[Dehai-WN] Garoweonline.com: Somalia: The "Transition" Takes a Detour Through Puntland

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Sep 05 2011 - 16:54:58 EDT

Somalia: The "Transition" Takes a Detour Through Puntland
Sep 5, 2011 - 11:47:59 AM

By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein


On August 30,the Puntland State of Somalia and the Transitional Federal
Government (T.F.G.) of "Somalia" issued a memorandum of understanding in
which they agreed to cooperate with one another, resolve their persisting
political differences, and end their dispute over where an impending
(September 4-6) "Consultative Meeting" on the political future of "Somalia,"
engineered by Western powers and the United Nations, would be held
(Puntland's capital, Garowe; or the seat of the T.F.G., Mogadishu).

According to All Headline News, which quoted a "senior official" in the
T.F.G., the agreement, which was made in Garowe between Puntland's
president, Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, and the T.F.G.'s president, Sh.Sharif
Sh. Ahmed, was consummated under pressure from the U.N.: "The president
[Sh. Sharif] went to visit Puntland under pressure from [the] United Nations
Political Office for Somalia." The All Headline News report has been
confirmed by closed sources in the Horn of Africa.

The resolution of the dispute over the venue for the Consultative Meeting
was a must for the Western "donor"-powers and their agent, the U.N., which
are determined that "Somalia's" "transition" to a permanent constitutional
government be completed by August 2012. The transitional process was to be
initiated at the Consultative Meeting, and that, of course, could not take
place until there was an agreed-upon venue. The dispute between Puntland and
the T.F.G surfaced in the first week of July and continued until the August
30 MoU. By July 20, the transitional process had ground to a halt, as the
U.N.'s special representative for Somalia and the head of the United Nations
Political Office for Somalia (U.N.P.O.S.), Augustine Mahiga, failed to get
Farole and Sh. Sharif to agree to hold the Consultative Meeting, which was
to draw up a "Roadmap" for the "transition," for two days each in Mogadishu
and Garowe.

The "transition" clock was ticking and there was no movement. A two-week
lull ensued after July 20, in which U.N.P.O.S. struggled to figure out its
next move. A closed source in the Horn of Africa reported that U.Nl.P.O.S.
was constrained from acting by the requirement that it had imposed on itself
that the Consultative Meeting appear to be "Somali owned," even though it
was a pure creature of the "donor"-powers/U.N. that none of the Somali
actors in the process, not to mention those outside it, would have mounted
on their own. The "donor"-powers/U.N. could not maintain the pretense of a
"Somali-owned" process, so the thinking went, if they applied obvious
pressure to resolve the dispute.

Yet the clock was ticking and by the end of the first week of August, a
month of the short "transition" had already been lost. The process would
only be started if the "donor"-powers/U.N. did something and exerted their
diplomatic power. The pretense of a "Somali-owned" process would have to be
sacrificed if necessary.

The "Donor"-Powers/U.N. Swing a Deal

The "donor"-powers/U.N. made their move on August 8, when the U.N. Security
Council issued its "Update Report #1" on the transition, stating that the
Consultative Meeting was "now scheduled in Mogadishu for the 4-6 of

It almost immediately became obvious that the announced decision was not
sticking. On August 9, the Pan-African News Agency reported that what the
venue for the Consultative Meeting should be was still a subject of dispute
within the T.F.G. On August 10, Shabelle Media reported that Sh. Sharif
wanted the Meeting to be held in Mogadishu and that his rival, parliamentary
speaker, Sharif Hass Sh. Adan, was holding out for Garowe, with the backing
of Farole. Pan-African News Agency reported that Sh. Sharif was under
pressure to be firm on Mogadishu as the venue from the Hawiye clan family
and members of parliament from southern and central Somalia. On August 10,
the T.F.G.'s cabinet met with spokesman Abdirahman Omar Yarisow reporting
that the Consultative meeting would be held on September 4-6.

A closed source reported that U.N.P.O.S. was committed to holding the
Meeting in Mogadishu, but that Farole was resisting the decision and was
holding out the possibility that he would not attend the Meeting, but would
send a ministerial delegation instead. Sharif Hassan was reported to be
supporting Farole, but to be powerless, having been isolated by U.NlP.O.S.

Another source reported that Farole had been told earlier by the Meeting's
preparatory committee that the Meeting would be held in Garowe, and had put
substantial preparation into getting ready for it. The source went on to say
that one reason that the "donor"-powers/U.N. wanted the Meeting held in
Mogadishu was the high cost of transporting troops from the African Union
peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) in Mogadishu to Garowe to guard the T.F.G.'s

On August 15, the U.N.S.C. issued a press statement on the Consultative
Meeting that showed that the venue problem was not yet satisfactorily
resolved. The U.N.S.C. "stressed the need for all Somali groups to
participate" in the Consultative Meeting, which was intended "to seek an
agreement on a roadmap on key priorities [for the transition] to be
implemented by the Transitional Federal Institutions." The U.N.S.C. warned
that "future support for the Transitional Federal Institutions would be
contingent upon completion of the tasks in the roadmap." The U.N.S.C.
announced the Meeting for September 4-6, but it did not mention the venue.

On August 20, a closed source in the Horn of Africa reported that the
"donor'-powers/U.N. were trying to find a way to convince Farole to attend
the Consultative Meeting in Mogadishu, which is why the U.N.S.C.'s press
statement did not mention where the Meeting would take place. It had become
clear to the "donor"-powers/U.N. that a deal would have to be cut with
Farole. According to the source, Mahiga was offering Farole the promise of a
second conference, which would be held in Garowe in October, at which the
centerpiece of the "donor"-powers/U.N.'s "transition" scheme - a permanent
constitution for "Somalia" - would be discussed. That would arguably be a
more important conference for the political future of Somalia than the
Consultative Meeting in Mogadishu. The source added that Mahiga was
pressuring Sh. Sharif to visit Farole in Garowe in advance of the
Consultative Meeting.

In the third week of August, Mahiga applied his pressure directly, traveling
to Mogadishu with a delegation of U.N.P.O.S. officials and meeting with the
T.F.G.'s president and prime minister, and the transitional parliament's
speaker. According to Shabelle Media, the talks were about how the
Consultative Meeting "could be held in the country [Somalia]."

The push by Mahiga had its desired effect. On August 25, the T.F.G.'s prime
minister, Abdeweli Gas, traveled to Garowe at the head of a delegation of
cabinet ministers concerned with social affairs and members of the
transitional parliament to "pave the way" for Sh. Sharif's arrival. Gas said
that he would attempt to "repair strained relations" between the T.F.G. and
Puntland, and to persuade Farole to attend the Consultative Meeting in
Mogadishu. The Mareeg website reported that Mahiga had told Farole and Sh.
Sharif to "reach an understanding." A Puntland government press statement
posted on Garoweonline said that talks during the visits of the T.F.G.'s
leaders would include implementation of previous agreements (that had not
been honored by the T.F.G.), the Consultative Meeting, political and
security cooperation, and sharing of international aid. On August 27, Gas
announced from Garowe that the T.F.G. would "improve cooperation" with
Puntland. The deal-making was underway.

On August 29, Sh. Sharif was in Garowe. Shabelle Media reported that Farole
and Sh. Sharif had met for "several hours" and then held a joint press
conference at which they announced the resolution of the venue dispute.
Speaking first, Sh. Sharif said that there would be two conferences, the
first on September 4-6 in Mogadishu and the second later in Garowe. Farole
confirmed Sh. Sharif's statement and said that Puntland would "play a
significant role" in the Consultative Meeting. He said: "A new chapter of
Somali history has begun today and the disputes are over."

In order to bring Farole on board, Sh. Sharif had to make concessions. In a
symbolic gesture, Sh. Sharif said: "The president [Farole] would love to
hold the conference and I want that too. But I personally requested him that
we divide [the Meeting] into two parts." More importantly, Sh. Sharif
acknowledged Puntland's complaints about the distribution of international
aid. That acknowledgment and other Puntland interests would be embodied in
the memorandum of understanding of August 30. Farole made no concessions to
Sh. Sharif except for agreeing to attend the Consultative Meeting in

U.N. News reported that Sh. Sharif's visit to Garowe had been "facilitated"
by U.N.P.O.S. Mahiga was quoted as "praising the statesmanship" of Farole
and Sh. Sharif. The special representative added that the agreement reached
by the two presidents "opens the way for the advancement of national
reconciliation in Somalia," which "is particularly critical as the Somali
leadership and their partners prepare for the Consultative Meeting to adopt
the Roadmap defining priority tasks for the next 12 months as agreed in the
Kampala Accord."The "donor"-powers/U.N. had swung their deal and the
"transition" was set to re-start, but they had paid a price. The
Consultative Meeting, which is to be chaired by Mahiga, will clearly be
"owned" by the "donor"-powers/U.N.

The Memorandum of Understanding

The most important immediate result of the Garowe talks between Farole and
Sh. Sharif was the memorandum of understanding, to which they agreed and
which is essentially a promissory note to Puntland that its interests will
be addressed. Of the ten points of the agreement, which was published by All
Headline News, four are perfunctory, committing the parties to "improve ties
and strengthen cooperation;" take measures against terrorism, piracy, and
illegal immigration; "promote political and economic development;" and
"promote and protect human rights." Five other points, however, deal with
Puntalnds concerns: equipment and security training are to be provided to
Puntland, aid donations are to be distributed equally among regions, the
ARMO police academy in Puntland is to be renovated and expanded;
"reconsideration" is to be given to "reconstructing the navy" (in which
Puntland would expect to play a leading role), and, most importantly, "the
Galkayo Accord of August 23, 2009 and security cooperation between the
T.F.G. and Puntland in April 2010" are to be implemented. The last provision
is for the "donor"-powers/U.N. with a nod to Puntland's position in favor of
a federal system for Somalia: "Complete the federal constitution."

The key provision in the MoU is the implementation of the Galkayo Accord of
2009, which was signed by the T.F.G. at a time when it was desperate for
support, and which was highly favorable to Puntland. The Accord was,
however, never implemented because the T.F.G. quickly signed an agreement
with Djibouti to establish a naval station that, according to the Accord,
was to be placed in Puntland. The T.F.G. never acted on the other provisions
of the Accord, one of which has now been forced upon it - holding a
constitutional convention for Somalia in Puntland.

Indeed, the MoU appears to be a new version of the Galkayo Accord, embodying
many of the same provisions favorable to Puntland. In 2009,the
"donor"-powers/U.N. stood on the sidelines while the T.F.G. failed to
implement and violated the "Accord." At that time, Farole understandably
became distrustful of the "donor"-powers and certainly of the T.F.G. In the
days leading up to Sh. Sharif's visit to Garowe, Farole had become even more
disabused of the "donor"-powers/U.N. and the T.F.G., having had his
expectations that the Consultative Meeting would be held in Garowe
frustrated. The MoU was Puntland's compensation for getting with the
"donor"-powers/U.N.'s program. He expects that this time the agreement will
be honored. He has put himself in a politically vulnerable position and will
be constrained to drop cooperation with the "donor"-powers/U.N. and the
T.F.G. (as he did with the T.F.G. in January 2011) if Puntland's interests
are not addressed as the MoU promises that they will.

Puntland's gain would be the T.F.G.'s loss in the zero-sum game that the two
sides play. Will there now be resistance from the T.F.G.'s side, as there
was after the Galkayo Accord was signed? Or is the T.F.G. sufficiently
weakened by the lack of "donor"-power/U.N. diplomatic support for it that it
will cede to Puntland's interests? The "donor"-powers/U.N. proceed into the
Consultative Meeting laden with Puntland's expectations and the T.F.G.'s
resentment at having been forced to cede to Puntland's interests. Have the
"donor"-powers/U.N. tilted toward Puntland, or is the MoU another set of
empty promises? The so-called "dual-track policy" pursued by Washington and
by the other "donor"-powers, in which they deal with the T.F.G. and with
regional administrations such as Puntland, is viable as long as hard choices
between the two tracks do not have to be made. Once such choices crop up,
the "donor"-powers have to take sides, or evade the choices and have the
"transition" go on interminably, as it has done up until now.


Is it a pyrrhic victory that Puntland got the MoU and the constitutional
conference? Is it a pyrrhic victory that the T.F.G. got the Consultative
Meeting? Is it a pyrrhic victory that the "donor"-powers/U.N. got Puntland
to attend the Consultative Meeting represented by Farole? It all depends on
what happens at the Consultative Meeting, which will be more complicated for
the "donor"-powers/U.N. than solving the venue dispute, since more domestic
stakeholders (the Galmudug Authority and the Ahlu Sunna wal-Jama'a movement)
will be there pressing their interests, which are often incompatible with
the interests of either Puntland or the T.F.G., the latter two of which have
not reconciled their deeper interests, despite their professions of unity in
Garowe. It is likely that new disputes will arise over the Roadmap. Will the
"donor"-powers/U.N. take sides? If so which side? If not, will the
"donor"-powers/U.N. attempt to impose their own Roadmap on the Consultative
Meeting? Or will the "donor-powers/U.N. fold their hands and let the Meeting
break down. One thing is clear, the "donor"-powers/U.N. lost two months of a
fourteen-month "transition" period, that it had prescribed, trying to
resolve the venue dispute between Puntland and the T.F.G., and, in the
process, had assumed clear "ownership" of the "transition," and had appeared
to tilt toward Puntland, setting up expectations in the latter. The
"donor"-powers/U.N. have clearly not acted on careful planning of political
strategy, but are behaving instead in an ad hoc manner, reacting to
problematic situations as they arise, and trying to resolve them as quickly
as possible without regard for the longer-range consequences, and for the
other actors outside the dispute with which the "donor"-powers are currently

Since they proceed in an ad hoc fashion, it is not possible to predict what
the "donor"-powers/U.N. will do. It is not clear that the "donor"-powers
will be willing to use the diplomatic power that they have to take over the
"transition." If they do use it, they will have to take responsibility
overtly for the "transition", which they do not want to do. Yet with each
conflict that emerges, new side-taking choice-points will crop up, demanding
that the "donor"-powers/U.N. take action or draw back.

The "donor'-powers own a prcess that they have not yet found the will to
control. Everyone else reacts to them according to their own respective
interests, which is to be expected because the "transition" is not a
Somali-owned process. What else are the Somali actors supposed to do" They
are not the decision-makers for any general solution. Not only do the
"donor"-powers own a process that they do not have the will to control, but
they are determined to pretend that it is a Somali-owned process. That is
not so much hypocrisy as it is evidence of irresolution and weakness. What
will they do now that they have led themselves and everyone else into a
political swamp? What will they do to save their expedition/adventure?

A closed source in the Horn of Africa reports that the "donor"-powers are
pleased that Garowe will host the constitutional meeting, because they have
decided that the fastest way to get the "transition" over with is to use the
constitution, drafted by a Somali committee that met in Djibouti and was
funded by and presided over by the "donor"-powers/U.N., as the basis for a
permanent constitution. The Djibouti constitution embodies a federal
political formula for Somalia, which is favored by Puntland, and has
languished because of opposition by the T.F.G., elements of the Hawiye clan
family, and nationalist-minded intellectuals and politicians. Conflict is
nearly inevitable on the fundamental question of the form of a permanent
Somali state. Are the "donor"-powers/U.N. ready for the fight?

If the source is accurate, "donor"-power/U.N. backing for the Djibouti
constitution does signal a tilt toward Puntland. If so, that tilt is not
based on a principled or even interested affirmation of federalism, but on
getting the "transition" over with by 2012. Puntland is, perhaps, the
current beneficiary of "donor"-power/U.N. eagerness to tack a state-form
onto Somalia, but Puntland has been left in the lurch before. Indeed, all
the Somali actors are keenly aware that the "donor"-powers/U.N. are
unreliable and unsure of themselves, despite their proclamations and

On September 2, Mahiga held a press briefing in which he said: "In this one
year, we want to achieve, literally, what has not been achieved for over
seven years." When asked how proposed elections for a parliament and
president could be held in August 2012 when much of the country is insecure
or under the control of the armed Islamist opposition to the T.F.G., Reuters
reported that Mahiga said that the answer lay in "coming up with a new
constitution that would change the way lawmakers and presidents are
selected," which he maintained would be "crucial to giving any new
government credibility." "That constitution," said Mahiga, "will be the
basis of forming the next government. .. If there is going to be a change,
it has to be in that area, so that we don't have another government formed
by the same parliament." Mahiga is clear that he wants to get rid of the
transitional parliament, but what will be put in its place and, even more
importantly, what does he mean by a new way in which "lawmakers and
presidents are selected?" Will there be elections or not? Will a new
government have "credibility" if it is not elected by the Somali people?
Mahiga has provided no confidence that the "donor"-powers/U.N. know what
they are doing, except trying to get out - to solve it all in a year.

C2011 All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content
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Report Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein, Professor of Political Science,
Purdue University in Chicago

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