By Omarfaruk Osman
Throughout the world, it is the end of the year and the beginning of another. For Somalia, it could potentially be the end of an era and the beginning of another. A quick change of direction and realism has just unfolded before the eyes of the nation’s many stakeholders. The incursion of Ethiopia and its allied TFG, the withdrawal of the UIC and the return of the warlords and their ISBAARO is just about to hit home. The good, the bad and the ugly is yet to come and the scene is set on a new platform. The TFG, Ethiopia, warlords, the US and the Union of Islamic Courts are the main active players. National sovereignty, independence, national pride, Islam and the Somali people’s welfare is at stake and a potential prey. Whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever you believe in, please let me walk you through the corridors of Somalia’s new deadly geo-political platform. A nation and its people betrayed by incompetent, unethical faithless warlords.
A group of ruthless warlords controlled Somalia through brutality, extortion and destruction. According to UN reports, “taking advantage of Somalia’s isolation and lack of governance, they profited from illegal international contracts, including fishing rights, charcoal trade, dumping toxic and nuclear waste, trafficking of weapons and drugs”. A member of IGAD, the Ugandan president called their action as a “slow genocide” and requested them to be tried on war crimes. They held the country’s resources and public assets as their own and either denied or charged its citizens for their use. A country with so much promise was turned into a failed state and is now ranked at the bottom of every Human Development Index. One warlord or another is responsible for all the evils that took place in the last two decades, it is a record they are proud of and a fact every Somali knows about.
The “TFG” Transitional Federal Government which was made in Kenya, made out of warlords and made by Ethiopia has some stake in Somalia. It is predominantly made up of warlords and put together by Ethiopia. As Somalia’s most distinguished academic Abdi Samatar put it, “they were not elected by the people but were imposed on them”. The warlords were the sole impediment to peace in Somalia that had to be satisfied and of course Ethiopia wanted them. After the TFG was established at the end of 2004, they refused to accept it for more than two years. They refused to give up their warlord status which was more lucrative and started undermining the very government they are elected to serve. For two years, the TFG which was made up of warlords was neglected and abandoned by its warlord members. The Somali people suffered so long and would have accepted anything but as many times before, their hopes never became a reality. For nearly three years, the TFG was based in a converted warehouse, had a partial control of one town and was deemed to be a total failure by its people, its members and the international community.
Somalis were told and shown through neglect and blind eye that they had to sort out their own problems. For sixteen years, when the country was ravaged by war and brutal warlords, no one bothered, no one came to their rescue, no one stopped the follow of arms sent by Ethiopia, no one sent peace keepers, no one disarmed the warlords, and the whole world turned a blind eye. The public fed up with lawlessness and extortionist warlords started to take matters into their own hands and repelled. The 2006 year saw two events with two contrasting outcomes, the demise of the warlords in the capital and the rise of the UIC. Off went the warlords that held the nation and its people on ransom for the past sixteen years and inn came the Union of Islamic Courts, a coalition of business people, civil society and local courts. On the 16th of June, the UN termed the takeover of Mogadishu by the UIC as “the most important political event in Somalia in the last 16 years”. It also said that “warlords created one of the world’s most protracted humanitarians”. Everyone was happy and the TFG president congratulated the winners while the PM Gedi went even further by sacking the defeated warlords of Qanyare, Yalahow, Omar Finish and Botan Isse who kept this and the previous TFGs at bay. Other ruthless non TFG warlords who were also opposed to the TFG namely; Mohamed Dhere, Abdi Qaybdiid, Bashir Rage, Abdi Waal, Bebe were all kicked out. Another warlord Barre Hiralle that also despised the TFG’s position of Defence Minister was deposed and humbled by the UIC. The UIC stood up for Somalia and did the country and the TFG a favour by getting rid of the warlords. They promised many goods and delivered so much in such a very short time. They made the ordinary people’s dreams come true and provided a sense of clarity and sincerity never seen before. Now, those dreams are taken away and everyone’s worst nightmare is made real in Somalia.
If you are confused, somewhat unsure or even overwhelmed, here are some facts that no one can deny. The UIC came from within the community to attend their needs. Since it was made out of the community, they truly represented their core values and aspirations. They eradicated the inter-clan based fiefdoms of the warlords and set up local administrations based on equality and fairness. Throughout the south, they were wanted and invited by the local people and took nothing away from them but rather organised and set up administrations for them. They did not capture or fire a single shot anywhere outside the capital. They were engaged in only two conflicts, the first when the American sponsored Alliance of warlords attacked them which led to their prominence and the overtaking of the capital. The second one was in Baidoa when they were fighting with the Ethiopian invasion hundreds of kilometres inside Somalia. Now things get more complicated. The TFG claims to have invited Ethiopia into Somalia, Ethiopia claims to have the double objective of both supporting the TFG and getting rid of the UIC. Does the TFG have the right to invite a foreign force against the wishes of its people? Does Ethiopia have the right to invade a sovereign nation on perceived rather than real threat? Can anyone justify the killing of an independent nation’s citizens to preserve the welfare of it is citizens? What kind of government would lead a foreign army to destabilise and create violence in its own land and people for the sake of preserving the stability and welfare of another nation? Please educate me on this, who takes precedent on this issue, the long suffering Somalis, with no protection, no state, no amenity or the unfounded baseless perceived fears of the Tigreans under the protection of one of Africa’s biggest armies and the US as its foster. Who is at risk? Now things get even more complicated.
Somalia needed a coalition to fight and tackle their most pressing problems, not a coalition of Ethiopian tanks and MIGs maiming our children. The TFG was set up to simplify and solve simple internal problems not complicate and make it global by selling our people to our enemies. The TFG was set up to bring security and stability. The UIC effectively and adequately filled the gap the TFG was meant to fill. The benefits of keeping and maintaining the stability in hand outweighed the benefits to be derived from making the TFG work. Also, the means of keeping and maintaining the security and the stability in hand was also far safer and easier than the means of delivering that same level of stability through the TFG. If the TFG claims to have invited Ethiopia and Ethiopia claims to have killed 3000 members of the UIC then who gained and who lost. Here we are talking about Ethiopia boosting about killing our people and here to kill many more. There must be a big miscalculation here. Here is where the Somali blood is cheap, a free ride and is not taken into account. Are we just seeing an extension of warlordism or rather warlordism going global. Are people confused about what is an objective and what is strategy? Do Somalis know and warlords care that there are alternative means of achieving objectives and some are more costly than others to the extent that they are not worth pursuing. Here is where people that were meant to lead and make complex decisions failed to make a simple one with grave consequences. How can anyone expect to rule a country after just killing 3000 of its citizens in less than one week and vowing to kill many more? Indeed, this is an act of mass murder and treason.
Let us just introduce two facts that will reveal the how the renewed violence only benefits the gang side of the TFG, Ethiopia and the US. The TFG spent three years (60%) of its time and achieved nothing. It had only two years left and was going nowhere. Somalia got what it needed, a secure, stable, disarmed, independent country. The TFG did not deliver what was intended for and simply didn’t work. Hypothetically, let us assume the TFG and the UIC differences were irreconcilable. If a choice had to be made, which one is worth more? Preserving the stability in hand or making the TFG work by force through enemy forces at the expenses of our people. That is indeed a pyrrhic victory. Statically, the TFG had too little a chance of succeeding in the country and achieving anything. They took a big costly gamble. They put their own interest before that of the country and its people. They got their sums wrong because they did not account for the people’s lives and wishes; they did not take into account of the nation’s sovereignty, the understated so many things that will turn against them. They have won a pyrrhic victory.
In many ways, colluding with Ethiopia and rooting out UIC is just like getting the country rid of its people. The UIC came from within the community to attend to their most basic needs. They are their sons, husbands, fathers, brothers and so on. They have the support of the people since they stand for their values, interests and above all, their religion. If they have committed any crime to warrant their demise, it is just because they stood up for their people, their country and their religion. Mr Yusuf and Gedi attacked them partly because they want to rule them by force and secondly to satisfy another country and other people’s needs. It is indeed a double tragedy to take away our freedom, dignity and stability to preserve the freedom of Ethiopia and its people. What did our people do to deserve the roars of Ethiopian tanks in the hearts of our land? Nothing what so ever.
The UIC had neither the intention nor the capability to threaten Ethiopia. Just few naïve individuals spoke about their minds. There are ten millions Somalis in Somalia and indeed their safety and welfare is more important than what an individual says. Ethiopia has been occupying many parts of Somalia since 1996 and went too far when they came all the way to Baidoa. If somebody saying something against them over a thousand miles away in Kismayo justifies their incursion of Somalia, then that is indeed something we Somalis needed to know and need to do something about. If any Somali wants to buy their baseless claims and that we were a threat to them, just have a look at this. Ethiopia was in the heart of Somalia assisting and preparing the former warlords including Mohamed Dheere and Abdi Qabybdiid to attack the UIC. They were the main obstacles stopping the TFG to negotiate with the warlords. The UIC said the same thing about Ethiopia and Kenya which did not attack. Ethiopia was already on their way and couldn’t care less about the TFG. Ethiopia is getting ever more daring to venture into Somalia and will make it a halaqyo mareen if they don’t pay a heavy price for their current invasion. Now they are coming with tanks and fighter jets and looking for groups, next time they will send just one truck and will demand our leaders. No one will be safe. Mr Yusuf and Gedi opened a black page in Somalia’s history and jeopardised our future. So where do we go from here?
With all certainly, Somalia’s current mess and mayhem will proof to be a blessing in disguise. Allah never lets a society down unless they let themselves down and Somalis just did that. The UIC were a god sent mercy after sixteen years of anarchy but the people failed to see and appreciate. They doubted, they hesitated and finally failed to seize the moment. Somalis have always failed to identify their underlying problems as the result of their tendency to over emphasize on non critical internal differences by ignoring their common problems to their own detriment. Somalis will now pay a heavy price for having an occupying military in their land. The warlords will start rambling again and previously unsuspecting Somali heads will turn and toss and finally start to see their common enemy. Mr Yusuf, Gedi and Co will soon be running for their lives as Ethiopia switches sides and sets them against each other. Ethiopia and America’s evil intentions of keeping Somalia in turmoil will become clear for the unsuspecting misled Somalis. The Tigreans will pay for every inch of the land they entered with their blood. The UIC which is not defeated and will never be defeated will lead a united Somalia to a hard earned independence. The Munaafuq warlords who abused and exploited the country and their allied Kufaars will be defeated. Our land, people and religion will be victorious forever.
Omarfaruk Osman is a Somali economist based in the UK