Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, a man known to Somalis by his moniker CCC ( Cumar Cabdirashid Cali), is currently on an uneventful visit to the Beltway. With almost an empty calendar, he briefly scored a non-consequential visit that involved a brief photo session with a number of Minnesotan lawmakers who are too eager to reach their Somali American base in their respective districts.
The PM also briefly met with some of Pentagon’s top echelon, mainly for debriefing on Alshabab and the status of AMISON soldiers in his country. Given the inconsequential meetings he had so far, the large entourage travelling with him is costly and unnecessary.
In this editorial piece, WardheerNews looks at the PM’s recent diplomatic fiasco in Washington, which we believe has bruised the dignity of his office, caused a cold reception by the Somali American Community, and brought a lingering past and present baggage. We believe the combined effect of all these have taken a deep bite into the relevance of the PM and therefore warrants our attention.
WardheerNews has learned that prior itineraries of this visit were canceled or rescheduled several times, thus invoking many speculations. One poignant speculation involves the manner in which CCC vacated his ambassadorial assignment in Washington DC after he was appointed Prime Minister in December 2014.
Only a year ago, Washington DC received his assignment to DC with much enthusiasm. After a long absence of Somali diplomats from the most important political city in the world, that is DC, it was a breathtaking scenery to watch a Somali ambassador standing next to the US President. “Somalia is back. Somalia is back,” became a common mantra expressing badly needed national hope and reawakening.
Mr. CCC’s reception at the State Department invoked distant fond memories, 1960 to be exact, when his late father, Abdirashid Sharmarke, a popular PM and one of the founding fathers of the republic, was warmly welcomed to the White House lawn by one of America’s political icons, John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK).
This time around, President Obama, whose liberal credentials sentimentally harkens back to America’s Peace Corps days’ ethos, made extra effort on July 14, 2014, to find an empty slot on his otherwise busy calendar so as to show the seriousness of the United States on the Somalia affairs. Accordingly, President Hassan was honored with an unscheduled photo ops in the White House.
One year later, the Administration’s good gesture has been wiped out. The PM is largely to be blamed. Without seceding to the State Department his papers of exit from his diplomatic assignment, Mr. Sharmarke seemingly broke a cardinal rule of diplomacy; as soon as he was appointed Prime Minister, he left town without following protocol in vacating the post. This is a “no-no” move in the world of diplomacy. This in turn earned his office and his country a significant loss of diplomatic face.
While representing Somalia in the US, Mr. CCC miserably failed to establish a strong network with Washington diplomatic courts. In some accounts, he did not even set a transitional office for Somalia, despite receiving a substantial amount of money from Villa Somalia to set up skeletal office in Washington , DC. Today, without most of that money unaccounted for, there is no physical office that could be called “Somalia Embassy.”
On the Somali American front, there is no fanfare at all about his visit to the Beltway or beyond partly because of his intangible accomplishments as compared to the expectations bestowed on him by both his friends and foe. Additionally, The Diaspora is also tired of ministers roaming around the globe for no reason, when they can’t go to their own regions. At any given month, as many as five to ten ministers are out of the country touring and not achieving anything. At times, all the top decision makers, including the President, the PM and Speaker of the Parliament, would be out of the country for a long period leaving the nation vulnerable.
Past and Present Baggage
Rightly or wrongly, many still hang on to a yet-to-be settled accusation leveled against the PM regarding his alleged signing of the controversial memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Transitional Federal Government of the Somali Republic (TFG) and the government of the Republic of Kenya in Nairobi on April 7, 2009.
Mr. CCC is in the thick of this accusation for he was the PM in 2009. The memorandum guarantees to the Republic of Kenya unfettered rights for oil drilling in Somali waters. This blunder, if not identical, is of equal magnitude to the partition of Somali territory in the 1940s. If the PM does not come out clean on this matter, the negative impacts on Somalia could shroud the otherwise patriotic legacy of the Sharmarke dynasty.
Despite such a devastating baggage in Mr. CCC recent past, many gave him the benefit of the doubt for a second chance. When he was appointed, many Somalia observers, both nationals and expatriates, had mixed reactions but welcomed his appointment. One of Somalia’s most colorful analysts, Faisal Roble, placed huge expectations on the shoulders of the new Prime Minister. Many more thought that Mr. CCC’s name recognition and his political/family dynasty, plus his less assertive and submissive personality, is just what Somalia needs to inch the country more towards better governance and speedy recovery.
However, six months in the office and only about a year to go before his term elapses, there is not much to celebrate about his achievements. Many can’t wait for his sunset days to come. Somalis unanimously paint him of an image of ineffective, corrupt elitist and a crowd pleaser. Case in point is the composition of his council of ministers that is largely populated by inexperienced, least effective and some corrupt individuals; some young men who never had prior job history, let alone cabinet level experience.
In recent months, his government is fraught with disorganization and lack of discipline. The nonchalant release of population survey by one of his ministers that was neither scientific nor acceptable to almost all of the regional governments, and the designation of Minister Odowa to preside over the subcommittee of the cabinet of ministers that would mediate the Jubbaland Parliament issue shows the PM’s incompetency and incoherent policy. Mr. Odowa has already made his position of supporting the goals of the “motion” that is seeking to undo the modicum gains so far made in state formation in Jubbaland. This decision, plus a lingering suspicion that the PM never liked the Interim President of Jubbaland Ahmed Islan, represents a hot [political] potato.
Another big item is the PM’s clueless maneuvers on state formation for the Central regions. Instead of being evasive, he needs to show leadership to clarify the controversy over rule of two or more states only eligible for becoming regional states. Uttering convenient politically incorrect statements such as “the Central state concerns only those who are signatories” is evasive and foolishly street-smart.
Many of us credit the PM with his gentle and good matured personality. To a limited degree, we also share the belief in his family’s contribution in the past. However, his ability to run Somalia at this particular time is at best weak and has made infantile disorder both in Villa Somalia and in the country a common place.
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