Somalia: Commentary on IHS Jane’s spin on Jubbaland trap

By Mr. Mohamud M Uluso - Few days ago, IHS Jane, a well-established company for global security analysis, released an analysis under the title Somalia's Jubbaland Conundrum. The following key points are presented at the beginning of the analysis for quick and effective impact.
Somalia: Commentary on IHS Jane’s spin on Jubbaland trap
  • The Somali federal Government‘s new policy of doing away with the federalism that brought it to power poses a threat to the country’s progress towards stability. 
  • The government’s reluctance to allow the creation of the autonomous state of Jubbaland illustrates the lack of a central policy that takes into account the country’s clan based politics. 
  • To bring stability to Somalia  and finally  defeat the Islamists  militant  group  the Shabab,  all clans need to be equally represented  in federal institutions, including  military  forces  and the security  apparatus.

These unfounded blames, institutionalization of clan politics, and deliberate or accidental omissions of some truths in the analysis, prompted me to write this commentary for revisit. The analyst, as a service provider to clients, did not make any disclosure of representation or conflict of interest for consideration. However, the analysis uses and embellishes refuted arguments made repeatedly by known critics of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), probably at the behest of anti-statebuilding cartel (foreigners with local collaborators) opposed to the re-birth of Somali State that respects the rule of law and equality among Somali citizens, and promotes peace, national common interests and prosperity. The cartel is now neutralized by the “New Deal Strategy” adopted by the International Donor Community (IDC).

Indeed, the conclusions of the analysis, which could have the potential to influence western policy makers and analysts, are off the mark and inconsistent with significant acknowledgements made in the body of the analysis. It seems that the analyst either deliberately ignored or accidentally failed to undertake due diligent investigation of certain truths rather than creating new or recycling old baseless assertions for backup. Somalia cannot enjoy the offered international support if it remains in the status quo of fragmented society hobbled by perpetual clan mistrusts and divisions. Somalis must own their future.

It is my opinion that a careful and objective reader of the analysis will come away with the realization that the principle drivers of the Somali crisis are identifiable foreign powers exploiting the vulnerabilities of the Somali people rooted in clan rivalry, poverty, religion and selfish ambitious personalities.  Due to Wikileaks releases, there is sufficient information with regard to the detrimental manipulations of neighboring states against Somalia’s nationhood.

The acknowledgments made in the body of the analysis include:

Clan-based Federalism in Somalia is the strategic pre-requisite of Ethiopia and Kenya, despite a “centralized state” may well minimize the social fragmentation.

Important actors-indigenous and foreign- want to control the region (Jubbaland).

Kenya is the principal driver of the project of creating an autonomous Jubbaland region with foreign resources.

Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Kenya are all embroiled in the Somali conflicts for their individual geostrategic pre-requisites.

Military agreement between Somalia and Turkey has alarmed Kenya and Ethiopia as it realigns the interests of Djibouti, Turkey, Egypt and Somalia, potentially against Kenya and Ethiopia who both support the concept of clan based federalism in Somalia. Uganda and Burundi may at the end walk away from supporting the FGS and support Kenya and Ethiopia.

Moreover, to bolster the soundness of the analysis, the analyst emphasizes clan based federalism for stability, concession to the formation of autonomous Jubbaland State to appease one sub-sub-clan, and compliance with the wishes of neighboring countries for status quo. In response, the FGS committed itself to implement federalism (decentralization), lead the process of Jubbaland State formation and fully cooperate with IDC, particularly with troop contributing countries.

In addition, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud presented to the people of Somalia as well as to the IDC his political platform based on six pillar policy priorities. 1) National stabilization based on security, order and justice; 2) Economic recovery; 3) Peacebuilding, Reconciliation and Outreach; 4) Public services delivery; 5) Unity and solidarity of the people and territory of Somalia; 6) Establishment of international relations based on cooperation and mutual respect. This interconnected political platform reflects the policy priorities prescribed for the quick recovery of failed state like Somalia.

Clan-Based Federalism and Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC)

The analysis asserts that the FGS is pursuing a policy of doing away with federalism because it is opposed to the formation of Jubbaland State. This baseless assertion is to pressure the FGS to violate the provisions of the PFC, retreat from its stabilization plan that covers equally all regions of South Central Somalia and endorse clan-based federalism. It is untrue that FGS endorsed the establishment of an autonomous regional authority in Hiiraan.  

The analyst failed to examine the historical process that ended nine year Transition period. That process, facilitated by UN, USA, and EU, delivered the PFC, the new federal Parliament, and the election of new Speaker and President.  I concur with Dr. Michael Weinstein’s observation that “Among all the business that was left undone when the Western “donor”-powers/U.N. rammed through the “transition” to the Somali [Transitional] Federal Government (S.F.G.) in the late summer of 2012 was that of the form that a permanent Somali state would take.” However, this happened with the help of the current faultfinders. For example, Puntland State boasts itself that it played an instrumental role in the national constitutional process for ending the transition in Somalia. Then, it finds hard to embrace the political transformation and integration prescribed by the PFC and the end of transition. The vision of the PFC is the unity and solidarity of equal citizens belonging to the Federal Republic of Somalia. Therefore, the FGS must be allowed to assume the overall responsibility of the country before it can be blamed for constitutional violations, unequal treatment and resource-sharing. The FGS has no interest, power, and opportunity to engage refresh clan confrontations because of its exclusive responsibility of rebuilding new Somalia.  The FGS has engaged leaders of each region for establishing local administration that will adhere to the standards of transparency, efficiency, and accountability.

While clan balance and sensitivity considerations have influential role in the Somali politics, clan vanity should not hijack or abort the statebuilding and peacebuilding of Somalia espoused by the IDC after years of reluctance for the best interests of all clans. The PFC promotes justice and democracy as a basis for governance. The current FGS must ensure that, after four years, people’s representatives should be elected directly by voters. Therefore, it is unconstitutional to form a Federal Member States along the clan lines symbolized by the present prototypes.

The Guidebook to the PFC notes that due to long years of over centralized government structure and control, populations in many parts of Somalia demand regional self-rule. In the same breath, it states the following:

The creation of federal member states proved to be a very controversial issue during the constitutional conferences leading to this draft provisional constitution. It is noted that it is important to have fair and open procedures for the creation of the federated member states. Reflecting this, the draft provisional constitution itself does not create federal member states, but entrusts the house of the people of the federal parliament which represents all people of Somalia to decide on the number and demarcations of federal members states.”

Three deductions from the above statement are in order. First, it is important to distinguish the experience of the centralized government structure and control of the failed state in 1991 and the current fragmented Somali society which needs immediate solidarity. Second, national representatives and regional leaders of the local people must join forces to develop a national integration process that will facilitate the implementation of the federal or decentralization system based on the constitutionally recognized 18 regions of Somalia. Third, the FGS must be allowed time to prepare for facing the frightening challenge of federalism/decentralization left unresolved by the 6 signatories of the roadmap, the 825 members of the National Constituent Assembly, and the 135 traditional leaders supported by IDC.

Jubbaland trap

The Jubbaland State is not to protect the interests of Somalis. It is trap to finally tear Somalia apart. The author’s analysis mystifyingly argues that Jubbaland holds potentially the balance of power in Somalia; that the Somali society has been historically decentralized and autonomous and led by traditional leaders. This means that the Somali politics remains based on clan and clan family interests. Based on this observation, the analyst argues that the FGS must adopt a central clan based policy and drop the opposition against the creation of Jubbaland State. This glorification of the clan politics is Achilles heel of the Somali society. In counter-argument, the Somalis are determined to tame the negative role of clan politics.

Establishing Jubbaland is not a test of federalism for FGS. Rather, Jubbaland exposes the kernel of the view of the anti-statebuilding cartel and it represents cartel’s last bastion. It is also inaccurate that former Transitional Federal Government of President Sheikh Sharif endorsed the creation of Jubbaland project. To the contrary, President Sheikh Sharif fired his defense minister Professor Mohamed Abdi Gandhi who played the mole role of the Jubbaland project and the president strongly opposed to the involvement of the Kenyan Defense Forces into Somalia conflict.

It is worth mentioning in this context that the US government rightly rejected from the beginning the Jubbaland project and its recent diplomatic actions support that position. In fact, the position of the FGS is not new or reversal of an earlier endorsement.

Neighboring Countries of Somalia   

The analysis reveals that the FGS has failed to persuade IGAD to accept its “diktats” on Jubbaland region. The analysis warns that Mogadishu’s independent policy is not palatable to the neighboring countries and that could imperil the realization of the long-delayed statebuilding in Somalia and threaten the stability of the Horn of Africa. In substance, this confirms that Kenya and Ethiopia are determined to control and manage the internal affairs of Somalia in spite of the formation of national permanent government.

Centralization and decentralization

It is important to note here that the use of the words “centralization and decentralization” by the analyst is totally misleading because there is nothing yet to centralize or decentralize. Puntland, Somaliland, Khatumo and Jubbaland are fiefdoms or separate enclaves despite representatives of the people in the areas are members and officials of the FGS. These fiefdoms or entities claim separate constitution, citizenship, flag, control of local resources and parity with FGS. The President, Speaker and the Prime Minister of the FGS cannot travel to those areas without the express permission of the local leaders. The President is a visitor not a Commander- in-Chief in those areas. The FGS seeks not centralization but national integration, citizenship spirit and respect of constitutional hierarchy enshrined in article 48 of PFC. The integration issue has to be resolved quickly for the best interest of Somalia.

It is a reality today that the majority of the people under the rule of these entities are complaining widespread abuse of human rights, endemic corruption, nepotism, political frauds and poor leadership. The cry wolf of corrupt leaders should not defraud Somalia of the opportunity for statebuilding and peacebuilding.

Although Somalis have many ways to settle their property disputes, the FGS cannot address the issues of land and property restitution and others social problems hanged on as excuses to undermine President Hassan’s leadership unless there is full embrace of national government, national citizenship and respect of the fundamental principles of the PFC. Presently the rights of the Somali citizens from one region are not fully protected in other regions under the rule of law. To appoint people from different regions of Somalia to high positions of the federal institutions located in one area, the FGS must be able to exercise power and influence over all regions. Otherwise, the loyalty of a non-indigenous of the FGS location becomes questionable. Selective reference to the implementation of certain provisions of the PFC without full adherence to the constitutional vision and spirit is red herrings.

Similarly, the issue of equal representation in the federal institution is subject to the equal participation of national burdens, commitments and subordination to the authority and directives of the national government. National dual representations or representation without taxation are unconstitutional. Most regions have their separate financial resources and well-armed forces-police, security and intelligence, anti-piracy- and other forces operating in the area. The FGS must develop national plan that takes into account complex national strategic, political, financial, administrative, and command and control factors to form a national security forces able to live and work in different parts of the country. 


Without doubt, there are many legitimate concerns to criticize the FGS. But clan-based federalism, Jubbaland trap to disintegrate Somalia and foreign dependence against national sovereignty are not among those legitimate concerns. The accusation that the central assumption of FGS’s “hardline” position is for international recognition, the support of powerful international backers and army under international payroll, is preposterous. If the leaders of yesterday did not fulfill their responsibilities with vision, competence and patriotism, they should not blame their failure on their successors. Today’s leaders have the responsibility to find right solutions to the inherited problems and plan for a better future.

Mohamud M Uluso

Editorial 29 April 2022 13:51

Somalia is on the move. It is pushing for foreign investment, and large infrastructure projects are changing the face of its scarred capital city, Mogadishu. These developments could promise better fortunes for Somalis as the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic