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The Enemies of Somalia: An Obstacle to Peace and Stability



Abdihafid Mahamud Jama

Somalia has gone through a tumultuous period from civil war to a complete state failure, impacting on our sovereignty, peace, harmony and dignity as people. Despite many challenges ahead, we are beginning to see a gradual recovery through the help of the international community and our current leaders who are dealing with local and international challenges/threats facing Somalia. To fully comprehend where we are today, you just have to refer back to the political turmoil and traumas Somalia has gone through in the last 27 years. We come so far, but there is much more to do.

The election of Hon Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo brought back a period of optimism, political hopes and sense of dignity for the Somali people. The new government face many challenges internally and externally, and with that, mistakes are inevitable under the pressure of governing. When mistakes are made and governments lose focus, it helps to show a degree of contrition and commitment to reform and delivery. The Government must re-focus and work towards their political promises of security and stability and good governance. This is what the Somali public expects from their Government and I hope our leaders take heed to this much needed and timely advice.

While saying that, what is clear to me is that we have young leaders who have their heart in the right place for Somalia. They champion a much needed care and compassion for the vulnerable in our society and see their role beyond a salvaging mission for Somalia, but the restoration of Somalia’s dignity locally and internationally. For them is about the people of Somalia rather the beaucracy they control. Under enormous political challenges, their central message is about the tomato seller, to the innocent child growing up and learning with an empty stomach. They see the huge potential Somalia has and what that could mean for these vulnerable citizens, if the right political stability and peace is finally achieved in Somalia. This is a sea change for Somalia’s politics, but only if we all help this vision to materialise for our common good and future prospects.

When the political and security challenges are huge, the last thing Somalia needs is the emergence of state sponsored political spoilers and opportunist to derail the journey of the ongoing gradual progress.

These are disgruntled political opportunist who emphatically lost the Presidential elections because they lacked the leadership and ideas to take Somalia Forward. When this happens to politicians, you would think they would go to the political wilderness and re- think or re-focus. Not these politicians – they are a breed of unashamed political spies on hire for other states.

After Alshabaab, our second enemy of Somalia has become some our own politicians who are working to further the strategic interest of other countries rather than their own people. They have allegedly looted (open secret) Somalia to the teeth and are now in the process of dismantling the little progress we are making to further their own pockets again. Among the front runners of these common spoilers or politicians is our former Prime Minister, Senator Omar Abdirashid Sharmake. These are the people who sold our seas to Kenya, prompting a legal maritime dispute between the state of Somalia and Kenya at the ICC in The Hague. Our lawyers and legal teams are has done a sterling work in winning the first phase of the legal battle against the bogus legal claims made by Kenya for their strategic economic interest. It is unfortunate set of circumstances but we really do not need another enemy from abroad when our own serving politicians are publicly stealing our public assets for the interest of other nations.

These same politicians are now in the process of advancing the state of UAE’s interest having been paid large amounts of money to destabilise Somalia, attempting to force our Government’s hand to support UAE and Saudi Arabia alliance in their dispute with Qatar. Given the fact that they have sold Somalia’s seas to (open secret) to Kenya, I am amazed they even have the audacity to face the Somali public. This gives you an idea of their inner character and political convictions. Furthermore, our former Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmake is not your usual politicians. He is the son of the second President of the Somali Republic, the late Abdirshashid Ali Sharmake. To have Omar Abdirashid Sharmake actively working to destabilise Somalia for financial gain is an insult to his father’s legacy. If such individual who has grown up in Villa Somalia in a well established family is behaving like this, what do we expect from other politicians?  The late President must be spinning in his grave.

These politicians have become a taxi on hire and unashamedly see their work as a badge of honour.

Yet, they have been sworn in with the Holy Qur,aan to serve the interest/dignity of their people. In the last Government, they have conspired to sell our seas and are now engaged in selling the dignity and our lands to the UAE/KSA. They have become lobbyist on hire. They have, therefore, become the second enemy of Somalia after Alshabaab. Our people should know the enemy within, especially Omar Abdirashid Sharmake and his cohorts who are proud and open about their mischief against the state and the people of Somalia.

The position taken by the Government in regards to Arab dispute is legally, politically sound, and is in line with international law. It’s a sensible neutral position that invites dialogue and reconciliation – an extension of our Islamic values to promote peace and dialogue between our Muslims brothers/sisters.

If we even entertain the idea of siding with the KSA position, one has to ask what has Saudi Arabia and UAE ever done for Somalia strategically other than watch the demise of the Somali state in 1991 from a far distance. Once you compare that to Ethiopia, which suffered a bloodless coup in 1991, they had none other than James Baker, US Secretary of State in Addis Ababa to defuse military/ political tensions and

help avert full blown civil war between the Ethiopian people.  This was our hour of need and KSA Alliance miserably failed Somalia and left us to our own. To make matters worse, they have even refused our refugees fleeing the civil war while Europe and North America showed compassion and humanitarian leadership, opening their doors for millions of Somali people.

KSA and UAE are our brothers/ sisters – but politically and strategically we can respectively take a different course, taking our political future into our own hands. These countries must also realise the arch of history in Somalia is bending further to patriotism (Wadanimo) and Somalia’s people and it’s politicians will no longer stand for hired  political spoilers who have no credibility among the Somalia public. Such countries will be better advised to negotiate and find a workable settlement with the Somali government rather than resort to destabilisation as means to an end. The international community (if they are serious about Somalia) must also consistently adhere to the principles agreed at the 2012 London Somali Conference led by the United Kingdom Government where  they was a political commitment to sanction political spoilers on Somalia’s politics and stability.  The last thing Somalia needs is a Cold War from other nations who are supposedly part of the international community supporting Somalia’s recovery.

Although there are security challenges in Somalia, the international community in Somalia is not only in Somalia for securing stability and humanitarian aid – they see Somalia as a strategically rich country – containing  one of the last untouched natural resources left in the world. The Somali public must come to realise their turmoil will be over soon if we unite and assist our young government by deterring political spoilers on hire.

To put it simply, Senator Omar Abdrashid Sharmake and his cohorts are the unacceptable face of Somalia’s politics, available and on hire to sell the dignity and the stability of Somalia for a financial gain. Let’s all be mindful and clean the Swamp within our midst.


By Abdihafid Mahamud Jama



Civil strife in Ethiopia has the potential to destabilise the whole region



Ethiopia is experiencing ethnic and political tensions that could have far-reaching implications for its neighbors in the Horn of Africa, and beyond.

Abukar Arman is a writer, a former diplomat and an activist whose work on foreign policy, geopolitics and faith is widely published.

The Horn of Africa is among the most congested, eventful, and most volatile geopolitical intersections on earth. It is where the West meets the East in a highly competitive game of strategic positioning for economic or hegemonic advantage.

China and Turkey who, more or less, employ similar soft-power strategies have tangible investments in various countries in the region, including Ethiopia. However, the widespread discontent with Ethiopia’s repressive impulses and its ethnic favoritism that led to a particular ethnic minority (Tigray) to exclusively operate the state apparatus has inspired Arab Spring-like mass protests. These protests have caused serious rancor within the ruling party. It is only a matter of time before this haemorrhaging government might collapse.

So, who is likely to gain or lose from this imminent shockwave in the region’s balance of power?

The Nile Tsunami

Ethiopia — a country previously considered as a stable regional hegemon, a robust emerging market, and a reliable counter-terrorism partner — is on the verge of meltdown, if not long-term civil strife.

Today, the Ethiopian government is caught between two serious challenges of domestic and foreign nature: the Oromo/Amhara mass protests tacitly supported by the West, and the water rights conflict with Egypt, Sudan and Somalia.

Ethiopia is claiming the lion’s share on the Nile that runs through it and other rivers that flow from its highlands for the Grand Renaissance Dam – thus presenting existential threats to the connected nations.

For the third time in three years, the Shabelle River has dried up, putting millions of Somalis at risk of starvation.

But the current government is not ready for a substantive change of guard. The longer the mass protests continue and the minority-led government continues to offer artificial or symbolic gestures of prisoner releases — while declaring a second ‘state of emergency’ in two years— the faster Ethiopia will become destabilised and the faster foreign investments will fizzle away.

Worse — though seemingly unthinkable — the ‘favorite nation’ status granted to Ethiopia after becoming the US’ main partner in the global ‘War on Terroris’ is slowly corroding.

Despite this week’s visit from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the US State Department is gradually turning its back on Ethiopia for a number of reasons; chief among them, is its double-dealings on the South Sudan issue.

Despite the facade of US/China collaboration to end the South Sudan civil war, the geopolitical rivalry between these two giants has been pressuring Ethiopia to pledge exclusive allegiance to one over the other.

With China’s huge investments on Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan’s oil fields – making a choice won’t be too difficult.

The Kenya Factor

Several years ago I wrote an article arguing that the two most stable nations in the Horn (Kenya and Ethiopia) will become more unstable as Somalia becomes more stable.

Today, the Ethiopian government is facing the most serious threat since it took power by the barrel of the gun, and Kenya has a highly polarised population and two presidents ‘elected’ along clan lines.

Kenya — the nerve center of the international humanitarian industry — could just be one major incident away from inter-clan combustion.

The Somalia Factor

The Ethiopian government has launched a clandestine campaign of strategic disinformation intended to fracture or breakup opposition coalitions and recruit or lure potential comrades.

Ethiopian intelligence officers and members of the diplomatic corps together with some ethnic-Somali Ethiopians have been recruiting naive Somali government officials, intellectuals and activists with a Machiavellian disinformation campaign.

Meanwhile, IGAD — Ethiopia’s regional camouflage — calls for an open-borders agreement between member states. Despite broad-based public perception that for a fragile state like Somalia, such an agreement would be tantamount to annexation, some Somali politicians are eagerly carrying its banner.

These kinds of desperate campaigns and the abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn only underscore the fact that the government’s days are numbered.

The Sudan Factor

Sudan is caught in a loyalty triangle (Ethiopia, Egypt and Turkey) with competing powers. Sudan needs Egypt to address threats faced by the two nations regarding the diminishing access to the Nile by reasserting rights granted through the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty.

It needs Ethiopia to protect China’s economic partnership and to shield President Omar al Bashir from Western harassment through IGAD.

It also needs Turkey for development and for a long-term strategic partnership. Sudan has become the second country in Africa to grant Turkey a military base, with Somalia being the first.

The Eritrea Factor

When neocons dominated US foreign policy and the global ‘War on Terror’ was the order of all orders, Eritrea was slapped with sanctions. It was accused of being the primary funder and weapons supplier to al Shabab.

Today, though neither the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia or Eritrea nor any expert free from Ethiopian influence holds such a view, yet the sanctions have not been lifted.

The Ethiopian lobby and certain influential elements within US foreign policy-making circles continue to label Eritrea as a Marxist rogue state that undermines regional institutions such as IGAD and international ones like the UN Security Council; a closed society that espouses a deep rooted hatred towards the West.

Against that backdrop, the UAE has been investing heavily in Eritrea since 2015 or the beginning of the Yemen war that has created one of the the worst humanitarian disasters. The Emirati military (and its Academi/Blackwater shadow) now operates from a military base in Assab. Whether that’s a Trojan Horse or not, is a different discussion altogether.

Ins And Outs

The current wave of discontent against the Ethiopian government is likely to continue. But, considering how the Tigray has a total control on all levers of power, a transition of power will not be an easy process.

Ethiopia is also rumoured to have created an ethnically Somali counterinsurgency force in the Liyu Police. This ruthless force has already been used against the Oromos as they were used against Somalis of various regions that share a border with Ethiopia.

The extrajudicial killings and human rights violations are well documented. Despite all this, the Oromo and Amhara are set to reach their objectives albeit with bruised and bloody faces.

Will their coalition remain or, due to their historical distrust, will each eventually invoke its constitutional right to secede?

Whatever the outcome, any scenario of civil war or chaos in Ethiopia could put the entire Horn in danger and create a potential humanitarian catastrophe, especially in Somalia.

Meanwhile South Sudan is a lightyear away from sustainable political reconciliation especially since the foreign elements fueling the fire are not likely to stop any time soon. Djibouti remains the host of the most intriguing geopolitical circus. So, that leaves Eritrea as an island of stability in the region.

In the foreseeable future, Turkey could divest her investment out of Ethiopia into Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea. China will diversify her portfolio to include Eritrea. And the US — with no new policy — will continue droning her way through geopolitical schizophrenia.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT World.

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Turkey’s foray into Somalia is a huge success, but there are risks



Brendon J. Cannon is an Assistant Professor of International Security, Department of Humanities & Social Science at Khalifa University of Science & Technology (Abu Dhabi, UAE).

THE CONVERSATION –Turkey’s presence in Somalia certainly embodies one of the most interesting regional geopolitical developments in the past decade. It also represents one of the most misunderstood and confusing. Why did Turkey choose Somalia? And, after its initial humanitarian intervention in 2011, what internal and external forces have shaped and expanded that involvement? Furthermore, what explains Turkey’s reported triumphs?

Some have pointed to a shared history and a common Sunni Muslim heritage. This is questionable, at best, and alone cannot explain Turkey’s engagement with Somalia – let alone the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. Others have noted Turkey’s economic clout and its status as a mid-sized country interested in trade rather than extracting resources.

Genuine humanitarian concerns have also, at least initially, driven Turkey’s engagement as well as the prospect of economic gain. Scholar Federico Donelli notes its approach to Somalia

“has made Turkey a regional actor different from the traditional western powers, as well as from the emerging non-western ones.”

Turkey’s approach in Somalia has been largely welcomed inside and outside the African nation. However, a cautionary note is required. Allegations of corruption and bribery have surfaced. Turkey’s recent opening of a military training base in Mogadishu to train the Somali National Army has also raised eyebrows across the wider Horn of Africa region.

Keys to success
Ankara has an understandable and deep seated desire for international recognition as an emerging power and G20 member state. Its status in Somalia is part humanitarian and part financial, but is at its heart about influence and prestige.

Turkish money and aid – delivered directly to key stakeholders in the Somali Federal Government – ingratiated Turkey with local power brokers and provided Ankara with access and power in Mogadishu. What soon followed is Turkish control and management of Somalia’s most lucrative assets, the airport and seaport.

Parallel to these were unilateral rebuilding efforts, offers of scholarships, renovations of hospitals, and the hosting of international conferences about Somalia. These have largely contributed positively to Somalia’s development and yielded the international acclaim and diplomatic clout craved by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his coterie.

For some parties inside and outside Somalia, Turkey is now viewed as indispensable to Somalia. The keys to Turkey’s reported success in Somalia – where so many other established powers have failed before – may revolve around four critical factors.

The first is approach. Most interventions in Somalia have been multilateral affairs by international and regional actors, such as the UN. Turkey’s approach, in contrast, has been largely unilateral and highly coordinated by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency. In this way, the efforts of business, government and humanitarian staff either do not overlap or do so effectively.

Second is novelty. Turkey’s Ottoman past and Muslim identity have been raised as major variables driving Turkey’s engagement with Somalia. But these assertions ignore or minimise one of its key strengths as a rising power: its distinct lack of a colonial past that devastated so much of the continent.

This approach is not only novel; it also represents Turkey’s first meaningful engagement with the continent. This contrasts sharply with that of the US, France, Russia and China, among others, which have a colonial or Cold War baggage.

The third factor is risk. Somalia has been the scene of thousands of capacity building and self-help experiments funded by a plethora of international organisations and states. Yet it is precisely where these efforts have failed that Turkey has found its niche.

This required a big appetite for risk. Naturally, as the risks rise the potential for significant rewards does too. The economic rationale for risk among Turkish businesses is particularly high, given experiences in difficult environments such as Iraq and Libya. This has contributed to sensible, if risky actions in Somalia.

Fourth is soft power. Turkey has deployed an array of soft power approaches. These include diplomatic support for Somalia and direct flights on the Turkish national airline from Mogadishu to Istanbul. These pragmatic approaches have also led Turkish businesses to reap major financial rewards and lucrative contracts.

Turkey’s interest has shifted from being primarily humanitarian to one that also takes into account the political and security aspects of the country. Doing so, as stated in the Becoming Global Actor: The Turkish Agenda for the Global South has made the country

“a hybrid non-traditional actor because it combines the traditional political-stability perspective of western powers with the economic-trade perspective of emerging ones.”

It also has broken with the traditional development model for Somalia that has characterised the past three decades.

Hybrid approach
Turkey’s hybrid approach may yet lead to mission creep and draw the country into Somalia’s infamous clan politics. Its increasing role could also put it on a collision course with other states, regionally and internationally.

However, its actions have arguably improved the situation in Somalia over the past six years. This is because Ankara has actually attempted to assuage rather than solve Somalia’s long-standing problems outright. Investment is largely driven by profits and assistance is targeted, coordinated and based on needs.

These interventions rarely come with the types of strings attached that characterise other efforts seeking to restructure Somalia. This has been welcomed by many Somalis for whom requirements for political reform or the creation of accountability mechanisms ring hollow.

Brendon J. Cannon, Assistant Professor of International Security, Department of Humanities and Social Science, Khalifa University

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Islamic Hijab Is More Than Sexuality




Mohamed Ibrahim
Chairman of London Somali Youth Forum, a London based, UK, Social Activist

In reference to the article published on the Evening Standard on 24 January 2016 and written by Nimco Ali who claimed that the Hijab sexualises little girls, I take the view this article is misleading and intended to cause further confusion on a subject, which the writer does not fully have knowledge of.

I respect and support the FGM campaign and the pursuit of equal rights for women and girls everywhere. However, it seems Nimco Ali is now moving the goal post to Hijab wearing young girls. This, I believe, is a distorted view that serves no purpose other than to confuse the public discourse. Hijab, Kippah and the Turban are personnel choice for parents intended to serve a religious purpose for modesty, social protection and religious entity. This is a religious freedom of choice for parents as they are the parental guardians for our children. It is my view the writer is right to start a discussion on the issue. However, the writer fails to understand the Hijab serves many other purposes other than modesty. It is a form of religious identity for our Muslim girls intended to encourage them about their values. It is my view the writer is attacking a value she has missed out on at young age and I would encourage her to seek further knowledge on the subject before throwing extreme form of liberalism on our faces.

I would like to encourage the mainstream media to seek people of knowledge on the subject matter other than channelling their own comforting views through people who clearly do not know what they are talking about. It is becoming a common trend in the media to have Muslims being represented by people who are themselves in need of rehabilitation, distorting the facts and confusing the wider public for personnel interests or beliefs. It is a comforting view for right-wing audience, but serves no purpose for community cohesion,mutual understanding and knowledge.

These writers or activists can express their own opinions. However, when their glass is half full, they can hardly contribute to progress on a subject matter they have no knowledge of. It is also ironic to have a freedom fighter for women/girls seeking to limit the religious freedoms of our parents and children. The writer’s views have no logic of reasoning, coherence and knowledge of this subject matter.

Mohamed Ibrahim

Chairman of London Somali Youth Forum, a London based, UK, Social Activist
@Mi_shiine (Twitter) 

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