Sunday, July 17, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Understanding the Somalia conflagration: Identity, political

Understanding Somalia’s conflict can perhaps seem like quite an arduous task. However, Understanding the Somalia conflagration by Dr. Afyare from Qatar University is well structured, simple to read, and offers a rational balance that is a useful reference to anyone with a passing interest, or indeed considering further research on Somalia.

The book traces the current unfolding and complex events back to their historical roots. It starts with a history of Somalia`s colonial period, when external powers divided Somali territories, and explains thoroughly the events leading to the catastrophic civil war in early 1991. It also presents an extensive analysis of Somalia’s civil war and the often confusing and troubled history of this nation.
The book (which seems to be a revised PhD thesis) is divided into nine chapters. The first three chapters set out the analytical framework of the study and offers wide conceptualization on the conflict in relation to multiple identity markers such as clan, Islam, and Somaliness. The discussions presented by the author are remarkable. Firstly, he investigates all the peace reconciliation efforts along with the roles played by foreign actors and greedy warlords. Secondly, the obscure notion of clan identity is well explained, something which is often embellished in other works. Afyare writes: “clan identity, in itself is not the cause of the conflict; it’s a mobilization instrument”p.34.
This is true because there are more issues that unite Somali people than clan affiliation, but it became the opium Somalia`s ruling class have used to divide and rule Somalis.
In chapter three, he seeks to explain why clan identity is conducive to the current civil war, its drivers and dynamics; and the consequences of clan politics and who benefits from such politics, and why. The author presents mixed explanations, including that exploitative colonial and country’s leaders has compounded inimical inter-clan relations. For example, the last regime’s divide-and-rule policies assured the docility of different clan groups.
The first six chapters of the book highlight the failure of the state in transforming the conflict, thus prolonging the civil war, the rise of political Islam, and the further Talibanization of Somali society.
Afyare attributes the Islamist rise to several factors. These include the political vacuum left by two decades of civil war that produced new generations of violent fundamentalists nurtured and inspired by what he described as “Islamic awakening” p.48. His thoughtful overview of Somalia’s history, civil war, clan identity and absence of a peace building mechanism helps to situate the current crisis in the context of the past and sheds light on many possible ways out of the gridlock.
However, the book also deals with key issues which initially seem somewhat unrelated, but soon turn out to be opposite sides of the same coin. At the geopolitical level the author draws a picture of Somalia as a country which can’t ever be fully recovered due the level of destruction that has taken place. His main argument is that the myriad of rival clans in the country find it hard to agree on everything and an Islamist political accommodation is the only way forward to resolve the conflict. This avowal sends the wrong message on many fronts and this is what sets the book apart from rest of the work.
The peculiar Islamist outlook the author proposes from time to time is overly entertained in his thesis. The explanation of the Islamic awaking, although well placed and dramatic, recites familiar works but contributes to no fresh insights. Furthermore, his Islamist take is questionable. A somewhat weak part of the book is the notion which underplays the imminent threat to neighboring countries like Ethiopia.
The chapter subtitle reads: “Islamic courts in Somalia: A vehicle for social change”p.63. This statement is certainly correct, but not sophisticated enough to explain minority radicals’ nature and the threat they pose to regional security that provoked Ethiopian intervention. Afyare’s analysis relies more on Islamist interviews for its dominant political force. This account, which I disagree with, provides the basis for generating several hypotheses on the likely form and trajectory of political Islam in the country.
The dominant role of extremists in Union Islamic Courts (UIC) as well as hostility to Ethiopia, including destabilizing units dispatched into Ethiopia’s Somali region long before the Ethiopian intervention in 2006, is barely covered and jihadi motives are not mentioned at all.
Nevertheless, Somalia conflagration is a recommendable introduction to a country which is increasingly the focus of the global war of terror. It does not deliver only the background information, but also repeatedly deprecates the international community’s sole ownership of Somalia’s initiatives.
The author’s illustration of the international community’s routine symbolic interventions exemplifies the gap between reality and the theory which fuels endless war. The point he argues for is, if the international community wants the people of this troubled country to take responsibility for their lives, they cannot engineer solutions for them, no matter how smart these may seem.
He draws on a number of cases to explain the need to review over two decades of fruitless engagement. For several reasons I do agree with him in this. First, the failure of so many interventions puts a restraint on the search for a solution. Different peacekeeping missions, picking leaders, taking sides and trying to impose a government by force without tangible state building measures are the past actions which are synonymous with international community actions. The international community should stop its obsession with forming endless transitional administrations without state building measures. Secondly, while it is important for the international actors to allow a breathing space in which Somalis can devise solutions to their own problems, Somalis have to be allowed to make experimental decisions along with proven ones. The central argument here is that Somali’s need to decide their own fate and the international community should only support a “home grown solution”p.137.
The author illustrates how the clan issue is no longer a hurdle in Somalia since the Islamists came to power. Sadly, politicians are putting their interests before the nation and are prolonging inter-clan conflicts. The author offers alternatives to overcome 4.5 quota formulas like a “bicameral system where one of the houses can have clan representatives and another by districts or geographical formula”. However, Afyare is not enthusiast the system which he considers a tool to interfere in the country’s affairs. This interference comes mostly from neighboring Ethiopia, as Afyare elegantly puts it “were formula has been designed in 1996”p.93. According to him, Ethiopia has had different roles in the last 20 years. Kenya has a “facilitator and beneficiary’s role of the conflict”p.97, and Djibouti’s “peace promoter” roles are the major regional players in the country, p.98.Warnings of foreign interventions are carefully documented in this book, in which the role of the international community and of the United Nations especially, makes for dismal reading. ''The UN, its backers, and the NGO’s in Nairobi control what is happening in Somalia” writes Afyare, p.131.
The US government’s add-on to the conflict is well highlighted and it can also be implicit in how the international community has dragged its feet on justice and accountability, fearful that growing instability in the country could spiral into further anarchy if it alienates its warlord allies.Of course, one reason why Afyare could not provide space on the subject is because of the absence of domestic institutions and capacity that can support a comprehensive transitional justice process. Each of these issues can only be discussed when there is genuine national state building. Although international actors have repeatedly sermonized on the importance of justice and reconciliation, they have done little to exclude notorious warlords that have committed war crimes from the political process.In addition to this, they supported and financed criminal warlords as published in recent Wikileaks cables. According to these, ruthless warlords like Gen. Morgan, Qanyare, Qaybdid and Bashir Raghe were to be the men on the ground and whenever the US needed support in the War on Terror they could be armed against small district courts in Mogadishu, which later sparked the UIC’s formation.Accordingly, the international community has done nothing to promote justice not only in Somalia but even in their own countries. Many criminal warlords have fled to west and have been granted a safe haven. Currently, more than half of Somalia’s parliamentarians are former warlords and corrupted politicians who have played roles in bloody civil war. In recent peace agreement negotiations, the donor and UN have not even tried to exclude let alone to disarm them.In the last pages of the book, the author offers recommendations for what is best for the country. He emphasizes the need for “revisiting the country’s federal system” (p.42) as mistaken policy choices have been made. At times, these recommendations are too abstract. The author does not discuss how they can be brought about, though there are many challenges in implementing these policies to be overcome.Still, this book is an excellent contribution to the growing literature on state building and conflict resolution in Somalia. It presents a broad, diverse, and complex picture that is informative and vital for understanding Somalia. This is a book which is well-written, inventive and amazingly readable. It is fair to say Afyare is emerging as one of the most serious and thoughtful contributors on Somalia. Few academics have ever worked to develop a robust and principled policy toward Somalia that responds to the challenges of terrorism, statelessness and peace building.

Afyare Abdi Elmi
Identity, Political Islam and Peacebuilding
By Afyare Abdi Elmi

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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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We Are Winning the War on Terrorism in Horn of Africa

The threat is from violent extremists who are a small minority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, the threat is real. They distort Islam. They kill man, woman and child; Christian and Hindu, Jew and Muslim. They seek to create a repressive caliphate. To defeat this enemy, we must understand who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for.

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