Center for Peace and Democracy (CPD)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Are the donor countries serious about reinstating the new Somali nation state?

This question and the question I posed to the Somali people sometime ago regarding the conspiracy of the Mogadishu warlords, are all members in some sense of the same family, but specifically they represent in very different directions. Because, this question is less to do with the warlords, but more to do with the disinclination of the Intergovernmental Western Countries for funding the new Somali Transactional Federal Government (TFG). Before trying to answer the question, this paper will briefly go over history of the state and its incremental achievements for the past eight hundred years. It will also underline that in many ways the state and society are intimately bound to each other. Afterwards, I shall endeavour to find out the key elements that are believed to have perpetuated the fact of Somali people being stateless for more than decade. The paper will move further by noting the donor countries that they had previously neglected and left Somalia in this disturbed time, while they were actively resolving the plights of other African countries, such as Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Liberia etc. And yet, there is a clear perception that donor countries do not have a strong desire to provide the necessary financial and political support to assist the new Somali government so as to reinstitute its law enforcement bodies.

Before attempting to illustrate their reluctance to this matter, let me begin with my deep gratitude to the Kenyan Government for chairing the two years of the Somali Reconciliation Conference in Nairobi, where the new ‘inclusive’ government was ultimately formed. In the same way, I accept as true that Somali delegates were mandated to seek a solution for Somalia as long as they reinstated the Somali state, despite that there remains much more to be done to develop a lasting peace and sustainable government. Having said that, as it is known there has recently been and there still is an acrimonious dispute and political infighting within the government including around half of the MPs. Regrettably, such open conflict undermines the reconciliation efforts; in spite of some truces of common sense can be found in the government to handle the conflict.

In the political discourse, the creation of the state needs tolerance, compromise and adequate resources as the Greek outstanding thinkers, like Aristotle and Plato had made clear centuries ago. If we briefly look back to the 13th century, there were stateless societies, who had a very strong attitude towards the concept of the state and held that coercive power lodged in the state is the primary cause of human misery. They lived with no formal rules, no civil service and no police, no military forces and no courts, nonetheless at any rate of their sizes they had unwritten customary laws that were binding on all members of the community. This was the only viable way to solve certain conflicts. Meanwhile, such forms of rule demonstrated that force was not absent, but it was running along different channels within which those societies were able to make collective decisions usually in a peaceful fashion. In the late part of the same century, the state was created in the image of the empire through the principle of Roman law and corporation theory, but was not utilized till the 16th century.

The Greek theorist Aristotle had indicated that the best way to take decisions and to improve standard lives of the people is to define the idea of the polis as a state.

The key issue was to establish public power that was formally above ruler and ruled. According to Thomas Hobbes, “the process was meant to spend billions of pounds” so as to get away from the stateless situation and to dominate those, who hardly tried to maximize the influence of a small community to live under informal rule. Lastly, the state procedures had experienced several stages until it achieved the ability to provide universal public welfare for its citizens to meet their minimum needs, such as healthcare, housing, education system, jobs and security several hundred years later.

Flash-forward to the end of the 20th century by which time the Somali people became stateless society for a number of reasons. The first two serious mistakes that caused anarchy and the currant political mayhem were (a) the rival factions and the unholy warlords, who have carved up the country into fiefdoms, since the Somali state collapsed in 1990. And (b) since the UN failed to initiate a delicate diplomatic process to bring the Somali politicians together in the early 1990 the world has turned out its lights, closed the doors and has completely forgotten about the place, leaving Somalia in total chaos following the most serious disaster in its foreign policy. Another drawback could have been (in my view) though the Somali people have strong sentiments of national esteem, yet they tend to guard secrets of their ant-sovereignty culture, which is slightly similar to the pre-state society’s culture. Realistically, this traditional culture is based on trust-less and enjoys criticising any government with no good reason. That's why; almost each and every civilized society on earth assumes that if the Somali people would have been politically flexible enough they would never have been a stateless society in the 21st century. As, well-known author Christopher Clapham said in his book “the Somali people are proudly independent, aggressive and wary of outside influences, while they have no traditional ethos and mores to respect the majority when it comes to solve of their differences” All of these indications and many more I may have omitted guided the Somali people to become stateless society 44 years after their independence. Even as their colonial masters forgot its colonial responsibility to cope with the situation before matters became incontrollable.

Notwithstanding, the UN operation in Mozambique started immediately after the symptoms of the Mozambique situation were sharply highlighted by the western countries in 1992-3. The processes of the new national army and demobilisation schemes were simultaneously established shortly after the Frelimo and Renamo signed peace accord. The International Organisation Migration (IOM) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) were also set up. The first organisation transported ex-militias to their preferred destinations all over the World. The second organisation had to arrange for vocational kits, consisting of agricultural tools, needs and food to be given to the militiamen when they left their assembly areas. Similarly, the six months of demobilisation paid off with the creation of an occupational skills development program were provided for them. At the same time, reintegration programmes contain a range of activities; such as football matches and general information about the nature of the peace process and future opportunity were daily addressed through radio broadcasts and lectures. According to Chris Alden, “the donor countries granted the Mozambique government more than $500 million dollars, approximately one million a day to transform every armed party into a political party”. Simply, because they were very keen to set a firm foundation towards the goals of greater peace, democracy and development. Not only Mozambique, but also several other war torn countries, like Sierra Leone and Liberia have benefited from the World’s active engagement to end their long-running conflict. Evidently, such a course of action was crucial to maintaining the process in Mozambique, whereas the donor countries are now treating the Somali government as if it does not deserve to be given the allocation of aid resources. For instance, since the new government went back to its soil four months ago these countries have imposed on it so many impossible conditions. Such as, initiating substantive negotiation with the opponents without having any support mechanism to secure sources of avenue. Similarly, they have demanded the restoration of law and order throughout the country otherwise no assistance will be granted to the government. The fundamental questions this article is raising are. (a) Can such a weak government instigate the reconciliation process and bring back durable peace, while at the same time the donor countries continue to decline its appeals? And (b) why were they pouring massive resources, including money and materials into the two year marathon peace talks in Kenya if they are not ready to invest in the government once it has been established. Thus, it is very important to demonstrate that their unsustainable demands along with their ‘wait and see manner’ are indicating that the donor countries are not willing to provide direct or indirect budgetary support to the Somali government in order to stand on its feet. It is pitiable, however, and very sad for these countries to show the Somali people such indifferences and their indecisive conduct to provide any support, which this new institution urgently needs.

All in all, the Somali government gave out clear proposals and coherent alternatives to re-establish a secure environment to commence direct dialogue with its people. Nonetheless, without external resources it cannot continue in most cases to promote national reconciliation and political dialogue. Subsequently, it will be unlikely to have the capacity to restore law and order and reach in the foreseeable future unless the world keeps a close eye on it. In other words, having administrative expenditure is the key instrument to bring peace, stability and territorial integrity throughout the country as President Yusuf stated in the UN general assembly on September 17, 2005.

Finally, the donor countries have no intention in living up to their pledges they made during the reconciliation process. Hence, the rest of their speech begins to wobble and in fact there are reasons to doubt what they say as long as there is no point in bemoaning the failure to achieve what is impossible. So that, I do not think that it would be foolish to assume or ask the Somali people whether these countries are eroding or enhancing the building of the new Somali nation state.

Ismail Jumale Alasow.
Politics and Development Studies
SOAS University of London
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"


  • Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.

    By Anonymous Blue Cross of California, at 10:46 AM  

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