Somalia: The ‘International Community’ and the ‘Rejectionists’
Ever since Somalia’s implosion and its subsequent anarchic state, the UN, US, EU, the Arab League, IGAD and most recently the African Union getting actively involved in resolving the Somalia conundrum hasn’t borne, as of now, fruition. The Road Map and the draft constitution are the latest in a long catalogue of prescriptions to heal an intractable wound that is Somalia. For the umpteenth time, the international community (IC) is attempting to fix the Somalia problem and I’m afraid it might prove futile once again.
Too Many Cooks
Something must be fundamentally wrong with the way the IC does things. The IC is nothing more than an eclectic collection of states with as much divergent interest and goals. Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi- the Horn viceroy of America’s ‘war on terror’ is hell-bent on rooting out Alqaeda-linked groups in Somalia that harbor hostile, ‘irredentist’ sentiments. Kenya’s official line is to create a buffer zone along it is frontier with Somalia to safeguard her own national security. Note, both Kenya and Ethiopia have had border disputes with Somalia and administer Somali lands with significant Somali population-NFD and Ogaden respectively. A strong Somalia with a robust army will definitely not serve them well, lest they lose the Somali regions they rule over.
If it were not for terrorism and piracy, US would like to see Somalia die a slow painful death. The US learnt to keep distance, literally, particularly after the ‘Black Hawk Down’ debacle, by use of proxies and drone attacks.
Uganda’s is to keep its soldier’s pockets lined and keep them busy. Keeping Generals kicking their heels around is a recipe for coup d’etat. Any dictator worth his salt won’t commit such a cardinal sin. However, Uganda’s military under Amisom banner deserves credit for wresting Mogadishu away from AlShabaab and holding it in one piece-a feat they share with the 2006 Islamic Courts Union.
Turkey, the newest kid on the block, pours in millions in aid and reconstruction, much appreciated by Somalis. Turkey’s claim that their aid to Somalia is purely humanitarian is tinged with business interests. Turkey is to host a conference on Somalia in June.
The UK has weighed in and already has a conference on Somalia under its belt. The UK is primarily beckoned by the hydrocarbons that lie under Somalia.
Qatar, a country described as ‘a pygmy with a punch of a giant’, along with Eritrea is accused of funding the AlQaeda-linked Shabaab. And many more of what Somalia Special Envoy to the US, Abukar Arman, calls ‘Ghost Lords’ lurks in the shadows, yet spoiling the broth and leave a bitter taste in the mouths of peace-deprived Somalis.
Treating the Symptoms
Over the years, IC’s attempt at tackling the Somali crisis yielded fantastic semantics. Dual track policy-entails dealing directly with armed Non-State actors to curtail the influence of terrorism and, or restore semblance of governance in regions out of the reach of the transitional government. This led to the mushrooming mini client states under different external actors, weakening the authority of the TFG in the eyes of the public and further Balkanizing the country. Puntland, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a, Galmudug State, Ras Kamboni Brigade are some of the ‘Stakeholders’, as if Somalia was a corporate entity to buy shares in.
Operation Atalanta currently throws obscene amounts of funds at tackling piracy offshore, yet the threat could easily be eliminated altogether by investing in restoration of an effective government.
Eight years later and $60m less, we’re sitting on a draft constitution that has the potential to further divide Somalis. Questions on the minds of Somalis are: Why do we need a constitution, of all times, now. Most importantly, will it lead to peace and stability? How will it aid in reclaiming the country back from AlShabaab and warlords? Implementing a constitution, though provisional, without public ratification is a cause for concern among Somalis. Odayaasha beelaha-traditional clan elders will select 825 delegates that will consider the draft constitution for two weeks from May 15th, and then vote. There is already rumor of massive corruption, phony clan elders and vote buying at the traditional elder’s conference in Mogadishu. Many doubt the integrity and competence of the Odayaasha beelaha, in undertaking such a complicated and significant process that could determine the trajectory of the country at these cross-roads.
‘Rejectionism’ as a Policy
Since the fall of the last central authority of Somalia, an unfortunate culture of ‘rejectionism’ has taken root. This ‘rejectionism’ is hinged on a flawed premise of say no,no,no,and no without reason or any substantial argument. The opinion leaders of ‘rejectionism’ are none other than those who led Somalia down the gutter. Proponents of ‘rejectionism’ are the vultures of the Somalia carcass who have to a lot to gain from the preservation of the status quo. War means power, anarchy means more wealth to be made, the threat of hunger and disease means more western NGOs hiring them for security, renting their spacious warehouses to store food aid, or being contracted as logistics transporters. These vultures perfected the art of war profiteering. Forget the weak TFG; these vultures are the De Facto government in Somalia.
The rejectionists come in all forms. Pre-2006 warlords now turned ‘legislators’ in a bloated parliament, rearing their ugly head again. They believe if they succeed in averting a strong central authority beyond August, they may have a shot at power and roadblocks again, a renaissance of sorts. These are the most ruthless who visited unimaginable horrors on the Somali populace for close to two decades. Secondly, ‘Islamist’ terrorist –AlShabaab, though there is nothing Islamic about them, that took over from the warlords, if anything, made the Somali ordeal more dramatic by introducing suicide bombing, draconian punishment, and giving flight to their fantasy-Global Jihad. They’re hell-bent on creating lair for their foreign AlQaeda bedfellows and all those who are persona non-grata in their countries of origin. Lastly, there is the globe-trotting, foreign-passport-wielding Diaspora, who forsook their families to ‘save’ Somalia. They’re power hungry; they’ll oppose anything, everything as long as they’re not in Villa Somalia themselves.
The three groups above believe they can only flourish in an anarchy and lawlessness as described by the 17th Century political philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, ‘Life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short if there is no central authority, ’ at the expense of common, poor Somali. Make no mistake; these rejectionists will continue to naysay anything that will lead to peace and stability. Doing otherwise is akin to performing hari-kari.
For those I call ‘Vultures of the Somalia carcass’ make the bulk those vociferously opposing the draft constitution and the Road Map to end the transition. They’ve been aptly dubbed ‘Spoilers’ by IGAD, AU and the UN. IGAD, AU and the UN, unlike before, resorted to threats warning ‘Spoilers’ of ‘immediate imposition of specific measures and restrictions’ and ‘further sanctions.’
Disinforming the Disenfranchised
For those Somalis that may have read the draft constitution will run into, not more than, their thousands, out of a target population of an estimated 10 million. The final draft is yet to be made public by IFCC-Independent Federal Constitution Commission.
The rejectionists are filling a void and are engaged in a full-blown campaign of discrediting the draft constitution. As usual they’re peddling rumors, rhetoric and plain demagoguery to blind-fold the disfavored, disenfranchised population. The draft constitution is a threat to Somalia sovereignty, they say. What sovereignty does Somalia has? Sovereignty in limbo, that is.
The IC makes all the wrong policies and the rejectionists always oppose without fail, not out of objectivity. Don’t they complement each other in complicity to lengthen the conflict? All the while, the Somali population is either internally displaced or fled to neighboring countries and is in squalid refugee ‘concentration’ Camps: Dollo Ado, Al Kharaz, Dadaab-the biggest refugee complex anywhere in the world, where the occupant’s dietary stable is maize.
By Abdirahman Hassan Tamaam
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