[dehai-news] Mareeg.com: State formation starts after consensus on fundamental challenges of Somali conflic

New Message Reply About this list Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Feb 16 2009 - 07:26:30 EST

State formation starts after consensus on fundamental challenges of Somali




Pressed to the Government and people of Djibouti for their endless efforts
of hosting numerous Somali reconciliation talks since 1991. The concluded
talks between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Alliance for
Re-Liberation of Somalia-Djibouti (ARS-D) were dubbed "Djibouti V." However,
as I said 11 months ago, Djibouti process lacked objectivity, transparency
and realism and was inadequate to address the challenges created by the
multiple causes underlying the conflict and statelessness in Somalia. The
two sides avoided addressing the fundamental challenges underpinning the
Somali crisis except the issue of TFG reform or power sharing as the latter
will take care of all challenges. The reason was that they were pursuing a
narrow political interest rather than comprehensive political solution to
the Somali conflict.

My passionate desire and interest to see a peaceful and stable Somalia with
a functioning Democratic Government led me to plea for a halt to the
implementation of the political aspects of Djibouti talks by postponing the
expansion of the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) and subsequent
election of Speaker and President for thorough review. My plea was echoing
the recommendations made by various reputable research institutions in the
last few months and the reality on the ground.

My hope was threefold: First to encourage the leaders of the two sides to
develop a reliable realistic internal consensus particularly within the
Re-Liberation movement for political dialogue and reconciliation. Second to
benefit from the US policy change on "war on terror" ushered in by the
election of President Barack Obama. Counter-terrorism measures pre-empt
efforts of state building in Somalia. The Human Rights Watch called the
United States and EU to rethink their flawed policy approaches to the Horn
of Africa as whole. And finally to develop a comprehensive strategy that
responds to the multiple causes of the Somali crisis.

I believe the failure of implementing the agreed security arrangement
between TFG and ARS-D, fragmentation within the Re-Liberation movement, Al
Shabab's surge and capture of Baidoa town, seat of the Transitional Federal
Parliament, and the disarray of the Transitional Federal Government after
the resignation of President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed were sufficient reasons
to halt the process for re-examination. The International Crisis Group (ICG)
stated in its last report on Somalia that "the key aim of the Djibouti
architects was to create a powerful alliance capable of stabilizing Somalia,
marginalizing the radicals, and stemming the tide of Islamic militancy. But
this was quickly undermined by the split within the ARS and TFG and the
rapid take over of most of southern and central Somalia by the insurgency
elements that reject the process. Consequently, Djibouti became a dialogue
between weak parties with little weight on the ground." In my humble view,
the scale and complexity of the Somali conflict requires strong will,
capacity and comprehensive strategy for response. Amazingly, the Djibouti
process circumvented these considerations.

Alternative to the controlled format of Djibouti process, ICG report
recommended a credible political process with wider scope and larger
participation. Some of the issues suggested for agenda included the drafting
of a new constitution that will clarify among others the internal state
boundaries for Somaliland and Puntland regions and constitutional referendum
process; the integration of all armed forces into a common army and the
establishment of regional police forces; and the establishment of
transitional justice mechanism addressing impunity and national
reconciliation requirements as well as the appointment of an independent
commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations of war crimes and
crimes against humanity by all sides.

Finally, ICG report recommended a change of US counterterrorism strategy in
Somalia, the removal of individuals and groups from the terrorist lists and
a support for political approach and intra-Somali negotiations. The ICG's
analysis and recommendations have been available to the sponsors of Djibouti
process and the public but unjustified rush trivialized all.

Jon Lunn of House of Commons Library argues that "in the short to medium
term, the keys to peace and security in the Horn of Africa -Somalia,
Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan- lie in: first, resolving the
stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea over their common border; and second
in constructing a durable domestic political and economic settlement in
Somalia that is acceptable to the majority of Somalis and to the external
actors." Majority of the international experts on Somalia share this view.

It seems that the ultimate goal of Djibouti talks would be the exoneration
of Ethiopian forces and their accomplices from accusations of war crimes and
human rights violations committed against Somali citizens, acceptance of
Ethiopian interference in the Somali affairs, a continuation of regional
instability, de-legitimization of the struggle led by the Re-Liberation
movement, territorial disintegration and spread of despair. The lack of
vision, common beliefs and interests will undermine the new Federal
Government. The new name "Government of National Unity" is misleading.

Immediately after the election of President Sheikh Sharif, the Special
Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia, Ahmedou
Ould-Abballah made clear that the support of the international community
will depend on the determination of the new government to promote "stable"
and "tolerant" Somalia. Analyst Roger Middleton of Chatham House, a foreign
policy think-tank, reiterated that the international community including
IGAD will not support the new President if he engages in negotiations with a
group listed as a terrorist organization. All these are clear evidence of
the political commitments ARS-D has subscribed to before joining and taking
over the Transitional Federal Government.

The Somali people have manifested their will and enthusiasm in support of
every Somali Government established since 2000. Nevertheless all governments
failed. Therefore, the failures of Governments and the Alliance for the
Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) provide a lesson for pause and deep
reflection on a strategy that could move Somalia from Statelessness to
Statehood. Prof Ken Menkhaus noted that "[Djibouti] participants manipulate
the peace talks and state revival to engineer a "victor peace" instead of
forging genuine reconciliation." The departure of Prime Minister Nur Hassan
Hussein and the comatose situation of Speaker Mohamed Adan Nur will complete
the transition from Mbagathi TFG to Djibouti TFG.

ARS-D takes over the power without cohesion, capacity, political vision or
agenda for the country. ARS never articulated its political platform since
its formation in Asmara, Eritrea. Expected distribution of plum government
departments among ARS-D leaders is posted in the internet. Another failed,
corrupt and inept Government will have catastrophic consequences on
Somalia's future.

The latest developments are indicative of the shortcomings of Djibouti
process. The public told the President that the Government must espouse the
Islamic Rule and support the immediate withdrawal of AMISOM forces. The
President was also advised to engage in negotiations with his opponents.
Another matters discussed with him was an immediate action against TFG
officials who were accused of war crimes and violations of human rights and
compensation for the victims of the Ethiopian occupation as well. He assured
the public in different forms and settings his determination to fulfill
those demands but without prospect. In this chaotic situation, the President
is eager to move on and exercise his full authority to form a new Government
in accordance with the Transitional Federal Charter. In the absence or
insignificance of Somali political structure for consultation, advice,
policy formulation with responsibility and accountability, key international
sponsors are driving the state formation or composition. As part of the
game, the new incomplete parliament of 550 could be forced to recess. The
situation is teetering.

Another development that interferes with the internal situation include the
surprise attack of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General
(SRSG) for Somalia on local Media for reporting the killing of civilians by
AMISOM forces and comparing them to Radio Mille Colline of Rwanda which
incited Genocide. This has raised uproar within the international
organizations. It is reported that SRSG has been requested to retract his
statement and resign. Media censorship could be the most dreadful act at the
moment. Al Shabab and the new Government are suspected of criminal acts to
silence the media for different motives. The public must defend the Freedom
of the Media for public interest.

Somalia is a country of 637,657 km2 with a population of roughly 12
millions. It has enviable resources but divided into fiefdoms. The secession
proclamation of Somaliland and the autonomous status of Puntland regions
have significant implications on the political settlement of Somalia. To my
knowledge the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Somalia
did not visit these places since the beginning of Djibouti process. The
establishment of similar state(s) in the central and south regions will
concretize the building blocks of Somalia on clan bases and could affect the
long term viability of Somali State. A serious discussion on building
"Regional States" without legitimate "national government" or building
"Legitimate national government" that functions throughout Somalia and
supports the stabilization of instable regions has the top priority. This
will prevent balkanization of Somalia.

I believe the President's struggle in day one of his presidency with his old
allies who became his foes is an indictment of Djibouti process. The popular
acceptance of the Transitional Federal Charter as the law of the land is not
yet settled. As a result, the Somali people are facing chaotic, distrustful
and tense situation despite the efforts of traditional, religious and
business community leaders for calm, peace and reconciliation. Political
Islam and terrorism, unity v. federalism or secession, foreign manipulations
and trust deficiency are at the top of the challenges list. State formation
starts after consensus has been achieved on fundamental challenges of the
Somali conflict and not vice versa. If ARS-D was unsuccessful to secure the
support of the majority of the Re-Liberation movement during the Djibouti
talks, it will be more difficult and messy to get common ground of
compromise now as TFG leaders. The Sana'a fiasco concerning agreements
signed by ARS-D knowing fully its inability to honor them is an example for
the almost impossible rapprochement between members of the Union of Islamic
Courts with different interests.

Mohamud M Uluso



         ----[This List to be used for Eritrea Related News Only]----

New Message Reply About this list Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

© Copyright DEHAI-Eritrea OnLine, 1993-2009
All rights reserved