The practice of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) of allegedly leaking reports to the media on “systematic abuses” has done a disservice to the efforts of statebuilding in Somalia.
It has also reinforced public distrust about the intentions of outside groups. Equally, it has also tarnished the reputation of UNISOM. SEMG, supposedly an independent Auditor-General for assessing the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions, has violated a number of rules for the integrity of its work. Impartiality and an apolitical stance with respect to interested parties is key, investigators should show impartiality towards the groups they are monitoring and accountability is key.
The latest report issued by SEMG on Feb 6, 2013 assesses the implementation of UN Security Resolution 2093 (2013) concerns the partial lifting of the arms embargo to achieve the goal of statebuilding in Somalia. The resolution, adopted against the vigorous objection of Kenya and Ethiopia, was intended to implement the UN approved plan for the creation of a Somali National Army (SNA), necessary for a sovereign Somali state.
Unfortunately, the report heavily influenced by foreign “experts” on Somalia targeted the Hawiye clan, particularly the Abdgal, Habargidir and Ayr sub clans for having ulterior motives. It is an abuse to blame the federal government for the flow of arms to the Mogadishu arms market. The incendiary language used in the report against the Hawiye clan clearly indicates the prejudicial frame of mind of the authors of the report.
In general terms, the report accused the federal government of failure to comply with the reporting of its military structure, logistical infrastructure, and arms control procedures to the UN Security Council. With the exception of an unaccounted 1,000 AK-47 rifles supplied by Uganda, the most sensational evidence discussed in the report is the Hawiye conspiracy.
The evidence includes clashes between the Habargidir and Biyamal clans in the Lower Shabelle region, Abgal and Bantu in the Middle Shabelle region, and clashes between sub clan Habargidir and “heavily armed troops of Puntland” near Galkaio. Another bizarre allegation in the report is the connection of President Hassan Sheikh with Al Shabab leader, Yusuf Kabakutukade, for clan affiliation. SEMG did not disclose the motivation of President Hassan in supporting Kabakutukade who zealously plans to kill him.
SEMG has been disturbed by attempts of the federal government to improve cooperation between the Abgal and the Habargidir and for strengthening the cohesion within the Hawiye clan because the Darods in Puntland and Jubbaland States felt threatened. This argument shows one of the many flaws of clan federalism.
The report ignored the complaint of the federal government about the lack of notification of arms delivered by the UN to regional states in Somalia or to acknowledge the receipt of the 47 page report of the federal government detailing the SNA structure, logistical infrastructure, and arms control. It also omits the publicized reconciliation efforts carried out by cabinet members, parliamentarians, security officials, and civic leaders who genuinely intervened and mediated peaceful agreements averting clashes in the Middle and Lower Shabelle regions. SEMG decided to take over the investigations of both clashes from the Somali state and other Human Rights Organizations. There was no follow up over the clashes near Galkaio.
The conspiracy link of President Hassan Sheikh, Minister Abdikarim, and presidential Security Advisor Abdurahman Isse with the Hawiye clan fits the strategy of the United Nations, European Union, African Union, and IGAD to divide Somalia into institutionalized clan fiefdoms under the slogan of federalism. Some clans have established their local security institutions directly accountable to Addis Ababa, Nairobi, and Jigjiga. This raises the question about the usefulness of the federal government in the face of country divided into clan fiefdoms.
Former Foreign Minister of the Transitional National Government of Somalia, Ismail Buba, suggested in his concluding remarks during the 8th Fagaaraha Forum held in Mogadishu on Feb 15, 2014 the urgent need to review the structure of the Somali government and to separate the administration of “South Central Somalia” affairs from the federal government. His suggestion has encouraged consultation with the Hawiye clan for the proclamation of “Hawiye Council for security, development, and International cooperation,” which will take over the responsibilities for security, finance, public administration, port, airport, and local government functions and the partnership role with international forces stationed within the Hawiye fiefdom. A “clan (not state) monopoly on the use of force (violence)” is what the UN wants in Somalia.
Without plausible justification, SEMG has recommended a reversal of the 2013 partial lifting of the arms embargo to get the quick approval for tightening, intrusive, and humiliating sanctions, which will be a blow to the federal government’s ability to gain public support and credibility. It is critical that members of the UN Security Council set aside the inflammatory SEMG report for further scrutiny.
The federal government dismissed the SEMG allegations. Its report does not address the Hawiye conspiracy, but it answers the requirements of UN Security Council Resolutions. In January, the Security Advisor of President Hassan pleaded with the SEMG Coordinator to accept feedback about the government report, but to no avail.
Incidentally, the SEMG report reveals the UN’s deceptive position. The UN publicly supports while in practice undermining the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of Somalia. It declares opposition but spearheads Somali refugee repatriation in high risk areas; it killed the New Deal strategy for Somalia despite expressing support; it symbolically calls for the leadership role of the federal government in Somali affairs but at the same time it is silent about Somaliland’s rejection of UNSOM and about Kenya and Ethiopia meddling; it fetters the Somali security build up.
Clan federalism forces each clan to devote time, energy, and resources to pursue short-term advantages over other clans. The security concern of each clan instigates border and trade disputes, restriction of movements of people, revenge killings and harassment, and introduce the temptation for deterrent and preemptive strikes.
Eliminating the Al Shabaab threat will remain impossible no matter what degree of international assistance and funding is provided so long as service in national and local administrations in Somalia is seen as a means for personal self-enrichment and the furtherance of clan interests at the expense of national interests. Ultimately, the path Somalia will follow will depend not on UN assistance or AU military deployments, but rather on the interest Somalis themselves have in the national project.