I started looking for you.
How blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They are in each other all along.
Liberated from suffering and search.
I have tied myself to the skirt of God.
If I fly, I look at the summits I ascend.
If I go around in circles, I observe the axis on which I revolve.
If I am dragged by a burden,I know where I go.
For I am the moon, and the Sun is my guide.
I was ordered to listen. Note to self: fairly good reason why we’ve got two ears and just the one mouth.
Obama had a point when he said: “the poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow.” Somalia, afflicted with insurgents, piracy and poverty, has become a haven for trouble and terror. With very little law enforcement and government infrastructure in a country that has lacked central government in its 20 years of conflict, it may cynically be argued that the state, like it or not, is regretfully failing.
Not long ago, when Sharif Sheikh Ahmed took the wheel of the country with a tarnished name around the globe, embroiled in war, displacement, poverty and above all incomprehensible internal conflicts. His mission to transform Somalia into a peaceful, cohesive state had convinced us all that if any of the leaders of the Islamic Courts Union were going to be involved in the process of reconciliation, it would be him. Indeed, the world needs a few optimists.
In his column on the Guardian last week, Sharif insisted that Somalia is not the “failed” state of popular imagination. Acknowledging the existing problems in Somalia, Sharif announced that “significant progress” has been made and that “something can be done” to assist the state. Calling all Somalis to “abandon the defeatist notion that Somalia’s problems are insuperable,” which Sharif argued, would become a self-fulfilling expectation.
At the Foreign Commonwealth Office reception in London last week, Sharif explained that building a cohesive state in Somalia would require reasonable international support. To be fair, Sharif has been deliberately careful with his international intervention discourse. What has been underplayed is the potentially effective security system which international support may supply. Solving Somalia’s problems requires serious action and a genuine assistance to those Somalis who are prepared to collectively join in effort to surpass the militias.
Any international intervention, however, will have meaning, even outside Somalia, and its implications for how Somalia sees itself and how the world sees Somalia are too vast. Much has been made of the state considering its security best served through controversial friendships and policies that may sometimes alienate the more traditional powers in the region. Perhaps regional tensions are to blame for the paralysis. The biggest challenge for Somalia has been the sense that it is a hopeless case of internal conflicts. What’s more, it doesn’t help that Somalis themselves feel are in some sort of psychological warfare; and the more external powers interfere, the more the country bleeds. Any interference on African soil is often fraught with difficulty: there is now a general feeling among Somalis that foreign interference is the larger part of the two evils.
Sharif is a refreshing change from the administration Somalia has had for the past 20 years and his diverse background may actually give him aptitude of healing divides rather than creating them. Yet, we cannot expect him to repair the titanic damage which his predecessors have perpetrated within Somalia itself and around the globe. The seemingly impossible task of restoring stability in a country entrenched in perils will prove difficult, to say the least. How Sharif bridges the demands of the law with the pressures of politics will tell us much about him. And because every act performed by the militants has become his responsibility he has no time to dither.
There is an incongruity here. Viewed from the outside, the sphere looks darker than ever for Sharif. The reality is that Somalia has no way of functioning in a dysfunctional political order and tensions beneath the surface have a habit of ultimately setting off into violent outbreaks. Seen from the inside, things may be looking up. It was only after the collapse of the army and security institution that civil war began in Somalia. In light of this Sharif has said that plans of a strong security institution will guarantee the prevention of sedition and war. And in fact what matters here is power. Security is important if it brings influence. For Sharif, the real issue is reconciling the competing factions and disarming the militias. It may be a while before Somalia is able to stand but international intervention, Sharif believes may be the vehicle to get the country back onto its feet at least. Only time will tell, but if Sharif is able to restore some sense of security in Somalia, he will have succeeded where numerous others have failed.
Published at: Raxan Reeb
Investors in overseas investment funds have seen their returns harmed by a strong pound, according to figures from Interactive Investor.
The financial website’s research found that investors in an American fund would have lost over 5 per cent, despite a 9.3 per cent market return year-to-date. This is because of an increase in the strength of the pound against the US dollar.
“Sterling has benefited from more positive market sentiment and a return of risk taking. The dollar, which is typically seen as the safe-haven currency, has fallen as US investors invest a larger proportion of their cash holdings overseas.” said Rebecca O’Keeffe, head of investment at Interactive investor.
The research also revealed that a sterling fund based on the Nikkei would have returned, on average, minus 3.2 per cent despite the index being up to 16.9 per cent year-to-date.
“While in the past asset allocation and market timing have always been the focus attention for investments, the recent volatility of currency markets has become an increasingly important factor for investors to consider,” says O’Keeffe.
European investment has also suffered, with equity returns of 9.4 per cent turned into minus 3 per cent as a result of currency moves against the Euro. The Nasdaq return of 20 per cent in 2009 would actually be less than 9 per cent for a sterling investor, the research found.
“Investors would sacrifice the interest differential between sterling and the domestic currency of the index,” says O’Keeffe. “If sterling were to fall, as it did for much of last year, then investors who are unhedged will receive a double benefit if equity markets rise.”
It is not enough to simply be concerned about what the equity market point is but investors should be aware of sterling and its possible currency moves, warned O’Keeffe.
Published in the Financial Times
Stamp duty avoidance schemes that claim to save homebuyers tens of thousands of pounds are under investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Using concessions granted for Islamic mortgages, some tax websites claim there may be a legal way of avoiding the stamp duty land tax that adds £20,000 to the cost of buying a £500,000 property.
The schemes under investigation use rules intended for shariah mortgages, which must comply with Islamic principles forbidding the paying or receiving of interest. With a shariah mortgage, banks buy a property on behalf of a client, and receive rent rather than interest. At the end of the “lease”, ownership of the property is transferred to the client, but no stamp duty is paid, as the purchase has not been “substantially performed”.
A spokesman for the HMRC said: “We are aware of this scheme and are investigating its use. We are determined to ensure a fair and level playing field in which everyone pays the tax that parliament believes it has legislated for.”
Tax experts warned that any stamp duty loopholes are likely to be closed. “There is the very strong probability that the law will be changed so that their planning idea will be stopped,” said Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
Lakshmi Narain, tax director of Baker Tilly, said shariah mortgages were not intended to offer any tax advantage.
Published in the Financial Times