Somalia: The Agony of Moral Degradation
June 8, 2012
History narrates that enormous empires had fallen and societies vanished from existence as a result of their decline in morals and values. The Somali society was shaped by values that cherish justice, equality and social cohesion. In the course of history, our strength was directly proportional to our adherence to those moral values enshrined in Islam. Injustice and corruption, the seed bed of the crisis in Somalia, have obliterated those values. Corruption proliferated to the extent that violation of the inalienable civil rights (right of faith, soul, mind, property, and dignity) became a norm. As a result, atrocious repercussions took place – demise of statehood, prolonged violence, tribalism and severe social fragmentation, duplicitous behavior, and cultural bifurcation.
The claim that Somalis have “minor cultural differences and deep commonalities” is far from the truth. Our differences are profound and our commonalities are superficial. The hostility within is real and more dangerous than the enemy in the periphery. Patriotic slogans (Maandeeq, Soomaalinimo, Islaanimo, midnimo, qaranimo, etc.) resonate through the media while tribalism and chronic mistrust coupled with pride and pretension is rife among Somalis including intellectuals. That is why Somalia became synonymous with failure. These problems are the most difficult challenges that Somalis and those who have stake in Somalia need to consider with full conscience.
Other challenges dovetail with the Somalia crisis. Albeit the global community has not totally spirited out the old ethos of ‘liberalism’ and laws safeguarding sovereign nations, ‘realism’ has been the guiding principle of the policies governing international relations. Realists believe that “the international system exists in a state of constant antagonism; relations between states are determined by their levels of power derived primarily from their military and economic capabilities; and the interjection of morality and values into international relations causes reckless commitments, diplomatic rigidity, and the escalation of conflict”. Popular military interventions and covert violence that wreck havoc of sovereign states in the name of ‘national interest’ or ‘global security’ support this concept. Somalia’s case is not isolated as there are countries that perceive a strong united Somalia as a threat to their national interest.
In the past twenty years and so, the international community was divided on the Somali issues. Some countries showed unconditional support while others put their interests first.
Unfortunately, Somalis’ bellicose tribalism culminated in serious setbacks – interest-driven foreign agendas materialized, genuine efforts aimed to salvage Somalia were thwarted. Further, this led to justify marginalization of Somalis in the decision making process. The UNPOS became a de facto government. It started with the dismantling of the previous TFG and illegally replacing it with the incumbent in Djibouti. It was apparent that this would have unpleasant ramifications. But clan hegemony and unbridled aspirations have overshadowed the threat to self-determination. Corruption continued to cripple the TFG leadership which sanctioned the role of the UNPOS and deprivation of Somali autonomy.
The Roadmap (a UNPOS agenda) was introduced by the Kampala Accord in June 2011 to end the transition. Unlike other protracted interventions, it outlined major undertakings in a short schedule. This has created apprehension in the minds of many people who interpreted it as a plot to put Somalia under a trusteeship. Other developments which supported that fear ensued – Kenyan troops stormed into Somalia in October, Ethiopian forces recaptured the city of Baladweyne in December, Uganda and other African countries pledged to reinforce AMISOM with more troops. As Somalis are divided on any political subject, controversy hovered over the Roadmap. Immediately, representatives from AU and UN and IGAD facilitator for Somalia issued a joint statement warning intrusive action against ‘spoilers of the peace process’. The degrading warning alluded to the TFG leaders and Somalis in general is similar to the intimidation that forced late President Yusuf to resign and disbanded his TFG, as they say, ‘what goes around comes around’.
Somalis who support the Roadmap argue that Somalia needs to move out of the transition. And those who refute it reason that it is not inclusive, empowers selected people, alienated the TFG Charter and parliament. Both arguments are reasonable. But what is missing is the moral capacity to address the critical issues, divorce tribalism and support what is best interest for Somalia. The TFG Charter and the Somali people were sidelined long time ago. Technically Somalia is under the trusteeship of Western donors. How would Somalia claim autonomy while the salaries of its so called government employees are paid by foreign donors? No one else has the blame but Somalis.
Under the current circumstances, it is unrealistic to expect a government by the people for the people, because of the severe social sins – “And to Allah belongs (all) honour, and to his Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know” ( Qur’an 63:8). Majority of Somalis believe that the Roadmap (right or wrong) will dispense a new government its executive branch to be appointed by the donors and Ethiopia. It is a problem created by Somalis, and we have to live with it, at least in the short term. To regain our full freedom and dignity, it is indispensable to review our moral values and embark on real change – “Truly, God does not change the condition of a nation until they change what is in themselves” (Qur’an 13:11). Our problem is not lack of resources or knowledge. We suffer from are what Mahatma Gandhi called the ‘deadly sins’ – ‘knowledge without character, wealth without work and politics without principles’.
Somali intellectuals’ partial conferences and deliberations involved and/or sponsored by foreign entities would not achieve sustainable peace. Sustainable peace needs to emerge from grassroots principled leadership. In simple language, Somalis need to start with genuine reconciliation to overcome the hostility resulted from the civil war and years of brutal dictatorship. And don’t forget that unity is vital for our survival – “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient”.