The communiqué of February 23 Conference on Somalia, dominated by the International Contact Group (ICG) and the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia fell far short of all expectations. The promised new approach or step-change by the British leaders to tackle the root causes of insecurity and lack of functional government responsible for the inexorable decline of 20 years in Somalia did not materialize. Concretely, nothing in the communiqué responds to the solution of the well described dreadful situation in Somalia, a country suffering for wars and natural disasters. The reason is a matter of conjecture.
The communiqué listed operational tasks before a national polity capable of pursuing the interests of the Somali people is in place. This means that South Central Somalia became subject to the alien paradigm of Prof Stephen D. Krasner, who in his paper titled “troubled societies, outlaw states and gradations of sovereignty” argued that alternative institutional arrangements, such as trusteeship and shared sovereignty must be legitimized if international threats are to be reduced and the prospects for individuals in troubled societies improved. This view seems operationalized through the New Deal of Engagement with Fragile States adopted by the Conference.
In blatant contradiction to the statement that “decisions on Somalia’s future rest with the Somali people,” which is true, the London conference decided for Somalia and stripped Somalia of its indivisibility, sovereignty and polity. The participation of the conference by several delegations from Somalia for the absence of a national leader who represents the voice of Somalia before the international community did undercut Somalia’s common cause. The invitation of the ousted Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan under Ethiopian pressure was also a snub to large segment of the Somali population and show of Ethiopia’s veto power over Somalia.
The Communiqué, released before the conference took place, failed to take into consideration most of the suggestions made by members of the Somali communities, of the opinions of many international leaders like Mary Robinson who emphasized the humanitarian consideration over military actions and President Ismail Omar Ghelle who strongly advocated for the top priority of funding Somali forces over AMISOM forces, of the Guardian editorial strongly suggesting the consideration for disengagement and of other international experts.
With political mastery, to deflect any criticism from the humanitarian activists, UK addressed AMISOM funding outside the conference. On Feb 22, it has pushed through the UN Security Council a resolution that increased AMISOM forces from 12,000 to 17, 731 with the annual budget of $ 550 million. Reimbursement for lost or destroyed equipment during the fighting is extra budget. Kenya complains about the rejection of $ 10 million requested for its navy while it received from UK $ 15 million with no string attached. The humanitarian assistance offered during the conference could be intended to mitigate the expected human disaster due to the escalation of military operations in Somalia.
The communiqué ignored to reaffirm the territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of Somalia. Also, it remained silent about the illegal fishing and dumping of toxic off the Somali coast, the indiscriminate shelling and killing of civilians by UN supported forces and the frequent Ethiopian military incursions into Somalia.
Out of the 26 paragraphs of the communiqué, only 7 paragraphs contain new information. The important tasks spelled out in these paragraphs are the followings:
1. Endorsement of the unpopular UNPOS political process based on making new constitution in the midst of civil war, regional secessions, social distrust and foreign interventions. The constituencies of the new constitution are not defined. The Switzerland government is the major backer of the new federal constitution. This is unprecedented political misjudgment.
2. End of the Transitional Federal Institutions in August 20, 2012. The communiqué leaves out what will follow but the list of activities detailed in it foretells a standby arrangement.
3. Introduction of parallel Somali political processes at the national and local levels. It is not clear the relationship between these two parallel processes.
4. Establishment of a New Stability Fund. Local areas will be supported based on the new deal for engagement with fragile states recently adopted in Busan and on the stabilization strategies prepared by both IGAD and TFG.
5. Confirmation that Somaliland is not part of Somalia or of TFG. On February 23, 2012, Somalia ended to exist internationally. Over the next three years, Somaliland will receive directly from UK about £105 million for promoting prosperity, tackling poverty and consolidating progress on stability and democracy.
6. Adherence to shady agreements like Djibouti Agreement, Kampala Accord, Roadmap and Garowe principles I and II. These agreements violate the Transitional Federal Charter and obstruct genuine political process.
7. Establishment of a Joint Financial Management Board (JFMB) in conflict with the Transitional Federal Charter and any national Constitution. JFMB reinforces the lack of transparency and accountability because Board members are foreigners. International and domestic resources are regulated by different rules and principles. French Republic, United Kingdom, European Union and the World Bank are the initial members of JFMB. The President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of finance of the TFG will initially represent the TFG on the JFMB. This arrangement violates the Somali constitution and domestic laws. JFMB will usurp the establishment of the offices of the Ministry of Finance, Accountant General, Central Bank and Auditor General. JFMB operates only in South Central Somalia. A functional government can fight corruption.
8. Commitment to support the Regional Maritime Capacity Building Initiatives. Somalis are not aware any of these initiatives developed and funded for European maritime security.
9. Establishment of a Regional Anti Piracy prosecutions and intelligence coordination centre in the Seychelles for Somali Citizens. From this plan transpires the time-span assumed for the continuation of the Somali crisis.
10. Implementation of the Financial Action Tasks Force’s recommendations on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism. Without having responsible functional Somali Government in place, this decision could endanger the lives of millions of Somalis for suspicion or precautious justifications.
11. Collaboration with the Global Counter Terrorism Forum and other international and regional bodies.
12. Implementation of Mogadishu Recovery and Stabilization plan. This is very much needed plan but it could be used against national needs and goals.
13. Implementation of Djibouti Code of Conduct and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Somalia as the most failed state in the world lacks the authority and capacity to implement this responsibility.
14. Establishment of a “Core Group of Engaged Countries” that would drive progress in support of UN, AU and IGAD efforts.
Some of the unanticipated issues in the communiqué are the pre-concluded anti-piracy agreement between UK, Seychelles and Somaliland, the revival of EEZ issue overwhelmingly rejected by the federal parliament, the quick approval of the increase of the AMISOM forces with their financial support before conference, the concession for the secession of Somaliland and the formation of the core group of engaged countries responsible on Somalia in the foreseeable future. The Somali people are oblivious to the substance and meaning of the plans and programs decided on their behalf by the International Community and written in English. The wide gap of information, needs and interests between the international community and the Somali people will erode public confidence and support critically needed as precondition for Somalia’s prospect for peace and stability.
Somalia’s socio-political problems, culture and experience are significantly different from many failed states. Yet, it shares with them the fundamental need for governance. My expectation from the London Conference was a focus on strategic measures to rebuild Somalia’s failed state at national and local levels throughout Somalia on the basis of new approach which encompasses the following four points:
1. Change of the current failed strategy of IGAD/UNPOS with its attendant constructs like Kampala Accord, Djibouti Agreement, the Roadmap, Garowe Principles, and Addis Ababa Agreement between Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama and TFG.
2. Call for the appointment by the Security Council of powerful, credible international leader with transparent political agenda for State building in Somalia.
3. Call for Somali National Accord which deals with reconciliation, peace and State formation in Somalia as the mandate of the Transitional Federal Institutions must end on August 20, 2012.
4. Pledge for the disbursement of at least 10 billion dollars in the next 4 years specifically for State Building. Humanitarian assistance will decrease as peace and hope expands.
Divided Somalia into fiefdoms enters another era beyond its control. Nevertheless, there is always hope for better future.