15 MAY 2010


These are headlines of pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, which had kept its distance in the Somali conflict, mainly tending to adhere to a Saudi cautious approach. The newspaper's publisher is Prince Khaled Bin Sultan, who recently commanded Saudi troops in handling Yemini rebel encroachment across the borders. In a story dated 11 May by Mohammed Al-Khodr Mohammed from Nairobi, the article starts by saying that U.N. Envoy Ould Abdallah claimed that Somali opposition hated him because he was pushing for a peaceful outcome, while the opposition claims the contrary: that Ould Abdallah is actually part of the problem.

Anyway, the writer goes on, many Somali politicians no doubt agree. When the correspondent visited the office of the U.N. Representative based in Nairobi, he noted vigilant guards double-checking the identity of his visitors. A woman dressed in a U.N. Security uniform told him: "I have to know who you are before I allow you to continue walking, because Somalis want to kill him." The correspondent was stopped again while approaching the office. Ould Abdallah discussed what he thought was a country recuperating from a "Godly Punishment" and "wrong policies" which he could not overcome yet he never felt frustrated, believing he had a "magic wand" to solve the Somali problem. He said everything depended on the seriousness of Somali politicians to arrive at a compromise. However, Ould Abdallah's critics said he never wanted to help Somalis achieve peace because he was prejudiced in his support for a weak unrepresentative and unpopular government instead of at the expense of himself searching for a consensus on a coherent government which could include all parties. Former Somali Ambassador to U.N. between 2000-2005 Ahmed Hashi said Ould Abdallah could not be an honest mediator -- who would normally talk to all parties. Opposition groups in Somali say that he was exploiting his job to deepen disagreements between Somalis "in order to serve foreign powers, particularly Ethiopian and American interests." Somali politicians complained that the U.N. envoy attempted to split the "Liberation Front of Somali" in 2008 and extended a safety exit for mired Ethiopian troops by holding a conference between the government and a splinter group. He is a divisive operation. Opposition figures particular accuse him of trying to monopolize all initiatives for a peaceful settlement -- effective blocking them.

More than 300 members of Somali Parliament issued a very strong statement in early May denouncing Ould Abdallah, considering him "accountable for the very serious political and judicial crisis inside the institution of the Transitional Federal Government." The Envoy of U.N. Secretary General "turned his back in a glaring manner to all agreements he was entrusted to supervise, monitor and support." These agreements were the outcome of the Somali Reconciliation Accord, supported by the U.N. itself -- held in Djibouti in 2008 to arrange for an accord between former warlord Abdallah Youssef and then opposition leader (now President) Sheikh Sherif Ahmed Sherif, who split from his original group. No effective government was established. The transitional government, supported by "Western forces," is stuck in limited neighbourhoods of Mogadishu while opposition Islamist forces determined to unseat it run central and southern regions. Meanwhile, not one single ministry is operational and Parliament is caught in paralysis between those who say its speaker's term was over and others who claim that it isn't over until next year.

Critics of Ould Abdallah said that he should have held a conference for conflicting parties, particularly after the resignation of former Prime Minister Abdallah Youssef. However, Abdallah refutes all those accusations by saying that Somali politicians should face the facts and make concessions "for the sake of their country, their religion, their children." He said that he did not jump with joy when appointed Special Rep for Somalia; but had two thoughts: the source of the problem is politicians' greed and "the Somalis had violated the Divine teachings and were now in the eve of paying for their sins." However, a former minister, Abdel Kader Dakni, responded that the U.N. Representative failed and has to resign. Ould Abdallah "is the worst Special Rep to Somalia since Mohammed Sahnoun. Everything broke down since he took over."

Interestingly, Ould Abdallah's comment was that many African regions of conflict "suffered from opportunists -- Somalis and others -- who were exploiting that Arab East African country to their personal advantage." HEALER, HEAL THYSELF!