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Professor Ahmed Samatar to Minnesota Somaliland community: ‘I want Somaliland to win’

Professor Ahmed Samatar has been a leading advocate for a united Somalia and a strong critic of the country’s clan-based political system that continues to divide Somalis. Demonstrating his views through academic writings, interviews and speeches, Samatar once described the current Somali politics as “sewage." In a recent speech, Samatar described a shift in his opinion, from advocacy for a completely unified Somalia to advocacy for independence for Somaliland.

Samatar, an international relations professor at Macalester College, received his undergraduate degree from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from University of Denver

In recent years, Samatar has shifted his role from being a mere political commentator to being an active participant in the process of redefining the politics he’s disparaged for decades: He recently served as a member of the Somali parliament and ran for the presidency last summer, although he lost the election.

On August 10, Samatar spoke to nearly 300 people at Brooklyn Park Community Center about his recent visit to Somaliland, a self-proclaimed independent state, which has been struggling to gain recognition from the international community for the last two decades.

“I’ve seen peace, security and a trace of law and order everywhere I visited in Somaliland,” Samatar said, addressing his audience in Somali. “I’ve seen people paying tax willingly because they are satisfied with what the government is doing. There is sense of democracy. Freedom of expression. They understood that if you don’t let people speak from their mind, the government would fall.”

Earlier this summer, Samatar visited Somaliland for the first time in about 18 years. Even though he’s never held a public office in Somaliland and has opposed its separation from Somalia for many years, hundreds of thousands of spectators assembled on streets with photos of Samatar in an expression of profound love and respect for the international studies professor at Macalester College.

“No words can describe the reception I received,” he told the crowd, speaking behind a podium placed in between two flags — that of the United States’ and the green, white and red striped flag of Somaliland. “I can’t wait to go back.”

Samatar endorsed a separate Somaliland state, though he cited obstacles that will present tough challenges in that quest.

“The world’s attention is on Somalia right now,” Samatar said. He reminded the crowd, mostly Minnesota-Somalilanders, of the official recognition the United States granted last January to the Somalia government in Mogadishu.

He added that the world is busy in the reconstruction and development of Somalia, suggesting that no one is considering sovereign statehood for Somaliland at the moment.

In case option one — an independent Somaliland — doesn’t work out, he urged the people of Somaliland to have a second option: negotiation with Somalia.

When an audience member confronted his suggestion of having a Plan B, Samatar said, “You won’t go anywhere if you don’t have Plan B.” But he reassured the crowd: “I want Somaliland to win. I mean it.” 

Somaliland reports mistreatment

Before 1960, Somalia was in the hands of British, Italy, France and other colonial countries that divided the country into pieces. For instance, the southern part of Somalia, including Mogadishu, was colonized by Italy. Its northern part, now called Somaliland, was a British-occupied land.

After a long journey of bloodshed and struggle for a sovereign Somali state, Somaliland gained its independence from Britain on June 26, 1960. Four days later, Somalia got its independence from Italy.

Having shared a common struggle for independence, Somalia and Somaliland decided to join forces and become one strong Somali nation.

While many Somalis say it was a milestone that Somaliland joined Somalia, some people from Somaliland — not all of them — argue that the merger was a mistake. They say Somaliland hasn’t benefited from the 31-year-old marriage to Somalia.

For the past 50 years, Samatar said, there were only two clans that took turns to fill the presidency. The clans Samatar was referring to are Hawiye and Darod, two of the largest clans in Somalia.

Because Somaliland felt disenfranchised, they formed their own government when Somalia collapsed in civil war in 1991. They created their own flag. They created their own national anthem. And they refer to Somalia as nothing more than a neighboring country.

For the Somalia government, on the contrary, Somaliland is just another region of Somalia.

Somaliland needs improvement

Samatar’s presentation on Somaliland wasn’t all about praise — he also pointed out many low points that the autonomous Somaliland state can improve upon.

Somaliland isn’t that different than Somalia in terms of power sharing, Samatar said. Somaliland feels like a village with one man in power, he said, referring to the major clan, Isaq, which has held the presidency for many years. He called for diversity in the Somaliland leadership.

“The government should reflect on the people it services,” said Samatar.

He also urged the government to work on energy development. “You can’t run a country without electricity.”

Samatar also said that he met people, who don’t have access to clean water. He added that people go on foot four miles, fetching water.

Audience reactions

Samatar’s assessment on the issues in Somaliland seemed more like those of an academic than a politician.  After Samatar’s presentation, the audience was given a chance to comment and ask questions.

Asked if he would run for Somaliland presidency, Samatar said: “It’s not about me wanting or not wanting to become a president. It’s about the desire of the people. Is Somaliland asking someone who can change? Someone who can lead? I don’t see those questions asked. I see corruption. I see romanticization of clan, which I’m not into."

“It was a fair discussion,” said Said Ahmed, who identifies himself as a Somalilander. “It was very informative.”

Aisha Hassan, who hasn’t been to Somaliland for the past 15 years said she’s glad that Samatar visited “my country” to see the realities there.

“The professor is a genuine man,” Hassan said. “He says it like he sees it. I respect his conclusion.”

The event was made possible by the Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council, Africa Institute for International Reporting, Horn Development Center and the City of Brooklyn Park.


Mahamed Farah hailed as best of Britain BNN

Mo_FaraaxNewspapers hailed Mo Farah as the greatest British athlete of all time after he secured a rare world and Olympic double in the long-distance events at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow. The Somali-born runner overcame a crippling early stitch to defend his world 5,000m title, just six days after Saturday's 10,000m win.
The Times said Farah was a national treasure. "Wrapped in his Union Jack, with his daughter by his side, Britain's fairytale hero took the plaudits to which he must now be accustomed," it said in its editorial.

"These extraordinary achievements mean that Farah has a claim to being both the best athlete in the world and the best British male athlete there has yet been. Sebastian Coe, himself a candidate for that title, believes Farah is the best of British.
"As a polite and gracious man who is devoted to his young family, Farah could hardly be a better embodiment of modern Britain. "These victory moments are the culmination of immensely hard work. For the watching public those moments when Mo kicks down the straight will be golden memories.
Boramanews Desk

Erdogan blames Egypt junta with state terrorism

TurkiraysalwasaareTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that it is a state terrorism that is being carried out in Egypt.
Speaking at the "Ceremony of Urban Transformation" in Bursa, Turkish PM Erdogan reiterated his condemnation of military coup and the recent attacks on religious sites in Egypt.
"I strongly condemn all attacks targeting places of worship, no matter if it is a mosque or a church, since they are protected [sacred]," he told the crowd in Bursa.
Erdogan described as "brutal murderers" the perpetrators of the military coup and crackdown on peaceful protesters taking streets and squares in demand of democracy and asking for the return and "honour" of their votes as the Egyptian Army ousted the first democratically elected President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi on July 3.
"Those who staged the coup ignored the will of the people, and brutally killed their own citizens. State terrorism is being carried out in Egypt." added Turkish PM.
He also compared Syria's Assad and Egypt's Sisi, arguing that "Bashar (al-Assad) and al-Sisi are the same, and so are those who support them. There is no difference."
Erdogan stated that there are two different pictures of Egypt, as supporters and opponents of democracy.
"There are two scenes in Egypt; one is of those who follow the pharaoh, and the other is of those who follow Moses," he said.
Turkish Premier added "This is how history will evaluate the happenings in Egypt."
Erdogan slammed the international community failing to display the necessary stance and reaction against the military coup in Egypt and the following violence and crackdown by the Egyptian army on pro-Morsi demonstrators in Cairo.
"Those who stand silent in the face of the coup in Egypt will not be able to preach democracy in the future," he argued.
"The Security Council, the European Union and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are too ashamed to face themselves looking into the mirror for their attitude in the face of the military coup in Egypt and the following massacres on the Egypt's peaceful protesters. Those who remain silent, approve and encourage the massacre with their silence while the Egyptian coup authorities, who poured bullets on the people demanding justice, are stuck in that blood so as not to face their conscience," Turkish PM Erdogan said regarding international stance on the military coup and the violent crackdown on anti-coup demonstrators.
Turkish PM repeated his critic of some states immediately providing the coup regime of Egypt that mounted the military coup with billions of financial aid, saying "Some poured aid of 16 billion dollars to the coup regime of Egypt after the military coup. In my opinion, those supporting the coup regime with 16 billion dollars are the partners of the coup regime in Egypt."
 "I invite those who attack places of worship to act sensibly, and I'm calling on all sides. But look at the game that's being played: The Muslim Brotherhood is trying to protect churches and the media - remember the 'Gezi' media in Turkey and around the world? - that's the same type of media coverage for Egypt. Do you know what they say? They say, 'the Muslim Brotherhood torched 30 churches.' But the fact is that they were trying to protect them," concluded Erdogan.
While addressing the crowd in Bursa regarding the situation in Egypt, Erdogan made the Rabaa sign, symbol of anti-coup protests.
Hundreds of protesters, including women and children, had taken refuge in the Al Fath Mosque in the Egyptian capital Cairo following assault by security forces in Ramses Square escalated.
Later, security forces tightened control over the entire square and besieged Fath Mosque and the nearby Tawheed Mosque.
More than 181 people were killed Friday in mass rallies staged by pro-democracy demonstrators in several Egyptian cities to protest Wednesday's violent dispersal of their two main protest sites in Cairo and Giza.
Egypt has been in a state of turmoil since security forces violently dispersed the sit-ins in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares on Wednesday.
The Health Ministry has said that at least 638 people had been killed in nationwide violence since Wednesday, including 288 in Rabaa and 87 in Nahda.
However, the pro-Morsi alliance has put the number of deaths from the Rabaa sit-in alone at some 2,600.

Sexual violence pervasive in Somalia: UN

somaliamapUNITED NATIONS, -- Sexual violence against women and children is still pervasive in Somalia, a UN spokesperson said Friday.
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, about 800 cases of rapes, domestic violence, female genital mutilations, early and forced marriage were reported in the capital city of Mogadishu from January to June this year.
Rape continues to be perpetrated by unknown armed men and men in military uniform, and the internally displaced remain most vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, Eduardo del Buey, the deputy UN spokesman, said at a daily news briefing here.
Del Buey quoted the UN Children's Fund as saying that some one- third of the victims of sexual violence are children. Survivors of such violence are provided with medical assistance, psychosocial support, and legal counseling by humanitarian partners, he said.
According to UN figures, at least 1,700 people were affected by sexual and gender-based violence in Somalia last year.
The Somalian government and the UN signed a joint communique on the prevention of sexual violence in May, stressing that there is zero-tolerance to sexual violations and that perpetrators will be punished.
Somalia has been torn by factional fighting since 1991. On June 2, the UN launched an assistance mission to offer expertise in areas ranging from the political process to disarmament to help Somalia achieve peace, reconciliation and stability. 

Somalia: Amisom Troops Commit Brutal Gang Rape in Mogadishu, Somalia

somaliaskarShe was informed she was being taken to the police station for investigation; instead she was taken directly to Maslah Military Camp which houses AMISOM troops in Hurwaa District. She was drugged and then raped by a number of men, understood to be members of the AMISOM forces. It is believed that the Somali's who initially arrested her did not participate in the rape itself, but served as intermediaries to bring her to the AMISOM troops. She was finally released on the 10th August after having been kept inside the barracks for nearly 2 days.
The Somali Women's Development Centre, based in Mogadishu, provided emergency response services to the woman with medical and psychosocial support and has instigated legal action. A medical report has also confirmed the injuries sustained by the woman in question is consistent with being raped multiple times. The woman however is now with a secondary organisation for further support.
It is understood that the Somali Military Court arrested two of the five persons connected with the initial kidnap of the woman, a Somali man and woman. The actual perpetrators of the gang rape are still to be arrested.
It is understood that the case is to be transferred to the Somali Police Force and that investigations are ongoing.
As yet, it is unknown what action is being taken against the perpetrators of the gang rape.
Additional information currently coming to light indicates that there may be further Somali women held inside the Maslah military camp who are being used for sexual purposes.
A spokesperson from the Somali Women's Development Centre stated that, "The recent gang rape of this young woman is one of the many brutal incidents of sexual violence women and girls in Somalia are facing on a daily basis. Irrespective of the wealth, status or nationality of the perpetrator, justice must be served and the Somali government should see to it that no perpetrator walks free."
Hala Alkarib, Regional Director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa stated that: "The United Nations and the African Union must address the repeated incidents of vulnerable Somali women being raped by AMISOM troops.
Sexual Violence and Impunity have been known within international military deployments for many years - this abuse should be stopped immediately and be addressed at the highest levels, both within the AU and the UN. There is no justification for military forces committing rape under any circumstances. Rape and enslavement are brutal crimes against which the international community must take concrete steps to address."
For more information, please contact Joanne Crouch at SIHA Network on +256 779 386 476 or
Sexual violence has blighted the lives of Somali women with consistently high numbers being attacked both inside IDP camps in Mogadishu and in South Central Somalia. Perpetrators are frequently known to wear Somali government uniforms and although a number are part of the Somali government, many others form part of independent militias that have grown in the absence of a solid security structure in the capital.
According to the records of SWDC, rape has escalated dramatically since the inception of the 2011 famine and stayed consistently high, although has noted a particular increase in the previous three months.

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