September 2017: That Was The Month That Was

TWTMTW

l-r: weapons seized from gun-runners off the coast of Puntland; the unburied bodies of the casualties of the Barire incident; Prime Minister Khayre addresses UN GA; an AMISOM armoured vehicle shunts a civilian car in Mogadishu; and President Farmaajo heads to Saudi Arabia

SEPTEMBER started as it would end, focussed on the town of Barire in Lower Shabelle. A number of locals, armed and moving at night with an unidentifiable but presumably nefarious purpose, stumbled upon a Somali special forces unit who promptly engaged them, killing 8. The government agreed to compensate the dollar-hungry families of the unburied and decomposing casualties.

The business of government went on, with counter-terrorism legislation heading to parliament along with various other bills. The Media Law followed close behind, trailed by the ubiquitous chuntering. The PM headed to New York for the UN General Assembly where Somalia was deprived of its voting rights because of unpaid dues but the PM nonetheless managed to meet a selection of his influential counter-parts.

International relations interfaced dangerously with relations between the government and the Federal Member States. HirShabelle democratically removed its State President early in the month and quickly replaced him. But this was insignificant in comparison to the sudden alignment of Puntland, then Southwest, then Galmudug with Saudi Arabia & UAE against Qatar, in opposition to the government’s neutral stance. The President himself returned to Saudi Arabia for the third time since taking office, but the month ended with the situation apparently unresolved.

At a regional level, relations with Ethiopia caused problems. The extradition of an Ogaden National Liberation Front leader sparked an outburst of nationalistic fervour that mixers happily exploited: the President’s popularity plummeted. The fragility and disenfranchisement that came with a major clan/not-so major sub-clan President and Prime Minister appeared to spill over into violence, albeit concealed in a variety of Somali National Security Forces uniforms, when the Stabilisation Force attempted to disarm another unit (from a different clan block): 9 died.

There were some positives: football matches and civilian flights into Mogadishu Aden Abdulle Airport took place at night for the first time in nearly three decades. The Mogadishu Book Festival was a success, rivalling its elder cousin in Hargeisa.

Kenyan forces serving as part of AMISOM withdrew from Bardhere and Tarako: aS immediately occupied the towns. In Mogadishu, video of a road traffic accident, where an AMISOM armoured vehicle shunted a civilian car along one of the main arteries of the city, went viral on social media: AMISOM quickly apologised and offered compensation.

The security slugging match continued in the hinterland. aS continued to suffer from air, drone and special forces strikes, the Shadow Governor of Banadir being a notable victim. aS tried to use disinformation to counter the strikes, re-imagining them as civilian casualty incidents.

In reply, aS launched assaults on government positions across the country, from Af-Urur in Puntland to Bulo-Gaduud, Beled-Hawo, Kalabyr and El-Wak in south-central. In the city of Mogadishu aS kept up its campaign of assassinations of government officers, members of the security forces and NGO workers (although whether aS actually was responsible for every single killing remains unclear): the Deputy Commander of SNA Logistics was a notable victim. aS’s other urban trademark, the car-bomb, was less prevalent than in previous months, but some attacks succeeded in spite of the best efforts of the Stabilisation Force to secure the city.

The month ended where it began, in Barire. aS stormed the SNA garrison in the town, inflicting heavy casualties and seizing a number of vehicles including armed ‘technicals’. aS’s narrative predominated and steered attention away from its concurrent and grimly symbollic car-bombing of the Mogadishu Peace Garden.


 

If you want to know what is going on in Syria, ask a Syrian – 1

A share from my good friend, the Syrian photographer and activist, Sima Diab Kassem:

For the people who keep tagging me or sending me that dumb Eva Bartlett propaganda bullshit asking me to explain it, this is my answer- I don’t want to see that idiot woman’s face in my inbox or my name tagged under any of her crap:

1)  I’m not in the mood to explain who this woman named Eva Bartlett is – because she’s a professional propagandist. She is not a journalist as she claims.

2) If people until today don’t understand that Assad, Russia and Iran are creating misinformation to confuse a public so people can remain dumb, twisting events to suit their narrative – I’m not going to explain it to them

3) If those same people are convinced that he’s done nothing wrong and is fighting terrorists while not dropping a single bomb on ISIS then I’m not going to engage in a conversation

4) If people are only condemning the west’s imperialism by citing US intervention in Iraq, but not seeing that Russia and Iran are also an invading force, I’m not going to participate in that hypocrisy

5) If 12 million displaced and half a million killed is not enough for people to be convinced that Assad is not a leader but a maniacal dictator, then I won’t be privy to explaining what a dictator is

6) I’m one Syrian. I don’t speak for all Syrians, but every single Syrian I know has had a family member killed, tortured, arrested, exiled or have become refugees. There’s no leader in the world that deserves to stay in power if that’s the situation of your country.

7) If you only care now for Aleppo and you don’t know about Baniyas, Douma, Hama, Homs, then I’m not going to give a recap of history.

Read.

Educate.

And what I mean by read, is actual news sources not bullshit conspiracy websites.

And if you don’t believe in the professional media, then stay ignorant.


 

View Sima Diab’s photography here