Darling Somalia, the new golden child

Ten years after Black Hawk Down and chaos, the world is once again set on ‘rescuing’ Somalia. 50 states supported last week’s Somalia conference in London. William Hague re-opened a British embassy. The U.S. has pumped more than $1.5 billion worth of assistance into the country since 2009, including the $40 million pledged on Tuesday. UNDP staff are waiting to follow its new country director on his way to Mogadishu and everyone hopes that aid will produce stability which will encourage security, as the country is still considered an international battleground in the fight against al-Qaeda.

The UNDP has captured these efforts in a beautiful promotion video tellingly under the name, “A new Somalia”.

Apparently, no one wants the old Somalia back. The infighting, the piracy, the terrorism and the hopelessness. Instead of American soliders the emphasis is now on country-led and country-owned solutions. Not only has Somalia endorsed the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, but its government is touring the world this year to drum up investment and support for its slow path to recovery. However, Somalia needs to handle its natural blessings wisely and not sell out to prying international investors. (Read more by Katrina Manson on oil in the FT). 

The cracks are visible. Somalia will need to deal with its violent and chaotic past to be able to advance. Whether this comes in the form of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission such as in Sierra Leone or in the re-making of the old colonial borders such as in Sudan. Radical and brave solutions must prevail to avoid the fate of the Congo, where an oblivious international community, weak politicians and a docile population have surrendered to the iron first of civil war. I dare speak hopefully and say, there is enough wisdom and potential to create another success story. But it needs to be led from within.

Therefore I will keep quiet and hand over to Mohamud Uluso, a Somalian journalist outspoken in his support for the current government and a united Somalia.

Somalia's Minister of Finance and Planning M. H. Suleiman with Norwegian Minister of International Development Heikki Holmas  at the Third International Dialogue Meeting for the New Deal in Washington DC April 2013. Photo: Neal Piper

Somalia’s Minister of Finance and Planning M. H. Suleiman with Norwegian Minister of International Development Heikki Holmas at the Third International Dialogue Meeting for the New Deal in Washington DC April 2013. Photo: Neal Piper

He approached me with an article written in response to IHS Janes analysis “Somalia’s Jubbaland Conundrum

I have published an abbreviated version of his article. The full version can be accessed here.

It demonstrates the remoteness of “quick progress” as envisioned on the London conference. The views expressed below are strictly Mohamud’s, but I am happy to contribute to a lively debate through the means of this blog.

Comments are welcome.

Somalia: Commentary on IHS Jane’s spin on Jubbaland trap

Few days ago, IHS Jane, a well established security company, released an analysis under the title Somalia’s Jubbaland Conundrum. The following key points are presented at the beginning of the analysis.

  • The Somali federal Government‘s new policy of doing away with the federalism that brought it to power poses a threat to the country’s progress towards stability. 
  • The government’s reluctance to allow the creation of the autonomous state of Jubbaland illustrates the lack of a central policy that takes into account the country’s clan based politics. 
  • To bring stability to Somalia and finally defeat the Islamists militant  group  the Shabab,  all clans need to be equally represented in federal institutions, including  military forces and the security apparatus.

The analysis uses and embellishes refuted arguments made repeatedly by known critics of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), probably at the behest of anti-statebuilding cartel (foreigners with local collaborators) opposed to the re-birth of Somali State that respects the rule of law and equality among Somali citizens, and promotes peace, national common interests and prosperity. The cartel is now neutralized by the “New Deal Strategy” adopted by the International Donor Community (IDC).

IHS’s conclusions, which could have the potential to influence western policy makers and analysts, are off the mark and inconsistent with significant acknowledgements made in the body of the analysis. Somalia cannot enjoy the offered international support if it remains in the status quo of fragmented society hobbled by perpetual clan mistrusts and divisions. Somalis must own their future.

It is my opinion that a careful and objective reader of the analysis will come away with the realization that the principle drivers of the Somali crisis are identifiable foreign powers exploiting the vulnerabilities of the Somali people rooted in clan rivalry, poverty, religion and selfish ambitious personalities. Due to Wikileaks releases, there is sufficient information with regard to the detrimental manipulations of neighboring states against Somalia’s nationhood.

The acknowledgments made in the body of the analysis include:

  • Clan-based Federalism in Somalia is the strategic pre-requisite of Ethiopia and Kenya, despite a “centralized state” may well minimize the social fragmentation.
  • Important actors-indigenous and foreign- want to control the region (Jubbaland).
  • Kenya is the principal driver of the project of creating an autonomous Jubbaland region with foreign resources.
  • Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Kenya are all embroiled in the Somali conflicts for their individual geostrategic pre-requisites.
  • Military agreement between Somalia and Turkey has alarmed Kenya and Ethiopia as it realigns the interests of Djibouti, Turkey, Egypt and Somalia, potentially against Kenya and Ethiopia who both support the concept of clan based federalism in Somalia. Uganda and Burundi may at the end walk away from supporting the FGS and support Kenya and Ethiopia.

Clan-Based Federalism and Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC)

The analyst failed to examine the historical process that ended nine year Transition period. That process, facilitated by UN, USA, and EU, delivered the PFC, the new federal Parliament, and the election of new Speaker and President.

The vision of the PFC is unity and solidarity of equal citizens belonging to the Federal Republic of Somalia. Therefore, the FGS must be allowed to assume the overall responsibility of the country before it can be blamed for constitutional violations, unequal treatment and resource-sharing.  The FGS has engaged leaders of each region for establishing local administration that will adhere to the standards of transparency, efficiency, and accountability.

While clan balance and sensitivity considerations have an influential role in Somali politics, clan vanity should not hijack or abort the statebuilding and peacebuilding of Somalia espoused by the IDC after years of reluctance for the best interests of all clans. The PFC promotes justice and democracy as a basis for governance. The current FGS must ensure that, after four years, people’s representatives should be elected directly by voters. Therefore, it is unconstitutional to form a Federal Member States along the clan lines symbolized by the present prototypes.

The Guidebook to the PFC notes that due to long years of over centralized government structure and control, populations in many parts of Somalia demand regional self-rule. In the same breath, it states the following:

The creation of federal member states proved to be a very controversial issue during the constitutional conferences leading to this draft provisional constitution. It is noted that it is important to have fair and open procedures for the creation of the federated member states. Reflecting this, the draft provisional constitution itself does not create federal member states, but entrusts the house of the people of the federal parliament which represents all people of Somalia to decide on the number and demarcations of federal members states.”

Three deductions from the above statement are in order.

First, it is important to distinguish the experience of the centralized government structure and control of the failed state in 1991 and the current fragmented Somali society which needs immediate solidarity.

Second, national representatives and regional leaders of the local people must join forces to develop a national integration process that will facilitate the implementation of the federal or decentralization system based on the constitutionally recognized 18 regions of Somalia.

Third, the FGS must be allowed time to prepare for facing the frightening challenge of federalism/decentralization left unresolved by the 6 signatories of the roadmap, the 825 members of the National Constituent Assembly, and the 135 traditional leaders supported by IDC.

Jubbaland trap

The Jubbaland State is not to protect the interests of Somalis. It is trap to finally tear Somalia apart. The author’s analysis mystifyingly argues that Jubbaland holds potentially the balance of power in Somalia. This glorification of the clan politics is the Achilles heel of the Somali society.

Establishing Jubbaland is not a test of federalism for FGS. Rather, Jubbaland exposes the kernel of the view of the anti-statebuilding cartel and it represents cartel’s last bastion. It is also inaccurate that former Transitional Federal Government of President Sheikh Sharif endorsed the creation of Jubbaland project. To the contrary, President Sheikh Sharif fired his defense minister Professor Mohamed Abdi Gandhi who played the mole role of the Jubbaland project and the president strongly opposed to the involvement of the Kenyan Defense Forces into Somalia conflict.

Neighboring Countries of Somalia          

The analysis reveals that the FGS has failed to accept its “diktats” on Jubbaland region. The analysis warns that Mogadishu’s independent policy is not palatable to the neighboring countries and that could imperil the realization of the long-delayed statebuilding in Somalia and threaten the stability of the Horn of Africa. In substance, this confirms that Kenya and Ethiopia are determined to control and manage the internal affairs of Somalia in spite of the formation of national permanent government.

Centralization and decentralization    

It is important to note here that the use of the words “centralization and decentralization” by the analyst is totally misleading because there is nothing yet to centralize or decentralize. Puntland, Somaliland, Khatumo and Jubbaland are fiefdoms or separate enclaves despite representatives of the people in the areas are members and officials of the FGS. These fiefdoms or entities claim separate constitution, citizenship, flag, control of local resources and parity with FGS. The President, Speaker and the Prime Minister of the FGS cannot travel to those areas without the express permission of the local leaders. The President is a visitor not a Commander- in-Chief in those areas. The FGS seeks not centralization but national integration, citizenship spirit and respect of constitutional hierarchy enshrined in article 48 of PFC. The integration issue has to be resolved quickly for the best interest of Somalia.

It is a reality today that the majority of the people under the rule of these entities are complaining widespread abuse of human rights, endemic corruption, nepotism, political frauds and poor leadership. The cry wolf of corrupt leaders should not defraud Somalia of the opportunity for statebuilding and peacebuilding.

Similarly, the issue of equal representation in the federal institution is subject to the equal participation of national burdens, commitments and subordination to the authority and directives of the national government. National dual representations or representation without taxation are unconstitutional. Most regions have their separate financial resources and well-armed forces-police, security and intelligence, anti-piracy- and other forces operating in the area. The FGS must develop national plan that takes into account complex national strategic, political, financial, administrative, and command and control factors to form a national security forces able to live and work in different parts of the country.

Conclusion

Without doubt, there are many legitimate concerns to criticize the FGS. But clan-based federalism, Jubbaland trap to disintegrate Somalia and foreign dependence against national sovereignty are not among those legitimate concerns. The accusation that the central assumption of FGS’s “hardline” position is for international recognition, the support of powerful international backers and army under international payroll, is preposterous. If the leaders of yesterday did not fulfill their responsibilities with vision, competence and patriotism, they should not blame their failure on their successors. Today’s leaders have the responsibility to find right solutions to the inherited problems and plan for a better future.

Mr. Mohamud M Uluso

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