Somali Moderates “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” By Ahmed Adan* July 22, 2011
Many years of civil war had completely destroyed the very old socio-economic fabric of the Somali nation. Somalis originating from the Horn of Africa have noticeable communities in East Africa, Middle East, Europe, Australia and North America. They became a global community so do their problems. International jihadists, pirates and exodus of refugees are the realities of Somalia today and are posing a danger to the world trade and security. To seek solutions to these global threats one needs to understand the pressure and the risk that Somali moderates face every day while trying to rebuild their failed state.
Sunday, June 19, 2011 the Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed resigned from office after immense pressure from the international community led by the head of the United Nation Political Office of Somali (UNPOS) and the International Contact Group on Somalia. The demand for his resignation came after a closed door consultative meeting held in Kampala, Uganda, on June 9, 2011. Prime Minister Mohamed and his cabinet members had been in office for less than six months.
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda brokered a deal to resolve the political dispute between the current Somali president Sharif Ahmed and the speaker of the Parliament Sharif Hassan Aden. The agreement is called “Kampala Accord”, where they agreed to get rid of the Prime Minister and his cabinet and form a new power sharing government. Mohamed is the fourth Somali Transitional Prime Minister to resign in less than five years and the county has had a new transitional administration every year since 2007.
Early December 2008, due to pressure from the international community, President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was also forced to resign. He was the interim president elected after a two-year long peace process held in Kenya in 2004. He initiated regional military operation led by the Ethiopian government to destroy the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a powerful Islamist group that was in control of much of southern Somalia at that time. Ethiopian military engagement in the Somali conflict was a major political setback to his administration. Although ICU was destroyed by the Ethiopian troops, the birth of al-Shabab (al-Qaeda affiliated group) was inevitable due to the Ethiopian military presence in Somalia. Ethiopian troops were dragged into an unending war and were finally forced to withdraw their forces from Somalia, which led to Al-Shabab easily occupying major southern cities.
Al-Shabab is a ruthless extremist group that fuelled the country’s state of anarchy, much like Al-Qaeda did in Afghanistan in the early 90’s. They target key community leaders and kill them either by direct assault or by assassination. Somalia's Interior Minister Abdi Shakur Sheikh Hassan was killed in a suicide bomb attack in his house in the capital Mogadishu on June 6, 2011. Somalia's Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden was also killed in a suicide car bomb attack in Beled-weyne town, north of the capital Mogadishu on June 18, 2009. Al-shabab also targeted humanitarian workers, traditional leaders, and prominent Islamic scholars who don’t submit to their extremist ideology.
On May 2, 2011, Ethiopian troops at the border town of Dollo jailed 14 prominent Somali leaders. Among those arrested was Barre Adan Shire also known as “Barre Hiiraale”, a Somali Member of Parliament and a former Somali defense minister. He was jailed after technically disagreeing with the Ethiopian military commander about an ongoing military operation against Al-Shabab in the southern regions bordering Ethiopia and Kenya.
In a letter addressed to the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the former Somali Ambassador to the U.S. Abdikarim Omar stated disappointment about the illegal actions of the Ethiopian authority. Ambassador Abdikarim says in his letter dated on May 5, 2011; “It is not the first time, that Ethiopian government has illegally imprisoned parliamentarians, government officials, and ordinary Somalis by snatching them inside Somalia. It is worth noting that Col. Barre Hiiraale was engaged in a fierce battle against the extremist organization Al-shabab, which is in virtual control of southern Somalia and particularly Gedo region. The arrest of Col. Hiiraale by the Ethiopian authority coincided with Col. Barre Hiiraale succeeding to eject Al-Shabaab from three major towns in Gedo region. Furthermore the Ethiopian authority arrested him without any legal justification inside the Somali territories”.
Somalis in Mogadishu and all around the world came out in big numbers and showed their sympathy to the ousted prime minister and their outrage about the “Kampala Accord”. The demonstrators chanted “we support Mohamed Farmajo” and instead demanded the president and the speaker of the parliament to resign. However, it seemed the international community on the contrary preferred and focused on the face saving of President Museveni and pressured the Somali prime minister to resign in respect of the Kampala accord. This left the prime minister with no option but to resign and abandon the interest of his own people and country. There is no question that he faces the saddest moment in his entire life.
Moderate Somali nationalists are sidelined and are even afraid of getting involved in their country’s affairs. The Somali people in general are well oriented and aware of the changes and political movements. They have access to extensive and advanced media coverage about their country and the regional situation in general. They feel betrayed and incapable of handling their own affairs as they silently watch the unfolding crisis. They are never given the opportunity to sort out their priorities, independently solve their disputes or issues and be the masters of their destiny. “Somalia needs a Somali-Driven Solution” and moderate Somali nationalists are the key to rebuilding the nation.
* Ahmed Adan is the president of the Somali Media and Cultural Organization, a community advocacy group that is based in Columbus Ohio. He can be reached by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org