July 23, 2012

The United Nations’ Bogus Monitoring Report on Somalia

The United Nations’ Bogus Monitoring Report on Somalia

In its latest monitoring report on the status of Somalia’s weapons embargo, the United Nations’ task force for Somalia and Eritrea used their time and resources to deliver a grossly biased and incomplete report.

At the head of this botched report is Matthew Bryden, a partisan pseudo-authority on Somalia who holds a passport to the unrecognized territory of Somaliland and serves as the coordinator of the monitoring group.

The UN’s latest monitoring reports have been particularly tainted with bias, but the newest offering takes the cake, and should be enough to cast the mission aside as a joke.

A rabid bias
The latest monitoring report came to light just before its release some weeks ago during an anti-piracy conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was rumored at that conference that the upcoming monitoring report on Somalia would be heavily biased against Puntland, and for no particular reason. Coordinator Bryden is no friend of Puntland, or Somalia, and it was hinted in Dubai that he would portray Puntland as menacing as he could, even at the cost of the truth. By the time of the Dubai-based conference in June, Bryden had already found a way to place pressure on the UAE to pull funding to Somalia’s only major internal anti-piracy program–the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF).

By June, Puntland had already cleansed most of its coastal communities of its pirate plague and had launched the nation’s largest piracy rehabilitation program. The anti-piracy program was so successful that Fox News host and former US military man Oliver North traveled to Puntland to survey the forces some consider to be Somalia’s only answer to piracy.

To the luck of Somalis and the misfortune of pirates, Puntland was able to bypass Bryden’s bias and has been promised further funding from the UAE and the international community in its assault on piracy. As I type, the PMPF are pursing the kidnappers of an NGO team in the town of Galkayo. If Bryden had his way, the families of these NGO workers would be waiting quite a while longer for relief.

After bypassing one stretched accusation after another against the Somali anti-piracy program in Puntland, you will find not a single damning criticism against Somaliland, not even so much as a word on possible corruption. In the past year, Somaliland’s security forces have engaged in repeated violent skirmishes against local militias in the Sool and Togdheer provinces, with some attacks so intense that it caught the attention of Amnesty International. Even Somaliland’s year-long military exchange did not sound off alarms of a possible arms embargo violation to Bryden, whose wife’s family is coincidentally located in the Somaliland capital.

When the report named off the Somali figures accused of corruption, the entire region of Somaliland was conveniently skipped over. Missing in the report were any mentions to public mismanagement in Somaliland despite a 2009 report by UAE’s The National newspaper that cited food aid theft and diversion in Burao, Somaliland’s second-largest city. Forgotten still, perhaps deliberately, was the recent court case in the Somaliland capital Hargeisa that saw harsh execution sentences handed out to 17 individuals belonging to the same marginalized clan.

Questionable sources
A large number of the sources Bryden uses in the report lead to defunct webpages, making verification impossible in several circumstances. When reporting on Puntland’s anti-terror operations, he uses sources like Galgala News, which was once the mouthpiece of Al-Shabaab weapons provider Mohamed Said ‘Atom.’ Bryden also admits to using non-local sources to report on Puntland, citing a lack of access to the region. The monitoring group’s source of choice for Puntland is Somalia Report, a small blog whose often dubious headlines have forced them to pull stories and make numerous apologies. In one instance he condemns the Puntland leader’s son for corruption yet uses a mouthpiece owned by the same individual as his source–clearly, Bryden is desperate to make any case he can.

The truth
Somalia’s Puntland-based anti-piracy program is the most effective tool yet in the fight against the criminal plague along Somalia’s shores, and Puntland arguably faces the largest number of internal and external threats from both militants and pirates today, and as such needs a proper security force to tackle these issues. Since 2004, Puntland has been the greatest sacrifice to the stabilization efforts in Somalia, and without it the nation and the world would be in grave danger from a myriad of threats now contained mostly to Somalia and being squeezed out even more every day.

While this report may largely be toothless, at least we hope, it has threatened both the sovereignty of Somalia as well as its security and the security of the global community by scrutinizing Somalia’s defense capabilities. While the embargo may still serve its use in this transitional phase in Somalia, it should be used sparingly and only against unruly factions–not the groups trying to stabilize Somalia.


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