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Arming One Clan Against All Others
All of this is being done in the name of helping Somalia’s weak government stand on its feet. Even the UN Security Council and the US government both of which previously refused to be tempted into authorizing the lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia and the dispatch of IGAD “peacekeepers” there, have now joined the circus of the TFG’s international sponsors.
In the aftermath of the victory of the Al-Itihad turned Islamic Courts against Mogadishu’s warlords in last June, the TFG has acquired importance regionally and internationally. As governments within and outside the region scrambled for action in the face of the Islamist take over of Mogadishu and most of the former Italian Somalia save the Majerteen enclave (Puntland), the only policy that has been pursued by both regional and international players has been to substantially increase aid, including a large military assistance, for the TFG.
This policy option of strengthening the military and financial capacity of the TFG has however run into serious troubles. Remaining confined to Baidoa, Bai region, the TFG has been incapable to challenge the rising influence of the Islamist militia who have earlier this week reached the town of Buur-Hakabo.
The arrival of the Courts’ militia in Buur-Hakabo, about 60km south of Baidoa, has sent shivers down the spine of TFG president Abdillahi Yusuf. Though the militia withdrew after spending only a couple of days in the area, however the incursion has triggered a regional crisis. Buur-Hakabo is not only close to the TFG headquarters but also to the Ethiopian border. The incident therefore didn’t go unnoticed by the Ethiopians who are known to have warned the Al-Itihad dominated leadership of the courts against crossing the redline, meaning not to deploy troops in border regions such as Bai.
Apparently concerned over the security implications of the Islamist’s action for their country and the TFG, the Ethiopian military crossed into the Bai region. Suddenly the situation in Somalia and indeed the whole region seemed ready for explosion.
The re-emergence of Al-Itihad in the form of Islamic Courts – at least the ones controlled by Hassan Dahir Aweys and his core group of so-called Jihadists – has been a serious set back for Ethiopia’s Somali policy in particular and for counter-terrorism efforts in the region in general.
The Ethiopian government’s policy toward Somalia has been a one that primarily focused on the recruitment of the support or services of repressive warlords. However because this policy ignored the need to engage the broader sections of Somalia’s society, it has often only led to misinterpretation of Ethiopia’s intentions by religious extremists or warlords in the employment of traditionally anti-Ethiopian foreign interests.
The Ethiopian government should adopt an open-minded policy that while aimed at protecting its country’s legitimate security interests should at the same time seek dialogue with Somalis within a framework for the promotion of better relations with Somalia’s community leaders and social groups including moderate religious clerics.
While Ethiopia has every right to respond to deal with the security threats created as a consequence of the fall of Mogadishu into the hands of Hassan Dahir Aweys and company, yet what has been incomprehensible is Addis Ababa’s insistence that protecting the TFG from its own people was also part of its security obligations.
Everybody in Somalia and in Somaliland knows that the TFG is dominated and supported solely by the clan of its president, Abdillahi Yusuf. Somalis can’t stop laughing when they hear the international community describing the TFG as Somalia’s legitimate government. This is the first time in at least contemporary history that the international community unities in trying to impose a fraudulent government on a people that doesn’t want to do anything with it.
What is even more ridiculous is that the international community recognizes the TFG’s claims that it has jurisdiction over Somaliland, a country that has an elected president, elected local councils and an elected parliament.
The fact remains that neither the TFG nor the Islamic courts can claim to be a homegrown entity. The TFG was created by IGAD, the UN and the EU while the Islamic Courts are controlled by a group of people linked with the international Wahabist radical movement led by Usama Bin Laden. But then each entity is dominated by one respective clan; the Darood and the Hawiye. Despite their tremendous success in restoring peace to Mogadishu and other towns within the Banadir region for the first time in 15 years, the courts are being haunted by the fact that some of their top leaders have actually been involved in acts of terrorism against civilians in Mogadishu, Somaliland and Ethiopia.
Aweys is actually under trial in absentia before a Hargeysa Court in connection with the killings of foreign aid workers in Somaliland in 2003 and 2004 as well as involvement in the planning of a foiled terrorist attack in last September.
Despite regional and international attempts to shore it up, the TFG has been unsuccessful in gaining even a small measure of respect from Somalia’s population let alone establishing a semblance of governance in Baidoa district. It’s major liability has been Abdillahi Yusuf, the father of Somalia’s warlordism and the most disliked political figure in the country.
Obviously, it would be quite impossible for neither the TFG nor the Courts to establish a viable government on its own. Reconciling these two groups can be achievable only if both Mr. Yusuf and Aweys were made to step down as leaders of the TFG and the Courts, respectively, to allow for the formation of a really inclusive government for Somalia with the help of Somaliland.
Source: Somaliland Times