By Dekow Diriye
Somalia is about to finalize the most corrupt, most controversial, and most rigged legislative elections in the country’s history. In fact, this election–or, rather, “selection”–process has a chance of winning or entering into the Guinness Book of Records as the most fraudulent process ever conducted and recorded in history. The so-called election processes have been mired by intimidation, coercion, bribery, assassination of political aspirants, and the prevention of potential opposing candidates from registering and contesting for a seat. Once this fraudulent process is concluded in the coming weeks, the momentum will shift into electing the Speakers of both Houses and the President. And there is an excellent chance that Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo could still remain in the Villa- thanks to the unwavering support of his puppets and sycophant regional foremen who has done all necessary dirty work to send most inexperienced, sycophants and social media trolls into the legislative chambers.
It’ is also noteworthy to mention that Farmajo has a hidden agreement with his former boss, Sheik Sharif. While both parties remained tight-lipped about this agreement, insiders reported that such an agreement exists. It said the deal was signed late last year with the understanding that each candidate would support the other should his presidential prospect diminish. The Owner of the Government (Fahad Yassin), as Somalis refer to, signed on behalf of Farmajo and while a state minister from Himilo Qaran signed on behalf of Sheikh Sharif. We don’t know much about the agreement, but we know one thing for sure: Sharif will eventually get the short end of the stick.
There is also speculation of possible political marriage between Farmajo and his former Prime Minister-Hassan Ali Kheyre. All these collaborations and forces, not to mention the infinite dark money from Qatar, will make Farmajo a very viable candidate in the upcoming presidential election. So, what will happen if Farmajo is re-elected, or he rigs the presidential election just like he rigged the parliamentarian process? In this article, I will examine, analyze, and explore what the next four-plus years will look like for Somalis and the State building processes, should Farmajo remain in the Villa. I will base my analysis on anecdotal information from the Villa, my observation by studying the political trend and behavior of Farmajo for the past five long and exhausting years.
Right now, Farmajo’ s biggest nightmare for the past year was his Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble. To remove Roble from the picture, Farmajo will not waste time appointing an incompetent Prime Minister. Based on his previous appointment record, Farmajo is intimidated by competent leaders who would add value to the State-building process. He prefers someone with less capacity that can be micromanaged with zero resistance. Such an appointment will allow him to usurp Premier’s roles and responsibilities and create a central command.
The primary challenge faced by the Somali people is the continuous threat and violence from a terrorist organization like Al-Shabab. While AMISOM (African Mission in Somalia) and the weak Federal government have gained some new territories from Al-Shabab militants during the previous administrations, Farmajo ignored pursuing it. In fact, his administration lost territories pacified from Al-Shabab by the previous administrations. If elected, Farmajo would not wage war against Al-Shabab or try to address the widespread insecurity that threatens the legitimacy and existence of the federal government. Why? Because Farmajo has a bigger fish to fry. He seeks to subdue his political opponents, especially those in Mogadishu and unfavorable regional leaders in Jubbaland and Puntland.
Let’s start with Jubbaland. After appointing a PM, Farmajo’s first order of operation is to eliminate Ahmed Madobe and dismantle the current Jubbaland Administration. First, there is no love lost between the two men. In addition to the personality conflict and mutual hate for each other, clan supremacism, rivalry, Farmajo’s desire to bring this administration under his control will fuel and exacerbate existing tensions. Farmajo and his cronies have already developed the strategy to dismantle the clan-run administration of Jubbaland. The idea is to capture Bu’aale, the capital of the current Jubbaland, and form a parallel administration. This will allow Farmajo to expand his authority significantly and isolate Jubbaland State President Ahmed Madobe in the port city of Kismayo.
Pacifying Al-Shabab from the enormous landmass between Bu’aale and Kismayo with rookie infantry would be very costly. Hence, Farmajo could impose brutal economic sanctions such as banning flights to and from Kismayo and commercial vessels. This economic chokehold, and subsequent inflation will weaken Madobe’s military power and easily allow his allies to turn against him, essentially when the unlimited dark money from Qatar is being disbursed to bribe his supporters and clan members. Most Somalis consider Madobe as a traitor who the Kenyan government installed to advance their interests. It’s noteworthy to mention that Farmajo and his team have perfected media manipulation, disseminating fake news, and trolling on social media. Madobe doesn’t enjoy much popularity outside his clan and has alienated most of the tribes in this region. Hence, Farmajo and his trolls will explore and exploit these deep-seated grievances to their advantage. Once a parallel administration is established under the pretext of “broad-based, multi-ethnic” administration is formed in Jubbaland, Madobe is cut off from the political arena. It will be a matter of time before Kismayo falls into the hands of the central government. With the support of the Ethiopian military, Modabe’s days in Kismayu will be numbered.
The second order of operation is to create political unrest in Puntland. Farmajo and his allies from the region have already penetrated one of the most cohesive administrations in the country. There are multiple scenarios to execute this plan. The first initiative is to enforce and fuel the current tension in the commercial city of Bosaso. Giving unlimited military and monetary support to pro-Farmajo groups could quickly eject leaders of the Puntland Administration from the city. Losing the economic hub of the administration will be very costly for any leader in Puntland. Farmajo and his allies will not shy away from sending recently trained military and paramilitary personnel to enforce and support their allies and eventually take over the whole city, just like they did in Dhusamareb. For both Bosaso and Kismayo, the Villa could easily increase its revenue to offset any deficit resulting from aid cuts.
In addition, Farmajo could quickly put thousands of additional military personnel in Galkayo. Having a significant military presence in Galkayo or moving SNA into combat ready position will pressure Deni or whoever his successor becomes. If and when Bosaso falls into the central government’s command, the existence of Puntland administration with any bargaining power is over. If Farmajo succeeds in capturing and taking over Bosaso and Galkayo, the Puntland Administration will be dwarfed into one city-Garowe. Mobilizing the largest nationalist, mostly youth from this region, will send shockwaves throughout the administration. Interestingly, the current administration has the power to package stupidity and lack of regard for the constitution as patriotism.
For Somaliland, immediate military intervention is very unlikely. However, the self-declared administration will face one of the most vicious fights in the international arena. The goal will be to isolate Somaliland from the rest of the world and diminish its presence in the region. Companies and businesses in this region will go through some arduous bureaucratic processes. If you think this is unlikely, let me refresh your memory on what happened in 2019 when Farmajo put excessive pressure and economic strangulation on Somaliland traders: In one instance, the Saudi government refused to offload a cargo ship from Somaliland because of an order from the Villa. If Farmajo could engineer such painful economic strangulation during his infancy in the Villa, think about what he is capable of doing now that he feels politically more mature. Another possible scenario is to mobilize an uprising in Las Anod and arm pro-Farmajo forces. If these forces managed to gain ground, the Villa would deploy military personnel to take over the City of Las Anod. The Villa could also create an uprising in Awdal. Unlike Las Anod, political unrest in Awdal wouldn’t necessarily lead to military confrontation but would put Hargeisa under intense pressure. This autonomous region’s legitimacy and bargaining power would be significantly compromised if this happens. Somaliland would also have less bargaining power or any bragging rights, and its hope for self-determination would vanish overnight.
For Mogadishu, the economic blockage will probably be quadrupled in the name of security, and taxation will be doubled to offset any aid cut. The city has been under lockdown long before the COVID-19 pandemic breakout. Diminishing the economic vibrancy and entrepreneurial spirit will continue as long as the city and its residents are seen as a threat to Farmajo’s desire to occupy the office of the presidency.
In addition to the siege, the Halane Compound within Mogadishu could face significant changes. The Halane Compound, which houses foreign dignitaries and international organizations such as the United Nations and AMISOM, is often seen as an independent city within the city. The rapport between these foreign dignitaries esp. those from the western world and the Villa deteriorated since Farmajo attempted to derail the election process in hopes of getting a term extension. Hence, Farmajo will require all embassies to relocate to their old offices in a payback manner. Farmajo sees the Halane Group as a wolf-pack, and he believes scattering them through the city will minimize their ability to conspire against his initiative. The evacuation will occur under the pretext of saving the airport’s public land, and such narrative will allow him to wear another heroic badge.
Finally, to remain in office for the foreseeable future, Farmajo will change the country’s constitution for several reasons. The goal will be to adopt a constitution that dismantles federal systems or diminishes their influence and empowers or attempts to create a unitary State. It’s noteworthy to mention that many Somalis, especially the older generation that grew up under the military dictator, and younger generation that have grown up under warlords who have not seen justice administered to the perpetrators of crimes, reminisce about a powerful man rather than a powerful institution. Changing the constitution will allow Farmajo to increase or eliminate term limits.
In summation, through his behaviors for the past five years, Farmajo depicted he doesn’t believe in a win-win situation, political compromise, or reconciliation. He believes in a winner-takes-all approach to governance. Somalia needs a “servant leader” who will put the country and people first. A leader that will respect the rule of law and establish and empower an independent judiciary that has the capacity to address any legal battle. Unfortunately, Farmajo sees nobility in being superior to his fellow countrymen and indeed to his political opponent through the use of force.
Therefore, I believe Farmajo is completely unhinged and his desire to conquer and oppress political dissidents, opposition leaders, journalist, and his total disregard to the rule of law, constitutionally guaranteed human right and his desire to destroy Somali’s pursuit of liberal democracy and his attempts to construct autocratic State through the support of Qatar, Eritrea and Ethiopia is quite alarming. In a continent were fascism and militaristic movement is gaining momentum, his authoritarianism could receive cordial reception and support from autocratic and powerful regimes such as Russia and China who are competing not only to influence the region but also hoping to shape a long-lasting reform that will benefit their long term geostrategic and geopolitical goals. And I am afraid another term under his control will derail and disassemble the state-building process.
Dekow Diriye Tweets @Diriye100