Foreign Powers Dictate Somalia’s Foreign Policy


Foreign Powers Dictate Somalia’s Foreign Policy

David MutuaDavid Mutua

Consistent with his goal of speaking in the best interests of Somalia, Professor Michael Weinstein of Perdue University, Indiana, has tried one more time to reason with the Somali elite and the international community about the problems hobbling the Provisional Federal Government (PFG). Weinstein eloquently explains the structural weaknesses, responsible for the PFG’s slow performance. By adding the adjective “provisional” to the Federal Government’s name, Weinstein reminds the Somalis that despite all the rhetoric, in the eyes of the international community, the present government isn’t any different from the previous transitional governments in legal, diplomatic and political terms. In short, without defending the competence and integrity of PFG leaders, he underscores that the donor-powers’ decision to starve the PFG, unless PFG leaders accept a kind of Trusteeship Administration for the next 20 years, is more ominous for the revival of Somalia.

The truth is that Somalia is trapped in an abusive relationship with the international community. The role of Somalia’s government is to rubber stamp international decisions on Somalia. The international photo-ops and red carpets granted to Somali leaders and the frequent three-hour visits of foreign dignitaries in Mogadishu mask the unequal power and foreign driven policies imposed on Somalia. It’s hard to miss the contradictions between the public statement and the official policy actions of donor and neighboring countries in dealing with the new government.

During his visit to Ethiopia in November of 2012, President Hassan was informed of the agreements concluded between Ethiopia and previous transitional federal governments. But in subsequent developments, Ethiopia, annoyed by the open door policy of the new government, seems to have undertaken a political, diplomatic and military campaign to tarnish the credibility of the new government and dispel the perception of political independence of Somalia. The new Somali president received an invitation for a one-day official visit from President Muwai Kibaki of Kenya with the expectation of endorsing the nine-point Draft Communiqué published before the meeting of the two leaders. But, the foreign minister of Kenya read out an eleven-point Official Communiqué. Below are some points of the two communiqués for analysis.

Point 5 requires the new government of Somalia to coordinate with the Kenyan government at bilateral, regional and international levels on all efforts geared towards the consolidation of peace, reconstruction and building of new institutions of governance in Somalia. Implicitly, point 5 covers the objectives of the Grand Stabilization Plan for South Central Somalia deleted from point 7 of the official communiqué.

Point 8 of both communiqués supports the extension of the presence of AMISOM forces in Somalia while it does not mention the urgently needed support for funding the Somali security forces and the lifting of the arms embargo. The official communiqué contains 9, 10, and 11 points concerning a Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) stipulated in 2005, cooperation in the fight against Al-Shabab and other militant elements, and a Joint Permanent Border Commission. There is no sufficient information about the 2005 agreement. The Foreign Ministry of Ethiopia commented on the visit of President Hassan S. Mohamud and made extensive reference to the draft communiqué instead of to the official communiqué, particularly highlighting the Grand Stabilization Plan for South Central Somalia. This deliberate misrepresentation indicates the kind of diplomatic ambushes the new government faces in dealing with neighboring countries.

Sanaullah Baloch, UN Constitutional Advisor on Somalia, perhaps sensing grudges from the neighboring countries argues, “The Somali leadership needs a visionary diplomatic approach to avoid any sort of confrontation and competition with neighboring countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, which have played a crucial role in the peace process and peacekeeping.” William Hague, the UK’s foreign minister issued the following statement following a meeting with Somalia’s Foreign Minister Fawzia Yusuf Haji Aden and the Somaliland’s foreign minister, Dr. Mohamed A. Omar: “The foreign minister outlined the Somali government’s plan to tackle the challenges ahead including improving security, increasing access to justice, transparent financial management, political reconciliation and economic development.”

The question is how the Somali government will implement that plan without substantial financial assistance from donor countries? Mogadishu port revenue is not sufficient to cover half of Mogadishu Local Government budget needs. All international funds are channeled to UN Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) of $1.3 billion for 2013, to AU/AMISOM forces, to private security companies, and to Ethiopian forces. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (CFO) website details information about the two below mentioned policy initiatives (Assistance) dedicated to Somalia/Somaliland. These initiatives are components of the UK National Security Strategy (NSS) and Building Stability Overseas Strategy (BSOS). (1) Policy preventing conflict in fragile states. (2) Policy preventing and reducing piracy off the coast of Somalia

The British Government leads a working group of the Contact Group on Piracy off the coast of Somalia focused on regional capacity development for the prosecution of captured pirates and military engagement against piracy. Most of the funds allocated for the implementation of these policy initiatives are transferred to UN and non-governmental organizations.

The UK Minister for Africa, Hon Mark Simmonds, held talks with the foreign Minister of Somaliland. Both parties agreed on the need for cooperation on terrorism, piracy, economic development and continuation of the dialogue between Somalia and Somaliland.

The new government of Somalia has severe limitations to deal proactively with the complex foreign policy issues and the myriads of actors playing a hand in Somalia’s future. Somalia doesn’t have the necessary institutional capacity and independence to carry out a foreign policy that supports domestic policy goals. Some of the causes are: Absence of basic institutional capacity at national level for carrying out policy and administrative functions. Somali diplomatic missions are either self-employed or guests (agents) paid by the host governments. Lack of institutional memory and reliable documentation of international bilateral and multilateral agreements.

Donor states have predetermined their non-negotiable policy actions towards Somalia. Therefore, to avoid haphazard diplomatic engagements, which could jeopardize Somalia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and long-term stability, it is necessary for a deep analysis of the core foreign policy issues and diplomacy options available to Somalia. It would be politically more sensible to adopt a streamlined framework of cooperation with the international community.

Professor Michael Weinstein has suggested, “The political outcomes in Somalia are not under the PFG’s control, but are the resultants of the play between external actors, PFG and domestic factions.” It is the responsibility of the Somali government and the elites, particularly public intellectuals, to speak and fight for the best outcomes which would promote first and foremost the common interests of Somalia. Only patriots bequeath lasting positive legacy to their people and country.

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