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Somalia Faces A Moment Of Truth

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Saturday June 13, 2020 - 06:03:58 in Latest News by Super Admin
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    Somalia Faces A Moment Of Truth

    Sunatimes.com - There are many explanations for Somalia's prolonged problems, many associated with its unique situation over the last 30 years. Somalia has been a byword for state failure leading to crises, institution failure and anarchy of whi

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Sunatimes.com - There are many explanations for Somalia's prolonged problems, many associated with its unique situation over the last 30 years. Somalia has been a byword for state failure leading to crises, institution failure and anarchy of which Somalia is still reeling from today. In the absence of an effective sovereignty, Somalia has experienced continued violence, which has been exacerbated by conflict, insecurity, widespread poverty and the absence of a strong unitary Somali state that can stand up to all geopolitical interests that have long meddled in its internal affairs.
What is becoming clear is that there appears to be a much larger phenomenon at play here, by way of a continued direct foreign interference and overt political influence which is beyond the imagination of Somalia’s current leaders to respond to it. Somalia is undergoing a crisis of competing foreign interference and interest with various shades of influence causing political chaos that further perpetuates instability and fragmentation.
In the 1970s, Somalia danced between the United States and the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War where economic and military assistance was used by both partners to gain influence within Somalia and Ethiopia, a political miscalculation that left a legacy of ruin and political uncertainty which has subsequently undermined Somalia’s sovereignty ever since and contributed to its structural state failure to some extent. In the words of former Ethiopian Attorney General Bereket Selassie (1960) ,"This shows the opportunism of world politics at its worst”
Almost 50 years later, countries near and far are still in the rat race, devising countless zealous attempts to get a foothold in the country where some appear to be utilising their political capital and resources to make Somalia’s situation worse. These choices may seem harmless on the surface but has the potential to unravel the little progress that has been achieved thus far.
For more than two decades Ethiopia and Eritrea have been influencing the warring parties in Somalia to access funds, arms and strategic support, leading to the development of Al Shabab, which continues to be a security threat to the region and beyond. This proxy war between these neighbouring countries has hugely contributed to the continual instability of Somalia, providing safe havens for the competing political and military entities within Somalia, prolonging the agony and instability across the country. This ‘proxy war’ between Ethiopia and Eretria may have ceased under the new leadership of Prime Minister Ahmed Abbey in Ethiopia. However, the devastation and legacy left behind by this geopolitical animosity is still being felt in Somalia.
Similarly, another conundrum has begun to emerge, Somalia is currently sandwiched between two nations seeking dominance over East Africa (Kenya and Ethiopia) who have for decades dominated Somalia’s politics since the civil war started in 1991. What makes this development different is that their common interest in Somalia is no longer aligned. This in turn could further prolong Somalia’s misery if the right decision is not made by its leaders and political actors.
As if this was not enough, Somalia is also being sandwiched by the Gulf states. There is now a renewed interest among Gulf States who are seeking strategic influence inside Somalia. In one camp you have Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and in the other Qatar and Turkey. Once you add the other International Community members and NGO groups in the mix who appear to have divergent interests of their own, you begin to imagine that Somalia’s prolonged internal political instability is also directly shaped and influenced by geo-politics beyond its borders, jockeying for greater influence in Somalia’s strategic affairs and untapped resources. These complicated tussles and geopolitical feuds have further fragmented and entrenched Somali polity into fiefdoms through the use of economic and diplomatic means, undermining the sovereignty, the recovery and peace in Somalia.
In view of the above context, the defining questions for Somalia today are, ‘when will Somalia cease to be a sandwich for others? And when will Somalia charter her own direction of travel with dignity and prosperity for its citizens?‬ ‬ ‬To prosper forward, Somalia’s leaders and its citizens must also ask themselves why there is a strategic geo-political interest in controlling and influencing Somalia’s future?
Once Somalia comes to terms with these fundamental questions, Somalia’s political elites may formulate a national consensus around a common agenda and political narrative beyond this quagmire clan-based politics. Amidst the uncertainty and chaos, an old Somali folk law tale comes to mind, "Somalia must not be the donkey who carries gold, yet remains unaware of its full potential”
These are undoubtedly difficult questions, however, what is becoming clear is that Somalia faces a defining moment in its history today. Without a unitary purpose, sacrifice and visionary leadership, Somalia’s challenges will ignite further fragmentation, chaos and unimaginable further suffering in the future. The prevailing politics of winner takes all and zero-sum game is no longer tenable when you consider the dangers that lurk in the corner. It may well be a time for a Government of National Unity involving all parties in Somalia’s politics. To put it bluntly, Somalia’s existence faces a moment of truth.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Abdirashid Fidow, keen writer and reader in Somali politics.


Mohamed Ibrahim, London-based social and political analyst.


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