EDITORIAL: It is time to take up its rightful role in Somalia's electoral crisis.
EDITORIAL | Somalia’s ongoing political impasse continues to defy time even as leaders haggle on the best way of holding a free and fair election in the Horn of Africa nation.
So far, the Federal Government of Somalia has adopted an unpleasant divide-and-conquer rule where federal states that side with it; Galmudug, Hirshabelle, and Southwest; have been used to depict the opposing Jubaland and Puntland as simply rebellious.
A series of Tweets from officials in Villa Somalia has this week gone on to claim that the country may still go on with elections even with the objection of Puntland and Jubaland because their pool of allocated representatives does not even make a third of the entire legislature.
That may be true on the portion, but the two states are also some of the most influential. What the Villa Somalia’s propagandists do not know is that Somalia is the sum of its parts and all parts must be counted to make this sum.
So far, the international community has sort of sat on the fence, only urging parties for dialogue while subtly recognizing the iron hand of President Farmajo’s administration. But the crescendo of this impasse now calls for Somalia’s real friends to come forward and help it achieve its proper political goal.
There is no country currently trusted as Turkey. Ever since they showed up on the scene in 2011 at the height of a humanitarian crisis, Turkey has continued to be friends with both opposition and government alike. The Turks often say their relationship with Somalia is based on friendship and non-interference and that has earned them confidence on the Somalia scene.
Recently Turkey announced it plans to erect a spaceport in Somalia, worth about $1 billion. Turkey has already spent another $1 billion in Somalia’s humanitarian, education, diplomacy, and other soft power projects.
The Turks have the biggest embassy in Africa on Somalia soil and have also built the biggest airbase in Mogadishu, training Somalia’s special police forces, Haram’ad.
Does Ankara make these decisions out of benevolence? No. Turkey continuously seeks influence across the world and Africa using its best tools. In Somalia, the chance of aiding a country in need of relief was an opportunity that could not be seen as political. And Ankara grabbed it with both hands.
However, it would be naïve for anyone to imagine Turkey would want to pour their money out in the sink. Their long-term ambition remains to see a stable Somalia with which they can trade with. Turkey certainly has eyes on Somalia’s oil reserves, going by the invitation it received from Villa Somalia last year to explore the oil.
Turkey’s investments into the future of Somalia are also seen in its continuous funding of scholarship programs for Somalis. Since 2011, Turkey has been taking in about 300 Somalis every year to study in its universities.
It is certain that Turkey has won over a perception war in Somalia. But it needs to win over the politicians. It may be true Turkey doesn’t believe in the current Federal government, not the opposition. But these are the elites who might ruin Ankara’s ambitions of securing its market in Somalia.
There will be good returns on investment if Turkey helped mediate the impasse. It doesn’t necessarily need to be seen to be imposing its will on the people of Somalia, but it can help propose solutions to parties so a quicker, amicable, and permanent solution is obtained.
That role could also help Turkey cleanse itself of accusations last week where the police it helped trained were used to brutalize the opposition marchers in the capital.
Sitting on the fence, on the other hand, and hoping that Somalis will quarrel, fight and later agree on a way forward could be a lengthy gamble to do.