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Gaddafi, Al Shabaab and Beautiful Kampala

I took a couple of hours out today to visit what used to be called the 'Gadaffi Mosque' in 'Old Kampala'. This, according to the testimony of my tour guide, is the oldest part of the city, and the hill on which the mosque sits was where the British first set up camp. The story goes that this was a place where many Impala were then found, so the settlement was naturally named 'Camp Impala', which over the ye ...

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Al-Shabab and the party balloon effect

From the outset, let me make one thing clear: Al-Shabab and its extremist world view is neither constructive nor sustainable. This extremist neo-Islamist group represents one of two nihilistic worldviews that dominated the 21st century political discourse - global (dysfunctional) jihadism and global war on terrorism. Both, due to their applied mantra - with hammer, all problems are solvable - are destined t ...

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Amisom must Leave Somalia Before ‘Mission Creep’ Sets In

A recent trip to the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, has in fact opened my eyes to what a typical peacekeeper expects to gain from his tour of duty in Somalia. There, I met a Burundian peacekeeper who had returned from Mogadishu, the Somali capital. The officer, whose name I will keep it to myself, told me that, unlike the general belief that the African Union Mission in Somalia is there to finish off Al Shab ...

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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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