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Open Letter - Keeping Somalia in conflict: Somaliland secessionists, Al Shabaab
and Matt Bryden
By Abdul Ghelleh

July 23, 2012

The Rt. Hon. William Hague PM
Foreign Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

CC: Prime Minister Recep T Erdogan, Istanbul

CC: Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, the US State Department

CC: Ambassador Matt Baugh, British Embassy, Somalia

Dear Mr William Hague MP,

Re – the UN Monitoring Group’s Report on Somalia

Over the past couple of decades, every Somalia analysts had nightmares whenever they tried to find solutions for the Somalia conflict. A unique nation, no text books were ever written on situations similar to that of Somalia. As one of the only two countries named after its people in the giant continent of Africa, the frustrated experts often conveniently conclude that Somalis are just hot-headed and turbo-charged people who argue with each other rather than sit around the table and debate when considering matters of national interest.

But as a concerned Somali, it’s unacceptable to me that such energetic and highly enterprising people would be in conflict with each other for that long without the interference of other governments or groups of people or powerful individuals, so I went my separate way to find my own solutions for what’s wrong with the country and its people.

In my researches in the early years of the conflict and occasionally at present, I blamed the Ethiopians for having their own national interest in the Somalia conflict. And increasingly recently I suspected the Saudis and their teachings of Wahabi Islam. Often I would debate with friends and even with myself about the reasons for the Ethiopians or the Saudis wanting to sustain the conflict in Somalia. Both are close to us; one being our immediate neighbour and the other, our favourite destination for Hajj, shopping and work.

This past fortnight however, I took far too closer look at Somalia, Ethiopia and the nearby Saudi Arabian peninsula. And when the bell did not ring in any of these places, I suddenly, like Albert Einstein discovering Matter and Energy, found a single Canadian culprit who strategically positioned himself in the suburbs of Nairobi, Kenya. I made a substantial discovery towards the conflict resolution programmes for Somalia.

I zeroed in my investigation to small group of mainly Western expats in Nairobi. But the person who is partly responsible for much of the chaos and the unrest in Somalia over the past 21 years is none other than Mr Matt Bryden from Toronto, Canada. He worked for the Brussels-based the International Crisis Group before joining the United Nations, and he is married to Ubah (her exact Somali family name unknown at the time of writing) who originally came from North-Western Somalia (Somaliland).

An investigation into the criteria used to process his original application for employment at the UN is currently underway to establish how Mr Bryden was able to secure employment at the United Nations Political Office for Somalia. My initial findings, however, is that the ‘conflict of interest’ procedure was not properly followed. At this point in time, I can’t confirm whether the mistake was an oversight or deliberate disregard of the UN’s recruitment policy.

In fact I have been wondering over the past ten years about what interest Mr Matt Bryden has in Somalia. I knew all along from his various reports on Somalia that he has some kind of business in trying to keep Somalia in conflict. I have not, however, discovered up until this week exactly what that interest may be. Perhaps I overlooked some crucial but remote details about the man and his activities, just like the United Nations Human Resources Department in New York, if they were ever made aware of the fact that they have outsourced an important contract to a person who has private interests in Somalia.

With his latest report on Somalia, Mr Bryden attracted the undivided attention of the entire Somali nation and this time, the knives are out to him. His dirty laundry is there for everyone to see hanging on the ropes outside his house in Nairobi.

Mr Bryden’s leaked report on Somalia which is doctored several times over offended every Somali person and the Somalis have him cornered as his back is against the wall. He made very serious error of judgement by underestimating the Somali people, their intelligence and their patience.

The incomplete report which is surprisingly sanctioned by the United Nations has laid bare to Mr Bryden’s ulterior motives. It’s obvious to everyone that his high school style essay has been designed to disrupt and derail the final days of the Somali peace process once again and to tarnish the reputation of the entire Somali nation as corrupt society, unable to produce credible people who can take responsibility for their own country. Please note that I am not, by any means, defending any Somali official who may have been involved in corruption activities.

In the report, while Mr Bryden pointed the finger at individuals in the transitional Somali government and underlined the amounts of cash they allegedly misappropriated, he deliberately omitted the vital data of who actually handed the money over to whom and with which bank or banks handled these monies, making the entire report unworthy of the papers it was written on.

What also baffled the Somali people and the observers of the Somalia conflict is the deliberate exclusion from the poorly written report of a widespread corruption that is taking place in Somaliland. The United Nations Development Programme confirmed in the winter of 2011 (news wire) that 1000 metric-tonne of food aid that was donated by the government of Oman were emptied by Somaliland officials on daylight from warehouses in Hargeisa.

Moreover, a fourth grader knows that when corruption takes place anywhere in the world the facilitators of that corruption would consist of two people or more. And in the case of Somalia, since almost all the monies came from foreign donors and mainly changed hands on the watch of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia in Nairobi where Mr Bryden lives and works, there were no people named in the report other than the Somali officials, shamefully insulting the intelligence of everyone who read his so called the Somalia Report.

According to Mr Bryden’s sources, there are the Arab Sheikhs who Mr Bryden claims paid substantial amounts of cash to the Somali government officials. But if an Arab Sheikh hands over a suitcase full of cash to a Somali official and asks him or her no questions later, would you consider it as a gift to that particular individual or would you call it a corruption – a corruption by who? And surprisingly enough, as the weak Somali government officials are junior partners to UNPOS when it comes to foreign donations, the report has been selective and does not contain the names of the people who I believe initiated the alleged corruption and who pocketed the most of the misappropriated funds. The world needs to know who these people are.

The UN must appoint a new and credible person immediately and commission fresh investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Bryden’s activities in Somalia and all the monies that are unaccounted for, no matter whether the funds were paid through the United Nations Political Office for Somalia or was given to individuals as cash in hand. Until then Matt Bryden’s so called Monitoring report is implausible and should be considered null and void.

In fact the Monitoring Group’s report falls far too short of international standards as it lacks substance, professionalism, legitimacy and credibility, and should be dismissed by the United Nations. In the light of the facts available so far, the United Nations should demand the tax payer’s money back from Matt Bryden and his organisation. And Mr Bryden must be relieved from his post, and not reappointed in public service capacity to any activity within the Somali Republic. The international community can no longer afford to tolerate any government or lone wolves who represent other privately established institutions to prolong the conflict by working against the efforts to find peace and security in Somalia.

The Somali people are also strongly urging the UN - after the report is reconsidered - to open the way for comprehensive and independent investigation into the suspected Nairobi-based protection racket which is possibly headed by Mr Matt Bryden. And a good starting point would be Mr Bryden’s interest in Somalia and his relationships with the secessionists group in Somaliland. Only then can the fragile Somali peoples’ relationship with the UN be put back on the right truck.

As politically literate society, the Somali people are well aware of who meets who and when in Nairobi’s expatriate circles. When Mr Augustine P Mahiga, the UN Special Rep. for Somalia, for example, called for the diplomatic recognition of Somaliland, my follow up investigation confirmed that he had dinner table conversation in Nairobi with Matt Bryden the week proceeding to his departure for Hargeisa where his statements were made. But the irresponsible remarks put the colonial mission school educated Mahiga in hot waters after the Security Council promptly reprimanded him.

I must underline that the Somali people have the resources - financial and professional personnel - to conduct their own world class investigations, and if Mr Mahiga elects not to recommend the termination of Mr Bryden’s role in Somalia, other people would be implicated. I should also make it clear to everyone, friend or foe, that the Somali people are fully awake in 2012.

Big or small, there is corruption everywhere including Somalia. But we must be on the lookout for the parasitic individuals who are lurking in the dark periphery of the Somalia conflict, and who are actively involved in the attempts to keep Somalia in conflict.  We won’t be able to put to good use the recent gains made by the African Union without removing the remaining obstacles to peace and stability in Somalia: Somaliland secessionists, Al Shabaab and people like Matt Bryden.

It’s an open secret, albeit published in some intelligence reports on Somalia, that Somaliland politicians believe that it’s in their best interest to help sustain the anarchy in the rest of Somalia. So when Mr Bryden’s strong relationship with Somaliland is on the public domain, I wonder how an oversight could have taken place in the UN’s recruitment policy on international staffing.

Urgent review of the UN’s hiring procedures should also be made before another ‘white collar warlord’ and international ‘conflict fat cat’ cooks their own books and makes further embarrassment for the world body. It’s time to find out who else, apart from Matt Bryden, is fuelling the conflict in Somalia and giving Al Shabaab the lifeline they badly need. The Somali people need answers as they are running out of time - and patience.

Abdul Ghelleh, former UKLG civil servant
E-Mail: abdulghelleh@gmail.com


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