message that there can be no peace without justice and no
justice without forgiveness was the theme of this year's World
Day of Peace. And in the Vatican Pope John Paul last weekend
said that violence in God's name was never justified and that
a "Cry of Blood" in the Holy Land must persuade Christians,
Muslims and Jews to seek peace.
words, indeed. But the frail old Pope did not say who
is committing injustice against whom.
to home, Ethiopia's pressure on Washington to attack Somalia,
a country that's still in the intensive care unit seems to
evaporate in thin air.
not fools. We're of course aware of Ethiopia's hidden agenda,"
an American official in Nairobi was quoted as saying. He said
that Washington was concerned about Al-Qaeda's link with Somali
groups, including Al-Itahaad and Al-Islaah. "But we are not
jumping the gun in Somalia at the moment."
took matters in its own hands by sending troops across the
border for the upteenth times. Shaatigaduud, one of the warlords
made famous by the clan warfare, had the guts of telling the
press that the invasion was part of a "demobilization process."
(That's if you believe him).
the epicenter of frequent Ethiopian invasions in the past
is highly explosive and dangerous. The latest invasion could
lead to the situation spiraling out of control, said a Somali
reporter who visited the town, adding that several members
of the Rahan-weyn Resistance Army (RRA) threatened to dislodge
Shaatigaduud and launch a guerrilla warfare against the invaders.
a dilapidated Isuzu van driving around Baidoa with a sticker
that would raise a wry smile in many places in the world.
"Don't shoot," it says, "the Somali warlords do not like competition."
The driver-cum-gunman said the message is intended for the
in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi predicted that the menage
a la trois (the warlords, the Ethiopians and the visiting
American officials) did not induce the men in State Department,
the Pentagon, the FBI and the CIA. They have been musing often
as to what the Ethiopians and their proteges were up to. Maybe
they were trying to pull a fast one, by playing Afghanistan's
Northern Alliance in the Horn of Africa in order to take over
power from the beleaguered Arta Group with the help of the
Americans and their allies.
THERE AL-QAEDA TERRORIST CELLS IN SOMALIA?
this question before and I'll ask once again. Are there
Al-Qaeda terrorist cells and training camps in Somalia?
I do not know and I wouldn't even bet my worthless Shilling
Nuruddin Farah said that there are more terrorist cells in
Rome, Paris and London (than in Somalia).
recall the words of an American journalist who wrote that
Osama bin Laden would stick out like a sore thump in Somalia.
is not a country where you could build tunnels, caves and
canyons, if we count out Golis Range, Gacan Libaax and Buur
Hakaba. It is not a country where you could build a stout
wall and a castle on a hill so you could roll down rocks on
your enemies or unbidden strangers. Of course guns are galore
and more saturated than in Afghanistan. But these weapons
are for the Somalis to kill each other (you might say they
are for home consumption only) and nobody in the world gave
damn about Somalis killing each other. In fact, foreign gunrunners
have been doing a thriving business and are smiling all the
way to the banks.
I am aware
that President Daniel arap Moi is panicky about guns and lawlessness
spilling over into his country from Somalia. I would say "Pole
Mzee". But Mr. President, you must also understand that your
other neighbours, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda too have been
contributing to the spillage with impunity. I feel I know
you so well in a way, and I don't know anything about you
at all in another. For example, while you were hosting the
Somali peace talks in Nakuru weeks ago, you ordered your police
force to crack down on Somali refugees in your country. Being
a refugee is a dreadful thing, and so is hosting a peace conference
for people who are not seriously interested in peace in their
own country. It's like dealing with pandemic conflict on a
school playground. It is very tough gig, so tough that even
seasoned Hollywood movie producers and directors would get
heart attack trying to film the an ending tragedy that is
Somalia. But for the life me I could not fathom why you ordered
the crack down on people who fled their own country for obvious
reasons. The war-weary refugees were actually welcoming the
peace talks, so that they could return home. In fact they
were praising your painstaking efforts to bring the participants
to their senses and talk peace. They were waving the national
flags of our two countries and placards with the words "PEACE
NOW" and "THANK YOU PRESIDENT
MOI". It was a peaceful demonstration. But the
Kenya Police were very eager to use their Gestapo tactics
in the name of law and order.
to think of my reaction if I was among those poor souls who
were forced to pay TKK to the Police. The Kiswahili
acronym is toa kitu kidogo, give me little something (bribe)
who failed to cough up the TKK are conveniently thrown
in small cells they shared with hardcore criminals and drunkards.
To say that the Somali refugees in Kenya are treated as humanly
as possible in accordance with the 1952 Geneva Convention
on Refugees would be one of the vaster understatement of all
even Albert Einstein was a refugee.
the overwhelming majority of the Somali people are hungry
for peace, justice and forgiveness. Despite your noble efforts,
peace is any closer in Somalia, because a war-planing key
member of IGADD is breathing hot upon the Americans to attack
Somalia. Which takes me back to the theme in the beginning
of this commentary: THERE CAN BE
NO PEACE WITHOUT JUSTICE AND NO JUSTICE WITHOUT FORGIVENESS.
Afrah © 2001
Mr. Afrah is an outspoken Author/Journalist and a member of
the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the
New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). He
contributes hard-hitting articles to Canadian and international
newspapers and magazines on the Somalia situation "through
the eyes of a man who covered the country for more than two
of us remember his critical articles in his weekly English
language HEEGAN newspaper, despite a mandatory self-censorship
introduced by Guddiga Baarista Hisbiga Xisbiga Hantiwadaagga
Somaaliyeed in 1984 and the dreaded NSS. I am very proud to
know that Mr. Afrah openly defied the draconian censorship
laws and went ahead to write what he thought was wrong in
the country. He received several death threats from the warlords
and was briefly held hostage by gunmen in 1993. But he remained
defiant and continued to send his stories of carnage and destruction
to Reuters news agency. He still is!