as noted by experts at the United Nations in charge of the embargo on arms intended for Somalia. Liberated by a new betrayal he has now become talkative, describing “arms deliveries” from Eritrea, but also transfers of cash by “individuals in the Arab countries” which, through payments ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, can reach “almost $1 million in a single day.”

heh. one mill a day? or is that what he's asking for his quote-unquote humint services...

Since 7 May more than 200 people have been killed, 700 wounded. The action of the government forces is a disaster. During one attempt last week to retake positions from the insurgents, the TFG forces advanced for hours before turning around at night. The AMISOM officials cannot get over it. “They attack, they advance, they take positions, and suddenly they withdraw. And obviously, the insurgents follow them,” Colonel Jack Kakasumba, commander of the Ugandan AMISOM troops, comments fatalistically. “It would be enough for the government to have 3,000 to 5,000 men,” hopes General Okello, commander of the pan-African force, “but above all with a functioning command.” Two weeks earlier an attempt was made to give them uniforms, which they refused, considering them” haramu “ (unclean).

So the government resorts to its wits. Distributions of weapons to civilians take place in the city or near the Ethiopian border. Warlords who have been marginalized in recent years try to create a pro-TFG alliance.

considering their previous "alliance" and the current state of affairs, i don't think it too reckless to append onto that final graf the words 'most likely w/ assistance from the cia & their allies'

Posted by: b real | Jun 2, 2009 2:58:41 PM | 96

interview w/ sheikh aweys from last week

Aweys Says: There is a Government of Agents in Mogadishu. The World Seeks to Divide Somalia


In this interview, the first one he gave to the international press after his appointment as leader of the opposition Islamic Party last week, Aweys said: “We are fighting to liberate our country. The fact is that the world wants no good for Somalia. They seek to annihilate our people, occupy and divide their land and then annex it to the neighboring states, namely Kenya and Ethiopia.”

He added: “We will fight to defend our homeland and will not allow the enemies of the Somali people to divide and annex our country to others. Our principle is either martyrdom or independence.”

...

Aweys, who has not yet given up his leadership of “the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia”, said: “The Somali people have two goals. They want to live in peace and practice their religion freely.”

He added that the current government, led by Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmad, “came together with its foreign guards to prevent the people from practicing their religion and living freely and to separate between religion and people and between the Islamists and the authority.”

...

Aweys said for the first time that the aim behind his return from his voluntary exile in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, is “to unify the ranks of the mujahidin and end the foreign occupation of the country.”

He said the efforts to unite the Youth Movement and the Islamic Party reached an advanced stage, but did not give a definitive date to announce unity between the two parties.

...

Aweys said he does not believe that a Somali government exists at present. He added: “There is no government in Somalia. They are agents of the Somali people`s enemies. As for us, we are working to make the people reach a stage where they can agree on and form a government after expelling the enemy from the country.”

He continued: “The mujahidin who are fighting to liberate their country will continue to fight the government of Ahmad. The people have not granted legitimacy to this government.”

Aweys reiterated that his disagreement with Shaykh Ahmad does not stem from a personal enmity. Rather, it is a disagreement over principles, he noted.

He said: “It is wrong to call this group of agents a government. An internationally recognized government is the one that serves its people and defends its land. But this group is not a government. It is worthless.”

He added: “When the world says it recognizes that government, this means that it is an agent of the world and that the world brought it to power and, therefore, it is a legitimate government. However, the people did not grant legitimacy to this government and never recognized it.”

Aweys said that the African Union`s support for the government of Ahmad serves as an evidence that this government is subservient to the West and African Union. He added: “There is no government in the world that the enemy protects against its own people. By God, this is not a government.”

...

He added: “The time has come for the world to leave Somalia to its people and give it an opportunity to choose the government that it likes. Leave us alone. We know our country best.”

Posted by: b real | Jun 3, 2009 1:59:53 PM | 97

Posted by: b real | Jun 3, 2009 5:38:36 PM | 98

commentary above should have read "announcing the groups' rejection", not denouncing

Posted by: b real | Jun 3, 2009 5:40:28 PM | 99

this story fits in w/ the 2nd & 3rd links in #8 above

east african business week: Uganda's oil reserves rival Saudi Arabia’s, says US expert

KAMPALA, UGANDA - Uganda's oil reserves could be as much as that of the Gulf countries, a senior official at the US Department of Energy has said.

Based on the test flow results encountered at the wells so far drilled and other oil numbers, Ms. Sally Kornfeld, a senior analyst in the office of fossil energy went ahead to talk about Uganda's oil reservoirs in the same sentence as Saudi Arabia.

"You are blessed with amazing reservoirs. Your reservoirs are incredible. I am amazed by what I have seen, you might rival Saudi Arabia," Kornfeld told a visiting delegation from Uganda in Washington DC.

The group of Ugandans was in Washington on an international visitor programme and looked at the efficient use of natural energy resources.

The group comprised Ministry of Energy officials, a Member of Parliament, members from the civil society and one journalist.

At present, Uganda has four oil prospectors on the ground including Heritage Oil, Tullow Oil, Tower Oil and Dominion Oil.

Of the four prospectors, Tullow and Heritage have registered success at wells in two blocks in the Albertine basin, which lies in the upper-most part of the western arm of the Great Rift Valley.

According to data so far aggregated since the first discovery was made by Australian prospector Hardman Resources (now taken over by Tullow) in June 2006, Uganda has established reserves at 3.5 million barrels of oil per day.

Experts in oil exploration say this could be just a tip of the iceberg.

...

As Kornfeld marveled at Uganda's oil finds, she was quick to add that for the country to benefit from the oil and gas resources but also avoid the pitfalls of oil producing countries like Nigeria, it is extremely important to set up strong governance structures.

Kornfeld and the other United States officials said they are ready to help Uganda's nascent oil and gas sector with anything including the key environmental issues that are crucial to the efficient management of oil and gas.

"Anything you might want us to help you with we will and we have a lot of expertise in environmental issues relating to oil and gas," Kornfeld said.


dow jones newswire: Tullow, Heritage Face Tough Choices on Uganda Oil Devt

After remarkable exploration success in Uganda, Tullow Oil PLC and Heritage Oil Ltd. face tough choices over how to develop the oil they've discovered.

Both companies face immense infrastructure challenges bringing the oil from its remote region to world markets. They have to walk a fine line between their commercial goals and the sometimes conflicting ambitions of the Ugandan government. Tullow and Heritage also have to handle overtures from much larger rivals that want in on the substantial quantities of oil they have discovered.

Until this week, when the first well in the region came up dry, Tullow and Heritage drilled 15 wells in the Lake Albert basin of Uganda with a 100% success rate. Reserves in the area now stand at 600 million barrels of oil equivalent, said Tullow Chief Executive Aidan Heavey.

"Lake Albert is a multibillion-barrel basin," with great potential to expand reserves even further once problems with licenses on the Congolese side of the lake are resolved and exploration begins there, said Paul Atherton, chief financial officer of Heritage.

...

As thoughts turn from exploration to development, a significant gap has emerged between the Ugandan government's intentions and those of Heritage and Tullow, he said.

Tullow and Heritage have long talked of exporting the Lake Albert oil to world markets via Kenya, initially by rail to the port of Mombassa and eventually through a large enough pipeline to carry the 150,000 barrels of oil per day the basin is thought to be capable of producing.

The government has clashed recently with Tullow over the pipeline, said an official at the energy and minerals ministry.

And Uganda's energy minister recently said no unrefined oil should be exported from Uganda and instead the country should build a refinery to process all domestic crude and supply oil products to the whole region.

...

Even if the Ugandan government eventually decides that refining all oil domestically isn't the best option, significant hurdles remain for Heritage and Tullow as they try to take full advantage of Lake Albert.

Getting 150,000 barrels of oil a day to world markets would require a 1,200-kilometer pipeline. The waxy nature of the crude adds to the challenge, probably requiring a combination of chemical treatment and heating to keep the oil flowing.

These aren't insurmountable technical challenges, but the size and expense of the project would put a tremendous strain on companies as small as Tullow and Heritage, said Tullow's McDade.

"Do we see ourselves as the best people to put in a 1,200-kilometer pipeline? Not really," said McDade.

Once major exploration work is complete, Tullow plans to sell part of its stake in the fields to "a partner that brings competency to the table, with demonstrable experience of building a long pipeline and doing it efficiently," he said.

...

As talks on the development move slowly forward, one voice that has been heard little so far is that of the local communities, said Dickens Kamugisha, chief executive of the African Institute for Energy Governance, a non-governmental organization based in the Ugandan capital.

Local people are worried about the problems caused in Nigeria, Angola and Chad by the exploitation of oil resources and unchecked flows of petrodollars to governments with a reputation for corruption, he said. "The process has been secretive," with insufficient public discussion over the competing development plans and no publication of the production-sharing contracts between the Ugandan government and the companies, he said.

...

A dispute is already brewing over who controls rights to minerals in the Lake Albert area and how revenues will be distributed between the government and leaders of the Bunyoro Kingdom -- the ethnic grouping that occupies districts on the lake's eastern shore . Local communities "say they have been completely left out of the process and are not satisfied," said Kamugisha.

Posted by: b real | Jun 4, 2009 12:13:13 AM | 100

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