European donors opened their wallets again to pledge some $2.4 billion for the reconstruction of Somalia. The money throws the Horn of Africa nation another lifeline as it attempts to end more than two decades of conflict.
The money has been called a “New Deal” for what is widely regarded as a failed state. European Union (EU) Commission President José Manuel Barroso said the extra money would support a “new phase in the life of Somalia.”
The EU contribution would be in addition to the $1.6 billion it gave Somalia from 2008 to 2013.
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab insurgent group dismissed the donor pledges as a “Belgian waffle”—“sweet on the outside but really not much substance to it.” Writing on their Twitter page, they predicted that donor pledges would remain mostly unfulfilled or the money would be lost to corruption.
By coincidence, this week, Uganda suspended 20 army officers accused of selling food and fuel meant for Somali-based troops, a Ugandan army spokesman told the BBC. The Ugandan contingent head, Brig. Michael Ondoga, is among those being investigated.
With more than 6,000 troops in the 18,000-troop African Union force, Uganda is the biggest contributor to the force. While the force has helped the U.N.-backed Somali government regain control of key cities and towns from al-Shabab, most of southern Somalia remains under al-Shabab’s control.
Meanwhile, an American-born rap star who became a jihadi militant in Somalia and who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List was shot to death this week in an ambush reportedly ordered by the same Somali al-Qaeda militants he had joined.
Omar Hammami, a native of Daphne, Ala., was the son of a Christian mother and a Syrian-born Muslim father. He reportedly had a falling out with the group’s leader and expressed fear for his life in a web video in March 2012.
Reached by phone in Alabama, Hammami’s father, Shafik Hammami, said today that he had been told of the reports but could not confirm them.
Shafik Hammami defended his son for fighting for his principles. However, Hammami’s mother, Debra, said she disagreed with her son’s jihadist ideology, but added: “I do love my son, and I do have motherly love … If I could just touch him for five minutes, I would be thrilled.”