Somali Premier Says His Government Ready To Expel All Insurgents From Mogadishu
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Report from Cairo by Khalid Mahmud: The Somali Prime Minister Says: “We Will Not Hesitate to Wage a Crushing War Against the Rebels.” He Told Al-Sharq al-Awsat Their Unity in One Single Armed Group Does Not Worry Him
Somali Prime Minister Muhammad Abdullahi Farmajo said that his government will not hesitate to wage what he described as a crushing war against the hard-line rebels, who, in an unprecedented move, became united yesterday to overthrow the transitional authority, which is led by interim President Sharif Ahmad.
In exclusive statements to Al-Sharq al-Awsat by telephone from the Somali capital Mogadishu, Farmajo said the merger between the Youth Movement and the Islamic Party into one single fighting group will not weaken his government. He added that his government is now ready to expel all anti-government insurgents from the capital and regain control of all parts of the capital.
He continued: “This confirms our statement in the past that the rebels who are associated with Al-Qa`ida seek only to cause chaos and practice terrorism in Somalia and abroad if they can.”
The Somali prime minister said his government is in a pressing need for support from the international community and Arab and Muslim brothers in order to confront these terrorists, as he put it.
Two days ago, official spokesman for the Youth Movement Shaykh Ali Mahmud Raghi announced in an official statement that the Islamic Party, led by Shaykh Hasan Dahir Aweys, joined the Youth Movement, to form a body named “the Jihad Unity” and to establish what he termed an Islamic caliphate in Somalia.
Raghi said: “We (the Youth Movement and the Islamic Party) united. We warn the forces and peoples of Uganda and Burundi that we will step up our attacks. We also tell our brothers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, and Uganda that we united under one title, the Youth.”
The Youth Movement sent an unprecedented public invitation to the Al-Qa`ida Organization to join its efforts to expel the African peacekeeping forces, AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia), and establish an Islamic emirate in Somalia.
Shaykh Hasan Aweys, former leader of the Islamic Party, has refrained from appearing in public and making any press statements since reports were leaked on his party`s acceptance to merge with the Youth Movement into one single armed movement.
Political analysts say Shaykh Aweys`s absence from the theater of events indicates that his star is on the descent. He rose to fame in the past few years as one of the leaders of the hard-line rebels in the country, which has been suffering a grinding civil war and overwhelming military and political chaos since 1991.
The command of the African Union forces, which consist of about 8,000 troops from Burundi and Uganda, took yesterday a series of urgent precautionary security measures, apparently to be ready for expected suicide attacks.
A Ugandan military official told Al-Sharq al-Awsat : “Naturally, we take into consideration these threats that are made by hard-line rebels. And we are getting ready for all eventualities, including suicide attacks.”
Meanwhile, Somali Information Minister Abdikarim Hasan Jama (name and title as published) announced that his government has indeed signed a contract with Saracen International, a British private security firm, to train bodyguards.
Jama said: We decided to make an official statement on this agreement after questions were raised on this contract by the two former councils of ministers.
He added that the agreement with this company was signed by the former government before the current government was installed. He noted that it is the responsibility of the current government to reconsider such contracts in a way that will serve the Somali people`s interest.
Jama said: “The contract provides for training bodyguards of the transitional government`s key figures and for humanitarian tasks, including modernization of hospitals and other buildings.”
He noted that the agreement has nothing to do with the same company`s activities in the self-rule Puntland region in northeastern Somalia to set up a counter-piracy force.
Jama said: “The Somali presidency received a letter from the African peacekeeping force, which is deployed in Mogadishu to support the transitional government, that contained a number of questions on this security firm.” He added: “We replied to these questions and asserted to the African force that there will be no complications regarding interference by the Saracen Company.”
(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic -- Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL: http://www.asharqalawsat.com/)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.
Lebanon-based security firm to train Somali government forces
Mogadishu Shabeelle Media Network website
December 22, 2010
Text of report by privately-owned Somali Shabeelle Media The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia has explained an agreement regarding the training of its forces which it signed with Lebanon-based Saracen International.
The revelation comes amid wide speculation about the agreement. Government officials admitted that there was indeed an agreement.
The TFG reached an agreement with Saracen International in order to offer training to its police and security forces. The agreement was signed in October this year.
The agreement was signed by the president of the TFG, Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmad, and the head of operations, Lafras Luitingh (as published) signed for Saracen International. The finance minister of the TFG, Husayn Abdi Alane, told the VOA that the company will assist the TFG fight terrorist groups, beef up security in areas where functions are held and secure high-ranking leaders.
Saracen International, which offered training for Puntland marine force, is based in Beirut, Lebanon.
(Description of Source: Mogadishu Shabeelle Media Network.net in Somali -- Internet site of independent FM radio and television network based in Mogadishu; network claims an audience of more than 1.8 million; target audience includes Somalis in-country; diaspora; and Somalis in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti; policymakers working with international organizations; and the UN; site has partnership with Radio France International; URL:
http://www.shabelle.net/ http://www.shabelle.net )
Mogadishu Shabeelle Media Network.net in Somali 22 Dec 10
Analysis Soldiers of Fortune
by Christine Mungai
December 27, 2010
Nairobi, Dec 27, 2010 (The East African/All Africa Global Media ) -- Events playing out in Somalia in the past one month almost look like a sequel to Black Hawk Down, the harrowing tale of how an ill-conceived mission by an elite team of American special forces went bad.
It is 18 years since America`s last soldier left Somalia. Africa has finally agreed to take care of the mess in the Horn of Africa in a country that has been in the grip of a murderous terrorist group whose leadership and rank and file is filled with child soldiers and teenagers.
Uganda and Burundi are the only countries currently contributing troops to a peacekeeping mission in a conflict that has been made intractable by both internal politics and warlord benefiting from the war economy, and regional power interests.
Al Shabaab, the dominant rebel militia now routinely threatens global sea lanes and a crucial choke point through which 70 per cent of all global oil exports pass.
It is forging important links with Al Qaeda, the global terror franchise.
So far, it has successfully staged two foreign attacks in Kampala and Nairobi.
In the meantime, the balkanisation of Somalia is gathering pace with the establishment of Somaliland, Puntland, and soon Jubaland as peaceful, semi-automous enclaves that now seek international recognition as independent states.
US President Barack Obama has also recently unveiled his much awaited “Duo-Track” Somalia policy dubbed that seeks to support both the feeble and deeply corrupt Transitional Federal Government (TFG) whose mandate is expiring in July 2011, and the semi-autonous states that want to break free.
This is the same solution Kenya has been pushing with its Jubaland Initiative.
It is in this context that a former special adviser on war crimes to former president George W. Bush, Pierre Prosper, and a former CIA deputy station chief in Mogadishu, Michael Shanklin have linked up with President Yoweri Museveni`s younger brother, who is also a retired Uganda general (Caleb Akwandanaho, alias Salim Saleh).
Mr Saleh is an investor in Saracen International, a private military company outfit based in Uganda.
There is even an “angel investor” rumoured to be a mysterious Middle East government that is funding the whole operation.
Their plan is to do what the armies from the world`s only superpower and from the AU have failed to do: Empower the semi-autonomous state of Puntland to set up a 1,000 man commando unit to fight off pirates and secure its monopoly of the use of violence throughout its territory.
The plan will also include training a presidential guard for the TFG. If these two pilot projects work, there is a possibility of scaling their operation throughout Somalia.
According to security experts, the plan on paper could work, but in reality, a lot could go terribly wrong sparking an even deadlier wave of violence. These are the major worries.
First, the involvement of a private military company (PMC) -- let alone one associated with the brother of a president from the country contributing most troops -- was not sanctioned by the AU.
It may make member states uncomfortable, and it may enrage some like Somaliland which now feels threatened by its neighbour Puntland, and it may enrage Al Shaabab and the Somali populace which will interpret Salim Saleh`s and Uganda`s presence in their country as seeking to profit from their war.
The EastAfrican has obtained confidential information to the effect that Saracen International started the training in Puntland without the approval from the AU, making its activities controversially parallel to the mandate of the AU Mission to Somalia, Amisom.
Second, these developments also raise the question of how the UN and the AU sponsored peacekeeping mission will co-exist with private military companies.
Third, and perhaps the most worrying, is the confluence of global energy politics, religion and a corporate army in Somalia in an already volatile conflict.
Puntland is rich in oil and natural gas, and it is speculated that the entry of Saracen International is in return for concessions in oil exploration and extraction.
E.J. Hogendoorn, a Nairobi-based analyst with the International Crisis Group told the Associated Press, “We don`t know if this unknown entity is operating in the interests of Somalis or their own self-interest. If it`s a company, there has to be a quid pro quo in terms of [oil and gas] concessions. If it`s a government, they are interested in changing the balance of power.”
With the mandate of the Transitional Federal Government ending in July 2011, the emergence of an armed militia in Somalia is a source of concern for the stability of the Horn of Africa.
The combination of a weak state, valuable natural resources, and a for-profit military corporation is a scenario that has played out before on the African continent with devastating consequences, and history threatens to repeat itself in Puntland.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, private military companies and defence contractors have played a growing role in the support of state armed forces, and in multilateral reconstruction strategies, such as in present-day Iraq.
These types of firms are also critical in raising and maintaining levels of security in unstable but economically strategic areas of the world.
Many states that had previously benefited from military aid found themselves in a precarious security situation at the end of the Cold War, requiring them to use PMCs to support their armed forces.
These contracts have historically been financed by the often controversial extraction of natural resources.
Mercenaries, PMCs, which?
There is a thin line between PMCs and mercenaries. Ever since men have waged wars, there have always been soldiers of fortune willing to sell their services.
Like piracy, the mercenary ethos resonates with an aura adventure, mystery, and danger, appearing frequently in popular culture, where they are often referred to as profiteers, adventurers, filibusters, gunslingers or knights-errant.
These security agents today prefer to be known as private military corporations, private military firms, private security providers or military service providers.
These companies refer to their business as the private military industry, in order to avoid the negative stigma often associated with the word mercenaries.
In the 20th century, mercenaries and PMCs widely involved in conflicts in Africa.
In some cases, their involvement had brought about a swift end to civil wars by comprehensively defeating rebel forces.
In 1960, when Katanga state declared its independence from the Congo, loosely organised bands of mercenary commandos illegally attacked UN peacekeeping troops.
This forced the Security Council to adopt the use of force by UN Security Council Resolution 161, and to request an immediate evacuation of all foreign belligerents.
Few mercenaries left the Congo, and most remained fighting with the Katanga secessionists.
The impact of mercenaries in the Congo has continued to date, where private military companies, that also double up as mining and extraction outfits or work in conjunction with them, continue fighting to secure natural resources.
The lack of trained troops, effective logistics and international support has weakened the ability of Monuc to carry out its mandate.
Conceivably, this absence of effective international action may drive the private sector to institute a private peacekeeping mission, backed by mining firms, in order to protect their investments in the country.
Executive Outcomes (EO), a now-defunct South African PMC, is notable on the continent for its direct military involvement in Angola and Sierra Leone.
Executive Outcomes initially trained and later fought on behalf of the Angolan government against rebel movement Unita, after Unita refused to accept Angola`s election results in 1992.
The company was accused by the South African media of attempting to assassinate Unita rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, and as a result, EO found itself under constant Unita attack.
EO was then officially recognised by the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) and subsequently awarded a contract to train the FAA.
In a short space of time, Unita was defeated on the battlefield and sued for peace. The Angolan government, under pressure from the UN and the US, was forced to terminate EO`s contract. EO was replaced by a UN peacekeeping force.
In 1995, following the publicity EO received in Angola, the company was contracted by the government of Sierra Leone for $15 million to contain rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), who controlled the natural resources of the country and were advancing on the capital, Freetown.
Within months of entering the conflict, the company had pushed back the RUF, regained control of the diamond fields, and forced a negotiated peace.
In both Angola and Sierra Leone, EO is credited with rescuing legitimate governments from destabilising forces.
In Angola, this led to a ceasefire and the Lusaka Protocol, which ended the Angolan civil war -- albeit only for a few years.
The company was notable for its ability to provide all aspects of a highly-trained modern army to the less professional government forces of Sierra Leone and Angola.
For instance, in Sierra Leone, Executive Outcomes fielded not only professional fighting men, but armour and support aircraft.
Interestingly, Executive Outcomes had contracts with multinationals such as De Beers, Chevron, Rio Tinto Zinc and Texaco.
The founder of EO, Tony Buckingham, was also the founder and director of mining and extraction firm Branch Heritage, which was sold to Diamond Works in 1996.
Branch Heritage acquired concessions to extract diamonds in Sierra Leone, and also paid the bill for EO`s interventions in that country.
EO was not the first PMC to involve itself in the Sierra Leonean conflict.
It was preceded by Gurkha Security Guards, and would be succeeded by Sandline International.
Sandline billed itself as a PMC offering military training, “operational support” (equipment and arms procurement and limited direct military activity), intelligence gathering, and public relations services to governments and corporations.
Sandline was contracted by ousted Sierra Leonean president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and in Liberia in 2003 in a rebel attempt to evict the then-president Charles Taylor near the end of the civil war.
Sandline ceased all operations on April 16, 2004. On the company`s website, a statement explaining the closure of the company is given: “The general lack of governmental support for private military companies willing to help end armed conflicts in places like Africa, in the absence of effective international intervention, is the reason for this decision. Without such support the ability of Sandline to make a positive difference in countries where there is widespread brutality and genocidal behaviour is materially diminished.”
It has been rumoured that some of Sandline`s personnel are now part of Aegis Defence Services, a British PMC active in Afghanistan and Iraq.
These apparent successes of PMCs promote the concept that these companies can achieve peace faster and cheaper than UN peacekeeping missions.
In retrospect, however, the presence of PMCs actually poured more weapons into conflict zones, weakened the economy and created a base for further conflict, as was the case with EO`s involvement in Angola.
Perhaps the most notorious of all PMCs is Blackwater USA, which changed its name to Blackwater Worldwide, and is now known as Xe Services.
The company was formed in 1997 by Erik Prince in North Carolina.
In 2003, Blackwater attained its first high-profile contract when it received a $21 million no-bid contract for guarding the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, L. Paul Bremer.
Since June 2004, Blackwater has been paid more than $320 million out of a $1 billion, five-year State Department budget for the Worldwide Personal Protective Service, which protects U.S. officials and some foreign officials in conflict zones.
The company has been implicated in several human-rights abuses in Iraq.
The Iraq War documents leak posted on WikiLeaks showed that Blackwater employees had committed serious abuses in Iraq, including killing civilians.
Altogether, the documents reveal fourteen separate shooting incidents involving Blackwater forces, which resulted in the deaths of ten civilians and the wounding of seven others, not including the Nisoor Square massacre in Baghdad that killed seventeen civilians.
A third of the shootings occurred while Blackwater forces were guarding US diplomats.
Court documents made public reveal that Blackwater/Xe violated US federal law hundreds of times according to allegations by the federal government.
In August 2010, the company agreed to pay a $42 million fine to settle allegations that it unlawfully provided armaments, military equipment and know-how overseas.
The settlement and fine conclude a U.S. State Department investigation that began in 2007.
Most of the 288 violations of export control laws involved violations of US arms control laws, that is Blackwater/Xe providing military or security training to foreign nationals or failing to vet adequately the backgrounds of those it was training.
The implications of Saracen International`s involvement in Somalia are therefore far-reaching.
It has often been presented that PMCs are cheaper and more efficient than UN peacekeeping operations, and proponents of this idea give Angola and Sierra Leone as examples.
However, the mandate of PMCs in those two conflicts was to destroy rebel opposition, and not to involve themselves in the peace process.
The mandate of UN peacekeeping operations, and indeed Amisom in Somalia, is not to conduct war or destroy an enemy.
The respect of national sovereignty, the need of self determination of citizens and the promotion of international peace and security are difficult to put together in a coherent manner in peacekeeping operations.
PMCs are not faced with these dilemmas, however, and this is the reason why, at face-value, they seem to be more efficient than a UN mission.
These companies are only effective in the short-term as they do not address the core situations, but only temporarily delay the resumption of combat.
Accountability of PMCs is also put in question; these companies are ideally accountable to their national judiciary systems, but these are often ineffective abroad.
No official body monitors their rules of engagement as they often operate in weak states which are unable to provide a firm judicial framework to regulate PMC activities.
The situation in Somalia, therefore, needs to be closely monitored.
Peacekeeping operations, including “anti-piracy” missions should not be left in the hands of the private sector, especially in an environment as fragile as Somalia`s.
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