By Faisal Roble
The Curse of Karma
Each culture or religious fortitude and its respective stoicism has a built-in Karma: if you did badly, soon or later it will come back to haunt you. In the Holy Quran, Chapter 7, Verse 7, we are told that “if you do evil, you do evil to yourselves.” This is also in line with the biblical edict that: “for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Add to this the Somali adage of “booraan hadimo ha qodin, hadaad qodana ha dheerayn ku dhici doontaana mooyee” or “don’t set up a noose, alas if you do so, don’t make it tight for you may be the one inadvertently falling into it,” and you have a powerful bookkeeping for the universal law of Karma.
Karma serves us in two ways: it is a means of repository for what each and every one of us does; and two, it has built-in reciprocal punitive measures directed at those who committed bad deeds.
Dr. AbdiWeli Gaas (Gaas) incurred Karma, or inkaar in Somali, following his political aggression towards his predecessors, particularly towards the late Adde Muse and Abdulrahman Farole. In 2007, paving the way for his entry into the political scene of Puntland, he wrote a scathing critic about the state of governance in Puntland, painting it a macabre region “where offices are empty by11 AM, infrastructure is “decrepit,” and a soviet-like culture exists where salaries are drawn in the name ghost personnel.
Under a take-no-prisoner baleful tittle, “Corruption in Puntland and Adde Muse’s Noble-Sounding Nonsense,” reinforced with vindictive subheadings like “Why they disappointed with the President,” followed by this spiteful “the goons in the Parliament,” Gaas dubbed his predecessors “criminals.”
In a litany of unfair criticism of the late Adde Muse and members of his administration, Gaas does not hold back, but calls them a bunch of “insulated politicians in the comfort of their villas that they seem scarcely to have even noticed the problem.” What is unremarkable about this criticism is that in 2007, Garowe did not have any villas to talk about.
To malign more, Gaas calls Adde Muse someone who “used and abused” the people of the region. “When I tried to address the people’s concerns to the few politicians I met, their responses reflected platitudes and clan prejudices, with little objective explanation of the state affairs,” writes Gaas. He adds: the presidency “was a test of his character, and he failed it miserably. He suddenly became the leader that lost his allure.”
To hit the nail on the coffin, he bites with venom like a vampire with a mission to rip off and replace Puntland’s leadership of the time: “The people of Puntland needed change but the President showed precious little action. The President himself … became a rank opportunist,” who “failed to show real leadership,” and wasted his “enormous political capital to effect change,” he wrote about Adde Muse.
Without restraint common to academics, Gaas employs strong adjectives such as Goons, thieves, criminals, abusers of the beautiful Puntland, rank opportunists, etc., and shows no mercy in lashing out his harsh yet unsubstantiated criticism against Adde Muse. That is then.
Karma has befallen on Gaas and today all these adjectives are attributed to Gaas. Why was Gaas so quick to attribute these adjectives to others? One cannot help but retreat for explanation of his behavior to the theories of psychology of self-projection, where he projected his own attitudes onto others.
Like those he criticized, Gaas himself once had an “enormous political capital but wasted it” in favor of corruption and inaptitude and succumbed Puntland to sociopolitical stagnation.
Neither was Gaas kind to former president Abdulrahman Farole. His hyperbolic parable of the blight of Puntland being similar to a “beautiful young woman married and abused by a drunkard” still rings laud in the memories of many Somalis. He used profane language that is often off limits to Somali discourse, like equating a sitting President, in this case Abdulrahman Farole and others that came before him, to rapists!
In his criticism of his predecessors, Gaas did not cite any concrete evidence outside personal opinions; for example, he did not tell us how Adde Muse and A. Farole deserved such unkind treatment. To the contrary, my assessment hereafter about the floundering of his presidency would cite concrete examples of why I think Gaas is currently running a failed and corrupt enterprise.
The Puntland that could be
Created in 1998, Puntland, besides Somaliland, is the first and oldest regional administration in the now fledgling federal arrangement; as such, it has played a decisive role in stabilizing the northeastern portions of Somalia. In its early days of existence, Puntland fought bitterly against religious extremists, defeated them, and subsequently secured the peace of the region without minimizing the role of peace-loving religious pious.
A trailblazer for the reconstruction of Somalia and the implementation of the federal arrangement which Somali leaders have by far agreed upon, Puntland has also shown that a Somali-led peace process is much more practical for the rehabilitation of Somalia than the heavy hands of many governments with disparate geopolitical interests.
To help revive Somalia, Puntland had hosted several pivotal conferences without which peace and stability could not have returned in Somalia. According to a report prepared by Puntland State University, “The historic Garowe I & II Consultative Conferences held at Puntland State University in February 23-26/12/2011 and December, 15-17/02/2012, respectively set the foundation for a unified federal system of governance.”
Despite past and present misgivings about a centralized power in Villa Somalia, Puntland is committed to a united Somalia. Although Puntland and Somaliland have had similar complaints about the military regime (1969-1991), they have different lenses with which they look at the prospect of Somalia’s future – that of Puntland seems a more forgiving approach with an unadulterated commitment to Somalia’s unity and its territorial integrity. As of writing this piece, Puntland youth and business groups donated about $500,000 for the victims of the October 14, 2017 blast by Al-Shabab that killed over 300 and wounded about 700 innocent civilians. That is the best practical way to express the oneness of the Somali people and their organic unity.
Since its birth in 1998, a degree of progress has been realized in Puntland. Stability tops its gains. Cities and rural communities in the region are as safe as anywhere in the world. A local army consisting of Darawish infantry, police force and a modest coast guard have been in place. A functioning yet moribund executive and a decaying clan-based legislative branches have been in place for some time now.
The icing on the cake for Puntland’s governance came on October 25, 2017, when its parliament convened the 40th session. At hand at the historic opening ceremony was the entire leadership of the two houses of the federal government. The delegation was impressed at the success of Puntland, and in turn assured to their host that they will take back real lessons learned to their dysfunctional and juvenile legislative houses in Mogadishu.
In January of 2014, when Gaas was elected for the president of Puntland, Hassan Abukar, a contributing editor of WardheerNews and an astute observer of Somali politics wrote the cautionary tale that “Gaas was once a prime minister of Somalia and, in his short stint, had accomplished a lot. Now that he is the president of Puntland, he will have more room to implement his political, economic and social program. He is, after all, the big fish in Puntland”. (For a different View point from Abukar’s, see a rebuttal by Ibrahim Sharmarke).
On the development side, concrete plans for road constructions have been designed; the Garowe statehouse was constructed; the port of Bosaso was renovated in 2012; improvements of airports in Bosaso, Galkayo and now Garowe are tangible projects. Several towns that were mere provincial towns in 1998 are today fast-growing semi-cosmopolitan cities.
Much of the credit of these gains goes to the collective Guurti leadership as well as to previous administrations dating back to the late Abdullahi Yusuf, Mohamed Abdi Hashi, Adde Muse, and Abdulrahman Farole, and to the current administration. It is noteworthy that some of the projects that are coming into fruition under Gaas, to which he deserves some credit for implementation phases, have been planned and designed prior to his arrival in the presidency.
However, this current administration’s contribution is upset by some of the controversial deals surrounding the port of Bosaso coupled with a pervasive culture of corruption, and his total failure to take Puntland to the next level. (See Puntland: The Sobering Trials of the First Year, a fascinating appraisal of the administration of Gaas by Abdelkarim A. Hassan, editor of WardheerNews).
Faisal Roble, a writer, political analyst and a former Editor-in-Chief of WardheerNews, is mainly interested in the Horn of Africa region. He is currently the Principal Planner for the City of Los Angeles in charge of Master Planning, Economic Development and Project Implementation Division
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