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Al-Shabab’s governor – one man and his iPad

By: Hamza Mohamed On a hot dry Saturday afternoon, as I waited for clearance to visit an al-Shabab area in Bulo Mareer in Somalia, my phone rang. It was a contact saying there was a gathering I would want to attend. And so I did. Sitting under the shade of mango trees were clan elders and the who's who of al-Shabab, the hardline rebel group fighting Somalia's UN-backed government. This was an opportunity no ...

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The crisis in crisis management in Somalia

What crisis? The Somali government is in trouble. Again. The Turkish government, which has backed the Somali government with direct cash aid, has made it clear that this assistance stopped at the end of 2013 and that there were no clear plans to resume it in 2014. However, the Turkish government’s Cooperation and Coordination Agency reassured the Somali people that their projects in Somalia would continue u ...

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Ethiopian Troops have Joined AMISOM: What This Means for AMISOM as a ‘Neutral Force’

“It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion.” – William Ralph Inge                       On January 22nd, Ethiopian troops officially joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), contributing about four thousand soldiers. If past experience is anything to go by, when ...

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Silence and pain: Ethiopia’s human rights record in the Ogaden

The Ogaden is Ethiopia’s dark, dirty secret. It is far from prying international eyes, where almost anything can be done to anyone the government does not like. The Ogaden was conquered and forcibly incorporated into Ethiopia by Emperor Menelik II in the last quarter of the 19th century. Its Somali speaking, almost exclusively Muslim community, never really accepted an Ethiopian identity. In 1977 it was the ...

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Al-Shabab: Guardians of Somali identity?

(Aljazeera)-British Channel 4 journalist Jamal Osman had an exclusive on al-Shabab that included a training and graduation ceremony. The picture that emerged was that al-Shabab is a sophisticated group which, more than others, grasped the duality of the state; one of brutal efficiency in employing force and in the second order, the ability to undertake state's benign "soft" function: collecting garbage and ...

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Sending the U.S. Military to Somalia Will Accomplish Little

That the Pentagon admitted, this month, to sending its military back into Somalia after a 20 year absence of explicit involvement (never mind the extensive covert operations in the country), should trouble anyone who cares about security on the Horn of Africa. This move will secure little. It's an easy announcement for the Defense Department to make and will likely ruffle few feathers in Washington. When pu ...

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Ethiopia – Relatives Fear for Missing Political Prisoners in “Jail Ogaden” near Harar

The notorious prison locally known as "Jail Ogaden", about 80 kilometers east of the city of Harar, has been the scene of repeated atrocities carried out by the Ethiopian prison guards. The prison where about several thousand political inmates are jailed live in unbearable living conditions, are systemically starved and beaten. The jail with its unhygienic cells are overcrowded with prisoners that experienc ...

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John Kerry is right: US troops in Iraq wouldn’t have stopped al-Qaida

On Sunday, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsay Grahamblasted the Obama administration for the return of al-Qaida to Iraq, arguing that the withdrawal of US troops in 2011 created a power vacuum that would be "filled with America's enemies". They claim that if the US had maintained even a small military presence in Iraq, al-Qaida would never have gained a foothold in the western regions of Iraq and r ...

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Somalia: foreign intervention is ‘root cause of civil strife’, says analyst

Dubai: An analyst on Somali affairs has said foreign intervention in Somalia — left without a central government since the 1991 ousting of its then military ruler — is “the root cause of civil strife”. Shams Hussain, an academic who holds dual Somali and British nationality, said: “One would argue that 90 per cent of the problems in Somalia are based on foreign intervention. They include regional and intern ...

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Al Qaeda’s Big Year in 2013

By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross Any way you measure it, 2013 was a good year for Al Qaeda. It wasn’t supposed to be. Shortly after the United States killed the group’s charismatic leader, Osama bin Laden, a couple of years ago, Obama administration officials openly proclaimed that his death, coupled with targeted strikes that eliminated other senior jihadist leaders, had just about put al Qaeda out of business. ...

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