Monday, November 29, 2010

The Leading Lady of Afghanistan

The Leading Lady of Afghanistan
http://www.majalla.com/incoming/article192751.ece/REPRESENTATIONS/medium_300x170/Sima+Samar.jpg
Sima Samar

The violent communist regime in Afghanistan forced Dr. Sima Samar to flee her homeland in the 1980s, but she has since become a powerful force inside Karzai's administration and through her aid projects. Though her progressive ideas have prompted death threats, and some conservatives call Samar the “Salman Rushdie of Afghanistan,” she has not relented from her fight for women’s rights in the Middle East.

In the early 1980s, Dr. Sima Samar made her debut on the feminist stage, becoming the first Hazara woman to receive a medical degree from Kabul University. But the young doctor’s life changed dramatically after her husband was arrested by communist forces, never to be heard from again. In 1984, Samar took her young son and fled her homeland for the safety of Pakistan. During the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, and the following era of Taliban oppression, Samar lost nearly 60 family members. Many persecuted Afghans, including her fellow Hazaras, a minority Persian-speaking group of Shi’a Muslims, were forced out of the country, impoverished and lacking quality healthcare and education.    

In 1989, Samar turned her heartache into hope, establishing the Shuhada Organization, which provides necessary aid and healthcare to refugees.  The NGO is the largest to be led by women and has opened 10 Afghan clinics and schools, supporting the education of 17 thousand students, including those in the very remote regions of the country.  Her organization specifically focuses on women’s rights, and it encourages professional skills training and family planning. Throughout the Taliban’s control over the country, Samar was openly defiant against them, countering their repudiation of her work with strong words: “Tell the world what my crime is—giving books and papers and pens to girls!”     

After more than a decade away, Samar returned to Afghanistan once the Taliban were overthrown in 2001.  She was subsequently invited to serve as deputy president and minister for Women’s Affairs in the Afghan Transitional Administration, under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai.  Though women held government positions before the Taliban’s rule, Samar is the first woman to ever hold such a senior post. While under Karzai, she lobbied businesses to hire more women and encouraged women’s participation in public life.  She pushed for 50 percent female participation in Loya Jirga, Afghanistan’s grand assembly.    

Samar’s political beliefs advocate public inclusion of women, which counters the religious upholding of purdah (separation between men and women). She also wants to see an end to the wearing of burqas, because the full-body shrouds deny women the healthful benefits of sunlight. Her open criticism of Islamic law attracted substantial harassment, and the embattled politician resigned within a year, a decision that she says was forced. Despite receiving death threats for her advocacy work, Samar remained steadfast, telling media outlets, “I’ve always been in danger, but I don’t mind.”    

Her statements shed light on a festering issue in which the culture of violence within Afghanistan is changing the political dynamics for the budding democracy.  Ferocious fighting in the outskirts is drawing political candidates into the capital city, Kabul, where there is greater security.  The problem is that they’re staying there.  Candidates who represent the outer provinces maintain their posts even if they never visit home or return to their constituents.  Some sources report that Kabul is now home to five out of the country’s 28 million residents. But many argue that relocation to Kabul is the only way to guarantee that politicians fulfill their government duties and maintain some level of consistent governance while ensuring their own personal safety.  The Times reports that by August 2010, at least three political candidates had been killed and dozens of others wounded in Taliban attacks during the lead-up to the last election. Public fear of Taliban retaliation is the suspected reason behind the low voter turnout in September.     

Though Samar stepped away from the political spotlight, she now lends her tenacity to the United Nations (UN).  As special rapporteur on human rights in Sudan, Samar speaks out against the Lord Resistance Army’s brutal rebel attacks and inter-tribal violence in the region.  Additionally, her current role as the head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) allows her to put even more pressure on the government to improve the situation for women. In Samar’s writings and lectures, she denounces the vicious rape cycle so prevalent within Afghanistan, and condemns what she sees as a justice system heavily skewed by culture and religious fundamentalism.  “When a victim of rape goes to the police for justice, the police rape her again and say ‘she is a whore,’ but they never say ‘whore’ to a rapist,” she says in an interview with IRIN, the humanitarian news branch for the UN. Along with combating rape, Samar’s other priorities include ending child trafficking, family violence and honor killings.    

Though Samar has made progress, it is necessary to recognize that Afghanistan has a long road ahead toward creating a culture that upholds human rights. The abuses did not end with the toppling of the Taliban regime, as there still exists religious factions that also turn a blind eye to rape, allow forced marriages of young girls and support honor killings. Yet the abuses also did not vanish with the invasion of Western troops, some of whom have been responsible for crimes against civilians and prisoners of war.  Further compounding the problem is the fact that the majority of the country’s media is government owned, which limits the avenues for a democratic public to engage in open debate on pertinent issues.  The current media climate is obviously freer than the Taliban-enforced ban on filming and photography, but journalists still work within a hostile environment and experience death threats for critical or anti-conservative coverage, as explained by the organization Reporters Without Borders. Moreover, the clandestine nature of recent cases worked on by NATO forces has also hindered journalists’ ability to report accurately and comprehensively, thus contributing to an atmosphere of suspicion and fear which does nothing to improve human or women’s rights for the country.    

Samar has been a strong campaigner for increased security in Afghanistan to speed their progress on social issues. She believes the military is the necessary conduit for bringing democracy and human rights to the region. In an interview with Democracy Now!, she described the difficulties of bringing democracy’s benefits to the people living on the outskirts of the country, and explained how this challenge provides space for the Taliban to step in and provide aid, thus gaining the people’s support. That is why she supports economic investment programs that will provide more services and employment opportunities for local citizens. Until the transition to a strong democracy is complete, Samar knows Afghan women and girls will remain one of the most vulnerable groups, which is why her NGO keeps them at the forefront of their aid agenda.  

Samar is still the target of much attention—positive and negative. In 2009, the AIHRC, under her leadership, endured corruption claims for allegedly accepting bribe money to leave certain names off the list of human rights violators.  But since the Taliban regime was ousted, nearly four million Afghan refugees have returned, and research suggests that her work, and that of the Shuhada Organization, has helped more girls gain schooling and more women participate in government and elections. It is then no surprise that the 53-year-old received a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2010.  Today, Samar remains a loud voice against oppressive forces worldwide, telling IRIN, “Achievements on paper are not enough, only criticizing violence against women is not enough; those who violate women’s rights should be prosecuted.”

 

ALMAJALA

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"We are no longer content to be Africa's best-kept secret" says S...

"We are no longer content to be Africa's best-kept secret" says S...


On Friday, 26 November, in a meeting chaired by former British Minister for Africa, Lord Triesman, President Silanyo addressed a wide ranging audience of international government officials, academics, journalists and business leaders at Chatham House in London.  In one of Chatham House's most popular seminars in history, over 200 people attennded with scores of others turned away.

A full transciprt of the President's speech is below:

Address to Chatham House, Royal Institute for International Affairs

26 November 2010

H.E President Ahmed .M. Silanyo

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished colleagues and friends,

A.      General

  1. It gives me great pleasure to be with you here as the representative of my people and our country, Somaliland. I am most grateful to Chatham House and the Royal Institute for International Affairs for extending this kind invitation to us. It is symbolic of the longstanding interest and commitment to constructive dialogue and positive engagement on the important issues affecting the Somali people that the Royal Institute for International Affairs and its members have illustrated over many years and decades.
  2. I am also aware of your recent work on the livestock trade in the Horn of Africa as well as your recent examination of the problems of insurgency, terrorism and economic hardship in the region. These are areas of fundamental importance for Somaliland and the region more widely. At the same time, I know that your interest in our corner of the world is only a small part of the larger work done by Chatham House in its catalytic role in encouraging international debate about our continent, Africa.
  3. I would also like to take this opportunity to salute the Somaliland Diaspora living in the United Kingdom, without whose unflinching support, encouragement and commitment to the cause of their people, Somaliland would be a thoroughly different place. I am delighted to see some members of that community represented here today.
  4. I should also like to express my profound gratitude to the British Government, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Minister for Africa, Mr. Henry Bellingham and members of the Somaliland All Party Parliamentary Group led by Alun Michael MP for their consistent support and continuing engagement on the key issues of concern for the people of Somaliland.  We in Somaliland have always been keenly appreciative of the special friendship between our two nations deeply rooted in history, and a commitment to democracy, human rights and freedom. My Government and I look forward to further strengthening those links, and collaborating on issues of mutual interest for the benefit of our countries and our people.
  5. My message to you today is one of HOPE, in an otherwise often bleak region of the Horn of Africa. We in Somaliland are no longer content to be Africa's best-kept secret but have launched upon the unstoppable trajectory towards becoming a full functioning and responsible member of the international community of states, in keeping with our rights and obligations under international law. I shall take the opportunity today to talk to you briefly about recent developments, as well as issues of importance for our country.  

B.      Elections

6.        Following in the footsteps of the first Presidential election in 2003 and the Parliamentary elections of 2005, the Presidential elections on 26 June 2010 marked almost 20 years since Somaliland reclaimed its sovereignty, and 50 years since the end of the British Protectorate. 

7.        Despite security threats aimed to discourage and stifle the will of the electorate, over a million people queued from early dawn, in the blistering summer heat, determined to peacefully cast their ballot and vote.  Many of these voters were women and the youth. International observers determined the results of the elections to be free and fair.  My popular mandate derives from this process of which I'm very proud and humbled. With the ensuing peaceful transition and handover, Somaliland once again, set itself apart from many countries in Africa and distinguished itself in a corner of the world often synonymous with instability, lack of security and absence of rule of law.

8.       We believe that the success of our elections has demonstrated Somaliland's commitment to the "democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and good governance", which are enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union. I am immensely proud of the achievements of my people born out of struggle for survival and recognition in the face of isolation and hardship.  I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the people of Somaliland, and ask them to remain steadfast in their commitment to peace, democracy and the rule of law.

9.        I also want to express my profound gratitude to our growing number of friends in the international community, including Great Britain, who stood by us throughout our struggles and whom we will continue to draw on for support, wise counsel and friendship in the days, months and years ahead.

C.      Local Elections

10.     One consequence of the delayed Presidential elections is that local elections have also been pushed back. However, the Government will press ahead with these as a matter of priority. We are determined that all Government, including at the local level should be accountable to the people. We are talking to the National Electoral Commission, political parties and donors about the timeframe for holding the local elections and expect to finalize arrangements very soon.

D.      Development

11.     My Administration has ambitious development plans. There is an urgent need to tackle poverty, enhance institutional Governance capacity and increase access to basic services including, health and education.  We will need support in this endeavour.

12.     Having previously suffered from years of neglect by Mogadishu, and compounded by the conflict that followed, as well the somewhat uncertain approach of the international community, Somaliland had a difficult past. However, a tremendous amount has been achieved in the past 20 years.

13.     Under my Administration, we will seek to find new opportunities building on the achievements of the past 2 decades – to promote the social and economic welfare of our people.

14.     While we are very grateful to the international community for the humanitarian support which they provided, we would like to see more emphasis on development to ensure a successful transition from humanitarian assistance to recovery. The peace dividend must be manifest in concrete results for the people of Somaliland.

15.     We look forward to closer cooperation with the United Nations and international organizations, as well as strengthened bilateral links with donor community who have positively signaled their commitment in this regard.

E.       Trade and investment

16.     Development assistance alone will not do enough to lift Somaliland out of poverty.  Investment and economic diversification will be key. Since the Kulmiye Administration came to power, it has made a concerted effort to raise revenue and broaden its sources. As a result, the last quarter saw a 24% increase in revenue.

If sustained, the Government will be able to spend more of our own money on economic and social development.

17.     My Government also recognizes the need to boost Somaliland's exports and diversify its markets. Provided that the issue of veterinary certificates can be overcome, we do not believe that it is fanciful to think of exporting our lamb – which is excellent, by the way – to the European Union. The lifting of the ban on the export of livestock from the Rift Valley by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was an important and welcome development, but the ban demonstrated the need for Somaliland to have other outlets for its trade.

18.     Somaliland also needs better roads and telecommunications. The Berbera Corridor, including the port of Berbera itself, is of vital importance to our future economic prosperity as well as being important to our landlocked neighbor, Ethiopia.  The Government is seeking foreign direct investment in infrastructure, and is prepared to make investing in Somaliland more attractive to foreign companies.  Such improvements will be powerful drivers of economic growth and much needed revenue. Smaller scale projects at the community level will be equally important. Here, I believe that the Somali Diaspora has an important part to play in leveraging its considerable resources.

19.     More widely, there is a clear need to promote Somaliland as a trade and investment, opportunity. That is part of the reason why I am here in the UK where we have just inaugurated the first Anglo-Somaliland Chamber of Commerce (on 23 November 2010).  Over the course of the past week, I have met with many business leaders and potential investors who recognize the unique opportunities of investing in the emerging markets of Somaliland. I hope that you will spread the word that Somaliland is open for business!

F.       Recognition

20.     I make no secret of the fact that my Government's ultimate goal is full international recognition of Somaliland's independence as a sovereign State. We believe that such international recognition, long over due, will allow us to unlock more direct assistance, promote more trade and investment, maintain our security and further the social and economic well-being of our people.

21.     Secession was not born out of a top down approach, but was the popular expression of the overwhelming majority of the Somaliland people who sought to exercise their international legal right to self-determination, similar to Kosovo, East Timor and elsewhere. Upon gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1960, the Republic of Somaliland was recognized by some 35 countries before the entering into a voluntary union with Somalia in the same year.

22.     The dissolution of that union and the resumption of Somaliland's independence nearly 20 years ago was not based on territorial expansion as its present borders are the same as those of 1960.  This is particularly relevant to African Union principle of respect for borders existing on achievement of independence. We also wait with great interest on outcome of the upcoming referendum in the South Sudan early in the New Year.

G.      Situation in Somalia

23.     Despite our non-negotiable position on independence, Somaliland bears no ill-feeling towards our neighbour Somalia, as it's in nobody interest to see the conflict in the Somalia perpetuated, and wishes the administration of President Sharif, and other relevant parties in that country success in ending the long suffering of their people.

24.     At the same time, my Government views with deep concern the continuing violence and instability in Somalia, which poses a direct threat to the Somaliland, the region and in the international community.  The recent terrorist attacks, including in Kampala during the world cup, clearly illustrate the need for concerted international cooperation on security issues.

25.     The use of Somalia as a base for operations by pirates – the consequence of the breakdown of central Government – has given the crisis in Somalia an international dimension that stretches far beyond its shores.  I am heartened to see the successful conclusion recently of the Chandler's kidnapping after more than a year in captivity. For our part, we have successfully sought to prevent pirate operations on or near our own coast, and have taken concrete steps to combat that insidious threat. We will continue to strengthen our capacity as a security provider in our own region with international support, as necessary.

26.     Clearly the search for a durable peace in Somalia – which has to date remain elusive – is paramount. Whilst the international community has invested immeasurable resources, time and commitment to the resolution of the Somalia crisis– these efforts have been constrained in part by the fact that they were often externally driven.  In the case of Somaliland, a grassroots approach, utilizing the best aspects of the traditional conflict resolution at the community level provided the basis for dialogue and peace. It was neither quick nor easy but we believe that elements of that model could be successfully replicated in Somalia, as appropriate.

H.      Integrating with the region

27.     Somaliland is not an island: for good or ill it is affected by events in neighboring countries. Far from wishing to turn our backs on our neighbors, my Government wants to improve its interaction with them and with regional organizations such as IGAD and the AU, to make sure that Somaliland's voice is heard, its interests are promoted, and the security of its people and neighbours assured.

28.     Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya will be key partners in the region. In the same vein, we want closer links to the EU, the UN and its specialized agencies, and the League of Arab States. We also hope to secure stronger ties with individual donors, not least the United States, which recently announced its dual-track policy that will see direct aid and cooperation with Somaliland increased.  I very much welcome this as a positive step in keeping the realities on the ground.  

I.        Relations with the UK

29.     Before concluding, I would once again like to reiterate the special bond between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Somaliland. We will continue to look to Great Britain to be at the forefront of the Somaliland question, including in supporting our bid for formal representation at international forums, such as the United Nations. 

30.     I would like to thank the Government and British people for the humanitarian and development assistance, which they continue to generously provide during difficult times, and for the hospitality and sanctuary provided to the Somaliland community here. With the British government's support and assistance, including in the areas of security cooperation and economic investment, we continue to make positive strides in the development of our country, and will create conditions conducive for those displaced globally wishing to return voluntarily, with safety and dignity.

J.       Conclusion

31.     In sum, Somaliland has achieved democracy, peace and stability largely through its own efforts.  As a new administration we have also met many of the benchmarks we set ourselves for our first 100 days. With the support of our people, we are determined to go to the next level and build a state on the foundations of the rule of law, democratic principles and good governance. With the help of the international community, and the support of our regional partners, I am confident that Somaliland will take its rightful place amongst the community of States.

Thank you.

END

 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Somaliland Pushes for International Recognitio

Somaliland Pushes for International Recognition
Written by VOA   
Map of Somaliland

Somaliland has been fighting for its independence for three decades. Its newly elected president, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, is in London to strengthen economic ties and lobby for support to have his country recognized as a sovereign nation.

Somaliland president Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo launched a new economic cooperation center here in London, the Anglo-Somaliland Chamber of Commerce. The president is in Britain looking for economic as well as political support.  

"We would like recognition for our country of course, but we would also want to see the international community and Britain our friends engage with us to mobilize development to give us development, recognition and cooperating with us in many areas," said the president.

He says the June elections that brought him to power were widely regarded as free and fair, and the peaceful transition of leadership marked another step in Somaliland's development.

"We have made tremendous progress, Somaliland has been operating on its own, Somaliland has been relatively peaceful in a region which is not stable enough, known for instability activities of al-Shabab and other extremist groups," he said. "Somaliland has been fighting against these people and Somaliland has been working on stability, not only that but on its democracy and development of its people."

Silanyo says his government has worked hard to crack down on piracy and Islamic militancy, and is concerned about the instability of Somalia.

"We would like to see peace restored to Somalia itself because lack of stability in the region is bound to affect us, it's affecting the whole world, it's affecting our region more than anyone else," he said.

Somaliland's new president says international recognition of Somaliland would help with stability, its banks and other institutions would be able to interact freely with the rest of the world.

"Not being recognized by the international community is a huge setback, naturally that goes without saying and that's why we are moving around and asking the international community and sending an appeal to them to recognize Somaliland," he said.

Silanyo says Kosovo's recent recognition as an independent country and the January referendum on independence for Southern Sudan are both positive developments for Somaliland.

"We are heartened by Kosovo and what's happened to Southern Sudan that means it opens the door for us. The principle that countries should remain as they were at the time of independence has changed so why should it not work for us as well," Silanyo said

The United States says it will "engage" with Silanyo's government. Britain, Denmark and Sweden are all increasing their bi-lateral ties with Somaliland. The president said Ethiopia is also deepening its relationship with Somaliland, and, he hopes a new railway will link the two countries.

VOA

Friday, November 26, 2010

Obama needs 12 stitches after being hit on lip during basketball game

Obama needs 12 stitches after being hit on lip during basketball game
President was struck by opponent's elbow, White House says

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama received 12 stitches in his lip after being hit during a pick up basketball game, the White House said on Friday.

"After being inadvertently hit with an opposing player's elbow in the lip while playing basketball with friends and family, the president received 12 stitches today administered by the White House Medical Unit," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, according to NBC News.

Gibbs did not release the names of the people playing with the president.

Obama received the stitches under local anesthesia in the doctor's office on the ground floor White House after he returned home.

The president had traveled to nearby Fort McNair to indulge in one of his favorite athletic pursuits, basketball. It was a five-on-five contest involving family and friends and including Reggie Love, Obama's personal assistant who played at Duke University.

Obama emerged from the building after about 90 minutes of play, wearing short-sleeve T-shirt and gym pants, and was seen dabbing at his mouth with what appeared to be a wad of gauze. A few hours later, reporters who had gathered on the White House driveway for the arrival of the Christmas Tree saw the president in an upstairs window, pressing something white against his mouth.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Strengthening the UK’s relationship with Somaliland- A Press Release From British Foreign Office:

Strengthening the UK's relationship with Somaliland- A Press Release From British Foreign Office:

Strengthening the UK's relationship with Somaliland

25 November 2010
Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham met the President of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud Silanyo in London on 24 November.

Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham greets the President of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo (crown copyright)

This is the President's first visit to the UK since his successful election in June this year. He was accompanied by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Planning.

Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham said:

"The UK is proud of it's historical ties to Somaliland, and we are keen to maintain and strengthen our very close bilateral relationship".

The UK also has strong links to Somaliland through members of the diaspora, many of whom contribute positively to Somaliland's development as well as to communities across the UK.

Somaliland has made admirable progress in maintaining relative peace and stability in a difficult region. Somaliland has set a positive example of democracy and can play an important role in enhancing security and development in the Horn of Africa. To this end, the UK is committed to supporting Somaliland's development and cooperating in areas of shared interest to ensure a positive and sustainable future for Somaliland and the region.

Source: British Foreigh Office- www.fco.gov.uk

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Saved by a guardian angel in Somalia

Saved by a guardian angel in Somalia

Published on : 25 November 2010 - 3:31pm | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo: Abdurrahman WARSAMEH)


After more than one year in the hands of Somali pirates, the British citizens Paul and Rachel Chandler got released on November 14 and returned home. But this would not have happened if it was not for a doctor who took care of them while they were being held hostage in Somalia. RNW met up with him.

More arrests

Seven more pirates have been arrested by the Dutch naval forces, part of NATO operation Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

Meanwhile, Dutch detectives are dispatched to the navy vessel Hr. Ms. Amsterdam. They are to interrogate a total of 20 pirates that the ship's marines arrested over the last couple of days, off the coast of Somalia. The alleged pirates are in Dutch custody, and under international law the suspects could be brought to a Dutch court.

But according to the Dutch public prosecutor's spokesperson Wim de Bruin it's too early to speculate on this. "First of all we want to solve the case regarding the South African Choizil, a ship that was hijacked three weeks ago. These guys can provide useful information."

The ship was freed, but two hostages remain in the pirates' hands. South Africa and the Netherlands are currently discussing on how to proceed with the arrested pirates.

By Abdurrahman WARSAMEH, Mogadishu

"When I first saw them they were in bad shape. They were separated, sick, traumatized and in the most inhumane situation," said Dr Mohamed Abdi Elmi aka Hangul, who treated the elderly British couple during their captivity by Somali pirates.

Tough times
Paul and Rachel Chandler, now enjoying the taste of freedom back home in the UK, have been through very tough times during their captivity, lasting more than a year, in a mountainous area in central Somalia.

The two were seized when Somali pirates boarded their yacht off the Seychelles on 23 October 2009. Most of the time, they were held incommunicado with the outside world.

Dr HangulDr Hangul
photo: Abdurrahman Warsameh
But Dr Hangul was one of the few people who had access to the Chandlers during their captivity. He said that he was allowed to carry out some medical checks on the Chandlers and give them some medications because the pirates wanted to keep the hostages alive to demand a hefty ransom.

"Early in the year when I first managed to visit them, they were held separate locations and that had its toll on their well-being," Dr Hangul told Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW).

"They lived in the most appalling conditions for a human being. Rachel was kept in a makeshift camp under the shade of a tree and without the basic essentials in hot temperatures." said Hangul.

Paul was kept somewhere inside Addado, a town in the central Somali region of Galgaduud. Since the pirates did not want him to know where Paul was being held, the two men met in an unknown location in the mountains.

Instrumental
Hangul was instrumental in the negotiations to free the retired couple.

He was joined by local elders to try in the first place to persuade the pirates to unify the Chandlers, a plea which they later accepted.

Meanwhile, frantic efforts both inside and outside Somalia were galvanized to collect donations to pay out the ransom. But the money raised fell far short of the sum required.

"We spoke to clan elders close to the pirates. We spoke to relatives, friends and family members of the pirates. Finally, we got in touch with them," Mohamed Dahir, a local elder in Addado who also took part in the negotiations told RNW.

Eventually, together with Dr Hangul's efforts, the local elders convinced the pirates to release the Chandlers in exchange for $470,000 US dollars. The sum was raised by Somalis in the Diaspora and inside the war-ravaged country.

But it seemed that it was the Somali government, also involved in the release of the couple, which received the most credit out of this. After their release, the Chandlers were asked to pass by Mogadishu, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, for a formal handshake with senior government officials and "a bit of photo-op."

Afterwards, the couple flew off to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where they eventually left for the UK for a family reunion for the first time in a whole year.

 

Madaxweynaha Somaliland Iyo Wasiirka Ingiriiska U Qaabilsan Afrika oo Ka Wada Hadlay Qodobo Dhawr Ah

Madaxweynaha Somaliland Iyo Wasiirka Ingiriiska U Qaabilsan Afrika oo Ka Wada Hadlay Qodobo Dhawr Ah

London (Somaliland.org)- Madaxweynaha Somaliland Md. Axmed Maxamed Maxamuud (Siilaanyo) hoggaaminayay ee socdaalka ku joogay magaalada London, ayaa maanta kulan la yeeshay Wasiirka Horumarinta Afrika u qaabilsan Britain Henry Bellingham, waxaanay ka wada hadleen sidii kor loogu qaadi lahaa taageerada Ingiriiska ee Somaliland ee dhinacyada kala duwan ee Dimuqraadiyada, nabadgelyada iyo siyaasadaba.

Madaxweynuhu wuxuu Wasiirkaasi uga xog waramay xaalada siyaasadeed ee Somaliland iyo xidhiidhka saaxiibtinimo ee ay la leedahay wadamada dariska, sidaasna waxa lagu sheegay war saxaafadeed uu soo caawa soo saaray Chief Of Cabinet-ka Madaxtooyada Md. Xirsi Cali Xaaji Xasan oo ka mid ah weftigaasi.

Warsaxaafadeedkaasina wuxuu u dhignaa sidan:-"Weftigii uu hoggaaminayay Madaxweynaha Jamhuuriyada Somaliland Md Axmed Maxamed (Siilaanyo), oo booqasho ku jooga dalka boqortooyada Ingiriiiska, ayaa saaka Xarunta Wasaarada Arrimaha Dibada ee Ingriiska kula kulmay Wasiirka Arrimaha Afrika u qaabislan dalka Boqortooyada Ingiriiska Md. Henry Bellingham iyo saraakiil sare oo ka tirsan Wasaarada Arrimaha Dibada.
Kulankan waxa Madaxweynaha ku weheliyay Wasiirka arrimaha Dibadda iyo Iskaashiga Caalamiga ah Dr. Maxamed Cabdilaahi Cumar, Wasiirka Wasaarada Qorsheynta Qaranka Dr. Sacad Cali Shire, iyo Wakiilka Somaliland u fadhiya dalkan Britain Md Axmed Cumar Sangoore.
Madaxweynuhu wuxu uga xog waramay dedaalka Jamhuuriyada Somaliland ugu jirto dhisme qaran oo ku taagan Dimuquraadiyad, cadaalad, Maamul wanaag, iyo horumarka dhinacyada badan ee Somaliland ku tallaabsatay.

Wasiirka arrimaha Afrika ee Ingiriiska Md Bellingham, ayaa Somaliland ku amaanay dimuqraadiyada ka hanaqaaday iyo dedaalka ay ugu jirto sidii ay uga mid noqon lahayd beesha caalamka. Waxa kale oo uu ka xog waraystay Madaxwaynaha iyo waftigiisa xidhiidhka Somaliland la leedahay waddamada deriska. Kulankan waxay labada dhinac si qoto dheer uga wada xaajoodeen sidii Somaliland uga mid noqon lahayd Ururka Barwaaqo sooranka ee Commentwealth, arrimaha Nabadgalyada, kor u qaadida mucaawimada dawladda Ingiriisku siiso Somaliland, iyo sidii dowladda Ingiriisku gacan uga geysan lahayd doorashooyinka Somaliland ee Baarlamaanka iyo Deegaanka.Wasiirka arrimaha dibadda iyo Iskaashiga caalamiga Dr. Maxamed Cabdilaahi Cumar iyo Wasiirka qorsheynta qaranka Dr. Sacad Cali Shire ayaa kulanka ka dib waxay warbixin dheeraada oo la xidhiidha arrimaha nabadgalyada, budhcad badeeda iyo siyaasada mandaqada siiyeen hawlwadeenada wasaarada arrimaha dibada ee Ingiriiska.
Weftiga Madaxwaynuhu waxay isla galabta booqasho ku tageen Aqalka odoyaasha ee Barlamaanka (House of Lords), halkaas oo warbixin ay kula qaateen Weftiga Madaxwaynaha iyo Lord St. Johns of Bletso."

Somaliland.Org
Hargeysa

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

U.S. Dual-Track Policy in Somalia

U.S. Dual-Track Policy in Somalia

A young boy leads al-Shabab fighters on a military exercise in the Suqaholaha neighborhood in northern Mogadishu, Somalia.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson recently announced the long-expected Obama administration's policy towards Somalia. He stated that the administration will pursue a two-track policy in order to find a lasting solution to Somalia's crisis. In the first track, the United States will continue to support the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and in the second, it will engage current "governments" in Somaliland, Puntland, and other regional or clan entities.

With that backdrop, a question that begs answer is, does the new approach help or hurt its declared goal?

It is fair to say that Somalia's current environment is one full of grievances, hostility and mistrust. This is because we committed unspeakable atrocities against each other. The tragedy is that most of the indiscriminate killings and destructions were committed in the name of the state, first allegedly to maintain its integrity, and later to restore it. What began as genuine uprising against the dictatorial regime soon turned into horrible civil war that led brothers to kill each other


We are now in another round of the most violent warfare, one led by psychopathic individuals who masquerade their identities behind various facades while inciting more violence, and whose goal is nothing but power and self-aggrandizement.

As a result of this hellish experience, our collective identity as Somalis is seriously damaged. Our identity as an ethnic group with one religion, language, culture and history is in shambles. Some of our current leaders deny our cherished characteristics; instead they emphasize subtle differences. In this unnatural climate, these leaders have many examples to prove their case.

Reacting to the bewildering perpetual violence and increasingly worsening security condition in our country, American policy makers seem to have devised a policy that has all the hallmarks of Somalia's current political environment: bizarre, alarming, ambivalent, and one that is also positive and timely.

One can easily question how the Obama administration, despite its much-publicized extension of an olive branch to Muslims, abandons the TFG, which it co-sponsored. The administration did not take similar measures in their dealings with Iraq and Afghanistan governments; they did not resort to go outside the weak, but internationally recognized, governments.

The new approach is at best contradictory. How can the U.S. administration co-sponsor a bloated 550-member parliament that is considered inclusive and representing all regions and clans, and at the same time bypass these leaders and engage their counterparts in the same regions and clans? Where would the process of engagement end?

On the other hand, the new approach has a double edge. Depending on how it is carried out, it can help or hurt in finding a lasting solution to Somalia's perpetual violence.

First, if the policy is judiciously implemented, taking into consideration Somalia's unique religion, culture and historical ties, the odds of success are high. If, however, the new policy is put into effect in accordance with the current concocted classification of Somalia as a conglomerate of hostile clans that ought to be exploited, the risks are great.

Ethiopian leaders' pursued the second option. They have succeeded in containing violence within the Somali border, a feat as far as their country's security is concerned, but, at the expense of crippling the TFG's efforts in nation building. Instead of spearheading a win-win strategy to rid extremism by strengthening the security of both nations, they opted to exploit their brothers' weakness and ride the speedy clan train.

Second, if the new approach focuses on development projects, such as agriculture, water, health and education, it would be beneficial. However, if the policy is used as a cover-up for CIA's operations, it would be counterproductive.

This is the first time the U.S. government has a comprehensive policy towards Somalia since its collapse of state in early 1990s. Most of the past 20 years, despite the suffering in Somalia, the United States and its international partners had either no policy, or if they had one, it was uncoordinated and contradictory. As Ambassador Carson admitted, the previous responses of Somalia's internal crisis were "too feeble, too slow and too uncoordinated."

The policy is also positive because it is a rejection of the so-called "constructive disengagement," which called for hand-off policy towards Somalia, leaving Somalis to solve their own mess. This approach was ill conceived at best, considering the fact that it was the Bush administration's narrowly focused war on terror that greatly contributed to the mess itself.

The diversification of contacts will also be positive if American officials are genuine to discover and appreciate the complexity of Somalia's internal political dynamics and go beyond the facade of external appearance.

By engaging clan leaders, American officials would be surprised to find leaders who jointly advocate a project, but separately advance different or opposing ones; leaders who fight as one team today, and are in conflict with each other as separate teams the next day; and leaders whose militia are fighting during the day, but are socializing together at night. American guests will soon realize that the nebulous clan phenomenon is more complex than at first glance. And that I consider to be a positive development.

Finally, the U.S. dual-track policy is timely. Somalia's name has become famous for all the wrong reasons. It is known as the land of clan warfare, terrorism, piracy, number one on the list of failed states; also number one in corruption, and the longest stateless country in modern history. The cancer that put our state in a coma is spreading like wild fire in the region and beyond.

Fed up with this enigmatic and endless violence, the Obama administration seems to be ready to act. More importantly, the new approach serves notice to those who incite and perpetuate the violence, as well as those who undermine the effort to end it. U.S. partners should soon be on board.

In conclusion, despite its resemblance of Somalia's unnatural environment, the U.S. dual-track policy will be constructive if American officials are curious enough to discover the intricacy of Somalia's internal political dynamics that propels the seemingly endless violence, while avoiding potential hazards that undermined previous approaches.

Said Liban is a freelance writer in Somalia. His email address is saidliban45@yahoo.com.

SOMALILAND: President Silaanyo to address Chatham House

SOMALILAND: President Silaanyo  to address Chatham House

Republic of Somaliland is a stable and peaceful democracy . In contrast to the problems of the south of Somalia, Somaliland has made progress in establishing the basis for economic growth and lasting peace, in spite of its failure to gain recognition as an independent state.

President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud 'Silanyo' has been President of Somaliland since his election in July 2010. He will speak about his plans for Somaliland and the country's regional role.

The President will discuss the opportunities presented by Somaliland and will reflect on the peaceful transfer of power after July's successful elections.

President Silanyo previously served as Minister of Finance in Somaliland and is leader of the Kulmiye party.

Non-members and interested individuals should apply to Tighisti Amare. All applications must be made by email. Places are limited and Chatham house reserves the right to restrict access without notice or explanation. Attendees may be required to present photo identification at any time..

DATE:
Friday 26 November 2010 13:30 to 14:30

VENUE:
Chatham House, London

PARTICIPANTS:
HE Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo, President of Somaliland
Chair: Lord Triesman

THEME/TOPIC:
Somaliland's Prospects

ETHIOPIA: Taking the disaster out of drought

ETHIOPIA: Taking the disaster out of drought

ADDIS ABABA, 24 November 2010 (IRIN) - New automated weather stations could boost Ethiopia's fledgling agricultural insurance schemes, expanding the use of payouts triggered by abnormally low rainfall and reducing costly visual verification of yield losses.

 Some 85 percent of Ethiopians farm for a living, mostly on very small plots. They have few options to mitigate the increasing crop failure brought about by climate change. With credit hard to come by, farmers may have to sell essential assets or dip into meagre savings to survive a poor harvest and pay for the next planting season.

 Such a poverty trap, exacerbated when severe drought affects entire regions, undermining traditional risk management strategies, tends to rule out investment in improved seeds or other costly yield-enhancing inputs. Sometimes it prevents a farmer buying any new seeds at all.

 Two insurance schemes have been set up recently in Ethiopia in an effort to break this vicious cycle - and to make a profit. For now, they only have a few thousand policy-holders between them - fewer than 1 percent of all farmers in Ethiopia, and well short of the critical mass required to ensure long-term viability.

 The new weather stations could improve their chances. The National Meteorological Agency has just set up 20 (10 in the Somali Region, five in Eastern Oromia and five in Afar) - and another 30 are due to be installed by the end of 2010. The devices send real-time data to Addis Ababa via mobile phone and feed into the country's national drought index.

 "The stations will allow us to identify climate risks at an early stage and better protect vulnerable, food-insecure people in rural areas through innovative projects such as the weather risk insurance," said Felix Gomez, Ethiopia acting country director for the World Food Programme, which installed the stations.

 Oxfam America works with an Ethiopian company, Nyala Insurance, to provide drought insurance to five villages in the northern Tigray region, with another 50 in the pipeline.

 Operating under the Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation project, farmers taking part in this scheme, launched in 2009, pay premiums of 25 or 30 percent of the payout, which is based on expected yield. Oxfam America meets the cost of the premium for those unable to pay; in lieu they have to work on projects that improve livelihoods and reduce the impact of natural disasters, such as dam construction.

 "It's better to help a farmer before disaster strikes than coming afterwards with a donation," said Sophia Belay, micro-insurance programme director with Oxfam America.

 Payouts are made when a predetermined amount of rain needed to grow the insured crop fails to fall by a certain date. Information from satellites is used to determine rainfall levels, which tends to be more expensive than weather-station data. "There is big potential for growth... [but] it's too soon to say" if the scheme will take off dramatically, said Belay.

 "From the farmers, the demand is very high, because they can't predict the weather. But on the supply side, we really have to work hard to sell the idea to insurance providers, who have traditionally seen farmers as too high a risk, so this is a completely new field for them.

 "So we tell them, the more they come, the chances of making a profit are higher, that if they offer the same insurance in different parts of the country, they will make money," she explained.

 Farmers' share

 Under a separate scheme, the Oromia Insurance Company began offering multi-peril policies, through cooperative unions, to farmers in Oromia state in December 2009. It has 1,200 customers who have insured either their inputs or the revenue from their staple crops.

 "Our philosophy is that by helping our society it is possible to make a profit," Megersa Miressa, the company's micro-insurance desk officer, told IRIN. Eighteen percent of Oromia's shares are owned by farmers.

 But in its first year, rather than a profit, the company expects to lose about half a million birr (around US$30,000) because of the combined effects of storms, floods and yellow rust.

 "This is a risky area," said Megersa.

 Oromia plans to reduce its costs by introducing index-based schemes in place of its current system, which involves visual verification that insured crops have been planted and losses incurred.

 To succeed in its ambition to cover Oromia state - where 1.5 million farmers belong to unions - within five years, and other parts of Ethiopia thereafter, the company also has to overcome obstacles such as a lack of awareness. "Most farmers don't know about insurance," said Megersa.

 Kassaye Kekeba, chairman of Ambo Farmers' Cooperative Union, which works with Oromia, told IRIN: "Some farmers have doubts that they might not be paid. Once the insurance company pays those who have lost [crops], then I hope most farmers will start to benefit from this modern scheme."

 Notes of caution

 But in the growing literature about index-based insurance schemes, there are some voices of caution. Noting the schemes have been "heralded as a successful mechanism of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation - and part of the social protection suite", Katharine Vincent of the Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme [ http://www.wahenga.net/node/3 ] questions their long-term sustainability.

 "Insurance companies are not answerable to any public sector organizations or governments, and thus are entitled to (and do) withdraw their products should they no longer become financially viable," she warned in an article [ http://www.wahenga.net/node/1919] published online.

 Taking out insurance might "discourage farmers from engaging in their traditional self-reliance, preparedness, and risk-spreading activities. If this happens and then the insurance product is removed, they will arguably be in a more precarious situation - both worse off economically and more vulnerable to risk - than they were before the insurance was available," she added.

 am/mw
[END]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Somali Cabinet fight exposses political paralysis

Somali Cabinet fight exposses political paralysis

A policeman restrains a member of parliament during a voting process. (Reuters)

By ASSOCIATED PRESS


NAIROBI, Kenya: Somali parliamentarians are vowing not to endorse the proposed Cabinet of the new American-Somali prime minister over complaints that he has reduced the number of ministers, tapped technocrats from outside Somalia and reduced some clans' influence.

The Cabinet fight — which has angered regions, clans and women — exposes the paralysis that has wracked Mogadishu's government and highlights the reasons it cannot seem to accomplish anything.

The parliament was scheduled to endorse or reject the proposed Cabinet of Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Monday when an uproar over how votes would be cast — whether in secret or public — broke out.

Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden indefinitely postponed the session — a move that echoes last month's drawn-out dispute over the approval of the prime minister.

Opponents of Mohamed, who taught at a community college in New York until last month, are many and varied. Some oppose him because he did not name one of their clansmen to the Cabinet. Women say they are underrepresented. The president of the semiautonomous region of Puntland said his region doesn't have enough say.

On Tuesday more than 200 lawmakers met in Mogadishu and asked the speaker to allow the vote to take place in secret, said lawmaker Mohamed Nurneni Bakar.

"The whole lineup lacks experience. They have lived outside Somalia and know little about the country's politics. The Cabinet won't get my vote of confidence," Bakar said.

Mohamed has proposed 18 Cabinet-level ministers, a large drop from the 39 ministers the former prime minister had.

But that decision — praised by the international community — has not won Mohamed friends in Somalia.

"He should have also named as many ministers as possible to satisfy Somali clans. This is a reconciliation government and that is why we have a bloated parliament of 550 members," lawmaker Hussein Arale Adan said.

The weak, UN- and US-backed Mogadishu government has accomplished little since its formation in 2004. It controls only a small slice of Mogadishu and hasn't been able to push past the firing lines of Islamist insurgents who are set up only a few blocks from the presidential palace.

"Somalis are killing each other because of power," said lawmaker Omar Islow Mohamed. "The battle about the Cabinet endorsement is not about the vote itself. It is about the future leadership of the country. If the Cabinet gets parliamentary approval that will be a big win for the president, who is allied with the prime minister. At the same time, it will be also a big loss for the speaker who is secretly opposed to both of them." Former Cabinet members who lost their positions when Mohamed moved in are asking their supporters in the parliament to reject the new lineup, said Omar Mohamed.

Some clans and sub-clans believe that they had been humiliated, he said.

Asha Abdallah, chairwoman of the parliament's women's association, said she is opposed to the new ministers because Mohamed has named only one female minister — as head of the Women and Family Affairs Ministry.

She also accused the prime minister of killing the 2008 Djibouti deal that brought current President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed to power.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since clan-based warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other, sinking the Horn of Africa nation into chaos

SUDAN: Countdown to the Southern referendum

SUDAN:  Countdown to the Southern referendum

NAIROBI, 23 November 2010 (IRIN) - The people of Southern Sudan regard January's referendum as their first genuine opportunity to exert their right to self-determination, as enshrined in the 1945 UN Charter and underlined in the 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war between North and South.

 Below are some key milestones on the road to this referendum:

 Pre-1946: The British and Egyptian governments administer South and North Sudan as separate and distinct regions.

 1946: The South and North are merged into one administrative region by the British government. The Southerners are not consulted about the decision and have concerns about being subsumed by the larger and more powerful North.

 1954: Southern Sudanese politicians formally call for a greater role in their own governance, failing which they reserve the right to self-determination.

 August 1955: Months before independence, there is a mutiny in the Southern town of Torit. By the early 1960s this develops into a full-scale rebellion and what became known as Sudan's first civil war, Anyanya I.

 1 January 1956: Sudan gains its independence from Egypt and Britain.

 1962: Civil war intensifies in the mainly Christian region of the South.

 27 February 1972: An agreement is signed in Addis Ababa to end the war and grant self-governance to the South.

 1978: Oil is discovered in Bentiu, Southern Sudan. This becomes a significant factor in relations between North and South.

 1983: Sharia Islamic law is introduced by President Jaafar Nimeiri. Tensions in the South lead to the creation of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). Civil war resumes (as Anyanya II) in the South between government forces and the SPLA, led by John Garang.

 30 June 1989: Lt. General Omar al-Bashir leads a bloodless military coup and the Revolution of National Salvation takes power. Bashir subsequently cracks down on the rebellion in the South.

 1993: Al-Bashir appoints himself president of Sudan and the Revolution Command Council is dissolved.

 1999: Sudan starts exporting oil.

 December 2000: Al-Bashir is re-elected president. All the main opposition parties boycott the elections.

 20 July 2002: The Machakos Protocol is signed by the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A, outlining the general terms of a peace settlement.

 27 July 2002: Al-Bashir and Garang meet for the first time since the war started.

 October 2002: A landmark ceasefire agreement is reached between the government and the SPLA, but hostilities continue.

 9 January 2005: Signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which includes a permanent ceasefire and stipulations on wealth- and power-sharing as well as a provision for the South to hold a self-determination referendum and for the region of Abyei to vote on whether to join the South or retain a special status in the North.

 9 July 2005: A new constitution is introduced. Al-Bashir is sworn in as president with Garang as vice-president.

 30 July 2005: Garang is killed in a plane crash. Salva Kiir replaces him. Violence erupts in the capital between Southerners and Northerners.

 September 2005: Khartoum forms a power-sharing government.

 October 2005: The South forms an autonomous government as per the peace agreement. Former rebels dominate the new administration.

 April 2008: A national census is conducted in preparation for the upcoming national elections.

 October 2009: The Northern and Southern governments agree that turnout for the upcoming referendum will need to be 60 percent for the vote to be accepted. If less, a second referendum will be held within 60 days.

 December 2009: Leaders in the North and South say they have agreed the terms of the self-determination referendum in Southern Sudan.

 January 2010: Al-Bashir says he will accept the outcome of the referendum even if the South votes for secession.

 April 2010: Al-Bashir is elected for a new term as president and Kiir becomes the first elected president of the South.

 24 September 2010: World leaders meet at the UN to discuss the possibility of a break-up of Sudan. The UN Security Council asks all sides to ensure a peaceful referendum.

 October 2010: A timetable is set for the referendum, due to take place on 9 January 2011.

 14 November 2010: The voter registration process begins.

 1 December 2010: Voter registration to end.

 6 December 2010: The preliminary voter register to be published.

 4 January 2010: The final register to be published.

 9 January 2011: The Southern Sudan referendum to take place.

 eo/am/mw
[END]

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Somali girls: Caught between two worlds


Somali girls: Caught between two worlds

Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

As many as 40 percent of the 70,000 Somalis living in Minnesota are 18 years old or younger.

Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune


When Mohamed Barre heard the disturbing news about prostitution involving gangs and young Somali girls, his thoughts quickly turned to his daughters.

"They are lovely, American," he said softly of the 5-year-old twins, just starting to venture out into the world. "I'm really so worried."

Prostitution is a worst-case scenario. But in the wake of federal charges against 29 people accused of selling underage girls for sex, Somali parents and youth workers are getting more worried about the pressures facing girls.

Already fighting an internal war to hold on to their cultural identity in a new country, they can face situations at home far more tense than the usual mother-daughter conflicts. Some arrived here without their mothers but in the care of aunts, cousins and older sisters. Some resent the control of their surrogate parents. Others are treated more like servants than daughters. Programs to support Somali girls are so scarce that once away from home, they can quickly find trouble.

"This issue is bigger than that case," said Abdirahman Mukhtar, youth program manager at the Brian Coyle Community Center. "It's a youth crisis within the new immigrants."

Minnesota is home to an estimated 70,000 Somalis -- the largest Somali concentration in the country.

Generally speaking, Somali girls growing up in America are thriving. In the culture, parents often take a more protective attitude toward girls, believing that their reputation upholds the dignity of the family.

"Mothers and fathers keep more of an eye on them than the boys. It means most of them turn out well," said Saeed Fahia, executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, who noted the large number of girls graduating from high school and attending college. "This parent obsession of preserving the purity of their daughters and the well-being of their daughters helps a lot."

But some girls aren't handling the pressures as well.

Friday, November 19, 2010

SUDAN: Excitement, frustration as referendum registration gets under way

SUDAN: Excitement, frustration as referendum registration gets under way

JUBA, 19 November 2010 (IRIN) - Officials in Southern Sudan have expressed satisfaction four days into registration for a landmark referendum due in January, in which voters are likely to opt to transform the semi-autonomous territory into an independent state.

 Turnout among Southern Sudanese in the north of the country has been low, however, while frustration is growing over delays in organizing a separate ballot in the contested border region of Abyei .

 Delays in organizing the southern referendum have also led to fears that that vote will not start on 9 January as scheduled. But organizers seemed undaunted after registration got under way in most of the 2,600 centres in the south.

 The process has been smooth, and we were pleased to see that 98 percent of the centres in the south opened on time successfully on the first day," said Chan Reec, deputy chairman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRRC).
The referendum is the climax of a 2005 peace agreement that ended two decades of civil war between north and south, a conflict that claimed some two million lives.

 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said the referendums for the south and Abyei -which is also due to vote on 9 January on whether to join Southern Sudan or retain its special status in the north - were a "moment of critical importance".

 "To ensure that the referendum is conducted in an orderly fashion and that the Sudanese people peacefully accept the outcome, it is imperative that the process be credible and transparent, and that it reflect the aspirations of the population," Ban said in a 16 November speech in New York.

 Reec said his team was working hard to overcome some logistical challenges.

 "We have had difficulty in some remoter areas with communication with the centres," he said.

 "We have therefore made sure that satellite telephones are being delivered as quickly as possible to these areas to ensure they can keep in close contact."

 The 17-day process concludes on 1 December.

 Long queues

 Those on the streets of the southern capital Juba said they were frustrated with the long queues but said they were pleased with the general progress of the registration process.

 "This is working better than when people registered for the elections earlier this year," said Mary Nyok, a mother waiting with her young child to register.

 "The time it takes is long, but there is excitement at taking part in this referendum," said Nhial Deng, a student in Juba.

 "It is such an important piece of history in the destiny of the people of the south."

 The process has also been largely smooth outside Juba, Southern Sudan's capital, according to officials.

 Sapana Abuyi, deputy governor of Western Equatoria, dispelled concerns that the Ugandan-led Lord's Resistance Army [LRA] might disrupt the process in parts of the state close to Democratic Republic of Congo, where the rebel group has been particularly active.

 "We are pleased that the registration has opened successfully, and that the LRA have not disrupted the process," said Abuyi.

 Local media reports claimed that registration in Tonj East County of Warrap State was slow after cattle raiding before centres opened scared people away, but this could not be verified independently.

 Slow progress in north

 Southerners living in the north - estimated to number anywhere between 500,000 and two million - are also able to vote, as are those living abroad (see box).

 However, turnout in the 165 centres there has been far lower, said Aleu Garang Aleu, the referendum bureau spokesman.

 "We have reports from the people there that they have a fear of intimidation," Aleu said.

 "The reports from the north say the numbers going to register are far lower than in the south, where the turnout has been high."

 Southerners in the north said they were staying away from the centres because they feared rigging by Khartoum.

 "We want our voice heard, but we don't believe that the vote for the referendum in the north will be free and fair," said John Wani, a student, speaking by telephone from Khartoum.

 "I and my friends believe that since we are in the north it is better not to take part in the referendum so as to make sure the vote is a legitimate ballot. I know many other southerners here in Khartoum believe the same."

 Frustration in Abyei

 There is also concern over the contested border region of Abyei where southerners are registering for the southern referendum - but not for the ballot relating to their own territory, also due to take place on 9 January.

 Leaders of north and south remain deadlocked over who can vote in the Abyei referendum, with the south's ruling Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) accusing the north's National Congress Party (NCP) of deliberately blocking progress.

 "Abyei is calm and people are registering for the southern referendum," said Arop Madut Arop, an SPLM member of parliament for the area in the southern assembly.

 "But the people are growing more and more frustrated at the delays in the Abyei Referendum Commission, and they are demanding it is formed so the vote there can progress as it is laid down in the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement]."

 pm/am/cb

[END]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Somaliland applauds Ethiopia’s determined efforts to stabilize peace in Horn of Africa

Somaliland applauds Ethiopia's determined efforts to stabilize peace in Horn of Africa


Addis Ababa, November 16 (WIC) – Acting Ambassador of the Somaliland to Ethiopia, Ayanle Salad Deria, has applauded Ethiopia's determined efforts to stabilize peace in the Horn of Africa.

In an exclusive interview he held with WIC today, Ambassador Deria said that Ethiopia has been doing its level best to bring peace in the whole continent in general and the Horn of Africa in particular.

He said Ethiopia is currently exerting tremendous efforts to bring about lasting peace in Darfur and enable Somalia to stand on her own feet.
"Ethiopia is playing a key and constructive role not only in stabilizing peace in Africa but also in climate change affairs in the world and we recognize this and appeal to keep it on," he said.

Asked about Eritrea, the ambassador said that Eritrea is continuing to undermine efforts to restore peace and stability in Somalia by arming insurgents battling the government.

"Eritrea continues to be a peace headache for the region and keeps on destabilizing the region as well as training and financing anti-peace groups (Al-shabab)who are executing innocent civilians and teenagers in Somalia," he said.
He further urged the Security Council to tighten its arms and travel sanctions on Eritrea.

 "The international community knows where the problems of the region lie but hesitates to take corrective measures on Eritrea's government to stop its ugly strategy," he indicated.

According to him, unless series actions are taken, the Al-Qaeda linked groups in Somalia will spread its extremism actions through out the world and its link with the persons in power in Eritrea.
Concerning the bilateral relations between Ethiopia and Somaliland, he said that they have been enjoying a better bilateral cooperation in the areas of security, politics, education, trade, investment and social sectors.

 He said the trade and investment relations are currently promising and both are doing more to further consolidate them in the future.

He further said that Ethiopia is a key neighboring country in capacity building activities in Somaliland and the country offers scholarship opportunities to citizens of the Somaliland.

 "There area private universities in Hargeisa like Admas University College educating Somaliland people and we call on others to continue investing in the education sector", he said.

"We want to maintain our sound relations and call Ethiopia to continue its good deeds to the Horn of Africa in stabilizing peace strategy and hosting neighboring refugees," he added.

As far as the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) of the government is concerned, he said that Ethiopia can achieve this ambitious plan owing to its wise leaderships.

 The Ambassador finally said Somaliland welcomes Ethiopia's interest to utilize its ports as it helps to cement the economic and political ties between Ethiopia and Somaliland.

Since the declaration of independence in 1991, the Somaliland has conducted four national elections and could transferred power peacefully.

With over 3.3 million people, Somaliland is politically stable and calls the international community to recognize its independence.

AFRICA: Holistic approaches key to ending FGM - study

AFRICA: Holistic approaches key to ending FGM - study

NAIROBI, 18 November 2010 (IRIN) - Narrow approaches which focus on individuals or appear to attack deep-seated customs are less successful at reducing female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) than those that aim for community-driven change that addresses the complex social dynamics associated with the practice, according to a new study by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). [ http://www-prod.unicef-irc.org/publications/618 ]

 "Families will and are abandoning FGM/C when the right conditions are in place - conditions that include the involvement of community and religious leaders, legislative reform and [ensure] that any discussion surrounding FGM/C is framed in a way that reinforces the positive aspects of local culture and builds community trust by implementing development projects that address local needs," James Elder, spokesman for UNICEF's Innocenti Research Centre, which conducted the study, told IRIN via email.

 The report looks at highly promising approaches being used to support social change around FGM/C and how these strategies are being implemented in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal and Sudan. An estimated three million African girls and women risk FGM/C annually.

 In northern Sudan, for instance, where FGM/C prevalence is about 89 percent, community, state and national efforts to end FGM/C have included human rights education, introducing development activities to communities and a national media campaign to elevate the status of being "uncut", and changing attitudes towards the practice. The country also has national and state policies to protect the rights of women and children, and efforts are under way to criminalize FGM/C.

 The country's `Saleema' (Arabic for "whole" or "undamaged") Campaign has helped reinforce positive social values which favour the well-being of children by leading with discussions about parental care and family pride and gently easing into more direct messages about FGM/C.

 Narrow approaches, limited success

 According to Zeinab Ahmed, a child protection specialist with UNICEF Kenya based in the northeastern town of Garissa, narrow approaches to ending the practice have met with little success.

 "Some of the interventions that have had limited impact are alternative rites of passage focusing on individual girls - girls belong to communities, and dealing with a girl as an individual has limitations if she then goes back into a community that still strongly believes in FGM/C. It's important to involve parents, aunts, uncles, elders - the whole community," she said.

 According to the UNICEF report, a 2001 evaluation of alternative rites of passage - which involve substitute coming-of-age ceremonies that preserve local customs but eliminate FGM/C - concluded that they have limited effect unless accompanied by a process of participatory education that engages the whole community.

 "Similarly, rescue centres for girls do not deal with the roots of the problem, and they are not sustainable... Can they really house all the girls who run away from FGM and early marriage? Why not approach this by changing how the community thinks about FGM," she added.

 Ahmed noted that it was important to tailor responses to suit the various communities involved in FGM. "For example, the alternative rites of passage have worked well in Maasai communities, but among Somali communities, the approach needs to address both cultural and religious aspects of FGM, so community dialogue is the method used," she said.

 Complex social dynamics

 "Among the Somali, it has been important to gently draw out the community to discuss issues around FGM... We might start, for instance, by discussing pregnancy and labour and the reasons why childbirth is so difficult for them, which eventually comes to a discussion of FGM."

 Northeastern Kenya is dominated by ethnic Somalis, who practice infibulation - the removal of the external genitalia before sealing and leaving a small opening for menstrual blood and urine - almost universally. This method makes sex and childbirth particularly difficult.

 It was important, she added, for the government to take leadership of FGM/C by enforcing existing laws and funding sustainable programming. She emphasized the need to speak to communities in their own languages through well respected community members acting as "facilitators of change".

 "The media has been very effective in creating debate on FGM; FM stations in local languages, featuring experts - gynaecologists, children's officers, education experts, religious leaders - on panels discussing the issue promote healthy and lively discussion of FGM," Ahmed said. "Women and girls are able to call in anonymously and say how FGM has negatively affected them. After all, it is the shoe wearer who knows where it pinches."

 According to the report, while several countries have laws in place prohibiting FGM/C, legislation alone was insufficient to end the practice, which is closely tied to social identity and acceptance.

 "Religion, tradition and culture are often cited by families as reasons for cutting their daughters," said UNICEF's Elder. "Many communities, for example, assume that FGM/C is mandated by religious doctrine, despite the fact that no major religion requires it."

 "In some cutting communities, a woman can't be married without being cut," Ahmed said. "In Africa, marriage is the ultimate security, and in these communities, it doesn't matter if you have 10 PhDs... If you're not cut you are not recognized for your achievements and getting married is usually a huge challenge."

 Ahmed said part of the approach to ending FGM/C among the Somalis in northeastern Kenya involved debunking the idea that Islam demanded the practice, as well as de-linking the practice from ideas about promiscuity and chastity.

 Elder noted that ending FGM/C was a good way to eradicate other practices that lowered the value of women in their communities.

 "Evidence from the report suggests that the approach used to support the abandonment of FGM/C can also promote and contribute to the abandonment of other harmful practices, such as forced and child marriage," he said.

 Subtle attitude shifts

 The report noted that although prevalence rates are still high in Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, there has been a significant change in attitudes about FGM/C in all three countries, indicating that individuals are questioning the merits of these practices.

 According to Ahmed, there has been a similar shift in attitude among Kenya's Somali population.

 "We are seeing an attitude shift - for example, some Somali communities are moving from infibulation to the pricking or nicking of the clitoris," she said. "A small percentage have discreetly left the practice altogether. However, no form of FGM should be condoned."

New Somaliland president arrives her

New Somaliland president arrives here (November 18, 2010)

The new Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamud Ahmud arrived here on Wednesday for a three-day official visit.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn and other higher level government officials welcomed the president upon his arrival at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

President Ahmed told journalists on the occasion that he will discuss with Ethiopian senior government officials on bilateral issues between Somaliland and Ethiopia during his stay in Ethiopia.

Existing bilateral relation between Ethiopia and Somaliland is getting strengthened, the president said, adding, the two parties are working closely on issues related to security, peace, trade and communication.

He said the present visit to Ethiopia is aimed at exchanging views to further enhance existing relations between Ethiopia and Somaliland.

Hailemariam on his part said Ethiopia and Somaliland have been working together in the efforts to maintain peace and security.

He said the present visit is intended to exchange views on issues related to security and peace as well as further strengthen diplomatic relations between Ethiopia andSomaliland.

The president will discuss with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and other senior government officials on bilateral issues.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Twenty-one civilians 'killed by shelling in Mogadishu'

Twenty-one civilians 'killed by shelling in Mogadishu'
AP

MOGADISHU — Artillery shelling and gunfire between African Union troops and Islamist insurgents killed at least 21 civilians in Somalia's capital Mogadishu Wednesday, witnesses and medical sources said.

Most were killed in Bakara, Mogadishu's biggest market, when African Union troops started shelling the area after an explosive device hit one of their convoys, witnesses said.

"The medical teams got an emergency alert and they rushed to Bakara market where they have collected around 16 dead bodies of civilians who were killed in the shelling," said Ali Muse, head of Mogadishu ambulance service.

Another five civilians were killed in crossfire after a roadside bomb and an ambush hit an African Union convoy, witnesses said.

Muse said at least 46 civilians were injured in the latest violence.

"We heard a heavy exchange of automatic weapons and a blast and then we found ourselves under mortar fire," a trader at the market, Abdirahman Hussein, told AFP.

"At least nine mortar bombs hit the areas in the market where people sell vegetables and gold," he said, adding: "I personally saw nine dead bodies in two different spots but other civilians were killed elsewhere in the market."

African Union officials confirmed the attack on their convoy but said they had no information about civilian casualties.

"There was an ambush attack that targeted our convoy today. They fired RPG?s and machine guns onto the peacekeepers and two of them suffered minor injuries," Captain Prosper Hakizimana, a spokesman for the African Union troops, told AFP.

The ambush appeared to follow the explosion of a bomb that witnesses said was hidden under a pile of rubbish. The blast was near the Jalle Siad military academy.

One African Union vehicle was damaged in the attack, witnesses said.

"I believe there were casualties on the side of the attackers although we could not establish how many," Hakizimana said.

"The attack occurred in the only road that links the area to the rest of the city and there were civilian buses around the area when the explosion hit the convoy. Five civilians were killed in the crossfire," said Ali Muhidin, a witness.

"Some of the civilians were trapped and killed inside a minibus that was passing by the area when the gunfight broke out after the explosion," said Amin Ahmed, another witness.

Calm had returned to Mogadishu by late afternoon, residents said.

Radical Shebab Islamists, linked to Al-Qaeda, have vowed to overthrow Somalia's transitional government, which controls only a tiny portion of Mogadishu and that is only thanks to the presence of the some 7,500 Ugandan and Burundian troops that make up the African Union force.

President Ahmed M Silanyo of republic Somaliland departed to Ethiopia and UK...


President Silanyo  few hours before his inaugaration 26 July 2010Somalilandglobe.com-Hargeysa- 18 November 2010 - President Ahmed M Silanyo of republic Somaliland is departed to a working visit to Ethiopia and UK . Somaliland President Ahmed M Silanyo, is accompanied by a number of his cabinet Ministers, and is expected to meet Ethiopian Prime Meles Zenawi  and other top business political leaders.

This is the second visit the president will make since he become president in July 26 2010. The president Silanyo has chosen Djibouti for his first visit, and was given an official welcome at Djibouti airport by President Ismail Omar Guelleh with a red carpet reception. The reception of President Silanyo in Djibouti included all ceremonial symbols of an official visit by a foreign Head of State. This was seen as an important symbolic victory to President Silanyo as Djibouti long has been regarded one of the principal opponents to the recognition of Somaliland, supporting Somali unity.

Somaliland relationship with Ethiopia, have been good over the years. Ethiopia has profited from the peaceful and orderly conditions in Somaliland and the landlocked country is a major customer of the port facilities in the Somaliland city of Berbera.

Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo is also planning for a official visit to London when he leaves Ethiopia, where he hopes to "make a short speech to the "Parliament and Chatham House" and meet several British Ministers.

Though not recognised by the international community, Somaliland currently has good diplomatic relations with its neighbours Djibouti and Ethiopia and some key African and European countries, including its former colonial power, Britain.

Somaliland, a former British Protectorate united with the former Italian Somalia in July 1960 to form the Somali Republic, unilaterally restored its sovereignty after the 1991 collapse of Siyad Barre's dictatorial regime, which especially had victimised Somalilanders.

Since then it has restored peace and stability and embarked on a democratisation process, holding municipal and presidential elections.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Somaliland: Is It SSC Or PSS-Demystifying Common Deceptions

Somaliland: Is It SSC Or PSS-Demystifying Common Deceptions

Throughout history, the art of misleading the public takes differentshapes and  approaches but rarely disinformation introduces new tactics. People keep  recycling old stale lies. Now, in the Somali world creating new regions out of  thin air, hijacking the wishes of the silent majority, and suffocating them with  an oversized pillow is the name of the game. That is, the more regions that a  warlord claims to have under his thumb, the more bargaining chips on his table. 

And the democratic republic of Somaliland now battles against a violent group  named SSC led by an American and a Canadian warmongers who want to use the "SSC"  region as a bargaining chip. But is it really SSC or PSS?
 
What is SSC? You may ask. SSC supposedly stands for Sool, Sanag, and "Cayn"  regions in Somaliland. But Somaliland has six regions and Cayn is not one of  them. Somaliland territory comprises: Awdal, Hargeisa, Sahil, Togdheer, Sool,  and Sanag regions. So where does Cayn comefrom? This is a mysterious region that  is found neither in Somaliland's map nor in former Somalia's.
 
Demystifying the Cayn region, however, requires little efforts. Cayn region was  created by none other than the former Puntland leader, Col. Abdullahi Yussuf.  Col. Yussuf, a master of deception and clan manipulation, first echoed the  creation of Harti Kingdom (Harti: Majerten, Warsangeli, and Dhulbahante). 

Second, he laid claims to parts of Somaliland where Dhulbahante and Warsangeli  tribes inhabit. That is, parts of Sool and Sanag regions. He then, created a new  region called Cayn and convinced Dhulbahante tribes that they now control more  regions and resources than ever before.
 
But, like anything else, the Harti Kingdom ran its course: that is, Warsangali  and Dhulbahante tribes not only fought against Puntland (dominated by Majerten),  but also some of them switched allegiances to Somaliland. However, some  Dhulbahante tribes that inhabit the mystery region of Cayn insisted on keeping  its legitimacy as a province in order to get support either from the Somaliland  government or from the International community.
 
Now, lets' shed some light on Sool region; the majority of the region is  inhabited by Dhulbahante tribes. But a large chunk of it including the second  capital, Caynabo, is also settled by non-Dhulbahante tribes, namely Isaaq,  Fiqishini and others who are all pro-Somaliland. That is not to say that all  Dhulbahant tribes oppose Somaliland either. In fact, without the support of some 
of the Dhulbahante tribes that remain loyal to Somaliland, the government could  have never maintained law and order in the province. 
 
Dhulbahante tribes also settled in parts of Sanag region. Additionally, Sanag is  home to both Isaaq and Warsangali tribes. The capital of Sanag, Erigabo, which  is of course under Somaliland government's control, boasts its multi-tribe 
residents and remains a testimonial to Somaliland tribes' willingness to  co-exist peacefully.
 
It is now clear beyond a shadow of doubt that the Dhulbahante tribes inhabit  parts of Sool, Sanag, and the town of Buhodle in Togdheer region. Now, Buhodle  is supposedly the capital of the mysterious region of Cayn. On the other hand, 
Warsangli tribes exclusively settle in the eastern parts of Sanag region. So  what is SSC? Who does it represent?
 
The truth is there is no such a thing called: Sool, Sanag, and Cayn (SSC)  regions; but there is Sool and Sanag. And Dhulbahant tribes live in Parts of  Sool and Sanag PSS. So in reality the true name should be PSS, not SSC. 
Additionally, PSS claims to represent Dhulbahante tribes who oppose Somaliland's independence. But neither all Dhulbahante tribe oppose Somaliland nor support  PSS' bloodshed approach to tackle issues. Then, who is behind the violent PSS  group? Read more about the PSS' violent campaigns against peaceful Somaliland: 
http://www.americanchronicle.com/authors/view/4458
 
The PSS was groomed in Nairobi, Kenya, in October 2009 for the purpose of waging  a deadly war against Somaliland security force in PSS regions. It is led by  Suleman Essa Ahmed (Hagal tosiye), an American from Columbus, Ohio, and Col. Ali  Sabarey, a Canadian from Toronto. Militarily, the PSS group secretly aligns  itself with Alshabab and openly deals with the Somali regime. For financial  support, the PSS solely depends on the Diaspora communities that hail from the 
PSS areas. 

 
Some of the Diaspora communities remain ignorant about the reality on the ground  and are still locked up in a hostile eggshell—the same hostility that drove them  from their land two decades ago. Evidently, some Diasporas instead of sending  money back home to rebuild schools and hospitals send grim warnings and their  desire to incinerate some Somaliland tribes.
 
In his poem, one of the bloodthirsty Diaspora members states, "Waayahan maan  dagaalamin…Laas Caanood waxaan geynayaa guuto xoog badane, Iidoor intaanan ku  gubin maad iskaga guurtid…or I haven't fought for a while….I will deploy a 
strong brigade to Las Annod, so why don't Isaaq tribes leave [the city] before I 
engulf them with fire." Listen to the poem here: http://tinyurl.com/38bfla9
 
But is it really the "Idoors" (Isaaqs) that are occupying Las Annod, the  provincial capital of Sool region? In October 2010, while in Somaliland, I made  a daring trip to Las Annod to see it for myself who is in charge of the city and  its environs. I also visited Buhodle town. Half way through my trip, as  apprehensive as ever, I whispered to myself, "Ever heard the saying: curiosity  killed the cat? Maybe the cat has already travelled too far…", nonetheless; I  continued my journey and arrived Las Annod without a hitch. To my dismay, I  couldn't find a single "Idoor" occupying the city. Instead, I came across  Somaliland troops, police forces, and politicians who all hail from Dhulbahante  tribes. 

After staying in Las Annod for a couple of nights and feeling as  comfortable as I felt in Burao, in Togdheer province where I lived, jokingly, I  asked an elderly man, "Why don't you kick out those "Idoors" occupying your  land, sir?" As dumbfounded as he was, he asked me, "Where are they?" I cringed  and shrugged my shoulders and responded, "I don't know but I heard that Idoors  not only occupy Dhulbahante land but also commit horrendous atrocities against  the locals." Laughing hysterically, he asked me one question that ended my silly  conversation. He said, "If that was the case, do you think you would be sitting 
here today?"
 
Similarly, on my way to Buhodle we passed through a number of Dhulbahante  villages. And I could not find the bloody "Iidoors", so evasive they are,  knowing that I was on my way, they perhaps disappeared into the jungle. (But no 
worries, I will catch the son of guns next time!) Again, to my disappointment,  all I found was security forces who hail from the area.
 
Meanwhile, despite the PSS' violent campaigns, the new Somaliland President,  Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud Silanyo vowed to reach out the population in PSS areas and  address their grievances. And shortly after he took office, he delivered his promise by sending a high-level delegations that included the Ministers of  Defense, Justice, Interior, and the second speaker of the parliament and others  politicians to the region. 

Shortly, a well-organized peace conference was held in Widh Widh village where the local tribes agreed to lay down their weapons and  cooperate with the government. Somaliland, on its part, agreed to compensate the  families of those who lost their lives when the PSS rebels attack Somaliland  troops in Widh Widh area. Somaliland also agreed to pay all damages inflicted on  Widh Widh village. This is the first time in the history of all the Somali  societies that a government agreed to pay compensations. Indeed, Somaliland 
instills pride in its people.  
  
But while Mr. Silanyo is determined to reach out every group and diffuse  hostilities, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya are gearing up to arm the PSS rebels.  And concerned Somali officials warned against the growing relationship between 
Alshabab and PSS. Read my upcoming article entitled, "Somalia, Ethiopia, and  Kenya Welcome Violent Rebels against Somaliland".
 
To sum up, to avoid obscuring the facts on the ground, the Media should adopt  the use of the acronym PSS instead of SSC because PSS gives the true picture.  Distorting the situation in PSS regions and pouring thousands of dollars into the region, not for rebuilding schools and hospitals, but for waging a ware  against the security forces will inevitably transform the region into the new  Mogadishu of Somaliland.

 The Diaspora communities instead of sending money to 
engulf the region, they should visit it and see it for themselves that the  resources wasted on wars could have developed their region's economy. The locals  need schools, hospitals, and clean water, not wars and destructions.
 
Historically, geographically, and culturally the inhabitants of PSS regions  share more in common with the rest of Somaliland people than they do with  Somalia's.
 
But Col. Abdullahi Yussuf's failed tribal kingdom, Somali regimes desire to  break Somaliland into feuding clans, power-hungry individuals and na├»ve Diaspora  communities from PSS regions, have transformed the area into a battle ground. 
 
Luckily, the new Somaliland President, Mr. Silanyo's efforts to reach out  disgruntle locals and the International community's refusal to segment  Somaliland territory could, finally, bring a lasting peace into the PSS region.
 

Dalmar Kaahin
dalmar_k@yahoo.com