By Samiya Lerew
Drones. Slick, slim, slender, smart and elegant. They effortlessly glide through the sky. Drones, whatever else they may be, they are most definitely a work of art. This fine artwork is unlike any other we have seen before; this is a war machine designed to perfection. It soars through the sky unmanned, no warriors needed. It hits its target then gracefully returns to base like an unfaltering and unwavering boomerang. It smites its enemies with no scars to show for it. The drone causes maximum devastation to the enemy competent; no body bags return home as a consequence. No casualties to send home. The future of warfare has been irretrievably changed.
An elegant machine becomes blessed one, when it has the ability to remove a hardened terrorist with surgical precision. However, a blessed drone may become a cursed one when it acts upon false and fabricated information, staged terrorist hideouts or their location. Although the command, control and execution of drone operations are flawless, the same cannot be said about ground intelligence. RPA remotely piloted aircrafts, these hunter-killers totally depend on reliable intelligence. Agents operating covertly to gather intelligence on the ground should be loyal, highly motivated and reliable. In the case of Somalia there is high chance that on-the-ground intelligence-gatherers have either ulterior motives or their loyalty cannot be relied upon, as two masters may be served at the same time (double agents). War on terror in Somalia cannot be won by drones alone. The cause of the Al-Shabab issue has to be addressed.
Paul Hirst. (2001) War & Power in the 21st Century. Cambridge, Polity :
“If we turn from new wars to new weapons, the central organizing theme of the discussion of post-Cold War military forces has been the ‘revolution in military affairs’ (RMA). The debate about the RMA has been conducted at a high level in the USA, concentrating on future strategy, military organization, and the direction of weapons research and investment. Indeed, the RMA debate is that existing forces are largely obsolete. The US military is organized around platforms: planes, ships and tanks. Yet America’s key assets are in guided weapons. The leading advocates of the RMA argue that command, control, communications and intelligence are capable of rapid development such that they will dispel the fog of war, enabling senior commanders to see the combat situation and junior ones to command complex firepower at will”. The fog of war, albeit the fog of the Al-Shabab terror war, in the Horn of Africa has never been foggier. First, one needs to look at the nature of terrorism itself and then contrast it with Somali version of terrorism.
Alex J. Bellamy. (2008) Fighting Terror. ZedBooks, London.
“The war on terror, such as it is, is a new kind of war, waged not against armies, states or nations, but against loose networks and well-hidden cells. It is a war without clearly defined goals. A war seemingly without victory or end… Our sensibilities tell us that there is something wrong … a doctrine that preaches hatred of others and advocates the extermination of men, women, children – soldiers and civilians alike – in pursuit of its eschatological goals. In the name of a chauvinist doctrine that shares much with Nazism, … terrorists have shown themselves ready and willing to commit heinous wrongs.”
In the case of Somalia, terrorist ideologies may wear an Islamic cloak, but they have nothing to do with Islam. On the contrary. Islam preaches peace among fellow human beings and brotherly affection. Care for neighbours and vulnerable people of the society. Somalia’s Terrorism runs deeper and wider than Bellamy’s description of “Islamic terrorism”.
We need to examine the nature of the Somali civil strife itself, which unnaturally ran for more years than it should have. Clans fought relentlessly; clan-superiority wars. After numerous elaborate and expensive peace reconciliations, which took place in neighbouring countries, finally a false peace deal was reached in Nairobi in 2004. The peace deal was based on a system called 4.5. This system consisted of four armed clans and the majority of the nation, who were unarmed, were condensed to half a clan; with very few rights to justice, law, politics, education and land.
The 4.5 system is a variant of Nazism. Its core belief is that one group of people are superior to another. Those deemed to be the ‘superiors’ have the right to claim dominance over politics, land and resources. Those deemed the ‘inferiors’ should be segregated, marginalised and denied of the right to integrate with other communities. Those who suffer from this form of delusional and narcissistic superiority, inflict huge harm to the down-trodden underdogs.
From 2004 to the present, Somalia has practised a system that condemns the majority of society as being sub-human. The armed clans were given the green light to abuse and disrespect the civil people. Meanwhile, the dominant tribes shared everything among themselves. Tenders, scholarships, jobs, education and all opportunities go to the dominant clans. The so-called ‘minorities’ (who are in fact the majority of the population) are being driven from their ancestral land, including their farmland.
Humiliated, dispossessed, disrespected, hungry and angry. Al-Shabab found a vulnerable pool of recruits among the ‘minorities’. Drones alone cannot defeat this problem. Rehabilitation programs and orientations run by the marginalised people themselves will go some way to rectifying the wrongs of the past. Allocating homeland and giving them equal opportunity will begin to mend fences.
The International community has supplied and incredible amount of support to Somalia, Examples such as AU, AMISOM and UNSOM, with budgets that could have developed the whole of the Horn of Africa, let alone Somalia. Failure does not stop at the doorstep of UNSOM and AMISOM alone. Failure also lies in the hand of the unruly Somali government, which is dominated by clansmen from pastoral cultures, The international community has to get honest with homogeniety obsessed regional governments and central government alike. When AMISOM started its operation there was only one Al-Shabab group. Now there are almost thirty different spin-off groups from Al-Shabab.
Dominant clans, each have their own branch of Al-Shabab. Business people do likewise; their sole motive is to carry out Al Capone’s Chicago-style coercions. Some hired hit-men do similarly when they are carrying out operations. Neighbouring countries have also been accused of having Al-Shabab groups to safeguard their own interests. The head of AMISOM, Maman Sidikou, walked into an unfamiliar war of high complexity. He believed they were providing support to the Somali army. Instead they ended up in helping men who on one hand were clan-militia while on the other were wearing national army uniform. At the same time covertly or overtly working with some sort of Al-Shababesque group.
Ethiopia is the most dominant country that provides AU soldiers to AMISOM operations in Somalia. From empirical study, Ethiopia has used IGAD and AMISOM as a Trojan horse; Ethiopia’s sole aim is to consume Somalia from the inside and pursue its own ambitions. Ethiopia’s contingent entered into a cycle of taking over a town or village from Al-Shabab. Then, after a short while, they leave with a nudge and a wink and Al-Shabab moves in and massacres the civilians. This reoccurring activity makes the local civilians more sympathetic to Al-Shabab than to AMISOM. In the eyes of Somali civilians, AMISOM is seen as a supporter of Ethiopia’s ambitions as well as being devout supporters of a government that is corrupt and bigoted. AMISOM is in desperate need of root and branch changes or better still replacing them with UN peace-keeping troops (as indicated in a report from Chatham House).
At the moment, AMISOM is in a vicious cycle. Unlike Clausewitzian warfare (which is to remove the enemy’s ability to fight back), the new terror-war has unclear objectives. There are security aids moving towards driving Al-Shabab out of towns. There is a school of thought that if Al-Shabab is defeated once and for all, the security aid will dry up. According to SUN TZU, The Arts of War, “In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns. … If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Hence, AMISOM is fighting a lengthy, losing battle; their soldiers neither know themselves, nor do they know the enemy with its multifaceted motives.
This variant of Al-Shabab, may have gained its skills from the original terrorist groups as it has no connections with the Al-Shabab itself. The resistant young combatants are driven insane by the dominant clans. By habitual insult and humiliation, dispossessing their land and torturing members of their families, the young warriors take the law into their own hands. Not entirely a lone wolf, but a lone gang. These groups of guerrilla fighters usually carry out the destruction of bridges, flooding of the river, car bombings and assassinations. This is reminiscent of how Europe experienced this form of resistance activities during Nazi occupation. However, there is a real terrorist in Al-Shabab with more sinister motives whose foreign supporters and their ulterior motives are unknown to the Somalis.
Kenya’s involvement in Jubbaland, south Somalia, is purely based on economic interest. Kenya’s own home economy has relied on the mercantilist-colonial legacy of protectionism and monopoly. Essential commodities are monopolised by certain groups who are firmly attached to members of the government. Sugar, for instance, this pure white, sweet and innocent looking product is one of the chief grounds why Kenya is supporting Ahmed Madobe, who is the self-elected regional president of Jubaland IJA.
According to an expert in Jubbaland affairs, Engineer Yarow Sharif, “charcoal and sugar are the heart of Kenya’s interest in Kismayo” he told me. Mr Sharif continues, confessing a great many things about the Kenya-Madobe relationship. “It goes like this”, he said, “Madobe and his Ogaden clans-men burn charcoal from cut down from Jubaland equatorial forrest and then this charcoal is sold in the Middle East. The money made from charcoal is then purchased with sugar that comes from Kismayo port. From this heavily subsidised sugar, it is transported to Kenya where it gets sold in the markets at knock down price, more affordable to poverty stricken Kenyans. This lucrative trade is owned and run by men from Ogaden clan. These pastoral clans know no shame and stop at nothing in pursuit of their interest. They are conducting clan cleansing in Jubbaland, driving my people ‘Somali Bantus’ out of their homes and farmland and replacing them with Ogaden people from Ethiopia. So we have both Kenya and Ethiopia supporting Ahmed Madoobe who is a warlord, a terrorist and now self-elected president of Jubbaland”.
Engineer Yarow may have an axe to grind, but his grievances are in line the youths from his tribe. These young men are regularly accused of being Al-Shabab, even when they are not, and sent to a prison in Garissa, Kenya. Garissa prison is the Horn of Africa’s Guantanamo Bay. Unlike the prisoners of Guantanamo, the Garissa inmates have no human rights at all. According to Yarow, anyone who is suspected of standing up to Ogaden cause is sent to Garissa prison.
What proof do you have of your claims? I asked. Engineer Yarow provided me with the following evidence:
On 22nd August 2015, a four-by-four vehicle owned by Ahmed Madoobe, filled with explosives, drove inside AMISOM/Somali National Army barracks. The driver left the vehicle, detonated the explosives and attempted to flee the scene. Unfortunately for him, he was caught. The driver was one of Ahmed Madoobe’s handpicked Ogaden clan soldiers. The intention was to kill as many of the Somali Bantu young recruits as possible, who were training at the camp by AMISOM. Fatality was high for the Wgosha trainees. The driver belonged to Al-Shabaab as well as Ahmed Madoobe and was executed soon after by Madoobe’s oficers, to stop him from talking.
Madoobe routinely uproots the Wgosha people. Ogaden people do not reside in Jubbaland. However, there were few families from the Ogaden clan living in Kismayo and lower Jubba. Having received military support from Kenya and Ethiopia, Madoobe embarked a program of ‘clan-cleansing’. Many Somali Bantu were driven from their homes and farmlands, replacing them with a mass influx of the Ogaden clan from Ogaden, Ethiopia.
Engineer Yarow Sharif is one of very few Somali Bantu who are well educated and long-standing activists for his people. Mr Sharif, along with some other marginalised groups have set up a political party called the Cosmopolitan Democratic Party. They have put together an inclusive government in exile. Please visit: cosmopolitandemocraticparty.wordpress.com
Somali Pastoral Clanism
All, if not most, pastoral clans come from the area of Howd (Ogaden) Somaliland, Puntland Galmudug and North Hiiraan region. Somali pastoral clanism is a variant of Nazism. The principal of ‘we are superior, and they are inferior’ is incompatible to the new globalisation era. Liberal democracies, such as ours in the West, are unwelcome in clan-ridden Somalia. Values we hold so dear such as kindness, humility, modesty, politeness, gentility, chivalry and civility in general are viewed as weakness. Those who appear to be civil are regarded as inferior.
Most marginalised groups exhibit these civil qualities mentioned above, therefore, have suffered in the hands of pastoral clansmen. The Somalis from the south call the pastoral clansmen ‘Reer Baadiye’. Reer Baadiye, the RB as I like to call them, can’t stand street lights; law and order is oppression. Lies, treachery and violence are heroic as long as it advances your clan interests. To rob another man’s property is fine, as long as your cousins outnumber your opponents cousins. Anyone who is not from your clan cannot be trusted; to ridicule, harass and bully someone who is an inferior is hilarious if not pleasurable. The only thing the RBs respect is overwhelming force and on one hand to rule them with an iron fist; justice for all and fairness on the other side. It is such a catastrophe to allow the RB to dominate the political sphere, army, security and judicial system. Both the Italian colonial authority and the military regime knew this vital factor.
In conclusion, the International Community would be well advised to bring the marginalised groups on board as principal players of peace-building in Somalia. If we are to move away from the endless security quagmire and perpetual politics of hunger, the marginalised groups have to be aided and be treated as equal citizens of the country. Treat them with respect and dignity. In an era of Globalization, democracy, productivity, creativity and peace are vital. Other rising powers are eyeing at the Horn of Africa especially Somalia, as the cold war creeps in uninvited A stable Somalia is in the West’s best interest. Marginalizing peaceful, creative and productive people is not going to achieve the globalization goals. Somalia has the potential to start servicing its national debt. It is also rich in natural resources, enough to build Sovereign Wealth or even join OECD. You may say I am a dreamer, but it is achievable.
By Samiya Lerew.