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A comprehensive strategy: The newly elected Federal Government of Somalia’s political dispensation

by Prof. Liban A Egal
Friday, September 28, 2012

Post-conflict reconstruction has become the foreign policy menu in the international community. Recently, the international community’s endeavor in Somalia has demonstrated that planning, financing, coordination, and execution of their programs for rebuilding war-torn countries are extremely inadequate.  In early 90’s after US (restore hope) and UN mission failed its interventions in Somalia, the country disintegrated into anarchic battleground of competing warlords, sectarian groups and also foreign and local militants used as a staging ground for attacks and escape route for their operations.

The crisis in governance, especially poverty stricken states poses a serious threat to its neighboring security.  Terrorism, power struggle, and regional instability are on the rise on some African and Asian countries and the consequence will not only be felt locally but will have a domino effect and spread globally. Somalia’s failure inevitably harmed regional security and the economy that provided neighboring countries prosperity, peace and security.  

An effective sustainable strategy is to focus on crisis prevention, rapid response, centralized and coordinated decision-making to prevent internal threats. The best assessment is to recognize the root cause of state failure, and seek for long-term solution by concurrently undertaking development programs (especially in public services) with practical reconciliation process while at the same time cementing stable and accountable strong institutions.

Currently, in Somalia, some segments of the population (especially certain districts/provinces) are cut off from government controlled areas because of the lack of disarmament and endemic insecurity.  

Spoilers take advantage of borders and ports economies to establish operational bases from which they secure financing, recruit militants, and plan attacks; even major regional powers are far from immune. In addition, the violence, epidemics, and refugee crises often spill into neighbors, destabilizing entire regions. Poverty ridden countries are 10 times more susceptible to internal conflict.

To overcome these anarchic barriers, the newly fragile “Somali Federal government” must provide basic services such as effective development programs, education, health care, and rebuilt socio-economy infrastructure. An inability to do so creates a capacity-gap, which can lead to a loss of public confidence, and consequently lead to political violence. To foster its legitimacy, the government needs to protect the basic rights and freedoms of its people, enforce the rule of law and return looted properties, and allow broad-based participation in the political process to enhance democracy.

International Community’s Role & Responsibility (UN, Donors and World Bank)

The International community’s past efforts at nation-building for development and stability have often disintegrated nations such as Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, it needs an innovative, comprehensive, and sustainable strategy to reverse such trend in order to disrupt the wave of ongoing violence, humanitarian crises, poor development and political upheaval that is sweeping across these countries.

Before it imposes its primitive foreign policy into Somalia’s newly fragile government, it must examine and learn from their previous attempts and failures. Apparently, money cannot buy effective governance; strengthening good governance requires much more than just transferring cash. It relies on building a state's capacity to protect its borders, provide essential social/public services, and ensure basic human rights for its people. If committed swiftly and strategically, it can be a cornerstone of rapid-response.

The international community's tough action on reform must accompany new and unconditional infusions of aid, along with an ongoing supportive sanity check. Its  policymakers must be gradually candid to sustain a long-term nature of the state-building enterprise. African Union and Arab league must multilaterally grant Somalia access to its markets, such as free trade which could help millions of people fight poverty, expanding regional trade is surely the way to energize stagnant economies.

If World Bank could inject $5 billion for development programs annually into Somalia, it will create jobs, enhance trade, and rebuilt war-damaged infrastructure. We would suggest donors and international financial institutions to provide Somalia 100% debt relief program, which can be a major blessing to start.  These institutions should find a framework that relieves Somalia’s debt possibly as much as 100%, to prevent further eruption of unsustainable debts. Evidently, World Bank needs to issue more grants instead of loans with higher interest rates.

State collapse can also be prevented by helping poverty-ridden states reform their security forces using contingency funds to advice, train, or support its police and military forces. Strengthening Somali Federal Govt. capacity to police its territory is a crucial element of state building. AMISOM’s contract that undermines Somalia security-sector must be reconfigured. One of the fundamental reasons for AMISOM's success in reacting to emergencies is its limitless supply of contingency funding from international donors. Courageously these African multination armies have shown an increased willingness to take some responsibility to contain turmoil in the region.

Evidently, Somalia’s National Army and its security sector has no comparable capacity but logically can be mobilized only if they have adequate logistical and transport capabilities to realistically counter the dangers of the modern insurgency and terrorism.

The newly Somali president should establish an office of joint-coordinator for stabilization, reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement (close to 1.5 million people were uprooted from their homes and had lost their means of livelihoods) emergency program that come directly under his office administration. Such emergency program will create a cohesive rapid-response to free from the myriad of constraints that Somalia currently faces. Furthermore, it will establish an early-warning directorate charged with monitoring short-term crises. There is no strategy that promises a silver bullet instead it is designed to improve federal government's institution-building capacity to prevent crises before they occur, and to respond quickly and effectively when they do. The new leaders of the Federal government should show a remarkable ability to promote economic growth, and develop capable police and military forces which demand sustainable commitment.

The international community should begin to revamp one of the most primitive pieces of legislation on their cook-books of today, and reduce overlapping mandates, and patchwork which encourage confusion and disruption. Obviously, without strategically centralized leadership, Somalia’s development efforts will continue to remain on the outside of debates about policy, security, and diplomacy.

Human Capital: Somali Diaspora Communities

Diaspora, the Human Capital is a major source of foreign investment in the economic, social and political spheres. Somali Diaspora communities are force multipliers, which in return provide people the tools to initiate life saving approach. Furthermore, they seek to maximize the country’s income stream from remittances directly to households, businesses, which bear fruit in the longer-run depends very much on the success of national development policies. The Government should build an umbrella or an organization that registers Diaspora businesses in order to encourage and provide temporary tax relief. Diaspora groups may have a role to play in peace and reconstruction processes, and the governments that host them should carefully consider encouraging the involvement of those who can be seen as honest brokers.

Prof. Liban A Egal
[email protected]


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