This report shares the root cause of the cycles of the Somali conflicts that today still remains as the major obstacle in the way of progress and development.
This article was written by Sultan Ibrahim Abdullahi Addo in January 8, 2014. Still remains valid.
By Sultan Ibrahim Abdullahi Addo.
January 8, 2014
The international community, in the past two decades has invested billions of dollars along with lives, endless time and efforts to stabilize Somalia that equally costed the global community in international crimes and violence related to terrorism, piracy, illicit arms trade and human trafficking to name a few. Yet, any light visible in the end of the tunnel seems to continuously drift like mirage. This report recommends and proposes a bottom up community driven approach to restore security in Somalia for the region’s stability and development. In its process, it targets a speedy and sustainable liberation of Al Shabab’s strong holds regions in southern Somalia. The report summarizes the background of the cycles of the Somali conflicts, its root cause, evolving symptoms and current obstacles of progress towards improved security, stability and development. It identifies the necessary tools for the tool box to a regional and sustainable peace, stability and development that can be replicated elsewhere in the nation. It welcomes revision, recommendations, feedbacks, approval and support of all stake holders engaged to stabilize Somalia and the region at large.
This report should under no circumstance be interpreted, as a target to farther destabilize the current Somali Federal Administration in Mogadishu. Rather, it is engineered to give the administration a resilient opportunity towards a lasting peace in Somalia – bottom up. Any objection to this approach by the current SFG administration will only reflect to the SFG, as a government that is not of its people, by its people and for its people.
In the absence of justice, there can be no lasting peace.
A homegrown, bottom up, community driven and ownership approach that is based on participatory development to eventually secure a sustainable, peaceful, stable and developed Somalia.
If one fully understands the root cause of the cycles of any conflict, one should be able to express it in a single statement. The root cause of the cycles of the Somali conflicts is nothing more than as a result of, the fact that a group of ambitious and determined Somali criminals targets to marginalize certain Somali communities (agrarian) economically within that communities’ region. In the process it uses primarily clan along with intimidating force, religion, politics and propaganda through the media to achieve and attain their ambition. Though this may be the root cause, many missed that it remained as the same factor that perpetuates the cycles of the Somali conflicts to this day.
Billions of dollars has been spent to end the cycles of the Somali conflict without tangible or lasting results. This is because, the stakeholders of the Somali conflicts only focused on the treatment of the symptoms of the cycles of the conflicts – mainly terrorism, piracy and illicit arms trade along with other factors. In the beginning, early 1990s, there were no notable terrorist groups, pirates and illicit arms traders in Somalia. Surely, the root cause was not properly diagnosed for a cure and the symptoms evolved in time accordingly. This report clearly dissects the fact that the current factors that perpetuate the seemingly never ending Somali conflict are linked to its root cause so there can be proper treatments for eventual cure.
AMISOM forces and the Somali National Army have not progressed in securing territories from a deteriorating and even weaker Al Shabab forces for the past 18 months. At the same time the government forces were witnessed to combat recently in the regions of Hiran, Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle against local communities loyal to the SFG instead of Al Shabab. Such combats were reported by Somalia’s clan dominated media and the SFG as fighting between rival clans. In fact the named clans in each case share geographically no common fence or blood ties. As a result, today there is a credible, eminent and growing mistrust between the SFG and its citizens throughout Somalia and its diasporah communities.
Progress to liberate areas from Al Shabab in Lower Shabelle was short lived by the betrayal of the Transitional Federal Government back in late August, 2012 as it decelerated to an end. AMISOM forces were accompanied in the fight to liberate Lower Shabelle by indigenous fighters who risked draconian consequences against their families that lived in Al Shabab held territories. Upon liberating the capital city of Lower Shabelle, Merca, in August 2012, the ministry of interior and national security whose mandate was over at the time, yet appointed a non-indigenous clan based administration of the minister’s kinsmen for Lower Shabelle. The appointed authority members were loyal to criminal warlords that previously occupied the region forcefully. It was followed by rape, murder, looting, kidnapping and illegal check points to distort money committed by SNA’s 3rd & 5th division members deployed by the ministry to secure the region. This has forced indigenous fighters to desert the mission of assisting a Mogadishu based administration or even AMISOM. Today the indigenous fighters of Lower Shabelle see that their strength is in the absence of a trade mark and leadership. Elements within the SFG continue to label and accuse them as Al Shabab and other titles. However, these fighters seek a genuine partner in the fight of liberating their region and communities from Al Shabab without change in guards, where criminal warlords under the auspice of SFG replace Al Shabab – a situation that alleviates their communities from the frying pan to the burning fire.
Current obstacles of development
The current obstacles of progress to stabilize and develop Somalia can be summarized as the absence of TRUST between the SFG and Somali communities that live in Al Shabab held territories. Alliance with the communities that are indigenous of Al Shabab held regions are vital in combating the Al Qaeda linked group. Establishing trust with such communities is essential to secure such alliance. The SFG and its armed forces lost every milligram of trust building blocks for an early or foreseeable trust with any of the communities in Al Shabab occupied territories.
Mistrust factors between SFG and southern Somalia’s communities
The administrations in Mogadishu repeatedly engaged in perpetuating the cycles of the Somali conflicts with the very same root cause – by empowering criminal warlords and their militiamen in four phases that caused a miss trust beyond repair towards SFG by the communities of Lower Shabelle and other regions. Today, Somalia seems to be back to square one, 1991 when USC forces launched attacks of clan domination mission under the auspice of SFG.
- Mogadishu as the focal point of all Somali cycles of conflict
Despite the fact that Mogadishu is nominally cosmopolitan and Somalia’s capital city, its 16 district commissioners all belong to a single clan, Hawiye. Most of them are not even organic and arriving the city after 1991 from the central regions of Somalia in the auspice of national dominance to replace Darod clan. Both the current president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his predecessor, Sharif Shiekh Ahmed caved in to Mogadishu’s militias and warlords from central Somalia. Their administrations depended on these criminals that offered Mogadishu an artificial and controlled relative peace with manipulative leverages. They are able to disrupt the city any moment at their command. When the issue’s fairness is raised to the SFG, the response is frank; “We are unable to recruit security forces for a district commissioner, fund them, arm and equip them and protect them from the territorial clan warlords and their militiamen who can disrupt the city to the extent that all agencies flee turning the city into a no-go zone – a process that can lead to the collapse of the federal administration”. It may be a legitimate argument, but when the clan militia and their warlords dictate over the ministerial cabinet, kill and protect MPs at their will, and want to extend their control to the neighboring agrarian lands and their communities in Lower and Middle Shabelle as well as the Juba regions under the assumption of federal titles, it becomes lethal and clearly shows who really calls for the shots in the Somali politics. There has been frequent, repeated and coordinated attacks to the communities of Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle by government forces that the federal administration never publically condemned or commended. This has caused most Somalis to believe that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who depends on criminal warlords for Mogadishu’s safety status, has a blind eye on it.
- Ministry of Interior & National Security
In almost all (6 out of 7) administrations appointed from Abdullahi Yusuf’s time to today’s Hassan Shiekh Mohamud, the minister of interior and national security appointed belongs to Habar Gidir. The 8th administration to be appointed any day as of this writing shall surely also belong to Habar Gidir sub clan of Hawiye. Each and every one of these ministers appointed administrations for Lower and Middle Shabelle’s agrarian regions in order to be dominated by their clansmen. When Merca was liberated from Al Shabab, it was local and indigenous fighters that fought alongside AMISOM contributing their familiarity of terrain and communities while they risked draconian acts on their families in Shabab controlled Merca. Once the liberation was completed, the minister of interior and national security then, AbdiSamad Sheikh Moallim appointed an administration of predominantly Habar Gidir that were not local, taking the region back to warlord days while creating a miss-trust between TFG/AMISOM and the locals. As a result, no significant progress has been made since in liberating territories from Al Shabab. This agency has been targeted to remain as a bias broker to restore warlord days of clan domination. It therefore remained as an obstacle towards sustainable stability in Somalia and should therefore not play as the interlocutor between the regional communities and AMISOM in the fight against Al Shabab forces.
- Somali National Army
Integrating criminals that belonged to clan militiamen and their warlord commanders into the Somali National Forces as allies and part of the solution to the cycles of the Somali conflicts only empowered and renewed violence in southern agrarian regions of Somalia, rather than its intended mission to liberating said regions from Al Shabab. Where there are SNA forces, there is rape, looting, robbery, murder, kidnapping, intimidation and related crimes. SNA officers are armed and roam freely to loot as they are not paid salaries. No rape, looting, robbery, murder and related crimes occur in Al Shabab controlled areas.
AMISOM forces lost momentum in gaining territories from Al Shabab, after the indigenous and local communities witnessed that the administrations in Mogadishu only restored warlord days of clan domination, land grabbing and criminals replacing Al Shabab, to loot, rape, kill and intimidate under the auspice of SFG titles. Recent invasion in Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle and Hiran by SNA crushed any hope for a trust by the communities of the respective regions and Hassan Shiekh Mohamud’s administration. The final nail to the coffin of trust was when Hassan Shiekh Mohamud recently crowned with a medallion General Qaffow only days after the general ordered the shelling, looting and burning homes to displace residents of K50 that were loyal to the SFG. The only trust left to complete an ill-planned progress in liberating Al Shabab held territories in order to reverse a failed mission remains in the collaboration of AMISOM and the indigenous regional forces.
- Lower Shabelle and other regional communities misrepresented in the SFG
Kampala Accord gave a road map for Somalia that should assist it from breaking away a cycle of 22 years of transitional administrations. It was followed by Garowe 1 & 2 that selected a National Constituency Assembly, NCA, to elect a body that should endorse a provisional constitution for Somalia and elect MPs that should in turn elect a speaker for its parliament and a president for the nation. During this process some warlord criminals spent fortune and intimidating tactics to hand-pick self-serving individuals as de fato MPs and NCA members to serve their ambitions. Some to this day enjoy paid expenses at such prestige hotels in Mogadishu as Jazeera and City Palace with promisary notes to become future ministers, district commissioners, governors, etc., accordingly. Today, communities in Lower Shabelle and other regions are not justly represented in the Mogadishu based SFG.
As of February, 2013, the communities of Lower Shabelle decided that their strength would be in the absence of leadership and trademarks knowing that they are only nominally represented in the legislative, judicial, traditional and executive bodies of the federal administration by hand-picked self-serving individuals whose security in Mogadishu rests in the hands of the criminals that made them. As a result, so far, there have been over 6 un-implemented reconciliatory and other similar agreements signed in Mogadishu and more on the way as of this writing regarding violence in Lower Shabelle.
How to overcome current obstacles
There are currently several folded obstacles to overcome in order to make progress in stabilizing Somalia. The most important means is to build on the existing and currently marginal trust between AMISOM and the indigenous forces in the regions partially controlled by Al Shabab. These forces lost all faith in the SFG and are desperate for a genuine partner in liberating their region from Al Shabab. They overflow with unprecedented familiarity of the enemy, terrain, demographics, strong hold territories and enemy structures. Most of them had prior training through the national training assessment plan in neighboring countries and have circumstantial Al Shabab officials as their kinsmen that can either defect and/or pass to them crucial information during combat for victory or reduced costs. These men belong to the communities that Al Shabab forces depend upon on their daily livelihood and logistics. Currently, the biggest obstacle preventing progress is the SFG. Recently, KDF targeted a coordinated air raid on a known Al Shabab base in Gedo. Upon informing the plan to the SFG, the enemy forces vacated the targeted location and the raid hit an empty compound. However, a subsequent target was not informed to the SFG and hence turned successful killing 30 of the enemy fighters that included a top Al Shabab official. Thus, SFG has proven again and again that it cannot be an honest participant or broker in the war against Al Shabab and there is no foreseeable quick fix to the matter.
The tools needed to overcome the obstacles
There must be at least four tools in the tool box for achieving and attaining peace, stability and development in Somalia. These are security, political, economic and social developments. However, it must be assured that these tools are in the hands of the organic owners of the region that are to inherit the developments. They can be coupled with impartial and trusted facilitators brokered by AMISOM or similarly agents. It gives the organic communities a sense of pride and ownership of their future as they strife for sustainability and continued progress. They know best their priorities and needs and are less likely to abuse their own fruits. The communities shall elect their respective committees in all four areas and structure them in a transparent and just organization with clear guidelines and identified mandates.
This report only gives glimpses of the four tools. A detailed report is available upon request.
Regional security within Somalia can be best achieved by engaging its respective indigenous forces as mistrust among Somalis peaked to its highest. This has been proven during the initial stage of liberating Lower Shabelle from Al Shabab forces after a UN mandate to expand to other regions away from Mogadishu was issued. The contribution of the indigenous members of the forces in the liberation operations was victorious.
There are currently 532 young men under the trees in El Jalle in the outskirts of Merca waiting to be trained by AMISOM under the SFG directions. The holdup is that SFG after its forces recently attacked their local communities instructed AMISOM to disarm them. Any attempt to disarm indigenous non-Al Shabab forces while criminal warlord clan militiamen remain armed under federal mandate will take Somalia back to 1991 and possibly strengthen sympathy for Al Shabab. It will further erode the marginal trust that now exists between indigenous forces and AMISOM. In Lower Shabelle every member of the local armed forces has a traditional elder as his guarantor with limited liabilities. In major cities, a new program calls for an elder chairperson, three armed men and an intelligence person designated to look after every 50 homes. This team shall work with zonal council, Gurti and committee, Gollo to resolve disputes at community level. They further share reports of progress and challenges with reputable and concerned institutions along with the Institute of Community Research & Development, ICRD (to be establish soon).
A political Gudi and Gollo are to be elected and established by the local communities. They shall then be mandated to sack any MP unanimously agreed to be misrepresenting the community after guidelines and warnings. People of Lower Shabelle, if given the freedom to choose a regional administration will unanimously choose to be annexed to Middle & Upper juba. The communities share common fence and cultures as agrarian-coastal communities of those regions. By annexing Lower Shabelle to the Juba administration, there shall be less legal works to be accomplished as the Juba administration has recently been endorsed by the SFG in Addis Ababa. A consultative forum shall be held in the near future to engage in bringing together the various regional administrations in what they have in common, rather than rival on their differences.
People in Lower Shabelle depend on small scale farming, livestock, fishing and artisan works for their livelihood. A community elected Gudi and Gollo shall guide the community in consolidating their resources, needs and opportunities to improve the regional economy and improve their living standard and health.
Social development shall be implemented through the formation of traditional council, Gudi and traditional committee, Golla elected by the community. They must safeguard the region’s social welfare and oversee implementations and proper functioning of all the tools above. In the security sector at major cities, for example, they need to adoptively replicate Uganda’s LC system for the security and dispute resolving of every few blocks of the city. In the politics, they should be consulted but not directly mandated.
They must be engaged from health, education, canal, social infra structures, culture and sports
This report shares the root cause of the cycles of the Somali conflicts that today still remains as the major obstacle in the way of progress and development. It then suggests practical and grass-roots level directions to overcome those obstacles. Finally it hints the tools needed for a sustainable peace, stability and development.
Somalia today needs an open heart surgery. That heart is its capital city, Mogadishu. Even the best heart surgeon cannot operate on him/herself and needs a trusted external surgeon’s hands. And there must be a bypass to Mogadishu as the only interlocutor when it, itself is caught up in complex scuffles that should not be extended to other regions that need to be saved from evil forces. The agrarian and coastal communities of Lower Shabelle are the most peace loving communities and occupy the breadbasket of the country. A stable Lower Shabelle leads to a stable Somalia.