Somalia’s future befouled by failed initiatives


Mohamud M Uluso

Nearly two decades of foreign interventions have failed to build peace or a viable state. International engagement has served to deepen the humanitarian and political crisis in Somalia.

Despite an unprecedented number of foreign interventions particularly since 2000, Somalia lingers on as a failed state, which is a threat to the international peace and security. The installation of a permanent federal government in 2012 and the victories over the terrorist group Al Shabab did not change Somalia’s misfortune because Somalia’ future is befouled by the outcomes of failed peace processes or initiatives. Foreign actors decided to welcome and applaud disreputable and lately unconstitutional agreements that sully Somali politics. Wittingly or unwittingly, they are deepening Somalia’s crisis.

Generally there has been common consensus that the peace and reconciliation conferences sponsored by the international community from 2000 to date have failed and have not produced positive durable results. But donors and neighboring countries continue to claim success and progress on the basis of disreputable agreements that became instrumental and justifications for prolonged foreign interventions.

In 2010, Conciliation Resources (CR) – a UK International NGO – in collaboration with Interpeace published a review of the international peace processes in Somalia. The review edited by Mark Bradbury and Sally Healy was titled Whose peace is it anyway? The central conclusion of the review is: “Nearly two decades of foreign interventions have failed to build peace or a viable state. International engagement has served to deepen the humanitarian and political crisis in Somalia.” This well documented conclusion is still valid as of today.

In 2011 the international community sponsored the roadmap process for ending the transition period and formed a permanent national government based on a provisional constitution. Puntland President Professor Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gas was the cheerleader of the process. Today, he distrusts, trashes and mutilates the outcomes of the process, which are the provisional constitution and the federal government. The process has been seen as a failure.

When the federal government lost moral and political compass, the international actors – IGAD, UN, EU, and US – stepped in to run the “Vision 2016” show. Except for President Hassan Sheikh who announced in 2014 his presidential candidacy for 2016 election, hardly anyone believes in the integrity, legitimacy, and endgame of this new initiative. Professors Hassan Sheikh, Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari, Abdiweli Gas, and many others had the intellectual capacity, political acumen and opportunity to foresee what is wrong with each process. But they decided for personal interest to close their minds and eyes and throw their people and country into a ditch of disputes and indignity.

IGAD, UN and the EU solicited Garowe agreement between the federal government and Puntland regional state (a show produced for Copenhagen, Denmark international conference on Somalia) is another instrument to shame the Somali people for their lack of a sense of nationalism and good conscience as the foundation for nation building. Foreign representatives witnessed the conference posters and clan images displayed during the 3-day meeting to prove that Somalis like to exist as clans rather than as a nation. IGAD is delegated to be the enforcer of clan segregation (clan federalism) in Somalia.

Granting the important point about the inadequate consultation on the scope of “Secret Vision 2016” among all Somali stakeholders, the agreement seeks to make the federal government a fiefdom and reinstate the territorial divisions of Somalia into South Central, Somaliland, and Puntland enclaves. In fact, with the signing of Garowe agreement by the Prime Minister and Deputy speaker of parliament with IGAD, UN, EU, the federal government has lost the vestiges of national legitimate authority. The question is, who does the federal government represent?

A far more distrustful perspective has been identified in Puntland by researchers of the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies during their field research on federalism and reconciliation in Garowe on September 18. They reported, “A common theme in our public and private conversations was the urgent need for social and political reconciliation among the Somali people. The scars of the civil war were all too evident in people’s minds and hearts. Federating the country was repeatedly referred to as a secondary priority to reconciliation.” This observation supports the public discourse in which each clan accuses other clan or clans for real, perceived, or fabricated crimes and abuses committed by a member or members of the accused clan or clans in public or private capacity. This happens after more than 17 peace processes. Without prejudice to the gravity of abuses inflicted on any clan, adversarial accusations flying among clans are:

1. Darod holds grievances against Hawiye, Isaq, Digil and Mirifle, and Minority groups;
2. Hawiye holds grievances against Darod;
3. Digil and Mirifle holds grievances against Darod and Hawiye;
4. Minority groups hold grievance against Hawiye, Darod, and Digil and Mirifle;
5. Isaq holds grievance against Southerners- Darod, Hawiye, Digil and Mirifle, and Minority groups but forgave grievances against Northerner clans – Dhulbahante and Warsangeli (Darod) in exchange for their support to Somaliland secession.

Despite these inter-clan grievances, clans are not separated and have intense economic and social ties. But clan federalism destroys these ties. Divisive clan politics encouraged by foreign powers fuel social, political, and institutional fragmentation and chaos.

The Somali misfortune is also exacerbated by a dangerous confusion on understanding and appreciating the civil war concepts such as conflict resolution, national reconciliation, peace, and statebuilding. This confusion represents an obstacle to statebuilding. Somalis miss to appreciate that reconciliation is not only a goal but a process carried out for social integration and cooperation without external interventions through indigenous institutions established during the process of conflict resolution. The aim of reconciliation is to promote a shared narrative about the civil war and the future under the rule of a democratic state. The shared narrative about the civil war prohibits repetition of group narratives developed before conflict resolution.

Furthermore, the cited observation of the Heritage researchers questions the raison d’être of the federal government and the aptness to form federal member states on clan identity. The shared aspirations of the Somali citizens are to get true justice, equality, accountability and effective participation in the political process at all levels and places. Somaliland and Puntland provide empirical evidence for exclusion and marginalization. Poverty, hunger, social injustice, corruption, and abuse of power, human rights violations are all considered violence.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephan Harper, said in his speech at the 2014 UN General Assembly meeting that: “Where human misery abounds, where grinding poverty is the rule, where justice is systematically denied, there is no real peace, only the seeds of future conflict. We understand how the worst of human nature – perverse ideologies, religious extremism, and the lust for power and plunder – can rob people in so many places of property, of hope, and of life itself.” Humanitarian organizations are warning of famine and acute economic deprivation in Mogadishu.

The released 2014 report of the UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) details incredible levels of misappropriation of public funds used for partisan agendas which constitute threats to peace and security. The rate of misappropriation is estimated at between 70 and 80 percent, while around a third (1/3) of domestic revenues from Mogadishu port cannot be accounted for. More alarming, the report reveals that Al Shabab receives a lion share of $ 250 million revenue from the charcoal exported in 2013-2014 through seaports controlled by African Union and Somali government forces. Secret foreign contracts with foreign private companies became major sources of dirty financial resources outside the public financial management control. These unprecedented scandals could bring down the federal government before 2016 election.

The solution could be a Somali owned initiative that responds to the principles of the New Deal Strategy endorsed by the international community. Clan based governments are recipe for corruption and clan antagonism that will perpetuate the failed state condition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *