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Completion of Somalia elections more important than ever

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photo: WFP/Ismail Taxta

Although progress has been made in Somalia’s electoral process, it has been slow and uneven, the UN Special Representative for the country said in a briefing to the Security Council on Wednesday.

James Swan, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), welcomed completion of the indirect elections for the Upper House of the Federal Parliament, which began in July, and the start of those for the lower chamber, known as the House of the People.

While 14 women will be among the 54 Senators in the Upper House, representing 26 per cent of parliamentarians there, Mr. Swan said this figure falls short of the 30 per cent quota for women’s participation.

Redouble efforts

Mr. Swan urged stakeholders to move quickly to conclude the lower house elections before the end of the year.

“Although progress is being made, the efforts of Somalia’s political leaders will need to be redoubled in the coming weeks to bring the elections for the Federal Parliament to a successful conclusion, so that the presidential elections can then be held as soon as possible,” he said, speaking via videoconference.

“The completion of these elections is more important than ever, so that all effort can return to the key governance, security, and development priorities in Somalia”.

Supporting women’s representation

The envoy said the UN will continue its engagement and support towards advancing the indirect polls, with clan representatives electing parliamentarians who will then vote for the president.  

Only two of the 275 seats in the lower house have been filled so far, and 30 per cent are also reserved for women.

“We continue to stress that women’s full inclusion and representation in political life, and in all sectors of life, is key for Somalia’s sustainable peace and development”, said Mr. Swan.

Somali women’s rights activist Asha Abdulle Siyad, who also addressed the Council, has been among those advocating for the 30 per cent quota.

“We are deeply concerned of the delays and the lack of concrete measures and schedules for the completion of the House of the People election”, said Ms. Siyad, Executive Director of the Somali Women’s Leadership Initiative.

“Further delay in the election is likely to affect women’s quota negatively as the attention of all concerned, including the

Nearly 1,000 civilians have been killed or injured in armed conflict so far this year – with the group responsible for some two-thirds of civilian casualties.

Mr. Swan paid tribute to the Somali security forces and troops serving with the African Union mission in the country, AMISOM, who face Al-Shabaab on a daily basis.

AMISOM chief Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira told the ambassadors that the militants have stepped up attacks, ambushes, suicide bombings and targeted assassinations of Government officials.

“In addition, and of late, Al-Shabaab’s effort is increasingly and deliberately directed at disrupting the electoral process with attacks on some election centres, indirect fire attacks against AMISOM fortified bases, and increased public execution of individuals working with the Somali security forces and AMISOM personnel”, he said.

The mission’s mandate expires on 31 December and a plan to progressively transfer security responsibility from AMISOM to the Somali Security Forces is advancing, though slowly.

Mr. Madeira called for discussions on the new mission to be concluded as a matter of urgency, noting  the talks cover issues such as enhanced coordination and cooperation, complementary approaches, sustained information sharing, and funding.

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Europe accuses US of ‘profiting from war’

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Top European officials are furious with Joe Biden’s administration and now accuse the Americans of making a fortune from the war, while EU countries suffer. “The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the U.S. because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons,” one senior official told POLITICO.

Washington announced a $369 billion industrial subsidy scheme to support green industries under the Inflation Reduction Act that Brussels went into full-blown panic mode. “The Inflation Reduction Act has changed everything,” one EU diplomat said. “Is Washington still our ally or not?”

“We are really at a historic juncture,” the senior EU official said, arguing that the double hit of trade disruption from U.S. subsidies and high energy prices risks turning public opinion against both the war effort and the transatlantic alliance. “America needs to realize that public opinion is shifting in many EU countries.”

The biggest point of tension in recent weeks has been Biden’s green subsidies and taxes that Brussels says unfairly tilt trade away from the EU and threaten to destroy European industries. Despite formal objections from Europe, Washington has so far shown no sign of backing down.

As they attempt to reduce their reliance on Russian energy, EU countries are turning to gas from the U.S. instead — but the price Europeans pay is almost four times as high as the same fuel costs in America. Then there’s the likely surge in orders for American-made military kit as European armies run short after sending weapons to Ukraine.

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic recognize the risks that the increasingly toxic atmosphere will have for the Western alliance.

“The U.S. is following a domestic agenda, which is regrettably protectionist and discriminates against U.S. allies,” said Tonino Picula, the European Parliament’s lead person on the transatlantic relationship.

Cheaper energy has quickly become a huge competitive advantage for American companies, too. Businesses are planning new investments in the U.S. or even relocating their existing businesses away from Europe to American factories. Just this week, chemical multinational Solvay announced t is choosing the U.S. over Europe for new investments, in the latest of a series of similar announcements from key EU industrial giants.

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American view: ‘Putting an end to Volodymyr Zelensky’s follies!’

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“Zelensky comes out of the process smelling really bad as he has worked assiduously at blaming Russia, which clearly is not true,” – writes Philip Giraldi from Ron Paul Institute.

One week ago, he reminds, the Ukrainian government may have deliberately attacked neighbor Poland in an attempt to draw the NATO alliance into its war with Russia. The incident involved a missile that hit a grain processing site inside Poland and killed two farmers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately blamed Russia for the incident even though he surely must have known that the missile had been fired from Ukraine, meaning that he may have been using a so-called “false flag” to create a false narrative of what had occurred.

Given the fact that Zelensky has been saying and doing everything possible to draw the US and NATO into fighting Russia on his behalf, I believe that the missile strike was quite plausibly a deliberate “false flag” attempt to start a much broader war.

That such a war could easily turn nuclear reveals just how reckless Zelensky can be. One NATO country foreign diplomat based in Kiev told “The Financial Times”, that “This is getting ridiculous. The Ukrainians are destroying [our] confidence in them. Nobody is blaming Ukraine and they are openly lying. This is more destructive than the missile.”

There has been considerable speculation that the unregulated and unmonitored flow of billions of dollars of US taxpayer provided money through Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government provided a perfect mechanism for large scale money laundering.

Even assuming that the Ukrainian missile strike on Poland was due to some malfunction, Zelensky comes out of the process smelling really bad as he has worked assiduously at blaming Russia, which clearly is not true.

He is using his contrived narrative to dramatically expand the war by creating a situation which would bring NATO directly into the conflict and which could easily go nuclear.

Indeed, he is attempting to compel NATO participation.

Beyond that, the US and NATO, burdened with such an “ally,” should take immediate steps to disengage from supporting the fighting and call for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

To be sure, Zelensky is capable of anything and no lie is too mendacious for the former comedy actor who is now basking in the glow of his celebrity, writes Philip Giraldi.

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Iran’s Parliament approves bill on accession to SCO

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Iran’s Parliament has approved by a majority vote a bill on the Islamic republic’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), according TASS information.

205 parliamentarians voted for the bill, 3 voted against and 4 abstained.

On September 30, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi signed a bill on the country’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. According to the Young Journalists Club news agency, Raisi sent the bill to the country’s parliament for consideration.

Iran signed a memorandum on liabilities for joining the Organization.

The Organization’s summit in Uzbekistan on September 15-16 launched the procedure of admitting Belarus as a full-fledged member.

Egypt and Qatar were granted a dialogue partner status, while Bahrain, Kuwait, the Maldives, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia began the procedure for obtaining this status.

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