Formaggio in the Mousetrap
Friday, April 01, 2011
Most of the TFG`s annual budget consist of aid pledges from foreign donors in return that the aid will be used to fight against hunger, corruption, and all elements that contribute to good governance. The year 2009 alone, the U.S. contributed humanitarian assistance worth of $ 189 million to civilians affected by the violence in Somalia. And by the end of that year, the U.S. put Somalia on a special condition on its humanitarian aid, whereby aid money was placed on hold due to US anti-terrorism rules. The U.S. State Department`s press officer, Russell Brooks, justified his government`s move by simply stating that “It is Al-Shabab, not US bureaucracy that threatens to deny Somalis urgently needed humanitarian aid”.
Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson was also critical of the TFG and accused it of not been able to deliver services to the people, implying that TFG has failed to earn more assistance. To burnish Villa Somalia`s image and neutralize Obama Administration`s negative perception of the al-Sheikh group that are now crowded inside Villa Somalia, President Sharif has instructed his Premier to hire a powerful American firm to lobby for them.
On March 05, 2011, Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmajo) signed a deal with US lobbying firm Park Strategies LLC, to provide consulting, advisory and advocacy services to the government for one year starting March 2011. According to a copy of the contract that Roobdoon Forum obtained, the monthly payment to Park Strategies is 20,000 dollars, which they say is tantamount to the actual expenses for a lobbying service.
The contract is in fact Somalia`s first open lobbying diplomacy. This means that Villa Somalia has at least taken a different route than that of former regimes in regards to the lobbying firms in U.S.
Early 1980s, the Reagan Administration doubled its aid to Somalia, to counter the increasing Soviet and Cuban influences in sub-Saharan Africa [Read Below]. In late 1980s however, Washington cut off most of its aid to Somalia, accusing Siyad Barre of human rights violation. Washington tied everything to Siyad Barre`s willingness to negotiate peace with opposition groups. Realizing his low score, Siyad Barre decided to hire an American consulting firm, convincing himself that his government did not have the skills to transform his tattered image. He hired Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly to represent on behalf of Somalia, lobbying first and foremost for the release of those USAID funds.
Siyad Barre regime has paid undisclosed amount of money to this influential US lobbying firm to polish its image with the Bush Administration. Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly advocated Siyad Barre`s regime mainly in “Matters of general interest to the Somali Democratic Republic ... foreign aid authorization and appropriations bills ... legislation affecting U.S. participation in the World Bank, IMF, regional development banks and development in Africa.”
Although lobbyists are paid to work for someone, a sensible and a responsible lobbyist must be able to see when the leaders of a poor nation such as Somalia are diverting its needed aid money on lobbying, intended to boost their tattered image. Even the late American lobbyist, Edward Von Kloberg, who was infamous for lobbying tyrants and dictators said, once he was explaining the choices he made in his life, “I did refuse to represent one dictator, Gen. Mohammed Farah Aidid, the Somalian warlord”.
Since Lobbyists/consulting firms only work for the money and do not work for the interest of Somalia, they are not the ones who provide facts to the Somalis and to the International Community to maintain legitimacy. It is therefore a mindboggling to see Villa Somalia occupants to siphon off a hefty chunk of aid money in order to hire a New York lobbyist firm. This move will surely damage the reputation and credibility of Somalia, through the eyes of the donors.
Cheese Spot for Lobbyists
The fez-wearing sheikhs come to power believing that their concerns represent the best definition for patriotic endeavours, believing that they were the ones who expelled Ethiopian forces from Somalia. These al-sheikhs who were defined by their guns are now claiming to possess the al-xaqq, al-lobbyism and al-AMISOM. This assumption is one of the greatest afflictions of the last two years in Somalia. Moreover, we are going through a phase in which “know-it-all” Prime Minister is suffering the same al-Sheikhs tendencies. He considers his cabinet members as the most educated line-up ever run the country – many of whom are American and Canadian citizens.
As the maxim says “every trap requires some cheese”, it is understandable that President Sharif borrowed some wisdom from that English piece of wisdom and realized that even lobbyists can be trapped with a piece of Farmajo (formaggio). It is understood that PM Farmajo is lobbying to get thousands of U.N. peace-keepers into the country to maintain the status quo of the “Vatican State”.
Whether they came with the American Premier from overseas or not, any cabinet member who falls into the mousetrap of the al-Sheikh group and thus aim in bringing success to al-Sheikh projects (i.e. siding with them) will have the same fate. So far, one the major mistakes that some cabinet members from the Diaspora have committed was their participation in Sheikh Sharif`s Government and believing that they will be able to spread democracy and put an end to Warlordism and clanism. However, the exact opposite is happening because Sheikh-warlords are now more prominent and have a forceful presence in Villa Somalia. Everything that these Diaspora Somalis hoped to achieve in the TFG has failed, be it the spreading of democracy. On the contrary, what they are witnessing is that so called Sheikhs appropriating aid money and running the TFG institutions as a company in which they own. They are witnessing or even collaborating with criminals who plunder people`s resources and continue to cause the people to live in misery.
Somalis should realize that few donors will be going to be ready to donate aid when such leaders like Sheikh Sharif and Farmajo are wasting aid money for personal matters, while aggravating the famine in our country. Why would anyone want to donate aid money to be wasted like this? Donors rather prefer leaders that give them the assurance of putting aid money to where it belongs. Aid-receiving TFG should be familiar with the practices of fighting against corruption, good governance, human rights and accountability as the prerequisite for aid as the red rag to a bull. That is, both Villa Somalia and regional administrations should make the aid programs public and transparent, and accept monitoring by independent entities and the public. It should also make sure that the charity money is used specifically for the benefit of the poor, drought-displaced people.
Since much aid money has already been spent, donors will ask Villa Somalia: where are you getting from the lobbying money? And it will be difficult, if not impossible, to persuade aid-givers to throw more aid-money into the TFG`s empty basket. Villa Somalia has now proved to the donors that no amount of aid-money can relieve the suffering of the Somalis, so long Villa Somalia`s spending spree on foreign lobbyists and mercenaries is building.
Previously, Somalia has been accused of diverting food aid to clan militias. Enough evidences demonstrated that Somali warlords and regional leaders had diverted food aid, causing numerous donors to withdraw their aid from Somalia. And lately, there are many incidents where food aid that should have been used for feeding the hungry was diverted for other purposes.
The Forum expresses its profound concerns that Villa Somalia misappropriated the money given by Western donors to the suffering Somalis. It appears that aid-money was either used to pay the wages of lobbyists or, to speak bluntly, diverted to private accounts by Villa Somalia elites and its staff.
Somalis have learned a great deal from everything that happened in the last two decades. Corruption is now common practice in this failed state. There are a very few people who are getting rich; and these few still continue to pull the strings of politics and the economy in Somalia. This cannot continue in this way. The population is suffering. There has been no economic recovery yet, and a few are getting rich at the expense of many. This has to stop. Hence, The Forum has suggested freezing the accounts of these criminals and other corrupt people abroad.
The Forum plans to launch an offensive battle against the lobbyists who are hired to damage Somalia`s reputation. The campaign involves the mobilization of Americans who still consider themselves as the "friends of Somalia" and want to play a role in spreading information and their love and admiration for Somalia.
Finally, there are thousands of Somali-Americans who will lobby and speak out for their ancestral home. They do not expect money or any benefit in return. They only want to express their goodwill for Somalia and see Somalia recover from the decades of civil wars. Somali-Americans and American friends of Somalia can in fact become the most effective weapon against the lobbyists who are hired to damage Somalia`s reputation. Hiring foreign lobbyists will only do harm and drag the civil war in Somalia. The Forum knows that poor Somalia can`t afford to have New York or Washington lobbyists and does not need to hire one unless Villa Somalia`s al-Sheikhs intend to spin their dysfunctions for personal gains.
Friday, April 01, 2011
OAO Corporation Chairman Cecile deLisle Barker`s letter is written at the request of Somalian President Mohammed Siad Barre. Siad is willing to let the U.S. use Somalia`s facilities for military purposes, and he requests U.S. economic assistance for his country. Letter. White House. OMITTED. Issue Date: Jul 15, 1980. Date Declassified: Feb 25, 1999. Unsanitized. Complete. 4 page(s).
50/50 Powder Mill Road – Beltsville, Md. 20705
(301) 937- 3090
July 15, 1980
The Honorable President Jimmy Carter
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Carter
I have recently returned from Somalia where I met with President Mohamed Siad Barre of that country. President Barre has requested that I use my most diligent means to get his thoughts and opinions to you. I have agreed to do so and have chosen to document his message, via this letter, to present his views in a clear, concise and succinct manner. The following represents his message:
1. President Barre respectfully requests your acknowledgement of this letter. In over 31/2 years of your Administration, he alleges he has sent several messages to you via diplomatic and unofficial channels. He has yet to receive a response from you to any one of his messages. In the latter days of President Ford`s tenure in office, President Barre was granted a one (1) hour meeting with President Ford. He has been unable to build any continuity from that meeting; essentially, building a bridge from a Republican Administration to the present Democratic Administration.
President Barre respectfully asks that your acknowledgment of this letter be transmitted to him directly. He does not wish his relationship with the United States to be via intermediaries or intermediary countries, i.e., Egypt or Saudi Arabia. He wishes to establish a one-on-one relationship with the U.S. and its present Administration.
2. President Barre wishes you to know that as long as he is President of Somalia, the Somali Democratic Republic will never seek to acquire any territorial rights, annex any country, or any portion of any country to Somalia. The charges by Ethiopia and Kenya that Somalia wishes to acquire some of their land is ludicrous and untrue. President Barre is willing to sign an agreement attesting to this position. He states that Somalia, approximately the size of the state of Texas, has more land than it needs today for its 5 million inhabitants.
3. The U.S. and/or some representatives from the State Department have requested that President Barre not embrace the cause and plight of the people fighting in the Western Liberation Front. President Barre wishes you to know he can never turn his back on his fellow ethnic Somalis who, everyday, are crossing into their motherland seeking freedom. To ask him to do so is analogous to asking you, as President of the United States, to turn your back on your fellow citizens of the State of Georgia; especially, if they were seeking freedom, medical supplies and food and fighting to survive. President Barre states that he will not supply arms to those fighting in the disputed region nor will he assist in the fighting; however, he states he has a moral obligation to supply his ethnic brothers and sisters with food, clothing and medical supplies.
Representatives of the U.S. Congress and the State Department, along with other officials of the U.S., have stated that President Barre will use any arms supplied to Somalia to further precipitate and escalate the war with Ethiopia. Even though Ethiopia is armed and assisted by the Russians and Cubans, and their military supplies far outnumber those in the possession of the Somali armed forces, President Barre has agreed to place his active forces under the direction and surveillance of U.S. military personnel. Consequently, the U.S. can police the distribution and disposition of every piece of military hardware supplied to Somalia. This action will repudiate the accusations of his detractors who label him as being a warmonger and one who is likely to escalate the Horn of Africa in thermo-nuclear war. President Barre states he is willing to sign an agreement giving the U.S. control of his military forces.
4. President Barre requests that the U.S. increase its economic aid to Somalia. There are over 850,000 refugees in Somalia today. This number far surpasses refugees in Cambodia by a factor of 2 or more. This number represents the largest gathering of refugees anywhere in the World. Everyday, over 1,500 refugees cross into Somalia. Everyday, over 1,000 refugees die in these camps. The Somalia economy cannot support this cause, even with present help from the U.S., the United Nations and other concerned nations. President Barre is requesting your personal support and that of your Administration in assisting Somalia to deal with it`s economy and it`s refugee problems.
5. President Barre wants a relationship with the U.S. A relationship based on honesty, friendship and trust. He is willing to sign an agreement permitting the U.S. to use Somalia`s facilities for military purposes. He believes the amount of military and economic aid offered to Somalia is small and unjust when compared to the $400 million offered to President Zhia of Pakistan and the $480 million given to Turkey by the U.S. for use of their facilities. However, despite this belief and the criticisms of his Government and his people for wishing to accept so small a sum, he is willing to sign the subject agreement for the amount of aid offered. This, he believes, is a demonstration of his good faith and desire to be a friend and an ally of the U.S.
6. President Barre believes that the U.S. wishes to eliminate him via our CIA forces. It is the only way he can rationalize our refusal to deal with him despite his willingness to acquiesce on all of the U.S. terms. He has been informed by his intelligence forces that there is a plot to kill him and initiate a new Somali Government. Certainly, this possibility exists a la Afghanistan from the standpoint of Russia`s interests.
I have personally met with Admiral Turner and have been reassured that there is no effort on our part against President Siad or his Government. I have conveyed that message back to Somalia. However, I have informed the Admiral that while I was in Somalia, I was approached by a Somali who is apparently representing the KGB and wishes to see President Barre removed by any means.
7. President Barre has offered his services to work with our intelligence forces. As a member of the Arab League, the OAU and a former member of the Socialist Bloc, he contends he is aware of many actions and forces within these entities which our intelligence network is unaware of. He is willing to share this intelligence with the U.S. and he is further willing to carry the negative message(s) of Soviet domination to the 15 African countries which are now embracing Soviet ideology. I should point out that four (4) months before the Russians invaded Afghanistan President Barre personally told me they were going to do so; this intelligence came from one of his friends in the Communist Eastern Bloc. President Barre is willing to meet with and support our intelligence forces.
8. President Barre would like to request a personal meeting with you, at your convenience, anywhere in the world. His estimate of the duration of such a meeting is one (1) hour. He respectfully requests an answer to the feasibility of this request.
I have tried to convey, as best I could, the important aspects of President Barre`s message. This letter condenses approximately 8 hours of dialogue with the President. I will be returning to Somalia in the near future and would be more than happy, as a concerned American, to convey and/or carry any message(s) you wish transmitted.
Cecile deLisle Barker
Chief Executive Officer
Chairman of the Board