By Said Shiiq, Ph.D.
Friday, October 19, 2007
|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
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
- 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:
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.
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.
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
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]