Jubbaland Where A Lot is Said but Little is Agreed Upon

jamaal

Plenty has been said about the Jubbaland region of Somalia, which consists of Gedo, Lower Jubba, and Middle Jubba. Commentary and political noise about Jubbaland sharply increased in the last several months concerning national efforts to select parliament and eventually a president for Somalia for the next four years.

Extraordinarily, little has been agreed upon by inhabitants of Jubbaland. Nothing other than the composition states and name of the region settled. 

The idea of forming Jubbaland regional administration is in-part due to the poorly defined and understood concept of resurrecting the Republic of Somalia through “Clan Federalism.” The doctrine is that states should have greater local control and the federal government coordinates national efforts.  The goal is to ensure power-sharing and guards against strongman or men potentially committing an abuse of power.

The aspiration of guarding against abuse of power is admirable. But an attempt to accomplish this goal through “Clan Federalism” is fundamentally flawed and results in only more harm. 

Ethiopia proves this point. The previous regime pursued the implementation of the idea. It backfired after 27 years of regional gerrymandering and resulted in a civil war. Many advocates for this flawed theory of nation-building often quickly blame poor leadership. No amount of good leadership can compensate for such an inoperable concept.

In Somalia, where civil war raged for 30 years, the pursuit of implementing this doctrine delayed reconciliation and reconstruction. It triggered new political disputes and violence.

Jubbaland is the latest flare-up and Exbibit A. An attack on Beled Hawo, a border city with Kenya on January 25th, 2021, caused 15 noncombatants their lives. Among the perished were a total of 11 children. Of the 11 children 5 were from the same family. Also killed were 4 civilian adults including 80 years old great-grandmother.  Here is a list of their names and ages.

 It has been nearly 10 years since Kenya invaded Southern Somalia under the disguise of fighting Al-Shabaab, a notorious terrorist group aligned with Al-Qaida. Kenya installed Ahmed Madobe as a regional president, a former leader within the Islamic Courts Union in which Al-Shabab was part of the coalition.

Ahmed Madobe never gained real control beyond the port city of Kismayo and Afmadow. The two cities are within the Lower Jubba and not far from each other. 

Al-Shabaab has held control of Middle Jubba since Kenya’s invasion. Ahmed Madobe faced fierce resistance in Gedo after power-sharing meetings ended in disarray, and an error-prone selection process led him to stay in power. 

Nevertheless, Ahmed Madobe linked Gedo to the selection process for members of the national parliament in 2021. The issue of Gedo dominated two high-profile national meetings. Neither produced fruitful results. The outcome of the last meeting in Biodata was a bandage arrangement that supposedly enabled elders in Gedo to select a governor in consultation with Ahmed Madobe. Ahmed Madobe had since reneged on the proposal.

Complaints about Ahmed Madobe’s administration in Kismayo are rampant. Residents from one community face targeted killings and constant intimidation. At least six targeted killings were documented between October of 2020 and February of 2021. The table below lists victim names, murdered dates, and times.

Victims are all from one community in a relatively stable city for others. Many more go undocumented.

kismaayo

Assassins are identified. Ahmed Madobe’s administration has done nothing to bring perpetrators to justice. Community leaders of the victims have concluded the administration is either complicit or direct involvement in the targeted killings. 

There are grassroot efforts to change the situation in Jubbaland. These efforts do not coincide with the timeline of the national selection for parliament and president. Groups such as the Council for Inclusive Jubbaland are facilitating conversations among elders and other stakeholders across diverse communities. Other citizen-led volunteer groups have mobilized to render aid to victims of drought and locust infestation. These efforts deserve support and encouragement as live-saving vehicles. 

The people of Jubbaland are dying from hunger and thirty. They have no appetite for an inoperable theory of nation-building.

The people of Jubbaland yearn for immediate humanitarian relief. Once the current humanitarian crisis is alleviated, grassroots efforts such as the one the Council for Inclusive Jubbaland is leading can be foundational for that elusive agreement that evaded the region to move forward.

Jamal Abdulahi

Author is a Technology Entrepreneur and longtime civic leader. He tweets @fuguni. 

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