Tuesday, December 07, 2021
Wardheer News
  • Opinion

Goodbye Amisom, Good Riddance

By Osman Hassan

Somalia’s tart and sharp response to the high-handed and overbearing demand from the African Union for Amisom’s continued, and more or less open-ended, presence in the country is bound to resonate with its people for too long humbled by outsiders taking advantage of their broken State. Apart from the immediate pleasure it gives, it has also wider ramifications and portends a new era for Somalia that is master of its own house. Hitherto used to see successive Somali governments obsequious to the meddling of their minders, at last we witness a Somali government, coming into its own, and no longer taking orders from the likes of Djibouti, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, etc, the lowest of the low in the world’s rankings.

This undergoing infant transformation under Farmaajo has been long in the making and had its ups and downs. Some of its blunders have been monumental but in the end superseded by sustained successes. Looking forward when the going is good, and not hung up on the past, though not forgetting its lessons, is likely to carry favour with most Somalis.

Now that President Farmaajo’s term in office is coming to an end in the face of the forthcoming elections, it is worthwhile to put his government’s latest commendable rebuff to the African Union into the context of his record in office. For ease of analysis, I group the selected highlights of this period into three types: the “good”, the “bad”, and the “ugly”- if one could borrow the sobriquets of that famous Spaghetti Western film starred by Clint Eastwood.

An action that symbolises the “ugly” type was the abduction of Abdikarim Sheikh Musa, aka Qalbidhagax, and his handing to the Ethiopian government, his arch-enemy at the time, albeit now seen in Jigjiga as a partner – as if the camaraderie between Abi Ahmed and Mustafa Cagjar, the head and pro-Amharisation of the Ogaden region, can mask the reality of the conquest and century-old colonisation of his people.

Qalbidhagax’s outrageous abduction by Mogadishu, the capital and symbol of the Somali State, has rightly shaken the nation to the core. It amounts to a treacherous betrayal of the untouchable tenets on which the Somali nation is based. It is no relief for Farmaajo that he was not aware of it, or was misled. Heads should have rolled and all those who had a hand in it brought to justice. None of that happened.

Nor will anyone be off the hook that long before Farmaajo came to office, both Somaliland and Puntland had been routinely handing ONLF nationalists to Ethiopia in a sordid barter trade to seek support from Addis Ababa against Mogadishu. One crime does not absolve another and when committed at both levels of the State makes our culpabilities all the more heinous and shameful.

  The “bad” patch of President Farmaajo record is represented by his hands-off approach to the secession. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, he chose for political expediency to put under the carpet action against the secession in northern Somalia as incumbent upon him and his government. This is tantamount to direct or indirect support for the secession, something not lost upon some European members of Somalia’s so-called international partners (IPs) who now deal openly with the enclave as a de facto separate country from Somalia.

What stands in the way of Hargeisa to gain recognition is not Mogadishu but the unaided struggle of the northern SSC regions which are adamant not to be part of the secession or a breakaway Somaliland. But how long can that sacrifice be sustained in the face of all the odds they face- from the secessionist enclave and their external supporters – unless Mogadishu plays its constitutional obligation to defend the union?. Somalis are keen to apply the phenomenon of the Pandora box to other countries if the breakaway secession in northern Somalia is recognized. That threat equally applies to the rest of Somalia. For now, little differentiates between Somaliland and Puntland and Jubaland would follow suit if Ahmed Madoobe has his way.

What distinguishes Farmaajo’s government from its predecessors is that the later were associated with all the “ugly” and “bad” types of actions and little or none with the “good” ones. In contrast, Farmaajo’s government has ushered much needed achievements. First and foremost, Somalia’s tattered honour is being gradually restored at the international level, national sovereignty more robustly defended, capacities of national institutions enhanced, above all key ministries such Planning and the Finance- both under able northern hands, the security forces, key to peace, stability and development, rebuilt, better trained and motivated, and so on. All these positive developments are fledgling and likely to be reversed if the presidency went to the wrong hands. Parliamentarians should bear in mind that getting the right president is more important than getting bribes.

While Somalia is not completely out of the woods, it is now better shaped to deal with its own problems and take care of its security, thanks largely to Turkey more than AMISOM. The Somali National Army (SNA) has taken the war to Al Shabaab and daily liberates more territory while AMISOM forces remain onlookers, more concerned with drawing their fat salaries. This was the time the AU and its AMISOM forces should have given Somalia a pat on the back for the progress it made to take care of itself. Judging by their reaction, what is good for Somalia is bad for them and they have acted accordingly, coming up with the most absurd demand from the international community: they want the AU combat contributing countries to stay put in Somalia for an open-ended period.

Taking cue from its combat contributing countries (Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, and Ethiopia), the AU paints Somaliaas having become:

 “a threat to international peace and security due to chronic instability in that country, a situation that had been worsened by and nourished the existence of terroristic elements in Somalia.”

For the AU to deal with this self-serving contrived threat, it wants to make recourse to “Chapter 7 of the UN Charter on threats to global peace and security“.This would turn AMISOM, which has been essentially a combat force, into a multidimensional force which will work on total stabilisation of Somalia, including security, humanitarian and political rebuilding of the country. If accepted, this would lead to the emasculation of Somalia, effectively no longer sovereign but under the hegemony of AU and its troop contributing neighbours for the foreseeable future. And to add insult to injury, the AU wants the Somali government to consent to its own demise !

It seems the AU did not give much thought to the questions and conclusions that arise from its demand. If it were true, as it claims, that Somalia is a threat to international peace and security (which is not true), that would be an indictable admission of its failure to stabilise the country after 14 years mission. With that dismal record, what makes it think it is in a position to deal with the far greater threat, it alleges, Somalia now poses?

These countries conspiring to remain in Somalia, and keep it weak, divided and break up, would need to look themselves in the mirror and see what they are in reality. They are heading for the hole as Somalia emerges from its own. That is the case with Ethiopian as the empire crumbles and breaks up a la Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union. Kenya is a patchwork of tribes artificially held together and now and then, at every election, it erupts into internecine clan wars. Burundi is dysfunctional and left to its own devices. Uganda is shaky under the deadweight of its despotic leader. The one-man City State of Djibouti, like Cyprus, has two irreconcilable nationalities at each other’s throat. These countries have enough on their plates and are in position to care of Somalia. Hopefully, that is what the international community will tell them without hurting their egos.

Fortunes and Fates will rotate. As Somalia rises and reaches for the heights, with its potential resources and its resourceful resilient people, it would not be vindictive and vengeful, but rally to these countries as they get into trouble. That is what it used to do in the 1970s and 1980s, and will do so again. It is in the Somali nature to be magnanimous even to old enemies.

 The last word is on Ismail Omar Geele, the man Somalia looked up to as its son but, like a misguided ungrateful child, thrives on being troublesome to the father of Djibouti and its independence. He is not what the Somali people in Djibouti and Somalia deserve. They would outlive him as the end of his days on the stage comes closer.

The AU has blundered and the Somali government has the last work. On behalf of the nation, it gave the AU the answer it deserves: Goodbye AMISOM, good riddance.

Osman Hassan
email: osman.hassan2 @gmail.com
Osman Hassan is a seasoned journalist and a former UN staff member. Mr Hassan is also a regular contributor to WardheerNews.

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