Thursday, May 24, 2018
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The more things change, the more they stay the same

By Dr. Ali Bahar

Monetization of votes- converting one’s vote into monetary, is apparently in display in this so-called election in Mogadishu. It’s a common knowledge in all over the world that Somalia is the most corrupted and failed state in the world. And this election authenticates what the world already knew, particularly the Somalis who have been through this for so long. We should have, by now, a good grasp of where our country has been for the last 26 years and where it’s heading. But sadly, we don’t! What is more shocking is that the weakest point for the Somalis is understanding their country politics. They don’t! Even that sordid revelation of the past 26 years didn’t leave enough bad memory to prepare the Somalis for today’s rampant corruption and the lack of progress.  Now Somalis, yet again, must choose between former warlords and today’s corrupted elites. Can’t get a break!

In the 1990s, Somalis failed to seriously deal with the notorious warlords who put Mogadishu and its environs in hell. These warlords were the first symptoms of the disease that eventually ravaged the whole Southern Somalia. The UN, US, and other international communities, who lacked the understanding of Somali clan-politics, have empowered the warlords by legitimizing the presence of these warlords, such as Aidid. That mistake eventually drove millions of innocent Somalis to despair, death and displacement. What is more shocking today,2017, is to see some of the same notorious warlords, such as Bashir Rage, running for president. Do those to whom he is appealing have forgotten who he is? He even has the audacity to suggest he will address the refugee problem if elected the president, a problem he himself created. He was one of the gutless warlords who used the “Sbarato” system to oppress people, take money and properties illegally; hording tons of thousands of stolen food and stocks from humanitarian food donation, and then manipulated the market prices—Monetization of power into overnight wealth. Such cruel and illegal actions alone resulted the death of millions of Somali people for starvation, because they could afford to buy the stolen food from the market.

The warlords became millionaires! If that was not enough, these powerful warlords, like Bashir Rage, made partnerships deals with Ethiopian merchants who were selling weapons, the remaining arsenals left behind by the Russians, to the Somalis to kill their people. The warlords bought these weapons with the stolen money to create their militia (young men without jobs) armed to their teeth with these deadly weapons, these militias, in turn robbed any shipment moving, or killed people and have taken their properties. The loot then went back to warlords, Bashir Rage and his kind. It is “SHAME” some Somalis are listening to this criminal and his kind. These very warlords were responsible for the exodus of millions of displaced people ended up in refugee camps in all over the world.

Today, all predictions seem to suggest that Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, a corrupted, Al-shabab harboring individual, is likely to win the election. The other possible winner could be the former Al-shabab-turned president, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. These men are both loaded with money and wealth, something they didn’t have before they became Somali presidents—Monetization of power into an overnight wealth. Do you suspect a trend in here? Yesterday warlords were buying weapons with money they misappropriated from the public, and that enabled them to oppress, kill and control.

Today’s corrupted politicians are traveling around the world to amass millions of dollars to buy votes in Somalia. That enables them to remain in power, steal and oppress. What hasn’t changed much is the displaced people, desperation of the Somali youth and the destruction of the country. There is no difference between yesterday’s warlords and today’s slick, illiterate elites running for the presidency. This proves how the Somalis failed to understand their own politics, their weakest link. Nonetheless, rumor has it if Hassan wins, two Darood men (Xalane and Omar Abdirashid) will compete for the prime minister post. But if Sharif Sheikh Ahmed wins, Farmajo may get the nod for the prime minister post. The more things change in Mogadishu, the more they stay the same.

Ali Bahar


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