[SW Country] ( Ali A. Jama)
Comments to ICG Africa Briefing No 64 - Somalia: The Trouble with Puntland : Posted on 15 Aug 2009
to Comments to ICG Africa Briefing No 64 - Somalia:
The Trouble with Puntland
By Ali A. Jama ( email@example.com)
, 15 August 2009
I do not speak for Puntland State
of Somalia, and I am
hoping the official response to ICG Africa
Briefing No 64 of 12 August 2009 (ICG Briefing 64) shall be given by
the competent authority in Puntland. But as
interested observer to the Somali scene and a private citizen, I am
recording a brief account of my comments to the ICG Briefing 64.
ICG Briefing 64 is troubling by its lack of
proportionality and objectivity.
Lack of Proportionality of ICG Briefing 64
ICG Briefing 64 is a flawed piece of work when one
considers the political and social context of the subject matter - Somalia.
It lacks proportionality by its very critical nature of Puntland State of Somalia
at a time when hardly there is any other good news coming out of Somalia.
It is inconceivable why Puntland, arguably, the
bright spot now in the Somali body politics, should be the subject of
fierce attack, while there is plenty of bad news coming out of Somalia
that could have made more sensible material for criticism.
On the principle of proportionality, Puntland
would score very high in the context of overall Somali body politics. I
would argue that in the general scheme of things in Somalia now, Puntland deserves a pat on the shoulder for its
grassroots efforts to better the lives of its citizens and the thousands of
IDP’s from war-torn South and Central part of the
country. So one can only conclude that the Think Tank ICG has some ulterior
motives in the publication of ICG Briefing 64.
Surely, Puntland has problems
and the tasks ahead are not easy, but this report will not contribute
positively to the solution of its problems. The few positive elements in
the Report, I believe, are intended to sugar coat the sinister intentions
discussed widely in the ICG Briefing 64.
ICG’s Credibility on Somali Affairs
ICG’s work on Somalia is well documented. It
has been intrusive, biased, and often get thing wrong. A good example is
their Africa Report N°147 of 23 December 2008 - Somalia:
(Somalia) Beyond the Failed State
in which they campaigned vigorously to discredit and the TFG
structure, then led by President Abdullahi Yusuf.
These are some of what the ICG recommended in Report 147:
“The Transitional Federal
Government (TFG) has failed in four years to create a broad-based government
and now is non-functional, existing almost only in name. President Abdillahi Yusuf has marginalised
large parts of the population and exacerbated divisions. The latest
confrontation with parliament and the prime minister has underlined that
Yusuf hampers any progress on peace, has become a liability for the
country’s survival and should be encouraged to resign”
“…..if additional parties
can be persuaded to join the Djibouti reconciliation talks, and local and
international actors – including the U.S. and Ethiopia – accept that room
must be found for much of the Islamist insurgency in that process and
ultimately in a new government dispensation…”
Now we know! , ICG’s two
above-mentioned recommendation has been granted. - President Abdllahi
Yusuf resigned on 27th Dec 2008, the new “government
dispensation” set up in Djibouti
included the insurgency. But far from the rosy picture that ICG was
predicting in their Report, the net results of their recommendations have
been more bloodshed, more displaced people, more insurgent groups, more
foreign extremists, and more violence in South and Central Somalia than any
time in the recent history of the country.
Given this gross misjudgment just eight months ago, and
the disastrous results for Somalia
as a whole, is there any credibility to this Think Tank group now? I will leave the answer for the readers
Instead of apologizing to the Somali people for their
disastrous past actions, here comes ICG Briefing 64, damning the
performance of one of the few functioning structures in country – Puntland. The analogy of this ICG Report would be the
school teacher who foolishly reprimands and punishes his best class student
for the poor performance of the rest of his students. This defies logic! To
me ICG Briefing 64 is an indicative of ill-intentions and dark motives.
Some Specifics of ICG
I have chosen 3 specific areas where the ICG Briefing 64
was critical of Puntland State
and give short comments on each:
Puntland Relationship with TFG.
ICG would like to see that Puntland
takes the risk of subordinating its hard-earned functioning institutions to
the shaky dysfunctional TFG system. What ICG does not acknowledge is that Puntland was and still is the backbone of the TFG
structure. No region or group in the country has done more to sustain the
TFG than Puntland. Public officials from the
President down have been reiterating time and again their commitment to the
basic principles of Federal Somalia, but understandably, are not willing to
take risk of subordinating their institutions yet. Both Pres. Sheik Sharif
and Prime Min Omar Abdirashid have acknowledged Puntland’s place in Somalia on their congratulatory
notes on 1st of August
2009, the 11th anniversary celebrations of Puntland.
In his message Sheik Sharif characterized Puntland
as the “Mother of Somalia”, which I believe is a fair characterization of Puntland, given all the sacrifices it is doing for the
greater cause of the Somali Nation.
But Puntland has also made it
clear that it will develop its resources in a manner that it sees fit to
address its current needs. It made it clear also that limits of authorities
between the Federal and the State structures needs to be negotiated in a
calibrated manner when reliable Federal structures emerge. This, in my
opinion is a fair game. Both Puntland and TFG
have responsibilities to iron out any differences that may exist now. The
onus is however, on the TFG side and I hope it makes the right moves to
re-assure Puntland that it means no harm.
Instead to trying to understand the Puntland
logic, the ICG Briefing 64 resorts to baseless fear mongering, that Puntland’s “traditional unionist position officially
adopted in 1998” is shifting towards secessionist path. This in my opinion
is a load of crab!
The new Puntland Constitution
The thrust of the message contained in ICG Briefing 64
seems to have been triggered by the new Puntland
Constitution. Somehow this document got into the nerves of the Author(s).
ICG wants to “suspend the implementation of the new constitution”, “redraft
it in a more inclusive process”, and use experts to help “meet
international standards”. The report states also that the “constitution was
crafted in secrecy, without input from civil society and key clan
constituents”. “Non-Majerten apprehensions were
reinforced when the council of ministers quietly adopted the draft in June
2008 (2009), immediately followed by the legislature”.
Personally, I am not an expert on constitutions, nor am I
privy to the consultative processes that went into the Puntland
constitution, but I remember there was a fair amount of debate in the
legislature. Was that enough? Perhaps competent Puntland
authorities can comment on this. But what is clear from the ICG Briefing 64
is the following:
An attempt to incite trouble
and clan discord in Puntland.
Collapse of Puntland
The ICG Briefing 64 is sounding the doomsday alarm with
such a passion that one gets the impression very soon Puntland
system will not be there any more! It makes the outlandish statements of
“collapse of inter-clan cohesion”, “collapse of pan-Darood
solidarity that led to creation in 1998”, “violent breakup of Puntland as rival clans seeking autonomy from Growe carve out their own enclaves” and many others.
Well, I hope and believe ICG’s
wish will not be granted and Puntland will not
collapse any time soon! And I hope the Puntland
authority would check the facts and respond to these outlandish statements,
not necessarily to ICG per se, but with action on the ground to discredit
the fear-mongering-good-for-nothing monsters, the likes of ICG, that make
their living on the sorry plight of the downtrodden.
ICG Briefing 64 contains
serious allegations on individuals in Puntland
Authority, and I decided not to comment on these points.
This Report, despite its
obvious shortcomings, some of which I discussed above, can serve useful
purpose. I hope Puntland Authority will screen it
carefully and follow up the elements that can add value to the State
And last but not least, the
existing Authority seems to be heading in the right direction. Puntland voices are louder and gaining momentum. Ku dayo Puntland song has
been an instant hit, albeit dampened by the recent unfortunate events in Galkayo. I hope Puntland can steer
the ship back on course again.