By Karamarda Group
Somali regional state President Abdi Mohamud Omar
Alex De Waal, in his book titled, The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa, Money, War and the Business of Power describes;political market place is a contemporary system of government in which politics is conducted as the exchange of political services or loyalty for payment or license. The Horn of Africa is advanced and militarized political market place, characterized by pervasive rent-seeking and monetized patronage, with violence routinely used as a tool for extracting rent. This is absolutely true none other than the Somali region of Ethiopia.
Today, The Somali Region of Ethiopia is profitable market place for military commanders of the Ethiopian defense Force. Though, the monopoly of the Somali region political and economy was in the making for quite some time, yet the different branches of the federal government offices such as the federal affair’s, the Federal intelligence and ministry of defense used to compete to seek rent in the Somali Region. However, since the death of Meles, no one has absolute authority as Meles did to manage the day-to-day operations. Hence, various military and civilian Tigrai powerful political individuals have bargained and created a competitive political structure to govern different Regions. The prime minster, an otherwise a decent man is merely a symbolic figure put there to create the image of a non Tigrayan figurehead for political consumption. As such the Ethiopian defense forces under the leadership of General Samora has come out as a winner to seek rent and be a caretaker for the Somali Region. The General has mandated, the commander in Chief of the 4th Brigade, Let. General Abraha to be the de facto ruler of the Somali Region. General Abraha has in return supporting Abdi Mohamud Omer to serve as the political manager for the Somali Region.
Abdi Mohamud Omer is neither a Somali nationalist who bargain in the interest of the Somali people in the so-called ethnic federal system of Ethiopia nor a unionist with a vison of prompting centralized united Ethiopian ideology. He is an opportunist who is obsessed with reading and understanding the psyche and mood of the Tigrai military commanders and act upon what he considers will gain him sympathy and loyalty. He is also a ruthless paranoid and a cruel administrator who will do anything to get the coerced adulation of the entire Somali population in the region and beyond. In doing so, he managed to create a one-man state; he has absolute arbitrary power to kill, jail, invades any community or region and has offered in return for loyalty the entire Somali Region budget in the Ethiopian political market place.
The hallmark of Abdi Mohamed administration is to terrorize the Somali People; creating one of the biggest mass incarcerations in the Somali Region called “Jail Ogaden”. Killing thousands of innocent man, women and children in the name of supporting the rebels, forced an educated mass to migrated and abandon their homes, mascaraed family remembers of those who opposed him from far and could directly retaliate against them.
Abdi Mohamed Omer have auctioned out a number of policy gains by previous Somali region leaders and politicians that had huge sentimental value for the Somali people, though these changes did not made any difference for Tigrai military leader’s political capital, he used it to attest his allegiance, For example, he made a change to resemble the Somali region flag to that of Tigrai Region by totally removing the Somali identity, he changed Thursday and Friday being the holidays for the Somali region people, denying the Somali ordinary citizens to spent time with their families and opportunity to attend Friday prayers. Yet He traded the Somali people lands to Afar region without any due process as long as it is prolonging his tenure. However, the main and most significant plunder by Tigrai leaders under Abdi tutelage is the visible and hidden financial robbery of the Somali Region budget and revenue. The looting is well-designed scheme undertaking for quite some time to create a centralization economy and power. To illuminate this system that permitted the monopoly of power and economy, (one man –state), one has to look at how Abdi is tasked to cleverly organize the different administrative structures to make sure they serve him and his patronage.
Administration: Abdi Mohamed administration by design operates under strict kin (blood) and mirage arrangements. He has fired or jailed every Somali person with conscious and dignity and replaced them with his family members, the inexperienced youth and aficionado members of the society. He has recruited his clan and immediate family members from diaspora and the region to run the day today activities. Here is the list of family members in key positions;
- His First wife, Safiya Mohamed Mohamud is a Member of the federal Parliament from Jarar Zone
- Khadar Abdi , brother of the second wife and Abdi Ilay brother in-low, Minster of Trade and head of the Party ,the most powerful man next to Abdi
- Iliyas Abdi, brother of the second wife and Abdi Ilay brother in-low. Vice- minister of Water resources
- Sucad Ahmed, Vice president, Minster of natural resources and Chairman of ESDA board, Married to Abdi Ilay cousin and commander of Presidential security
- Yasiin Omer, minster of the revenue
- Deeq Labagole, an MP from Mersin and Minster of Labor
- Yasiin Abdiwaris an MP from Kabridahar and Minster of security
- Farhan Mahamud Minster of Information
- Nasradin Anab, Head of the design enterprise
- Mohamed Shugri head of the finance for Liyu police
- Mohamed Maki, Purchasing enterprise for the Liyu police
- Lubi Kariye head of PSNP
- Bashir Waal head of the Diaspora office
The Liyu police: is the pillar of Abdi’s administration and the most brutal and vicious force ever operated in the Somali Region. Initially, the TPLF formed the Liyu police as a counter insurgency force against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a group fighting for self-determination for the Somali region. These force estimated to be around 40, 000 have been terrorizing the civilian population in the Somali region and Somali Border towns without impunity since 2008.
As any Somali leader, he used the clan card to recruit and mobilize the force. Initially, the Liyu police leaders were hired from close and trusted other sub clans to makeup the gap and implement the project; currently all of the former leaders of Liyu police are in jail Ogaden replaced by his close family members. Some of the current Leaders of the force are ex-members of ONLF and family members of Abdi Ilay who shifted alliance when he came to power. The Liyu police are more than a militia force;
- It is an entry point for Abdi Ilay administration. Currently, all administrative and judicial leaders at all level (sub- district, district and zonal) are from Liyu police.
- A revenue collectors; income and asset tax is collected by Liyu police all over the Somali region.
- A business enterprise; the Liyu police have a number of enterprise organization that are contracting to build roads, houses and other services.
- Housing Development agency
- Water work construction Enterprise
- Construction & Procurement special police Enterprise
In the past two years, the Liyu police have extended their rent seeking violence in the Somali Republic regions of Puntland, Somaliland, Galmudug and now in the Oromo region to gain loyalty, payment and license to continue killing innocent people. ……… Here are the top Liyu police militia leaders that are close family members of Abdi;
- General Abdiraham Labagole , Commander in Chief of the Liyu Police
- General Abdi Adan Waris, second in Command of the Liyu police
- Colonel Deeq Bujo
- Colonel Sh Mukhtar Subane
- Colonel Nasradin Canab
- Colonel Sanyare
- Colonel farahmahad
- Colonel Deeg Jeri
- Colonel Yasiin Abdiwaris
- Colonel Nasra Hassan
Elder’s council: Elders in the Somali community play a crucial role in managing public affairs, perceptions and providing support and legitimacy for leaders and institutions. They are highly respected and viewed as guardians of peace, resources and Welfare of their perspective communities. In the Somali Region, there has always been established traditional elders leaders and council in every clan and sub clan. Yet, Abdi Mohamed had created his own elders council (known by locals as the Liyu police elders council) sidelining those traditional elders who are not in agreement with his way of doing things. This tension is very noticeable particularly in Jigjiga zone where Garad Kulmiye Gard Mohamed Gard Dool, suldan Abdirahman suldan Bade, Garad Abdimaalik (Janan) Garad Osman, in Shinle zone Ugaas Mustafa Mohamed and many others are homebound and nonfunctional. This new elder council is led by his uncle and counselor colonel Ciro.
Media: in Somali region, there is no independent media what so ever, print, radio or TV. The only Media enterprise is Abdi Ilay’s TV, Radio and website managed by Ilay’s cousin, the information minister. It is another important instrument in creating the one man state and the Abdi’s utopia propaganda. More often, his media is also used to convey messages of intimidation for diaspora decedents. In the midst of extreme and severe drought in the region, with cost of millions of Birr, the media enterprise in 2016 has summoned a huge number of Somali musicians from diaspora to stay for almost a year in Jigjiga and sing songs of prosperity, Abdi’s talent and leadership and security and safety of the Somali Region.
Economic and financial monopoly:
He also altered the entire revenue collection, budgetary planning and finical system to benefit him and the Tigrai military leaders. Currently, the budget is planned purely based on estimated amount of revenue collection. For example, when the budget is put together, the administration in Jigjiga without any consideration of resources or ability of a district to pay will assign a figure. Then the district administration will coerce the elders, small business and the handful government employees to contribute. If the district could not meet the revenue request, elders will gather their clan and sub-clan to collect, sheep, goat, camel etc. just like they are paying blood or dia. If the district could not meet the request, they will not receive the allocated food aid. Furthermore, for the first time in the history of Somali region routine tax is collected in rural area from owning livestock. For example, if of someone has a 100 camel, he will be required to pay random amount as tax without any documentation or knowledge how often the tax will be collected. All of the many collected as tax are used to bribe military commanders so that he stays in power.
Contracts and business Licenses: in order to be able to do a business in the Somali Region whether by acquiring license or to set up a company to bid in the contracts, one has to be able to be part of an association. These associations have to be approved by the administration and often managed by assigned individuals based on the value and importance of the association. Abdi and his family members are involved in every big business in the Somali region, to mention a few;
- The Oil Factory, Jigjiga
- The Meat Factory in Dhagxle
- Cement Factory in DiriDawa
- The Khat export, taken away from Zuhura
- The soft drink import, taken away from Zuhara and others
- The contract to build the new Kabri-Dahar airport
- The contract to build the new presidential Palace
The risk of empowering Abdi Mohamed without any checks and balances in the Somali region and beyond worries not only the Somali population, but also the bordering regions of Oromia, Somalia and the Ethiopian central intelligence. The increase in number and operations of the Liyu police beyond its original intent creates uneasiness within the intelligence community. As the Liyu police increase in number, their role in rent seeking in Somalia and now in Oromo region expands, Abdi Mohamed believes his bargaining power increases as well. He has positioned himself as indispensable and the intelligence community knows that the one clan militia with such a large amount of resources and weapons could instantly join the rebel group if Abdi feels threatened or they want to clampdown the power of his militia.
In the absence of strong Somali government, and the new and fragile South Sudan, the TPLF military commanders found themselves not only in international peacekeeping but also in high yield rent seeking operations and are making fortunes. Yet, for those commanders who did not join in the highly paid UN blue helmet, such as General Abarah and others, they expanded their share of rent seeking in the peripheral lands of Somali, Binshangul and Gambela. The income inequality, the Tigray domination of every sector, nepotism and lack of press and freedom of speech will lead to the escalation of the Oromo and Amara protests and shows signs of spreading to Somali and other regions.
The Karamarda Group is a group of Somali Regional State citizens who are interested in promoting Democracy and Good Governance in the Somali Region of Ethiopia and could be reached at email@example.com