Selected Op-Eds and Analysis
Abdinasir Ali Mohamed
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Clan may be defined as a social group that brings together kin groups who either have a common patrilineal ancestor or have been incorporated into the clan for other purposes. From a functional perspective, a clan group provides its members a unified social identity, social status, wide support network, a degree of ‘public liability insurance’ and a so called defense system. However, for others, clan is the source of negative stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination and social conflicts. This paper explores, from a social psychological perspective, how competition and identity lead to inter-clan prejudice, and conflicts. In addition, the paper invites social science scholars to open a debate on the motives of deliberate activities to stoke up inter-clan/state/national/religious tensions as a political means to an end.
By their nature, humans live in social groups that provide them efficient survival mechanisms. For example, cooperating social groups can produce more food products, defend their territory and resources and can provide moral and material support to their members in difficult times than fractured and divided social groups. In some cases, social groups arise out of survival needs; however, in most cases such groups emerge from historical and blood ties. For instance, Sherif , one of the founding fathers of social psychology, demonstrated that, when provided with a competition task, individuals who had no prior relationships instantly formed two distinct and hostile social groups, simply because only one of them could win the competition for a trophy and penknives. Therefore, if individuals who had little in common (and who did not know each other prior to the experiments) formed such powerful social groups with immediate intragroup cooperation and intergroup derogation, it is conceivable that clan members with a common patrilineal ancestor and a shared history are more likely to form distinct social groups to maximize their potential of winning competitions for scarce resources. Hence, the source of inter-clan prejudice and social conflicts in the current Somali context can partly be attributed to inter-clan competition for access to power in order to exploit scarce public resources. Read more...
Somalia's Post-Transition Government: First Year Scorecard
"The farther back you can look the farther forward you are likely to see." (Winston Churchill)
After twenty two years of protracted conflict in Somalia, again Somalia was at the crossroads of history on September 12, 2012. The peaceful election of President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, a newcomer and former activist and academic was largely supported by majority of Somalis. This was a major step forward! The celebration of gunfire erupted following the vote, given that not many political commentators predicted his sudden victory. For once the bullets did not force Mogadishu residency into panic. The jubilation was marked in many other cities in and out of Somali borders. Somalis were hopeful again. The new government gained unlimited political capital and enjoyed the goodwill of large majority of Somalis.
The sense of euphoric fervor slowly melted away over the months that followed the election. Government progresses slowly become lethargic at best. The government did not capitalize on military achievements. Situation was further worsened by sharp decline of US dollar. The government looked weak and unable to meet these challenges. While there is no united opposition to the government, individual actors begin to criticize government’s lack of competence to even implement the presidents six pillar policy in four years.
This paper attempts to evaluate the performance of Somali Federal Government’s first year in the office. First, we evaluate two key decisions, appointment of Prime Minister and reduction of cabinet ministries. Next, we examine public perception of parliament members and ministers performance. Third, we look at three key areas such as economy, security, and regional reconciliation. We conclude with overall perception of the government and emerging opposition.
To gauge public perception author conducted online survey. This was not a randomly selected or representative. Rather, it was a thermometer style measurement to capture snapshot of public opinion. To get largest possible and diversified opinion, survey was posted on social sites as well as Somali sites.
Majority of participants (59.2%) supported President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud’s decision to appoint Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon (Saacid). This sentiment is also backed by parliament vote confirming the PM with 219 votes. A year passed there is no disagreement between the two highest officials of the government. This is a positive progress compared to prior transitional governments which were plagued by struggles among top government officials. The relationship between the executive and legislative branch have been more harmonic compared to prior governments. Parliament called government officials to testify and no public quarrels have been reported.
The President made second key decision to reduce number of ministers and increase government efficiency. Small majority of respondent (51.7%) supported President’s decision. International partners hailed the decision as a positive step forward. However, it has long been rumored the top three officials privately discussed to increase the number of ministries. The supporters cite large number of ministries is a necessary to move the reconciliation forward. Decenters cite the cost of having too many ministries for a small, post-conflict country that cannot afford to pay the cost of running large number of inefficient government bureaucracies.
The survey respondents were asked to rank cabinet ministries from one to ten based on accessibility, productivity, and performance. H.E. Maryam Kassim, the minister of social development led her colleagues with overall vote of 4.21 closely followed by Abdirisak Omar Mohamed, the minister of Natural Resources.
Overwhelmingly majority of respondents 74.1% disapprove the work of the parliament. They describe parliament members as inaccessible or inattentive to public needs. This sentiment holds true and is espoused by Somalis everywhere. The parliament leadership fails short of public expectation and representing the interest of their constituencies.
There are three key challenges that face the government and have fallen short of public expectation. The first is security. Respondents strongly believe security is worse today compared to the same time last year. Since the new government took office, several large scale and well planned attacks shock the trust of the public. Some of these attacks include; Mortar attacks around the presidential residence; suicide car explosions at Al Jazeera Hotel; suicide bombers hitting Village Restaurant (Guriga Hooyooyinka and Near KM5); the siege at the courts that took over several hours to put off; car bomb at UNDP headquarter and heavily guarded Turkey Embassy. Al-Shabab uses these threats and intimidations to prove their point which is, the government is not in charge.
The second challenge is the economy. Over 70% of respondents believe the economy is worse than same time last year. Since taking office the government has not put forth concrete policies to boost the economy. Sharp decline for U.S dollar negatively impacted the economic outlook. The majority of the people relay on overseas remittance and drop of the U.S dollar evaporated their purchasing power. There has not been any serious attempt on the part of government to create jobs or to collaborate with the private sector to improve the job market. The private sector has picked up in large part on construction boom and created many jobs. Some of the businesses are little on edge fearing taxes and over-regulations as well as other bureaucratic red tapes such as bribes that stifle their business. Some student at Mogadishu University conducted a research interviewing business – large exporters, medium retailers, and small shop owners. All across the board, business are willing to pay tax but are anxious about future regulation that may negatively impact the free market they enjoyed for so long. More importantly, the government didn’t take any credible action on combating rampant counterfeit money industry that act as expansionary monetary policy and as result create inflation.
The third challenge facing the government is regional stabilization. Majority of respondents believe government took the wrong approach. While government gains credit for continuing Somaliland discussions in positive direction, Jubaland remained stalemate until temporary agreement is reached in Ethiopia view days ago. The President rightly noted in an interview with SomRadio that they inherited the situation in Jubaland. However, under his presidency Jubaland reached a boiling point culminating with military confrontation that claimed many lives. The government lost face when Chief Defense Force and his lieutenants were refused to enter the city of Kismayo.
Puntland regional government recently claimed to disengage with the federal government. The government cannot afford setbacks and these political missteps must be anticipated and resolved. While government cannot appease every political demand, but certainly through collaboration it is able to narrow these political differences. Finally, the government misstep occurred in its unilateral decision to appoint two regional governors such as Baydio and Galgudud without any consultation with regional leaders or their representative in parliament.
While survey respondent approve President’s appointment of Prime Minister Saacid and reduction of number of ministries to ten, they disapprove the handling of security, economy, and regional reconciliation.
The focus needs to shift from the number of ministries. Instead the focus should be on how the government can develop the capacity of core ministries to deliver goods and services and to fulfill the presidents six pillar strategy. The government staff needs to be divided into two categories. The first category is political appointees. The second category is technical staff. The number of political appointees should remain the current ten ministers, but they must be augmented with deputy ministers, assistant deputies and general directors selected on their competence and merit. The government needs to quickly build depository for talent with transparent application, interview, and selection process. The federal government like its predecessors fails to capitalize on Somali talent for technical roles.
Security improvements must remain top priority in the second year. All security personal must be moved outside of the capital unless they are on duty. Military personal must be properly registered, provided identifications, disciplined, paid reliable salaries and kept in camps. To prevent the sale of government weapons to Al Shabab, the government must introduce routine and rigorous audit of weapons inventory. In addition, the government must be praised its effort to shut down informal weapons markets. To be effective the government must also regulate private security companies. Furthermore, government must assign military personal to all government officials and stop using private, unregistered militias all together.
Government must adopt clear business friendly policies. Starting with improvement on ease of doing business, reducing corruption, offering tax incentives for generally consumed goods and create consumer protection agency to protect the public from the sale of harmful products. Furthermore, government can attract foreign investment by creating free trade zones, capitalize on longest coast in Africa, and build transportation lines to regional trading partners. The private sector holds the key to recovery in Somalia. It remained resilient, innovative and continues to grow throughout the conflict. While limited regulations are necessary, the government must be cautious and avoid any regulatory policy that stifle the ingenuity of Somali business that surpassed neighboring countries in spite of conflict.
The executive branch must hand over regional reconciliations to legislative branch. The executive branch can provide know how, technical support and facilitate discussions but only legislative branch can introduce uniform formula for current and future regional administration formation. While the government must carefully handle regional administrations, it should not give in to unwarranted demands. The best solution to regional issues is to engage regional leaders and to respect their will given that the process is inclusive; therefore, while the government can celebrate small successes, the Somali people are best served by long term solutions.
Political reconciliations and institutional building do not follow linear progress. They are messy. They require long term view. The President correctly acknowledged his government cannot resolve three decade long war in a year. The President should head to his correct vision and avoid photo ops and hastily planed events just made for TV. The parliament members must shoulder their responsibilities. All government officials must remember that history is not so kind to those who put personal interest before the public. It is the duty of every Somali citizen to hold government officials accountable. As a nation we must realize it is necessary to look backward before we can look forward.
About the Authors:
Daud Ed Osman is a policy analyst, writer and commentator on governance, security, economic development, Horn of Africa and extremism and more importantly innovation researcher. Minnesota USA
Abdirahman Gutale is a political scientist who focuses on conflict resolutions and post-conflict political institution and economic development. Kansas, USA
Kenyan Forces will Remain in Somalia
Source: Bloomberg Business Week
Kenya’s government rejected accusations by Somalia that its forces breached their peacekeeping mandate and said the troops will remain there until the Horn of Africa country stabilizes.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud earlier this month asked a group of Kenyan forces to leave the country’s south, accusing them of violating their mandate by supporting one of two factions seeking control of the Jubaland region. Somalia wants a “neutral force” to replace the Kenyan peacekeepers, Somali Information Minister Abdishakur Ali Mire said on July 1.
Kenyan troops entered Somalia in October 2011 to fight al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group al-Shabaab after a series of kidnappings of foreigners and the murder of a British tourist in Kenya, which the government blamed on the militant group. Tourism is Kenya’s second-biggest foreign-exchange earner.
“Kenya’s security along the border with Somalia is intractably linked to peace and stability in that country,” Zaddock Syong’oh, a policy adviser in Kenya’s Foreign Ministry, said in an interview on July 12 in the capital, Nairobi. “Kenya’s military will not therefore leave Somalia until it is stable and secure.”
Kenya’s focus in Somalia is to secure Jubaland, which is also used as a base to plan attacks on Kenya, he said. “It is a matter of Kenya’s national security,” Syong’oh said. Read more..
Press Statement John Kerry
Secretary of State Washington, DC
June 30, 2013
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to extend my warmest congratulations and best wishes to the government and people of Somalia as you celebrate your 53rd Independence Day this July 1.
Somalia has seen incredible progress in the past year, and the United States is proud to support the people of Somalia on your path towards stability and prosperity. The June 19 terrorist attack on the United Nations Common Compound in Mogadishu was a desperate attempt to disrupt Somalia’s recovery. The United States remains determined to stand by the people and Government of Somalia as you work to bring peace to your country.
The United States wishes you a safe and festive Independence Day. I look forward to our continued friendship and a democratic, safe, and secure Somalia.
The EU High Representative Catherine Ashton Condemns Fighting in Kismayo
July 1, 2013
The EU High Representative Catherine Ashton condemned Sunday’s fighting in Kismayo, Somalia which caused the death of 80 people.
On 30 June, the spokesperson of Ashton issued a statement saying, “the High Representative deplores the outbreak of fighting in Kismayo that appears to have caused the loss of innocent civilian lives. She urges all parties to immediately refrain from violence, exercise restraint, and let political processes be used to resolve outstanding differences….Alongside the African Union and United Nations, the EU stands ready to support Somalia in reestablishing security, peaceful, balanced and accountable government, and in restoring economic growth.”
The Somalian federal government has accused the African Union forces in Somalia (AMISOM) of taking sides during the heavy fighting in the southern port Somalian city. Read more..
Two Militants Killed In-Fighting
Monday, July 1, 2013
(CNN) A senior Somali militant who had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head has been killed in infighting among members of the al Qaeda-aligned group Al-Shabaab, a spokesman for the group said Saturday. Ibrahim Al Afghani, a senior member of Al-Shabaab, was killed along with another top member, Moalim Burhan, in a shootout between two factions of the group June 20, spokesman Abu Musab said.
Al Afghani was wanted for terrorism by the U.S. State Department, which offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his location. A U.S. administration official said the United States believes the report of his death is true.
It is the first time Al-Shabaab has confirmed the killing of two of its most senior members. The internal fighting in Al-Shabaab is between two groups, one loyal to founding member Ahmed Godane and another, smaller faction that supports foreign jihadists in Somalia. It began about a month ago when a member of the smaller group was targeted in a tea shop, allegedly by members from the other side. Al Afghani and Burhan were both members of the smaller faction. Read more..
President Hassan hails accession to the Cotonou Agreement as an opportunity for the recovery of Somalia
Source: Office of the President of Somalia
Monday, May 10, 2013
The President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, expressed his gratitude for Friday’s decision at the European Union to allow Somalia to be a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement, the EU – African, Caribbean, Pacific States Partnership Agreement.
Speaking of the benefits, the President said, “The benefit of the Cotonou Agreement is that Somalia will be eligible to receive development projects from the EU, which will help us to rebuild our country. These development projects will bring provide jobs to our young people so that they can take part the in the reconstruction of their nation prosperity to Somalis in their country.
“We have placed considerable effort into improving our international relations and this represents a great step in our return to the community of nations.
The recent EU-ACP ministerial meeting in Brussels between 3rd to 7th June 2013 Co-Chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Botswana, Mr Phandu Skelemani, and the State Minister of Commerce and Development of Ireland, Mr. Joe Costello, approved the request from Somalia and after the meeting in a press conference Mr Joe Costello said "Today’s agreement for Somalia to be a member of Cotonou Agreement opens a new door for the Federal Government of Somalia and the European Union, which is sign that Somalia has reclaimed membership of the international forum.”
Mr Nur Hassan Hussein (Nur Adde), Somalia Ambassador to Belgium, Italy and EU was present in the meeting representing the Federal Government of Somalia.
Somalia has been granted observer status immediately, with subsequent accession to full membership next year. Somalia was part of the then LOME Agreement before 1991, which became Cotonou Agreement in 2000.
Somalia: With clashes reported in port city (Kismayo), UN political mission chief calls for immediate end to fighting
8 June 2013 – The head of the new United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) called today for an immediate end to fighting in the southern port city of Kismaayo, where clashes have reportedly led to civilian deaths.
"I urge all parties to commit to resolve differences peacefully. I deplore reports of the loss of civilian life,” the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, declared today in a press statement.
According to unconfirmed reports, clashes that flared in Kismaayo yesterday reignited today. Through his statement, Mr. Kay called for the fighting to cease immediately. “This new chapter in Somalia's history must be one in which issues are resolved peacefully.”
More violence will only prolong the suffering of Somalis and delay the revival they and the international community are working for, the statement added.
Mr. Kay, who took up his post just five days ago, noted that the UNSOM, as the UN Security Council recently reiterated, will play a constructive role in resolving political difficulties of any kind in close consultation with all parties in Somalia and the region. “I am engaging immediately on this issue.”
The statement says that the Mission chief discussed his concerns with Somali President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud today, during their first official meeting in Mogadishu, where UNSOM is headquartered.
They both called for the convening of a reconciliation conference as soon as possible, as IGAD Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Heads of State have proposed.
by Eric Johnston Staff Writer
June 1st, 2013
YOKOHAMA – Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has told Japan’s and Africa’s leaders that his country faces four challenges as it struggles to become a constructive member of the global community again after decades of civil war and anarchy.
Meeting on the eve of the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, African rulers on Friday discussed a number of concerns with Mohamud, including immediate basic security issues, as well as more mid- to long-term economic and social needs.
The Somali leader, in turn, identified his own government’s goals: security, meeting basic human needs, good governance and foreign investment.
“First, we must provide human security in order to uphold the rule of law, restore law and order, realize justice reform and establish credible law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Basic human needs, such as food, water, shelter and disease control for the most vulnerable parts of society, as well as able governance are also crucial, said Mohamud, who was elected president last September. Read the full article here.
Somalia demands action over brutal killing
16 September 2013 –
The international community and Somalia begin a new partnership today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said urging parties to align their political and financial support begin a ‘New Deal’ to drive the country’s economic and political recovery.
“Today we take forward that commitment by endorsing the Somalia New Deal Compact and aligning international support to implement its principles and priorities,” the Secretary-General said in his message to the High-Level Conference on a New Deal for Somalia delivered in Brussels by his Special Representative Nicholas Kay.
Finalized today, the New Deal is seen as a roadmap for promoting statebuilding and peacebuilding over the next three years by focusing on the Somali political processes, security, legal system and economic foundation.
During the one-day meeting, hosted jointly by the European Union and the Somali Federal Government, the Somali leadership set out its priorities and plans on a course to deliver on them, while the international community laid out future support for those priorities.
“The New Deal is about the people, for the people, and with the people of Somalia,” Mr. Ban stressed. “Our meeting today is a milestone, the beginning of a new partnership based on mutual commitments and accountability that bind all of us in support of Somalia.”
Some 200 Government delegates attended today’s meeting, along with aid groups and global finance institutions, and representatives of the UN.
“The United Nations stands ready to assist the Government to coordinate international assistance in line with Security Council resolution 2102,” said Mr. Ban’s statement, highlighting the UN Multi-Partner-Trust Fund.
The UN will continue to support the Government’s efforts to bring the political process, security needs, human rights protection and development activities together under one framework, according to the statement. The Organization will also continue to improve its own operations in Somalia, promoting international coordination and working progressively towards strengthening national systems.
The UN Assistance Mission to Somalia (UNSOM) is also working to enhance the Government’s capacity to provide basic services, justice and the rule of law. Read more..
Wednesday September 11, 2013
The President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has appointed Yussur A.F. Abrar as the country’s first female Central Bank Governor.
Ms. Abrar, who is highly regarded in international financial circles, brings over 30 years of experience in banking, insurance, and risk management to the Central Bank of Somalia.
A former Vice-President at Citigroup and American International Group (AIG) in New York, as well as an entrepreneur in both telecommunications and financial consulting, she will likely prove an effective resource for the nation, which is facing serious economic challenges. Read more.
Al-Amriki alive, severs ties with al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda
Sir Peter Westmacott
British Ambassador to the United States
May 5, 2013
For the first time in more than 22 years, the United Kingdom has an embassy in Mogadishu. When Foreign Secretary William Hague raised the Union Flag over the new offices on April 25, the UK became the first EU country to return to the Somali capital since the ruinous civil war that began in the early 1990s.
The new embassy is a physical manifestation of the progress Somalia has made since then. It also symbolizes the UK's support for Somalia's development. Today, Britain once again reaffirms its commitment to Somalia, as Prime Minister Cameron and President Hassan co-host in London a conference with over fifty partner countries, designed to mobilize international backing for the Somali government's own plans for the future. Priorities for the conference revolve around three critical prerequisites for Somalia's future development. Read the full article here.