Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The aristocrat of totalitarianism-Could Ethiopia survive the Jasmine Revolution ?


The Indian Noble-Prize winning economist, Amartya Sen, postulates:
Shortfalls in food supply do not cause widespread deaths in a democracy because vote-seeking politicians will undertake relief efforts; but even modest food shortfalls can create deadly famines in authoritarian societies.”
Ethiopia is the only country in Africa, or I may say, in the world that needs pre-emptive foreign intervention to save it from total destruction as Meles Zenawi’s regime sits on a thin ice that needs a flicker of fire to pull down his domino house of power. The ongoing winds of change that engulfed the countries to the north of Ethiopia (Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan and etc) which are relatively much better, in terms of civil liberty and economic life, are bound to sweep through Ethiopia with vengeance in the very near future.
   

Ethiopia under the current dictatorial regime has all the ingredients that cause to trigger uncontainable mass uprising that has the potential to melt down Mele Zenawi’s regime.  The forth coming uprising, unlike Egypt or Tunisia, will result rivers of blood on the streets of Addis followed by ethnic cleansing of the Tigrean people because the regime and the army that committed untold human rights violations are entirely   based on one ethnic (Tigrean) group. Besides the economic and political sectors which are colonised by ethnic Tigreans, the security sector and the Army for the first time in the history of Ethiopia became the monopoly of one ethnic group -Who is who of Ethiopia’s Top Army Brass.
(also here >> about Megistu Haile Mariam)
Egypt and Tunisia have a national army that can save the state but unfortunately there are no such safeguards in Ethiopia because the regime and the army are one and the same.  The masses deem the Tigrean people to have colluded with the regime in its suppression of other Ethiopian nationalities. The regime kills and maims people in the name of the Tigrean people.  The uprising in the pipeline won’t be limited to regime change but might go further to address the century old colonial question once and for all – the split of Ethiopia into six or seven ethnic based independent states.

Ethiopia has a grim reading in all indicators of good governance

Tunisia and Egypt were both flashing consistent GDP growth as Zenawi does at the end of every year but all indicators show that the wealth didn’t trickle down to the common man – even the Dergi regime registered their highest, 13.9%, in 1987 just after the famine and at the height of the internal wars.  Despite the overall economic growth, obviously none people centred, in the country, Ethiopia still has one of the lowest GDP per capita in the world and also a quarter of its people are food aid dependent.

Premier Zenawi is so fraudulent that in reaction to IMF and World Bank recommendations to privatise public owned assets; he instead legalised the theft of the whole lot in a way even the blind can see. The Ethiopian Privatization Agency (EPA) was established as an autonomous agency in February 1994 to oversee the privatisation of the state owned enterprises. In place of “hands off” free market approach, the Orwellian regime transferred the ownership of state assets to TPLF and thus transformed the state assets in to parastatals run by exclusive Tigrean people who are affiliated with party. This stifled competition and created an economy based on state sector and phony conglomerates, parastatals, whose income goes to private pockets. See the extent of corruption  List of TPLF owned business

In response to his irresponsible fiscal policy that resulted Ethiopia’s inflation to jump from 10.2 to 14.5 percent last month after a steep rise in food and non – food prices caused in part by two successive currency devaluation in less than 12 months – Premier Zenawi resorted to putting price caps on many commodities. The business community withdraw their stocks from the shelves because the market is governed by demand and supply not by circulars from the Premiers’ office.

At the time of this writing, Thursday 03rd Feb, the Premier ruled out the possibility of another major devaluation of the Birr in the coming five years. The premier told his so called legislators, in question and answers suggestion, that the inflation is caused by the traders whom he accused are artificially inflating food prices on the back of global price increases and a September devaluation of the birr.

The premier seems to have taken leave out of sanity because there is no expert in this world who can say there will be no inflation that can warrant to depreciating the birr for the coming five years especially when it was a general knowledge that another devaluation was to come in the following two months – this is a panic reaction induced by the Jasmine revolution.
Ethiopia can support the food needs of its people if the government is wise enough to invest in to viable agricultural projects instead of selling the best land to flower growing companies at nominal fee of £10 a hector for hundred years lease. This sort of land confiscation policy created a multitude of landless peasants who either coerced to join the internally displaced people or toil their own land for the new foreign landlords for a very low wage.   Projects of this nature are preferred by   Meles regime because they pop up the GDP figures which he enjoys to brandish at all times.

Well preserved forests that covers over three thousand hectares went under the hammer and is to be given to Verdanata Harvests PLC, an Indian company, against the wishes of the locals. The forest is to make way for tea plantations that would affect the ecological system of the area. Despite public outcry and Ethiopia president’s, Girma Wolde-Girogis, expressed   concerns over land grabbing in the Gambella Regional State (Southwest Ethiopia), Mezghnger Zone, Guderre Woreda ;  Premier Zenawi wants the project, without further consultation,  to start on time because it is good for the GDP – people don’t eat distorted GDP figures.

The annual Freedom House’s report ranks countries in the world as FreePartly Free and Not Free based on their respect for political rights and civil liberties. The latest report notes that Ethiopia’s ranking has dropped from ‘Partly Free’ in 2009 to ‘NOT FREE’ in 2010 due to the heightened political repression, and the clampdown on independent media and nongovernmental organizations. Freedom House also notes that Ethiopia’s decline is the most significant drop in the ranking in the sub-Saharan Africa as well as the world in 2010.

A recent ranking http://www.prosperity.com/rankings.aspx put Ethiopia near the bottom of the world  prosperity index (107th out of 110 countries in the world) and also  UNDP’s index ranked it at the bottom in  UNDP Human Development Indicator   (157 out of 169 countries).  A statistics by Socialbakers.com shows (202nd out of 213) that Face book penetration in Ethiopia is only 0.28 percent, which is one of the lowest in Africa. Ethiopian and other independent websites are blocked and radios including VOA are jammed. The internet speed of Ethiopia is the slowest in Africa and yet has the highest censorship regime in place – now word like Egypt, Tunisia are put in the bad books of  the censorship board.

 Ethiopia’s successive dictatorial regimes were traditionally legitimised and always rewarded for their unparalleled human rights violations by the international community and Zenaw’s regime is treading the ancient road in this new global village. See the latest human rights report of Ethiopia  Human Rights Watch (full Report)

Background to Ethiopia’s Tigrean Regime

Primier Minister Mele Zenawi came to power on the back of highly disciplined communist secessionist guerrilla force, Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front, that fortune handed the crown of Ethiopia in 1991. Initially the executive committee were divided as to how to handle the new unprepared for challenge - they never thought about governing Ethiopia - of running Ethiopia as opposed to their original secessionist goal. TPLF’s secret consensus at the time was to build and develop their barren region from the treasury of Ethiopia and to superimpose their guerrilla forces and their other cadres on the institutions that held Ethiopia together. This paradigm was adopted to appease the diehard secessionist members because it provides a strong safety valve – it is simply win- win situation in the eyes of the intransigent secessionists. Zenawi was quoted to have said “if the going gets tough then we have our developed region to fall back with the added benefit that Ethiopia will never haunt us as it will cease to exist after our departure”.
 All the nationality based armed fronts in Ethiopia, EPLF, ONLF, OLF and etc stood in solidarity with the TPLF on the understanding that they could jointly thrust the multi ethnic backward Ethiopia, to the 21st century political life but to their dismay found out that the TPLF is still committed to their secessionist agenda. Within months of coming to power the TPLF implemented their hidden agenda   by disarming most of nationality based armed fronts with exception of EPLF (Eritrean People’s Liberation Front) and ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front), the later seeking to liberate the Somali inhabited regions of Eastern Ethiopia and the former were their mentors which they can’t afford to touch.

Premier Zenawi and his comrades, the executive committee of the TPLF, lost no time in replaying the scenarios in George Orwell’s classic novel “animal farm” an allegory of early history of the Soviet Union. The TPLF’s secessionist guerrilla fighters who were indoctrinated to defend the interest of their region on the expense of Ethiopia were renamed as the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF). Federal Army’s rank and file is all inclusive and populated by members that hail from the nationalities of the federal states and are educated to be the guarantor of the constitution and to remain none- partisan in the local and national politics while the ethnic guerrilla forces have allegiances only to their superiors and to their region and thus see other nationalities as their subservient – bounty of war. Ethiopia has no federal Army because the country’s ambition to become federal was by design aborted by the TPLF.

The Premier and his men also renamed the TPLF as EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front) to mislead the international community in to believing that the regime is broad based one. EPRDF is a Trojan horse invented by TPLF to hold on to power by false pretence. The parties that are claimed by the TPLF government to share the umbrella of EPRDF with them are but only figments in their imaginations. With the exception of TPLF none of the other parties from the EPRDF are real and legitimate representatives of their constituents. The OPDO(Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation), in the new speak, is the new name for the outlawed OLF(Oromo Liberation Front), the SEPDF is a new name that came out of the blue and the ANDM(Ahmara National Democratic Movement) is the new name of  EPDM(Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement). The ONLF (Ogaden Liberation Front), OLF and ALF Afar Liberation front and others are active and engage the TPLF’s army in the country side all year round.

ConclusionUnited States should initiate a quick regime change  
United States and its western allies keep this repressive regime in power by pumping three billion dollars a year (military and non-military aid) without demanding good governance in exchange. The same money is used by the Tigrean forces to subdue the other Ethiopian nationalities – America knowingly instigates, finances and lends diplomatic support to the genocidal regime of Meles Zenawi.

Like the dictators (Mubarik, Sainal Abdin, Melez and etc) the US government supports, America, usually wakes up when things fall apart or at the 11th hour. In the case of Egypt, the soon to come democratic government, irrespective if Islamist Brotherhood takes over or not, will be accountable to their voters who are resentful the subservient status their country is relegated to. Egypt which is strategically located at the Zeus canal where quarter of world trade goes through and which is also the centre of the Muslim and Arab world will never be the same rubber stamp but will occupy its lofty position.

Taking in to account the dire economic, social and political situation of Ethiopia; chances of  Meles regime surviving the people’s revolution is next to nil, so for the US to start regime change in Ethiopia, as soon as possible, is the only  practical option that can save the second most populace country in Africa.

The current relocation of US embassy to a safer part of Addis, at a time the country is at the brink of total disaster, is a misplaced priority. Whenever a US embassy is relocated to where they see as a safer compound, surprisingly the host government falls into black hole. The Experience of US embassy’s relocation to KM7, Afgoi road, compound just before a year Somalia imploded was a bad investment which is locally known as the mad house.-the compound was turned in to UNISOM army barrack and later in to IDP camp and I am afraid the new embassy in Addis will most probably become a future IDP camp.
Abdiakrim H. Abdi Buh
Email:abdikarimbuh@yahoo.com
Political analyst and WardheerNews contributor

The aristocrat of totalitarianism-Could Ethiopia survive the Jasmine Revolution ?



The Indian Noble-Prize winning economist, Amartya Sen, postulates:
Shortfalls in food supply do not cause widespread deaths in a democracy because vote-seeking politicians will undertake relief efforts; but even modest food shortfalls can create deadly famines in authoritarian societies.”
Ethiopia is the only country in Africa, or I may say, in the world that needs pre-emptive foreign intervention to save it from total destruction as Meles Zenawi’s regime sits on a thin ice that needs a flicker of fire to pull down his domino house of power. The ongoing winds of change that engulfed the countries to the north of Ethiopia (Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan and etc) which are relatively much better, in terms of civil liberty and economic life, are bound to sweep through Ethiopia with vengeance in the very near future.
   

Ethiopia under the current dictatorial regime has all the ingredients that cause to trigger uncontainable mass uprising that has the potential to melt down Mele Zenawi’s regime.  The forth coming uprising, unlike Egypt or Tunisia, will result rivers of blood on the streets of Addis followed by ethnic cleansing of the Tigrean people because the regime and the army that committed untold human rights violations are entirely   based on one ethnic (Tigrean) group. Besides the economic and political sectors which are colonised by ethnic Tigreans, the security sector and the Army for the first time in the history of Ethiopia became the monopoly of one ethnic group -Who is who of Ethiopia’s Top Army Brass.
(also here >> about Megistu Haile Mariam)
Egypt and Tunisia have a national army that can save the state but unfortunately there are no such safeguards in Ethiopia because the regime and the army are one and the same.  The masses deem the Tigrean people to have colluded with the regime in its suppression of other Ethiopian nationalities. The regime kills and maims people in the name of the Tigrean people.  The uprising in the pipeline won’t be limited to regime change but might go further to address the century old colonial question once and for all – the split of Ethiopia into six or seven ethnic based independent states.

Ethiopia has a grim reading in all indicators of good governance

Tunisia and Egypt were both flashing consistent GDP growth as Zenawi does at the end of every year but all indicators show that the wealth didn’t trickle down to the common man – even the Dergi regime registered their highest, 13.9%, in 1987 just after the famine and at the height of the internal wars.  Despite the overall economic growth, obviously none people centred, in the country, Ethiopia still has one of the lowest GDP per capita in the world and also a quarter of its people are food aid dependent.

Premier Zenawi is so fraudulent that in reaction to IMF and World Bank recommendations to privatise public owned assets; he instead legalised the theft of the whole lot in a way even the blind can see. The Ethiopian Privatization Agency (EPA) was established as an autonomous agency in February 1994 to oversee the privatisation of the state owned enterprises. In place of “hands off” free market approach, the Orwellian regime transferred the ownership of state assets to TPLF and thus transformed the state assets in to parastatals run by exclusive Tigrean people who are affiliated with party. This stifled competition and created an economy based on state sector and phony conglomerates, parastatals, whose income goes to private pockets. See the extent of corruption  List of TPLF owned business

In response to his irresponsible fiscal policy that resulted Ethiopia’s inflation to jump from 10.2 to 14.5 percent last month after a steep rise in food and non – food prices caused in part by two successive currency devaluation in less than 12 months – Premier Zenawi resorted to putting price caps on many commodities. The business community withdraw their stocks from the shelves because the market is governed by demand and supply not by circulars from the Premiers’ office.

At the time of this writing, Thursday 03rd Feb, the Premier ruled out the possibility of another major devaluation of the Birr in the coming five years. The premier told his so called legislators, in question and answers suggestion, that the inflation is caused by the traders whom he accused are artificially inflating food prices on the back of global price increases and a September devaluation of the birr.

The premier seems to have taken leave out of sanity because there is no expert in this world who can say there will be no inflation that can warrant to depreciating the birr for the coming five years especially when it was a general knowledge that another devaluation was to come in the following two months – this is a panic reaction induced by the Jasmine revolution.
Ethiopia can support the food needs of its people if the government is wise enough to invest in to viable agricultural projects instead of selling the best land to flower growing companies at nominal fee of £10 a hector for hundred years lease. This sort of land confiscation policy created a multitude of landless peasants who either coerced to join the internally displaced people or toil their own land for the new foreign landlords for a very low wage.   Projects of this nature are preferred by   Meles regime because they pop up the GDP figures which he enjoys to brandish at all times.

Well preserved forests that covers over three thousand hectares went under the hammer and is to be given to Verdanata Harvests PLC, an Indian company, against the wishes of the locals. The forest is to make way for tea plantations that would affect the ecological system of the area. Despite public outcry and Ethiopia president’s, Girma Wolde-Girogis, expressed   concerns over land grabbing in the Gambella Regional State (Southwest Ethiopia), Mezghnger Zone, Guderre Woreda ;  Premier Zenawi wants the project, without further consultation,  to start on time because it is good for the GDP – people don’t eat distorted GDP figures.

The annual Freedom House’s report ranks countries in the world as FreePartly Free and Not Free based on their respect for political rights and civil liberties. The latest report notes that Ethiopia’s ranking has dropped from ‘Partly Free’ in 2009 to ‘NOT FREE’ in 2010 due to the heightened political repression, and the clampdown on independent media and nongovernmental organizations. Freedom House also notes that Ethiopia’s decline is the most significant drop in the ranking in the sub-Saharan Africa as well as the world in 2010.

A recent ranking http://www.prosperity.com/rankings.aspx put Ethiopia near the bottom of the world  prosperity index (107th out of 110 countries in the world) and also  UNDP’s index ranked it at the bottom in  UNDP Human Development Indicator   (157 out of 169 countries).  A statistics by Socialbakers.com shows (202nd out of 213) that Face book penetration in Ethiopia is only 0.28 percent, which is one of the lowest in Africa. Ethiopian and other independent websites are blocked and radios including VOA are jammed. The internet speed of Ethiopia is the slowest in Africa and yet has the highest censorship regime in place – now word like Egypt, Tunisia are put in the bad books of  the censorship board.

 Ethiopia’s successive dictatorial regimes were traditionally legitimised and always rewarded for their unparalleled human rights violations by the international community and Zenaw’s regime is treading the ancient road in this new global village. See the latest human rights report of Ethiopia  Human Rights Watch (full Report)

Background to Ethiopia’s Tigrean Regime

Primier Minister Mele Zenawi came to power on the back of highly disciplined communist secessionist guerrilla force, Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front, that fortune handed the crown of Ethiopia in 1991. Initially the executive committee were divided as to how to handle the new unprepared for challenge - they never thought about governing Ethiopia - of running Ethiopia as opposed to their original secessionist goal. TPLF’s secret consensus at the time was to build and develop their barren region from the treasury of Ethiopia and to superimpose their guerrilla forces and their other cadres on the institutions that held Ethiopia together. This paradigm was adopted to appease the diehard secessionist members because it provides a strong safety valve – it is simply win- win situation in the eyes of the intransigent secessionists. Zenawi was quoted to have said “if the going gets tough then we have our developed region to fall back with the added benefit that Ethiopia will never haunt us as it will cease to exist after our departure”.
 All the nationality based armed fronts in Ethiopia, EPLF, ONLF, OLF and etc stood in solidarity with the TPLF on the understanding that they could jointly thrust the multi ethnic backward Ethiopia, to the 21st century political life but to their dismay found out that the TPLF is still committed to their secessionist agenda. Within months of coming to power the TPLF implemented their hidden agenda   by disarming most of nationality based armed fronts with exception of EPLF (Eritrean People’s Liberation Front) and ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front), the later seeking to liberate the Somali inhabited regions of Eastern Ethiopia and the former were their mentors which they can’t afford to touch.

Premier Zenawi and his comrades, the executive committee of the TPLF, lost no time in replaying the scenarios in George Orwell’s classic novel “animal farm” an allegory of early history of the Soviet Union. The TPLF’s secessionist guerrilla fighters who were indoctrinated to defend the interest of their region on the expense of Ethiopia were renamed as the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF). Federal Army’s rank and file is all inclusive and populated by members that hail from the nationalities of the federal states and are educated to be the guarantor of the constitution and to remain none- partisan in the local and national politics while the ethnic guerrilla forces have allegiances only to their superiors and to their region and thus see other nationalities as their subservient – bounty of war. Ethiopia has no federal Army because the country’s ambition to become federal was by design aborted by the TPLF.

The Premier and his men also renamed the TPLF as EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front) to mislead the international community in to believing that the regime is broad based one. EPRDF is a Trojan horse invented by TPLF to hold on to power by false pretence. The parties that are claimed by the TPLF government to share the umbrella of EPRDF with them are but only figments in their imaginations. With the exception of TPLF none of the other parties from the EPRDF are real and legitimate representatives of their constituents. The OPDO(Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation), in the new speak, is the new name for the outlawed OLF(Oromo Liberation Front), the SEPDF is a new name that came out of the blue and the ANDM(Ahmara National Democratic Movement) is the new name of  EPDM(Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement). The ONLF (Ogaden Liberation Front), OLF and ALF Afar Liberation front and others are active and engage the TPLF’s army in the country side all year round.

ConclusionUnited States should initiate a quick regime change  
United States and its western allies keep this repressive regime in power by pumping three billion dollars a year (military and non-military aid) without demanding good governance in exchange. The same money is used by the Tigrean forces to subdue the other Ethiopian nationalities – America knowingly instigates, finances and lends diplomatic support to the genocidal regime of Meles Zenawi.

Like the dictators (Mubarik, Sainal Abdin, Melez and etc) the US government supports, America, usually wakes up when things fall apart or at the 11th hour. In the case of Egypt, the soon to come democratic government, irrespective if Islamist Brotherhood takes over or not, will be accountable to their voters who are resentful the subservient status their country is relegated to. Egypt which is strategically located at the Zeus canal where quarter of world trade goes through and which is also the centre of the Muslim and Arab world will never be the same rubber stamp but will occupy its lofty position.

Taking in to account the dire economic, social and political situation of Ethiopia; chances of  Meles regime surviving the people’s revolution is next to nil, so for the US to start regime change in Ethiopia, as soon as possible, is the only  practical option that can save the second most populace country in Africa.

The current relocation of US embassy to a safer part of Addis, at a time the country is at the brink of total disaster, is a misplaced priority. Whenever a US embassy is relocated to where they see as a safer compound, surprisingly the host government falls into black hole. The Experience of US embassy’s relocation to KM7, Afgoi road, compound just before a year Somalia imploded was a bad investment which is locally known as the mad house.-the compound was turned in to UNISOM army barrack and later in to IDP camp and I am afraid the new embassy in Addis will most probably become a future IDP camp.
Abdiakrim H. Abdi Buh
Email:abdikarimbuh@yahoo.com
Political analyst and WardheerNews contributor

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Al Shabab Leadership crises and the prospect for peace in Somalia



6 Jan-2011(Mareeg.com-London-The peaceful amalgamation of the two Islamist factions Al Shabab and Hisbul Islam (HZ) is seen by some as a commendable act that will have significant postive ramification in the political landscape of Somalia. Others see it as the nightmare that they always dreaded to face; but at least over one million internally displaced persons (IDPs), who live in the IDP corridor of Afgoi, breathed a heavy sigh of relief. The IDPs and the business community, who were worried about where they will end up if the talks between Alshabab and HZ fail, were the first to welcome Al Shabab fighters into their humanitarian corridor.
The wholesale daily bombardment of the Bakara market by Amisom forces compelled the business community to move most of their merchandise to the IDP home of Afgoi corridor - the Bakara market is reduced to deal-making market. Al Shabab has laid its hands on a booming business that include telecommunications companies, power generators, merchandise warehouses and the likes that has the potential to build up their war coffers massively and as a token of good gesture they instantly wrapped up the check points hitherto manned by Hizbul Islam.
The popular assumption that Al Shabaab's takeover of Hizbul Islam came in an easy way runs contrary to the facts the two movement’s history preserved. The merger was delivered by lengthy negotiations often coupled at times by arm twists that started soon after the birth of Hizbul Islam in January 2009. Al Shabab movement has all along deemed that the Islamist Mujahidin’s strategic objective (creation of an Islamic state) could only be achieved rapidly by a unified front and hence never accepted the birth of a rival Islamist movement.
The merger of the two Islamists into one was the ultimate goal the insurgency was craving for and is a priceless victory for them and probably a welcome development for the communities who bore the brunt of the Islamist rivalry, as the alternative scenario of inter-Islamist bloodshed is a scenario no sane person would wish to imagine. The minimum would have been a war in Afgoi’s humanitarian corridor which would have uprooted over a million people.
Regardless of their archaic and strict interpretation of the Quran and the Sharia, the Islamists managed to institute one single movement to replace yester years’ countless warlords that destroyed the fabric of the Somali nation. The Al Shabab movement has more soldiers and firearms under one command which will be tested shortly at the battle fields –Amisom forces are finalizing the details of over ambitious offensive war aimed to taking back the important southern port city Kismayo port.
Hizbul Islam – ruined by irreconcilable ideologies (clan and Islam)
Hizbul Islam was born out of the merger of four ideologically discrete Islamic groups who only share the nationalist platform: Aweys' Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia – Asmara wing; the Ras Kamboni Brigade; Jabhatul Islamiya (the Islamic Front); and the Anole brigade. Since Hizbul Islam’s inauguration in 2009, their relationship with Al Shabab was at best bumpy and at worst marked by battles that often Hizbul Islam lost not only sphere of Influence to Al Shabab forces but also resulted in the exposure of the ideological and political divide among the diverse groups that call Hizbul Islam home.
When Al Shabab forces, on 1st Oct 2009, ousted Hizbul Islam from the control of Kismayo, they exposed that Sheikh Ahmed Madoobe, the central pillar of Hizbul Islam in the Juba valley, was executing an agenda backed by Ethiopia, the TFG and Kenya. In the end, this scandal shattered the thin trust that held together the smaller factions that united under the umbrella of Hizbul Islam - The undoing of Hizbul Islam started back then. Despite repeated reiterations, Sheikh Aweys failed to convince the top officials of Hizbul Islam in Gedo, let alone the Ras Kamboni Brigade (an essential and organized faction, headed by Sheikh Hassan Turki),that Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed Madoobe is still part of his group.
Sheikh Hassan Al –Turki, who is on the hit list of the US government and is specialized in the training of the deadliest units of the Jihadist, severed his faction’s ties with Hizbul Islam. Sheikh Turki’s close associates allege poor health and shrewd machinations of Sheikh Madoobe compelled him to let Al Shabab swallow the Ras Kamboni Brigade. The ceremony of the merger of Al Shabab and Ras Kamboni Brigade was held in Baidabo on January 27, 2010 in the presence of Ahmed Abdi Aw Mohamed,”Sheikh Godane” the reclusive Al shabab spiritual and operational leader whose nom de guerre is Abu Mansor. Ever since, Sheikh Al-Turki is assumed to be enjoying retirement, albeit in poor health, in a safe care home somewhere around Kismayo.
Inside the executive committee of Al shabab: - leadership shake up is in the offing
The attack launched by the lone mystery helicopter, disowned by the west, on the house in Merca on 25 Sep, 2010, where Al Shabab leaders gathered to resolve a power dispute between the Amir and Mukhtar Rabow put in the public domain the power struggle within Al Shabab executive committee. The dispute was ignited by the poor performance of the movement following their over publicized Ramadan botched attempt of taking over the Presidential Palace. The attack of the helicopter can’t be uncharacteristic given that previous two commanders of Al Shabab – Ayrow and a Kenyan-born top Jihadist were killed by similar attacks.
The attack might have triggered mistrust and suspicions within the group and might have obliged them to suspend the talks prematurely. To dampen the report of leadership feud within Al Shabab, Sheikh Mukhtar Rabow delivered a speech in Mogadishu, on October 8, 2010, aimed at clearing the air and buying vital time for the movement to put its house in order. He termed the reports baseless and groundless, accusing the Transitional Federal Government of disseminating propaganda against what he called the “Mujahidin”.
The recent skirmish between the two factions in and around Bur Hakaba district, which is thought to have hastened the merger of the two groups, was a manifestation of the tactical difference among the leadership of Al Shabab. The confusion in the leadership of Al Shabab is set to linger around for long unless common unifying vision is found and drastic accommodative steps are taken by the feuding leaders to address the ever widening rift within the executive committee. Top leaders, Sheikh Fu’ad Shongol and Mukhtar Rabow, were against the inter- Islamist in-fight while the Amir of Al Shabab, who is seen as a sell out of the foreign Jihadists, was of the opinion that talks alone can’t deliver the desired end product in good time – unconditional merger of Hisbi Islam with Al Shabab.
On Friday December 17,2010 Sheikh Fu’ad Shanqol, thought to be speaking on behalf of the nationalist elements within Al Shabab led by Sheikh Mukhtar Rabow, delivered a fiery speech in Bakara Market Mosque. He attacked the Amir of Al Shabab’s line of thought and categorically denounced the Burhakaba fight that saw the death of twenty Mujahidin and the injury of over forty fighters from both sides. Sheikh Fu’ad branded it as un- Islamic and anti Jihad, an act that requires repentance of its instigators. Sheikh Fu’ad questioned the suitability of Sheikh Godane to hold the highest office when, as he put it, the Amir is incapable of showing his face to followers of the movement let alone partake in the Jihad and educate his foot soldiers.
From the time Al Shabab was founded, such publicized criticism of their leader in person has never been heard of. This departure from the blind acquiesce to the whims of the leader demonstrates that either the forces of moderation are dogged to take over the sovereignty of the movement from foreign-elements or it is a symptom of the tough times Al Shabab is facing due to sustained military attacks from Amisom – backed TFG.
On a different Friday December 24, 2010 Sheikh Fuad Shongol again delivered another speech in Afgoi appealing to Al shabab’s rank and file to stop lashing and imprisoning civilians for trivial offences that can easily be addressed through talking. He reminded them that Allah will turn away from the Mujahidin if they keep committing atrocities against the civilians. This again signifies a departure away from Al Shabab’s claim that their foot soldiers are all saints and infallibles.
Sheikh Fu’ad blamed the relocation of substantial number of civilians in to the government side on Al Shabab’s unresponsive policies towards aid agencies and restrictions on civil liberties in the face of wide spread drought and destitution. It is reported that People who were under areas controlled by Al Shabab chose to speak with their feet and crossed into the government-held areas, after they were traumatised by the draconian rules of the front and the indiscriminate daily shelling of AMISOM forces . The fleeing people bought or rented vacant lands to pitch their tents on, in and around Halane, former Somali Army training school, which is presently an AMISOM base. This is yet an indication of the bankruptcy of Al Shabab’s template assertion that “Al Shabab knows what is best for the people”. It is bold but tentative first step towards the religious moderation Al Shabab loves to hate.
The official participation of Al Shabab-controlled regions in the first football tournament for 21 years held in Puntland, an autonomous state hated by Al Shabab, marks another departure from their all out war policy. The condemnation by Sheikh Mukhtar Rabow of the assassinations of the local elites of Puntland puts a strong seal to the change of heart within some of the leading figures of Al Shabab, but it could also be a transitory populist machination intended to cope with their shrinking popularity.
The extremist group, which is bent on keeping the status quo, is showing their displeasure by imposing more draconian fatwas on people already burdened beyond belief by multitude of injudicious Fatwas. The moderates are beseeching diehard international Jihadists in Mogadishu and its vicinity to change course. However, the anti reform group, in an apparent rebuke of the soft approach of the moderates, introduced an immediate blanket ban on the trade and use of tobacco products – cigarette, Shisha, chewing tobacco – on the people in Hiiraan and Jowhar regions, who are already punished by a ruthless drought of a scale not seen for years.
As people were coming to terms with the cigarette ban, the anti-reform group closed all the pharmacies in Jowhar without exception and bundled the trained health workers on the back of battle wagons on their way to makeshift detention centre. The sight of women with small weeping and tired children strapped to their backs, looking for medications didn’t soften the heart of Al Shabab officers, who claim to be the senate of the religion of Allah. The crime that attracted such inhuman collective punishment of a whole community was simple daily occurrence - the pharmacists failed to show on time for a seminar called in by Al Shabab’s local health officer.
Can Al Shabab digest the absorption of Hizbul Islam?
The merger didn’t only strengthen the fire power of the new Al Shabab, but also brought with it an ideological baggage (Sh. Dahir Aweys) that is most likely to reinforce the position of the reformists. The reformist agenda is more of like a creeping revolution that encompass a thorough change of the movement including, but not limited to, revisiting military strategies, policies on civil liberties, relations with aid agencies and the likes. The soul of the movement, their local and foreign financiers, have a vested interest in keeping the movement as a going concern; and are most likely to use every means in their power to achieve peaceful amalgamation as they can’ afford an expensive failure at the 11th hour.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys has a byzantine influence in the ranks of Al Shabab, the business community and to some extend the pro government militias both in Mogadishu and beyond. By all calculations, the timing and the prevailing conditions within Al Shabab are on his side; he may not be the king but obviously he is the king maker. Far from joining his old comrade Sheikh Hassan Turki in a care home as suggested by Mr. Amin Amir, the Somali political catroonist, Sheikh Aweys might turn out to be the vehicle that may steer the movement into becoming inward-looking national Islamist group, without assuming an office higher than membership of one of the movement’s committees. Sheikh Aweys, throughout history, proved to thrive by working behind the scene – during UIC sheikh Sharif Ahmed not Sheikh Aweys was the front man, but key decisions were made by the latter.
Conclusion: - Al Shabab may get a new lease of life with human face
According to Faisal Roble, whose prediction on the merger between the two groups came into present day reality (VOA, Somali Section, interviewed in October, 2010), the power struggle within Al Shabab isn’t a calamity that befell the movement but is rather a blessing in disguise which is part and parcel of the natural growth of any movement.
The disagreements within the movement could have stemmed out of standard internal appraisal in which the leaders are made to take stock of their performance, their tactics, their relations with external parties and their shortcomings which is essential for the long-term success of the movement. It is also the case that historically rebel movement fractures when they are cornered militarily and politically – any venue short from dismantling the movements is bound to be explored even if it is the assassination of some of the executive committee. AlShabab’s division might have been caused by either of the two, or a combination of the said factors. However, optimistic Somalis hope that the growing voice of the elements seen as nationalists within Alshabab augurs hope of reconciliation.
What is indisputable is that Alshabab’s extremist policies and vision - internationalization of the national question, the agenda of the foreign Jihadists to make Somalia pan – Islamic caliphate that became the hallmark of current Al shabab leadership - has earned disaffection from many quarters of its supporters. It is unlikely that the proponents of the internationalist agenda will emerge winners out of this duel because people see the futility of their vision, which is a perpetual misguided Jihadist war with no end – Somalia now, Kenya and Ethiopia tomorrow and so on and on is becoming more of a pipeline dream.
Al shabab’s threat to attack America or Europe can’t be taken lightly because they can activate their sleeping cells to bomb soft civilian targets. The internationalist group who are under pressure from within and outside might resort to creating havoc intended to either divert the trajectory of the inside struggle or else to take the ultimate revenge on Al Shabab’s future restructuring process by blowing away the bridges to modernity and moderation.
The sad reality is - the war in Somalia will go on in the foreseeable future because whichever group emerges as the winner has no intention or incentive to go into reconciliation talks with what they see as weak foreign owned entity (TFG). The presence of Sheikh Sharif, a man equally reviled by both Alshabab and HZ, makes deal between TFG and whoever comes out as the winner in the ongoing Alshabab internal power struggle very unlikely. Most leaders of the Islamists are rumoured to have said that they will never sit and discuss with the man who betrayed them during the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia –Sheikh Sharif.
It is also unlikely that any number of foreign troops pumped into Somalia by the international community could defeat and silence Alshabab guns. In this regard, there is little that the amalgamation of Alshabab and HZ would change in the political and security situation of Somalia. However the emergence of quasi-nationalist Islamist leadership in Alshabab may bring tangible changes in the areas of civil liberties and humanitarian work as restrictions are bound to be eased.
 
Abdikarim Buh
Political analyst and WardheerNews contributor
E-mail:abdikarimbuh@yahoo.com

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Kidnapped Montana woman calls family before her death


Rita Maze (L) with her daughter RochelleImage copyrightCOURTESY ROCHELLE MAZE
Image captionRita Maze (L) also spoke to her daughter Rochelle (R) on the phone
A woman who was abducted in Montana spoke to her family by telephone several times before she died.
Rita Maze, 47, called her husband from the boot of her stolen car on after being abducted from a rest stop on a highway.
She spoke with her family and police for about 10 minutes, but did not know where she was, the local sheriff said.
Her body was found 325 miles (523km) away near Spokane airport on the Washington state border.
Wolf Creek, Helena, and Yellowstone shown on a map of Montana
Image captionThe abduction is believed to have taken place near Wolf Creek, north of the state capital of Helena
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said Mrs Maze had called her husband using a mobile phone on Tuesday, and said that she been hit on the head near Wolf Creek, north of Helena.
Her husband reported her as missing, and remained in contact with his wife.
Rochelle Maze, the victim's daughter, told the Great Falls Tribune that her mother was hysterical and difficult to understand when they spoke.
"I told her that I loved her," Rochelle said. "That's the last thing she heard."
A rest stop on I-15 north of MontanaImage copyrightGOOGLE
Image captionLocal media said police had searched two rest stops along Interstate 15 for clues
The intermittent phone signal was cut off after about 10 minutes.
Sheriff Dutton said a police officer had spoken to Mrs Maze before her death.
Her body was discovered early on Wednesday, after police used her phone's signal to help track the vehicle.
Her licence plate was also captured on camera near Post Falls in the state of Idaho.
Police said a "person of interest" had been indentified in the investigation, and surveillance video was also being looked at.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is also involved in the investigation, because the death involved travel across a number of US states.

Guinness World Record for bearded woman Harnaam Kaur


  • 8 September 2016
  •  
  • From the sectionEngland
Young woman with full beardImage copyrightPAUL MICHAEL HUGHES/GUINNESS WOR
Image captionHarnaam Kaur's beard has been part of her quest to overcome years of bullying to cope with her appearance
A model with six-inch long facial hair has become the youngest woman in the world to have a full beard, according to the Guinness World Records.
Body positivity campaigner Harnaam Kaur, 24, from Slough, Berkshire, said it was "humbling" to be included.
She described her beard as part of her quest to overcome years of bullying to cope with her appearance.
Other record breakers added to the list include the longest pet cat and a high-jumping llama.
Young woman with full beard holding certificate.Image copyrightPAUL MICHAEL HUGHES
Image captionIn March 2016 Harnaam Kaur became the first female with a beard to walk the runway at London Fashion Week.
Ms Kaur has polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal condition that can result in the growth of excess facial hair.
In March 2016 she became the first female with a beard to walk the runway at London Fashion Week.

'Envy of all the other llamas'

The record for longest domestic cat currently alive goes to a 3ft 10.59in (1.183m) moggy from Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
Ludo, a Maine Coon, was no bigger than other kittens in his litter when he was taken home by his owner Kelsey Gill in 2014.
Ms Gill now has to use a dog carrier for the supersized cat and a dog harness to accommodate his length.
Woman with very long catImage copyrightPAUL MICHAEL HUGHES/GUINNESS WOR
Image captionThe cat was no bigger than other kittens in his litter when he was taken home by his owner Kelsey Gill in 2014
Also making the list is Caspa, a nine-year-old high-jumping llama who can leap a bar 3ft 8.5in (1.13m) high.
The animal, which lives on a farm in Porthmadog, North Wales, has been described by his owner as a "total diva" and the envy of all the other llamas on the farm.
Media captionCaspa, a nine-year-old llama from North Wales, can jump a bar 3ft 8.5in (1.13m) high
The record for the fastest speed achieved on a monowheel motorcycle has been set by a team at Elvington Airfield, North Yorkshire.
Kevin Scott, from Lincoln, achieved 98.464 km/h (61.18 mph) on a bike built by UK Monowheel Team.
Media captionA Lincoln man has made it into the record books for the fastest monowheel motorcycle ride