Tragedy descends on Somalia’s unity, Nationalism, and Sovereignty

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By Mohamud M Uluso January 8, 2015

Societies need national governments for the promotion of social cohesion, protection of the rights of all citizens, defence from external harm and aggression, maintenance of political and security order, spur of economic development, and provision of emergency assistance. Conversely, Governments can be a machinery used for the killing, oppression, insecurity, economic depredation, or as a puppet for foreign countries. History shows that countries blessed with accountable governments, led by patriotic leaders, enjoyed steady progress and stability. In the last five decades, African countries were ruined by autocrats, who used violence, divide and rule, and corruption to remain in power to the death and destruction of countries like Somalia. The latter experience could not and should not be model and reference for rebuilding the new Somalia.

The Somali people credit the establishment of its first independent democratic government to the rectitude and impeccable leadership of late President Adan Abdulle Osman, who firmly believed in the supremacy of the law and in the collective welfare of the people and the country over any personal enrichment or interests. Similarly, the American people credit the success of their unifying federal (central) government to the conscious behavior and actions of their first president, George Washington, who applied and practiced the federal constitution in positive and restrained ways. He refused the majestic title proposed by the congress and to stay more than two terms (8 years) in office and accepted the simple title “Mr. President.” These are historical lessons for patriots.

The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) established in August 2012 was warmly welcomed as the embodiment of the bond and unity of the people and country of Somalia. But, it quickly lost the legitimacy of national representation provided under articles 1, 3 (4), 4, 7, and 8 of the Provisional Constitution (2012) because, in reality, it has accepted two conflicting portrayals.  Domestically and in bilateral and multilateral engagements, it is misleadingly and abusively associated with South Central Somalia and shared platforms with sub-clan presidents representing satellite states, while in international gatherings and proclamations, it is hailed as a Somali national government. These dual roles or images have diminished the purpose, utility, and standing of the FGS and defeated the ambitious agenda of the “New Deal for Somalia” endorsed in Brussels, Belgium in September 2013.

As of today, the FGS does not represent the populations under the authorities of Somaliland, Puntland, Jubbaland, and Southwest.  The Provisional Constitution designed to shackle the arbitrary and capricious behavior of rulers has become a worthless piece of paper for lack of compliance and respect.

The TFG has morphed into a political machine used by a politically, economically, socially, and religiously motivated cabal (Somali and foreigners) determined to auction the Somali future through loyalty to foreign powers, disregard of national interests, rule of law and national sovereignty, and use of a widespread system of patronage. It exists to validate foreign agenda and to plunder Mogadishu Port revenue and funds provided for the benefit of Somalia by foreign donors. The actions of FGS leaders – exclusively motivated by personal calculations – are at the expense of peace, reconciliation and state building. Somali solidarity under the banner of Somali flag looks far-off.

Sadly, the TFG leaders contributed to their unpopularity by choosing to ignore the awesome responsibility of being the first leaders entrusted to lay the foundations of an integrated, sovereign and independent Somalia after 22 years of civil war, fragmentation, foreign interventions, religious fundamentalism, the “war on terror”, and failed transitions. Not less culpable, the leaders of regional satellite states have formalized the disintegration of Somalia by fomenting clan antagonisms as well as corruption and by facilitating manipulations and control from neighbouring countries. The recent agreement signed between Ahmed Modobe of Jubbaland and Sharif Hassan of Southwest on December 29, 2014 in Kismaio reveals the wrong rationale behind the imposed new clan federation.

If clan-based “New Somalia” becomes a reality, Somalia as we know will be history and the new clan satellites will be enclaves where poverty, insecurity, and foreign manipulations persist. The Somali ethnic State of Ethiopia coaches Somali satellite states and brainwashes them to defect from Somali nationhood.

In 2009, the Djibouti Agreement among all Somalis ended the invasion of Ethiopian forces into Somalia and secured their complete withdrawal. Today, Ethiopian forces have reoccupied Somalia with the illegal rubber stamp of the TFG leaders.  This marks an inauspicious future for Somalia.

Soon after his election in 2012, President Hassan has become the star, face, and manager of the FGS and made the commitment to adhere strictly to the regulations of the provisional constitution. But serious blunders, contradictions, and scandals belied his pledges and eroded public expectations. Doubling-down on TFG failure, some external actors subtly pursued an anti Statebuilding strategy by frustrating Somali reconciliation and unity and nurturing clan balkanization.

Renowned scholars and institutions published reports and articles explaining how the FGS fumbled and lost the right path for responsible, accountable, and legitimate national governance. A new report released in 2014 assessed the much applauded and appreciated support of Turkey to Somalia between 2011 and 2013 and highlighted that Somali leaders lacked the necessary national vision to develop attitudes and strategies in line with the five principles plan outlined by Ahmet Davutoğlu, former foreign minister of Turkey, as prelude to the 2012 Istanbul Conference on Somalia. The five principles were
(1) the establishment of national unity,
(2) the creation of a new political system,
(3) a comprehensive structuring of the economy,
(4) the configuration of national Somali forces, and
(5) lifting the isolation of Somalia.

As the report notes, Turkey’s involvement in Somalia has engendered tensions and risks against the overall strategic interests of Turkey in Africa. Therefore, the government of Turkey has been advised to abandon its strategy towards Somalia and to align it efforts with the East African (Ethiopia and Kenya) governments and those western powers that have the monopoly of the security and policy agenda in Somalia. The report recommends the lowering of Somalis’ high expectation from Turkey. As a matter of fact, Turkey has initiated the process of scaling down its involvement in Somalia by withdrawing some of its staff from Mogadishu and altering the support of TFG as a national government.  

Recent statements of Turkey Ambassador to Mogadishu, Olgan Bekar, provide clear signals for this policy shift.  The new Ambassador visited Somaliland, Jubbaland, and Puntland (Garowe) where he said, “I believe that Puntland is a role model for the emerging federal states,” and “I underline that I will carry forward concerted efforts to forge better relations between Turkey and Puntland.” News reports indicate that the Turkish Ambassador presented special credentials to the President of Somaliland and offered as an exchange a Somaliland Consulate in Turkey.

The main topics of the discussions between the Ambassador and regional presidents focussed on equal treatment between the federal government and federal states representing clans with respect to aid and scholarship distribution and diplomatic consultation. External supporters of clan federalism are delighted about the new institutionalized relations between the Somali clans and foreign powers.

To make Somali governance a mockery, President Hassan has promoted militia leader Ahmed Madobe from being the head of the Interim Jubba Administration to becoming the President of Jubbaland State and later signed in Djibouti an international agreement with the president of secessionist northern regions of Somalia like Somaliland. He appears and interfaces with the new Prime Minister in parliament, during hand-over ceremonies and welcoming parties to erase the concept of institutional separation and reinforces personal rule perception.

There are no compelling or attractive reasons for the Somali people to be loyal to or confident in the FGS, since it lacks the will and vision to safeguard the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Somalia. Any deference to FGS – now mistakenly associated with Mogadishu (substitute for Hawiye) – is self-delusion and unpatriotic.

Citizens are obliged to be vigilant against the prevarications of government leaders. FGS and regional satellite states should not be allowed to mortgage the future of Somalia. Change has to occur and Somalis must prevent a final tragedy to descend on Somalia’s unity, nationalism, and sovereignty.

The conversation among Somali citizens about the legitimacy of the FGS and the future of Somalia is duty-bound and should immediately start at all levels.

(*) The author, analyst Mohamud M. Uluso can be reached directly via mohamuduluso[AT]gmail.com

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