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UN Envoy for Somalia blasts Experts for their reality-based assessments (Mr. Mohamud M Uluso)

The search for alternative solution for the intractable Somali conflict has hit a roadblock after the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General (SRSG), Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has blasted the International Experts for their reality-based assessments of current unprecedented level of human sufferings and political calamity in Somalia. In a letter published in the Kenyan Newspaper Saturday Daily Nation of June 27, 2009, and in his testimony to the US Congress on June 25, 2009 the SRSG suggests that encouraging things are happening in Somalia and the Experts’ assessments are wacky. This misrepresentation of the reality in Somalia is shocking and source of great consternation. Such “misleading attitude” feeds culture of deception, corrosive cynicism and social dysfunction.

The SRSG, who presents himself by saying “I am not and I don’t want to be an expert on Somalia”, chooses to ignore the following realities:
1. That South-Central Regions, including all Mogadishu but few blocks, are controlled by opposition forces- “Radical” Islamists and other forces like Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama- a religious group independent from the Transitional Federal Unity Government (TFUG). Particularly interesting is that Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama reached separate agreements with Ethiopian government and TFUG.
2. That TFUG has no political influence in Puntland and Somaliland. The President of Puntland has repeatedly declared that there is no Federal Unity Government in Somalia and asked direct cooperation with US and other donor Governments. Puntland Administration deals directly with Ethiopia.
3. That Djibouti peace process has produced more misery and destruction instead of hope and peace. Additional 250,000 persons fled their homes since May 2009. About 170,000 persons arrived in Dadab refugee camp in Kenya.
4. That Somalia -vanished state- is number one in the list of failed States in the world. This means that the common life of the entire Somali society has been shattered and the State has been delegitimized.
5. That President Sheikh Sharif Sh Ahmed, former leader of Radical Islamists and Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) could not be a credible interlocutor with his former associates. Despite rhetoric for peace, TFUG faces the challenge of winning by force or clearing the way for alternative.
6. That the root causes of the Somali crisis are multidimensional with multiple actors as the presentations made during the US Congressional hearing of June 25, 2009 on “Somalia: Prospects for Lasting Peace and a unified Response to Extremism and Terrorism” have demonstrated.
7. That effective national political reconciliation and credible checks and balances mechanism are preconditions for the establishment of security forces. In 2007-2008, Ethiopia trained and armed about 17,000 forces that stoked turmoil in South-Central Regions.
8. That opposition to TFUG does not translate into support for terrorism and extremism.
9. That the majority of Members of Parliament left Mogadishu. Only Leaders protected by AMISOM forces are in Mogadishu. There are no significant interactions between TFUG and the public.
The SRSG emphasizes the following points:
1. Experts are wrong and out of touch with the realities in Somalia.
2. The opposition’s attack on May 8 against TFUG was a coup d’état prohibited by AU Resolution.
3. Everyone should support TFUG as a national legitimate Government. Critics and neutrals are complicit with the opposition.
4. The opposition has no reason, cause, and right for fair, transparent and credible peace process. The option for the opposition is to “accept” TFUG “as it is”. There is no need for “genuine, all-inclusive political reconciliation” because the concluded Djibouti process remains open. SRSG believes that there is no peaceful and lasting alternative to TFUG.
5. The withdrawal of Ethiopian forces eliminated reason(s) for armed opposition despite the justifications for and consequences of the Ethiopian invasion are there unresolved.
6. Accusations for human rights violations committed by Ethiopian, AMISOM, TFG and TFUG forces are irrelevant. Swift punishment is called for opposition for war crimes and human rights abuses.
7. IGAD is the appropriate Entity to administer Somalia while AU wants UN leadership. SRSG wrongly compares IGAD and ECOWAS because there is historical enmity and distrust between IGAD member countries.
8. Islamists are supported by “unidentified” wealthy individuals in Mogadishu. This Ethiopian claim served as an excuse for destroying and looting private properties in Mogadishu.
The International Experts expressed the following views for alternative conclusions:
1. TFUG is not a legitimate government for any common-sense of the term “Government”. Therefore, International Community should work with various Local Administrations, Traditional Elders, Insurgents and Civil Society Leaders operating in different parts of Somalia.
2. Islamists have worldview that fizzles out because they lack wisdom, vision and answers to the needs and aspirations of the Muslim community. However, each nation has the right to shape its future in an interdependent world for peace, security and prosperity.
3. Foreign military intervention in Somalia is dangerous and counterproductive. Particularly Ethiopia’s involvement will escalate the conflict.
4. Somali crisis needs both new unified international strategy and all inclusive “Somali-Led Political Dialogue” for lasting peace and security. Somalia is on fire and needs patriots to rescue it.
5. Supply of arms and resources to shadow and unaccountable government will worsen the insecurity situation. The international community should give time so the internal dynamics play out.
6. The humanitarian catastrophe needs urgent and effective humanitarian response.
7. Investigation of war crimes and human rights abuses by all parties -insurgency, TFG, TFUG, Ethiopian and AMISOM forces- should be undertaken as quickly as possible.

Ethiopia exchanged the withdrawal of its forces from Somalia with the guarantee of managing Somali politics. Ethiopia coaches TFUG leaders. Addis Ababa is swamped by Federal, State and Local Leaders, Security officials, Parliamentarians, Diplomats, Militia leaders, independent Political and Traditional Leaders for personal missions and opportunities.

The SRSG’s Leadership has thrown Somalia into catastrophic crisis. The scale of human sufferings and piracy activities in the last two years stands out as testimony for the monumental failure. Changing direction and developing new comprehensive strategy are essential steps for lasting peace in Somalia.

Mr. Mohamud M Uluso

email: mohamuduluso@gmail.com