Friday, May 18, 2007

Somailand's Hedgehog Attitude Will Prevail
By Bashir Goth
Yes, it has been 16 long, arduous and lonely years since we reclaimed our sovereignty on May 18, 1991. Yes, the recognition that we have aspired to achieve may seem as distant as ever. Yes, detractors have called us and still call us all kinds of names. Yes, enemies who are hell bent on breaking our will and sowing discord among our people have used all kinds of deceptive tactics and hired spin-doctors to discredit our cause. Yes, the world refuses to look at our achievements, our democracy and the oasis of peace we have created. Yes, weasel-hearted African leaders have been warned that recognizing Somaliland would open the gates of hell and monsters would emerge in scores from their scandal ridden closets. Yes, our people suffer due to the absence of diplomatic relations, international credit lines and regular trade agreements. Yes, some of our politicians, some of our opportunists, some of the greedy among us, some of our weaklings and some of the wishy-washy individuals have been trying to weaken our morale.

But, against all these odds, as people of Somaliland, we have only one thing in mind; that all roads lead to recognition. From day one, we have decided that there is no rollback, no reverse gears and most importantly no free ride to our coveted goal of gaining our sovereignty, building our country and gaining recognition. We have been watching other countries with less democracy, less peace and less ethnic cohesion gaining sovereignty and recognition. We have seen Bosnia, Montenegro, East Timor; all former Soviet Republics embraced and accepted by the international community. We now watch Kosovo and Western Sahara inching towards independence. Somalilanders know that we neither have the political clout nor the alliance of the willing to support our cause. We neither have oil to satiate Western hunger for fuel nor the correct creed to claim evangelical brotherhood.

However, like the hedgehog we know one big thing; that our determination, our strong will, our resilience and our enormous belief in the righteousness of our cause will bear fruit no matter how long we wait for it and no matter how much we suffer on the way. We have proven it in the past and we can continue to prove that we have the resolve and the persistence it needs to stay the course. No one can detract us, no one can pigeonhole us, and no one can sway us from our goal.

Despite the world’s indifference, our people have worked hard over the last 16 years. We held democratic local, parliamentary and presidential elections, we created a fabulous free press, we held terrorism at bay, we built our ruined homes, we established universities and erected some factories with our meager resources and remittances from our sons and daughters scattered all over the world. And with or without recognition we intend to continue our march. Our future plan is to develop our roads, our ports and airports, and our health and education systems. Let the Africans whine and whimper over opening Pandora boxes, let the Americans and Europeans indulge in their double standard business of lobbying independence for places like Kosovo and denying the same to Somaliland, let the Arabs wallow in their monkey business and Orwellian newspeak of confusion and self pity, Somaliland has no time to waste. Yes, we may be traveling alone but “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, And we have promises to keep, And miles to go before we reap” with full apology to Robert Frost.

And reaping we did. As have gained friends along the way. We owe ample gratitude to a few courageous countries that judged us by our achievements and extended a hand of friendship to us. They shook our hands when all have deserted us; they opened representative offices for us when all have avoided us. We owe enormous gratitude to South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Belgium and the UK. Their legacy will be written in gold in the annals of our history.

PostGlobal panelist Bashir Goth is editor of Awdal News Network. This article appears on the Awdal News website. Washington Post.Newsweek/Postglobal
Gulf: Iran's the Enemy, America's OK
By Bashir Goth
It is human nature for disadvantaged people to hate anybody with absolute power or unlimited wealth. America has both absolute power and unlimited wealth. It may, however, be the U.S.’s foreign policy and muscle flexing which attract the wrath, rather than its wealth or power per se.

In the Arab world, Palestine is the predominant issue that has shaped the Arab view of the outside world. America was therefore always painted as the enemy due to its enduring support for the state of Israel. Arab nationalists supported by the religious establishment never failed to use every opportunity to accuse America of being the source of everything wrong with the Arab world, from Israel’s occupation of Palestine to Hollywood’s invasion of Arab culture, even the pathetic state of education in Arab schools.

Traditionally it is from the mosque’s pulpit that most of the public agitation against America originates. Earlier it was the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and later the ayatollahs of Iran who painted America as the Great Satan. The latest developments in Afghanistan and Iraq have just added fuel to fire.

Despite this negative image, America always maintained good friends in the Arab world with the petrodollar Gulf countries, as well as Egypt and Jordan acting as custodians of the Arab-American friendship. This is why Islamic extremists led by Al Qaeda view the leaders of these countries as traitors of the Arab and Islamic cause.

Regardless of the rhetoric in the media, the Arab political landscape has taken a seismic shift since 9/11 and the emergence of Al Qaeda. A new Arab powerhouse led by the house of Saud and the other wealthy Gulf countries, traditional friends of America, have taken the reins of regional leadership. The new, young and educated leaders of these countries, which rely on America for their prosperity and protection, have learned to masterfully play the global political game. It is through them and the thousands of youth graduating from American affiliated universities, plus the overwhelming Hollywood influence and the power of the Internet in the Gulf countries that have watered down the impulsive traditional animosity. The ugly fratricide taking place in Iraq and the senseless factional fighting in Palestine have also shown the bankruptcy of the nationalist-Islamist philosophy that claims America as the cause of all evil in the region. It is indeed Iran, with its growing influence and ambitious nuclear programs, rather than America that is viewed as the enemy by Arab Gulf countries.

It is therefore safe to say that with a little more foresight, more sensitive and humanistic foreign policy and less saber rattling, America is guaranteed a long-lasting friendship in the Arab world. Newsweek.Washington Post/Postglobal

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

In on a Stallion, Out with Tail between Legs
Tony Blair came into power like a hero on a galloping stallion, young and zealous to change the Labour Party and the world. He was a man shedding his youthful socialist ideals and coming to grips with Thatcherite economic realities. He clicked with his equally media savvy and more politically suave counterpart in the White House, Bill Clinton.

Riding on the wave of New Labour, Blair transformed the UK into one of the most robust economies in Europe, and struck a partnership with Clinton in following the Third Way philosophy. He embraced globalization with full faith and ushered in the 21st century with grand dreams, and has through his charisma won the 2012 Olympic Games to be hosted in London.

In foreign policy, Tony Blair showed a statesman’s leadership in the Kosovo crisis. He also showed his political mettle and tenacity in Africa by committing British troops to end the civil war in Sierra Leone and by his relentless campaign to end Africa’s poverty.Read more in Newsweek.washingtonpost/Postglobal.