Seminar on War Economy in Mogadishu Opening Speech by Abdurahman M. Abdullahi Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Mogadishu University abdurahmanba@yahoo.com 03/05/2007, Oslo, Norway Jeg onsker dere alle velkommen til dette seminaret!!! Bismi Allah Al-rahman Al-rahiim!!! Assalaamu aleykum wa raxmatu Allah!!! On behalf of Mogadishu University, let me first express our gratitude to the government of Norway in supporting this research project. Special thank goes to Mogadishu University research team coordinator Professor Yahya Haji Ibrahim, the dean of the faculty of economics and management and his colleague Dr. Stig Hansen from Norway. This research was conducted in a very dangerous environment where security concerns were the priority of the research team. Let me also thank all of you for your keen interest in Somalia. The research team will present their findings in the war economy in Mogadishu. My role will be limited to give short background on the current situation of Somalia. As you are aware, Somalia is a classical example of a collapsed state. Since 1991 it has been without an efficient government and remains one of the hot spots in the world news of conflicts, civil wars and human suffering. Somali ethnic being part of four horn of African states, namely Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, it is natural and inevitable that any major conflict and crisis occurring in Somalia proliferates to the other three countries and vice versa. On other

2 hand, Somalia belongs to both African Union and Arab League and both regional blocks mostly pull Somali issue into different directions. Moreover, Europeans represented by the former colony of Italy and UK are not always in agreement with the US hegemonic and unilateral policies in Somalia. Therefore, Somali conflict is so complex that involves not only divided Somalis but also many divided regional and international actors. Not aware of that complexity, many people, particularly, the Somalis are upset why homogeneous Somalis so much united in their common language, religion and aspirations fail to reconcile and reconstitute their collapsed state. Because of that complexity, successive regional attempts in

reconstituting Somali state in the last two decades in holding numerous reconciliation conferences failed to solve the conflict. Approaches used in these process were swinging from the warlord driven (1991-1999) to the civil society driven (2000) in Djibouti and to the warlord dominated (2003) in Kenya. passed since current transitional Almost, three years have was formed; government

nevertheless, the TFG remains dysfunctional and Somali people continue to be divided not only politically and socially, but also in the interpretation of the Islam and its role in the state. Historically, two major internal conflicts and rebellions against the Somali state had been observed: rebellion based on clan sentiment and rebellion in the name of Islam. Evidently, since the collapse of the state in 1991, most people resorted to take refuge and solace in Islam and protection from their clans. Consequently, Islam and clan developed into undisputed position in the society that should be reckoned and respected in any power configuration in Somalia. In understanding Somali debacle, it is important to look into state-society relations. Let me briefly comment into those relations.


1. Clans vs. the State: Conflict and accommodation Clans began their armed rebellion during socialist regime when some clans had dissented power sharing modality among different clans. In the course of the Somali history, the state was consistently striving to suppress clan sentiments through variety of legislations and harsh policies. Yet, policies and approaches used during military regime had nurtured clan polarization and radicalization. As a result, clan based factions were formed one after another as follows: Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) in 1978, Somali National Movement (SNM) in 1981, United Somali Congress (USC) in 1986, and United Somali Patriotic (USP) in 1989. These armed factions has gradually weakened the Somali state and finally succeeded to topple the regime and the state in 1991. In the absence of the national state, armed factions disagreed on the modality for transitional political arrangement. In the southern regions, Somalia remained in turmoil and as fiefdoms in the hands of different warlords. On other hand, Somaliland and Puntland, succeeded to abolish armed factions and established peaceful and thriving administrations on the basis of clan based power sharing. This change of paradigm and official recognition of the role of clan leaders in the state formation has saved these communities. After 10 years of more that 11 failed reconciliation conferences

participated by the leaders of the armed clan militia in the south, new approach was set into motion in the Djibouti Peace initiative in 2000. This conference had adopted clan based power sharing formula based on 4.5. This quota offers equal shares to the four big clans, namely, Darood, Hawiye, Dir and Digil & Mirifle. It also gives association of all other minority clans half of the quota. In this conference, clan factor was recognized, accepted and affirmed in the Transitional National

4 Charter. This was a sealing victory of tradition against modernity so much advocated by the Somali nationalist movement. 2. Islam vs. the State: conflict and marginalization Although Islam is the religion of the Somalis, however, its role in the modern Somali state was peripheral. As a result, Islamic movements were formed to express such grievances. With the collapse of the state, two major politically motivated organizations appeared to the scene, namely, Al-Islah and Al-Ittihad. These organizations were established and operating underground since 1970s and played a major role in preaching and advocating the application of Islamic principles society. in all aspects of life in Somalia. Evidently, these organizations took different approaches in dealing with the Somali Al-Islah holds the ideology and approaches similar to the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood that aims to reform Muslim societies in promoting Islamic values and principles in evolutionary way. It is nonviolent organization focussing like on long term training, projects health and and developmental programs education,

reconciliation in order to propagate Islamic values and principles. On the other hand, Al-Ittihad is a neo-Salafiya movement ideologically affiliated to the global Salafiya. Their methodology and approaches puts them in conflict with the traditional Sufis widespread in Somalia. Moreover, their peaceful programs of 1980s developed into militant in 1990s and as a result, they entered into armed confrontations with different clan militias in 1990s. During Somali Reconciliation Conference in Djibouti in 2000, Islam was given due consideration and Islamic organizations actively participated in fully the conference. However, the during IGAD sponsored Somali was Reconciliation Conference in Kenya in 2003, Islamic organizations were marginalized and warlord–dominated conference

5 concluded. Moreover, with the US support, the warlords in Mogadishu organized an alliance to eliminate Islamist elements considered by US to be part of global networks of terrorists. This action had provoked unprecedented upsurge of Islamic sentiment led by the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC). Consequently, political environment of Somalia had totally changed with the victory of UIC over the warlords and their uncontested power in Mogadishu and most regions in the southern Somalia. After two meetings in Khartoum between the TFG and UIC, it was clear that both sides were not ready to conclude a deal and the conflict escalated into a total war. The initial confrontation between the warlords and UIC in Mogadishu could be considered as a popular uprising and legitimate defence under Islamic banner against old clan based armed groups fulfilling US agenda. Nonetheless, UIC’s rapid advances to other regions, their plan to destroy the TNG in Baidoa, their uncompromising position in the reconciliation conferences gave them an image as new political faction based on Islam. It could be said that if clan based armed factions destroyed Somali state in 1991, Islam based faction was following the same line to destroy the TFG in Baidoa. Evidently, Islam and clan sentiments as the basics of Somaliness, if they are aroused, are capable of destroying the Somali state. It was so in 1991 and the same scenario repeats itself in 2006. The major difference between 1991 and 2006 with respect for Somali state is the change that occurred in the world after 9/11. And because of that change, Ethiopia and US intervened militarily and defeated forces of the UIC and propped up the weak TFG. As you all know, this fight has reached its peak in the recent bloody war in Mogadishu that was so much devastating in terms of human lives lost and properties destroyed.

6 External actors like the US, IGAD countries particularly Ethiopia and Eritrea, Arab League in particular Egypt and Yemen and other international community are involved in this conflict. They are divided on how to deal with the complex Somali situation. US and Ethiopia advocate that the fighting is part of the global war on terrorism and both countries cooperate to deal with it militarily. They also mobilize other African states to participate in the pacification of Somalia. On other hand, Eritrea and other actors support insurgents, remnants of UIC and other oppositions. Unfortunately, Somali people who had suffered greatly from the cold war and civil war are becoming a gain a victim of the proxy war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and US global war on terrorism. 3. Conclusion Military defeat of UIC does not mean that the core ideology that motivated them and their supporters will easily dissipate and fade away. Also, it does not means that protracted Somali debacle will be solved once for all. The biggest challenges in solving Somali conflict are: (1) the low capacity of the current transitional institutions, (2) proliferation of weapons, (3) anarchists who are opposing any system of governance and (4) interventions of the regional and international actors. Eventually, this conflict will persist until all political groups are disarmed and accept to participate in the political process through peaceful and democratic means. Classification of Somali citizens into “good and bad Muslims” advocated by some Islamic circles and relinquishing Islam into the periphery espoused by secular elites and supported by the external actors will not contribute to restoring peace in Somalia and the Horn of Africa. Therefore, there is a need for a comprehensive and inclusive approach that offers all Somalis an opportunity to reinvent their system of governance and to accommodate all groups within that system. For that reason, it

7 becomes important to have a genuine peace conference participated by all stakeholders where, among other issues, the roles of clans and Islam in the state is debated and agreed. Moreover, any success of the future Somali state depends on the skilful reconciliation of nationalism and Islam on one hand and accommodating clan attachments on the other. This research project, financed by Norwegian government and conducted by Mogadishu University and Bath University in UK, provides better understanding of Mogadishu business community and their role in peace and war. This study is very important because business group’s economic power has been contributing much in opposing or supporting different political projects in Mogadishu in the last two decades. It also provides insights of the resilience of Somali community in dealing with the harsh environment of civil war. Let us give the stage to prof. Yahya and Dr. Hansen to share with us their findings.

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