This video is called [South African] Mercenary accused of supplying Somali militia.
From Der Spiegel in Germany:
‘Shadow Foreign Policy’
Somali Warlord Hires German Mercenaries to Provide Security Services
Politicians have reacted angrily to reports that a German firm has signed a deal with a Somali warlord to provide security services. Former members of German special forces and an elite police unit could soon be working as bodyguards and trainers in the lawless country.
For years, German politicians and pundits have been taking the moral high ground over the activities of the American private security contractor Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, in places such as Iraq. “The US government has allowed private security firms to develop into an omnipresent, uncontrollable apparatus in the war zones of this world,” wrote one German newspaper back in 2007.
That moral outrage is now looking distinctly shabby, however, in the light of revelations that a German security company is planning to supply mercenaries to a Somali warlord. On Monday, Thomas Kaltegärtner, CEO of Asgaard German Security Group, confirmed a report by the German public broadcaster ARD that his company plans to send former German soldiers to Somalia.
In a December 2009 press release, Asgaard announced it had signed an “exclusive agreement on security services” with Abdinur Ahmed Darman. Darman, a Somali warlord who styles himself as the country’s president, does not recognize the legitimacy of the United Nations-backed transitional government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. The agreement, the company said, would cover “all necessary measures to reintroduce security and peace to Somalia.” The country has not had a functioning central government since 1991.
According to Kaltegärtner, himself a former Bundeswehr soldier, Asgaard employees would provide security for Darman and train police and military forces. He stressed, however, that combat operations were not planned. He said that over 100 mercenaries could be involved in operations. Although negotiations were not yet complete, it was possible that Asgaard employees would be operating in Somalia in the near future, Kaltegärtner told the Tagesspiegel newspaper. Kaltegärtner also told the newspaper that his company employed former members of the German army’s special forces, the KSK, and Germany’s elite GSG-9 police force.
Privatizing State Violence
Several German politicians have reacted angrily to the news that former soldiers could soon be in action on the Horn of Africa. “In my opinion, this is not acceptable,” Rainer Arnold, the defense expert of the center-left Social Democrats, told the Tuesday edition of the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper. He called for new legislation to “clearly limit” such operations, adding: “One cannot privatize state violence.”
Speaking to the same newspaper, Green Party politician Omid Nouripour accused the German government of not doing enough in the past to regulate private security firms. Paul Schäfer of the far-left Left Party and Rainer Stinner of the liberal Free Democratic Party, which governs in coalition with Merkel’s conservatives, also criticized the deal, with Schäfer talking of a “shadow foreign policy.”
Observers warn that German employees of the firm could be killed or targeted for kidnapping in Somalia.
German mercenaries have a sorry history. German princes used to put up their subjects for rent as mercenaries to warmongers in other countries.
In the 1960s, ex members of Hitler’s infamous SS fought as mercenaries for neo-colonialism in Congo, other African countries, and elsewhere.
The German armed forces have a history of anti-African racist incidents.
Der Spiegel suggests that German critics of US mercenary firm Blackwater should decrease their criticisms. Quite the contrary, critics of Blackwater, whether from Germany, from the USA, or wherever, should increase their criticism of those merchants of death.
However, the same goes for the German colleagues of Blackwater.
Asgaard is an ominous name for a mercenary business. According to ancient Germanic mythology, it was the abode of the gods. Germanic mythology was popularized during the nineteenth century by (anti-Semitic) composer Richard Wagner. During the twentieth century and later, especially Hitler’s nazis and neonazis tried to revive ancient Germanic religion (in a way that Germanic tribes of two thousand years ago would not recognize it, but that is another story). Neonazi skinheads often use the word Asgaard.
USA: A secret directive issued by Gen. David Petraeus empowers the US military to expand covert operations throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa: here.
UN revises DRC [Congo] ‘genocide’ report: Document detailing attacks by Rwandan and Ugandan troops against civilians toned down: here.
Garowe Online (Garowe)
Somalia: 13 Killed As Residents Clash With Ethiopia Troops in Puntland
22 May 2010
At least 13 people, mostly civilians have died in a clash between Somali residents and Ethiopian forces that had crossed the border, Radio Garowe reports.
Irritated residents armed with rifles violently confronted the Ethiopian forces who had crossed into Buhodle town, etched between the northern regions of Puntland and Somaliland.
Both regions claim ownership over Buhodle, but local residents fought Ethiopian troops who entered the town for yet-undisclosed reasons.
Elders said three Ethiopian soldiers and at least 10 residents in a shoot-out that resident blame on the Ethiopians.
“The Ethiopians crossed the border two weeks ago and started searching several trucks and held them for several days, the villagers expressed anger and engaged the troops in gun battle,” Abdi Mohammud, a resident was quoted as saying.
Reports suggest that more Ethiopian troops were deployed in the area after the clashes.
This is first for residents to face off with Ethiopian troops, who routinely across the border and clash with Islamist insurgents controlling the Somali border towns in south-central Somalia. But this is the first violent incursion of its kind in northern Somalia.
Ethiopia withdrew its forces from Somalia in early 2009 after spending two years to back the UN-backed transitional government in ousting then Union of Islamic Courts that controlled most parts of the country including Mogadishu.
The East African (Nairobi)
Somalia: 400 to Get EU-Led Training
24 May 2010
Nairobi — The European Union is training 400 Somalis in Uganda as part of its support to the Somalia Transitional Federal Government. These are part of an expected 2,000 troops to be trained at Bihanga in western Uganda.
“We are expecting more to come. However, that will depend on the things happening in Somalia,” said EU mission public relations officer Pita Juan.
The EU training support is in addition to that funded by the US government. The African Union Mission to Somalia expects to train 6,000 troops to oversee security.
Several militant groups are fighting the TFG and AU peace keeping forces.
The EU head of mission in Uganda, Vincent De Visscher, said, “The military support is part of the a comprehensive engagement in Somalia with a view to responding to the priority needs of the Somali people and stabilising Somalia.”
The EU training programme will see some 1,000 Somalis trained in the first six months while another 1,000 men will follow in the next six months ending June 2011.
One hundred and fifty EU personnel are conducting the training under a mission named EUTM Somalia and led by Col. Gonzalez Elul from Spain. EU has allocated 5 million ($6 million) for the training.
The EU set up the facilities and training manuals that will be handed over to the Uganda government after the end of the training.
The EU is working in partnership with Uganda government, African Union, US and Somalia. At the end of the training, the troops will undergo an induction by Amisom before being integrated into the main TFG security system.
Somali mercenary plan angers MP
Germany: MPs have slammed a mercenary outfit’s plan to deploy more than 100 German ex-soldiers to Somalia to work for a local warlord.
Green MP Omid Nouripour said on Tuesday that his party is investigating whether the deployment of former Bundeswehr soldiers by Asgaard German Security Group violates UN sanctions against Somalia.
“What are we going to do if tomorrow another Somali warlord hires ex-soldiers? Then we have Germans fighting each other in a foreign war zone,” he said.
UN: 17,000 flee from Mogadishu
Somalia: The UN refugee agency has reported that over 17,000 people have been driven from their homes in Mogadishu this month by heavy fighting between UN-backed government forces and Islamist rebels.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that most of the uprooted were stuck in Mogadishu without basic services because they could not afford transport to makeshift camps outside.
Agency spokesman Andrej Mahecic said that the fighting had uprooted an estimated 200,000 Somalis so far this year.
Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC)
Kenya: Police Abuse Somali Refugees
18 June 2010
Kenyan police at the Somali border and in nearby refugee camps are abusing asylum seekers and refugees fleeing war-torn Somalia, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Kenya should immediately rein in its abusive police, and the UN refugee agency should step up its monitoring of the situation and press for an end to the abuses, Human Rights Watch said.
Based on interviews with over 100 refugees, the 99-page report, “‘Welcome to Kenya:’ Police Abuse of Somali Refugees,” documents widespread police extortion of asylum seekers trying to reach three camps near the Kenyan town of Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee settlement. Police use violence, arbitrary arrest, unlawful detention in inhuman and degrading conditions, threats of deportation, and wrongful prosecution for “unlawful presence” to extort money from the new arrivals – men, women, and children alike. In some cases, police also rape women. In early 2010 alone, hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Somalis unable to pay extortion demands were sent back to Somalia, in flagrant violation of Kenyan and international law.
“People fleeing the mayhem in Somalia, the vast majority women and children, are welcomed to Kenya with rape, whippings, beatings, detention, extortion, and summary deportation,” said Gerry Simpson, refugee researcher for Human Rights Watch and principal author of the report. “Once in the camps, some refugees face more police violence and the police turn a blind eye to sexual violence by other refugees and local Kenyans.”
Dozens of asylum seekers from among the estimated 40,000 Somalis who crossed Kenya’s officially closed border near the camps in the first four months of 2010 told Human Rights Watch that police ignored their pleas for free passage from the border. Instead, the police demanded money and deported or detained, beat, and falsely charged them with unlawful presence if they could not pay. A Kenyan refugee aid worker described the police operation between the border and Garissa, the provincial capital, as “one big money-making machine.”
“Welcome to Kenya” also documents how the threat of police interception and related abuses forces most asylum seekers to travel toward the camps on small paths away from the main road. There they are also vulnerable to attacks from common criminals, who prey upon them, raping women and stealing the little money they have.
Once in the camps, refugees continue to face police violence, according to the report. Police have failed to prevent, investigate, and prosecute sexual violence against refugee women and girls in the camps by other refugees and Kenyans, creating a culture of impunity and increasing the risk of sexual violence.
The report also examines Kenya’s illegal policy of prohibiting the vast majority of refugees registered in the camps from travelling to other parts of Kenya, unless they have special permission for reasons such as medical appointments or education in Nairobi. Under international law, Kenya must justify any such prohibition as the least restrictive measure necessary to protect national security, public order, or public health, which it has failed to do. In 2009, the authorities allowed only 6,000 of Dadaab’s almost 300,000 refugees to travel outside the squalid and overcrowded camps.
The report documents how police arrest refugees travelling without – and increasingly those with – government-issued “movement passes,” extort money from them, and sometimes take them to court in Garissa, where they are fined or sent to prison.
“Welcome to Kenya” contends that the organized nature of the police’s extortion racket and abuses – extending almost 200 kilometers from the border town of Liboi through the town of Dadaab to Garissa – is the direct result of Kenya’s three-year-old decision to close the border. Human Rights Watch said that the related closing of a refugee transit center in Liboi, 15 kilometers from the border and 80 kilometers from the camps, has only made matters worse.
Before it closed, the Liboi transit center was a safe place where the vast majority of Somali asylum seekers first sought refuge in Kenya and from which the UN refugee agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), transported them to the camps. Without the center, an estimated 300,000 Somalis fleeing their country to Kenya since January 2007 – half of whom have gone to the camps – have had to use smugglers to cross the border. The police take advantage of the clandestine nature of their journey, falsely accusing them of unlawfully entering Kenya and threatening arrest if they don’t pay money the police demand.
Under Kenya’s Refugee Act, all asylum seekers have 30 days after entering Kenya to travel to the nearest refugee authorities to register as refugees, regardless of how or where they entered the country. But the police routinely ignore this right. Echoing Human Rights Watch’s recommendations to the Kenyan authorities in a March 2009 report, “From Horror to Hopelessness,” the new report reiterates its call on the authorities to open a new center in Liboi where newly arrived asylum seekers can be screened and from which they can be safely transported to the camps.
“For more than three years the closed border has benefitted no one except corrupt police officers and has led to untold abuses against hundreds, if not thousands, of asylum seekers,” Simpson said. “Kenya needs to guarantee safe passage and protection to Somalia’s vulnerable refugees.”
The Kenyan government has real security concerns relating to the Somali conflict, but its anti-Somali political rhetoric has only reinforced the abusive police behavior, Human Rights Watch said. Asylum seekers say that police accuse them of belonging to the Somali insurgent group Al-Shabaab or to Al Qaeda, or of being “terrorists” before – in some cases – forcing them back to Somalia. Based on eight cases involving the forced return to Somalia of 152 people that Human Rights Watch documented during its research in March 2010, Human Rights Watch believes it is likely that police have returned hundreds, if not thousands, of Somalis to their country in early 2010 alone.
International law prohibits the forcible return of refugees to persecution, torture or situations of generalized violence. Although Kenya has the right to prevent certain people from entering or remaining in Kenya – including those reasonably regarded as a threat to its national security, such as al-Shabaab members – it may not close its borders to asylum seekers. International law also forbids the authorities from deporting asylum seekers back to Somalia without first allowing them to apply for asylum.
“The police say they are protecting Kenya from terrorists and are enforcing immigration laws when they stop refugees,” Simpson said. “But the fact that they extort Somalis to pay their way through checkpoints and out of police custody suggests more concern for lining their pockets than protecting their borders.”
The report calls on the UN refugee agency to improve its monitoring and advocacy with the authorities and to make more frequent visits to police stations near the border, the town of Dadaab and Garissa.
With regard to sexual violence, victims told Human Rights Watch that the police either ignore their complaints, tell them to produce evidence, or abruptly drop the cases without explanation. In the rare event that police arrest alleged attackers, the suspects are usually released within hours or days, with little hope for further questioning or accountability. Many women believe their alleged attackers successfully bribe the police to drop investigations or to let the suspects go.
Kenyan Police Abuses Somali Refugees – Report
* NEWS — Kenya: Kenyan Police Abusing Refugees, Report Says
* DOCUMENT — Welcome to Kenya: Police Abuse of Somali Refugees
Human Rights Watch said that despite some improvements since the early 1990s, the government’s response to sexual violence in the camps fails because there are too few police in the camps with skills to investigate these crimes and because there is inadequate supervision of police handling of these cases.
“Nearly two decades into their existence, the camps remain a place where justice for rape victims is the exception and impunity for perpetrators the rule,” said Meghan Rhoad, researcher with Human Rights Watch’s Women’s Rights Division, who wrote the section of the report on sexual violence. “The refugee women and girls who bravely come forward and report sexual violence to the police deserve better.”
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