Farmaajo: We Have No One Else to Blame
The Somali Saad community in Somalia as well as in the Diaspora has been alerted but was not surprised to learn about a report presented by the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and forwarded to the UN Security Council, as well as about a report on the “Piracy Wake Up” conference held in Bergen - released on 16. March 2011.
In the Bergen Conference, at least partly funded with Norwegian public funds, it was stated by one Andrew Mwangura, who never was in Somalia and never ever, visited the Federal State of Galmudug, that the Saad sub-clan would be overrepresented in the police force and well-represented among the Somali pirates. As a matter of fact Mr. Mwangura knows nothing at all about the Saad sub-clan of the Habr-Gedir clan of Somalia. His assertion - though it might just have been copied from the UN monitoring group report - is totally baseless and misleading. Such sweeping generalization and false allegations distort public opinion about the facts on the ground and tarnish the noble character and high standing profile of the Saad community, both at home and in the Diaspora.
To prove such assertion wrong from the onset, we as elders, leaders and authorities of our people state hereby categorically that the UN Monitoring Group’s assessment about the over-representation of Saad in the police force and in the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) establishment is far from the reality. The members of the Saad sub-clan are not contracted to recruit the police force for the government, nor do the Saad have any influence on the recruitment or have the powers to determine who gets into the high ranks of the TFG police forces. Though also some of our people have been misled by the international gangsters managing piracy around the Horn of Africa, the Saad among these gangs are small in number - compared to the other clan- and sub-clan-representation.
As a matter of fact, the whole world knows that the Puntland semi-autonomous region was the birthplace of modern piracy in and around Somalia, which emerged as criminal enterprise since the early days of 2005. Still, any piracy operation taking place in any part of the country of Somalia is masterminded by the far-reaching tentacles coming from the Puntland Region, but surprisingly the UN Monitoring Group or any other international body has never openly labelled the Majerteen clan, who is the majority clan in the Puntland region, with piracy, though internally they frankly speak of the connections reaching up to the President of Puntland.
The administration of the Federal Region of Galmudug in Central Somalia, which is the homeland and stronghold of the Saad sub-clan of Habr-Gedir, was constituted in mid 2006. But unlike the well-seasoned Puntland semi-autonomous region to the north of Galmudug, no country in the World or the UN as organization of the international community has ever extended any financial assistance, material support or operational funds to Galmudug in order to help our people or to fight piracy along our vast and remote territorial coast lines - to where the piracy gangs come from Puntland to hold foreign ships for ransom. Only in tough cases like the recent kidnapping of a Danish family and their children and friends, they show where they really come from by hiding in north-eastern Puntland.
Ironically, Norway and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) heavily support the piracy infested other administrations since their inception. But the claim that Norway funded or assisted any project to develop the fishing industry in the territory of the Saad sub-clan or that any assistance was provided by Norway to the police force of the Federal State of Galmudug is simply a false story. The territory of the Saad sub-clan remains the most underdevelopment federal state and region in the country, is struggling and suffering without any factual assistance forthcoming - not now and not in the foreseeable future.
Sometimes, humanitarian assistance can turn into an awry business, and good intentions may backfire and discredit honest donors. A case in point is the fairy tale that fishing vessels donated by Norway and other Nordic countries to the Puntland administration would now be used to carry out piracy and hijackings as claimed by a so called eyewitness, Dagens Naeringsliv (DN), in the Bergen conference. First we would like to know when and where Norway did provide real help to fishermen in form of having donated boats and secondly we completely refuse the allegations made against the Saad sub-clan. Also to single out the Saad as one of the Habr-Gedir sub-clans and not to elaborate on the Salebaan or Ayr or other sub-clans and clans living or residing in Galmudug and more importantly to not focus on the Majerteen clan of Puntland is not only unfair but also leaves the audience with a false impression, which amounts to slander and discrimination against our people.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says Norway has paid Somalia up to one billion Kroner in aid since 2006; part of it has funded training and equipping local police. The monitoring report stated also that Norway and the U.S.A. fund arms imports via the UNDP program, dubbed “Rule of Law and Security”. Unfortunately such arms-aid became instrumental in harming innocent Saad pastoral nomads living in the Galmudug rangelands. Thugs from Mogadishu and Bosaaso, to where these weapons were delivered, invaded Galmudug and caused havoc and many cases of death and injuries.
Mr. Andrew Mwangura, coordinator for the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Program and self-proclaimed ransom deal broker between ship owners and pirates, who spoke on the “Piracy Wake Up” conference, however, stated rightly that the Norwegian money is directly improving the conditions for the pirates; and that the police skills and weapons pass directly to the hijackers. The paradox in this respect is only that the “good hearted donors” have to blame themselves for providing to piracy optimum mobility, skills and fire-power. If then these groups of wrongly funded thugs prowl the extensive high seas and jeopardize the security of international shipping, including Norwegian and US-American ships and crews and invade neighbouring regions to hide their origin and true identity -such harm then must be seen correctly as self-inflicted concerning the donor and as imposed upon neighbouring areas and their innocent population.
In another paragraph of this Bergen conference report, Mr. Mwangura asserts that trained police officers became paid pirates or members of Somali factions’ militias, because the TFG had not paid them their salaries for several years after having completed their training. A Norwegian pirate researcher, Stig Jarle Hansen, agreed that Mr. Mwangura would be right in this. But, while such assessment might apply for other communities in certain cases – and the defection of the security personnel after former president Abdullahi Yusuf, who hails from Puntland, had to leave the TFG are a well known example - the Galmudug police cadets are currently under recruitment and paid by the Galmudug Administration timely – though without any assistance from the international community.
It is a big mistake by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and their copycats to say that piracy must be attributed in large to the Saad sub-clan. And as far as the Galmudug Federal Administration is aware, there is no Norwegian development program, which ever donated any fishing boats or police training or other funds to the Saad or contributed to their federal administration in the region.
Unlike the TFG and Puntland, Galmudug had never received any arms shipment or other support to hunt down pirates or to eliminate piracy, nor has Galmudug ever been consulted on the question how to eradicate piracy in the eastern coastline of Galmudug’s territory, though there is a 425 miles long stretch of Saad coast-line that needs to be patrolled. The UN, other organizations or any committed, friendly nation who are willing to support the Galmudug administration in its bid to uproot piracy from its territory would be appreciated to honestly come forward and help.
The Saad community believes that UNDP has the legal mandate and thereby duty during the transitional period to support regional development and in that regard, all Somali clans and sub-clans deserve even-handed treatment and equal-opportunity investment to grow and develop socially and economically. Stigmatizing the people of the Saad clan as criminals and to describe our homeland as heaven for pirates is discriminating and is a very appalling allegation. It also must be known that we do not get and never got our fair share of the international relief aid and development assistance contributed by well-wishing nations. We also don’t see that a fair disposition is happening as long as all such false allegations are made against the Saad sub-clan and we cannot carry such a heavy cross for long.
The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Mr. Mwangura owes the Saad people an apology and we likewise demand a clarification from the Norwegian government, which did provide a platform for such false allegations, insults and hatred to be uttered and spread.
By Mohamed Ali-Nur Hagi
(*) The author, Hon. Mohamed Hagi is the Minister for Planning and Development in the Federal State of Galmudug, Somalia. Hon. Mohamed Hagi can be reached via e-mail: email@example.com
I read your article on Foreign Policy with keen eyes and interest. While whining from public officials does not deserve response from any sensible citizen of the Republic of Somalia, I felt compelled to counter false narrative with more objective analysis.