Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Somali News Bulletin: UK, US, France Draft Plans for Direct Imperialist Occupation of the Horn of Africa

British Somalia draft eyes increased U.N. presence

Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:46pm BST
By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain has circulated a draft resolution on Somalia to members of the Security Council that would open the door to a stronger U.N. presence and a possible deployment of U.N. peacekeepers.

Somalia's transitional government has been urging the council to send U.N. peacekeepers to help stabilize the lawless Horn of Africa country.

While the 15 Security Council members agree the situation is dire, most have been reluctant to send U.N. peacekeepers to Somalia, where warlords, Islamist insurgents and Ethiopian-backed Somali government forces are battling.

The draft text, obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, asks the Security Council to "welcome" a recent report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on preparations for a U.N. force to replace African Union peacekeepers, known as AMISOM.

It also calls for Ban's office "to continue its planning for deployment of a peacekeeping operation, taking account of conditions on the ground, and considering additional options for the size, configuration, responsibility and proposed area of operation on the ground."

In February the Security Council extended for six months U.N. endorsement of the AU peacekeeping mission. It consists of two Ugandan battalions, totalling 1,600 troops, and an advance party of 192 Burundians.

Talk of U.N. intervention is still coloured by memories of a battle in 1993 in which 18 U.S. troops and hundreds of Somali militiamen died. The incident inspired a Hollywood movie, "Black Hawk Down" and marked the beginning of the end for a U.S.-U.N. peacekeeping force.

The British draft says the council is also concerned about human rights in Somalia and the "worsening humanitarian situation" and says the country "continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region."

It urges U.N. member states to boost their support for AMISOM with money, personnel, equipment and services.

Western diplomats on the council said the British would revise the text based on comments from other council members and hope to put it to a vote over the next week.


The British text also threatens to impose sanctions "against those who seek to prevent or block a peaceful political process, or those who threaten the (peacekeepers) ... by force, or take action that undermines the stability in Somalia or the region."

It calls for a list of "individuals or entities" that would be targeted by sanctions to be given to the council within 60 days from the adoption of the resolution.

The draft asks the council to back Ban's recommendation that the U.N. Somalia operations be moved from Nairobi to Mogadishu, a measure diplomats said would enable the United Nations to strengthen its presence on the ground in Somalia.

France and the United States are drafting a companion resolution that will deal exclusively with the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia and elsewhere. The second resolution would authorize countries to fight piracy more effectively.

A surge in maritime hijackings for ransom off Somalia have made it one of the world's most dangerous shipping zones.

The British draft contains several paragraphs that urge U.N. member states and regional organizations like the AU to fight piracy "to protect shipping involved with the ... delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia."

(Editing by Todd Eastham)

Somalia: France, US draft Somalia piracy resolution

Wed. April 23, 2008 10:17am
By Bonny Apunyu

France's U.N. envoy said on Tuesday that France and the United States, with the aid of Britain, are drafting a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing countries to fight piracy off Somalia and elsewhere.

A surge in maritime hijackings for ransom in the waters off the coast of lawless Somalia have made it one of the world's most dangerous shipping zones.

"We French and the Americans, with the support of the British and others, want to have a resolution on piracy," French Ambassador to the United Nations Jean-Maurice Ripert told Reuters.

"We are in the process of agreeing among ourselves the (details) of the resolution, including the scope and the legal aspects," he said.

Somali pirates hijacked a ship en route from Dubai on Monday and Spain said it had sent a naval frigate after the seizure off Somalia of a Spanish tuna fishing boat with 26 people aboard.

The attackers appear undeterred by the arrest by French troops in the desert last week of six Somali pirates who had seized a French luxury yacht and held its crew hostage for a week. They were flown to France for questioning.

A Western diplomat from a Security Council state said the British were preparing a companion resolution that would call for a strengthening of the U.N. presence in Somalia, a nation where many countries remain loathe to send peacekeepers.

Ripert said there were complicated legal issues involved in preparing the piracy resolution, but he said it was possible they might have a draft ready by the end of this week.

"The idea is to give a mandate, to call on states of the U.N. to tackle piracy by organizing patrols, reacting to acts of piracy, to take as many preventative measures as possible," Ripert said.

"We really are keen on not doing anything that could endanger the ... law of the sea," he said.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since the 1991 toppling of a military dictator, allowing anarchy and violence to flourish.

Kidnapping and piracy are lucrative businesses and most Somalis treat their captives well in anticipation of a ransom.

Ripert made it clear that the idea is that U.N. member states -- not the United Nations itself -- would join forces and root out piracy before it happens with stepped-up monitoring and patrols.

"It would not be the U.N. organizing it, but authorizing it, asking for it, giving the mandate to the member states to do that and to do it collectively as much as possible," he said.

Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said, "We think it is a very important issue, we want to move it forward as soon as possible.

"With recent events, it is critical that the Security Council looks at this immediately," he added.-Reuters

Somalia: Residents discover six more bodies after nasty city clashes

Wed. April 23, 2008 10:14 am
By Bonny Apunyu

After nasty weekend battles killed more than 60 people, residents in the war-battered Somali capital on Wednesday found six more bodies, four of which belonged to clerics.

The residents said the bodies were found in a garage in a northern Mogadishu district, where Ethiopian forces backing Somali government troops clashed with Islamist fighters over the weekend.

"I cannot explain the brutal killing that Ethiopian forces committed here," said Fadumo Abdulahi, a sister to one of the slain clerics.

"They dragged my brother ... my husband and two other men from the house and shot them in the head inside a garage near my house," she told AFP.

The death toll from the clashes, some of the worst in Mogadishu in two months, now stands at 63, including 13 clerics.

"We are in shock," said Nadifo Moalim, the widow of a senior cleric, whose body was also found in the garage.

"They took him with three others from his house the day of the heavy fighting," she said. "I thought they arrested him until I saw his decomposing body in a nearby garage."

The bodies of two civilians were also discovered near a cinema hall in the neighbourhood.

In Geneva, the United Nations' independent human rights expert for Somalia on Wednesday denounced the killing of civilians and called for an immediate ceasefire by the two sides.

Ethiopian troops came to the rescue of Somalia's embattled transitional government in late 2006 to oust an Islamist militia which had taken control of large parts of the restive Horn of Africa country.

Islamist fighters have since waged a guerrilla war against the government, their Ethiopian allies and African Union peacekeepers, with civilians often caught in the ensuing crossfire.

Somalia has been rocked by seemingly endless fighting since the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre. -AFP

UN human rights official condemn recent killings in Somalia

Wed. April 23, 2008 10:11 am
By Bonny Apunyu

The United Nations independent human rights expert for Somalia Ghanim Alnajjar, on Wednesday denounced the killing of civilians amid a fresh escalation of fighting in the war-stricken east African country.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Somalia, called for an immediate ceasefire between Ethiopian-backed government troops and Islamist insurgents.

"The use of heavy weaponry in areas where civilians are concentrated left reportedly 81 civilians dead and more than 100 wounded," he said in a statement.

The UN official expressed particular concern at the reported killing of numerous clerics at the Alhidaya compound mosque in the capital Mogadishu.

During weekend clashes with Islamist fighters, the bodies of nine Islamic clerics were found in and around the mosque Monday, with residents saying they had been shot by Ethiopian forces.

"Killings have to be investigated expeditiously and impartially, and any lasting peace in Somalia must be based on justice, truth and accountability," he said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the United Nations warned that Somalia risked plunging into its worst humanitarian catastrophe since the early 1990s as the twin threats of war and drought put millions of lives in danger.

Meanwhile, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said two and a half million people are in urgent need of assistance amid renewed heavy fighting in Mogadishu and the worst drought for a decade.

Somalia has been rocked by seemingly endless fighting since the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre. -AFP

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