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Is Somalia on the brink of civil war?

What used to be the channels of dialogue in recent years no longer exists, and the level of mistrust between political parties is extremely high

The French newspaper Le Figaro said that the elections scheduled for February in Somalia have been postponed indefinitely, raising fears of a return to armed conflict in this country, which no longer has a true legitimate government.

In a report written by Tani Bertimi, the newspaper said that the failure of the February 8th meeting to reach a compromise to hold the polls on the scheduled date means that things are not going as expected, especially after reaching a consensus last September on the voting system. .

However, the failure to implement the text that led to the first postponement of the elections that were scheduled for last November, also led to stumbling in the last details, which sparked a dispute between the federal government in Mogadishu, which showed bad faith – as the writer says – and the opposition And state governments, including Puntland and Jubaland.

Omar Mahmoud, a researcher with the International Crisis Group, said, “This failure is mainly due to the lack of trust between the various Somali politicians,” as President Muhammad Abdullah Muhammad – known by his nickname Farmajo – believes that the end of his term on February 8 gives him the right. To continue holding the position until the election of a new president, while the political leaders of the opposition no longer recognize his legitimacy, and they are calling for the formation of an interim government.

If we add to this that the federal parliament has also ended its mandate since December 2020, this means – according to the writer – that Somalia no longer has a real legitimate government.

Clan split

The writer said that the situation is sensitive, although nothing has happened yet, indicating that this is not the first time that the elections have been postponed. However, what was in recent years the channels of dialogue no longer exists, and the level of mistrust between political parties is very high. As Omar Mahmoud says.

Although the country has been in a relatively peaceful transfer of power since 2012, after the war and chaos that sank in it following the fall of General Siad Barre in 1991, “Farmajo put an end to this improvement in his attempt to maintain control and secure a second term,” according to one diplomat. .

Matt Bryden said in a paper by the European Council on Foreign Relations that “Farmajo and his group brought Somalia back to the brink of institutional collapse and armed conflict”, and lines of clan divisions that were not far away at all were revived, says the writer.

The writer warned that the strong and armed Hawiyyah tribe in Mogadishu, which includes a number of opponents, is lining up against the president and is demanding demonstrations for his departure, and that the population is still very armed, and the federal army may also be divided along societal grounds in case of fighting.
However, the clan division does not explain everything, especially that Puntland and Jubaland, where the Darod tribe to which the president belongs, dominates, it could form pressure on the side of the opposition, which means that Farmajo is very isolated, but this does not seem to push him to open up, as the diplomat surprises.

The international community and the crisis

The writer believes that the international community can have an important role in the crisis, because Somalia continues to depend on foreign aid, primarily in terms of security, as the African Union Mission (AMISOM) includes nearly 20,000 men, in addition to US military support. And European, and largely financial aid.

The political scientist Roland Marshall, who specializes in Somalia, says that the international community had to wake up, because it could force Farmajo to move forward with the first goal of his mandate, which is implementing the constitution, whose development cost about $ 16 million, mainly paid by donors.

However, the president did not do anything and did not dissolve the electoral commission that was severely criticized, even though he pledged to do so. Therefore, the European Union, which is investing large sums there, must act. Matt Bryden says, “The European Union should stop talking about the situation as Electoral stalemate, and to admit that it is a serious constitutional crisis. “

The writer warned that the neighboring countries are silent, because Ethiopia is mired in its own crisis, and the Islamic world has no weight and is undermined by its internal rivalries, and there is still the United States that forgave Farmajo for a long time and considers him an ally, especially as he holds American citizenship.

Does the “youth movement” benefit?
According to the author, the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab militant movement may be the biggest beneficiary of the situation, after the AMISOM attack, with the support of the American forces, limited its influence since 2011, especially since the rate of its attacks has clearly increased in the recent period.

Omar Mahmoud said, “Al-Shabaab benefits because the tensions between political leaders distract attention,” and because the intelligence services, whose primary function was to fight terrorism, has devoted itself in recent years to monitoring dissidents.

The writer concluded that Al-Shabaab also benefited from the redeployment of American forces and the exit of Ethiopian forces that were summoned to the country to fight in Tigray, and launched waves of recruitment and formed trained fighters, which threatens to launch new attacks.

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