April 17 . 2004
“Warlords, Powerbrokers, Proxies,
Serial killers, War criminals and Drug barons.”
M. M. Afrah
observers at the Somali peace talks scratch their heads
and try to place the participants at the warthog infested
Nairobi suburb of Mbagathi, also known as the circus of
the decade. Others call it Somalia’s quick political
sand. And they ask: Who these people are? Who are they
working for? And just what are their agendas, hidden or
otherwise? Nobody, including this writer, seems quite
overstressed Ambassador Kiplagat likely holds the key
to the intrigue and brings us into the loop, despite two
powerful stakeholders in the region. Or perhaps the truth
will begin to reveal itself after the Ambassador retires
and write a book about his bitter experience with the
Somali warlords and their paymasters. However, one thing
we know for sure for the moment is that the critical phase
of the talks will go ahead come what may, according to
event that galled many of us is why it took such a long
time (17 months) to reach a simple consensus to bury the
hatched (the gun in the Somalia case), and to rebuild
the country from the smoking ashes? “Warlords, powerbrokers,
proxies or surrogates, serial killers and drug barons
are the main disrupters of the peace talks”, a prominent
leader of the outfoxed civic society at the talks said.
“Their real concern is for someone to fully disclose
their past and would do anything to derail any peace overture,”
this is happening whilst the ordinary men and women are
living through long running physical and emotional ordeal.
As a matter of fact they have adapted to any circumstances
sadistically imposed on them by a bunch of war criminals
and their gun-toting thugs.
that’s not all, there were several fist fights and
shouting matches that stunned the normally submissive
Kenyans. That was before the venue was moved from the
western town of Eldoret to the harsh environment called
Mbagathi “to save money.” Since then, the
plot has only grown more tangled and complex. And at least
one man died under mysterious circumstances. Kenya’s
homicide squads said they are investigating what they
perceived as “politically motivated cold blood murder”,
and pledged to apprehend the culprit(s), but the trail
has gone cold since then. According to members of the
civic society, the murdered man was an outspoken critic
of the warlords and the way the talks were being conducted
by the chairman and some members of IGAD.
recall the assassination of the charismatic Kenyan foreign
minister, Robert Ouko, ten years ago under similar circumstances,
and the cover up that followed. He too was an outspoken
critic of corruption in the Moi government. He was in
the process of compiling a list of his cabinet colleagues
who were involved in corruption and nepotism before he
was allegedly murdered in his own home by big wigs in
the government. The trail has also gone cold in that grisly
is the connection between the two cases? Nasty official
and media cover up.
there is the case of the merchants of death (arms traffickers)
in Mogadishu, who from day one despised the establishment
of a national government. They perceive that any government
as a plague of locusts to devour their ill-gotten profits.
Besides, they have their own private army and stockpiles
of weapons to achieve their ends.
during the recent demonstration in Mogadishu it has become
clear that, with the exception of the big merchants, money
changers, Qaad and cigarette importers and petty traders,
the people in Mogadishu expressed their anger and disillusion
about the warlords who boycotted the peace talks. They
shouted that they would welcome an all-inclusive national
government minus the war criminals and the gun traffickers.
see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage,
or of principles.”
mandate of the United Nations weapons monitors in Somalia
is to investigate, inspect, monitor and stop the flow
of weapons into Somalia and name names. But it now seems
that the mandate is on hold, citing insecurity in the
in Iraq during the UN inspection of the yet undiscovered
WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction), the UN appointed team
of weapons monitors in Somalia should rely on high-resolution
satellite to monitor the country’s porous borders
with its neighbours. They should also glean information
about weapons activities from local NGOs, such as the
Elman and Dr. Ismail Jima’aleh Human Rights Centers,
and from publicly available data.
usual, there has been innumerable instances of UN ineptness
in the past, and this is just one of them.
Watch and Amnesty International, for example had also
compiled list of arms traffickers in Somalia as well as
merchants who printed trillions of counterfeit currency
in Indonesia and flooded Somali markets with this bogus
currency, thus trigging off hyperinflation in the country.
Obviously there was no incentive to share information
between these bodies for a variety of reasons. The abovementioned
local human rights groups again sent a damning report
on the illegal printing of counterfeit currency by big
Somali merchants, who also doubled as weapons traffickers,
to Interpol in 2002. Typically, no action against the
culprits has been taken.
“LICIT AND ILLICIT WEAPONS”
are people in the West who make a distinction between
what they call “licit and illicit” weapons,
but the truth is that all weapons are meant to kill unarmed
civilians—whether they are sold legally or illegally,
particularly to armed groups and to zones of conflict,
23-member U.N. experts group, chaired by Mitsuso Donowaki
of Japan met in Geneva in September 2001 the objective
of which was to develop and strengthen international effort
to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in
small arms and weapons to armed groups in conflict zones,
and to name names.
Deen, UN correspondent of IPS news agency, quoted official
UN report, which said the developed countries produce
currently more than 500 million of artillery pieces in
circulation and small arms. Of this, about 55 million
were the Russian-developed AK-47 assault rifle, seven
million of which are in circulation in conflict zones
in Africa alone, including Somalia.
to the United Nations, about 40 per cent of the worldwide
flow of small arms (semi automatic guns, machineguns,
mortars, land mines, grenades and the shoulder fired missiles)
could be attributed to illicit trafficking.
extraordinarily detailed findings are probably gathering
dusty at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
to you, Mr. Kofi Annan!
By M. M. Afrah©2003,