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Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2014

Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, providing an update on the ICC-OTP Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes

Since assuming my mandate as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), I have made the need to devise and implement a policy on sexual violence and gender based crimes an Office priority. To this end, 7 February 2014, my Office published a Draft Policy Paper for public comment. I am thrilled and encouraged by the positive and overwhelming public response we have received from various entities, including States, international institutions, civil society, academia and individuals and experts around the world. This once again demonstrates the international commitment and support behind the fight against impunity for sexual violence and gender based crimes.

As we mark International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, I would like to reiterate that ending impunity for these heinous crimes is a goal that none of us can attain alone: our collective efforts and dedication is the only way we can send a clear, strong and consistent message that in this new century, acts of sexual and gender violence against women, men and children constitute serious crimes, the punishment of which we shall relentlessly pursue at both national, regional and international levels.

The mandate of my Office is to address such acts if they amount to international crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the ICC, namely, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Other instances of sexual violence and gender-based criminality deserve to be equally exposed, recognised and comprehensively addressed by national authorities and other relevant actors.

The implementation of the aforementioned policy paper, as finalised, will help our collective efforts to advance justice and to respond to the urgent needs expressed by victims of all forms of sexual violence and gender-based crimes for recognition and accountability. Furthermore, we hope that this policy paper will provide guidance and clarity regarding the on-going and future investigations and prosecutions of these crimes for all relevant actors.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have provided us with their invaluable input on the policy paper. My Office is working assiduously to review, consider, and incorporate your suggestions, as appropriate, over the coming weeks. A final version of the policy paper will be made public in the near future.

We owe a duty to humanity to eradicate sexual violence and gender based crimes, and to erase them from the realm of the possible, once and for all. Together, we can successfully fulfil that pledge.

  • Source: Office of the Prosecutor

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Khartoum: Really Out of the Terrorism Business?

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2014

  • Eric Reeves, USA, 7 March 2014

Given the U.S. intelligence community’s eager relationship with Khartoum, it would be convenient if the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime were no longer in the business of supporting international terrorism and no longer on the State Department list of state sponsors of international terrorism.  Of course, the domestic terrorism wrought in Darfur, Blue Nile, South Kordofan, Abyei, and among those who would resist the regime’s brutal tyranny seems of little concern to the Central Intelligence Agency and other of the myriad intelligence-gathering agencies dealing with the very real and ongoing threat of international terrorism.  Indeed, there seems to have been a general loss of moral balance in how the intelligence community thinks and operates, even as its influence in domestic and foreign policy continues to grow rapidly.

For example, so eager was the CIA to improve relations with the Khartoum regime that in 2005 the agency decided to fly to Langley, Virginia (CIA headquarters)—on executive jet—Major-General Saleh Gosh, then head of Khartoum’s intelligence services and, critically, minder of Osama bin Laden during his time in Khartoum: 1992 – 1996, formative years for al-Qaeda.  It mattered little that Gosh’s hands were covered with the blood of political detainees and any perceived opponents of the regime.  And it mattered little that Gosh was instrumental in carrying out the genocidal counter-insurgency campaign in Darfur, then at its height.  He had information the CIA wanted, and the price to be paid was a trip to Washington.

An extraordinary piece of investigative journalism by the Los Angeles Times revealed the attitude of the U.S. intelligence community during the Bush administration.  For despite President Bush’s 2005 reiteration of the genocide finding against Khartoum for its actions in Darfur, first announced in September 2004 by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, the CIA “proudly” flew Gosh to Washington. In an unusually detailed depiction of the controversy over this visit within the Bush administration, the Los Angeles Times reported on June 17, 2005:

The CIA and Mukhabarat [Khartoum’s intelligence and security services] officials have met regularly over the last few years, but Gosh had been seeking an invitation to Washington in recognition of his government’s efforts, sources told The Times. The CIA, hoping to seal the partnership, extended the invitation. “The agency’s view was that the Sudanese are helping us on terrorism and it was proud to bring him over,” said a government source with knowledge of Gosh’s visit. “They didn’t care about the political implications.”

The cynicism reflected in this attitude—the “pride” in bringing a known génocidaire to the United States—almost beggars belief.
The “political implications,” of course, included Khartoum’s canny understanding of the significance of Washington’s willingness to invite a man not only complicit in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Darfuris but a regime official directly responsible for many tens of thousands of “disappearances,” extrajudicial executions, instances of brutal torture, political arrests, and other violations of human rights.  These have been regularly chronicled for many years by Human Rights WatchAmnesty International, and the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (UK), among others.
As the Los Angeles Times dispatch continued:
An internal debate erupted after word of the invitation [to Gosh] spread to other government agencies. Their concern stemmed in part from a 2004 letter that 11 members of Congress sent to Bush, which accused Gosh of being a chief architect of the violence in Darfur. The letter said Sudan had engaged in a “scorched-earth policy against innocent civilians in Darfur.” It identified 21 Sudanese government, military and militia leaders as responsible and called on the administration to freeze their assets and ban them from coming to the U.S. Gosh was No. 2 on the list.”
Several sources, including a State Department official, said the question of the propriety of the visit provoked sharp divisions at that agency. Similar opposition emerged at the Justice Department, where officials discussed arresting Gosh, according to two sources.
Ted Dagne, a Sudan specialist with the Congressional Research service, said State Department officials believed Gosh’s trip would “send a political signal to the [Sudanese] government that Darfur would not prevent Sudan from winning support in Washington.”
This painfully cynical attitude toward Khartoum as a valued partner in the “war on terrorism” is just as prevalent in the Obama administration as in the Bush administration.  Indeed, in terms of deception and disingenuousness, the Obama administration may have an edge.  The most glaring example was provided by former special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, a man singularly without diplomatic skills, regional knowledge, relevant languages—or common sense.  Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee shortly after being appointed to this most challenging diplomatic undertaking, he was asked specifically about Sudan and support for international terrorism.  His reply was an example of shocking mendacity, or ignorance:
“There’s no evidence in our intelligence community that supports [Sudan] being on the state sponsors of terrorism. It’s a political decision.” Gration said.” (Testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC, July 31, 2009)
Let’s examine this claim more deeply than the Senate did, and see just what the historical record suggests about Khartoum’s support for international terrorism.
Most recently, with considerable international attention, the Israeli Defence Forces reported that on March 5, 2014 they seized a Panamanian-flagged freighter, with a Turkish captain, as it was approaching Port Sudan on the Red Sea.  The ship was Iranian, the Klos-C.  In the cargo-hold, under bags of cement, were dozens of Syrian M-302 rockets—not, evidently, the most advanced version of this rocket system, but with a very large warhead and a range of approximately 100 kilometers (a number of photographs have been publicly released).
The rockets—originally from Syria and delivered to Iran—were to be transported overland from Port Sudan through Egypt and on to Gaza and presumably Hamas (with which Iran is trying to repair relations) or Islamic Jihad (Iran’s proxy in Gaza).  Both are designated as terrorist groups by the U.S.  The rockets would bring a tremendous number of Israeli citizens within range of these powerful rockets.  Notably, Hamas continues to have an office in Khartoum—as it did when Gration made his claim that the designation of Khartoum as a sponsor of terrorism was merely “political.”
Beyond this most recent episode, there is a good deal of evidence that Khartoum has been complicit in attempts to smuggle weapons to Gaza through Egypt for a number of years.  But if we look back further, to the years after bin Laden left Sudan for Afghanistan, there is also a good deal of revealing detail about Khartoum’s ongoing support for terrorism.  A good deal of this information has come from “Wikileaked” U.S. diplomatic cable traffic, which is candid because it has been assumed to be completely secure.
We should note first that the August 2010 State Department assessment of international terrorism found that “al-Qa’ida-inspired terrorist elements as well as elements of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and HAMAS, remained in Sudan in 2009″—the very year in which Gration testified. Khartoum was of course aware of and acquiesced in this presence. Moreover, U.S. intelligence knew that as recently as March 2009 Sudan had a role in supplying Iranian arms for Hamas in Gaza. The Guardian (UK) reported in December 2010 on “Wikileaked” State Department cables from both January and March 2009:
State department cables released by WikiLeaks show that Sudan was warned by the U.S. in January 2009 not to allow the delivery of unspecified Iranian arms that were expected to be passed to Hamas in the Gaza Strip around the time of Israel’s Cast Lead offensive, in which 1,400 Palestinians were killed.” (December 6, 2010)
U.S. diplomats were instructed to express “exceptional concern” to Khartoum officials, but those warnings evidently went unheeded. The Guardian goes on to report:
In March 2009, Jordan and Egypt were informed by the U.S. of new Iranian plans to ship a cargo of “lethal military equipment” to Syria with onward transfer to Sudan and then to Hamas.
The cables don’t specify what the disposition of this “lethal military equipment” was. But Hamas is considered a terrorist organization not only by the U.S. but Canada, the European Union, and Japan.  So what to make of Gration’s claim of July 2009 that there is “no evidence in our intelligence community” that Khartoum supports terrorism”?  Perhaps he came to regret the misrepresentation.  For shortly after his Senate testimony, Gration would shamelessly lie to Darfuris in a Radio Dabanga interview, claiming he’d never suggested that Sudan be removed from the State Department list of international sponsors of terrorism, as if there were no obvious syllogism in his claim that Khartoum’s presence on the list was not because of support for terrorism, but merely for (domestic) “political” reasons.
Obama’s intelligence community seems to have made a convert of the President himself.  In April 2008 candidate Obama expressed “deep concern” that the Bush administration was making an unseemly deal with the Khartoum regime as a means to bolster the fledgling but already failing UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID):
“This reckless and cynical initiative would reward a regime in Khartoum that has a record of failing to live up to its commitments. First, no country should be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism for any reason other than the existence of verifiable proof that the government in question does not support terrorist organizations.”
The disparity between this strenuous rhetoric and the reality of the past five years has been striking, something I have explored at length previously (see below).
But what happens if we look further back?  Do these more recent actions follow a previous pattern?  In the days following September 11, 2001, a number of revealing reports quickly emerged, demonstrating that bin Laden’s departure for Afghanistan did not end his relationship with the Khartoum regime. For example, the Boston Globe, CNN, and Reuters all reported on the continuing role of al-Shamal Bank in financing Osama bin Laden’s campaign of terror against the United States. Unsurprisingly, al-Shamal Bank is in Khartoum.  Moreover, the National Islamic Front (as it was known during bin Laden’s sojourn) also gave bin Laden many lucrative opportunities not only in banking, but in agriculture and construction. And as the al-Shamal Bank example suggested, bin Laden continued to derive extensive support from Khartoum well after his departure for Afghanistan.  The Boston Globe offered a particularly telling example:

“Bin Laden could be using the [al-]Shamal bank to gain access to US banks,” [Senator Carl] Levin said, calling for new laws that would prevent such access. Levin cited an instance in which $250,000 was wired from [al-]Shamal Bank to a bin Laden associate in Texas, who used the money to buy a plane for bin Laden.”

According to CNN (September 26, 2001), bin Laden had provided $50 million in start-up capital for the al-Shamal Bank. It’s simply not credible that the Khartoum regime wasn’t fully aware of such a large financial presence in its banking system. And as the Boston Globe also notes in reporting on the years in which bin Laden was actually in Sudan: “U.S. officials said bin Laden controlled some of the largest commercial enterprises in Sudan, generating both profits and a cover for terrorist activities.”  In yet another revealing moment in the Boston Globe report, we learn that:

[Bin Laden’s] businesses were not just focused on the bottom line, U.S. prosecutors [in the Tanzania and Kenya embassies bombing trial] say. In one transaction, a bin Laden company sent sugar from Sudan to Afghanistan. But on its return flight, the rented Sudan Airways cargo plane was loaded with Milan rockets and Stinger missiles.

Moreover, al-Qaeda never fully left Khartoum and Sudan, even after bin Laden’s departure.  The April 2001 State Department report on state sponsors of terrorism declared emphatically: “[In 2000] Sudan continued to be used as a safe haven by members of various groups, including associates of Usama Bin Ladin’s al-Qaida organization.”

The broadest and most authoritative picture was provided by Africa Confidential, and much of what was said over a decade ago remains true today:

The N[ational I[slamic] F[ront] political and security apparatus is intact, as are the NIF’s and the international Islamists’ control of the economy. Many of those running terrorist training are still in security and ministerial jobs. So, well informed Sudanese doubt that the NIF will hand much of value to U.S. investigators. The NIF is as Islamist as its friends Usama and the Taliban. This regime believes in what it does. Any concession is intended only to protect the greater cause. Secondly, any major betrayal would be suicidal, just as dangerous as holding free elections.”  (Africa Confidential, Volume 42, No. 19, September 28, 2001)

British Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair, disclosed in the wake of 9/11 that:

… “these bin Laden companies were key assets in the al-Qaeda terrorist campaign. Since 1989, Osama bin Laden has established a series of (Sudanese) businesses to provide income for al-Qaeda, and to provide cover for the procurement of explosives, weapons and chemicals, and for the travel of al-Qaeda operatives,” said a report tabled in the British parliament.  (The Citizen [Ottawa], October 12, 2001)

In the same account The Citizen reported (along with many others):

“The FBI has confirmed that Mohamed Atta, who piloted one of the commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center, “wired money to Mr. bin Laden’s former paymaster in Sudan, Shaykh Sai’id el Masry, also known as Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad, on the eve of the terrorist attacks….  Shaykh Sai’id [Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad] controlled the bin Laden financial network in Sudan through a company called Taba Investments, and used profits from related Sudanese banks and businesses to finance and cloak terrorist training.”

The Associated Press reported that Ali Mohamed, who pled guilty to conspiracy in the 1998 east African embassy bombings, said

“he [Mohamed] arranged security for a meeting in the Sudan between Hezbollah’s chief and bin Laden. Hezbollah provided explosives training for al-Qaida and Islamic Jihad, Mohamed said, while Iran supplied Egyptian Jihad with weapons and used Hezbollah to supply explosives that were disguised to look like rocks,” (Associated Press, October 12, 2001)

The Washington Post, on October 11, 2001 reported that “Tens of millions of the $100 million provided by bin Laden to the Taliban since he arrived in Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996 has been directly traced to bin Laden entities through banking and other transfers.” These transfers would certainly have involved the Taba Investments Company and al-Shamal Bank in Khartoum, which received $50 million in start-up capital from bin Laden when he was in Sudan.

The Post had earlier reported: “Aldy el-Attar, a 53-year-old surgeon who had a practice in the city of Neu-Ulm in the state of Bavaria, met separately both with alleged hijacker Mohamed Atta and Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, an alleged financier for Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, the sources said. El-Attar traveled frequently in Europe and between Germany and Sudan” (October 9, 2001).

The Los Angeles Times reported on October 7, 2001 that a unit of Islamic moujahedeen in Bosnia had been financed by bin Laden “by means of small convoys of recruits from the Arab world through his businesses in Sudan, according to Mideast sources.”

And The Guardian of October 1, 2001 reported in detail on the financial background of bin Laden and al-Qaeda:

United States investigators believe they have found the “smoking gun” linking Osama bin Laden to the September 11 terrorist attacks, with the discovery of financial evidence showing money transfers between the hijackers and a bin Laden aide in the United Arab Emirates.

The man at the centre of the financial web is believed to be Sheikh Saeed, also known as Mustafa Mohamed Ahmad, who worked as a financial manager for bin Laden when the Saudi exile was based in Sudan, and is still a trusted paymaster in bin Laden’s al-Qaida organisation.

  • Perhaps the most chilling and explicit report was that of September 28, 2001, from the National Post (Canada). Citing documents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the National Post reported on two disturbing developments:

[1]  Sudanese leaders agreed in 1998 to use their embassy staff in New York, London and Rome to raise funds for Osama bin Laden, according to documents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

[2]  The documents, filed in Federal Court, also claim the Sudanese agreed to arrange for diplomatic credentials for bin Laden followers, allowing them unfettered travel around the world. The alleged agreement was struck between bin Laden’s top aide, Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahri, and “Sudanese Islamic leaders,” the CSIS brief said.

This report found its counterpart in the Hindustan Times (New Delhi) of September 20, 2001:

According to a senior police official, fresh evidence gathered by them has revealed that Ismail, the first secretary in the Sudanese embassy, was not only operating as a conduit of Osama bin Laden in the Capital [New Delhi] but was also trying to recruit more operatives for subversive activities.

[See also my overview account of the banking, investment, and commercial intertwining of the Khartoum regime and bin Laden and al-Qaeda at: “Osama bin Laden’s Ongoing Commercial and Financial Connections to Khartoum, September 19, 2001 and “Khartoum and a ‘financial war on terrorism’: connecting the dots,” November 2, 2001, http://sudanreeves.org/2004/12/22/khartoum-and-a-financial-war-on-terrorism-connecting-the-dots-november-2-2001/ ]

[See also transcripts of the 1998 embassy bombings trial, which had recently concluded. The trial for these acts of terrorism clearly indicated the responsibility of bin Laden and his terrorist network al-Qaeda. Companies such as Talisman Energy and the Government of Canada must certainly have had considerable knowledge of bin Laden’s, and thus Sudan’s, role in the embassy bombings when Talisman officially entered Sudan in October 1998. For transcripts of the trial, revealing much about bin Laden’s financial and commercial connections to Sudan, see the analysis of those transcripts by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies: http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/reports/binladen.htm.]

Has Khartoum really changed?

And just who is the man and the organization that Khartoum chose to have as such a close ally and business partner?

Bin Laden makes little distinction between American civilians and soldiers. “You say I am fighting against the American civilians,” he told one interviewer. “My enemy is every American man who is fighting against me, even by paying taxes.” (Los Angeles Times, September 15, 2001)

The same attitude prevails in many powerful quarters in Khartoum, as suggested by the willingness to assist in the transfer of powerful rockets to Gaza, where their only targets can be Israeli civilians, taxpaying and otherwise.  General Gration’s claim that only domestic “politics” keeps Sudan on the State Department list of state sponsors of international terrorism reflects either disabling ignorance or cynical mendacity; in his case it’s a tough call to make.  But the U.S. intelligence community knows full well all that I report here—and still chooses to attempt to define U.S. Sudan policy through the lens of counter-terrorism “cooperation” with Khartoum.

[For a more comprehensive analysis of how the intelligence community defines Obama administration Sudan policy, see “What Really Drives the Obama Administration’s Sudan Policy?” October 10, 2011, http://sudanreeves.org/2011/10/10/what-really-animates-the-obama-administrations-sudan-policy/]

 

End

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Reconciliation and Human Security: Prospects of Somalia Unity.

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2014

www.africanpress.me./ Somali Unity article – • By Farhia Ali Abdi

  • By Farhia Ali Abdi 

“Human security can no longer be understood in purely military terms. Rather, it must encompass economic development, social justice, environmental protection, democratization, disarmament, and respect for human rights and the rule of law” (Kofi Annan.)

Since the civil war in 1991, Somalia has undergone various ideology experiments to unite the country again.  However, none of them have brought lasting stability. Somalia’s problems are many and complicated: warlordism associated to clan rivalry and control underlies the broader Somali culture; international and regional military intervention had brought militarization and instability and not security or peace; and, different religious ideologies that created extremism with the subsequent war of terror that is in full force today.  In addition, the emergence of regionalism that sees other local African nations along with some internal Somali interests is becoming more prevalent. This regional politicking and interference is also divisive and makes it difficult for Somalis to work for reconciliation.  These have been the paralyzing factors that have contributed to the derailment of any meaningful stabilization of the country.  Although such experiences are common in such a fragmented society, particularly with the presence of international forces and aid, what is concerning in the case of Somalia is the prolonged instability. The entrenchments that these hindrances have pose a real and problematic scenario for the country’s future stabilization.  What I find to be an even more profoundly complex issue is how to re- unite this country considering its current intra-politics, external politics and interference, and lack of social cohesion.   My particular concern here is an attainment of a human security, beyond the political and social wrangling. Sustainability of a country lies in the strength of its human security, which will lead to the country’s national security and stabilization.

What is Human Security?

Human security was first defined by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) Human Development Report 1994 as being free from chronic threats such as hunger, disease and repression. It also linked human security to the overall protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life – whether in homes, in jobs or in communities, and it can exist at all levels of national income and development. State security, on the other hand, was defined as a state of being free from danger or threat or the safety of a state. Somalia is one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world; therefore, human security is critical in order to revive and sustain a social and economic recovery.

In this new epoch, there is an ideology amongst Somali people to focus on the country’s need both from the federal and regional levels.  Somalia has also been seen by the international community as being on the verge of a comeback politically, evident by the endorsements received from US, EU and other Arab and African countries. On the ground, there is a hopeful sign as over the past few years that Somalia’s fragile security on the ground has improved slightly, with the efforts of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somalia’s national army.  Although the involvement and the support of the international community are viewed as necessary, it becomes problematic when the country’s security, building of institutions and decision-making continues to rest in the hands of foreign bodies.  One can argue that today, the country’s foreign agents have begun growing in size, and their influence impedes the ability of Somalis to create a reliable and accountable government of their own. Building institutions and sustainable development require both political and economic change, and the desire to embrace the concept of relying on foreign aid creates distortion to the existing national development programs, thus, forcing it to continually depend on donors for growth and survival.

Clearly Somalia is in dire need of good economic planning, governance, effective institutions, and leadership, but it is not positioned to exit fragility and secure human security with the current dependency on the scrutinized international support.  As Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame simply puts, “the history of international support to Africa has been a dead-end.”  President Kagame stated that the international community disbursed $300 billion in aid to Africa since 1970, and it did not work, primarily because, it spent on creating and sustaining client regimes of one type or another, with minimal regard to economic growth and human development outcomes (see Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo). On October 10, 2013, President Kagame’s remark was echoed by Mr. Naoyuki Shinohara, Deputy Managing Director of International Monetary Fund who said the IMF’s past approaches were not implementing effective policies in fragile states.  He added the IMF is now adopting a new approach to fragile states by looking at their economic conditions and political reforms and the countries’ circumstances and focused on quick wins. The late Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere once said that IMF was not created for the ‘third world’ development, but rather to control its policy and economy. As President Kagame pointed out and supported by IMF’s own admission that the African aid approach taken by the international community did not work for over forty years, and there is very little evidence it will work in the case of Somalia.

That being said, Somalia will not achieve and enable human security, and become a united nation unless it finds a way to detach itself from such a clutch, and focus on its own internal solution. It’s true that the country cannot function without stabilizing security force and at the same time, foreign forces and aid cannot be the guarantors of national or human security. Only the Somalia people themselves can do that. As Dambisa Moyo puts it, “the result of foreign dependency is that instead of having a functioning Africa, managed by Africans, for Africans, what is left is one where outsiders attempt to map its destiny and call the shots (Dead Aid). In the case of Somalia, foreign influence does not attempt they do call the shots.

Building human security, good governance and economic development?

Productivity growth, structural transformation and improvements in the distribution of income may not happen without an effective government, and strong social movements.  An economic change can trigger political changes, although one can argue that this could be the reasons why some within and outside of the country are resistant to promote an economic change as they are comfortable with the current political climate. Yet we still tend to pay relatively little attention to the way the political and economic arenas interact over time, either reinforcing or contradicting each other. The question of whether we need a new vision, to take us out of dependency and forever relying handout is one of degree. As I was preparing this article, I was struck by the considerable gap between modern concepts of government and those that held sway in the past. As a result, I became more concerned about the growing gap between the reality of the country we are all so desperate to create and the theory that, in principle, is there to guide it.

Somalia’s economic recovery continues to be hampered by the challenging security situations, poor infrastructure and limited financial resources in the country. The Somali economy remains heavily dependent on high levels of aid and remittances. According to UN sources, humanitarian and development aid in 2012 to Somalia was US$ 750 million, which on a per-capita basis is one of the highest in the world (African Development Bank Group, 2013). As it was estimated between US$ 1-1.5bilion per year, remittances are the single largest contributor to national capital inflows and wealth of the country (2013).  In the past, Somalia relied mostly on its own resources, whether from its land or sea before looking outward. For example, the 1974 famine was an awakening period of the country psychic, and Somalia showed its determination by focusing on land cultivation for food security and economic development.  It appears that realization and innovation is now lost within our Somali culture, and the international engineered aid dependence became the only focus for survival. Focusing on the provision of food and water, law and order, human rights, and, so forth will have a great impact on human security. The country’s safety and development programs must be adapted to the actual local situation. This means that the government should create and direct its support, according to local engagement and local determination of needs and long-term capacity building. By defining the problems and the solutions locally, people can have a genuine interest in actively participating in and solving the problems and in creating the kinds of communities of which they want to be a part. Prioritizing an area of development and support will depend on the specific context of the issue, and it requires a good understanding of local leadership, capacity, situations, and conditions.

Government’s role is then to find ways to generate income within the country’s resources and business and inject that into the hands of the public.  For instance, investing in public and private sectors are great ways to create jobs, and collect taxes.  In this regard, priority should be directed to youth and women, who constitute more than half of the Somali population, and who in the case of women, are often responsible for the day-to-day providence for family and broader social networks. The problems that youth and women face are the problems of society as a whole, and in so doing, changes the economic, political and social situations. Specific programs should be created to promote real opportunities for women, and youth so that they can fully exercise their rights, autonomy, and inclusion; and, to help them to build their own capacity to overcome situations of vulnerability, instability, and dependency. There are many displaced refugees within Somalia, about 1, 373,080 (possibly more today) in Mogadishu alone, according to the UNHCR’s 2013 Country Operations Report, this means the need is great and the resources are scarce, but with proper allocation and planning it’s possible to create a human security.  When people are free from fear, hunger, and their basic rights are met; they tend to live with dignity and in harmony with one another, building a culture of sustainability.

Challenges, opportunities and way forward:

Many countries may not have gone through security and instability issues like Somalia has, but there are many other underdeveloped regions that are unable to achieve and sustain high economic growth. The reasons are many, but they include differences in the sequencing of reform policies, lack of proper development of physical and social infrastructure, structural weaknesses, including roads in remote locations, limited natural resources and being landlocked. Somalia is a pastoral society and is well-known for its livestock, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries; therefore, it needs to explore its resources coupled with smart policies in order to ensure an equitable distribution of gains from the country’s resources. The International Monetary Fund pointed out in 2013 that “Somalia’s economy, which primarily relies on subsistence agriculture and fishing, is still held back in its development by the fractured nature of the country and the poorly developed infrastructure.” Somalia is a country with unexploited potential with energy and other natural resources, and external companies are attracted to these resources.

The challenge is that the growing interest of the international community in the country is seen as solely aimed at protecting their investments and asserting their control over any decision-making. It’s important that the country explores its agrarian and self suitability needs. In this case, the country will be in a more productive position from which it can develop other resources in the public interest. The actions of the international community have so far been directed at stopping or slowing down this evolutionary process by proposing unworkable political solutions to the successive crises. Many efforts have been devoted to the application of the wrong medicine, and very little to understanding the real problems. The terrible tug of war affairs in Somalia has impacted negatively on national development; and it’s important the country reconciles its internal social conflict.

Unity through reconciliation:

The impairment caused by civil wars are more harmful than other external wars because it takes place within the territory of a single state and contributes to weaken its institutions and infrastructure, as well as having a terrible impact on the people through a loss of lives and through the establishment of fear and distrust amongst the people. In this regard, social cohesion can remain irreparably damaged because societies, neighbors and even families are often divided by war. Somalis are very proud and resilient society; however, their political strength also lies with kinship. As the British anthropologist, I.M. Lewis reminded us in his Pastoral Democracy, the “Somali political philosophy is an evolution of agnatic connections.” Professor, Lewis further added that though the Somali society lacked a central government, the people are not without government or political institutions. This is true today as it was when he wrote those words in 1960. Some suggest that Somalia is more of a pluralism society than a state dating back to its pre-colonial days. Pluralism is a conceptual model that argues that the best form of a political system is one in which recognition is given to a large number of competing interest groups. In this context, the Somalia constitution, as it is written today, states that the Federal Government is responsible for guaranteeing the peace, security and national sovereignty of the country through its security forces, namely the armed forces, the intelligence service, the police force, and the prison force – Article 126. However, in order to achieve peace, security, and unity in the country, there needs to be consent from its entire territories with their own localized autonomies as bestowed by the constitution.

The foreseeable challenges and the obstacle that is confronting the creation of a strong, united Somalia is how well the government (present and future) is willing to convince the regional governments that a national unity is in the best interest of all Somalis, in spite of the current high level of intra-political conflict between the regions and federal government.  The inter-clan animosity and mistrust mostly emanated from the country’s 1991 civil war makes this realization difficult; however, to start a process of healing, Somali governments must take the opportunity to initiate the process of creating a proper reconciliation.  In order to do that, there needs to be an absolute peaceful political and community reconciliation, and secure local solutions to local problems. This cultural pluralism is the elephant in the room that is ignored by every government, and the negotiation of that premises is hindering the country’s genuine success of achieving unity.  The regions of the country are clan institutionalized and are able to function better with a weak central government that can’t impose its will upon them. Even though local decision-making is very important, lack of national unity poses a real problem for an achievement of a pluralistic although united federal Somali state. If various regions adopt self-reliant approaches to the solution of national unity and socioeconomic problems, then boundary conflicts are likely to arise, with the history of cultural clan lineages, it is not impossible to foresee conflicts of regionalism and inter-clan hostilities.  Regions of the country, mainly Puntland, Somaliland, and now Jubaland, have all developed their own security forces, including military and police forces. If these regions and others like them do not buy into a national unity with the absence of an appropriate reconciliation, it makes it difficult for the central federal government to create a Somali national unity or identity. Thus, in this context, reconciliation should be a priority on the government’s planning to achieve a coherent national unity based on respect and working with regional differences as well as negotiating, creating, and upholding common state goals and affinity.

Somalia’s crises were conceived with inherent weakness and old-fashioned clan mentalities; therefore, building and restructuring of the Somalia governance and leadership are best accomplished on the basis of a broad national consensus with recommence of its roots, rather than the internationally engineered solution. The internal issues and conflicts threaten the present and future security of the country.  It is a time to share peaceful negotiation with the regions of the country according to their respective needs, to have a shared national interest and to build a strong and coherent national unity. The international community should try to put the Somali issue in its proper historical perspective to understand the under-lying root causes of the Somali crises. Any international involvement has to be one in partnership and negotiation driven by what the Somalis perceive as a solution. The Neoliberal approaches to politics and mediation exercised by the international community, and the government is unlikely to succeed without full regional support, and unlikely to allow any government of Somalia to fulfill its mandate as a guarantor for national unity and sovereignty. It was said intervention inevitability is always the final traditional justification for failing ideologies. Although, the concept of unity may have shifted today, it is important to create a climate of respect, collaboration, and negotiation to stabilize and unite the country, and not lose a sight of the inherent ideology that brought this country’s statehood.

End

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SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT VERDICT CONVICTING REBEL LEADER FOR ATROCITIES IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2014

NEW YORK, March 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General welcomes the verdict issued by the International Criminal Court against Germain Katanga, convicting him on four counts of war crimes and one count of crimes against humanity committed in 2003 during an attack on the village of Bogoro in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is an important verdict for the victims of these horrific crimes, for international justice and for the fight against impunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Secretary-General reaffirms the strong commitment of the United Nations to support the independent work of the Court as the centrepiece of the international criminal justice system.

The Secretary-General welcomes the continued cooperation between the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the International Criminal Court and urges the Congolese authorities to continue to strengthen their efforts to hold accountable all perpetrators of serious crimes of international concern.

 

SOURCE

United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General

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UN Envoy to Somalia urges greater role for women in state-building

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2014

MOGADISHU, Somalia, March 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, joins the Somali people in celebrating International Women’s Day, and urges the Federal Government to broaden opportunities for women to contribute to the country’s peace-building and state-building processes.

“Over the past two extremely difficult decades, Somali women have demonstrated great resilience and an immense capacity to contribute to reconciliation and respond to humanitarian needs at the community, regional and national level,” SRSG Kay said. “Despite their significant role in efforts to reconstruct Somalia, women continue to struggle to have their voices heard, and their participation in politics remains limited.”

“Women are also the primary victims of sexual and gender-based violence, while literacy rates and school enrollment are substantially lower in the female population,” he added.

“Somali women are a vital part of the political and reconciliation process in the country and should fully contribute to it at all levels. Commitments on women’s participation and representation need to be turned into actions” SRSG Kay said.

He further stressed the need for concrete actions on the protection of women and girls, the provision of a safe environment and access to justice without fear.

“I urge the Government and relevant partners to expedite the implementation of the Joint Communiqué of the Federal Republic of Somalia and the United Nations on the Prevention of Sexual Violence,” SRSG Kay said. “The UN in Somalia stands ready to work hand in hand with the Government to improve the lives of the country’s women and girls.”

UNSOM is mandated to help build the Federal Government’s capacity to promote respect for human rights and women’s empowerment.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

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