History Might Be Repeating Itself in Somalia

By Adan M. Dawad

Mogadishu (Commentary) — Homogeneity has been the most striking description about the Somali polity. Armed Somali clans that carved up Somalia into clan fiefdoms are now taking one further step to validate the proposition that, since Somalis belong to one ethnicity, they cannot co-exist peacefully under a mono-ethnic state. They will have to merge with neighbouring countries not by force but voluntarily, the argument goes.

PM Roble’s hasty decisions remind people of General Aidid who had a desire to replace Siad Barre as a new military leader.

The point is to worry less about breaking up Somalia into two countries, but the Somali nation state disappearing into neighbouring countries. This might sound far-fetched but the behaviour of political elites gives clues as to the plausibility of the proposition. The clan identity protects politicians who committed treason by authorising and signing Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya over Somalia maritime territory. National interest is absent in the rudimentary, political system of Somalia.

Take a look at the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu: it’s where, in 1991, leaders of the United Somali Congress turned the capital into militia strongholds and oversaw widespread looting and massacres. The capital city is still divided into militia strongholds paid in the name of security forces, a trend that the Union of Islamic Courts temporarily ended following the defeat of warlords funded by the United States under the banner of the Alliance for Counterterrorism fifteen years ago.

History may be repeating itself. In 1991 General Aidid went to Radio Mogadishu to try to proclaim that he “is the President of Somalia”. Colonel Donyale challenged him, but the damage that precipitated the collapse of state was done.

The takeover of Radio Mogadishu by PM Mohamed Hussein Roble, a distant relative of General Aidid’s, hints at where Somalia might heading — a second state collapse. The End of Somalia as a nation state might be nigh if United Somali Congress sentiments are still dominant among Mogadishu’s warlord-inspired political elites. Politicians who betrayed Somalia are seeking the highest office of the country.

Does such a nation state deserve to remain a member of community of nations if a large part of its capital are still indirectly controlled by militias, if the Security Minister holds a portfolio illegally because his militias are within a stone’s throw away from Villa Somalia? Answers on a postcard, please.

By Adan M. Dawad