Author Archives: Samiya Lerew

Frankenstein State or Viable State?

Frankenstein State or Viable state?


By Samiya Lerew

For those of us who have been eagerly waiting for a free and fair election in 2016, became disillusioned and bitterly disappointed. The ‘one man one vote’ system which was promised in Somalia will not be happening. We should be forgiven if we appear to be suffering from a bit of ‘deja vu’; 2012 played host to the installation of a highly controversial, never before seen and unique in its nature voting system. This was based on the 4.5 power system: four dominant clans would elect their own members to government while the rest of the nation is doomed to be inferiors. This system was, supposedly, “the only way to move out of a Hobbesian world”. This selection was based on an equally unique system called 4.5. Four clans dominate power share whilst the rest of the nation were catagorised as lesser clan for they are deemed to be less-Somali.

Somali clanism explained

To non-Somalis, the whole thing seems complex and confusing. Most African countries have many tribes living among one another’s village or town in harmony there is not confusion of identity. For example, members of Zulu tribe are Zulus and nothing else. The same for the Kikuyu tribe; they do not divide themselves into numerous other clans and sub clans. Everything is so clear cut, one could almost colour code them.

However, Somali clanism is different. For instance 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’. The whole clan thing is the culture of Pastoral-Somalis, they are nomadic people who are wonders and in constant search of grassing land; they live in permanent state of nature. Moreover, things changed when the Central Government collapsed in 1991. The pastorals came in their droves as a mob and took over the capital Mogadishu. Armed up to their teeth and unwilling to adapt western style Weberian state with its institutions, (unless it worked in their benefit) were calling the shots. The sub-clans see institutions as a point of exploitation. Hence, when the UN tried to establish institutions, clans line up for ownership of the ministries, as though they were prize possessions. 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 in to a non-runners. For instance, ministry of education is the property of one clan, minister of Foreign Affairs belongs to another clan, the office of Mayoral of Mogadishu belongs to another clan, so on and so forth. For the clan leaders, state institutions are price wining or source of enrichment for their clan and family.

As clans subdivide themselves into numerous other sub-clans, they demand to take part in the parliament; that they too are a strong enough clan and therefore they must be granted their share in the houses of the new Somali parliament. We can use the metaphor of Starling birds to explain this. 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, ethnic groups, societies and communities from Somali-sedentary groups ever becoming part of the political structure in a meaningful way.

The myth of Somalis being homogeneous exposed, they are divided into (nomadic Somalis) and (sedentary Somalis)

‘Somalis are homogeneous’ is a lie repeated quite often.  In reality, Somalis are divided into two groups. Firstly, nomadic Somalis who are divided into clans with clanism (lineage) being the core value of their culture. Being a Somali became synonymous with belonging to nomadic clans.  Nomadic culture is harsh, life is constant struggle of following the rain for fresh grazing land for their herds, with constant livestock theft or robbery being normal, the clan have to be regularly fighting for either defence or reclaiming livestock. For them, state of war is ever present. They are very difficult in nature and fighting is one way of settling arguments, proving worthy of status, scoring points, to gain respect, and win price. At times fighting is a way of showing off that you are to be feared and it is means to gain respect including when claiming someone else’s property.  Furthermore, as there is very little else to be proud of, clans take comfort for being superior to somebody else. Their habitat expands from central Somalia to north and north east of Somalia, their land is arid to semi-arid. In contemporary Somali politics and socio-economics, it is this particular nomadic based clan-culture which is the dominant; hence three out of four ‘perceived major’ clans (4.5) are nomadic Somalis.

Secondly, people from the south are sedentary, they are divided into coastal duellers, farmers, merchants and artisans. The gene-pool of these people (some of them) are somewhat mixed.  Colonial settlers integrated with these groups of people. Their livelihood comes from trading, farming and fishing. They are peaceful and hospitable. Identity is defined on place of habitat.


The table below illustrates the differences between sedentary ethnic groups and pastoral clan members in Somalia today.

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 defence 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 practise 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.


The Italian colonial powers brought 25,000 twenty five thousand workers from Port Mitsawa, Eritrea.  Population in Somalia collapsed by late 19th century. The Italians needed workers for the colony. Eritreans were chosen for two reasons; first, the two nations look alike, physically.  Secondly, the Eritreans were more assimilated to the ways of Eurocentric modernity. Eritreans were skilled, hard workers and obedient. They talked like the Italians and the host natives took them to their hearts; hence the Eritrean decedents are now part of Somali ethnic groups. They have no political voice.

Eritrea, the misunderstood baby brother of Somalia.   

Eritrea and Somalia have long bond of brotherhood. Both nations experienced the same suppression from their neighbouring foe, Abyssinia. Each country helped the other in times of great need. The depth of what one country did for the other requires separate and in-depth study.  It has been said that if one wished to destroy Somalia, one hires Ethiopia to do the job.  However, if one wishes to rectify Somalia one hires Eritreans to do the job. This was the case in 1919 to 1959, the Italians utilised this bond between the two nations.  It would be foolish to leave the Eritreans out of Somali reconstruction process.

Independence from colonial powers in 1960 brought great injustice. The two groups of Somalis were lumbered together and labelled as ‘Somalia’. The last 57 years had seen a process of elimination that slowly but surely, eradicated ‘Sedentary Somalis’ and in its place took ‘Nomadic Somalis’. The whole marginalisation process is slow genocide.  This nomadic mythology struck a chord with orientalist minded colonial Imperialists.  Professor Ken Menkhaus said “Somalia has become a theatre for various people to play out their fantasies”. (Ken Menkhaus 2015).  This is particularly true in the clanish people who wish to marginalise the sedentary groups and those with colonial ambitions working together, have managed to enforce this pejorative 4.5 system.

State Building

State building is not fool’s errand.  However, state building using the Somali clan system of 4.5 most definitely is.  2016 should have been pivotal for triumphant state building efforts. One man one vote. All institutions built. Banks in operating, local currency circulating, jobs created etc. But it was not to be.

UN Ambassador Michael Keating, The World Today saying “In 2012, using the so -called ‘4.5 formula’ – equal representation for the four big clans plus space for minorities – just 135 clan elders selected 275 MPs.  This time, the Electoral College will be expanded a hundred fold – to 14,000.  There will be an Upper House chosen by federal states – a modest but significant shift away from ‘4.5’.  One person, one vote elections are scheduled for 2016 – a hugely ambitious goal given that there is no civil or voter registry and that the institutional and legal infrastructure to run elections is not in place.  Somaliland has managed six elections over the last 25 years, so it can be done.”  The World Today, (June & July 2016).

Obviously, the ambassador was talking to an audience who know nothing about the intricate details or the ins and outs of the ‘4.5’ system.  From 2012 to June 2016 a golden opportunity was lost. In 2012 clans did not have a strong power base so-called ‘Regional States’, President Hassa Sheikh Mohamoud was new to the office.  The new president was allowed to change PM twice so he could use the state building efforts as means to return to office again. Hassan Shiekh was not a member of the diaspora groups, he had ties with NGOs based in Nairobi and proxy power broker in Addis Ababa, his success was largely due to Nairobi and Addis lobbying for him. The chance to have him steered in the right direction was a missed opportunity.

Diplomat Abukar Arman eloquently described how the whole game was played in his article ‘Chasing Mirages Across Somalia’, (03/10/2016) published on Huffington Post. Abukar Arman stated in his article, “Against this backdrop, President Mohamud has been expanding his authority by issuing unconstitutional decrees that are intended to become part of the policies shaping the electoral process. His effective tactics worked like this: He would issue a decree that clearly overreaches the legislative authority of the Parliament, and then swiftly, before any public outcry or any candidate could react, IGAD and UNSOM would issue their respective congratulatory statements. Implementation ensues.  Meanwhile, in order to present a façade of legitimacy, the coopted Speaker of the Parliament is granted a symbolic seat at the so-called National Leadership Forum. The NLF is an IGAD concocted and international community supported political sham that grants a handful of regional actors and government officials with clear conflict of interest the exclusive political authority to decide Somalia’s existential fate. Make no mistake; this can only lead into a never-ending process of transitioning out of transition, bloodshed and perpetual dependency“.

A civil voter registry and institutional legal infrastructure to run elections could have been established for the last three years. Instead the UNSOM office in Mogadishu was busy building a clan power-base and stratification hierarchal clannism, a colonial tool borrowed from 19th century tool box.  This 19th century tool was borrowed straight from the literary work The Prince by (Niccolo Machiavelli. 1513).  “When taking a new state a prince must undermine the strong and be kind to the weak, this way the weak will be entirely indebted to you and be loyal to you“.  Machiavelli, N., 1993. The Prince (1513). Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions.  Ignoring Machiavelli’s advice, the individual actors representing International Community undermined the unarmed peaceful ethnic groups (the weak) and empowered clans that were supported by regional rivalries. This made the so-called ‘big clans’ arrogant, hubris and unwilling to compromise.  A challenge to the authority of the UN office. In short, they are thorn in the side of Western interest.

There is an idea that the new 4.5 is different from the old 4.5. That somehow it is more inclusive, that it allows more representation for example it allowed 30% women; this is false reading.  On closer inspection, at first, the ‘ perceived big clans’ come in as the ‘majority clans’. Predominantly consisting of male representatives, their wives and sisters come in as female representatives.  Even the 30% had to be divided on the basis of 4.5.  Furthermore, youth organisations, civil societies and local NGOs are all drawn from the dominant 4 clans. Thus strengthening, underpinning and solidifying the clan superior and inferior colonial system.  This will put Somalia on a path of perpetual clan conflict.  The entire clan federalism using 4.5 is engineering a violent extremism and leaves room for insurgency.  The clan apartheid system engineers the ‘jihadification’ of clan injustice; it bares the whole mark of new wars, one group would engineer ‘jihadist insurgents, (out of clan injustice) while the other group endeavours to fight terrorism’. (Mary Kaldor, 2012).  As part of peace-building, clan polarisation and marginalisation has to come to an end immediately.

4.5 is blatant clan apartheid. It is in direct violation to UN charter, article 55 which says:

“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:


  1. higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development;
  2. solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; and international cultural and educational cooperation; and
  3. universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.”

Presently, in the 21st century, the UN seems to be sponsoring a system which condemns people into being ‘lesser humans’ 0.5- the half clan and ‘superiors’ the 4 clan – the four main clans. These clans are perceived to be big; however, reality is somewhat different. They are in fact the minorities (numerically), Somali Bantu or Jareer Weyne as they are known, are more numerous that Hawiye and Darod put together; the only way the dominant clans could be the majority is to rig the system in their favour. Clan apartheid, bigotrism, auctionism, kleptocracy, organised crime and assassinations are not democracy. Clan democracy means, ‘grab what you can grab, while you can grab and get away with it with impunity. No oversight. In Somalis one of the long list of casualties is Democracy itself.

The Somali Civil War opened up Pandora’s Box. After all the evil had gone, hope is sadly, the only thing that was left behind, firmly locked in the bottom of the box.  Even hope has been denied for the minorities and the marginalised groups.  The level of painful injustice bestowed on the so called ‘minorities’ is unimaginable.  The youths from these groups (clans, tribes or ethnic) have nowhere to turn to. Many take perilous journey across the Mediterranean, some turn to extremist groups and are easily radicalised. Stablishing viable justice, job creations and education would alleviate their despair.

Mogadishu, is it fit for purpose?

Mogadishu that I was born in had four provinces. After independence, most Somalis who could spare and invest a bit of money came to Mogadishu to invest, work, trade and send their children to school etc. The city grew to its current size of seventeen provinces.  Despite the prolonged civil war, it remains robust and in line with other Sub Sharan countries in terms of its capacity and the facilities it can offer as a city. However, as the country decentralises its authority, some clans have lined up to claim ownership as part of spoils of the war or their power-base.

Regardless from its humble beginning, the city is hosting, federal government parliament, numerous foreign embassies, AMISOM office, UNSOM office, the latter two have base in Mogadishu green-zone which is situated along side with Aden Adde airport. All of these important offices are based within small space, the size of New York central park. Mogadishu cannot be both the capital of the nation as well as power base for a clan.  Something has to give. This fragile state needs its capital to be nudged away from its current position. As long as one group has the will and the capacity to assassinate whoever they wish to pump off, Mogadishu is not fit for purpose.


It is high time for the International Community (The West) to recognise that Somalia has suffered a case of misdiagnoses. Somalia has two cultures, two major languages and two identities; to continue this path of measuring, the tip end of the Horne of African nation, the one and only yard stick of nomadic-Somalis is wilful blindness.  Pleasing the nepotistic pastoral clans has gone on for far too long, repeating the same failed policy and keep on repackaging it is political insanity.

For the sake of state building, it is a matter of expediency that the Sedentary Somalis should be brought on board in the efforts of state building. Their habitat expands from the beginning of river Shabelle all the way down to the borders of Kenya.  Their culture is compatible with liberal democratic states.  The Italian colonial authority were successful in building viable institutions, they utilised the force of Beizanis, Banadiri, Somali Bantu, Bimaal, Bravanese and artisans to run Italian-Somaliland state.  Back then, when an individual Somali nomadic person came in from their pastor land in order to live in towns, they were soon assimilated into the manners acceptable to (Nuova Somala), the new Somalia. Mogadishu was compatible with any Italian town in Italy.

As part of post conflict reconstruction of the state or peace-building efforts are concerned, the sedentary ethnic groups in Somalia (now marginalised) have cultural capacity to be assimilated into 21st century liberal democratic state; their leaders such as Lower Shabelle consultative Forum would have to be brought on board as part of local actors in charge of their own region.  Their customary systems, traditional leadership and their capacity to absorb new comers into their society makes them the right leaders of their domain; state institution building was incorporated with local customary leaders In1940s and 195s the Italians were  quite successfully in achieving this errand.

Recommendation: All federal states would have to be built from bottom up, each state is made of several regions, each region should have its own assembly, should govern its own internal affairs, representatives should be elected democratically, must be inclusive and justice should be for all.  Lower Shabelle Consultative Forum is good example.

Article by Samiya Lerew

Kaldor, Mary. (2012), New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era (Cambridge: Polity)

Menkhaus, Ken.(6th November, 2016)

Abukar Arman. (10/03/2016) ‘Chasing Mirages across Somalia’ Huff Post.

United Nations.



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Posted by on January 16, 2017 in Somalia


Oh, What a Lovely Drone!

By Samiya Lerew

Drones. Slick, slim, slender, smart and elegant. They effortlessly glide through the sky. Drones, whatever else they may be, they are most definitely a work of art. This fine artwork is unlike any other we have seen before; this is a war machine designed to perfection. It soars through the sky unmanned, no warriors needed. It hits its target then gracefully returns to base like an unfaltering and unwavering boomerang. It smites its enemies with no scars to show for it. The drone causes maximum devastation to the enemy competent; no body bags return home as a consequence. No casualties to send home. The future of warfare has been irretrievably changed.

An elegant machine becomes blessed one, when it has the ability to remove a hardened terrorist with surgical precision. However, a blessed drone may become a cursed one when it acts upon false and fabricated information, staged terrorist hideouts or their location. Although the command, control and execution of drone operations are flawless, the same cannot be said about ground intelligence. RPA remotely piloted aircrafts, these hunter-killers totally depend on reliable intelligence. Agents operating covertly to gather intelligence on the ground should be loyal, highly motivated and reliable. In the case of Somalia there is high chance that on-the-ground intelligence-gatherers have either ulterior motives or their loyalty cannot be relied upon, as two masters may be served at the same time (double agents). War on terror in Somalia cannot be won by drones alone. The cause of the Al-Shabab issue has to be addressed.

Paul Hirst. (2001) War & Power in the 21st Century. Cambridge, Polity :
If we turn from new wars to new weapons, the central organizing theme of the discussion of post-Cold War military forces has been the ‘revolution in military affairs’ (RMA). The debate about the RMA has been conducted at a high level in the USA, concentrating on future strategy, military organization, and the direction of weapons research and investment. Indeed, the RMA debate is that existing forces are largely obsolete. The US military is organized around platforms: planes, ships and tanks. Yet America’s key assets are in guided weapons. The leading advocates of the RMA argue that command, control, communications and intelligence are capable of rapid development such that they will dispel the fog of war, enabling senior commanders to see the combat situation and junior ones to command complex firepower at will”.   The fog of war, albeit the fog of the Al-Shabab terror war, in the Horn of Africa has never been foggier. First, one needs to look at the nature of terrorism itself and then contrast it with Somali version of terrorism.

Alex J. Bellamy. (2008) Fighting Terror. ZedBooks, London.
The war on terror, such as it is, is a new kind of war, waged not against armies, states or nations, but against loose networks and well-hidden cells. It is a war without clearly defined goals. A war seemingly without victory or end… Our sensibilities tell us that there is something wrong … a doctrine that preaches hatred of others and advocates the extermination of men, women, children – soldiers and civilians alike – in pursuit of its eschatological goals. In the name of a chauvinist doctrine that shares much with Nazism, … terrorists have shown themselves ready and willing to commit heinous wrongs.”

In the case of Somalia, terrorist ideologies may wear an Islamic cloak, but they have nothing to do with Islam. On the contrary. Islam preaches peace among fellow human beings and brotherly affection. Care for neighbours and vulnerable people of the society. Somalia’s Terrorism runs deeper and wider than Bellamy’s description of “Islamic terrorism”.
We need to examine the nature of the Somali civil strife itself, which unnaturally ran for more years than it should have. Clans fought relentlessly; clan-superiority wars. After numerous elaborate and expensive peace reconciliations, which took place in neighbouring countries, finally a false peace deal was reached in Nairobi in 2004. The peace deal was based on a system called 4.5. This system consisted of four armed clans and the majority of the nation, who were unarmed, were condensed to half a clan; with very few rights to justice, law, politics, education and land.

The 4.5 system is a variant of Nazism. Its core belief is that one group of people are superior to another. Those deemed to be the ‘superiors’ have the right to claim dominance over politics, land and resources. Those deemed the ‘inferiors’ should be segregated, marginalised and denied of the right to integrate with other communities. Those who suffer from this form of delusional and narcissistic superiority, inflict huge harm to the down-trodden underdogs.

From 2004 to the present, Somalia has practised a system that condemns the majority of society as being sub-human. The armed clans were given the green light to abuse and disrespect the civil people. Meanwhile, the dominant tribes shared everything among themselves. Tenders, scholarships, jobs, education and all opportunities go to the dominant clans.   The so-called ‘minorities’ (who are in fact the majority of the population) are being driven from their ancestral land, including their farmland.

Humiliated, dispossessed, disrespected, hungry and angry. Al-Shabab found a vulnerable pool of recruits among the ‘minorities’.   Drones alone cannot defeat this problem. Rehabilitation programs and orientations run by the marginalised people themselves will go some way to rectifying the wrongs of the past. Allocating homeland and giving them equal opportunity will begin to mend fences.

The International community has supplied and incredible amount of support to Somalia, Examples such as AU, AMISOM and UNSOM, with budgets that could have developed the whole of the Horn of Africa, let alone Somalia. Failure does not stop at the doorstep of UNSOM and AMISOM alone. Failure also lies in the hand of the unruly Somali government, which is dominated by clansmen from pastoral cultures, The international community has to get honest with homogeniety obsessed regional governments and central government alike. When AMISOM started its operation there was only one Al-Shabab group. Now there are almost thirty different spin-off groups from Al-Shabab.

Dominant clans, each have their own branch of Al-Shabab. Business people do likewise; their sole motive is to carry out Al Capone’s Chicago-style coercions. Some hired hit-men do similarly when they are carrying out operations. Neighbouring countries have also been accused of having Al-Shabab groups to safeguard their own interests. The head of AMISOM, Maman Sidikou, walked into an unfamiliar war of high complexity. He believed they were providing support to the Somali army. Instead they ended up in helping men who on one hand were clan-militia while on the other were wearing national army uniform. At the same time covertly or overtly working with some sort of Al-Shababesque group.

Ethiopia is the most dominant country that provides AU soldiers to AMISOM operations in Somalia. From empirical study, Ethiopia has used IGAD and AMISOM as a Trojan horse; Ethiopia’s sole aim is to consume Somalia from the inside and pursue its own ambitions. Ethiopia’s contingent entered into a cycle of taking over a town or village from Al-Shabab. Then, after a short while, they leave with a nudge and a wink and Al-Shabab moves in and massacres the civilians. This reoccurring activity makes the local civilians more sympathetic to Al-Shabab than to AMISOM. In the eyes of Somali civilians, AMISOM is seen as a supporter of Ethiopia’s ambitions as well as being devout supporters of a government that is corrupt and bigoted. AMISOM is in desperate need of root and branch changes or better still replacing them with UN peace-keeping troops (as indicated in a report from Chatham House).

At the moment, AMISOM is in a vicious cycle. Unlike Clausewitzian warfare (which is to remove the enemy’s ability to fight back), the new terror-war has unclear objectives. There are security aids moving towards driving Al-Shabab out of towns. There is a school of thought that if Al-Shabab is defeated once and for all, the security aid will dry up. According to SUN TZU, The Arts of War, “In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns. … If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Hence, AMISOM is fighting a lengthy, losing battle; their soldiers neither know themselves, nor do they know the enemy with its multifaceted motives.


This variant of Al-Shabab, may have gained its skills from the original terrorist groups as it has no connections with the Al-Shabab itself. The resistant young combatants are driven insane by the dominant clans. By habitual insult and humiliation, dispossessing their land and torturing members of their families, the young warriors take the law into their own hands. Not entirely a lone wolf, but a lone gang. These groups of guerrilla fighters usually carry out the destruction of bridges, flooding of the river, car bombings and assassinations. This is reminiscent of how Europe experienced this form of resistance activities during Nazi occupation. However, there is a real terrorist in Al-Shabab with more sinister motives whose foreign supporters and their ulterior motives are unknown to the Somalis.

Kenya’s involvement in Jubbaland, south Somalia, is purely based on economic interest. Kenya’s own home economy has relied on the mercantilist-colonial legacy of protectionism and monopoly. Essential commodities are monopolised by certain groups who are firmly attached to members of the government. Sugar, for instance, this pure white, sweet and innocent looking product is one of the chief grounds why Kenya is supporting Ahmed Madobe, who is the self-elected regional president of Jubaland IJA.

According to an expert in Jubbaland affairs, Engineer Yarow Sharif, “charcoal and sugar are the heart of Kenya’s interest in Kismayo” he told me. Mr Sharif continues, confessing a great many things about the Kenya-Madobe relationship. “It goes like this”, he said, “Madobe and his Ogaden clans-men burn charcoal from cut down from Jubaland equatorial forrest and then this charcoal is sold in the Middle East. The money made from charcoal is then purchased with sugar that comes from Kismayo port. From this heavily subsidised sugar, it is transported to Kenya where it gets sold in the markets at knock down price, more affordable to poverty stricken Kenyans. This lucrative trade is owned and run by men from Ogaden clan. These pastoral clans know no shame and stop at nothing in pursuit of their interest. They are conducting clan cleansing in Jubbaland, driving my people ‘Somali Bantus’ out of their homes and farmland and replacing them with Ogaden people from Ethiopia. So we have both Kenya and Ethiopia supporting Ahmed Madoobe who is a warlord, a terrorist and now self-elected president of Jubbaland”.

Engineer Yarow may have an axe to grind, but his grievances are in line the youths from his tribe. These young men are regularly accused of being Al-Shabab, even when they are not, and sent to a prison in Garissa, Kenya. Garissa prison is the Horn of Africa’s Guantanamo Bay. Unlike the prisoners of Guantanamo, the Garissa inmates have no human rights at all. According to Yarow, anyone who is suspected of standing up to Ogaden cause is sent to Garissa prison.

What proof do you have of your claims? I asked. Engineer Yarow provided me with the following evidence:
On 22nd August 2015, a four-by-four vehicle owned by Ahmed Madoobe, filled with explosives, drove inside AMISOM/Somali National Army barracks. The driver left the vehicle, detonated the explosives and attempted to flee the scene. Unfortunately for him, he was caught. The driver was one of Ahmed Madoobe’s handpicked Ogaden clan soldiers. The intention was to kill as many of the Somali Bantu young recruits as possible, who were training at the camp by AMISOM. Fatality was high for the Wgosha trainees. The driver belonged to Al-Shabaab as well as Ahmed Madoobe and was executed soon after by Madoobe’s oficers, to stop him from talking.

Madoobe routinely uproots the Wgosha people. Ogaden people do not reside in Jubbaland. However, there were few families from the Ogaden clan living in Kismayo and lower Jubba. Having received military support from Kenya and Ethiopia, Madoobe embarked a program of ‘clan-cleansing’. Many Somali Bantu were driven from their homes and farmlands, replacing them with a mass influx of the Ogaden clan from Ogaden, Ethiopia.

Engineer Yarow Sharif is one of very few Somali Bantu who are well educated and long-standing activists for his people. Mr Sharif, along with some other marginalised groups have set up a political party called the Cosmopolitan Democratic Party. They have put together an inclusive government in exile. Please visit:


Somali Pastoral Clanism

All, if not most, pastoral clans come from the area of Howd (Ogaden) Somaliland, Puntland Galmudug and North Hiiraan region. Somali pastoral clanism is a variant of Nazism. The principal of ‘we are superior, and they are inferior’ is incompatible to the new globalisation era. Liberal democracies, such as ours in the West, are unwelcome in clan-ridden Somalia. Values we hold so dear such as kindness, humility, modesty, politeness, gentility, chivalry and civility in general are viewed as weakness. Those who appear to be civil are regarded as inferior.

Most marginalised groups exhibit these civil qualities mentioned above, therefore, have suffered in the hands of pastoral clansmen. The Somalis from the south call the pastoral clansmen ‘Reer Baadiye’. Reer Baadiye, the RB as I like to call them, can’t stand street lights; law and order is oppression. Lies, treachery and violence are heroic as long as it advances your clan interests. To rob another man’s property is fine, as long as your cousins outnumber your opponents cousins. Anyone who is not from your clan cannot be trusted; to ridicule, harass and bully someone who is an inferior is hilarious if not pleasurable. The only thing the RBs respect is overwhelming force and on one hand to rule them with an iron fist; justice for all and fairness on the other side. It is such a catastrophe to allow the RB to dominate the political sphere, army, security and judicial system. Both the Italian colonial authority and the military regime knew this vital factor.

In conclusion, the International Community would be well advised to bring the marginalised groups on board as principal players of peace-building in Somalia. If we are to move away from the endless security quagmire and perpetual politics of hunger, the marginalised groups have to be aided and be treated as equal citizens of the country. Treat them with respect and dignity. In an era of Globalization, democracy, productivity, creativity and peace are vital. Other rising powers are eyeing at the Horn of Africa especially Somalia, as the cold war creeps in uninvited A stable Somalia is in the West’s best interest. Marginalizing peaceful, creative and productive people is not going to achieve the globalization goals. Somalia has the potential to start servicing its national debt. It is also rich in natural resources, enough to build Sovereign Wealth or even join OECD. You may say I am a dreamer, but it is achievable.

By Samiya Lerew.


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Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Somalia


Wheel Within a Wheel; Never Ending or Beginning.

By Samiya Lerew

Somalias political situation is perhaps best described in the words of Alan & Marilyn Bergman in the 1968 song The Windmills of Your Mind: “wheel within a wheel; never ending or beginning”. Within the past twelve months, the Federal Republic of Somalia has seen three different prime ministers, several attacks on parliament, assassinations of high profiled members of Government and the endless demolition of businesses and activism in Mogadishu.

Despite the execution of a microcosm of national criminals, well-co-ordinated attacks have still been carried out by terrorists. The most recent audacious attack (on the Halane compound near Mogadishu airport) was carried out on the residence of HE Nicholas Kay, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia. The base is also home to the African Union peacekeeping soldiers in Mogadishu and is the one and only green-zone in the city; it routinely offers security to its residents and the many NGO staff that live there. The intolerance of these terrorists for other creeds and cultures is emphasised most recently in the attacks that took place on Christmas day, 2014. This offense was designed to inflict trauma primarily upon Christian residents. Fortunately enough, the Halane base was heavily defended and the attackers’ efforts were thwarted with minimum casualties.
This assault on the Halane base exposed the flawed efforts of the UN and EU in rebuilding Somalia. Somalia was readmitted to its full status within the UN in 2012. This was achieved by an elaborate and well-staged operation called ‘Somali peace reconciliation’ among the main warring clans and a constitution was subsequently put in place to facilitate a federal government. The constitution itself, however, is rife with conflicting articles. All elements outlined in the document are designed to please particular clans who have been fighting for supremacy; the desire is to subjugate other clans and very little else.


To make sense of it all, let us look at the Somali situation through the lenses of Realism. Thomas Hobbes, in his book ‘Leviathan’ (1651), described humans as natural born savages. He stated that “life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. The Leviathan is described as maintaining order by keeping man at bay through restriction. Hobbes went on at great length to describe how in the absence of a greater authority, war, all against all, is inevitable. Between 1960 and 1969, Somalia had a clan-orientated government. In its first decade of independence, corruption, clan tyranny, sectarian murders and the mockery of justice lead to the formation of a highly popular military coup. The resulting military rule lead by Mohamed Siyad Barre became the aforementioned Leviathan in this case. All observations from Somali political commentators (who are Somali-born) concede that in the first 5 years of military rule, the country prospered, resulting in genuine progress and justice for all. Unfortunately, the country took a regrettable turn towards dysfunctional nationalism, and the USSR was orientating the nation towards war. The 1977 Ogaden War did not come out of the blue; the USSR trained large military officers and provided all the military weaponry needed for warfare. In his eagerness to unite all Somalis against clan-driven division, President Barre marched his troops into Ethiopia to liberate Ogaden. Ironically, the 1977 war achieved quite the opposite: clan division, clan animosity, clan factions and clan guerrilla warfare became rife. This became the dominant Somali political dynamic. In 1991, war broke out, against the ideals that Hobbes described. This civil war, with all its proxy fighters, went on for 21 years.

A clan may sometimes operate as a state does, albeit an unevolved one. The difference is that it does so without higher purpose. A clan tries to maximize power so that it can fend off would-be attackers. The individual alone is nothing, but when part of a collective they may suddenly become significant. A clan, in this case, behaves like an octopus; each of its tentacles desperately reaching out for something to feed into its own mouth with no coherent or enlightened prospects in mind. For example, one type of ‘tentacle’ (clansman) holds public office with only one thing in mind: the enrichment of himself (and those who immediately surround him) and not necessarily the remainder of his clan members. Another clansman who is able to obtain great wealth, perhaps as a remittance agent or as a businessman, would do whatever necessary to advance his own clan members, sparing no cost and disregarding the consequences of their action. A third clansman would spend his own money in order to build online websites so he can broadcast clan propaganda, etc. Hence every clan member (at least those who managed to build a diaspora population), even though they obtained refugee status as minorities, have their own online media. Above all, the worst ‘tentacles’ are those who were educated in western countries (especially in the USA and UK) who have studied world politics, speak fluent IR language with a North American accent and call themselves a ‘Think-tank’. Their main objectives are to promote special interests and sanitise the ills that his clansmen do. Clan pride can be traded as though it were currency – it is apparently a pride worth killing and even dying for, and it becomes a form of insurance to cover these groups from liabilities. If the intelligent and educated use their valuable skills to advance their clan status and have no further vision for their state, then I beg the question; do such short-sighted people even deserve to have a state?

Thucydides was largely mentioned during the end of the transitional period. The new government of Somalia was ready to be recognized as a state by the UN, only this time with new constitution with its reinvented system of segregation called 4.5. This indefensible apartheid-reminiscent order was justified using Thucydides’ ‘Melian dialogue’. 4.5 outlined that the bulk of the land (and all that it contained) was to be divided amongst four clans, along with the domination and control of the parliament. These clans have been fighting for supremacy and those who conscientiously object are regarded as worthless; as half-a-being. Along with 4.5 and the silence of Somalia’s western friends (the providers of military and financial support), a widespread gross violation of human rights has descended upon the minorities.
Let us look at Melian Dialogue and how it came about; Thucydides (a general, war historian and a philosopher) left behind an important account of the Peloponnesian war in 400BC. These accounts of war between Athens and Melos island indicated that Athens threatened to attack the islanders unless they surrendered to the will of their aggressors. Melians pleaded to the better nature of Athenians, also arguing that God was on their side. However, the Athenians asserted that ‘might is right’, and it duly attacked Melos, killing all men of fighting age and enslaving women and children. Thucydides stressed the importance of power and the dangers of being weak: “The strong do what they want to do and the weak will have to suffer what they must”. This is an increasingly relevant and applicable quote in the Somali political landscape today.

Never in the history of conflict has there been such a misuse of Thucydides’ Melian dialogue like there has been in Somalia. In Somalia it is increasingly the case that the strong do what they want and the weak should endure what they must. Unlike Athens, Somalia’s dominant clans who dragged themselves through a relentless power conflict (even against the backdrop of the civil war), failed to produce a winner on either end. The UN, along with all of its agents and NGOs, combined with African union soldiers, effectively brought the civil war to an end. In other words, and rather ironically, it was the International Community that was the ultimate victor of the Somali civil war. The International Community has both the responsibility and duty to take into account The International Bill of Human Rights (UN General Assembly resolution 217 A (III)). As such the UN cannot ignore its own Human Right Charter. For various reasons, this same international community had, to a certain degree, permitted (or at least neglected to prevent) the establishment of the 4.5 system. The losers of the civil war were granted what they could not have achieved from this seemingly infinite battle. Instead of making them face consequences, they were rewarded with the spoils of the war. Tremendous efforts were made by the international community to put Somalia together again, spending a colossal amount of money in the process. Unfortunately, a catalogue of errors damaged their efforts to carry out this unenviable task.

Anarchic world

Hans Morgenthau in Politics Among Nations (1948) states that the “political man is an innately selfish creature with an insatiable urge to dominate others”. In an anarchic world with no overarching authority, states are liable to behave in whatever way they please with indeterminate (or non-existent) consequences. In the case of Somalia, there is limited regional authority to govern the destiny of smaller constituencies, and as a result of this there is an order-less and chaotic clan system. Beyond even this lies the example of the helter-skelter capital city of Mogadishu. Here we have several layers of anarchic systems, and each layer can do what it pleases. According to Kenneth Waltz’s The Theory of International Politics (1979), theories about international politics could be developed on three levels of analysis: the human individual, the state and the international system. In the case of Somalia, we have a superpower known as the USA, attempting to assist in getting Somalia back together again. It does so by using other states who would put their own interest first. We also have the UN and all its agencies with NGOs, who at best try their hardest to help Somalia to better itself. With the absence of a disciplining authority or rules to follow, they all operate on self-regulating rule.
In short, we have several layers of state-deprived systems trying to cooperate with each other; yet there is no viable accountability. In this case it is unavoidable for biological man to take advantage of the incoherent layers of a lawless world. For instance, a large sum of money delivered from the USA, EU, Middle East or other benevolent donor countries for the purposes of ‘helping Somalia’, can travel through such a myriad of borderline-miscellaneous agents and sub-agents that the recipient (in this case intended to be the people of Somalia) would have very little or nothing to show for. The suspicious disappearance of large sums of money, a vanishing trick that would put the great Houdini to shame. However, reports are available (on paper only) of how these finances have been managed.

Lame Parliament

The Somali parliament is dominated by warring clans. There are four armed-clans with full representations and the rest of the peaceful and unarmed-clans are condensed to half a clan, hence 4.5. It means that they are only worth half of the others. It also dictates what one Somali-born American professor named Ahmed Ismail Samatar calls “duopoly”. The high post of the parliament i.e. the presidential seat and that of the prime minister can only be held by Hawiye or Darod clans. Sub-clans have won important battles. Abgal (a sub clan of Hawiye) won the battle of dominating Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. A second sub-clan named Majerteen (of Darod) have won the good ear of British foreign policy makers, towards Somalia. Between 2010 and 2012, young inexperienced and impressionable members of the British foreign office (Somalia desk) were befriended and beguiled by men belonging to the Majerteen clan, now in charge of Puntland. A battle worth winning. Hence, only Darod or Hawiye can hold the two top jobs. I am quite sure real democracy will solve this problem.
Unfortunately, those who are regarded as lesser-humans, which are the silent majority of Somalia people, cannot hold top jobs because they are considered to be the descendants of ‘inferiors’ or the descendants of the Bantu clans. Such is the belief of the dominant clans, a form of ideology. To belong to a certain clan is seen as a form of qualification. A pastoral person could come from a primitive life, whom does not have any qualification or knowledge of what governance is, becomes a member of the government or a minister by simply having a clan name next to that of his own.
This camouflaged apartheid system has led to various problems for the supporters of the current Somali government; the INT/COM. The parliament itself became the battle ground for petty point-scoring, bribery by presenting ‘moshin’, bickering, petty clan-boasting rights so on and so forth. The parliament itself became the battle ground for clan-supremacy. The representative of the so called ‘half a clan’ do vote for whoever they are told to do so because they have no debating powers or they are told to keep quiet if they try to raise their voices. At times the minority MP’s are simply used for keeping their people in line when they protest, like a sheep dog.
The four dominant clan members of the parliament should be balanced by another four pacific clans so that a coherent balance can be achieved. For instance, if the ‘Jareer weyne’ clan (i.e. the Bantu clans) are represented in parliament as one clan. The Banadiri (the coastal dwellers) are considered as one clan. The oppressed clans the ‘cadaver-eaters’ are counted as one whole clan and the Beizanis are also counted as a single clan. As such the Somali Parliament would not be a lame parliament because there would be something to counter balance the badly-behaving clan-MPs. Solution wise.


Missing from the Somali political picture are the Beizanis. Most Beizanis are the descendants of the first wave of globalisation from colonial settlers. Beizanis were the ruling party during 1930s, 40s, 50s and even into the 1960s. After the country’s independence, most civil servants, court clerks, lawyers, teachers and merchants were Beizanis. These particular cosmopolitan people had the experience to run a state and don’t have the burden of being loyal to clanism. Sadly the Beizanis are totally marginalised from the current Somali politics and yet it is they have the key to unlock the quagmire.
Assimilated Beizanis

During and after the colonial era, a great many Somalis were assimilated to become paesani. They were brought in to the towns as children and were educated through the colonial system. This faction of Beizanis may be considered as clan members; however, they have no loyalty towards the clan politics and recognise themselves as Beizani. When the civil war broke out in 1991, almost all assimilated Beizanis were forced to leave their home town of Mogadishu. 80% of the current inhabitants of Mogadishu came to the city as militia warriors, pastoral community that came to live in the city and Internally Displaced Personnel (IDP). Pastoral life is very different from urban life. They follow a primitive rhythm which is entirely incompatible with what we regard as a civilised. Law and order is seen as tyranny and oppression. Hence the city suffered a massive brain drain. Since the war broke out in 1991, the subsequent generation grew up knowing nothing but war and instability. They have no morality beyond what the warlords have taught them. This is called the ‘lost generation’.
The assimilated Beizanis wish to return to their homeland. However, the mechanism to integrate them back into society is absent. Lawlessness has taken over Beizani houses and properties. What is left of the properties are destroyed, broken down to just their shells and ownership has been claimed by others. The country needs the Beizanis to return to demonstrate what peaceful, intelligent and moral people look like. The Beizanis that are descendant from colonial settlers have their identities as Somali people denied by the new Somali government. The government looks at them as descendants as foreigners with no claim to their homeland.

Beacon of Hope

From here onwards the country has chosen federalism. It will still remain the federal state of Somalia but every region will have control itself following devolution. This new regional government-building is a blessing in disguise. The regional government will put in place authority of their own states with diplomatically chosen MPs to be their representatives in the federal government. Prior centralising power has been an unqualified disaster. Each state will raise its own policing system, educational programmes and skill-training. As such, power will not be centralised to one part; hence jobs will be distributed evenly amongst its own people.

A beacon of hope comes from the South West region. Consisting of Bay, Bakol and Lower Shabelle. The inhabitants of this region do not boast perceived clan superiority or obsession of homogeneity. It is not the core of their everyday life. They consist of many different groups of people; farmers, peasants, craftsmen, artisans and in general hard-working people who are all village-dwellers. Unlike people of the north east of Somalia, idolism is not something to be proud of. Instead creative and productive attitudes are applauded and the people believe in living harmoniously with others. There is hope that this one particular region can economically advance itself. However, the top leaders are not people who have received western education. Their only knowledge of how to run state and government is that of how the warlords did. State chaos is all they know and therefore the UN Mogadishu office has the duty and ability to give training on how a state should operate. These people must forget the dark times of the war. Unless they are guided in how to run a state there is a real danger that these people may slip back into war as the leaders know no better. It is the UN Mogadishu offices duty to teach these people how to leave behind the interwar politics and to realise that the time when these war tactics may have helped is in the past and that a better future lies ahead.

The geographical region of the south west region lie in the bread basket of the country; agricultural land, stone quarries, gas and oil reserve, a long coast and an abundance of minerals. If the top leaders remain ignorant of everything other than warlordship, then the rich land they reside on will go to waste. By all reason, their land should be the envy of other states. However, this particular region has undergone destruction of unimaginable magnitudes by famine and war. Most affected are its people.

The solution to this Somali quagmire lies in true power sharing, Beizanis must be part of the state-building and not be denied of their citizenship. The international community should assist this particular region in a positive way; different from the misplaced help that has been offered to Mogadishu.

By Samiya Lerew
Author of the article.

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Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Somalia


Hyena’s Justice

Hyena’s Justice.
Hyena rules

The Somali justice system is shambolic. After the country’s seat in the UN was reinstated, the new Somali government did not make justice its priority. Assuming that clan justice would provide some sort of rough even-handedness whilst neglecting a vital part of governing institution. The new Somali government is riding high on a horse called 4.5. Appointed judges, court clerks and law enforcers are comprised of individuals who have no experience in the judiciary system and yet are expected to conduct justice as they see it fit. This has lead to wide spread power abuse: carpet bagging, arbitrary arrests and arresting innocent people without warrant. Young men have been charged and incarcerated only for their bullet-riddled bodies to be found dead in the dusty streets in the outskirts of Mogadishu. Dangerous criminals are released from jail on the pretence that the law has not been written yet, therefore there is no article which finds these men guilty of terrorism charges. These terrorists have walked free.

Rape crimes have gone through the roof. President Hassan announced one morning that rape had become punishable by death. This law was passed without the consultation of a council or fellow MP’s but instead was made in the manner by which the country is accustomed; with the mentality of dictatorship. This had very serious implications. Before the death penalty had been imparted, young rape offenders who had been named and shamed as a rapist had been punished by their elders and clan members. The new law, however, meant that an entire clan would protect any rapists within their midst as it was not acceptable for them to lose a male life. As such, men are now more confident to rape women because they know their next of kin will protect them from the death penalty. President Hassan’s own law backfired; he would have been well advised to consult with elders both male and female and the law enforcers, before passing a law without any idea of possible ramifications. In Somalia, female elders are more reasonable and rational individuals but, sadly, their opinions are overlooked and pushed aside by both the Somali government and UNSOM.

On the other hand, it is difficult to provide justice for all when the governing system itself is based on 4.5 unjust systems. The way we see this odious political system, was that Somalia was sinking in an ocean of civil war. The international community, for peace sake, has turned a blind eye on the fact that the warring clans are united in ostracising the “cadaver eaters”.
Other groups who are peaceful and productive were included in the marginalized groups of people. These people are the Reer Xamar, Beizanis, Reer Barawe, Bajuni, Jareer weyne and numerous other clans who did not engage in the civil war. The dominant clans were given the green light to abuse the people they see as ‘abuseble’. The clans abused at will and nothing held them back. The 4.5 governing system opened a can of worms. Not only has the International Community agreed to push aside the law-abiding, hard-working, productive and peaceful people of Somalia, but the International Community goaded the dominant clans rather unwittingly to ‘out-bad’ each other. It is not a rocket science to figure out that something that is rewarded gets promoted.
Many peacful clans are now given no choice but to face extinctioon or fight back. it is sad the UNSOM has abdicated its responsibility on this issue. UNSOM has to take the minorities on board for Somali peace and reconciliation. I spoke to Eng Yarow Sharef Aden following his attendance at Chatham house on the 9th of May 2014. He stated his concerns and the following are his points:-

1- Reconciliation has to be the first priority because without genuine reconciliation nothing can be done to deal with insecurity.

2- To define the Somali nationality in clear manner. (Somali nationals are only those in the Somali Republic) and not the Somalis living in the neighbouring countries

3- Justice from grass-root level.

4- Inclusiveness in security forces, where all clans are equally represented

5- Disarming off all Somali clans and gangs.

6- Creating an atmosphere of trust between civilians and government security apparatus.

7- Rehabilitation of militants in responsible manner.

8- Formation of local administrations from the grassroots (Bottom up approach), with inclusiveness, justice and fair manner.

9- Repatriation and relocation of refugees and IDPs has to be implemented with cautious to avoid land disputes that can lead to civil war.

10- International community to support the security initiatives by working closely with the Somali Federal government.

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Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Somalia


African solution for African problem?

By Abukar Arman



Abukar Arman posted another magnificent article exposing the folly of an “African solution for an African problem”. This slogan might be romantically poetic but its real effects devastate lives in Somalia and keeps the western players in yet another quagmire. Mr Arman dissects this slogan quite intelligently.

“Somalia: African solutions for African problems?
Interventions from neighbors have not brought Somalia the promised peace.
Last updated: 09 May 2014 11:23 – Aljazeera

Abukar Arman
Ambassador Abukar Arman is the former Somalia special envoy to the United States and a foreign policy analyst.

AMISOM’s forces have only complicated Somalia’s security situation, argues Arman [Reuters]

One of the most potent intoxicants in Africa today is the canned phrase “African solutions for African problems”.

While “ASAP” is an acronym that connotes a timely and efficient result, most if not all, operations that are veiled with the romantic motto, have proven that they are not indigenously conceived, funded or driven.

Since this phrase entered the African lexicon in 2007, it has proved to be of no substantive value to the continent or its people. Contrary to what it was originally intended, the phrase has been taken hostage by domestic political sloganeers and foreign elements eager to advance zero-sum interests. It also became the ideological impetus that helped establish multi-national African forces such as AMISOM.

As is clear in Somalia, this kind of politico-military system – especially when neighbouring states are directly involved – routinely contain or “solve” a problem by creating several newer ones that perpetuate dependency, exploitation and indeed subjugation.

“When one asks a powerful neighbour to come to aid and defend one with his forces…These forces may be good in themselves, but they are always dangerous for those who borrow them, for if they lose you are defeated, and if they conquer you remain their prisoner,” forewarned Niccolo Machiavelli several centuries ago.

In Somalia, not only did our current leadership, and that of the last decade, fail to heed the aforementioned warning, they obediently competed and outperformed each other to prove themselves as unyielding loyal subjects. It is clear that no Somali can pursue a political career in his own country without first getting Ethiopia’s blessings. Already, Ethiopia has installed a number of its staunch cohorts in the current government and (along with Kenya) has been handpicking virtually all of the new regional governors, mayors, etc.

Byproduct of vicious fratricide

Recently, while reading on poverty, I came across the anthropologist Oscar Lewis’ (controversial) theory “the culture of poverty” in which he argues that while poverty might be systemic and generational, it fosters unique self-perpetuating value system that ultimately becomes engrained in the poor person’s way of life.
Witness – The Mayor of Mogadishu

People who are altered by that attitudinal phenomenon commonly have “a strong feeling of marginality, of helplessness, of dependency, of not belonging. They are like aliens in their own country… (and) have very little sense of history”.

I could not help but reflect on our own self-defeating, self-perpetuating predicament.

As in Stockholm syndrome, a good number of the Somali leadership have become emotionally and politically bonded with the very power that abused them and fuelled enmity between them (off and on) since the seventies.

Capitalising on that psychological advantage, Ethiopia has managed to get the exclusive right to set up an embassy inside the Villa Somalia (government compound), independent “consulates” in Somaliland and Puntland, and independently operating intelligence command centres in each of these balkanised political entities. To further complicate matters, Ethiopia has signed independent “military treaty” with each of these political entities.

Yet, the current leadership – as those before them – seems content with such arrangement. That, needless to say, motivated Kenya to follow the same effective strategy – isolate the centre from the periphery, and lure the latter entities into deals that they can’t refuse.

Exposing the lame ducks

Only a few weeks into the Ethiopia-led (AMISOM) military operation, the UNSGR warned the next violence that targets the UN may force it out of Somalia.

“I am deeply conscious that if we make a mistake in our security presence and posture, and suffer a significant attack, particularly on the UN, this is likely to mean to us withdrawing from Somalia,” said UN Special Representative Nicholas Kay.

To underscore his message, he adds this: “There are scenarios in which if we take further significant losses, then that would have a strategic effect on our mission.”

Was this a reckless telegraphing intended to implicitly dare al-Shabaab with a “Go ahead, make my day; force us back to Nairobi” message? Or was it a cryptic warning intended to preempt the Ethiopia/Kenya tag-team from getting too creative in their covert operations intended to manipulate facts on the ground?
Inside Story – Somali refugees : threat or victims?

While you ponder, consider adding this into your calculus: The UN deliberately bypassed AMISOM when it commissioned a Ugandan contingent of over 400 Special Forces to guard its facilities and staff. This particular contingent is neither officially part nor does it take any orders from AMISOM. Why?

Because, the controversial implanting of Ethiopia and Kenya into AMISOM has changed its dynamic from a peacekeeping force into a political vehicle.

Ambassador Kay is too experienced to make haphazard security-related statements. He was well aware of what he was saying and where he was saying it. He affirms that awareness in his presentation. Between the lines he was signalling his frustration with the Ethiopia-driven AMISOM, and how he and UNSOM ended up biting the dust. I have argued before that the Ethiopia/Kenya and US/UK interests are in an imminent collision course.

Musical chairs and revolving doors

Though the next election/selection is more than two years away, the usual suspects of mostly political conformists who are devoid of any transformative ideas or strategies are already in their hysterical manoeuvring and counter-manoeuvring routine. They are dutifully eager to demonstrate their capacity to perpetuate the status quo.

Intoxicated with the rhetoric that our “good neighbours are making self-sacrifice for us” these politicians are determined to hinge the future of our nation on the question of “Who would be the next president and the next prime minister?” rather than “What new vision and strategy would these individuals bring in order to help heal or repair our broken nation?”

Against that backdrop, on May 5, over 100 MP signed a non-binding resolution demanding the resignation of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud or face impeachment.

Make no mistake, Somalia is held in a nasty headlock by a neighbourhood tag-team unmistakably motivated by zero-sum objective. It is their so-called African solution (not so much of the extremist group al-Shabaab) that is setting the Horn on fire.

Against that backdrop, our IDPs (Internally Displaced Politicians) continue on their respective pipedreams. Of course, where there is no vision, neither strategy, nor political will and continuity matter.

Ambassador Abukar Arman is the former Somalia special envoy to the United States and a foreign policy analyst.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.”

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Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Somalia


Introduction to Somali Beizani


Who are the ‘Beizanis’? The Beizani are a Somali clan whose ancestors came to Somalia in the early 1900s, during the Colonial era. This era was the period in which Somalia experienced an influx of Italian colonial settlers along with thousands of skilled workers from different parts of the world.

At this point in time, Somalia did not have skilled workers. Natives were tribal people who practised a pastoral life style based on primitive clan values.  Their world did not extend beyond family, the tribe and village. Nomads roamed freely with their livestock. Borders and boundaries introduced during this era did not limit the nomads from roaming freely. In any case, boundaries and borders were imaginary lines with no physical mark to indicate where territories began or ended. 

Unlike British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland brought skilled workers from other colonies such as Eritrea, Libya and Ethiopia. As Italian Somaliland prospered, more people with skills came from Italy, Yemen and Oman. Indian settlers came along during the British rule in south of Somalia. These skilled workers contributed in the building of Somalia, especially Mogadishu. Agriculture was also flourishing; the colony started to export agricultural goods to Europe which in turn contributed the boom of the country. 

Within this mixture of diverse people, work was divided and the Italians were the ruling party. The Eritreans were clerks and lawyers, Ethiopians were mechanics, Arabs were storekeepers and furniture makers and Indians were traders of gold and silver.  Highly valued hand crafted gold was exclusively made by the Indians. The official language at the time became Italian and as such schools were taught in Italian. As children from all these ethnicities went to school and grew up together, they became one people. A clan of their own.  They were known as Beizanis.

Another group of people also have come to join this diverse and multicultural community. Children raised by the missionaries. Orphaned children were cared for by the Italian missionary, most of them did not have known parents and some were given up by mothers who were unable to care for them. As these children grew up, they recognized themselves too as Beizanis. These groups of people were free from the ties of clan loyalties. For them, the love of Somalia was and still is far stronger than the emotional attachment of any clan.

Beizanis lived in Mogadishu (the largest city at the time), Merca (or “Marka” as it’s known today), Brava, Jawhar and Kismayo. Beizanis are every bit as Somali as the dominant clans claim to be. The difference is that the dominant clans are loyal to their clans first, and Beizanis are loyal to Somalia only.  Unfortunately, a civil war broke out in 1991. As clans fought over dominance, the humanitarian organisations and international communities went to great lengths to satisfy the warring clans. Productive and peaceful clans were condensed into half a clan, while the Beizanis were completely eradicated from the picture. The Beizani community are Somalis and stakeholders of the country that are not to be ignored.

Beizanis wish to contribute in the rebuilding of their country.  Unfortunately, all of their land and properties were looted. They are unarmed, marginalised, abused and unrecognised by the international community.  Somalia needs the Beizani, even if the big clans don’t. Civilized behaviour must return to Somalia if we are to move from this phase of clan quagmire and into a brighter future.


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Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Somalia