Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Post-Zionism: From Racism To Narcissim

Left: Israeli Interior Minister, Meir Sheetrit.

According to an Israeli cabinet communiqué, it was decided that the Interior Ministry "would issue entry visas for groups regarding conversion and the acquisition of citizenship only with government approval and in accordance with special criteria."

Addressing the governing board of the Jewish Agency, Israeli Interior Minister, Meir Sheetrit, said that funds scheduled to accommodate new Jewish immigrants to Israel should instead, be directed to helping immigrants already living in Israel.
Mr. Sheetrit said of absorbing "lost tribes" from Africa and Asia: “Don't go finding me any lost tribes, because I won't let them in any more," he declared. "We have enough problems in Israel. Let them go to America."
This new call for stringent Jewish immigration cuts against the grain of Israel's Jewish demographic woes as Arabs both inside and in the occupied territories of Israel continue to out-pace Israeli birthrates.

Essentially, Mr. Sheetrit has lost sight of what Zionism and Israel are supposed to represent. The country was founded on immigration and meant to serve as a refuge for persecuted people. Meir Sheetrit’s own family were immigrants from Morocco. Minister Sheetrit was born in the town of Ksar Souk, Morocco in 1948 and made aliya at the age of 9. He undoubtedly, endured various types of discrimination, as many established Israelis looked down on Sephardi immigrants from Morocco--the so-called "darkies."

Left: Jewish Graduates from India at the MaTan-Herzog Hospital Nurse's Assistant Program in Israel. There are three major Jewish communities in India: the Bene Israel, the Cochini and the Baghdadi Jews. There also exist smaller enclaves including the often forgotten group of "untouchable" Telugu Jews in India.

Apparently, Meir Sheetrit's mobility in Israeli society now allows him to mock descendants of the lost Jewish tribes. Mr. Sheetrit is seemingly, exploiting recent news reports about the discovery of neo-Nazis among recent immigrants to Israel as an excuse to keep out other unrelated groups that sincerely, want to emigrate to Israel. The former has absolutely nothing to do with the latter. Meir Sheetrit's contemplation on immigration is a cut of the cloth that colors immigrant aspiration as economic motivation. Immigration officials all over the world wrestle with this suspicion when deliberating applications for asylum and refugee status.

Left: Jewish immigrants from France disembark from an airplane upon their arrival at Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv. Some 600 Jews from France arrived in Israel in July 2007.

There are elements of racism and ignorance that run through Mr. Sheetrit’s thinking on this issue. A person’s country of origin, the color of their skin or, their economic status have little to do with their Jewish identity – nor should they be. The return to Israel in the Zionist lexicon is meant to be seen as an unassailable process. And no one, not even a minister in the cabinet, should contravene that symbolism--that existential lore.

Israel's Chief Rabbinate recognized the Bnei Menashe as "descendants of Israel" in March, 2005 and sent a a beit din (rabbinical court) on its behalf to the region to formally convert them to Judaism.

Members of the Association for Ethiopian Jews voiced their concerns regarding Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit's suggestion of amending the implementation of the Law of Return.

Left: Danny Admasu, Executive Director of the Israel Association of Ethiopian Jews.

"The Jewish State was not formed so that those who arrived first would suddenly, decide to close the gates. I hope and trust that there are enough individuals within the Jewish people and the Israeli community that wouldn't allow that to happen," said Rabbi Yoel Ben-Nun, a senior member of the association's board.
"I'm very sorry to see Israel's interior minister demonstrating such signs of post-Zionism. So, he says 'stop the immigration for Ethiopia.' Why not? Two-thirds of Ethiopian Jews have already come to Israel. As far as he's concerned, the last third can either go to the United States or try and make it in Ethiopia."

"I don't understand who he is trying to impress," added Ben-Nun. "He allows complete gentiles from Russia into Israel based on the grandchild clause (section 4a of the Law of Return states that the grandchild of a Jewish person may immigrate to Israel even if he of she are not Jewish themselves). Why, because they are white and educated? One might suspect a hint of racism in his words. After all – I didn't hear him call for the cessation of Russian immigration."
Sheetrit says of the Falasha Jews emigrating to Israel to the Jerusalem Post in an interview: "Who needs them?" "They are all Christians. We need to take care of the future of Israel and this immigration will never finish."
The first Falasha to move to Israel were unquestionably Jewish. But a new group calling themselves the Falash Mura emerged. The Falash Mura are Ethiopians living a Christian lifestyle but who claim to have been forced to convert to Christianity from Judaism.

Left: The Israeli Supreme Court complex.

A recent Israeli Supreme Court case highlights the divide between the pragmatist Zionists and the orthodox wing of the concept. The Israeli Interior Minister, Yitzhak Peretz, submitted his resignation in protest of a Supreme Court ruling ordering him to list an American immigrant who underwent a Reform conversion as a Jew in the Israeli population registry.
Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz explained: "The High Court of Justice demanded that I list a non-Jew as a Jew. As a Jew and a rabbi loyal to the tradition and Bible of Israel, I have declared and declare again that my hand will never ever sign for a fraudulent conversion that was not conducted according to the Halakha."
Halakha is the code of Jewish law. The American immigrant, Shoshana Miller, was converted by a Reform rabbi in Colorado Springs, USA, before she came to live in Israel.

When Ms. Miller immigrated and applied for identity papers, Rabbi Peretz agreed to list her as Jewish, but added alongside her religion the word ''converted.'' The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the additional word was illegal and that Rabbi Peretz must list Ms. Miller merely, as a Jew.

Meir Sheetrit's stance on aliya has been clear as early as June. In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, Meir Sheetrit criticized Israeli policy of bringing great numbers of "quasi-Jews" to the country, stating that he wants to introduce new criteria that will allow only "bona-fide Jews" to make aliya.

Left: Israeli authorities have been accused of ignoring the growing fascist sentiment in the country. Israeli society continues to become desensitized to violence and hate as the state marries a system of extreme measures to control and subdue its occupied population. The core values and ideals such as patriotism, Jewish pride and empathy are increasingly, being replaced by a narrower mode of thinking; one that is focused far more selfishly on what is best for the individual. Israelis continue to grapple with a widening sense of narcissism, which a culture of hate, violence and confiscation instills and feeds off.
"It's time to bring only Jews to Israel. If we don't discuss these issues now, within a few years Israel will no longer be the State of the Jews. We returned to our homeland after 2,000 years in exile in order to build a Jewish, Zionist state here, not a Foreign Legionaries country. Entrance to the country should not be automatic."
Meir Sheetrit said he was shocked to discover statistics about the number of non-Jews living in the country.

Left: Refugees from the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan.
"Seventy percent of emigrants from the Former Soviet Union are not Jewish, the Falash Mura continue to pour in from Ethiopia, Jewish organizations roam the world and bring here quasi-Jews from all sorts of tribes, thousands of illegal residents from the Palestinian Authority live and work here uninterrupted, and thousands of Africans infiltrate to Israel, when only a minority are Darfur refugees," he stated.
According to Meir Sheetrit, Israel should institutionalize a mechanism that would examine candidates for aliya. The new criteria would make sure they are Jewish, obligate a pledge of allegiance to the state and certify that they have a clean record. Other proposals forwarded by Mr. Sheetrit include a residency period of five years and proficiency in Hebrew before attaining Israeli citizenship.

Nevertheless, immigration of Jews to Israel is colored by several seminal issues in the aliya convention. The rate of inter-marriage to non-Jews has been steadily, increasing in many countries, particularly in the ex-Soviet Union. The statistics are similar in North America and Western Europe. The connection of Jews to Israel is quite subjective - and devising an objective regime of criteria without significantly, curbing aliya participants will be no easy task.

Moreover, the motivations to emigrate to Israel are complex - Zionism or an attachment to Israel may not be prioritized as key reasons in a decision to make aliya. The stringent religious requirements of conversion already curtail aliya -- while the Jewish majority in Israel continues to shrink. In addition, hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens have moved back to their home countries or moved elsewhere. Moreover, fewer western Jews are going to Israel--younger Jews in industrialized nations see no advantage in becoming Zionists.

Left: Israeli immigrants by country of origin (2001).

It is apparent that some have varying levels of allegiance to Israel and many who made aliya did so for reasons other than Zionism. However, defining what exactly constitutes a Jew becomes an equivocal enterprise. Is anyone who converted to Judaism a "quazi-Jew?" In such a case, anyone who is an Ashkenazi Jew, may fall within this "quasi-Jew" net in view of the fact that the ancestors of the Ashkenazi were converts. The State of Israel faces a difficult task if it aims to prove Jewishness to a certain degree.

Of course this legislation is opening a Pandora's box, which may see the end of Israel as we know it -- if the criteria of Israeli citizenship are realigned along these orthodox lines. Israel will not survive as a Jewish society closed to Jews--Zionism depends on the Diaspora for its existence. Moreover, the conscription laws are based of the same aliya principles being assaulted. These so-called quasi-Jews have been conscripted into the IDF and have given their lives to maintain Zionism, but now will not be kosher enough for citizenship.

Be as it may, Meir Sheetrit is no stranger to controversial pronouncements, as Justice Minister 1n 2002, he remarked that the Palestinians should "beg for a cease-fire" after the army steps up its efforts to [violently,] suppress an 18-month uprising." The upheaval was mostly peaceful, but thousands of Palestinians were ultimately, killed by the IDF.

The Viennese Jewish journalist Theodor Herzl, argued in his 1896 book Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) the best way of avoiding anti-Semitism was to create an independent Jewish state in Palestine. Herzl's dream of a state for Jewish people was realized in 1948 with the creation of Israel -- the culmination of a vision emblematic of a nightmare in its manifestation in reality. Regardless, the racist actualities of Zionism render problematic the very foundation on which Israeli group identity has been based--a homeland for Jews.

Zionism practices processes of adverse racialization of African, Asian, Shepardi and Mizrahi Jews, as well as Arabs -- has portrayed them as a demographic threat to Israeli society, a threat that can be forestalled by the admission of prospective immigrants from European and western countries. Nevertheless, the fact that these odious operations are directed only against non-white groups discloses Zionism's ambivalence as a Jewish sanctuary.

The racist verity of Zionism avails an Israeli immigration policy, which aims to marginalize and to contain the Palestinian minority by allowing the entrance of non-Jews to Israel as long as they are not Arabs. Not disputing the immensely significant role that the goal of Palestinian containment plays in Zionism, still this goal exists alongside a perception of Sephardi, Mizrahi and non-white Jews as another source of demographic threat to Israel's European character.

The old Zionist dream seems to be over, spent, and morally bankrupt, and that a new belief system, something that spiritualize Jewishness so that its moral fervor does not degenerate for good into a vulgar materialist, expansionist and militaristic patriotism, is needed. The fact of the matter is if there was another, bountifully benign Jewish state, more Jews would live there.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Anti-Zionism is Racism"

[Scroll down for reply to this article]

Anti-Zionism is Racism -- by Judea Pearl

In the past three months, I have visited four “troubled” campuses — Duke, York (Canada), Columbia and UC Irvine — where tensions between Jewish and anti-Zionist students and professors have attracted national attention. In these visits, I have spoken to students, faculty and administrators, and I have obtained a fairly gloomy picture of the situation on those and other campuses.

Jewish students are currently subjected to an unprecedented assault on their identity as Jews. And we, the Jewish faculty on campus, have let those students down. We have failed to equip them with effective tools to fight back this assault.

We can reverse this trend.

Many condemn anti-Zionism for being a flimsy cover for anti-Semitism. I disagree. The order is wrong. I condemn anti-Semitism for being an instrument for a worse form of racism: anti-Zionism.

In other words, I submit that anti-Zionism is a form of racism more dangerous than classical anti-Semitism. Framing anti-Zionism as racism is precisely the weapon that our students need for survival on campus.

Anti-Zionism earns its racist character from denying the Jewish people what it grants to other collectives (e.g. Spanish, Palestinians), namely, the right to nationhood and self-determination.

Are Jews a nation? A collective is entitled to nationhood when its members identify with a common history and wish to share a common destiny. Palestinians have earned nationhood status by virtue of thinking like a nation, not by residing where their ancestors did (many of them are only three or four generations in Palestine). Jews, likewise, are bonded by nationhood (i.e., common history and destiny) more than they are bonded by religion.

The appeal to Jewish nationhood is necessary when we consider Israel’s insistence on remaining a “Jewish state.” By “Jewish state” Israelis mean, of course, “national Jewish state,” not “religious Jewish state” — theocratic states (like Pakistan and Iran) are incompatible with modern standards of democracy and pluralism. Anti-Zionist racists use this anti-theocracy argument repeatedly to delegitimize Israel, and I have found our students unable to defend their position with conventional ideology that views Jewishness as a religion.

Jewishness is more than just a religion. It is an intricate and intertwined mixture of ancestry, religion, history, country, culture, tradition, attitude, nationhood and ethnicity, and we need not apologize for not fitting neatly into the standard molds of textbook taxonomies — we did not choose our turbulent history.

As a form of racism, anti-Zionism is worse than anti-Semitism. It targets the most vulnerable part of the Jewish people, namely, the people of Israel, who rely on the sovereignty of their state for physical safety, national identity and personal dignity. To put it more bluntly, anti-Zionism condemns 5 million human beings, mostly refugees or children of refugees, to eternal statelessness, traumatized by historical images of persecution and genocide.

Anti-Zionism also attacks the pivotal component of our identity, the glue that bonds us together — our nationhood, our history. And while people of conscience reject anti-Semitism, anti-Zionist rhetoric has become a mark of academic sophistication and social acceptance in Europe and in some U.S. campuses.

Moreover, anti-Zionism disguises itself in the cloak of political debate, exempt from sensitivities and rules of civility that govern interreligious discourse. Religion is ferociously protected in our society — political views are not.

Just last month, a student organization on a UC campus hosted a meeting on “A World Without Israel.” Imagine the international furor that a meeting called, “A World Without Mecca,” would provoke.

So, in the name of “open political debate,” administrators would not think twice about inviting MIT linguist Noam Chomsky to speak on campus, though his anti-Zionist utterances offend the fabric of my Jewish identity deeper than any of the ugly religious insults currently shocking the media. He should be labeled for what he is: a racist.

Strategically, while accusations of anti-Semitism are worn out and have lost their punch, charging someone with racism makes people ask why anyone would deny people the right of self-determination in a sliver of land in the birthplace of their history. It shifts the frame of discourse from debating Israel’s policies to the root cause of the conflict — denying Israelis their basic rights as a nation.

Charges of “racism” highlight the inherent asymmetry between the Zionist and anti-Zionist positions. The former grants both Israelis and Palestinians the right for statehood, the latter denies that right to one, and only one side. This asymmetry is the most effective weapon our students should use in campus debates, for it puts them back on the high moral grounds of “fair and balanced” and forces their opponents to defend an ideology of one-sidedness.

For example, I have found it effective, when confronting an anti-Zionist speaker, to ask: “Are you willing to go on record and state that the Israel-Palestine conflict is a conflict between two legitimate national movements?” Western audiences adore even-handedness and abhor bias. The question above forces the racist to unveil and defend his uneven treatment of the two sides.

America prides itself on academic freedom, and academic freedom entails freedom to teach hatred and racism — we graciously accept this fact of life. However, academic freedom also entails the freedom of students to expose racism, be it white-supremacy, women-inferiority, Islamophobia or Zionophobia wherever it is spotted. Not to censor, but to expose — racists stew in their own words.

In summary, I believe the formula “Anti-Zionism = Racism” should give Jewish students the courage to both defend their identity and expose those who abuse it.

Source -

Judea Pearl is a professor of computer science at UCLA and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, named after his son.

Daniel Pearl was a journalist who was kidnapped and beheaded in Pakistan while investigating the case of a convicted shoe bomber. Judea Pearl is co-editor of "I am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl" (Jewish Lights, 2004), winner of the National Jewish Book Award.


This article illustrates a noxious example of the concerted effort being orchestrated by the Zionist political establishment to malign all criticism of its murderous policy towards the Palestinian people.

Zionists attempt to equate any opposition to the colonial policies of the Israeli state with hatred of the Jewish people in general and the infamous and reactionary anti-Semitism of the Nazis in particular. Moreover, as this strategy of crying anti-Semitism at every turn wanes in persuasiveness, they have fallen on the new charge of "racism."

The assertion that anti-Zionists are racists aims to reserve for Zionism a sphere of immunity and seeks to ultimately, silence opposition to the Apartheid regime--to legitimize its Greater Israel project. This tested and failed Zionist plan to rewrite history and color current brutality towards a people who bear absolutely no responsibility for the Holocaust, is evoked only to bludgeon any dissent concerning Zionism’s righteousness.

The charge that anti-Zionism is racism seeks to indemnify Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians and offers the Zionist junta a carte blanche to do whatever it wishes. Using a politics of amalgam, Zionists link anyone who criticizes the Israeli state with anti-Semitism and racism, irrespective of their political views.

This new charge against westerners opposed to the draconian methods of Israeli occupation mirrors the collective punishment Israel practices against the Palestinians in the occupied territories. Everyone who questions Zionism is guilty of racism in the view of Zionists. As far as the Zionists are concerned it is impermissible to note that Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians are reminiscent of those employed by the Apartheid system of South Africa and the very Nazis that seem to haunt their every endeavor.

Zionist Israeli policy in effect denies the importance of the Holocaust precisely, because they are reinventing the dynamic by victimizing Palestinians in a routine manner. Worse still, the harsh Zionist methods against Palestinians provide a proactive nullification of the Holocaust because the banal occupation normalizes a brutality that was once seen as exceptional.

Anti-Zionists are not racists, many of us empathize with the century long suffering of the Palestinians. On the contrary, anti-Zionists legitimately, identify the tragic irony of history—that the Jewish people, who claim millennia persecution including discrimination, racism and oppression, should themselves be perpetrating gross human rights violations against an oppressed people. Indeed, such observations are often framed as an appeal to the Jews’ sense of history, morality and social conscience — principles that seem lost on brazen Zionists bent on subduing Palestinians at any cost to attain their Eretz Yisrael Hashleima--a Greater Israel.

Zionists have historically, painted all critics as anti-Semites therefore, the label "racist" is not surprising. This additional claim of racism is fundamentally dishonest and is contradicted by the fact that many of those critical of Zionism's brutal treatment of the Palestinians are themselves both Israelis and Jews. The author cites Noam Chomsky as an example of this new racist phenomenon, which he claims is more dangerous than anti-Semitism. However, Noam Chomsky is a Zionist in the true sense of the term. He believes Israel should continue to exist in the lands taken from the Palestinians to resettle the victims of the Nazis even though, the Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust. Moreover, Noam Chomsky is the son of concentration camp survivors and spent his formative years in Kibbutzim in Israel--Mr. Chomsky, cannot honestly, be described as an anti-Semite let alone a racist against his fellow Jews. The thesis presented by Mr. Pearl is arrogantly preposterous.

To be Jewish does not incur a reality of being ipso facto a Zionist. If that were the case then, all Jews would be living in Israel. Sixty three percent of the world's Jews choose not do so. Moreover, a recent study by Professors Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman, has shown that Diaspora Jews and young Jews in particular are feeling increasingly alienated and disconnected from Israel and would not care if Israel no longer existed. Are these detached Diaspora Jews racists as well? The assertion that anti-Zionism is racism rests on the conflagration of the actions of the Israeli state and the interests of the Jewish people as being the same. Such an equation is historically and factually incorrect.

Zionists insist that the anti-Semitism that gave rise to the Holocaust can only be answered by the removal of the Jewish people to a fabled homeland and the establishment of their own Jewish state--Israel. Although, Zionists fail to explicate the necessity of a religious homeland for a secular people who are minimally observant of any specifically Jewish religious laws, attend synagogues or even declare a belief in God. However, the creation of that homeland on the land of another people by brutalizing and ethnically, cleansing them into camps around the middle east and into the Diaspora is what is at issue some 60 years later. The contention of anti-Zionists is with the historical and political record of Zionism's atrocities, an examination of which Zionists rule out of bounds--Jewishness is not the focal point of the anti-Zionist movement.

A cursory review of Zionism reveals a horrendous record, which began before its christening. Israel’s founding was carried out through terrorism and the forcible expulsion of the indigenous Palestinian people. This was not just the result of a war that led people to flee their homes, but the explicit policy of the state — the Zionist terror groups — that were given license by Israel’s founding fathers to make the Zionist motto "a people without a home for a land without a people" come to pass.

Since then Israel has fought numerous wars, including unprovoked wars of aggression against other countries: Egypt in 1956, the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars were preemptive affairs, Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 were solely Israeli projects. Israel has openly defied numerous United Nations resolutions. It has repeatedly breached international law in relation to the West Bank and Gaza, which it has illegally occupied since 1967 (as well as the Syrian Golan Heights and parts of Lebanon). Israel has appropriated territory to itself, including East Jerusalem and built hundreds of settlements by wiping out hundreds of Arab villages.

Israeli armed forces have carried out repeated incursions into Palestinian cities and against its neighbors. The IDF and Zionist settlers have killed thousands of Palestinians, the great majority of which were unarmed civilians and many of them children and women.

As one of the most violent governments in the world, Israel has demolished people’s homes, destroyed farms and uprooted thousands of olive trees and orange groves, close roads and institute curfews while erecting a web of checkpoints that cripple the Palestinian economy, bringing people to the brink of starvation. Israel regularly detains people without charge or trial. Torture and inhumane treatment of detainees is normalcy. Israel has exiled people. It has declared and practice a policy of extra judicial killing fortressed by political assassination of its opponents. Israel is always ready "to pre-empt, to deter, to defeat" fathomed threats to its existence.

Israel’s strategy of closing roads not only to and from but also within the occupied territories, combined with its infamous security wall that separates the West Bank from Israel, has created a series of ghettos for the Palestinians. The conditions for the vast majority of those who live in the Gaza Strip, separated off from Israel by means of an electrified barbed wire fence and denied any manner of earning a living, resemble those of a giant concentration camp.

Israel is a nuclear state that refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty or let international inspectors examine its facilities. Yet everyone knows that Israel has developed hundreds of nuclear weapons and has an extensive biological and chemical weapons programme. It has even said that it will take pre-emptive strike action against Iran, which it claims has begun to develop nuclear weapons. Israel is willing to violate its international obligations to destroy the nuclear facilities of Iran at its own choosing as it did against Osirak, Iraq in 1981.

Within Israel itself, the government operates a nefarious scheme towards the Palestinian Israelis reminiscent of the infamous apartheid regime in South Africa. It discriminates against its Arab citizens, curtails their political rights and denies them a fair share of economic resources and social welfare. Israel has recently passed racist legislation denying Israeli citizens who marry Palestinians the right to live with their partners in Israel.

Jews are not a race. There are Jews of every description from all over the world, but even if Jews were a race anti-Zionists would not be racists. However, the record clearly, shows that Zionist Israel is a racist state occupying Palestinians with the modus operandi of its Nazi and Apartheid counterparts.

It is time to recognize that Zionism has been a terrible mistake and a sad failure. Its continuation promises only further oppression for both Palestinians and Israelis and the grievances it avails must culminate in a most bitter and terrible war.

The only way out of the current impasse is the development of a political and social system that unites Arabs and Jews. Once a regime of reparations is instituted and an all out effort of reconciliation is undertaken -- similar to what occurred in South Africa -- then the 60 years wound can begin to heal inside a nation based on equitable law and equal opportunity for all citizens.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Al-Qu'aida Conspiracy & AFRICOM?

Left: Flag of Yemen
Right: Flag of Djibouti

Jamestown Foundation offers us a riveting piece of conspiracy theory in this entry, which decries a bridge construction between Yemen and Djibouti. The newly announced project aims to build the world's longest bridge—17 miles connecting Yemen and Djibouti—under Tarek bin Laden's Middle East Development LLC. The main contention of the article centers around builders of the bridge who happen to be one of Bin Laden's brothers.

Jamestown mentions in passing "on the economic level, access to African oil and the will to counter China's increasing presence on the continent are vital strategic interests that are pushing Washington to rationalize its approach. The U.S. wants to see its share of African oil imports go from 15% to 25% by 2015," but links this financial claim to the security issue—terrorism. Jamestown recoils and makes a leap of faith pronouncing "the proposed construction of a bridge connecting Yemen and Djibouti, however, is likely to threaten the ongoing U.S. mission in Africa."

Left: Flag purported by the intelligence community to be that of Al-Qu'aida.

Al-Qu'aida is, of course, prominent as usual in this "intelligence" piece. Although, Jamestown realizes "recently declassified Harmony documents illustrate the serious challenges that the terrorist group has faced while operating in Somalia" and east Africa nevertheless, it could not resist the temptation to scare readers into a mindset strewn with threats. Jamestown goes on to state "Yemen, on the other hand, provides an ideal location for al-Qaeda operations, aside from President Ali Abdullah Saleh's security services." Be as it may, Yemen is one of US closest allies in the region, there is a US base there with some 1,800 troops and Yemeni and US security forces train, exercise and perform theater operation together. [There are also French troops stationed in Djibouti]

Every good conspiracy story needs a villain and a mystery. Jamestown provides both by noting that Yemen "is, of course, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, with his father hailing from the valley of Hadramawt, in eastern Yemen, to the south of the Empty Quarter (al-rub` al-khali)." Adding that "some terrorism experts have even questioned whether bin Laden has sought refuge in one of these areas after losing his sanctuary in Afghanistan in late 2001," satisfying both necessary nodes of a good conspiracy theory. Indeed, Bin Laden, who ever he is, may be any where in the world, which makes for perfect conspiracy theorizing.

Left: Flag adopted as the 911 Flag (Also the flag of the USA)

Moreover, Jamestown tells us about the links that Tarek Bin Laden had with Mujahideens in the effort against the USSR, but omits the same US connections to that revolutionary effort. As is well known since becoming information in the public domain, the US funded, armed and trained those fervent recruits from around the Muslim world who wanted to help free their Afghan brothers from the yoke of Soviet domination. However, none call for the imprisonment, ostracizing or the garnishment and freezing of the assets of those US entities who were involved with destabilizing the Soviet regime—in fact these US principals were the leaders of the effort.
More than merely a developer, in the 1990s he was general supervisor of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a fraudulent Saudi group designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as having aided al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups' fundraising efforts. The IIRO, or Hay'at al-Igatha al-Islamiya al-'Alamiyaa, is one of eight bodies under the umbrella of the Mecca-based Muslim World League (WML). The IIRO's terrorist ties go back to the first Afghan jihad against the Soviets, when Osama bin Laden's Maktab al-Khidmat (Office of Services) worked with Wael Julaidan, then with the IIRO and WML (Government's Evidentiary Proffer Supporting the Admissibility of Co-Conspirator Statements, United States of America v. Enaam Arnaout, Jan. 6, 2003).
The fated bridge is presented as a back-door, which threatens US domination in Africa by exposing a gaping hole in the security system. However, people have been moving across this territorial divide for thousands of years. Certainly, since the US has emerged as sole super-power, people have continued to migrate to and fro between these two locales. Jamestown still does not miss the opportunity to ask:
All of this begs the question: how could Osama bin Laden's half-brother be constructing a bridge linking Yemen to the HoA at the birth of AFRICOM?
But goes on to inform us that U.S. Rear Admiral James Hart, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), U.S. Central Command, recently explained to Le Monde, "Djibouti was chosen as a base because it is a safe location." Not only is Djibouti a sphere of US dominance, the pentagon recently renewed its lease for five more years with an option for 10 additional, and the size of the base has just been multiplied by five. This bridge nor the surrounding political atmosphere hardly present a precarious situation for US military power and economic hold on the horn of Africa.
Six years after the September 11 attacks, it is baffling to imagine a project under Tarek bin Laden, through a California-based firm, linking Yemen to Africa. Taking into regard al-Qu'aida's growing presence in Yemen, it is even more puzzling as to how the U.S. envisions this project promoting greater security or helping to combat terrorism in the region. What does seem a given, however, is that U.S. troops (at the only U.S. base in Africa) could end up being at far greater risk than they are today.
Jamestown tries to link this civilian project with global Islamic terrorism and asks God to keep our 1,800 strong military presence in Djibouti safe from those wanton religious cadres who are lurking on the African continent. Jamestown's speculations supported by its weight as a "think tank" gives its unfathomable assertions an air of plausibility. The fact that well- established and powerful institutions try to manipulate various aspects of society including, the economy, politics, and discourse may continue as before. However, one must also, maintain vigilance and not allow these organizations to become vigilantes against truth.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Violence & Protests Rock Mogadishu

Right: Somali police patrol the streets of Mogadishu.

Violence for a second straight day and protests rock Mogadishu, Somalia.

MOGADISHU, Oct 28--Heavy clashes broke out in Mogadishu Sunday, prompting some residents to stage an angry protest against Ethiopian troops and other actors to flee the Somali capital.

Somali government forces in armored vehicles clashed with guerrillas in broad daylight for the second day running, witnesses said.

The fresh violence came a day after Ethiopian troops fanned out in the streets of Mogadishu following fighting near the stadium that left at least six civilians dead.

The latest bout of fighting in the Somali capital appeared to have prompted a fresh wave of displacement, as civilians could be seen across entire neighborhoods loading pickup trucks and donkey carts with household items.

Witnesses said that no one can endure what is happening in Mogadishu -- the non-stop violence which is taking hundreds of lives every week.

The Ethiopian army came to the rescue of Somalia's embattled transitional government last year to defeat the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a group that briefly controlled large parts of the country. Since the group was ousted earlier this year, its remnants and allied tribal leaders have waged a guerilla-style war, carrying out hit- and- run attacks, mainly by night and in the capital, Mogadishu.

Residents are saying that daytime fighting is making the city even more dangerous for civilians than it was before. Mogadishu residents have been fleeing the city in several major waves in recent months, arriving in droves in neighboring towns already plagued by dire food shortages. While some were fleeing Mogadishu with their belongings, others staged a protest against the presence of Ethiopian troops in their country.
"Down with Ethiopia! Down with the Somali government!" the protestors chanted, even as fighting resumed nearby.

"We don't need them on our soil. Ethiopia must leave otherwise its presence will lead to more bloodshed," said one protestor, Abdi Adan Somane.

"This is an uprising against the Ethiopian colonialists and its stooges," said another demonstrator, who declined to give his name.

"We will continue day after day until they leave our country because we don't need them."
While the capital was engulfed in violence, the country's transitional government was also on the brink of disintegration. In the town of Baidoa, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) from Mogadishu, President Abdullahi Ahmed Yusuf was pushing parliament to oust Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi.

The two leaders are from the country's two main and rival tribes - the Hawiye and the Darod - and the president accuses his premier of failing to bring an end to the insurgency.

Saudi King Abdullah, a key broker in Somali politics, has invited top leaders in a bid to reconcile them and press on with rebuilding the country's institutions.

The Horn of Africa nation has lacked a functional government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre which set off a deadly power struggle that has defied at least a dozen peace initiatives.

India's landless march into Delhi

Left: Protesters arrive in Delhi after a march that has lasted nearly four weeks and covered 200 miles, to demand greater rights to land and water. They say rural dwellers are missing out on India's growth - the marchers call for change.

About 25,000 protesters have arrived in the Indian capital, Delhi, after marching 325km (200 miles) to demand the redistribution of land. The marchers set out on 2 October, the national holiday marking the birthday of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. A crowd composed of mostly low-caste tenant farmers and landless indigenous people, say they have been left behind by India's economic boom.

The protesters waved flags and chanted "give us land, give us water", as they marched in long, orderly lines into the centre of the capital. The government has promised to set up a commission to examine land reform. There has been numerous such commissions and legislation since Indian independence in 1947 however, these measures have proven inadequate in redressing grievances.

The gathering plans to hold a huge protest on Monday, which they say will bring the centre of Delhi to a standstill. They are protesting against government-backed industrial projects which they say have forced them off their land.
"Forty percent of Indians are now landless and 23% of them are in abject poverty," march organiser Puthan Vithal Rajgopal told AFP news agency.
"Such conditions have bred Maoist insurgency in 172 of India's 600 districts and farmers are killing themselves in 100 other districts. So we want to ask the government, where are the fruits of the reforms in these districts?"
Demands for land redistribution have been a familiar part of India's political landscape for many years, but now the government seems ready to listen. One project, to build a petrochemical plant and shipyard on 8,900 hectares (22,000 acres) of land in eastern India, was cancelled after it led to protests in which 14 farmers were killed.

The protesters have already met Sonia Gandhi, president of the ruling Congress Party and they hope to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday. They are calling for a national authority to oversee land reform and a system of fast track courts to deal with the long delays in resolving land disputes.

Zionism is Racism

Why Zionism is Racism: Zionism is a racist and irredeemable movement, like white supremacy, Indian castes and apartheid
By Rabee Sahyoun

On this, the 53rd anniversary of the Nakbe' (the Catastrophe of the Palestinian people), it is all too tempting for friend and foe alike to define Israel, and zionism, solely by the Americans' proclamations of its enlightened democracy. To do so is to miss the normal atrocities that occur in Israel daily, the millions who are under curfew and blockade, starving and brutalized, in the Middle East's only colonized state. To do so is to feign the reality of zionism, a racist and irredeemable movement, that survived the twentieth centuries' other genocidal and seemingly passing revolutions such as Bolshevism, Nazism, and Apartheid.

A century ago, zionism extended Western colonialism to Palestine.

The sad truth is that over a century after its founding, zionism seems to be grander and more honorable than its reality. Arabs have suffered from Zionism's belligerence and exclusivity, and many have blamed the United States, and the West, for this because of their unshakeable support of zionism. Israeli aggression over the past seven months has finally renewed international recognition that zionism is racism.

On this anniversary of the Nabke', it is now up to all Jews to follow in the footsteps of the brave few, and denounce the racist and separatist nature of zionism, while the world should encourage them to do so. The world should not allow the torchbearers of zionism to silence and quell the idealism of these few. No nationalism is pure, no movement is perfect, no state is ideal, but today, Zionism persists as a menace, a militaristic and dictatory movement to me and to most Palestinians. A century ago, zionism extended Western colonialism to Palestine; today, as in the rest of the world, colonialism must be ideologically purged from Palestine.

I believe that zionism is racism, because 53 years after being exiled from their homeland, in defiance of the four Geneva Conventions, UN Resolutions 181, 194, 242, 338, and others, and other multilateral and international human rights conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the disinherited refugees of Palestine, continue to endure merciless punishment from the Zionist entity, most recently in the bulldozing of makeshift homes in the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza.

I believe that zionism is racism, because I am a Palestinian, and without recognizing the colonialist component in zionism, I cannot explain its racist character, a western movement uprooting the native peoples of Palestine, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Samaritan alike, a people bound to their land, through centuries of raising orange groves, and herding sheep, lending grace to the Hills of God, historically, religiously and culturally.

I believe that zionism is racism, because it fails to appreciate or acknowledge the Palestinians' ties to their homeland, their love for their historical capital, Jerusalem, and the 53-yar plight they have endured as refugees worldwide, in Europe, in North America, in camps Dheishe, Shatila, Wehdaat and others, never giving up hope or struggle in yearning to return home.

I believe that zionism is racism, because it fails to admit the reality that the minority indigenous Jewish community in Palestine, that lived there for the last two thousand years, was an undistinguishable people from its Christian and Muslim Palestinian brethren, and that the leader of the Jewish community of the Jewish quarter of Old Jerusalem, Rabbi Lamram Blau, stood on the side of his Palestinian brothers and sisters being exiled in 1948.

I believe that zionism is racism because in modern times, the promise of liberal democracy and justice is a double-edged sword, preached by the Western powers, yet only paid lip-service to in the case of Israel, where Palestinian are continuously expelled, ethnically cleansed, and subjugated, and in the cases where they are assimilated, they are granted, limited, if any, civil rights.

I believe that zionism is racism, because in establishing the racially exclusive state of Israel, in 1948, and expelling the indigenous Palestinians from the land, the zionists severed a relationship that people had to the land for over 4,000 years, uninterrupted, since before Abraham.

I believe that zionism is racism, because in building Israel, the zionists were revising history, embracing the notion of racial superiority, an ideology that has empowered them to discriminate, with all of its associated social ills, injustices, and moral bankruptcy.

I believe that zionism is racism because it fails to distinguish between the nationalism of the American, based on multi-cultural harmony, and the racial exclusivity, separatism, ethnic cleansing, and brutality of zionism, that stands in clear violation of the most basic elements of international law and human rights practices, as most recently highlighted by reports issued by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

I believe that zionism is racism because in our world of post-modern identities, I know that we do not have to be "either-ors", we can be "ands and buts" – a zionist and a settler, an American citizen of Polish heritage but a soldier in the Israeli army.

I believe that zionism is racism because it self-propagates itself as a democratic movement. However, a democracy, cannot, by definition, only be representative of one community in a bi-national and tri-religious contiguous geographic area. A democracy cannot exist for one people and not for another. This as called Apartheid in South Africa, and is now called zionism in Palestine.

I believe that zionism is racism, because it espouses an independent and sovereign Jewish state, in a land where there is no Jewish majority. It espouses that such a sovereign state be at peace and harmony with its neighbors without allowing the Palestinian refugees dwelling within their borders, who were expelled from their homes in Palestine by zionist militias, as is clearly documented by numerous sources including the memoirs of David-Ben Gurion himself, to return to their homes, which is a basic human right guaranteed by Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I believe that zionism is racism because it is presented by its champions, from Gil Troy to Elie Wiesel, as a romantic movement, which allowed zionists to reclaim the desert and build a model nation-state. This is racism at its most acute, since there was no desert in Palestine, other than the Negev in the South. This is simply a myth that has been propagated by racists who have supported Israel for the last 53 years, and economic data on agricultural exports to Europe from Palestine dating to medieval times easily rejects and exposes this as a blasphemous claim.

Yes, it sounds far-fetched today. But as Vladamir Jabotinsky, father of revisionist zionism said in a racist boast in 1923, "There can be no discussion of a voluntary reconciliation between us and the Arabs… Any native people…view their country as their national home… They will not voluntarily allow, not only a new master, but even a new partner… Colonization can have only one goal. For the Palestinian Arabs this goal is inadmissible. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible… colonization can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population - an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs. To formulate it any other way would only be hypocrisy."

And thus, Gil Troy and zionists abound are exposed as nothing more than unabashed racists.

[Mr. Rabee' Sahyoun is a economic development policy researcher, human rights activist, and columnist residing in Beirut, Lebanon. He is affiliated with the global grassroots Palestine Right To Return Coalition.]

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sojourn in Somalia Insurgency & Interests

Left: The Flag of Somalia is shown.

Some of the heaviest fighting in months has broken out between Ethiopian forces and local insurgents in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

Residents report that at least a dozen people had been killed amid shell and machine-gun fire as the Ethiopian forces launched an offensive.

Somalia has seen a surge in violence since Ethiopia and government troops ousted the Union of Islamic Court last December. Since, hundreds of civilians have been killed in the fighting.

The latest clashes began after Ethiopia moved reinforcements and a convoy of 20 tanks and armored cars into the city late on Friday. One of the vehicles was hit by a landmine and exploded. Early on Saturday the Ethiopians fanned out of their barracks and fighting erupted.

Left: Map of Somalia and surrounding countries.

The forces targeted areas of the city occupied by militia who are remnants of forces loyal to the ousted Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). Insurgents are reported to have captured and ransacked a police station. They later retreated chanting "God is great," witnesses said.

There was street to street, house to house combat reported. The Ethiopian forces have since reportedly returned to their barracks, but heavy artillery fire has continued.

A worker at one of Mogadishu's main hospitals said many people had been brought in suffering from gunshot and shrapnel wounds. Local elders described the Ethiopian offensive as a genocide and have appealed to the international community to intervene.

Some 1,600 Ugandan troops are also in Mogadishu as part of a planned 8,000-strong African Union (AU), force to support the interim government. However, augmentation of AU troops has been reluctantly, slow.

The Union of Islamic Courts

Left: Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), chairman Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. The Union of Islamic Courts brought order to Mogadishu. The US has placed him on terrorist list.

During the six months that the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), ruled Mogadishu, it brought order to the capital. The UIC managed to quell much of the lawlessness that blighted Somalia for the last 17 years and reunited the capital, which had been carved up into fiefdoms by various warlords - the current president, Abdullahi Yusuf, is one among the warlords favored by the US. Abdullahi Yusuf is a long-time Ethiopian ally and warlord, who came to power in 2004.

The US claims finances for the courts were being provided by rich individuals in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. The interim Somali government also says that "Islamist" radicals from around the world have gone to help the UIC. Nevetheless, this is strongly denied by the Islamic courts.

There have also been reports that Eritrea - which has a long-running border dispute with Ethiopia - has been supplying arms to the militants. A leaked UN report says that 2,000 "fully equipped" Eritrean troops are working with the UIC. This charge is denied by the authorities in Asmara.

The chairman of the Union of Islamic Courts, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, wrote to the UN, the European Union and the United States, calling for the establishment of friendly relations with the international community, based on mutual respect.

In a four-page letter he denied giving sanctuary to Islamic extremists, or groups loyal to al-Qu'aida.
Another key UIC leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, is also on a US list of individuals linked to terror groups.

Left: Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, is a darling of the west and has been brought along on the campaign against terror (TWAT).

Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, has been able to get away with brutally putting down internal dissent in his own country, and now has thousands of troops in Somalia. A warmonger he may be, but Mr Meles is on the side of Washington and London in the so-perceived "war on terror," and as such, has become the most important leader in the horn of Africa.

The UIC now operates as an insurgency group attempting to oust the Ethiopians and other foreign influences from their homeland. After the UIC fled Mogadishu in December, some went to the south near the Kenyan border, where the US carried out air-strikes against them and alleged al-Qu'aida operatives.

The UIC has been on the run, boxed in against the Kenyan border in the south, pursued by the Ethiopians with their tanks and airpower, blocked by an American warship offshore, and probably monitored from above, by American satellites. There are reports of US drones hissing high above the clouds in various parts of Somalia.

International Intervention & Interests

The African Union has called for Ethiopian forces to leave Somalia following their offensive, however the UN Security Council has failed to agree on a statement calling for the withdrawal of all foreign forces. Last year, the UN Security Council passed a unanimous resolution to provide an 8,000-strong African peacekeeping force to protect the weak government.

Left: US is backing anti-Islamic insurgency in Somalia. Somali militiamen go on a patrol of Mogadishu.

This followed the establishment of the International Contact Group on Somalia (ICGS), which had the support of the US, Britain, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Tanzania and the EU. The African Union, Arab League and Kenya participated as observers.

The Contact Group was formed after the collapse of the previous US strategy, which was to fund and arm the warlords who had controlled Mogadishu for many years. UN Security Council Resolution 1744 supersedes the mandate of the Contact Group.

There is of course an international plan to make things better in Somalia. There is always a plan in these crises. The question is whether it can be implemented toward the benefit of Somali.

The plan was put forward in UN Security Council resolution 1744, passed in February, in the aftermath of the quick victory declared by Ethiopia over the Islamic Courts, a victory whose completeness has been called into severe question by continuing unrest and attacks.

The idea is that there should be a national reconciliation effort led by President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and the "Transitional Federal Institutions" and that the African Union should send in a peacekeeping force to help with this process, with possibly a UN force to take over at a later stage. However, the TGP refuses to enter into a reconciliation with the insurgency.

The pessimism Somalia avails was brought upon by the overthrow of the UIC. Somalia once again failed to emerge from the upheaval and chaos in the wake of international "intervention." This time the overthrow of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) in a counter-offensive in late December launched by Ethiopia with US logistical aid in support of the somewhat hopefully named Transitional Federal Government has created a large refugee problem, has seen thousand dead and thousands more wounded as well as 400,000 refugees. It is noteworthy to point out that Ethiopia has become the largest recipient of us arms in Africa apart from Egypt in the context of the west's war against terror strategy. (See article here, AFRICOM, A FREE CON or or from old WUFYS site for a full review of arms infusion into Africa.)

Left: Some 400,000 refugees have fled the fighting in Mogadishu.

As many as 10,000 terrorized Somali a month are already voting with their feet, the U.N. says. And that's why this seaside African capital, the scene of the newest and perhaps murkiest front in America's war on global terrorism, is starting to look like one colossal ghost town and a huge skeleton in the war against terror chest.

Despite the mayhem, most world governments are watching in silence. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been one of the few to call for an end to the violence.

Somalia may seem an unlikely prospect for foreign investors seeking untapped oil and gas fields, but that could be about to change as the majors turn their gaze off the beaten track. Driven by record profits, a race with hungry Asian rivals and fears of growing energy nationalism in South America and Russia, interest in eastern Africa has never been higher.

Left: Oil, which should be a blessing to developing countries, is often a curse that brings only poverty, hunger, disease and exploitation in Africa.

Quite a few significant players have moved into position. Big Western companies including ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Total held Somali exploration concessions before the country slid into civil war in the 1990s. World Bank and UN surveys have stated that Somalia ranked second only to Sudan in prospective commercial petroleum production.

Some of the interest is from Chinese, Indian and Malaysian firms with deep pockets, technological skills and an appetite for higher insecurity than Western competitors, experts say. China, the world’s second top energy user, already funds oil projects from Angola to Sudan, and is eyeing opportunities in northern Somalia and neighboring Ethiopia’s Ogaden region.

Australian minnow Range Resources won a company-making deal in 2005 giving it concession rights to all minerals and petroleum in semi-autonomous Puntland, home to Somalia’s president and former warlord Abdullahi Yusuf. Last month, it unveiled a six-year agreement under which Canada’s Canmex Minerals will spend $50mn on exploration for an 80% stake in the project.

The Leading Factions Behind Somali Insurgency

The U.S.-supported Ethiopian invasion that expelled Somalia's Islamic government last December is rapidly deteriorating into a multi-layered conflict that will prove resistant to resolution. Resistance to Ethiopian troops and the US and Ethiopian-installed Transitional Federal Government (TFG), is inspired by nationalism, religion, economic factors and clan loyalties, yet all of these motivations are part of a constantly shifting pattern of allegiances in which the only common characteristic is a desire to expel foreign troops from Somalia. Local warlords and clan leaders who were deprived of power by the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) are now scrambling to reassert control over their small fiefdoms in Mogadishu, while many former UIC gunmen have transferred their allegiance to clan militias.

Thousands more (nearly all from the Hawiye clan that dominates the capital) have been killed as residential areas become battlegrounds. Only one overwhelmed hospital is open as Ethiopian troops are using other hospitals as barracks. The Somali TFG is exacerbating the situation by imposing bureaucratic delays on the delivery of relief aid arriving in Mogadishu. Some of the relief aid provided by the international community has been reported stolen by the TFG forces. Unable to resist the Ethiopian incursion, the UIC dissolved returning its stockpiles of weapons and vehicles to the clans and militias who had donated them. Since then, a number of leading elements in the resistance have emerged.

Left: The Islamic courts' militia were mainly from the Hawiye clan.

The Hawiye (one of Somalia's four major clans) provided important support for the UIC in the south-central region of Somalia, which includes Mogadishu. Hawiye members (especially those of the powerful Habr Gidir Ayr sub-clan) dominated all of the UIC's decision-making bodies. Former UIC leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys is a member of the Habr Gidir Ayr (one of four major sub-clans of the Hawiye). The Hawiye sub-clans have fought each other for years in Mogadishu, but there are signs that opposition to Ethiopian/TFG forces is beginning to unify formerly antagonistic groups.

The TFG is dominated by the Darod, another of the four major clans. The Hawiye suspect that the TFG is dedicated to the advancement of the Darod and the elimination of the Hawiye. Elders of the Hawiye clan pin responsibility for the devastation of Mogadishu on the TFG and have asked for an international commission to investigate the circumstances of the conflict. Hawiye elders also accuse the TFG of recruiting only Darod into the army. To deflect such criticism, TFG Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi recently appointed a notorious Hawiye warlord to the post of Somali chief of police.

Left: The TPG President, Adullahi Yusuf Ahmad

TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad is from the Majerteen sub-clan of the Darod. He commanded Darod forces in battles against the Hawiye in the 1990s. The Hawiye believe that the Ethiopians are set on installing a Darod-dominated government intent on eliminating their clan. Claims of "ethnic-cleansing," "war crimes" and "genocide" are increasingly used by the Hawiye to describe Ethiopian actions in Mogadishu. Relations between the Hawiye and the Darod clans were irreparably poisoned by the massacres of Darod by the Hawiye in Mogadishu after the overthrow of Somali dictator Siad Barre in 1991. Given this history, the arrival of President Yusuf and his well-armed veteran Darod militia was especially alarming to the Hawiye, who now fear retribution for the massacres of 1991.

Typical of many Salafi militant groups, Shabaab offers an alternative to clan- or tribal-based movements, drawing on a wide base of recruits. The typical Shabaab gunman is a poorly-educated youth in his late teens or early twenties who has grown up in the midst of Somalia's violent rivalries. Unlike former UIC colleagues who have found work with the re-emerging clan militias, the Shabaab fighter holds a rather inflexible and radical interpretation of Islam that compels him to undertake dangerous missions in the cause of creating an Islamic Somalia. This is a fairly new development in Somalia, where allegiance to ideology has tended to take second place to family and clan loyalties when under pressure. Many Shabaab fighters are reported to have undergone military training in Eritrea.

Shabaab fighters are often referred to as "the masked men" due to their habit of drawing red scarves across their faces during assaults on TFG and Ethiopian troops. Although Shabaab once numbered several thousand fighters, it probably does not field more than several hundred men at the moment.

Left: Somalia has been in chaos for 17 years.

Another resistance group formed in January of this year is al-Harakah al-Muqawamah al-Sha'biyah fi al-Bilad al-Hijratayn (The Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations, PRMLTM). Led in the Banadir region by Sheikh Abdikadir, the movement has issued warnings to African Union peacekeepers that they can expect no different treatment than the Ethiopians.

Responsibility for a March 6 assault on the Mogadishu airport and a March 16 mortar attack on the presidential palace was claimed by the Tawhid wa'l-Jihad Brigades in Somalia (Unity and Struggle), apparently in response to the alleged rapes of Somali women by Ethiopian troops. The group promised a series of suicide attacks.

The Young Mujahideen Movement in Somalia is another group that has claimed attacks on Ethiopian troops, including an April 19 suicide bombing that allegedly involved the use of chemicals.

Left: Mogadishu is turning to rubble in the offensive against insurgents

The Weapons of the Insurgency

After being driven from the Somali capital of Mogadishu to the port city of Kismayo by Ethiopian troops in late December, Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed urged Islamic Courts fighters, supporters and every true Muslim to start an insurgency against the Ethiopian troops in Somalia. In mid-January, the Union of Islamic Courts reorganized into an insurgent group with the name Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations, or PRMLTM.

Modern Somali combat tactics are typically based on the use of the "technical," an armor-plated pick-up truck equipped with an anti-aircraft gun, used for firepower and battlefield mobility. Insurgents have largely abandoned the use of the technical in urban Mogadishu, where civilian vehicles attract less attention from Ethiopian patrols. The technicals are no match for Ethiopian armor. Insurgents are active mostly at night when the police, TFG troops and Ethiopians retreat to their compounds, but daytime attacks are not uncommon.

Somali insurgents prefer three types of operations against allied (TFG/Ethiopian) positions:

Mortar or rocket assaults on allied positions are the most common form of attack, occurring on an almost daily basis in Mogadishu. The mortar is usually transported to a residential neighborhood by car or pick-up truck before deployment. Typically, a small number of rounds are launched before the target is engaged with automatic weapons fire, while the mortar is withdrawn. Firefights can last a few minutes or several hours, with government or Ethiopian forces generally reluctant to emerge from their positions until the firing has stopped. As the gunmen withdraw, retaliatory allied rocket or artillery fire targets the neighborhood from which the mortar fire came. TFG/Ethiopian troops may conduct a house-to-house search for weapons in the neighborhood the next day. At one point, TFG soldiers began to confiscate cell phones from people in the street, fearing that they might be used to direct mortar attacks.

Politically-inspired killings of government officials or police officers are often carried out in a "drive-by" fashion by gunmen in a car. Bombs may be used for significant targets, although it is much more common for a hand grenade to be tossed through a house or car window. A TFG spokesman claimed that assassinations are a long-standing technique of the insurgency. Be as it may, political killings has a long history in Somalia. Moreover, when the UIC took over control of the capital assassinations were in fact halted. Now that they were defeated, the high profile killing spree has returned.

RPG and automatic weapons fire on TFG/Ethiopian convoys is rare in comparison, but offer the insurgents the best opportunity to kill allied troops outside their well-defended compounds. The fierce attacks by the insurgency has rendered the Ethiopians in a frenzied state. Ethiopian troops often open fire on market crowds and other civilian centers, much like the occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, killing and wounding many.

The insurgents' targets include police stations, the presidential compound, the Defense Ministry, hotels housing TFG, Ethiopian or AU officials (such as the Banadir Hotel, Hotel Kaah and the Ambassador Hotel), TFG/Ethiopian army compounds (including the Difger Hospital, commandeered for military use), the seaport (where Ethiopian troops are quartered) and the airport (the PRMLTM threatened to shoot down aircraft using the airport, but so far only mortar attacks have been carried out). Insurgent losses during operations in Mogadishu appear to be remarkably small. Those killed or wounded are apparently recovered before pulling out. No insurgent has been taken prisoner in the course of an operation in Mogadishu.

A spokesman for the PRMLTM recently threatened the use of suicide attacks against AU peacekeepers: "We promise we shall welcome them with bullets from heavy guns, exploding cars and young men eager to carry out martyrdom operations against these colonial forces." So far, suicide attacks have been rare in a population little inclined to such methods. Iraq-style bombings directed at masses of civilians have also failed to materialize in the Somali insurgency.

While scores of foreigners have been arrested at the Kenyan border, the allegations made by the US and TGP that thousands of foreign fighters have joined the insurgency is an exaggeration. There is no evidence yet that foreign fighters are involved in the current clashes in Mogadishu. Although, TFG military commander, Saed Dhere, accused unnamed foreign countries of financing the attacks. The well-tested tactic of charging Al-Qu'aida linkages in domestic struggles in order to secure funds and arms from the west is liberally, used in Somalia.

When the UIC withdrew from the capital, they abandoned a large cache of arms that was then plundered by looters. Incredibly, the Bakara and Argentina arms markets in Mogadishu remain open, selling hand grenades, RPGs, machine guns, anti-aircraft guns and the ubiquitous AK-47 assault rifle. The AK-47 remains the insurgents' most common weapon, many of these having been seized from the police.

Left: Insurgents turned to guerrilla warfare since their ouster by Ethiopian and US military efforts.

The insurgents do not target civilian areas so much as display ineptitude in finding the proper range with their mortars. Further casualties are created when allied forces lash out blindly with artillery and rocket fire when they come under attack from residential neighborhoods. The wounded have difficulty reaching already overwhelmed hospitals due to continuous weapons fire or roadblocks erected by allied forces. Nearly half of the wounded perish after they finally reach medical care. As is the case with all insurgencies, the civilian population bear the brunt of the casualties in Somalia's conflit.

Religious and community leaders in Mogadishu have begged both sides to stop the devastation created by these endless rounds of attacks and counter-attacks. Sheikh Ali Haji Yusuf urged the formation of local security forces until the government can establish security in Mogadishu. Some gunmen have found new careers as vigilantes for hire in different neighborhoods in response to those concerns.

Mogadishu police usually, remain in their compounds and rarely emerge, leaving control of the streets to gunmen, vigilantes, criminals and the well-armed security forces of Mogadishu's business community. The TFG claims to have developed new teams of counter-terrorism specialists, but these appear to have had little effect so far.

Although Mogadishu's insurgents may be willing to start a large-scale insurgency, their lack of training on most weapons more powerful than an AK-47 restricts the effectiveness of their attacks on allied positions. Just before the Ethiopian invasion, large numbers of students were handed arms from UIC stockpiles. Predictably, Ethiopian regulars and warplanes quickly routed these inexperienced insurgents on open ground. Mogadishu is another story. In the urban battleground, TFG and Ethiopian troops have shown distaste for counter insurgency operations. TFG forces mostly, rely on Ethiopian firepower, while the Ethiopians are already in the process of withdrawal.

Nearly 1,600 AU peacekeepers are also patrolling Somalia. AU peacekeepers will have to be more aggressive than the Ethiopians to contain the Mogadishu insurgency, although such tactics might reinforce popular perception of the peace-keepers as an occupation army. Nevertheless, the envisioned 8,000 strong force has not materialized. With time, the effectiveness of the insurgents will improve, leading to the possibility of intense fighting as long as the TFG refuses to include the UIC leadership in the national reconciliation process, as urged by Ethiopia, the United States and the European Union.