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The Next Battle in Mogadishu - June 12
The Consultative Meeting Will Shape Somali's Future..or Not
06/04/2011
Pick Up The Pieces
Pick Up The Pieces
The next battle in Mogadishu will be one of words and backroom deals. Between June 12th and June 16th, sponsors, politicians and power brokers will all convene in sunny Mogadishu to decide what lies ahead after the TFI's four year agreement expires in August. Predictably the rapidly looming meeting has not set an agenda, attendees, forum, moderator or even agenda. So in that spirit Somalia Report provides a slightly humorous guide to the players:

AMISOM: Created in 2007 to babysit the embattled TFG on 6 month lease. It is essentially a cash cow for Uganda and partly Burundi. Ugandan soldiers have proven their worth in the grim conditions and thankless advances. But this is often mistaken as a political tool rather than the arms and legs for U.S. provided firepower. Trivia note. The AU was created and funded by "Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution", Moamar Gaddafi and is based now based in Ethiopia.

al-Shabaab: The low-rent narcissist jihad run by photo preening terrorists. You won't find many Somalis who will bet their money or future on "the boys" but they do run a mean press conference. And although they aren't invited, they are the worst case option that drives the less worst case scenario of this meeting.

ASWJ: The acceptable, Ethiopian backed, Sufi moderates, Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaa (note how many times that word is used in front of "Militia") alternative to al-Shabaab. Although they are already technically married to the TFG, nobody noticed or remembered. They are already pouting and squabbling about which breakaway faction will or won't attend. And nobody will be listening to them anyways. Monty Python would be proud.

Breakaway Regions: Somaliland went first, then Puntland, then Galmudug, Jubbaland, Azania, SSC and perhaps even Mogadishu aka Villa Somalia and whatever other bits fall off during the future. The clan structures, low rent Machiavellian politics, massive refugee camps, diaspora and proxy forces create a very different map than the one the world sees. In other words, the 1991 era "Somalia" they are talking about fixing no longer exists.

Diaspora: That phantom network that keeps much of Somalia afloat.

Djibouti: Technically should be part of a greater Somalia with its port and stable strong man government.

Djibouti Agreement: The governing document hammered out in the plush $400 a night Kempinski Hotel in Djibouti between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and the Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) from 31 May to 9 June 2008 in Djibouti. This ended the fighting after the Ethiopian invasion and launched more fighting as al-Shabaab took up the banner of jihad against interlopers.

Elections: The thing that is supposed to create a democratic government in the next few months without a constitution, functional cash flow or clear view of the future. Most political parties are either militias turn political parties or proxie fronts for outside players.

Eritrea: The spoiler in much of this. Backs Shabaab just to stick it to Ethiopia. Hated by all.

Ethiopia: The 800lb gorilla in the room. Whoever runs Somalia will need to make sure they listen carefully to their bellicose neighbor or listen more carefully to the sounds of Ethiopian tanks outside their window.

IGAD: A regional non power seven country, East African bloc build to ease famine that provides some legitimate cause to interfere in each others political backyards.

Kenya: The country that is affected most by Somali's of all dispositions using Nairobi and Mombassa as planning, R&R and funding sources

Mandate: The thing that other countries give a small group of squabbling self interested Somali's so they can argue over who is not running the non-country. Lest it be forgotten, back in 2009, the TFG was asked nicely to create a constitution and organize presidential and parliamentary general elections by August 2011.

Mogadishu: The embattled colonial town that the outside world views as Somalia.

Puntland: Proof that the "worst case scenario" of western nations bailing on the TFG and creating a federal system might just be the "best" case

Somaliland: That embarrassing stable chunk of land next to a stable Djibouti next to an almost stable Puntland that proves that the international view of a central run "Somalia" is no more.

Transitional Federal Charter: A five year program to create the basic building blocks of a civil society created in the spring of 2004 in Djibouti. None of these "TFI"s have achieved the goal of the charter but they do seem to have a lot of meetings. The TNG morphed into the TFG on November 2004.

UAE: The quiet player who provides significant funds to their strategic partner. This progressive but taciturn nation fully understands the impact of suicide bombers in their luxury hotels.

United Nations: The tired, overpaid, caretaker of Somalia. Fatigued by two decades of unending failure and cyclical chaos.

NGOs: Same nightmare, different day. The glue that holds most of the badly functioning medical, health and emergency programs together. They have no influence at this meeting and expect to be underfunded, overworked and under attack.

Oil: The stuff that is under Puntland and offshore and might change the whole balance. Parliament: The 392 politicians (well not the number who actually show up to vote) to squabble about things that don't get done. Senior hand picked Somalis who can't even agree on what time it is except to almost unanimously vote to stay on the payroll for another three years.

Plan A: Maintain the status quo for another year to allow Ugandan mercenaries, Ethiopian proxies and political footballers to capitalize on recent military gains.

Plan B: Dissolve the government and hold elections in a fractured dysfunctional pseudo country and which Speaker Hassan figures he has locked up.

Plan C: What will probably happen due to the reactive, opportunistic, dissonant nature of Somali politics. If it's not broken, break it and blame someone else.

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed: Creator of Plan A. The Libyan educated, Taliban'ish Islamic firebrand turned lame duck leader. He warms a seat strictly as a concession to the Islamists. Didn't work.

Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo: The man who may end up going home as he keeps a quiet business like profile and works the halls of Washington and the Middle East.

Somalia: An ancient land populated by nomadic tribes whose area was chopped up by incompetent colonial European administrators resulting in decades of conflict (see Afghanistan, Pakistan, Middle East etc) Never fully framed but fought over on the micro level daily. A place where people actually sent postcards from while on holiday.

Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adam: Troublemaker who has political savvy and is a predictable and productive as a ricocheting AMISOM bullet. The only thing he has in common with President Ahmed is Jowhar and their hatred for Ethiopia.

Uganda: Although President Yoweri Museveni does suffer from Islamic insurgents, his main interest is to keep renting battle hardened soldiers to allow Somalia legislators to squabble. His troops might be doing their job too well since the last thing the TFG was prepared for was an actual controlled area in Mogadishu large enough to really govern.

United States of America: Although it still suffers from Blackhawk Down Syndrome, there are white faces on the ground in Somaliland, Puntland and Mogadishu. They provide most of the money that keeps the AMISOM guns booming and the TFG squabbling. The US is really only interested in terrorists and to a certain degree free flow of that black gold through the Gulf of Aden. Other than that, the State Department's view of Somalia's future is Kevorkian.

Somalia Report has its money on the June 12 conference generating a lot of public posturing, perhaps a little public spanking leading to lots of sobbing and hand wringing by the warring parties, but ultimately a grumpy call for a "do over" for the current leadership to stay in power for another year.

"Functioning co-dependency" is rumored to be the secret codeword for entry into the conference.