Author Archives: Samiya Lerew

An Essay in Rhythm.

Shabelle folk song, addressing the hardship they have had to face due to floods in Jowhar, Hirshabelle.
The indigenous people of Somalia’s riverine don’t have means of writing, their ways of expressing themselves is through poems and folk songs. Those who are foreign to this culture, it may seem that these people are rejoicing their misery. They send their voices in the hope that the power that be would hear them.  This is how they write their essays.  

First Stanza

1st stanza:
won’t you come to the aid of the region, won’t you come and help?
Our town destroyed, our region destroyed, our livelihood destroyed, living get harder by the day.
My mother did not give birth to a stupid, I am not concerned about idle ideas, I am concerned about the living conditions we are living in at this moment.
Our habitat is water logged and there is no doctor and no medicine in the medicine house.
No public service, no health service for the community, no doctor, no medicine.
I am complaining about ceaseless mud and dirt, more dirt is dumped on us with nowhere to complain to. Furthermore the wounded get no medicine, where is the doctor?
Our population are put in camps, where is the doctor who can bring them back?
Collapsing walls and flooding our villages are some of my concern.

Second Stanza

2nd stanza:
Firstly I praise the Lord, secondly I praise his prophet, after that I would like to make one or two very clear about our town called Afgoye. All its resources getting looted, robbed and it has no doctor to cure this problem. No medicine in the medicine house and nobody seems to care about us.  No medicine for the wounded. On top that we hear walls collapsed causing lot of flood, we have no defence against this flood. No doctor, no medicine, no cure for walls collapsing, I am complain to our people, our nation and humanity.  

Third Stanza

3rd stanza:
This mud, this mud, this mud, broken glass cut my foot, my foot now bleeds and there is no doctor, no medicine. Syphoned off, it gets syphoned off what little aid intended for us, who to complain to? While aid get pilfered, our people are left naked, who to complain to?
I have a complaint, this land which gets ripped off of its resources gets no help, no development and no roads built. This concerns me, who to complain to?
Greedy stupid people don’t build roads, they only take they give nothing. We refuse to be governed by greedy stupid people.    

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Posted by on December 7, 2020 in Somalia


Somalia Returns to Politics of warlordism

This article first appeared in Puntlandpost on October 5th 2020.

Somalia Returns to Politics of Warlordism

October 5, 2020

By Liban Ahmad

The agreement on the electoral model paves the way for 2021 elections in Somalia. Agreeing on election modalities and schedules is a progress in the eyes of many Somalis but a setback for others. On the thirtieth anniversary of the state collapse Somalia may have elections modelled on 1991 reconciliation conference principles that gave primacy to armed, clan-based organisations.  The exclusion of Somali clans known as Others from the agreement speaks volumes about the elevation of clan identity for self-proclaimed powerful clans above the Somali citizenship.

The 4.5 power-sharing (disempowering, to be exact) system is the foundation stone for the electoral agreement. The Electoral Law (now abrogated) passed by the Somali Federal Parliament was all along incompatible with one person, one vote elections. An attempt to conduct a more enhanced elections has yielded an ignominious return to less enhanced elections.

There are some lessons one can learn from how the incumbent Federal Government of Somalia cashed on its early progress on good governance, of which limited security reforms is the most cited example, to consolidate  and centralise  its power without  foreseeing the backlash from Federal Member States particularly  Puntland and Jubaland.

National sovereignty does not make much sense if a government does not control the whole country. The Federal system has been a response to lessons from the state collapse — dispossession, displacement,  famine as well as pre-state collapse pathologies  such as underdevelopment and political oppression — to  build institutions gradually. The first violation of this approach emerged when Puntland lobbied for the end of the transition in 2012 without sound agreements in place. The permanent Somali government formed in 2012 had failed to honour its pledges to conduct one person, one vote elections, not because it was incapable of running the country but it was using a centralist mind-set in a country that has become irreversibly federal in the sense that power at the centre drives legitimacy from political structures that formed in one-time peripheries such as what is now known as Puntland, and to a large extent Somaliland.  

A federal system takes off in a country when all parts of the whole possess political institutions that have a lot in common. Disparities in state-building made the federal system in Somalia dysfunctional and deepened the plight of underrepresented and marginalised Somali social groups.

No system makes a country politically and economically vibrant.   The debate on the system of governance appropriate to Somalia misses the point. “Institutions are built for people, not people for institutions.  The kind of political class … [a society has]…, their values, their orientation, their behaviour, their attitude to the society” determine political outcomes, argued Abdul Raufu Mustapha, the late Associate Professor of African Politics at Oxford University.

Somali Militia controlled by Warlords roaming the streets of Mogadishu in 90s Since 2004 there have been two influential schools of thought about rebuilding the Somali state. One is based on the federal system proposed by Puntland in 1998; the other belongs to the governance structures introduced in Mogadishu by the clan-based Islamic Courts, a forerunner of the Union of Islamic Courts. Neither form of government has successfully taken root in Somalia. What Somalis have had since 2009 is a fusion of the two, a return to a form of low-key politics that resemble the 1990s warlordism.

Why do the World Bank and IMF promote debt relief for a country whose political leaders thrive on a two-tier political system, one that rewards some social groups, and another that marginalises a segment of the society? Declarations about progress towards debt relief belies the work of political scammers (qalin shubato siyaasadeed) at all levels in Somalia.

Complications of the flawed political system of Somali delay a possible progress in Somalia-Somaliland talks. How can Hargeisa be persuaded to abandon its secession dreams when many social groups in south Somalia remain politically marginalised and victims of dispossessions and displacement?

Somali political leaders have a conception of national sovereignty as brokerage to a point that national infrastructures have become possessions of clans.  They  view the sovereign status of Somalia as a means to minting a fortune from agreements signed with companies at  the expense of efforts of create durable institutions and  promote  political accountability at federal government and federal members state levels. Somalia’s International Partners should not be funding institutions that leave a segment of the Somali society in a state of political marginalisation.

 Liban Ahmad

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Posted by on October 22, 2020 in Somalia


Tunnel Vision: The Case of the Somali Federal Government

By Nur Bahal.

This article was first published 20 August 2013. Nur Bahal’s warnings and concerns are still valid.

In a country where a tediously protracted civil war has been raging for the last 23 years; where resources are scarce despite the unexploited affluence of the country; where society is divided along tribal lines and allegiance to tribe arouse the strongest emotions and sentiments, corruption and favoritism will flourish. That tribalism is what destroyed Somalia needs no debate, but after so many lost lives, so many squandered opportunities for peace, it is mind boggling that tribalism and its inherent vices are flourishing at a level and pace comparable to where it was at the beginning of the state failure in 1991. One of the reasons, and probably the most important, for the conspicuous increment of tribalism is the lack of an honest attempt at social reconciliation.

The urgency of social reconciliation for Somalia cannot be over-emphasized.  Reconciliation is a pivotal element in restoring trust after a detracted civil war particularly when the memories of such war are still fresh in the minds of the society. An honest reconciliation can mend the spirit of forgiveness allowing the return of harmonious social re-integration.

The FSG neglected this crucial step in the process of rebuilding Somalia from the ruins of war. As a healing mechanism, social reconciliation is cardinal to nation building. Conflict resolution among warring factions, judicial and legal reform, observance of human rights especially in the areas where gross human violations have occurred, righting the past wrongs, power-sharing arrangements, demobilizing tribal militias and empowering and promotion of civil societies are all indispensable components of reconciliation whose final goal is the restoration of the nation.

The skewed approach to nation building that the government of President Hassan Sheikh embarked upon reverses the logical sequence of nation building for a post conflict country. Social reconciliation seems to have taken a back seat while International recognition, and naturally, the monetary incentives that come with it, is the infrangible priority. The handpicked parliamentarians and ensuing election of a president seems to have convinced the international community that the rest of the solutions will fall in line. Both the controversially under-defined federal prescription and the equally controversial, incomplete and un-ratified constitution are also wreaking havoc on the relations between this government and the rest of the country. The prescription of federalism, in its present form, complicates the Somali problem; while the central government is seeking weak federal states that it can dictate to, the regions desire the opposite. They are aspiring to the example set by Puntland. 

The unwillingness on the part of the SFG to candidly address the federalism issue without bias and without regard for group politics or tribo-political agenda became a severe constraint to building bridges between the Somali Society. The Jubbaland issue, where the Somali government lodged accusation with IGAD and the International Community against the Madoobe Administration and Kenya did not help its image. President Hassan could have resolved the issue by going to Madobe himself to address the issue on a Somali to Somali basis. The SFG’s class-monitor attitude where she believes it can discipline adversaries through IGAD’s whip evidences her inability to sort out the socio-political intricacies of its country.  It also is a clear manifestation of the absence of reconciliation. And because of this, the antagonistic positions of the society become further entrenched. It might, as a result, help us to scrutinize some of the important steps that were missed by the government.  

Righting the Past Wrongs

No human rights violations with the magnitude of those committed in Lower Shabelle have taken place anywhere in Somalia. The painful fact is that these unspeakable inhuman violations have been perpetrated by other Somalis on peaceful Somali Communities.

Over the centuries, Lower Shabelle became home to a large variety of tribes. Despite power struggles between a few sultanates in and around the 17th to the 19th century, the predominant way of life was and is peaceful coexistence. The people of Lower Shabelle were also not party to the Hawiye – Darood power struggle that brought down the Somali state. Unarmed and unprepared for conflict, they became easy prey for the militias from the central regions.

Kenneth Menkhaus aptly described the situation: “Clan militias have come to occupy important pieces of real estate in Mogadishu and parts of south Somalia. In contravention of the Geneva conventions, these valuable lands are being settled by the victorious clans at the expense of weaker clans, who have been pushed off their land, evicted from their houses, or in some instances conscripted as forced labour on the land they once owned. This has been a particular problem in parts of the Lower Shabelle and throughout the Juba valley.”

Kenneth Menkhaus, Warlords and Landlords: Non-state Actors and Humanitarian norms in Somalia, p14-15

The unparalleled mistake is that this government is bent on legitimizing the wrongs perpetrated on these communities.  

The current government contravened both the spirit and the principles of righting the past wrongs. As a region that suffered flagrant human rights violations including land grabbing, enslavement, rampant rape, killing and displacement, it should have been a priority for the government to undertake a massive campaign to right these wrongs. Contrary to expectations, the government is firmly and securely establishing the raiding groups as the permanent masters of Lower Shabelle. The past wrongs are being legitimized by this government in five major ways:

  1. Incorporation of the hegemonic tribal militias into the Somali National Army and stationing them in Lower Shabelle where they committed gross human rights violations.
  2. The same tribal militias and their fellow tribesmen and women have been exclusively appointed to almost all positions of authority in the region to the exclusion of the communities indigenous to the area.  
  3. No steps have been taken by the current government to return the appropriated land to the rightful owners.
  4. The government has recognized tribal militias who appropriated land as de facto residents of the lands they forcefully seized.
  5. There are no plans to allow the people of Lower Shabelle to form their own administration as has happened in Bay, Hiran and Middle Shabelle. This last point is especially significant as it represents a total negation of the rights of these peaceful communities to take control of their fate and future. It is a clear indication of sinister plans to keep them in bondage and amounts to cleansing them of their land and properties in a systematic manner and with the resources paid by the International Community and the donor countries.

There is a clear trend, here, to create a culture of impunity and denial of victims’ rights to redress to the most trampled community. Impunity is a state’s failure to address the wrongs committed by groups and individuals. There is no worse impunity than rewarding the perpetrators of human rights violations with becoming the administrative authority of the communities they victimized.

Power Sharing Arrangements

It took three months for the President, Hassan Sh. Mohamud, to announce what he called a small government made up of ten ministers. There are three glaring flaws in a small government:

  1. In a post-conflict, it is crucial that every tribe sees themselves in the government. This helps the government secure the crucial legitimacy it requires in order to carry the reconciliation process forward.
  2. Many ministries had to be amalgamated which makes the planning process hard and over burdens the politicians and staff. The disadvantage of this amalgamation becomes more pronounced when ministries necessary for social services are lumped with other ministries that are not as visible to the public eye.
  3. The merger of a number of ministries into a mega-ministry negates the first point above and thus becomes an obstacle to the reconciliation process.

The appointment of the Somali ambassadors to countries around the world is another glaring defect in power sharing. The ambassadors are overwhelmingly from the Hawiye clan. The reverse of this was true during the last years of Siyad Barre’s government where Darod was the absolute majority in the ambassadorial positions. To the average Somali, this is a continuation of the power struggle between Darod and Hawiye. It is an act unworthy of a government whose agenda is to heal the Somali society.

The office of the President is an example of total absence of power-sharing. He surrounded himself with a mechanical diet of people with the same tribal stripes. Does this represent a lack of trust for the rest of the Somali society? Or does it reflect a return to the beginning of state failure?

The Head of State, in a post-conflict situation, must have the primary responsibility of bringing the society back together, healing the wounds of war, bridging the gap between warring factions and righting the wrongs. The president, as the man at the helm of the renascent nation, must carry the bigger responsibility of reconciling the country and taking a leadership role in becoming an exemplary statesman whose dedication to rebuilding is emulated by the civil service and the ordinary citizens alike. On the contrary, President Hassan Sheikh, like those before him, has burdened himself with the procurement of foreign aid. Although foreign aid is crucial for rebuilding the country, a greater emphasis must be placed on creating an atmosphere where rebuilding is possible. Whereas the frequent-flyer- president is convincing the world of his six-pillar road map, the real road map of reconciling the torn nation is neglected. It has not been assigned to anyone – not to the President and not to the Prime Minister.  

Judicial and Legal Reform

Rule-of-law is the most fundamental requisite in making the transition from conflict to post-conflict and full reconciliation of society. The issue has been largely ignored by the current government.

The judiciary is dysfunctional; its staff members are either incompetent and are a major part of the problem. Corruption in the judiciary system is rampant; staff are completely discredited in the eyes of the public. A recent case may shed some light on the state of the Somali Judiciary system.


A young man, Siyaad Xuseen Sheekh Soofe, was murdered in Peace Hotel in broad daylight. The victim’s murder is known. The family went to court. The judge, through tribal lineage, is related to the assassin. He ruled blood money in the amount of $120 US to be paid to the victim’s family and the murder be jailed for 6 months. A clear case of conflict of interest is ignored by the judicial system. The case has become an epitome of injustice in Mogadishu and the amount of material written about this case on Somali websites is an indication of the steep loses of legitimacy by the Judiciary System.


The above case is elucidates the absence of any judiciary plan by the current government. Such a plan is crucial to a post-conflict society where the rule of law has to take root so that the war torn society has reason to lay down their weapons and trust in the law. Social legitimacy is also an important element that the government needs in order to carry the national recovery forward. Cases like this one and many more that are common in Mogadishu are eroding the trust of the people in the current government.


The absence of Truth and Reconciliation Committee also affirms the government’s lack of interest in undertaking any social reconciliation. One of the most outstanding issues that require immediate attention is return of properties in the capital city still held by individuals. Apart from a few instances where the President paid lib service to the issue, there have been no attempts at any tangible return of property. Apart from the fact that the judicial system is staffed by corrupt and incompetent staff, if a true rule of law must take root in Somalia the government has to establish a number of oversight committees to ensure that the justice system progresses to garner the trust of the society:

  1. Internal oversight, such as police internal affairs bureaus
  2. Parliamentary oversight
  3. Judicial review and inspections through the courts
  4. an ombudsman, a commission of inquiry, or a national human rights commission
  5. Civil society oversight

Demobilizing Tribal Militias

Once the most powerful military in the Horn of Africa, the Somali National Army, voluntarily disbanded when Omar Arte Qalib, the Prime Minister for Ali Mahdi government enjoined the National Army to surrender to the militia groups; the SNM in the North and the USC in the South. This had a long-lasting negative consequence in that: a) the official preference by the government of tribal militias over the national army and b) loss of identity for the majority of the army servicemen who regarded that their only allegiance is to the nation. As none of the governments that followed had the capacity or the willingness to reverse this trend, the National Army servicemen and women assumed civilian lives or left the country turning their back on any hope to assume their role again. Those who could not or would not part with the tribal ideology joined the militias or formed their own.

The empowerment of tribal militias and their precipitous influence on the current government is derived from the self-justification to create a national army. Yet, there are practical examples of the stranglehold these militias have on the current government and how much she depends on them for survival. The case of General Dhega Badan is an optimal example.

General Dhega Badan was appointed by Sheikh Sharif as the Commander of the Armed Forces. As a veteran of the Somali National Army, he was the principle driving force for the defeat of Alshabab in Mogadishu and parts of Lower Shabelle. The fate of the general was sealed when he tried, and succeeded to a large degree, to curb the rape, abductions and roadblocks that plagued Lower Shabelle. Without regard for his accomplishments, the general was unceremoniously released from service because of the lobbying clout of the same tribal militias who unleashed a reign of terror in Lower Shabelle. It is important to note here that not a single village has been liberated from Alshabab since General Dhega Badan. On the contrary, Alshabab has become so bold that there are explosions, ambushes, assassinations of high profile civil servants and suicide bombings within the span of two weeks between; 10 July – 24 July 2013.

On Jul. 24, Sheikh Abdu Aziz Abu Musab, Al-Shabaab’s military spokesman, said that his group carried out over 100 attacks between Jul. 10 and 24. Half of these, he said, occurred in Mogadishu. Courtesy of IPS (Inter Press Services)

They became so emboldened that the extremist organization invaded some districts of Mogadishu by foot.

The tragedy of return of insecurity to Somalia and its many faces is highlighted by the untimely pullout of Médecins Sans Frontières’ from Somalia. Dr. Karunakara of MSF stated the problem aptly and succinctly by saying that  “The final straw was the realisation that authorities, armed actors and community leaders were actively supporting or tacitly approving the attacks, the abductions, the killings against our staff”.

And it is not only MSF that has withdrawn staff from Somalia; most international organizations withdrew their non-essential staff as a result of the increase in violence. The daring attack on the UN compound, the raid on the Turkish embassy, bombings on markets such as the Bakara market and major population areas in the city, the killing of civil service, government soldiers. Yet, the government whose six-pillar road-map hinged on security is acting as though nothing has happened. International and NGOs staff have become a cash-cow for the same groups that lobbied for the ouster General Dhega Badan. Intrepid military officers and audacious men like him will be remembered forever as a few who dared to bring a semblance of peace and stability while operating in an atmosphere deprived of all the rules of sanity and sensibility. It is not only Alshabab profiting from the corrupt arrangement between them elements who profit from the instability of Somalia.

Why all these Gaffes

Corruption takes many forms and assumes many faces. From small favors for friends to mega-million dollar deals with foreign multi-national companies, the footprints of corruption are everywhere around the world. Corruption in Somalia, though sharing few traits with the rest of the world, is on a class of its own and takes place at a number of levels.

Like anywhere else, corruption takes place on a personal level. Although varying in magnitude and frequency, personal level corruption in Somalia does not, in the present time, pose the greatest risk to slippage back into civil war. It is tribal corruption that presents the single most devastating tool that keeps Somalia from becoming a viable nation. Allegiance to tribe and the greed and ignorance that come with it have blinded many Somalis to the vision of nationhood. The pinnacle of tribalism is to achieve tribal supremacy with the aid from an incognizant international community whose material and financial aid to rebuilding a nation are used for the advancement cherished tribal desires.

The dangers of revenant civil wars are not visible to the myopic eyes of tribalist leaders who favor to expand the ambit of their kin at any cost necessary. They are oblivious to the wealth of the greater value that can come from implementing justice.

Corruption also occurs at the group level. A group can be a political party, a politico-religious group or simply a group of friends. These groups are not independent of tribe and its many levels, personal insatiable desire for wealth and therefore any combination of group and tribe can produce many more layers that can hatch their own brand of corruption. The possibilities are almost infinite for Somalia. The lack of transparency and both the monopolistic powers of government officers and cabinet members are the driving force behind Somalia’s corruption. The absence of proper check and balance of power, widespread habit of tarnished means and ways to get to public office – from the presidency to parliament, from cabinet members to bureaucracy – and the lack of willingness to change on the part of those who came into the system by these foul means, make it that much harder to fix the channels of corruption.


There is a slim chance of democratization unless there is complete stabilization of the state. Stabilization hinges on solving the tribo-political quagmire which represents Somalia’s primary problems, which in turn, revolves around not only resolving the Hawiye – Darood dichotomy but also affirming the rights of other tribes especially peaceful ones and minorities. This is the dilemma of the Somali Federal Government; a dilemma that it has created for itself and from which it may not be able to extricate itself from, without untangling itself from group and tribo-political dynamics.

Like the Somali society, the international community also is at a critical juncture. There is great pressure to rebuild a stable Somalia which can cause them to lose sight of the reality. The imbalance between foreign policy and the dearth of internal security, lack of reconciliation and human rights violations are all glaring deficiencies in this government’s post-conflict reconstruction policy – deficiencies that will cause the entire commitment of the International Community to fail. It bespeaks to the lack of understanding of the priorities for a post-conflict society: social reconciliation, security, stability and democratization in that precise order but not necessarily one at a time.

Nur Bahal

Toronto, Canada

20 August 2013

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Posted by on October 12, 2019 in Somalia


Bad Policies of Marginalising Organic natives in their own region.

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.

Current situation

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


  1. 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.

  1. 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

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.


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Posted by on October 2, 2019 in Somalia


Justice and Fairness are the Basic Blocks of Nation-Building.

This article was written by Nur Bahal in 2013 during the conference on Somalia in London, UK


Justice and Fairness are the Basic Blocks of Nation Building


Just like we cannot build a house from the roof down, we cannot build a nation without attending to the intricate internal issues that ails her. Justice and equality are the basic elements and the building blocks of a nation trying to get out of a civil war. Without these elements, the healing process will not begin and a nation will not be born regardless of how much investment it receives from the International Community.


In the case of a tribal society, the basic elements of nation building – justice and fairness – become even more pronounced; they are the measure of a government’s willingness to foster tangible peace. Lack of justice reaches deep into the fabric of society; it affects every facet of its existence; it changes a society at the core and alters their view of themselves and the rest of world. Social relationships, as a result, become precariously affected by a government’s policy on the implementation of the nation-building factors.


In his opening statement at the London Conference on Somalia, the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, used the example of a young sapling he planted in Villa Somalia and emphasised the support and nourishment required by the young sapling in order to grow into a shady tree. He equated Somalia with that sapling. The example is outstanding. Yet, the President disregarded to comprehend his government’s failure in nourishing the sapling that is Somalia. He continues to overlook justice; his government continues to sideline other tribes and is loaded towards Hawiye domination. Darood comes in at a far second and the rift between Darood and Hawiye continues to grow every day which also causes a drift away from peace for the entire Somalia. The hands of Somalia’s future are tied because of the sour relationship between Hawiye and Darood or the lack thereof, and every Somali government’s disregard for the remaining Somali citizens.


Those that have been trampled upon for decades continue to be ignored; their land continues to be grabbed and their cries for justice unheard. Culusow’s government continues to load power on those whose hands brought the ruin of a nation. With that unfair power secured internally and internationally, the government is now seeking international investment to solidify it forever. A clear example are the appointments for Somalia’s foreign offices and every important nomination inside as well.


International investment and support will not build a nation in the absence of justice. You can try to fill a bottomless barrel with water but the futility of such an effort is obvious to the sane. All nations need legitimacy from their societies before they can attract the international community. Legitimacy is gained through the implementation of justice and equality among the citizens of a nation.


The ailment of the Somali Society is not poverty; our country is rich. Somalia abounds in livestock, fish and agriculture; industrialisation is slowly taking root; Somalia has untapped reserves of numerous natural resources, including oil, uranium, iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt and natural gas. The CIA’s World Fact Book puts Somalia’s GDP at $600 US, higher than that of any of the neighboring countries with stable governments (Ethiopia – $100, Kenya – $350, Eritrea – $190, Tanzania – $280). Somali businesses have become the driving economic power in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia. Still, the missing link to a stable Somalia – the crux of the conundrum – is overlooked by the Somali government and the international community. The president’s deliberate reluctance to implement a comprehensive social justice is disheartening and dishonest to say the least.


The successive Somali governments have overlooked justice in favour of international investment – which really could be a purposeful plan to create a nation loaded on one side; biased towards some tribes; biased against others; Biimaal, Galadi, Bagadi, Ma-Dhibaan, Barwaani, Tunni, and Jareer wayn to mention a few, continue to watch from the sidelines as a nation’s decision-making falters again and again with their input and without the minimum consideration for their concerns. This major inequality within the society coupled with a weak national identity is a ticking time bomb that can derail nation building in Somalia. Above and beyond these two factors, the composition of the National Army will affect nation building negatively. In the absence of the requisite comprehensive and unfeigned national reconciliation, the current move to incorporate tribal militias into the army is counter productive to nation building.


The International Community views Somalia from an economic blind spot. The boiling pot of social injustices cannot build a durable nation. And as usual, the International Community will be forced to re-evaluate its actions again in the face of continued social chaos. Would it not make sense to take a deeper look now rather than regroup later?


Nur Bahal

10 May 2013

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Posted by on September 26, 2019 in Somalia



Abaarihi Somalia

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Posted by on September 7, 2019 in Somalia


Somalia’s State-Building Paradox.


Somalia’s State-Building Paradox

Somalia’s State-Building Paradox – Lerew, 2017 (click to download pdf)

Student Name: Samiya Lerew

Date: 15th May 2017

Professor Name: Antoine Bousquet

Methodology: Empirical & Theoretical Framework

Subject: Somalia, Conflict Resolution, State-Building and New Wars



Somalia’s State-Building Paradox



From 2012, Somalia has changed names from Federal Transitional Republic to Federal republic of Somalia with neither multilateral acceptance of the system by the regional stakeholders nor prior education to the public on what constitutes a federal system and what the stakes are for people, individually as well as regionally. On the other hand, in the absence of a clear understanding of what federalism means and how to apply it, particularly in a period of high levels of clan-based hostilities, mistrust, lack of an effective central authority, poor political and economic governance, to handle federalism to function in such a context as in Somalia symbolizes one of the massive paradoxes that hinder state building.

Another hindrance to state building in Somalia is marginalization and politics of subordination, subjugation and otherness. Marginalization of the minority clans in Somalia, although concrete and reliable demographical evidence is lacking, arises due to the strong-arm politics held by the dominant clans and their representation in the political system of Somalia. The government of Somalia has little accountability, which will be examined. The aim of this study is to examine the paradoxical nature of Somalia’s conflict resolution and state-building measures. The sponsors of state-building in Somalia through the United Nations have not fully understood (or have wilfully ignored) the intricate details and complexities of Somalia’s cultures. The United Nations (UN) office for Somalia is based in the green zones of Mogadishu near the airports, which geographically represents its detachment from the core of Somali society and the country’s burning issues. This study will highlight in depth the international reluctance and passivity to the culture of violent culture has resulted in the ongoing feud and conflict that have been plaguing Somalia for over a quarter of a century. It will also discuss on how war-economy contributes to corruption in state bureaucracy as well as in the humanitarian aid system in Somalia.

While a new president has been appointed recently, his new prime minister has assembled a cabinet that is symbolic of the paradoxical nature of clan appeasement and a disguise of western style of ‘democracy’ which does not respond to the cultural and traditional modes of leadership as known in the country. These factors are, and always will be, incompatible since no administration has adopted a viable leadership system that can make the two conflicting leadership systems (the traditional and the western) compatible with each other. Based on the argument of the inconsistencies between the Somali traditional clan system of leadership and that of an alien style of democracy hastily and uncritically copied from the west, this study will examine several factors as creating the paradoxes in the Somali peace-building system.

First, the study will discuss how the entire world, including the UN, was misled into the mythical ideology of Somalia as a homogeneous nation of one Arab origin, same culture, one language and one religion and the impact of these factors from the perspective of clan supremacy and state-building. Second, the study will be examine how the primitive clan system in Somalia thwarts modern state building, which requires oversight, justice and accountability; ideals which the clan system rejects. Third, attention will be drawn on an examination of the effect of pastoral nomadic clans and their claim to Arabness as a strategy to seek ethnic superiority and therefore to degrade other ethnicities so as to access state leadership; the 4.5 power sharing framework is hinged on this ideology of clan supremacy.  Fourth, this work in writing will additionally examine the manner in which the clan system consumes the state institutional structure yet the democratic system makes a requirement of legislature that has been democratically elected and the function of the rule of law in providing protection for citizens’ rights as equal and based on the democratic order. Fifth, the study will compare the United States of America’s style of democracy to state building based on the Somali clan system and failure of the international community’s need to apply realism to the hubris clannish men. Finally, the nature of war economy and how it perpetuates instability and durable disorder will be examined.

Background to the Study


Lindley (2009) reports that the area of Somali territories “covers a large part of the Horn of Africa, reaching into present day Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti” (p.6). Somalia’s republic is reported to have been divided into three sections (Lindley, 2009). The Somali region in the north west or the breakway Republic of Somaliland was established in the early 1990s and has been more peaceful than the southern part of the country for the most part since the late 1990s. However, it is characterized by “large-scale refugee repatriation, and host people seeking refuge form the southern Somali regions and the Somali region of Ethiopia, and labor migrants from elsewhere in the Horn of Africa and further afield” (Lindley, 2009, p.6). Puntland in the northeast was established in the late 1990s and has remained stable for the most part although some reconstruction that is post-conflict has been occurring with return migration limited as well as people who were displaced from Ethiopia’s region of Somalis and the south-central area of Somalia (Lindley, 2009, p.6). Stated to be a useful point of major transit for those seeking to travel to Yemen and forward is that of Bosasso port (Lindley, 2009, p.6) which contributes to the attraction of immigrants whose purpose is to cross the sea boundary of Somalia. The work of Elmi (2016) entitled “Developing an Inclusive Citizenship in Somalia: Challenges and Opportunities” states that in the world today, citizenship is “linked to the modern nation-state system” (p.6). Citizenship can be defined as “how an individual in a polity relates to other individuals and the state in which he or she is a member” (Elmi, 2016, p.6). According to Elmi (2016) the colonists created in an arbitrary manner the nation-states in contemporary Africa with boundaries that were artificial in nature and resulting in these “imperial boundaries” separating ethnically related social groups and additionally binding them in with another (p.7).

One of the most problematic legacies of colonialism is that in many of the countries in Africa there are those and most specifically leaders in the political arena that use ‘autochthony’ to access leadership position or retain it for long on the premise that they (their clan members) were the first in the area and that others were not qualified to enter into competition in the political arena since their parents were either born elsewhere or came later those claiming autochthony (Elmi, 2016). The work of Upsall (2014) refers to the Fund for Peace Failed States Index to highlight that the state of Somalia “has been the number one failed state in the world since 2008” (p.1). Primary to gaining an understanding of the politics in the society of Somalia is that of kinship and the associated social contract since “the Somalis are dependent on their kinship lineage for security and protection, responsibilities, duties, rights and liabilities” (Gundel, 2009, p.7). Kinship in Somalis is upon the basis of the patrilineal lineage and is commonly understood by the term ‘clan’ (Gundel, 2009). The traditional Somali structure is comprised of three primary elements including: (1) social structure which is the traditional structure of the clan; (2) laws that are customary ‘xeer’; and (3) the authorities that are traditionally known as “juridico-political structure” (Gundel, 2009, p.7).The Somalis who pursue a nomadic pastoral culture as a mode of living have the system of the clan as the primary factor in their social life; however, there are several forms including: (1) family; (2) clan; (3) sub-clan; (4) primary lineage; and (5) mag-paying group with variations in the size of divisions (Gundel, 2009). The clans may be comprised of up to twenty generations and are reported to “act as a corporate political unit, and do tend to have some territorial exclusiveness” (Gundel, 2009, p.8). However, the clan is lacking in a government or administrative centralization (Gundel, 2009) yet the ‘clan-family’ is reported to be the “upper limit of clanship” (Gundel, 2009, p.8). A report published by the World Bank Group states that almost all conflicts that are armed in Somalia are those breaking out “along clan lines” (p.15). It is additionally reported that the identities of clans are malleable in nature and can be “shaped by leaders to pursue control of resources and power” (World Bank Group, 2005, p.15). In addition, there is belief that, while the identities of the clans do not form the “basis for conflict” but instead, their deliberate manipulation results in the creation and exacerbation of divisions (World Bank Group, 2005) that contribute massively to the disagreements and confrontations prevalent in the country’s leadership and system of governance. These facts about the clan institution notwithstanding, the clan groups are such that they may be manipulated to “serve as destructive or constructive forces as well as tradition conflict moderators” (World Bank Group, 2005, p.15). Menkaus (2016) reports that the armed groups in Somalia which have been going strong since the early 1990s have thrived due to the fact that these groups “provide at least some degree of protection and other services to their constituent groups. Efforts to arrest or marginalize some of the more noxious leaders of these armed groups” have resulted in rallying and protesting since the militia leaders are very adept in manipulating the identity of clans to their own advantage (p.7). Menkaus (2016) additionally notes that the strength that endures on the part of the non-state actors in Somalia when “combined with the chronic weakness of the formal Somali state, has resulted in a central government that can only claim nominal jurisdiction over territory if and when it has negotiated access with the local actors controlling that terrain” (p.7).

The geographical location of Somalia and conflict in the political realm between those actors who are internal and external has resulted in competing agendas with each attempting to secure its own interests. Despite the attempts made towards peace and reconciliation, there is great complexity in identifying a common approach to Somalia’s conflict (Harper, 2012). Resulting from the lack of state government in the country, another major global concern has been the fact that many terrorist organizations are finding a safe haven in Somalia (U.S. State Department, nd).

State-Building in Somalia


Menkaus (2003) states that conventional wisdom in relation to the crisis in Somalia is inclusive of several explanations including the fact that diplomacy external to Somalia has been either uniformed or extremely misinformed in an ongoing manner and that efforts at mediation have been incompetent in nature. Additionally, Menkaus (2003) holds that leaders in Somalia have been stubborn and refusing to reach any compromise while states external to Somalia including Ethiopia have continued to perpetuate the collapse of state and the continuation of war towards their own ends and interests in the country. Menkaus further notes specifically that “collective fear of the re-emergence of a predatory state structure undermines public support for peace building process; and that the powerful centrifugal force of Somali clannism works against coalitions and central authority, making quests to rebuild a Western-style central state a fool’s errand” (2003, p.1).

Menkaus (2009) also reports that by the time Ethiopia’s military occupied Somalia for two years in the early part of 2009, Somalia was changing its course and that there was some optimism. Since the military forces of Ethiopia had withdrawn, the Transitional Federal Government in its new form had in effect brought about a political environment in which radicalism could be defused and a government that was more moderate in nature could be constructed in an atmosphere that the Somalis would support. It was also in 2009 when Barak Obama became president of the United States and it was held that there was a reason for optimism for Somalis who were hoping that the leadership that was new would capitalize on these opportunities and bring about positive changes. The general hope stated was that leadership in Somalia that was new “would quickly seize on these opportunities, first by forming a cabinet that reached out to a wide range of constituencies via a process of consultation with important civic, clan and business militia commanders” (Menkaus, 2009, p.10).

Menkaus (2015) describes what he refers to as the ‘wicked problem’ in state building and states specifically that the term means “governing authorities who have neither the will nor the capacity to govern” which “invites capacity-building interventions that are destined to fail” (p.1). Within the ‘wicked problem’ of state-building Menkaus states that the “Political elites who have vested interests in actually perpetuating conditions of durable disorder and state failure or interest” results in a negative outcome. They are only interested in receiving checks but not in making it actually succeed” (2015, p.1).

United Nations and Somalia


The work of Phillips (2005) describes Somalia as being a case that is unique in that the involvement of the United Nations was not post-conflict but instead began “in 1992 at the height of the ongoing civil war” (p.517). The United Nation’s operation was not able to render an end to the conflict and withdrew its program in 1995 from Somalia (Phillips, 2005). The United Nations became involved in Somalia due to the threat it presented to security in the entire region of Africa. In 1992 the President of the Security Council was informed by Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar that he had the intention for restoring peace and that the League of Arab States along with the OAU and OIC held this favorably (Phillips, 2005). In 1992, a United Nations team of officials traveled to Somalia for the purpose of working on political reconciliation so that the country could gain international aid access. Although that visit did not result in a cease-fire agreement, the support for the UN working toward reconciliation nationally was unanimous (Phillips, 2005). Phillips (2005, p.526) declares that the UN Security Council has put “Somalia on its agenda” in January of 1992.

Despite outlining the Somali issue in its agenda, the work of DeCuttry (2013) reports that over the past two decades the relations between Somalia and the United Nations has been problematic. UNOSOM is reported to be in charge of providing Federal government assistance in Somalia relating to the coordination of support by donors internationally as well as providing assistance to Somalia’s security sector including maritime security; in addition to “working with bilateral and multilateral partners, and in full respect of the sovereignty of Somalia” (p.58). However, an additional component of the mandate of UNSOM is related to delivery of assistance in the Federal Government’s capacity building in the promotion of human rights and specifically those who are the most vulnerable in Somalia (DeCuttry, 2013). UNOSOM is additionally charged with investigating, monitoring and reporting to the Council in regard to violations or abuses of human rights in the area of international humanitarian law that occurs in Somalia. This important task was to be accomplished by deploying observers of human rights (DeCuttry, 2013) in the country in order to compile solid and realistic reports based on the situation on the ground. Complicating the human rights activities is the fact that individuals and operations with humanitarian aid are not allowed to enter into some of the rural areas in Somalia which Al Shabaab presently controls although certain community elders have been able to go to certain places such as Baidoa to get the aid (DeCuttry, 2013). In some cases, the humanitarian aid agencies were able to conduct “post-distribution monitoring activities to ensure that aid was not diverted”; however, this was not always the case (DeCuttry, 2013, p.72). Clan activity and power is effectively making humanitarian aid in Somalia difficult to deliver and even more difficult in monitoring and ascertaining that the aid reaches those who are most in need of it. Despite these problems of accessibility and lack of monitoring, coordination and lack of accountability n good governance, the United Nations reported on the 17th of March 2017 that it had approved a budget in the amount of $22 million for the purpose of boosting work in the agricultural industry so that famine is prevented in Somalia (UN News Centre, 2017).

Somalia’s New President


Farole (2017) reports that Somalia has a new president, specifically one who was a “former prime minister,” namely, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmajo) (p.1). This occurred in what was a smooth transition and in fact only one of two such power transfers since 1960 (Farole, 2017). The election of new president Mohamed Farmaajo occurred in an indirect manner in which the parliament instead of citizens of Somalia elected him (Farole, 2017). The main reason for the indirect election is suggested to be the central government’s concern, along with international community’s, regarding “the terrorist group al-Shabaab” which has been in control of large areas in Somalia for the past decade (Farole, 2017, p.1). Additionally, Farole (2017) suggests the challenge that the new president of Somalia will face in filling the seat in parliament since in 2012 this process relied on what is known as “a 4.5 formula – a power-sharing agreement among Somalia’s dominant clans” (p.1), but which many scholars, analysts and human rights activists have seen as a form of apartheid (Eno and Eno 2009; Samatar 2007). This formula works through the allocation of one of the four available seats to each primary Somali clan and only ½ of a seat to clans that are classified as minority in Somalia (Farole, 2017). The election of the new president was accomplished by large clan elders totalling 135 members chosen by the administration that was leaving for formation of delegates using the 4.5 formula (Farole, 2017). It is reported that the Somali provisional constitution sets out electoral colleges totalling 275 which is comprised of 51 delegates that are chosen by the clan elders (135 total) and the 14,025 delegates electing “275 Lower House” parliament members (Farole, 2017, p.1). There are problems with the use of clan quota since the institutionalization of the clan system of Somalia risks clan loyalties being further deepened during the elections likely to result in “rigid ethnic voting in future elections based on universal suffrage” (Farole, 2017, p.1). The quota that is clan-based puts the minority clans in Somalia at a serious disadvantage since the clans who are minority have been marginalized historically, speaking in terms of the political process (Farole, 2017).

The parliament is designed to be bicameral with the primary objectives of advancing reconciliation on a national level, institution of measures against corruption, and reforms to the security and socio-economic sectors (Musau, 2013). However, there has never been a “cross-board, social, economic and political institutions” in Somali (Musau, 2013, p.15). Musau reports that in 2012 the United Nations ‘Assistance Mission for Somalia’ set a mandate inclusive of making provision of advice on policy to AMISOM and the SFG specially in the areas of state building and peace-building related to “governance, security sector reform and rule of law” however, this has not yet been realized in Somalia (Musau, 2013, p.15). There are indications that among the factors slowing down the process of state-building is “the absence of domestic political institutions coupled with no capacity to support comprehensive transitional justice processes and how these would relate with the clans” (Musau, 2013, p.15). According to Odowa (2013) failure of educated political leadership in Somali has been characterized by the attempts of the leaders and other prominent local actor to, Musau stated “exploit clan politics to assert themselves over the illiterate” towards their own ambitions politically, personally, and economically (p.22). The ongoing misuse of the structure of clans and their dynamics on the part of leaders locally is what has contributed to the divisiveness of the Somalis according to the clan loyalty tightly knotted to the system. This means that it is problematic in understanding the conflict in Somali and the role of clanism and clan-based politics that characterizes the Somali situation (Odowa, 2013). In addition, there is a need to understand the traditional legal system in Somalia or that of the ‘xeer’ also reported to be paradoxical in that “it has provided the benefit of a social safety net and means of support and protection for members, while simultaneously creating poisonous and at times violent relationships within communities and the wider society” (Odowa, 2013, p.22). According to Jibrell (2013), parliamentarian selection is done by the leaders of clans and since clan leaders are not provided money by the institutions, these individuals “are generally opportunistic and ask for a high price when the time comes for their services to be used” (p.27). That is why the endorsement of the cabinet raises stakes since it is done by those parliament members who see the need for their approval of the cabinet as an unprecedented opportunity for individual income before voting for the endorsement (Jibrell, 2013).

Humanitarian Aid Issues in Somalia


Gonnelli (2013) writes that the government which is imported in nature to Somalia while having the best intentions of those who are elite and in rule in Somalia and which was hoped to be used in overcoming the issues in Somalia in fact “proved de facto instrumental to sowing the seeds of discord and destruction” since these were “deluded by supposed clan supremacy and mobilized along kinship and loyalty lines” (p.9). Menkaus (2016) reports an investigation that stated the conclusion that “the combination of political economy drivers and deep-rooted socio-cultural practices of non-state security provision constitutes a ‘perfect storm’ in Somalia, reinforcing the role of non-state security provides and working against a quick assertion of state monopoly on the legitimate use of force inside the country’s borders” (p.8). The efforts that come external to Somalia in attempting to provide strength to the state’s formal sector of security and to work in weakening the providers of security that are non-state are in reality “swimming against powerful currents” (Menkaus, 2016, p.8).

Gonelli (2013) reports in relation to the humanitarian issues in Somalia, the United Nations and its missions which are integrated in nature and that are set out for implementation in Somalia may be such that they “compromise the principled aid in blurring lines of political and humanitarian action” (2013, p.9). Jibrell (2013) notes that humanitarian aid monies do not make their way down to the lower ends of clan power and specifically to those who are “makeshift foot soldiers who are young, naïve and from pastoral environments” (p.26). Menkaus (2016) reports that the realization has been in relation to humanitarian aid funds that there is a “growing culture of protection fees and other financial injections from humanitarian organizations [which has] resulted in humanitarian assistance becoming increasing embedded in the political economy of violence (p.14). Hammond (2012) reports on the misuse of humanitarian aid funds that this can be explained according to the view that clans in Somalia have of these funds. Stated specifically by Hammond (2012) is “The long-established rules about clan ownership and protection which oblige people to respect the property of a clan or pay restitution typically are not as binding on money provided from foreign sources. There is, therefore, a level of impunity that means that businesspeople may not feel compelled to be as responsible with funds from international sources as they would be with money provided by Somalis, particularly those with whom they have clan ties” (p.11). While clanism involves an atmosphere of complete trust among members and members who are male willing to die for their clan, there are abuses of this trust as well as manipulation “by organized and politically ambitious men.”  This results in the young soldiers’ confusion and disorientation as well as ending up in the streets in uniforms of the military and as vulnerable agents utilized by the system or anyone who can afford to pay them for security purposes (Jibrell, 2013, p.26). These ‘security forces’ are generally “high on the stimulant kaat/mira” and are often under-nourished; they have eyes that are wide, and their “hunger and disillusionment” are suppressed by consuming drugs resulting in their death due to disease (Jibrell, 2013, p.26).

Clans in Somalia


Musau (2013) accounts that Somali clans can be defined as being “culturally a consensual identity inherited from patriarchal ancestors and clannism, as a political ideology” and as such one that makes the determination of all matters in Somalia including those of distribution of resources, power, territorial expansion and promotion to influential positions (p.13). Musau confirms the statement of Gonnelli that the import of the West has resulting in the divide between clans being further enhanced and their tactics on rule further integrated into Somali politics with the argument that states that “whoever can claim to represent a clan in Somalia would have the right to claim some local power and the resources that go with it” (2013, p.13). This is not just Musau’s recent observation but a description given about the Somali society by colonial writers who are considered as the pioneers of Somali studies. However, according to Musau, the largest challenge in Somalia is that of finding a balance between the interests of clans and the political power resource which requires condemnation of the present “clan-based political formula currently being framed for the federal political system” (2013, p.13). In the best-case scenario, the clan system can be considered as an institution that “works for the society-providing the required social security welfare system, and protecting the society members in all aspects” (Musau, 2013, p.14). Aside from that positive view point, there is adequate evidence that the clan system in the worst-case scenario results in destructive situations such as bloodshed, conflict, masculine control of the society and xenophobia among the various groups of clans (Musau, 2013). Furthermore, the identity of clans works in exerting influence over politics and therefore not necessarily always the root of conflict; but instead “a compelling mobilization instrument with any local political actor using this to garner their support” (Musau, 2013, p.14). Political and economic power in Somalia rests in the hands of clans. Institutions such as banks and courts are the objects of desire for clan power, never to be surrendered to the state or the people. It simply ‘ought to be’, according to them, that they own said institutions (Musau, 2013). Support of the UN for the two clans of Darod and Hawiye has resulted in the other clans rallying around these two but at the same time bitterly resenting them for the UN’s bias in favouring certain clans at the disadvantage of others; hence the UN being observed and actually blamed itself as violator of the rights of certain groups at the appeasement of others. Because the support the UN built around them, these two primary clans are sought after for support by other clans not so seen and not equally accommodated by the UN. Therefore, the less powerful clans “rally around these two for state power and control” (Musau, 2013, p.15), which in many cases becomes a reason for corruption, mal-governance, and sabotage of crucial peace building and reconciliation projects needed for bringing the different clans together. The clan in rule or the one the head of state hails from, the Hawiye, has several clans that are sub-clans to it, same as the Darod clan does. The Majertenm sub-clan of the Darod are those in control of Puntland and Habargidir sub-clan are in control of Gal-Mudug region. These two rival clans share habitat as well as kinship. (Lerew, 2017). It is reported that these two sub-clans are alone in control of the entire northern area of Somalia since these two sub-clans fought over this supremacy and was granted the same providing them with a regional state of their own resulting in the application of the nickname ‘clan federalism’ (Lerew, 2017). The minority clans who represent a larger population than these two sub-clans combined are marginalized in every way and relegated to refugee camps referred to by Somali intellects as ‘contemporary concentration camps’ (Lerew, 2017). Individuals are kept in these refugee camps in terrible conditions where sanitation is extremely poor and in what is a systematic slow genocide (Lerew, 2017).

Social Stratification in Somalia


Kusow and Eno (2015) recently produced an award-winning report on social stratification and inequalities in which they “examine the institutional and personal ways in which Somali Bantu and Somali outcaste individuals (Gabooye, Midgaan, Tumaal, and Yibir) articulate the kind of discrimination and social exclusion imposed on them” by the dominant four groups in the country (p. 418).    Kusow and Eno state that the social structure of Somalia is such that, among others, it recognizes three groups of minorities including: (1) Bantu Jareer; (2) Banadari Reer Hamar; and (3) occupational caste groups (2015). The Somali Bantu Jareer and the occupational/cultural caste population represent “the largest and most socially othered groups” (p. 413). Although the latter are very similar to the dominant clans with the only difference being that of clan affiliation, the Somali Bantu are otherized due to their African origin (Kusow and Eno, 2015, p. 413; Lerew, 2017)). Kusow and Eno further comment that dominant Somali clans employ various narratives of which “the Somali formula narrative provides the master frame through which the nature of social stratification and inequality is produced and maintained (2015, p.415). Dominant Somali groups utilize Islam’s religious identity and descendency of Arabness as an ethnic identity in the construction of “the process of othering and boundary making” and that in relation to the occupational caste groups “the Islamic identity of the ancestor was used as a strategy to impose otherness on those who allegedly insisted on retaining their pre-Islamic identities and values.” This has resulted in the outcast groups being removed from the Somalianess boundary and thereby forcing them into the status of the outcast (Kusow and Eno, 2015, p.415). Stated otherwise, the society of the Somali people is divided into two groups in regard to status; those who are the offspring of the original immigrant ancestor and hold that they are the “true or noble Somalis,” and those who are not related to the Arab ancestor but trace their origin to African ancestry or held indigenous faith other than Islam (Kusow and Eno, 2015, p.415). Kusow and Eno report that the varying boundaries which are symbolic in nature and create the otherness are such that they “have been institutionalized at the constitutional/political level” (Kusow and Eno, p. 417).


Somali clannism to individuals who are not Somalis can be quite confusing as well as complex (Lerew, 2017). The majority of countries in Africa have a great many tribes that live in harmony with other tribes in towns and villages with no identity confusion occurring. As reported by Lerew (2017), an example is that of the Zulu tribes comprised completely by Zulus with the same being true for the tribe of the Kikuyu in that these two tribes “do not divide themselves into numerous clans and sub clans. Everything is so clear cut, one could almost colour code them” (p.1). It is very different in Somalia since, as stated by Lerew (2017)

“clan ‘A’ could suddenly split themselves into number of sub clans, e.g. clan A1 or A2. These sub-clans could be in disagreement with clan ‘B’, despite the fact there had been a prior agreement between the original clan ‘A’ and clan ‘B’” (Lerew, 2017, p.1).

The entire clan’s culture is that of the Pastoral-Somalis described as nomads and wanderers who seek grazing land perpetually living in constant state of nature (Lerew, 2017). Menkaus (2016) reports that the “pastoralists or agro-pastoralists” live in a “content of statelessness. The key unit around which communities organized, self-identified and sought protection, access to key resources (land and water) and access to customary law was segmentary lineage of clan” (p.9). In the context of the pastoralist clans the control of the territory on the part of the clan is critical for group survival and for this reason territory is highly guarded (Menkaus, 2016). When the pastoral clans are in distress and desire to relocate into the territory of another clan, it is possible for them to accomplish this through “being adopted into the lineage, a process known as ‘shegard’ (Menkaus, 2016, p.9). However, doing so resulted in their relegation to a low-status standing in the clan but did install them as members that were real to the lineage and provided them with some level of protection along with resource access (Menkaus, 2016).

At the time of the collapse of Somalia’s central government during 1991 the capital of Mogadishu was overtaken by the pastoral clans who came heavily armed with no willingness for adapting to the Weberian western formulated states with the same kind of institutions and would only do so if it benefitted them (Lerew, 2017). This resulted in the sub-clans viewing such institutions as being “a point of exploitation and the result is that the attempts of the United Nations for institutional establishment was faced with clans vying for ownership of ministries as individual or clan property because a report suggests that “Clan-institutions, clan-federalism and clan lead security armies are shifting loyalty from one sub-clan into another sub-clan all of whom are competing resources, turning vital institutions into unworkable bodies  (Lerew, 2017, p.1). The clans stand to make a great deal of money from humanitarian aid funds and resources and because of this, this has become “a central objective of both the political and business communities. It also becomes a tactic of war” (Hammond, 2012, p.11). It is reported that al Shabaab and the TFG are noted to have diverted resources gained from humanitarian aid in order to draw individuals to areas where they hold control as well as in preventing individuals from attempting to gain assistance in areas that are not within their control (Hammond, 2012). Hammond (2012) states that “all of these uses and abuses of aid resources make it even more difficult to disentangle international political and humanitarian engagements and political and humanitarian space” (p.11).

Lerew (2017) reports that one clan owns the ministry of education while another clan holds power over the minister of Foreign Affairs and another clan holds office of Mayoral of Mogadishu with these being only a few examples (Lerew, 2017). Clans view institutions of the state as prizes to be won and a method for benefitting their own clans (Lerew, 2017).  The problem in Somalia with the clan system is that clans have a method of dividing their larger clan into smaller clans and then demanding to participate in parliament in order to gain numerical size and use it later for own benefit. Lerew (2017) provides an excellent example in nature using a metaphor of Starling birds to explain the methods being used in the Somali clan system to gain control over more and more institutions and positions as follows:

“When observing a flock of Starling birds flying together in one direction, it can be seen that they may suddenly change direction as a unit. They may rapidly divide their unit and subdivide themselves and subsequently re-unite again, all of a sudden. Watching these birds in fascination, one can tell how futile it is to draw a particular pattern in which the birds fly. Similarly, Somali clannism follows in a similar changeable and unpredictable fashion. This constant shape-shifting and ever more difficult clan fiefdoms deprive the numerous but marginalised groups such as Somali Bantu, coastal ethnic groups, societies and communities from Somali-sedentary groups ever becoming part of the political structure in a meaningful way” (Lerew, 2017, p.1).

Lerew (2017) states that the clans of Somalia can be divided into two specific groups and those being the ‘nomadic’ and ‘sedentary’ groups and notes the myth that “Somalis are homogenous” is one that is quite often repeated (p.1).

Life of the Somali pastoral clans is rough and hard with daily struggles; always on the move, seeking where it has rained to find land to graze their herds and instances of their livestock being stolen which results frequent fights to regain the property (Lerew, 2017). Much of the clan fighting is in self-defence, as reported by Lerew, and that “State of war is ever present” which is due to the way that nomadic clans fight in settling disputes and proving that they deserve status or point-scoring, prize-winning and respect gaining pursuits (Lerew 2017, p.1). Superiority is important within the clan system since there is little more to take pride in. The nomadic clan habitats are in central Somalia expanding to the “north and north east of Somalia, their land is arid to semi-arid” (Lerew, 2017, p.1).

Compared to the pastorals in the north and central, the southern Somalis are sedentary and “divided into coastal dwellers, farmers, fishing, merchants and artisans” (Lerew, 2017, p.1). The genetics of the southern Somalis is mixed in nature due to the integration common in urban areas and urbanized life. The sedentary Somalis are peaceful people and earn a living from fishing, trading as well as farming with their identity being “defined on place of habitat” (Lerew, 2017, p.1) in many cases rather than clan affiliation. The following chart is included in Lerew’s work in writing.

Figure 1: Somali Sedentary Ethnic Groups and Somali Pastoral Clans

Somali Sedentary Ethnic Groups Somali Pastoral Clans
These groups are by and large heterogeneous and speak ‘May-May’ language, Banadiri dialect and four minor languages (Jiido, Bravani, Mshunguli and few other dialects). These groups are homogeneous and speak one language (Somali)—their culture is based on nomadic life, with attack and defense being their constant priority. Raiding others in order to rob their camels or defending one’s own is their core value.
Identity revolves around the place of birth (or place of ancestral birth or place of habitat). There is room for immigrants to integrate, hence they have an absorption capacity which their culture permits. Identity revolves on lineage and hinges on the pride of one’s descent; these groups are divided into clans. Though clan members may intermarry, they have patrilineage which is defined biologically. To become one of them, one has to be born into them—they have no absorption capacity.
Work is blessed, therefore hard work is a virtue. Pastoral based clans see work as for ‘the inferiors’. Being idle and orator is permitted amongst nobility.
These groups are farmers, fishers, traders, hide-curers and artisans. These groups are pastorals. However, over the last fifty years, they have had plenty of opportunities to migrate and settle in various parts of Somalia, as well as settle in western countries.  Their moto is ‘where one of us owns the rest of us defends’ (“one for all, all for one”)
Law; these groups have a rich culture and live among each other in harmony. Their laws are just and fair. Their assembly is called ‘GOGOL’, where the people gather to negotiate law and every ethnic group is represented. They have laws of farming, livestock, marriage, dowry, divorce, and also discuss border disputes and settlements. Law; these groups have something called ‘xeer’

Which favours the strong.

These groups are governed by reason. These clans are governed by emotion.
These groups practice restraint and respect the sanctity of life.  Most of them are humble and respect order. These groups have the tendencies to be arrogantly proud, to compromise is to admit defeat and no mercy is showed to the defeated.  Being vindictive and fanatical is virtue.
Geographically, Somali-sedentary groups live south parts of Somalia along the rivers starting from lower Hiiran to all the way down to Jubbaland. Geographically, Somali-pastorals live from Galgaduud (middle Somalia) all the way to the borders of Djibouti.


Source: Lerew (2017)

The division between the Somalis who are sedentary and those who are nomadic is important in demonstrating that the Somalis are not homogenous whatsoever as reported by colonial writers and so-called early generation Somali intellectuals who did not critically observe colonial as well as official state historiography. The United Nations and the international community have succumbed to this trap of Somali homogeneity, got stuck in it and rather than find an appropriate method to approach the matter. Rather, they keep sending a great deal of financial support for rebuilding Somalia although the local recipients of those funds do not care about the country as much as they care about their clans. Marginalization of the sedentary groups is exercised by the nomadic groups who desire colonialism with orientalism mindset and have enforced the 4.5 system (Lerew, 2017). In 1960 when independence was gained from the colonialists a great injustice ensued in that these two separate and distinct groups were integrated as one people and given the label of all being Somalis without any distinction whatsoever. However, over the last half a decade there are suggestions that a process of slow elimination of the sedentary groups of the country by the nomadic section of the society have been in progress. Stunned by the nature of the problem and the international community’s silence over the situation, Lerew reveals.

Missed opportunities


The clans in 2012 did not have any regional states characterised by a power base that was strong; and at that time President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud “was new to the office” and was given the chance to replace the PMs twice, enabling him to make use of the efforts at state building as a method for returning again to office. In addition, although he did not hold membership to diaspora groups he did in fact have ties with non-governmental organizations that were Nairobi-based. Furthermore, he had on his side an Addis Ababa “proxy The outcome is that Somalia will be on a trajectory characterised by conflict among clans that is ongoing and as stated in the work of (Lerew 2017). “The entire clan federalism using 4.5 is engineering a violent extremism and leaves room for insurgency” (p.1). In order to build peace, and viable state, the polarization as well as the marginalization of clans should be put to a quick end (Lerew, 2017). The 4.5 system is reported to be directly in violation to article 55 of the UN Charter that states as follows:

“With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of people, the United Nations shall promote: higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; and international cultural and educational cooperation; and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion” (UN Charter, Article 55).

The 4.5 system from all appearances is a UN sponsored system that condemns those who are half clan or 0.5 as compared to those clans held superior or 4.0 containing the primary four clans in Somalia (Lerew, 2017). In reality, the four largest clans are not really the largest in that the minority clans such as the Jareer Weyne and Somali vocational groups are more in number than when combining the Darod and Hawiye who are held as major clans and have gained this status through the system having been rigged to favor them (Lerew, 2017). The clan view of democracy is one intent on getting what they can get while it is possible to get it and then to “get away with it with impunity. No oversight. In Somalia one of the long list of casualties is Democracy itself” (Lerew, 2017, p.1).

In addition, the minority clans and their experience of injustice is such that results in many of them joining with groups that are extremists and being easy to be radicalised, however, the establishment of justice along with creations of jobs and provision of education would do much to address the despair that the minority clans in Somalia face in the present state of the system. Mogadishu increased its size from four to seventeen districts and is a bustling city for those who trade and work, despite that fact, the civil war that has been ongoing the city is still “robust and in line with other Sub Saharan countries in terms of its capacity and the facilities it can offer as a city” (Lerew, 2017, p.1). The problem at present is that with decentralization of authority, clans are claiming the city as their own and in a city that is presenting host to the parliament of the federal government along with many foreign embassies and the UNSOM and AMISON offices and all located in an area reported to be approximately “the size of New York central park” (Lerew, 2017, p.1). It is reported however, that “Mogadishu cannot be both the capital of the nation as well as power base for a clan” (Lerew, 2017, p.1). Lerew (2017) reports that there are two primary languages as well as two cultural identities in Somalia which is problematic for state-building (Lerew, 2017). Another hindrance to stat-building in Somalia is new wars.  Somalia has the whole marks of Mary Kaldor’s new wars. (Kaldor, 2013). Al-Shabaab, Al Qaida affiliated terrorist groups have made in recent years’ peace and stability a goal too far.

(Gridneff, 2017). Historically, al-Shabaab has profiled as a movement that rises above the system of the clans and that adheres to its following of Islam however, most recently, the group has had trouble keeping this falsehood under wraps (Gridneff, 2017). Gridneff (2017) reports the statement of associate professor, Hansen at the University of Life Science in Oslo that a contradiction exists in Shabaab and that is their playing the game of the clan but noting that this is necessary for survival in Somalia. The fight of al-Shabaab is reported to have become asymmetric in nature and because of this it is reported that this group began the embrasure of clans as centric to strategy and that al-Shabaab is manipulating the clans as well as providing support that is opportunistic taking advantage of the differences among the clans and their grievances in the political arena. It is reported that al-Shabaab calls the military units of the clans their helpers and announced in the latter part of 2016 that a “congress of clan leaders” had been established (Gridneff, 2017, p.1). Simultaneously, it is reported that al-Shabaab has taken part in overtly intimidating some of the clans and using violence and then negotiation in what is a cycle used to bring these clans into the fold of the jihadists (Gridneff, 2017, p.1). This is occurring in the already challenges environment to implementation of the electoral model in Somalia that is inclusive of buying of votes, fraud as well as intimidation (Gridneff, 2017). According to the report, international partners along with the United Nations have made accusations against the National Leadership Forum in Somalia “of having extended a blanket of amnesty for some of the most blatant irregularities witnessed during this electoral process (Gridneff, 2017, p.1). As well, Somalia’s leadership forum has been accused of “contravening the commitment to respect the rule of law” (Gridneff, 2017, p.1). Dheere in his interview made it clear that al-Shabaab was against constitutional rule and would be averse to the new government transitioning in Somalia as well as rejecting any potential peaceful compromise (Gridneff, 2017).

The work of Ainashe (2017) relates that every day there are people killed in Mogadishu as well as occurrences of suicide bombs, mortars, car bombings, other explosives that are improvised as well as assassinations. Over the last four years it is reported that in excess of 20 individuals who belonged to the federal parliament were killed in assassinations along with quite a few senior officials as well as government ministers (Ainashe, 2017). It is additionally related that al-Shabaab has become bold due to the AMISOM failure as well as the failures of the security forces in Somalia and has launched attacks that were deadly as well as being spectacular on the military barracks of AMISOM (Ainashe, 2017). It is reported that Michael Keating, Secretary-General special representative for the UN along with his team are hidden out at the airport and cannot leave at the time of this report in January and this in light of the 2 billion USD spent each year on Somalia’s security sector (Ainashe, 2017). Presently there are reported to be in excess of 22,000 AMISOM soldiers who have tanks as well as being in possession of heavy artillery located in Somalia and approximately 25,000 Somali National Army soldiers as well as approximately 12,000 police officers who are armed and approximately 3,000 NISA soldiers along with nearly 3,000 others that are Somali military and armed (Ainashe, 2017). Furthermore, it is reported that there are approximately 10,000 soldiers in Puntland and Jubbaland claims approximately 5,000 soldiers which means there are in excess of 70,000 armed military soldiers presently in Somalia (Ainashe, 2017). Despite this fact, Mogadishu which contains approximately 1 million “cannot be secured” (Ainashe, 2017). It is reported that AMISOM is requesting additional funds along with a request for 4,000 more soldiers along with helicopter gunships being requested (Ainashe, 2017). In contrast, it is reported that al-Shabaab has approximately only 7,000 fighters with many of them not being ready for battle (Ainashe, 2017). Ainashe states specifically: “A multi-national effort of over twenty years and billions of dollars spent on reconstituting the Somali security apparatus has achieved nothing thus far and the end result is a colossal failure and much needed resources wasted. Not to mention the loss of human life as a result. The basic blueprint and tools required for reconstructing a viable security system in Somalia are not there yet” (p.1). Presently, no security architecture is present in Somalia, the national security is not coherent and neither is the defense strategy and while millions are spent paying Somali soldiers the question that remains is where are they and what is being done by them? (Ainashe, 2017). It is reported that “the international security partners seem confused, out of place and above all frustrated with their Somali partners” (Ainashe, 2017, p.1). The reality is that the military in Somalia is only in the books of the government as well as on their payrolls with payments being doled out but there is no existence of the training that is needed nor are the structured for control and command in place and there is no cohesion on the vision for Somalia upon which to base their fight (Ainashe, 2017).In addition, there is no presence of the equipment that the military needs and that is critical in nature however al-Shabaab is in possession of weapons such as machine guns, AK-47s, grenades that are rocket-propelled as well as mortars (Ainashe, 2017). The question set out in the work of Ainashe (2017) is one asking “why would a soldier risk his life if he does not understand the rationale and the objective of the war he is told to fight? Are Somali leaders and military commanders giving their soldiers a reason to fight?” (p.1). The problem that exists is that the majority of the soldiers for the military are “more sympathetic to the enemy they are told to fight than the government that sends them to battle and the international partners that pay their salaries” (Ainashe, 2017, p.1). In fact, it is reported that the military strategy of AMISOM is one that appears to “have evolved from a benign defense, which meant minimizing the damage the enemy could inflict upon them, to some kind of minimalist forward defense strategy which is, simply put, enlarging the distance between them and enemy. These strategies are yet to produce a decisive military victory over Al Shabaab” (Ainashe, 2017, p.1). While the mandate set for AMISOM is one inclusive of equipping and training the security forces in Somalia this aspect of the AMISOM mission has not been fulfilled (Ainashe, 2017).


Summary and Conclusion


The clan system in Somalia has served to divide the country and to present barriers to peace due to dominant clans holding themselves as being superior to minority clans. While the minority clans have large numbers of members the influence exerted over the minority clans is due to the dominant clans having more power in the 4.5 system meaning that the dominant clans have double the number of seats in parliament as well as holding positions of power and thereby having a larger voice than the minority clans. Making the situation even more tenuous is the influence of al-Shabaab in Somalia operating under the guise of Islam, the one true path, but in reality, manipulating clans and playing them one against the other where division already exists. Al-Shabaab is willing to launch attacks to ensure that democracy and constitutional authority is not implemented in Somalia and the fact is that until some cohesion and cooperation can be realized among the various clans in Somalia that there is simply no hope for establishment of a sound government structure. Power is sold and bought in the form of positions of leadership in Somalia as clans fight as to whose clan will be represented in these positions of power. The ultimate failure in this situation was the failure of the United Nations to properly analyze the situation in Somalia before entering into Somalia with peace-keeping missions and alongside other international actors as well as ANSOM, UNSOM and AMISOM. Had the United Nations understood the situation with the clans in Somalia and had they been provided with the correct information rather than being informed that the clans in Somalia were homogenous then millions of dollars could have been saved in what has been a failed process and one that across 20 years looks no brighter than it did when the initiative had begun. Al-Shabaab is making an already problematic situation much worse with their meddling which is the intent and focus of al-Shabaab as related in the statement of Dheere and reported in this study. The provision of education in Somalia is a cornerstone to bringing about change as is the clans being informed and coming to an understanding that they must work together rather than against one another if they are going to have a safe environment free of bombings, killings and assassinations on a daily basis. However, with the clans view that are centered on self and their clan and on getting what they can while the getting is good it is unlikely that the clans of Somalia will ever reach the point of collaboration with one another so institution of a democratic type of government in Somalia is going to require military force firstly against al-Shabaab and then against clans who are not willing to come together to work toward the common good of all people in Somalia. It is certain that the marginalized groups are vital for bringing peace and stability, after all the elite that ran the country from 1950 to 1988 were the marginalized groups especially the Beizanis. Furthermore, if the INT/COM wish to get out of the Somali quagmire they should bring the marginalized on-bard in a meaningful way.




Ainashe, M (2017) The Somali security approach is a colossal failure new thinking is needed. Jowhar. Retrieved from:

Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics (2005) World Bank Group. Retrieved from:

Cuttrey, AD (2013) Somalia Clan and State Politics – Commentary. ITPCM International Commentary. Retrieved from:

Elmi, AA (2014) Decentralization Options for Somalia. The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies. Retrieved from:

Elmi, Afyare A. (2016) “Developing an Inclusive Citizenship in Somalia: Challenges and Opportunities,” Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies: Vol. 16, Article 7. Retrieved from:

Eno, M. A. and Eno, O. A. (2009). “Intellectualism amid Ethnocentrism: Mukhtar and the 4.5 Factor.” Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies, vol. 9, article 13, pp. 137-145

Farole, S (2017) Somalia’s President Now Faces 3 Big Challenges. The Washington Post. Retrieved from:

Gonnelli, M (2013) Somalia Clan and State Politics – Commentary. ITPCM International Commentary. Retrieved from:

Gridneff, I (2017) Al-Shabaab Strategy Shifts Toward Clans as Presidential Election Looms. IPI Global Observatory. Retrieved from:

Gundel, J (2009) Clans in Somalia. COI Workshop Vienna. 15 May 2009. from:

Hammond, L. (2012) Humanitarian Space in Somalia: A Scarce Commodity. Humanitarian Policy Group.

Hassan, F. M. and Hirad, A. (2002). “Somalia: The World Stampedes to Renew its Commitment for Restoration of Unity, or, Is It for Dismemberment?” cited in Eno and Eno (2009); Online at

Inman, HA and Sharp, WG (1999) Revising the UN Trusteeship System – Will It Work. American Diplomacy. Retrieved from:

Jibrell, F (2013) Somalia Clan and State Politics – Commentary. ITPCM International Commentary. Retrieved from:

Kaldor, M., 2013. New and old wars: Organised violence in a global era. John Wiley & Sons.


Kusow, Am and Eno, MA (2015) Formula Narratives and the Making of Social Stratification and Inequality. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. 1(3).

Lerew, S (2017) Somalia: Frankenstein State of Viable State. Som Tribune. Retrieved from:

Lindley, A (2009) Leaving Mogadishu: The War on Terror and Displacement Dynamics in the Somali Regions. MICROCON Research Working Paper 15.

Menkaus, K (2003) Collective fear of the re-emergence of a predatory state structure undermines public support for peace building process; and that the powerful centrifugal force of Somali clannism works against coalitions. Retrieved from:

Menkaus, K (2009) Somalia. RUSI Journal 154(4).

Menkhaus, K (2015) State-Building and Non-State Armed Actors in Somalia. Maxwell School of Syracuse University. YouTube. Retrieved from:

Menkaus, K (2017) Non-State Security Providers and Political Formation in Somalia. CSG Papers (5).

Musau, S (2013) Somalia Clan and State Politics – Commentary. ITPCM International Commentary. Retrieved from:

Odowa, AM (2013) Somalia Clan and State Politics – Commentary. ITPCM International Commentary. Retrieved from:

Phillips, CE (2005) Somalia – A Very Special Case. Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law v.9. Retrieved from:

Radlicki, M (2015) Who Really Rules Somalia: The Tale of Three Big Clans and Three Countries. Mail & Guardian Africa. Retrieved from:

Samatar, Abdi I. (2007). “Somalia: Warlordism, Ethiopian Invasion, Dictatorship and America’s Role” (2007), online at (Note that this article is widely published in numerous online journals.)

Terrorist Safe Havens (nd) U.S. State Department. Retrieved from:

UN approves $22 million loan to boost agricultural work to prevent famine in Somalia (2017) UN News Centre. Retrieved from:

Upsall, KC (2014) State Building in Somalia in the Image of Somaliland: A Bottom-Up Approach. Inquiries 6(3). Retrieved from:


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Posted by on May 12, 2019 in Somalia


Nation state, clan state or Somali state?

Today I went to visit a young and charismatic Somali youths by the name of Anti Tribalism Movement ATM. It was amazing to see how they were changed from their early beginnings back in 2011 to more mature and more realistic.

Today’s discussion was our different views on what statehood is and how we can get out of the situation Somalia is right now.  The conversation was long, it took almost three hours and we did not even realise that it took us that long. Finally we came to agree that the core of the confusion is that we have two parallel Somali.

  1. Somali the tribe.
  2. Somalia the nation state.

We decided to write a paper in regards to Somali the tribe, some of these tribesmen live in the state of Somalia, hence they are Somalis by clan and Somali citizens at the same time.  However, Somalia (the state) is geographically positioned in Horn of Africa, its boundaries were defined by the European colonial powers and the tribes had no say over the matter.  Large parts of Somalia, starting from Hiran all the way down to Jubbaland bordering with Kenya, inhabitants are none (Somali tribes) but never the less Somali by citizenship.  The second group, Somalis but not belonging to Somali tribe have suffered enormously during the civil strife and continue to suffer. In the absence of clearly defined between these two parallel Somali, the decision makers will always be confused. Well meaning projects and programs have ended up with doing more harm to none Somali “the tribe” than help.

We shall post the paper in due course.

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Posted by on July 6, 2018 in Somalia


Gender Inequality in Somalia.

By Samiya Lerew

  1. Introduction

Gender inequality is a key social issue that inhibits women from accessing vital social and economic freedom in the same manner as their male counterparts in developing and developed countries alike. However, some countries such as Somalia rank highly on the global Gender Equality Index (Kenschaft and Ciambrone 2015), which makes the issue more prevalent in this country compared to other nations. In Somalia, gender inequality has its roots in sociocultural norms and traditions that persist among the existing communities, with the country’s historic status as a conflict zone further reducing the capacity for women to achieve gains comparable to their peers in other countries. This happens even as global organisations maintain the need for gender equality as a means for applying human rights universally. This emphasises the need for an improved understanding of the ways through which Somalia’s sociocultural and political climates influence the struggle that women in this society undergo when striving for gender equality.

  1. Analysis

Historically, Somalia has had a tumultuous past in which the social and governmental frameworks necessary for making social gains. Ombati and Ombati (2017) note that the recent developments in the country’s political landscape pave the way for reforms that can increase the gains made in various aspects of the country’s educational, economic, and social landscape. However, the country is still not a signatory to the majority of African conventions such as the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (UNDP Somalia 2012). This places it behind other countries in the continent in its capacity to ensure that women’s rights the country could then uphold through the implementation of policies that seek to ensure gender equality. As a result, Somalia still lags behind other countries in developing frameworks that safeguard the interests of its female population, thereby limiting their access to opportunities to excel when compared to their male counterparts.

The lack of adequate attention to progress in women’s issues in Somalia has noticeable links in the participation levels of women in the decision-making processes at the community level. In Somali society, women face barriers in their capacity to influence the ways through which political and economic resources get distributed, which further limits their ability to campaign for allocations to issues that affect them (Kenschaft and Ciambrone 2015). In a strictly paternalistic sociocultural environment, it becomes difficult for women to highlight their issues as important, which also fares poorly in the absence of mechanisms for championing for such concerns. For women in Somalia, the sustained practice of traditions such as female circumcision and domestic childbirth further increase their exposure to continued discrimination because of having strayed from traditional and thereby socially upheld ideals (Ombati and Ombati 2017). Although Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been addressed in recent years, the root causes of this ill practice have not been debated fully. It is important to consider the indoctrination that young men experience; particularly concerning the marriage of circumcised women. It is passively instilled into the consciousness of males that their brides are only desirable if they are stitched (circumcised). The demand for circumcised wives is high, so mothers are often compelled to do this procedure on their daughters. Education for boys at an early age is inadequate; they are unaware of the negative impact FGM has on women and their society. We must change the narrative by educating both young men and women on the costs of this practice, otherwise the cycle will continue.

This increases the complexity of campaigning for gender equality in a community environment that focuses primarily on making the female subservient to the male members of the society.  Even with these traditionalistic restrictions, women in Somalia repeatedly show their resilience, especially in homesteads where the male family members were casualties of war and the women had to become the leaders of their respective homesteads. In the resultant environment, women play a leadership role in up to 40% of Somali homes, with the extra burden of supporting their families while also engaging in the domestic work associated with the home environment (Ombati and Ombati 2017). In a gender-imbalanced environment, it also becomes easier to allocate additional work to the female members of the family rather than their male siblings due to the influence of sociocultural pressures emanating from the communities in which these women live. In turn, this has a negative impact on the next generation of Somali women since the resultant domestication deprives them of vital knowledge and life skills at the expense of their less disadvantaged male counterparts.


Considering the increasingly pivotal role that women play in Somali society, it becomes imperative to understand how the government could improve opportunities for them to improve outcomes for them and their families. However, the Somali government still lags behind in its achievement of equal representation for women at the policymaking level, with a 3%, 4%, and 27.2% representation at the parliamentary, ministerial, and district levels respectively (UNDP Somalia 2012). This can explain why the government fails to deal with the literacy and education barriers facing girls in the society, which also predisposes them to less adequate socioeconomic outcomes in their adult life. This resembles the strict paternalistic and religious nature of traditionalistic societies described by Hooks (1982), which in this case reduces the emphasis placed on enacting vital reforms such as the acknowledgement of the UDHR and other international frameworks for upholding human rights. This makes it difficult for women in Somalia to gain access to the platforms that they need to address the issue of gender inequality in the country effectively.


  1. Conclusion

The achievement of gender equality in Somalia is a complex issue due to the sociocultural environment in Somali society, which prioritises male issues and maintains women’s subservience to their male counterparts. Although the situation in post-war Somalia saw more women becoming leaders in their respective households, the challenges that they face means that there is a danger of subjecting the next generation of Somali women to a similar culture of inequality. The lack of adequate representation at the political level also reduces the capacity for women leaders to influence policy change and introduce policy changes that improve support for women in sociocultural and political fields. Overall, women have risen to play prominent roles, but there is a danger that paternalistic and deeply religious sociocultural norms may devalue any progress achieved in the field of gender inequality. Therefore, there is a need to improve women’s representation at the political and community levels while also introducing reforms that ease their participation in economic and educational fields to improve the country’s capacity to tackle gender inequality effectively.



Hooks, B., 1982. Chapter 1: Sexism and the Black Female Slave Experience. In: Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. s.l.:Pluto Press, pp. 15-48.

Kenschaft, L., Clark, R. and Ciambrone, D., 2015. Gender inequality in our changing world: A comparative approach. Routledge.

Ombati, V. and Ombati, M., 2017. Gender inequality in education in sub-Saharan Africa. JWEE, (3-4), pp.114-136.

UNDP Somalia, 2012. Gender in Somalia, s.l.: United Nations.


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Posted by on April 19, 2018 in Somalia


Lower Shabelle

Lower Shabelle
The Epicentre of the Cycle of Somali Conflict

By Samiya Lerew

 Lower Shabelle is one of the richest, if not the most fertile, regions in Somalia. During the Italian colonial era, part of Lower Shabelle was in Banadir, and the farmland area was part of the Agrarian Administration. Up until 1st July 1960, the Italian rule of Italian Somaliland partitioned into four separate administrations. First, the Banadir Administration which consisted of the coastal area, Mogadishu, Merca, and Brava. Second, the Agrarian Administration. The third was Jubaland which was annexed in 1924. The fourth was Mudug, known today as Galmudug and Puntland. The Italians found the inhabitants of Mudug to be difficult to govern; all the inhabitants of Mudug were pastoralists. In July 1960, all four administrations, combined with British Somaliland became the Somali Republic. Up until 1969 Lower Shabelle was in the Banadir Administration. It enjoyed stability and had various industries, all of which are now gone.


The hinterland of southern Somalia is unique in East Africa, having the only fertile riverbed that is situated parallel to the coastline. It has been the food-basket of Somalia before the civil war and still is to this day. However, this made Lower Shabelle (and the regions to the South of Mogadishu) a prime target for the predator powers, namely dominant clans from the Mudug region. Successive Somali governments, people in business and elites from Mogadishu and central Somalia (including clan militias from the central regions), have been involved in numerous land-grabbing schemes that pushed Lower Shabelle into the present-day chaos and Shabaab-influenced wars.

Before the colonial era, the communities of Lower Shabelle possessed a long-standing ethos and knowledge of agriculture, soil quality, methods of irrigation, methods, and tools to measure the land (jibaal, darab, moos) and agreed-upon strategies for land use within families and the broader community. Everyone was entitled to and had legal rights to own property. Respected elders endorsed land transactions and approved by the traditional judges (qaaddi).

After the outbreak of the civil war, land-grabbing intensified under the umbrella of lawlessness and social chaos. Farms occupied by new clan militias from the central regions, who lacked both the skills and expertise to produce or even market their produce. Lack of knowledge, skills and native customs led to the occupying army conducting numerous inhuman atrocities. Currently, forced labour (chiefly slavery) is common among the armed militia in Lower Shabelle more than at any point in the past 100 years of Somalia’s history. They brought the weapons of the Somali National Army with them and, to this day, continue to displace local communities from their farms. In the past five years, the local communities organized a semblance of resistance against these militias. With the advent of the local community uprising, the clan militias hatched some new strategies, one of which has been to form alliances with the extremist group Al-Shabab. Most of these militia clan members work as government soldiers; they routinely switch uniforms (government soldiers to Al-Shabab fighter and vice versa) all for the sake of clan empowerment.

 As a result of the above background, the priorities of Lower Shabelle are distinctly different from those of the Somalia Federal Government mainly because of one significant reason: the societies of Lower Shabelle and meta-studies did on the Somali conflict have confirmed that the farms and land of these communities are confiscated in the name of the Somali government. However, they end up in the hands of individuals and groups closely associated with high ranking officials of the state. This has been the case in the past and holds true to this day. As such, these communities have decided to embark upon a journey to pave their own roadmap and take control of their destiny.

Lower Shabelle as part of Southwest State

Lower Shabelle became part of Southwest State in 2014. Following intense negotiations, the natives of the region thought it would be better if they became part of Southwest Region. Sharif Hasan was the first president of the state. The people of Lower Shabelle, Bay, and Bakol, became disillusioned with Sharif Hasan and demanded that he should be replaced. Sharif outmaneuvered everybody; he placed his own right-hand man in becoming the next regional president so that they could switch places later on.  One year later they did just that.

Sharif Hassan, the president of Southwest region of Somalia, is known to be a very sharp-minded man and highly intelligent; an African Machiavellian. However, he has never had any form of primary or secondary education. His predatory skills meant he out-lived his peer group, became a notorious master of elimination. His understanding of what a state should be is that of medievalism totalitarian rule. Anyone who disagreed with him ended up either dead or was forced to flee.

Unfortunately for him, the very skills that gave him such political longevity are now his nemesis. He had eliminated people of value and only uneducated, palm-greasing, self-serving individuals and criminal cartels remain as his partners, said Munye who did not wish to give his real name. Munye continued, “The guy is clearly a criminal minded man. He thinks that the state of the Southwest is there to serve him alone. This is clearly the outcome of not only forgiving criminals but making them as generals, presidents of regional states-man and in charge of aid distribution“. Munye did not mince his words.

Interview with Ali Baab

It was Ali Baab who struck the worst blow. Ali said, “Sharif was ‘sakiin‘” (meaning sharp blade) “but now he is Sharif ‘masaar’ “(meaning chopping axe). Ali continued “before Sharif sakiin was small time crook but now he is a runaway criminal“. I asked Ali if he had any proof of his claims. Ali replied, “Yes I do. You see, Shariif made me the foreign representative for the UK and EU, representing the Southwest State of Somalia, and by pulling the right strings, he will make anyone anything they want for the right price“. If he gave you such a prestige title, why go against him? I asked.

Ali replied, “The title comes with no money, the only thing which makes it useful is to whip him, I shall whip him with his own cane“. After bursting into a loud laugh, Ali Baab stated “I am speaking on behalf of Lower Shabelle people’s voice; I am very much concerned the deterioration of the situation in our region. Day after day the living conditions of Lewer Shabelle people is getting worse and worse. The root causes of their troubles are as follows; lack of security, lack of justice, extortion, low agricultural productivity due to farm-land theft, aggravated by drought. The deadliest of all is the land erosion catastrophe which is the direct result of Sharif Sakiin, he used fruit baring trees as charcoal, as a cash cow, for export. Shariif Sakiin has chameleon army who switch themselves from government soldiers to shabab, from Shabab to lime business keepers, and then back to his soldiers again. Sharif could not have achieved this without the protection of AMISOM. AMISOM think they are protecting a state leader, but they are assisting and protecting a harden criminal; they need to grow wise to his tricks”.

Ali paused for a while, gathered his thoughts and continued “Sharif Sakiin receives a lot of aid from various International bodies but not a drop of that money ever gets to trickle down to the people of Lower Shabelle.  Furthermore, the current population who are now dominating and oppressing the natives are not from Lower Shabelle, most of them are from Hawiye clan and some Darod calling themselves as Ogaden from Ethiopia. The parasite immigrants are pastoralists who’s culture is not compatible with agrarian culture or that of fishermen. Hence they impose their harsh way of living onto the natives. 

 “And finally, it is about lack of democracy. The way he conducted an election is to set up the natives of Southwest region against each other, the guy is divisive. He thrives on getting clans or tribes or communities to fight with each other and have constant dispute burning among themselves.” Ali paused for a while, had a sip of water and continued “This is the proof, you see, one of Lower Shabelle clans named Biimaal could not take the level of oppression that the parasite clans were imposing on them, so they fought back and almost defeated Indhoadde’s ‘a warlord’ army. This army works as Al -Shabab by night and militia soldiers by day; most of them are fighting to take over the town of Marka because of drug and charcoal trade. Marka has a seaport, albeit a broken one. It works for those wishing to conduct illicit exportation. Sakiin pretends that he helps Biimaal men, he chooses the worst man one can imagine to represent the Biimaal, this guy diverts all aid to himself and then Sahrif claims that Biimaal are fighting among themselves. Divide and rule policy which is gone out of hand.

Finally, the entire Southwest State administration is just himself, his briefcase and his secretary who happens to be his daughter. The reason why he gets away with it, is that neither the central government, nor the UN office in Mogadishu, Green zone, is doing anything about it. Sharif Sakiin has to go and go without a delay” Ali concluded.

Perpetuation of conflict:
Aid diversion is part of war economy, almost all of the local NGOs operating in Lower Shabelle belong to the dominant clans. They profit from aid diversion and sometimes they hire militia men to cause rape, displacement and hanger. On the 11th May 2017 UK hosted a major conference in London; prior to the conference the country experienced one of its worst droughts the country has ever known. Many Somali diaspora based in London went great length to appeal to the British government to help the raging drought. Ultimately the British government decided to give aid through its usual consortiums and directly to the Somali government. The UN monitoring group on Somalia and Eritrea published its report clearly stated how aid was diverted and used it by all those in charge as means to enrich themselves. Below is the report:

Diversion of humanitarian aid 128

  1. Building on lessons learned from the famine in 2011/12, the humanitarian community scaled up its response to the drought with a greater consciousness of the risks, supported by a new set of risk management and monitoring mechanisms. Nevertheless, the Monitoring Group received credible allegations and acknowledgement of humanitarian diversion from government officials, the staff of non-governmental organizations and the United Nations, and beneficiaries, relating to:

(a) The theft of aid funds by members of drought committees;

(b) The extortion by gatekeepers and “land-owners” of camps for internally displaced persons, who were sometimes government officials;

(c) Orchestrated humanitarian distributions involving the payment of “appearance fees” to beneficiaries who were then forced to leave behind the aid they had received;

(d) The control of SIM cards and connivance with money vendors and traders to divert cash-based aid and circumvent monitoring mechanisms;

(e) Collusion between host communities and gatekeepers to establish “rice tents” (i.e., fake camp dwellings for internally displaced persons) to register for assistance;

(f) The abuse of State security and administrative power to extort humanitarian operations.129

  1. Al-Shabaab also exerted control in places ostensibly under Federal Government jurisdiction, taxing humanitarian organizations and beneficiaries, demanding that access be negotiated and, in some cases, interfering in organization management.

(UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea. 2nd Nov 2017)

Just before the publication of the report, the minister of Humanitarian aid distribution, Maryan Qasim, resigned on the 15the Nov 2017. She was disgusted how some high ranking officials were using aid as untoward means and what she called a “chaotic nature of the ministry,” which she was unable to do anything about it.


The infamous 4.5 system is ill-suited Southwest region especially Lower Shabelle. What works well in north of Somalia does not work in the south. The notion of ‘one people with one language, one culture, one religion’ is completely false. 4.5 is based on camel herding pastoralists’ mythology, that somehow they are superior to some other people; this mythology inserts unacceptable level of social injustice in Lower Shabelle, one that forces the natives to rebel. 4.5 system also invited the pastoralist into someone else’s land with the understanding that it is their right to take whatever they want. Over the years the predator clans have become arrogant and unwilling to compromise. For the pastorals to compromise is to lose face among their pear groups. To be defeated and annihilated is more bearable.

  1. Eno eloquently and quite intelligently dissected the fallacy of oneness in his extensive work on Sowing Seeds of Subalternity in Somali Studies. (Dr M.A. Eno 2017)

Organic governance is very much needed. People of Lower Shabelle should govern themselves and they should be in charge of security of their own region. To make matters much worse, the natives of Lower Shabelle who are now residing in IDP camps in Mogadishu are being forcefully being removed with nowhere else to go to. Resettlement back into the region is one way to solve their problems. IRF International Relief Foundation is well equipped to deal with the resettlement program.
IDP camp destroyed.
This picture was posted on Harun Maruf’s twitter account 2nd Jan 2018.


Southwest regional president Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden
(Shariif Sakiin)       

Shariif Sakiin has to go and go quickly without delay. Lower Shabelle is the wealthiest and most resourceful region, as the country goes back to being a member of World Bank, it desperately needs to service its debts. Sakiin’s understanding of governance is self-aggrandizement and despotism. Sakiin plays ball with Shabab and does whatever he can to undermine the central government.

Alternatively, Lower Shabelle would have to stand on its two feet and become a state of its own.

By Samiya Lerew

(UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea. 2nd Nov 2017)

Dr Mohamed A. ENO. April-June 2017
ENO, M.A., 1994. Sowing Seeds of Subalternity in Somali Studies: A Literary Perspective of the Social, Political and Cultural Dimensions.

Mr Munye: Interview 11th Nov 2017.

Mr Ali Bab: Interview September 2017

Harun Maruf: ‏Verified account @HarunMaruf
Twitter@Harun Maruf.

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Posted by on January 3, 2018 in Somalia