Somalia: The Roadmap Gets a Tear on the EEZ
Oct 18, 2011 - 4:51:55 AM
By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein
The road to a permanent constitutional government for "Somali" that has been
mapped out by Western "donor"-powers and is to be implemented by the United
Nations, presented its first speed bump in October and the map suffered its
first tear, when the country's Transitional Federal Parliament (T.F.P.)
voted 335-0 with no abstentions to approve a six-point resolution including
the provision (#2) stipulating that "All transitional constitutional
institutions of the country, i.e., presidency, parliament, and government,
have no power to change, alter or discuss Somali water, airspace, and land
The T.F.P.'s decision, reached on October 8, was followed on October 11 by
its approval by the cabinet of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government
(T.F.G.), which declared that it would no longer negotiate the issue of the
country's territorial waters within the framework of the Roadmap, which
calls for a resolution of that issue by December 19, 2011.
The Clash of Interests
The Roadmap represents the effort of an international coalition, under the
aegis of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (U.N.P.O.S.),
composed of the Western "donor"-powers (United States, European Union, and
Western European states), which provide the bulk of military, economic, and
humanitarian aid to "Somalia;" regional African organizations and states;
and to a lesser extent Middle Eastern organizations and states, to create a
Somali state that can satisfy Western interests (primarily) and regional
interests in place of the current political fragmentation in the territories
of post-independence Somalia. For the Western "donor"-powers, which lead the
effort, the major interest is to draw back from expensive involvement in
Somalia, and to leave it, by August 2012, with a government that will
cooperate with Western anti-terrorism and anti-piracy campaigns, and that
will provide a legal framework for natural-resource investment/exploitation.
As an attempt to provide a comprehensive political formula for "Somalia,"
the Roadmap takes in a varying array of issues that the members of the
international coalition deem it desirable to resolve in "Somalia's"
"transition" to a permanent government. In the case of the issue of
Somalia's territorial waters (in legal terms, the demarcation of its
"Exclusive Economic Zone" (E.E.Z.)), the operative interests are Kenya's
desire to have its maritime boundaries with Somalia demarcated (to have
legal sanction for resource development - especially petroleum - in the
seabed); Western powers' desire for resource development favorable to their
corporations, and for the facilitation of anti-piracy operations. Both Kenya
and the Western powers believe that their particular interests in the
disposition of Somalia's territorial waters are best served by furthering
them within the "transitional process," in which they play a leading role.
That is why they have put resolution of the E.E.Z. into the Roadmap.
As the T.F.P.'s and the T.F.G.'s decisions to exclude the issue of Somalia's
territorial waters from the "transitional process" directed/envisioned in
the Roadmap show, there is a counter-interest in the protection of Somali
discretion over the demarcation of its territorial waters while the country
remains politically fragmented and is, therefore, especially vulnerable to
external pressures, divide-and-rule tactics, and sectional self-dealing.
Indeed, the single national issue that unites Somalis across factions is the
disposition of the country's territorial waters. The depth of sentiment that
it awakens indicates that Somali nationalism is more than a residual
phenomenon. A divided and fragmented body, the T.F.P. showed the power of
nationalism in its unanimous vote on October 8. The T.F.G.'s cabinet had no
choice but to follow suit.
The T.F.P. Acts
The T.F.P., which had earlier in 2011 foiled the "donor"-powers' plan of
ending the "transition" and installing a permanent constitutional government
in Somalia by August 2011, by extending its term for three years, took the
role of resistance to the international coalition once again by intervening
in the E.E.Z. issue.
The T.F.P. was impelled to act by an international meeting on anti-piracy
cooperation held in the Seychelles in September, at which it was reported
and rumored that Somalia's territorial waters were discussed and, on some
accounts, that agreements were signed on Somalia's E.E.Z. The reports
ignited nationalist sentiment in the T.F.P., which met on October 3 to
question the T.F.G.'s minister of fishing and sea resources, Abdirahman Sh.
Ibrahim, with 290 M.P.s present.
Shabelle Media Network reported that Ibrahim appeared before parliament and
was questioned by the session's chair, Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Abdiweli
Sh. Ibrahim Mudey, who asked Ibrahim if Somalia's territorial waters were
discussed at the Seychelles meeting. Ibrahim denied that the E.E.Z. had been
broached in the Seychelles and insisted that the meeting was devoted to
anti-piracy activities. Mudey responded that Ibrahim's response was
unacceptable and that parliament would send "a letter of charges" to the
T.F.G. According to a closed source, Mudey dismissed Ibrahim, saying that
parliament would call people who were willing to tell the truth.
Parliament also questioned the T.F.G.'s minister of international
cooperation, Abdurrahman Abdishakur Warsame, who said that the previous
government of Prime Minister Mohamed Farmajo had signed a deal on
territorial waters with Kenya. According to the closed source, Abdishakur
said that he had been "forced" to sign the agreement, although he did not
know what it stipulated. He was led to understand, he said, that the deal
gave Kenya some of the Somali territorial waters.
Parliamentary discussions of the E.E.Z. issue continued on October 4 (300
M.P.'s attending), with Adm. Farah Qare, who had attended the Seychelles
meeting, being questioned. Qare said that although the meeting was supposed
to be about anti-piracy, external stakeholders in Somalia had introduced the
proposal to limit Somalia's E.E.Z. to twelve nautical miles (at present,
Somalia, which has not submitted a claim for an E.E.Z., defines its
territorial waters as 200 nautical miles). Qare, indeed, said that the plan
to limit Somalia's E.E.Z. to twelve nautical miles has been broached by
external actors at every international meeting that he has attended. He
assured parliament that the Somali delegation to the Seychelles meeting had
rejected the twelve nautical mile proposal.
Sentiment in parliament against negotiating the E.E.Z. within the
"transitional" Roadmap process was building. Shabelle Media reported on M.P.
statements at the parliamentary session. Mustafa Dhuhulow said that Kenya
had bought a part of Somalia's coastal waters. Muse Nur Amin introduced the
issue of the length of the Somali coastline, which he said runs for 3,300 km
according to the 1982 convention on territorial waters. Former T.F.P.
speaker, Sh. Adan Mohamed Nur (Madobe) added, according to a local observer,
that, during his tenure, Kenya repeatedly approached him to settle the
The comments in parliament reflected the emerging view that by allowing the
E.E.Z. issue to be determined in the Roadmap process, Kenya would be able to
take some of Somalia's territorial waters for itself. The judgment was given
a sense of urgency by reports in the energy press that Kenya, in partnership
with foreign oil companies led by France's Total, was preparing to explore
for petroleum in Block L5, part of which Somalia claims as within its
territorial waters. Former Somali ambassador to Syria, Abdurrahman Nur
Momamed Dinari, echoing Abdishakur, told Shabelle Media that an agreement
under which Somali territorial waters would be sold to Kenya was signed
under the Farmajo administration.
On October 8, the T.F.P. acted, passing its ban on discussion of the E.E.Z.
by any of the transitional institutions. The six-point directive also
affirmed the 1988 law of the sea, nullified all agreements and memoranda of
understanding signed by Somali officials since 1991 concerning the country's
territorial waters (countering Kenya's claims), declared that any attempt to
reduce Somalia's territorial waters would constitute an act of war, ordered
the T.F.G. to transmit the T.F.P.'s directive to regional and international
states and organizations, and declared: "Anyone who violates this decision
commits high treason."
On October 11, the T.F.G.'s cabinet accepted the T.F.P.'s decision and moved
to reject any references to Somalia's E.E.Z. in the Roadmap. A cabinet press
release said that a panel of experts led by fisheries minister Ibrahim had
presented a report to the cabinet on the E.E.Z. issue, that the report had
been discussed fully, and that the cabinet had decided to "remove from all
documents, such as the National Security and Stabilization Plan and the
Roadmap, issues concerning the sea, such as the E.E.Z."
Consequences of the T.F.P.'s Action
It is too early to tell whether or not the T.F.P.'s action on Somalia's
territorial waters will remove the issue from the Roadmap process. By
October 15, the T.F.G.'s president, Sh. Sharif Sh. Ahmed, had not signed the
Analyst Mohamud Uloso argues that the T.F.P.'s and the T.F.G. cabinet's
actions are likely to be overridden by the international coalition, since
the T.F.G.'s leadership is "required to cooperate with the super Technical
Committee, the Regional Political Initiative and the International
Coordination and Monitoring Group all created to enforce the implementation
of the Roadmap and to inaugurate the post transition arrangements after
August 2012." That is, according to Uloso, the international coalition of
"invented 'Somali stakeholders'" - as he calls it - will simply be able to
ignore the T.F.P. and the T.F.G.'s cabinet, whether or not Sh. Sharif signs
Uloso's point is well taken. The "donor"-powers/U.N. and Kenya are not
likely to fold their E.E.Z. tent just because the T.F.P. has refused to join
them inside and get with their program. Uloso is correct that the
international coalition has attempted to create an interlocking set of
bodies under its control to capture the transitional institutions and bend
them to its will - disguised trusteeship.
Without breaking with Uloso's analysis, it is still the case that the
T.F.P.'s action is the first breach in the international coalition's
"transition" scheme, the first open resistance to it. The T.F.P.'s action
begins and creates the opportunity for further opposition to the Roadmap
process, especially the drafting of a permanent constitution. A closed
source reports that there is already a move in parliament to oppose the
constitution-drafting process. Another source says that opposition is likely
to surface when the T.F.P. takes up approval of the Roadmap. Sources report
that Sh. Sharif is working to torpedo the Roadmap so that he can extend his
term in office beyond August 2012. The sources also say that in-fighting has
begun between Sh. Sharif and the T.F.G.'s prime minister, Abdiweli Gas, who
is reported to support the Roadmap.
Will the international coalition, with its interlocking
monitoring-and-control agencies, be able to hold the "transition" together?
Can the international coalition gain momentum towards the "transition" if
the T.F.G. is divided within itself, and divided against the T.F.P.; and/or
if the T.F.G. and T.F.P. confront the international coalition? Is the first
speed bump the prelude to a blockade? How much control and responsibility
are the "donor"-powers/U.N. willing to take as they are impelled
increasingly to own the "transition" overtly?
Report Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein, Professor of Political Science,
Purdue University in Chicago weinstem_at_purdue.edu
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Received on Tue Oct 18 2011 - 17:03:05 EDT