EDITORIAL | Somalia’s politics these days are behaving like a moving target. Unanswered other and new things are happening that affect security, economy and society in general.
But for a country struggling to discard the mark of insecurity, many things seem to remain like sticking sore thumbs.
So this week, after the Galmudug fiasco, we seem to have gone back to the usual federal-government-federal-state drawn by wars.
First, the federal government in Somalia sent Somali special forces, reportedly trained by Turkey, to the Gedo region of Jubbaland. They reportedly responded to the arrival of former Jubaland security minister Abdirashid Janan to Bulahawo *, near the Kenya-Somali border.
Janan, formerly fingered by the federal government for rights violations, had been under house arrest since September last year when security forces detained him while in transit at Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu.
His past means he has blood on his hands; says the rights group Amnesty International, which has asked the Kenyan authorities to ensure that Janan returns to Mogadishu to face justice. Kenya is where Janan fled to before returning to his base to reorganize.
But the minister had sensationally claimed that he was actually being helped out of Mogadishu by federal government operators.
So, according to Somalia’s Interior Ministry, the SNA’s special forces must help protect the border. But critics quickly asked why the troops did not deploy to fight Al-Shabaab in the larger areas of Jubaland, which the militants still control.
Some security analysts told Axadlethis week that that kind of policy is a political move rather than one designed to ensure security.
“If there is a federal state with its own security, it behaves like the federal government to ensure that there is some form of cooperation,” argued George Okwaro, a security policy researcher in Nairobi.
“There are problems with Janan that require a serious investigation. But the timing of that kind of incident with implementation makes it suspicious. So what are you doing? I think the federal government should have first made a formal request to have him arrested. They also need to try him in court and not detain him without charge. It will give good perception, ”he added.
There could be valid reasons to punish him for rights violations. This week, Farmajo himself offered an apology to Northwestern Somalia for the atrocities committed by Siad Barre when they bombed and killed thousands in Northwestern Somalia (Somalilanders commemorated the atrocity by constructing the remains of a jet shot down in the 1988 war).
Still, Amnesty International released a report showing that the Farmajo administration may be committing similar violations by opponents and journalists.
Farmajo’s Northwestern Somalia apology was tempered with a demand that those who fought for his government should apologize and get back in the fold.
Which suggests that Janan in the Jubaland implementation may have been a smoke screen. With elections around the corner, some see that the deployment is not meant to fight Al-Shabaab, but to surround Jubaland and weaken their leadership.
Farmajo refuses to recognize Ahmed Madobe as president of Jubaland.
“Most of the Gedo region, which was liberated many years ago, has deteriorated as President Farmaajo intervened, divided communities into sub-clans, fiefdoms and sent SNAs from Mogadishu to Gedo,” wrote Bedel Idd Mohamed, a former diplomat in Somalia on its Twitter page. arguing for insertion can exacerbate the situation.
In truth, there are larger areas in Jubaland that Al-Shabaab control and Ahmed Madobe, the president of the Jubaland state of Somalia, may not be able to travel from Kismayu to the second largest city in the area by road due to Al-Shabaab control barriers.
Therefore, experts suggest cooperation, rather than going into each other’s throats.
“It (implementation) will break the collaboration. The Jubaland administration has told US Ambassador Donald Yamamoto when they met yesterday (Wednesday), “said Mohamad Abdirahman, a senior security adviser to Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni.
“The presence of the SNA in Gedo will jeopardize the fight against Al-Shabaab,” he added.
There are signs that the Somali national army is improving day by day, supported by the United States and Turkey and other global partners.
This week, the United States resumed direct security assistance to a non-mentored unit from the Somali armed forces this week in support of counter-terrorism operations in the Lower Shabelle against Al-Shabaab.
Assistance was halted pending a proper audit of the forces as well as public financial management of the SNA.
But SNA operates under real challenges. They have not yet taken control of the entire country from Al-Shabaab. And Somalia is a federal state that has local units that have local security forces, all legal under the Provisional Federal Constitution.
A report by the Chief Inspector-General of the US Congress this week said that Al-Shabaab has experienced “limited success” against Al-Shabaab and that “the SNA has not been successful without international support.”
Yet, in justification for the deportation, Farmajo’s officials also accused Kenyan authorities of interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs by hosting Janan. Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Uganda and Burundi have contributed troops to AMISOM, the African Union forces fighting in Somalia against Al-Shabaab.
So how far can Farmajo’s continued tiff with Madobe go? Some suggest that it may end as soon as one is voted out. Others believe the two could merge their interest if they were to save their political careers.
However, there are suggestions that Farmajo’s policy may be unpopular so far. U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto, who struggled with criticism a week ago for approving the new Galmudug president, can show why.
On Wednesday, he and U.S. African Commander Stephen Townsend toured Kismayu, where they met President Ahmed Madobe.
AFRICOM said the trip, which included the federal states of Kenya and Somalia, “reflects the importance of strengthening long-term military relations and building improved interoperability.”
And a statement from the meeting of the US Embassy in Mogadishu showed that Yamamoto referred to Madobe as “Jubaland leader.”
Observers believe that recognition is important as it is necessary to attract everyone to the table.
“It is about making contact, forming the basis of a co-operation offensive by the federal government in Somalia, Jubaland and Kenya against Al-Shabaab,” said Abdimalik Abdullahi, a researcher on the Horn of Africa and geopolitical issues.
He hoped that the gesture of recognizing Madobe by the United States would be immediately followed by Farmajo, who did the same.
That way, he said, there will be a tac-hold approach against Al-Shabaab as well as discussions on how Somalia should move from here.
Apart from the fact that on the day of the meeting, there were reports of gunfire between security forces from Jubaland and militia loyal to the former spokesman for Jubaland, Abdinasir Seerar, now a political rival.