[Dehai-WN] Garoweonline.com: Somalia: A Roadmap to Nowhere

[Dehai-WN] Garoweonline.com: Somalia: A Roadmap to Nowhere

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Thu, 22 Sep 2011 22:54:59 +0200

Somalia: A Roadmap to Nowhere
Sep 22, 2011 - 6:30:55 AM


By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein

On September 6, the three-day "Consultative Meeting on Ending the Transition
in Somalia" (C.M.), held in Mogadishu, concluded with the signing by the
participants of a "statement" and their adoption of a "Roadmap" with
elaborate and interlocking timelines and "benchmarks" specifying the stages
to be gone through and the responsibilities for negotiating them in
consummating Somalia's move to a permanent constitutional government by
August 2012.

The C.M. is the first step in the latest attempt by the Western great powers
(United States and European Union) and their agent, the United Nations, to
put the territories of post-independence "Somalia" under a functioning
central government. At present, "Somalia" is represented internationally by
the Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.), which was formed in 2004 and
was supposed to have executed the "transition to permanent statehood by
August 2011. By the beginning of 2011, it had become clear that the T.F.G.
was too divided and was not sufficiently motivated to carry through the
"transition" if it was left to its own devices. The Western powers would
have to take the initiative if any progress was to be made.

In February 2011, the U.N.'s special representative for Somalia, Augustine
Mahiga, announce that the U.N. would sponsor a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya of
domestic and external stakeholders in "Somalia" in order to get the
"transition going. The effort was a failure due to divisions among and
opposition to the "transition" process by Somali factions, particularly
within the T.F.G., that the Western powers were unwilling to overcome by
using their financial and diplomatic power. As a result, the Western powers
ended up by spring 2011 - after tortuous twists and turns - acquiescing in
an extension of the mandates of the transitional institutions until August

Knocked back, the Western powers and the U.N. picked themselves up and
started all over again in the summer of 2011, setting up a new meeting - the
C.M. This time, they seem to have realized that facilitating a meeting of
Somali factions would not be enough; the Western powers would have to impose
a plan. They have done that with the "Roadmap" and its "benchmarks;" it
remains to be seen whether or not they will have sufficient resolve and will
to marshal the necessary resources to implement it.

The Western powers want to get the "transition" over and done with. They
bankroll the T.F.G. and the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMSOM) in
Mogadishu that props it up militarily. Faced with their own financial crises
and the growing global challenges, especially in the Middle East, the
Western "donor'-powers want to reduce their commitments in "Somalia," have a
permanent government there with which they can make agreements and deals,
and have more reliable collaboration in pursuing their major interests in
the Horn of Africa: conducting their anti-terrorism and anti-piracy
campaigns. Reducing their commitments overrides all their other interests.

A Roadmap to Nowhere

At present, the Roadmap is a series of directives on the instrumentalities
for accomplishing the major "transitional tasks:" security, finalizing a
constitution, reconciliation of Somali factions (inclusiveness), and "good
governance" (curbing corruption and achieving transparency). In the
"donor"-powers/U.N.'s ideal scenario, by August 2012, "Somalia" would have a
permanent government established according to a constitution that would be
granted legitimacy and support by major Somali factions and that would be
able to defend itself. The Roadmap does not specify what the constitution
will be; that depends on committees that have yet to be established. In all
respects, the Roadmap is a framework that has not been filled in. The level
of the "donor"-powers/U.N.'s financial support for the transitional process
has not yet been specified, although support has been made contingent on the
T.F.G., which has been charged with primary responsibility for executing the
design, meeting the benchmarks. As the T.F.G.'s prime minister, Abdeweli
Mohamed Ali (Gas) said on September 8, quoted by Reuters: "A roadmap without
resources is a roadmap to nowhere."

A possible insufficiency of resources (the escape hatch from the plan for
the Somali players) is not the only reason that the Roadmap is likely to
lead nowhere. It is conceivable that "Somalia" will have a constitution by
August 2012, but it strains belief that it will have broad legitimacy.
Indeed, the entire transitional exercise borders on fantasy, given
"Somalia's" extreme political fragmentation and many-sided conflicts. The
territory of post-independence Somalia is parceled out between the
self-declared independent republic of Somaliland in the northwest, the
provisionally autonomous and self-governing state of Puntland in the
northeast, the Galmudug authority directly south of Puntland, the several
administrations of the AhluSunnawal-Jama'a (A.S.W.J.) movement in the
center, the administrations of the armed revolutionary Salafist-Islamist
Harakat al-ShabaabMujahideen (H.S.M.) that hold most of the south and
central territories, and the multitude of mini and would-be administrations
that dot the territories of post-independence Somalia, including Somaliland
and Puntland. The T.F.G./AMISOM controls Mogadishu, some of it tenuously.
Neither Somaliland nor H.S.M is part of the "transition," the
mini-administrations and would-be administrations have been excluded from
it, and the signatories to the Roadmap - thheT.F.G., Puntland, Galmudug, and
part of A.S.W.J. - have competing interests that have been far from

When one focuses on the official statements about, meetings concerning, and
documents issuing from the "transitional" process, one falls prey to the
illusion that they represent something real; when one opens one's eyes to
the situation on the ground, one realizes that the "transitional" process is
not a genuine effort at nation building, reconciliation, and peace, but a
way of getting to the point at which it will be possible to pretend that
"Somalia" is a political community/state. That result seems to be the best
that the "donor'-powers can hope for, given their "benchmarks." It appears
to be what they are willing to accept; it is difficult to believe that they
believe that their ideal scenario is anything but rhetorical cover.

The distance between rhetoric and reality - what is aspirational and what is
operational - is a consequence of the failure of any of the domestic and
external actors in "Somalia" to do the work and preparation necessary for a
transition to an effective, functioning, and legitimate government. That
would take time - perhaps years - and the "donor"-powers/U.N. have sat on
their hands until recently - and now they are in a headlong rush to impose a
solution. Seemingly unconscious of the irony of his words, Mahiga said on
September 2: "In one year, we want to achieve, literally, what has not been
achieved for over seven years."

A genuine process of state formation in Somalia would take hard and
painstaking work on the parts of all those involved in it. Difficult choices
would have to be discussed and made; for example, the fate of Somaliland,
the status of H.S.M., the territorial dispute between Puntland and
Somaliland, the role of clan and sub-clan in political organization, the
role of religion in the state(s), the degree and type of political
centralization-decentralization, territorial delimitation in the southern
and central regions, and adjustment to more powerful neighboring states such
as Ethiopia and Kenya - and those are only the beginning and the most
obvious issues. The overall geopolitical situation was frozen during the
years that the "donor"-powers/U.N. pretended that the T.F.G. represented
"Somalia," and then spent their time trying to resolve endless factional
disputes within the T.F.G. Now that they have decided to broaden the actors
and interests involved in the "transition" process and have taken the
dominant role in that process, they have brought all the conflicts into the
open and it falls to their leadership, if they exercise it, to reconcile
those conflicts sufficiently to achieve a political order. They have shown
that they are not ready to do the work by trying to do what they neglected
to do for seven years in less than one year. The "donor"-powers/U.N. appear
to be willing to trade the patchwork "Somalia" of today for the possibility
of a weak "state" - perhaps similar to contemporary Yemen. One wonders how
much of an improvement that would be over the present situation from the
viewpoint of the "donor"-powers/U.N.'s interests.

The "Statement on the Adoption of the Roadmap" that issued from the C.M. and
that declared the "principles" for implementing the Roadmap systematically
mischaracterizes the "transition" as it has been orchestrated by the
"donor"-powers/U.N. The "Statement" insists on "Somali Ownership" of the
"transition," whereas it is actually "owned" by the "donor"-powers/U.N. The
"Statement" insists that the "transition" be inclusive, when it includes
only some of "Somalia's" established administrations, which are expected to
reach out to other factions and groups within the society. The Roadmap came
out of a preparatory committee in which the "donor"-powers/U.N. played the
leading role, and there was no time to debate it and amend it in the
three-day C.M., the first day of which was devoted to introductory speeches,
the third day of which announced the "results," and only the second day was
taken up with "work" (the formation of committees). Indeed, the C.M. was not
"consultative" at all; it was a rubber stamp for the "donor"-powers/U.N.'s

The "transition" has little, if anything, about it that is Somali owned.
That is evidenced not only by making "donor"-power/U.N. support contingent
on "the implementation of the priority tasks in the Roadmap," but also by
the establishment of a "Technical Committee" composed of domestic Somali
actors and regional organizations, the E.U., and the U.N. (the U.S.,
following its present policy of retraction of overt commitments, remains a
formally absent presence), that is tasked with facilitating "cooperation and
collaboration among the Somali parties and with its international partners
to implement the Roadmap."

In a moment of candor, Mahiga made the "donor"-powers/U.N. "ownership" of
the "transition" plain in his briefing to the U.N. Security Council on the
C.M. on September 14, in which he urged the "international community" to
"redouble engagement with the Somali leadership, while striking the delicate
balance between inducement and compulsion." The "donor"-powers/U.N. have the
carrots and the sticks, and they are to employ them in a "delicate balance."
What leverage do the domestic Somali actors have in this process? They or
some of them can, of course, torpedo the process by disagreeing with each
other and failing to perform the "tasks" on time or at all. Then what will
the "donor"-powers/U.N. do? Will they leave Somalia alone after August 2012?
Will they move to Balkanization - treating the various entities that compose
"Somalia" separately? Will they start the "transition" over again for the
third time?


Another meeting is scheduled for October in Garowe, Puntland's capital, in
which social actors such as civil society organizations are to take part,
and the constitution is to be discussed. If the constitution is debated
seriously at that meeting, then the "donor"-powers/U.N. will have to wade
into the swamp of Somalia's political differences - and if they want the
"transition" to proceed as they have planned, they will have to get into the
thick(et) of high Somali domestic politics and take sides, because the
Somali factions will not reach a consensus by themselves, especially when
the "donor"-powers/U.N. are looking over the Somalis' shoulders and playing
back-seat driver, and sometimes sitting next to them and taking over the

A closed source reports that the "donor"-powers want to impose the draft
constitution that was formulated in Djibouti under the auspices of the U.N.
The "Djibouti Constitution" is a satisfactory starting point for Puntland,
since it incorporates a definition of federalism that gives constituent
entities wide autonomy; centralist forces in the southern and central
regions are opposed to it. What will the "donor"-powers/U.N. do when it
comes time for them to impose a political formula on Somalia against deep

The C.M. is only the beginning, the sketch of a process that will be made
concrete or will simply die through lack of political will. It would be rash
to predict the future of the new round of the "transition," although in
light of "Somalia's" political fragmentation the prospects for any more than
a weak, imperfectly representative, and deficiently legitimate "state" are

It is likely, however, that the C.M. has established a pattern for how the
process will go on - the "donor"-powers will cajole and threaten the Somali
participants to meet the "benchmarks" and "end the transition," and the
Somali factions that are part of the process will assert their particular
interests, and those that have been excluded or have decided to remain
outside will oppose the process.

The "donor"-powers/U.N. have stepped into the edge of the swamp; the deeper
into it they venture, the more compromised they will become.

Report Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein, Professor of Political Science,
Purdue University in Chicago weinstem_at_purdue.edu

      ------------[ Sent via the dehai-wn mailing list by dehai.org]--------------
Received on Thu Sep 22 2011 - 16:55:09 EDT
© Copyright DEHAI-Eritrea OnLine, 2001
All rights reserved