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Hundreds March In Nairobi Against Somali Militants
Hundreds of demonstrators marched in the streets of the Kenyan capital on Friday, Nairobi calling on the Kenyan government to attack Somalia’s Radical Islamist group, Al Shabaab. The demonstrators who were mainly youths carried anti-Al Shabaab placards and wore t-shirts which had anti-Al Shabaab messages inscribed on them.

The demonstration which took the city resident by surprises started was peaceful with police officers watching over keenly.

An effigy of AL Shabaab was burnt. In a rare gesture, the demonstrators were also carrying Kenyan and Somali flags. They marched through the major streets in Nairobi, blowing whistles and chanting anti-Al Shabaab slogans. The demonstrators numbering about 1000 wore all similar t-shirts with all one message, "We are Alsha-Kenya ready to fight Al Shabaab".

The ring leader of the protests, John Muhoho complained that while the government has announced there is no action that has been taken against the open threats by the Radical Islamist, AL Shabaab. “The government has announced that these people are in the country and some of them are Kenyans. We want action to be taken now to stop anarchy,” said Muhoho.

The protest which started at Uhuru Park in the city centre saw the demonstrators stop by the parliament building and culminated at the Office of the President, where they petitioned the government calling for immediate action. Muhoho said some of the group’s followers have caused deaths and destruction in the country in the last two years. "We do not want more Kenyans to die. You have seen how these criminals are causing instability in Mandera and their country and that is why we want action now,” declared Muhoho.

A number of Somalis who came across the demonstrators complained of intimidation. “I was stopped and asked if I was a member of AL Shabaab. I trembled because they were very many so I did not reply and just parked my car,” said Abdullahi Mustaf, a Somali businessman told Somalia Report.

The demonstration was the first public reaction after Al-Shabaab announced that it was considering carrying out attacks in Nairobi this week. It followed remarks made by the group spokesman, Sheikh Mohamoud Rage that openly called for attacks against Kenya.

Kenyan police this week released the photos of seven suspects they said received training from AL Shabaab. In the list were John Mwanzia Ngui alias Yahya and David Kihuho Wangechi alias Yusuf who are dead and Eric Achayo Ogada alias Swaleh Ibrahim, Steven Mwanzi Osaka alias Duda Brown, Jeremiah Okumu also known as Duba Black or Mohamed. Others in the list are Sylvester Opiyo Osodo aka Musa, Abbas Hussen Nderito, Ibrahim Ruta also known as Musyoki Kyondi.

The list also identified, Abdulrahman Mutua Daud, Abbas Muhamad Mwai and Juma Ayub Otit as terror suspects shuttling between Somalia and Kenya. The Kenyan police have already asked Kenyan to mind their security in social place like bars, hotel and even supermarkets, say there is the possibility of attacks from Al-Shabaab.

Security Council Meets To Determine What Next For Favorite Failed State
Somalia Flag
Somalia Flag

Somalia and the UN have had a special relationship that can be seen in it's flag, it's demeanor and it's ultimate inability to rise out of chaos after two decades of conflict.

The history of the Horn of Africa and Somalia has been a historical mix of local conflict as well as the victim of international interference. The British, Italian, Ethiopian, American, and the UN have all had a hand in causing both positive and negative events in Somalia's history. Somalia has been able to exist in both its traditional clan/xeer structure and modern imposed structures. Somalis even manage to survive under recent violent actions and mixed inventions like al Shabaab and AMISOM. Somaliland has decided to carve its own path and Puntland has already separated themselves from the TFG.

The last two decades have seen the deaths of at least 400,000 Somalis and the international exodus of those with education or funding. Starvation, terrorism, piracy have taken hold in the vacuum of governance and resources.

Somalia's recent role seems to exist to deflect attention away from other "worse" places like the Congo, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and other failed states. Almost a third of Somali relies on international aid for its survival and most of its population in Mogadishu and the camps are under the direct control of international elements both physically and legally. Although the efforts of the international aid organizations are both Herculean and admirable there are the usual negative consequences of creating a beggar nation and running the country by remote control from Nairobi.

Ethiopia, the U.S. and other international players constantly meddle but never take full ownership in Somalia's affairs.

In some cases agencies like the UN have actually reversed the internal attempts at governance. For example, the UN recently shut down a low cost, indigenous, rapid land based anti-piracy program created by Puntland to quickly end piracy. Instead the UN supports an unwieldy, endless, expensive Russian plan to catch, convict and incarcerate pirates.

The UN, along with major partners like the U.S., continues to be the hand behind AMISOM and the TFG, two very contentious concepts that have not fulfilled their mandate. It could be argued that AMISOM has killed more Somalia than al Shabaab and the TFG has set new African records for infighting, incompetence and divisiveness. The only reason Somalia is not the poorest country in the world (by GDP) is thanks to the greater, poorer populations in Liberia, Burundi, the DRC and Zimbabwe and the tenacity of Somalia and its diaspora.

The only "successes" in the last two decades seems to be locking Somalia in that deadly cycle of underfunded, under managed and underperforming governance with no clear movement except downward for the diminishing population. Recent proposals to simply leave Somalia alone seemed destined for greater success than many of the half-hearted engagement strategies.

Piracy and the growth of Islamic fundamentalism have brought Somalia back into the international spotlight. Thursday's meeting at the UN comes at a good time when it appears that the TFG and AMISOM may be making gains. Insiders will simply chalk up the recent gains as just part of the ebb and flow of conflict, others view it as an opportunity to make good use of the momentum.

The UN Security Council will once again focus on Somalia with a split agenda. Initiatives to curb piracy from China, Russia and other members will be introduced while demands to bolster the underfunded and undermanned AMISOM effort will be brought forward. Russia wants to use a law enforcement approach to curbing piracy. Creating courts, jails and uniform international legislation to make piracy a criminal offense. There is no proof that trying, jailing and punishing pirates has diminished the threat. The United States is considered a much more pragmatic military based approach based on the recent cold blooded murder of four of its citizens. China is trying to incorporate wider thinking and solutions on all three problems: Piracy, terrorism and the lack of governance that allows instability.

Some countries like South Africa want to see the UN replace AMISOM while Ethiopia has taken a far more proactive role in taking military action to route al Shabaab from their border with Somalia. Uganda has been directly attacked by al Shabaab through terrorist acts and the death of its peacekeepers in Mogadishu. Burundi and Kenya have been threatened by the Islamic group and it is clear that regional players have taken matters into their own hands.

Maritime nations like China, Japan, South Korea, India and the neighboring countries along the Indian Ocean have seen the effects of piracy, leading them to a more proactive role in attacking pirates. A growing group of experts and countries are pushing for a land based solution to piracy.

The solutions are clear. Empower Somalis to rid themselves of piracy, create businesses, move unhindered, and defend their homeland. Harness their abhorrence of al Shabaab and allow them to take control of their basic security mechanisms. The current UN arms embargo and thinking has enfeebled the legal entities while ignoring the criminal and terrorist entities.

Somalis given opportunity have shown remarkable business and social acumen, but given bloated ineffective outside rule have never responded well. There are hundreds of thousands of eager Somalis who want the chance to change their country for the better.

It is Somalia Reports earnest desire that the United Nations include Somali's in the decision making that will occur on Friday and not just impose more top down half solutions.

Embattled Terrorist Group Now Makes Final Preparations, Star Rapper Killed
Omar Hammami
Omar Hammami
It's over. At least that is the opinion of the al Shabaab top leadership. Rumors have been flying about where exactly the foreign volunteers called Al-Muhajiroun, will end up after the current U.S. supported/AMISOM/Ethiopian/TFG/Kenyan offensive ends. Despite threats from the leadership to attack Uganda, Burundi and Kenya it appears the tenuous, fractious hold al Shabaab had on Somalia is over. Even their most famous recruit, Omar Hammami from Alabama has been reported killed.

Foreign fighters have been captured by Kenyan police trying to sneak back across the border. The same 200 foriegners have been seen setting up defenses in a suburb 5 kms north of the AMISOM base last week and inside sources report that the leadership have ordered fighters to fall back to Ras Kamboni, a small al Qaeda-friendly port on the extreme southern coast of Somalia. Either way there are not many options for the foreign elements of al Shabaab. Recruitment and press ganging of children and youth from refugee camps continues but motivation, funds and the flow of supplies are tightening up.

From there it is assumed that either a last stand reminiscent of the 2006 operation or a covert marine evacuation to Kenya or Yemen would be the only other option.

New Feature Provides Complete Somalia News Resource

Somalia Report is pleased to announce that you can get all your Somalia and Piracy news from one unique resource. The extensive ground network of Somalia Report now combines with the far reaching news aggregation and photo library of Getty Images to offer a one stop resource for professionals.

Here is your link to bookmark or you can click on the links to the left of the page.

Investigation Reveals Somali's Land Based Anti-Piracy Program Under Attack by UN
On the 10th of December 2010, the Somaliland government announced that they had seized a mysterious plane containing weapons and mercenaries bound for Puntland. Canadian and Somaliland insider Matt Bryden and other members of the UN Monitoring Group quickly arrived in Hargeisa to investigate. Somalia Report has interviewed a number of eyewitnesses and gathered evidence to show that there was much more to this event than published in the media.

Eyewitnesses at the Ambassador Hotel recall Bryden threatening the two South African nationals with serious consequences if they didn't cooperate. It turned out the two terrified captives were telling the truth. They were well known South African journalists on their way to document an anti-piracy training program inside Puntland. The "weapons" on board the plane turned out to be 24 boxes of work uniforms, construction materials and a few mirrors to check for bombs under cars.

Film Crew Leaving Bosasso
©Somalia Report
Film Crew Leaving Bosasso
Somalia Report has learned that not only was the Russian-crewed Antonov plane making a regularly scheduled stop to resupply the second graduating class of around 250 men, but that Bryden and many other high ranking UN and government officials had been briefed on the entire anti-piracy program beforehand in Nairobi. There was no emergency landing, no weapons on board, no mercenaries hidden inside, and no legal reason to detain the aircraft and its passengers. It appears from the initial interviews with key players that the UN had deliberately sabotaged a well-funded, well run, Somali-led, land based anti piracy program.

In Matt Bryden's and the Somaliland government's case they feared that this "Marine" force would be used to attack the long disputed Sool, Cayn and Sanaag region. A recent statement by the Puntland government about "attacking pirates in Somaliland" provided plenty of impetus to look into the activities of this rapidly growing law enforcement group. But there were also plenty of statements about attacking pirates in their coastal lairs. Somehow the bellicose nature of the Puntland government was taken as a direct threat to Somalialand, and not the pirates.

The UN is allowed to severely damage individuals, corporations and groups by shutting down their flow of funds via enforcement of its arms embargo. To prove violation of this embargo only three confidential sources are required to sanction individuals. The arms embargo is deliberately vague and all encompassing but has been proven to be ineffective, time and time again. Al Shabaab holds press conferences brandishing new weapons, even sending out media announcements on their latest graduating class and major players like Ethiopia arm militias like ASWJ with open enthusiasm. Pirates purchase military weapons and munitions with absolute ease and it would be difficult to find a single documented instance in which the arms embargo has dampened the violent intent of Somali clans, insurgents, criminals or militias.

In the case of Saracen International, they were openly operating as law enforcement trainers with recruits given existing Puntland weapons. There is however leeway in the UN arms embargo verbage to make training, or even Boy Scout-style work clothes as "military equipment."

What Bryden, the UN and key U.S. Embassy staff in Nairobi knew long before the plane landed was that a regional donor through a zakat fund wanted to create a land-based solution to defeat piracy and terrorism in Somalia. After years of ineffective action by the TFG, AMISOM, UN and foreign nations, this regional donor country or countries would no longer stand by as piracy and terrorism spread across the region. Instead of the UN supporting this program, Bryden decided to shut it down. The UN was even invited to the graduation of the first recruits in Bosaso.

It seems that the government of Puntland, long accused of working with pirates, was actually training a 1000 man anti piracy force using South African and other African trainers supplied by Saracen International. The effort included vehicles, aircraft, boats and a long term humanitarian program designed to keep the pirates out of their coastal strongholds and rebuild the war and tsunami-shattered economy.

Saracen Contract With TFG
Saracen Contract With TFG

Saracen was given a contract to protect the under siege TFG and train a large contingent of personal protection to provide security for the elected President. This signed contract was leaked by the Speaker of the House (without the actual signatures) and voted down in the ongoing spat between the TFG President and the Parliament. Saracen was suddenly catapulted into the Somali media spotlight as mercenaries even though their role was clearly that of trainers.

Saracen is known in Africa as a Ugandan-based security company that has been around since 1995. Bill Pelser, the owner of Saracen and his Ugandan partners have vehemently denied any association with this program. Further investigation by the media revealed that the Saracen company in Puntland is actually a separate entity based out of Lebanon but run by a well known South African security specialist, Lafras Luitingh.

Luitingh was a former officer in the South African military and one of the founders of Executive Outcomes. "EO" was not only known for their indigenous training and fighting capability in Angola and Sierra Leone, but also for being one of the few positive game changers when chaos descended. It appeared that Saracen has a fully legal, executed security contract with the official government of Somalia but that was not going to prevent the UN from destroying the program

Nonetheless there has always been a narrative of mercenaries stealing natural resources which shadowed EO due to the offshore oil in Angola and the diamonds in Sierra Leone. In Somalia one would be hard pressed to find resources worth stealing in the short term and without major infrastructure investment but it didn't stop Somalis and the world press about opining on Saracen's real or imagined motives. The reality is that Somali's were being trained to protect their own country, inside their own country by men who had hard experience in Africa's dirty wars. The focus on law enforcement, humanitarian assistance and rebuilding basic infrastructure was ignored by the UN who hires the exact same people to provide security to its own operations. It could be argued that the use of the Ethiopian army or even the UN paid Ugandan and Burundian mercenaries inside Somalia is what created and maintains the al Shabaab nightmare for Somalis.

What made the Saracen contract controversial was that this was a Puntland-based initiative and not within the usual UN/TFG/AU/Mogadishu dysfunctional codependent sphere of influence. In other words what scared the UN was that this program might actually work. Secretary of State's Hillary Clinton's call to support the Mogadishu based AMISOM to defeat piracy shows just how far from reality the U.S. State Department is on defeating piracy. In the face of the massive failure of a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and three other navy ships to save four innocent hostages from a gaggle of pirates, public mood has hardened. The media and blogs are filling up with calls for a "land based solution" to piracy. Even the U.S., suffering from Black Hawk Down syndrome, may be seeing the damage of doing nothing. As a New York Times article quotes an anonymous bureaucrat: “We get it,” said one State Department official. “We get the need to recalibrate.”

The popular proposed solution seems to be one that takes its structure from the early 1800's American attacks on the Barbary pirates. A land based effort using a small handful of U.S. marines, hired mercenaries and locals to wipe out pirate nests and restore bandit controlled lands to their citizens.

The truth is that the solution already exists. All the UN and the international community have to do is step out of the way and let the Somalis take care of the pirates themselves.