America's bogeyman is an Islamist hero to many in Somalia

Locked
mourningstar
Posts: 233
Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: The Netherlands

America's bogeyman is an Islamist hero to many in Somalia

Post by mourningstar » Sat Jun 17, 2006 5:52 am

By Kim Sengupta in Mogadishu
Published: 17 June 2006

The Islamist fighters looting the United Nations and African Union compounds in Jowhar were led by a man so thin that he looked almost frail with a row of grenades strapped to his chest.

The man was Aden Hashi Ayro - to the Americans al-Qa'ida's chief killer in east Africa, but to many Somalis a nationalist fighting for his country and for Islam against the US and their corrupt client warlords.

What is not in dispute is that Ayro has been one of those most instrumental in the sweeping successes enjoyed by the Islamic forces, and that even in a place bristling with gunmen, such as the capital, Mogadishu, he inspires genuine fear.

What has also emerged is that many of his fighters are Somalis returning from the diaspora to the West. Those storming the buildings in Jowhar, just 50 miles from Mogadishu, spoke English with American and British accents and the same tones can be heard among others in Mogadishu. Some said they did not want their photographs taken because they wanted to seek work in the West.

The attack on the international compound, staffed by Somalis left behind when foreigners were evacuated, stopped after a direct appeal to Commander Ayro, who put the buildings under his personal protection.

Such moderation is not the image usually associated with the militia leader, who had trained at a camp in Taliban Afghanistan. Ayro has been accused of a series of murders of Westerners as well as Somalis. He is also the man who dug up the bodies in Mogadishu's Italian cemetery and built a corrugated iron mosque on the site. The remains were then sold to the Italian government, the revenue going towards arming his militia. When elders of his clan, the Habr Gadir, protested at this, Ayro warned them that they were following a dangerous path by "supporting infidels". A respected veteran of the insurgency against former president Mohamed Siyaad Barre, Abdirahman Diriiye Warsame, was shot dead after he denounced the desecration of the cemetery.

The policy of the US in Somalia is based on the premise that a violent Muslim extremist threat has to be countered by funding the same warlords responsible for America's humiliating retreat from the country 13 years ago. The warlords are accused of exaggerating the terrorist threat to keep the money tap flowing, and the fact that they are US-sponsored has driven Somalis to support the Islamists.

The Islamists are making rapid gains - yesterday they took Baladwayne, 20 miles from the Ethiopian border. The Ethiopians have moved troops to the frontier backed up by armour and Hind helicopter gunships. Somalis remember only too well that the Ethiopian invasion of the 1990s began with attacks by such gunships.

At the same time the parliament of Somalia's transitional federal government, which has set up its headquarters in internal exile at Baidoa, wants foreign troops "to restore stability". Diplomats believe this gives the Ethiopians an excuse to send troops across the border.

The Islamists vehemently reject the idea of foreign forces. Hundreds of their supporters demonstrated yesterday in Mogadishu against the Baidoa government, chanting, "We don't need foreign troops".

Meanwhile, the business community in Mogadishu, who have bankrolled the Islamists, warned that the introduction of foreign soldiers will strengthen the young militant fundamentalists in the Islamist movement led by Ayro at the expense of the moderates.

The "moderate" face of the Islamist movement is Sheikh Ahmed Sharif, keen to talk to the Western media to show it has responsible leaders. Asked about Ayro, with his alleged links to al-Qa'ida, he told The Independent: "The claims made against him by the Americans are exaggerated. As far as we know, he is a normal citizen trying to help Somalia. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, anyone can go there, why not?"

Ayro has only given one interview, to the local radio and television station Horn Afrik, and stated he was unhappy with what went on the air. A day later, two grenades were lobbed into Horn Afrik's offices.

Some public figures in Mogadishu hold, however, that Western intelligence is creating the "myth of Ayro", a figure close to the Islamist leadership said. "It is the American way, they paint a man out to be a monster and sooner or later the man becomes that monster. Just remember how Zarqawi became so famous."

The Islamist fighters looting the United Nations and African Union compounds in Jowhar were led by a man so thin that he looked almost frail with a row of grenades strapped to his chest.

The man was Aden Hashi Ayro - to the Americans al-Qa'ida's chief killer in east Africa, but to many Somalis a nationalist fighting for his country and for Islam against the US and their corrupt client warlords.

What is not in dispute is that Ayro has been one of those most instrumental in the sweeping successes enjoyed by the Islamic forces, and that even in a place bristling with gunmen, such as the capital, Mogadishu, he inspires genuine fear.

What has also emerged is that many of his fighters are Somalis returning from the diaspora to the West. Those storming the buildings in Jowhar, just 50 miles from Mogadishu, spoke English with American and British accents and the same tones can be heard among others in Mogadishu. Some said they did not want their photographs taken because they wanted to seek work in the West.

The attack on the international compound, staffed by Somalis left behind when foreigners were evacuated, stopped after a direct appeal to Commander Ayro, who put the buildings under his personal protection.

Such moderation is not the image usually associated with the militia leader, who had trained at a camp in Taliban Afghanistan. Ayro has been accused of a series of murders of Westerners as well as Somalis. He is also the man who dug up the bodies in Mogadishu's Italian cemetery and built a corrugated iron mosque on the site. The remains were then sold to the Italian government, the revenue going towards arming his militia. When elders of his clan, the Habr Gadir, protested at this, Ayro warned them that they were following a dangerous path by "supporting infidels". A respected veteran of the insurgency against former president Mohamed Siyaad Barre, Abdirahman Diriiye Warsame, was shot dead after he denounced the desecration of the cemetery.

The policy of the US in Somalia is based on the premise that a violent Muslim extremist threat has to be countered by funding the same warlords responsible for America's humiliating retreat from the country 13 years ago. The warlords are accused of exaggerating the terrorist threat to keep the money tap flowing, and the fact that they are US-sponsored has driven Somalis to support the Islamists.

The Islamists are making rapid gains - yesterday they took Baladwayne, 20 miles from the Ethiopian border. The Ethiopians have moved troops to the frontier backed up by armour and Hind helicopter gunships. Somalis remember only too well that the Ethiopian invasion of the 1990s began with attacks by such gunships.

At the same time the parliament of Somalia's transitional federal government, which has set up its headquarters in internal exile at Baidoa, wants foreign troops "to restore stability". Diplomats believe this gives the Ethiopians an excuse to send troops across the border.

The Islamists vehemently reject the idea of foreign forces. Hundreds of their supporters demonstrated yesterday in Mogadishu against the Baidoa government, chanting, "We don't need foreign troops".

Meanwhile, the business community in Mogadishu, who have bankrolled the Islamists, warned that the introduction of foreign soldiers will strengthen the young militant fundamentalists in the Islamist movement led by Ayro at the expense of the moderates.

The "moderate" face of the Islamist movement is Sheikh Ahmed Sharif, keen to talk to the Western media to show it has responsible leaders. Asked about Ayro, with his alleged links to al-Qa'ida, he told The Independent: "The claims made against him by the Americans are exaggerated. As far as we know, he is a normal citizen trying to help Somalia. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, anyone can go there, why not?"

Ayro has only given one interview, to the local radio and television station Horn Afrik, and stated he was unhappy with what went on the air. A day later, two grenades were lobbed into Horn Afrik's offices.

Some public figures in Mogadishu hold, however, that Western intelligence is creating the "myth of Ayro", a figure close to the Islamist leadership said. "It is the American way, they paint a man out to be a monster and sooner or later the man becomes that monster. Just remember how Zarqawi became so famous."
"Desertion for the artist means abandoning the concrete."

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Jun 17, 2006 7:28 am

I think we should do an air drop of cigarettes and candy over the entire country with the message "best wishes from the United States." I trust none of our sub-Saharan African posters here would be offended at the idea that we are simply trying to create a little good will.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

mourningstar
Posts: 233
Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Post by mourningstar » Sat Jun 17, 2006 7:54 am

for all Anarchist: this is what you get when your ideas are taken to work; a poor and brutal living in poverty country

i never thought somalia was going to be held hostage by islamic millitants, this is a sad loss for the country :lol: :lol: .. Imagine what could happen, I for one never scarcely would think that Religion and Anarchism would embrace each other. but then again. :roll: :lol:
"Desertion for the artist means abandoning the concrete."

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jun 17, 2006 12:46 pm

Those who follow Robert D. Kaplan's writings will not be surprised by this brief report from Chad's struggles with the chaos imposed on the region by the Sudanese government. His recent writings have been devoted to how the US has been training up the counterinsurgency troops of governments threatened with destabilization. They have done it in Morocco and Algeria and elsewhere. The troops trained by Americans gave the Sudanese invaders a damn good thrashing and sent them scurrying for the safety of the Sudan border. Kaplan thinks this will be the model of the future for the US military.



Economist.com
http://www.economist.com/displaystory.c ... id=5580439

Chad

The danger of war spilling over
Mar 2nd 2006 | NDJAMENA
From The Economist print edition

Chaos in western Sudan is threatening to engulf neighbouring Chad too

THE mayhem in Darfur, in western Sudan, where some 400,000 people may have been killed and 2m-plus displaced, is worsening. The misery is spreading west into neighbouring Chad, unhinging that country and threatening a proxy war with Sudan. What can be done?

It is widely accepted, in Africa and elsewhere, that the peacekeeping force in Darfur under the aegis of the African Union (AU) was hopelessly ill-equipped to succeed in its valiant bid to hold the ring. Hence an appeal last month by the UN's secretary-general, Kofi Annan, for the UN to take over with a force twice the size of the AU's, which was 7,000-strong, provided enough countries could be found to send troops wearing the UN's blue helmets (see article). A role for NATO, as the world's most efficient military alliance, was also widely mooted.

The latest snag is that Sudan's government, which at first sounded glumly amenable to having UN troops on its territory, is now lobbying against it. Jan Pronk, the UN's envoy to Sudan, said this week that the government in Khartoum was damning the idea of UN involvement as a prelude to a western takeover. “They speak about recolonisation, imperialism...they speak about conspiracy against the Arab and Islamic world,” he said.

Chad's government does not agree. Two months ago, rebels hoping to depose Chad's strongman, Idriss Déby, drove through neighbouring Sudan in a convoy of brand-new Toyota jeeps and burst across Chad's eastern border near the town of Adré. Plainly egged on by the Sudanese government, they had no trouble passing through Sudan's many checkpoints, from Port Sudan on the Red Sea, a journey of some 1,600km (1,000 miles), to Chad's border. But Chadian troops loyal to Mr Déby, some of them recently trained in counter-terrorism by the Americans, beat off the rebels and chased them back into Sudan.

So far, this scrap among Chadians has not blown up into a war between Chadian and Sudanese government forces, though Mr Déby has declared a “state of belligerence” with his eastern neighbour. The battle of Adré, he suggested, was nothing less than a Sudanese plot to replace his African regime with an Arab one. His Chadian army has concentrated its forces around Adré, exposing the southern bit of Chad's border with Sudan to banditry. Despite a peace agreement signed recently under international pressure in Libya, a nasty proxy war is in the offing, with Chad upping its support for rebels in Darfur, while Sudan backs the Chadian rebels camped in Darfur who still want to overthrow Mr Déby's regime.

Chad cannot afford any kind of war. It is a fragile and failing state with just a little oil. Since independence from France in 1960, it has had a series of ruthless military dictators; Mr Déby took power in a coup 16 years ago. Feuding between Chad's 200 or so tribes and clans is endemic. No government has ever managed to project its authority unopposed, in a largely desert country of 9m people five times the size of Britain with only a few kilometres of surfaced road and porous borders all round.

Chad has become even shakier since 200,000 or so Sudanese have fled across the border from Darfur into eastern Chad in the past year or so. Another 45,000 refugees are in Chad's south, escaping violence in the Central African Republic. Western Chad, along the border with Niger, is a desolate wasteland. And the government bars visitors to the north, with its alluring Tibesti mountains, because of rebels and landmines. For many years Libya, claiming a slice of Chad known as the Aozou strip that was said to be rich in uranium, stirred up trouble in the north too.

Against such odds, Mr Déby has held the country loosely together—and survived. But that is about all. “It's not possible to speak of governance here,” says a foreign resident. “There is no governance.” Chad ranks near the bottom of just about every global league table. Transparency International, a Berlin-based anti-corruption lobby, judges it the most corrupt country in the world. Poverty is increasing as the population swells. Armed clashes over water and grazing are increasing.

The government often fails to pay salaries and pensions. Ndjamena, the capital, is expensive yet dilapidated. Colonial houses and the city's old cinema, La Normandie, are rotting away. Malaria is endemic, electricity sporadic even in the capital, and the sandy streets are oddly infested with orange-bellied lizards.

Mr Déby is kept in power largely by French support—and oil. Despite the possibility that he may one day be called to the International Criminal Court at The Hague to answer for past sins, the French hold their noses, arguing that Mr Déby, however despotic, remains the best bet for the country's development. President Jacques Chirac has given him his blessing. French garrisons in Ndjamena and Abéché help underpin Mr Déby's power.

Oil is his other helpmate. Recently increased production (to some 249,000 barrels a day) and the opening of a 1,070km-long pipeline from Doba in southern Chad through Cameroon to the Atlantic was specifically meant to alleviate poverty, thanks to a novel agreement between the World Bank and the Chadian government. The bank arranged the huge loans for building the pipeline (at a cost of $4 billion) and developing oilfields, only on condition that a fixed portion of revenue was set aside for poverty-tackling projects.

He doesn't like the strings

In flat contravention of that deal, Mr Déby now says he intends to spend the money as he pleases—mainly, in fact, on weapons and bribes to prop up his regime. In return, the World Bank has suspended its loans and blocked Chad's bank accounts. Mr Déby is railing against neo-colonialism—and has turned for help to Taiwan. The World Bank's leverage will weaken when the oil consortium, led by Esso, starts paying taxes next year, earlier than planned, thanks to the current high price of oil. That could bring in a useful early windfall of $100m: enough to keep Mr Déby's army going. He recently ordered a batch of helicopters from Ukraine.

To give him his due, Mr Déby needs his hardware. Since the Sudanese government is resisting the attempt by the UN to get a sufficiently well-armed force into Darfur to control the warring parties there, attacks from the Sudanese-backed rebels now encamped in Darfur are likely to continue. He also faces threats on several other fronts as well. His own Zaghawa people, who dominate Chad's government and straddle the border with Sudan, are widely opposed by Chadians from other regions. And there is resentment from sub-clans within the Zaghawa who feel they are getting too few of the presidential favours. But, though Mr Déby, at 53, is said to be in poor health, he shows no sign of wanting to bow out.


Copyright © 2006 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests