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Issue 541/ 9th - 15th June 2012
Do The Recent Somali Conferences Differ Than The Once Failed Conferences?
By Ahmed Mohamed Diriye (Toorno)
During the last two decades, the International community sponsored about 17 Somali reconciliation conferences, including the recent London and Istanbul Conferences; which equivalent to one reconciliation conference in every 15 months; but all failed. The question is why those conferences ended without substantial outcome? Number of factors could be the sources of these failures.
First, the current perplexed Somali political state of affairs was accumulating during the last five decades (1960-2012); while the international community learned the Somali crises in 1991; when an armed opposition drove the iron-fisted dictator, General Mohamed Siyad Barre from the Mogadishu presidential palace; followed by the Somaliland’s unilateral of withdrawal from the 1960 union with (southern) Somalia; which disintegrated into fiefdoms controlled by war lords.
Second, all these international community sponsored reconciliation conferences for Somalia were held in cities located outside of the collapsed Somalia, including in neighboring Djibouti, Nairobi, Cairo, and Addis Ababa.
Third, all these reconciliation conferences were sponsored and guided by non-Somalis, who lacks the details of the anatomy and the physiology of the Somali political crises; which in line with an old Somali saying, which goes as- Xaajo nimaan ogayni indhuhuu ka ridaa (he who lacks the details of an issue might spoil it).
Fourth, over-emphasizing Mogadishu city at the expenses of the rest of the country could be the fourth barrier, as if Somalia is in Mogadishu, while Mogadishu is in Somalia is another major misleading of the Somali affairs.
Therefore, the null hypothesis of solving the Somali political crises through international community sponsored reconciliation conferences held outside of Somalia must be REJECTED; and the alternative hypothesis of only Somali initiatives and reconciliation conferences held in Somalia can solve the current Somali crises must be ACCEPTED.
A supportive evidence of the alternative hypothesis is the success of the Somaliland reconciliation conferences, which led not only to peace and stability, but also toward establishing governance system through clan consensus, and transforming it into democratic governance system; and also Puntland is good example.
Another questions are- how these lack of the details of the Somali affairs are negatively affecting, and why Somalis cannot take care their affairs.
Major possible proxy failure determinants of these reconciliation efforts caused by the lack of details are inviting badly chosen Somali actors to the conferences; setting irrelevant conferences agenda, which actually will lead unrealistic resolutions; and sometimes conflicting interests of true Somali reconciliation process and the international community, if not the neighboring countries.
Unfortunately, it seems that the London and Istanbul conferences were held through similar process as those of the previous failed Somali reconciliation conferences, and their outcomes are going to fail as usual.
First, the agenda of both conferences, which were not relevant to the point of the ongoing Somali political divergence, caused unsubstantial and sometimes conflicting resolutions. For example, two of the London conference 6 articles resolution was- building Somali national government (including Somaliland) before August, 2012; and that Somaliland and Somalia must start negotiation for future political agreement. These two articles are mutually exclusive, and they cannot get along each other according to the logic rules, because establishing (Southern) Somalia dominated government; where all of the President, Prime Minister, and House Speaker are from Southern Somalia as today’s current TFG; and its seat is Mogadishu; which also in the southern Somalia; and calling it a broad-based Somali government; which represents all Somalis, including Somaliland, will only recall the bad memories of the 1960 unhappy hurried union of Somaliland and Somalia; rather as solution.
An example of the irrelevant agenda is the speech of the current Somali President, Sheikh Sheriff Sheikh Hassan at Istanbul conferences of– “there is a need of building strong Somali army force to protect the innocent Somali public from the terrorist and the local renegades, is another proves of the wrong agenda.
May, I remind President Sheriff, all Somalis, and the international community that building strong Somali army without political agreement among Somalis, is only providing one or another Somali political group or clan the means and the courage to overrun another group or clan; which will pave the way for all-against-all war. However, the president’s speech could be the same old rhetoric language, rather than a substantial solution.
Also, I would like to advice any one, who rushes to establish an army just to REMEMBER that once powerful 80,000 member Somali army forces failed to hold Somalia together due to the political conflict between Somalis. In addition, the fruitlessness of the military intervention of the USA led UNISOM Peace Making Force in 1992, Ethiopian incursion in 2006, and the current Uganda Led AMISOM Peace Keeping Force could be learned lessons of using muscles to solve the Somali political problems.
Second, an evidence of inviting wrong Somali actors to the conference was that about 30 of the Istanbul Somali participants disappeared in Turkey and went to the neighboring Greece to seek asylum in Europe, which shows that the inappropriate selection of the Somali delegations invited some Somalis, whose their major objective was to get ticket and visa to seek an asylum in Europe, rather than to seek solution for the Somali political dilemma.
Third, another major obstacle for finding resolution for the Somali crises is the difference of the interest of Somali reconciliation and that of the international community; which many times causes to exclude an important group, like Al Ashabaab Al Mujaahideen from the reconciliation conferences because the neighboring countries see Al Shabaab Al Mujaahideen dominated Somali government as a threat to their national interest. That is true and will remain true, until Al Shabaab Al Mujaahideen refrained from its threats to the neighboring countries; but also at the contrary, trying to solve the Somali political quandary; and excluding one or more major Somali actors, is like fixing triangle on rectangle. Therefore, one of the following scenarios could lead toward the solutions.
Scenario One: International community could held reconciliation conference for the (Southern) Somalia, including Puntland as the first step to establish government for southern Somalia; and then arrange meeting for the governments of Somaliland and the (Southern) Somalia.
In this scenario, Somaliland government and people must also be realistic, and should held a reconciliation conference within Somaliland, including the eastern Sanaag and Sool regions inhabitants; and Somaliland must play a proactive role in the Somali affairs, rather than continue the 20 years old impotent policy of – WAIT and SEE.
Such scenario will demand a direct international intervention by carrot and stick policy; including a new diplomatic initiatives, including not offering diplomatic recognition to neither Somaliland nor Somalia, until they reach an agreement; or offering temporary diplomatic recognition to both of them, which is subject to expire, unless they reach an agreement.
Scenario Two: International community should leave the Somali affairs for Somalis; so that the Somali people will decide whom to support or not support. Such scenario will give a golden opportunity to those who can gain the popular support, like Al Ashabaab Al Mujahedeen; why not, if they can solve the Somali political predicament, refrain their threat to the neighboring countries.
Scenario Three: International community led compulsory union of the five Somali colonial regions of Somaliland, Somalia (Southern), Djibouti, Eastern Ethiopia (Zone 5), and Northeastern of Kenya; which I am sure that all Somalis will be happy to see.
Any other scenario is unrealistic, and will further deepen the current Somali political instability.
Ahmed Mohamed Diriye (Toorno), Hargeisa, Somaliland