Following Somali politics is like baby-sitting a five-year old toddler with hyperactivity. Just in the past two weeks, Somalia has managed to get another first, one-of-a-kind accomplishment: two ‘prime ministers’ for about a week despite the fact that this so-called government is under Ethiopian military occupation and controlls nothing more than couple of neighborhoods in Mogadisho and Baydhabo (Baidoa). As it happened, warlord ‘president’ Abdullahi Yusuf ‘appointed’ a new prime minister in defiance of ‘parlament’ because the current one, Nur Hussein, has been doing too much peace negotiations with the various clan, nationalist, and religious oriented opposition groups who have been waging Iraqi-style insurgency against his Western/AU/UN backed fantasy-government.
In fact, two years ago this week, the Ethiopian military invaded Somalia with the backing of Washington and the European Union in order to get rid of Somalia its little, six-month old return to peace under the Union of Islamic Courts. Just has been the case everywhere else, the term “Islam” in the Union of the Islamic Courts’ name brought up end-of-the-world vision for Washington and immediately dispatched CIA, not-so covert operation aimed at removing the Union of Islamic Courts, who were widely acknowledged for bringing peace and stability to the country. Instead of dealing with the Courts directly, the brilliant minds behind US foreign policy makers decided to fund warlords, who have been committing egregious atrocities against the Somali people since 1991. The strategy, like all evil-intentioned ones, backfired spectacularly. The Union of Islamic Courts, with the help of the business community and the civilian population, defeated the warlord alliances backed by the CIA in June, 2006. Six months of peace and order returned to the country. Of course this was overlooked and the UIC’s heavy sharia enforcement was focused on in the preparation of foreign invasion. The international press had a significant contribution in demonizing the Union of Islamic Courts (not that the UIC were angels), and lionizing warlords, thugs, US-backed Ethiopian invasions, and propping up bunch of murderous warlords as politicians.
Fast-forward two years later, the fantasy-government invented by the West for Somalia has essentially collapsed (not that it existed in reality in the first place). The tolerable Union of Islamic Courts has turned into a hardcore movement, Al-Shabab. The already catastrophic humanitarian mess has turned into a shitty humanitarian catastrophe. Millions of Somalis are being fed by U.N. food aid, while hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people are internally displaced into refugee camps. And piracy of the coast is thriving more than ever. With all of this mess, could there be any good news? Perhaps.
‘Prime Minister’ Nur Hussein, the one the ‘Somali Parliament’ approved, and his warlord ‘president’ Abdullahi Yusuf have been fighting over how to deal with the insurgency, the Ethiopian occupation, and the various other problems facing the country. To his credit, Nur Hussein, who is not a warlord, has been proactive in trying to negotiate an inclusive peace deal that includes the removal of foreign forces, particularly Ethiopian, from Somali soil. Warlord Abdullahi Yusuf, who has benefited from the blood and treasure of Ethiopia and the West, inexorably refuses to deal with anyone who’s interested in peace and reconciliation. Two weeks ago, Warlord Yusuf tried his last trick by first announcing his intentions to get rid of Nur Hussein, which he did not have the power to do so because it’s the parliament that can remove the PM. The parliament unanimously approved the continuation of Nur’s leadership, a blow against Yusuf’s thuggish rule. Despite pledging he would stick by the parliament’s decision, Yusuf, like all tyranical warlords, announced one of his henchman as prime minister. Everyone laughed at him, including his staunchest allies – Ethiopia, the US, and the African Union.
The AU and Kenya followed with a la carte sanction against Yusuf and his thug friends personally. Perhaps this was the silver lining. Or Warlord Yusuf simply knew it was time to go, saving his octogenarian head from certain beheading. He announced his resignation today, Dec. 29 2998, from the presidency ‘he was entrusted’ with, as he said in his announcement to the parliament in Baydhabo. He immediately flew to pirate den in Puntland, where now it will be more easy to cash in for the piracy ransom he has cultivated during his tenure. I, for one, think this is a good news. It sure won’t fix Somalia’s mess, but perhaps it will start a trend – a hopeful one where warlords are left in the pages of history rather than propped up as politicians. Ethiopia “announced” more than a month ago that it will withdraw all of its troops from Somalia by the end of 2008. Two days before the year is up, they’re still there. In the past few days, they’ve magically extended the deadline to leave Somali soil to, gasp, Jan. 5, 2009. Make up your mind, Zenawi.
With Warlord Abdullahi Yusuf and Ethiopian occupation out of the picture, Somalia’s future, contrary to the ill-informed Western press’s favorite soundbite, is more bright today than it was yesterday. That doesn’t say a lot, but it sure won’t be worse than it was during the past two years under Warlord Yusuf and Ethiopian military occupation, as so-called ‘security/terrorism experts’ and ‘foreign correspondents’ love to invoke how Al-Shabab will take over, and obliterate everyone. No one knows what will happen in Somalia, but the departure of Abdullahi Yusuf and the Ethiopian military is a good thing all around. May 2009 be the year peace and stability returns to the Horn.
Happy New Year, nomads.