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What has happened in Mogadishu?

Barthe Cortes


February, 2010



pic: BVC boss Barthe Cortes, Mogadishu airport, january 2010/ APA News

It seemed originally that after Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda related group, shot at a BVC aircraft, BC aircraft would give up flights to Somalia, at least for some time, but whoever thought that, he was wrong. According to media "In January, BVC occupied lawlessly, to a certain extent, a runway near Obbia". APA said: "Barthe Cortes is creating an air base right in the spot where Al-Qaeda has been probably establishing its training bases for some time now. The area occupied by BVC is fenced and guarded by armed "personnel" hired by BVC who probably exchanged fire with local fighters." In addition to that the situation is aggravated by the fact that Somalian refugees have been seeking shelter on the area of the newly established BVC airport in Obbia, since Kenya started an operation aimed at liquidating certain refugee camps opened after ethnic unrest during 2008 elections. After the return to Somalia, many of them have nothing to do, they cannot return home and their only chance for survival is to get to the existing refugee camps, which are already overcrowded. Some of them seek refuge at BVC area, hoping for safety – and they will not be let down. It is said that Barthe ordered to let as many people in the airport, as possible. Probably a part of the area along the runway is covered with many white tents. "It does not look like an airport any more, but like an ordinary camp," a UN worker said, adding frankly: "The UN is a peaceful organization and we cannot shoot. Often, when Muslim fighters attack our camps, we can only look helplessly. It happened in Rwanda, Uganda, it is happening now in Somalia and in many places in Africa. BVC opens fire to attacking rebels, but doing so, Cortes violates more than ten points of the Resolution of the UN Security Council No 1676 and his BVC company is just on the verge of being recorded on the world list of terrorist organisations, and, automatically, he will then be on the list of terrorists. As on today, actions taken by BVC to a certain extent do not differ from actions of terrorist groups which lawlessly occupy other countries, use arms and totally ignore the law. Barthe Cortes is possessed with his mad idea of creating airport bases in the most inaccessible locations in the world. And this idea may destroy him in the end." However, it is hard to say whether UN will fulfil its threats towards BVC, as it is not a secret that it has recently been quite frequently using BVC airports and air planes. Therefore, reprimanding BVC is in a sense against the interests of UN.

A BBC correspondent says that BVC has recently came across some problems of indefinite character in Mogadishu. According to Greste's informers, BC was to meet someone "important" there, but the details of this person are unknown and the information is chaotic. It is unsure whether this concerns someone from the caretaker government or from the Al-Shabaab Group. Probably, the meeting was not finalised, as according to informers of the correspondent, a bomb exploded in the building in which it was to be held and there was shooting in the street. Regrettably, apart from the informer, nobody else can verify this information. However, definitely something happened there, which is confirmed by Barthe’s photo made in the evening at Mogadishu airport by an APA newsman "possibly on the same day for which the alleged meeting was scheduled." A number of BVC "employees" quit the company, probably in the result of the events in Mogadishu. It is said unofficially that the situation is becoming increasingly dangerous and that it verges on sheer madness. However, former BVC employees remain loyal towards their boss and officially keep silent on the issue, refusing to impart any comments.

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