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Mini-States in Conflict for Southern Somalia
IGAD Meeting Holds Promise, But Elders Absence Points to Future Conflict
By UGAAS DEEQ ABDI 07/15/2012
Shabaab militants moving near Kismayo
Mahad Omar Diriye
Shabaab militants moving near Kismayo
The Lower, Middle Jubba and Gedo regions are now facing the most challenging political crisis in recent history. Various groups including the Azania, Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (ASWJ), Harti clan and the Ras Kamboni militia group each separately claim the right to political leadership of the regions.

The Azania have declared their proposed administration for the region, and yet the al-Shabaab maintains effective control of the region.

Meanwhile, the Ras Kamboni militia, which fights alongside the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) forces to eliminate al-Shabaab from the Lower and Middle Juba regions, also argue that it is impossible to ultimately share power in the region with any other group.

The ASWJ who are fighting in conjunction with the TFG and Ethiopian troops in the Gedo region have declared their interest in the port city of Kismayo, despite the fact that they have no significant presence in the region.

The Harti group, a clan-based mini state who assert themselves as the majority of the people in the Middle and Lower Juba regions, also assert their right to lead the three strategic regions.

Residents in the regions are worried about the growing tension of leadership wrangles, which may lead to future conflicts, inflaming the economic crisis as well as increasing the unstabile security climate. Some even believe that it is against common sense for the groups to scuffle over administrative posts while the insurgents have not yet been eliminated from the regions. Residents urged those claiming to be the right leaders to first show a united force against the militia group of al-Shabaab and ensure the regions is calm, and thereafter to discuss the proposed administrative structure in the region.

A resident who spoke to Somalia Report on condition of anonymity said that the groups have no right to clam that they are responsible and represent the three regions, as they have neither took part nor show any interest for the past decades. “I see it as far too early for the mini-states to talk about administration of the regions, while TFG and KDF forces remain in bitter conflict with the Islamist militias and busy in the liberation of the regions from their hands, so I would conclude that whoever supports the interest of the regions should show commitment towards achievement of al-Qaida-free regions,” said the resident.

Elders Against Azania
Somalia Report
Elders Against Azania
Elders from the three regions of Gedo, Lower and Middle Juba regions also expressed their concerns to Somalia Report, saying that they are absolutely against the ongoing leadership arguments in the regions, and said that the role of leading the regions cannot be assumed by representatives of unknown groups who were established outside the country by people who have specific tribal interests, without considering the collective interests of the regions.

“As elders of Gedo, Lower and Middle Juba regions, we have jointly agreed that we cannot be represented by people who are outsiders and share little background or knowledge of the regions. Besides this, we agree that we will stand together against any group who interferes in the affairs of the regions without our approval, they will face dire consequences,” said Garad Adan Sheikh Abdinasir, an elder who is based in the town of Garbaharey, in the Gedo region.

On June 26th, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) called a meeting for the concerned militia groups at the KBC centre in Nairobi to discuss their leadership wrangles. They invited representatives from the various mini-states who are struggling for the leadership of Gedo, Lower and Middle Juba regions, attempting to avert possible conflicts among them and to reach an agreement that will lead to peaceful and prosperous regions. Elders who also claiming a say in the leadership crisis were not invited, which has deepened the tension. The political dispute has led to mistrust and disunity between communities in the regions, with each adopting the political will and ideology of the group they support. This tension in the regions has delayed peaceful socioeconomic developments of the regions.

The agenda that shaped the discussions at the meeting was:
1. How to resolve the current leadership wrangles in the regions without bloodshed.
2. How to create stability in the regions and ensure different ethnic communities can coexist peacefully.
3. Measures to be taken so as to avoid the reoccurrence of these kinds of conflicts.

The diplomats, in conjunction with IGAD officials, comprehensively discussed the agendas presented and the following key points were agreed as possible solutions to the problems mentioned, including:
1. To collectively fight and eradicate the al-Qaida-allied al-Shabaab in the regions of Middle, Lower Jubba and Gedo.
2. That all parties should avoid media-based propaganda, and reduce potential conflicts.
3. A formal agreement must be reached about the issue of regional conflicts between Gedo and the other two regions of Middle and Lower Juba regions before August.
4. All parties should accept the outcomes of these meeting between IGAD officials and their representatives, and also the outcomes of subsequent meetings, to be held in the future.

A committee of experts was elected to oversee the implementation of the agreed principles, namely:
1. General Abdullahi Ismail (Fartag), a TFG senior officer representing the Gedo region
2. Ahmed Mohamed Islan (Ahmed Madobe), the Raskamboni leader, representing the Lower and Middle Juba regions
3. Generl Mohamed Hirsi (Morgan) a warlord interested in the port city of Kismayo
4. Sheikh Mohamed Yussuf (Aw-Libah), an ASWJ chairman in southern Somalia, who claims to representing the ASWJ in southern Somalia
5. Gneral Ali Mohamed Hassan, representing the Harti clan state from Lower and Middle Juba

There remains one big question: if the TFG and KDF forces suceed in defeating al-Shabaab and capturing Kismayo, will these mini-states be recognized by the TFG? There is stil an element of doubt as to whether the TFG and KDF will accept theses mini-states as emerging powers with autonomy, to run the affairs of the regions effectively.