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Somalia: A Nation without an Elite-based Movement, Challenges and Opportunities

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Somalia: A Nation without an Elite-based Movement, Challenges and Opportunities


Faisal Roble

February 11 , 2006



I. Introduction


A recent article on WerdheerNews, "intellectual Paralysis," by Ismail Ali Ismail, was an enlightening piece, and breathed fresh air into what is otherwise dull and a disheartening discussion on the Somalia condition. Unlike most commentaries posted on the ever-increasing Somali web sites (almost all of them invariably represent narrow/clan interests), Ismail's was a well-thought out piece with a purpose. The historical perspective of the article and its essence, that Somalia's lack of leadership is one rooted in the absence of a mature educated class, is instructive.


A follow-up article, by Abdalla Hirad(WardheerNews, July 2005), has also demonstrated the limitations that the nascent Mbagathi-formed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG), headed by President Abdullahi Yusuf and Dr. Ali Mohammed Gedi, faces. Hirad has aptly highlighted a bottleneck in governance in Somalia and, in essence, criticized two classes in the leadership of the Somali society; (1) members of the current parliament, a group which represents Somalia’s clans and is largely an uneducated class; and (2) the group he associated with Dr. Ali Khalif Galaydh, former Prime Minister of Somalia.


Hirad argues that, although well educated, Dr. Galaydh's group in particular has failed in its role to help Somalia establish a functioning government. This group, Hirad suggested, only stands for the destruction of the nascent government, which was established in Kenya in November 2004. Instead of organizing and establishing an opposition party for posterity's sake, this group, just like the Mogadishu based warlords, spends its energy to undo the little gains so far made.


Likewise, the economic stagnation and political conflict flare ups in Somaliland, as evidenced by the near-closure state of the Berbera port, the unnecessary war in Adhi Adeeye, in Sool region, and the human rights crisis, which culminated in the rape and torture of a teen-age Somali girl from Bosaso, Zamzam Duale, falsely accused of attempting to assassinate the Vice President, can all be attributed to a deep-rooted intellectual poverty in the country as a whole (For a critical assessment on Zamzam’s case, please refer to Ahmed Hassan's article: The Deterioration of Human Rights Conditions in Somaliland , Wardheernews).


In order to build on the spirited discourse advanced by Ismail Ali Ismail and Abdalla Hirad about the ostensible absence of an educated class, or, its failure to play its historical role, a conscious role that is, where it exits, in providing leadership in Somalia, one is hard pressed to tackle: 1) the absence of an elite-led post-independent political movements in Somalia; 2) the elite’s unfettered attack on national symbols that hitherto united Somalis; and 3) the inability of contemporary elite to forge a vision for the nation beyond the myopic clan politics.



II. Absence of Elite-based Political Movements In Somalia


II-1. Movements in the Region


Unlike its neighbors, Somalia did not produce any meaningful political movement headed by the elite with a national vision outside the brief history of the Somali Youth League (SYL - the party that struggled for independence) and, to a smaller extent, the Somali National League (SNL) in the North. These pre-independence parties were distantly related to the general Arab nationalism that had swept the Muslim world in the 1940s. In 1960, June 26 and July 1, British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland achieved their independence, respectively. The Somalia Act of Union was unreservedly signed on the eve of July 1st to realize the dream of creating the long-over due Republic of Somalia. Soon, a multi-party system of government was chosen by the leaders of the time, which lasted until October 1969.

The post-independence, short-lived multi-party governments notwithstanding (from 1960-1969), politics in Somalia has since then been in the hands of one single military general from 1969 to up until 1990. From 1991 to present, the country has been broken into many fiefdoms ruled by warlords in the South and/or a radical clannist group in the North.


Somalia was untouched by the positive sweeping impacts, which the two world wars had on countries once referred to as countries with "Asiatic mode of production" (that is Africa and Asia). Countries included in the “Asiatic mode of production†grouping significantly lagged behind in "modernization" in the 1930s and 1940s. By the time the Second World War ended, however, modernization spread to most of Africa, Asia and other non-European regions. The wave of modernization subsequently led to, among other things, the emergence of a class of people with western education to lead postcolonial governance in Africa.i


By the end of the war, names like Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere, Leopold S. Senghor and Mekonen of Ethiopia became household names in their respective countries. Most of these leaders ended up leading their respective post-colonial governments or reformist movements and largely contributed to nation building in their respective nations. Ethiopia's intractable feudal system of Haile Sellasie's ancient regime was the exception here. It had to be challenged with vigorous political movements lead by intellectual leftists. Girmamme Neway, a Colombia educated and an Amhara by ethnicity, who was a distant relative of the royal family of Haile Sellasie, first popularized the left's determined position to reform the country's politics. Of all places, Neway chose Jigjiga, a symbol of Ethiopia's dysfunctional governance, to mount his movement by opposing the regime's oppression of the Somalis.


Moreover, both Mengistu Haile Mariam's military regime (1974-1990) and Meles Zenawi's Tigrian Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF)-led takeover (1991-present) claimed to be offshoots of the Neway leftist movement. Meles Zenawi in particular is often found of highlighting the historical linkage between the Neway led-radical movement during the 1950s and 1960s and the Woyane roots of his TPLF.ii


In the case of Sudan, strong leftist/communist movements gave way to a bothersome radical Islamist movement, finally assuming power under the tutelage of the French and British educated Hassan Turabi. In Kenya, Odinga Oginga’s trade unionist opposition party throughout the 1960s and 1970s has persistently challenged Jomo Kenyatta's status quo-oriented KANU party. Thanks, in part to these leaders who believed in pluralism of ideas, the spirit of a Mutli-party politics in Kenya is vibrant and seems to have taken deeper roots.


In Somalia, however, as Ismail argued, (that there was only one known college graduate on independence day) there were not enough western educated cadres to spur political movements rooted in ideals beyond the narrow confines of clan interest. And, absence of an educated class is a euphemism for the absence of a modernized, interest-based class of intelligentsia to establish a sustainable post-independence state. It is often assumed by social scientists that a modernized urban-based elite class plays the vanguard in protecting national state, lest it is members of this class who unproportionaly benefit from it. And it appears that such a class was absent, or barely existed, in Somalia's case.


II-2. When the Elite Squanders an Opportunity


The validity of this comment is justified by a less known flip-flopping position that Mr. Ahmed Silanyo, former chairman of the SNM and the current chairman of KULMIYE party, adopted only days before the SNM declared its unilateral secession from the Democratic Republic of Somalia. A well educated and a trained economist himself, Silanyo drafted a paper right after the SNM took over the northern region of Somalia. He called it "A Proposal for Establishing a Transitional National Government," and circulated it among some Somali circles. Except some political miscalculations, Silanyo's proposal had relatively more of an intellectual national vision; he at least called for the establishments of a caretaker transitional government (established by SNM in the North and USC in the South) that would have collectively united and led the country for a transitional period of not more than one-five-year term.


However, Silanyo sheepishly dropped off his proposal in a matter of days and joined company with those advocating for secession in Burao city. The Silanyo story in Burao is a text book case where the armed Mujaahiddin of the SNM forces, who vehemently and naively called for secession, un-proportionally dominated the agenda at the expense of the trained/educated who silently knew how difficult and elusive it would be to sell the goal of secession in today's world, especially in light of Africa's commitment to the ideals of territorial integrity.


Today, Silanyo, like many other warlords or inept politicians, presides over a clan-based party, Kulmiye, that is largely populated by hordes of Al-Itihad Al-Islam radicals. (see Sii-Arag’s "The Birth and Rise of Al-Itahad Al-Islami in the Somali-Inhabited Regions." His daily political squabbles are against the likes of Faisal Ali Warabe, UCID’s self-made neo-fascist leader, or party bosses of UDUB, a group largely dominated by former security officers of the Siyad Barre Regime. How such a towering and well-educated Silanyo, who is known for being a patriotic firebrand in the days of the Barre regime, succumbed to this low point in politics is one of the many conundrums facing Somalia's elite class.


Most recently, Rakiya Omar of Human Rights Watch, a long time supporter of secession herself, has pronounced the prospect of any forthcoming recognition "a pipedream." In hindsight, many wonder what the results on the ground would have been today had Silanyo, along with all those who considered themselves better educated, stood up for their beliefs and insisted on setting a national agenda at the 1991 Burao convention!


We may never know what the fate of Somalia would be today had Silanyo and most of the educated at the Burao convention shown political conviction beyond the narrow confines of a clan-based call for a unilateral secession.



In the same company of Silanyo is the late General Mohamed Farah Aidid who usurped power from the civilian wing of the Hawiya-based USC. In a seminal biographic piece on how Aidid missed a real opportunity to rule a united Somalia, although hailed in some circles for his success to undo the political grip of the ****** clan on Somalia’s political power for more than three decades, Said Samatar writes the following:


Aydiid inherited almost the entire armory of the national military,

including state-of-the-art weaponry, and therefore was the only warlord

possessing enough fire power to break the back of the Somalis and to bend them to his will. Just take a look at the other warlords--they are either weaklings or unacceptable. Abdullahi Yusuf, the only other warlord with as forceful a personality, and as ruthless and blood-thirsty, as Aydiid, would have been too far away in the northeast; Morgan would have been too far away from the center of action too, and in any case unacceptable as the author of the infamous "Letter of Death;" Osman Ato is a spoiled civilian boy grown rich from the loot of the national physical plant; Ali Mahdi is too weak and feckless to rule unruly Somalis. Clearly Aydiid was the man of the hour (WardheerNews, 2005).



Aidid was, as expected, a not-so-educated army general, but Silanyo is more educated and a proven technocrat who could have led the nation better than anyone leader in the Somalia political landscape, including the pack that Said Samater had identified. Moreover, Rayale, a light weight and an unproven former security officer with dubious human rights record, or Abdulqasim Salad, who had squandered the best opportunity so far and could not resist his deeply buried Siyadist tendencies and unparalleled loyalty to his narrow clan interest, pose no match to Silanyo’s wasted technocratic background.


We know now, with a degree of certainty, that Silanyo's group and others who were armed and had successfully seized power in most of northern Somalia's cities, among others, with their infrastructures intact, missed a rare opportunity to re-establish Somalia anew.


To gauge the import of opportunities missed in the northern Somalia, one has to compare the Silanyo loss with the political gains of the TPLF in neighboring Ethiopia. TPLF moved to Addis Ababa more or less at the same time the Burao convention was underway. The TPLF is an ethnic-based armed guerilla, whose leaders were confronted with the same conditions that Silanyo and others faced. Just like the Gaasdhagoole in Northern Somalia who exerted undue pressure on Silanyo and the SNM leadership for a unilateral secession, the TPLF leadership was pushed in that direction to declare Tigray region independent from the rest of Ethiopia.


However, the leadership of the TPLF was more trained, better educated and decidedly carried an armed struggled guided by broader ideals than its Somalia counter party and, in effect, resisted reactionary and ultra-nationalist pressures. Unlike the Somalia case, TPLF leaders seized the opportunity to remake Ethiopia afresh with a substantial power in the hands of Tigrians. (TPLF leaders hope and so argue that in time, power would be shared equitably.) That is what Silanyo and company missed due to their inability to withstand "Mujaahiddin" and clan sentiments.


Observers of the Somalia question are baffled by the mercurial changes in position of those who consider themselves educated, often moving from one political position to another in a matter of days, but only remaining loyal to whatever position their so-called corporate clan assumes. Admiral Howe of the United Nations Intervention for Somalia (UNISOM) in the 1990s publicly expressed his frustration about the unreliability of Somalia's elite class when it comes to clan interest. As often heard in Somali circles, a member of the elite is not restrained to say: "I go where my clan goes." This was true and still remains true for supporter of SNM, SSDF, SPM and USC in the 1980s and beyond.


Loyalty to clan sentiments above that of the nation is a common and salient feature of Somalia’s elite. The most glaring case study, though, of this phenomenon may lie in the most recent position assumed by members of the elite who hail from the Awdal region. This group showcased how a group united by clan genealogy moves freely its political center based on where the perceived clan interest lies.


For example, most of Awdalites were pro-unity 13 of the last 15 years during which period Somalia was in its state of disarray. In fact, this group adamantly stood to symbolize the values that espoused to be against the unilateral secession of the North, which was declared in Burao in 1991. Once Rayale, who shares clan affiliation with those in Awdal (Rayale was born and raised in Gogti in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia) won a presidential bid in 2003 against the heavily favored candidate, Ahmed Silanyo, a former chairman of SNM, the majority of the elite of Awdal region freely and in droves migrated to the secession camp in a heart's beat.


This is once again only a good case study where intellectual commitment to ideals among Somalia’s elite is not much of a virtue. This characteristic is by no means unique to Awdalites (for there are serious unionists among this group) as much as it is a clear example of the inability of the majority of Somalia’s elite of all clans to remain true to no other ideology except that of their respective clan, or perceived interest of "the clan." A similar behavior is observed amongst educated ******teens who supported SSDF in droves, or those of the ***** who refuse to debate the secession issue.


II-3. Missed Opportunity 2


The eminent downfall of Barre’s government seemed at first to have presented a rare opportunity to the educated class, particularly those in Diaspora to play a decisive role in leading the country. In this area, a less known group that was organized in 1990 missed an opportunity to seize the moment to organize a non-clan based political organization. In the early days, when clan based movements were closing on Siyad Barre's government in Mogadishu and Hargaisa, several Somali intellectuals, academics and professional were assembled at Harrisonburg, Virginia, with a seed financial help from the Swedish-based Life and Peace Institute, Upsala, Sweden. Present at its founding conference were Professor Said Samatar (founding chairman), Dr. Ali Abulrahman Hirsi, Dr. Ali Khalif Galydh, Mohamud Siad Togane, Faisal A. Roble, Dr. Mohmed Mukhtar, Professor Amina Adan, Dr. Mohamed Tani, Dr. Ahmed Issa Hussein, Fadumo Omar Hashi, Professor Ali Jimale, the late Ahmed Hayle, Mohamud Hamud, Professor Nuur Hussien and others.


The group, like minded and well educated individuals, drafted a list of simple principles, all together seven, which directly spoke to the hearts and minds of all Somalis and sought to maintain Somali unity in an effort to moving away from clan and clannism. It also drafted a plan of action. One of the main concepts in this group's plan of action included organizing similar groups believing in similar broad-based concepts in all over North America, Europe and Africa. It later on proposed to the organizers of the 1991 reconciliation conference in Djibouti to give Somalia's leadership to the surviving 1960s leaders so that they can form a caretaker government until a more permanent system of governance was designed.


The group's proposal singled out former president Adan Abdule Osman, Abdirazak Haji Hussien and Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal. The group's thinking was that these leaders, owing to their earlier national standing, could help heal the wounds of civil war and unite the badly beaten Somali society.


The organization, simply called “Ergo,†or “Somali Peace and Consultation," succeeded in a short period of time to establish sister organizations in Canada, Western Europe and the Horn of Africa. Ergo's early members in the Horn of Africa drew strength from disillusioned educated class who formerly belonged to the SSDF and the SNM as well as Mogadishu-based dissents, who were opposing intra-****** feud in Mogadishu.


“Egro†made impressive inroads into the chambers of power and established enviable contacts with the US State Department, the UN’s office of the Secretariat and cabinet members in the Swedish government. I, along with two other members, for example, traveled to Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, in 1992, and received impressive reception from the Swedish Ambassador in Addis Ababa, who was also serving as the chairperson of the seven Western group of ambassadors responsible to stabilize Somalia /the Horn of Africa region. Similar assignments were carried in many fronts.


Unfortunately, like any other Somali enterprise, Ergo, which had organized the first like-minded pan Somali, post independence elite-based (in this case, intellectual-based) political group, was murdered early on in its infancy by sheer jealousy and incompatible ego problems exhibited by its founding members. This was the second missed opportunity to change the course of Somalia's politics.



III. You Tamper with Symbols of Unity, Citizenry Suffers


In the Somali language, there is no difference between the twin concepts of “being a nationalist†versus “a citizen.†“Wadani,†originally an Arabic word, is interchangeably applied by Somalis to refer to one’s patriotic position orand one’s good citizenry standing. Such a use of the term suggests a strong linguistic testimony that to be a “Somali†was, at least in the past, synonymous with being a Somali patriot as well as someone with an impeccable citizenry standing. At the root of this concept lies a national contract that protects and preserves collective national symbols of unity and the oneness of Somalis, hence imprinting in the individual’s mind a civic purpose and values of collective citizenry.


However, miss-guided elite groups in the 1980s directed their energies to carry a concentrated effort to erode any feasible symbols of unity so that their particular clan-based political goals would be achieved at the expense of that of the collective national goals. The first of such campaign was commenced by the SSDF under Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who sought the support of Ethiopia in the aftermath of his aborted coup in 1978. Then, the SNM, and later on, the USC followed the same path.iv



By crossing what hitherto was a taboo line opened up a floodgate of mounting attacks against any thing that was considered sacred in the Somali national psyche. What the earlier visionaries built as symbols of nationalism were attacked by contemporary elites as signs of oppression. A case in point is the unwarranted attack targeted at the goals and vision for which the Dervish leader, Sayid Mohammed Abdille Hassan, stood for. Sayid Mohammed Abdille Hassan was a beacon of freedom, whose resistance to the British, the Italians and the Abyssinia colonialism at the turn of the 20th century, helped cement what Dr. Hussein Adam (Tanzania) called a unique and unparalleled "Somali national consciousness.†iii In addition to his unparalleled political contribution, the Sayid had helped advance Somali language and poetry as a unifying object more than any other individual. Some of Somalia’s elite, however, chose to whitewash and color this modern and historic [renaissance] figure, and his political movement, a movement unique in Africa and in the Muslim world, as one that is particular to one clan interest. How cynic one can be to subscribe to such a view!


The Somaliland constitution making positive references in its epilogue to the nationalist struggle waged by the Sayid Mohammed Abdille Hassan notwithstanding, it became next to religion for some elites in our midst to virulently undermine the values and symbolism for which this nationalist struggle stood for. Also, victim to the craze of clan hate is the symbols of Hawo Osman Tako-- Somalia's version of Jamila of Algeria and Joan of Arc (Ali Mazrui) combined, and Daljirka Dahsoon, equivalent to America’s monument for the unknown soldier.


Or, the famous and patriotic phrases of Balaayo Cas (who lamented "Aan Ooye Albaaka Ii xidha,†or “leave me alone so that I can cry), Tima Cade (“Dugsi ma laha Qabyaaladi,†or “clannism is a protection against noneâ€), and Farah Omar (“my people and my country are too small to be dividedâ€) are similarly belittled in their own home regions due to the contradiction between their [somali] unity messages and the narrow visions of contemporary secessionist views.


The same narrow outlook is applied to view any endeavor that is Somali, most of all Somali literature and poetry, where one sees literary merit only in the products coming from his/her particular clan's pool of poets. This unfortunate sickly, thwarted national outlook would dictate contemporary Somalis to view, say, Abdi Qays, Dhoodaan, Gaariye, Hadrawi, Idaaja, Saed Salah, as not the giants that they are, but local poets. It is equally true that those who have accomplished (doctors, professionals and others) are viewed with a bifurcated prism. Add to this the careless, off-the cuffs comment which Adna Adan, Foreign Minster of Somaliland, said in a recent interview with a Dutch radio, that “Somaliland has different culture and language from Southern Somalia,†and you have a seriously wounded nation state.


Contemporary Somalia elite is collectively uprooting its heritage beyond repair. Nations are organized around certain mythologies. A mythology of believing in shared common ancestry and common symbols of nationhood promote internal social cohesion. Such cohesiveness in a given people is a necessary prelude to the creation of a strong civic-oriented society. Butchering Somali national mythology and eroding symbols of national unity rendered this ailing nation without a compass and would ultimately make it difficult to create mature citizens out of its hapless and largely nomads or former nomads.


Most of Somalia's regional and intra-clan problems, the political flare-ups and the uncertainty in any given political enclave, including Puntland and Somaliland, are due to the fact that the concept of citizenry has been weakened in the last two or so decades. Without a citizenry that believes in common mythology and in collectively shared symbols of national identity, the nation as a whole and the existing modicum of administrations, which have been established in many parts of Somalia, would remain vulnerable and unsustainable.


The resent clash in Hargeisa between two sub-clans of the Sa'ad Muusa clans, which prompted the vice President of Somaliland to call both sides "looting legions of foreigners," as well as the most recent clash between Arab and Ciidagale sub-clans on land (in January 2006), is a clear example of the absence of a "citizenry concept" in this clan-based political enclave. Moreover, the unrestrained gunfight that took place in Bossaso during the week of the Haji (January 12, 2005) and the intra-clan rivalry, which kept popping up in Kismayo, as well as the inter-warlord endless craze in Mogadishu’s mean streets, are indications that clan based political orders are not sustainable. Nor can't they substitute the Somali nation.


In other words, all present day political enclaves in Somalia are operating in a political culture devoid of any national Symbols. As an editorial piece recently argued (Wardheernews News, June 2005), new flags and symbols concocted to justify clan projects, such as Somaliland's secession, are not comparable match to the original Somali flag or history. A similar, but half-heartedly critical, editorial piece was posted by Awdalnews. One could easily discern from these emerging critics a momentum that is gathering to question whether politics of anger is enough to substitute the collective symbols that stood for Somali nationhood for many years that one cares to count.


When fiercely attacked, the educated class did not rise to the occasion in the past to forge an existentialist philosophy that could have defended the collective national symbols that so far sustained the citizenry, unity and the attendant territorial integrity of the country. And no nation can exist without its own existential explanation of why it exists or has to exist. If Somalia is to exist, its elite must alter the way it conducts politics.


IV. Emerging Trends: Moving Towards Non-clan Political Parties


Since the Barre regime has been violently overthrown in 1991, Somali elites have failed to create or foster any meaningful political movements beyond clan organizations. Said Samatar, an apt reader of the collective mind of the Somali society, which arguably is rooted in clan genealogy, wrote that all the Somali political movements in the 1980s and 1990s were nothing but clan movements with a masquerading veil of the "S" letter, or “Somali,†i.e., calling themselves Somali this, Somali that. Some of these groups that masqueraded their clan movements with "Somali" include SSDF, USC, SNM, SPM, etc. These movements stood for ********** , ****** , Issaq, ******* , respectively.


Likewise, without exception, all the so-called peace processes that culminated in the Mbagathi reconciliation conference, which produced the ailing and stagnated Transitional Federal Government headed by President Abdullahi Yusuf and Dr. Ali Mohamed Geedi, were clan-based reconciliation conferences. So are the administrative regions of Puntland (SSDF) and Somaliland (SNM).


Likewise, the Transitional Federal Government, which has just quietly celebrated its one-year in life, is based on an erroneous formula of "4.5 concept." This is to say that the government represents a coalition of 4 major clans, plus a grouping of smaller clans represented by the misnomer of .5, or "equal to one-half clan." Accordingly, the government consists of 61 seats for each of the major clan, plus 31 seats reserved for the grouping that makes the "one-half" clans. Indeed, it is a regressive concept that perpetuates an institutionalized, deep-seated inequality between clans.


The Mbagathi-formed government is largely populated by a less educated or illiterate crowd and indeed represents a national and collective admission that the Somali elite has proven to be incapable to foster and manage any other political enterprise this time outside the clan-based formula.


The question still remains how to move on from the Mbagathi clan-based transitional framework to a more permanent pluralist political culture divorced from the dictates of clan sentiment.


The challenge, initially articulated by Hirad and presented to those who are educated, a class so obsessed with opposing the current government of President Abdullahi Yusuf, is how to transition into forming a non-clan based political party? How can the elite stop opposing and undoing the nascent government that has been already established, however imperfect it is, and rather organize a political movement based on ideology outside clan? How can it organize itself to create an alternative to the Transitional Federal government and vehemently challenge it in 4 years, when its term expires? This is a monumental task, which Somalia elite has so far failed to attend to.


There are some preliminary signs, though, towards steering or establishing political parties or broad-based movement that are centered on ideals outside the confines of tribal dictates. In several cities in the United States and Canada, inter clan groups have been emerging to breath new systems of discourse about the affairs of Somalia. In many cities in the United States, for example, a broad-based inter clan group, called Somali-American friendship, which would lobby on behalf of the Transitional Federal Government has been established. The mission of this group is to organize all peace-loving Somali Americans in the Diaspora to effect a political change in Somalia. More of these would emerge soon and would capitalize on the power of organizing diverse groups in order to maximize lobbying results with American and Canadian politicians for whom many Somalis vote.


There is also the IRAAC group. An organization populated by individuals from Somalia’s various clans who can claim members with impressive western education and who have agreed to debate and deliberate the Somalia question, ISRAAC has all the ingredients to form a mass organization that could be a prelude to a future Diaspora-based political party. After many years of existing only as a virtual debating group, ISRAAC has recently embarked to foster an annual conventions where members network and exchange information pertaining to their particular communities both in the Diaspora and inside the country.


Moreover, ISRAAC, which so far has shown an incrementalist behavior, sponsors panels at the annual African Studies Association conferences to publicize political, academic and social issues facing Somalia. The coming of these groups into the political scene, plus the mushrooming civic society and non-profit groups inside the country all point to, at minimum, the new trends, trends that seem to de-emphasize the clan factor, that are emerging to tackle Somalia’s intractable social and political issues.



Luminary political figures such as former Prime Ministers Abdulrazak Haaji Hussein, a man with impeccable convictions who continues to strive for positive changes, despite his advanced age, and Dr. Ali Khalif in the Diaspora must move on organizing a political party. Also, in the home front, Jama Mohammed Qaalib (Jamac Yare) and Dr. Ali Hersi, who have extensive networks with the Mogadishu-based intelligentsia, as well as activists at Ismail Jumale’s center for human rights, serve as hopeful anchors for attracting broad-based followers in promoting mass organizations. Under the umbrella of officially sanctioned organizations, all these critics would be able to move away from a position of being contrarian (fadhi ku dirir) against the current fragile government, or the vile conditions in Mogadishu, but direct their expertise and energy to lay down the foundations for more substantive political organizations.


In a recent panel discussion, which National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States, hosted for Dr. Ali Khalif Galaydh and Ambassador Elmi of the TFG, Dr. Galaydh admitted that, despite his personal misgivings about the leadership of the TFG, President Yusuf was elected democratically by over 70% of the representatives at the Mbagathi reconciliation conference. Dr. Galaydh's public comment (which correctly distinguished his personal feeling dislike for Abdullahi Yusuf from the public good) represents the genesis of emerging democratic deliberations, which serves as a precursor to altering national discourse pertaining to political culture.


Somalia’s elite needs to take up Dr. Galaydh on his admission and acceptance that one's political nemesis must vigorously, yet responsibly, be opposed, but not destroyed. Somalis must heed Galydh’s newfound wisdom as an opportunity and view it as a first step towards crafting a pluralist political discourse. It is this type of frame of mind of accepting the plurality of ideas that can lead to the formation of political parties and conduct politics through non-tribal entities.


V. Concluding Remarks

Today is a far cry from 1960, when Somalia achieved its independence with a non-existent educated class. But contemporary Somalia's educated class, which is not that scarce today, must protect its national symbols, lest these symbols in general help create a citizenry out of the nation’s hapless largely nomadic or former nomadic individuals. In the long turn, only a cohesive and internally united nation around common ideals and symbols of nationalism can foster a pluralist society where governance is not based on clan interest but on democratic ideals.


Also, protecting national symbols and cultivating a conscious citizenry restricts the role of clan in politics by not giving it any undue prominence. Unless the elite or educated class owns its responsibility to create a political alternative to the current clan-based system, or clan-based political discourse, Somalia's uncertainty will linger for a much longer period.


Faisal Roble

Editorial Board, WardheerNews




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Good one Caamir. Keep them coming sxb. BTW, thanks to you I now know Wardheer News. They post readible, opinionated, and analytical articles on Somali politics. Good for them.

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“The City Planner†has his constrained schemes of who should lead Somalia and an unrealistic way of presenting it: Some of you may recall his articles like “Does Adow’s presidency means a reincarnation of the Barre Regime?†Is Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf Next president of Somalia? Mr. Roble is a recognized and familiar to those who follow Somali tribal politics. He has been the wrong side of whole lot and is known misquoting, misrepresenting, and maneuvering the past of known politicians to endorse his fatal, baloney and shallow objectives shared by Samatar brothers, A. H Hussein and puzzled Galydh, all living in the STATES in the hunt of attention! Anyways, complex issues can’t be solved by depicting some as a champion while degrading others!!

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