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Senior Somali General Gunned Down in Mogadishu.

A senior Somali military officer was gunned down in Mogadishu Sunday evening, security sources told VOA’s Somali service.

Gunmen armed with pistols fatally shot General Abdullahi Mohamed Sheikh Qururuh and a bodyguard as the two men were walking home from a mosque in the Somali capital, witnesses said.

The attackers walked past General Qururuh and the bodyguard, then turned and shot them from behind, the sources quoted the witnesses as saying.

Both victims died on the spot.

Qururuh was a senior army officer at Somalia’s command and control headquarters in Mogadishu. He served previously as deputy commander of logistics for the Somali army.

There no immediate claim of responsibility for the assassinations. Al-Shabab militants are believed to be involved in most such attacks on government officials.

One week ago a similar shooting in southern Mogadishu killed a senior Somali intelligence officer and his bodyguard. The attackers in that case were in a vehicle that fired on Mohamud Moallim Hassan Qoley and his bodyguard in the capital’s Dharkaynlay district. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for those killings.

In a separate incident late Sunday, two government soldiers and a civilian were killed in an Al-Shabab ambush in Somalia’s Puntland region, witnesses said.

Hospital officials in Bosaso confirmed to VOA Somali that they had received the bodies of two soldiers and one woman following the attack in Galgala Highlands, 40 kilometers south of Bosaso, a regional commercial center. Sources said five other soldiers were wounded.

Al-Shabab militants said they carried out the attack, targeting a military vehicle carrying soldiers to the Puntland base in Galgala Highlands.

—-VOA

We are not UN employees, Museveni tells AMISOM.

President Museveni has told countries contributing troops to the peace keeping mission in Somalia that they are not United Nations (UN) employees but allies offering pan-Africanism services.

The President made the remarks at a meeting of African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) troop contributing countries in New York, US on Thursday. He emphasised that the troops’ role in Somalia is purely for pan-African reasons like stabilising Somalia.

“This is a pan-African venture. We are not employees of the United Nations or Somalia,” Mr Museveni was quoted as saying in a State House statement released yesterday.

Mr Museveni, who chaired the closed-door meeting, called for review of the situation in Somalia purposely to improve the political and military coordination to ensure that peace and security prevail in Somalia.

The meeting was attended by, among other countries, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti and host Somalia.

According to sources, top priority for Somalia is building a strong national army and taking stock of the political situation.

All parties agreed to follow keenly a review on Amisom by the UN Secretary General and after all the troop contributing countries would take the necessary steps.

The UN provides logistics, technical and training support to Amisom and to the Somali National Army. The UN believes that with enhanced support to Amisom, the African Union Force and predictable funding, along with a coordinated effort to build the Somali National Army and police Forces, al-Shabaab can be defeated.

During the meeting, Uganda was elected as the official spokesperson of the troop contributing countries.

The meeting was attended by Somalia Hassan prime minister Ali Khare, Ethiopia premier Desalegn Hailemariam, Kenya foreign affairs minister Amina Muhammed, African Union Commissioner Chergui Ismael, Burundi foreign affairs minister Allen Nyamitwe, Djibouti foreign affairs minister Yusuf Mahmoud and Somalia defence minister Abdullahi Rachid.

Uganda was represented by Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa, Chief of Defence Forces David Muhoozi, Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the UN Adoniya Ayebare and Uganda’s Military Adviser at the Uganda Mission in New York, Maj Gen Silver Kayemba, among others.

Meeting the UN chief

Security issues. In a related development, President Museveni also met the UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the sidelines of the ongoing 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York, US. The President briefed the UN chief on the political and security situation in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and in the region.
 

UAE participate in Ministerial Meetings on Somalia, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

The United Arab Emirates, UAE, participated in the Ministerial Meeting on Somalia, which was held on the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the United Nations, UN, General Assembly, in New York, on Thursday.

Fares Al Mazrouie, Advisor at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, represented the UAE in the meeting, which was co-organiserd by the UK, Italy and Ethiopia.

Addressing the event, Hassan Ali, Prime Minister of Somalia, reviewed achievements made by his government and its efforts to tackle major constitutional issues, including power sharing, resources distribution and promotion of democracy as well as preparation for 2021 elections.

The ministers discussed methods to increase momentum for steps the Somali government should take to implement political reforms and economic recovery.

The UAE official also attended the Ministerial Meeting of Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in New York yesterday.

The representative of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) – Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates – reiterated their political resolve to contribute to a successful conclusion of the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

They assessed the current challenges to nuclear disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and reaffirmed the critical importance of concerted action to work towards shared goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

The NPDI condemned in the strongest terms the grave threat posed by North Korea’s repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests which not only violate numerous UN Security Council resolutions but also significantly threaten both regional and international peace and security.

WAM/Tariq alfaham

Somalia Seeks Easing of Arms Embargo in Effort to Defeat al-Shabab.

Delivering his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire praised his country’s political and security development with the help of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM.

“In Somalia, we have made significant strides, in which we have weakened the capability of al-Shabab,” Khaire said.

FILE - Somalia's Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire addresses lawmakers in Mogadishu, Somalia, March 1, 2017.

FILE – Somalia’s Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire addresses lawmakers in Mogadishu, Somalia, March 1, 2017.

​The prime minister said his country needs a longstanding weapons embargo fully lifted so the national army can obtain heavy weapons to defeat al-Shabab, an Islamist militant group affiliated to al-Qaida. Al-Shabab is behind the suicide bombings and attacks on hotels and restaurants as well as military bases for African Union troops and the Somali National Army.

“To ensure the sustainability of such gains, we focused on strengthening the military capability of our national security forces, however, the arms embargo imposed against Somalia is a severe limitation towards this objective,” Khaire told the U.N. assembly.

He said his government is prepared to work with the world body and its partners toward “a roadmap” on lifting the arms embargo.

FILE - A Somali soldier stands on guard next to a destroyed car near a popular mall after a car bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 30, 2017. The Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab often carries out deadly bombings in Mogadishu.

FILE – A Somali soldier stands on guard next to a destroyed car near a popular mall after a car bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 30, 2017. The Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab often carries out deadly bombings in Mogadishu.

Limit influence of terror groups

Khaire urged global leaders to “spare no effort” to neutralize the growth and influence of international terrorist groups.

The prime minister also said his country needs debt relief to improve initiatives for gender empowerment, respect for human rights and education. Such a move will help Somalia recover after living without a properly functioning central government for more than a quarter century.

In his address to the U.N. body, Khaire also underscored the need to ensure continuous and predictable funding for the AMISOM, which is supporting his country by helping to keep al-Shabab militants at bay.

Among the international issues Khaire raised in his speech was mitigating the impact of global climate change and the need for reforms at the United Nations.

UN call for support

The Somali government appeal for the lifting of its arms embargo comes nearly two weeks after the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country, known as UNSOM, called for practical support and political encouragement to the Somali leadership.

Briefing the U.N. Security Council Sept. 13, Michael Keating, the special representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Somalia, said Mogadishu was safer, but the larger security situation was volatile because al-Shabab terrorist groups remain a potent threat.

Somalia came under the U.N. arms embargo shortly after the nation plunged into civil war in 1992. The aim was to cut the flow of weapons to feuding clan warlords, who a year earlier had ousted military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

In 2013, the U.N. Security Council partially lifted the embargo for one year, allowing the weak Somali government, endangered by armed extremists, to buy light weapons to strengthen its security forces and assert its control beyond Mogadishu.

—VOA

China pledges to support Somalia’s development.

China and Somalia enjoy a long history of friendship, Wang said, adding that China was one of the countries that first recognized Somalia’s independence and Somalia was the first country in East Africa to establish diplomatic relations with China.

China has always supported Somalia in preserving its national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, and supports peace and reconstruction in the country, he said.

With authorization of related UN resolutions, China has deployed its navy fleet to carry out escort missions in the waters off Somalia, which has contributed to maintaining security there, he added.

China supports the Somali government in leading its people to embark on the path of peaceful development soon, Wang said.

China is willing to cooperate with Somalia in various fields and help Somalia preserve peace, develop its economy and improve its people’s livelihood so as to continuously strengthen its self-development skills, Wang added.

Khaire, for his part, said the Somali people always remember China’s support and help for Somalia’s independence and development.

Somalia highly values China’s international status and its important role in promoting Africa’s development, Khaire said.

Somalia supports the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and hopes that it will play a unique role in jointly building the Belt and Road, he added.

Kenya keen on stabilising Somalia, partners must help – CS Amina tells UNGA.

Kenya is committed to stabilising Somalia, Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed has said, and asked partners to help.

Amina noted the country has suffered decades of instability but that remarkable positive developments have been witnessed.

She thanked those attending the High-Level Meeting including the United Kingdom, Ethiopia and Italy, and assured them of Kenya’s commitment as President Mohamed Farmajo’s country pursues peace and stability.

The Cabinet Secretary said the capital Mogadishu is now open for business and that investors are moving beyond speculation to establish their presence there.

Amina said the successful conclusion of the 2016/17 electoral process set Somalia on a path of improved governance and political stability, including the fight against corruption.

“Somalia today has in place an elected and more broadly based government that has demonstrated commitment to formulate a new constitution, create a viable federal system of government and rebuild state institutions.”

She addressed the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday,

The minister said through a framework of a bilateral Joint Commission for Cooperation, Kenya had made commitments including the establishment of more border posts to ease movement.

Amina also cited restored direct air services between Mogadishu and Nairobi and the training of an agreed number of teachers, nurses and administrators on behalf of the Somalia government.

“We believe these modest capacity-building assistance programmes will facilitate the expansion and extension of critical public services by the government to the population.”

Read: KMTC to admit first batch of 50 Somali students in September

Amina said Kenya welcomes the international community and friends to avail additional resources for more programmes for Somali officials which could be delivered in Kenya’s institutions.

Security remains the single most important factor in Somalia’s political and economic aspirations.

The situation remains precarious as al Shabaab terror group appears to have invigorated heinous acts of terror, threatening a rollback of gains made.

Kenya supports other regional and international initiatives on Somalia. One of these initiatives was the London Conference on Somalia whose third edition in May endorsed a New Partnership for Somalia.

The goals are peace, stability and prosperity.

The Third London Conference expressed support for a condition-based transition from AMISOM to Somali security forces, starting late 2018, with clear target dates linked to the security sector reform that Somalia is undertaking.

Amina further assured Kenya will remain a faithful partner to the people of Somalia and continue working closely with the federal government, the region and the international community in getting Somalia out of the shadows of conflict.

Somalia rebukes its states for breaking with Qatar.

Somalia’s government rebuked its three semi-autonomous regions on Thursday for cutting ties with Qatar, saying it was determined to stay neutral in the Gulf nation’s dispute with other Arab states.

The region of Galmudug issued a statement on Wednesday saying it stood with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in the regional row, followed similar declarations last month by the regions of Puntland and Hirshabelle.

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Somalia’s federal government responded by saying only it had the authority to speak on foreign affairs.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut political and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism and their arch-foe Iran – charges that Doha denies.

The spat about it in volatile but strategically located Somalia illustrated how far the political ripples from Qatar’s dispute have spread.

Somalia’s open stance is important for Qatar – Somalia’s airspace remains open for Qatar Airways, a critical lifeline amid the blockade.

Gulf Arab States have meanwhile been pouring resources into the semi-autonomous regions.

“(The Arab states) are trying to give more energy and emphasize more their relations with these regional governments, trying to pressure them to go against the federal government,” said Nairobi-based Somalia expert Ahmed Roble.

The choice by those regions to break from the federal government and reject Qatar, is unsurprising, Roble added.

Somalia’s position also underlines its delicate position – dependent on trade from Saudi Arabia, but increasing close to Turkey, which is backing Qatar in the dispute.

Saudi Arabia in Somalia’s top export partner, and the United Arab Emirates supplies the horn of Africa country with key imports from electronics to building materials.

Turkey has poured in more than $1 billion in aid since President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Somalia in 2011 and is expected to open a military base in Mogadishu this month.

“The cabinet reaffirms the federal government’s decision in June … that Somalia is neutral about the conflict of Gulf countries,” read a statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

The statement called on “the conflict be solved brotherly, peacefully and diplomatically.”

Additional reporting by Orhan Coskun in Ankara and Maggie Fick in Nairobi; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Andrew Heavens

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Ethiopia must step up political reforms, U.S. ‘disturbed’ over ethnic clashes.

The United States says Ethiopia must open up its political space if its is to cement its place in the future as a “strong, prosperous and democratic nation.”

This was contained in a press statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa. The September 19, 2017 statement was referring to reports of escalated ethnic violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions.

“We are disturbed by the troubling reports of ethnic violence and the large-scale displacement of people living along the border between the Oromia and Somali regions, particularly in Hararge, although the details of what is occurring remain unclear.

“We urge the Ethiopian government to conduct a transparent investigation into all allegations of violence and to hold those responsible accountable. At the same time, on the local level, communities must be encouraged and given space to seek peaceful resolutions to the underlying conflicts,” the statement read in part.

The government has admitted that clashes along the border of Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions have displaced around 50,000 people, deaths of another 50 people have been reported according to a senior regional official.

Calls for Ethiopia to reform have been long trumpeted – but political watchers say Addis Ababa has done very little in that direction.

The clashes which have been put down to competition for resources between people in both states has prompted the government to send the military in. The Somalis are predominantly pastoralists whiles the Oromias are largely farmers – the fight for common resources like water and land is part of the official reason advanced.

Another reason is that a referendum meant to clearly define the border regions of the respective states has yet to be fully implemented.

Amidst all of that, Oromo activists hold that the chaos is championed by a federal police unit known as the ‘Liyu Police.’ Activists aver that the unit is stoking the violence with the aim of giving the Oromia region – one of the biggest and most populous in the country – a bad name.

“We believe Ethiopia’s future as a strong, prosperous, and democratic nation depends on open and inclusive political dialogue for all Ethiopians, greater government transparency, and strengthening the institutions of democracy and justice. These recent events underscore the need to make more rapid and concrete progress on reform in these areas.” the release concluded.

—-Africanews

Boom for Kenyan miraa traders as shortage.

Miraa traders from Kenya are cashing in on a shortage being experienced in Somaliland following the disruption of the business by conflicts in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions.

Ethiopia supplies most of the miraa consumed in Hargeisa, Somaliland and Djibouti but recent ethnic conflicts have cut off transport from the miraa growing areas.

In Ethiopia, miraa is largely grown in the eastern regions of Dire Dawa state and Harari region which are both about 200 kilometres from Hargeisa.

On Friday last week, BBC reported that dozens of people had died and at least 30,000 displaced in clashes across Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions in recent days while local media said the conflicts had affected business in eastern Ethiopia.

12 TONNES

Speaking to Nation, Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) spokesman Kimathi Munjuri said they are now delivering 12 tonnes of miraa to Hargeisa since last week.

He said they entered the market after traders and consumers in Somaliland protested over shortage of the herb that is highly prized in the region.

“Two aircraft are ferrying 12 tonnes of miraa from Nairobi since last week.

“We have been kept out of the market by hefty taxes and this is why we need government intervention for constant supply. We wish the national government can grab this chance to regularise the trading framework for us to continue with the supply,” Mr Munjuri said.

TAX

Miraa is a major tax earner for Somaliland and reports indicate that its sale generated 20 percent of the government’s Sh15 billion budget in 2014.

Somaliland is said to spend over Sh54 billion annually on Ethiopian miraa and the sector is a key source of employment in the unrecognised state.

In 2016, former Meru Governor Peter Munya visited Hargeisa to look for miraa market in a trip that turned controversial.

Mr Munya said Kenyan miraa is charged 300 percent duty while the Ethiopian khat is deducted 100 percent duty making it impossible to compete.

“The miraa market in Somaliland is worth about Sh40 billion which the Meru farmers should share in,” the former governor said.

He had sought to persuade the government of Somaliland to remove the obstacles that have hindered the export of miraa to Hargeisa.

Somaliland broke away from the Federal Republic of Somalia in 1991.

It shares borders with Djibouti to the west, Ethiopia to the south and Somalia to the east, and is yet to be recognised as a sovereign state.

‘DEAD OR ALIVE’: President Trump appears on Al-Qaeda wanted notice.


President Donald Trump is seen in a wanted notice posted by Al-Qaeda supporters that call for his targeting over “crimes against Islam.”


Al-Qaeda has had a resurgence online in recent months, using the heir of the group’s late leader Osama bin Laden—his son Hamza—as a propaganda pawn whose family lineage boosts its image. Now, Al-Qaeda’s supporters are using another notable name to attract attention: President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, the Al-Hijrah media group, marked by a green logo and active for only the past several months, released a wanted notice for the U.S. president, calling for his capture “dead or alive.”

The notice, provided to Newsweek by the jihadi monitoring site Jihadoscope, says Trump should be targeted for his “crimes against Islam.” It says he is sought for “treason, murder, injustice, kidnapping, massacre, extremism, negligence, hate.”

The release came a week after the jihadi channel warned it would have “a message to Trump and the people of America coming soon.”

Tuesday’s release also includes a message that pointed to Trump’s decision to expand U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

“Trump is talking about winning in Afghanistan. And you Americans what do you think? Do you not know history?” it reads, referring to the failure of the Bush and Obama administrations to defeat the Taliban mujahedeen, Arabic for holy warriors.

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“It is clear that Trump is waging this war only for his hatred of Muslims,” it says. “You will never be victorious, you will be defeated.” The statement repeats the Taliban phrase that Afghanistan will become a “graveyard” for American troops.

The Taliban is the most prominent insurgent group in the country, and Al-Qaeda is allied with it. Both are vying for influence against a growing Islamic State militant group (ISIS) affiliate in the country.

Al-Qaeda has long been an adversary of the U.S., claiming the deadliest attacks on U.S. soil, the 9/11 hijackings that killed almost 3,000 people in 2001.

The jihadi group’s grievances with the U.S. stem from a hatred of democracy and the Western world, but it has long listed American foreign policy as its main justification for violence against civilian and military targets. The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 gave birth to Al-Qaeda in Iraq, an insurgency that left a bloody trail across the country for occupying Western forces.

AL-HIJRAH MEDIA

That group would later develop and split into what is now ISIS, the target of a U.S.-led coalition of air forces that is bombing the militant group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. is also conducting drone campaigns against Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabab in Somalia and Al-Qaeda’s most powerful wing, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Trump, throughout his presidential campaign and first months as president, has pledged to go to war on “radical Islamic terrorism.” He has given U.S. commanders greater remit to conduct airstrikes in the Middle East and has put forward a travel ban on seven Muslim-majority nations, a decision that community leaders have suggested will alienate young, disenfranchised Muslims in the U.S. who could sympathize with Al-Qaeda and ISIS propaganda.

But Trump’s war on radical Islamism energized his base of support, and the real threat that extremist groups pose to the president is low because of the resources of the U.S. security services. The wanted notice is less a meaningful threat and more likely an attempt to drum up support among potential supporters in line with the group’s recent recruitment drive.

Using Hamza bin Laden, Al-Qaeda has attempted to rally support for its cause after losing influence to ISIS during the so-called caliphate’s rise from mid-2014 onward. However, ISIS has suffered a series of battlefield losses that have greatly reduced the territory it holds.

In May, Al-Qaeda’s propaganda arm As-Sahab released an English- and Arabic-language audio message from Hamza giving “advice” to “martyrdom seekers in the West.” He mentions conflicts across the Middle East, particularly in support of Sunni Muslims in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to inspire supporters.

“Be perfect in your choice of targets, so that you may damage your enemies more,” he said. “Be professional in your choice of weapons. It is not necessary that it should be a military tool. If you are able to pick a firearm, well and good; if not, the options are many.”

As Al-Qaeda continues to put out more propaganda, a report released late Monday showed Americans and non-Americans based in the U.S. were some of the most frequent consumers of radical Islamist material, behind only Turkey, and ahead of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Britain. The report, entitled “The New Netwar,” collected data between February 19 and May 3 that showed the U.S. with 10,388 clicks on jihadi propaganda, followed by Saudi Arabia (10,239), Iraq (8,138) and Britain (6,107).

Source: Newsweek.