Saturday, October 25, 2014

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Putting Somalia into an AU Trusteeship is the Only Option

After the defeat of Al-Shabaab, the African Union should take responsibility for Somalia, argues Robert Rotberg.
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Burundi peacekeeping troops preparing to enter Mogadishu. Picture by Rick Scavetta.

When the heavy rains let up, Kenyan soldiers will be able to continue their advance on Kismayo, Ethiopian troops will take Baidoa, and Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers may be able to completely clear Somalia’s capital Mogadishu of al-Shabaab militants. Al-Shabaab rebels have been in control of large swathes of southern Somalia but reports from the field suggest that the Islamist group’s draconian strictures on women, schools, music, and international relief efforts have already ended whatever popular following it once had. Nor is its self-proclaimed alliance with al-Qaeda likely to afford the group continued legitimacy or an enduring role in the volatile south of the country.

Al-Shabaab’s days as a sustainable and robust fighting force are rapidly coming to an end. The losses of Kismayo, Baidoa, Mogadishu and other southern towns will prove financially costly since al-Shabaab’s revenue stream derives substantially from fees, duties, and taxes on trafficked consumer imports and agricultural exports through those towns. The loss of its strategic centres and, conceivably, the fertile Juba River valley, will therefore cripple al-Shabaab as a movement and an ideologically cohesive Islamist enterprise. Its soldiers, after all, have to be paid, and al-Shabaab cannot battle on without costly ammunition and weapons.

What will and should follow al-Shabaab?

If and when al-Shabaab goes the way of its hapless ancestor, the Union of Islamic Courts, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Somalia’s weak nominal authority, could theoretically replace al-Shabaab rule from Mogadishu to the Kenyan border.

Propped up by the United States and African Union, the TFG has lurched from crisis to crisis over the last seven years. (And its mandate has nominally expired earlier this year.) Within Somalia, the TFG is regarded primarily as a corrupt holding operation beholden to outsiders and one incapable of providing the kinds of new active visionary leadership Somalia desperately needs. The TFG has taken few initiatives to raise the quality of life for the people of Mogadishu and the cabal that runs the organisation is suspected of skimming cash from donors and relief agencies. It has little legitimacy or following. And without the threat of al-Shabaab, neither Somalis nor outsiders will have compelling reasons to continue to back President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s TFG.

What will and should replace the TFG?

One possibility is that the Kenyans and the Ethiopians could establish buffer zones along their respective borders and in them create long-term mini-states (along the lines of Israel previously in southern Lebanon). But that outcome is unlikely since the Kenyans are already stretched by their intervention into Somalia and ordinary Somalis fear, and are historically antagonistic to, Ethiopians. The Burundian and Ugandan peacekeepers of Amisom could gradually move south from Mogadishu, especially next year when they are joined by small contingents from Sierra Leone and Djibouti. But given Amisom’s limited mandate and the reluctance of both Uganda and Burundi to become military overlords of Somalia, such a scenario is also unlikely.

If the defeat of al-Shabaab and the removal of the fundamentalist Islamic yoke from Somalia is ultimately to improve the lives of ordinary Somalis, Africa - supported by the West - cannot rely on business as usual. Somalis, because of their own clan enmities and fratricidal distrust, have for much too long been relegated to the political margin. They have been visited by repeated drought and famine, denied opportunities for educational advance and medical availability, and been cast out from the global village.

Now is the opportune moment to break the cycle of internal war and troubled peace. Southern Somalia (Somaliland in the north functions relatively well) and its mostly impoverished people require security, central governance, basic services, and – over time – opportunities to allow their undoubted entrepreneurial skills to prosper. But there is little likelihood this will come about under the TFG and amid warlords, al-Shabaab remnants and pirates.

International trusteeship

If the African Union, backed financially by the West and with oversight from the United Nations, placed Somalia in trust for a decade it might finally be able to end the influence of pernicious internal non-state actors and help Somalis learn to rule themselves once more as a nation.

An African-run trusteeship would be able to rebuild essential functions and arteries of commerce, restore educational and health services over time, and eventually provide Somalis with a working government dedicated to them and their interests as citizens.

Undertaking such a task would of course be immensely difficult. Somali politicians and warlords might lose many of their current perquisites and would object loudly even if some complementary role were found for the TFG. But Somalis in the south, in contrast to Somaliland, have been unable to re-construct their own state and to uplift their own people.

Africa needs to assume responsibility for Somalia and to delegate the task of trusteeship to its more advanced and better governed states. South Africa, Botswana, Mauritius, Ghana, Mali, and even Zambia know how to build nations. Someone like former president Thabo Mbeki of South Africa or former president Festus Mogae of Botswana would make ideal viceroys. Under their oversight, and with their appointees controlling Somalia’s budget and finances, a trusteeship arrangement could be the making of Somalia and of enormous immediate and long-term benefit to every Somali.

What, after all, is the alternative? More bloodshed, renewed famine, stunted lives, and opportunities denied? Every Somali deserves better.

Think Africa Press welcomes inquiries regarding the republication of its articles. If you would like to republish this or any other article for re-print, syndication or educational purposes, please contact:editor@thinkafricapress.com

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Comments

Robert You are out of your mind. Somalia is not for a sale. Africa colonizing Africa, what a joke.

Robert put down the whiskey glass , thank you , sir

This is quite an interesting article. I also do think the best thing that can happen to Somali people today, is to delegate responsibility of trusteeship to more advanced and better governed states. However, the only cynicism and the part in which I’m different from the writer’s point of view is African-run trusteeship, because above-mentioned African States are incapable of lifting out Somalia from its deep ashes. Could they afford financially to sustain such a long responsibility? Are they themselves free from corruption? And above all, do they really have the military might and guts to stop outside countries to take advantage the lawlessness of Somalia? One of the key explanations as to why we’re having such a lame conversation in 21st century is arguably the former colonial mistakes that could have been avoided, such as the mistake that Italy was delegated responsibility of trusteeship in 1960’s. Of course there is more into the explanation. Corrupted, irresponsible states will only add insult to an injury.
 Amongst provenTrustees that can be trusted from the Somali people, and can rebuild essential functions and eventually provide Somalis with a working government is none other than Turkey
Turkey has earned the trust of the Somali people and I think willing to play that role.
Thanks

This is quite an interesting article!. I also do think the best thing that can happen to Somalia today, is to delegate responsibility of trusteeship to more advanced and better governed states. However, the only cynicism and the part in which I’m different from the writer’s point of view is African-run trusteeship, because above-mentioned African States are incapable of lifting out Somalia from its deep ashes. Could they afford financially to sustain such a long responsibility? Are they themselves free from corruption? And above all, do they really have the military might and guts to stop outside countries to take advantage the lawlessness of Somalia? One of the key explanations as to why that we’re having such a lame conversation in 21st century about Somalia is arguably the former colonial mistakes, such as the mistake that when Italy was delegated responsibility of trusteeship in 1960’s. Of course there is more into the explanation. Corrupted, irresponsible states will only add insult to an injury.
Amongst proven trustees that can be trusted from the Somali people and can rebuild essential functions and eventually provide Somalis with a working government is none other than Turkey
Turkey has earned the trust of the Somali people and I think willing to play that role.
 
 
 

Robert Rotberg must have been drunk when he has written this article. Because, this is the worst solution ever offered to Somalia’s 20 years sad tragedy.  For an academic to write such an article is not only an insult to Somalis but goes to show that it is a complete failure if Somalis ever attempt to ask for or seek advice or solution to their problems from foreign entities whether be an individual or a government.
Many African countries are our brothers and friends in need and we know those but trusteeship is not the solution! You get it wrong but a nice try!
A Fandhaal
 

Rob my only advice is you get out your chair, book a ticket to minneapolis. Meet the Somali people get their feedback and then write the artcles. I am shocked about your (article) but please contact this youth group (below) which can assist you in such a trip and disscussion. Their are a lot of youth who want to what to play a positive role, you guys should seek them out.find their email. Good Luckwww.kajoog.org

'Africa needs to assume responsibility for Somalia and to delegate the task of trusteeship to its more advanced and better governed states.'Robert, I can't believe you're still churning out this neo-imperialist propaganda for Think Africa Press. It's preposterous. Why should other African countries have any say in what kind of state Somalia has, if any?This situation is like Iraq, but with proxies. I can't believe your negation of Somalia's rich history of diverse and complex political institutions, which could one day form the basis of a government, much like it has in Somaliland and Puntland. Why should the Somalis follow a state model imposed from outside? This history of the African continent attests to the disasterous consequences of forcing different political structures on an existing well-entrenched system.I understand that the situation in Somalia is an emergency one, but to use that as a pretext for colonisation, or 'peacekeeping' harks back to the civilising mission of the colonisation of Africa.Please also refer to my previous articles as to how 'peacekeeping', actually worstens the chances of creating stability, unless your aim is to turn South and Central Somalia into a pacified satellite state of Kenya.Which apparently it is. 

Well, well, Robert some of Somalia's present issues stems from ignorant/arrogant assumptions made by people with your kind of knowledge about Somalis & Africa.
Don't forget where Al-shabab comes from... The Ethiopian invasion? Remember?
Also, we are not in 1950s man. No more Trusteeship in Africa. The AU will be crazy/ignorant to consider such proposal. And the notion of western monies fixing Somalia is nuts. The west is having its own issues. China would have been a better suggestion, perhaps..LOL.
Oh, you left the UN out. Trusteeships & UN.. NOT AU..
Don't neglect the history, traditions and the Religion of Somalis. This by the way is different from all the countries you mentioned. I don't know what got into you but there is not thought to this article. SHAAAAAAAAAAAME on THINK AFRICA. This a laughing matter for an establishment that has THINKS in its NAME. Well, THINK AGAIN and TRY something more thoughtful.
Get out and smell the coffee or try some camel milk……
 
Peace &LOVE
 
 
 
 

I don't think some one with current affrican reality, particularly the Horn region can present sych claim.No Africa state which can delivery rule of law and justice in the minimum international standards - most of them are pariah state which can't afford to rule their citizens

I cant believe white people like this moron still believe in this idea of imperialism... Am already pissed that these afriacans are in my country and now you suggest that we be in a trusteeship...look how many women they have raped...somalia needs a dictator...no need for democracy...we are one people, with one religion...  somalia hanolato