Media MONITOR:Print
26 Jan 2011 Somalia News Roundup
Both domestic and international news focused on heavy fighting in Mogadishu marking the 20th anniversary of anarchy and lawlessness in Somalia, the United Nations announcing to end the mandate of the Somali government before August 2011, and a senior Al-Shabaab member calling on other Islamist militants to quit committing atrocities against innocent civilians, as well as ongoing piracy news.


Somalia Report – The Somali conflict entered its 20th year since the collapse of the Somali government on January 26, 1991. The United Nations, African Union and the Somali Contact Group are calling for a fresh start to resolve not only the conflict but also piracy and the growing threat of terrorism in Horn of Africa. Somalia is at cross roads and concerted international efforts could pull Somalia out of the prolonged conflict. If not now, when?


➢ Bloomberg Business Week – The United Nations announced the current transitional Somali government should be replaced before its mandate ends by August 2011. The UN Special Representative for Somalia, Mr. Augustine Mahiga, told reporters, “All international actors are saying the government has to end in August. What we are trying to get consensus on is how to end it. And in the process we are also going to say the form that the government is going to be.”

➢ UN News Center – Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and the Chairman of the African Union, Jean Ping, will convene a high level meeting to discuss ways of achieving peace, security and reconciliation in war-torn Somalia. The meeting will be held concurrently with the African Union summit which opened today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


➢ Suna Times – The deputy leader of Al-Shabaab, Fuad Shangole, criticized the Islamist fighters of Al-Shabaab for targeting civilians in suicide bombings and assassinations. Fuad Mohamed Khalaf (aka Fuad Shangole) asked Al-Shabaab to stop committing atrocities against innocent civilians, “These atrocities are prohibited in Islam and that those responsible will have no defense when they meet their maker Allah in the hereafter.”

➢ Garowe Online - 10 people including 6 civilians were killed and 25 wounded after Al-Shabaab fighters attacked TFG-AMISOM military bases in Mogadishu, marking the 20th year of the conflict in Somalia. (Editor’s note: See photo section for a photos essay on the fighting.)

➢ All Africa News – A high level Norwegian delegation met the Moderate Ahlu Sunna Waljama (ASWJ) leaders in Dhusamareb, Galgudud region of central Somalia. The Norwegian delegation was there to determine if the Dhusamareb airport is safe for operations and if the transitional government forces can operate in the region. The Commissioner of Ahlu Sunna Waljama, Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf Hefow, welcomed cooperation with the Norwegian government, but rejected the TFG forces operating in the area since the Somali government failed to support ASWJ battles against Al-Shabaab forces in central regions.

➢ Global Times – The president of Somalia paid to visit to Burundian peacekeeping forces in Mogadishu. The President’s visit was to comfort and congratulate the victories of the Burundian forces after recapturing military barracks and hospital from Al-Shabaab fighters.

MARITIME & PIRACY ➢ The Associated Press – U.S. Navy Commander called for a counter-terrorism approach towards Somali pirates. Admiral Mark Fox, Commander of US Navy’s Bahrain Central Command said, “We have not used the same level of rigor and discipline in terms of following the money on the counter-piracy piece as we have the counterterror. We should be applying the same techniques." ➢ Bloomberg – With the recent swell of pirate attacks and rescue missions, the pirate ransom demands ratcheted 36-fold and added $2.4 billion to transport costs due to longer routes to avoid the Somali Basin. Royal Institute of International Affairs analyst, Roger Middleton said, “It’s likely to continue on its trajectory. Every time some of them are arrested, there are plenty of others happy to take their places because it’s so well paid.”


➢ World Politics Review – The author suggested that the recognition of Somaliland as an independent state is 20 years overdue since it proclaimed independence in 1991. The author and law student, Ben Farley, argues the legal perspectives of independence. “State creation through secession is not prohibited in international law. State creation in Africa, however, is limited by the principle -- enshrined in the charter of the African Union -- that the borders inherited at decolonization are inviolable.”

➢ Gulf News - Francis Matthew, Editor-at-Large, is calling for an Arab solution to piracy. Comparing the case of Southeast Asia that has dramatically reduced pirate attacks through effective naval and maritime police patrols, Matthew believes Arab states should do the same. Countries like the UAE need to offer their own warships and take a stronger role in the anti-piracy mission.

PHOTOS ➢ All Voices presents a 17-slide photo essay illustrating the recent fighting in Mogadishu where Al Shabaab claims they killed 5 soldiers and burned 2 AMISOM vehicles. (Editor’s note: some images are graphic.)


➢ You Tube Video – This disturbing video depicts Al Shabaab’s destruction of Somali Islamic identity by destroying a centuries old Sufi Tomb in Kismayo in Southern Somalia. This is an absolute decimation of the Somali culture and its ways of life, much like the Taliban’s demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001.

TODAY’S SPOTLIGHT ARTICLE (Unedited) “Somalia: 20 Years of Anarchy” BBC

Somalia has not been under the control of a single national government since 26 January 1991, when military strongman Siad Barre was toppled. What impact has 20 years of war and instability had on Somalia and its people?

The conflicts During the 1990s, the conflict in Somalia was between rival warlords and clan-based militia. This led to widespread hunger and the UN and US intervened before a humiliating pull-out. Fighting continued but with less intensity until in 2006, the Union of Islamic Courts became the first group to exert control over the whole of the capital, Mogadishu, for 15 years. Ethiopia then invaded to oust the Islamists, with US support. But the Ethiopians were unable to exert control and now the capital is the scene of regular battles between the UN-backed government and the al-Qaeda linked militants, al-Shabab. About 1.4 million people are displaced within the country - mostly in southern and central areas, around Mogadishu. The north has been relatively peaceful, especially the former British-run territory, Somaliland. Although its independence is not internationally recognised, it runs democratic elections and last year saw a peaceful transfer of power - still a rarity for Africa. Neighbouring Puntland runs its own affairs but says it wants to remain part of Somalia. Many of the pirates who have taken advantage of the anarchy to hijack ships for ransom in the busy shipping lanes off Somalia's are based in Puntland port towns, such as Eyl. Civilians have borne the brunt of the conflict, with more than two million fleeing their homes - 20% of the population. Some 678,000 have officially been accepted as refugees in foreign countries while thousands more have fled their devastated homeland to live abroad. There are more than 600,000 registered Somali refugees worldwide, adding to a diaspora of settled Somalis who are believed to number more than one million. This enormous migration has occurred largely during the last 20 years. A major exodus took place during the civil war which ousted Siad Barre in 1991. In the following decade, many refugees returned to Somalia from neighbouring countries. But since 2005 a new exodus has begun - triggered largely by fighting between Islamists and government forces.

Living standards Remarkably for a country which has suffered two decades of conflict, living standards have slowly improved. Somalia remains poor in relation to most African countries, but its economy and its people have found ways to get by without a government. Somalia's GDP has risen steadily throughout the last two decades, as has its life expectancy. And while neighbouring countries have been hit hard by the HIV/Aids epidemic, Somalia has largely escaped. Although health facilities remain poor in most regions, the chances of a newborn child surviving to its first birthday have actually increased slightly since 1991. Somalia - how has life changed? Index 1991 2011 (or latest) Life expectancy 46 years 50 years Birth rate 46 44 Death rate 19 16 GDP per capita $210 $600 Infant mortality 116 deaths <1yr, per thousand births 109 deaths <1yr, per thousand births Access to safe water 35% 29% Adult literacy 24% 38% Sources: CIA/UN/UNICEF The figures in the table above do not tell the full story. The relative stability in living standards may in part be because of the work of international aid agencies. Throughout some of the worst periods of conflict, Somalia has still received assistance with food and health. These figures from the UN World Food Programme show that food aid has increased in recent years, coinciding with a period of fighting between Islamists and forces loyal to the Somali government.

Pirates Without any law enforcement and with few other ways of earning their living, piracy has become an attractive option for many young Somali men in recent years. They earn millions of dollars for each ship they successfully seize. Warships from around the world have been sent to deter attacks by patrolling off the Somali coast. But the pirates have responded by travelling further and further afield - some ships have been hijacked closer to India than Somalia. All the experts agree that the only long-term solution to the problem of piracy is to restore law and order on land. But a succession of donor-funded peace conferences has failed to persuade the rival Somali leaders to put down their weapons and work together.