HUGGING TREES WITH BLOOD STAINED HANDS The UN SEMG Somalia report of November 2018
I recently obtained a copy of the Somalia report by the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (SEMG) which reports to the United Nations Security Council. I spent a good deal of time reading through the 156-page report with high hopes. But as I turned the final page, I was hit by a strong dose of reality and I realized that I had been looking in the wrong direction. I had hoped that this group of highly skilled professionals who had been assembled to monitor the situation in Somalia would have put forth every effort to unearth and expose all the crimes committed against the Somali people by the foreign forces. Sadly, I was wrong. But I was doubly wrong to have even thought that the SEMG would be unbiased. How could they be when the UN was supporting the invasion and occupation of Somalia by the foreign troops?
I actually started reading through the summary of the report with great anticipation. Of course, it started with the usual focus on the arms embargo and Al-Shabaab related issues. Then it mentioned the political divisions between the federal government and the federal member states with each allying to a certain gulf state followed by security related issues in Somalia. Then I came across the infamous Barire operation on page 6:
On 25 August 2017, the Somali National Army carried out an operation near Barire village, Lower Shabelle region, supported by United States forces, that resulted in the deaths of two children and possibly other civilians. Ongoing airstrikes by the United States and regional Member States have also reportedly resulted in harm to civilians, with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documenting up to five deaths between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2018.
I kept reading with optimistic anticipation,but then the report became engrossed in the illegal charcoal trade and that continued until the end of the summary.
I read the paragraph again. Some detail regarding the massacre of Barire that was over a year ago and then an unbelievable statement apparently pushing the undeniable crimes of the foreign Special Forces and their aircraft right under the carpet. But I still wanted to see if they would elaborate more in the meat of the report and at least mention some of the many crimes against the Somali Muslim people over this last year.
Unfortunately, as I started reading through the actual report, I came across a clear indicator that that the report is biased and at times digresses into nothing more than a mouthpiece for the foreign forces. On page 39, the SEMG reported the following:
In early 2018, Somali security forces rescued a number of children held captive by Al-Shabaab. On 25 January 2018, for example, 36 children were rescued from Al-Shabaab in Wanlaweyn district, Lower Shabelle region, and taken to a rehabilitation center in Mogadishu.
This was an apparent reference to the Special Forces’ raid on a school which resulted in the deaths of five boys. According to SEMG, those five souls didn’t deserve to be even mentioned in a footnote and instead,the narrative was that scores of children were being heroically saved. It would have been more appropriate for the SEMG to do proper research and present the complete story rather than to solely rely on official reports from the federal government, the AMISOM foreigners, and the Americans who have been known to twist and hide the truth. To their credit, SEMG did focus a lot of effort in the report on investigating the Barire incident and showed the attempted cover-up by the Somali Government and the continued attempt to cover up the massacre by the US military. That is quite commendable, but the only problem is that Barire occurred over a year ago and was an incident that had already gained attention worldwide and the contradictions were already well known. It would have been more prudent to mention Barire in passing and then shed light on all of the other incidents.
As I continued reading through the report, I finally caught sight of the topic that I was looking for on page 42: Airstrikes by international forces. But as I read down I quickly realized that the whole section was only one paragraph long!!!
Airstrikes by international forces
161. United Nations agencies noted several incidents in which civilian casualties likely resulted from airstrikes and ground attacks by international forces. Between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2018, the United States conducted 31 publicly acknowledged airstrikes against Al-Shabaab and ISIL.144 The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, an organization that monitors United States airstrikes around the world, documented up to five civilian deaths as a result of these airstrikes; however, the Monitoring Group was unable to independently verify this figure.145 Neighboring Member States also conducted an unconfirmed number of airstrikes in Somalia during the mandate.
Now this is really the sad part. The SEMG is trying to side-step the issue. Instead of doing their job which includes monitoring and reporting on Somalia, they want us to rely on an organization that monitors generally acknowledged US airstrikes all around the world. As we all saw in Barire, the Americans will obliterate your family or neighbor’s family and then deny that they were even around. The cherry on top is that SEMG was “unable to independently verify this figure.” The figure they were referring to was the “up to five” civilian deaths.Are they being serious? As they mentioned themselves in passing, on May 10th 2018, five or more civilians were killed in cold blood in Ma’alinka…and that is just one incident. I already mentioned the five boys who were gunned down at their school in January 2018. There were also a number of well-known bombings in various regions includingGreater Juba, Gedo, Lower Shabelle and Galgadud which resulted in the loss of life. So, the “up to five” is really quite absurd and actually offensive in the least. The final sentence in the short paragraph regarding airstrikes by Neighboring Member States reads like a disclaimer saying, “don’t say we didn’t mention it.” No mention of casualties to men women and children, no mention of destruction to property, no mention of devastation to livestock.
Why was SEMG not able to investigate the numerous reports of crimes committed by the AFRICOM and AMISOM forces? SEMG states regarding its methodology for research on page 10:
(a) Collecting information on events and topics from multiple sources, where possible;
(b) Collecting information from sources with first-hand knowledge of events, where possible;
e) Obtaining physical, photographic, audio, video and/or documentary evidence in support of the information collected;
So once again, one has to be flabbergasted at the fact that SEMG hasn’t gathered more information and presented it. The information regarding many of the numerous attacks has been reported in the local media. Pictures have been posted online. Articles have been written. For God’s sake, the hospital in Sakow that was severely damaged on September 18th 2018 has yet to be rebuilt, the graves of the three boys who were killed in that cowardly air raid are still fresh!
SEMG may respond by claiming that it doesn’t have the proper contacts in place. Well in the same report when they delve into the weapons trade, they are somehow able to set up secret networks and gather info from all over Somalia. On page 14 they mention the following:
Over the course of the mandate, the Monitoring Group investigated the sale of weapons by arms dealers in Mogadishu, Baidoa and Dhusamareb. Owing to the sensitivity of the research and security considerations, the Group utilized a network of nearly 20 local data collectors, managed through the Group’s interlocutors.
In the case of the gun trade, “owing to the sensitivity of the research and security considerations,” SEMG was able to set up networks and get all the data needed, including pictures.
Maybe it has to do with priorities. Maybe these illegal bombings and raids that terrorize the Somali people aren’t something that the UN and foreigners, are interested in. I say that because when you look at something of less importance, you see the SEMG putting forth every effort and leaving no stone unturned to get to the bottom of it. For example, the illegal charcoal trade. Over 20 pages of the report are dedicated to the charcoal trade. Now don’t get me wrong I love trees more than anyone, but where is the balance…where is the justice? Based on the SEMG report it would be fair to conclude that the lives of Somalis are less valuable than trees!
At the beginning of the report, the SEMG states that throughout the mandate they traveled to 19 countries and various cities in Somalia, gaining access to many individuals and locations neededto gather information for the report. In addition, they were based in Kenya and traveled to Ethiopia and AMISOM bases in Somalia. Since they were able to state that, “Neighboring Member States also conducted an unconfirmed number of airstrikes in Somalia during the mandate,” why were they not able to question the authorities and gather the vitalsfacts from a multitude of sources regarding the transgressions against the Somali people?
While the SEMG is busy diverting its time, money, resources, and contacts to other more important matters, the foreign forces are continuing to murder Somalis at will. When I finished reading the November 2018 SEMG report and was contemplating writing some comments regarding it, I got some breaking news from a friend. Guess what…yes, another air strike! My friend is a businessman who has contacts in Kismayo and he was able to gather the following details regarding the airstrike:
After 9pm on Thursday the 27th of December 2018 a group of trucks were travelling together on the road between Kismayo and Afmadow. They had packed their trucks with goods from Kismayo and were carrying them to various cities in southern Somalia. When they reached about 20 kilometers from Afmadow they were reportedly hit with a volley of around eight bombs. One of the drivers was killed and another person was injured. There was also damage to the vehicles.
I decided to ask my associate to get more detailed info regarding the victims to help SEMG out in their “sincere efforts” to uncover the crimes against the Somali Muslim people. We were able to easily find out that the name of the soul who was murdered is Mohammad Abdi Hajji from the Biyamaal tribe. He was a young Kismayo resident in his early 20s. He had been working to support his family and was saving up money to get married.After being killed in the air raid, his body was taken to Afmadow where he was buried, may God have mercy upon him. If it matters to SEMG, they can note these details under “alleged attacks on civilians” and then use their elaborate network of sources and resources to independently verify and hopefully eventually report them.
The news of the raids and airstrikes are common knowledge in Somalia because news travels quickly through the tribes as our experts in SEMG well know. In addition, now with internet and online social networks the details of any operation can make their way to Australia and America within minutes. In addition, anyone with the slightest network of contacts would be able to get updated news of all operations as they occur.
It is mentioned in the SEMG report that one of its members resigned from the group before the 2018 report was prepared. I don’t know if Mr. Dekker has resigned due to the ethical dilemmathat he apparently witnessed in the coverage, but I think the rest of the members should seriously consider following his footsteps if they cannot provide a complete, balanced, and unbiased report on Somalia including ALL crimes by the foreign forces.
Instead of focusing so much time on the diversion of weapons and the charcoal trade they should be spending time doing in-depth investigations into the offenses against the Somali people. They should be investigating the weapons that are being used and ammunition that is being devastatingly poured on our farms, our cities, our homes, our livestock, and our loved ones. If they are so concerned of the welfare of trees (charcoal trade) in Somalia, we can start gathering data of how many trees are being destroyed in the raids and bombings so that they pay more attention to them. Their claiming to be so concerned with the trees in Somalia while turning half a blind eye to the victims of Kenyan, Ethiopian, and American aggression makes them part and parcel of the crimes. It’s like the SEMG team standing around a huge Yak tree, smiling and hugging the tree, oblivious to the blood stained ontheir hands.
Once again, the latest SEMG report is proof that the Somali Muslim people cannot rely on foreign agencies, especially those that were responsible for bringing the foreign forces in the first place. Those organizations can never be unbiased as they are part of the conflict and have a vested interest in presenting a certain picture of reality, maximizing damage control, and keeping some information under wraps. This is clear as they stated the following on page 11 in regards to the information that they actually brought in their report.
8. In accordance with the Secretary-General’s bulletin on information sensitivity, classification and handling (ST/SGB/2007/6), the Monitoring Group has submitted to the Committee, together with the present report, several strictly confidential annexes containing information whose disclosure may be detrimental to the proper functioning of the United Nations or to the welfare and safety of its staff or third parties or may violate the Organization’s legal obligations.
Somalis both at home and abroad should wake up and realize that they must stand up for themselves and expose the criminals for what they are. Don’t be fooled by these misleading, prejudiced, and polished reports. Don’t rely on the criminals to save you from the villains. Instead stand hand in hand and reject all foreign involvement and influence. Liberty or death!
By Hasan Ali