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No More Useless Conferences on Somalia!

By Abdul-Aziz Mohammed
Sunday, April 17, 2011

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Just as a flicker of light appears at the end of Somalia’s perpetual dark tunnel, interests from within and without Somalia, which would keep Somalia (on purpose or by ignorance) in a broken state, want to reset the vista to total darkness. Such was represented by the well-advertised “high level consultative meeting” that was just concluded in Nairobi yesterday, the 14th of April.

This meeting, which was long ago scheduled, was for consulting the various stakeholders, Somalis and others, on a way forward beyond the upcoming end–of-mandate for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Real-time events in Somalia however, in the last few months, had already rendered the need for such a meeting totally irrelevant.

Firstly, the situation in Somalia has surprisingly and startlingly changed for promisingly a lot better. The new government, led by President Sheikh Sharif and Prime minster Farmajo, has shown effectiveness in 2 levels. One, the old ways of rampant corruption has been checked, which as a result (two) afforded the government, with the help of AMISOM, to militarily show undeniable successes against the anti-peace forces of Al-Shabaab.

Another game changer (had the U.N and its special envoy to Somalia, Mr. Mahiga, were to read the Somali situation correctly), which nullified such meeting, was the unilateral 3-year “term extension” by the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) and the follow suit one-year  term-extension by the government.

Under such circumstances, for Somalia’s primary interest, the futility of such a meeting should have been obvious to the U.N.

The biggest fallacy in Somalia’s ongoing troubles is a nonexistence need to reconcile Somalis, other than Al-Shabaab with the rest of Somalis. Al-Shabaab, however, is not yet ready to come to a negotiating table! With more decisive military defeats at the hands of the government, Al-Shabaab might be humbled into talks one day!

For Somalia to experience a real and lasting peace, who else are there to put to rights between them? Between Sharif Sakin and government or and between Puntland and TFG? Nonsense!

For all the complaints of Puntland about the TFG, Puntland still owes the TFG big time, for the TFG and its ally Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamah (ASWJ) have been a wall of defense for Puntland against Al-Shabaab. Without that, the black flag of Al-Shabaab would have been dancing against the wind in Garowe!

As for Sharif Sakin, this man should not have been a speaker of the parliament. The source of the dysfunction of the parliament is this man. After instigating the term extension for the parliament, he wants the government to fall (this is the reason he attended the Nairobi sham conference). So that he will be elected president!

What has he ever done for Somalia to even consider such promotion? He was corrupt in his previous post as the treasury minister. Accusations then, by the international community, of misappropriation of funds, embezzlement and bribery still stand. There are new and more serious allegations, far more injurious to Somalia’s national interest, against this man, of being the errand-boy of Ethiopia.

The elders of his clan have just called for his ousting! If the parliament post of speakership is allocated for his clan, based on the 4.5 formula, then I am sure there are many young and educated from this clan who are able and eager to effectively serve their country.

Therefore, if the parliament is to be set right, as a partner to and on the same page with the government on the struggle against Al-Shabaab, Sharif Sakin should be removed from the speakership post. The overriding interest of Somalia depends on that!   

What is at Stake for Somalia?

Somalia, country and people, has been in the dumpster for 20 years. Of all these 20 years of Somalia’s madness, nothing was more depressing than the inability of Somalis to produce well-equipped leaders to reverse the situation. Because of that, Somalia has been at the mercy of others: some of whom well-meaning yet ignorant of Somali ways, while others are with malevolence towards Somalia.

For once, I, as a Somali, am proud of the government’s decision to reject the United Nation’s Nairobi conference on “Somalia.” This told me that there are consequential Somali leaders in Somalia today who will no longer stand or sit on the order of others, who should not be in the business of micro-managing everything about Somalia. Yet, there are still some Somalis, like Sharif Sakin and Farole of Puntland, who fast put on their shoes ( for their own selfish interests) before the “come” hand gesture of foreign powers is complete.

Somalia is in an emergency war-situation. The upside of the war-current in Somalia is there is one but powerful group of Al-Shabaab, unlike the multiple and chaotic groups directed by warlords of yester years. This, believe it or not, is one of the good news about Somalia’s last 20 years of deadly confusion.  

This is so because, aside from the only one group to deal with aspect, Al-Shabaab is an ideology-based organization, which can only exist in discipline and order with solid command and control. By the very nature of Al-Shabaab, therefore, demands an equal counterpart to face Al-Shabaab in battle.

On the face of it, one may easily conclude the TFG is not that equal to answer Al-Shabaab’s challenge. After all, the TFG is a clan power-sharing prescription based. True. Not so fast, however, for the TFG is the conversion result of all the disorganized and deadly multiples, which I mentioned above, into one organization—however impaired by clan-based formula. For now, in this nebulous state of Somalia, it serves its purpose.

What has been missing, until now, from the TFG was an effective leadership in its executive branch. It took a natural evolution, given all the unsavory characters produced by 20 years of civil war, who clamored for power and looting, to finally produce the right leaders for the job.

I doubt there are many Somalis who would question Sheikh Sharif’s honesty and desire to do right by his country. Conversely, given his inexperience in politics, or world affairs, and lack of charisma, he did not have the fortune early on in his presidency to pick the right partners in the task before him. Case in point: Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke and Sharif Sakin, to mention a few.

Thank God, for president Sheikh Sharif has finally found the Good men and women who are up to the challenge to work with. What a difference this made for Somalia. In 2 months, Al-Shabaab has suffered deeply in the battlefield.

Also, what corruption? There has not been any report in the last few months, since Prime Minister Farmajo and his technocrats came on board, about corruption. The donated funds are efficiently appropriated—a must for the successful execution of the war against the anti-peace forces.

In a state of war, with finally good leadership to deal with the war-lovers of Al-Shabaab, why Somalia would need a new government? This, to me, is an attempt to put Somalia on a tail-spin all over again! What is the need for a new government, when we, for the first time, have one that just began to work?

Why, so that Sharif Sakin’s or Farole’s presidential ambition be satisfied! Who are the electing electorate, anyway? Plainly, we are not talking here about the people electing their representatives.

Who wants to risk the gains made by the current government on the votes of 550 MPs—with a history of putting their votes up for sale—for a better government than this one at hand? Bags of money for Sharif Sakin from Addis Ababa are surely waiting to be loaded on a plane. Do not forget that!  

Nothing should be done in Somalia today, not a conference on unnecessary reconciliation or an election of a Somali government, other than to see through the war against Al-Shabaab by the current government. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

All the other issues to tackle, from 4.5 clan formula, the number of parliament members, regionalism to what government system (central vs. federal) should all be handled (by the Somali people) after the struggle for  peace is won. Then and only then, it would be up to the Somali people to freely determine their destiny.

This is why I support both the parliament and government term-extensions respectively, if only to save myself to read about the stink of yet another conference, where Hyenas will gather to personally contend over the carcass of a great nation once! Have we Somalis not had enough of that yet! 

Abdul-Aziz Mohammed
[email protected]


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