The Deteriorating nature of the relationship between the ineffective Somalia Federal Government and its states such as Jubaland and Puntland and the creation of new controversial Cadaado administration seem to complicate whatever little efforts currently present to stabilize that country.
The bitterness didn’t just materialize by accident but rather born out of policy designs created to benefit for the sitting president. Hassan Sheikh and his team have aggressively devised tactics intended to help them remain in power come 2016, the year the world eagerly awaits elections to be held and new government to take over.
Their maneuvers contain far reaching agenda that includes consolidating would be states into their camp. By redistricting and redrawing existing states to create new ones that could potentially vote for their cause.
The agenda is not only isolated in Somalia proper but it has elements aimed to directly interfere Somaliland’s internal affairs; by employing rogue individuals to manipulate Somaliland’s electoral process and disrupt its political system, engaging propaganda war and utilizing NGOs that have until now freedom to operate and influence institutions that are responsible for the delivery of the basic services such as education, health, and even the planning.
Lately, the Somalia’s security has somewhat improved where an opportunity to engage all levels of society to foster lasting peace existed. Unfortunately, Mogadishu leadership missed that golden chance to cultivate reconciliation process among the various groups. Instead they are focused on a vicious power struggle and pursuing destructive policies that would eventually bring back the ugly warlordism era of 1990s when everyone is there to grab piece of land and power.
However that maybe, now that Somalia is poised to enter a new reality, it is up to the Somaliland Government to take assertive counter measures to safeguard its national interest.
Several factors are making Somaliland react to the “new era” of Somalia politics. For instance, the recent campaign to form “Somalia Army Forces” supported by the Western countries in the pretext of creating endogenous forces that replace AMISOM in the fight against Al-Shabaab is part of multifaceted strategy to boost the ability of the weak Somalia Government. It was mentioned that some of these forces will be deployed to the border between Somaliland and Puntland.
Somalia Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke met US Generals in Pentagon in May, asking the US to equip, train and fund the new ‘forces’. US Government hasn’t fully committed to the idea yet, due to the concerns of neighboring countries, the objections from Somaliland and the skepticism of other regional players, but a decision is expected later this year. If and when the US decides to side with the Mogadishu, Somaliland would have no choice but to take all “options” to prevent the military buildup on its eastern borders.
It is unlikely that a professional army would materialize in the coming years because of the mistrust between the Somali tribes. Even in Mogadishu, no one thinks the West is ready to arm one tribe in expense of the other tribes. But they all agree that Somalia’s ‘Defense Strategy’ need to include the establishment of paramilitary local forces that somehow must be achieved in whatever capacity.
AMISOM fatigue is also compelling some of the donors to buy into this ‘idea’ of forming strong Somali Army. Ever since Al-Shabab is driven out most of the major cities, there are demands from Mogadishu residents and various human rights groups to curtail the foreign forces’ activities as they were accused of committing atrocities against Somali civilians such as raping Somali women. Thus, they argue that the only suitable alternative is to have Somali Army that can resist Al-Shabab attacks.
The other component recently exposed by the media as part of the Somalia Federal Government’s ‘strategy’ to undermine Somaliland is to recognize the controversial “Khatumo” state. In his mind, Hassan Sheikh thinks the ragtag militia in Eastern Somaliland has the ability to destabilize the country.
Making the recognition of that group official would be difficult for his government because Somalia’s draft ‘Constitution’ says – to bring new state as part of the Federal Somalia can only be accepted when “two or more regions” join to form that new state. “Khatumo” in this case, consist of only some villages within the Sool region can’t fulfill that category.
Furthermore, Somalia’s concerted effort to frustrate Somaliland during the negotiations between the two countries in Turkey earlier this year was to provoke Somaliland to leave the table. This has only been revealed the aftermaths of the collapse of the talks. In the end, the overall strategy baked in Mogadishu is to find ways to force Somaliland to agree on the so called terms of the “Union” by whatever means necessary.
Depending on how Mogadishu chooses to implement its strategy to ‘deal’ with Somaliland, Somaliland would need to be ready to respond, forcefully.
One of the options could be to begin covert operations to turn the tables by reaching out to the allies in Mogadishu and wider Somalia including sympathetic politicians and local communities in Marka, Baydhaba and other marginalized clans that are traditionally passive in this political chess game.
If president Egal, PBUH, managed to equip, train and arm RRA, the former Rahanwein Resistance Army, in 1990s to score points with Southern players of the time, Siilaanyo with his deep pocket and more stable defense and intelligence institutions could do much more damage, if he is up to the challenge. The best defense is an offence and Somaliland must have counter strategy to balance Hassan Sheikh’s intent to harm Somaliland. The Government must ensure to its people that there is a plan to neutralize this existential treat.