By Mohamed Abdullahi
“In Sheraton Hotels in scattered nations, we damn multi-national corporations; injustice seems easy to protest in such seething hotbeds of social rest.” By Ross Coggins in the introduction to Graham Hancock’s Lords of Poverty”
One thing that every foreign representative and international aid worker in Somalia learns fast is the tribalism, divisions and distrust among Somali people and Phill Evans (Britain), Per Karlsson (Sweden) and Guglielmo Giordano (Italy) are no exception
Graham Hancock in his book “Lords of Poverty” damned international aid agency “boys” like the above three gentlemen of “arrogance, paternalism, moral cowardice, and mendacity”. Graham has written that “aid has perpetuated the rule of incompetent and venal men whose leadership would otherwise be utterly non-viable; it has allowed governments characterised by historic ignorance, avarice, and irresponsibility to thrive”.
The recent revelations of the correspondences between senior Somali Federal government officials and the International development representatives of Somalia’s donor community about the “Renewal proposal of Somaliland Special Arrangement” lays bare Somalia Donor Group’s destabilizing power and influence and their grotesque manipulation of Somali society’s fragmentation to scupper the bourgeoning Federal government and undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of both Somali people and the international community. These documents were leaked to the media and it was no surprise that one of the first people to circulate them was none other than Matthew Bryden, a known Somaliland secession zealot.
The saga began with a proposal from Somalia Donor Group spearheaded by the UK DFID to renew the “Somaliland Special Arrangement”, a mechanism under Somalia New Deal to allocate donor funds separately for Somaliland which ended in 2016. The proposal mentioned implausible and rather disingenuous special circumstances in Somaliland which makes it many ways different from the rest of Somalia. It did not spell out what those present unique situations are and how they could be used to justify the singling out of Somaliland for special mechanisms for donor support.
On 9 June 2018 the Federal government sent a response letter to the donor community outlining its position on the proposal and invited the donor community for further constructive discussions on the matter. The response letter did not object to donor support for Somaliland but raised concerns on the singling out of Somaliland for “special arrangement”. It alluded to the exploration of a mechanism that will ensure the cohesion of Somali society as well as unhindered direct donor support for Somaliland under the Somalia New Partnership. It was signed on behalf of the Federal government by Amb. Gamal Mohamed Hassan, the Minister of Planning, Investment and Economic Development which is the lead agency for international development and cooperation.
The story has taken interestingly a new turn five days later on 13 June 2018. Instead of engaging constructive dialogue with the Ministry on this issue, Phil, Per and Guglielmo wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister H.E Mahdi Mohammed Gulaid requesting his “no objection” to the renewal of “Somaliland Special Arrangement”. This move was seen as diplomatically unconventional, disrespectful and scandalous.
It is worth to note that both H. E. Mahdi and Amb. Gamal hail from the Northern regions of Somalia, the territory of what was once called British Somaliland in which the present Government of Somaliland claims its jurisdiction but they belong to two different Somali tribes, a fact not lost on Phil, Per and Guglielmo. These agents tried to exploit the tribal and ideological differences among the Somali leadership, having full knowledge of Amb. Gamal’s strong position on the equal treatment of Somali people, regions and the unity of Somali nation.
Many Somalis harbour misgivings rightly about the rationale behind the “Special Arrangement” as well as the donor community’s modus operandi in Somalia. Prime Minister Kheyre’s government “Nabad iyo Nolol” supporters believe that the real motive behind the actions of these representatives is more than an attempt to undermine the Minister but goes at the heart of their hidden agenda to ultimately dismember the Somali nation by instigating political crisis and undermining and delegitimizing the authority of the Federal Government. The actions of these donor representatives will create an atmosphere of suspicion and intergovernmental turf wars between senior government Ministers which risk eroding the public trust in the Federal government.
It is a deliberate affront to the Federal government, and to diplomatic relations, that three Heads of International development at foreign embassies would challenge the decision of a Minister on behalf of his government and his people and copy their letter to the President and Prime Minister, the two greatest offices of the nation. Many Somalis believe that it was inappropriate for these agents to have even contact time with Ministers in the first place.
International aid must support, not subvert, the efforts of the Federal government to bring the Somali society together through dialogue and agreement on sharing revenues and resources. It should be emphasized that Somaliland will eventually have to accept a dialogue with the rest of Somalia on many issues with far greater importance and impact than foreign aid.
Amb. Gamal accepts the crucial task of ensuring participatory needs assessment, development planning and identification of solutions at the subnational level (villages, districts, regions, FMS, etc) but he is very vocal about the inevitability to establish fair, inclusive, integrated, Somali owned National Development Plan priorities agreed at the national level.
Many Somali observers suggest that Somaliland and Puntland had greatly benefited from the dual track policy in the transitional government era and possess fully functioning public institutions. The observers concur that the newly formed Federal Member States of Gal-mudug, Hirshabelle, South West and Jubbaland deserve “special measures” and increased donor assistance this time round to lift them out of their weakness and fragility.
This blatant breach of diplomatic protocols and destructive external interference should not be allowed to continue. The Prime Minister has to take control, intervene in this matter and enable his Ministers to execute their State responsibilities with confident and authority. He needs to clarify the roles and responsibilities of each Ministry but at the same strengthen intergovernmental relations of his government.
Mohamed Abdullahi is a businessman residing in Garowe, Puntland State of Somalia.
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