19 May 2007 04:23

SOMALIA WATCH

 
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  • [SW Analysis] [ Courtesy  AllPuntland News2001 Review of Puntland's Political Crisis by an insider... Posted 2 Jan 2002

2001 Review of Puntland's Political Crisis by an insider.

Source : AllPuntland News  - Jan 2, 2002

Since the conclusion of Garowe Conference and subsequent recapturing of the city by Abdullahi Yusuf and the de facto division of Puntland into two camps, Puntland has miraculously been in a relative peace except the Garowe incident even though its politics and the security of the region are drifting into uncertain horizon.

There have been quite a number of political and military developments

in the region and in Somalia as whole that are caused by the Puntland's
internal political fight and the recent external interest in Somalia by the US and others respectively.

In general people are apprehensive about the anticipated American attack on Somalia and the direction of the conflict in Puntland. However, in Boosaaso and its environs (Bari Region)  there is centrally orchestrated campaign mobilizing militias and resources by Jama Ali Jama's supporters.

Mr Jama draws his support mainly from his sub-clan, rejuvenated and  active Muslim fundamentalists Businessmen (Al-Itihad) and the Transitional National Government created in Jabouti.

There is a new infusion of armies and dozen of refurbished battlewagons "technical" with couple of hundred of militias from Jama's sub-clans. They are stationed  in Laag, around the Airport and other economic centers, and most of them at  frontline in between Gardo and YekeYeke.

There are no significant and open campaigns for Mr Yusuf in Boosaaso or Bari region although are there some of his supporter still active in Bari region.  It is true to say that Mr. Yusuf has some support in every locale in Puntland but they are not mobilized in any visible way.

The majority of the clans in Bari region, except Jama's sub-clan,  are either neutral or divided between the two opposing camps.

Sool, Sanaag, Mudug  regions & Buuhoodle distirct are mainly pro Yusuf. Nugaal region, which seats the capital of Puntland Garoowe and which is regarded to be the wildcard of Puntland's political game, is divided but now appears to be tilting towards Mr Yusuf's side.

Islam Mohamed Islam Muse, who hails from Nugal region, had so far given numerous speeches and signals that has been interpreted as a tacit approval for Mr Yusuf.

The most notable one being a speech he gave to Puntland Forces stationed at Garoowes' 54th Military Barrack, instructing them to take any action necessary against who ever starts to endanger the peace and to keep an eye at those troublemakers in Puntland.

This was after an active and restless campaign by some local  militias in Garoowe supported wholeheartedly by Jama Ali Jama and Muslim fundamentalists (Al-Itihad) with 4 to 5 technicals, logistical and financial support as well as with small army have readied themselves in Garowe to spearhead the war against Abdullahi Yusuf soon.

Waging a military war and capturing Garowe and whole Puntland is almost impossible for Mr Jama. 

This is based on the following observations:

Shallowness of his political support in Puntland.

a) Mr Jama is perceived as someone who has not interred into Puntland's political ring by his own political convictions, but rather being pushed into it by combination of NTG, Al-Itihad Muslim Fundamentalists and supporters of his own sub-clan.

b) Some quarters of the society argue that Mr Jama lost their support because he didn't project himself as someone who wanted to lead all Puntlanders but rather his own sub-clan.

c) It was widely reported by the local media that during the Garoowe conference Jama was wrongfully given a free access to public funds, by his Cousin Yusuf Haji Nur, which he had used for his political campaign. Not only did this tarnish his political and personal image but it had turned his yesterday's allies into his today's opponents as they accuse him of foul play before the race started.    

 d) Puntlanders are concerned about Jama's connections with the TNG of Mogadishu and the local Muslim Fundamentalists (Al-Itihad) groups, which have now become an open secret in Puntland. They want to maintain their identity as Puntlanders within federal Somalia, therefore are weary of being sucked into centralised Somali government administered from Mogadishu or one which pays lip service to the idea of federalism.   

e)  Some quarters of the society felt that Mr Jama had tried to inject tribal animosity into Puntland's political dogfight, a phenomenon alien to this region and people, therefore bringing the prospect of civil war ever closer.

Economic Constraints:

a) The general slowdown of the trade in the region and the sad state of the Puntland's economy have caused airport and harbour revenue shortfalls.

b) Control and usage of the meagre revenues from the airport and harbour are now becoming the focal point of discussion and indeed a thorny issue among the sub-clans in Bari Region. This could ignite an additional inter-conflict in the region.

c) There is a great deal of resentment and open anger expressed by many Puntlanders, specially in Bari Region,  about the continues mis-use of public funds by Jama and his tribal supporters.

d) The closing down of Barakat Financial Services and some individual
business and Bank accounts as Jama's major supporters were affected by this action. 

e) Lack of a major cause and burning issue in the conflict.

f) The high cost of feeding, arming, and maintaining a fighting force.

This is the case unless the majority of Nugal region inhabitants come out in support of Jama , and in addition to this, Mr Yusuf must lose support or not to gain it among the major clans in the five regions and the district of Buuhoodle which Puntland consists of .

Of course, Mr Yusuf has a mamooth task to overcome in order to secure his claim for Puntland's presidency.  He has been unable to solidify or consolidate 100% support from Nugal region let alone taking the war all the way to Bari. unless he is able to keep the Islam and majority support of Nugal citizens on column and unless he secures a tangible external backing his task will remain surmountable.

Only Galkayo Airport dues and some local contributions are the only reported financial resources for Mr Yusuf.

For him to recapture the Presidency of Puntland at least the following must be met:

(a)   Must gain an absolute support from Nugal Region and its leaders. So far Islam Mohamed gave important signal that he is on the side of Mr Yusuf.

(b)   Putting his supporters in Bari into action and coordinating with them

(c)    Generous but a quite military and financial support from Ethiopia or other country.

(d)   Most importantly a good economic & political agenda to support his come back.

Mr Yusuf and his forces are in Garowe where he is cajoling citizens of Nugal and Islan Mohamed into his orbit, and regrouping and strategizing for his opponents in Bari, and re-supplying his force.

He is, on one hand, asserting his authority and claim to the presidency, and on the other he is being patient with them and trying at least not antagonize them. It seems he is succeeding partially at best because he still has a a good portion of them and Islam Mohamed who are at least as against Mr Jama's  presidency as they are against Mr Yusuf's. 

Islan Mohamed is trying to calm the Garowe residents and calling on them not to wage a war against anyone ever since the residents started fleeing the city when Abdullahi Yusuf captured the city. Now the majority, if not all, of the Garowe residents and their families who evacuated from the city returned home and city has come to life again albeit slowly. 

The Islam is the wild card here in Puntland politics again. To the most people, his intentions are ambiguous. On one hand, he is calling on his
constituents particularly those who re advocating and organizing themselves to evict Abdullahi Yusuf from Garowe, and he is telling them to continue to go about their regular business. On the other hand, he stated that he does not recognize Abdullahi Yusuf as a president and called on him to vacate Garowe or else, even though he is not aggressively opposing him or mobilizing forces to fight him.

It is reported that he is agonized with division of his people and the outcome of the last conference, and with the danger of various competing interests and politics. As one of the most revered Issim in Puntland he would hate to go down in history as the one who presided the dis-solvement of Puntland into the ill-fated TNG or being taken over by the Al-Itihad, two scenarios he loothes most. It is believed that this is precisely the reason why the Islam  and many others in Puntland have turned against Jama's claim to the top office. Here they seem to employ the adage "it is better the devil you know"! 

It is also reported that a portion of Garoowe residents are jittery to confront Mr Yusuf and his presence in their city. This group is supported by Mr Jama's  group and Al-Itihad business-people who gave them couple of "technicals" and financial resources.   

The inhabitants of Nugal region are divided into two camps. The first group are mostly younger generation and committed politicians and the second group are reactivated local Al-Itihad groups who are a minority.

The later was the one who encouraged the city residents to flee first when Abdullahi Yusuf arrived, and who are mobilizing local militias to face off with Abdullahi Yusuf and his militias. They are coordinating with Jama Ali Jama's forces and are in positions in Garowe and its surroundings. They are estimated at few hundred. The other camp who seem to be the majority are either supporting Abdullahi Yusuf or are indifferent.  

They have not been mobilizing a countering militia for Abdullahi Yusuf yet. Most of this group including Islam Mohamed are advocating for calm and peace and are against Jama A Jama.   

Islam Mohamed, who is regarded as the chief of Puntland's chiefs, seems to be overwhelmed but he is still capable to being the peace-maker in the politics of Puntland if he receives backing financially and politically for reconciliation and peace maintaining in the region.  

There was a 24-hour visit to Bosaso and Shimbirale by group of foreign journalists led by NBC journalist, accompanied by some local Mogadishu journalists. As told by Paul the lead journalist, they were invited and their itinerary dictated by Abdulqasim and TNG. No impact on anything- just some PR excercise for Jama and patrons. The NBC stayed behind and visited Garowe and Galkayo.   

It was reported by one of the Journalist that a contact was initiated between regional level State Dept officials and Jama Ali Jama. It is said that the officials just demanded that Jama not to create problems but to cooperate if and when American take action in Puntland.  It seems that the political groups in Puntland and in Somalia generally are hastening to strengthen their political positions and cards before the alleged America expedition comes in.   

Due to the writer's current exploration in the civil society structure and organizations in Puntland thus gaining an understanding, the uninspiring available leaders, the general and public indifference to the current political crisis and its state of deadlock, it is needed and it is viable to explore a third alternative or reconciliation meeting between the contestants and communities and to support them technically and financially. There are local social infrastructure and support to initiate a way out of this political logjam and to bring the peace and Puntland back.  

This article was sent to us from Somalia by a Puntlander who wishes to remain anonymous.


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