By Nasir M. Ali
The state is one of the international legal personalities which has its own elements that determines whether it is a real or artificial. In international law, the state should have a defined territory, a permanent population, has the capacity to enter into relations with others, and a government which has the capacity to control the territory it claims and provide services to its citizens.
The political scientists both classical and contemporary agreed that sovereignty is an integral part of the state and regard it as the engine room of the post-Westphalia Peace Agreement statehood. This concept has two distinct dimensions: internal and external. A range of elements determines the internal, therefore, the state should have the capacity to govern the state, make laws, provide social services and security to the citizens, and have an authority in the territory it claims. Providing those services to the citizens’ at large lead the citizens endorse and trust to the state institutions, thus ensures state legitimacy, and this in return legitimizes the internal sovereignty of the state. In a broader sense, the internal sovereignty stems from the consent of the state citizens.
Not similar to the internal, external sovereignty in international law relates to two crucial factors: the recognition which is the practices of the modern states to formally recognize each other through diplomatic means and also equality within the states in the international system, respect of other states, and policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of the other states.
Having this in mind does Somalia has the legal claim as a genuine state let alone its foreign-imposed governments, in accordance with the above elements of the state. Does Somalia has the internal sovereignty with the assent of the Somali citizens, or does it has the external sovereignty? If the latter does exist, is it real or artificial in connection with the existing condition in the entire Somalia regions, the Somalia Italian Trusteeship?
From the ‘provisional government’ of Ali Mahdi in 1991 to ‘Salballaadh’ of Aideed in 1994, Abdikasim in 2000, Abdullahi Yusuf in 2004, Sheikh Sharif in 2009, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud in 2012, and the recent Farmajo government in 2017. All these ‘governments’ have had and still has an illusion claiming as genuine governments representing the will of the Somali citizens.
These claims are entirely baseless fabricated by foreign actors which are beneficial to the protracted state collapse in the south. In Mogadishu for instance, the federal government has no physical presence at all as it resides only in a small highly secured area protected by Amisom. The question arises here is: does Farmajo aware what is going on in Halane, a neighborhood of Villa Somalia, which is in contrary to the security and sovereignty of the Somali people, does he also aware what is going on in Balli Doogle, before he talks about other regions and towns in south-central Somalia. These two military bases are neither in the control of Somalia’s ‘government’ nor under the jurisdiction of their ‘authority’.
Not only in Halane and Balli Doogle, but also Balkanization of your state ‘Somalia’ into self-governing states by competing interests both from the region and beyond are undeniable facts. Doubly important, there are growing numbers of autonomous regions which claim independent administrations from the ‘federal government’ in Mogadishu, with the support of foreign governments. These regional states, including Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubbaland, and the Southwest State of Somalia claim greater autonomy within the ‘Somalia’ state territory. The real Somali citizens believe that these multiple administrations in the name of federalism have not only contributed its part in endangering the existence of your state, but also derail the efforts to establish long-lasting peace and state institutions in ‘Somalia’. Do you agree Mr. Farmajo?
In contrast to this chaos in Somalia, Somaliland was known as the British Somaliland Protectorate approximately for 80 years before its merger with the Italian colony. The aim of this blinded union was a part of the Greater Somalia Ambition in which most of the Somali people anticipated. In 1991, Somaliland declared its withdrawal from the unjust union of 1960 for political, social and economic reasons. The euphoria of the citizens who were enthusiastic about the birth of an independent, inclusive Somali State in 1960, their exhilaration has quickly dissipated as the south occupy all state institutions without considering Somaliland as an independent state which united with the south just to realize the Greater Somalia Agenda.
The unjust practices of Somalia’s southern-led governments (1960–1991) are as clear as the daylight. In his book “Search for a New Somali Identity” (2002), Hussein Ali Dualeh stated that since the independence in 1960, Somalia has got a total aid of 4.482 billion dollars, for 148 projects. Barefacedly, 139 projects went to the south, while only 9 projects went to Somaliland. In other words, the people of Somaliland got 142 million dollars, out of a development aid of about 4.4 billion dollars. In support of the Dualeh’s argument, I have the list of all projects, including the project name, the place where the project was implemented, and the amount allocated in each project.
This kind of practice and thinking of the Somalia decision-making circles made Somaliland citizens become hostile to the Somali state institutions till it ceased to exist as a state in 1991. Given the emphasis on this argument, the unjust distribution of power and national resources between the two (British Somaliland Protectorate and Italian Trusteeship in Somalia), remains the source of Somalia’s conflicts and the protracted civil war and its subsequent disintegration of the state. Do you agree Mr. Farmajo?
In spite of all difficulties, in the post-1991 period, Somaliland has managed to build its own state institutions without an international engagement, has a full control into its territory, and later transitioned the country from elders appointed to popularly elected presidents. Somaliland’s road to democracy and multi-party politics is an outcome of Somaliland’s successful political reconciliation, reconstruction of its economic infrastructures and the subsequent well-built state institutions. Somaliland is an island of peace and stability surrounded by a violent and a volatile region. Do you agree Mr. Farmajo?
Certainly, Somalia’s statehood is uncertain, let alone its floating ‘government’, which isn’t in control of about 1km2 in its capital. The concrete evidence acquired from the Somaliland indigenous peace and state building endeavors affirm that building governance institutions and security mechanisms work best when the people at the grassroots are part of the process, and thus elect and rally behind their leader without international interference. But nothing would work if the leader is clapping without crowd as the current situation of the Farmajo clearly states. Farmajo’s ‘government’ is just nominal and is anti-thesis of the Somalia peace and reconciliation efforts as it isn’t a genuine government representing the will and interest of the entire territory of the former Italian Trusteeship in Somalia.
Despite the illusion of the Somalia politicians, since 1991, Somalia remains in what John Burnett described in his book “where soldiers fear to tread” (2005), as a shambles, torn apart by more than [two] decades of lawlessness and near-classic anarchy. It is the only nation without some form of central government, and it is considered still to be one of the most dangerous places on earth.
Nasir M. Ali