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Comment & analysis

Somalia: Justice and reconciliation casualty of clan morass

Mohamud M Uluso

2013-01-09, Issue 612

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The disintegration of Somalia into feuding armed clans, some headed by warlords, still remains the biggest problem in rebuilding the nation

The setting up of local public administration in the regions of Gedo, Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba, yet to be entirely liberated from the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabab, has generated passionate debate for four reasons. First, as result of clan based federalism, it stirred the majority and minority struggle between communities in those regions at village, district and regional levels. Second, it brought to the front the divergent interests and goals of the multiple foreign, national and local actors claiming stakes in the process. Third, it represented a special significance for the federal government since it defines the values and meaning of the post-transition political dispensation and concretizes implementation of the Provisional Constitution (PC) on territorial jurisdiction and citizenship supremacy. And fourth, the ban of the UN Security Council on the export of the charcoal piled up in the area hit hard the local economy.

Concomitantly, the debate has reignited clan grievances and repudiation of past reconciliation. Lies, clan scapegoating and foreign praise over fellow citizens formed the avalanche of opinion articles published by certain respected Somali websites like Wardheernews (WDN). In some gatherings of the Somali Diaspora there have been calls for clarification and appeals for a reality check. See Goobaale delegation, []Somalia's constitutional decomposition[/url].

The claims that General Mohamed Roble Jim'ale Gobale and General Yusuf Mohamed Siad Indha’adde were members or leaders of the delegation sent by the federal government to Kismaio are deliberately fabricated lies with sinister objectives. The attack against them, their sub-clan, the defunct Jubba Valley Alliance (JVA), at this juncture will not rectify any abuse suffered by certain individuals or groups. The infinite narration of grievances from all Somali groups constitutes the misfortune of Somalia.

The names of the FG delegation sent to Kismaio are the following:

1. Gen. Abdullahi Ali Anod: Somali National Army
2. Mr. Liban Abdulqadir Hiddig: Ministry of Finance
3. Mr. Hussein Abdi Shakul: Ministry of Interior
4. Mr. Ahmed Abdikarim Hussein: Port Authority
5. Mr. Hamza R: Civil Society
6. Mr. Abdishakur Ali Mire: Civil Society
7. Mr. Ali Yusuf Hersi: Expert
8. Miss Barlin Mohamed Ali: Environmental Activist
9. Mr. Salad Elmi Ahmed: Chamber of Commerce

The delegation was accompanied by the spokesman of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Gen Osman Subagle and a group of independent journalists. The unfulfilled objectives of the mission were three:

a) To discuss with the newly formed authority in Kismaio the process for establishing a permanent administration at district and regional levels;

b) To consult with the local authority, business community, traditional leaders and AMISOM officials about the charcoal available at Kismaio port and surrounding areas;

c) To assess the support and cooperation needed to strengthen the security situation in the city and the region.

The crimes and abuses committed during the civil war have been discussed in the Somali peace and reconciliation conferences held in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, New York, Egypt and other places. All those reconciliations were attended by ‘faction-cum-clan’ representatives. Some insist that the agreements reached in these conferences were not sufficient to redress the crimes committed. This group will probably be energized by the new book of Prof. Lidwein Kapteijins with the title, ‘Clan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Legacy of 1991.’ I’m looking forward to reading the book but I assume that the following excerpts of WardheerNews’ Editor’s note introducing an interview with the author summarize the book’s negative effects:

‘It [book] will no doubt bring back memories that many have buried away to move forward with their lives. Witnessing a country that is still divided along clan lines, we hope this book is the beginning of the dialogue needed to come to terms with the violence that has transpired the homeland.’

Others argue that the reconciliation agreements were consensual collective decisions rooted in the Somali traditions, embraced since 2000 and key to moving forward the formation of transitional governments on behalf of the Somali people and for the ratification of the new provisional constitution which symbolizes national unity in 2012. Most probably, many triggers of Somalia’s clan violence, which moved from rural to urban settlements, elude the well-crafted definitions and explanations by scholars sucked in the clan maelstrom of Somalia. The sovereign coercive power of government based on the rule of law for justice, fairness and accountability is the best tool for preventing and eliminating clan violence in Somalia.

Many warlords, former politicians and security officials accused of serious crimes participated in those reconciliations and became members of parliament and leaders of the successive national governments. During the formation of the current federal government in September 2012, the international sponsors of the roadmap process attempted to exclude former warlords and politicians suspected of crimes but at the end of the day those targeted have been absolved and sworn-in as members of the federal parliament. This fact must inform us that the debate over the the civil war crimes should be kept in perspective but should not spoil the highest goal of forming a national government which has to serve the present and future generations of Somalia.

A brief review of the surreal metamorphosis the leader of Raskamboni militia, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam (Ahmed Madobe), underwent in seven years provides an example of the complexity of the Somali problem. During the invasion and occupation of Ethiopia in Somalia in 2005, Sheikh Ahmed Madobe, General Mohamed Gobale and Yusuf Indha’adde were allies under the Islamic Court Union (ICU). The Raskamboni leader touts himself as one of the key founders of Al Shabab in Mogadishu and became the Governor (Wali) of Al Shabab/in Kismaio. Later, he was wounded and captured as terrorist and handed over to Ethiopia where he was treated and released to join the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) led by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. He then defected and joined Hizbul Islam led by Dr. Sheikh Omar Iman Abubakar and Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys battling along side Al Shabab against the TFG. Again, Sheikh Ahmed Madobe became leader in Kismaio before Al Shabab suspected him of disloyalty and chased him out of Kismaio.

When Hizbul Islam merged with Al Shabab, Sheikh Ahmed Madobe left Hizbul Islam, entered a deal with Ethiopia and Kenya and declared war against Al Shabab. Prof Mohamed Abdi Ghandi, president of Azania State, another name of Jubba and Gedo regions, rejects Sheikh Ahmed Madobe’s leadership. In the face of this puzzling background, the local population must be granted the opportunity and structure to exercise their constitutional power for the selection/election of their leaders.

It is vile to fabricate lies or insult clans in order to criticize the performance or policy positions of the federal government or to trample the rights of citizens of Somalia. The following words of late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi quoted from his interview with Newsweek on April 9, 2008 must haunt forever the moral fiber of Somalis:

‘An oversupply of national sentiment is not the problem in Somalia. The problem in Somalia is a lack of it. The problem in Somalia is oversupply of sub-clannish attitude. Our efforts together with the TFG have been focused on bridging the gaps of the sub-clans of Somalia’.

The above statement must be the mirror to which every Somali must look every morning. As remainder, in Sura Ra’ad (13:11) Allah says : ‘……..Verily never will Allah Change the Condition of a People until They Change what is in Themselves.’ Thus, without commonly disproving the above characterization and adhering to Allah’s message, the future of Somalia is doomed.


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* Mohamud M Uluso is a Somali analyst. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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