Somalis have waved goodbye to 2011 licking away the scars it left on them while dreading the new perils 2012 might have under its wings. Since the collapse of the last central government of Somalia two decades ago, Somalis have yet to see a caring year. The twenty calendar years they have so far witnessed were all cruel, without exception, in terms of the sustained destruction they inflicted from Black Hawk Down, brutal warlords, famine, Drone bombardments and now the full invasion of the country by almost all East African armed forces.
Lives in the country remain stubbornly in a managed chaos where villains of all sorts compete to undercut and outsmart each other. Piracy in the high seas, starvation, corruption, Islamic extremists, warlords and inept transitional governments all call Somalia their home and are all in agreement to maintain the status quo. In a pandemonium of this sort a pirate can have stake in the TFG, the warlord businesses, the Islamists and food aid haulage contracts. Nothing in Somalia is what it appears because the distinctive features that traditionally separated different interest groups have all but vanished and that is precisely the reason the scuffle with in the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFI) refused to rest in peace.
It is not surprising in light of the boisterous forces that took root in Somalia and particularly the south have failed to produce model statesmen that could fill the void and rescue the country from its perils. It is said “no government is better than its people.” The successive TFG governments installed to deliver the country from the cold into the bosom of the nation of states unfortunately hail from the same groups that hold the country and its seas in ransom.
Picking a person of the year in this shadowy situation is an arduous task, where one is given points not on what good they have done for the country, as none is even thinking along these lines to this day, but on how long one has endured to keep his personal turf. Surviving in the jungle of Somali politics one has to have the ingenuity of the acclaimed actor Marlon Brando of the movie “The God father”; so after exhaustive research the Speaker of parliament, Sharif Hassan, AKA Sharif Sakin-Xariif has qualified to earn the title of the Person of the year.
Sharif Hassan, who by Somali standards comes from a humble background with no formal education, no experience in government service and no clue of politics, miraculously is the longest serving and most powerful politician in the TFI. A poor Qat-trader in one of the market stalls in Baidhabo who has neither an influential tribe behind him nor benefiting from the muscle of an armed militia, managed to take the top office of the Transitional parliament in 2005. He has shown shrewd tactics, and amazing networking that includes supporters from the international community. Soon after he sniffs a threat in the air, he takes lethal pre -emptive attacks to secure his seat by dropping silently an apple of discord among the mixed antagonist groups with view that they carry the kill on his behalf.
Sharif Hassan has outsmarted and out maneuvered the heavy weight president Abdilahi Yusuf, first by aligning with Mogadishu warlords- the group the TFG was supposed to decommission - and then to the Union of Islamic Courts – another contender to the TFG- and finally courted with the ARS in exile in Eretria.
When ultimately the TFG found an able leader, Prime Minister Farmajo who for the first time tackled Al Shabab, Sharif Hassan extinguished the hope through the Kampala Accord. Sharif Hassan managed to sack the prime minster and his government and insisted as a compromise to accept only novice cabinet consisting of members that have not worked in previous TFGs. Additionally the accord guaranteed him to stay as the speaker of the house without the threat of de seating .
Sharif Hassan is at present co-managing the day-to-day activities of the TFG with president Sherif Ahmed and Premier Abdiwali M. Ali. Sharif Hassan obliterated President Abdilahi’s TFG, crippled the incumbent one and is working overtime to shape the TFG of August 2012 in his own image. He survived several attempts to expel him from his position as Speaker of the parliament. Through it all, the Speaker perfected the art of locking the doors of parliament when things are not going his way, and each time he comes out unscathed. This time around he has the protection of the Kampala Accord that the parliament endorsed with a comfortable majority.
If Sharif Hassan’s social intelligence that had outwitted the seasoned politicians, Generals, the PhD holders, religious scholars and most of the international community is put to work to better the lives of his people, Somalia would have been in a better situation. More than three million people mostly hailing from his constituency have suffered in one of the worst famines in the history of Somalia, while Sharif Hassan was busy wining himself and his cohorts’ lucrative deals and contracts to enrich himself at the expense of the victims of the famine.
Not all persons of the year are equal in stature, glory and history of destructive behavior. And not all people who win that labeling are chosen for their humble and positive contribution to society. Famous individuals who have won the Person of the Year in previous years or those who came close to winning include Stalin, Osama Bin Laden, Gengis Khan and Hitler. Thus, because of his gripping and lethal influence on Somali politics, WardheerNews has chosen Sharif Hassan as the Person of the Year for 2011.
Read WDN editorials at Archives