Published On: Tue, May 15th, 2012

Why Hiil Qaran Party Will Not Have a Significant Impact on the Politics of Somalia

OPINION | May 15, 2012

by Hussein Samatar

Hussein Samatar

On Saturday, May 12th the weather in Minneapolis was exquisite. It was sunny and beautiful day. It was a day for spending outdoors; not a day to listen to a new political party’s new ideas and platform regarding the issues of Somalia.
Lately, it seems to me the Somalis both in Somalia and the Diaspora are either running for the Presidency or forming new political parties. So, I was not too thrilled to give up my Saturday afternoon for another attempt at sloganeering and empty rhetoric. However, at the request of a friend to attend, I did just that.

After starting two hours late, the lineup of speakers was carefully balanced along clan lines, religion, and support. They all spoke quite well and each stressed the need for unity among Somalis, and the necessity of rebuilding Somalia.

I really did not know much about the Hiil Qaran party before attending this meeting, beyond what I had seen on the party’s website and charter. A great read, the charter defines quite clearly the proposed structure in the three main areas of: policy making, disciplinary, and executive organs. However, nowhere on the website could I find the people who would actually hold these positions. I felt this neglect to be little bit strange. In human interactions, especially policy and political circles, individuals follow other familiar and trusted individuals. Even in advanced democracies, like our United States, few people actually read the platform of the parties. I can only imagine this number is even lower in a country like Somalia, with a low literacy rate, and where a large portion of the Diaspora might struggle with the charter in written in Somali, and be completely unable to read it in English. This was very striking omission for me.

The only personality of the Hiil Qaran party that I am familiar with is Professor Ahmed Samatar, whom I have met with a couple of times. In April of 2009, we were both invited to appear on the Midday program of Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), in which we had a dialogue about the Somali-Minnesotan community and the disappearance of a handful young Somali-Minnesotans back to Mogadishu, Somalia. As you could hear from listening to the program, Professor Samatar essentially argued that Somalis everywhere, and especially those of us here in Minnesota, are “bad apples” and will not amount to anything. Further, the Somali-Minnesotan community is not interested in integration (whatever integration means) or the American culture.

So, this was my only window into Hill Qaran party. No other names on the website besides Professor Ahmed Samatar, who is the Chairman of the party and (although it was not made official during the meeting) is gearing up to run for Somalia’s presidency. Last time I met him it was clear to me on where he stands towards the Somali people, in particular Somali-Minnesotans. Still I came with an open mind to listen and learn.

When the meeting officially began, all but one of the speakers spoke too long. Additionally, despite a stressing from the podium for gender balance and gender inclusion into Somalia’s political affairs, there was only one woman speaker – whose only task was to energetically read the biography of Professor Ahmed Samatar.

Finally, when we get to hear from the main speaker, Professor Ahmed Samatar, it was after 9:00 p.m. The speech was average and long. Professor Samatar made quite obvious points about Somalia’s current political situation. There was not really any new material for the people who regularly read about Somalia, and are very familiar with the quagmire of the South and South-Central portions of the country.

The question and answer session was practically limited to just one question and one comment due to time constraints. By the time we were done it was 11:00 p.m. A long night indeed!

From what I observed Saturday night, here are my top 10 reasons why Hiil Qaran party may not be able to make any real political difference in Somalia.

1: Contrary to what was said from the podium, it was not obvious to me who wields power in this new party besides Professor Ahmed Samatar.

2: Party favors decentralized unitary power for all Somalia. And it seems to me Hiil Qaran party is ignoring the reality of Somaliland, Puntland, and to some extend Galmudug. Galmudug was not even mentioned.

3: Action speaks louder than words. The organizers did horrible job in not including more women speakers. And many people would like to know how women voices are embraced within party’s power structure.

4: Although almost all Somalis universally despise 4.5 clan power sharing, they are not interested in going back to a system of centralized power that only gives lip service to decentralization. I believe that federalism might be a much more hopeful system, if Somaliland is willing to stay within the union. However, Hiil Qaran seems to reject the federalism idea.

5: Hiil Qaran party is being created outside of Somalia. As articulated on Saturday night, the only office it has in the country is in Mogadishu. Yet, Mogadishu has been in trouble over 20 years. Without Al-Shabaab threatening the international community, the city would have been abandoned by now. Therefore, Hiil Qaran party does not seem to have legitimate region that it can operate from, because Mogadishu is not the natural habitat for the founders of the party.

6: Somalis truly let themselves down by killing and maiming each other. Without proper, true, and grassroots reconciliation, it will be difficult for the country to recreate a sense of “nation”. Hiil Qaran Party seems to believe this process can happen and start from South and South Central of Somalia, which is the area that I from, but these regions do not have any track record in the last twenty years in doing so. Miracles can happen but the prognosis is not good. The only reason the Transitional Federal Government is still around is because of the African ground force and international support. This is the only legitimacy that the TFG has to even be at the table with the likes of Somaliland and Puntland. I wish there will be another region called Jubbaland to be at the table too, instead of that area currently being dominated by Al-Shabaab.

7: Hiil Qaran party does not currently have identifiable personalities who are experienced in Somalia’s rough and tumble politics. Given that the only way to grab the power of Somalia’s presidency lately has been through the corrupt and demeaning clan system, Hiil Qaran does not seem to stand a chance to win the presidency anytime soon. If Somalia goes to a federal system, it will be even more problematic for the Hiil Qaran party.

8: Teaching political economy and international studies does not necessarily prepare someone to be the head of fragmented country like Somalia. President for whom? If lucky, it will be the continuation of the format which is limited and ineffective TFG in South and South Central Somalia. Outside of this trajectory it will take huge leadership, renewed civic engagement, and Somalis loving each other again, in order to form a strong state for Somalia. Hiil Qaran party understands this and articulates it, but it does not seem to know how to go about doing it.

9: There are already over 36 candidates who have declared their desire to be the next president of Somalia. Hiil Qaran party will join a very crowded field, of new political parties. Further, Hiil Qaran cannot be sustained from outside of the country. Sooner or later it will need to have real presence somewhere in Somalia. As it stands now, it cannot operate from Somaliland, Puntland or any other regional authorities territory except Mogadishu.

10: Somalia definitely needs Hiil Qaran but the Hiil Qaran party might not be it.

Hussein Samatar is the Executie Director of the African Development Center and was recently elected to the Minneapolis School District
hsamatar@adcminnesota.org | Hussein@husseinsamatar.com

  • Dalmar Kaahin

    Despite his education, professor Samatar remains oblivious to his surroundings and to the reality on the ground. His “vision” is idealistic, not realistic.

    For years, he dissed, dismissed, and detested his own country of birth—Somaliland.
    Today, Mogadishu (or Muuqdisho) is telling him that if it’s going to deal with anyone from Somaliland, it will be Somaliland itself, not self-imposed politicians from the Diasporas.

    In nutshell, what professor Somatar has been trying to do is: putting someone else’s house in order while trivializing the existing o f his own house, much less come to its rescue.

  • Dalmar Kaahin

    Cont'd…

    What he should have done is: while advocating for Somali unity, support his nation of Somaliland and campaign for its efforts provide its citizens security and a viable economy, instead of suffering a minor heart attack when hears the word: Somaliland.

    He once told a small crowd at a university in the States, “The idea of Somaliland frightens me…”
    Well, if your own people are frightening you, good luck with Somalia and its convoluted policies and incompetent factions.

    It was either professor Huessein Samatar or his brother professor Abdi Samatar who said told the BBC radio, the Somali language, “ The people in Somaliland keep wining that they havee been killed by Gen. Siade Barre's army…”

    The Samatar brothers WILL NEVER have the slightest chance of winning a local municipal election, much less have chance to run for president. Simply, their reputation precedes them; and indeed it caught up with them.

  • osman5

    This article might have been posted here by a honest mistake either that or The writer is out of touch with the reality. It certainly doesn't resonate with me. This sort of pure misguided political campaigning should be better suited in Mogadishu not in the USA..

    Osman Qaal

  • Kayse

    Its a good article that exposes the opportunist professor. Thanks H Samatar and central Somalia is the most violent region in Somalia…far worse than Mogadishu. Ina Samatar can't make difference to his Borama, do you think he can achieve anything for Mogadishu? The guy is only driven by two things; hate for Issaks and opportunism.

    Mogadishu can see that they no fools. His Somalinimo is not real.

  • misslovely

    kayse
    worse of all he is half isaaq how could you hate your own reer abti

  • khaatumo citizen

    I careless who runs Somalia as long as they believe in unity loool

  • Allemagan

    No one is expecting hiil qaran from someone from the central region of Somalia; but a nationalist such as Ahmed Said Samater will have my vote of confidence any day. Mr. Samater stood for Somali unity before you were out of your diapers Hussain and he is still last man standing. Since you told us that Hiil Qaran will not amount to anything, could you tell us what you and your folks in Sindo Dhaqo stand for? Let me told you what do the folks in central Somalia stand for; invasion of southern regions, formation of ten regions including Ximan iyo Xeeb and now piracy in high seas. These folks abandoned their famous bean farms in Hobyo, Xaradhere and Ceel Buur which are now reclaimed by moving deserts.

    Husein, may be you could write little bit about the desertification and other plights of your people instead of attacking Ahmed Ismail Samatar.

    • Allemagan

      Correction: Professor Ahmed Said Samatar

  • Kayse

    Allemagan

    You sound like as if Ina Samatar is your adopted father. The old man is opportunist because he cant save up the little wages he gets from the university he claims he teaches, half of his students don't understand his thick accent. He just goes there as a part time teacher.

    A real professor can buy Somalia and would forget begging refugees in Dadaab with a little Diaspora based party that has one broken office in Mogadishu.

    Sxb even a taxi driver can open five offices in Mogadishu ($120 rent per month) and I'm talking about the city center.

    • Dalmar

      $15,000 per month is hardly little wages, and to correct you he is not only a professor he is a dean of college. I suggest you look him up and find meaningful criticisms about this great candidate.
      Just to help you here is a link http://www.macalester.edu/internationalstudies/samatar.h... and if you would like to see his tax forms let me know. But make sure you have a calculator close by because I doubt that you've ever dealt with numbers of his tax bracket.

      I hope the your next fadhi kudirir session goes better my fellow taxi driver!

  • rastafara

    """""""" five offices in Mogadishu ($120 rent per month) and I'm talking about the city center.""""""""""
    sheikh sharif jus bought 2 million dollars in the city centre do you think $120 will rent you office in km4 area??? even in my village in central somalia cost $50 dollars my friend

  • Jamal

    When l read the messages of Dr Samater l really remember my professor of Political Science dr Wamba dia Wamba he had a short leadership in the liberation of DR Congo sometime l feel they have a good in theory but failure in practice. Dr Samatar should understand that Charity start at Home at least he should appreciate the Good Governess and the Good Democracy and the stability of their Government Somaliland
    Otherwise the learned people and the World professional will understand you differently the knowledge that you provide will come into question, please Dr come to your sense to the love of your proper Land of Birth, l hope you will understand the situation.

  • libaan

    i am already voting for him. join this nationalistic group folks

  • Gobaad

    I saw this Ahmed speaking couple of times and I didn't like what I saw knowing that this guy is really from Somaliland. And in reality that he is half Is**q. I just remembered a Yemeni saying that goes: Aqtul almuwalid qablal xansh which means iska dhalka maska hortii dil. I will just say: Naaskii hooyo ku qabay!
    In one of the video, he was glorifying what people from the south used to be and about their history of their heroism and he dismissed people from his own country and never uttered anything good about them except mentioning Egal and one of his Abti.

    To the Samata borthers, Somaliland waxba idiin may noqo, imikana waxba idiin noqon mayo. Good luck with your Hiil Qaran. It is your loss thumbing your nose at your own people and your own country. cid wax kuu noqonaysaa isk yar.

    • Laangare

      Dee inar marka hore iga gudoon "Qow" iyo "Dhow" dabadedna "Jow" amaa bacdu. Waxaa layiri nin isfaansha waa ri' isnuugtay kow dheh ama qow dheh waa howl adiga ku taala. Somaliland iyo siyaasadeeda waxba kama taqaanid maadama maskaxdada qiyaas yartahay, Waxaa tahay qabiiliste qadhmoon iyo qaldaanimo isku qaatay. Hadaa qoyskaaga ku qanacsantahay inaga qaran baan nahay ee iska qulqul qowdhanoo.

      Viva Somaliland

  • cabdirizaq saalax

    He is real somali, The problem here is some people with narrow minded Think if The person he/she from nothern somalia should go with s/land region.

  • Gobaad

    To us the Samatar brothers are traitors and Somaliland is fine and dandy without them. Waxay u hiilinayaan dadkii ku dadaalay inay Is**q oo reer abtigood ah rabay inay adduunka ka tirtiraan. Waxay u hiilinayaan dadkii 50,000 qof dad ka badan dilay, waxay u hiilinayaan dadka buur dheer iyo buur gaabanba u soo koray si ay jirtaanka Somaliland u burburin lahaayeen. Naaskii hooyo idin qabay oo sun iyo boog idinku noqoy. Hiil Qaran! What happened to Qarankaad ka dhalatay, Abaal laawayaa?

    • Laangaab

      Dee inar marka hore iga gudoon "Qow" iyo "Dhow" dabadedna "Jow" amaa bacdu. Waxaa layiri nin isfaansha waa ri' isnuugtay kow dheh ama qow dheh waa howl adiga ku taala. Somaliland iyo siyaasadeeda waxba kama taqaanid maadama maskaxdada qiyaas yartahay, Waxaa tahay qabiiliste qadhmoon iyo qaldaanimo isku qaatay. Hadaa qoyskaaga ku qanacsantahay inaga qaran baan nahay ee iska qulqul qowdhanoo.

      Viva Somaliland

  • jamac

    bro huseen samater i thing n you were dreaming . but ahmed samer will be next presiden in somalia

  • Mohamed

    indeed pro Hussein Samatar talk about the reality and he is realistic I totally Agree his analysis which seems true if you talk about reality

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