Given the magnitude of responsibility and challenges before our Somalia leaders, one would thought our leaders would be busy fostering and cultivating progressive politics beyond petty politics that only serves backward politics. Unfortunately, this has not been the case as President Mohamed Abdillahi Farmaajo’s Somaliland’s policy shows a pattern of muddled and reactionary tendencies, always behind the curve without a grand-strategy for a workable reconciliation process. Just within the last year, the Somali government has embarked on a series of obstructionist measures aimed at derailing the development of Somaliland’s economic progress through international aid assistance, aviation, ports (DPW) and most recently in the area of livestock sales to the Arabian Peninsula.
The international community, in particular the European Union, US and Britain, knowing full well the history of the conflict and the lack of progressive politics on offer from the Somali government on this subject matter, has rightly refused to get involved in Somali petty politics, further insisting dual-track development policy for Somaliland. It is not surprising Saudi Arabia is receptive to the recent request made by the Somali government – because geo-politically and strategically it suits KSA to further destabilise Somalia and its people further at any given opportunity. What the Somali government (intelligently) has failed to recognise is that Saudi Arabia would be happy to throw Somalia under the bus when it suits them most. The issue of livestock presents the perfect opportunity to sow the seeds of disunity with the Somaliland people and the Somali government, playing along the petty politics that is all too obvious to see.
What is also quite revealing is that the steps/measures undertaken by the Somali government has only served to bolster President Muse Bihi’s government and its core secessionist supporters while alienating vast majority of the Somaliland people. President Bihi and his cohorts, including Faisal Ali Waraabe have been pushing the notion that “a leopard does not change its skin” and South Somali political leaders are a brain-dead lot, hell bent on undermining the Somaliland’s people at every given opportunity. So with President Bihi facing internal challenges within Somaliland, weakening his authority and capacity – the latest livestock saga instigated from Villa Somalia has only provided a get-out of jail political card, further refueling his core supporters and the Somaliland people against real/ perceived/imagined enemy.
Comparatively, during the tenure of President HSM’s government despite its faults, there was a progressive Golden Rule on the issue of Somaliland that was in line with international consensus and norms – that was to avoid disputes and measures that brought about quasi economic sanctions on Somaliland societies’ development and businesses. It was a smart policy making process because they strategically and rightly recognised any future reconciliation process with Somaliland will ultimately require a form of referendum at grass-roots level. This provided a degree of political maturity that recognised winning hearts and minds at grass-roots level had greater currency/role in any reconciliation process.
Today, Villa Somalia has failed to come up with coherent imaginative politics/policies that point to a formal reconciliation and meaningful dialogue. The latest announcement of setting up a Commission for Somaliland is a political gimmick that only symbolises the lack thoughtful policy process from Villa Somalia on Somaliland. President Farmaajo’s government had two full years to plan ahead and implement such Commission. It has, however, announced such measure with only limited scope/time available and relations with Somaliland’s government at all time low since the end of the Somali Civil War. This announcement is another make-up as you go along damage limitation exercise from a government that has just recognised they have messed up again, lacking a grand- strategy for Somalia/Somaliland reconciliation process.
Going forward, my initial policy advice for Villa Somalia would be to win the war against Alshabaab, secure Mogadishu, stabilise South Somali politics at grass-roots/regional level under the Federal System, and prepare for the election/selection process in the limited time-span/resources available before the next elections. Starting further forest fires elsewhere without water-tankers or coherent strategy is proving a folly and reckless, showing political immaturity at the top of government.
Below are my recent relevant pieces on the subject of Somaliland and Somalia.
1- Somaliland: Exhausted Consensus? North/South Divide? Opportunity for Meaningful Dialogue
2- Kulmiye Party, a Continuation of Chaos and Stagnation in Somaliland?
Mohamed Ibrahim BA/MSc, London School of Economics and Political Science, a London based, UK, Social Activist – He can be reached via: