Category Archives: Somalia

Ilhan Omar: The Somali govt has condemned Kenya forces for destroying Hormud telecom

The Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Technology of the federal government of Somalia has strongly condemned the attack on Hormuud Telecommunication Company in Gedo region on 22, August 2019.
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Minister Eng Abdi Anshur Hassan said the attack has seriously damaged the premises and the equipment of the Hormuud company headquarters in Dawn, affecting the business and lives of the Somali people in Gedo region.

“We urge AMISOM to engage with the Somali government in the investigation of these repeated attacks and believe it is important to take appropriate action against this adversary who targets our economy and business per international law,” the Minister of Taxation said.
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The Ministry of Posts has forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a comprehensive archive of the loss of lives and properties as a result of the attacks on Somali telecommunications companies by the Kenya Defense Forces who are part of AMISOM mission in Somalia.

According to a statement of Hormuud indicate that it’s the 12th time in less than two years that the Kenyan forces have destroyed Hormuud Telecom’s base in Caws-Qurun village in Gedo region.

Digital media creator journalist

Shakir Essa

 

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The Somali government not ready to take any action that could threaten its relation with its neighbor Kenya

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The Somali government says it’s not ready to take any action that could threaten its relation with its neighbor Kenya. The announcement comes amidst simmering tensions over potential offshore oil deposits and an incident where Somali government officials and diplomats were denied entry to Kenya this week.

In a leaked protest letter, the Somali government raised concerns about what it called a Kenyan decision to deny entry visas to some lawmakers and diplomats, who had planned to attend a European Union meeting in Nairobi on Tuesday.

Kenya’s foreign affairs minister, Monica Juma, said she wasn’t aware of the incident, and said she would be surprised if anyone with a valid visa is denied entry.

Oil, gas deposits

The incident was likely related to a dispute over which country controls 100,000 square kilometers of Indian Ocean believed to hold oil and gas deposits. In February, Kenya recalled its ambassador to Somalia because of the disagreement.

Somalia filed a complaint against Kenya in the International Court of Justice in 2014, saying it had exhausted all other avenues of finding a solution to the dispute.

In an interview with VOA, Somalia’s foreign affairs minister, Ahmed Isse Awad, said the maritime dispute is in court.

“Somali government and its people’s stand on the issue is that’s a court matter and there will be no negotiation and bargaining on that issue,” he said. “We want that matter to remain like that.”

But, Awad added, Somalia does not want to be a party to any problem with “Kenyan brothers and neighbors.”

When Somalia filed its complaint, Kenya filed a preliminary objection, saying the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries had avenues of dispute resolution. But the ICJ in 2017 ruled it has jurisdiction on the matter and ordered the countries to submit their arguments.

Maritime law expert Wambua Musili says the route taken by Somalia to resolve the dispute deviates from traditional practices in the region.

“The practice of the states within the East African region has always been an agreement,” he said. “Tanzania agreed with Kenya — they fixed their bordering. Tanzania agreed with Mozambique —they fixed their border. Mauritius and Seychelles agreed and they fixed their borders.So the state practice has always been in this region states agree on the border rather than take the matter to the court.”

Kenya is one of five African countries with troops in Somalia fighting militant group al-Shabab. Kenya also has at least 300,000 Somali refugees.

For a total award of $21 million. This judgment represented the first time a court of law had held a Somali official accountable for human rights crimes under Barre. CJA advocated for Samantar’s

The third in a trio of federal cases brought by the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and

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Accountability (CJA) on behalf of victims and survivors of Siad Barre’s rule in Somalia will go to trial on May 13, almost 15 years after it was filed and more than 30 years since the events at issue took place. Plaintiff Farhan Warfaa brought this suit against defendant Colonel Yusef Abdi Ali (a.k.a. “Tukeh”) in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Ali has been living for more than two decades. Judge Leonie Brinkema and a jury to be selected next week will hear four days of evidence and argument from the parties, with a verdict expected on or after May 17. The three cases have provided unique opportunities for the plaintiffs to seek recognition for the harm they suffered decades ago, and represent an effort to ensure that foreign perpetrators of torture and other violations of international law do not find safe haven in the United States.
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Political and Legal Background

The current case arises from alleged violations of international law in Somalia under the Siad Barre regime, namely torture and attempted extrajudicial killing. Barre became Somalia’s president in 1969 after the assassination of then-President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke and a coup that overthrew the Somali Republic. With support from the Soviet Union, Barre led his revolutionary military junta to reconstitute the government; but Soviet support faltered after Barre invaded Ethiopia, another Soviet client, in 1977. The United States subsequently began to ingratiate itself with the Somali government, providing one of its largest military assistance programs in sub-Saharan Africa at the time. For the next decade, the Cold War powers vied for Barre’s allegiance.

But with his 1978 defeat in the Ogaden War in Ethiopia, Barre’s rule in Somalia grew increasingly tribalist and ruthless. He soon faced opposition in northeastern Somalia—a region overseen today by the Somaliland Administration—from the Somali National Movement (SNM), a militia group founded in response to Barre’s abuses against the clan that dominated that region. Colonel Tukeh, who had been trained in the U.S. and Soviet Union as well as Somalia, led the Army’s Fifth Brigade in a brutal crackdown against the SNM and the local population.

As Cold War tensions began to relax in the late 1980s, Somalia’s strategic importance diminished, changing the calculus of western donors who had watched Barre’s shift toward despotism with growing alarm. Earlier in the decade, Somalia had received $25-34 million annually in U.S. military aid alone, and by 1987 foreign aid represented more than half of the country’s GNP. But by 1989, the flow of foreign aid that had sustained Somalia since its independence virtually ceased.

Isolated and impoverished in its final years, Barre’s regime became dictatorial, repressive, and violent. His forces—including the Somali National Army and National Security Service (NSS)—detained, tortured, and murdered tens of thousands of his people. Court verdicts have found that former Somali Prime Minister and Minister of Defense General Mohammed Ali Samantar oversaw much of that mass killing and torture, as did Colonel Abdi Aden Magan, who headed the NSS Department of Investigations from 1988-90. And in the northeast, Tukeh directed the murder of thousands of civilians.

A coalition of many militia groups, including the SNM, and nonviolent political groups led the rebellion that ultimately toppled the Barre regime in 1991. Violence in the region has continued as members of Barre’s clan have faced backlash for the preferential treatment some received from his government.

Under the Barre regime and since its fall, it has been impossible for ordinary citizens to bring civil suits in Somalia/Somaliland for the human rights violations they suffered at the hands of government and military officials. Neither have there been criminal prosecutions seeking justice for Barre-era atrocities. Somalia has not ratified the Rome Statute to join the ICC, which in any event would not have retroactive jurisdiction over decades-past crimes. No international mechanism was established after Barre’s government fell to adjudicate its abuses. Until this trio of cases commenced in U.S. courts, there had been no legal action—in Somalia or elsewhere—seeking justice for the crimes of the Barre regime.

Seeking Justice in the United States

In 2004, CJA filed suit against General Samantar on behalf of three survivors of his policies — Bashe Yousuf, Buralle Mohamoud, Ahmed Gulaid — and the estates of four of his victims, including Aziz Deria’s father and brother. The suit was filed in Virginia’s Eastern District, where Samantar had found safe haven in 1997. The plaintiffs in Yousuf v. Samantar described being abducted, confined, threatened, and tortured by soldiers under Samantar’s command. Their claims proceeded under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), which creates a cause of action against foreign officials who commit torture and/or extrajudicial killing.

Interlocutory appeals in Yousuf created two key legal precedents with respect to foreign sovereign/official acts immunity. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that individual foreign officials and their conduct are not shielded by the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA). And in 2012, the Fourth Circuit held that there is no common law immunity for jus cogens violations — acts against the peremptory norms of international law — even when committed by foreign officials or agencies. Such grave violations are definitively beyond the scope of any official authority, even if carried out under the color of law or government endorsement, the court said. Samantar attempted to appeal this ruling, but the Supreme Court denied certiorari in 2014, while proceedings were ongoing in the Fourth Circuit, and again in 2015, ending Samantar’s effort “to claim that the torture and extrajudicial killing for which he admitted liability in U.S. court were official acts entitled to immunity.”

In February 2012, Samantar had stated in open court that he would not contest the plaintiffs’ action against him, accepting default liability for all violations they alleged. Judge Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia — the same judge who will hear Warfaa’s case next week — awarded each of the three surviving plaintiffs and four represented estates $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages, for a total award of $21 million. This judgment represented the first time a court of law had held a Somali official accountable for human rights crimes under Barre. CJA advocated for Samantar’s removal from the U.S. until his death in August 2016; unfortunately, the plaintiffs were not able to recover the award granted by the court.

The second CJA case involved Colonel Abdi Aden Magan, whose NSS forces had arrested Abukar Hassan Ahmed, a professor of constitutional law at Somali National University, in 1988. Ahmed was an outspoken human rights advocate and critic of the Barre regime. Magan’s NSS detained, starved, and tortured Ahmed for months, accusing him of supporting opposition groups and writing for Amnesty International. Ahmed was shackled in his cell in an excruciating position day and night for three months.

Tracking His Torturer

After a 30-minute internet search in 2005, Ahmed discovered that Magan, the man responsible for his torture and arbitrary detention, was living freely in Columbus, Ohio. CJA filed suit on Professor Ahmed’s behalf against Magan in 2010. In Nov. 2012 a federal judge in the Southern District of Ohio found Magan liable for arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, and torture. “The court’s decision today is of great consequence not only for me but also for the many other Somalis who were tortured or even killed by NSS officers,” Ahmed reflected after the judgment in Ahmed v. Magan. “In order for Somalia to heal after 20 years of military rule, it is essential to confront and hold accountable individuals like Colonel Magan.”

Based on this judgment, a federal magistrate judge awarded Ahmed $5 million in compensatory and $10 million in punitive damages in August 2013. At the hearing to assess damages, Ahmed explained that he wanted justice not only for himself, but for the silent victims of torture around the world. “That’s why I want to come to the United States to have the justice that I couldn’t have in my country,” he said.

Magan had fled, apparently to Kenya, while Ahmed’s suit against him was pending. Even if Magan had assets worth $15 million, Ahmed would not be able to enforce the American judgment in Kenya without a separate proceeding before a Kenyan court. Still, the Southern District’s decision marked the first time a member of the NSS had been held liable in court for violations committed under the Barre regime.

Ahmed became legal adviser to the president of Somalia in 2011, assisting the drafting of the new Somali Constitution and Human Rights Bill. He has also resumed teaching law at the City University of Mogadishu, and in October 2013, he received the International Bar Association Human Rights Award.

“The dictators and their thugs think that justice has geographical limitations, but justice is universal. . . . It belongs to all humanity,” Ahmed said when accepting the award in Boston. “[M]y victory before the Ohio Court is not just for me, but for all the silent victims of torture—alive or dead.”

Abducted as a Teenager

In the suit that will go to trial Monday, Farhan Warfaa alleges that he was abducted as a teenager in 1987 by Tukeh’s soldiers, who claimed he was responsible for the disappearance of an Army water tanker. Warfaa says he was taken to the Army’s regional headquarters, where he was confined, interrogated, and tortured for months, including by Tukeh himself.

Warfaa’s complaint alleges that his “arms and legs were bound, he was stripped naked, and he was beaten to the point of unconsciousness at least nine times.” One night in March 1988, while Tukeh allegedly was interrogating Warfaa in his office, the SNM attacked the Fifth Brigade. Warfaa says that Tukeh ordered his officers to capture or kill the SNM soldiers, then shot Warfaa five times at point-blank range and left him for dead. The officers ordered to bury Warfaa soon discovered that he was still alive, however, and allegedly ransomed him back to his family. It is possible that Tukeh did not know Warfaa had survived until the CJA lawsuit was filed.

At trial in Virginia next week, Warfaa will be seeking justice for the torture and attempted extrajudicial killing he alleges Tukeh commanded and committed. The precedent from Yousuf means that Tukeh cannot claim official acts immunity for the violations alleged by Warfaa. “Because [Warfaa’s] TVPA claims are premised on alleged acts that violate jus cogens norms,”—here, the international consensus against torture and extrajudicial killing—“the act of state doctrine is inapplicable,” wrote Judge Brinkema in her July 2014 opinion denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss Warfaa’s TVPA claims.

With Barre’s commanders having found refuge in the United States and Somalia’s government still struggling for stability, civil suits before American courts are these plaintiffs’ only legal recourse to pursue justice for the harm they suffered. For Bashe Yousuf, Aziz Deria, Buralle Mohamoud, Ahmed Gulaid, Abukar Hassan Ahmed, and Farhan Warfaa, federal judges half a world away are singularly able to acknowledge their suffering, endorse an authoritative record of the injuries they survived, and confirm the responsibility of their persecutors.

(As a member of Stanford Law’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, the author was invited by CJA to conduct independent legal monitoring of the Warfaa v. Ali trial. The views expressed here are her own and not those of the Clinic, Stanford University, or CJA

Copy from: legalmonitor:
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Shakir Esza
Shakir@afrika-times.com

Saudi Arabia with UAE and Turkey with Qatar Are Playing a Dangerous Game in the Horn of Africa

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been expanding its role in the Horn of Africa. Along with other Gulf powers, it is broadening its ties to the region. Strategic rivalries, including those within the Gulf Cooperation Council pitting the UAE and Saudi Arabia against Qatar, often motivate Gulf powers’ increasing influence.

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Why does it matter? The influence of, and competition among, Gulf states could reshape Horn geopolitics. Gulf leaders can nudge their African counterparts toward peace; both the UAE and Saudi Arabia helped along the recent Eritrea-Ethiopia rapprochement. But rivalries among Gulf powers can also sow instability, as their spillover into Somalia has done.

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What should be done? The UAE, whose Horn presence is particularly pronounced, should build on its successful Eritrea-Ethiopia diplomacy. It should continue backing Eritrean-Ethiopian peace, encouraging both parties to fulfil their commitments. Abu Dhabi should heal its rift with the Somali government, and thus help calm tensions between Mogadishu and its peripheries.

I.Overview

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged in recent months as an important protagonist in the Horn of Africa. Through political alliances, aid, investment, military base agreements and port contracts, it is expanding its influence in the region. A recent manifestation came in the summer of 2018, when Eritrea and Ethiopia announced – after a flurry of visits to and from Emirati officials – that they had reached an agreement to end their twenty-year war. Emirati and Saudi diplomacy and aid were pivotal to that deal. Elsewhere, however, Gulf countries have played a less constructive role. Competition between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and Qatar on the other, spilled into Somalia beginning in late 2017, aggravating friction between Mogadishu and Somali regional leaders. Abu Dhabi’s relations with the Somali government have collapsed. As its influence in the Horn grows, the UAE should build on its Eritrea-Ethiopia peace-making by continuing to underwrite and promote that deal, while at the same time looking to reconcile with the Somali government.

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An array of calculations shapes the UAE’s actions in the Horn. The Gulf port cities have a long history of ties with Africa, centred around maritime trade and dating to the era before the Emirates united as a nation-state. From 2011, however, Abu Dhabi began to look at the countries along the Red Sea coast as more than commercial partners. Turmoil in the Middle East, Iran’s growing regional influence, piracy emanating from Somalia and, from 2015, the war in Yemen combined to turn the corridor’s stability into a core strategic interest. The 2017 Gulf crisis, which saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar, pushed leaders on both sides of the divide to double down on their alliances, including in the Horn. Since then, the UAE has nailed down diplomatic relationships and extended its reach, particularly along the Red Sea.

 In places, Gulf rivalries have been destabilising. 

In places, Gulf rivalries have been destabilising. In Somalia in particular, the UAE, perceiving the Somali government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” as too close to Qatar and keen to protect years of investment, has deepened its relations with the governments of Somalia’s regions, or federal states. Importing the Gulf crisis into Somalia has contributed to tensions between Mogadishu and the federal states that over recent months have threatened to boil over. Elsewhere, however, Abu Dhabi’s peace-making is evident. The UAE, together with Saudi Arabia, provided critical diplomatic and financial support to help Eritrea and Ethiopia take the first steps toward a rapprochement that could prove enormously beneficial for wider Horn stability. Both Gulf monarchies also appear to have contributed to an easing of tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt.

The UAE, along with its fellow Gulf monarchies, is investing in the Red Sea and Horn of Africa for the long haul. Ideally, its successful Eritrea-Ethiopia diplomacy would provide the basis for that engagement. To that end, it should consider the following:

  • Keep underwriting Eritrean-Ethiopian peace, including by releasing the aid it has promised and pressing Asmara and Addis Ababa to follow through on the September agreement they signed in Jeddah;
  • Seek to end its debilitating spat with Mogadishu, with the understanding that warmer Abu Dhabi-Mogadishu relations are likely a prerequisite for overcoming divisions between President Farmajo’s government and Somali regional leaders. The UAE could encourage allies in the regions to reconcile with Mogadishu and take steps to facilitate their doing so, for example pledging to inform Farmajo’s government of its activities in the federal states, from training security forces to developing ports.

II.The UAE’s Long Involvement in the Horn

When the Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders signed the September agreement, Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s role in brokering it was in full view. The ceremony took place in Jeddah, on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast. The two African leaders sat in an opulent room under the gaze of a metres-high portrait of the founding Saudi king, Abdulaziz. The current king, Salman, looked on, flanked by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Emirati foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed. The traditional regional powerbrokers – Western countries, the UN and the African Union (AU) – were absent.

The Eritrean-Ethiopian rapprochement, as well as a flurry of other Horn of Africa diplomacy, has greatly boosted Gulf states’ visibility as geopolitical actors along the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are now central to conversations about the future of a region still suffering strife and instability. With Washington seemingly in retreat, the Gulf countries appear intent on playing a major role. As one Gulf official put it: “If you look at the future of Africa, it’s clear – China is in. The Arab countries are in. The U.S. is not”. The larger questions are what each Gulf country aims to gain and how each intends to use its newly acquired leverage.

 The UAE itself has a long track record of engagement across the Red Sea. 

The UAE itself has a long track record of engagement across the Red Sea. It hosts large diasporas from Horn countries, some of which were integral to its founding in 1971. Arabic-speaking Sudanese civil servants helped build nascent ministries, and members of the diaspora still swap stories about how President Omar al-Bashir was once Khartoum’s military attaché in Abu Dhabi. Dubai, meanwhile, is the banking hub for many Somali businesses.

The Emirates’ history as a trading coast also informs its contemporary economic outreach. The UAE’s model of economic diversification is built around its role as a logistics hub and regional headquarters. It is a model premised on freedom of maritime navigation, including through Bab al-Mandab, the narrow passage from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea, and the Strait of Hormuz. Analysts often describe both bodies of water as chokepoints because they are easily closed to oil tankers and other cargo ships. Having cooperative, even like-minded governments along the Red Sea corridor is a strategic priority. Africa is also a natural theatre for trade and logistical ambitions. It comes as no surprise that one of the Dubai-based logistics giant DP World’s first contracts abroad was in Djibouti, where it began to develop Doraleh port in 2006.

III.The Arab Uprisings and a New Emirati Stance Abroad

The 2011 Arab uprisings vested the Red Sea with strategic importance for the UAE beyond core economic interests and led Abu Dhabi to view that corridor, as well as places as seemingly far-flung as Jordan and Libya, as its “neighbourhood”. Those uprisings transformed the Middle East from a zone of entrenched autocracies into a web of conflicts that political Islamists associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the UAE and Saudi Arabia view as enemies, initially seemed to be winning. Abu Dhabi, in particular, views groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which have traction inside the Emirates, as an existential threat. Their ascendancy as far away as North Africa alarmed the Emirates, particularly as conflicts across the Arab world increasingly appeared interlinked, with events in one place shaping those elsewhere.

A growing sense of danger bred a more interventionist foreign policy. The UAE, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, funnelled support to allies in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere. To explain these actions to citizens at home – used to an economically focused UAE – Emirati leaders invoked an argument still oft-repeated in policymaking hallways in Abu Dhabi: you can’t be safe if your neighbourhood is at war.

Egypt’s future took on particular importance after its first democratic election in modern history brought a Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohamed Morsi, to the presidency. After Morsi’s ouster in a coup that the UAE and Saudi Arabia lauded and may have actively encouraged, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, together with Kuwait, poured billions into the new government’s coffers. Abu Dhabi also kept a keen eye on the security of the Suez Canal, including when the scale of piracy in the Red Sea, the canal’s southern gateway, jumped in the mid-2010s. Seeing a risk to its oil shipments and cargo containers, the UAE took an active role in counter-piracy initiatives. In Somalia, it trained a marine police force in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland and began experimenting with counter-terrorism operations against the Islamist Al Shabaab insurgency. The country became a Petri dish of learning for UAE special forces, which Western defence officials describe as the most capable in the Gulf today.

IV.The Yemen Catalyst

By 2015, the tumult in the Middle East – the Islamic State’s rise, Libya’s collapse, the Syria inferno, instability in post-coup Egypt and fear at what some Gulf leaders saw as Iran’s increasing influence across the region – created a siege mentality in some Gulf monarchies. In that context, Saudi Arabia and its primary partner the UAE led a military intervention in Yemen to roll back Huthi rebels loosely allied with Tehran. The Huthis had ousted the president and taken control of the capital and much of the country in late 2014 and early 2015.

In its anti-Iran drive, Riyadh sought assistance from past allies Sudan and Eritrea, both of which had strengthened ties with Tehran while all three countries were under international sanctions. Beginning in the 1990s, Sudan had built its defence industry with Iranian assistance and know-how; Eritrea had offered use of its port, Assab, to the Iranian navy. In 2014, however, both countries ejected Iranian diplomats. A year later, both agreed to contribute troops and resources for the Yemen war.

At the outset of the Yemen conflict, the UAE and Saudi Arabia were alarmed by Huthi rebels’ gains around Bab al-Mandab, raising the possibility that an Iranian-allied group would control such a chokepoint. They prioritised retaking Yemen’s western and southern coastlines. The UAE took de facto responsibility for operations in Yemen’s south and quickly found itself in need of a naval and air base along the Red Sea. The natural candidate was Djibouti, where DP World had built the port. By then, however, Abu Dhabi’s relationship with Djibouti was souring over allegations of corruption related to DP World’s contract (DP World disputes the allegations). Officials from the two countries had a falling-out in April 2015, when the UAE, with DP World’s infrastructure, sought to use Djibouti as a military launching pad into Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition turned to another port, Eritrea’s Assab. Riyadh signed a security agreement also that April to use Assab, leaving Abu Dhabi to carry out the deal’s terms. By September, the Emirati military was flying fighter-bombers from the Eritrean coastline.

The dispute with Djibouti left the UAE uneasy about its reach along the Red Sea corridor. Abu Dhabi worried that it could not rely on allies in the Horn – even in cases where it felt existential questions were at stake. As UAE-backed Yemeni forces pushed northward along the Red Sea coast, Abu Dhabi sought to expand its strategic depth. DP World and the Emirati military each penned an agreement to develop Berbera port in the self-declared republic of Somaliland. A subsidiary of DP World later signed a contract with local authorities in the Somali federal state of Puntland to develop Bosaso port. The attitude, as one Emirati official put it, became “fill space, before others do”.

V.The Intra-Gulf Crisis

The June 2017 Gulf crisis brought yet more urgency to the scramble along the Red Sea corridor. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with and imposed an embargo on Qatar.

Among the reasons the UAE in particular cited for breaking ties with Qatar was Doha’s alleged betrayal of the Saudi-led coalition efforts in Yemen. The Qataris had sent few personnel to the war theatre, but Abu Dhabi accused them of having revealed the location of a UAE-led operation to al-Qaeda, resulting in Emirati casualties, though they provided no evidence to support that allegation. (Qatar at the time declined to respond to this specific claim, and urged the UAE to provide evidence. ) After they imposed an air and naval blockade on Yemen, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi continued to claim that Doha was working actively against Saudi-led efforts, particularly through the media.

Also at the outset of the Gulf crisis, both sides began a frantic diplomatic push to secure allies, including among countries in Africa. In the Horn, competition was particularly fraught, given this subregion’s strategic value and proximity to Yemen. Djibouti and Eritrea both issued statements of support for the Saudi alliance, prompting Qatar to withdraw 400 observers it had stationed to monitor a border dispute between the two.

In Somalia, Farmajo, who had assumed office only months before the Gulf crisis, reportedly faced intense Saudi and Emirati pressure to cut ties with Doha. Although the president insisted that he wanted to remain neutral, for Abu Dhabi, widespread reports that he had received Qatari funds before his election belied that claim, as did his post-election appointment as chief aide of a former Al Jazeera correspondent with links to Doha. In April 2018, Somali authorities seized from a UAE plane almost $10 million in cash that Abu Dhabi said was intended to fund training of security forces that had long been underway but which Mogadishu alleged would be used to fund its political rivals.

In the aftermath of the spat, Abu Dhabi withdrew some officials from Mogadishu, evacuated a military training camp and shuttered a hospital. The UAE also shored up its alliances with leaders in Somalia’s federal states and the breakaway republic of Somaliland. It stuck to previous port agreements in Berbera and Bosaso, as well as a military base agreement for Berbera, and reportedly is discussing the development of Kismayo, in Jubbaland federal state, over the Somali federal government’s objections. The Gulf powers’ backing of rival factions – notably Emirati support for the governments of Somalia’s federal states and Qatari support for Farmajo – has exacerbated existing tensions between Mogadishu and the regions to the point of near-conflict.

The dust-up in Mogadishu is often described by officials in Abu Dhabi as a “wake-up call” – the most blaring signal that the UAE’s interests were imperilled along the African side of the Red Sea. For Abu Dhabi, the timing was inauspicious as well. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces had been gearing up for an offensive to move toward the Huthi-controlled port of Hodeida – an operation that was to rely heavily on assets parked across the sea in Assab. If past alliances with Djibouti and Somalia could turn on a dime, perhaps other seemingly assured relationships – such as with Eritrea – could do so, too.

VI.The Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Deal

As the UAE’s relations with the Somali federal government soured, a new prime minister emerged in Ethiopia whose reformist economic views appealed to Abu Dhabi. Both countries had already begun laying the groundwork for closer ties some years ago. In March 2013, the two agreed to form a joint commission to discuss economic, political and other cooperation. In April 2018, the selection by Ethiopia’s ruling coalition of a new and charismatic prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, paired with Abu Dhabi’s desire for a new partner in the Horn, catalysed a quicker alignment. As Abiy spoke of privatisation and development to unleash the potential of the Horn’s most populous country, the UAE saw a strategic and investment opportunity. Among the many constraints on Ethiopia’s growth has been its lack of sea access and consequent reliance on Djibouti as the sole outlet for its exports. The UAE’s newly signed port contracts could help. In March 2018, DP World announced that Addis Ababa would take a 19 per cent stake in the Berbera port’s development.

Now, with an energetic partner and a cornucopia of potential commercial opportunities lying in wait in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, Abu Dhabi launched a series of meetings and mutual delegations in a bid to forge strong ties with Abiy. Abu Dhabi’s and Riyadh’s relationships with Eritrea positioned them well to help facilitate rapprochement between Asmara and Addis Ababa, once leaders in those capitals were ready. Abu Dhabi pledged $3 billion to Ethiopia, an amount that puts the country on par with Egypt as a recipient of UAE assistance. The two Gulf countries assured Eritrea, meanwhile, that they would help lobby for the lifting of international sanctions in the coming months. If sanctions go, Assab – which has been modernised for military sorties but not for container ships – will almost certainly be the next port to go to market for commercial development.

 As seen from the Gulf, the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal has both economic and strategic layers. 

As seen from the Gulf, the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal has both economic and strategic layers. Amid the UAE’s strategic setbacks in Djibouti and Somalia, the Ethiopia-Eritrea deal in many ways cements Abu Dhabi’s role as a player in Horn politics. In the weeks since the agreement was announced, Ethiopia’s prime minister also has helped spearhead efforts to improve relations with Somalia, which may in turn help smooth the rough patch between Mogadishu and Abu Dhabi – though for now little suggests rapprochement will come any time soon.

Both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh also appear to have helped behind the scenes Prime Minister Abiy’s efforts to improve relations with Egypt, another old foe. Abiy visited Cairo in June and publicly reassured Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that Ethiopian development projects – notably the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Egypt fears could severely curtail its supply of Nile water – would not harm Egypt. Sisi has also taken a conciliatory approach, saying he recognises that there is no military solution to the dispute. At the same time, Saudi Arabia has helped start a dialogue between Eritrea and Djibouti over a decade-long border conflict. Though that dialogue is still in its early days, after an initial meeting between the two countries’ leaders in Jeddah in September 2018, Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh told Saudi media that relations had “entered the normalisation phase”. In a sense, both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh are creating facts on the ground in the Horn. In the process, they are becoming forces that cannot easily be ignored.

The payoff could be enormous for regional integration, infrastructure development and connectivity across the Red Sea. Just with regard to ports, the Horn remains one of the most underserved areas of the world relative to population, with a single modern multi-use deep-water port at Doraleh, in Djibouti.

Yet because competition with adversaries also drives the push into the Horn, risks are at least as prominent as opportunities. The contrast between the roles played by the Gulf powers in Ethiopia and Somalia is instructive. At one moment, Gulf involvement in the Horn, even if motivated in part by rivalry between two Middle East axes, can move things in the right direction, as it has with Abiy’s push for peace with Eritrea. At another, those same rivalries can destabilise and divide.

VII.Conclusion

The UAE signals repeatedly that its engagement with Africa is here to stay. In 2018, it is opening an additional six embassies on the continent, adding to the more than a dozen already there. As one Emirati official put it: “We need to diversify and strengthen our relationships outside our own region. If we only pay attention to the Middle East and North Africa, we will be bogged down in crisis. We could miss a lot of opportunities around the globe”.

While credit for the Ethiopia-Eritrea deal lies primarily with the leaders of those two countries, clearly Gulf powers, especially the UAE, played an important role in helping push forward the initial steps of a rapprochement that could be significant across the Horn. The deal demonstrated that the UAE and Saudi Arabia can play important peace-making roles. Abu Dhabi and its peers can encourage regional economic integration and help give leaders in the Horn the extra boost, including both political and financial support, they might need to make peace. Such was the story of Eritrea and Ethiopia – two countries that saw domestic interests in making peace but needed the right economic and diplomatic assurances from abroad.

The months ahead will be crucial for the success of that deal. Abiy faces enormous hurdles in his quest to reform the economy and consolidate political support. Eritrea’s reopening to the world will undoubtedly encounter unexpected challenges. For the Jeddah deal to succeed, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi will need to work proactively to keep the parties on track. They can begin by promptly following through on their aid commitments.

 Despite the bright spot of Eritrea-Ethiopia peace-making, intra-Gulf competition colours Emirati involvement across the Horn. 

Yet despite the bright spot of Eritrea-Ethiopia peace-making, intra-Gulf competition colours Emirati involvement across the Horn. Whether the killing of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate will lead to some form of rapprochement within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as some reports suggest might happen, remains unclear. But even if so, the Saudi-UAE alliance is still likely to view actors such as Qatar and Turkey as competitors in strategic theatres like the Horn. Moreover, while for now Tehran’s influence is largely limited to the Yemeni side of the Red Sea, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s engagement in the Horn is likely to remain informed by their determination to ensure Iran does not regain a foothold, including by winning back its former allies Sudan and Eritrea.

The damage that external rivalries can inflict on the Horn was made clear in Somalia, where friction among Gulf powers, and in turn between the UAE and Farmajo’s government, has exacerbated pre-existing tension over how power and resources are divvied up between the capital and the regions. Abu Dhabi says that it wants a stable Somalia, but the country is likely to remain volatile unless strong Emirati ties to Somali regional leaders are paired with a reconciled UAE relationship with Mogadishu. Abu Dhabi could pledge to inform Farmajo’s government of its activities in the federal states – whether training security forces or developing ports – and ensure that its investment and aid benefit the country and not only its regions. The UAE also might encourage its allies in the federal states to repair their own ties to Mogadishu.

Abu Dhabi faces a choice in how much its Middle Eastern rivalries shape its Horn engagement. If competition remains a primary driver, results will almost certainly be mixed. In some places the UAE may still help bridge divides, even if partly motivated by shoring up its own influence at the expense of rivals. Elsewhere, however, competition could put Horn governments in a difficult spot, forcing them to choose between the two Gulf axes or exacerbating local conflicts in new ways. Ultimately, zero-sum competition in the Horn risks upsetting both the internal politics of the region’s diverse states and the balance of power among those states. Outside powers may win short-term gains, but over time everyone stands to lose from greater Horn instability.

Ethiopian-led mediation kicked off in Nairobi to resolve over a 62,000 square miles of disputed maritime between Kenya and Somalia

Nairobi — An Ethiopian-led mediation process kicked off in Nairobi Wednesday to resolve the latest diplomatic row between Kenya and Somalia over a 62,000 square miles triangle of disputed maritime territory in the Indian Ocean.

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Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi arrived in the country Tuesday night accompanied by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia for talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

There was no official statement from State House or Foreign Affairs Ministry on the arrival of the two leaders or their mission, but sources in the offices confirmed they were in the country over the maritime dispute.

Ahmed and Kenyatta are said to have discussed the matter briefly on the margins of the Kenya-Ethiopia high level trade forum in Addis Ababa last weekend, in a diplomatic strategy employed by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and her Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau.

Ahmed’s intervention is the latest in a raft of measures adopted by Nairobi in a bid to amicably resolve the dispute with Somalia.

PS Kamau accused Somalia of unilaterally selling off oil and gas blocks in the disputed maritime territory at a London auction on February 7 while announcing the drastic measures.

Screenshot_2019-03-06-05-01-46-1MFA had termed the move “unparalleled affront on Kenya” vowing that the “illegal grab” will not go unanswered.

“This outrageous and provocative auction deserves and will be met with a unanimous and resounding rejection by all Kenyans as well as all people of goodwill who believe in the maintenance of international law and order and the peaceful and legal resolution of disputes,” Amb Kamau said on February 16, during a news conference at the ministry’s headquarters in Nairobi.

Kenya particularly faulted Mogadishu for engaging in the London auction in total disregard of ongoing mediation processes and a boundary delimitation case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) filed by Somalia on August 28, 2014.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Juma told Capital FM News last Wednesday the ministry had drawn the attention of United Nation and African Union Security Councils to the unfolding maritime border dispute.

Juma said the envoys were briefed to provide clarity on the matter.

“We briefed them on the situation between ourselves and Somalia, provided the facts to both councils and to draw their attention to the situation,” she said of the session she held on February 22 attended by among other foreign envoys Britain’s Nic Hailey and France’s Aline Kuster-Menager.

CS Juma however said Kenya was open to negotiation to find an amicable solution to the maritime dispute that sparked a diplomatic tiff between the two nations.

“We are committed to resolving any disputes in a negotiated manner and we’re hopefully that we’ll find the solution to the problem between ourselves and our brothers next door because our destinies are interlinked,” CS Juma said.

The contested area has four of the 24 oil blocks that have traditionally been under Kenya’s Exclusive Economic Zone until Somalia’s legal challenge in 2014.

“The massage we’ve received from across the world is encouragement to resolve the matter amicably and therefore this is the process that we would prefer,” she said.

Kenya had challenged the admissibility of Somalia’s case at the ICJ in September 2016 on grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the application.

ICJ however dismissed the objection in February 2017 clearing the way submissions by the two parties.

The court fixed June 18, 2018 as the date by which Somalia was to file its submissions in court with Kenya given until December 18, 2018 to file its rejoinder to Somalia’s written pleadings.

Somalia has anchored its case on Article 15 of the Convention of the Law of Sea adopted in 1982, Kenya saying the disputed area was in fact under its jurisdiction before the convention was enacted.

 
 

 

Mkimimbo Dugo: Nairobi Kenya

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The secret behind the kenya and somalia fight for the ocean boundary

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre’s defiance not to postpone or stop the London meeting where contentious oil blocks were “auctioned” escalated diplomatic friction with Kenya. 1512126images (1) President Uhuru Kenyatta and Khayre met at State House, Nairobi on January 29, where sources said the PM was asked to put the auction on hold. “Kenya, through multiple channels, has sought to find an amicable and peaceful resolution to the maritime boundary,” Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau said in a statement on Saturday. Somalia, nevertheless, auctioned the oil blocks on February 7, the ministry said. The oil blocks are L21, L22, L23 and L24. They were sold to the UK and Norway. Somalia’s embassy in Nairobi yesterday said no oil blocks were auctioned. However, Daily Telegraph’s Adrian Blomfield said, “I’ve spoken to my colleague who was at the Somalia conference. He said there was no auction, but a map was shown of oil and gas blocks the Somali government intends to auction in future, some of which may be in dispute waters claimed by Kenya.” Another source who did not want to be named said although the bid was launched, no auction was done. “The bid process launched by Spectrum Geo in London has nothing to do with the disputed offshore territory. The blocks are all north and are very clearly identified,” he said. The blocks included in the Spectrum Geo bid are from the matrix that covers areas that are the subject of two dimensional ( 2D) seismic surveys in 2014 and 2015 north of the disputed area. The dispute is in the international court. “The only thing sold on February 7 was this data for the benefit of interested oil and gas companies,” the source said. The government of Kenya has demanded that Somalia withdraws an incorrect map that it had issued at the time the supposed auction of oil and gas blocks in Kenyan territory happened. The Somali-Norwegian Prime Minister is spearheading the auction and has had interests in Soma Gas and Oil, where he was executive director for Africa until he resigned in 2017. Soma Gas and Oil is a private oil company that explores natural resources in Somalia. It’s registered in London. In 2013, it signed a contract in Somalia with the government to collect data on onshore and offshore oil. In exchange, the company had the right to apply for up to 12 oil blocks. The UK, Norway, Turkey, Qatar and other players have silently been fighting to gain influence in Somalia’s oil-rich waters, which analysts warned could frustrate the country’s recovery after decades of war. A UN panel of experts in a report in July 2013 cautioned that oil could lead to conflict between rival players. But former Natural Resources minister Abdirizak Mohamed tweeted on Saturday: “This has nothing to do with the Somali bid rounds conference in London. It is rather a pre-emptive strategy to force Somali Government to open negotiations on the maritime dispute with Kenya or influence the outcome of the case before the International Court of Justice.” Kamau denied the move was to coerce Somalia to negotiate. “It is Somalia that took us to the ICJ. The case is still there. In any case, do you take your friend to court? It is better to discuss,” Kamau said. “This is not a matter to be taken lightly. We have a history with Somalia. We do not want any escalation because we’re already suffering from the impact of an unstable neighbour,” ANC Musalia Mudavadi said yesterday. “Let us stand with the government of Kenya.” In its judgement of February 2, 2017, the ICJ decided to adjudicate the maritime dispute after negotiations between Kenya and Somalia failed. Kenya wants the dispute be resolved through negotiations. Lawyers said the maritime boundary is along a parallel of latitude as was decreed in the Presidential Proclamation of 1979. Somalia says the boundary should be at an equidistant line and that Kenya’s oil exploration activities in the disputed area are unlawful. In February 2017, Kenya lost the first round of the case to Somalia in its bid to stop the matter from going to full hearing. The court is yet to give a hearing date. Kenya has huge interest in Somalia with KDF troops still present in the country. Kenya helped in its formation of Jubaland after jointly capturing its capital, Kismayo from al Shabaab militants in 2012.

 
 

 

First time in history Somalia hired on a foreigner for the top job at the central bank,

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A disquiet is simmering within the government and public circles after the leakage of information that the government had settled on a foreigner for the top job at the central bank, for the first time in the country’s history.

Sources privy to the selection process intimate that that indeed an outsider had been settled on, without divulging much on the individual. But this seems to not have gone down well with critics who argue that the country had sufficient skillset for the position.

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Those supporting the government like famous author Harun Maruf argue that it was expertise that mattered not the nationality.
money changers carry loads of low value notes in wheelbarrows on the street, Barao, Somaliland, Somalia
The revelation end speculations which have been on air since August last year as to who would replace Bashir Isse, who has been serving since April 2014. He previously held the position in interim roles from 2006 to 2010 and was reappointed in November 2013, but will now retire.

The division on opinion adds to the raft of challenges the new office holder will have to navigate to street the government banker and the economy at large to stability.

The new governor will be taking over at a time when the country is just on the verge of commencing the printing of official government banknotes for the first time in over two decades ending the long reign of counterfeit notes and unregulated monetary policy.

With footprints of two decades old civil war still visible in the country, Somali leaders have been working on means and ways to rid the country of the old counterfeit notes in place of new currency.

The new currency, is hopes, will help Somalia boost its economy. The new move to print money with security features will also prop the shilling’s value.

The new office holder will also have to impose measure to control Foreign Exchange Rate appreciation. In addition, Somalia does not have well-organized money and capital markets. The successful candidate will be tasked with steering the development of the banking and the financial system in the country.

Also in the in-tray will the task of promoting the process of economic growth and ensure adequate monetary expansion in the country.

Also to be seen is the office holders’ ability to maintain internal price stability by adopting a monetary policy that can control inflationary tendencies and ensure market stability.

The biggest challenge will be whether the CBS of Somalia will successfully integrate the traditional banking system with the mobile money economy, with over 70% of the population opting for the cashless banking method.

Critical in the implementation will be a pool of qualified staff to implement the policies. There is need for an a structured training programme and facilities that will help develop the necessary skillset of the future employees

 
 

 U.S. military says it conducted two airstrikes in central Somalia Wednesday 21-11-18 killing a total of 47 al-Shabab militants.

00300116_d45789ca883534392b34a0369e96e14d_arc614x376_w614_us1.png U.S. military says it conducted two airstrikes in central Somalia Wednesday killing a total of 47 al-Shabab militants.

A statement issued by the U.S. Africa Command Tuesday said the first strike killed 37 militants. Africa Command described the attack as a “planned and deliberate action.”

It says a second strike on the same day killed another 10 Shabab militants. The statement said the airstrikes did not kill or injure civilians.

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Locals told VOA Somali that the strikes targeted al-Shabab vehicles and militias.

In October, another U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Harardhere killed at least 60 al-Shabab militants.

According to a count by VOA Somali, the U.S. has carried out about 30 airstrikes against al-Shabab this year, killing more than 200 militants.

Al-Shabab, an affiliate of al-Qaida, is trying to overthrow the Somali government and turn Somalia into a strict Islamic state.

U.S. airstrikes have killed numerous al-Shabab leaders over the years, including the group’s former emir Ahmed Godane in September 2014.

37 Alshabaab fighters have been killed and more than 47 others wounded in an airstrike on Saturday 11pmEst 25-11-2018

37 Alshabaab fighters have been killed and more than 47 others wounded in an airstrike on Saturday evening.

According to official Somali National News Agency (SONNA) the attack targeted meeting of the militants in Hargeysa Yarey in the middle Juba region of Somalia at 11PM local time on Saturday.

SONNA said top Al Qaida linked group officials including Daahir Gacmay, Abdirahman Takar, Sayid Dheere, Abdullahi Rabbi and among others were in the meeting during the attack.

No confirmation or denial from US Africa command press department on the attack reportedly carried out by its aircraft.

US drone attacks constantly target alshabaab fighters in Somalia.

Drone strike killed group leader Ahmed Godane on September 2014.

Last week group’s convoy was destroyed by suspected US strike in Galmudug region of Somalia.

The number of casualties or scale of damage is still unclear.

The secret diplomatic relation between isreal and somalilan

Israel and Somaliland have much in common.

Israel faces many adversaries that don’t recognize it or its right to self-determination; Somaliland is also unrecognized as a state by most countries.
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Both share a history with Britain. The British defeated the Ottoman Empire, captured Palestine and later established treaties with the Jewish people in Israel. Somaliland tribal leaders granted the British a protectorate in the territory that would became British Somaliland and subsequently gained independence on June 26, 1960. Israel was first of 34 countries, including the United States, to recognize Somaliland.

Somaliland, which joined South Somalia in a union that lasted until 1991, finds itself politically isolated, in the middle of a hostile region threatened by a sinister and pernicious enemy in the form of encroaching religious extremism. With a population of four million, Somaliland faces hard-line opposition from wider Somalia, with population of 10 million. Israel is perceived as enemy to Arab world with an estimated population of 400 million and economic power of $2.5 trillion a year. Somaliland and Israel face significant opposition and near total rejection of the 22 nations of the Arab world who support the positions of Somalia and Palestinian Arabs, respectively.

Despite overwhelming obstacles, both Somaliland and Israel are beating the odds. Israel is one of the most developed nations in the Middle East and the world, with per capita annual income of $42k and thriving and sophisticated industries. Israeli technology and corporations are pioneers of advanced research and development in the world. Although Israel is situated in semi-desert land that has little potential for agriculture, they have reached 90% food security.

Somaliland, unrecognized by most countries and with limited foreign direct investment, has a flourishing private sector economy, highly advanced telecom, digital economy, peace and stability and democratic processes rare in Africa. It is the only Muslim democracy in the horn of Africa and maintains cordial diplomatic relationships with Western powers and African nations.

Somaliland needs investment, technology and know-how. It has an abundance of resources, such as oil and gas, and strategic positioning that add to its geopolitical prowess. As Israel warms up its relationships with the Arab world and Africa, and Somaliland can a potential ally and friend that can fulfill a strategic Israeli goal – a loyal Muslim ally in the Red Sea region.
Somaliland needs a strong partner that has little to lose in maintaining strong support with Hargeisa, our capital. Alleged Russian interest in establishing a military base in Somaliland, albeit a potential positive development, threatens Somaliland’s close relationship with Washington and the EU, thus Israel stands as a key missing piece in Somaliland puzzle.

The government of Israel has shown interest in restoring the de jure recognition it offered to Somaliland in 1960, considering its role in the geopolitics of the Red Sea and the Horn. According to a local source, Golisnews, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor has said his government is ready to recognize Somaliland again. Similar sentiment is shown in Somaliland, where influential people, academics, businessmen, civil society organizations and government officials are overwhelmingly in support of a close relationship with Tel Aviv.

The warm attitude toward Israel is not new. M. Haji Ibrahim Egal, the first prime minister of Somaliland, tirelessly solicited Israel’s support, addressing that very issue in a letter to former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

Given the status of both states and their struggle for statehood and recognition, it is high time Israel and Somaliland renew their diplomatic relationship and mutual cooperation.

The writer is a liberal student and entrepreneur based in Somaliland.

The extraordinary success story, this story can change your mind

It was no ordinary test for Mubarik Mohamoud. As the first student from the Abaarso School of Science and Technology to be accepted into an American school, Mubarik could create untold opportunities for his schoolmates with a successful transition to Worcester Academy.

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On the other hand, if he stumbled, his peers’ hopes might be dashed.

Jonathan Starr, a former hedge fund manager who started Abaarso eight years ago in the breakaway African republic of Somaliland, chuckles as he recalls his demanding expectations for Mubarik. When he learned that his prize student was worried “the entire future is on his shoulders,” he responded, “Good! He’s been listening.”

Starr, who lives in Westborough with his wife and baby daughter, spent four years in Somaliland building a high school campus out of the unforgiving rubble on the outskirts of the capital city, Hargeisa. He has just published a book, “It Takes a School: The Extraordinary Story of an American School in the World’s No. 1 Failed State,” about his rash decision to bring a rigorous education to the former region of Somalia, and the remarkable group of teachers and students who brought that vision to reality.

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By his early 30s, Starr had amassed significant wealth and achievement as a systems savant for Fidelity Investments and later with his own hedge fund, Cambridge-based Flagg Street Capital. But he still felt a nagging desire to do something meaningful with his life.

While working in finance, he volunteered as a Boys and Girls Club basketball coach. After leading a winning season with an underskilled team from the suburbs, he jumped to another club closer to Boston, where the players were more talented. But they were growing up in dysfunction.

“The kids lived such chaotic lives; we had no shot,” Starr says.

It was a hard-earned lesson: Create a positive, pervasive culture, and success would follow. But how and where?

A movie buff, he was drawn to inspirational classroom films like “Stand and Deliver,” the 1988 story of East Los Angeles math teacher Jaime Escalante. And for some time, he writes in his book, he had harbored an idea “to start a school for really talented kids who have great potential that will otherwise go wasted.’’

He was aware of the challenges of students in Somaliland because he has an aunt who married a man from there. Growing up, he loved playing Somali card games on family vacations with his beloved Uncle Billeh, who worked for the United Nations. In 2008, it all came together.

When Starr first set out to find a location for his project, he had no experience building a school — or even teaching, for that matter. He would become the school’s first headmaster, turning over the reins to his assistant in 2015. What he did have, besides determination, was money: He initially put forth $500,000 and to date he’s funneled nearly twice that into the school.

When he first arrived in Somaliland, almost all of the republic’s schools had been destroyed or run into the ground by the Somali civil war. Covering grades 7-12, Abaarso, named for the town the school is in, now serves 212 students on its walled, multibuilding campus. Acceptance is competitive. The staff has grown to about two dozen teachers who come from various corners of the world. They each wear several hats and earn a nominal salary — about $3,000 for the school year. They do it for one reason, Starr says — pride in a job well done.

And there is much to be proud of. To date, Abaarso has placed more than 80 students in international boarding schools or colleges.

Mubarik graduated from Worcester Academy — Starr’s alma mater — in 2013. This spring, after majoring in electrical engineering and computer science, he’ll graduate from M.I.T. Having specialized in autonomous robotics, he’d like to help engineer driverless cars. It’s an astounding trajectory for a boy who grew up in a world so rural, he mistook the first motor vehicles he saw to be some kind of bizarre domesticated animal.

“I do not feel exceptional,” says Mubarik, “but I do feel lucky.”

For Starr, his belief in the young people of Somaliland was simply a practical matter.

“If you get the kids to see it’s actually worth investing in their future,” he says, “then they’ll do well.”

Because Somaliland is considered an autonomous region of Somalia, the Trump administration’s recent ban on travel from seven mostly Muslim nations — including Somalia — has plunged the Abaarso community into a spiral of uncertainty.

“It definitely makes me nervous,” says Mubarik, speaking on the phone recently during a break in his studies. “But I am hopeful.”

Starr frets that the travel ban could mean Abaarso will have to stop sending its best students to America for college. If he could show Mubarik’s progress to the president and his administration, he says — in fact, the school’s story is scheduled to be featured in an upcoming “60 Minutes” segment — he believes they would recognize the need to make exemptions.

Though he has returned to Massachusetts to start his own family, Starr still spends several weeks each school year at Abaarso. He continues to work full time, and then some, on behalf of the school, planning, fund-raising, and advocating for its students at American colleges and boarding schools.

Besides Mubarik, four other students from Abaarso’s inaugural year are set to graduate from American universities this spring. One of them, an intensely goal-oriented young woman named Nimo Ismail, is completing her studies at Oberlin College.

“She’s known I want her to be the attorney general of Somaliland for so long,” says Starr.

At least two of the graduating seniors plan to return to Abaarso to join the faculty. For Starr, that’s a milestone he’s been eagerly awaiting.

Mubarik may stay in the United States to work toward his master’s degree, or he might go back to help introduce more Somaliland kids to computers. Either way, Starr wants all the students his school sends overseas to become the future of their homeland.

“Here he can be great,” he says. “There, he can be king.”

You can buy at #Amazon the completed story book

Check this out: It Takes a School: The Extraordinary Success Story That Is Chang… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01F1YMKF2/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_awdo_t1_tWfTBbW4KJTAM

Djibouti ‘Shocked’ By Somalia’s Position on Eritrea Sanctions

Djibouti ‘Shocked’ By Somalia’s Position on Eritrea Sanctions
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africatimes| August 1, 2018

Djibouti has formally responded to a recent call by Somalia that United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions on Eritrea be lifted. According to Djibouti it was ‘deeply shocked’ by that position.

Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on a three-day official visit to Asmara said the sanctions imposed since 2009 had to be lifted given the current political and diplomatic developments in the Horn of Africa region.

But in a statement in reaction to the Somali president’s view, the Djiboutian Embassy in Somalia wrote in an August 1, 2018 statement:

… it is unacceptable to see our brotherly Somalia supporting Eritrea which is occupying part of our territory and still denying having Djiboutian prisonsers.

“As a sovereign state, there is no doubt that Somalia has the right to establish diplomatic relations with the countries of the region, however, it is unacceptable to see our brotherly Somalia supporting Eritrea which is occupying part of our territory and still denying having Djiboutian prisonsers.”

It continued that the wiser line of action would have been for President Mohamed to call for peaceful resolution of the border crisis that has strained relations between the two neighbours.

The statement accused Somalia of historic less support of Djibouti which it said had led to blinded supported for Eritrea plus an advocacy that Eritrea be free despite its stubborn nature.

“We will not tolerate with ruthless talks while our young men and women are yet here defending Somalia’s peace and stability,” the statement concluded.

Eritrea’s 2009 UN sanctions, Gulf crisis and Doumeira impasse

An arms embargo imposed on Eritrea since 2009 was chiefly to do with its alleged support for Somali insurgent group Al-Shabaab but also because of its agression against Djibouti and refusal to enter any form of mediation over the disputed regions.

The disputed land in question is the Dumeira mountain and Dumeira island which Djibouti claims is being illegally occupied by Eritrea. The issue of Eritrea’s continued holding of Djiboutian prisoners has also been central to the dispute.

The last time tensions between the two came to the fore was in June 2017 when Qatar withdrew its peacekeeping force in the area at the height of the Gulf Crisis. Djibouti at the time accused Asmara of deploying soldiers to the disputed areas.

Djibouti ‘shocked’ by Somalia’s position on Eritrea sanctions

Eritrea has been in the news recently over the peace deal it entered into with neighbouring Ethiopia after two decades of severed ties and hostility over a border ruling. Addis Ababa through PM Abiy accepted to respect the 2002 border ruling and by that agreed to restore all ties with Eritrea.

Abiy signed a five-point end of war agreement with Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki during a historic visit to Asmara. Afwerki reciprocated the gesture with a three-day visit to Addis Ababa.

Source: http://www.africanews.com/2018/08/01/djibouti-shocked-by-somalia-s-position-on-eritrea-sanctions/

#Kenyan security forces used live bullets in #somali civilians #baladxaawo

#Somalia: #Kenya security forces used live bullets on Somali civilians near border fence in Beled-hawo town, amid tension builds up in the town.FB_IMG_1521961690327

Three American men charged with plotting to bomb Somali’ans, in Kansas

Three men charged with plotting to bomb an apartment complex in western Kansas, where Muslim immigrants from Somalia lived and had a mosque, wanted to kill as many as possible and send a message they were not welcome in the United States, a prosecutor said on Thursday.

Breaking news:UAE has accepted somaliland passport

DUBAI– The United Arab Emirates has accepted citizens traveling with Somaliland passport can enter to it’s country and further allowed that the UAE can issue visas with Somaliland travel documents.

First, people who will be allowed to travel to the UAE are those holding Somaliland diplomatic passport in the first place. Second, business people are permitted to go the UAE with Somaliland passport. Third, anyone holding with Somaliland passport can travel to the UAE.

Reports confirm that this has been facilitated by FlyDubai airways which has recently started direct flights to Somaliland. This is an important diplomatic step taken in the right direction. The UAE has banned people traveling with Somali passport cannot enter into her country.

Citizens with Somaliland travel document can go to the following countries:-

1- South Africa

2- Ethiopia

3- Djibouti

4- Belgium

5- United Kingdom

6 – France

7- South Sudan

8- Kenya

Somaliland is a broke away republic that seceded from Somalia in 1991 but it has not been recognized.

Turkey, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya have diplomatic office in Hargeisa.