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An Exclusive Interview with Michele Ballarin a.k.a. Amira

Raise your voices….Take a Stand! From regional strings…International bans. Brothers, come with me…Man for man Brothers and sisters, Take a Stand!

Those were lyrics from Amira’s recently released single in protest of al-Shabab’s ban on music.

Harun Maruf of VOA-Somali Service got a chance recently to sit down with Michele Ballarin or “Amira” for a revealing interview. This is revealing because there have been so many reports associating Amira with several sensational activities in Somalia and Amira herself has never been offering such interviews before.

Amira is a U.S. business woman who started involving herself in Somali issues 8 years ago up on, she says, “the request of Somali-American elders.” She says also she has set up an organization called “Organic Solutions for Somalia” that works on home-grown solutions approach. As working tools of the her Organic Solutions, she claims to have crafted new instrumental concepts such as Developmental Commerce where she envisages Banking and other businesses helping Somalia cementing its unity and social fabrics. Towards that end, she says she is setting up a business called Oasis Banking. Amira believes this would be the best solution to help Somalia get out of the mess the country is in now. She disclosed that she has spent millions on research and analysis to develop that approach.

The controversial side of Amira comes from the reports implicating her in covert and secretive operation such as piracy negotiations, security contract businesses, armament supplies and mercenary facilitations. She denied all those allegations except in one occasion she helped facilitate a communication between families of the victim and the pirates, an act she described purely “human”.

Amira has met many important Somali officials including the current and the previous TFG presidents on different occasions. In fact, she was once appointed to work as a Presidential Advisor for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance to the Office of the current TFG President.

She highly sympathizes with members of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama, ASWJ, and describes them as “deeply committed traditional Muslim leaders that represent 90% of Somali.” She wrote a song titled “Take a Stand” dedicated for the entire Somalia in general and ASWJ in particular.

In the attached audio interview of Harun Maruf with Amira, you’ll hear a lot other issues and details.