Designated a ‘failed state’ Somalia’s problems lie partly in the geopolitical strategy of Somalia’s neighbours for managing the liberated areas from Al Shabab, which compartmentalizes the Somali territory, politics and devalues citizenship.
Besides terrorism threats, the federal government of Somalia faces other threats emanating from three different but self-reinforcing sources. These threats would derail the achievement of peace, stability and self governance in Somalia.
The first threat is what the former national security advisor of President Jimmy Carter Administration, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski called ‘the geopolitically most endangered states.’ He argues that the security and sovereignty of weaker states located geographically next to major regional powers is at risk if the US power declines because the international stability depends on the international status quo reinforced by America’s global preeminence. Somalia typifies the most endangered state of all. The source is the geopolitical strategy of Somalia’s neighbors for managing the liberated areas from Al Shabab, which compartmentalizes the Somali territory, politics and devalues citizenship.
Ethiopia plays dual roles; first is the overall coordination of IGAD strategy and secondly is the lead role for the local entities of Somaliland, Puntland, Khatumo, Galmudug, Himan and Heeb, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama, and Bay and Bakol (South West). The entities of Middle Shabelle, Lower Shabelle and Benadir are left for Uganda and Rwanda. Kenya and Ethiopia share the lead role for Jubbaland area. Djibouti shares the lead role with Ethiopia in Dohada Shabelle (Hiiran) area. Clan militias are trained for each area by Ethiopia or the lead country or by foreign security company. The federal government forces and the AMISOM forces are trained and funded by US and European Union without transparent and sustainability considerations.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE SOMALI FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?
A consortium led by the United Nations political office for Somalia (UNPOS) manages the Federal Government with the help of AMISOM forces (Uganda and Rwanda). Another consortium led by IGAD (Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti) manages the Federal Member States (FMS) - myriads of clan based entities, with the help of Ethiopian and Kenyan forces operating under their governments’ direction. The federal government has no effective role in the security, financial and political planning and decisions on Somalia made in Addis Ababa, Nairobi and New York. These parallel regional and international interventions are to exacerbate the fragmentation of Somalia.
The second threat is the sabotage of the international support for rebuilding Somalia. The source is the scholars who are promoting the ‘hybrid-government or mediated state model’ of governance for Somalia. This model frees donors from the moral and political responsibility as it provides the legal avoidance of supporting the state building agenda which requires the combination of nationally owned plan with massive foreign assistance. Those scholars prescribe a placebo to Somalia diagnosed with terminal cancer symptoms. Thus, Somalia is subjected to a discriminatory approach compared to the successful approaches (treatment) applied to many failed states in other parts of the world.
DISUNITY INSPIRES THE PC
The third threat is a continuous political paralyzes. The source is the divisive Provisional Constitution (PC) embedded in the Somali politics. The foreign driven federalism under the slogan to overcome clan injustices and conflicts is feeding clan divisions and political conflicts. Although the federal parliament started amending or suspending some of the PC provisions like 7 (3) (international boundary dispute), 67 (dissolution of parliament), 89 (election of president), and 135 (mandates and timelines for priority institutions and independent commissions), the PC inspires chaos, citizenship dispute and disunity.
The Somali people remember the flourishing of officially entombed tribalism which finally dismantled without trace the Somali state. They have seen the horror of civil war, the Green Line in Mogadishu and the one now existing in Galka’io, the secession of Somaliland, the Khatumo and Himan and Heb states’ drive to stand separate from Puntland and Galmudug States respectively.
The clan-caused injustices that have plagued Somalia cannot be overcome through clan federalism. If there is one truth recognized by the international community at the end of the constitution making process in Somalia is the admission that the proposed federalism is an issue that has not been settled among Somalis. Thus, the invocation of federalism for establishing the administration of Kismaio city and district is premature and without credible ground. What is more dangerous is the empowerment of clan militia for local democratic administration given the Somali experience.
The PC assigns the responsibilities related to establishing local administrations, foreign affairs, national security and defense, immigration and citizenship, and monetary and fiscal policies to the federal government. Indeed, local authorities are constitutionally prohibited from having any working relationship with foreign actors outside the federal government institutions. In exercising its responsibilities to lead, represent and defend the national unity and public interests, the federal government must respect the democratic process and norms which are antithetical to the concentration of power in the capital Mogadishu or in the hands of the central authority.
THE POWER OF FOREIGN PATRONS
However, the federal government faces the reality that the regional authorities, rebel movement leaders and forces are influenced by their foreign patrons like IGAD and not by the spirit and content of the PC and sense of patriotism. I’m glad I offered my views about the right path for the constitution making process in Somalia to secure genuine national reconciliation, public support, loyalty and common understanding about the political framework for rebuilding the national institutions. At the end, the United Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) published officially the PC and the guide book to the PC .
The wrangling over the roadmap for establishing administrations at the city, district, regional, state and federal levels in Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo regions mostly still under Al Shabab control proves my criticisms against the PC. The President and the Prime Minister are now under relentless attack by critics motivated by clan perceptions after the president claimed leadership role in the internal and external affairs of Somalia, including Jubbaland and reiterated the charcoal ban imposed by the UN Security Council. With regard to the charcoal, the expected action of the federal government was to send a delegation to Kismaio, take stock of the charcoal inventory, its value, the identity of the exporters and importers, the tax surcharge, modalities of payments and money transfer and discussion with the local population so that it can develop policy options. Armed with that information, the federal government was supposed to engage the UN Security Council for a satisfactory resolution of the matter within the legal framework in place. Unfortunately, the federal government has been deprived of that opportunity after the federal delegation was turned back from Kismaio airport by the Kenyan forces. The Somali public opinion on the incident has been summarized by Amin Amir’s cartoon.
The PC recognizes the eighteen (18) regions and their districts which existed on January 1991. It directs the federal government to make sure that the requirements of the constitutional provisions are complied with by all before the formation of federal member states. Thus, establishing the administrations of the 18 regions and their districts has priority over the discussion about FMS. Appointments of temporary respected leaders are more favorable than the rush to perpetuate crisis.
The end of the transition period and the ratification of the PC have been built on the understanding that the majority of Somalis have embraced and internalized the deliberations of the national reconciliation conferences and shared transitional governments during the last 12 years for a better future of all Somalis. As symbols of the end of transition, the federal government must be able to appoint a task force team working in each region alongside the local authorities and to assume the control of ports and airports of all Somalia. These measures would enhance the hope for the revival of shared national government.
Clan based federalism is a failure. Many independent researchers have extensively and conclusively illustrated the failure of the ethnic based federalism adopted by Ethiopia in 1995. It is a waste of time, opportunity and energy for the Somali people to undertake such a failed experiment considering the incompatibility between clan perspectives and the citizenship perspectives and the obligations enshrined in the PC. Common identity above clan identity must be the focus of the ‘national government’ at all levels. Change of the endemic opportunistic culture is key to a bright future for Somalia.
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Mr. Mohamud M Uluso can be contacted at [email protected]