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Somalia:UN Monitoring Group and its clan bias

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Tuesday February 18, 2014 - 21:22:09 in Daily News by Dahir Alasow
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    Somalia:UN Monitoring Group and its clan bias

    Whether one agrees or not, in Somalia the Hawiye are the largest of the clans. However, turning this fact on its head the Monitoring Group UN charged with reporting violations on the arms embargo in Somalia have irresponsibly sought to blame all Soma

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Whether one agrees or not, in Somalia the Hawiye are the largest of the clans. However, turning this fact on its head the Monitoring Group UN charged with reporting violations on the arms embargo in Somalia have irresponsibly sought to blame all Somalia's woes on the Hawiye. Now it appears to be the turn of the Abgaal and Haber Gidir.

 It is hardly surprising that some Somalis have bought into the notion there’s a UN Monitoring Group conspiracy against the Hawiye.


The recent report by the UN monitors on the arms embargo sent to the Security Council Sanctions Committee on 6 February 2014 obtained by Waagacusub makes no pretense of its sinister ambitions in pitting Somalia’s clans against each other.



15-pages on Hawiye


The 15 page "report” reads full of inaccuracies and allegations depending on ones view and seems to have clearly been produced by a strong desire to foment clan clashes in the Shabelle areas rather unite the clans. According to the UN monitors, they were prevented from accessing SFG weapon stockpiles, and have observed that Abgaal and Haber Gidir Villa Somalia insiders obtain government-issued weapons for sale to Al-Shabaab. The report makes a spurious attempt at sensationalism, obviously for headline reasons and desperately links the Abgaal subclan arms dealers to President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud who is also Abgaal.


Bryden protégées


It seems the UN monitors, led by Dr. Jarat Chopra a former World Bank diplomat and a number of Matt Bryden protégées serving on the Monitoring Group are playing the old Somali game of clan politics. Critics claim this is an art perfected by the notorious Matt Bryden who was reportedly sacked by the UN for his overtly intrusive reports. According to the UN monitors’ unnamed sources, the Abgaal and Haber Gidir are responsible for government weapons been sold on the black market and ending up in the hands of Al-Shabaab. A claim Abgaal and Haber Gidir elders strongly deny.


It appears the UN monitors’ report has received strong criticism and distance from other UN agencies involved in Somalia. Waagacusub has spoken to a Mogadishu-based UNSOM senior official who claims the UN monitors report is "rich on allegations and wanting on hard evidence.” The official who cannot be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media went on to claim: "the problem with the Group [UN monitors] is they storm into Mogadishu for a day mission or two and think they have all the answers…it’s much more complex than picking up the trending UN gossip over a cold beer.” 


Reliance on Bancroft and AMISOM 


Following an interview with officials from the Somali security and defense ministries, Waagacusub has learned contrary to the UN monitors claims the monitors have indeed received cooperation from President Hassan Sheikh’s government on the controversial weapons issue. The problem Somalia officials told Waagacusub, is the UN monitors seem to be relying more on "foreigners” than the SFG. Unconfirmed reports suggest the UN monitors have forced the hands of AMISOM and Bancroft into cooperating with them on arms and compliance issues. Apparently, during a February visit to Somalia, President Hassan Sheikh ordered his security and defense ministries to fully cooperate with the Monitoring Group when the monitors raised the issue of access.


Weapons to Al-Shabaab?


Have government weapons gone to Al-Shabaab? The UN monitors claim so but fail to substantiate this with hard evidence. Somalia security officials have charged back that the monitors have not provided them with any evidence of government arms being sold or transferred to Al-Shabaab, let alone details of Abgaal and Haber Gidir so-called Villa Somalia insiders facilitating arms deals. One security official claimed: "their [UN monitors] job is to inspect Al-Shabaab weapons too, not only ours. If they haven’t inspected Al-Shabaab’s how are they arriving at the conclusion government weapons are being sold to Al-Shabaab. This is a dangerous and creative position by the UN.”


Truth is somewhere in between


There’s no doubt government weapons are ending up in the hands of Al-Shabaab but it seems clear from the UN latest report they have failed to back this up with hard evidence as highlighted by UNSOM. In past years credible reports have suggested that arms intended for the use by the Somali national forces had been funneled out through AMISOM and other local arms brokers.


For access to the full UN report click here: 

By Dahir Alasow
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