The Somaliland Times
Haatuf Media Network
Tel: 252-828-3783 (Soltelco), 252-213-6546(S.T.C), 252-2-528015 (Telesom)
At Togdher Street, Near Ged-deble Hotel
Editor: Yusuf Abdi Gabobe - Asst. Editor: A. Dubad & Abdifatah M.Aidid - Sub. Editors: Hasan Hosh - Layout and Design: Ahmed Jama
Issue 22, June 15, 2002
During the last few years, thousands of Somaliland refugees have repatriated to their country from refugee camps located in eastern Ethiopia. These former refugees have returned under a repatriation program assisted by the Somaliland government and the UNHCR. Previously, in the early nineties, tens of thousands of Somalilanders repatriated voluntarily and without external assistance. Those who remained in the refugee camps are the poorest of the poor, and they could return only if provided with repatriation assistance.
In social and economic terms however, Somaliland has been unable to absorb these refugee returnees. Refugees have in fact been returning to a country Siyad Barre had reduced to rubble in the eighties. Despite freeing itself from Barre’s dictatorial rule and declaring independence in May 1991, Somaliland has remained until now a devastated country.
Due to lack of international recognition, Somaliland has been denied access to multi-lateral financial assistance required for the rehabilitation of the country’s infrastructure and the reinstating of social services. The local economy has also been hit hard by the ban on Somaliland livestock exports to Saudi Arabia. No wonder then that refugees, upon returning to Somaliland, encounter grossly inadequate social services and scarce employment opportunities.
The anxiety shown by many citizens in the country about last week’s announcement that a new wave of refugees will be repatriated to Somaliland from Djibouti, should therefore be partly understood within the context of the reintegration difficulties still being faced by people who came back from refugee camps many years before. There is no doubt that the Somaliland government has done whatever it could to facilitate the repatriation of its people from neighboring countries. At present and for the near future however, it is beyond the capacity of the Somaliland government to provide all the basic needs of its
repatriating refugees without substantial input from the international community.
Therefore, the new EU decision, committing 1.6 million Euros specifically for assisting the repatriation of Somaliland’s refugees, though still far short of the over-all funds needed for the repatriation program, is however considered a courageous step in the right direction. It shows that at least some members of the international community are finally beginning to stop pretending as if this country does not exist.
Let us hope that other countries will follow suit by beginning to assist Somalilanders in tackling the tremendous challenge of repatriating, reintegrating and reconstructing their country.
Agreement Signed To Repatriate Somaliland Refugees From Djibouti
Hargeysa (SL Times): An agreement concerning the repatriation of Somaliland refugees from the state of Djibouti has been concluded.
The agreement was signed last week by officials representing the two governments of Somaliland and Djibouti in addition to the UN agency for refugees, the UNHCR. A Somaliland delegation consisting of Mr. Abdullahi Hussein Iiman Minister of MRR&R and Qassim Sh. Yusuf, Minister of State For Foreign Affairs, had returned to Hargeisa from Djibouti on Wednesday after representing the Somaliland side in negotiations preceding the agreement.
In mid 1988, hundreds of thousands of Somalilanders while fleeing persecution and death in the hands of Siyad Barre’s tyrannical regime, had to seek refuge in neighboring countries and beyond. The bulk of the fleeing population crossed the border into Ethiopia where they had been declared as refugees. The government of Djibouti
refrained from granting refugee status to the thousands who made their way to Djibouti
city through Ethiopia. The majority of those who sought refuge in Djibouti were from the Isaaq clan. The burden of feeding and sheltering these refugees was borne by Djiboutian families of Isaaq descent. While in Djibouti, some of these refugees were forcibly sent back across Loyo-Ado and Gesteer border points to face execution by Siyad Barre’s soldiers.
By 1990 however, most of the Isaaq refugees, thanks to an intervention by the British government, were allowed to leave Djibouti and proceed to countries in Europe and North America.
Somaliland has also witnessed another exodus of people in the 1991. At that time, following the fall of Siyad Barre’s regime, thousands of people fled Borama to seek refuge in Ethiopia. Hundred of Issas had also fled crossing into Djibouti. It was only then that Djibouti established, through UNHCR assistance, two refugee camps on its soil.
The Somaliland authority believes that only about 2,000 families of Somaliland origin live in those camps. Djibouti insists that they are 8,000 households. It is not yet clear how this dispute has been resolved.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) -- A man who helped run a branch of a Somali-based financial network accused of funneling money to al-Qaida pleaded guilty Thursday to evading federal banking rules.
Abdirahman Sheikh-Ali Isse, who ran a Virginia branch of the al-Barakat financial network, admitted in a plea agreement that he illegally moved more than $4 million. When Isse made bank deposits, he illegally structured them in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid federal reporting requirements.
"Mr. Isse had no knowledge about any money going to al-Qaida and the government is not alleging that he did," said his lawyer, Kevin Byrnes. "As far as Mr. Isse was concerned, the money was going to other Somalis."
While the Treasury Department suspect’s al-Barakat of funneling money to al-Qaida, the government does not allege that Isse had terrorist connections. His business was raided in November by federal agents.
Prosecutors declined comment.
An appeal to: The President, Dahir Riyale Kahin, the Gurti and the Parliamentarians of Somaliland.
BY: Ali M. Gulaid (CPA)
San Jose, California.
According to an article in Haatuf News, edition 91, the Minister of Information has banned importing private radio equipment and transmission of private radio signals through the airwaves until the governing regulations are instituted. Additionally, the Minister declared the inventory of all Private radio broadcasting equipment that is in the country to be transferred to the Ministry of Information. Confiscating private property without due process and the Minister’s preemptory attitude towards private investment and entrepreneurship is worthy of condemnation but the minister’s decision to ban temporarily the privatization of the airwaves is worthy of commendation.
Jamming the airwaves is a privilege and not a right. The government shouldn’t tread on the subject of privatizing airwaves lightly. The airwaves belong to the people collectively and should be dispensed medicinally and economically. The government is entrusted in allocating the available scarce resources including the airwaves for the public benefit. One clan, group or a political party shouldn’t be given the opportunity and the privilege to dominate what belongs to the public. The political situation and the clan divisiveness have the potential to erupt with minimum slandering from the airwaves. This alone commands and precipitates the regulations of the airwaves. This idea could be a firebomb with destabilizing ramifications. For these reasons, the government has an obligation to study the privatization and the distribution of the airwaves to strike balance between freedom of expression and the benefits accrued for the people. It should carefully weigh all factors, study relative issues and comparable cases and consult with the international experts. Caving in to pressure without carefully analyzing the pros and cons could derail the stability that distinguishes Somaliland form the chaos of Somalia.
Privatizing the airwaves without regulating is like putting the cart before the horse. Regulating, monitoring and enforcing the airwave ordinances are worldwide phenomena and it is the right thing to do. While the dedication of Somaliland journalists is beyond reproach, Somaliland is short of trained and experienced journalists. Hence, the introduction of private radio stations might attract incompetent, unprofessional and unethical “wannabe journalists” that could foul the air.
In general, Somalilanders have a tendency to wrongly identify any association, namely political parties, by the tribe of the leader of the party (chairman) and private radio stations wouldn’t be any different. This mislabeling would rightly/wrongly associate private radio stations with clans. Private radio stations have to have substance: well-balanced programs, minority participation, educational, cultural, children’s programs, entertainment and community development. A private radio station that disseminates the propaganda of one political party or group without substantive programming and without providing equal access to others isn’t healthy. Just consider the case of Mogadishu, where private radio stations are owned and controlled by faction leaders. Is this progress? Hardly. Does Somaliland need to copy? No. Does Somaliland need radio stations owned and controlled by clans? The answer is no. Somaliland should evaluate the issue on its own merits. Some people who closely follow the affairs of Somalia ascribe the instability in Mogadishu to the unregulated clan mouthpieces that are clogging the airwaves.
What is the urgency any way? Presumably, the proponents of private radio stations are banking that it would enhance the mission of the political parties they espouse in the upcoming election. There is nothing wrong with this ambition, but in Somaliland, no one converts the other. Somalilanders don’t support politicians or political parties by the competence, programs, experience or the ideology a party or its leaders espouse, but Somalilanders support parties and politicians by clan association. It is sad but that is the truth. The idea of introducing private radio stations is noble, but it could have unintended consequences if necessary measures and controls aren’t put in place. A radio station owned by a political party would run out of material after it announces the political mission and program of the party several times. This could go on for how long? Not that long.
One more thing, it could denounce, insult and discredit the competition and the competition would retaliate swiftly. Soon, tempers would flare and it would be the “radio of reer hebil against the radio of reer hebil.” This mud slinging would lead to violence. This doesn’t look good, does it? Obviously, the stake is much higher than that of the print media with limited circulation. Does Somaliland want private radio stations mushrooming in the Haud and the in the bush? Does Somaliland want radio stations inciting and pitting one group against the other?
It is conceivable one day one might direct his troops via the radio when tempers flare. Exaggerated, may be, but the possibility is there. The proliferation of uncontrolled and unregulated radio stations under the pretext of freedom of the press have the potential to become an instrument to incite, destabilize and a front for subversive foreign agents. Incidentally, the government of The Sudan has already donated an FM radio to Somaliland according to the Mayor, if you believe that. Could the next FM radio coming from Abdiqasbaye and the self-styled, Transitional National Government (TNG)? One wonders.
Additionally, the political parties don’t have the financial capability to support private radio stations. Even if a political party manages to buy the equipment, it would be financially difficult to meet the operational costs of running the radio station. The idea of installing private radio stations for political gain would soon become unappealing when the regulations demand equal access and airtime for counter-points and in-depth programming. Who wants to buy the broadcasting equipment, pay the operating expenses and invite the competition to get their point and program across as well? This would be a public radio, as we know it. It is a worthy cause, but I don’t think it would happen in the near future. In my opinion, private radio stations for business purposes aren’t viable at this juncture but it is worth exploring. Businessmen/women care for the bottom line and if the idea seems commercially feasible, it would be hatched out as soon as the regulations are instituted.
Truly, the press is free in Somaliland and the need for private radio stations doesn’t exist. There is no smoldering of free expression in Somaliland; indeed, free expression is flourishing. Compare and contrast that with the Inter-governmental Authority Development (IGAD) states: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and The Sudan. Somaliland is far ahead in the realm of freedom of expression. The fact this idea itself is being debated is a testimony of the latitude of freedom of expression is enjoying in Somaliland. Ask yourselves, could this debate be entertained in anyone of the IGAD States? The answer is simply no. Does anyone of the IGAD countries have a private television and private radio stations? Again, the answer is simply no. Is there a need for improvement? Of course, there is.
Equity and equal airtime is the solution for improvement but Privatization of the airwaves is not. Radio Hargeisa is the only one that is available at the moment. It is controlled by the government and its signal transmission is weak and very limited. According to some reports, it doesn’t reach Burco, Borama or Berbera, let alone Erigavo and Lasanod (I stand corrected). Assuming that this sudden interest of private radio stations is propelled by the allegation that the political party of the government, in this case UDUB, is unfairly using the airwaves to its advantage and is excluding the opposing political views, inclusion is in order. Even though any influence accrued to UDUB due to this alleged unfair advantage is limited to the outskirts of Hargeisa because of the weak transmission. But how often the chairman of UDUB party broadcasts the views and the programs of UDUB in Radio of Somaliland? Probably, not many but even one is too many.
Since Radio of Somaliland operates under the guidance of the Ministry of Information, it is perceived that the opinions of the public and other political parties are excluded. This perception should be addressed. Interestingly, according to reliable sources, it happened at least once, that Radio of Hargeisa has aired the opposing views of UCID political party. This is a step in the right direction but it should become the norm than the exception. The government has a right to use the airwaves for the advancement of the government’s policy but it doesn’t have the right to use the public airwaves for the advancement of the agenda of one political party. In order to level the playing field, Equal airtime for the views and programs of all registered political parties should be demanded. The fairness of the upcoming elections would be judged against the access and the equal airtime of all competing views and parties.
Indeed, Somalilanders have a good reason to be jittery about banning private radio transmission. Freedom of the press was the forbidden fruit during the regime of Siyad Barre. Opposing views and criticism were considered unpatriotic and punishable by execution or life in prison. The effect of Siyad Barre's draconian measures was to deprive the Somali people of one of their most cherished pastime: speaking of their mind, telling stories, synthesizing, and openly discussing the news. The Somalilander values his transistor as much as he values his camel. For example, the transistor radio is handled with the same reverence that is normally reserved for handling the Koran. It is wrapped with a piece of cloth, it is often dusted off, it is turned on/off with a steady hand, and when not in use, it is placed next to the Koran. During the Mayhem, Somalilanders have understood the role the media has played in publicizing the plight of Somaliland and that has deeply elevated their appreciation of the freedom of the press (radio and print). Even my 80-year-old mother often misses her prescription but never misses her daily B.B.C. dose.
The commotion is understandable but as outlined above, the press is free in Somaliland and privatizing the airwaves wouldn’t be a savior to any political party, nor would it further the unity. The fear is that unregulated portable radio stations could easily wipe out the stability Somaliland has achieved. The concern expressed by many including Reporters Sans Frontiers regarding the banning of private radio transmission is understandable but over-reaction isn’t warranted in here.
The banning of private radio equipment and transmission of radio signals has unfortunately overshadowed the more alarming issue of confiscating private property without due process. This is a much more serious and dictatorial than temporarily halting the privatization of the airwaves. According to the investment code, the market economy and the entrepreneur spirit of Somaliland, protection of private property is guaranteed. Confiscating private property is a vestige and a poignant reminder of a past era Somaliland would like to forget. In Somaliland private business is flourishing due to the minimum government interference and any anti-business and anti-private property attitude and actions would dampen the free market spirit. No one has a right to confiscate equipment that has been legally imported into the country. What happened to due process? The government should retract this threat to private ownership.
The plate of Somaliland is full; there is no need to overfill it. The institutions are weak, the resources are scarce, the infrastructure is crumbling, the multiparty election is on the horizon, democracy is infant, tribal rivalry is brewing and stability is rocking. These are challenging hurdles ahead that might tip the scale to one way or the other. Privatizing the airwaves and voter pre-registration might be symbolic gestures towards democracy but they might be a burden and overwhelm the system and infrastructure that is already overloaded. Allah may forbid, but I am afraid it might burst at the seams.
By Ben Berkowitz
Los Angeles, Sun Jun 9, (Reuters) - Coming soon: a video game based on the botched 1993 raid in Somalia now known as "Black Hawk Down" and etched in American memory after two dead U.S. soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.
The company producing the game, Calabasas, California-based NovaLogic, said the game was patriotic, intended in part to educate the public about the U.S. mission in Somalia.
But some critics question that aim and whether the game risks blurring the line between history and entertainment and altering perceptions about the bloodiest firefight in U.S. military history since Vietnam.
Some even speculate it could lead to games about other tragedies -- maybe even Sept. 11. -- And NovaLogic says it has a game in the works about U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
Mark Bowden, the author of "Black Hawk Down" the best-selling book about the Somali raid, said he declined to be involved with the game because it was not in line with his purpose in writing the critically acclaimed non-fiction book.
"We were approached by them and I just told my agent I didn't want to be involved," Bowden told Reuters. "To me there's a qualitative difference between making a game and telling a story."
NovaLogic said the upcoming military adventure game "Delta Force - Black Hawk Down" would center around a series of U.S. commando raids against Somali warlords, allowing players to take on the role of special forces troops.
In the real-life battle that inspired the book and a hit movie based on it, U.S. troops hunting for Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid entered Mogadishu on Oct. 3, 1993, and were caught in a fierce firefight after a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down. A total of 18 soldiers were killed.
"The whole notion that you would make this part of your entertainment regimen strikes me as a little creepy," Prof. Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, told Reuters.
NovaLogic said it would publish a version of the game for PCs in the fourth quarter of this year, with versions expected for Sony Corp (news - web sites).'s PlayStation 2 (news - web sites) and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox (news - web sites) in 2003.
"For us this is actually a logical progression," he said. "This is our take on the whole 'Operation Restore Hope'," he said, referring to the name of the American military's early-1990s operations in Somalia.
Marcus Beer, a spokesman for NovaLogic, said the last mission of the game is the one depicted in "Black Hawk Down," though he said it will steer away from the actual fate of that mission so as not to offend anyone, and will exclude scenes of bodies being dragged through streets.
"We've had a lot of positive feedback from the military community about this," Beer said, noting two former members of the elite Delta Force are advising NovaLogic on the game, including one commando who actually fought in Mogadishu.
He also said a version of "Delta Force 2" is in use as a training exercise at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and that the company has a retired Air Force general on its board.
The game "re-educates people to a certain degree" about the U.S. mission in the strife-torn east African country, he said.
Beer also said the company will be donating a part of the proceeds from sales of the game to two military charities, with specific details on those recipients expected soon.
NovaLogic is also working on a "Delta Force" game that allows players to fight as U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and in late May the U.S. Army unveiled a game it is designing that will allow users to take on the role of American soldiers in typical combat missions.