By Mohamed Ahmed
Three words comes to mind when I think of the current state of Somalia: clan politics, corrupt leadership and Insecurity. Many people want to adopt the convention of dispatching these inconvenient fact to the past memory hole, but unfortunately today South Somalia is unable to free itself from the narrowness and shortsightedness of the above three points. One only needs to read the current report by the UN Monitoring group and see how South Somali politics is toxic and confusing. It is as if some in the administration are going about their illegal business with a brazen assurance. Corruption, I came to realize, is too frail a word for what is happening in South Somalia. The greatest crack in the pot was exposed recently by UN Monitoring group report to the Security Council. The most startling point of the report was the funneling of weapons to Al-shabab by some in the current administration. This makes you wonder if the weapons are funneled to Al-shabab, with whom, or what, is Hassan administration at war with? It is as if there is innumerable termite boring away the foundation of these make-believe-government while the international community covers it with corrugated sheet on the exterior! I’m actually questioning now the assumption that President Hassan sheikh administration is genuinely engaged in tackling insecurity in south Somalia.
As recent Al-shabab attack on February 21st so vividly proved, Mogadishu is not back to normalcy yet. The sad truth, which surely most Somali knows, is that Al-shabab believes in divine sovereignty and express deep frank disdain for popular secular governments. One can understand why Al-shabab’s religion/political movement bent on social and moral reform can appeal to many poor folks. After the recent attack by Al-shabab, President Hassan Sheikh first address was not to Somali people, but to UN special representative, Nicholas Kay. The leaders of Al-shabab saw this as an open goal and took to the air to convince the people how the foul claws of western imperialism have clutched at the heart of Somali government leaders. They opted to use their warped religious justification and interpretation in wooing more support for their corrupt views. Despite Somali government having borrowed muscles of African Union, they still even lose the propaganda war to Al-shabab.
The African Union military response to Al-shabab didn’t achieve success beyond sporadically securing one main road in Mogadishu. It is in this moment, where Somali people are facing many undercurrent that are pulling them left and right, that Al-shabab takes advantage. The recent bold growth, proliferation, and increasing sophistication of Al-shabab will pull the country back to the drawing board. To attack the problem, I think Somalia president should embrace the advice of columnist, Faisal Roble in involving the security apparatus of regional states like Puntland. A better ameliorative measure will be to reduce the effect of Al-Shabab by turning the public against them. Indeed if there is a secret to speedy recovery, it rests primarily on the help of all Somali stakeholders. It is hard to imagine a solution to Al-shabab without regional governments working together in support of their mutual interests!Somaliland has been lucky since 2008, but that doesn’t mean Somaliland has any superior tactics to curb terrorism. It is just that Somaliland citizens decided not to accommodate a group that finds Islam not restricted to personal piety, but a comprehensive ideology that encroaches on political and public life.
By now, most thoughtful people would take the UN report as self-evident. I was surprised to read tweets of a very prominent Somali opinion writer dismiss the UN Monitoring report as a Western alarmist sensational report. So much for a fecund imagination! Often I feel the most useful perspective of Somalia is one of neurotic. Everyone supports institution building only if it confirms to their narrow interest. Whether you see the report as sinister or ridiculous, the facts are clear. You have a government that have grown insensitive to running a clean government! One only feels that not only South Somalia is suffering from insecurity, but that the entire administration is decaying layer by layer. So far current Somali government administration has been schizophrenic and not able to create an environment that support a vision that includes reconciliations, accountability, and forgiveness. It is as if they’ve grown insensitive to their misery. It doesn’t take much brilliance to realize that there is a big problem in Villa Somalia. It would take time and great effort to try to reverse this injurious report. More and more, if you look at the record of insecurity in Mogadishu, the yearning of security by the president circle is one bad joke! Since the war against Al-shabab has serious international implications it goads the international community – for the danger it brings to the rest of the world-to funnel more money into the coffers of Somali leaders. The very nature of these circumstances makes me suspect whether Al-shabab attacks spring from the same source that it attacks.
Invisible Horizon of United Somalia
As the open-ended dialogue continues between Somalia and Somaliland, the elegiac lament for Somalia unity is only a dream for now. Currently, South Somalia can’t reasonably expect to live in a perfect harmony with itself. Although as a Somali, I find comfort in believing that all Somalis will be better off with a united Somalia, I’m afraid to admit the current State of Somalia is too uncertain to provide that elusive unity! It would come as no shock to acknowledge at this point, in rather a scornful tone, that I’m against the ways of Mogadishu politics! I’m not optimistic or positive about the prospect of Somali unity at this time, if anything I believe Somalia will vitiate and encumber the little progress made by Somaliland. Yes, I understand why some would argue that Somaliland is one clan project, but I beg to differ. In spite of its many flaws, however, Somaliland has provided a maximum opportunity for its citizens to exercise the freedom of self-determination-that is, they decided to live under laws of their own choosing. In the world of today no one people will take occupation as a sign of complacency. Many of the clans within the borders of Somaliland are happy to have Somaliland flags hoisted in their cities. Now, whether this is due to pressure from outside or within is yet to be seen, since they have not been presented with a feasible alternative to Somaliland. No one person residing in Somaliland and subject to its laws can be denied the rights that are available to others.
Somaliland fostered the development of its people more fully than Mogadishu adminstration could feasibly present at this time as an alternative. The establishment of Modern Somaliland-the creation of political legitimacy and creation of sense of national identity- didn’t come all at once. If anything it was a long route with occasional divisive and subversive political orders. But today Somaliland is at a place where it cannot be overpowered and swept aside by emotional rallying cry of Al-shabab. To understand why it is reasonable for Somaliland to commit itself to political equality among its citizens, one needs not to look no further than South Somalia, and see what is in store if they dare not free themselves from narrowness and shortsightedness of tribal identity! One can prognosticate what the future for Somaliland would look like if they dare try to entertain the woeful bleak politics of Mogadishu. Somaliland is a place where burlesquing of president by a television station is the big story of the week. They should bristle at the suggestion of being told they have the same priority as an administration with insecurity problems like Mogadishu. The international community always insisted that the antidote to Somali crisis is to pump more resources into Mogadishu only, but that has shown to be flawed. One is reminded of the golden rule “he who has the Gold makes the rule” .Unfortunately, the international community gave the gold to the wrong team. Yet, nothing could illustrate more vividly the visible failure of Somalia than what is happening in Mogadishu today. Although, the relation between Somalia and Somaliland is extraordinarily complicated-Since neither side wants to cede ground over their political differences-one area they can be of help to each other is deterring Al-Shabab! Whether tomorrow produces a new engagement with Somali politics and abiding reality of insecurity-or a continue reluctance to address such reality-would in large part determine the fate of Somalia!
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