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Election observers in Somalia say corruption is running rampant ahead of Wednesday’s presidential election, with candidates giving gifts and large sums of cash to lawmakers to secure their votes.

Twenty-three candidates are challenging incumbent Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is seeking a second four-year term as leader of the Horn of Africa nation. The president will be elected by members of the parliament, who were elected last year.

Warning from official

Speaking to reporters Monday, the chairman of an independent anti-corruption committee threatened to expose those who are offering and accepting bribes.

“We know what is going on in the city and we want to make sure that things happen in a transparent and legal way,” said Abdi Ismail Samatar.

“There is no way we can immediately prevent if a lawmaker makes deals under the table, but we make sure that the voting process is free and fair, and later if we find out any corruption and bribery involvement, we will make it public,” he said.

The committee, which has no policing authority, was established by parliament to oversee the election and report any malpractices and irregularities.

Election moved to airport

The election has been delayed several times, and organizers decided last week to change the venue after 18 candidates expressed concerns about security at the original location, the Mogadishu police academy. The candidates spoke out after the commander of the police reportedly endorsed President Mohamud for re-election.

Now, members of the upper and lower houses of parliament will gather inside the heavily-fortified Aden Abdulle International Airport.

But few expect the change in venue to cause a change in tactics.

Heikal Kenneded, a Somali scholar and writer who lives in Virginia, said he saw election players exchanging cash during a trip to Mogadishu last week, though he would not specify who was involved in the deal.

“I definitely saw with my own eyes the vicious political corruption and wheeling and dealing of corrupted officials among the current candidates,” he told VOA’s Somali service Monday.

Government jobs have a price

Political insiders, speaking on condition of anonymity, said candidates have begun reimbursing would-be supporters for their expenses, including airfare, hotel bills and meals. In addition, officials say bribes of between $1,000 and $10,000 have been paid.

According to a member of parliament, one candidate has spent $1.3 million in an effort to get elected.

Candidates are also offering positions in the government. “The major candidates have already began striking political deals with lawmakers to corrupt them, vote for them,” one lawmaker told VOA.

“The influential and prominent lawmakers have already secured offers of a future role in the coming administration in exchange for votes if their card wins,” another lawmaker said.

Fadumo Dayib was planning to become the first woman in Somalia’s male-dominated political culture to make a run for president. But after an active social media campaign, she did not register for the contest, citing a high level of corruption.

“I am not running because of the shocking level of corruption, and I don’t want to be part of something that is illegitimate,” Dayib said in a brief message posted on her social media platforms.

Security tightened

Somalia has a longstanding reputation for corruption and weak government. No government has been able to assert much authority outside Mogadishu since the regime of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre fell in 1991.

The situation has worsened periodic food shortages caused by drought, enabled militant group al-Shabab to seize chunks of territory and for several years, allowed pirates to freely hijack ships off the Somali coast for ransom.

Al-Shabab carries out periodic suicide bombings in Mogadishu, mainly aimed at the hotels where lawmakers, diplomats and businessmen tend to meet. So security has been stepped up in most parts of the city, and VOA reporters say government forces are patrolling the streets to prevent possible attacks.

Streets to be shut down during election

The current mayor of Mogadishu, Hussein Yusuf Jimale, said most of the city’s public and vehicular movements will shut down during the election.

“For two days, all the streets of the city will be shut down, starting from 6 p.m. Monday, all public transportation in the city will be suspended, schools will be shut down, and we ask people to remain in their houses,” Yusuf told reporters on Sunday.

Residents said security forces were deployed overnight in all streets leading to the airport from the rest of the city.

Two days of debates

Ahead of the vote, parliament is holding presidential debates on Monday and Tuesday, in which candidates are touting their plans to improve security, fight terrorism and implement good governance.
Among the president’s main challengers are his prime minister, Omar Abdurashid Ali Sharmarke; former president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed; and former prime minister, Mohamed Abdullahi, a dual U.S.-Somali national better known as Farmajo. Other candidates include former ministers, former Mogadishu mayor, businessmen, and civil society activists.

In a speech to lawmakers Thursday, Mohamud vowed to rebuild the army to take over the security of the country within two years, and to prepare for elections by popular vote in 2020.

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Abdi Hodan 2

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You’re not alone. Music is something that defines and divides us. And that can be especially true for immigrant families.

For Somali immigrants in the US, 2017 marks 25 years of civil war in the country they left behind. That’s long enough for the older generation to wonder what’s left of the country they used to know, and long enough for a new generation to grow up without knowing anything else.

The generational divide plays out in song. Here, two Somali immigrants in Boston talk about how. 

Hodan Warfa:

“I was born in 1990 just shy of the civil war breaking out, and my mother literally packed everything up and we left before they could get to our neighborhood. I immigrated at the age of two. I came with my grandmother and she helped raise me, so she used to put Somali music on. I remember she used to turn on ‘Somali Udiida Ceb’ [which means] ‘Somalia Don’t Shame Yourself.’ That’s the one song I remember; I loved it.

“I remember growing up and my grandmother was really traumatized. She went through the civil war and my grandfather was murdered, so she liked that song. She was like, ‘See, you guys shamed yourselves, you killed your own people, you’re pulling dead bodies in the street.’ Because she was embarrassed of the civil war and the craziness going on.

“You know, Mogadishu and Somalia used to be called ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean,’ and now look what happened to it. So you feel like there’s shame, like there’s not really much of a reason to go back to Somalia.

Abdirahman Yusuf:

“I was born in the great city of Hergesa, the home of literature, songs and poetry. Nowadays people would look at the Somali people and their situation [and think] that these people never sang, never loved. 

“[In this song, 'Dama Ja'ayl'] he’s saying: ‘I’ve come upon the one that I wanted in all the world, lying in a grassy field. She had let her hair go and loosened her dress, and I thought, should I go hug her? Should I kiss her on the lips?’

“This is how our culture was, back then. Nowadays, God knows what it is, you know?”

Hodan Warfa:

“To be honest, people talk about Somalia — all I know is just craziness and running away. That’s it. I don’t know anything about Somalia and a great time. … I was not alive during that time. My parents tell me, but I don’t have that feeling.

“Sometimes I make the joke of like, all Somali parents have this book that they memorize all the same sayings, and then they use the same sayings on their kids. Even though my parents were not that bad, but certain things, like for example, music that I listened to, they were like: ‘What is this garbage you’re listening to?’ Listening to hip-hop, pop music.

“What they would do is bang the door like a crazy person. Or they would yell my name: Hodan! I realize my experience isn’t unique just to me. It’s something that every kid experiences, but even more so when you’re growing up here with a different kind of culture. You notice the differences automatically.”

Abdirahman Yusuf:

“I remember this [song, 'Qoraxdoo aroortii'], it’s special to me because some time in 1974 I was participating in the literacy campaign [in Somalia].

“All the students from the middle school and high school were sent out into the country to teach nomadic Somali people how to read and write, and we were part of that group. I must have been around 14 years old. And I heard this on the radio — out in the bushes in the remote [area]. And then years and years later when I came to Boston, one of my children, he came one day [with] his iPod and said: ‘Dad, what do you think of this song?’ And lo and behold it was this very song that he picked on his own. I’m like whoa, that took me to 1974 when I was 14 years old myself.”

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Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in particular, have extended their drive for influence in the Mideast by competing in some African countries. Their differences over regional issues, such as the war in Syria and ties with Iran, became plain in October, and since then they have revealed their political, economic and military interests in the African continent.

Djibouti, Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa are strategically important for Cairo’s national security, allowing it to secure its interests in the Red Sea and headwaters of the Nile River areas, and to ensure access to its annual share of the Nile waters. Yet Saudi policies to promote the kingdom’s presence in these countries have become a source of concern for Cairo.

Recent Saudi moves in Africa show that, through its foreign policy, Saudi Arabia seeks to take a leadership role in African-Arab joint actions and counter some of the progress Iran has made in recent years in the Horn of Africa. Saudi Arabia also wants to diversify its regional allies, given its tensions with Lebanon and Egypt, and achieve food security by expanding its agricultural projects in countries with abundant water and land resources in the Nile Basin region.

Iran has been supplying weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen. Saudi Arabia, which hopes to help Yemen defeat the Houthis and restore the previous government, is negotiating to establish a military base in Djibouti, Yemen’s neighbor. The Saudis also granted Sudan $5 billion in military assistance in February, after halting military aid to Lebanon’s army over its ties with Iran. Sudan, which also borders the Red Sea, severed its ties with Iran last year. Djibouti’s ambassador to Riyadh, Dya-Eddin Said Bamakhrama, said in March that his country’s regional waters “are secure and under control in the face of Iranian attempts to provide the Houthis in Yemen with weapons.”

 

Saudi political coordination with some African countries was evident when Djibouti and Somalia, like Sudan, broke off ties with Iran against the backdrop of the January 2016 attack by protesters on the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Tehran.

To secure economic interests, Saudi Arabia has intensified investments, particularly in the agriculture sector, focusing on the abundant water and fertile soil in the Nile Basin countries, especially Sudan and Ethiopia.

Speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, a diplomatic official of the African Union said, “We are watching closely the developments of Arab ties with African Union countries. Although there are cooperation and coordination opportunities, we are concerned that the Arab conflict over influence will move to the African territory and that diplomatic convergence will turn into alliances and further biases.”

The African Union, he said, “has adopted a political agenda to prevent the re-emergence of conflicts over influence, following the European colonization era of the continent, and to benefit from Arab capabilities to serve the African people.”

The official, who in November attended the Arab-African Summit in Equatorial Guinea, explained, “Egypt and the Gulf countries have different perceptions of the African [situation]. This was seen clearly after a number of Gulf countries withdrew from the summit, unlike Egypt, in support for the Moroccan position [on Western Sahara] and in protest against the presence of the Sahrawi Republic.” The countries that withdrew were Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Somalia and Qatar.

“The Gulf countries are now coordinating with Morocco,” which has strong ties with countries in northern and western Africa, the official said. That’s one reason Morocco wants to return to the African Union. Egypt rejects that proposal, as Cairo considers itself the gateway to African-Arab joint action.

Observers have varied opinions on the motives and potential impact of Egyptian-Saudi disagreements in Africa.

“Some Saudi moves in Africa are a sort of political deception,” Hani Raslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin Studies program at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor.

“Cairo [didn't make an issue of] the huge Saudi investments in the continent’s countries as part of the Saudi agricultural expansion strategy outside its territory, and each country has the right to secure its interests,” he said. “[But] Saudi investments in the land and water of the Nile Basin countries are part of a policy to isolate Egypt and a rejection of Egyptian fears and concerns.”

Raslan also said, “The high-level Saudi delegation’s visit to the Renaissance Dam in December, which is still a disputed issue between Cairo and [the Ethiopian capital of] Addis Ababa, is tantamount to Saudi backing for the Ethiopian position regarding the dam, although the water issue is a national security issue for Egypt.”

Adel Nabhan, a political researcher interested in African affairs, told Al-Monitor, “The Gulf investments in Africa can be a strong point in Egypt’s advantage, if well-exploited, particularly in light of the poor Egyptian economic potential to provide African countries with aid or investments.”

Yet Nabhan added, “Although international relations are governed by interests, it is unacceptable that a party exploits sensitive issues, such as water, to achieve particular goals, even when it comes to the Saudi-Egyptian disagreement.”

Helmi Sharawi, head of the Arab and African Research Center in Cairo, told Al-Monitor, “Saudi Arabia looks forward to assuming a leadership role in [Africa], as the biggest power in the Middle East, particularly at the economic and military coordination level. This has shed light on the dispute over a leadership role between Cairo and Riyadh.”

Cairo’s responses to Saudi moves in Africa are limited to official diplomatic messages promoting and affirming Egypt’s presence. In December, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hosted Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh; they signed cooperation agreements in several fields and discussed security coordination in the Red Sea. Also, Sisi visited Uganda on Dec. 18 to discuss ways to promote peace and security in the Horn of Africa and the Nile Basin.

Cairo continues to commit to a quiet diplomacy and contents itself with messages stressing the importance of the Egyptian role in many areas of Africa. Yet for many observers of the African-Arab scene, the lack of a unified Arab vision toward Africa remains a source of concern that the African continent will turn into a field for Middle Eastern conflict — whether among Arab countries, or between Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia on one hand and Iran and Turkey on the other.

Al-Monitor (1)

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XASILOONI

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Xasilooni waa erey mugweyn, lehna macno balaaran, waa deganaansho ku salaysan nolol iyo dhaqaale, markay siyaasad noqotana waxay xaqiijinaysaa deganaasho maamul oo dalkeena gaarsiiya nidaam dawladnimo oo taam ah.

Bulshada soomaaliyeed waxay madax wareer iyo niyad jab ka qaaday is qabqabsiga iyo muranka siyaasadeed ee ka dhexeeya madaxda ugu saraysa wadanka, taasoo curyaamisay adeeggi ay ummadu u baahnayd.

Haddan dib u yara milicsanno dawladihii ku ragaadmay muranka siyaasadeed ee masuliyiinta ugu sareeya wadanka waxaa ka mid ahaa:

Dowladi Cabdi Qaasim Salaad Madaxweynaha ka ahaa  2000-2004 wuxuu magcaabay  sadex Raysal Wasaare oo kala ahaa:

  1. Cali Khalfiif Galaydh
  2. Xasan Abshir Farax
  3. Maxamed Cabdi yuusuf

Cabdullahi Yusuf wuxuu Raysal Wasaarayaal u magcaabay 2004-2008:

  1. Cali Maxamed Geedi Nov, 2004- Oct, 2007
  2. Nuur Xasan ( Nuur Cade) Dec, 2007- Feb, 2008

Maxaxweyne Shariif Sheikh Axmed wuxuu magcaabay 2009-20012 Sadex Raysal Wasaare:

  1. Cumar Cabdirashid Feb, 2009- Oct 2010
  2. Maxamed Cabdullahi Farmaajo Nov, 2010-Jun 2011
  3. Cabdiwali Maxamed Cali Gaas July, 2011-Sept, 2012

Madaxweyne Xasan  Sheikh Maxamuud oo balan qaaday inuu meesha ka saarayo khilaafka hareeyey Madaxweynayaashii dalka soo maray iyo Raysal Wasaarayaashii ay soo magacabeen ayaa  mudo laba sano gudahooda ah ku cayriyey laba Raysal Wasaare.

  1. Cabdi Farax Shirdoon Oct, 2012-Dec, 2013
  2. Cabdiwali Sheikh Axmed Dec, 2013-Dec, 2014

Cumar Cabdirashid Cali Sharmarke oo ahaa Raysal Wasaarihii sadexaad oo la magacaabay Dec, 2014-kii ayaa ku dhawaaqay maalintii la xilka loo cimaamaday inuu ku shaqayn doono Xasilooni Siyaasadeed dalkana waqtiga yar ee dhimana uu dhamaystiri doono wadada ugu macquulsan ee dalkaan doorasho uga dhici karto.

Hanaanka dawladnimada cusub ee Soomaaliya waxaa asaas looga dhigay hanaan federal ah, in kasta oo madaxda ugu saraysa dalka qaarkood aysan diyaar u ahayn hanaankaan  ka miro dhalintiisa, taas oo abuurtay colaad hor leh oo aakhirkii horseeday is aamin darro bulshada Soomaaliyeed dhexdeeda, waxaana  dhismay maamulo hab qabiil u abaabulan.

Waxaa kaloo xoogaystay is jiidjiidka u dhexeeya maamul goboleedyada, kaasoo ku salaysan dhul kala sheegan iyo is qabsi xuduudeed qaarkood ula kac loo abuuray qaarna ay keentay muranka siyaasadeed.

Maamul gobolleedyada oo dawlada dhexe ayaa waxaa ka dhex taagnaan jiray is mariwaa waxaana salkeedu yahay in dawladdii federaalku ay gacan bidixaysa arrimaha mashaariicda, deeqaha waxbarasha iyo shaqaalaha dawladda, taasina waxay keentay kalsooni darro shacabka Soomaaliyeed,

Intii uu xilka hayey Raysal Wasaare Cumar Cabdirashid wuxu iska ilaaliyey inuu abuurmo khilaafkii ragaadiyey hor u socodka hawlaha qaranka, wuxuuna ku dadaalay inuu soo afjaro qul qulatooyinka iyo gacan ka hadal ka dhex aloosnaa qaar ka mid ah maamul goboleedyada dalka.

Raysal Wasaare Cumar isagoo fulinaya balan qaadkiisa ahaa Xasilooni Siyaasadeed ayaa mudadii labada sano ahayd wuxuu xoogga saaray siduu u taabo geli lahaa wada shaqayn dhex marta maamul goboleedyada dalka iyo dowladda dhexe. Wuxuuna dhisay gudiyo adkeeya dibu heshiisiinta iyo nabadda si looga gun gaaro  xasiloonida siyaasadeed ee wadanka.

Kobcinta dhaqaaluhu wuxuu u baahan yahay Xasilooni siyaasadeed, hadii aysan wada shaqayn ka dhaxaynin maamulada gobolada dalka waxaa adkaanaysa in ganacsi u socodo si wanaagsan, waxaa hada ka jira xuduudaha gobolada u dhaxeeya canshuuro xad dhaaf ah oo laga qaado gadiidleyda, hadii aan la is fahamsiin maamulada lana midayn canshuuraha waxaa dhibaatoyin in sicir barar soo wajahayaa shacabka Soomaaliyeed, marka arinkaas xalkiisa waxaa furo u ah in la helo xasilooni siyaasadeed.

Amniga oo ah shayga ugu muhiimsan ee taabtay qof walba oo Soomaaliyeed ayaan la xaqiijin karin hadii aan la helin xasilooni siyaasadeed. Tusaale ahaan hadii maanta ciidankii Soomaaliyeed qabiil qabiil isugu xiran yihiin, calamo gooni gooni ah iyo dhar kala nooca ah ay qabaan, meeshana ay ka maqan tahay ciidan qaran oo dalka oo dhan ka howl gala, waxaa aad u adag in muwaadinka Soomaaliyeed uu ku naaloodo amaan oo fure u ah nolosha, Xasilooni siyaasadeed waxay abuuri kartaa in la dhiso ciidan qaran oo hada qorshihiisii uu Raysal Wasaare Cumar bilaabay laba sano ka hor una baahan dhamaysitir,

Dib-u-heshiisinta: Soomaaliya waxaa ka dhacay dagaal sokeeye, waxaana kala irdhoobay shacabkii Soomaaliyeed, isu keeni doodu waxay u baahan tahay Xasilooni Siyaasadeed iyo hogaan aan lagu tuhmaynin in reer hebel oo kaliya uu danahooda ka shaqaynayo, waxaa arinkaas abuuri karaa is aaminitaan iyo kalsooni, waxaana fududaanaysa in laga gaara mashaakilada jira xal waare oo dhabaha u xaara in bulshadu si wanaagsan u wada noolaadaan.

Dalalka Dariska ah iyo kuwa caalamka: Shaki kuma jiro in ay jiro xasilooni siyaasadeed in ay tahay buundada isku xiri karta Soomaaliya iyo Caalamka, maadaama aan ka soo kabanayn bur bur dowladeed iyo mid dalba waxaa lagama maarmaan  ah in caalamka aan kula noolaano.

Xasilooni siyaasadeed la’aanteed waxaa aad u adag in dalkaan la gaarsiiyo caalamka horumaray, waxaad adag in bulshada Soomaaliyeed loo muujiyo inaan nahay hal qaran iyo hal qof, waxaa adag in amniga wax laga qabto madaama ciidanku qaab beeleed u dhisan yihiin, taas oo sabab u ah kala shaki ku kala dhex jira qabiilada Soomaaliyeed, sidaas daraadeed Xasilooni siyaasadeed waa qaabka kaliya oo aan uga bixi karno dhibaatooyinkan ragaadiyey dalkeena.

A. Faarax

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BC foreign correspondent Andrew Harding’s book “The Mayor of Mogadishu” opens with an arresting scene: An attack by the militant group Al-Shabab is underway at a mosque in the Somali capital’s government compound. Worshipers are jostling toward the exit. Only one man still kneels in prayer, apparently oblivious to the mayhem unfolding around him.

That man is the book’s complicated subject, Mohamud “Tarzan” Nur, a Somali expat who served as Mogadishu’s mayor in the early 2000s, as the city edged out of Al-Shabab’s control and into a state of fragile near-normalcy. Through the story of a man who took one of the world’s most dangerous political gigs, Harding traces the turbulent modern history of Somalia — a place where the author dodges bullets, discovers remarkable resiliency and glimpses striking beauty amid the ruins of the onetime “Pearl of the Indian Ocean.”

Through elegant writing and dogged reportage, Harding sets out to introduce Nur, a man steeped in contradictions and controversy. In a sense, Harding tackles a mystery: Is Nur a brave and principled patriot or a charismatic opportunist with a carefully crafted public persona?

One of the first stories Nur shares with the author — that his mother delivered him in Room 18 of a beachfront hospital ­­— turns out to be a lie. In fact, he was born under a tree in the nomadic Ogaden region and grew up in a gritty Mogadishu orphanage, where he earned his nickname after sneaking out a window and swinging from a tree.

Before his homeland descended into civil war, Nur left for Saudi Arabia in search of opportunity. He eventually settled in London with his young family.

 

In 2000, he returned to Mogadishu to take the mayoral job, tapped for it as the self-described “leader of the diaspora.” There, Nur proved adept at restoring a measure of normalcy and eluding Al-Shabab attacks. He was somewhat less adept at dodging the capital’s relentless mudslinging, clan politics and questions about government corruption.

Nur, who is now running for president of Somalia, insists he is an open book. His trademark phrase echoes the recent U.S. presidential election: “Believe me.” But he remains guarded and slightly aloof, and that’s Harding’s main storytelling challenge throughout.

As is often the case with nonfiction whose tough-skinned main subjects never quite open up, the book can leave some readers wanting more. But Harding perseveres, filling in gaps in our understanding thanks to Nur’s likable wife, Shamis, and a brother living in Indiana.

Harding also assembles a strong cast of supporting characters — fellow expats who in recent years have flocked back home to help rebuild, get a taste of adventure and make money. Even as Nur remains a bit of a mystery in Harding’s book, a fascinating, guardedly optimistic portrait of contemporary Somalia comes into sharp focus.

StarTribune

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