Help Somalia Now

by Ali Osman
Sunday, February 08, 2009

The world must not lose a moment to help Somalia and the current elected leadership. Somali parliament has wisely elected someone who has shown credibility, pragmatism and the political capital to unite a fractured nation. And in this part of the world credibility means everything.

It is the first time since the collapse of the Somali republic that a sensible man with strong credentials in religion, political, moderation and the wisdom to guide Somalia out of this civil war and lawlessness.

Somalis across tribal lines and ethnicities congratulated each other on his inauguration eve. The people of Somalia admire the elected president. Most Somalis believe his elections sets the stage for the rebirth of the Somali republic.

The current president was not elected because of his tribal, wealthy or power ranking or affiliation. He was elected because he called for equality, justice, peace and progress. Most Somalis see him as honorable human being that embodies their aspirations, hopes and fears. For the first time in decades, Somalis saw someone with sound judgment that they can trust with their country. They saw someone that will not betray their trust.

Somalis tell me, that he will not steal the wealthy and aid donated to the republic. They say he is deeply concerned the blight of the Somalis. He is a peace maker not a war maker. Somalis old and young would tell you, he is someone who knows how to build bridges and not how to blow them up.

He is someone that is practical and live in the world of today but not in utopia that does not exist. He is able to sit and negotiate friends and foes alike. If the world, especially the United Nations and the United States provides the timely help that he deserves, he would restore peace, order and democratic government that eluded Somalia for decades. He is someone who can restore credibility and trust with neighboring countries to reach peace and security in this volatile region.

President Sharif is someone who calls Somalis for their angelic side and not their darker side. He is a uniting figure and not divisive. He is an internationalist and not an isolationist. Most Somalis can associate one way or another with his experience. He is a devote Muslim, he once was a student, a teacher, a judge, a businessman, a preacher, Islamic Courts leader, a resistance fighter, a peace negotiator, a father and now the President of Somalia.

However, with his formidable credibility in political, personal and goodwill he faces formidable adversaries that he has to deal with. He has to work with parliamentarians with varying agendas and loyalties. He will have to deal with powerful insurgency movements that he once led and some strongly feel they have to unravel his administration. He will need all his negotiation skills in making peace with sensible groups within the insurgency.

Somalia is in the brink of the worst famine that Africa has seen in decades and there is an urgent need for humanitarian aid, refugee resettlement and rebuilding destroyed infrastructure. He also has to negotiate and come to a peaceful agreement with breakaway regions such as Somaliland and Puntland.

The president is someone who has the best chance in restoring and ending the war that ravaged Somalia. He needs to urgently build security apparatus such as police force, bringing in bureaucrats in the area of city, airport and seaport administration. The president needs immediate financial aid to build the necessary vehicles for restoring the peace, order and the basic governmental functions that are critical for the success of his administration. He would be negotiating with suspicious neighbors and resistance fighters. He would have to convince tribal and clan elders that his administration would be partial and based on justice.

The current elected president has shown the credibility, foresight, and willingness to be realistic. He has shown negotiation, peacemaking and consensus building is far superior to pointing guns at each other. He is also a man, prepared to have a good relationship with neighbors and the international community.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a country respected by majority of Somalis. Their word and council does carry a heavy weight within Somalia due to religious reasons. Saudi Arabia is the capital of the Muslim world. It has historic ties with Somalia in terms of culture, education, and significant number of Somali expatriates live there.

Somali Islamic scholars have significant connection and most preachers have spent significant time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or studied under Saudi universities. Therefore, the council and reconciliation of the Saudi Arabian leadership both the religious scholars and the King Abdullah does carry important and significant weight.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is also a figure the Somali politicians and Islamic scholars see as important and friend of Somalia. He has on many occasions tried to resolve the Somali crisis while there was no credible leader that Somalis united under but now there is one. The most important area that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia can assist is the area of reconciliation between the different warring religious factions. Saudi Arabia can also provide emergency cash fund to pay the police, city administrators and parliamentarians until the government can establish a tax system to pay the government employees.

United States, Canada, Sweden, UK have significant population that have settled there or are on their way to seek an asylum. The European Union countries have vested interest in restoring order, peace, and security to Somalia. The European countries have in the past struggled to control illegal migration but there were nothing they could do about the Somali migrants. Now, there is a government led by president Sharif, and there is an opportunity to reverse this trend as Somalis would not be migrating by the thousands.

The United Nations have on many occasions tried to rebuild a system of government in Somalia and it has failed mainly because there was no credible leader that combined, the religious, political and experience like the elected President Sheikh Sharif. There is now an amble opportunity to work with him and see through that viable government emerges Somalia.

It is a rare opportunity that the world must not lose a moment to capitalize on these positive developments. If the world continues to be agnostic, a policy based on wait and see, I am afraid, we are losing a golden opportunity and it may not present itself again. The world must help and help it now.

Ali Osman
E-mail: [email protected]

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