The visit by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Africa and her meeting with Somalia President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed brings back into sharp focus the ongoing instability which is Somalia considered by the UN as having one of the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa. Aid groups now believe one third of the country or almost 4 million people need food aid.
It seems like in Pakistan and Afghanistan, America is intent on using the War on Terror as a convenient pretext to execute its wider foreign policy goals. Somalia which has seen almost two decades of chaos and conflict, had started to enjoy some stability in the second half of 2006 until America’s proxy Ethiopia decided to brutally invade the country to remove the Supreme Islamic Courts Council (SICC), thus leading to over 1 million refugees who have now been displaced from the ensuing fighting. Yet despite all this suffering America is now threatening countries like Eritrea and those opposing Somalia’s transitional government with a view of escalating action in the horn of Africa alongside its current military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As many had predicted America’s foreign policy goals have not altered in substance at all since the change of occupant in the Whitehouse in 2009.
There is a major myth that surrounds Somalia. Firstly that Somalia is a natural failed state always in the midst of a civil war between competing actors, first tribal warlords, then between secular and Islamic factions and now between moderate Islamists under Sharif and the more radical elements within Al Shabab. However though this is partly true, it is also clear that there has been significant foreign interference from countries like the United States and her allies, specifically Ethiopia who has engaged in a bloody war financed by her western masters under the so called War on Terror. Spurred on and financed by the Bush Whitehouse in 2006, the Ethiopian army massacred scores of civilians, committed untold war crimes and was actively supported by increasing numbers of American military strikes under the pretence that the SICC was a front for extremism. This was despite numerous independent reports that cited the significant benefits that SICC had brought in terms of stabilising Somalia. Officially having withdrawn from Somalia in January 2009, Ethiopian troops remain engaged in Somalia intervening when necessary to ensure western interests are achieved. Coupled with the Ethiopian influence is the pernicious occupation of African Union Troops who officially present for peacekeeping, are in cahoots with delivering western objectives in the country.
Sheikh Sharif though on paper the President of Somalia is actually the president of his own living room, as his militia barely controls any of the country. Sharif having been in exile for almost two years (a portion of the time interrogated by US embassy officials in Kenya) before he ascended to the Presidency, has a minimal political base in the country and has no real authority. Even the vote to elect Sharif as President was taken by the transitional parliament in neighbouring Djibouti as it was too dangerous to do it in Somalia. Sharif’s meeting with Clinton was also outside the country, as it was deemed too risky for the former first lady to travel. Sharif who was formerly the head of the political wing of the SICC has now been embraced by Ethiopia and America as their proxy believing that he can block stronger Islamic elements coming into power. Hilary Clinton’s clear support for the current transitional government is a clear attempt to consolidate Sharif’s position politically while continuing to support his militia with weapons directly and indirectly via Ethiopia. In addition by continuing to support Sharif against so called extremist elements, America can continue its longer term aim to justify a full military presence in Africa via its new command AFRICOM
AFRICOM: Another Colonial Tool
Intended to address Africa’s emerging strategic importance to the United States, AFRICOM has consolidated all of Africa except Egypt under one geographic combatant command (it was formerly divided among three). AFRICOM commenced its operational life in October 2008 and aimed initially to have an operational headquarters in Africa, however Washington has been unable to persuade any of its regional allies as yet to host its command operation. America’s principal strategic concerns at this time according to commentators including the US private forecasting group Stratfor are:
1. Fostering maritime security and stability in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea region, where Nigeria exercises considerable influence;
2. Combating piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa
3. Denying sanctuary to international terrorist organizations;
4. Undermining the spread of radical Islam in the Horn of Africa and across North Africa.
Scramble for Africa
As can be seen from these objectives, America is actively interested in the African continent as evidenced that both President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton have both visited the continent in their first few months of ascending to office. America is also concerned about China’s growing footprint in Africa, with Beijing steadily increasing her influence and economic clout in many countries. Driven by its relentless pursuit of mineral and other resources China has been striking several high profile deals on the continent which has got Washington extremely nervous that it is losing the continent to its eastern rival. One of the criticisms of the Bush administration by many analysts including some who now serve in the current administration is that America was becoming so bogged down in Iraq that it took its eye off the ball in many other crucial areas of the globe including places like Africa. Concerns about oil, mineral resources, Chinese influence and the strategic importance of key waterways are obviously important to Washington but so is the concern that the |Islamic ideology will become dominant in the horn of Africa aligning itself with the greater Middle East. Indeed many in the Pentagon are now openly saying that there has been a migration of extremists travelling from Afghanistan and Pakistan to states like Somalia and Yemen. By articulating this, it is clear that Washington is now openly extending its current war in South Asia to the horn of Africa under the pretext of national security and defeating terrorism.
What is therefore concerning is that Somalia and Africa have become the latest front in America’s desire to control the resources of the world. America under every President continues the same policies of supporting brutal leaders who can best protect their geopolitical interests whether it be in the Middle East, South Asia or in Africa. Rather than spend a few hundred billion dollars (a fraction of what it has spent to protect the large banks) which would wipe poverty and disease off the African continent, America continues to believe that military occupation, missile strikes and massive political interference in other countries internal affairs remains the best strategy. Indeed unbelievably Hilary Clinton on her visit to Kenya had the gall to say that Eritrea’s intrusion in Somalia’s affairs was unacceptable, yet said nothing either about Ethiopia’s or Washington’s actions over recent years. All foreign intrusion including massive American interference is unacceptable and asking for more foreign troops to occupy Somalia as Sharif has, is just throwing more oil on the fire.
Somalia was stable in 2006, yet this was not sufficient for the United States who wanted a puppet and absolute control in Mogadishu. In doing so they are directly responsible for the violence and instability that now characterize Somalia. Of course the US will always act in their national interest regardless of who is President, yet why deny this principle to the rest of the world. The biggest security threat to the peoples of Cairo, Damascus and Mogadishu are not plans hatched from Somalia or the horn of Africa but those that emanate on a daily basis from Washington, Tel Aviv and London. A country that led the world in the commercial exploitation of slaves from Africa in the 19th century now continues to play politics with the lives of ordinary Africans in the 21st century through supporting illegitimate leaders like Sharif and the brutal Ethiopian military. Fear of the return of the Khilafah stretching from Asia to the horn of Africa keeps American policymakers awake at night and helps to explain America’s militaristic policy. This is not a paranoid view as can be seen from AFRICOM’s agenda and according to opinion polls carried out by for instance by the University of Maryland significant majority of Muslims support the establishment of a unified Khilafah in the Muslim world, the establishment of such an entity is therefore not a question of if but when. And it is also no coincidence that Nigeria and Angola the continent’s two leading oil exporters have become Washington’s best friends as it seeks alternatives to the volatile supply from the Middle East. Africa has therefore yet again become a continent where the major powers are competing for the continents key resources. America, China and Europe are all seeking to colonise the continent as their predecessors did in prior ages.
Therefore the following points should be noted
1. Somalia like the majority of the Muslim world in modern times has faced the scourge of western supported occupation ever since Napoleon landed in Egypt in 1799. Regardless of the century or decade, western leaders have found some pretext to occupy the Muslim world whether it be to attack the Ottoman caliphate, enhance commerce, act against the nationalisation of oil, deal with proxy leaders which have fallen out of favour or counter weapons of mass destruction, the pretexts and lies have been endless.
2. Added to this now, is the latest pretext, the need to stop piracy and extremism a rationale which even some western commentators believe to be counter productive as Somalia continues to suffer.
3. There should therefore be a complete withdrawal of all foreign forces in Somalia and the wider region. Continued presence of foreign forces and influence cannot add to developing good governance or stability in the country.
4. Fourthly any kind of ethnic or tribal division of Somalia along the lines of some kind of Iraqi partition should be rejected.
5. Fifthly though there is chronic violence in Somalia today it is not a civil war of al Shabab against the transitional government as some would simplistically conclude. There are numerous conflicts going on in Somalia many of them involving foreign countries and AU peacekeepers.
6. Sixthly it is clear that for there to be real economic empowerment for the citizens of Somalia, the cartel of warlords, pirates and warring tribes must be broken up.
7. Lastly America’s involvement in Somalia cannot be separated from its wider destabilizing strategy in the Middle East and South Asia. The occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is now developing into a more sinister war in Pakistan and Somalia through repeated missile attacks, proxy wars and covert operations. This therefore clearly illustrates that America’s agenda post Iraq is to continue its strategy to weaken important countries in the Muslim world.
To solve not just the instability of Somalia but of the rest of the Muslim world therefore requires a higher goal to be aspired to. Violence targeting other Muslims should be rejected as this is what the enemies of Islam want, to pit Muslim against Muslim, to pit brother against brother to pit tribe against tribe. This is the American plan of divide and rule in Afghanistan and Pakistan and this is what America seeks to do in Somalia by supporting Sharif and his militia against Al Shabab to ensure any kind of resistance to the United States is crushed.
Therefore only a constructive and coherent effort at re-establishing the Khilafah can address this problem. Only with a comprehensive elimination of the current constitution, judiciary and systems, and their replacement with the constitution, judiciary and systems of the Islamic Khilafah can the direction of countries like Somalia be comprehensively changed for the better. After the failed experiments of warlords, anarchy and foreign occupation, it is only the Khilafah that can bring stability, accountability and prosperity back to the political system, develop strong economic foundations for the state and really ensure political decisions on the future of countries like Somalia are made at home and not in Washington. It is only the Khilafah that has the track record of uniting Arab, Asian and African of uniting white, brown and black under the Islamic aqeedah. It can only be the Khilafah that can bring an end to the rule of warlords, despots and pirates. It can only be the Khilafah that can be trusted with key resources which would be utilized for the benefit of the many and not the few. It can only be the Khilafah that can end foreign occupation and political interference and bring stature and respect back again to the Muslim world.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that the Muslim world lacks a coherent presence in the international arena to address issues such as those that emanate in Somalia. By remaining divided and split into 50 plus states, it becomes easier for outside powers to manipulate the situation and undermine our security, just look at Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. What Muslims need to do is remove their current leaderships, unify their resources and implement the Islamic Khilafah (Caliphate) system. Only then can the Muslim world adequately confront all the challenges of the 21st century and compete effectively with the leading nations of the world.
2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami Post-Scenario in Japan
Japan, on Friday 11th March, 2011 has experienced the worst ever earthquake disaster in its modern history. It was followed by a deadly tsunami leading to massive destruction in the northern part of the country. The earthquake was caused by a 9.0-magnitudeundersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan . The epicenter was approximately 72 km east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku, with the hypocenter at an underwater depth of approximately 32 km. On 1 April 2011, the Japanese government officially named this disaster resulting from the earthquake and tsunami as the “Great Eastern Japan Earthquake” with the duration of almost 6 minutes. It’s the fifth biggest earthquake ever recorded. It’s certainly the biggest to hit Japan for at least 140 years. The earthquake moved largest island of Japan, Honshu to 2.4 m (7.9 ft) east and shifted the Earth on its axis by almost 10 cm (3.9 in).
The earthquake triggered extremely destructive tsunami waves of up to 37.9 metres that struck Japan minutes after the quake. .Tsunami warnings were issued and evacuations ordered along Japan’s Pacific coast and at least 20 other countries, including the entire Pacific coast of the Americas soon after it hit Japan. The earthquake and tsunami caused extensive and severe life and structural damage in Japan, approximately 12,175 deaths, 2,858 injured and 15, 48 missing people have been confirmed. Many electrical generators were taken down, and at least three nuclear reactors suffered explosions after cooling system failure which resulted in build up of hydrogen gas within their outer containment buildings. Almost eleven nuclear reactors at The Fukushima I, Fukushima II, Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant and were automatically shut down following the earthquake.
At Fukushima I and II tsunami waves overtopped seawalls and destroyed diesel backup power systems, leading to two large explosions and radioactive leakage at Fukushima I. Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency reported that radiation levels inside the plant were up to 1,000 times normal levels and that radiation levels outside the plant were up to 8 times normal levels. A state of emergency was declared at the Fukushima II nuclear power plant. Soil has been badly contaminated and radioactive cesium and iodine have also been detected in some places near Fukushima. Food products have also been contaminated by the radioactive matter in several places near the plants. The Fujinuma irrigation dam in Sukagawa ruptured, causing flooding and washing away of homes. The north-eastern ports of Hachinohe, Sendai, Ishinomaki and Onahama were destroyed, while Chiba port (which serves the hydrocarbon industry) and Japan’s ninth-largest container port at Kashima have been slightly affected. Japan’s transport and communication networks have suffered severe disruptions. Cosmo Oil Company JX Nippon Oil & Energy, were also set ablaze by the quake. The earthquake has changed the entire picture of Japan into a wrecked, naturally disastrous and a causality afflicted country.
The aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami included both a humanitarian crisis and a major social and economic impact. The tsunami resulted in over 300,000 refugees in the Tōhoku region, and shortages of food, water, shelter, medicine and fuel for survivors. In response the Japanese government mobilized the Self-Defence Forces; it has specifically requested teams from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, United Kingdom, and United States for search and rescue operations. China has offered roughly $150,000 in aid to Japan for recovery and also sent its rescue team which is a positive step in improvement of relations between the two countries. According to Japan’s foreign ministry, 116 countries and 28 international organizations had offered assistance in the form of rescue teams, aid shipments and financial help to Japan.
The Japanese Prime Minister had immediately set up an emergency task force to respond to the disaster. Rescue and Relief operations were started. Post-disaster measures and disaster management teams were introduced. Aid organizations both in Japan and worldwide have responded, with the Japanese Red Cross reporting $490 million in donations. Russia had also send a special radiation treatment vessel to help dispose of contaminated water from a Japanese nuclear power plant crippled by this massive earthquake and tsunami on Japanese demand. The US troops almost 40,000 military personnel had been stationed across the country who played key role in the post tsunami clean up.
The drastic economic impact included both immediate problems, with industrial production suspended in many factories, and the longer term issue of the cost of rebuilding which had been estimated at ¥10 trillion ($122 billion). Early estimates placed insured losses from the earthquake alone at US$14.5 to $34.6 billion. Japan’s government said the cost of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast could reach $309 billion, making it the world’s most expensive natural disaster on record. The Bank of Japan offered ¥15 trillion (US$183 billion) to the banking system in an effort to normalize market conditions and to uplift the economic losses.
Even after almost a month now the economic and social situation is worst there. The country is still under slow process of recovery to get out of this natural calamity. Japan’s traditional pride in self-reliance doesn’t adapt easily to accepting foreign aid and help. It needs shrewd strategy to deal with the constructive use of foreign aid and physical assistance in order to speed up its recovery measures. To bring Japan back to its prior condition, this time and patience taking huge catastrophe, requires a gradual rehabilitation and reconstruction process. Although full recovery or pre-2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami situation is not possible still hopes are high seeing Japan to be back to its normal routine life once again and to carry on with its status of being an “Asian Tiger”, the third largest economy and being among the most developed nations of the world even in the post-2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami scenario.
The Real Outcome of the Recent Pak-US Official Visits
US vice President, Joseph Biden recent visit to Pakistan was a matter of great concern for the entire nation, media and our US-led government, which is strongly believed to be acting like a puppet in US hands after its failure to resolve the issue of military insurgency and continuous drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan. It was a shrewd and tactful move on the part of the USA as the trust deficit between Pak-US relations continues to increase after the Indo-US nuclear deal, Obama’s visit to India and his endorsing India to become a permanent member of Security Council. Infact all these policies point directly towards its deep-rooted strategic interests and inclination towards India. The simple logic or reason behind all this is America’s fear of China and security threat from Pakistan. In the upcoming years it is not likely to be Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s Pakistan who can possibly become a safe haven for the terrorists and its previous Pro Taliban policy still haunts the Americans. USA alleges Pakistan’s ISI being supportive to these extremist elements and considers its nuclear arsenals being unsafe. Out of this fear, Biden has announced in his few days back visit to Afghanistan that USA forces would continue to stay and expected gradual withdrawal, starting this summer of US troops, can be postponed if Afghanistan wants, in order to prevent civil war and to fully eliminate the terrorists from its land.
America’s security depends greatly on Pakistan so it is bound to establish good ties with Pakistan and this surprise visit was another goodwill gesture out of courtesy and more likely out of its own self interest. In his visit, Joe Biden tried to clarify the misconceptions that prevail in Pakistan about US intentions and actions. He appreciated Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and reiterated US support to democracy in Pakistan and its stability. Biden assured that the new US administration would support Pakistan’s efforts to counter terrorism, religious radicalism and to meet its developmental needs and capacity building. He also expressed his condolence over assassination of Governor Salman Taseer. He assured Pakistan that no US boot will tread on Pakistani soil and there will be no violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,”
Our President Asif Ali Zardari recently also visited USA to attend the memorial services of Pak-Afghan envoy Richard Holbrook. There was no ceremonial welcome, no state banquet, and no joint presser, not even an opening statement on his arrival. No one is really quite sure what Zardari had hoped to accomplish, by meeting the US President and the state secretary Hillary Clinton as the two countries are battling an enormous trust deficit despite public protestations of cooperation in combating terrorism. The two leaders renewed pledges of cooperation over the aspects of the US-Pakistan strategic partnership, including mutual commitment to economic reform, support for good governance, democracy and joint efforts against terrorism. The discussion focused on shared efforts to fight terrorism, resolve the issue of blasphemy law and to promote regional stability, specifically on the importance of cooperating towards a peaceful and stable outcome in Afghanistan. However, Washington is not ready to pay any heed over the Kashmir issue and the real outcome of these two visits seems quite bleak for Pakistan, giving us neither new hopes for betterment nor any positive prospects for the future.
The years of US policies toward Pakistan based on financial allurements and conventional weaponry have done little to induce any change. Despite all these assurances, Pakistani nation is now skeptical of US motives having bad experiences in the past like drone strikes on Pakistani border areas, failure of Kerry Lugar bill and inadequate US material and financial aid for the war on terror and in crucial times of floods. These two visits are another deceptive picture by USA to allure Pakistan towards itself, after foreseeing Pakistan’s growing diplomatic and economic cooperation with China in December. No matter how much USA assures Pakistan of its staunch support, the atmosphere of misperceptions and doubts continue to hail around the country and America can never win the hearts and minds of Pakistani people through its fake assurances, callous policies and political/ military tactics as the two sides have a long way to go to overcome their significant differences. As it is well said that assurance cannot be bought but achieved only through mutual trust, cooperation and it requires time and experience.
THE SILENT MAJORITY
by Arslan Khalid
A couple of days ago Pakistan saw The Governor of its largest province murdered in broad daylight by his own security personal. The murderer has claimed it to be in reaction to governors’ statements against blasphemy law. Irrespective of the political turmoil it may have created, the society is divided into two groups over this issue. 5% people claiming it to be a justified act while 5% considers governor as a martyr .
Now where does majority 90% stand on this issue? Well they are once again busy doing their usual thing which is “to keep silent”.
Maulana Roomi once said that Nations die when they fail to differentiate between the right and wrong .It would have been very convenient to accept that our nation had died many years ago but the fact is that this silent majority of our nation has still got the ability to differentiate between right and wrong only if they can come out of their self created prison .Their major concern is just to pass there solitary lives in captivity without being disturbed. They have become immune to oppression and injustice. They have allowed a minority to rule over them and to represent them as a nation whether this minority be extremists or liberal fascists.
In Islam we are blessed with an eternal gift. A blessing that no other religion is offering which is a clear guideline to pass our lives. The whole message of Almighty is there in Quran and then elaborated clearly by Hadiths and the Holy life of The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him).Unlike other religions where u follow a church or a synagogue to understand it, we Muslims can lead good,pious lives by studying Quran and Hadiths ourselves. So role of a Molvi becomes very well defined . His job should just be spreading the message of namaz,zakat and basic principles of Islam. If some Mullah tries to spread the message against the spirit of Islam which is peace why cant the majority sitting in mosque take a stand and ask him afterwards that he shouldn’t indulge himself in that domain. The little contribution on our part can save somebody from getting wrong meaning of Islam by that Mullah. However as followers, people need to understand that Islam is a religion and not a fashion that needs change with time. There is no radical or moderate Islam .The radicalization is a whole different phenomenon and has more to do with political and social issues than religious ones.
It will take long to explain causes for the radicalization and intolerance that we witness in our society so I would rather stick to my topic about the silent people out there who sometimes gather courage and decides to speak up but limit their voice to facebook or twitter only. alas!! Almost all my friends living abroad on watching governors’ murder news, updated their status on face book showing immense disappointment and remorse. Unfortunately none of them ever update their status when everyday drone attacks are killing innocent people in our tribal region .In an estimate 42% people who died in last yrs drone attack were just a collateral damage and the missile never differentiated between a child, a woman or a 70 yr old man. Last month people affected by drones from South and North Waziristan protested in Islamabad. Prominent human rights associations that claim to be champions of human rights in Pakistan and get dollars for their NGOs in return for their services never turned up for them. Nobody even bothered that a 8 year old child waiting for mercy after having lost his parents in drone attack is an ideal target to get exploited by terrorists.
Even American and British people adopted Iraqi orphans after Iraq war but our silent class has gone so selfish that they couldn’t help one of their own. Living their lives in fear and avoiding trouble, not foreseeing that few yrs from now this very child’s activity can give them some irreplaceable loss.
We always blame an individual for some act but never bothered that this was bound to happen. Give me one explanation why should we only blame an individual and never considered our silence responsible for the act. Why do we expect peace when we are so far from the concept of Islam? Why do we expect logical decisions from people when there is no effort of educating people on real issues? How can we expect a better future for us when we haven’t learnt anything from history? Why do we even think of being sovereign when we know we are being ruled by corrupt puppets of super powers and do nothing to remove them? We want people to be keep deep sentiments for the country but want to restrain their sentiments when somebody shows mala fide intentions towards the religion? How can we expect a great Muslim scholar to come out of some madarasa when we ourselves have generalized all madarasas as terrorist training centers and have labeled all students there as terrorists? Why do we hope for some genuine National heroes when we are busy making disputed people of past as heroes and martyrs? Why do people mention about Rule of Law and States authority to implement some law when the people running the state are the biggest thugs and frauds? why do we even mention about making better laws when the law makers are themselves the biggest law breakers? How can we wish for a revolution that can change the fate of this nation but aren’t willing to sacrifice for it? Aren’t these questions enough to tell that where we demand others to be clear in their heads we ourselves are confused? Last but not least why am I expecting answers to these questions when I know that these questions were addressed to ‘The Silent Majority’ of this nation which hopefully will one day wake up from the deep slumber they are presently in.
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