anz visa card protection virtual credit card paypal 2013 unsecured credit cards to rebuild credit best student visa card canada hdfc credit card loan payments how to get a cash advance on my credit card best australian reward credit card free credit card numbers and security codes 2013 bank of america credit cards for bad credit icici credit card late payment charges credit card travel insurance zurich guaranteed approval secured credit cards real cash advance lenders no credit check credit card 0 interest and no balance transfer fees payday loan lenders bad credit history instant cash advance loans online free credit report gov blank credit card authorization form free visa card uk barclays standard chartered bank uae credit card charges using your 401k to pay off credit card debt chase business credit card offers black visa card requirements canada discover credit cards payment cash advance payday loans direct lender get a credit card now with no credit canada best credit card offers capitec online loan application form how much does a prepaid credit card cost at walmart best buy credit card login hsbc is discover student credit card good usaa federal savings bank credit card phone number citibank credit card offer on flights business credit card comparison canada hdfc credit card reward points redemption catalogue best store credit cards for students free credit card no credit check best reward cards to have how to get instantly approved for a best buy credit card get credit card with bad credit no deposit rapid cash payday loans las vegas bank of america credit card rewards phone number home loan with bad credit history virtual credit card uk billing address top 10 cash back credit cards pc richard credit card customer service phone number custom black cardboard boxes payday loans online same day south africa hdfc bank credit card register and pay login best buy credit card reward zone login citibank gold business credit card gold card balance credit card credit score 600 types of credit cards in canada horizon credit card customer service new online payday loan direct lenders hsbc credit card promotions in sri lanka credit card application form of bank of baroda sbi visa gold international debit card hdfc online application for credit card status 0 intro apr credit cards title loans online no credit check list of reward cards uk linking woolworths everyday rewards cards how to reduce credit card debt yourself how to apply for a visa credit card for bad credit logbook loans online uk interest rate of hdfc bank credit card long term online loans chase credit card login united states sygma bank uk creation credit card mastercard compare the market cash back credit cards short term loan very bad credit citibank credit card payment singapore absa visa credit card travel insurance does credit card debt expire on death free credit card authorization form pdf diners club international credit card malaysia ontario credit card debt settlement pay standard chartered credit card bill through net banking visa credit card uk jobs capital one guaranteed credit card canada best travel rewards credit card comparison compare credit cards canada with rewards costco credit card credit card app for android low credit credit cards usa canadian credit card processing companies credit card travel miles blog natwest credit card online services activation are there any guaranteed credit cards canadian credit card points comparison chase prepaid credit card review bad credit visa cards canada neiman marcus credit card login bad credit loans instant decision no credit check chase credit cards rewards categories sbi online credit card application credit card for college students with no income federal program to reduce credit card debt can credit card companies garnish your wages in texas chase online credit cards what is cash advance fee in hdfc credit card best first credit card company bank of america corporate credit card phone number us bank 5 cash back credit card no fee credit card transfer balances list of store credit cards post office uk credit card online top credit card apps for ipad bdo credit card online application requirements no interest credit cards for 18 months reloadable credit cards with no fees compare airline reward credit cards how to calculate interest charge on credit card calculator best reward cards 2013 commonwealth bank credit card insurance zurich kisan credit card interest rate walmart and international credit cards how do i avoid ryanair credit card charges late on best buy credit card payment credit card number and cvv validator download how to get credit card numbers off the internet prepaid credit cards uk comparison barclays credit card contact us what kind of credit card should i get for my first one best credit card reward programs for travel prepaid credit card ukraine does capital one have a prepaid credit card pay gap visa card online does virgin credit cards have ppi household credit card debt statistics pay off credit card debt faster united credit card bonus 2013 hdfc credit card helpline no jaipur how to pay hdfc credit card bill online from other bank account air canada credit card fee credit card interest rates comparison ireland apply for a walmart mastercard online in canada 0 percent interest credit cards for 24 months icici bank credit cards status hdfc credit card helpline visa black card review 2011 best 0 credit cards for transfers standard bank british airways credit card best no fee credit card canada 2012 macy;s visa credit card application goodyear credit card rebate status best credit card processing apps credit card reader for ipad 2 uk chase credit card balance transfer to checking account tesco credit cards online ge capital walmart credit card login 0 interest rate credit cards balance transfers citibank australia credit card balance transfer buy visa prepaid card with cash sbi credit card annual fee natwest online credit cards best payday loan lender reviews does wells fargo offer payday advances how to block a credit card of sbi nationwide online loan quote best rewards credit card india 2012 halifax credit card pays 5 cash back low interest rate credit card comparison best bank to get a credit card with no credit best payday cash advance lenders should i consolidate my credit cards debt walmart ge credit card payment can you buy stuff online with a prepaid visa card credit card cash advance fee commonwealth bank credit card consolidation loan usaa citibank malaysia online credit card application buy instant virtual credit card how to pay off my student loans faster how to prevent credit card fraud at gas stations rbc visa rewards cards halifax balance transfer credit card review the best credit cards to have in malaysia citibank credit card loan offers chase southwest credit card deal how to get a cash advance on your credit card ifsc code for hdfc credit card payment bangalore chase no foreign transaction fee credit card best small business credit card processing company valid credit card numbers with cvv and expiration date 2015 working valid credit card numbers 2013 alaska airlines air miles credit card 90 day payday loans no credit check australia visa cards with rewards programs deutsche bank corporate credit card india credit card payment machines small business do you get credit checked for a company credit card how to choose a credit card canada bad credit long term installment loans online manual credit card machine paper different types of american express credit cards new york and company clothing credit card login standard chartered credit card customer care toll free difference between hbc mastercard hbc credit card what type of credit card should i get if i have no credit instant cash advance online payday loan how to apply for a prepaid credit card in canada credit card for students with no income credit card debt settlement in dubai hsbc credit card payment through other bank credit card personal bad credit loan lenders net pay advance recovery american express black card benefits how to get reward points in hdfc platinum credit card td canada trust secured credit card application compare hdfc credit cards hsbc credit card offers uk top 10 business credit cards uk dummy usa credit card number chase disney credit card reviews secured credit card ratings instant cash payday loans uk best credit card processing for small business first credit card for no credit cash back credit cards canada 2012 can you link prepaid credit card paypal ocbc bank credit card application form virgin credit card ppi contact number apply for chase credit cards online best business credit cards uk is applying for credit cards bad for your credit small business credit cards bad credit student credit cards no income barclay credit card customer service number visa debit cards online shopping sentence for credit card fraud uk sampath credit card promotions sri lanka credit card processing companies in india pay belk credit card by phone same day online payday loan lenders department store credit cards bad credit instant approval credit cards online apply reloadable visa online shopping card credit card cash back visa gold shell mastercard credit card application best credit cards for someone with bad credit chase bank credit card rates visa card services quick and easy payday loans bad credit british airways credit card uk visa do you need a credit card for itunes 2011 online payday loan lenders only southwest airlines chase credit card free flight good credit cards for limited credit history barclays 2 year interest free credit card credit card authorization form ny commonwealth bank credit cards cancelled 0 purchase credit cards for bad credit do any credit cards offer free travel insurance derbyshire gold card application form best buy credit card android app best credit card for bad credit with no deposit pay walmart credit card bill generate virtual credit card paypal square iphone credit card service merchant credit card loans secured credit card to rebuild credit bank of america what is credit card balance transfer fees company credit cards for employees credit check no interest credit card deals take credit card payments over the phone uk vanquis cash advance how long which pnc credit card is best for students lowest interest rate credit cards 2012 top rated credit card apps for iphone airline credit card comparisons compare business credit cards uk canada post prepaid credit card hsbc business credit card air miles visa bank numbers on credit cards weekend direct payday loan lenders walmart credit card credit score guaranteed acceptance payday loan lenders old orchard credit card account nab gold visa debit card barclays online loan calculator secured business credit card bank of america best credit card rewards miles no annual fee chunky black cardigan bulk black cardboard boxes capital one credit card balance transfer address can i use us credit card in uk everest cash advance payday loan login no credit check unsecured credit cards business credit cards canada fast credit card approval bad credit what factors should you consider when choosing a credit card who has the best payday loans chase freedom virtual credit card credit card balance transfer calculator compare citifinancial ashley credit card payment icici instant credit card eligibility credit cards for poor credit scores uk visa credit card business model interest free credit card offers 2013 business credit cards with bad personal credit where can i buy visa gift cards amazon credit card intro apr wireless credit card machine rental compare business credit cards nz sbi credit cards online bill payment citifinancial credit card ppi claim online cash advance lenders in va credit card credit rating check capital one small business credit card application credit card rewards best offers how much does a wireless credit card machine cost pc credit card aspire credit card customer service number canadian student credit card comparison reward credit card reviews canada jpmorgan chase canada credit card shell credit cards canada does costco accept credit cards visa aqua credit card contact details best no interest credit cards 2012hsbc household credit card credit card limit 3000 instant decision credit cards canada gas store credit card for bad credit paypal credit card logos png free gas reward cards delta american express credit card login canadian tire mastercard interest rate guaranteed unsecured credit card approval for bad credit low interest rate no annual fee credit cards hdfc emi calculator on credit card credit card student loan consolidation credit card verification form template best business credit card for airline miles heartland credit card processing customer service icici bank hpcl platinum and titanium credit cards discover bad credit cards what to do with stolen credit card numbers best fixed rate credit card deals american express platinum card benefits india transfer balance credit cards fair credit dbs visa debit card rebate instant online payday loans no brokers credit card prepaid uk chase secured credit card 2012 clark howard how to choose a credit card apply for joint credit card application halifax credit card rate increase credit card student loan payment kohls credit card payments login loan with bad credit history india credit cards best buy credit cards make payment bad credit loans guaranteed approval monthly payments visa credit cards after bankruptcy discharge guaranteed issue unsecured credit cards discover student credit cards unsecured credit cards for recent bankruptcy hdfc credit cards offers in india virgin credit card deals for existing customers is there an app for walmart credit card pay bank of america credit card in person chase credit card business customer service new credit card apply online icici best australian credit cards for overseas travel barclays credit card ppi claims address best credit card apr rates best high limit credit cards for fair credit instant online loans no credit check top credit cards for bad credit 2013 fast payday loan lender uk credit card bank rakyat southwest credit card reviews chase zurich anz credit card insurance aeroplan credit card canada no annual fee chase bank pre approved credit card best credit card for travel miles city union bank credit card online apply prepaid online credit cards canada orchard bank credit card apply whats a good credit card to rebuild credit drupal jquery credit card validator credit cards for poor credit score standard chartered credit card reward points redemption catalogue india offers on axis bank titanium credit cards prepaid cibc credit cards best no fee reward credit cards canada visa credit card login gap free credit card details that work 2012 top ten credit cards in india 2013 best cash rewards credit card no annual fee one card for all credit cards costco merchant credit card machine best online credit card processing 2012 how to apply for a credit card best online payday loans yahoo answers ebay paypal credit card charges unsecured credit card debt loan best business credit cards for startups long term cash loans uk how to get visa debit card in philippines us bank customer service lost credit card credit card terminal rental singapore credit card payment app lost td visa card capital one credit card first statement capital one 2 cash back cards american airlines aadvantage credit card benefits apply for first financial bank usa credit card citibank credit cards uae department stores that are easy to get credit cards bank of america credit card login usa best android credit card reader app free online credit card generator with cvv first premier credit card cash advance best travel rewards credit cards reviews credit card rewards calculator canada top secured credit cards no annual fee does applying for multiple credit cards hurt your credit score steinhausen money clip and credit card holder gold credit card consolidation loan chase bank credit cards for good credit scores hsbc credit card offers apply for department store credit cards with bad credit unsecured credit card with no credit check how to deal with credit card debt in singapore credit card reward points comparison apply for hsbc credit card india united airlines chase credit card login long term online loans for bad credit credit card consolidation companies mastercard credit card foreign exchange rates actual payday lenders list capital credit card apply chase freedom credit card 200 cash back horizon gold card reviews can you claim back credit card insurance what is the best credit card for travel rewards credit card protection plan uk low apr credit cards for no credit best credit card offers 2013 rewards apply credit card online instant approval canada td visa credit card insurance marriott reward credit card review american airlines best credit card deal personal bad credit loans in georgia aqua credit card barclays premier credit card uae credit card ratings 2011 consumer reports how to apply for a credit card with little to no credit amazon credit card travel rewards bank of america wireless credit card machine visa secured credit card uk best credit card promotions in singapore default unsecured credit card debt best portable credit card machines payday loan with bad credit online pay neiman marcus credit card online credit card authorisation form template word visa rewards card balance check virtual credit cards wiki most secure online credit card hdfc credit cards customer care number delhi barclay bank credit card customer care number credit card sized business cards starwood business credit card offers get a credit card today ireland what to wear with a black cardigan national city credit card application capital one spark miles for business credit card virgin barclays credit card login bad credit payday loans direct lenders city bank credit card payment through billdesk pay as you go credit card uk free buy prepaid visa with credit card citibank credit card online capital one credit card balance transfer to current account staples business credit card account walmart mastercard credit card canada best cashback credit card malaysia lowering interest rates on credit cards in canada best credit card offers 2013 india sign up for credit card with no credit free credit card details 2013 credit card transaction approval rates report credit card fraud to fbi tesco finest credit card contact number chase freedom credit card customer service account number on hsbc debit visa card payday advance no credit check chase virtual credit card register citibank credit card online miles and more credit card online statement direct bad credit loan lenders bank of america credit card student platinum plus chase credit card student iphone credit card reader reviews uk first advantage credit card processing can applying for credit cards hurt my credit score
PDF Print E-mail

My Life as a Diplomat

By Nuruddin Farah, Cape Town

WATCHING from afar, people find it difficult to understand the intractability of the conflict in Somalia. The cycle of violence, almost mysteriously, remains uninterrupted. Peace breaks out. Victory is declared, as it was a couple of weeks ago when President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed’s Transitional Federal Government declared its triumph over the rival Islamic Courts Union and the clan-based militia fighting alongside it. And then the violence quickly erupts again.

In Somalia, it has been clan versus clan, Muslim Somalis versus Christian Ethiopians, for as long as anyone can remember. A recent United Nations report asserted that a dozen or so countries — Egypt, Eritrea and Iran among them are engaged in trying to destabilize Somalia.

Why can’t Somalia arrest its downward spiral?

Well, let me tell you about my brief time as an emissary between Somalia’s two main warring factions; perhaps it might help explain in concrete — and human — terms why the conflict has become so difficult to solve and why the transitional government, backed by the United States and with the support of Ethiopia, is probably doomed to fail.

My career as an emissary began last July. A man in the executive directorate of the Islamic Courts Union, then in control of Mogadishu, telephoned me in Cape Town, where I now live. (I was born and raised in Somalia.) The man, who shall remain nameless, asked if I would “carry fire between the two sides,” as the Somali idiom has it.

The timing was understandable. Talks between the Islamists and the government had broken down; the Islamists were laying siege to Baidoa, the seat of the government, and Ethiopia was sending troops to defend the garrisoned town.

The choice of a mediator, however, wasn’t so readily apparent. “Why me?” I asked.

“Because the I.C.U. admires your opposition to Ethiopia, Somalia’s archenemy, and because of your avowed interest in peace,” he replied.

And, truth be told, I admired some of what the Islamists had accomplished. Indeed, they had done the impossible: in a series of fierce battles from March to June last year, they had routed the warlords and pacified Mogadishu. For the first time in many years, the city enjoyed peace.

Like many Somalis, though, I also had my reservations about them. Even though almost all Somalis are Muslim, very few embrace the union’s fervent brand of faith: the group supports Shariah law and it treats the federal charter, which is secular, with disdain. Then there was the matter of clan rivalry, which hinted that devotion might be masking politics: the top Islamists belonged to the clans known to be antagonistic to the president’s clan.

Of course, my feelings about the transitional government were also ambivalent. The government came into being in 2004 after a two-year-long national reconciliation conference held in exile. I supported the president’s desire for an African peacekeeping force to stabilize Somalia; at the same time, I was fearful that he was susceptible to pressure from Ethiopia.

Still, the Islamic Courts Union, as my interlocutor told me, was holding out a proposal that just might lead to peace. According to him, the union was offering to let the government move to Mogadishu from Baidoa and to let the president bring with him a force of 1,000 from his home province, Puntland.

I felt this was promising. A peace deal would not just bring stability — it would reduce the opportunities for foreign intervention by Ethiopia, which had thwarted every national and international effort to bring Somalia’s strife to a peaceful end, and by the United States, which seemed inclined to support Christian-run Ethiopia as a bulwark against the Islamists. (It didn’t help, of course, that the union’s defense spokesman had used the red-flag word “jihad” in his firebrand declamations.)

And so I called the office of President Yusuf to request a meeting. When I received a favorable response, I called my Islamist interlocutor to let him know that I would accept the mission. Excited at the thought of doing more than writing about Somalia to keep it alive, I bought my ticket and left for Mogadishu.

When I arrived in Mogadishu in the last week of August, the city appeared calm. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a hint of unease. Residents felt that they were under surveillance. And they were. Drones hovered above the city all night. War, it seemed, was in the offing.

My first meeting in town was with Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, then the spiritual head of the Islamic Courts Union; he struck me as being more reasonable than many others in the group. In all, I spent three and a half hours in our first meeting, much of it alone with him. We were in an office with a huge escritoire, and we were cramped, sitting very close to each other, a low table on which he placed his notebook and I mine and also our teacups between us, the door left ajar. He leaned forward to enunciate his words with the slowness of someone used to speaking to blockheads. (Perhaps he thought me a halfwit, come from Cape Town, on a dubious peace mission; a fool proposing that he and President Yusuf, his adversary, make up for the sake of Somalia.)

When I told him what prompted my visit, he confessed he had no recollection of agreeing that President Yusuf relocate to Mogadishu with a force from Puntland. The group’s position, he reiterated with emphasis, was that Ethiopia must withdraw its forces from Somalia before anything else could happen. He continued: “We control much of the country and the people are behind us. What does he control, this president, confined to Baidoa?”

THIS was not an encouraging beginning.

My subsequent meetings with the Islamists and their sympathizers were equally frustrating. There was no discussion of the peace plan that had brought me back to Somalia. Instead, the discussions centered on matters they deemed important: whether theaters should be open; whether girls could be permitted to wear jeans or go about unveiled; whether tea houses should play music, or young men watch soccer on television. There was no serious talk of governance.

What struck me in these conversations was the presence of Arabic. These men, I surmised, had received their education in Sudan, Libya or Kuwait. For the first time since the Middle Ages, Arabic was the lingua franca in Mogadishu; Somali was practically a second language.