War Destroyed the Somali State

By Adan M. Dawad

Oblivious to lessons of history, Hassan Mudane subtly endorsed war to back Mogadishu-based elites’ state-building approach to Somalia.

In a Somali language essay entitled Dagaalka fursad ha la siiyo (Give war a chance), Hassan Mudane, a writer on Somali politics, endorses war as a path to state-building in Somalia. “Given what happened in Mogadishu, Beled-hawo, Guri’el and Boosaaso, you will know where Somalia is headed and the burning argument. It is an argument that underscores war as a solution in the sense that one group will emerge as the winner to form a central government and acquire monopoly on violence” writes Hassan.

Hassan acknowledges that the war-as-a-solution argument was first mooted by Edward Luttwak in a Foreign Affairs journal article twenty one years ago. “There are Somali intellectuals and politicians who look upon war as a necessary evil through which the winning group will end the anarchy and fiefdom politics in which we have been living” added Hassan.

The war-as-solution argument vindicates the British government whose positon on the arms embargo on Somalia angers the Federal Government and Mogadishu-based ‘opposition’ politicians who agree on the need to solely arm Mogadishu-controlled forces. As in 1991, weapons imported in the name of Somalia could end up in the hands of militias, with state collapse as the most likely outcome. What happened in Mogadishu in April 2021, when the opposition politicians managed to divide the army as pro-government troops and Salvation Forces, shows risks to the state-building processes in Somalia.

Edward Luttwak argued in his essay that NGOs had prolonged the Somali civil war.

At the London 2017 Somalia Conference stakeholders agreed transparent and consensus-based approach to rebuilding Somalia’s armed and security forces based on Security Architecture. Somalia is a country with multiple security forces funded by foreign countries. The International Community’s worry is that drones supplied by Turkey for use by the Somali Army could be stolen or sold to Al-shabaab or to other non-state criminal actors. Without civilian oversight the Somali Army will remain an institution susceptible to abuse by politicians.

Thirty years ago today a war between forces loyal to Ali Mahdi Mohamed and General Mohamed Farah Aideed was raging in Mogadishu. Both men viewed war as a state-building process. If Hassan is not selling Lutwakk’s polemic, why has he used the Somali version of the military strategist’s essay title? He writes that under President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, the executive branch had captured the bicameral legislature. Under President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud the former unicameral legislature was controlled by Damuljadid clique. State-building processes promoted by one group is unlikely to emerge as a fillip to the primacy of the state in Somalia.

Adan M. Dawad