An analyst says Somalia must focus more on relations with its neighbors and drive change from within to rebuild the nation.
In the background of this after decades of unrest and of shaky transitional government Somalia seemingly is emerging out of chaos with a new Constitution, a new parliament and new president. During the past month formal relations were reestablished with the United States. A turn of events considering this comes after decades of US and UN interference in so-called peace keeping missions in Somalia. At one time in 1993 the heavy handedness against the civilian population resulted in a retaliation against the US by the people of Somalia where mutilated American soldiers were dragged through the streets forcing the US to bail out of the country. In recent times the US swarmed into Somalia again on the back of its counter terrorism policy that unleashed drone attacks in unauthorized military interventions. All attempts at self-determination by the Somali people have been sabotaged by foreign interests with Ethiopia being used to fight a proxy war. The Somali president says today that the country is now on the right path and urges patience. What are the chances of success?
Press TV in its program Africa Today has interviewed Hassan Dudde, Director Somali Economic Forum, London about this issue. Joining him is Duale Yusuf, Foreign Secretary, Somali Unity Council, London; and Said Mohamud Isse, freelance journalist & blogger from Kenya. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: I don’t think America is hiding the fact that they are driven by concerns about what they describe as Islamic terrorism, they are not hiding the fact and they keep reminding us about the September 11th and the World Trade Center saying it’s not our fault we have to think that way.
But what are your thoughts now as you see Hilary Clinton shaking hands with your president?
Dudde: The reestablishment of US Somali relations is absolutely something that is good for both countries, Somalia and the United State equally.
I think we are in a very different time to what happened back then in 1992-93. And with time changing priorities of course do also change. For that reason I think to reestablish relations between the two countries is good for Somalia and it’s also good for the United States of America.
Press TV: What are your thoughts on listening to what Duale (Yusuf) is saying, surely he has reason to be suspicious?
Dudde: Absolutely. Well, let me say I hope that this relation with the US will be one that benefits Somalia in many ways. We are well aware of the visit of the Somali President His Excellency Hassan Mahmoud. And the focus was to get help, some sort of support for development.
Now… we always look outside for help and solution and I think Somalis have to be the driving force of re-stabilizing Somalia and I’m sure the president himself indicated that; he also kind of understood that this can only come from Somalis and that’s why he is so much focused on the diaspora coming back to the country and helping rebuild the country and stabilizing it.
Press TV: Are you optimistic about the idea of unifying your country or is that too big a hurdle?
Dudde: I am very optimistic about that simply because we have learned from what happened in the past two decades.
Let me say the issue that we have, whenever we discus about the problems Somalia has or had is the political issue and that is something that… well, we know that even in the United Kingdom the parties will never agree on the best way to lead the country and each has got their own vision, that’s politics.
But what I know for sure is that if we look at other areas that are very important: one is poverty; corruption… and of course that is all happening because of a country that is not politically stable, economically it is mainly destroyed… So what I’m saying is, let’s look at the other side of things, let’s look at the Somali problem from an economic perspective, from a social perspective – these are also issues that we have that could contribute to rebuilding Somalia.
Press TV: Where will that discussion be held? Do you think it should be held on a Pan African basis, perhaps at the Africa Union?
Dudde: You don’t need to bring people together to discuss that it is already happening. We are part of it – the Somali diaspora is part of it. That’s what exactly my organization is doing, we’re trying to highlight the issue that could contribute to a better Somalia in looking at the economic and the social issues.
And if you are in Nairobi we are even hosting an event, a Somali investment Summit. So, when you come to see the success stories you see things are definitely changing in Somalia – these are the kind of things that we are doing.
Like I said, you don’t need to bring the Somali government to the United Kingdom to find a solution to that; this is something that needs to be taken in a slow process, and that is building up and I see that changing and I’m very optimistic about it.
Press TV: Unfortunately we heard very recently about a suicide bomb attack outside the new president’s office, which is a worrying sign and the press here in the West made a big, big story out of that.
Do you not feel that that’s what could potentially sabotage this wonderful vision that you’ve painted, the fact that America could use incidences like that as an excuse to become more involved militarily?
Dudde: Well, let me say, things like that do happen everywhere in the world. We see that in many countries around the world so when it happens in Somali that shouldn’t be cover, the story that is behind Somalia altogether.
But coming back to the point you just mentioned is also the role that Africans play in Somalia:
I think where we are going wrong with a couple of things is that we always look up to the Western countries to find a solution for us; but the importance of having good relations with our neighbors, with other African countries.
In the past couple of years I met with a couple of African presidents here in London and this interest in Africa that the African leaders are showing that they are the people that need to be in charge of their African affairs, I would hope that Somalis would or must think the same way – that we are the driving force.
Let’s face the reality, one thing that what brings us all together is prosperity – if everybody was having a good life then we wouldn’t have any problems. So, as our good friend (Duale Yusuf) has mentioned, poverty is one main issue. You cannot solve many problem that are based around corruption simply because people are too poor to have a sustainable decent life.