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It’s the Benjamins($), Stupid!

By Abdirashid Hashi


We are unfortunately approaching the first anniversary of the brutal Ethiopian invasion and occupation of our country, Somalia. It’s only reasonable to examine our performance thus far. On the whole, Diaspora Somalis (as other Somalis) could be divided into three broad categories: the supporters of Ethiopian invasion, those who are indifferent to the carnage and those who oppose the Ethiopian aggression.


A Somali boy looks away as he stands of a man who was killed reportedly by Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu   November 09, 2007 -  Photo (AFP)
In this piece, I will examine the performance of those who oppose the aggression (myself included) and by God our record shows we are disturbingly incompetent bunch! The fact that Ethiopia is as ever entrenched in our affairs and is brutally terrorizing our citizens particularly those in Mogadishu, proofs the scale of our colossal failure. Similarly, the fact that the occupiers are getting away, in a broad daylight, with pillaging and other heinous human rights violations attests to our gross incompetence. Also, the fact that we failed to create the necessary institutional framework needed to mount a credible long distance resistance against the brazen Ethiopian aggression, for we have the resource, the skills as well as the moral obligation, further bears out that we are at best, part of the problem, notwithstanding our ceaseless patting on each others’ backs.


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Additional aim of this article is to suggest to the diaspora based anti-occupation voices that the strategies (though the use of the word strategy is indeed a misnomer) employed thus far are as dangerous as Ethiopia’s evil invasion / occupation plots. For, to use a parable, if travelers pressed for time opt to walk when they could fly, one must agree that such travelers are the authors of any misfortune that may befall on them. For why, would one walk and waste precious time, when one could fly?


My intention is therefore to highlight the existence of a more effective and efficient approach that could be utilized to actualize our country’s inalienable right to be free. This suggestion, call it a strategic paradigm shift if you may, could also be used to reverse the encompassing and suffocating Ethiopian military and diplomatic domination in the internal affairs of Somalia.


What is at stake here is the sovereignty of our beloved and proud nation. How close (or far) we are from freeing our homeland is, therefore, the yardstick of our success or failure. The fact that we are about to mark year-one of the occupation and that Ethiopia’s involvement in our internal affairs is still as far-reaching and unprecedented should oblige us to undertake a serious soul-searching as to what has caused our nation’s unparalleled political and moral emasculation.


If, on the other hand, we ululate in joy and satisfaction because of the Samatar brothers’ (ubiquitous and morale boosting) media appearances, or Sadia Ali Aden’s articulate arguments on the VOA’s Africa Journal TV, or Afyare Elmi’s stupendous opinion pieces on the International Herald Tribune and The Boston Globe or if we are mesmerized by our sporadic and emotional demonstrations in London, Stockholm and Ottawa, then we are missing the whole point.


By this I mean, in spite of the above mentioned awareness and advocacy related tactics, if we simply ask: where is my country dude? (to borrow from the American film-maker, Michael Moore), we will sadly realize that Ethiopia has been, in the past whole year, the one who has been calling the shots (literally and figuratively) in our country - and the chances are, Ethiopia will be manipulating Somalia in the next year and the year after, and the one after – that is, if we do not swiftly change our overall strategy towards Ethiopia and our very modus operandi vis-à-vis the liberation of Somalia.


Success could not be measured with how loud our screams were or how enraged we have been; or how many liberal, enlightened or left-leaning politicians we have conferred with. Success is achieved when we convince the policy makers in our adopted homelands not to aid and abate the warlords and Ethiopia aggression. Success is achieved when we shield our country from the Ethiopia’s dangerous hegemonic designs; success is achieved when our views are taken into account by the UN, the US and other democracies; success is achieved when we have optimized our resources to the fullest and we are able to entrust our affairs in the hands of the most capable sons and daughters of our nation.


What is amazing, (astonishing I should say) is the fact even though we are at the end the first-year of the highly critical twin issues of occupation / liberation, we have yet to establish an agreed upon liberation plan or leadership structure. We all know that an operation as simple as the planning of family picnic or one as sophisticated as the running of a multinational corporation - and every other collective human endeavor in between - require an effective planning, resource allocation and command and control structure. More mind-boggling is the fact that we are so optimistic and expectant of that our false hopes will somehow be realized.


How could educated, experienced and well informed anti-occupation multitudes convince themselves that they could – without effectively organizing themselves - free Somalia from the ongoing Ethiopian control? What is more frightening is how we conveniently opted to be oblivious to the reality that Ethiopia, in addition to its fifty thousand strong occupation forces which directly control Somalia’s Executive and Legislative branches of government, further enjoy the open backing of the current US Administration as well as the tacit support of all relevant regional and sub-regional organizations.       


How could passionate speeches, emotional demonstrations, and opinion pieces or media appearances - voided of strategic plan and able leaders - free Somalia from a conspiring and determined adversary such as Ethiopia? We should all know by now, that, we have squandered one whole year in a sheer wishful thinking and the result has been a devastation and death of thousands of our people, the destruction of our capital, the emboldening of the occupiers, exhaustion of our vanguards and the despair of our masses.


Since the stakes are so high (our very existence as a nation is on the line), we do not have time for recrimination, at least for now. We need to adopt an effective Diaspora liberation strategy and we must entrust such a plan with honorable and wholly competent patriots. Anything less than a total turn around and particularly continuing with the current drifting mode is unacceptable and it borders duplicity.


To conclude my admonition, Diaspora Somalis need to realize that it’s very much possible that the loudest anti-occupation / pro-liberation voices are many times the least qualified to lead the Diaspora Somalis. This hindered the unleashing of the massive energies needed for the liberation task. The overcrowding of the liberation’s leadership tent by mediocre, clannish or simply junior / inexperienced / zealots has crowded out of highly qualified individuals who may have the essential experience or the technical skills needed to dislodge the occupiers and extricate their evil entrapment.


Lest my mentioning of the names of the Samatar brothers, Afyare and Sadia, are construed to mean criticism of their capacity or motive, I must state they are some of the handful Diaspora based voices whose courage and dedication sustained and encouraged many Somalis, included this author. But truth to be told, notwithstanding the sterling performances of some patriots (the esteemed poets such as Cibaar, Rooda, Abdi-noor, Hawd, Nabadoon also come to mind), Ethiopia is STILL in charge of Somalia and the screams of these freedom advocates are not making any noticeable changes on the realities on the ground and in the policies of the international community who (as of now), decided to turn a blind eye to the Ethiopian atrocities. Hence, the futility of our hard work since the desired results, i.e. the end of Ethiopian occupation / meddling, is neither achieved nor in the horizon.


To turn the tables on the Ethiopians and their rusting minions, Diaspora Somalis need to immediately utilize an already proven, effective and efficient strategy; to paraphrase James Carville’s well publicized phrase it’s the economy, stupid (a phrase which was timely and highly effective that it has propelled Bill Clinton to the White House). In our case, the most appropriate weapon we could use to drive the Ethiopians out of our homes, our beaches and our capital is already in our own disposal and its our money, yes the Benjamins (the $100 US bills).


Imagine what a contribution of one hundred dollar per person could achieve if only two thousand Somalis who oppose the humiliation sign up for a one year liberation action plan. Imagine if we select / recruit qualified leaders (not junior activist) whose job shall be to administer the two hundred thousand dollar war chest that we could generate every month. The Diaspora liberation leadership may use that money to hire connected lobbyists / topnotch public relations professionals and reputed international legal experts. Our leaders and their hired well-connected practitioners could then set out to make the case for Somalia. Something our current activists did not could not and will not deliver. Simply because, successfully packaging our communication, delivering it to the right people in a timely manner requires specialized skills supervised by our leaders and funded by us.


In the West, money talks and when yours is a just cause, your money can do wonders. This easy and effective path is something we have failed utilize, because of our inexperience in international diplomacy. Our team shall set the record straight. They shall tell the truth, the all truth and nothing but the truth. They shall communicate the injustices in Somalia to all layers of US, Canadian and European institutions (both the Executive and Legislative branches) as well as the myriad opinion makers in the world over; our team should expose the lies, the war crimes, the human rights violations that the Addis regime and their Somali accomplices committed against the already bleeding Somali people.


Imagine if one hundred Somalis join forces; imagine if each of these one hundred vanguards recruit another twenty patriots; eureka! we have two thousand-strong pro-liberation Diaspora Somalis. This proposed long distance liberation plan would turn the tables on the authors of the Somali turmoil. That is, only if we for once, understand that it’s all about the Benjamins!

 Abdirashid Hashi


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