From: Haile Abraham (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Jun 26 2009 - 00:39:57 EDT
This afternoon, I was able to attend the hearing by the US of Representatives Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Heath, chaired by Donald Payne (D-NJ). There were only 2 witnesses on the schedule to testify about the current situation in Somalia, and later on, 4 Somalis and 1 Ugandan gentleman were invited for an "open briefing."
Here's the lineup:
Mr. Ted Dagne
Congressional Research Service
J. Peter Pham, Ph.D.
Justice Studies, Political Science and Africana Studies
Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs
James Madison University
His Excellency Dr. Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole)
Puntland State of Somalia
The Honorable Dr. Crispus Kiyonga
Minister of Defense
Republic of Uganda
His Excellency Mohamed Omaar
Republic of Somalia
***Mr. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah
Special Representative of the Secretary General for Somalia
*** Mr. Frederic Ngoga Gateretse
Special Representative of the Chairperson
Commission for Somalia
Looking at the lineup of the witnesses and also the other Somalis on the list, I thought to myself that this perhaps was going to be "A Feast on Eritrea" day. But I am glad I was wrong! Throughout the presentation, no one, not even a single person, mentioned Eritrea by name, contrary to what has been alleged in interviews and media briefings. Of course, some in the BRIEFING list could not resist to use phrases like "External forces," "regional spoilers," "IGAD and AU sanctions," etc, but no one dared to use their fabricated, hearsay allegations about Eritrea's involvement in current Somali affairs.
According to my observation, the entire session was dominated by 2 main topics; "Foreign Fighters" and "Somali Piracy." The 2 witnessed made a strong case pointing the dire need to help Somali civilians, however, their glorified view of the so-called "Foreign Fighters" and "Afghan-trained" extremists, does not seem to provide any workable solution to Somali future. It is as if they are prepared to make these groups as the scapegoat for the TFG's imminent debacle, instead of the failed policies that created the TFG in the first place.
I do pay respect, however, to Mr. Ted Dagen for correctly identifying the root cause of the piracy problems as the illegal dumping of toxic and chemical waste as well the lucrative business it has attracted. These illegal activities, he said, has caused the Somali Fishermen's way of life to be destroyed. Regarding the lucrative business, Mr. Dagne stated that it costs $2.50 to dump toxic waste in Africa, while $250.00 in Europe. You do the Math and pay your respect to Ted. Dr. Pham also made a bold statement saying the TFG is not elected but rather selected and thus it could never be a solution for lasting Peace.
As to the Somalis as well as the Ugandan defense minister, who spoke on behalf of AMISON, they sounded to me more like pleading their cases for more and more funding from the US coffers to support their personal gains. That's my observation. Hopefully a link to the hearing will be available soon so you can judge it for yourself.
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