Center for Peace and Democracy (CPD)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Is US Embassy in Nairobi 'unaware' of ex-CIA chief's visit to Somalia?

Adulsamad Ali, The East African: The United States embassy in Kenya has denied knowledge of the alleged visit by the former Central Intelligence Agency director Porter Goss to Somalia in February over terrorism links in the country.

Two weeks ago, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf publicly criticised the US over claims that it was funding warlords in the country.

However, sources well versed in Somalia affairs told The EastAfrican that the former CIA chief was indeed in the country, during which time strategies for fighting al-Qaeda in Somalia were formulated. The sources, one in the Kenyan armed forces and the other in the transitional federal government of Somalia, said the director’s visit was followed by a trip by CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agents to Mogadishu, where selected warlords were given money to help identify and arrest suspected al-Qaeda operatives in the country. Leadership in Somalia is divided between clan warlords, the increasingly popular Islamic courts and the transitional federal government.

US support for the warlords is making it difficult for a democratic government to be put in place, sources close to the transitional government say."It is not clear to us why the US is funding the warlords. If they want to fight terrorists, they should first help us have a functional government, then use it to get them, said a senior advisor to Prime Minister Abdul Ghedi.

It is now feared that Islamic extremists are gaining ground. The support for the once popular warlords has now shifted to their rivals, the extremist Islamic groups, and by extension to al-Qaeda," said a government advisor. Ms Barnes, however, said the US policy towards Somalia is designed to support the re-establishment of a functioning central government capable of bringing the Somali people out of civil conflict.

"An effective, functioning central government in Somalia is the most effective long-term means of addressing the threat of domestic terrorism against Somalis, and international terrorism from Somalia," she said in a statement.She said the United States strongly supports the establishment of transitional federal institutions in Somalia and shares the concerns of a majority of the Somali people regarding the presence of foreign terrorists, specifically al-Qaeda. "The United States remains gravely concerned that a small number of Somalis are harbouring foreign terrorists inside Somalia, which undermines the efforts of those seeking to establish peace in Somalia and threatens the stability of the Horn of Africa, she added.
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Is US Embassy in Nairobi 'unaware' of ex-CIA chief's visit to Somalia?


Adulsamad Ali, The East African: The United States embassy in Kenya has denied knowledge of the alleged visit by the former Central Intelligence Agency director Porter Goss to Somalia in February over terrorism links in the country.

Two weeks ago, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf publicly criticised the US over claims that it was funding warlords in the country.

However, sources well versed in Somalia affairs told The EastAfrican that the former CIA chief was indeed in the country, during which time strategies for fighting al-Qaeda in Somalia were formulated. The sources, one in the Kenyan armed forces and the other in the transitional federal government of Somalia, said the director’s visit was followed by a trip by CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agents to Mogadishu, where selected warlords were given money to help identify and arrest suspected al-Qaeda operatives in the country. Leadership in Somalia is divided between clan warlords, the increasingly popular Islamic courts and the transitional federal government.

US support for the warlords is making it difficult for a democratic government to be put in place, sources close to the transitional government say."It is not clear to us why the US is funding the warlords. If they want to fight terrorists, they should first help us have a functional government, then use it to get them, said a senior advisor to Prime Minister Abdul Ghedi.

It is now feared that Islamic extremists are gaining ground. The support for the once popular warlords has now shifted to their rivals, the extremist Islamic groups, and by extension to al-Qaeda," said a government advisor. Ms Barnes, however, said the US policy towards Somalia is designed to support the re-establishment of a functioning central government capable of bringing the Somali people out of civil conflict.

"An effective, functioning central government in Somalia is the most effective long-term means of addressing the threat of domestic terrorism against Somalis, and international terrorism from Somalia," she said in a statement.She said the United States strongly supports the establishment of transitional federal institutions in Somalia and shares the concerns of a majority of the Somali people regarding the presence of foreign terrorists, specifically al-Qaeda. "The United States remains gravely concerned that a small number of Somalis are harbouring foreign terrorists inside Somalia, which undermines the efforts of those seeking to establish peace in Somalia and threatens the stability of the Horn of Africa, she added.
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

Somali born Dutch Mp Ayaan Hirsi Ali sucked

I came to Holland in the summer of 1992 because I wanted to be able to determine my own future. I didn’t want to be forced into a destiny that other people had chosen for me, so I opted for the protection of the rule of law. Here in Holland, I found freedom and opportunities, and I took those opportunities to speak out against religious terror.

In January 2003, at the invitation of the VVD party, I became a member of parliament. I accepted the VVD’s invitation on the condition that I would be the party’s spokesman for the emancipation of women and the integration of immigrants.

What exactly did I want to achieve?

First of all I wanted to put the oppression of immigrant women -- especially Muslim women – squarely on the Dutch political agenda. Second, I wanted Holland to pay attention to the specific cultural and religious issues that were holding back many ethnic minorities, instead of always taking a one-sided approach that focused only on their socio-economic circumstances. Lastly, I wanted politicians to grasp the fact that major aspects of Islamic doctrine and tradition, as practiced today, are incompatible with the open society.

Now I have to ask myself, have I accomplished that task?

I have stumbled often in my political career. It has sometimes been frustrating and slow. However, I am completely certain that I have, in my own way, succeeded in contributing to the debate. Issues related to Islam – such as impediments to free speech; refusal of the separation of Church and State; widespread domestic violence; honor killings; the repudiation of wives; and Islam’s failure to condemn genital mutilation -- these subjects can no longer be swept under the carpet in our country’s capital. Some of the measures that this government has begun taking give me satisfaction. Many illusions of how easy it will be to establish a multicultural society have disappeared forever. We are now more realistic and more open in this debate, and I am proud to have contributed to that process.

Meanwhile, the ideas which I espouse have begun spreading to other countries. In recent years I have given speeches and attended debates in many European countries and in the United States. For months now, I have felt that I needed to make a decision: should I go on in Dutch politics, or should I now transfer my ideas to an international forum?

In the fall of 2005 I told Gerrit Zalm and Jozias van Aartsen, the leaders of the VVD, that I would not be a candidate for the parliamentary elections in 2007. I had decided to opt for a more international platform, because I wanted to contribute to the international debate on the emancipation of Muslim women and the complex relationship between Islam and the West.

Now that I am announcing that I will resign from Dutch politics, I would like to thank the members of the VVD for my years in parliament – to thank them for inviting me to stand for parliament, and -- perhaps more importantly -- for putting up with me while I was there, for this has been in many ways a rough ride for us all. I want to thank my other colleagues here in parliament for their help, although some of our debates have been sharp. (Femke Halsema, thank you especially for that!). I would also like to thank the 30,758 people who in January 2003 trusted their preference vote to a newcomer.

But why am I not remaining in parliament for my full term, until next year’s election? Why, after only three and a half years, have I decided to resign from the Lower Chamber?

It is common knowledge that threats against my life began building up ever since I first talked about Islam publicly, in the spring of 2002. Months before I even entered politics, my freedom of movement was greatly curtailed, and that became worse after Theo van Gogh was murdered in 2004. I have been obliged to move house so many times I have lost count. The direct cause for the ending of my membership in parliament is that on April 27 of this year, a Dutch court ruled that I must once again leave my home, because my neighbors filed a complaint that they could not feel safe living next to me. The Dutch government will appeal this verdict and I grateful for that, because how on earth will other people whose lives are threatened manage to find a place to stay if this verdict is allowed to rest? However, this appeal does not alter my situation: I have to leave my apartment by the end of August.

Another reason for my departure is the discussion that has arisen from a TV program, The Holy Ayaan, which was aired on May 11. This program centered on two issues: the story that I told when I was applying for asylum here in Holland, and questions about my forced marriage.

I have been very open about the fact that when I applied for asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, I did so under a false name and with a fabricated story. In 2002, I spoke on national television about the conditions of my arrival, and I said then that I fabricated a story in order to be able to receive asylum here. Since that TV program I have repeated this dozens of times, in Dutch and international media. Many times I have truthfully named my father and given my correct date of birth. (You will find a selection of these articles in the press folder). I also informed the VVD leadership and members of this fact when I was invited to stand for parliament.

I have said many times that I am not proud that I lied when I sought asylum in the Netherlands. It was wrong to do so. I did it because I felt I had no choice. I was frightened that if I simply said I was fleeing a forced marriage, I would be sent back to my family. And I was frightened that if I gave my real name, my clan would hunt me down and find me. So I chose a name that I thought I could disappear with – the real name of my grandfather, who was given the birth-name Ali. I claimed that my name was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, although I should have said it was Ayaan Hirsi Magan.

You probably are wondering, what is my real name?

I am Ayaan, the daughter of Hirsi, who is the son of a man who took the name of Magan. Magan was the son of Isse, who was the son of Guleid, who was the son of Ali. He was the son of Wai’ays, who was the son of Muhammad. He was the son of Ali, who was the son of Umar. Umar was the son of Osman, who was the son of Mahamud. This is my clan, and therefore, in Somalia, this is my name: Ayaan Hirsi Magan Isse Guleid Ali Wai’ays Muhammad Ali Umar Osman Mahamud.

Following the May 11 television broadcast, legal questions have been raised about my naturalization as a Dutch citizen. Minister Verdonk has written to me saying that my passport will be annulled, because it was issued to a person who does not hold my real name. I am not at liberty to discuss the legal issues in this case.

Now for the questions about my forced marriage. Last week’s TV program cast doubt on my credibility in that respect, and the final conclusion of the documentary is that all this is terribly complicated. Let me tell you, it’s not so complex. The allegations that I willingly married my distant cousin, and was present at the wedding ceremony, are simply untrue. This man arrived in Nairobi from Canada, asked my father for one of his five daughters, and my father gave him me. I can assure you my father is not a man who takes no for an answer.
Still, I refused to attend the formal ceremony, and I was married regardless. Then, on my way to Canada -- during a stopover in Germany -- I traveled to the Netherlands and asked for asylum here. In all simplicity this is what happened, nothing more and nothing less. For those who are interested in the intimate details of my transition from a pre-modern society to a modern one, and how I came to love what the West stands for, please read my memoir, which is due to be published this fall.

To return to the present day, may I say that it is difficult to live with so many threats on your life and such a level of police protection. It is difficult to work as a parliamentarian if you have nowhere to live. All that is difficult, but not impossible. It has become impossible since last night, when Minister Verdonk informed me that she would strip me of my Dutch citizenship.

I am therefore preparing to leave Holland. But the questions for our society remain. The future of Islam in our country; the subjugation of women in Islamic culture; the integration of the many Muslims in the West: it is self-deceit to imagine that these issues will disappear.

I will continue to ask uncomfortable questions, despite the obvious resistance that they elicit. I feel that I should help other people to live in freedom, as many people have helped me. I personally have gone through a long and sometimes painful process of personal growth in this country. It began with learning to tell the truth to myself, and then the truth about myself: I strive now to also tell the truth about society as I see it.

That transition from becoming a member of a clan to becoming a citizen in an open society is what public service has come to mean for me. Only clear thinking and strong action can lead to real change, and free many people within our society from the mental cage of submission. The idea that I can contribute to their freedom, whether in the Netherlands or in another country, gives me deep satisfaction.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as of today, I resign from Parliament. I regret that I will be leaving the Netherlands, the country which has given me so many opportunities and enriched my life, but I am glad that I will be able to continue my work. I will go on.

Voor meer informatie: vvdvoorlichting@tweedekamer.nl

The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

U.S. Secretly Backing Warlords in Somalia

More than a decade after U.S. troops withdrew from Somalia following a disastrous military intervention, officials of Somalia's interim government and some U.S. analysts of Africa policy say the United States has returned to the African country, secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.

The latest clashes, last week and over the weekend, were some of the most violent in Mogadishu since the end of the American intervention in 1994, and left 150 dead and hundreds more wounded. Leaders of the interim government blamed U.S. support of the militias for provoking the clashes.

U.S. officials have declined to directly address on the record the question of backing Somali warlords, who have styled themselves as a counterterrorism coalition in an open bid for American support. Speaking to reporters recently, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States would "work with responsible individuals . . . in fighting terror. It's a real concern of ours -- terror taking root in the Horn of Africa. We don't want to see another safe haven for terrorists created. Our interest is purely in seeing Somalia achieve a better day."

U.S. officials have long feared that Somalia, which has had no effective government since 1991, is a desirable place for al-Qaeda members to hide and plan attacks. The country is strategically located on the Horn of Africa, which is only a boat ride away from Yemen and a longtime gateway to Africa from the Middle East. No visas are needed to enter Somalia, there is no police force and no effective central authority.

The country has a weak transitional government operating largely out of neighboring Kenya and the southern city of Baidoa. Most of Somalia is in anarchy, ruled by a patchwork of competing warlords; the capital is too unsafe for even Somalia's acting prime minister to visit.

Leaders of the transitional government said they have warned U.S. officials that working with the warlords is shortsighted and dangerous.

"We would prefer that the U.S. work with the transitional government and not with criminals," the prime minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi, said in an interview. "This is a dangerous game. Somalia is not a stable place and we want the U.S. in Somalia. But in a more constructive way. Clearly we have a common objective to stabilize Somalia, but the U.S. is using the wrong channels."

Many of the warlords have their own agendas, Somali officials said, and some reportedly fought against the United States in 1993 during street battles that culminated in an attack that downed two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters and left 18 Army Rangers dead.

"The U.S. government funded the warlords in the recent battle in Mogadishu, there is no doubt about that," government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari told journalists by telephone from Baidoa. "This cooperation . . . only fuels further civil war."

U.S. officials have refused repeated requests to provide details about the nature and extent of their support for the coalition of warlords, which calls itself the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism in what some Somalis say is a marketing ploy to get U.S. support.

But some U.S. officials, who declined to be identified by name because of the sensitivity of the issue, have said they are generally talking to these leaders to prevent people with suspected ties to al-Qaeda from being given safe haven in the lawless country.

"There are complicated issues in Somalia in that the government does not control Mogadishu and it has the potential for becoming a safe haven for al-Qaeda and like-minded terrorists," said one senior administration official in Washington. "We've got very clear interests in trying to ensure that al-Qaeda members are not using it to hide and to plan attacks." He said it was "a very difficult issue" trying to show support for the fledgling interim government while also working to prevent Somalia from becoming an al-Qaeda base.

A senior U.S. intelligence official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was a "Hobbesian" situation -- that the transitional government operating from Kenya was in its "fifteenth iteration" and that it, too, was a "collection of warlords" that played both sides of the fence. The official said that it presented a classic "enemy of our enemy" situation.

The source said Somalia was "not an al-Qaeda safe haven" yet, adding, "There are some there, but it's so dysfunctional." U.S. officials specifically believe that a small number of al-Qaeda operatives who were involved in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania are now residing in Somalia.

Analysts said they were convinced the Bush administration was backing the warlords as part of its global war against terrorism. "The U.S. relies on buying intelligence from warlords and other participants in the Somali conflict, and hoping that the strongest of the warlords can snatch a live suspect or two if the intelligence identifies their whereabouts," said John Prendergast, the director for African affairs in the Clinton administration and now a senior adviser at the nongovernmental International Crisis Group.
"This strategy might reduce the short-term threat of another terrorist attack in East Africa, but in the long term the conditions which allow terrorist cells to take hold along the Indian Ocean coastline go unaddressed. We ignore these conditions at our peril."

"Are we talking to them and doing some of that? Yes," said Ted Dagne, the leading Africa analyst for the Congressional Research Service. "We fought some of these warlords in 1993 and now we are dealing with some of them again, perhaps supporting some of them against other groups. Somalia is still considered by some as an attractive location for terrorist groups."

The issue of U.S. backing came to the forefront this winter when warlords formed the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism after a fundamentalist Islamic group began asserting itself in the capital, setting up courts of Islamic law and building schools and hospitals.
Soon after, the coalition of warlords were well-equipped with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and antiaircraft guns, which were used in heavy fighting in the capital last week. It was the second round of fighting this year, following clashes in March that killed more than 90 people, mostly civilians, and emptied neighborhoods around the capital.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council this month, the world body's monitoring group on Somalia said it was investigating an unnamed country's secret support for an anti-terrorism alliance in apparent violation of a U.N. arms embargo. The experts said they were told in January and February of this year that "financial support was being provided to help organize and structure a militia force created to counter the threat posed by the growing militant fundamentalist movement in central and southern Somalia."

In March, the State Department said in its terrorism report that the U.S. government was concerned about al-Qaeda fugitives "responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and the November 2002 bombing of a tourist hotel and attack on a civilian airliner in Kenya, who are believed to be operating in and around Somalia."

The United States relies on Ethiopia and Kenya for information about Somalia. Both countries have complex interests and long-standing ties and animosities in the country. In December 2002, the United States also established an anti-terrorism task force in neighboring Djibouti, with up to 1,600 U.S. troops stationed in the country.

Africa researchers said they were concerned that while the Bush administration was focused on the potential terrorist threat, little was being done to support economic development initiatives that could provide alternative livelihoods to picking up a gun or following extremist ideologies in Somalia. Somalia watchers and Somalis themselves said there has not been enough substantial backing for building a new government after 15 years of collapsed statehood.

"If the real problem is Somalia, then what have we done to change the situation inside Somalia? Are we funding schools, health care or helping establish an effective government?" Dagne said. "We have a generation of Somali kids growing up without education and only knowing violence and poverty. Unless there is a change, these could become the next warlords out of necessity for survival. That's perhaps the greatest threat we have yet to address."

Somalis far from the factional fighting in Mogadishu said they were waiting for anyone to help ease their destitute lives during the worst drought in a decade. In Waajid, a dusty town about 200 miles northwest of the capital, thousands of villagers have left their farms for squalid camps, searching for water and living in open, rocky fields under low-lying, fragile shelters of sticks and rags that look like bird's nests.

Many people here say they feel that the United States has ignored Somalia since the failed 1993 military intervention. Today many Somalis said they regret that chapter in their history and thank the United States, the largest donor of food and funding for water trucks during this season's drought.
However, they said that news that the U.S. government was talking with warlords has awakened feelings of resentment.

"George W. Bush, we welcome the Americans. But not to back warlords. We need the U.S.A. to help the young government," said Isak Nur Isak, the district commissioner in Waajid. "We won't drag any Americans through the street like in 1993. We want to be clear: We don't want only food aid, but we do want political support for the new government, which is all we have right now to put our hopes in. We can't eat if everyone is dead."Wax reported from Waajid, Somalia, and Nairobi. DeYoung reported from Washington.
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"