The old model to channel aid funds to Somalia from the U.S. and other countries is not only a failure; it is one of the main factors contributing to the rampancy of corruption in Somalia.
On July 21, I tweeted the following reflection: “A society can govern itself with custom instead of modern law, tribal system instead of government; (however) it cannot ride both horses at the same time.” Reacting to that old tweet, a few days ago, I received a one-liner e-mail that read “We must be doing well riding both horses!” and an attachment of a beautiful picture from Brussels which captured the magnificent event recently organized by EU called the New Deal.
I hope I am wrong. I hope that latest conference and the pledged $2.4 billion would solve all of Somalia’s problems. I hope it would help pull together our nation’s disconnected pieces and convince its many exploiters that people can no longer be fooled to think that Balkanized clan-driven fiefdoms constitute community self-governance. And as I have argued before, uniformly, beneath the democratic and pluralistic veneer, each of these self-governing political entities is a clan-based power concentration and selectively enjoy all the privileges that come with it.
No scrutiny, no accountability, no shame! That is why there isn’t a single hospital, school, or a road that can be attributed to donations from the international community in Somalia.
A Different World
Somalia’s multifaceted tragic suffering that pushed that nation’s political and social structure to the lowest common denominator (clan) has coincided with a moment in history in which certain fragile and failed nation-states were placed on the proverbial conveyer belt for restructuring, and when capitalism has had successive failures. In various intellectual circles in the West, the viability of the nation-state concept is being questioned if not challenged. Not simply states’ sovereignty on matters pertaining to their internal affairs but how globalization and the new economic appetite demand fundamental restructuring of states.
‘As an obsolete political construct, the nation-state concept could (and in some cases such as Somalia, Iraq and Syria should) be structurally redefined’ so goes the argument.
Meanwhile, the fastest growing economic model is predatory capitalism that operates in the dark by avoiding the conventional method of dealing within state structured policies, licensing and regulations. Predatory capitalism is already colorfully operational in Somalia. As a Johnny-come-lately that managed to walk away with the most coveted deal. Soma Oil and Gas Exploration (SOGE) led by British Baron and Former Tory party leader Michael Howard might be the latest example. SOGE is a skeleton exploration company that has no assets, track record or expertise. Like most of these predators, it is technically registered in the Virgin Islands in order to avoid financial and ethical scrutiny as well as potential legal entanglements. Sadly, Somalia provides the right space and environment for domestic and foreign economic predators to operate and breed.
The US Dual-track policy (adopted by the international community, save Turkey) continues being the most potent enabler to myopic political actors who are keen to keep Somalia divided and seem to be addicted to the title “President”. Three Somali leaders with such title have been invited to the New Deal conference as Somaliland’s has opted out.
If everything in politics was always exactly as they seem, then the name would’ve in fact been a misnomer. Somalia can bounce back only when domestic revenues and international aid monies used to provide direct services; when local contractors and service providers with good standing are empowered, and when leadership accepts that genuine reconciliation is the missing link. So long as Somalis remain divided, they (in their fiefdoms) would keep attracting the most ferocious predators.