Well, at least that is what it was called before the Military Regime, clan-based movements, warlords, and Religious hardliners managed to destroy it beyond recognition. Most news items coming from our country these days are very depressing although there are sprinkles of hope here and there.
A beautiful, historical city in ruins that has become a battleground for the men-in-black, ineffective TFG forces and merciless foreign troops who are supposed to keep a peace that does not exist. They are actually there to protect a dying, corrupt, and dysfunctional government. Sometimes I wonder why three landlocked
countries dominated by the Tutsi, distant relatives of ours, have been selected to prolong the life of an entity on a life-support system that is funded by Western donors. Unlike Ethiopia, these countries cannot have any vested interest in our long coastline unless there is a modern European style scramble for Somalia by our surrounding regional powers as a Kenyan writer suggested in a provocative article that riled many of us. If that is the case, then our Tutsi cousins have every right to partake of the spoils to be had once Somalis succeed in wiping themselves from the face of the earth; the way things are going, another 20 years of this is enough to get us where the Red Indians are today.
As if the mayhem in Mogadishu were not enough to make us sick to the stomach, the leaders of the dying TFG are again at each others’ throats. The current power struggle is a replay of earlier ones. If you have been counting, this is the fourth sacking of either the President or the Prime Minister. It seems that there is a common denominator that all these power struggles share. One of the protagonists is from the clan that dominates Mogadishu while the other is from a clan that lacks any powerbase in the city. Mind you, the two clans are always fixed and do not change. Instead of analyzing the problem and exploring the cause of the perpetual rift between the President and his Prime Minister, the sacked one gets replaced by a member of the same clan and things move on until we hit another snag and the same scenario gets replayed over and over.
We all know that the TFG is not a government for all Somalis. They only control a few blocks in Mogadishu and yet the misguided International Community treats them as a government for the whole of the country. Millions of Somalis live beyond the control of a government that gets millions of dollars in foreign aid and spends that money on trotting the globe, enriching themselves, and buying the favors of 550 members of parliament who are for sale to the highest bidder. You heard right, a parliament of 550 for a government that controls a few blocks of a city in ruins. A semi literate man and an illiterate man who share the same name, have duped the whole world into believing that there is a credible government in Somalia that is worthy of their support. The more evil of the two seems to have an extraordinary IQ to have pulled off such a feat.
In my humble opinion, and you may not agree with me, the solution lies in adopting a new strategy for the TFG in Mogadishu. Firstly, we need to change its name from the TFG to Banadirland, it does rhyme with Somaliland and Puntland. Secondly, the Prime Minister can be selected this time from the clan that dominates Banadirland and not from any other region in Somalia, or even better be abolished altogether. Thirdly, the unelected and useless TFG parliament deserves to be abolished. Fourthly, the International Community needs to help Banadirland establish a regional administration that is capable of securing Mogadishu and its surrounding areas. Finally, the Somali people need to hold a reconciliation conference in Somaliland or Puntland to determine the future of their country without the interference of external entities including the UN. Some of these recommendations have been inspired by a Mr. Dalabey who recently demanded the expulsion of non-native politicians from Mogadishu. Some regarded his comments as offensive but the guy just paraphrased my current recommendations in a non-diplomatic fashion.
This strategy makes sense since it will force the clan that dominates Mogadishu to put its house in order using its own politicians. They will not have a chance to accuse other clans of their failures to pacify their territories. I concur that the capital Mogadishu does not belong to any particular clan, but things have drastically changed over the last 20 years and we have to face up to the realities on the ground. Maybe it is about time to seriously consider moving the capital out of this wretched city that had been subjected to similar destruction several hundred years ago for the same reasons, native marginalization.
Apart from using thousands of foreign forces to pacify the South, a costly strategy that seems to be failing in Afghanistan, the only logical solution for Mogadishu is to emulate the models in Somaliland and Puntland. These models seem to be working largely because of their local nature and the absence of foreign involvement. Mogadishu needs a similar approach.
The millions being spent on propping up a dead horse and a few thousand Tutsi soldiers can be diverted to helping the millions of Somalis living in other parts of Somalia in deplorable conditions.
The strategy seems to neglect the Shabab and Hizbi-Islam, two dominant forces in the South. The two organizations get their support mostly from the people in the South and will collapse if reasons for supporting them disappear. Among these reasons is the presence of foreign troops. Even if the South elects to continue supporting these organizations, their perceived threats against neighboring countries are overblown as many western analysts have recently admitted. In a two part article Dr. Samatar, a Somali professor in the US, advises the US government to leave Somalia to its own devices.
Some people may see this strategy as dividing Somalia into min-states. Since most of us are convinced that a Federal System is the only solution for our petty differences, the strategy is based on that concept and not on the concept of allowing different enclaves to secede, a scenario that may please Ethiopia but cannot work in Somalia because of our homogenous nature. The lack of any other viable solution for our problem makes this strategy palatable in the short term. Since Southern Somalia does not seek secession from Somalia, the risk of a balkanized country seems to be minimal.
A new administration took over from an unpopular one that was dominated by former National Security Service personnel who cooperated with the Ethiopian Regime, an archenemy of the Somali people. Even after being kicked out from office, the leaders of the former administration received a red-carpet treatment by Meles Zenawi as a gesture of gratitude for their invaluable services such as rounding up members of the ONLF, an organization that fights for liberating Somali territories from Ethiopia, and handing them over to the Tigre dominated regime.
Unlike his predecessor, the leader of the current administration seems to have defied the Ethiopian Regime and its dominating attitude towards most of the Regional Administrations in Somalia. Despite his contribution to the destruction of Somalia and its current miserable state, Silanyo has so far behaved in a dignified manner when it comes to dealing with our domineering neighbor; the Tigre have finally realized that the spirit of Ahmed Guray is still alive in Somalia.
To focus on developing Somaliland with the meager resources available to his administration, Silanyo needs to resolve several issues that he inherited from his predecessor. As a former guerrilla fighter, he needs to appreciate the gravity of the situation unfolding in the regions that do not subscribe to the secessionist agenda that Rayale pushed aggressively with the help of Meles Zenawi.
It is not in the interest of Somaliland to spend its meager resources on a meaningless conflict that defies all logic. The way I see it, there is only one solution to the current impasse. The withdrawal of all Somaliland forces from the regions that do not support secession and the initiation of serious negotiations with the leaders of these regions to reach a mutual working relationship that can satisfy both sides. Spilling more Somali blood is not in the interest of both parties. Using lessons learned from his SNM days, Silanyo can undoubtedly reach the same conclusion despite the hardliners in Hargeisa.
I would also like to encourage the new administration to consider dismantling the symbol of an ugly past in the middle of Hargeisa. It is ugly, out of place and reminds its residents of an ugly civil war that destroyed us as a nation. This does not mean that we need to forget this ugly phase in our troubled history. Such relics belong to a Museum where tourists and students of History can learn about our ugly past. All nations have gone through an unforgettable moment in their history but that usually brought them closer together and not apart. The United States emerged stronger from its civil war. Let us also emerge stronger as a nation and stop dwelling on a past that was created by individuals who made the wrong choices. The important thing is to prevent the recurrence of such terrible choices.
A recent article by a Hargeisa resident gives us all hope that this is possible. It seems that this article is not an isolated incident. A hardcore secessionist web-site recently posted a song by a Somaliland lady calling for Somalis to unite, Qaldaney Soomaalaay. Let us hope that this trend continues and gains momentum.
It is a state in turmoil. The Galgala conflict defies all logic. Innocent people are getting killed by the Puntland Intelligence Services, the PIS aka “Shahaada la Dirir”. Thousands of innocent IDPs got evicted forcefully from Bosasso to return to the hell that they escaped from in the first place. The President of Puntland spends more time in Addis than his own capital, Garowe. The place is transforming slowly into a Zone 6 of Ethiopia, Kilinka Lixaad. A direct airline service links Garowe to Addis to facilitate the rendition of so-called terrorists and ONLF sympathizers. Garowe looks more and more like the Hargeisa of the Rayale days when Ethiopian airlines had a regular flight to Hargeisa and there was a quasi diplomatic Ethiopian mission stationed there that interfered even in cabinet nominations.
400 armed men defected from the security forces of Puntland to areas controlled by forces loyal to the leaders fighting against secession in Somaliland. They are expected to participate in a final push to reclaim Las Anod and establish a new administration there that is independent from both Puntland and Somaliland. This can only add to the problems of Somalia unless the Northern clans come together and resolve the issue peacefully as they have always done.
An ideal solution would be for Puntland, Somaliland and the new comer, SSC, to unite against the men in black and replace the dead horse in Mogadishu which can later on join a Federal system of government for the whole of Somalia. I know that that this is wishful thinking but we are all entitled to dream like great men before us whose dreams became realities.
A group calling itself Somali-Intellectuals established a new e-group confined to the so-called Somali Intellectuals. They probably mean well but this is not the first effort. All previous efforts ended up in failure. A Somali Intellectual these days is an Oxymoron. Allow me to twist a poem by the famous Somali poet Cali Dhuux, “Aqoonyahan Dhugo, Dhankaagaa dalkaa looga soo dhacaye”. The fact remains that if there were Somali Intellectuals, we would not be in the mess we are in today. A University degree does not qualify one to become an Intellectual. I know that I am not. I know of illiterate Somalis who are more worthy of the title.
I have a suggestion for these intellectuals. Form a permanent crisis group or think-thank that is qualified to diffuse potentially explosive situations in the country instead of relying on foreigners to resolve our problems. The group should have the capacity to travel to Somalia on short notice to pre-empt the kind of situations that can prolong the suffering of our people. Instead of fruitless debates on a Constitution that Togane labeled as any Oxymoron when he coined the phrase,” Klan and Constitution”, they need to muster the courage to travel to Somalia and challenge the leaders there with constructive ideas that can help us extricate ourselves from the influence of foreign meddlers.
We all like to talk about the plight of some of our brothers who have been discriminated against for centuries but in reality, we continue treating them the same way. Despite Hadrawi’s Dhulgariir poem, we continue to discriminate against them, harass them, belittle them and fail to give them their fair share of power in all Somali administrations. Even Hadrawi refused to have a school funded by the famous Somali singer Maryam Mursal, to be named after him. Although he tried to justify his action, the poet lost the respect of many of us because his behavior stirred an unnecessary debate. His acceptance would have meant a lot for Maryam and the beneficiaries of the school in Hargeisa. Hadrawi’s action only mirrors our hypocrisy as a nation that is full of cowards when it comes down to facing up to reality and looking ourselves in the mirror which would reflect back the image of cowardly bigots.
The recent kidnapping and torture of two ladies from this community proves that we have a long way to go towards redressing these serious human right violations. The kidnapping happened in a court of law in a town known as Aynaba after they were found not guilty of charges brought against them by the kidnappers. Although the ladies were finally rescued by the police, the culprits will probably go unpunished.
But it seems that there is one brave young man who has defied our hypocrisy. He rebelled against his hypocritical parents who allowed his brother to marry a Hindu lady while denying him the privilege of marrying a fellow Muslim Somali from the wrong clan. This reminds me of a wedding in Kuwait in which a Somali lady danced at the wedding of her daughter who married an African American who may have been the descendant of slaves. I could not help wondering what her reaction would be if her daughter married a Somali man who was unlucky enough to be born on the wrong side of our ugly clannish divide.
Let us hope that our leaders can use their gray cells to extricate us from the ugly mess that we are in and let us keep dreaming and hoping that the Land of Milk and Honey can be resurrected again. Regional powers like Ethiopia do not have our best interest in at heart and would love to see us as divided min-states that it controls. Let us forget our differences and start thinking of our future generations who are at risk of being ruled from Addis Ababa.
The Somali Conflict Root causes , peace-building strategies