Seemingly oblivious to his increasingly tenuous position, Abdullahi Yusuf was finally forced to resign as president of the TFG in late Sharif Ahmed was himself installed as the new TFG president in January by an electoral assembly picked for that purpose, which convened in Djibouti under the sponsorship of the Nairobi-based UN Political Office for Somalia.
Not surprisingly, given how it came into being and has subsequently gone about prolonging its tenure in office, the new iteration of the TFG turned out to be no better than the previous version: It fell apart when Sharif Ahmed reneged on the terms of the power-sharing agreement.
Somalia: Where a State Isn’t a State — THE FLETCHER FORUM OF WORLD AFFAIRS
The military stalemate is less a reflection of opposition strength than of the weakness of the Transitional Federal Government. Despite infusions of foreign training and assistance, government security forces remain ineffective, disorganized and corrupt—a composite of independent militias loyal to senior government officials and military officers who profit from the business of war and resist their integration under a single command.
During the course of the mandate, government forces mounted only one notable offensive and immediately fell back from all the positions they managed to seize. The consequences of these deficiencies include an inability of the security forces of the Transitional Federal Government to take and hold ground, and very poor public perceptions of their performance by the Somali public.
As a result, they have made few durable military gains during the course of the mandate, and the front line has remained, in at least one location, only meters from the presidency. As for the TFG, out of the some 9, troops which the three separate military missions—the United States, the European Union, and France—have trained and armed for the regime, no more than 1, remain. Despite receiving more than eighty tons of weapons and ammunition from the United States in May , the TFG singularly failed to expand its territory in Mogadishu.
In fact, just about the only noticeable change caused by the arms transfer was the collapse of prices in the arms market operating within walking distance of the government compound, suggesting that part of the shipment was simply sold by corrupt regime officials. The most damning thing about the failed attempts to rebuild the national-level state institutions in Somalia is that there are ready examples elsewhere in the territory of the former Somali state that offer alternative approaches.
Although they differ significantly in their political development and the courses they have charted for themselves to date, the northern Somali regions of Somaliland and Puntland have both been relatively successful in avoiding not only embroilment in the violence that has consumed most of southern and central Somalia, but also major internal conflict. Analogous, if more modest, progress has likewise been witnessed in other areas. The modern political history of Somaliland begins with the establishment, in , of the British Somaliland Protectorate, which, except for a brief Italian occupation during the Second World War, lasted until June 26, , when the territory received its independence.
Several days later, the Italian-administered UN trust territory of Somalia received its independence.
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The two states then entered into a hasty union that a number of legal scholars have argued fell short of the minimal standards for legal validity. After the collapse of the Somali state, clan leaders in Somaliland proclaimed the dissolution of the union and set about building a separate state.
While the apportionment of seats at the two assemblies was done along clan lines in a rough attempt to reflect the demographics of the territory, the actual decision making was by consensus. The establishment of independent newspapers, radio stations, and a host of local NGOs and other civic organizations reinforced the nation-building exercise.
In a May referendum, 97 percent of the voters approved a constitution which provided for an executive branch of government, consisting of a directly elected president and vice president and appointed ministers; a bicameral legislature consisting of an elected House of Representatives and an upper chamber of elders, the guurti ; and an independent judiciary.
The Darod clan territories in the north-eastern promontory of Somalia have also demonstrated the success of the building-block model, and the wisdom of working with the deeply ingrained clan identities among the Somali. In late , in a sign that secessionism nonetheless is gaining some traction, the regional parliament voted unanimously to adopt a distinctive flag, coat of arms, and anthem.
The region has, of course, become the center of Somali maritime piracy. The towns of Eyl and Garaad in Puntland, together with Hobyo and Xarardheere in central Somalia, have emerged as the principal pirate ports. The international community could focus on organizing the professional community in Puntland into a professional association, providing capacity-building support and engaging the group in a discussion about what can be done to reduce piracy. A program that explicitly ties development incentives in the coastal zones to antipiracy efforts could effectively mobilize a population tiring of pirate promiscuity and excess.
The problem, of course, is getting members of the international community to actually engage a non-state entity like Puntland and to do so in a consistent and sustainable manner. In , for example, the Puntland Intelligence Service was established with American and Ethiopian assistance, but it has focused almost exclusively on counterterrorism, while largely ignoring wider human security concerns.
The regular police, on the other hand, on those occasions when they have been willing to confront pirates and other organized criminals, have more often than not found themselves outgunned. The same challenges exist to an even greater extent for the other, less developed political entities emerging out of processes currently at work elsewhere among the Somali.
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Last year, local clans in the region began forming a secular administration of their own. The general assumption of most policymakers and analysts is that the state, as the possessor of the Weberian monopoly on legitimate violence, is the best instrument in the toolkit of international relations for preserving peace and, hence, when peace is lacking, the best response is to reinforce or even recreate the state. While this is undoubtedly true in many cases, there are those, like Somalia, in which state-building efforts actually fuel conflict, given the deficit in the political legitimacy of the interim regime or central government.
Instead of enhancing peace, it serves as a prize over which rivals contend. In contrast, by leveraging the legitimacy they enjoyed by virtue of deeply rooted kinship and geographic bonds—to say nothing of a very personal political consent—some traditional Somali leaders have managed to deliver to their constituents a relatively high degree of peace, security, economic progress, and rule of law, despite the lack of international recognition or much involvement of any kind, for that matter.
In his treatise on counterinsurgency, the Australian social anthropologist and former infantry officer noted:. Somalia is virtually a laboratory test case, with the south acting as a control group against the experiment in the north. Encouragingly, there have been indications that various international actors may finally be coming to the same realization, however reluctantly. Equally as a part of the second-track strategy, we are going to reach out to groups in south central Somalia, groups in local governments, clans, and sub-clans that are opposed to Al-Shabaab, the radical extremist group in the south, but are not allied formally or directly with the TFG.
And we will look for opportunities to work with these groups to see if we can identify them, find ways of supporting their development initiatives and activities. While both the new U. The disheartening failure of no fewer than fourteen different internationally backed attempts to reestablish a national government in Somalia, along with the diminishing legitimacy of the TFG and increasingly untenable nature of its current strategic position, underscores once again the need to reexamine the validity of concepts of statehood in the twenty-first century.
Conversely, by what rational criterion can entities like Somaliland and, to a lesser extent, Puntland, be denied recognition as states if that is what they consider themselves to be? Yet this is the alternative urged by nearly everyone.
Somalia: A New Approach
For years, the United Nations, the African Union, and neighboring countries, as well as Western governments and donor groups have tried to pressure, cajole, and bribe Somalis into going along with the charade that Somalia was still a state. Bruton believes it is necessary for the United States to make a final push to try to turn the Transitional Federal Government into an institution that can eventually govern Somalia, and suggested the use of a presidential model in a country fractured along clan lines should be abandoned. Because there are a lot of different factions, and I do not really see any credible national leaders, and I do not think Somalia had credible leaders for 30 or 40 years.
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So, what I would recommend is having a technocratic prime minster consisting of a council of leaders including Sheik Sharif. At a recent briefing U. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson denied recent media reports the United States is leading military efforts to help Somalia's government. He said, "There is no desire to Americanize the conflict in Somalia. It is exactly the right approach to not want to Americanize the conflict.
S should continue to make that point. Bruton says, the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea poses more danger to the regional instability than the Somali conflict. Most analysts agree that Eritrea does not really have a stake in Somali conflict, does not have a reason to back al-Shabab over TFG. Eritrea wants to be a bother to Ethiopia, and for that reason Eritrea has allegedly been providing arms to al-Shabab and Hisbul Islam. As to the sanctions on Eritrea, I think diplomatic solutions are what are going to be required here.