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Critics circle Aung San Suu Kyi over Rohingya crisis

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Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize winning Aung San Suu Kyi is facing intense scrutiny over her response to the plight of her nation’s Rohingya population.

Almost 300,000 Rohingya have fled into neighbouring Bangladesh, according to the UN, since renewed violence between state security forces and the minority group began more than two weeks ago.
The disruption started on August 25 after Rohingya fighters attacked police posts in Rakhine, on Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) western coast, triggering a military crackdown.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the nation’s state counsellor and de facto leader, claimed this week that the situation is being twisted by a “huge iceberg of misinformation”.

“We make sure that all the people in our country are entitled to protection of their rights as well as, the right to, not just political but social and humanitarian defence”, she reportedly told Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a phone call on September 5.

The Rohingya, frequently described as “the world’s most persecuted minority”, are a mostly Muslim ethnic group, who have lived in majority Buddhist Myanmar for centuries.

There are currently around 1.1m residents in the Southeast Asian nation, which is home to more than 100 ethnic groups and approximately 55 million people.

A number of high-profile individuals have publicly criticised Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her campaign supporting democracy in Myanmar, in light of the crisis.

However, not all world leaders have been united in condemning Aung San Suu Kyi.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for example, has refused to speak out and has instead offered his support to her.

“We share your concerns about extremist violence in Rakhine state and especially the violence against security forces,” he said during a state visit to Myanmar on September 6.

More than 400,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Aung San Suu Kyi to be stripped of her accolade, accusing her of doing “virtually nothing to stop this crime against humanity in her country”.

“The… [prize is] only to be given to ‘people who have given their utmost to international brotherhood and sisterhood.’ These peaceful values need to be nurtured by the laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize, including Aung San Suu Kyi, until their last days,” the change.org petition reads.

“When a laureate cannot maintain peace, then for the sake of peace itself the prize needs to be returned or confiscated by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.”

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani Nobel Peace laureate, has condemned Aung San Suu Kyi’s apparent inaction in response to the emerging crisis in Myanmar.

“Every time I see the news, my heart breaks at the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar,” Yousafzai, who famously survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, tweeted on September 3.

Yousafzai, 20, called on the international community to provide sanctuary for those fleeing the violence.

“Other countries, including my own country Pakistan, should follow Bangladesh’s example and give food, shelter and access to education to Rohingya families fleeing violence and terror,” she wrote.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending South Africa’s policy of apartheid, has also called on Aung San Suu Kyi to end the Rohingya’s suffering.

Denouncing the “unfolding horror”, the 85-year-old implored his “dearly beloved younger sister” to intervene in the crisis and “guide your people back towards the path of righteousness again”, in an open letter published on September 7.

“If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep,” he wrote.

“A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country. It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country; it is adding to our pain.”Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi, a prominent human rights activist and 2003 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has accused Aung San Suu Kyi of having “turned her back on democracy once she came to power”.

Though stopping short of calling for the prize to be stripped, Ebadi said Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to live up to the prize’s ideals.

“Aung San Suu Kyi received this prize for her peaceful resistance in the face of oppression. She deserved to win it,” she told Deutsche Welle. “How the Nobel peace laureates behave after taking the prize has nothing to do with the Nobel committee. It is up to the laureates to honor the award. Aung San Suu Kyi fails to do.”

Antonio Guterres

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, has appealed to Myanmar’s officials in a bid to end the ongoing crisis.

Guterres expressed concern that continued disruption could descend into a “humanitarian catastrophe with implications for peace and security that could continue to expand beyond Myanmar’s borders” in a letter sent to the UN Security Council.

Although he has not directly criticise Aung San Suu Kyi, the secretary-general condemned Myanmar’s leaders.

“I appeal to all, all authorities in Myanmar, civilian authorities and military authorities, to indeed put an end to this violence that, in my opinion, is creating a situation that can destabilise the region,” he told reporters on September 5.

“The grievances and unresolved plight of the Rohingya have festered for far too long.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, has claimed he will press world leaders to help Myanmar’s Rohingya who he said are facing a genocide.

Turkey will raise the issue at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York this month – which will run from September 12 to September 25 – according to Erdogan.

“You watched the situation that Myanmar and Muslims are in … You saw how villages have been burnt … Humanity remained silent to the massacre in Myanmar,” he said on September 4.

Erdogan refrained from openly criticising Aung San Suu Kyi directly, but reportedly told her in a September 5 phone call that the violence perpetrated against Myanmar’s Rohingya population was a violation of human rights.

During the discussion, he made clear that the Muslim world was deeply concerned about the situation, according to the Reuters news agency.

Turkey has agreed with Myanmar the right to provide aid to the country’s northwestern region, where the Rohingya crisis is most acute.

Approximately 1,000 tonnes of food, clothes and medicine were delivered to Rakhine state on September 6.

Peter Popham

Peter Popham, biographer of two books about the life and work of Kyi, has called on Aung San Suu Kyi to resign.

Citing her decision in December 2011 to abide by Myanmar’s constitution, which provides the army a “right to take over all powers of government whenever they feel it’s necessary”, Popham labelled her situation “desperate” in an opinion piece published by The Independent on September 8.

“Instead of challenging the military, she is now its poodle, its patsy, its flak-catcher in chief. Senior general Min Aung Hlaing – responsible for operations against the Rohingya – is off the hook,” he wrote.

“As Burma’s de facto ruler, Suu Kyi bears ultimate responsibility for this grotesque over-reaction. As the most admired and famous Burmese person in the world, she owed the world an explanation for it. But her response has been lamentable … [giving] No indication at all that she shares in or even understands the outside world’s indignation.

“She has only one possible recourse: accept that in December 2011 she made a fatal error, and call it a day. The world would understand.”

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson, the UK’s foreign secretary, has decried Myanmar’s treatment of its Rohingya population, claiming it is “besmirching the reputation of Burma”.

The UK hopes Kyi will now use her “remarkable qualities” to end the crisis, Johnson said in a statement on September 2.

“Aung San Suu Kyi is rightly regarded as one of the most inspiring figures of our age,” he said. “I hope she can now use all her remarkable qualities to unite her country, to stop the violence and to end the prejudice that afflicts both Muslims and other communities.”

Tirana Hassan

Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s crisis response director, has been a vocal critic of Myanmar’s actions near the nation’s border with Bangladesh.

Though not explicitly referencing Aung San Suu Kyi, Hassan has called on the nation’s leaders to end the suffering, and expressed the importance of a swift resolution to the situation.

“Rakhine state is on the precipice of a humanitarian disaster. Nothing can justify denying life-saving aid to desperate people,” she said on September 4.

“By blocking access for humanitarian organisations, Myanmar’s authorities have put tens of thousands of people at risk and shown a callous disregard for human life.”

Hassan has also openly lamented the reported use of antipersonnel landmines on the nation’s border with Bangladesh, which Amnesty International claims are being used by Myanmar’s security forces to target those escaping the country.

“Authorities must immediately end this abhorrent practice against people who are already fleeing persecution,” she said.

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Briefing Room

US Targets Islamic State in North Eastern Somalia

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WASHINGTON / PENTAGON / LONDON — A U.S. airstrike has targeted Islamic State in northern Somalia, defense officials told VOA Friday.

The strike resulted in at least one casualty, a U.S. defense official said, without elaborating on the target of the attack.

The chairman of the town of Qandala, Jama Mohamed Qurshe, told VOA Somali that several missiles hit a base for IS militants at Buqa village, 60 kilometers south of his town in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

“According to the information we are getting from the ground, six missiles hit the militants’ base in the mountainous area. Local residents and pastorialists were shocked and fled from the area,” Qurshe said.

He said that prior to the strike, residents reporting hearing airplane sounds.

Details of the strike are still not clear due to the remoteness of the area, which locals said was only accessible to the militants; however, local officials and residents suspect the airstrike targeted the group’s senior leaders and perhaps even its top leader.

The pro-Islamic State faction in northeastern Somalia is led by Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin, a former al-Shabab cleric who pledged his allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2015. In 2016, the U.S. State Department designated Mumin as a global terrorist.

Since the emergence of the IS faction in October 2015, the militants have claimed responsibility for at least four deadly attacks in Puntland.

In late October of last year, the militants briefly seized Qandala, before they were driven out by Puntland’s government.

No cutoff in funding

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has denied reports that it is planning to cut funding for the Somali government.

Somali media reports said the U.S. might reduce funding because unnamed Somali officials helped facilitate the October 14 truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 350 people.

There were also reports that linked the alleged cut to an internal State Department finding that the department’s Africa Bureau is failing to ensure that U.S. funding is not diverted to al-Shabab militants.

In an email, a State Department official told VOA the reports were “incorrect.”

“Reports of funding being suspended to the Somali army due to alleged facilitation of the bombings by Somali officials are incorrect,” the official wrote. “The United States continues to provide extensive support to Somali security forces in their efforts to combat al-Shabab.”

On Wednesday, the Daily Nation, a leading newspaper in Kenya, quoted a report from the State Department’s Office of Inspector General. The report said the Africa Bureau had not established policy and procedures for identifying and mitigating terrorist financing risks for its programs in countries where militant organizations like al-Shabab and Boko Haram operate.

In his email, the State Department official said, “The United States prioritizes transparency and accountability in its partnership with Somalia, echoing one of the top priorities articulated by President Farmaajo upon his taking office earlier this year.”

“We have communicated conditions for U.S. security assistance to the federal government of Somalia, which includes enhanced measures to ensure proper oversight of our support,” he added.

Meanwhile, Somali leaders and the governors of Somali states are meeting for the fourth straight day in Mogadishu, in an effort to agree on implementation of a joint security plan.

The government is said to be preparing for a major offensive against al-Shabab.

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Somali News

Egypt’s Sisi stresses unity, sovereignty of Somalia

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi stressed on Wednesday his country’s firm stance towards the unity and sovereignty of the Somalia.

Sisi’s remarks came during a phone call with his Somali counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, state-run MENA News Agency reported.

During the phone conversation, the two leaders discussed means of enhancing joint ties besides promoting bilateral cooperation in the field of fighting terrorism and extremism.
They also reviewed the latest developments in Somalia and the efforts of the Somali government to restore security and stability so as to fulfill the aspirations of the Somali people in achieving development.

For his part, Farmajo lauded the Egyptian stance backing his country and the support it offers in attaining stability.

He further voiced his keenness on continuing the high-level coordination and consultations with Egypt pertaining to various issues of common interest topped by combating terrorism and bolstering joint cooperation in various domains.

Egypt and Somalia have been facing rising waves of terror acts carried out by Islamist groups that left hundreds of civilians, army personnel and policemen dead.

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Opinion

Opinion: Reasons Why Somalia’s president Farmaajo is becoming Africa’s Most Popular Beloved President

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Suud Olat is Minnesota Based freelance journalist and refugees advocate founder of Refugees Forum and Advocacy.

Ever since his historic election in February as a President of Somalia Mohamed A  Farmajo has been a subject of public fascination. At first, his war on graft promised to cleanse the state of corruption, while his patriotic thrift inspired millions of Somali people.

Despite terrorism attacks recently the deadly  on October 14,2017 president vows to eradicate Alshabab terrorists out of Somalia declaring full preparations for large-scale offensive against Al-Shabab..

Months ago he turns down $80m to cut ties with Qatar

He has been offered $80 million in exchange for his agreement to sever diplomatic relations with the tiny Middle Eastern nation of Qatar.

President Farmaajo improved rapidly Somalias relations to the rest of the world we all know all sovereign states in today’s world are interdependent regardless of how small or big are. What guides each sovereign state in relation to others or even international organisations is the foreign policy, whose one of the main contents is about diplomacy.

President Farmaajo has prioritize building strong relations nations like Turkey. Much credit to Turkeys had played a key role and take a lion share on supporting Somali people. Weeks ago Turkey opens military base in Mogadishu to train Somali soldiers. Turkeys’s biggest overseas military base. As Experts and political analysts say Diplomacy is to a nation what brain is to a person. President Farmaajo”.quickly,appointed,capable,competent,good and able prime minister Hassan Ali Khayre Despite in office less than a year he gained widespread public support for several innovations, including halving the size of the cabinet and seeking to increase transparency in government.

Still despite major terrorist attacks government has made long strides in creating a peaceful Somalia, making  to be named Somalia’s prime minster among ’most influential politicians in Somali’s history. Government efforts at advancing national reconciliation, anti-corruption measures, and socio-economic and security sector reforms in Somalia were cited as the reasons for the government progress a truth that is globally acknowledged, and which earned massive confidence Somali people and the mainly government donors and friends international community .

However, Somali government has also faced numerous external setbacks that prevented holding the entire

Somalia in control, especially from Al Shabaab, which had conducted terrorism attacks both in Somalia and  in Kenya. Now government is putting up measures aimed at curbing the insecurity challenges. The neighboring governments, of Djibouti,Kenya and Ethiopia on the other hand, are trying now to assist Somali Federal government in eliminating Al Shabaab once and for all, and this is worth mentioning.

Somali Federal government has also faced internal setbacks- conflicts among with the Somali regional leaders on the issue regarding , the recent federal government neutral position on the Arab Gulf crisis which most corrupt regional leaders try to undermine federal government leadership neutral positions.

While majority of Somali are happy with the current political situation in Somalia. Recently, President of Somalia recently joined with the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutress and other world leaders in Kampala, Uganda at the major refugees in the region donor Confrence were historic Somali President generously donated 100,000 US dollars. And have also ordered foreign affairs and internal ministry to review numerous occasions previous government signed past agreements on the voluntary repatriation of the half a million Somali refugees in Dadaab camps. The assumption was that Somalia was eventually standing on its feet.

Knowing  unilaterally Kenya government ordered for the closure of Dadaab camps  after adjournment of the tripartite agreement, which had met an outcry from the international community. Still, the Somali refugees are receiving an orgy of threats from the Kenyan government.

Federal Government of Somalia set up  plans and committees to collaborate the UN refugees agency UNHCR and regional governments especially Jubaland were most refugees returning. Assuring Federal government to ensure the safety of the refugees upon their return back to Somalia, although that seems impossible if the current insecurity and terrorism attacks continue.

To keep Somali people dreams alive and real the only way out for the president to meet the expectations of the Somali people. while being very careful in making decisions was who will he appoint a prime minister although mistakes are the order of the day in politics, repeating the same mistakes will have surely cost the government to lose trust among the people. President Of Somalia knew that the nation needs a strong prime minister who knows how to solve the Somali problems since he was  previously being tested the waters of politics. He had chosen as a prime minster Hassan Khayre a qualified; patriot, intellectual, bureaucrat, who feels the pain of the people. Although it’ was  difficult to know such a person. President Farmaajo seek suggestions from the Somali intellectuals, religious groups and even  fellow politicians. A knew path avoid culture of future infighting between prime minster and president which had hindered in the past administrations as well on clan basis, competitiveness the core of the prolonged Somali conflicts.

Considering the fact that the Somali youth are entitled to take part in making political decisions, and his campaign pledges

May he Rest In Peace Abbas Siraji was among the cabinet young minister ever in the history of Somalia on May 3, 2017 gun men with government uniforms gunned and killed minster Abass down town Mogdishu. Speaking at the UN general assembly Somalia prime minister uses Abass Siraji as a role model and good example for the Somali youth.

Upon getting vote of confidence from

Somali parliament prime minister Hassan Kheyree government has made remarkable progress. strong support from the Somali people. Although the killing of Abass  immediately met with anger and solidarity protests from the general public and from many lawmakers. Now Somali government now gain trust among the Somali people. And the government approval getting up day by day.

Vast administration experience.

c) Government strictness and familiarity with the protocols of classical democracies.

d) His diplomatic demeanor.

e) completed its first monthly payment of stipends to government soldiers, and it has also initiated the implementation of a biometric register for the security forces within a window of four months. This was a great achievement that had proved Somali Federal government seriousness and its capability to make Somalia stable.

f) On  dispatching a high level federal delegations defuse clan-based tensions in several regions. This way has returned back the cordiality among different Somali clans, paving way for peaceful relations.

g) To improve transparency in the government, cabinet ministers fully disclosed transparency and signed a code of ethics.

h) An Anti-Corruption Commission with the power to carry out formal investigations and to review government decisions and protocols was also established so as to monitor public officials more closely

i) Unnecessary trips to abroad have been fully prohibited and all travels required the Premier’s consent.

j) On the war front, his tenure managed to secure control of 90% of Mugadishu, the capital of Somalia.

With his  Excellency, President Farmaajo administration creates unique protocols that will definitely make sure Federal government to fulfill the promises it had made to the Somali people. We hope that President farmaajo and the Somali prime minister, to keep this momentum and address refugees issues more closely Dadaab will be a dead story and for Somalia will regain peace and stability, and the refugees will then return back to their country.

Suud Olat is Minnesota Based freelance journalist and refugees advocate founder of Refugees Forum and Advocacy.

Follow him on Twitter @SuudM or email him SuudOlat@gmail.com

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