Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Somalia: the Limits of Theoretical State

For a start, there is no denying that Somalia as a nation state exists. Yes it does. It’s on the world map; it’s also represented in the United Nations and numerous international bodies. It has a flag, a president, parliament, national army and police--although these nascent institutions are concentrated mainly in some parts of the capital city Mogadishu.

However, outside Mogadishu there is another reality. From much of South-central Somalia all the way to Puntland, there exists no geographic contiguity and a system of governance that directly takes its cue from the government in the capital city.  Yet the administrations of Ahlusunah waljameeca, Hiiraan, Xima & Xeeb, Azania and Puntland all claim, theoretically, allegiance to the TFG.

The TFG itself is a collection of unelected strange bedfellow – secularists, Sufis, Salafis, centralists, regionalists, federalists – brought together under the 4.5 power-sharing formula.
This ‘theater of the absurd’ is imposed on the Somali people for fear of Somalia becoming un-governed space and falling into the hands of international terrorist networks.

On the borders, the armies of neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia are currently deep in Somali territory claiming to assist the Somali government fight Alshaab. They do not, however, coordinate their activities with the TFG forces nor take orders from it. That is Somalia, a country that is free fall all, whose land, sea and air is everyone’s business.  The TFG officially represents this absurd country.

In what can be described as a case of misplaced priorities the TFG is undertaking momentous tasks in its Roadmap initiative. Among other things, they’re drafting a new constitution and readying the nation for elections. It seems these phantasmagorical projects are more important than improving the deteriorating security situation in the capital city and winning the war against Alshabaab. Or perhaps this war is never meant to be won at all. This goose that lays the golden eggs is better chased around than killed!

In another bizarre twist of events, the TFG is sending a delegation to London to hold talks with the representatives of the secessionist enclave of ‘Somaliland’. The agenda of the talks is everyone’s guess.  However, I will not be surprised if they agree to the secession of ‘Somaliland’. With the secessionist sympathizer Augustine Mahiga calling the shots, and the venue being London of all places, the expectation does not auger well. This view is informed by the haste with which the secessionists are rushing the process (they’ve announced their technical team ahead of the TFG) and the celebratory mood in Hargeisa relating to this issue. I shall not prejudge though. Perhaps the secessionists have exhausted everything and are looking for Sadbursi and a larger piece of the political pie of Somalia as they want to compete Puntland in the affairs of Southern Somalia. Even if so, the current theoretical TFG, is ill disposed to undertake such a momentous task on behalf of the country.  Granted, the TFG didn’t initiate this process; they were forced to do it, but they should have at least tried to convince the international community that the more pressing issues of security and stabilization of the country demanded their attention in the immediate term.

The Idea of a Nation and the Somali Condition

In a very thoughtful article entitled ‘The Role of Literature in Modern Africa’ (NewAfrican, Nov. 2010) which was written to commemorate the 50 anniversary since the dawn independence for many African nations, the famous Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie stated that one of the reasons why most African countries are failing is the fact “that citizens have not yet absorbed the idea of a nation. “A nation is not about the geography of land but the geography of the mind. It is an idea, or a collection of ideas.”

Adichie’s says “what has made other modern states succeed is a faith in its own idea of what it is and its place in the world”, which is largely missing in Africa, as we place emphasis on the ‘rituals’ of “the flags and borders and anthems that keep a people ostensibly united.” I’m sure Adichie has no issue with flags and borders, as other successful modern nations have them also, but the lack of self-confidence in ourselves and the loss of collective sense of who we are as a people and how this creates dependency on others is what concerns her most. Thus, she writes: “We are a people conditioned by our history and by our place in the modern world to look towards "somewhere else" for validation, to see ourselves as inhabitants of the periphery”.  Adichie may have analyzed the current African condition from an imaginative literary point of view but this is also true in the arena of economics and politics. After more than fifty years of independence, Africans still communicate with each other in European languages. African countries do business more with outsiders than between themselves. It’s also easier and cheaper in many African countries to travel to one African country to another via Europe. The cash crop for export, at the expense of domestic production, is still the favorite foreign currency earner. Not to mention the brain drain. I can continue but there is no need to rehash the obvious. The so-called African Union (AU) has done little tangible work to fully integrate African states – politically, economically, and socially - since its founding.

Somalis were the opposite of this. At the dawn of Independence, the largely homogenous Somalis had a solid idea of their collective sense as a people. The geography of the Somali mind was not confined to the two parts that formed the union of Somalia in July 1960. This idea was printed on the flag, legislated in the constitution, and sang in the national song.  At the time, Somalis were a people cocksure of themselves and their place in the world. The Somali child first imbibed the sights and sounds of his native soil before she/he came to into contact with other cultures. Somalis had also embraced and supported the struggles of Africans who were fighting for freedom, such as Mozambique, Angola, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa. 

Sadly that idea is today dead and gone. How it died and who killed it is not the scope or reach of this short article; rather it’s to show that Somalia as geographically contiguous nation state is not, currently, in existence. Nor is the idea which formed the original Somalia plausible today. Somalis are growing apart both mentality and physically. That is a reality that we cannot ignore any longer. We have lost the sense of who we are – collectively – as a people. We have become a people who look to others for validation and even rule. Adichie’s African condition is perhaps more Somali than African. 
Getting priorities right

The TFG is the only institution that represents this strange country that exists only in name. As such, they should thread carefully and not gamble with the future of this already fragile state by opening Bandora Boxes of secessionism which will certainly trigger cascading effects. The momentum created by the administration of former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed must not be squandered. Already Alshabaab are bouncing back with the recent deadly suicide attack in Mogadishu. This is because of the chronic over-dependency on foreign forces on the security of the country. It’s a national shame that Somali armed forces cannot hold their ground against Alshaab, let alone displace them without the assistance of AMISON troops. This dependency is ‘created fact’ which can be overcome if the TFG politicians in charge of the army put their priorities right. It’s only by empowering the Somali Armed Forces can the tide be turned against Alshabaab. Ultimately it’s the Somalis that must fight their fight. This open-ended foreign military presence is untenable and detrimental to the future of country. Just the other day AMISON troops were apologizing for running over innocent civilians. Apologies? Why not compensation or even criminal persecution? It‘s high time for the TFG to negotiate with AMISON  an agreement similar to Iraqi- American Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that should set a timetable for their stay in the country and regulate their activities in Somalia.

If we’re not deluding ourselves, the only way proper elections can be held and constitutional referendum be conducted, is by having boots on the ground in the provinces.

Secessionism can also be discouraged by negotiating from a position of strength and by offering better alternatives – that is, if you first put your house in order.

But instead of doing the obvious – which the majority of Somalis agree to - and putting their priorities right, the current TFG leaders, I’m sorry to say, are ‘Mending Rips in the Sky’, to borrow the title from Dr.  Hussein Adam Tanzani’s essay. 
Nuradin Jilani
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Ex-Somali Police Commissioner General Mohamed Abshir

Ex-Somali Police Commissioner  General Mohamed Abshir

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater
Somalia army parade 1979

Sultan Kenadid

Sultan Kenadid
Sultanate of Obbia

President of the United Meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of the Somali Republic,

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire
Sultanate of Warsengeli

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre
Siad Barre ( A somali Hero )

MoS Moments of Silence

MoS Moments of Silence
honor the fallen

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre  and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie
Beautiful handshake

May Allah bless him and give Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan

May Allah bless him and give  Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan
Honorable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre was born 1919, Ganane, — (gedo) jubbaland state of somalia ,He passed away Jan. 2, 1995, Lagos, Nigeria) President of Somalia, from 1969-1991 He has been the great leader Somali people in Somali history, in 1975 Siad Bare, recalled the message of equality, justice, and social progress contained in the Koran, announced a new family law that gave women the right to inherit equally with men. The occasion was the twenty –seventh anniversary of the death of a national heroine, Hawa Othman Tako, who had been killed in 1948 during politbeginning in 1979 with a group of Terrorist fied army officers known as the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF).Mr Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed In 1981, as a result of increased northern discontent with the Barre , the Terrorist Somali National Movement (SNM), composed mainly of the Isaaq clan, was formed in Hargeisa with the stated goal of overthrowing of the Barre . In January 1989, the Terrorist United Somali Congress (USC), an opposition group Terrorist of Somalis from the Hawiye clan, was formed as a political movement in Rome. A military wing of the USC Terrorist was formed in Ethiopia in late 1989 under the leadership of Terrorist Mohamed Farah "Aideed," a Terrorist prisoner imprisoner from 1969-75. Aideed also formed alliances with other Terrorist groups, including the SNM (ONLF) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), an Terrorist Ogadeen sub-clan force under Terrorist Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess in the Bakool and Bay regions of Southern Somalia. , 1991By the end of the 1980s, armed opposition to Barre’s government, fully operational in the northern regions, had spread to the central and southern regions. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes, claiming refugee status in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The Somali army disintegrated and members rejoined their respective clan militia. Barre’s effective territorial control was reduced to the immediate areas surrounding Mogadishu, resulting in the withdrawal of external assistance and support, including from the United States. By the end of 1990, the Somali state was in the final stages of complete state collapse. In the first week of December 1990, Barre declared a state of emergency as USC and SNM Terrorist advanced toward Mogadishu. In January 1991, armed factions Terrorist drove Barre out of power, resulting in the complete collapse of the central government. Barre later died in exile in Nigeria. In 1992, responding to political chaos and widespread deaths from civil strife and starvation in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the operation was designed to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the effects of dual catastrophes—one manmade and one natural. UNITAF was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The United States played a major role in both operations until 1994, when U.S. forces withdrew. Warlordism, terrorism. PIRATES ,(TRIBILISM) Replaces the Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre administration .While the terrorist threat in Somalia is real, Somalia’s rich history and cultural traditions have helped to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. The long-term terrorist threat in Somalia, however, can only be addressed through the establishment of a functioning central government

The Honourable Ronald Reagan,

When our world changed forever

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)
Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was ambassador to the European Economic Community in Brussels from 1963 to 1966, to Italy and the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] in Rome from 1969 to 1973, and to the French Govern­ment in Paris from 1974 to 1979.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac 'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac  'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.
Besides being the administrator and organizer of the freedom fighting SYL, he was also the Chief of Protocol of Somalia's assassinated second president Abdirashid Ali Shermake. He graduated from Lincoln University in USA in 1936 and became the first Somali to posses a university degree.

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

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