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Who we are
Previous events
Northwood Mass Blockade (10/01/01)
Black Hawk Down premiere
Watford army presentation
Northwood Small Blockade (28/03/02)
Festival of alternatives
Army 2002
RAF concert
British warriors denounce war!
Northwood Mass Blockade 2 (jan 2003)
Upcoming events
Court cases
Legal briefing (PDF)


Nonviolent resistance to militarism

Links and articles on somalia

Links :
UNOSOM II - United Nations Mission for Somalia - II
Black Hawk Down (the original series of articles)
A more general article on "humanitarian interventions":
Jochen Hippler: The United Nations and the Slow Death of Humanitarian Interventionism


Somalia: Human Rights Abuses by the United Nations Forces, July 1993, 35 pages.
Author(s): African Rights
Document Type: Discussion Paper Pages: 35

Publisher: African Rights City: London Date Publ.: 1993
Language(s): English
Keywords (Subject): human rights; united nations; humanitarian law; legal issues
Keywords (Organisation): UNITED NATIONS; UNOSOM
Keywords (Country): Somalia

This is the summary of a 35 page report published by African Rights based upon evidence gathered during two five-week missions to Somalia by African Rights and Mines Advisory Group during June and July 1993. The aim of the missions was not to investigate human rights violations by the UNOSOM troops, but the abusive behaviour of the troops was so blatant (and impinged upon the missions' planned activities to such an extent) that the issue was impossible to ignore.
The report documents abuses from Mogadishu, Kismayo and Belet Weyn. In Mogadishu, there is prima facie evidence that UNOSOM forces have committed a number of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. These include the bombardment of a political meetingon 12 July, the attack of Digfer hospital on 17 June, and firing on unarmed demonstrators on 12 June. In addition, there are cases of killing of unarmed civilians, and forced relocation of Mogadishu residents by means of demolition of their homes. United States, Pakistani, Tunisian, Italian and other troops have been responsible. These are not cases of undisciplined actions by individual soldiers, but stem from the highest echelons of the command structure. (Executive Summary)

Somalia: Operation Restore Hope: A Preliminary Assessment, May 1993, 60 pages.

AFRICANEWS - News and Views on Africa from Africa
Issue 69 - December 2001

America's Second Coming?

In recent weeks the US and Britain have indicated that Somalia is the next stop after Afghanistan in the anti-terror war. Both countries claim Somalia has terrorist camps by independent sources attest otherwise.
By Matthias Muindi

Early this month, American and British military operatives stated that a Somalia based group Al Itihaad al Islamiya (Islamic Unity) was running terrorist camps in the tiny island of Ras Komboni off the coast of anarchic Somalia. The US which claimed that the group was linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network added that Al Itihaad had other camps in El Wak region in southwest Somalia and Las Nok in the north. Yet when UN officials visited Ras Komboni a few days later, all they found was a derelict orphanage. "We have not seen any connection between Al Itihaad and Al Qaeda," said Randolph Kent, UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Somalia.

On December 6, a few days after the Ras Komboni fiasco, a group of Somali and American journalists set out for another village, Shimbirare in the northeast region of Puntland which was also cited as hosting similar camps. It was another wild goose chase. One of the journalists told the BBC that Shimbirare was only inhabited by Somalis fishermen and it "was not a venue for training terrorists."

But such statements didn't prevent the US Assistant Secretary of Defence, Paul Wolfowitz to say that Somalia was a country "that has a certain al Qaeda presence." Hence should be the next stop after the Afghanistan expedition. On December 9, nine US military officers visited Somalia to identify potential terrorist targets. According to the Mogadishu-based HornAfrik radio, the officers visited the country's second largest town, Baidoa located 240 km south of Mogadishu and inspected military facilities, including the airport, in and around the town. Baidoa is controlled by the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA), which is opposed to the transitional government of President Abdiqassim Hassan Salat. The RRA which also controls the Bay and Bakol regions stated its willingness to welcome "any outside forces who are fighting terrorism" in its areas. By then the RRA had mounted a propaganda campaign alleging that the country's interim regime of President Abdiqassim Salat was benefiting from al Itihaad's extensive banking and trade investments. The group is also one of the biggest providers of health and education services in the embattled country.

Since it came to power in August 2000 after a reconciliation meeting in neighbouring Djibouti, the Salat regime has been struggling to gain as much territory as possible from the numerous warlords who have made Somalia ungovernable. But the Salat regime has vehemently denied the existence of any camps in the country or allegations that it is an ally of al Qaeda. "There are no camps or bases for al-Qaeda in Somalia, and the majority of the Somali people knew of al-Qaeda only after the September 11 attacks," said Somali presidential envoy Yusuf Ibrahim during a visit to Sudan. Ibrahim disputed that bin Laden would head to Somalia if he were routed from Afghanistan saying Somalia was "open territory" lacking hiding places.
Somalia's new Prime Minister, Hassan Farah stated that if the US decided to carry out air strikes on Somalia there would be no justification for this.

Indeed, the talk in Mogadishu is that the US is just out to restore honour after the humiliation in 1993 when ragtag militias killed 18 American soldiers scuttling a UN peace force send to the country in 1992. They point that the US is keen to stamp by its authority by any means necessary especially after last month's seizure by the US of assets belonging to Somali-owned largest money transfer agency, Al Barakaat. Washington alleged that al Barakaat was a financial ally of al Qaeda. According to UN's Kent, the result has been a deterioration of the lives of Somalis most who depend on remittances from friends and relatives living abroad.
Most of the intelligence being considered for the Somalia operation comes from US missions in Addis Ababa and Nairobi since according to Walter Kansteiner, US Under-secretary for Africa, American interest in the country has been one of "benign neglect." For Ethiopia, dismantling the Salat regime is a priority as Addis Ababa accuses it of supporting secession minded Somalis living in Ethiopia's Ogaden region. Most of these Somalis argue for a creation of a Greater Somalia, a territory to be inhabited only by Somali speaking people and ruled by Islamic law. That is what Al Itihaad stood for in the early 1990s when it was very active. It has however faded from the picture after it was implicated in a failed assassination bid on Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak in 1995 during an Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) meeting in Ethiopia.

Against such background, Ethiopia, a country beset by ethnic rebellions has been keen to play host to Somalia's many warlords who since the September 11 attacks have been striking poses of political moderation. In their sojourns to Ethiopia these faction leaders who are incensed by the international prestige enjoyed by the Salat regime have met western diplomats accredited to Addis Ababa and senior Ethiopian government officials. The latest visit was on December 7 by Muhammad Nur Shatigadud, RRA boss who also chairs the Somali Reconciliation and Reconstruction Council (SRRA), a pro-Ethiopia body set up ostensibly to achieve reconciliation in Somalia. A month earlier, two other warlords, Col. Abdulahi Yusuf, governor of the breakaway region of Puntland in the northeast and Mogadishu based Hussein Aidid met with an Israeli delegation in an eastern Ethiopian town of Gode. During the meeting the duo agreed to let Israel use areas controlled by the duo for military purposes. In return, Israel would assist the warlords militarily and economically. Days after the meeting, Yusuf claimed that Puntland was infested with terrorists and it was time the Americans acted. In an interview with an Italian TV station, Yusuf who was ousted from his post in October, paraded some Somali youths who he had arrested claiming they were heading to Afghanistan via Yemen.

By supporting the SRRC, Ethiopia has been trying to portray to the world that the faction leaders as people with legitimate complaints and genuine desire to end the carnage in Somalia. Most of the faction leaders represented in the SRRC are bitter enemies, riddled with inconsistent policies and the only thing that holds them together is the hatred of the Salat regime. Addis Ababa doesn't mention that these faction leaders are the obstacle to peace in Somalia. When they skipped last year's meeting in Djibouti, they claimed that Somalis didn't need outsiders to reconcile them. Yet they don't mind being Ethiopia's Trojan Horse in Somalia. Observers note that the real reason why they steered clear was the fear by that with their horrible human rights records they would loose power in whatever political dispensation was to emerge from Djibouti. Some of them even feared that they could be charged with crimes against humanity. It is therefore not surprising that they have seized the opportunity accorded by the September 11 bombings to try to earn some political mileage.

Ethiopia, which fought a bloody war in the 1970s with Somalia over moves by Ethiopian Somalis in the Ogaden region to secede has maintained an iron grip on the warlords. Its influence can be attested by the fact that Addis Ababa has been able to force the RRA to host Aidid and another faction leader, General Morgan, both who are accused by the RRA of massacring people in Somalia's Bay and Bakool Regions. The Somali daily, Ayaamah recently reported that Aidid is stranded in Addis Ababa with the Ethiopian government preventing his return to Mogadishu or another country fearing that he might ditch the SRRC like other faction leaders- Omar Haji Masale, Osman Ato, and the SRRC secretary-general Mawlid Ma'ane. Ethiopia fears that if the widely known Aidid defects, its efforts to show to the international community that there is a credible opposition in Somalia will be scuttled. Its anti-Mogadishu campaign will also be buried considering another fact that Aidid controls some of the strategic installations in the capital like the former State House and the main airport.

To counter these moves by Ethiopia, Somalia's new Prime Minister Abdi Farah has delayed naming a new cabinet claiming that he intends to give national reconciliation more time. The idea is to see whether any of the regime's opponents are interested in joining the new government that could emerge after a peace conference set for Kenya in mid December. It has been reported that some of the faction leaders are keen to attend the Nairobi gathering. Farah has said that he intends to adopt a two-track approach to deal with the Somalia imbroglio. "I want to start with the factions opposed to the government, while on the other hand talk to the regions which have administrations," he said, referring to the self-declared republic of Somaliland in the northwest and Puntland in the northeast.

However, Kenya's neutrality on peace and reconciliation in Somali could come under suspicion as reports indicate that the country is keen to give to the US and Britain military bases the Somalia operation. On December 11 President Daniel arap Moi met in Nairobi with Britain's Secretary for Defence, Geoffrey Hoon and discussed the issue. The meeting came a week after Moi met with America's Kansteiner in Nairobi over the same. In the intervening period, a Kenyan Imam said to be sympathetic to al Qaeda was also arrested in Kenya's northeastern province which borders Somalia. Earlier this month, there was another meeting in Kenya where security chiefs from Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti met with US officers on what was reported to security arrangements in the Horn of Africa region. Analysts interpreted this meeting as one meant to prepare America's second coming to Somalia.

As the spectre of war looms in Somalia, the country's former colonial master, Italy has called for caution saying that no action should be pursued until it has been proven that bin Laden has friends there. "If cells connected to terrorist organisations should be identified in Somalia, then there is the possibility of military activity," said Antonio Martino, Italy's Minister of Defence. Italy has contributed 3000 troops for the anti-terror war.

The country's Foreign Minister, Renato Ruggiero speaking in Brussels on December 10, denied any plans between the US and other European allies to expand the military from Afghanistan to Somalia or Iraq. "No decision has been made on Somalia or Iraq," he said adding that "our attention is focused on operations in Afghanistan where things seem to be going very well." That is the same position which has Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi has taken. Berlusconi has warned against widening the terrorist manhunt saying that would weaken the anti- terror coalition. But Washington and London seem to think otherwise.