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Somalia-Eritrea - a Jihad Threat to Peace And Security in the Horn of Africa
Addis Ababa , November 18, 2006 – At a time when the new millennium has ushered in a time of unprecedented global wealth and extraordinary opportunities; the Horn of Africa is frying in the heat of famine and pandemics. A determinate order of institutions, powers, and interests operate through complexes of ideas and values, filling out, specifying, anchoring and, often short-cutting human security; imposing ideological as well as practical limits on the extent to which and how reform processes in Horn can be opened up or broadened.
Somalia is a stark example of a failed humanity; and hence deserves much better handling by the international community. The first order of business would be to recognize those 'islands of peace' as legitimate political entities and work from there to 'liberate' the rest of the Horn from terrorists and warlords - because Somalia has become a has become a new insignia of 'African bestiality'. We need to act and now! Somalia is a failed state, where, since overthrow of Barre, the country has had a ramshackle stateless society rundown by warlords with varying degrees of brutality and bestiality; largely perpetrated by wavering coalitions of clan-based warlord-cum-business tycoons. Recently, having consolidated their control over Mogadishu, the UIC has moved to extend their rule to most of Somalia; meeting no significant resistance along the way".
How did this come to pass? Perhaps for the first time stakeholders in the Somalia conflict must admit that the trauma of war and violence has made people turn to God and to the only functioning establishment, the UIC. The internationally backed TFG; that was formed in 2004 after a dozen failed attempts, and itself a victim of the rift between its president Abdillahi Yusuf and Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, has moved to establish a "dialogue" with the UIC, that ended in an agreement in Khartoum. A peacekeeping force has been suggested and IGAD, which would provide peacekeepers, held an extraordinary session, with a view to approving such a mission.
Somalia : Why have we failed in Somalia? This is a question that has come and gone for over a decade now. Somalia has been without an effective central state since 1991. Up to one million people died because of fighting between rival warlords, famine and disease. Somaliland was independent for a few days in 1960, between the end of British colonial rule and its union with the former Italian colony of Somalia. More than 40 years later voters in the territory overwhelmingly backed its self-declared independence in a May 2001 referendum. They have effectively distanced themselves from main land Somalia and it new government. Somaliland has a democratic and minimalist political and economic system; that other African leaders can learn from. Somalia and Somaliland deserve much better handling by the international community. Specifically Britain, Italy and France need to lead the act as former colonizers of this region. It also should entails building the capacity of IGAD, AU, and CSOs, that are stuck in the corners of African politics, dependent on the umbilical cord of member nations and donors who determine what they do and that have little clout in and of themselves as they stand today.
The proxy war in Somalia is again inching dangerously close to war along its Ethiopian border and a proxy war it has waged through Somalia. Some 200,000 troops are arrayed along the frontier with Ethiopia, which is the most militarized on the continent. While the prospects for a quick and decisive victory by Ethiopia can be assured: there is little doubt that a second round of conflict would not only be disastrous for all countries but destabilizing for the region as a whole. The stakes could hardly be higher. The last war cost over 70,000 lives and severed the economic lifeline between the two countries and ended in a way that confronted both governments with unprecedented domestic challenges. Resumption has started to destabilize the entire Horn, fuelling flows of weapons to armed groups throughout the region, rekindling a proxy war in Somalia and undermining the fragile peace process in southern and eastern Sudan.
Rising from the ashes of brutal dictatorship and the warlords' sordid motives of the ultimate scale, the UIC is a spontaneously formed populist uprising. From the looks of it, the UIC has developed an overwhelming camaraderie and fellowship among the ordinary Somali. On the flip side, the UIC's anachronistic rule to stone rapists to death has generated fears that this is the earliest sign of a Taliban-like hard-line Islamic regime to come. Terrorist infiltrations such as al Ithaad into the UIC cannot be ruled out completely in a stateless nation such as Somalia. Especially with the appointment of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys (leader of al Ithaad and on a list of al Qaeda associates) to top the establishment will only entrench those who submit that the UIC was after all an al Qaeda invention that seems to have levitated to see the light of day. Coupled with the alleged support provided by neighboring states to al Ithaad to destabilize the Horn, this is potentially dangerous situation that will guarantee heightened humanitarian crises in defenseless Somaliland and Djibouti. The IGAD region already hosts over seven million internally displaced peoples, 11% of the world's total.
Ultimately, the true renaissance of Somalia will only happen only and only if it can join the league of peaceful and law-abiding nations of the world; in friendly terms with its neighbors. The quest to accomplish this task would not only require the willpower and buoyancy to propel Somalia against the wild waves of mistrust and revulsion that prevails in the failed state and among its citizens today, but also a synergized political and economic aid of material benefit to a populace traumatized by poverty. This will indubitably have an inimitable prospect to prove right those who believe that Somalis deserve a life free of rampant killings, famine and hunger, gender-based violence, torture, extortion, trafficking (children, women and drugs), outright robbery, lack of access to education, health and livelihoods... This may even reverse the brain drain and bring back the Somali Diaspora back home to build a nation from scratch.
As one author notes, "between euphoria and frustration, clarity and confusion, moderates must develop a sustainable alternative to the lawlessness that paralyzed Somalia for over fifteen years, and find a platform to showcase that". IGAD with the support of the International Contact Group, the AU and the UN must focus on building the rules and institutions that will govern Somalia - including a timetable for elections that would bring in a popularly elected state power. Chances are that a 'Hamas-type' outcome might rein in any democratic experiment in Somalia hardly to the liking of the international community. This may or may not necessarily assure a level playing political field for all Somalis; but these are the paragons of democratic pluralism that the post-Berlin Wall era has held high on the moral ground and that we may all have to come to terms with this in our thirst for a Government of the People in Somalia.
What is in this for Ethiopians?
For many that have grown to venerate this blood-drenched nation, but people who are proud of their history, culture, tenacity and strength of struggle against both internal and external tyranny, they see the threat from fundamentalist and militarist groups as the only fair stamp of the varied trajectories of our Ethiopianness.
Somali Islamists have begun recruiting thousands of young fighters to fight a jihad against Ethiopia, officials said, amid fears of all-out war across the lawless Horn of Africa nation. Many of the new recruits have signed up in the last two days, since the supreme leader of the powerful Islamist movement announced the start of a threatened jihad against Ethiopia, officials said. "We have at least 3,000 young fighters who have now registered to fight the enemy of Allah," a senior official with the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SICS) official said in Mogadishu. The newcomers, including women, will join what the Islamists claim are tens of thousands of battle-hardened gunmen who seized
Mogadishu in June from warlords and now control most of southern and central Somalia. "We have trained them to fight and that is religious obligation," said Sheikh Abdinur Farah, a senior Islamist commander who runs a jihad recruitment center in Qoryoley, about 120 kilometers south of Mogadishu. " Ethiopia has made clear its intention: that is a war against us, he said from the town. So we are calling an open war against Ethiopia and every young fighter is welcome to join the jihad against the Ethiopian invaders." Ethiopia and the Somali government have repeatedly denied eyewitness accounts of Ethiopian soldiers in Somalia; although Addis Ababa has said several times that it has sent trainers and advisors.
Eritrea is supporting the Islamists because of its long-standing rivalry with Ethiopia, which is seen as being close to the weak, interim UN-backed government based in Baidoa, about 200km north of Mogadishu. Mr. Aweys has a long personal history of fighting Ethiopia. Reuters news agency reports that he was decorated for bravery during Somalia's war against Ethiopia in 1977. Later interim president, Abdillahi Yusuf, defeat al-Itihaad forces in the 1990s. When Mr. Yusuf was elected president in 2004, Mr. Aweys said he would support the new Somali leader, even if he pursued those linked to al-Itihaad, as long as he ruled the country according to Islam. "The good of the Somali people is more important than my personal interests," he said. However, Mr. Aweys' public promotion could set the stage for renewed conflict.
Ethiopia has vowed to protect itself and the Somali government from the jihadists and lieutenants of Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, chief of the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia (SICS) and a hardline cleric designated a "terrorist" by the United States, urged Somalis to take up arms against Ethiopian troops. Several recruits said that they had been inspired to join the jihad by Aweys' speech in which he vowed that the graves of Ethiopian troops would "be littered everywhere in Somalia." "I have been looking for somewhere to devote my passion for my religion and country," said 23-year-old Abdillahi Sidow Hassan." Now that the righteous jihad has started, I have found it".
Soaring tensions between the Islamists and the government and worsening security in south and central Somalia have forced tens of thousands to flee into neighboring Kenya and added to concerns of widespread conflict. The deteriorating situation threatens to scupper a planned third round of Arab League-mediated peace talks between the government and the Islamists set that began in October 30 in Khartoum. Somalia has been without a functioning central administration since 1991 and the government, formed in neighboring Kenya in 2004, has been wracked by infighting and unable to assert control over much of the country. For Ethiopians (both in Ethiopia and the Diaspora), it is necessary right now are to unite against this fundamentalist threat supported by the international terror network to our 5000 year civilization and for our people to lead long, secure and healthy lives: essential areas of choice, ranging from political, economic and social opportunities enjoying self-respect, empowerment and a sense of belonging to a community.
Within the international coalition against Ethiopia, the supply of ideas of peace are artificially inflated or deflated by particular strategies and mechanisms used by Eritrea and now the international Islamic interests that support Somali agents. Ethiopians' visions could ultimately be left unrealized, or sub-optimally realized, insofar as we are preoccupied with filling out those spaces of uncertainty in unilinear thought and action; that other a more united citizenry would have brought new lines and courses of engagement. Ultimately, generating neighboring economies and societies with a sense of purpose, vision, integrity and direction has to do with creating conditions for the existence of the broadest possible range of dialogue, opinions and human sentiments. We invite Eritrea and Somalia in to this dialogue. To do this Ethiopians must unite on the one issue.
Source: The Reporter