Remember Qana…Israel’s Turning Point?

Remember Qana…Israel’s Turning Point?

Mohamad Shmaysani Readers Number : 102

17/04/2009 They could have been fathers and mothers today telling their children the stories of what’s right and what’s wrong.
They could have been grandmothers and grandfathers.
They could have been vivid young men and young women working on their future.

106 people could have been anything other than mere remains and anyplace other than under the ground of Qana.

13 years ago, Qana was the scene of an obscene massacre caused by one of Israel’s “Grapes of Wrath.”

Few know that the name the Grapes of Wrath has religious implications. Israeli Rabbi Moshe Cohen explained that the word “grapes” came from the fact that grapes occupied the first position among the seven fruits mentioned in the Talmud, which means that the “grapes of wrath” means anger of the Jewish people.

Israel had bombed the UNIFIL headquarters in the southern town of Qana with “pinpoint accuracy” just after dozens of Lebanese refugees had sheltered there. More than half of the 106 martyrs were children.
One really must have a heart of stone not to feel compassion for those children who became numbers on plastic bags and in some cases small body parts in carpets.

The gruesome pictures of the massacre were published in most Arab newspapers. In the West, however, publishers spared their readers the terrible pictures of how an ill-minded entity steels the future from children. True they respect the dead, but did they respect them when they were alive. The 155mm shell that killed those children was made in the US, and so was the missile that killed the children of the Nabatiyeh massacre on that same day and the children of the Mansouri ambulance massacre earlier and the many Israeli slaughters to follow.

Israel said it was returning fire at Hezbollah and that technical failures might have occurred.

The UN appointed military advisor Major-General Franklin van Kappen of the Netherlands to investigate the massacre. He said in his conclusion that: “a) The distribution of impacts at Qana shows two distinct concentrations, whose mean points of impact are about 140 meters apart. If the guns were converged, as stated by the Israeli forces, there should have been only one main point of impact.
b) The pattern of impacts is inconsistent with a normal overshooting of the declared target (the mortar site) by a few rounds, as suggested by the Israeli forces. c) During the shelling, there was a perceptible shift in the weight of fire from the mortar site to the United Nations compound. d) The distribution of point impact detonations and air bursts makes it improbable that impact fuses and proximity fuses were employed in random order, as stated by the Israeli forces.
e) There were no impacts in the second target area which the Israeli forces claim to have shelled.
f) Contrary to repeated denials, two Israeli helicopters and a remotely piloted vehicle were present in the Qana area at the time of the shelling. While the possibility cannot be ruled out completely, it is unlikely that the shelling of the United Nations compound was the result of gross technical and/or procedural errors.”

Then U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali released the report after coming under severe pressure not to release it Shamefully though the U.N. Security Council has refused to act on the report or to hold the Israelis accountable. Of course the American veto threat and tremendous pressures upon Boutros-Ghali and member states at the U.N. was behind this further demonstration of U.N. impotence and cowardice. For his crime, Ghali was later sacrificed at the altar of the Zionist masters who controlled the Oval Office.

Israel responded by categorically rejecting the findings of the UN report and insisted that “their investigation” has shown that the UN position was hit by artillery fire “due to incorrect targeting based on erroneous data.”

Israel needed to get rid of the July 1993 understanding that put the conflict between occupation forces and the resistance in its absolute military form, excluding civilians from military operations. Moreover, then Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Perez was accused by the Likud and his own Labor party of helplessness in dealing with the Lebanese resistance attacks. Perez was facing election before the summer of 1996. With an American blessing, he exploited the international sympathy with Israel in the wake of the Palestinian resistance attacks. This sympathy was established in the Sharm el-Sheikh summit in Egypt on the 13th of March 1996, which gave Israel full rein to crush resistance forces in Palestine and Lebanon; a plan was set.

Israeli occupation forces opened artillery fire at the southern village of Yater and killed several people. It was the first fruit of the Israeli plot, grapes of wrath.  Bit by bit, yet in a fast pace, Israeli artillery fire and air raids expanded to reach the Bekaa region and southern populated areas. The Israeli fire was accompanied by a psychological warfare assumed by the (Voice of the South) radio, controlled by the pro-Israeli militias of chief collaborator Antoine Lahed. Beirut’s southern suburbs were targeted with four laser-guided missiles near Hezbollah’s Shoura council announcing the beginning of a fierce war. The party’s Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah will retaliate to the Israeli aggression by bombing settlements in northern occupied Palestine.

And so it happened.

Rounds of Katyusha missiles fell on the settlements of Keryat Shmonah, Nahariya and Metula.
On the fifth day of the aggression, it became evident that the initiative was in the hands of the resistance.
The Israeli command realized that “grapes of wrath” had backlashed. To escape this situation, it intensified military assaults, while the resistance raised its tone and threatened to attack more settlements. In the meantime, Damascus, Tehran and Beirut were confronting the Israeli-American axis, while Paris and Moscow which intervened for calm down had their initiatives hindered by the American demand that concerned parties sign a document calling in one of its article for the deletion of resolution 425; the UN resolution that demanded Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon. Washington was also protecting Israel at the Security Council by vetoing any resolution that condemned Israeli aggressions against Lebanon, including the massacres in Qana, Nabatiyeh and other places.

Realizing Israel was heading to abyss, the Americans launched their own initiative.

Then US Ambassador to Lebanon Richard Jones told the Lebanese government of martyr Rafik Hariri that to end Israeli hostilities in Lebanon, the resistance had to stop attacking Israeli forces in the south, whereas Israeli forces preserved the right to attack Hezbollah positions if they attacked “northern Israel.”
Lebanon seemed to be fighting this war alone, amid Arab silence.
Beirut and the Lebanese backed the resistance and Lebanon’s allies were working on a cease-fire. The Americans acknowledged that Sayyed Nasrallah had become a major player in any attempt to reach a cease-fire.

Israel’s goal to crush and disarm Hezbollah had turned into a request to stop firing Katyusha missiles at settlements in return for a stop of Israel’s military campaign.

Then US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, failed to press for Israel’s demands. After seven days of political wrangling, Christopher called up Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Hariri for a meeting in Damascus.  The April understanding, as it was later known, announced the end of the 16-day Israeli aggression. The signed understanding stated that Israel and its collaborators would not fire at civilian targets and the resistance would not attack “northern Israel” with Katyusha missiles or any other kind of weapons. The understanding included an article to form a monitoring group made up of observers from the US, France, Syria, Lebanon and Israel to oversee the implementation of the understanding.

Operation grapes of wrath ended and the Israeli military assessment concluded it was a failed operation while the political aftermath saw Shimon Peres defeated in Israeli elections.
Ten years later, Israel launched an unprecedented war against Lebanon, in yet another attempt to crush Hezbollah. In the “Second Lebanon War” Qana was again the turning point that changed the course of the war. Israel committed a massacre there killing dozens of people, mainly children and women, hiding from Israeli bombs.
This historical village in south Lebanon has contributed at least twice in hitting the last nails in the coffin of Israel.

According to the Winograd report, the Second Israeli war constituted a humiliating defeat to Israel.
Religiously speaking, the Israelis believe that the beginning of their entity’s end starts with their first defeat – which took place in 2000 and then enhanced by another resounding defeat in 2006.

The resistance remains strong and Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s promises are fulfilled. Today, despite attempt to distort the resistance and Sayyed Nasrallah’s image, his eminence’s pledge, in case of a new Israeli war, is to let the world witness new surprises that would change the course of the battle and the face of the whole region.

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Israel’s Grapes of Wrath 1996
Israel’s Grapes of Wrath 1996
Israel’s Grapes of Wrath 1996
Israel’s Grapes of Wrath 1996
Israel’s Grapes of Wrath 1996
Israel’s Grapes of Wrath 1996
Israel’s Grapes of Wrath 1996
Israel’s Grapes of Wrath 1996

Taliban Exploit Class Rifts in Pakistan

Taliban Exploit Class Rifts in Pakistan

Naveed Ali/Associated Press

Around 3,000 people gathered for a rally in the Swat Valley of Pakistan on April 10 in support of the bill paving way for the implementation of Islamic law there

Taliban Exploit Class Rifts in PakistanRashid Iqbal/European Pressphoto Agency
Supporters of Islamic law on Thursday in the Swat Valley, a Pakistani region where the Taliban exploited class rifts to gain control.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — The Taliban have advanced deeper into Pakistan by engineering a class revolt that exploits profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants, according to government officials and analysts here.

The strategy cleared a path to power for the Taliban in the Swat Valley, where the government allowed Islamic law to be imposed this week, and it carries broad dangers for the rest of Pakistan, particularly the militants’ main goal, the populous heartland of Punjab Province.

In Swat, accounts from those who have fled now make clear that the Taliban seized control by pushing out about four dozen landlords who held the most power.

To do so, the militants organized peasants into armed gangs that became their shock troops, the residents, government officials and analysts said.

The approach allowed the Taliban to offer economic spoils to people frustrated with lax and corrupt government even as the militants imposed a strict form of Islam through terror and intimidation.

“This was a bloody revolution in Swat,” said a senior Pakistani official who oversees Swat, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by the Taliban. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it sweeps the established order of Pakistan.”

The Taliban’s ability to exploit class divisions adds a new dimension to the insurgency and is raising alarm about the risks to Pakistan, which remains largely feudal.

Unlike India after independence in 1947, Pakistan maintained a narrow landed upper class that kept its vast holdings while its workers remained subservient, the officials and analysts said. Successive Pakistani governments have since failed to provide land reform and

even the most basic forms of education and health care. Avenues to advancement for the vast majority of rural poor do not exist.

Analysts and other government officials warn that the strategy executed in Swat is easily transferable to Punjab, saying that the province, where militant groups are already showing strength, is ripe for the same social upheavals that have convulsed Swat and the tribal areas.

Mahboob Mahmood, a Pakistani-American lawyer and former classmate of President Obama’s, said, “The people of Pakistan are psychologically ready for a revolution.”

Sunni militancy is taking advantage of deep class divisions that have long festered in Pakistan, he said. “The militants, for their part, are promising more than just proscriptions on music and schooling,” he said. “They are also promising Islamic justice, effective government and economic redistribution.”

The Taliban strategy in Swat, an area of 1.3 million people with fertile orchards, vast plots of timber and valuable emerald mines, unfolded in stages over five years, analysts said.

The momentum of the insurgency built in the past two years, when the Taliban, reinforced by seasoned fighters from the tribal areas with links to Al Qaeda, fought the Pakistani Army to a standstill, said a Pakistani intelligence agent who works in the Swat region.

The insurgents struck at any competing point of power: landlords and elected leaders — who were usually the same people — and an underpaid and unmotivated police force, said Khadim Hussain, a linguistics and communications professor at Bahria University in Islamabad, the capital.

At the same time, the Taliban exploited the resentments of the landless tenants, particularly the fact that they had many unresolved cases against their bosses in a slow-moving and corrupt justice system, Mr. Hussain and residents who fled the area said.

Their grievances were stoked by a young militant, Maulana Fazlullah, who set up an FM radio station in 2004 to appeal to the disenfranchised. The broadcasts featured easy-to-understand examples using goats, cows, milk and grass. By 2006, Mr. Fazlullah had formed a ragtag force of landless peasants armed by the Taliban, said Mr. Hussain and former residents of Swat.

At first, the pressure on the landlords was subtle. One landowner was pressed to take his son out of an English-speaking school offensive to the Taliban. Others were forced to make donations to the Taliban.

Then, in late 2007, Shujaat Ali Khan, the richest of the landowners, his brothers and his son, Jamal Nasir, the mayor of Swat, became targets.

After Shujaat Ali Khan, a senior politician in the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, narrowly missed being killed by a roadside bomb, he fled to London. A brother, Fateh Ali Mohammed, a former senator, left, too, and now lives in Islamabad. Mr. Nasir also fled.

Later, the Taliban published a “most wanted” list of 43 prominent names, said Muhammad Sher Khan, a landlord who is a politician with the Pakistan Peoples Party, and whose name was on the list. All those named were ordered to present themselves to the Taliban courts or risk being killed, he said. “When you know that they will hang and kill you, how will you dare go back there?” Mr. Khan, hiding in Punjab, said in a telephone interview. “Being on the list meant ‘Don’t come back to Swat.’ ”

One of the main enforcers of the new order was Ibn-e-Amin, a Taliban commander from the same area as the landowners, called Matta. The fact that Mr. Amin came from Matta, and knew who was who there, put even more pressure on the landowners, Mr. Hussain said.

According to Pakistani news reports, Mr. Amin was arrested in August 2004 on suspicion of having links to Al Qaeda and was released in November 2006. Another Pakistani intelligence agent said Mr. Amin often visited a madrasa in North Waziristan, the stronghold of Al Qaeda in the tribal areas, where he apparently received guidance.

Each time the landlords fled, their tenants were rewarded. They were encouraged to cut down the orchard trees and sell the wood for their own profit, the former residents said. Or they were told to pay the rent to the Taliban instead of their now absentee bosses.

Two dormant emerald mines have reopened under Taliban control. The militants have announced that they will receive one-third of the revenues.

Since the Taliban fought the military to a truce in Swat in February, the militants have deepened their approach and made clear who is in charge.

When provincial bureaucrats visit Mingora, Swat’s capital, they must now follow the Taliban’s orders and sit on the floor, surrounded by Taliban bearing weapons, and in some cases wearing suicide bomber vests, the senior provincial official said.

In many areas of Swat the Taliban have demanded that each family give up one son for training as a Taliban fighter, said Mohammad Amad, executive director of a nongovernmental group, the Initiative for Development and Empowerment Axis.

A landlord who fled with his family last year said he received a chilling message last week. His tenants called him in Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province, which includes Swat, to tell him his huge house was being demolished, he said in an interview here.

The most crushing news was about his finances. He had sold his fruit crop in advance, though at a quarter of last year’s price. But even that smaller yield would not be his, his tenants said, relaying the Taliban message. The buyer had been ordered to give the money to the Taliban instead.

Somalia: Puntland home of the pirates?

Somalia: Puntland home of the pirates?


One man finds corruption in a part of Somalia like Puntland:

Not surprisingly, the official line among Puntland´s government ministers was that “piracy is a global problem that found headway in Somalia´s porous waters in recent years.” One after another, they told me that Puntland isn´t tooled to combat this problem, because pirates are well-armed, well-financed and multi-jurisdictional. (That´s to say that pirates operate in places like Haradheere in central Somalia).

But surprisingly, and below the official line, there´s a wide belief among Puntlanders that “pirates [they don´t even use this word!] are heroes, because they are protecting Somalia´s unguarded resources, looted by international companies.”

Quite the contrary, so many people, including former government officials and journalists told me that pirates have deep connections in the highest ranks in Puntland´s regime. In fact, people could list names of government ministers whose own militia are the pirates.

Few weeks ago, when pirates kidnapped a Japanese vessel outside Somalia´s international waters (which is quite routine, and, remarkably, counter-argument to those who say that pirates are “guarding” our resources), U.S. and French naval ships cornered the pirates near Boosaaso, the business capital of Puntland. The pirates, I was told, were able to disembark from the kidnapped ship every night to chew Khat and hang out with friends and family members, while other “substitute” pirates replaced them!

Eventually, the ordeal ended with the Japanese tanker being released unharmed, and pirates getting away with an undisclosed amount of ransom. The pirates´ front-men are senior government officials, who typically convince kidnapped ships to pay ransom (usually less then than pirates originally demanded). I found that this scenario occurred no less than three dozen times in the last few years.

n addition to piracy, human trafficking is pandemic in Puntland. More than 35,000 people have perished since 1991 trying to cross the short, but dangerous distance between Boosaaso and Yemen, using makeshift rafts.

Even back in the days when President Yusuf was the president of Puntland, the administration there made a noise that it will crack down on traffickers, whenever the international attention was zeroing on the issue.

However, hardly anything has been done. In fact, human traffickers, who like pirates have deep connections to the corridors of power, have flourished. In Boosaaso and nearby towns, journalists and other sources sent me the photos of the homes of well-known human traffickers and pirates, whose villas and latest-model Land Cruisers have dazzled me.

Last week, when Gwen Le Gouil, a French journalist tried to do an investigative report on human trafficking, he was kidnapped for nine grueling days. Remarkably, he was seized on his way to Shimbiraale, the infamous village known for its human and weapons traffickers. Insiders told me that his kidnappers were Puntland intelligence officers associated with both human traffickers and pirates.

Who Finances Somali Pirates?

Who Finances Somali Pirates?

Posted by Hannah Bell in General Discussion
Mon Apr 13th 2009, 11:58 AM
Who Finances Somali Pirates?

Piracy has start-up & maintenance costs. Boats, guns & men cost money, & historically, pirates were often financed by capitalists who took a cut of pirate ventures or gained politically from them.

There’s the obvious case of privateers, pirates in the service of governments. But even famous “independent” pirates often worked for behind-the-scenes money-men. For example, Captain Kidd was backed by some English lords & Robert Livingston the Elder of NY, first Lord of Livingston Manor (160,000 acres), & ancestor of a good fraction of the US Social Register.

This 2008 UN Security Council report confirms the existence of financiers:…

“In many respects, the organization of piracy operations is guided more by the
principles of private enterprise than military strategy and planning. Financiers,
including Boyah and a number of other prominent business and political figures
with fisheries assets, advance the seed money for the maritime militias to function.
Typically they provide the boats, fuel, arms and ammunition, communications
equipment and the salaries of the pirates, in order that they scout and seize vessels.
Increasingly, these advance teams appear to be benefiting from intelligence provided
by contacts who monitor major ports in neighbouring countries.

…the financier must identify a sponsor (or team of sponsors) who will underwrite the
costs of the operation in exchange for a share of the ransom. Once this is achieved,
the financier directs the captured vessel to a “refuge” port, where his ground team
can ensure provisions and local protection pending payment of ransom. The team
may also include negotiators with foreign language skills, local officials and elders.
Eventually, a host of other actors also become associated with the operation: senior
government officials who provide political cover and protection, money launderers
who help to transfer ransom payments or exchange unwanted currency notes…”

According to the report, in 2006 there were just “a few dozen” pirates, based in fishing communities, rooted in grievances over foreign fish poaching & waste dumping. They evolved into 1000-1500, linked through clan & militia networks. The financiers & sponsors are said to take about half the ransom money, the pirates 30%.

Thus, the pirates are no longer (if they ever completely were) just a bunch of poor fisher-guys who decided to commandeer a ship. They work for bigger fish who outfit & command them.

Somalia’s a poor country. Per capita GDP = $600. 40% of GDP comes from livestock, 10% industry. Livestock & bananas are 65% of export earnings. Most Somalis live at subsistence level. So where do the “financiers & sponsors” get their capital?

Somalian spheres of influence (info from the UN report)

Somalia’s about the size of France but has a coastline as long as the US eastern seaboard.

It’s been the site of proxy wars almost continually since the 1800s. It’s not a unified “country”. Control divides into rough thirds.

Northeast: Somaliland

Somaliland in the northeast has declared independence from the rest of Somalia. It gets funds from the European Commission, the British government, the United Nations, & cooperates with & reportedly receives military training from Ethiopia (US ally). It has an intelligence service, which receives funding from Britain.

North-central: The TFG

Somalia’s northern & central territories are semi-autonomous, in loose federation under the loose central authority of the Transitional Federal Government. The TFG/Somali police forces are mostly paid by the UN. Somalia’s TFG area has an intelligence, “counter-terrorism,” & policing service “largely funded by foreign governments,” the only one named being the US.

The Puntland State within this federation has its *own* security & intelligence services (trained by Ethiopia), The US set up the intelligence services, & a private British military company (Hart Security Maritime, akin to corps like Blackwater) set up its Coast Guard. Puntland is a site of oil potential.

The Islamic South

Somalia’s southern states are loosely controlled by the Islamic Courts Union. The UN report doesn’t consider this region’s administration legitimate. It’s characterized as “Opposition to the Transitional Federal Government”.

The South is allied with Eritrea, Ethiopia’s enemy. Backers of Eritrea in its (70s-90s) independence fight with Ethiopia included China, Syria, & Egypt.

The report says the various southern opposition groups are funded by Eritrea, businesses, the Somalian diaspora, clans/militia, & ‘al-qaeda’.

Thousands of Ethiopian troops were, at the time of the report, stationed around Mogadishu, a flash-point in the disputed territory roughly dividing north & south Somalia.

Who Finances Somali Pirates?

The two main base sites for pirates are Puntland & Galmudug, both inside the TFG sphere of influence. The individuals mentioned as pirate leaders a/o financiers in the UN report are:

Farah Hirsi Kulan “Boyah”: Based in Puntland. No other information.

Garaad Mohamud Mohamed

According to the UN report, based in Harardhere, Galmudug. However, Global Security says he operates around the Southern Islamic sphere of influence: “The National Volunteer Coast Guard (NVCG), commanded by Garaad Mohamed, is said to specialize in intercepting small boats and fishing vessels around Kismayu on the southern coast.” (To whom would those “small fishing boats” around Kismayo belong?)… .

Mohamed Abdi Hassan “Afweyne”:

Based in Harardhere, Galmudug. Supposedly member of Suleiman clan, one of the subclans of clan Hawiye (Habar Gidir). Hawiye is the supra-clan of the former Prime Minister (2004-2007) of Somalia, Ali Mohamed Ghedi, who plans to run for office this year.

Mohamed Abdi Hassan (‘Afweyne’) or a relation, is mentioned in this 2006 report:

“On Monday August 14, according to Mail & Guardian, Middle East Online, Nasdaq and the BBC, the Islamists announced that they had taken over two coastal towns, Eldher and Harardheere, which had been used as pirate bases. As the Islamists moved in, pirates loyal to regional warlord Abdi Mohamed Afweyne moved out.”…

So the pirate leaders are based in regions funded by western governments, nominally controlled by western-approved compradors.

Furthermore, the UN report represents the pirates & their leaders as actors who also involved in arms & other smuggling. The pirate payoff networks are said to reach high into government & military officialdom.

They don’t seem to be aligned with islamic forces in the south, e.g.:…

One of the UN group’s recommendations refers to pirate “sponsors” in the Puntland government:

“the Monitoring Group believes that interdiction of arms trafficking across the Gulf of Aden and the imposition of targeted sanctions against key pirate leaders and their sponsors in the Puntland administration would represent a significant contribution to international piracy efforts.”

Though the pirate networks are clan-based, they can’t exactly be said to be rooted in “tradition”. Tradition has been undercut & distorted by the influence of outside money & power, per Norway’s independent monitoring agency, Country of Origin Information Centre (Landinfo):

“Clans are still important, but it is evident that clan loyalty is superseded by political, ideological and international conditions…one needs to examine the external power relations and the material benefits associated with such changes. And these have been exceptionally dynamic in the past decade. The clan system is amazingly adaptable to the changing demands of the international community, as well as the challenges of statelessness and pastoralism. In fact there is little doubt that the proliferation, fragmentation, and – in some cases – consolidation of clan identities were strongly influenced by the presence of outside, resource-rich groups, such as the United Nations and Western development agencies.'”… .

In other words, big foreign money corrupts poor countries & destroys traditional folkways & authority in the same way drug dealers with big money corrupt poor communities in the US.

So it appears that western countries, wittingly or unwittingly, provide one of the major finance & influence streams for the pirates.

This commentary from another conflict gives food for thought:

“Since February, when the foreign aid was cut, the Palestinian Authority has been unable to pay salaries to its 160,000 employees. These workers provide direct livelihood to…almost a third of the population, and if their salaries are not paid…the Palestinian economy will totally collapse.

Both Israel and the United States are now thinking of ways to alleviate the dire situation—after all, no wants to be blamed for producing a famine. Together they have adopted a scheme that could be called the “Somalia Plan.”

The idea is to transfer salaries directly to the bank accounts of those 90,000 PA workers who are employed by civil institutions… The remaining 70,000 Palestinians who work for one of numerous security apparatuses…will not receive salaries. This will keep the economy just above the famine level, leaving 70,000 armed men with nothing but frustration and anger.

Under such conditions, a struggle is sure to break out among the different Palestinian warlords over the scant resources in the Occupied Territories…

If the existing skirmishes among the different factions develop into full-blown battle, it may very well be that certain segments of the Palestinian population will go hungry. Yet, it’s the warlords or faction leaders, rather than Israel or the United States, who will be blamed for the human catastrophe. We are, in other words, witnessing Somalia in the making…”…

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A Taste of AFRICOM: Somalia did find peace and tried to stop piracy until the US bombed the shit out of it in 2006

A Taste of AFRICOM: Somalia did find peace and tried to stop piracy until the US bombed the shit out of it in 2006

There has been a lot of talk lately about Somali pirates, so it’s probably a good time for a little summary.


In 2006 “the CIA propagated that Al-Qaeda had made its base in Somalia where three senior leaders were residing. CIA then encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia in support of weak TFG forces (Transitional Federal Government) against UIC fighters (Union of Islamic Courts) and promised to provide intelligence and air cover. Ethiopian troops backed by USA invaded Somalia on 28 December 2006. The UIC was quickly defeated in a sweeping offensive and the six-month peace period was shattered. It was believed that the UIC leadership fled into Kenya or to Yemen and the hard-line fighters cached their arms and melded back into their clans leaving the mostly untrained, new recruits to face the Ethiopian troops. Soon after the UIC rout, two US air strikes targeted alleged Al-Qaeda bases in southern Somalia on 13 January 2007 but only innocent civilians got killed.”

“‘My four-year-old boy was killed in the strike,’ Mohamed Mahmud Burale said. ‘The plane was firing at other areas in Ras Kamboni. We could see smoke from the area. We also heard 14 massive explosions.’”

“The air strikes came 16 days after Ethiopian forces entered Somalia to back pro-government troops driving out an Islamist movement that had taken control of much of the country from the weak transitional administration.”

click to enlarge – source

The Islamist movement that US and Ethiopian forces were attacking were the same people that had been trying to prevent Somali pirates from seizing ships:

In 2008 “the Islamist fighters attacked the pirates in Hobyo, 450 kilometres (270 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu … just after they had released a Jordanian-flagged cargo ship seized nearly a week earlier. ‘Two Islamists and several pirates died in the fighting which lasted more than an hour,’ one of the elders, Abdinasir Diriye, told AFP by telephone. An Islamist leader said four pirates and two Islamists had been killed in the shoot-out, adding that they had also arrested several of the pirates… Local elders had said Islamist fighters had threatened to attack the pirates if they did not release the ship.”

click to enlarge – source

Due to the tribal organization of Somalia and the lack of a central government, combined with Somalia’s location at the Horn of Africa, conditions were ripe for the growth of piracy in the early 1990s. Since the collapse of the state, boats illegally fishing in Somali waters were a common sight. Pirates at first were interested in securing the waters before businessmen and militias became involved. Acts of piracy temporarily subsided following the rise of the Islamic Courts Union in 2006. However, pirate activity began to increase after Ethiopia invaded Somalia in December 2006.”

It’s important to point out that “the radical Islamists in Somalia never had much following until the Somali people became aware that an outside power was supporting the corrupt and thuggish military chieftains. The popularity of the Islamist movement then surged, allowing the Islamists to take over much of the country. In sum, where no problem with radical Islamists previously existed, the U.S. government helped create one.”

For the Somali people, the Ethiopian invasion of December 2006 could not have started at a worse time. Defeating the Union of Islamic Courts and propping up the Transitional Federal Government was Ethiopia’s immediate rationale for invading Somalia. The larger goal was to forge a partnership between Washington and Addis Ababa in order to execute the ‘war on terror.’”:

“To keep the invasion and Africa’s worst humanitarian catastrophe going, heavy and modern weapons, including airplanes were used. One was a United States Air Force AC-130 gunship that attacked and killed Somali villagers and countless livestock in the hunt for three foreign men suspected for the 1998 bombing of American embassies in Africa, who yet remain at large.”


The shear madness of firing artillery from navy destroyers and gunships to try and kill two or three people in a town occupied by thousands of civilians, is only surpassed by the indifference displayed by the US military, the US media, and the US citizenry as to the number of innocent civilians being killed and displaced. How many civilians did the United States kill in these bombardments?

In January 2007 more than 100 people were killed in US bombings in just one week, and in April, just three short months later, four days of fierce fighting between Ethiopian-backed government forces and Islamic insurgents killed 381 people.

It is beyond my understanding how killing nomads and displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians was going to make Somalia, Ethiopia or the United States any safer. Of course according to many analysts, this US led war in Somalia was really just about oil and resources, not about Islamic extremists.


Although Africa has long been known to be rich in oil, extracting it hadn’t seemed worth the effort and risk until recently. But with the price of Middle Eastern crude skyrocketing, and advancing technology making reserves easier to tap, the region has become the scene of a competition between major powers that recalls the 19th-century scramble for colonization. Already, the United States imports more of its oil from Africa than from Saudi Arabia, and China, too, looks to the continent for its energy security.”

Since it was formed two years ago, the US African Command (AFRICOM) has been very busy creating death and destruction in Africa in an attempt to obtain control of precious resources, which is why the war in Somalia is expanding to the rest of Africa.

Even though “Africa is united in rejecting US requests for a military headquarters” inside Africa, there are reports that “from oil rich northern Angola up to Nigeria, from the Gulf of Guinea to Morocco and Algeria, from the Horn of Africa down to Kenya and Uganda, and over the pipeline routes from Chad to Cameroon in the west, and from Sudan to the Red Sea in the east, US admirals and generals have been landing and taking off, meeting with local officials. They’ve conducted feasibility studies, concluded secret agreements, and spent billions from their secret budgets.” This is the future that awaits Africa with AFRICOM and the agenda to control the “oil, and the diamonds, and the uranium, and the coltan.”

If you find the idea that Africa can become bloodier than it is inaccessible, then consider this: Contrary to popular belief, the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa is not Darfur, it’s Somalia, and it all started in 2006, when the United States and Ethiopia started a war with Somalia, ending six months of the only peaceful period Somalis had known for years. The end result has been the same as all other wars that the United States has started this century. Not only is Somalia devastated but the war is spreading.


So while our Western Mainstream Media continues to feed us government sanctioned news, we should remember why and how Somalia became a failed State, some of the reasons as to why Somali pirates have become so active in the region, and we should never forget that it was the Union of Islamic Court fighters, the same organization that the United States bombed the shit out of in 2006 all the way up to 2008, that initially tried to prevent Somali pirates from seizing ships off the coast of Africa.

Note: A lot more discussion on AFRICOM will follow in the future.

Cowering before the Taliban

Cowering before the Taliban

By Cyril Almeida

Many have written of their horror at the pact with the butchers of Swat, the grotesqueness of signing a Sharia deal with men who stand outside the pale of any religion. —File photo

Many have written of their horror at the pact with the butchers of Swat, the grotesqueness of signing a Sharia deal with men who stand outside the pale of any religion. —File photo

IN this wretched, unfortunate land, anger and despair have been wasted emotions. After all, while we may never have known how to fix things, at least we could be relatively sure that they wouldn’t get much worse.

But as things begin to fall apart, the assumptions of yore are crumbling before our eyes. And the good and the great – the few that there are – are on the retreat. Many have written of their horror at the pact with the butchers of Swat, the grotesqueness of signing a Sharia deal with men who stand outside the pale of any religion. But it’s something else that has horrified me: the absence of unqualified rejections.

Listen carefully to what the critics are saying. The butchers of Swat are not men of religion. You can’t trust them. You can’t force them to give up their ways. They will only grow stronger.

It’s all very carefully calibrated. Cause minimal offence, upset no sensibilities, avoid stepping on toes. Can no one in this country stand up and say this: we do not want to live in a society where a man, woman or animal is flogged, where anyone’s limb is hacked off, where anyone is stoned. Period.

It doesn’t matter who is demanding it or why. Be it the purest of hearts or the most evil of men; be it with the best of intentions or the worst.

We do not want to live in a society where such punishments have the sanction of the state. Period.

How did we get to this point where it is so difficult for anyone to just say that, and only that? Without qualifications, without apologies, without lowering his voice.

We do not want to live in a society where anyone is flogged, where anyone’s limb is hacked off, where anyone is stoned. Period.

When did it become a radical idea to simply state we don’t want to live in the imagined land of the Taliban? And this is where many get it wrong – that the Taliban are reverting to an ideal. That they are going back to a glorious past. That they are going back to an Islamic past.

Friend Rafia Zakaria writing in The Hindu has laid bare the inherent fakeness of the Taliban project. I can do no better than quote her.

‘It is necessary first to appreciate the imagined Islam of the Taliban as an act of construction rather than reversion. Doing away with hundreds of years of jurisprudence of classical Islamic law, of administrative procedures and methods of reasoning, of sources of law and juristic analysis, the Taliban have redefined Sharia as a performative tableau rather than a jurisprudential exercise.’

‘An entire judicial system thus is reduced to the application of hadd punishments, floggings, beatings and amputations. Thus the qazi, arguably the most integral of those involved in justice provision, is nearly always invisible, while the crowd, the victim and those meting out a punishment play a central role. Justice is redefined as a means to subjugate and punish, with the entire collective crowd partaking in its … enactment.’

After the flogging video sent shock waves around the world, a predictable debate started here. Was the video real or fake? Was it the work of westernised, secular, illegitimate people trying to sabotage peace? Some denounced it as un-Islamic. But here’s what distressed me: otherwise sensible voices decided to take on the Taliban on their terms.

The flogging was wrong because the girl’s guilt wasn’t determined properly. The process was flawed. There was no trial. The punishment wasn’t administered properly. The wrong number of lashes was served.

And then, helpfully, the right process was laid out by these critics. Well, if they had done this or they had done that and followed this particular rule or that particular principle, then the punishment would … would what? Be acceptable?

How about a simple, we won’t accept such a country under any circumstances? Doesn’t matter if the right process or the right whip or the right intention is present.

How did we arrive at this point? Trite answers abound. We’re regressing. We’re uneducated. We have lost our way. Perhaps. But there is an underlying problem, one that isn’t sexy or simple enough to attract much attention.

Ejaz Haider first set me thinking about it a few years ago. We in Pakistan have still not resolved first-order issues of the state. The basic stuff. How is power to be divided between the various institutions of the state; what is the raison d’être of the state; what are society’s grundnorms; what is the social contract on the basis of which the state and its people are to interact. Simply, we haven’t yet figured out the framework within which we are to solve what we consider our real problems.

Ejaz contrasted us with India, which also fails to provide adequate goods and services to many of its people. There are still poor people in India, there is illiteracy, there is hunger, rights are routinely denied. But hardscrabble as life may be in India, the Indians have worked out a consensus on what kind of state – the first-order issue – will address its people’s problems, the second-order issues. In India, a constitutional democracy that embraces fundamental rights is the agreed framework in which to pursue economic and social betterment.

Here in Pakistan we have no such consensus. Sixty-one years of not agreeing on how the state is to be organised has made it impossible to work on the people’s problems. But that failure also always left the door open to anyone who could promise the people a better future at the cost of reorienting the state.

So now that the Taliban are trying to barge in, we have few ripostes. Well, at least they promise peace. At least there will be law and order. At least Green Chowk in Mingora will not see bodies strung up every morning. And if they do all of that in the name of Islam, well, maybe it is time we tried another nizam after all. The current one hasn’t proved any good.

As Rafia put it, the Taliban have slyly latched on to a simple and persuasive line: ‘the more visibly different from the epithets of modernity that the Taliban can be, the more automatically Islamic it becomes.’

Fighting back is difficult because we have never developed a consensus on an alternative. Jinnah’s Pakistan versus Ziaul Haq’s Pakistan – having never quite figured out what we want to be, we now face the very possibility that the Taliban may decide for us.