The Failed State of Somalia and Jumping on the Terrorism Bandwagon

By Shaacir Mataan (

The Failed State of Somalia and Jumping on the Terrorism Bandwagon

According to the global policy forum -- a non-profit organization with consultative status at the United Nations -- a failed state is when:

the state apparatus is unable to uphold an effective monopoly of violence over its whole territory, lacks an effective judicial system to guard the rule of law and promulgate judgments that are internationally regarded as legitimate and sound (especially in commercial matters), is unable or unwilling to fulfill international obligations (such as in debt repayment) and cannot prevent various forms of transnational economic crime or the use of its territory for the perpetration of violence (politically motivated or otherwise) against other states in the international system.

Somalia has been described as the textbook example of a ?collapsed? or ?failed? state. The reason why Somalia became a failed state in early 1990s, after three decades of independence could be traced back to Cold War geopolitics in the horn of Africa, the feudal political character of Somalia?s clan structure and the lack of good leadership and governance. Somalia has been a cold war pawn for two decades before it had collapsed. However, ?when cold war ended, the Somali government was left to its own devices?

Some experts argue that failed states can become a haven for extremist non-state actors, ?The dangerous exports of failed states -- whether international terrorists, drug barons, or weapons arsenal smugglers -- are subject of endless discussion and concern.? (FP)
The experts contend that some criminal elements do usually take advantage of the lack of strong government that can control its borders and the ?terrorists? always attract the disinfected, the unemployed youth to their cause.

Every time a nation-state lurches toward or into failure it poses humanitarian and possible relief issues. It may also become a breeding ground for terror; the more anarchic and anomic the nation-state, the more non-state actors and the forces of terror can take opportunistic advantage of a deteriorating internal security situation to mobilize adherents, train insurgents, gain control of resources, launder funds, purchase arms, and ready themselves for assault on world order. (CIA, 2003)

Albeit the fact that the above analyses hold some credence, regrettably some Somalis with short-sighted clannish agenda have jumped to this bandwagon. Without a second thought, they have unashamedly petitioned the international community in order to label their opponents as terrorists. In their clannish psychosis and convictions, some have tried hard to depict Mogadishu, the Somali capital as the ultimate hideout of violent terrorists.

One thing we all know is the fact that these Somalis don?t have the intellectual knack and academic propensity to grasp thoroughly what this correlation between terrorist and failed states in actuality signify. However one thing we all know is that these clannish and phony lobbyists are unqualified scouts for the current TFG faction sheltered in the provincial small city of Jowhar. Their hard slog to sway public opinion against their fellow Somalis is inspired by clan allegiance. However, what the Somali clannish charlatans don?t know is that U.S. policymakers are mindful of how this ?terrorist-card? have been overplayed. The U.S administration is aware how some ?third world? detractors are brashly striving to capitalize on the so-called ?war on terror? and how they using it as a channel to gain special favors from the U.S.

Disappointed with the Doctor.

Unfortunately, our tongue-tied UN representative, Ambassador Elmi Duale also followed suit and stumbled in the same trap of his partisan benefactors in Jowhar. In his succinct NPR responses and the MIC forum, Ambassador Elmi has reiterated that Somalia has become a passage and base for international terrorists. Dr. Duale - whose thirty years of impeccable record as a medical doctor and whose humanitarian work with the United Nations and the World Health Organization is laudable and unparalleled- is now keenly kowtowing and acquiescing to the divisive clannish policies of a ruthless warlord, whose thirty years of belligerent record of sectarian hostility and tyranny, had contributed to the destruction of our beloved nation. It is distressing to see educated Somalis, like Dr. Duale, without demur turning out to be the accessories for ruthless empty-headed warlord.

Also, in his short sojourn in Minnesota, the Somali representative has been in guarded get-togethers with the Cedar/Riverside cheerleaders of warlord-turned president Yusuf. Dr. Duale instead of meeting with the Somali intellectuals, professionals, students, youth and balanced members of the community had opted out to please the regionally enthused clannish devotees. This letdown is not what you expect from a man whose charitable impressive career is an inspiration to many of the future generations. In spite of everything, our well-regarded doctor and ambassador has chance to mend his unintentional faux pas.

Confused about Jendayi Comments

There has been some confusion among Somali clan trailblazers of the recent pronouncement of Dr. Jendayi Frazier of the U. S. State Department. In a recently held forum organized by the Minnesota International Center, Dr. Frazier carefully stated that Somalia is now a ?priority? for her administration. Somali ears hear what they perceive as pleasing to their clannish impulses and had interpreted this diplomatic and crowd-pleasing comment as a ground-breaking new American interest in Somalia. But what the Somali ears refused to hear is Dr. Jendayi Frazier?s summon for Somali warlords ?to work out their differences through dialogue -- instead of armed conflict -- so stability can return.? (Star tribune)

?In U.S. diplomatic circles, mention of Somalia provokes embarrassment and avoidance behavior? the United States has minimized its involvement in Somalia and maintained a low profile.? (USIP) This is due to the disastrous U.S. operation restore hope intervention in Somalia in early 1990s.

The U.S. State Department recognizes Somalia, as a failed state but still is not actively involved in efforts to re-establish a viable government in Somalia. It is pursuing a containment policy. Apparently, the US government is convinced that its interest in the region can be taken care by its Special Forces in Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.

Furthermore, Somali ears should have listened to Senator Norm Coleman when he told the Somali crowd present in that MIC forum that Washington DC is a city of thousand competing ideas but Somalia is an afterthought. Some Somalis in their frenzied fervor are press-ganging and overwhelming the senator with tenuous fraud in order to legitimize support of their clan faction. It was a moment of mockery to the conscious Somali ears when the senator lightheartedly said that ?for every two Somali you talk to, three disparate ideas will come out of such a talk.?
Once again it was a déjà vu when one of the few American officers present in the forum cautioned to a Somali crowd that most officials are well acquainted with the Somali clans and their resentment of each other by now.

There is no doubt that any effort to restore governance in any a failed state would need help from the international community. True that there is a need for the United States to help Somalia but peace in Somalia can only come within. We, Somalis will have to find a solution to our problems. Then we could all lobby together to our representatives to seek some support for rebuilding our shattered home country. We Somalis have to come up with revolutionary ways to get rid of the ruthless warlords.

?The warlords have neither an ideology nor a political agenda. Their actions are solely driven by the pursuit of illicit enrichment and war booty. The individual fiefdoms they have carved out are used as a base for the exploitation of confiscated properties, plantations, ports and airports, as well as for drug trafficking, the issuance of fishing licenses for foreign concerns and for arms trade.? (GPF)

We are now at crossroads and we shouldn?t lapse back to aberrations of yesteryears. We cannot afford any more to pursue the same old tenets of clannish division and pride. We in the Diaspora have to find pioneering ways in developing consensus on a peaceful political framework among the warring groups back home. We shouldn?t prop up one warlord and demonize others. They are all the same.
Instead of siding with the warmongers, we in the Diaspora need to support the members of the civil society. These groups usually need technical assistance and funds to rebuild civic institutions from the grassroots. It is the Somali civil society organizations such as doctors, teachers, women groups, peace activists and entrepreneurs who are trying to rebuild and rehabilitate the basic social infrastructure.

For the sake of peace and reconciliation, I know that most peace loving Somalis are willing to exercise some restraint and give the current warlords at the helm of leadership the benefit of the doubt.

Shaacir Mataan

Minneapolis, MN