by Sarmaan Ramses
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Somalia is going through a dire change, a change which can make it or break it for good. And it’s the assumption of the well-intentioned Somali public at large that there’s a glimpse of hope in regaining lost nationhood throughthe current political process in Somalia. Those who support the existing political process, however, are not in support of the individuals behind the scenes nor even hold some of these individuals in higher esteem. But the expectation is that, at least this process will usher in much needed law and order, institution building, human rights and property rights protections and all the other foundations of a civilized society. In the past, Somalis were hastily disillusioned with the imperfections inherent in any peace process outcome, thus expecting perfections from the get go—that mindset must have changed now, after witnessing failure after failure of the past countless reconciliation conferences’ outcomes.
However, lately it became customary for the international community namely the EU, US, and the UN, as well as a number of Somalis in the Diaspora, to strongly urge the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for an inclusive reconciliation with the ICU and other dissident groups. So who’re this opposition groups that the TFG should negotiate with and include into the political process?
The opposition to the TFG is mainly composed of two groups with different agendas. One group is the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), and the other group is mostly the disgruntled group of warlords and other opportunists who insist on their way or the highway, without any clear agenda except to preserve their looted wealth and status acquired by the point of the gun during the civil war. This latter opposition group is composed of hollow individuals and war profiteers without the least weight in the opposition except hiding behind the ICU and its Wahabi groups.
By far the most determined opposition to the TFG is the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and its cohorts. The ICU initially started as the protectors of the abhorred war profiteers’ interest in Mogadishu and are mainly composed of one clan, and the majority of Somalis perceive the Islamic courts’ leaders as the same old warlords and politically motivated groups--just this time under the smokescreen of religion. Thus, it’s only reasonable to argue, how should these clan elements be included now in the Somali political process while deceptively using
religion as a gambit—which is another new dimension into the Somali turmoil?
Moreover, the Somali political institutions are already clan based representation such as the Somali Federal Parliament which later elects the president. Also, all the clans already make up the composition of the cabinet of ministers or at least expected to be. Therefore, should one accept the ICU to act as moral judges on the other clans and we should create just for them an additional layer on the current political institutions –– say, an ICU upper house of the parliament! It’s preposterous. However, let’s even say for the sake of peace, that we agree to include the ICU into the political process, but eventually, the religious masquerade the ICU’s cohorts (the Wahabi) espouse will in reality pose the greatest threat to the existence of Somalia. Particularly, in a volatile region as such that is already much of the focus on the conflict between the West and the Wahabis. Nevertheless, this is just one face of the ICU and to that effect it is the most negligible face of it as long as it’s a clan domination agenda.
The other lethal and most destructive face of the ICU is the International Wahabi (Salafi) Groups who later joined the ICU—the key word here is, later joined-- and started mobilizing themselves all over Somalia and abroad in order to exploit and expand upon the opportunity when the ICU defeated the other warlords in Mogadishu, and the prospect of a complete Wahabi take-over on Somalia proper became almost an attainable objective. Thus, the Wahabi groups’ key goal is to use
Somalia as another front for the Jihad against the West and as a battleground for confrontation with Western secularism and what they consider as a direct threat to Islam. This is not a secret plan, but it’s a plan that had been continually echoed by the various International Wahabi groups, to have as many fronts as possible to wage war against the secular West—that’s why many more Wahabi foreigners were trickling into Somalia to fulfill that aim.
Somalis should very well be aware that the Wahabi groups are not mainly concerned with the welfare of the Somali people and their nostalgia for a stable state that takes care of its citizens and rebuilds the country after the many years of a devastating civil war. Also, in spite of what any Wahabis’ aim might be whether justified or unjustified to confront the West, Somalia should be off limits to their craze of using it as another battleground front. As we witness the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, country rebuilding and stability is the least of the Wahabi groups’ concerns as long as they can wage a Jihad against the secular West and therefore get their ultimate prize – a ticket to paradise. The Wahabis believe everything else is meaningless and worldly pleasure, and worse yet, any civilian casualty is just a collateral damage as the situation is today in Mogadishu—this is a dangerous thought to entertain and very ungodly.
Somalia and many other developing countries have a recent bitter experience from the Cold War era, when these countries became a test ground of might and outmaneuver between the two major opponents of the cold war at that time, namely the Soviet Union and the US. And this is mainly what contributed to the civil wars, guerilla wars and underdevelopment that many of these countries had endemically suffered. Thus, any rational Somali patriot would by any cost avoid implicating Somalia in another ideological conflict regardless how grandiose the ideology might be, as that ultimately will not benefit Somalia—the Wahabi groups should have learned from the history and implications of the Cold War, but obviously they could care less as they are more geared unwittingly towards the afterlife.
Additionally, many Somalis directly blame the ICU for the reason Ethiopia overtly invaded Somalia by issuing threats against her and engaging in the oft misapplied rhetoric of Jihad, and also resuscitating old hatreds that historically led the two countries on to a blood path. The Wahabis or any religious extremists for that matter, unsophisticated as they are, always lack any foresight to their actions except naively
believing that God is constantly on their side and will eventually make them the winners— only one wonders what they’re thinking now in Somalia! That naiveté and lack of forethought is what inevitably brought Somalia under a foreign occupation of the worst kind—what many Somalis deem as a shameful occupation from a poor neighbor and a former adversary. Thus, those who unwisely support the ICU and its Wahabi cohorts are only prolonging the shameful Ethiopian presence in Somalia, because Ethiopia achieves a lucrative business from her Somalia adventures through aid and other financial support from the West as an ally against the war on the Wahabis, and her presence in Somalia serves as a great distraction from the world attention on her homeland woes—this is a new life line for her survival.
More importantly too, if the Wahabi groups ever gain control over Somalia -God forbid- it will be a real disaster for the future of the country, as Somalia’s almost entire cadre and best educated children immigrated to the West and elsewhere. It will be impossible for these expatriates to eventually return their country and coalesce under the leadership of these extreme and unsophisticated individuals who only think and act in extreme measures under the guise of applying God’s laws, while also muzzling the freedoms of speech and expression that many Somalis became accustomed to and cherish while living among democratic societies. Unarguably too, the real plight of Somalia was not only the emergence of the warlords onto the scene but the greatest catastrophe of all was the brain drain that ensued the civil war. Therefore, Somalia has its own problems and this Wahabi agenda would further make matters worse.
So far, the facts on the ground indicate that the Wahabis have already well subdued the general population in Somalia during the long civil war years, by spreading and imposing with the Saudi and the other Gulf states’ Wahabi funds a fanatic ideology on the Somali Muslims. While using the miserable civil war as a pretext to cement and propagate the Wahabi formula of Islam as a successful formula that would lead to a better society with high morals, and since they make believe the old formula of Islam in Somalia failed to solve the problems that led to the civil war—this was no brainer to convince anyone, because in desperate times all desperate measures become viable options. Thus, forcing the TFG to negotiate with these extreme Wahabi groups and including them into the political process will in the future open a Pandora’s Box for these groups to outmaneuver anyone else in an open democratic society, since they have the advantage of having already Talabinized almost the whole society in Somalia.
And to make matters far worse, the US intelligence (CIA) recognizing the fact of the meteoric rise of these extreme Wahabis in Somalia started funding the reviled warlords in order to get rid of the ICU and its Wahabi cohorts, this misstep was by far the gravest mistake and biggest blunder of all. This strategy adopted by the CIA led the Wahabi groups and the ICU to get far more support than they would have ever expected to gain, and significantly strengthened their argument and position that the West is an arch enemy to the Somali Muslims as long as the US openly sponsored and supported the reviled warlords who kept that nation hostage for almost two decades—it’s from this perspective where they gained the term “grass roots movement”. Now, it’s the same mistake again, if the direct Ethiopian presence in Somali soil continues, especially that it’s well known that the Ethiopian forces are there with the blessing and material support of the
US government. This Ethiopian presence will be another rallying cry for the ICU and its Wahabi cohorts to unite the already Talabanized general public in Somalia and enable them to continue their campaign—is there a lesson learned?
In conclusion, the international community should not make a condition on the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia to engage with those who harbor the International Wahabi Groups’ agenda to use Somalia as a battleground front, along the same lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. The world community should instead help Somalia now more than any other time before, in strengthening the existing institutions and providing all the necessary support to bring about peace and order in that country as that eventually will contribute to regional peace and later to world peace. Somalia badly needs creating its own strong security forces and all the other necessary tools for a state to function, in order for the TFG to rid itself as soon as possible from the disgraceful Ethiopian influence on it, which only enhances the Wahabi groups’ justifiable call to overthrow the TFG—the Ethiopian red herring must be eliminated as a raison d’etre for the ICU and Wahabi groups’ survival and possible metamorphosis into nationalist movement.