Somali Unity in Peril: A wake up call? – Mohamed Ibrahim


by Mohamed Ibrahim

Having recently written a piece about the need for accountability and leadership after the debacle of Abdikariim Qalbidhagax, and further watched a deterioration of Somali politics, I decided to write this analysis about the recent developments without fear or favour because ultimately as citizens we have an indispensable and huge stake in our future and country.

I have observed Somali politics for some time and I cannot remember anything similar to the crisis facing Somalia today. As the people expected accountability and an attempt to rectify the issue of Abdikariim Sheikh Muse Qalbidgagax, our Prime Minister and his cabinet compounded matters by enlisting Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) as a terrorist organisation, adding salt to injury. They have become out of touch as a Government and seem to be working to please Ethiopia at all costs.  From a distance, it also seems a noble vision for Soomaalinimo and wadaninimo has turned out to be Danta, Dadka & Dalka Ethiopia.

It is worth noting that no other nation (even at the height of the War on Terror and September 11) has ever enlisted ONLF as a terrorist organisation other than Ethiopia. The decision or act of the Somali government makes a mockery of the Greater Somalia vision by succumbing to pressure from the Addis Ababa administration. If you assess the interview given by the President of Somali Ogaden region, Abdi Omar this week, you could be forgiven for thinking that Ethiopia is de-facto re-writing Somalia’s Foreign Policy. Once you see, alarmingly the silence and disappearance of HE President Farmaajo, you could also be forgiven for thinking that President Farmaajo has been abducted too with Abdikariim ’Qalbidhagax. The Foreign Minister of Somalia HE Yusuf Garaad was recently criticised for writing a letter that showed political incompetence and lack of diplomatic knowledge. In the letter he summarises Al-Shabaab’s motives in one word “Uranium”. I have my own three words for our Government at moment – “A Government Gone Bonkers” (crazy).

Yesterday’s shocking and alarming development has four serious implications for the Somali people of the Ogaden region and Somalia’s stability, and recovery at large:

Firstly, Somalia is already struggling to defeat Al-Shabaab and it seems now we have created another unnecessary imagined enemy for Somalia – and potential civil strive for our people and stability. It seems we have been wrong-footed by Ethiopia again: a continuation of a policy of fragmentation and civil discord for Somalia -Danta, Dadka, Dalka Ethiopia.

Secondly, the decision has put our historical sovereignty and our rightful claim as Somalis to Ogaden region in peril. Somalia could have maintained the previous status quo by kicking the sovereignty claim to the long grass for geo-political purposes. This matters because, if ever the people of Ogaden are persecuted by Ethiopia for uprising for anytime in the future, their only recourse for support or Gurmad is Somalia – legally, financially and potentially militarily. The decision was ill-considered and at best not in the holistic interest of the Somali people – it is out of step with our dignity, our sovereignty and safety.

There is a case in point that has precedent. The region of Crimea, mainly ethnically Russian speaking was given to Ukraine in 1954 under a peace treaty. However, when an extremist government was installed in Ukraine in 2014 and it began a crackdown/ discrimination in Crimea, threatening the safety and sanctity of the Crimean people, Russia/Putin came to their rescue by force, annexing the whole of Crimea and returning it to Mother Russia. The lessons here are that history is never guaranteed and facts on the ground can change rapidly. The Somali cabinet recent decision was irrational, unfair and unlawful, putting the safety and sanctity of our brothers/ sisters in the Ogden region in jeopardy.

Thirdly, it is not clear if these clueless and reckless ministers are aware that the Kenyan Government has been working (before their national elections) for a comprehensive peace initiative between ONLF and Ethiopian Government. By enlisting ONLF as a terrorist group, the Somali Government has created another stumbling block for the peace initiative of which Somalia has a direct interest in Ogaden and its people. Therefore, Somalia can never be an honest broker and cannot be involved in the peace process on an issue of national interest to Somalia.

Fourthly, it seems we have a government in crisis that is digging deeper holes for the holistic interest of Somalia. Their recent behaviours are incompetent, unpredictable, out of step with the wider Somali public, and at best politically and intellectually bankrupt.

My only hope is that the Somali Parliament will carry out its key functions as a revising chamber for our national politics. I hope they go beyond politics of poverty and clan lines, and will ultimately show real leadership for the aspirations, hopes and interest of the Somali people who are tired of incompetent politics that serves the interest of other countries beyond our borders.

HE President Farmajo is maintaining silence for a reason and I hope he also finds the leadership and backbone to distance himself from this unnecessary mayhem, salvage some dignity for the Somali public who put so much hope and confidence in his vision of wadanimo, ‘Danta Dadka & Dalka’ Somalia. To do otherwise will mean the Parliament and the wider Somali public has been misled for political convenience to serve the interest of Ethiopia. A moment of national crisis requires impeccable leadership, transparency and competence on a huge scale. Having been watching the US Tennis Open with interest, I am minded to say, ” NEW BALLS PLEASE“. Somalia deserves and expects a monumental and courageous leadership.

Despite saying all this, I have only one caveat about my analysis. In life, if you ever see group of leaders who seem intelligent but are behaving bizarrely, one may conclude there might be a method in their madness. My alternative hypothesis or calculation is that the Ethiopian Government have agreed to tighten the noose on Alshabaab. There has been apparent suggestion or suspicions for years there is close contact between Alshabaab and Ethiopian troops as they are rarely targeted by AlShabaab in Somalia and Ethiopia. In return, the Somali government may have agreed to respond in kind by officially recognising ONLF as terrorist group at the expense of our national unity and our historical sovereignty for the Ogaden Somali region and its people.

This may explain the complete silence and inability to explain away their recent actions publicly. Obviously, this has huge ramifications locally and internationally if they break their silence. Whether this is a worthy opportunity cost for national unity and our sovereignty –  I leave it for the audience to reflect upon.

My objective assessment here is by no means personnel but a professional critique of the crisis (at heart) driven by our collective national interest and dignity. A national story and a government that has begun so well have been hijacked for the interest of Ethiopia by few individuals. Ethiopia deserves applause for cleverly wrong-footing our leaders once again – a continuation of their policy via other means.

In conclusion, Kubada AMA bonooniga marka uu taraaraxo garoonka ayaa lagu soo celiyaa: When the ball goes out of the pitch, it must be returned to the field.

Mohamed Ibrahim (BA, MSc London School of Economics & Political Science LSE) is a London, UK, Social Activist/ keen Author – he can be reached via:
@Mi_shiine (Twitter)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Ummadda Media.