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Matteo Fraschini Koffi - Giornalista Freelance

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SOMALIA: Puntland, Oil, Terrorism and Chaos

per Avvenire

Puntland, oil, Terrorism and Chaos

"That being in the mountains of Galgala is not a religious war or terrorism," says convinced Mrs Asha Ahmed Abdalla, Parliamentary Assembly of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

"It's an economic war fought over the underground resources in the region of Maakhir."

After several years as an assistant to the Ministry of Labor and Ministry of Disarmament, Mrs Abdalla is one of the few Somali women legislators in Somalia who still risk their lives for their country. "It's from 2000 that I deal with corruption in Somalia," says the legislator.

"In Mogadishu, my house was bombed several times and I still continue to receive threats from people of Abdirahman Farole, the President of Puntland (semi-autonomous Somali Region, ed.).For this reason I have not been able to go back home and I can only report from here the true face of the war in Galgala, the town where I come from. "

The main conflict in the region fought mainly between the clan in power, Migiurtini and the Warsengheli of Galgala had began in the eighties when several international oil companies had divided the various regional blocks for exploration of the vast mineral reserves and substantial quantities of oil in the area as evidenced by the prospect.

With the start of civil war in '91, almost everything had stopped until Puntland, in October of 2005, began to settle illegally for the exploration and drilling rights that it awarded to an Australian company like Range Resources Ltd. and later to the Canadian based subsidiary Africa Oil Corp. (formerly Canmex Minerals Corp.):

"These concessions are vast, and with only five wells drilled, the area is one of the least explored East Africa,” according to a statement provided by Africa Oil from their website. "We believe that the area has all the requirements to become a major oil-producing province and other minerals, confirmed the Range Resources.

Both companies have posted maps on the Internet with the various areas of interest coincide with the area of conflict in the valley region Dharoor. They had also written several articles and reports since 2005, re-published by both international and Somali media

"There will always be a minority opposed to our project for various reasons, had already declared the Range Resources in April 2006 at the Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald.

In July, the conflict has resumed, however, with complaints of government penetration and also unreliable reports from elements of al-Shabaab, Somali Islamist insurgents linked to al-Qaeda.

Asha Abdala said that the conflict is causing great suffering to hundreds of IDPs who have fled their homes. "The government troops have destroyed crops, burned houses and scared my fellow citizens," denounces the Parliamentarian.

This time just like in the past contravery, many clan members are not against Warsengheli exploration, however, they want to be involved in a peaceful discussion with Farole. The president has instead arbitrarily arrested several Somali journalists. Last Friday, Abdifatah Jama Mirra, director of local radio Horseed Media was fined for six years in prison.

Mirra has been accused of "incitement to violence" for an exclusive interview with Sheikh Mohamed Said Atom, the militant leader of the troops for the Natural Resources (NRT) fighting in Galgala and who are opposed tp the Puntland administration.

The verdict announced, apparently without a lawyer, in a day to the Court of Bosaso, the commercial capital of Puntland, led to a protest at the international level.

"The condemnation of Mirre and the arbitrary detention of seven other journalists are a flagrant violation of press freedom by the administration of Puntland, "said Reporters Without Borders (RSF). On Tuesday, the administration also imposed a total ban for the entire local press talking about the war. "Farole and its people have told the world that this is a war against terrorism to gain support from donor countries," writes Suleiman Saleh, editor of the website information

"At stake, however, there are strong economic interests that few have the courage to denounce."

Full of rich and unexplored oil and minerals, the region of Puntland in northern Somalia's semi-autonomous and self-proclaimed in '98 was considered relatively stable until recently.

The trafficking and piracy would steal the scene in a regional conflict that continues intermittently for several years. Through sporadic exploration and geological studies with the aid of satellite technology have been undertaken, Puntland is still regarded as one of the richest and least explored regions of North Africa.

The President Abdirahman M. Farole, who also became a citizen of Australia, has recently been accused of human rights violations by UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the forced deportation of thousands of his countrymen into the hell of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, from which Puntland broke away 12 years ago.




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