10 questions Somalia’s prime minister should answer in Washington.By washingtonexaminer
Khaire’s visit comes at a crucial time for Somalia. In 1991, after the fall of dictator Siad Barre, Accordingly, here are some questions any responsible official in the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, U.S. Congress, White House, and State Department should demand Khaire answer satisfactorily if he wants aid to continue:
1. Why should Somalia receive any more international assistance?
The U.S. has increased its contribution to Somalia to more than $900 million, after several years of giving at least $500 million. Of course, Somalia receives even more from the international community. Is there any metric by which Somalia has improved in proportion to money received? Security? Territorial control? Economy? Education?
2. Why are salaries in Mogadishu so high?
One of the ironies of Somalia is that salaries of its bureaucracy are exponentially higher, but services and efficiency so much lower than those of Somaliland, the breakaway northern region of Somalia which operates independently. If Somaliland authorities can do a better job with less, why can’t Somalia?
3. What’s the plan to address corruption?
The academic literature is clear: Corruption and looting of resources was not only primarily responsible for Somalia’s collapse, but also for transforming drought into devastating famine. And yet, Somalia has been at the bottom of Transparency International’s corruptions perceptions index for more than a decade. Why should the U.S. or international organizations provide money to a country consistently more corrupt than Venezuela, Afghanistan, or North Korea? What has your government done in practice to reduce corruption? How many ministers or aides have you fired due to corruption?
4. Why does Farmajo travel so much?
Farmajo entered office criticizing his predecessor for traveling internationally too often, rather than remaining in Mogadishu in order to manage the capital and country’s recovery. And yet, two years after his election win, Farmajo is now traveling abroad at a record-setting pace, enjoying luxury flights and surroundings while his country teeters. Why does Farmajo need to travel abroad? Isn’t that the job of the foreign ministry? While Farmajo is abroad, who is managing day-to-day efforts to repair Somalia’s damaged fabric?
5. Will Somalia survive the end of AMISOM?
AMISOM was meant not only to battle al Shabab, but to give space for Somalia to rebuild its army. But the army has complained that its salaries are lost (see question 3) and soldiers are unwilling to fight for free. Accordingly, as AMISOM contingents begin to head home, Somalia is left without a functional army. Who has been prosecuted for embezzling the soldiers’ pay? Do you expect Somalia to resist al Shabab if the army is unwilling to fight?
6. If you want U.S. support, why lease your country to China?
You are in Washington demanding more aid, but your government has leased fishing rights to China. Do you believe China is altruistic toward Somalia? If not, what are its interests? While piracy is a complicated issue, does allowing China into Somali waters enhance the employment of Somali fishermen or undermine it? If Somali fishermen can’t make a living, do you risk reigniting piracy in the Horn of Africa? Where has the money gone from the China deal?
7. Why ask the International Court of Justice to mediate Kenya dispute and then not wait for decision?
The Somali government has asked the International Court of Justice to mediate a maritime border dispute with Kenya, and yet then went ahead with a secret auction of gas exploration rights in the disputed zone. Don’t you undercut the legitimacy of the process when you initiate it and then ignore it? Is it wise to antagonize Kenya when Somalia has relied on Kenyan troops for security for much of the past decade?
8. Why is Somalia bothering with the Israel-Palestine dispute?
In recent weeks, Somalia has fired Abdullahi Dool, a foreign ministry official who has said that enmity toward Israel is not in Somalia’s interest. Could you explain the firing and why you believe it is in Somalia’s interest? Likewise, could you explain the recall of Faduma Abdullahi Mohamud, Somalia’s ambassador to Switzerland, after she abstained on a U.N. resolution condemning Israel? Are reports that the recall happened after a phone call between Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Somali Foreign Minister Ahmed Isse Awad true? Aren’t Omar and Awad from the same subclan, and haven’t they previously collaborated on policy issues?
9. Do you believe that Turkey is a stabilizing force for Somalia?
On one hand, Turkey has invested heavily in Somalia and you are using Turkey to mediate Somalia’s dispute with Somaliland. But on the other hand, Turkey has built a military base in Mogadishu and its paramilitary SADAT appears to be offering training and assistance to Islamist extremists inside Somalia. Under such circumstances, and especially reports of Turkish ties to al Shabab, is Turkey really a stabilizing force for Somalia? Given the corruption inherent in both Somalia and in Turkey, would you be willing to publicize the terms of the deal and transparently account for all funding that has resulted from the airport management and base lease deals?
10. Why is reunification with Somaliland a goal?
Somaliland has been de facto independent since 1991 and has thrived while the rest of Somalia has descended into chaos. Why do you expect Somaliland (which, between 1988 and 1991 was subject to a genocide coordinated out of Mogadishu) to ever reunify with the rest of Somalia when Somalia’s own house is not in order? How do any parliamentarians in Mogadishu “represent” Somaliland when they were not elected in Somaliland and don’t step foot in the region? Wouldn’t a more responsible strategy put the Somaliland issue aside until Somalia has tackled basic issues of reducing corruption and restoring security? If you claim your government is legitimate across all of Somaliland, why do you not provide 30% of the aid you receive, in direct proportion to Somaliland’s population, to the province? Wouldn’t that better win hearts and minds that are necessary if reconciliation is to work?
Simply put, foreign aid is not an entitlement and, as the history of Somalia shows, when offered carelessly, it can do far more harm than good. Perhaps, Prime Minister Khaire should return to Mogadishu with a simple message: Account for aid already offered and demonstrate an ability to improve anything in Somalia before any more funds are given.
Michael Rubin is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official.