Unstable Addis, Nairobi governments to derail Somalia’s peace process

By Drs Fatuma Lamungu Nur - It’s an open secret that Somalia’s failure is the result of miscalculated Somali foreign policies since the independence in 1960.
Editorial Keydmedia Online
Unstable Addis, Nairobi governments to derail Somalia’s peace process

Somali leaders in 1960ties pursued a policy of creating “Greater Somalia” by claiming regions in Ethiopia and Kenya.

Mogadishu openly supported the Shifta war against Kenya, where in another front it helped movements of Somali ethnic people in Ethiopia’s Zone five region. This prompted Addis Ababa and Nairobi to form some sort of cooperation against Somalia, which included political and military cooperation.  This agreement has been renewed several times, despite changes of governments in both sides.

But when assessing the role of these two countries in Somalia and influence, we have to highlight some key issues that might have its ups and downs.

Ethiopian policy on Somalia

The first Somali government soon after the independence in 1960 pursued pan-Somali policy, but it was obvious that the internal politics became bogged down in petty personal and clan rivalries. Despite all these facts the new born country went to war against Ethiopia in 1964 over land dispute. During this ear ties with Britain were severed following British support for Kenya on its stance on the NFD, relations with France soured as the French continued to occupy Somali inhabited territories, which were later to form Djibouti.

In an interview with Voice of Ethiopia in 1948, the Ethiopian King Haile Selassie predicted how an independent Somalia will behave against his country

“Our attitude to the Somalis who belong to the same race as the Ethiopian people and share with them a common history, has always been crystal clear, namely, that of supporting everything conducive to their well-being and progress. It was in keeping with this policy that we recently invited the leaders of United Nations Trust Somalia and had talks with them here. Our strong appeal to our Somali brothers is to be aware of those who, in the furtherance of their self-interest, seek to plunge this area into chaos, thereby disturbing the peace that has reigned in this part of the world for a long time. Much harm can be avoided by understanding in time the real intentions of these self-seekers”.

After Somalia independence Haile Selassie’s prediction became true, and Mogadishu put more efforts of destabilizing Ethiopia. The 1977 war of Somalia against Ethiopia was enough reason for Ethiopia to pursue an alternative policy to protect its territory. This new policy mainly focused on using clan differences among the Somalis.

The leaders of Addis Ababa during the late Zenawi’s regime did not hide their role in the collapse of Somalia by “taking the war to Somalia and, along the way, aggravating the contradiction between the Somali clans.”

This shows how Ethiopian leaders are well experienced when it comes dealing with Somalia affairs.

Haile Selassie, Mengistu and Zenawi were gifted with talents of knowing deeply Somalia affairs, better than their Kenyan neighbours.

Although Zenawi was regarded as dictator to some, and to others as a reformist, it’s obvious that he was a good decision maker. There are fears inside and outside Ethiopia that thing might fall apart with his absence in the Ethiopian political stage.

Effects of Zenawi’s death

After the death of Meles Zenawi in August, 2012, the country is facing a political challenge. Since the fall of Mengistu in 1991, all the powers were in the hands of Zenawi, and people respected his decisions, though opposition groups continued to protest against his rule.

His departure means many people will emerge to fill the vacuum. As happened in many countries where dictators die, power struggle erupts, and Ethiopia is not immune from that.

This will have a huge impact on Somalia affairs, and already the signs are cannot be hidden.  For example, while Zenawi was the only one in decision making over Somalia, now even the junior diplomats, deputy ministers, and non- influential officials try to reach national decisions.

Recent talks between Addis Ababa and the rebel group ONLF from the country’s Somali region are not bearing fruits because of the contradicting decisions by the rival Ethiopian leaders.

The issue of Somalia’s Jubbaland is another example, where General Gabra, who works with IGAD and Addis Ababa officials are contradicting each other on the official view of their government.

This puts the international community in awkward situation, in which they do not know who to talk to when it comes to deal with Ethiopia on national and international issues, especially Somalia crisis.

Kenya’s role in Somalia

The relations between the two states became much tensioned with the start of a war, known as the Shifta War. North-eastern Kenya has been a source of conflict because Somalia has traditional claims on the territory; a large ethnic Somali population has also led to instability. Somalia’s irredentist claims on this region were a serious threat to Kenya in the 1960′s. For four years, Somali guerrillas known as shiftas waged a campaign against the Kenyan police and army through incursions and by means of the Somali National Radio (Radio Mogadishu) based in Mogadishu.

This tense predicament was eased when the Somali government changed in 1967, but it revived in 1977 when Somali-Ethiopian warfare once again placed the area in contention after Kenya supported Ethiopia in the Ogaden war.

President Kenyatta and Moi were very firm in dealing with Somalia, though they were not brilliant or well experienced in Somalia affairs like the Ethiopians.  In 1982 when Moi survide a coup attempt by a section of the army, the country got its first high ranking Somali to become the army chief (General Mohamud Mohamed) from Ogaden clan in North Eastern Province.  General Mohammud took the advantage of being trusted by Moi to interfere Somalia’s clan fighting in 1991, when he deployed Kenyan Ogadeni soldiers to Somalia to support warlord Mohamed Said Morgan, who butchered thousands of Somalis in Somaliland, central Somalia, Mogadishu and Jubba regions.

Read this link: Kenya’s second intervention in southern Somalia

Its Kenya’s ignorance about Somali affairs that facilitated the Kenyan state minister for defence Mohamed Yusuf Haji and his son Nuradin Haji ( a member of Kenyan intelligence unit) to betray Kenya’s President Kibaki on creating a buffer zone in southern Somalia. But everyone knows that the plan is to occupy Jubbaland for Ogaden clan, in which Haji belongs to.

The Kenyan political system also makes things more difficult. Daniel Moi, though many called him a dictator, but he controlled the country and everything was in the hands of the state. But in 2002, when the coalition government of NARC came into power, you can easily think that the country has got hundreds of presidents and thousands of ministers. For the first time in history government officials who were supposed to work as a team, engaged in power struggle and even making contradicting national decisions.

After a failed referendum in 2005, where President KIbaki’s team lost the people’s votes to approve the draft the constitution, Raila Odinga and other cabinet members were removed to clean the government performance.

But things have not changed, because the post-election violence in the country brought another coalition government that made things worse. The division is deep, and even the junior government officials are making national decisions without the knowledge of the two principals, Kibaki and Raila.

For example very junior staff at Mombasa airport in 2010 arrested and deported members of the UAE royal families without clear reasons. This poor diplomatic tactics has thrown hundreds of thousands of Kenyans working and transiting through Dubai into a nightmare. UAE decided to require degrees from Kenyans who needed visas. The matter was later on resolved.

Kenya’s involvement in Jubbaland

Despite being pushed by Ogaden clan in Somalia Jubbaland crisis, Kenyan leaders are yet to understand the tunes of Somali politics. After the fall of Kismayo port city in southern Somalia in October, Kenyan officials gave contradicting statements about the situation and their future plans of Kismayo. Kenya’s state defence minister Yusuf Haji and his son insisted that Kenya should have the mandate of forming a regional administration in Kismayo. The reason behind their stance is to ensure that Ogadeni clan members are handed over the whole Jubbaland regions, and then launch their long term plan of exterminating other clans in Jubbaland with the help of Kenya.

The Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud refused Kenya’s view and the international community backed Mogadishu’s plan to hold all inclusive meeting for Jubbaland administration, though Kenya keeps hesitating to admit the truth on the ground.

Ahmed Madobe an Ogadeni who was born in Ethiopia’s Qorahey region is the man Kenya wants to install as the leader of Jubbaland. Young boys recruited from Ogaden clan in Kenya’s Garisa town and hundreds of ONLF militia are the ones forming his forces. Kenya supplies him with weapons and financial support.

If Nairobi believes it’s doing the right thing, then Somalia should be given the authority to appoint the governor of Mombasa or Nakuru.

Currently the people in Jubbaland are facing longer nights of sleepless with fears of fresh clan fighting; all other Somali clans are being forced to come under Ogaden clan rule with the help of Kenya.

Its also worth to note that the majority of the Ogadeni people who want to conquer Jubbaland with the help of Kenya are refugees from Ethiopia and Kenya’s North Eastern Province.

Background of Ogadeni armed refugees

The problem of Ogadeni armed refugees began after the independence of Somalia in 1960. Somali government supplied weapons to Ogadeni clan members to use against Ethiopia. But When Mohamed Siad Barre came into power in 1966 he came up with dual objective policy to help the Ogadenis. While he used all the national resources to fight against Ethiopia and Kenya, he launched a program to settle massive Ogadeni refugees in Somaliland, Hiiraan and Jubbaland.

Then the government supplied arms to the refugees to displace the owners of these areas.

According to a report by a western historian (Nnoli 1989) the settlement project has displaced the local people, with a consequence of animosity between the Somali local clans and Ogaden refugees.

The Ogadenis were also given high ranking positions in the government regardless of their citizenship (some of them Kenyans and others Ethiopians).

Some of them are as follows:

Adan Abdulahi Nur (Gabyow) , who defected from Kenyan forces and joined Somali Armed Forces. He became Somalia’s defence minister in 1980ties and later formed clan rebellion against Mohamed Siad Barre.

Mohamed Omar Jes, from Ethiopia who served as minister in 1970ties till he died in 1987.

Col Ahmad Omar Jes, from Ethiopia, military commander who later on joined rebel groups that ousted Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Jes was among the most notorious warlords in southern Somalia, and served in Somalia’s interim parliament.

Mohamed Omar Osman, from Ethiopia who served as Somalia’s Navy Forces Commander. After the collapse of Somali state he went to Ethiopia to form Ogaden National Liberation Front that is currently fighting against Addis Ababa administration and causing instability in the whole region.

Others include, General Adan Abdi Duale (former police chief) several ministers and parliamentarians in current Somali Government, and Mohamed Abdi Gandi, who claims to be the head of self-proclaimed regional administration of Jubba regions in southern Somalia. He has never set a foot in Jubba regions, but intends to go there for the first time with the title of a president.

Currently the ONLF militia are in Kismayo helping Ahmed Madobe’s takeover plan of Jubbaland.

Siyad Barre also ensured that In order to preserve the settlement of the Ogadens in Somalia, in all settlement regions the governors were from Ogaden clan.

In 1988 the people of Somaliland had to take up arms to get rid of the armed Ogaden refugees. The Ogadeni refugees took part in the massacre of Somaliland civilians in 1988, but the Somali National Movement finally achieved their goal in 1991.

The same happened in Hiiraan Region, where the people had to take arms to get rid of the armed Ogadeni refugees.

The only place that is remaining in the hands of the armed refugees is Jubbaland, where all clans are armed.

The international community should take very careful measures to prevent clan fighting that is looming in Jubbaland. There are certain countries with interests in Jubbaland, and their approach should reflect the facts on the ground.

The Ogadenis are also needed to learn from the history and go by the modern world. Those in Somalia (who are found in Afmadow and Badhadhe) are Somalis and no-one has a problem with them. Those from Ethiopia’s Zone Five are Ethiopians and those from Kenya are Kenyans. Even in Jubbaland the local Ogadens in Afmadow and Badhaadhe (in Jubbaland) use the term Galti for the Ogadeni refugees, which means a foreigner or someone who does not belong to the area.

Our brothers have to admit that the greater Somalia dream has died, and the country has adopted a federal system.

They also need to remember that with all the help of Somali government under Siyad Barre, they could not take lands owned by other clans by force, and now with the backing of Kenyan military forces they will not be able to subdue people in their lands.

By Drs Fatuma Lamungu Nur - New York, USA

Editorial 29 April 2022 13:51

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