Thursday, 16 August 2012
with an eagle’s eye
Somalia, a country whose name became a synonym for a failed state two decades ago is once again becoming a governed state, thanks go to the continental initiative spearheaded by the African Union (AU), largely financed by the United Nations and the United States and diligently executed by a few African countries led by Uganda.
Today, as Africans we can beat our chests that we have accomplished what big powers could not for 21 years. The peace that Somalia is starting to witness in Mogadishu is the product of the blood and sweat of Africans who volunteered to rescue their brothers and sisters from the mayhem of a collapsed state. Somalia is still a hot place but we can now see light at the end of the tunnel.
Somalia disintegrated so fast immediately after rebels from various clans overthrow the government of Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991 resulting in the emerging of several warlords such as Mohamed Farah Aideed who fought endlessly to take control of Mogadishu and other key parts of the country. In 1993 serious international efforts to curb the situation were frustrated by the disaster that shook America when a group of 20 US Marines were captured and killed by civilian fighters in a failed rescue operation. But why is Somalia referred to as a “failed state” or sometimes as a collapsed state?
What is the situation today? As part of the US National Intelligence Council 2020 project, which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) supervises, in 2003 an American foreign policy scholar Robert Rotberg submitted a paper titled “Nation-State Failure: A Recurring Problem”, which provides working definitions for the debate on the disintegration of the nation-state. He suggested that a yardstick for a functioning state should be the delivery of political goods such as security, legal system, medical and health care, educational system, critical infrastructure, financial and banking systems, business environment, a forum for civil society, and methods of regulation of environmental commons.
Thereafter, Rotberg, proposed a descriptive taxonomy of success and failure of the health of states taking the delivery of political goods as a scale. He defined a strong state as one that is in full control of its territory, delivers political goods, and scores high in several other globally-recognized indicators, while a weak state is one that contains tensions alongside differences in religions, ethnicities, and languages to the extent of putting the country on the brink of a conflict. In principle, a weak state has everything in place but they are all fragile.
Rotberg, the man who in 2007 helped to establish the Index for African Governancefor the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, went on to define a failed state as one that delivers very little political goods, and actually leaves its traditional functions to be performed by warlords or non-state actors such as Hamas in Gaza portion of the Palestinian territories, and practically everything is in shambles. Then he finalized the taxonomy with a collapsed state which he argued is one with a complete vacuum of authority, and that with intervention a collapsed state can become a failed state giving an example of Sierra Leone soon after the civil war.
Based on Rotberg’s analysis, Somalia has never been out of the last two categories for the last two decades. However, for the first time, Somalia is starting to experience some semblance of peace, organization, governance, democratic processes, and establishment of a security system although the main players are African militaries under the name tag of AMISOM, that is, the African Union Mission in Somalia, and the UN political office which operates under Dr Augustine Mahiga, a retired Tanzanian diplomat.
Andrew Mwenda, a veteran Ugandan journalist who visited Somalia recently, says he was thrilled to see Mogadishu with stores, shops, and restaurants operating till midnight, the port receiving six ships a day and the airport receiving nine flights per day, seven of them commercial. He added that today one can see traffic jams in Mogadishu, although military operations are still going on and anyone can get killed at anytime.
This month, 25 clan elders who form a Conflict Resolution Committee will elect 275 members of the new parliament who will then choose a new president by August 20, and that will be the end of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the start of the Somali government. This will be a big step forward.
That is Somalia, a country that apart from having no central government has seen numerous tragedies including piracy, famine, attacks by foreign armies, killings and destabilization by religious and terrorist groups, as well as attacks by US secret drones. Thanks to TFG soldiers and AMISOM military components, police and civilian components that at last Somalia is rising.
Mr Matinyi is a consultant based in Washington, DC
Source: The Citizen