Friday, November 28, 2008

Pirates of Aden - Remember ICU, Anyone?

For the last few months, we have been hearing about piracy in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia. As Muslims, we are very sad to hear the news, especially when we all know that the culprits are also Muslims. It is even worst when two of our country's ships, have also been hijacked at this location.

Somalia is a country with a very weak and ineffective central government since 1990s under the control of Somali warlords. In late 1990s, all four Islamic courts in Somalia united to form Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and they were responsible to restore public order in Somalia and had wide public support.

In 2006, they even managed to capture Harardhere, which had become safe haven for pirates and also reopened Mogadishu International Airport, which had been closed since 1995 and the Mogadishu port, which had been closed for ten years. They managed to capture most of Somalia through negotiation rather than through the use of force. As stated by Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, ICU's leader that 'Our priority is people's peace, dignity and that they could live in liberty, that they could decide their own fate. That is our priority. Our priority is not land; the people are important to us'.

Unfortunately, the dirty hands of foreign superpower(s) started to play their parts in destroying peace and stability based on Islamic principles as what they had done to Algeria. An alliance of Somali warlords collaborated with Ethiopia and US, which openly intervened by sending its gunships and managed to defeat ICU by end of 2006.

During the rise of ICU in 2006, pirate activities subsided but with the fall of ICU, Somalia is back to chaos and unrest and lately, pirates began to hit back and became totally out of control. All major trading countries and those using the Gulf are paying heavy price by passing the area since the route becomes unsafe. The world has the opportunity of having a stable Somali Government which can restore peace and order back to the anarchic country by helping ICU. Instead, they have lost the opportunity by helping those mad warlords in overthrowing ICU and putting Somalia back in turmoil. Now they are tasting their own medicine.

By looking at their backgrounds, I am confident that all the figures in ICU are very sincere in restoring peace and stability for their homeland. Prof Ibrahim Hasan Addow and Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Qalaf would not leave a comfortable life in the US and Sweden respectively and return to their homeland if they are not sincerely committed in struggling for their country. The same goes to Sheikh Hasan Aweys and Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. Alleging ICU of supporting terrorism was just an excuse for the US to justify the invasion of Somalia to overthrow ICU.

With the fall of ICU, piracy in the Gulf of Aden suddenly escalated from only one case in 2006 to 5 cases in 2007 and more than 30 cases this year. By overthrowing ICU, the US has killed a 'cat' that has been faithfully guarding the house, and now the 'rodents' are having their days in causing damage to the house. So, remember ICU, the West and US?

Islamic Countries have also been on the receiving end of these pirates. So far, ships from various Islamic countries such as Turkey (2 ships), Malaysia (2 ships), Saudi (2 ships), UAE, Jordan, Nigeria and Iran have been hijacked (with the biggest catch being Sirius Star owned by Saudi laden with USD100 million of crude oil, temporarily causing a rise in oil price). These countries are the backbone of OIC and the OIC should take the necessary step in fighting piracy in Somalia by supporting a faction which has a record as the most capable in maintaining peace and stability there. Remember ICU, Mr. OIC?

إن أريد إلا الإصلاح ما استطعت و ما توفيقي إلا بالله عليه توكلت و إليه أنيب(I desire naught save reform so far as I am able. My welfare is only in Allah. In Him I trust and unto Him I turn (repentant)- alQuran 11/88.


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