911 Ethiopian New Year Calculated or Accidental, US Morns While Ethiopia” Rejoices” ? Muse Tegegne, Prof.

The 9th anniversary of the 911 is tragically coinciding with the Ethiopian New Year especially that of 2001.  On the same day when the the US morns Ethiopia rejoices. Ethiopia rejoices not on the 911 victims but that of the New Year in her Calendar.  It is   often known as the Julienne originating from Enoch’s antediluvian based    Calendar has gone through modification in the course of time.  Such symbolical coincidence with 911 could not be taken as a mere accident of hazard that could happen once in million.

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September 11, 2001 falls 10 years before the change of the regime in Russian and its satellite state in Ethiopia 1991 and that of Somalia. In Sudan 1989 a historical Islamic coup took place   in 1989 which brought Ben Laden himself to Khartoum to start his project with Omar Al Bashir where they established secret training camps in the region.  In Ethiopia 7 year after an unfinished war with Eritrea rekindled in 1998.

911 terrorism acts was extended to US   exactly 9 month after the 12 December 2000 peace agreement signed between Eritrea   and Ethiopia after 2 years of   devastating war.  The both ceased hostilities   on 7 months before 911 on   May 25, 2000 and started a proxy war of terrorism in Somalia.  This has forced thousands of refugees quit the region and to flee all over the globe. Many young men were recruited to the Al-Qaida training camps to master the arts of terrorism in Yemen. They graduate as Talem (students) in the model of the Taliban mastering the   extremism doctrines and returned to their Horn of Africa’s practicing ground mainly in Somalia and some even went for mission in the west.

The Horn of Africa fratricide killed over 200′ 000 souls though both claim only 19’000 from Eritrea and 50’000 from Ethiopian side. The future hopefully will reveal the authentic body accountability in both camps. However, such deadly reality will be   revealed   when in both countries a democratic government is established. At the beginning Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders would have not engaged their respective country in war since both were comrade in arms and the region just came out of over three decades of unprecedented war famine and drought. The two leaders will assume the full responsibility of their act in the very coming future.

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The  victims of 911 were:-

“9/11 victims list: 2,974 people are known to have been killed on September 11, 2001. The September 11 death toll takes into account passengers on the four planes, people working at the World Trade Center early in the morning, firefighters and police officers who arrived on the scene to help people escape, and Pentagon staff.”

September 11, 2001 falls 10 years before the change of the regime in Russian and its satellite state in Ethiopia 1991 and that of Somalia. In Sudan 1989 a historical Islamic coup took place   in 1989 which brought Ben Laden himself to Khartoum to start his project with Omar Al Bashir where they established secret training camps in the region.  In Ethiopia 7 year after an unfinished war with Eritrea rekindled in 1998.

911 terrorism acts was extended to US   exactly 9 month after the 12 December 2000 peace agreement signed between Eritrea   and Ethiopia after 2 years of   devastating war.  The both ceased hostilities   on 7 months before 911 on   May 25, 2000 and started a proxy war of terrorism in Somalia.  This has forced thousands of refugees quit the region and to flee all over the globe. Many young men were recruited to the Al-Qaida training camps to master the arts of terrorism in Yemen. They graduate as Talem (students) in the model of the Taliban mastering the   extremism doctrines and returned to their Horn of Africa’s practicing ground mainly in Somalia and some even went for mission in the west.

The Horn of Africa fratricide killed over 200′ 000 souls though both claim only 19’000 from Eritrea and 50’000 from Ethiopian side. The future hopefully will reveal the authentic body accountability in both camps. However, such deadly reality will be   revealed   when in both countries a democratic government is established. At the beginning Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders would have not engaged their respective country in war since both were comrade in arms and the region just came out of over three decades of unprecedented war famine and drought. The two leaders will assume the full responsibility of their act in the very coming future.

Islamophobia in the West & a Proxy war in Horn.

The repercussion and the amplitude of the violence in  the 911 is unexpected terrorist act  have global lasting  impact when compared  the Horn of African fratricide instigated by the two  world known dictators without diminishing its importance   to the victim families. At all cost there is is no bigger or better victims but all are horrendous inhuman act in both 911 and Horn of Africa’s dictatorial war and the Somalian proxy war perpetuated by both regimes to these days.  The main marking deference between the two- the act of 911 has been perpetuated by internationally organized terrorists and the whole planet has been   mobilized to find the perpetrators. When it comes to the Horn of Africa the war has been perpetuate by state terrorism, and the perpetrators   are still in power and nobody is asking them to be accountable to their acts. And shamelessly continue their war through Somalian proxies to this day. They succeeded to drag Uganda and Burundi to this endless terrorism in Somalia. The Somalia wars maintain the two dictators in power, while the 911 act changes dictators from their powers this could be their main difference. Another main difference could after 911 the world starts to stop terrorism but after horn of African war terrorists and proxies are produced every day from the regimes in power.

911 compared to that of the Eritro-Ethiopian war, the former has a global repercussion. This in human twin tower terrorist act has pushed the Western world’s direct reaction and has completely changed the international geopolitical   balance. Since the West has created coalition and declared war to the suspected regimes   and the government of Iraq and Afghanistan were removed from power.   The Number of causalities in horn of African Dictatorial conflict still continues to gallop as a proxy terrorist war and that of 911 still continues to this day accumulates its victims.  The crime of the horn of African proxy war in Somalia is not yet accountable. I t has been the last two years since the countries of the region start to get  involved to the proxy war of the Ethiopian and Eritrean dictators and start counting  unnecessary  victims.

911’s immediate consequence is the provocation of among of the US   local population an Islamophobia. The  Horn of Africa  become the last and the 1st  frontier  for terrorism long  before 911  and that of  Pakistan and Afghanistan  wars. The continues conflict in the Horn is a old plate form for as an extension to the 911act, and as a reflection of global war against terrorism being    exploited by the regional actors for their grip in power.

The US has been criticized to wage a proxy war since after intervention in Somalia from August 1992 to March 1994.  The act of 911 also has a root and a connection in the horn of Africa’s proxy terrorist wars in Somalia and Sudan by marking    and purposely connecting to the Anniversary of the Ethiopian New Year.  Since 911 the proxy war is staged by the two (Eritrea/Ethiopia) belligerent countries as they have tried to pull directly or indirectly the US and its allies to their respective camps. Till to this day no international media has made the correlation between 911 and that of the Ethiopian New Year. Ethiopia as a country has been considered a Christian Island the sea of Islam since the outset of Islam in 7 the century AD.  The west knowingly ignored to draw a parallelism with Ethiopian New Year wrongly thinking that it would have benefited the cause of the Terrorists if Ethiopia was pointed fingers.  The Western world did not take the Abyssinian connection   as a serious filature to look for the perpetuators of the horrendous act of twin towers.

The truth of the matter is the leader the dictatorial regimes of the Horn of Africa who uses the Somalia conflict to assure their grip in power are demanding undo support for their proxy so called anti terrorist war in Somalia. Both regimes have been save heavens for the proxy terrorist warriors in the name of liberations fronts.

The question to be addressed is that – Are this Horn of Africa trainees have any implication in 911 or other terrorist? At Whose order are they been executed? Is there act simply to destabilize one another or they have far reaching repercussions? Answers  to these and some more  Question is  to be  found in the implication of  these regimes struggle  to drag the West  or the rogue states who are in the  western Black list to finance them.  The word terrorist has become a catch word to implicate the west since 911 in any conflict to their side by a government fighting its neighbors or internal rebellion. And the dictators of the horn of Africa master this art.  The Ethiopian regime lulled the US to its Master of Arts game. They have even succeeded to drag the other dictators of the Great lakes to join them in their proxy war in Somalia.

Since  911 t he world  has been concentrating  its attention and its resources  mostly in unidirectional dimension  towards   Iraq  and Afghanistan  with that of Pakistan on the Back ground Iran behind the scene . Now is a high time to change the optic and look in depth at the implication of the of the horn of Africa’s failed states and Yemen , rather than jumping  over to Afghanistan  They have been serving as a spring board to the international terrorism. Ben Laden worked and still has his operatives installed in Sudan when he used to work since 1989 coup of Omar al Bestir.  He had good working operatives in the region. The horn of Africa has been   the master piece as a transitional passage in his terrorists’ attack of the west.  His operatives in Sudan had tried to assassinate with the help of the Ethiopian dictator the Egyptian president even 6 years before 911, in 1995. Since the last world cup blast in Kampala, the Islamophobia in the West and instability in the the Horn of Africa region has been increasing exponentially.

The 9th anniversary of the 911 is coinciding with the construction of the Islamic center two blocks away from the ground zero memorial. This has given a new dynamic to the excitement and the increasing Islamophobia in the US. The  election of Obama  an African American   promising  to disengage  from Iraq and eventually Afghanistan has cooled down  temporarily the new polarities dividing  the ” “Christian West” in one camp  and ” Islamic East ”  on the other while china  raping the fruits of her  Neutrality by financing the continuity of African dictators in power. The Old China helping to fight colonialism and Liberation movements has long gone.

In the country of 911, the declaration   Pastor Terry Jones as a “messenger of God”   to burn   Islamic Sacred book the Quran revived the latent Islamophobia that has been tempered by the new disengagement plan of president Obama. In the European countries the intolerance and Islamophobia has almost tremendously sky rocketed in the last 9 years since 911. Some governments even go as far as to prohibiting a Muslim woman to wear voile in public places while other voted against the ban on the construction of minaret in their country.

In the Horn of Africa Al Shabab the proxy warrior of the African dictators continues attack and sends suicide bombers in and around Mogadishu to mark the 911 anniversary with blood.

The 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings occurred on August 7, 1998 in the mist of  Eritro- Ethiopian war which started four  month earlier  May 1998with a  simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the United States embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.  The US linked the attacks to local members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad who were also suspected being connected to the 1995 failed tentative to kill the Egyptian President Hosni Meburak in Addis Ababa.  The US diversion to the Egyptian connection helped the Ethiopian regime to be on the side of the US. But in the height of their war  both regimes  were trying to implicate as  much regional countries  to join sides in the conflict  and there were ready to pass to any action to cause the down  fall of the other  by accusing them being responsible to any act in the neighboring countries.  These blasts were the preludes leading to the climax of 911 acts. Thus the Ethiopian New year is not just a simple coincidence to be taken as hazard.

Today   12 years away from Eastern African blast  the  complications of the  horn of African’s  proxy war in Somalia has drug more regional actors to be implicated in the conflict as desired  by the regime in Addis Ababa. Al Shabab preparation took a maturation period of 10 years.  Such incidence seems to put more fire on the already burning    situation by increasing civilian and AU soldiers’ death rates in Mogadishu.

In the Western front of the Horn of Africa is situated the   Southern  Sudan and  Darfur, the Khartoum bought mercenaries known as the  Ugandan Christian a Al Shabab  Lord’s Resistance Army,  LRA is used as a  destabilizing force  against the coming referendum.

911 the Ethiopian New Year “America Morns Ethiopia Rejoices ”

The so called the most stable US Allay the Ethiopian strong man  has  stared  cleaning  his house by  purging his old friends  around him in the eve of 911 anniversary.  Melees Zenawie the Notorious Ethiopian dictator    seems to betray  his own  power base  by firing his own  comrade  at the  eve of the  Ethiopian  New Year   which  dramatically coincided on the same day  911 terrorist attack.  It seems that the terrorist not only made the symbolism of the 911 in the US but also some kind of connection with belligerent   dictatorial Ethiopian regime of Melese Zenawie. The Ethiopian Calendar in 2001 fall on the same day of the 911 attacks and today 9 year after has the same new reverberation coinciding once again with the Ethiopian New Year.  While Ethiopia celibates with happiness and joy the US every year at the same day continues to mourn.

The Horn of Africa with more instability in the Southern Sudan with a coming risky referendum and the Somaliland   taken by the Islamist in the last election. In the genocidal capital of the Great Lake  in  Kigali,   Paul Kagame  succeeded to stay in power  this month by rigging  the election victory  by 93%  for  another 7 year  in power in the image of his friend Melese Zenawie  who “ won”     99.6&%  vote in  May of this year . The worst is that once victim of Genocide Rwanda in 1994 became a genocidal regime itself in 2010. This put in question to the regime’s role on 1994 genocide by refusing to recognize to these day the existence of the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa as distinct people who lived together for centuries. Whey today they have to be denied their cultural identity?  This is done to cover the perpetrator of the African Genocide or to cover some of the higher ranking involved in the 1994 Kigali genocide, or those who gave order to commit the   2002 Congo    atrocities?

The continues  instability of the Horn  would eventually  drawing  Egypt  a country in transition itself to get involved overtly to defend its interest on the Nile   rather than passing through some  regional extremist groups in the region.  Since 1995’s attempted to kill President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, 1998 Blast in the Horn of Africa, Egypt   has tried to invest in the region to be a partner of development.  It’s investment in mining and farming sector which has been taken by the local population as a new land grabber and exploiter than a genuine investor.

Today as an element of reflection 911 coincidence with the Ethiopian New Year falling on the same day of September 11 is the best indicator to show there is assertion correlation of complicity to the extremist and the dictators of the region had had a role to play as secondary or intermediary complicit to this horrible in human act of 2001 if not directly.

The key in the Horn of Africa’s drown out conflict are the war of the dictatorial regimes. They are using Somalia as their proxy war to maintain their respective power. It is easier to fight through proxy in the streets of Mogadishu than their respective capitals which they tried to prove as a center of stability and continuity to the West. It is easier to implicate any country in the region by simply implanting terrorist acts in that capital; Kampala world cup blast is the best example. This notorious dictators are worst than Charles Taylor and must be stopped before drawing the whole world in their proxy wars in Somalia. They will continue harboring more extremism and conflict training proxy terrorists in each other’s capital if not stopped by international concentration.

The 911 as the Ethiopian New Year is a calculated coincidence of the regimes in the horn of Africa indirectly or instrumentally implicated in the horrendous act will be a case to prove in the coming days.  In politics of terrorism there is no hazard but calculated incidence. The people of Ethiopia must grief the 911 with the Americans rather than rejoicing as the long as the true perpetrators are still out there on run in liberty.  The main culprit and the proxy genocidal terrorist   Melese Zenawie still in power Ethiopian has to morn with people of America for a change. A Fried in Need Is a Friend in Deed…The Ethiopians 10 years before 911 and 10 years after are    suffering from dictator regime. They have to join the US on morning and make that day dark day since it rather than joy and happiness.  It must be being kept in the annals of Ethiopian calendar till the fall of the regime of Melese Zenawie, as a day of lamentation.   Today under his rule more Ethiopian are dying of famine and starvation than ever before in  history, while  their  fertile cultivation lands are grabbed by the international so called   business partner of  the Dedicator.

Prof. Muse Tegegne

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Related :-

9/11 and the 9-Year War

The 9/11 Anniversary and What Didn’t Happen

US troops who have died while serving in Afghanistan and the Horn …

Is ‘constructive disengagement’ the solution in Somalia?

By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross September 11, 2010 8:19 AM

On Thursday, Joshua Foust published an article at PBS’s Need to Know that, though avoiding the term “constructive disengagement,” mirrors the arguments advanced by Bronwyn Bruton’s report for CFR, and those made by Fareed Zakaria in the wake of the bombings al Shabaab executed in Uganda. Though constructive disengagement is often advanced as a minor-league panacea to Somalia’s ills, I tend to have several issues with the way arguments for this solution are constructed, and Foust’s article is no exception. Using Foust’s piece as a basis for discussion, this entry will analyze some of the general problems with the advocacy of constructive disengagement.

I should say up front that I both like and respect Foust. He is smart, typically well-researched, and has little tolerance for sloppy, dishonest, or illogical argumentation. Thus, though I will argue at length that various oversimplifications in the way he frames aspects of the Somalia conflict unfairly shape his conclusion, I do not attribute this to dishonesty on his part. Rather, I think that his unfamiliarity with the Horn of Africa coupled with an over-reliance on the conclusions proffered by various secondary sources causes Foust’s thinking to reflect some of the unwarranted conventional wisdom that can be found in a certain segment of the literature.

Were the Islamic Courts an Islamic bogeyman?

One of the presumptions common to all arguments for constructive disengagement is that the threats of Islamism or jihadism in Somalia have been massively overstated by Western analysts. As Foust writes: “[T]he West seems to obsess on the messy southern part of Somalia, a region almost settled in 2006 by a confederation of Islamist factions, but then disbanded and thrown back into chaos by a misguided U.S. policy that sees Islamic boogeymen [sic] around every corner.” Thus, in Foust’s view, the West’s misperceptions extend back to the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006, when it intervened on behalf of the UN-recognized transitional federal government, and pushed the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) back from areas that it had come to control. This invasion was supported financially, and in other ways, by the US, and I know of no analyst who would argue that the invasion has gone well. Thus, several sources — including Marc Lynch, Martin Fletcher, Matt Yglesias, and the L.A. Times editorial page — have argued that the real threat was caused by the invasion itself. As the L.A. Times put it: “Al Shabab probably would not exist were it not for the disastrous failure of U.S. policies in Somalia.”

But the fact that the Ethiopian invasion has been frankly disastrous does not prove that the ICU was in fact “relatively moderate” (Lynch’s words), or that al Shabaab would have been marginalized within the ICU absent the invasion. I do not want to revisit the question of what the proper response to the ICU’s rise would have been (a question beyond the scope of this already long entry), but instead challenge the view that the ICU should clearly be understood as a relatively moderate Islamist movement. (I should note that it’s not clear this is precisely Foust’s position, but it’s an argumentative thread that tends to run through advocacy of constructive disengagement, and is suggested by his “Islamic bogeymen” remark.)

Bill Roggio, in a devastating response to one of Yglesias’s contributions to this debate, has pointed out a number of reasons that the ICU was seen as a threat in 2006. Roggio’s response is worth reading in full for those who are interested in this historical question, but I will highlight a few critical points. First, Roggio notes that known al Qaeda operatives served as leaders within the ICU; in fact, one reason I am deeply skeptical of the idea that Shabaab would have been marginalized absent the Ethiopian invasion is that Shabaab’s founder, Aden Hashi ‘Ayro, was the protégé of Hasan Dahir Aweys, who led the ICU’s consultative council. Second, Roggio highlights the training camps within Somalia, and the fact that the ICU’s island fortress of Ras Kamboni also served as “a major command, control, and communications hub for al Qaeda in East Africa.” Third, Roggio points to the presence of foreign fighters in Somalia in 2005 and 2006 (something often associated with the growth of salafi jihadi movements) and the fact that the ICU used Arabic-language propaganda tapes that As Sahab helped to produce to appeal to possible recruits in the Middle East. Moreover, Osama bin Laden gave several rhetorical nods to the Islamic Courts during the course of 2006, after its capture of Mogadishu. And finally, Roggio notes that Shabaab’s now-open lobbying to join al-Qaeda is not new, but “the result of years of links with the global terror organization.”

Despite this, one can still reasonably argue that the perception of the threat emanating from the ICU was overstated. But the problem with virtually every argument I’ve seen that the ICU was an “Islamic bogeyman” is that they do not deal with these facts that give rise to legitimate threat perceptions: instead, such analyses tend to deliberately ignore them. And that is no basis for forming a legitimate threat assessment.

Assessing the threat of al Shabaab

I have spent considerable space critiquing arguments that the ICU was not a real threat for two reasons. First, this is not a mere historical quibble: it is in fact an important part of arguments for constructive disengagement. After all, if the ICU was not a threat, that means that the current jihadist challenge in Somalia is a US creation. This provides a concrete reason to believe that disengagement now would yield better results. Second, looking at the various factors that might have made the ICU itself dangerous can help us assess the current threat posed by al Shabaab.

Foust argues that Shabaab itself should not be seen as a transnational danger. “It’s only in the last 60 days,” he writes, “that al-Shabaab has shown any interest in expanding its activities beyond Somalia proper. And that expansion seems to be purely reactionary—an immune response, of sorts, to foreign intervention in Somalia’s violent power politics.” But this argument, phrased so broadly, is simply untrue: key Shabaab leaders have in fact expressed their interest, repeatedly, in aligning with al Qaeda and striking outside of Somali territory.

One important document defining al Shabaab’s outlook, written by Abu Mansoor al-Amriki (aka Omar Hammami), is entitled “A Message to the Mujaahideen in Particular and Muslims in General,” issued in January 2008. It is by no means the only such ideological statement on Shabaab’s part, but is particularly comprehensive. The document makes Shabaab’s global jihadist outlook clear, and runs directly counter to the claim that the group lacks interests beyond Somalia proper: in fact, Amriki attacks the ICU for having “a goal limited to the boundaries placed by the Taghoot [the impure],” while “the Shabaab had a global goal including the establishment of the Islaamic Khilaafah [caliphate] in all parts of the world.” Amriki also provides an extended discussion of Shabaab’s manhaj, or religious methodology, writing that it “is the same manhaj repeatedly heard from the mouth of the mujaahid shaykh Usaamah Bin Laden … the doctor Ayman ath-Thawaahiri … and the hero, Abu Mus’ab az-Zarqaawi” (distinctively salafi transliterations were in the original).

Since then, other Shabaab leaders have made clear Shabaab’s global jihadist outlook and allegiance with al-Qaeda. Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, al Shabaab’s now-deceased chief military strategist, formally reached out to al Qaeda’s senior leadership in a 24-minute video entitled “March Forth,” which circuited the jihadi web on Aug. 30, 2008. In it, Nabhan offers salutations to bin Laden and pledges allegiance to “the courageous commander and my honorable leader.” In November 2009, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Shabaab’s intelligence chief, was named al Qaeda’s East African commander. Upon being appointed, he said: “After Somalia we will proceed to Djibouti, Kenya, and Ethiopia” — indicating ambitions beyond Somalia’s borders. And in February 2010, Shabaab issued a statement saying it had agreed “to connect the Horn of Africa jihad to the one led by al Qaeda and its leader Sheikh Osama Bin Laden.”

Moreover, al Qaeda leaders have not ignored Shabaab’s overtures. As previously mentioned, the rhetorical nod from al Qaeda’s senior leadership began when the ICU was the dominant Islamist movement in Somalia. But al Qaeda leaders have also lauded Shabaab specifically. On Nov. 19, 2008, Zawahiri responded to Nabhan’s video with one in which he called al Shabaab “my brothers, the lions of Islam in Somalia.” He urged them to “hold tightly to the truth for which you have given your lives, and don’t put down your weapons before the mujahid state of Islam [has been established] and Tawheed has been set up in Somalia.” Bin Laden himself issued a video devoted to al Shabaab in March 2009, entitled “Fight on, Champions of Somalia,” where he addresses “my patient, persevering Muslim brothers in mujahid Somalia.” He explicitly endorsed al Shabaab and denounced Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, comparing him to “Sayyaf, Rabbani, and Ahmed Shah Massoud, who were leaders of the Afghan mujahidin before they turned back on their heels.” Bin Laden explained that Sharif “agreed to partner infidel positive law with Islamic sharia to set up a government of national unity,” and in that way apostatized from Islam.

But perhaps Foust means his statement about Shabaab’s lack of “interest in expanding its activities beyond Somalia proper” more narrowly. Zakaria, for example, downplays the statements emanating from Shabaab and al Qaeda by contending that “Al-Shabab’s ‘links’ with Al Qaeda seem to be mostly rhetoric on both sides.” At the outset, I think commentators like Zakaria are mistaken to brush these statements off so casually, particularly those coming from al Qaeda’s senior leadership. After all, al Qaeda has been very conservative about endorsing other jihadi groups: one example is that, despite al Qaeda’s rhetorical focus on the Israel, it has not endorsed any of the salafi jihadi groups that have emerged in Gaza.

Connections between Shabaab and al Qaeda are a bit less clear at an operational level, in part because much of the relevant information is not publicly available. But there is reason to think that commentators like Zakaria are understating the connection between the two. I have already alluded to interlocking al Qaeda/al Shabaab leadership (as exemplified by Fazul Abdullah Mohammed), and the way al Qaeda was able to gain a foothold in ICU-controlled Somalia, even before the rise of the more-radical al Shabaab (the example of Ras Kamboni). Moreover, earlier this month Kuwait Al-Siyasah Online (a leading independent Arabic-language daily) reported that “more than 200 armed Al-Qaeda elements,” including Anwar al-Awlaki, escaped from fighting with the Yemeni government in the city of Lawdar in Abyan Governorate. Ahmad Ahmad Ali al-Qafish, director general of Lawdar District, told the newspaper “that Saudi, Pakistani, Egyptian, and Syrian nationals were among the al-Qaeda elements who fought in Lawdar, in addition to about eight Somalis from the pro-al-Qaeda al-Shabab al-Mujahidin Movement.” Other counterterrorism analysts have similarly seen increased operational linkages between Shabaab and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. I think a full discussion of what we do, and do not know, about operational linkages between Shabaab and al Qaeda merits a much more detailed discussion. But suffice it to say that, as with the ICU’s linkages to transnational jihadism, some commentators unfairly give this short shrift.

From the available evidence, I predict that Shabaab will at some point officially merge with al Qaeda, similar to the trajectory that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) took. If one wishes to argue that Shabaab does not really have transnational ambitions, there is much more analysis and thought to undertake. Merely declaring that only recently did Shabaab show interest outside Somalia, and “that expansion seems to be purely reactionary,” is too flip.

Evaluating constructive disengagement

This response to Foust does not prove that constructive disengagement is a bad idea. But he has not really made his case for it, just as other advocates have failed to do so. Foust’s perception that Shabaab does not pose much of an external threat, just as the ICU did not, causes him to argue that the situation should work itself out with little US involvement. The key precondition for the hands-off approach is that a terrorist safe haven will not emerge that poses a threat to Somalia’s neighbors and the United States, and Foust’s argument falls short of demonstrating this.

Moreover, I have one substantial problem with the solution he offers: “The international community should instead take lessons from Puntland and Somaliland — Somalis are smart, industrious, and care deeply about improving their communities. Why not allow them to take charge of their own fate? With minimal help — providing basic security (which is to be contrasted from the partisan AMISOM approach), building some schools or limited infrastructure development — the rest of Somalia can begin to develop itself.” I should note that I have questions about what “basic security” means, in contrast to the AMISOM approach. The AMISOM approach is clearly riddled with problems, as I have written about at length, but I’m not sure you can solve its ineffectiveness through simple “streamlining.”

Foust is correct that Somaliland and Puntland are better governed and more stable than TFG-governed Somalia (“governed” being used very loosely here), and mentions that Somaliland “has tried to become a sovereign state.” However, he does not mention why. The best case I have heard for Somaliland sovereignty was articulated in a conversation I had earlier this year with Saad Noor, the North American representative of the Republic of Somaliland, who argues that sovereignty is necessary for preventing Somaliland from being dragged down by the problems in the rest of the country. Currently Somaliland cannot enter international agreements and undertake other actions associated with sovereign actors. Noor’s concern is that because of this, at some point the chaos that predominates in TFG Somalia will inevitably spread to Somaliland absent sovereignty.

I am neutral on the issue of Somaliland independence, but the concerns Noor expresses are valid. So this raises a final, critical question: would constructive disengagement have the exact opposite effect that Foust intends? Rather than seeing order spread, might we see chaos spread to the parts of the country that are now stable? That is the danger of constructive disengagement, and thus the reason for much more careful analysis about Somalia than can be seen in some of the constructive disengagement advocates.

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How can the U.S. help Somalia?

By Joshua Foust
September 9th, 2010

Hundreds of protesters thronged the streets of Galkayo, a town 450 miles north of Mogadishu, Somalia, on Thursday, protesting the plans by one Florida pastor to burn a pile of Qurans on September 11. It was a surprising outpouring of emotion for the area — Galkayo is in Puntland, a state of Somalia that has gained autonomy from the rest of the country, and though riddled with corruption like any other East African government, has been a beacon of stability and self-government for many years.

Puntland is not its own country, however: because it has never declared independence it is often lumped together with Somalia’s anarchic south. This is too bad, in many ways. Like the nearby region of Somaliland, which has tried to become a sovereign state (no other country has yet recognized it as such), Puntland is a fairly stable place with a slowly developing economy. While recent events, like the July bombings in Kampala, are highlighting the regional challenges the Somali insurgency poses, in the northern half of Somalia two areas, Puntland, and its western neighbor Somaliland, have emerged from the chaos of the 1990s to offer hopeful signs that the country might find peace some day.

Unfortunately, the West seems to obsess on the messy southern part of Somalia, a region almost settled in 2006 by a confederation of Islamist factions, but then disbanded and thrown back into chaos by a misguided U.S. policy that sees Islamic boogeymen around every corner. Last month in Time, Nir Rosen summarized what happened:

The TFG [Transitional Federal Government] failed to transcend the predatory warlord politics that had prevailed for 15 years, and in 2006, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), an Islamist alliance that eschewed the politics of clans, seized control of Mogadishu, rapidly bringing order and economic improvement to their expanding areas of control, thanks to the enthusiastic support of the Somali business community….

With apparent U.S. approval, Ethiopia used funds provided by Washington to buy weapons from North Korea, smuggling them in through Somaliland — a breakaway region of Somalia desperate for international recognition. The U.S. then backed an Ethiopian invasion to restore the TFG to power. During the ensuing fighting, up to 16,000 Somalis were killed and 1 million were displaced. The Islamist leadership was driven out of Mogadishu. The ICU’s armed wing, known as al-Shabab (the Youth), initiated an insurgency against the Ethiopian occupation and its Somali accomplices and used tactics seen in Iraq, such as improvised explosive devices and suicide bombings. The Shabab had been a radical faction of the ICU, but was far from dominant. The Ethiopian invasion not only ended the ICU experiment in governance but also legitimized the more militant outlook of the Shabab.

Ever since, Somalia proper has become less, not more stable. Ethiopia gradually reduced its presence in Somalia over the course of 2009 —  it was deeply inflammatory, considering the literally centuries of bickering over territorial boundaries. The two countries have fought wars over ownership of the Ogaden desert that separates them, and in 2007 Somali insurgents in Ogaden killed 70 workers at a Chinese-run oil field in the area, prompting a violent crackdown by Ethiopian security services. (Rumors abound that the insurgents slaughtered so many workers in retaliation for Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia). Nowadays, Uganda fields the majority of the peacekeeping forces in Somalia — prompting at least two bombings so far. Al-Shabaab has promised to attack more targets inside Uganda if they don’t withdraw. International intervention in Somalia remains as broken and ineffective as it was in 1992, when the UN tried to intervene in the earlier stages of Somalia’s civil war.

What is the U.S. response? It would make sense to see some U.S. involvement in the two autonomous and relatively peaceful regions of Somalia. But almost everything one finds is focused on the nasty regions around Mogadishu and further south. U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, speaks openly about its “limited military support” to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and to Amisom, the UN-sanctioned African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia (AFRICOM’s engagement is largely through private contractors). It’s been this way for some years: in 2007, during the initial stages of Ethiopia’s invasion following the quasi-victory of the Islamic Courts Union in Mogadishu, the U.S. used AC-130 gunships to kill several al Qaeda figures linked to the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa that were hiding in the south, near Kenya. The U.S. Agency for International Development even posts a few scattered “success stories” in Somalia stretching all the way back to 2003. But AFRICOM doesn’t speak much about what it does or does not do in Puntland or Somaliland.

This sort of engagement doesn’t make much sense. It’s only in the last 60 days that al-Shabaab has shown any interest in expanding its activities beyond Somalia proper. And that expansion seems to be purely reactionary — an immune response, of sorts, to foreign intervention in Somalia’s violent power politics. This should raise the question: what could the U.S. be doing better?

In small towns like Gedo, in the southwestern region, there are so few schools that teenagers join militias just to receive payment and have something to do. This is a critical issue: a large pool of jobless, bored young men is a reliable indicator of the potential for future violence. Investing in the development of schools and very basic economic initiatives is neither expensive nor difficult — both the U.S. and the international community have done both very effectively in more difficult and expensive security environments like Afghanistan. But there is precious little of it in Somalia.

In fact, there is almost no development activity in Somalia. There are lots of good reasons for it — security is atrocious, and reporters who travel to Mogadishu are abducted and sometimes killed. Navigating the clan politics of the country is difficult for outsiders, especially when they don’t speak the language. And so much of the country has been destroyed, it can be overwhelming to think of what needs to be built, right now, and what can be put off for later.

At the same time, however, Somalia offers an opportunity to break the standard western model of conflict intervention. The military approach has failed twice in two decades. It should be discarded for other approaches. The normal aid model of flooding a country with foreign “development experts,” crafty with blueprints and generalized approaches but rarely versed in local issues, should be avoided as well. The international community should instead take lessons from Puntland and Somaliland — Somalis are smart, industrious, and care deeply about improving their communities. Why not allow them to take charge of their own fate? With minimal help — providing basic security (which is to be contrasted from the partisan AMISOM approach), building some schools or limited infrastructure development — the rest of Somalia can begin to develop itself. The West need not wrestle with another decades-long multi-billion dollar commitment, since Somalis have already proven they can take charge of their own fate. We just need to give them a chance to.

© 2010 – 2013, Prof. Muse Tegegne. All rights reserved. Ethiopianism.net

About Prof. Muse Tegegne
Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change & Liberation in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Americas. He has obtained Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva. A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies. He wrote on the problematic of the Horn of Africa extensively.

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