An Interview with Ismail Mohamud Hurre, the Foreign Minister of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia
Wardheernews is delighted to interview Mr. Ismail Mohamud Hurre “Buba”. Mr. Hurre is the current Foreign Minister of the Transitional Government of Somalia (TFG). He assumed this position as a result of a recent re-shuffle of the government; it is widely believed that Mr. Hurre, who was educated in the United State of America in the early parts of the 1960s, is up to the challenge. He was most recently the Minister for Regional Co-operation. With deep understanding of American politics, owing to his many years of residence in the States, an extensive network of contacts in several Middle-Eastern countries, a long list of resume that includes solid credentials in opposition movements that helped topple the former dictatorial regime, Mr. Hurre's visit to the United Nation's General Assembly and his networking with world leaders are all the more important.
Some of the less known achievements of Mr. Hurre include that he is a successful businessman and an accomplished literary person. He has published short stories that have received his pears' acclaim.
Mr. Hurre has a unique ability to articulate the views of his government's guiding principles and his own personal conviction, when needed, without one contradicting the other. Mr. Faisal A. Roble has prepared and conducted the interview for WardheerNews.
WardheerNews (WDN): Let us forge ahead with the most pressing question: Does your government maintain that the recent suicide bombers, who attempted to kill President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and some of the members of his government in Baydhabo city, are in anyway connected to the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) that controls Mogadishu and swats of territories in Southern Somalia?
Minister Hurre: The link between the ICU authorities and the perpetrators of this heinous crime has been the subject of extensive media reporting and analysis. There were many who supported the view that the ICU was involved since they were strongly opposed to the TFG Institutions. Although the ICU has denied, we are diligently investigating and will not rest until we find out the source and origins of this crime.
WDN: Is the work of these criminals, two of whom are under the custody of the Federal Transitional Police in Baydhabo, part of the worldwide terror network of Al-Qaeda?
Minister Hurre: The case is currently in the hands of the Transitional Federal
Government's police in Baydhabo. The TFG and its institutions intend to
accord this case the benefit of the judicial system in place. I would like to share
with you that we are currently intensively interrogating two alleged
perpetrators of this crime. With the help of an international commission of inquiry and forensic team, we are pursuing all possible leads to exactly find out who was
behind this crime. May I add that this crime does not only impact Somalia and its
people, but it endangers potentially the lives of the entire people in the region
as well as anyone who could be a victim of terrorism. Anyone found to be
guilty of this crime would be subjected to the most rigorous punishment under the law. I personally believe that there is a valid indication that the terrorist measures that we have witnessed in Baydhabo smells as part of a worldwide ferocious terrorism that is creeping into our region.
WDN: If the results of the investigation of the suicide bombs, a terror act
not seen before in the country despite the absence of a central government for
the last 16 years, which fatally killed several persons, including the president's own brother, leads to the door steps of the Mogadishu-based ICU, what is the plan your government has in store for them? Is an open war an option?
Minister Hurre: As I have said, let us first of all condemn terrorism in the
strongest sense of the word, no matter who did it. Having said that, it is equally
imperative that the terrorist should be held accountable and be punished to the full extent of the law. The government's plan, therefore, is to reiterate what Prime Minister Mr. Mohamed A. Geeddi said in his press conference on this subject, that to execute the letter of the law as it pertains to this crime, and to continue with the investigation process until it is concluded; Moreover, the government intends to implement the Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations and enforce Courts judgment on the case.
WDN: Let us turn to the new political and military developments in the Southern edge of the country. As widely reported, the ICU has moved into the port city of Kismayo and other towns in the Lower Jubba region. It seems that the ICU added Lower Jubba to the areas under its control. How much is this development a concern to your government? And what does your administration plan to do about it?
|ICU Militia training and handling weapons at the Arbiska training camp just outside the Somali capital, Mogadishu.|
Minister Hurre: The ICU has been flagrant in its violation of the terms of every agreement that it has signed in Khartoum, Sudan. More than the call for peaceful resolution to issues of bilateral interest, the leaders of the ICU in Mogadishu embarked on an aggressive and violent expansionist policy. In the recent past they have moved to regions outside their jurisdiction, just as Jawhar, Bal'ad, Beled weyn and various districts in the Shabelle regions, and as late as yesterday to Afmadow. With their illegal conquest of Kismayo and Afmadow cities, they have decided to turn their backs to all the agreements and to the regional and international community that has been instrumental in fostering the talks and forums between the two sides.
We call on the international community and relevant institutions: UN, AU, IGAD to take all appropriate measures against the ICU for its flagrant violation of a series of agreements, which they have signed and agreed to enforce them. They should in particular refrain from their expansionist armed attacks and occupation of other districts and Regions beyond their clan constituency".
In that regard, I had the honor of delivering formal message from President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed to his counterparts, Presidents Kibaki of Kenya and Omar Bashir of The Sudan, denouncing the pattern of violation of the existing agreements between the government and the ICU. The President Added also that the ICU would persist in these violations unless there is an external intervention. It has now become evident that the predictions of President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed have been vindicated by the current developments in the country.
WDN: Let us turn to another issue that hinges on governance. The Transitional Federal Government’s (TFG) House of Representatives was established and
continues to function on what is termed as the "4.5 formula," to allocate seats to competing different clans in the country. As you are aware of, the clans in the north, especially the community from which you nominally hail from expressed
dissatisfaction about their allotment. Are you satisfied with what your community has been allocated to?
Minister Hurre: To begin with, the formula of "4.5" power sharing during the Transitional period serves only as a guiding principle or framework to transition to a more permanent system of democratic governance in the country. The main focus during these trying-times of transition has and would be for some time to come how to foster peace and safety, while reconstructing our country.
But on the overall intent of the question, I share the concern of the people in the north and would always strive to make sure that they are accorded their rightful place in a federally united national structure of governance. I have tremendous confidence that their concern and preoccupation would be adequately addressed. I strongly believe that the Isaaq clan should not receive less representation than the Daarood or Hawiye clans.
WDN: Let us turn to your trip. What is the message that you brought to the
UN General Assembly and its General Secretary, Mr. Koffi Annan?
Minister Hurre: I brought to the United Nations (UN) that the International community and the UN as a body had failed to fulfill their obligations to assist Somalia in its efforts to restore peace, security and national reconciliation. As I expressed in my speech to the General Assembly, the UN needs to constructively engage the TFG in reestablishing a peaceful environment to restore stability and promote national reconstruction and development.
WDN: Do the message that you are carrying to the member states of the United Nations would have had more weight had the President himself delivered?
|Minister Hurre with some members of the Somali community in Metroploitan Washington DC.|
Minister Hurre: Of course it is so, and no one can match the aura or the political weight and authority of a head of State who presides over the whole nation. That is true for all countries and institutions. In our case, however, there were competing interests that the president had to prioritize and it was decided that I could adequately represent him and the government this time in this particular
assignment. I believe I have successfully communicated the president's message to the General Assembly and to his Excellency, Koffi Annan.
WDN: Of course the obvious and tempting question to ask you would be the
question of the North, alias "Somaliland." However, knowing that you
repeatedly expressed your strong position on the unity and territorial integrity of
your country, we rather ask you whether the purported Federalism and power
devolution to the local authorities, a policy which the TFG keenly adopted, would
adequately address the grudge of the people of the Northern region visa vi the previous government?
Minister Hurre: According to the TFG charter, which was drafted in Kenya following arduous negotiations and mediations between different competing interests in the country, Somaliland would be a fully autonomous region within a vibrant federal structure. It will have complete autonomy on local affairs without any flagrant intervention from the Federal Institutions. I have no doubt that this system of governance would, if correctly implemented, address both local autonomy as well as national integration. I believe that federalism is properly applied in accordance with the federal constitution would for the most part address the main concerns and preoccupations of the people of Somaliland.
WDN: In a recent story that was published widely in the Somali media, it was alleged that Sheikh Hassan Turki insinuated that his ICU forces would in time move to the breakaway region of "Somaliland and Puntland." Do you think that the unstoppable ICU militia equally threatens these peaceful regions?
Minister Hurre: It is only a dream for the ICU to say that they can easily move to
Somaliland and Puntland. It is my strongest belief that the people in those regions would vigorously defend their gains and achievements, which was not achieved overnight and has not come so easily.
At the Federal Government level, we will make every effort possible that the peace and security that these two regions enjoy are not violated by the ICU whose programs are based on expansionism, violence and anarchy. If the ICU moves in a direction of expanding to these two regions, this would be tantamount to full-scale conflict and would plunge the country into a full blown civil
war. That is unacceptable and would be strongly opposed at all costs.
WDN: It has become a common practice for some ministers of the government to act in an unduly manner and often appear as if they are undermining the government and its objective to move things ahead. What does the government intend to do about these elements in your own ranks working against the government?
Minister Hurre: Well, the Federal charter, which is the guiding principle of the TFG provides for the necessary rules and regulation to differ without undermining the cohesion of the council of ministers. In that regard, issues can and must be debated vigorously with differing views but amicably with in the context of the existing rules or procedures of the parliament and the council of ministers. Once a decision is reached, then all must respect the outcome. After all, this is a government of reconciliation, and it is guided by dialogue, discourse and above all tolerance, which are the hallmark for a successful transition to a democratic Federal system of governance.
WDN: Lastly, do you still maintain interest in literature, even as a means of leisure, for a more serious objective as you have in the past shown to be an
avowed short story writer? Is there any interesting work that you are currently reading, or that you have read recently to fend off stress or even seek pleasure from?
Minister Hurre: Well, you have touched a soft spot. I like literature and have in
the past quite successfully contributed in this area. But now, given my
current schedule and demanding responsibility as a minister of the TFG, I could
not give this my full attention. However, in the future, when things smooth out, I
intend to give more attention both to literature as well as to other human