Somalia The Trouble with Puntl

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					 Comments to ICG Africa Briefing No 64 of 12
August 2009 - Somalia: The Trouble with Puntland
                             By Ali A. Jama, 15 August 2009

I do not speak for Puntland State of Somalia, and I am hoping the official response to
ICG Africa Briefing No 64 of 12 August 2009 (ICG Briefing 64) shall be given by the
competent authority in Puntland. But as interested observer to the Somali scene and a
private citizen, I am recording a brief account of my comments to the ICG Briefing 64.

ICG Briefing 64 is troubling by its lack of proportionality and objectivity.

Lack of Proportionality of ICG Briefing 64
ICG Briefing 64 is a flawed piece of work when one considers the political and social
context of the subject matter - Somalia. It lacks proportionality by its very critical nature
of Puntland State of Somalia at a time when hardly there is any other good news coming
out of Somalia. It is inconceivable why Puntland, arguably, the bright spot now in the
Somali body politics, should be the subject of fierce attack, while there is plenty of bad
news coming out of Somalia that could have made more sensible material for criticism.

On the principle of proportionality, Puntland would score very high in the context of
overall Somali body politics. I would argue that in the general scheme of things in
Somalia now, Puntland deserves a pat on the shoulder for its grassroots efforts to better
the lives of its citizens and the thousands of IDP’s from war-torn South and Central part
of the country. So one can only conclude that the Think Tank ICG has some ulterior
motives in the publication of ICG Briefing 64.
Surely, Puntland has problems and the tasks ahead are not easy, but this report will not
contribute positively to the solution of its problems. The few positive elements in the
Report, I believe, are intended to sugar coat the sinister intentions discussed widely in the
ICG Briefing 64.

ICG’s Credibility on Somali Affairs
ICG’s work on Somalia is well documented. It has been intrusive, biased, and often get
thing wrong. A good example is their Africa Report N°147 of 23 December 2008 -
Somalia: To Move (Somalia) Beyond the Failed State in which they campaigned
vigorously to discredit and the TFG structure, then led by President Abdullahi Yusuf.
These are some of what the ICG recommended in Report 147:

          “The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has failed in four years to
           create a broad-based government and now is non-functional, existing almost
           only in name. President Abdillahi Yusuf has marginalised large parts of the
           population and exacerbated divisions. The latest confrontation with
           parliament and the prime minister has underlined that Yusuf hampers any
           progress on peace, has become a liability for the country’s survival and
           should be encouraged to resign”
          “…..if additional parties can be persuaded to join the Djibouti reconciliation
           talks, and local and international actors – including the U.S. and Ethiopia –
           accept that room must be found for much of the Islamist insurgency in that
           process and ultimately in a new government dispensation…”

Now we know! , ICG’s two above-mentioned recommendation has been granted. -
President Abdllahi Yusuf resigned on 27th Dec 2008, the new “government dispensation”
set up in Djibouti included the insurgency. But far from the rosy picture that ICG was
predicting in their Report, the net results of their recommendations have been more
bloodshed, more displaced people, more insurgent groups, more foreign extremists, and
more violence in South and Central Somalia than any time in the recent history of the

Given this gross misjudgment just eight months ago, and the disastrous results for
Somalia as a whole, is there any credibility to this Think Tank group now? I will leave
the answer for the readers to decide.

Instead of apologizing to the Somali people for their disastrous past actions, here comes
ICG Briefing 64, damning the performance of one of the few functioning structures in
country – Puntland. The analogy of this ICG Report would be the school teacher who
foolishly reprimands and punishes his best class student for the poor performance of the
rest of his students. This defies logic! To me ICG Briefing 64 is an indicative of ill-
intentions and dark motives.

Some Specifics of ICG Briefing 64
I have chosen 3 specific areas where the ICG Briefing 64 was critical of Puntland State
and give short comments on each:

Puntland Relationship with TFG.
ICG would like to see that Puntland takes the risk of subordinating its hard-earned
functioning institutions to the shaky dysfunctional TFG system. What ICG does not
acknowledge is that Puntland was and still is the backbone of the TFG structure. No
region or group in the country has done more to sustain the TFG than Puntland. Public
officials from the President down have been reiterating time and again their commitment
to the basic principles of Federal Somalia, but understandably, are not willing to take risk
of subordinating their institutions yet. Both Pres. Sheik Sharif and Prime Min Omar
Abdirashid have acknowledged Puntland’s place in Somalia on their congratulatory notes
on 1st of August 2009, the 11th anniversary celebrations of Puntland. In his message
Sheik Sharif characterized Puntland as the “Mother of Somalia”, which I believe is a fair
characterization of Puntland, given all the sacrifices it is doing for the greater cause of the
Somali Nation.

But Puntland has also made it clear that it will develop its resources in a manner that it
sees fit to address its current needs. It made it clear also that limits of authorities between
the Federal and the State structures needs to be negotiated in a calibrated manner when
reliable Federal structures emerge. This, in my opinion is a fair game. Both Puntland and
TFG have responsibilities to iron out any differences that may exist now. The onus is
however, on the TFG side and I hope it makes the right moves to re-assure Puntland that
it means no harm.

Instead to trying to understand the Puntland logic, the ICG Briefing 64 resorts to baseless
fear mongering, that Puntland’s “traditional unionist position officially adopted in 1998”
is shifting towards secessionist path. This in my opinion is a load of crab!

The new Puntland Constitution
The thrust of the message contained in ICG Briefing 64 seems to have been triggered by
the new Puntland Constitution. Somehow this document got into the nerves of the
Author(s). ICG wants to “suspend the implementation of the new constitution”, “redraft it
in a more inclusive process”, and use experts to help “meet international standards”. The
report states also that the “constitution was crafted in secrecy, without input from civil
society and key clan constituents”. “Non-Majerten apprehensions were reinforced when
the council of ministers quietly adopted the draft in June 2008 (2009), immediately
followed by the legislature”.

Personally, I am not an expert on constitutions, nor am I privy to the consultative
processes that went into the Puntland constitution, but I remember there was a fair
amount of debate in the legislature. Was that enough? Perhaps competent Puntland
authorities can comment on this. But what is clear from the ICG Briefing 64 is the

      An attempt to incite trouble and clan discord in Puntland.

Collapse of Puntland State
The ICG Briefing 64 is sounding the doomsday alarm with such a passion that one gets
the impression very soon Puntland system will not be there any more! It makes the
outlandish statements of “collapse of inter-clan cohesion”, “collapse of pan-Darood
solidarity that led to creation in 1998”, “violent breakup of Puntland as rival clans
seeking autonomy from Growe carve out their own enclaves” and many others.

Well, I hope and believe ICG’s wish will not be granted and Puntland will not collapse
any time soon! And I hope the Puntland authority would check the facts and respond to
these outlandish statements, not necessarily to ICG per se, but with action on the ground
to discredit the fear-mongering-good-for-nothing monsters, the likes of ICG, that make
their living on the sorry plight of the downtrodden.

Concluding Remarks
      ICG Briefing 64 contains serious allegations on individuals in Puntland Authority,
       and I decided not to comment on these points.
      This Report, despite its obvious shortcomings, some of which I discussed above,
       can serve useful purpose. I hope Puntland Authority will screen it carefully and
       follow up the elements that can add value to the State institutions.
      And last but not least, the existing Authority seems to be heading in the right
       direction. Puntland voices are louder and gaining momentum. Ku dayo Puntland
       song has been an instant hit, albeit dampened by the recent unfortunate events in
       Galkayo. I hope Puntland can steer the ship back on course again.

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