|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives | Search|
Issue 442 -- July 17-23, 2010
Somalis Need To Learn About Peace
By CHEGE MBITIRU
Actually, “Cartographic Somalia” is a name befitting the territory. That’s because four administrations exist. They are the Republic of Somaliland, Puntland, the Islamist al-Shabaab, and the Transitional Federal Government. The international community recognizes the wobbly latter.
Mr Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the cartographic nation’s leader, showed the face of despair in Addis Ababa. He told leaders of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, IGAD, that a radical strategy is due in order to end Somalia’s quagmire. IGAD members are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan.
Essentially, Mr Ahmed politely rebuked the international community. He might as well have said, “It’s the same old thing, talk.” He should know. He presides over the 15th wobbly administration the talking has produced.
If it weren’t for a 6,133-strong African Union peacekeeping force of Ugandans and Burundians, Al-Shabaab would have long chased the TFG from the few blocks it controls in Mogadishu. Undoubtedly trying to dislodge Al-Shabaab would be another faction, say Ahlu-Sunna-Wal-Jama’a or Hizbul-Islam. The 20-year cycle of competition for power would continue.
The IGAD leaders consoled Mr Ahmed with a promise of an additional 2,000 troops—more fighting. They also repeated their call for the United Nations to take over the peacekeeping mission. The UN has no problem with that. However, few nations seem willing to sacrifice their braves for Somalia.
Meanwhile, false hope reigned in Somaliland, which declared itself independent at the outset of Somalia conflict in 1991. An opposition presidential candidate emerged winner in what foreign observers described as free and fair elections. Seemingly, that’s a democratic nation in the making.
President Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud “Sillanyo” remained upbeat. During the campaign, he said international recognition would be a top priority. That’s a non-starter. African leaders, for example, would have none of that. His other goals are fine: fight corruption, reform the judiciary, create, jobs et al. If only he had the money.
Nothing much was happening in Puntland, which declared itself autonomous and, unlike Somaliland, wants a federated Somalia. In Mogadishu, al-Shabaab spewed fire and brimstone.
It denounced the Addis meeting, vowed increased attacks against the TFG and AU troops, and urged Islamists everywhere to attack Burundi and Uganda foreign missions.
In the midst of all this, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon comforted the Somalis. On the country’s 50th independence anniversary, he praised the Somalis’ courage and reaffirmed UN’s support “to overcome the serious challenges they face and to achieve their dream of living in peace, stability, and prosperity.”
The trouble is the international community does precious little to show Somalis that peace pays. The starting point is for willing nations and the UN to meander through the diplomatic labyrinth and find ways to help Somaliland, Puntland, and Mr Ahmed govern better and deliver services. That, plus military assistance to Mr Ahmed—his foes abhor negotiations—is in the direction of a radical strategy. With a prosperous Somaliland and Puntland and a functioning TFG troublemakers would attract few followers. Prospering people wish no war.