The President meets the President: Who will blink first?.

Published On: Saturday, July, 14 2012 - 02:26:48 This post has been viewed 1406 times

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The President of Somalia meets the President of Somaliland in Dubai with a clear agenda prepared by the combined committee in London with the support of hosting countries.
They initialed the agreed agenda prepared by the technical committee and postponed the thornier issues for future negotiations. Is it clear however what the two leaders are negotiating? What is their bottom line? Knowing your objective,

goal or bottom line is essential to good negotiating position. One should not confuse goals with bottom line issues. Your goals are what you want to achieve while your bottom line is what you need to achieve… i.e., the worst-case scenario that one accepts or rejects. Anything that falls short of your bottom line should be rejected. From that premises let us speculate what the two leaders might have in mind.

Sharif:

How are you Mr. President and welcome; it is always a pleasure to meet you. This is our second meeting and I hope from the bottom of my heart that we will engage in an earnest and honest search for peace and prosperity for our country. That should be the bottom line of our negotiations here and after. I also wished we had this meeting in our country and in our capital city Hamar cadde. Hamar Cadde is breathing life once again and the good old days are coming my friend. We are all excited about that. I am sure you will come back to where you belong and where you lived the best part of your life.

Siilanyo:

Thank you Mr. President, I am so excited to see you and meet with you. As you said rightly, I lived in Mogadishu the best part of my life not only as an honored citizen but most of the time as a Minister. It will be even more exciting when I visit Mogadishu as the President of Somaliland. I can’t honestly think of a better place to live than Mogadishu. But sadly things took the wrong turn and Mogadishu became the inferno capital of the world. I am truly sad about that; but that is the reality on the ground. I hoped against hope that you may put your house in order as much as we did. More than twenty year of mayhem, death and destruction in Mogadishu breaks my heart. We do like you because we believe “Mi casa tu casa”. I also do agree with you that our bottom line should be peace and prosperity for all. Although we agree on the bottom line, we have to also agree on the objectives and goals of our negotiations. How do we go there matters and that is precisely why we are here today.

Sharif:

Bravo Mr. President you speak Italian too, I like that idea. It goes without saying that you are the most educated and the most experienced politician in Somalia. I need your education and experience to put our country on the right foot. We have been in a limbo for quite some time. I firmly believe together we can make it and end the Somali disgrace or as you call it the Somalia mayhem and I do reciprocate “Mi casa tu casa”. The objective of this meeting is to agree on the general framework of future negotiations and the points of the agenda as prepared by the technical committee. My term as President is a stone throw away and I will be honored to see Somalia and Somaliland negotiations come to a successful conclusion before I leave Office. I admire your courage for standing tall to what you believe in. No one before you was able to talk to us and I am particularly privileged to be the first President to start a dialogue with Somaliland and you are the reason. I take that as an honor. This might also give me a boost in the presidential bid in the upcoming election. Even if we don’t conclude an agreement, let us keep on talking… there is no agreement before talking, the saying goes.

Siilaanyo:

This talk and the subsequent talks might help your presidential aspiration as you said Mr. President, but what am I getting out of this? On the contrary in might hurt me. There is a lot of hue and cry about these negotiations. If you want me to benefit from these negotiations, support Somaliland’s independence.

SHariif:

I fully support Somaliland’s independence and I will not accept anything less than a complete independence. However Secession is a different animal altogether. Unity is the sacred cow in a democracy. Although you may disagree with me, Somalia and Somaliland were independent since 1960. I am not aware of any new colonizer since then. Siyad Bare was a dictator not a colonial power. So let us choose the words we use in order to communicate better. Dictatorship has no color but colonizers were invariably white. In fact I am not aware of any black colonizer let alone a Somali. Having said that let us make a deal. I hope a deal between a Wadad (Sheikh) and a Waranle (spearman) will hold, for they are two of a kind. We Sheikhs take any agreement with Spearmen with a grain of salt. Support me in my presidential election and I will support Somaliland’s bid as an autonomous State with minimal relationship with Somalia. I can’t support secession because secession is an impeachable offense. You can’t logically request me to hang myself with a Somaliland rope.

Siilanyo:

But anything less than complete secession is an impeachable offence on my side too. You can’t logical tell me to hang myself with a Somalia rope. Even in these deliberation if I can’t get substantial concessions, I will be in a hot soup when I go back home. So if you appreciate my stand, have a vested interest in me and at least don’t publicly repudiate secession while negotiations are going on. We will tackle minor issues first before we come to the knotty ones. That will save my skin. By accepting to start these negotiations, I kicked myself in the foot. I unwittingly pushed myself in a tight corner. The only relief I have is, I am not alone in this. I involved the House of Elders, the Parliament, heads of political parties, Eastern and Western Regions and the civil society as well. So we are all together in this. I will not be caught my pants down as they say, because I am a political wizard. I will also satisfy both; those who want dialogue and those who don’t want a dialogue by engaging in an endless talking. I was elected on a platform of change and I can’t think of a better change from a position of “no talking” to all talking. On the brighter side though, the final communiqué mentioned the Somaliland Government and the President of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud. That is the biggest achievement Somaliland had since 1991.

Shariif:

I can’t help you Mr. President at this critical time of the history of Somalia; I am hanging by a thread; but you can. So my friend let us make a deal. You kindly request all the Somalilanders in Mogadishu to vote for me. That will be a great favor and if I am elected again, I will pull heaven and earth to support you. To give you a little support in advance on my side, I deliberately conceded to include in the final communiqué, “the government of Somaliland” and the President of Somaliland”Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud”, as a gesture of goodwill to soften your critics. So my friend, the ball is in your court, your early gesture of goodwill is already due. The game is universally known as; scratch my back, I scratch your back; but we have to be discreet.

Siilaanyo:

Mr. President don’t get confused here, they say ‘what is good for the gander is good for the goose’. What is good for Somaliland is good for me and vice versa. Politics is the art of deception. At this critical time I am Somaliland and Somaliland is me. In order to serve Somaliland better, I don’t want to be as predictable as my predecessor. If I have to lead, I must be decisive as well as unpredictable, because my people tend to oppose any step the President takes on any issue. They were complaining of being placed in a container, but they are more than happy to put me in a container. My predecessor was not a free man; he was in a cage. The sad situation where the President was in a cage and the people in a container came to a complete halt when I was elected with a comfortable margin with a platform of change. IfI concede to business as usual, both I and the people will be sadly in the container. I have already made a serious dent on that dreaded container by engaging in the endless talk and I will throw the lid away for good, and let the people loose… free at last.

Shariif:

The South always felt free, but much freedom creates chaos and instability. Law and order remained weak. This is where dictators have an edge over democracies. Once things get out of hand, it is extremely difficult to reclaim it back. So keep your people in the container, otherwise what happened in Mogadishu could very well happen in Hargeisa. Let them loose and they will be coming to Mogadishu running. They will be voting with their feet. The points of agreement we have initialed here will make that much easier too. When that happens, our marathon meetings will become obsolete and redundant. Dahir Rayale put a chair in front of the so called container, refused to talk and sat there comfortable for 8 years without anyone raising an eyebrow. That is an enviable situation for any President to be.

Siilaanyo:

The situation is totally different now; I was elected on a platform of change and he was elected to consolidate the gains made by Somaliland government then. He was right then and I am right now. In 1960 we were all for Somalis under one flag; now we are up in arms to have many flags. We have not changed, time has changed my friend. Think of yourself; you were an extremist (Head of Islamic Courts) and now you a moderate Muslim fighting extremism. That is a big change in a short span of time. My temperament is completely different from that of my predecessor, he likes to move with a small pace, I like to move with a vast pace. In difficult situations, he has no other option other than peace; I exclude no option. I wouldn’t be where I am now without taking arms against Siyad Bare regime. So, my friend the end result is more important than the method you use to achieve that result.

Sharif:

As you said, you got the Presidency, what did your people get and what will you do if this peaceful negotiations fail?

Siilanyo:

Mr. President are you out of your mind? Your question is inadmissible; they got me; that is what they wanted and voted for. During my last campaign for the Presidency they sang,” even if you rape me, I am Kulmiye”. I will not go as far as raping them, but as they say, I can go as far as that. By no means however, don’t take it literally, for that only signifies love for a tested leader; something which is a rare a commodity in Somalia. I am not walking on a tight rope here my friend; I have a lot of leeway. And for your information failure is not an option for me; I always get what I want, when I want. Let us agree to agree on future talks.

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