Today’s Somali government represents an amalgamation of intricate alliances and power struggles, with the Dam Jadiid and Aala Sheikh group at the forefront. Dam Jadiid, or ‘The New Blood’, is a faction that splintered from the original Al-Islah, the Somali branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, in the late 1990s. Despite being known unofficially as ‘Dam Jadiid’, the group continues to operate under the name of Al-Islah. Influential figures within the Somali government form the core of this group.
On the other hand, the Aala Sheikh group is a faction that combines the principles of Ikhwanism and Sufism. Much like the Dam Jadiid, the Aala Sheikh group’s members include key personnel within the Somali government.
Despite the differing interpretations of Islamic philosophy that these factions embody, they find common ground in the Union for Peace and Development (UPD) Party, founded in 2018. It is this alliance that allows them to unify their front and exert a substantial influence on national policies and development initiatives in Somalia.
The recent events involving the National Consultative Council (NCC) serve as a pertinent example of how the under representation of the diverse Somali ideologies might impact policies and create societal divisions. The NCC meeting, convened to agree on the upcoming elections, notably excluded Puntland, one of Somalia’s crucial regional states. This exclusion demonstrates a significant disregard for the voices and interests of different regions within Somalia, raising questions about the inclusivity of the decision-making process.
Similarly, the ongoing state-building process has seemingly bypassed considerations of Somaliland, thus reinforcing the concern over representational gaps. These instances underscore the potential risks associated with a singularly dominated political approach and the urgent need for broader representation in Somalia’s governance structure
At the helm of Dam Jadiid is Farah Abdiqadir, the Minister of Education in the Somali government. Notably, Abdiqadir has played a crucial role in shaping the political persona of Prime Minister Hamza Barre, having significantly contributed to his education. Alongside Abdiqadir are other key members within the government, such as President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the Minister of Planning and Security, Ahmed Sheikh Ali Doodishe, as well as Mohamud Abdirahman Beenebeene. Together, they strategize and influence the future direction of Somalia, pulling the strings from within the power centers.
Simultaneously, the Aala Sheikh group, a faction combining Ikhwani and Sufi principles, asserts its influence within the Somali government. Notable members include the Minister of Justice, Hassan Macalin, the Minister of Interior, Ahmed Fiqi, and the State Minister for the Presidency, Abshir Bukhari. Although not an official member, Hussein Macalin, brother of Hassan Macalin, also wields considerable influence that is intertwined with the group’s activities and decision-making process.
The concern that the UPD leadership is not entirely representative of the diverse ideologies held by the Somali populace is growing. This underrepresentation might lead to policies that overlook the multifaceted needs, aspirations, and perspectives of different sections of Somali society.
In addition to the question of broad representation, a potent belief pervades the corridors of the UPD Party: that southern Somalis are the ones who should rule Somalia. This belief, while understandable in the party’s context, has the potential to marginalize other regions and their residents. The lopsided distribution of power risks inciting regional tensions and could inadvertently undermine the unity and stability that Somalia is striving to build.
As Somalia continues to navigate its path towards sustainable peace and development, the challenge for the UPD Party, and the Dam Jadiid and Aala Sheikh groups in particular, will be to accommodate and represent the full spectrum of Somali voices and identities. How well they handle this challenge will have a profound impact on the nation’s future direction, stability, and prosperity. The Somali political landscape continues to evolve, setting the stage for a gripping narrative in the years to come.