After the victory by the Somali people against the Ethiopian occupation in 2006-2009, the United Nations’ mission was to support the moderate groups of the Islamic rebels in joining the warlords to create a transitional government of national unity. It also was to disarm most of the feuding factions’ militias, create a Somali army, provide security and organize the Somali people for elections by the end of 2016 to form a new national parliament.

Since then, U.N. surrogate governments were formed based on close clan consultations seeking their unwavering support. The government that took power in 2012 failed to fulfill its mandate to complete and ratify the so-called federal constitution and hold one-person/one-vote elections before the end of its term. Instead, it created clan-based federal states, wasting millions of dollars that could have been used to create a new Somali army capable of providing security.

Many argue the federal system may never work in Somalia. It is an imposed system with no agreed-upon understanding of it or its constitution. The creation of clan-based states made it all that much worse.

The election of 2016 was one of the most corrupt Somalia has ever held, and the result has been the creation of a new parliament filled with the most corrupt personalities in the country, who then created the current government. Many attribute its failures to lack of political maturity.

The new government has ignored the clan consultation, a process so critical in nominating cabinet ministers. It was an unexpected political move that has alienated major Somali clans, thus losing their critical support. The new government officials chose partisanship over a consensus system of government. That has made them politically weak.

Taking advantage of the situation, Al-Shabab militants began their terror campaigns once again, widening their targets. The infamous blast on Oct. 14 that killed 512 people happened despite the government’s claim of strengthened security presence in the streets of the capital. The extradition of a Somali citizen, who was a highly decorated military and 1977 Ethiopia war veteran, to Ethiopia has caused an uproar among the Somali citizens everywhere and greatly diminished the government’s credibility.

Then came the confusion of who is Al-Shabab and who is not during the attack in Bariire, a small town 50 kilometers west of Mogadishu, where civilians were massacred. That was another political debacle which has proven the lack of coordination among government agencies.

Things suddenly began falling apart in the new government. The clan-based states have recently opted-out of government foreign aid policy as well as the formation of a Somali national army. Not only are those states vying for power and competition in foreign aid money, but also to further their power to eventually secede from the union.

Some call it a deliberate disintegration of Somalia. It can only be stopped with a strong central government based on a consensus system of governance. Until that happens, chaos and deception will be the rule in Somalia for years to come.

Recently, some members of the parliament have openly criticized the government’s handling of the crises and have called for the impeachment of the president. Many ordinary citizens have also raised their concerns, predicting the inevitability of changing the leadership at Villa Somalia.

The civil war killed hundreds of thousands of Somalis after deposing the dictator Muhammad Siyad Barre in 1991. Memories of that civil war, the harsh rule of the warlords, the Islamic extremists and the successive governments, all resonate within the current Somali political impasse. The U.N./western-backed government’s failure to bring peace and unity has created a culture of mistrust among the Somali clans. The U,N, peacekeeping force has failed at making Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, secure and could not maintain control over territories it has captured from Al-Shabab rebels.

The cost of the U.N. peacekeeping mission is estimated at $600 million a year, more than twice the budget of the current Somali government. Yet the U.N. and the ragtag Somali army are proving unable to stop the terrorist attacks in Somalia.

A political change of the U.N. mission in Somalia is critically important to prevent imminent chaos. The stakes are high and the U.N. failure at this time may lead to the return of warlords and Islamic extremist militias, who would rule Somalia by force, implementing a draconian system of destruction and slaughter.

To gain full public confidence and wage successful war against terrorism in Somalia, things have to change immediately because the status quo is simply not working,

Prof. Ali M. Mohamed Aden of Lewiston is director of the Center for Democracy and Political Reconciliation in Somalia.

Ali M Mohamed Aden

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