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AllPuntland: Qoraalada Akhristaha 

The Arte Group is one of the factions in Somalia: 

Posted to the Web   February 17, 2002

Waxaa Lagala Xiriirayaa

Aden Mohamed"

adenmohamed60@msn.com 

 

The Arte process was an important milestone in the search for peace and reconciliation in Somalia but it was far from complete and one cannot help avoid the fact that those Somali forces who were left out of the Arte process control more than ninety percent of Somalia. The ‘TNG’ controls only parts of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and pockets elsewhere in Somalia and the new rulers have to operate out of Ramadan and three other hotels. Their hope is to attempt with their help of Italy, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to establish a top-down Mogadishu-based government, which could set off another war to decide who controls it.

 

The mistrust of the Arte Group is partly because seventy-five percent of the “transitional Assembly” is members of radical Islamic groups and ninety percent of them are leading members and ministers of the Mohamed Siad Barre’s regime, the very people we say ruined the country. Mr. Abdulqasim Salad Hassan himself served the disgraced dictator Mohamed Siad Barre as minister in different ministries for eighteen years. The conferees include former Mohamed Siad Barre army officers who are war criminals such as Gen. Mohamed Hashi Gani, Gen. Mohamed Said Morgan and Col. Hassan Abshir Farah (Prime Minister designate) and are responsible the state in war in Somalia, the generalized violence, wide spread human rights violations and unchecked criminal activity.

 

Mr. Abdulqasim Salad Hassan, is a known member Al-Islah group a sister organization of Al-Itihaad Al-Islamiya, a radical Islamic group who has carried out terrorist operations in Ethiopia (in 1996 Al-Itihaad was for a bomb attack on a hotel in capital, Addis Ababa that killed four civilians and injured about dozen others and in 1998 kidnapped six Red Cross employees.) involved and helped him get appointed in Arte.  It is an open secret in Somalia that, Mr. Abdulqasim (sub-clan of Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed) who was living in Cairo at the time was responsible for the General’s ties with Osama Ben Laden through Mr. Hassan Al-Turabi of Sudan.

Hussein Ali, a former member of Al-Itihaad, says that Afghan and Pakistani members of Al-Qa’eda recruited Somalis.

Al-Itihaad Al-Islaamiya, a radical Islamic group that owns banks and other businesses (i.e. Al-Barakat), joined forces with Al-Qa’eda in 1992 after its leaders met Osama Bin Laden in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum where Bin Laden was living.  It is a ‘political Islamic movement looking to take control of Somali state and run accordingly to its fundamentalist reading of Sharia Law and believe only radical Islam can unite the country’.  Al-Itihaad which draws it support mainly from Haber-Gedir and certainly supports Mr. Abdulqasim Salad Hassan. It helped establish the Somalia’s Islamic Courts and turned over control of these courts and its militia to the Arte group. It has posts in his government and runs its headquarters openly in the capital, Mogadishu.

 

With no central bank to object, Al-Barakat, which is known to fund Bin Laden, has privately printed billions in the national currency, the shilling, rendering it almost worthless. This false currency is intended as a tool to gain more power by buying  property of indigenous people of the lands they now occupy (i.e. houses, farms, land), political favors, more armaments and ammunitions and militia salaries. It is also used to fill out a power vacuum in the country with the help of Arab money by opening its own school to radicalize the population, seeding anti-western sentiments in the country as enemies of Islam and providing services normally associated with the government.

 

The Arte group has no capability to militarily extend its influence in Somalia. Nevertheless, it is not money and sold out traditional leaders which are being used by the Arte group as instrument of subversion, but Al-Barakat’s militia and other Islamic forces mainly the Al-Itihaad Al-Islamia is the second arm of the Arte groups’ war by proxy. The attacks of the forces of Muse Sudi Yalahow in Balad district (Ex-Banadir) and Mogadishu on many occasions with some involvement of A’ir militia of Abdulqasim is a good case in point.

We want Mr. Abdulqasim and his sub-clan, the Haber-Gedir to leave Mogadishu and Lower Shabelle region and go back to Mudug and Central Regions where they belong, if they don’t want respect their host, the Muddullood. We want them to establish their own regional administration and join the rest of Somalia representing their own people. Only this way can Somalis could come together, discuss the formation of a New Continuation without marginalizing any group, based on the Rule of Law, multi-party democracy, free elections and form of regional clan autonomy, where original inhabitants of each region are left to manage their own affairs. My modest hope is that as policymakers work to hinder Somalia's villains, they will also explore ways to bolster those quietly working for positive change. In Somalia and elsewhere, the everyday heroes are too many to overlook.

The Bush administration has named a Somali fundamentalist group, Al Itihaad al Islamiya (Arabic for Islamic Unity) as a terrorist organization, whose camps Osama Bin Laden probably visited.

Mr. Tenet said, the United States would "overlook at our own peril the impact of crisis in remote parts of the world," such as Somalia, Indonesia and Colombia. "Al Qaeda leaders still at large are working to reconstitute the organization and resume its terrorist operations," he said. "Al Qa’eda also has plans to strike against U.S. and allied targets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia," Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee in his first public appearance before Congress since the Sept. 11 attacks. Tenet said places like Somalia where there is an absence of a national government creates an environment in which groups sympathetic to Al Qa’eda "have offered terrorists an operational base and potential haven."

Many intelligence sources estimate that between 3,000 and 5,000 ‘hard core’ members of Al-Qa’eda and Al-Itihaad partnership are operating here in Ex-Banadir, Mogadishu and Lower Shabelle, with 50,000 to 60,000 supporters and reservists. Actively terrorist camps include those in central and northeast (Anod, Galkayo, Garowe and Bossasso) and southern cities of Somalia (El-Wak, Gedo, Kisimayo, Merka (locally know ‘little Kandahar’), Barawe, Bali-dogle and areas in Mogadishu (Huriwa, Km4, Bakaraha and Black sea). The leader of the military wing of Al-Itihaad is Maj. Hassan Dahir Aweys, believed to have orchestrated the shooting down of American helicopters in Somalia in 1993, killing 18 servicemen.

 

Given the above, we cannot find any justification, Senior United Nations aid officials saying fear of U.S. military action threatened to destabilize Somalia as it emerged from anarchy and famine. This is absurd, Somalia is so fractured that the nominal government controls less than half the capital city and some coastal strips. The north has two breakaway states, and in the rest 30 clans with overlapping borders go to war over land, cattle raids and blood feuds.

 

Obviously, not all is well in Somalia, as it remains one of the world's poorest countries. Thousands of women and children live in camps or on the streets, where they are mistreated and malnourished, particularly if they are of a rival clan or a minority group. "I think it is having a very destabilizing effect," said Randolph Kent, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, based in Mogadishu. Mr. Kent the world body has 100 international staff and 400 local staff in Somalia to help 750,000 of the neediest people in the country but why they are conveniently absent from Hiran, Middle and Lower Shabelle, southern Mogadishu (Medina and Dharkeynley) and northern Mogadishu?

 

We all remember that, Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed, was cutting off food supplies, and tens of thousands of people were starving to death, but UN agencies and NGO’s were against US intervention in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope and are now nervous because United States has taken a new interest in the country since Sept. 11 which is welcome news and many are grateful for their children, who lived because the Americans were there, for the medicine and food that saved their wives, husbands, fathers or mothers. Thousands of lives were saved.

Robert McPherson, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel with 25 years of service, who first traveled to Somalia 1992 during his tour and later in 1999 said, “I witnessed Americans dying in Somalia, but when I left in April I felt that our presence had made a difference. I was angry and felt betrayed by the people my countrymen had saved”.

 

It is understandable, no people would accept the death of its children in a country, where they are supposed to provide aid and all the Somali people still wrestle with the same feelings of anger and betrayal.  This has tarnished Somalia’s image in the eyes of the world. But it was Haber-Gedir sub-clan not the Somali people, led by Gen. Aideed, Osman Atto, Abdi Qeyb-did (current Banadir Police Chief) and Abdulqasim Salad Hassan, the Arte group’s so-called president who were responsible that disastrous street battle in October 3, 1993 and eventually forced the international community to withdraw. It is profound sadness to see Haber-Gedir celebrating every year on October 3rd, to mark the anniversary of their so-called ‘victory’ over the international community.

 

It is going to be tough to divorce America's past involvement in Somalia from the new challenges that are bringing attention back to this impoverished land and to overcome the long-term governance challenges that terrorist might exploit to make Somalia a base, would require Haber-Gedir to return to their regions and demonstrate that they possess a real constituency, not just a menacing militia-where peacekeepers were subjected to constant taunting, rock throwing, ambush, kidnapping of aid workers and thefts. If Mr. Abdulqasim, Osman Atto, Hussein Aideed and Abdi Qeyb-diid are popular as they claim to be, they should have no fear of such process. It is not too much to ask of the international community to safeguard the fundamental right of representative governance for the Somali people.  

 

No doubt the Arte process is dead but the so-called ‘TNG’ will use the issue of recognition to block any attempt for peace and bringing together all Somalis for the target of forming broad-based government. In this case the UN, the AOU and IGAD ought to unmistakably advise the so-called ‘TNG’ rulers that they shouldn’t stand in the way of any new peace proposal in the name of legitimacy and technical conditions.  

 

 

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