Sign in to follow this  

A solution to Somalia crisis

Recommended Posts


What are the problems in Somalia as 2007 starts?

There are two major groups, each group consisting

number of allied groups, competing in Somalia and

beyond. Let us discuss about the nature of these

groups and their objectives; after doing so, the paper

would suggest a practical solution and modality of its


The most powerful group, competing in Somalia, is

Ethiopia and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) as

well as number of allied factions such as the governor

of Middle Shebelle, Mohamed Dhere and former Mogadishu

Warlords such as Qanyare, Abdi Waal, and Abdi Qaybdid.

General perception of the TFG in Somalia is this: it

is an entity dominated by allied groups belonging to

the clan of the President and the clan of the Prime

Minister; it is no accident, therefore, that the

president did not go to Mogadishu, for fear that he

may be perceived as this: one clan capturing another

clan and as consequence compounding already volatile

mix of religion, nationalism, and old historical


Similarly, the general perception of Ethiopia in

Somalia is this: Ethiopia is Christian dominated state

that had demonstrated historical tendencies to annex

Somalia and make it part of Ethiopia. Many also

believe US and other Western States are part of

Pro-Ethiopian camp: they are considered to be

providing funds, weapons, training and actionable

intelligence to enable Ethiopia and its allies to

achieve their objectives.

Objectives of Pro-Ethiopian camp

Let us start with Ethiopia; some people believe the

immediate concern of ruling elites and their allied

groups in Ethiopia is to acquire more funds, weapons

and legitimacy for the purpose of paying or crushing

opponents and stopping democratization processes in

Ethiopia: Males and his supporters simply want to stay

in power. Secondly, ruling elites and their allied

groups in Ethiopia are also worried about this:

opposition groups (comprising mainly, Oromo, the

largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, and Somalis in

Ethiopia) may acquire assistance from Islamists groups

in Somalia and hence demand greater attention and as

consequence increase the burden of sustaining power in

Ethiopia; to prevent this from happening, the

Ethiopian regime pursues policies of installing

friendly government in Somalia. The shortest way of

achieving this is to serve the West and in return

secure funds, military provisions, actionable

intelligence and legitimacy necessary for sustaining

regime’ s hold on power in Ethiopia.

From this perspective, ruling elites and their

supporters do not have an interest in ending their

involvement in Somalia any time soon; on the contrary,

they would continue to build barracks in Mogadishu to

start the second project: the project of allowing

transitional federal government to consolidate power

and as consequence develop the capacity to defeat

Islamist insurgency, should this insurgency


Objectives of the Transitional Federal Government

Objectives of the clans constituting transitional

federal government is obvious; Somalia is one of the

five poorest countries in the world; thus access to

jobs (such as those found in police, army and

embassies abroad), resources( such as fertile lands

and minerals) and opportunities( such as business

contracts) is source of fierce competition. Hence

access to scarce resources may be used, as has been

the case in the past, to build a constituency of

supporters that would allow the transitional federal

government to establish and consolidate power; the

shortest way to achieve this is to play the ‘terror

card’ so as to secure funds, coercive instruments and

international legitimacy necessary for the purpose of

establishing and sustaining clan-based exclusive

political, economic and military institutions in


Objectives of the West

The west fears that some elements of the Council of

Islamic Courts of Somalia (CICS) may harbor terror

groups and individuals; it does so by giving Jihadists

an opportunity to rest, recuperate, coordinate and

plan attacks against western interests in Horn of

Africa and beyond; because of this fear the west

displays a recurring tendencies to remove this threat;

state and non-state actors, such as TFG, warlords and

ruling elites in Ethiopia are availing themselves to

remove the threat.

Objectives of the Islamist and their allies

Anti-Ethiopian groups consist of various groups

constituting Council of Islamic courts of Somalia,

Somali nationalists, both secular and Islamists,

clan-based groups and their allies, business people,

foreign Jihadists who are committed to defense of

Dar-Al Islam or the house of Islam and young activists

committed to Islamic Utopia.

Let us start with Council of Islamic Courts of

Somalia and their supporters; their aim is to end the

current Ethiopian occupation and as consequence

establish an Islamic state; like TFG and its allied

factions, they want to build a constituency that

allows the courts to gain power and consolidate it; in

return relevant constituency would be compensated by

giving them access to jobs, firms and bundle of

opportunities; the shortest way to achieve this is to

articulate Jihadits and nationalist discourses so as

to attract funds, weapons, foot soldiers and veteran

insurgency fighters both from Somalia and outside

Somalia for the purpose of defeating Ethiopia,

crushing local opponents and consolidating power

throughout Somalia.

International Jihadists consisting mainly wealthy and

young Muslim activists, see Ethiopian occupation of

Somalia as an extension of wider war against Muslim

peoples prosecuted by Christian dominated West.

Moreover, international Jihadists may support CICS for

the purpose of reciprocity: courts would enable them

to secure an environment useful for resting,

recuperating and planning attacks against western

interests in Horn of Africa and beyond. Other

Jihadists may support Somali jihadists in hope of

ending direct and indirect Western occupation of

Muslim states, and establishing greater Muslim state,

khalifa, consisting of all Muslims.

The objectives of Somali nationalists is quite clear;

they want to end the Ethiopian occupation; the easiest

way to do this at this time is to support the courts

and as consequence engage in variety of activities

useful in convincing Ethiopia to end its occupation.

Given these divergent interests, is there a solution

that may satisfy objectives of parties and yet lead to

peaceful and lasting political settlement: I think so?

The following elements constitute such solution; a)

withdrawal of Ethiopian army from Somalia and other

foreign forces such as International Jihadist and

Eretria; b) genuine power-sharing between clan-based

groups and their allies within the transitional

federal framework; c) Peacekeeping Mission consisting

of Muslim and Non-Muslim states that helps in reaching

and implementing genuine power-sharing agreements

between clan-based groups. How would these elements

solve Somalia’s problem and more importantly how would

they be achieved?


Withdrawal of all foreign forces can be achieved by

working with Arab world and the west; these entities

enjoy a working relationship with Islamists in Somalia

and the government in Ethiopia;

Withdrawing all foreign forces from Somalia would

have an acute impact on Somali politics; first, the

TFG would lower its ambitions of establishing and

consolidating exclusive political, economic and

military institutions if Ethiopia withdraws its troops

from Somalia and as consequence the possibility of

genuine power-sharing deals between different

clan-based groups within the transitional federal

framework would be likely.

Second, Islamists would also lack a target to shoot,

since Ethiopia will not be around anymore ; moreover,

clan-based groups and their allies that supported

Islamists before would now have, assuming

power-sharing agreements succeeds between clan-based

groups, a peaceful mechanism to protect and advance

their legitimate interest, hence they will not have an

apatite to support a guerrilla movement.

Neutral peacekeeping force consisting of Muslim and

non-Muslim states would replace all foreign forces,

hence help Somalis reach a genuine power-sharing

agreement and implement it; moreover, they will allow

the consolidation of representative and legitimate

state institutions.

This solution obviously, excludes Islamists; hence

it may appear to be unfair: I concur, they should

participate in the reconciliation and peacebuilding

processes of Somalia. I think US and Ethiopia should

talk to these people regardless their commitments to

violence or ideology. Marginalizing them produces one

of two possibilities; a) either they will vanish and

hence cease to exist as group or individuals, this

might be what US and others are hoping for, it is a

likely possibility; b) another possibility is this:

they will use whatever means available to them to

convince US and others, in this case Ethiopia, to talk

to them. The latter scenario is dangerous one: they

may become part of global Jihadi networks and engage

in suicide operations in Somalia and beyond.

US and others, I believe, can prevent aforementioned

deadly scenario by pursuing a policy of mutual

concern: US should pursue its interest without any

compromise while at the same time showing high concern

for legitimate Islamist causes and addressing them to

the maximum ability of the US and its allies. It is my

judgment, and indeed the judgment of many, that the

Islamists would respond.

Samatalis Haille is graduate student at the Institute

of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason

University, Arlington, Virginia, USA.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Good analysis by Samatalis Haille. However, experience and past events have shown realist analyses are most often ignored, and only the projections of so-called neocons materialize.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good analysis. What it ignores though is the irreconcilable mistrust and hatred found amongst the Somali factions and the haphazard nature of American foreign policy.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, Taliban, conservatives here in America persue policies that in many cases enrages many people in the Muslim world; it also makes happy others, such as shiites In Iraq, as well as Yusuf, Gedi and their patronage networks; however, any policy that does not rest on sound and dispassante analysis is doomed to failure, though it may suceed in the short term.


if Ethiopia is removed from Somalia, the ambitions of current leadership of the TFG would decrease, generating an environment useful for power sharing; I agree, however, mistrust wuold still prevail; that is why I suggest more neutral peacekeeping force that encourages clan-based groups to strike a deal and implement it, so that kids in Somalia could go to school, eat, get medical care and so on.

American foreign policy indeed is agonising to many people; agonised people, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan do not respond in manner that US likes.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this