Thursday, December 06, 2007

Immigration Reform Means Rethinking Africa
By Bashir Goth
Earlier this week, news reports carried the tragic story of 64 Somali-Ethiopian would-be immigrants who drowned off the coast of Yemen. A UAE paper also reported the story of two teenage Ethiopian boys who were found near starvation in a shipping container in Dubai. The 14- and 15-year-old boys had each paid US$1000, which they saved over five years, to make the trip to Germany; some of their friends had made the journey earlier in a similar condition and are now making a good living there. The boys ran out of food and water in the first day of the trip and had to resort to drinking each other’s urine to survive.

Under normal circumstances, this could be seen as a human tragedy of immense proportions. But since such stories and other even gloomier ones have become daily occurrences, they fail to make headlines – let alone invoke shock and invite empathy.

As one report put it, the seas separating Europe from Africa are being turned into a mass grave of the “unidentified immigrant”: hundreds and thousands of men, women and children perish in an attempt to find a better life abroad.

But instead of looking into the roots of the problem and forging out a common strategy to find a solution, European leaders are panicking and inclining more and more to turning Europe into a fortress. One might remind the Europeans of their scramble for Africa and their 1884 Berlin Conference, during which they divided Africa among various European powers. When Europe today complains about illegal African immigration, they should remember that they robbed a whole continent of everything of value for more than eighty years before they handed over the empty bowl to Africa’s native citizens.

READ MORE In Washington Post/Newsweek
The Internet is proving to be mightier than dictators and terrorists in Somalia
By Bashir Goth
The old adage of the pen being mightier than sword is haunting the regime of Somalia’s Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG). With more than eight radio journalists killed in 2007 and President Abdillahi Yusuf’s regime resorting to draconian rules to silence the free press, it seems that Yusuf and his mentor Meles Zenawi are forgetting that in the 21st century it is the Internet that is mightier than dictators.

Yusuf must know that all his swords, all his guns and all his dictatorial rules will not be able to blunt let alone silence the pen. It is simply against the grain of true journalists to submit to power. With every pressure, with every draconian rule aimed at silencing them, their sense of smell for news will sharpen, and with every drop of blood of a journalist split, their antennas will heighten for seeking the truth.

It is the responsibility of journalists to report the truth on the ground, to tell the world about the innocent Somali women, children and elderly killed by Ethiopian soldiers or by the insurgency. To them a dead person is a life lost. Their duty is not to judge or explain but to show and expose the ugly aftermath of a battle. They count the dead, they seek the human story behind each one; the orphaned children, the bereaving mothers, the plight of the feeble elderly rummaging through the rubble of their destroyed houses to rescue a family picture or a thing of value that could remind them that they once had a family, a property, a life and a dream of a better future for their children.

On the contrary, Yusuf’s regime wants to hide the truth, to bury the dead under the darkness of the night, to portray the destruction and the mayhem in Mogadishu as stories of fiction created by terrorist-friendly media. Yusuf deceives himself by having the power to shut down radio stations and newspapers and descending heavy-handedly on all freedom of speech.

Fortunately, however, Yusuf and his toady advisors forget that we live in the 21st century – the age of the Internet. The era of this level playing and liberating media channel that is mightier than all tyrants. Whenever Yusuf and his lackeys try to silence one newspaper or one radio station in Mogadishu, they have to deal with dozens of their clones surfacing the second day on the Internet, carrying the truth to an even larger audience.

Yusuf has to remember that Somali journalists will continue exposing the truth; they will continue focusing searchlights on what he hides in dark corners. There is no place to hide for you Mr. President. If you close the papers and radio stations in Mogadishu, we have a more powerful tool in the Internet that can convey the truth about your dirty war to the whole world. You can hide from the insurgents behind Ethiopian tanks, but there is no world that can shield you from the long reach of the journalist’s pen. Neither can the so-called insurgents, hide their murderous and barbaric actions behind patriotic names and Islamic cloaks. The Pen will not dodge to expose the atrocities committed by all the perpetrators of heinous crimes against the Somali people, be it Yusuf’s regime, the Ethiopian army or the insurgency militias. Awdalnews Network
Pakistan to America: Keep Out
Bashir Goth
I agree with David Ignatius’ conclusion in his latest column that “…changing Pakistan is a job for Pakistanis, and history suggests that the more we meddle, the more likely we are to get things wrong.” In the Muslim world, it is history that shapes people’s perceptions of political situations. Unlike people in the West, who view emerging political scenarios through prisms of economics and of self-interest, Muslims and Arabs turn to history for explanations of western conspiracy in every situation they face.

The West thinks many of these events lie in the dust of history: the crusades, the loss of Andalusia, European colonial rule, the destruction of the Ottoman Caliphate, the debacle of Palestine, and the willy-nilly interference and changing of Muslim leaders. But these wounds are very much open and hurting in the Muslim world.

This is why when America goes east, Muslims go west. Recent U.S. military ventures into Afghanistan, Iraq, and indirectly into Somalia, and the larger war against terror, are all seen by the majority of the Muslim populace as the continuation of a war to dominate and subjugate the Muslim world.

It is therefore not incidental that President Musharraf of Pakistan, Hamid Karazi of Afghanistan, Al Maliki of Iraq and Abdillahi Yusuf of Somalia all remind their people of the disasters of Western-supported regimes of the past: Iraqi King Faisal and Nuri Said, American-groomed Baathist regimes, and the Shah of Iran.

READ MORE in Washington Post/Newsweek