News of Africa How Somalia become an isomorphic state: All form, no...

How Somalia become an isomorphic state: All form, no function


Somalia is a country at odds with itself. The country’s fate isn’t in its own hands and the leaders don’t have the public’s interest at heart.

Since the fall of Siad Barre 30 years ago and his eventual expulsion from the country on 26 January 1991, Somalia has been an isomorphic country. The country continues to be in a state of limbo, between its aspirations and the reality it finds itself in, proclaiming several politically correct terminologies to describe the political state of the country, which differ from the actual situation on the ground.

The absence of a centralised government and the impending qualms over who is rightful to rule the country stemmed from the entitlement of the warlords at the time, inspired by tribal affiliations. These disagreements resulted in a civil war from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, in direct opposition to the leadership and regime of the Siad Barre.

Somalia’s current problems include economic collapse that the country has failed to recover from, systematic failing of the institutions and the state apparatus, and continued insecurity of foods and security.

Efforts made to better the state of the nation

Efforts were made at the beginning of the century, and this brought hope that the country will overcome its dysfunction and disorder. Alas, the efforts were not in good faith and were rather another attempt of a select group of people seeking power and self-enrichment.

This created the perfect excuse for foreign states and powers to permanently involve themselves and interfere with Somali affairs, and this remains the case today. In particular, Ethiopia and Kenya focussed on ensuring the return of “stability” to their worrisome neighbour.

There were 11 different reconciliatory efforts made between 1991 and 2004. Unfortunately, since then, the state of the country has simply deteriorated even more.

This is a result of a duplicitous disconnection of the purpose of these efforts versus the intentions. There is also a lack of pointed addressing of the specific demands that contemporary Somalia has. These efforts didn’t yield any results but increased the drifting apart of member states and further division and confusion created by the many heads of states in the country.

So why is Somalia isomorphic?

Somalia is isomorphic because although it is similar to most countries in the Horn of Africa and around the world, in that it has a president, a parliament, and a military, these characteristics are all in form alone, and lack any functionality.

Since 1991, the collapse of the government and ministries took a toll on the country as a whole, and access to the most basic services (such as healthcare and security) are either nonexistent or outsourced. There’s no infrastructural development planned for roads and other necessary amenities.

The elite of the society who are in the best mental constitution to change the adversities of the country have unknown targets on their backs, leading to a deficit of competent and capable qualified leadership. This vacuum is filled by the least competent individuals, who aim to garner influence and attention.

Problems with Somalia today

In any functioning democracy, the law of the land is the constitution – the rules set by and for the people. However, in Somalia, the lack of reverence for the constitution means it cannot be a well-functioning democracy.

With regards to the military, while it can be argued that the continued presence of the African Union in Somalia (AMISOM) in the country is to provide security, it is important to understand how mindboggling it is for a country to rely on a foreign body for their security.

The Somali armed forces are comparable in number to that of AMISON, but the local military is not as well-paid or well-equipped as their counterparts. This is indicative of a lack of confidence by the Federal Government of Somalia in their soldiers and their ability to provide their own security.

Since the fall of the Barre Regime, the country’s currency has devaluated at a hyper rate, leading to an all-out reliance on the US Dollar to carry out the most basic financial needs in the country.

This, coupled with the virtual currency in the form of EVC+, dominating the currency markets of the country, diminished the need or reliance on the Somali Shilling. This continued reliance on foreign currencies permanently exposes the country’s economy to be interlinked with the financial ups and downs of the US Dollar. This puts the sovereignty of the country at the mercy of Uncle Sam.

The tendency to hold Somali domestic and foreign affairs in foreign lands led to increasing involvements of various actors and countries, each with their specific agendas and viewpoints on Somali political and national matters.

Recently the whole country’s domestic and foreign relations were under the guiding hands of Middle Eastern countries and to some extent Turkey. This over-reliance on and over-involvement of these countries are leading to the complete undermining of Somali sovereignty in preference of the interests of these actors.

This increasing involvement of foreign influence is creating further instability in the country and the region as a whole. Somali matters can only be dealt with by Somalis on their own and at their home domestically, without foreign influence.

Bottom line

I mention all the above, not just as a rebuke or with fatalist, hopeless sentiments, but as a diagnosis of the issues of the country. Somalis collectively need a time-consuming awareness of the realities in the country.

An acknowledgement of reality is imperative to the solutions needed to these problems. After all, you can only cure a disease by diagnosing the symptoms and understanding the points of concern, in order to formulate adequate testing and treatment plans. This is the only way we can rectify the issues of the country.

M. Mohamed Abshir
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