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Déjà vu or Dichotomy: Will Ali Gedi’s Fate be Similar to Ali Galaydh’s?



By Said Shiiq, Ph.D.
Friday, October 19, 2007

Ali Mohamed Gedi (file photo)
Both Prime Ministers obessed with cash

As a researcher and an advisor to international relief organizations, I had the rare opportunity to watch up-close the deepening fracas simmering between President Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Gedi. I extensively traveled throughout Somalia over the past 12 months, and found that the power struggle between Yusuf and Gedi has the hallmarks of a previous showdown between President Abdulqasim Salad Hassan and Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galaydh of the Arta administration: Two men with the same goals but radically different tactics.

I met both men in recent months and found them strange bed fellows. 

In a way, it feels eerily déjà vu: A President obsessed with control and a prime minister obsessed with cash. The problem is that the two (control and cash) are not mutually exclusive, and that’s where the battle lines are drawn.

In another way, the public vitriol between Yusuf and Gedi, which’s hardly the first one, is a dichotomy from the Abdulqasim-Galaydh episode in substance: Despite being aloof and dour, Gedi has some valid points vis-à-vis Yusuf:

  • Natural resources: The stickiest point is Puntland’s unilateral quest to explore oil and other natural resources away from the federal institutions. As the head of the federal government, Gedi correctly argues that Puntland must operate within the federal framework. The president, who’s from there, supports Puntland because he’s a direct beneficiary of venal Adde Muse administration. Alternatively, Gedi suggested that Puntland and Yusuf be shielded from the federal treasury, including funds from the international community. Yusuf wouldn’t commit to this either. The Saudi check that arrived at the end of Ramadan escalated the situation, when Gedi refused to share it with Yusuf.
  • Mogadishu security:  The second issue is the protracted Mogadishu security. On this, Yusuf set very high expectations for Gedi and his protégé, Mohamed Dheere, to stabilize the capital in few weeks, since it’s “their bastion.” The pair tried, but quickly realized that curbing modern insurgency with an intricate clan and religious agenda is near impossible. Gedi embarked on quite but tactical approach to win the hearts and minds of the Hawiye tribe. Earlier this year, Gedi secured the Haji Abdi Iimaan/Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan wing, and just few weeks ago, he met with the Mohamed Hassan Haad/Ahmed Diiriye wing. President Yusuf, known to be allergic to diplomatic gestures, admonished Gedi for this.
  • Constitutional powers: Ever since he was plucked out of Addis Ababa to run the Somali government, Gedi, who’s more deliberative but less manipulative than Yusuf, tried to exercise the constitutional powers guaranteed to him. The law of the land enunciates that the prime minister is responsible for running the-day-to-day operations of the government. The president, meanwhile, is largely ceremonial akin to that of Turkey, Israel, Iraq and Ethiopia, just to name a few. But president Yusuf has resisted coming to terms with that reality and has always meddled the daily affairs of the government. To his chagrin, Gedi raised this matter many times in the parliament and even with the international community. I was with a group of international delegation when one of Gedi’s top advisors stressed this point.   

Granted these issues, Gedi is by no means his predecessor, Ali Galaydh, for umpteen reasons. Let’s just take the top three reasons for the purpose of this article:

  1. Unlike Galaydh, who had little support in his native Laascaanood and among Dhulbahante, Gedi wields significant influence in Mogadishu and among his sub-clan, the Abgal. He has been shoring up, quite conspicuously, the Hawiye support in recent weeks. This is crucial because, in Somalia, politics are framed in a cascading style that’s bent on clan lines.
  2. Contrary to Galaydh, Gedi has disciples among Somalia’s notorious warlords. Lest you forgot, Mohamed Dheere, the governor of Mogadishu vacated his parliamentary seat to make a way for Gedi to become prime minister. The latter feels immensely indebted to Mohamed Dheere, and getting rid of Gedi would trigger a cascade of events. Other lesser known neighborhood warlords are also loyal to Gedi—a network that he reportedly maintains with cash in case of any eventuality.
  3. Gedi has the full blessings of Somalia’s arbiter, the Ethiopians. As one thoughtful friend of mine said to me the other day, Ethiopia “puts high premiums on loyalty, but not necessarily on bolstering one client over the other.” He epitomized the Puntland-Somaliland conflict, in which both sides competed for loyalty to Addis Ababa, and got just enough ammunition to continue killing each other, but not ridding off each other.

With these factors, Gedi is remarkably positioned to defy Yusuf’s attempt to sack him. In the worst case scenario, Gedi is banking on warlords like Mohamed Qanyare Afrah and Muse Sudi Yalahow, who spoke emphatically last week on behalf of him in the parliament. 

That’s if Yusuf musters enough votes in the parliament (only 125) to oust Gedi, the latter will declare that the vote was illegal, and practically stay in power. The crass-oriented, unpredictable Mohamed Dheere (who last year called Yusuf “a Daarood thug”) will eject Yusuf out of the presidential palace, assuming that Yusuf returns to Mogadishu.

Qanyare, Yalahow and host of other anarchists will organize a “national Hawiye convention,” in which they will declare that Mogadishu and Central Somalia have the right to self-determination under federal laws. They will undoubtedly cite Puntland and Kismayo as a living example, and will reinstate their long dreams. Now, I can’t guarantee that this scenario will get this far, but, from what I have heard in recent days, it compels me to believe this scenario. 

One might wonder where Ethiopia falls into all of this. I’ve already addressed that: It would be uncharacteristic of Addis Ababa to intervene Somali-Somali conflict, as long as the warring parties are all loyal to her, which they are. 

So what’s the net result of this scenario? Well, unlike Galaydh, who returned to Minnesota when Abdulqasim sacked him, Gedi might well become the leader of one TFG faction for the next two years, all the while he curves up a semi-autonomous region in south-central Somalia.

Or, as in with the unpredictable Somali politics, some other scenario might pan out.


Said Shiiq, Ph.D., is an independent researcher and a consultant with international relief organizations. He can be reached at [email protected]



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