ANALYSIS: Ali Jeyte and the Domino Effect: In a significant development in the Somali political landscape, sources close to Ali Jeyte, who was dismissed by Ali Gudlawe, the President of HirShabelle, on 16 June, have revealed an agreement between Jeyte and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. According to insiders, the President has acquiesced to a majority of Jeyte’s demands, resulting in a reshaping of the power dynamics within the troubled federal member state and the larger political fabric of Somalia.
Mogadishu, SOMALIA. By the Editorial Team:
The most immediate implication of the agreement is the empowerment of Ali Jeyte to lead military operations against al-Shabaab in Hiran and parts of Galmudug. This sets a precedent for bypassing the traditional channels, such as the Somali National Army (SNA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), as Jeyte will report directly to the President. Such an arrangement grants him unprecedented autonomy, raising questions about the central government’s control over its military apparatus.
The exclusion of HirShabelle officials from this arrangement has potentially severe ramifications for the state’s existence. The decision is a de facto weakening of HirShabelle’s autonomy and political relevance, setting a dangerous precedent for other federal states that could face similar marginalization. It appears that the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is willing to sideline an entire federal member state to achieve specific goals, a strategy that could erode trust between the federal and state governments.
Uncertain future for Hiran State
While the issue of recognizing Hiran State has been deferred, the lack of a set deadline for its discussion could be considered a tactical win for President Hassan Sheikh. The ambiguity allows the central government to retain a bargaining chip, one it could use strategically to quell or incite other state actors.
Clan-based uprisings in the context of new geography
With Hiran State now set to operate in parts of Galmudug, the development could serve as a trigger for clan-based uprisings in these regions. The Hawadle that were previously geographically confined within one federal state, now find themselves operating in the liminal space between Hiran and Galmudug. This shift could reignite dormant clan rivalries or exacerbate existing ones, causing social unrest that may further complicate the security landscape in Somalia.
Paradoxes and constitutional crises
The agreement between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Ali Jeyte also provides an interesting comparison with the case of SSC (Sool, Sanaag, and Ayn), an entity that spans three regions. While the FGS seems willing to negotiate the recognition of Hiran State, based in just one of the 18 recognized Somali regions, it raises questions about the consistency of the FGS’s approach to federalism. The issue is further complicated by the FGS’s tacit endorsement of Galmudug, which itself does not meet the constitutional mandate of spanning two regions but rather covers one and a half.
These inconsistencies leave the door open for SSC, based across three regions, to push for formal recognition. The reluctance of the FGS to engage with SSC in a manner similar to Hiran State and Galmudug could be perceived as indicative of clan-based politics, particularly if one considers that SSC is primarily Darod. It introduces a layer of complexity, where the criteria for federal state recognition may not solely be based on constitutional requirements or strategic interests but might also be influenced by underlying ethnic and clan-based factors.
A double-edged sword
The agreement between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Ali Jeyte could be a double-edged sword. While it may lead to a more streamlined approach to combatting al-Shabaab, it also poses severe risks to the integrity of Somalia’s federal structure and could ignite clan-based tensions. Moreover, the sidelining of HirShabelle might create a slippery slope, where the federal government selectively empowers individual actors at the expense of existing institutions.