FARMAAJO AND THE POLITICS OF DIVISION AND DESTRUCTION
October 8, 2019
By Mohamed Heebaan
It is another anniversary of Qalbi-dhagax’s kidnapping and illegal rendition, and another sad reminder for President Farmaajo. Someone may say, Qalbi-dhagax? Wasn’t that sometime ago? Should we still be talking about this? Absolutely. For Mr. Farmaajo, Qalbi-dhagax’s issue will never end, because it was a treasonous act. And so long the man who committed that treason is in power, Qalbi dhagax’s issue will remain relevant. And when Mr. Farmaajo leaves office, it will still haunt him. And as Prof. Xasan Keynaan underlined in his recent artcle, Qalbi-dhagax’s issue will define Farmaajo’s legacy. The significance of Betraying Qalbi-dhagax wasn’t just betraying one man, or an organization, or a region. It was betraying a cause: the cause of the Somali people. And it is the betrayal of the cause that Mr. Farmaajo can never get around. It will haunt him till the day he dies, and even after.
In the huge homecoming dinner that was held for him in Nairobi, after he was released from Ethiopia, Qalbi-dhagax delivered a moving speech that he thanked the Somali people everywhere. He particularly thanked the Somali media that kept his cause alive. He spoke from the bottom of his heart, and said he was proud of belonging to “Isirka Soomaaliyeed!” It was fitting speech from a man, whose plight had shaken the conscious of the Somali people.
The Fallout with Mr. Madobe
Ahmed Madobe, the president of Jubbaland was one time the most loyal leader to the Federal government among all regional leaders. And the question becomes what happened, and why Mr. Framaajo and Mr. Madobe became sworn enemies?
What happened is that Mr. Farmaajo feels that Mr. Madobe attacked him at Farmaajo’s weakest link: on the issue of Qalbi-dhagax. Without going into long details, here are the facts:
-Mr. Farmaajo had Qalbi-dhagax kidnapped, and handed over to the Ethiopian enemy. And because of that treasonous act, the overwhelming majority of the Somalis understood
-Mr. Farmaajo to be dishonest and a traitor, and he effectively lost the trust of the most Somalis.
The only two glimpses we had of Qalbi-dhagax during that ordeal were a one in which Farmaajo’s security officials threw Qalbi-dhagax in a solitary room. They forced him to sit on the cement floor and deprived him of anything to sit on, be it stool or a chair. Then to scare him and psychologically abuse him, they turned the lights off and walked towards him in the dark room, where he could hear their approaching footsteps! Then they turned their flashlights on, and aimed the lights on his eyes just to humiliate him, as if he was a dog or something!
Qalbidhagax in handcuffs
These security officials were doing all these cruel things based on direct instructions from Mr. Farmaajo’s highest officials. We know this because security officials are like water: they take the colour of whoever they serve. Under the previous administration, those very security officials, who were this time abusing him, knew who Qalbi-dhagax was, and where in Mogadishu he lived, but they never bothered him, because President Xasan Sheikh Maxamuud was no traitor!
The other picture of Qalbi-dhagax that the world had seen was that an elderly man, dressed in two pieces of cheap clothing, frail and exhausted, passed out on a long wooden chair in what appeared to be a train station, somewhere in Ethiopia.
Then Ahmed Madobe went to Ethiopia, and interceded on Qalbi-Dhagax’s behalf, took some great pictures with him, and helped his release from prison.
Mr. Farmaajo interpreted Mr. Madobe’s action and success as slap in the face and a great insult! Why Mr. Farmaajo feels that way is something only he could answer. But there is no doubt about the fact that Mr. Farmaajo feels Mr. Madobe upstaged him at his weakest point, and came across so good, at Mr. Farmaajo’s lowest point! And all the available evidence suggests that it is for that reason, more than anything else, that Mr. Farmaajo decided Madobe must go! The rest, as they say, is history.
It was in his first 6 months that Mr. Farmaajo betrayed Qalbi-dhagax. From there, the damage he caused the country has been escalating day by day. Of all the failed leaders in Muslim history, the ones that Mr. Farmaajo resemble the most are the awfully corrupt leaders of Muslim Spain. Andalus or Muslim Spain collapsed not because it didn’t have enough armies, or weapons or manpower, or technology, but because it was cursed with corrupt leaders, who were preoccupied only with their own selfish ends, who could never come together, for the common good, or for the welfare of their people. When dispute occurred between the leaders of Muslim Spain, since, for them, selfishness was paramount to everything else, instead of settling their differences, many of them went to their Christian neighbours, and made alliances with them just to get even or destroy their Muslim rivals. Perhaps the saddest episode in that regard was the story about the fall of city of Toledo.
When the resurgent Spaniards were attempting to capture the city of Toledo, which served as the center of Muslim learning and culture for over 300 years, a Muslim renegade who in the past feuded with the ruler of Toledo saw an opening. The renegade made an alliance with the Spaniards reasoning that if he helped the Spaniards capture the city, he could kill two birds with one stone: he would avenge against his Muslim nemesis, and at the same time, share the spoils. The city resisted. But in the end, the combined forces of the Spaniards and that of the Muslim renegade had their effect, and Toledo fell. The Muslim renegade then started counting the hours, expecting to receive his share of the spoils. The victorious Spaniards, however, had other ideas. They held a huge celebration whereby the biggest mosque of Toledo was transformed into a church, and the hapless Muslim renegade was made the guest of honour for the occasion!
One of the worst things about President Farmaajo is that, selfishness is the lenses through which he sees everything. Unlike all other previous presidents, Mr. Farmaajo is only president whose main tool is sowing division and discord among Somalis, just to attain his selfish goals.
In every major town, in every province, and every region, he turned people against one another: politicians against one another; sub-clan against sub-clan just to achieve his selfish ends! Just look at the trail of destruction he left behind in Galmudug, Hirshabeele, Koonfur-Galbeed, and Jubbaland. Even Puntland, the most politically stable and cohesive region in the federation, could not escape his attempts to sow discord and subversion. Farmaajo’s favourite method of dealing with his Somali political opponents is NOT to try to find a solution, but, like the rotten leaders of Muslim Spain, to use the neighbouring enemy to destroy his Somali opponents. That is exactly what he did in Baydhaba against Mukhtar Robow and his supporters.
Sheikh Mukhtar Robow
Mr. Farmaajo is not a man who keeps his word. The ugly manner in which he double crossed Mukhtar Robow is forever reminder of that. When Farmaajo could not defeat Robow in the polls, he used the Ethiopian forces to crush his Somali opponent, and slaughtered scores of innocent Somali citizens in the process. Mr. Farmaajo repeated the same tactic in Jubbaland. He turned politicians against one another and attempted to turn sub-clan against sub-clan. However, when all that failed against Ahmed Madobe, he used the ACE card that he apparently relies more than anything else: the Ethiopian forces. Here, unfortunately, what Farmaajo attempted to do wasn’t given enough reviews or paid enough attention: he attempted to create a bloodbath in Kismaayo, by luring the small Ethiopian regiment into harms way, and causing them to suffer significant casualties, and thereby forcing the hand of the Ethiopian government to bring its heavy guns and tanks and sack the city to avenge its fallen soldiers. That was exactly what Mr. Farmaajo planned to happen, when he gave Ethiopia the full responsibility to deal with Juabbaland.
The sinister plan by Mr. Farmaajo almost came to fruition, when the Ethiopian regiment attempted to take control of the Kismaayo airport, at the excuse that they were just about to facilitate the landing of an Ethiopian plane that was sent from Godey. However, the scheme was foiled when the Ethiopian plane was denied to land, and the Ethiopian regiment was prevented from coming anywhere near the airport.
Had the Ethiopian regiment managed to take control of the airport, they could have refused to leave, arguing that their presence at the airport was legitimate and was sanctioned by the Federal Government of Somalia in Mogadishu. And faced with such predicament, the Jubaland authorities and their local forces would have been forced to storm the airport, and cause significant casualties to the Ethiopian regiment. And such action in turn would have forced the hand of the Ethiopian government to act the way
Mr. Farmaajo planned: sack Kismaayo to avenge its slaughtered soldiers. Thank God that didn’t happen. However, Mr. Farmaajo spared no effort to bring about a catastrophic bloodbath in that town. And now, having failed to manipulate the Ethiopian government to sack the city, it is not farfetched to think that Mr. Farmaajo would create a communal strife in the city to lead to the same catastrophe, just to get even with the man he has grudge against. If the unhappy two years under Mr. Farmaajo, from the treason against Qalbi-dhagax to the slaughter of innocent civilians in Baydhaba, from banishing every courageous and patriotic person from the position of leadership to wrecking havoc in the regional governments, taught us anything, it is that when it comes to Mr. Farmaajo, one should expect the worst.
The Dispute with Kenya: Farmaajo’s ‘Qamiisu Cusmaan!’
Qamiisu Cusmaan is one of the most famous/infamous political expressions in Muslim history. It refers to the use of a legitimate cause to attain a nefarious goal. It started when Macaawiye bin Abu sufyan (RA) and his camp exploited the killing of Cusmaan bin Cafaan (RA), and his blooded Qamiis (shirt) and used them as an instrument to agitate people and gain power, while claiming their aim was merely to get justice for Cusmaan’s family.
Likewise, Mr. Farmaajo now says he is fighting to defend Somalia’s territorial waters against encroaching Kenyans. Thus, any time his Somali political opponents criticize him or hold a meeting in Nairobi to organize their efforts, since there is no freedom to do so in Mogadishu, Mr. Farmaajo would cry foul and brand them as traitors who are undermining his government’s efforts to defend Somalia’s territorial waters! Mr. Farmaajo also branded Ahmed Madobe as a traitor who sided with the Kenyan enemies, whom he is fighting tooth and nail in order to defend Somalia’s territorial waters.
Mr. Farmaajo wants to shut down any criticism against him and his government regarding all the division and discord he created in all regions, the slaughter of the innocent civilians in Baydhaba, the pervasive corruption in his government, the treachery against Qalbi-dhagax that he, Mr. Khayre and many of his ministers are guilty of, at the excuse that those criticisms would aid the enemy, and undermine his and his government’s ability to fight for Somalia’s territorial waters! As you could see, fighting for Somalia’s territorial waters is legitimate cause. However, when Mr. Farmaajo exploited the issue as a tool to silence his critics, and hide the destructive crimes that he and his government inflicted on the country and its people, he robbed the issue of its substance, and hence, the legitimate cause of our territorial waters simply turned into Qamiisu Cusmaan!
The sad thing is that Mr. Farmaajo’s political opponents, and politicians of all political stripes fell for the ploy! Instead of brushing the baseless accusations aside, and turning the tables on him by recounting his treasonous act against Qalbi-dhagax, his criminalinality against the civilians he have them slaughtered in Baydhaba, and the fires of division and discord he created in all regions, those politicians lowered their voices lest they appear treacherous in the context of the conflict with Kenya. And that was exactly how Mr. Farmaajo calculated his accusations and wanted to silence his critics. In other words, they fell for the ploy.
However, Mr. Farmaajo is his own worst enemy. And as such, he handed a new devastating ammunition to his critics when he imposed a collective punishment against hundreds-of-thuousands-of people in Kismaayo just to get even with the ruler he feuds with!
Under Farmaajo’s tenure, everything has gotten worse in the country. Even Amiir Caamir’s work has deteriorated. The one time conscious of the nation is now completely in Farmaajo’s back-pocket, and therefore become so predictable: whoever is with Mr. Farmaajo he hails and elevates. And whoever is against Farmaajo, he insults and attacks! So sad! The shameful role that Caamir played in ousting Mohamed Osman Jawaari, the able speaker of the parliament, undermined his credibility and left an indelible stain on Amiin Caamir’s name.
The Abuse of Power, and the humiliation of Sheikh Sharif
Since the central government of Somalia collapsed almost 30 years ago, the successive governments that came to power after the civil war, did not have much of a power. For instance, they did not have military force, or a police force with capacity to protect the country, its institutions, or its leadership. They also lacked many of institutions that are fundamental for an independent country. When we Somalis think about how weak and powerless the Somali government is, and, hence, our country, we feel bad. We made a correlation: the stronger our government and our leaders are, the stronger our country, the better for the Somali people. In a perfect world, this is a rational thought. Unfortunately, under Messrs Farmaajo and Khayre, rational thought is turned upside down. That is, facts on the ground show that the more power Messrs. Farmaajo Khayre attain, the disastrous for the Somali people!
After almost 27 years, the Somali government regained the control of Somalia’s airspace. That was a significant step towards nation’s rebuilding. Unfortunately, instead of using the regained power to benefit and enhance the welfare of the Somali people, Mr. Farmaajo used that power to terrorize the Somali people. On Aug. 29, 2019, Mr. Farmaajo banned all flights to Kismaayo unless they first land at Mogadishu airport, where Mr. Farmaajo setup a New Isbaaro of his own! Thus, with a stroke of pen, Mr. Farmaajo imposed collective punishment on hundreds-of-thousands of Somalis who live in that city! The economy, the health, and the interests of those hundreds-of-thousands-of people who call that city home is of no concern for Mr. Farmaajo. Why is Mr. Farmaajo doing this? He is doing it because he has a feud with Mr. Madobe the ruler of Jubaland, and what happens to the entire people of who live in that city is apparently none of his problem.
Now, the question becomes, if Mr. Farmaajo used the one power that he regained in that destructive manner against the people of Kismaayo, what would happen if he gains more power?
If he gains more power, he would use it against the people in other regions, and terrorize them just as he is doing now to the people of Kismaayo. Dividing people, and turning them against one another, and looking only at his narrow self-interest Mr. Farmaajo’s modus operandi. Therefore, from his disastrous track record, opposing Mr. Farmaajo and his corrupt regime is a patriotic duty on every and all Somalis.
Mr. Farmaajo’s Ultimate Folly:
As if his abuse of power, and imposing a torturous, collective punishment on hundreds-of-thousands of Somalis living in Kismaayo wasn’t bad enough, what Mr. Farmaajo did on Sept. 21, 2019, will surely go to history books as one of the most idiotic decisions ever made by a Somali president: he publicly humiliated the former president Sheikh Sharif, in front of all Somalis, and in front of the whole world, when he denied him to fly out of Mogadishu airport! That Mr. Farmaajo’s obsession with selfish ends would lead to disaster was obvious. But I never thought it would lead him to such a slippery slope in such a dramatic fashion.
Now that the damage is done, Mr. Farmaajo needs to do two things:
1. He must apologize to president Sheikh Sharif and apologize to him publicly, for humiliating him and for taking away his rights.
2. He must also reverse the collective punishment he imposed on the entire people of Kismaayo, whose only crime is to live in city ruled by the man that Mr. Farmaajo feuded with. The people of Kismaayo are collateral damage for this political feud. Unfortunately, the man who leads the country, doesn’t care about their pain and suffering. All that Mr. Farmaajo sees is only one man: Mr. Madobe. If this is not the definition of selfishness that crossed all red-lines, I don’t know what is.
President Farmaajo abused power, violated the constitution, and took away the citizens’ rights. And as such, if he does not rectify the situation by, at minimum, taking the above noted two steps, he would push people to revolt against his corrupt regime, and risk to be chased out of power.
Mr. Farmaajo has the habit of going into hiding when the mess he creates engulfs the country. But this time around, hiding would not do. He must step forward and apologize to the leader he so shamelessly humiliated. And as Arabs say “inqaad maa yumkin inqaaduhu!”
Collective Punishment: Farmaajo’s Achille’s heel
The collective punishment that Mr. Farmaajo imposed on the people of Kismaayo exposed Mr. Farmaajo as irresponsible and having no feeling for the welfare of the Somali people. If handing Qalbi-dhagax to the Tigrayan regime exposed Mr. Farmaajo as a traitor, the collective punishment he imposed on the people of Kismaayo exposes him as a cruel man who cannot see beyond his vindictive mindset! This collective punishment of an entire city should ring the alarm bells and awaken every and all Somalis that if Mr. Farmaajo is not stopped, he will terrorize every and all regions, and cities, one at a time, just as he did to Kismaayo and its people. Hence, it is incumbent upon all thinking Somalis, politicians and common people, regardless of their region or political affiliation to denounce Mr. Farmaajo’s collective punishment against the people of Kismaayo, and force him to abandon this cruel policy.
We should do so to help the people of Kismaayo, and to prevent such bleak fate from the rest of Somali cities. Mr. Farmaajo put himself in a trap of his own making. Let us hold him accountable for his crimes and ensure he does not escape from this collective punishment self-inflicted disaster.
Former Speaker Jawaari
One of the worst damages that Mr. Farmaajo caused to the country has to do with how he dismantled the Federal Parliament. Institutions are as effective as those who lead them. When Mohamed Osman Jawaari, the former speaker of the parliament was leading the house, the people’s house was in good hands. We saw that from how speaker Jawaari dealt with the kidnapping and the rendition of Qalbi-dhagax. When Qalbi-dhagax’s issue came to light, speaker Jawaair did not duck. Instead, he rose to the occasion, appointed an independent committee, and made its findings public. The committee did not mince words. It made it clear that Farmaajo’s and Khayre’s act of handing Qalbi-dhagax to Ethiopia was illegal and treasonous! Mr. Farmaajo, apparently, took the committee’s finding and speaker Jawaari’s role as a personal attack, and used the huge sums of money he got from his foreign backers to banish the able speaker from his position. Unfortunately, the loss of speaker Jawaari was the loss of the parliament and of the Somali people. When you banish able, courageous and patriotic people from positions of power, you end up dismantling the institutions those able people served, to the detriment of the people and the country.
Nowhere is that more obvious than the sorry state of the current federal parliament. Time after time, the current parliament was confronted with crisis after crisis, and the parliament is missing in action. For instance, when Mr. Farmaajo’s Ethiopian friends slaughtered scores of innocent civilians in Baydhaba, or the division and conflicts he sparked in Glamudug, Hirshabelle, or the collective punishment that Mr. Farmaajo imposed on hundreds-of-thousands-of people in Kismaayo, the parliament is nowhere to be seen. In all intents and purposes, the current parliament is like mas madixii laga dilay: it is in a vegetative state!
Things were much different when Xasan Sheikh Maxamuud led the country, and speaker Jawaari was in charge of the parliament. Xasan Shiekh Maxamud, it seems, have internalized the Hippocratic oath of those who practice medicine: to do no harm. If he could not transform the country very quickly, which he obviously could not, he was happy with incremental improvements, and was also determined not to wreck any progress that was made. His was a thoughtful leadership. Unfortunately, we neither understood it at the time, nor appreciated it. In the place of incremental improvements, we Somalis wanted strides. But now that the country is mired by disasters created by Farmaajo and Khayre, latest one being the collective punishment of the hundreds-of-thousands-of-people living in Kismaayo, all of a sudden, Xasan Sheikh Maxamud’s quiet, incremental improvements by comparison look so glorious. Thus, we are akin to that Arab poet who said, “Rubba yawmin bakayta min-hu, Falammaa sirta ilaa-ghayrihii bakayta calayhi!” Cabdisalaam Xaaji Aadan, a reer woqooyi poet brilliantly translated that line, when he said: “Haddaad maalmo urugooto ooy umasho laabtaadu, La arkee ayaantaa inaad dib ugu ooydaaye!”