Whether they are labeled pessimists or realists/nationalists, many Somali intellectuals and politicians of different extractions are expressing profound doubts about the meaning and future of Somali unity and territorial integrity due to the relentless foreign driven fragmentation of Somalia along clan enclaves and improperly organized talks between Somaliland and Somalia. The exclusion of Somaliland from the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) signals division. The consensus is that the current political trend constitutes serious obstacle to the realization of internal political cohesion, reliable peace and security rooted in a culture of rule of law, and national free and fair political election in 2016 in Somalia.
However, on 21 January 2015, Ambassador Nicholas Kay, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG), head of UNSOM published in Aljazeera English Website, an opinion piece titled “Somalia’s Year of Delivery,” in which he claims that Somalia (which Somalia?) graduated from failed state to fragile state set on the path to stability and prosperity. Thus, he calls the international community to deliver the financial pledges made in connection with the Somali Compact endorsed in Brussels in 2013.
Besides the word play, to bolster his line of argument, Ambassador Kay cites statistical figures beyond the knowledge, appreciation, and verification of Somali institutions. He quotes as evidence the 1,450 UN employees working throughout “Somalia”, millions of lives saved (the media reports the missing of $ 162 million for humanitarian aid for Somalia in 2012), short term employment for 400,000 Somalis, 300 individuals employed from Diaspora, the resettlement of 500 refugees returned from Kenya, 2.8 million vaccines administered to immunize children against polio and measles, 40,000 children attending school, 24 million livestock vaccinated and provided veterinary care, 17,000 National Army and Police registered for biometrical payment system, and the establishment of Interim Southwest Administration in Baidoa. Also, he mentions the services the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) provides to the Peace Enforcement Operation in Somalia.
In contrast, between 15 and 25 January 2015, many Somali intellectuals have published stern opinions to draw attention to the worsening and worrying reality in Somalia. As a sample, I reproduce below salient points of the opinions of Ali H. Abdulla, Abdihakim Ainte, Dr. Ibrahim Farah, and Mohamed Abdi Mohamed reflecting the general sentiment of the majority of Somalis. Coincidently, Foreign Policy Magazine published an article of Sean Naylor titled, “Profit and Loss in Somalia,” detailing the killing of former Delta Force soldier, Brett Fredricks by Al Shabab during Mogadishu Airport attack in December 2014 as a loss and the role of US Security Firm Bancroft that has earned about $ 35 million in two years from an investment of $ 40 million in Somalia as a profit.
Ali H Abdullah’s article titled “Somali Federalism: Approaches and Challenges” opens with the statement that “Somalia may not get far with its current vague and snail paced approach to the formation of federal states.” The thrust of his article is that the federation process contributes to the disintegration of the country because “clan based states can magnify conflicts over boundaries and resources.” He considers the recent talks between the FGS and Somalia detrimental to the Somali unity.
In his opinion piece, “Democratic Elections in Somalia Can Wait, Cohesive Politics Can’t,” Abdihakim Ainte asserts that “the security has gone from bad to worse….. The country is more politically fragmented than ever before….the country lacks political cohesion.” The author is of the opinion that the provisional constitution is the source of regional fragmentation and that the country faces unprecedented level of terrorism and crime. He holds the view that President Hassan dented his leadership reputation by sacrificing the public interest over the attachment with few individuals and by failing to provide national leadership in difficult time.
On June 25, 2015, Professor Ibrahim Farah published his opinion titled, “Somalia Towards 2016 and Beyond: A few Reflections” in which he first questions, “why Somalis are dividing the country?” and “why there is no sense of vision in us [the Somalis].” He remarks the existence of a number of ‘’Somalia’s’’ rather than the one: the Somali Republic. Professor Ibrahim as others believes that it is not clear where Somalia goes in 2016. He quotes a Somali elder who said that “today’s Somalia is exactly where it was when the colonialists came to the country and that it is even worse since this is happening at a time we are no longer the same fierce republicans nor the pastoral democrats that knew what they were doing.” As an alternative to the fantasized political election in 2016, he suggests the increase of the current federal parliament by tenfold (2,750) to elect the successor of President Hassan.
Last but not least, Mohamed Abdi Mohamed has written an “Open Letter,” dated January 23, 2015 to Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid of Somalia, exhorting him to fulfill his public responsibility in accordance with the constitution and his scruples after the debacle of dissolving his first cabinet before being presented to the federal parliament for vote of confidence, otherwise to tend his resignation. Mohamed advises the PM against dereliction of duty.
Mohamed recalled that “those who promoted Somalia at the beginning of President Hassan’s administration now are disappointed and are not as supportive.” Thus, he stressed that “public confidence in the entire government of the nation is a national necessity.” He strongly recommended that PM Omar Abdirashid Government pays particular attention to two serious threats:
- The narrow political agenda of well-funded Islamic forces in the shadows to exploit the weaknesses of Somalia’s central government;
- Because of the growing conviction that the vision 2016 is unrealistic and unachievable, the possibility of another transitional government after 2016.
The question is, between Ambassador Kay and the Somali Intellectuals, “Who addresses the pivotal reality in Somalia?” The odd opinion of Ambassador Kay, which attempts to drown the Somali ones on the critical reality in Somalia, shakes the good faith of many Somalis in the intentions of the international community. Digression from the pivotal reality in Somalia and disregard of the opinion of the local population will lead to false claims of “mission accomplished” to be immediately disproved by disastrous consequences.
For example, there is a standoff between the President and the federal parliament after the federal parliament opposed the inclusion of President Hassan’s “henchmen or friends” in the second cabinet formation. On January 22, a joint delegation of UN, EU, US, UK, IGAD, and AU, met with President Hassan and PM Omar Abdirashid telling them to end the political crisis that has been going on since mid-2014 and to form a new cabinet that can get the confidence vote of the federal parliament. The office of the presidency grabbed absolute power without effective constitutional limitation.
Today Somali politics revolves around the extra constitutional power and influence of few personalities and one political scenario. The powerful personalities are Presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, Ahmed Mohamed Islam (Ahmed Madobe), Ministers Farah Sheikh Abdulqadir, Abdullahi Mohamed Ali ‘Sanbalolshe,’ Abdikarim Hussein Guled, Hussein Abdi Halane, Abdurahman Du’ale Bayle, and General Prosecutor Dr. Ahmed Ali Dahir.
The only political scenario in circulation is the machinations of those powerful personalities to hold on power after 2016 at any cost through puppet-ism, corruption, use of violence, and placement of loyalists in security, finance, diplomatic, and judiciary institutions. This perception has revived the memory of the despotic military regime or the rule of the Union of the Islamic Courts and Al Shabab. This kind of sentiments breeds social degradation, civil disobedience, conspiracies, extremism, and warlordism. The discourse among Somalis over the future of Somalia indicates exasperation, unacceptability, and despair.
The credibility problems that plagued the FGS include the bruising dismissal of two Prime Ministers in less than two years, the appointment of tainted former PM, the illegitimacy of the talks between the FGS and Somaliland, the continuous friction between Puntland and the FGS, the presence of Kenyan forces in Jubbaland regions while maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia is filed at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the disgraceful behavior of the federal parliament, the unbridled actions of the general prosecutor, the misuse of security and judicial powers, the endemic financial and political corruption, and the chaotic, abusive, and capricious implementation of federation process. The United Nations plays leadership role in the worsening situation of Somalia and in the emergence of new crisis in addition to old intractable problems arising from statelessness and civil war.
Mr. Mohamud M Uluso