Is Peace Possible in Mogadishu?
  By Hassan Zaylai
December 12, 2009

In any war, where two mortal enemies are battling out for supremacy, there are only two possible scenarios to end it: A military solution, where one side would defeat the other, or a negotiated settlement.
In Mogadishu, the Somali capital, there is such a war with no foreseeable end to it, for an obvious (to me at least) stalemate. Do not expect this impasse to break any time soon.  
The two warring sides, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and a blend of Islamist groups (Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam), seem to have neither the will nor desire to explore a peaceful way-out. Each side has stamped on the other, for self-centered advantage, a treasonous label, which automatically denies any common ground.

It is very clear this war, from both sides, in Mogadishu is essentially a Somali problem. The Islamists, although they employ hanious terrorist tactics and have foreign Jihadists in their ranks (plus global terror groups’ affiliation), are 99% Somalis. The TFG, for its own benefit, ignores this fact by incessantly using the terror card. This obviously pays, from powerful corners, dividends for the TFG.
The Islamists, on the other hand, dismiss the TFG as a puppet with foreign troops as its bodyguards. In such poisonous, mutual demonization tactics, the problem has no longer a Somali face. Therefore, the solution would not be of Somali, as it should be.

In all this, any hope for peace in our time for Somalis is becoming forever-elusive. Somalis have bled, died, humiliated, starved and thrown into the four corners of the world for this unending war of 18 long years. Their capital city, the beautiful Xamar Cadeey, looks like an ancient ruins. Yet, only Somalis can end their lengthy suffering, for their problem is self-made. Do not expect the UN, AU, Arab League or others to do for Somalis what must be done by Somalis!

Nor should you expect the solution from these two at deadly loggerheads in Mogadishu! They are both too deep into a selfish one-upmanship, whose end result the people have not the luxury to see to it played out!
Solving Somalia’s constant problems should not be left, by the larger soceity, to whatever the latest political and military contenders, who makeup a small minority—since their actions always add to the misery of the whole nation!  Whoever so ordained the solution should come from these successive bloddy challengers?
Can Somalia wait until this sickly and besieged infant of a government learns to crawl, walk and grow into adulthood (politically and militarily) to scure peace for us? Is there any hope Al-Shabaab and Hizbul will see the light any time soon and say: This is not working, perhaps we should make peace for the sake of the people?  No and no!

Urgent action by the larger soceity is what is needed. While it is almost impossible to have a spontaneous populace uprising to challenge the current warring sides for peace, it is very possible to organize a group of diverse leaders to intervene the situation politically!
What we Somalis need is a Somali third-way. A Somali peace activist group should come into the scene. I believe it is time to assemble a collection of Somalis, comprising respected and neutral to the conflict elders, clerics, women and others, whose task is to walk to both frontlines. The group should have a wide representation of all Somali regions. Their reputation should be above reproach!
Upon declaring their sole intention and mission of exploring peace between the warring sides, through the various media outlets in Mogadishu, they should take to the streets with white flags and on to the places of the Islamists (around the Bakara Market) and then to Villa Somalia.

Naturally, there will be a considerable risk to the lives of such brave Somalis, but these are times that call for them brave ones for the greater good of all Somalis. In order to minimize any danger to such group, there should be beforehand contacts and peace corridor secured for them (from the warring sides) in specific times for them to walk the walk!

On the first meeting, the group should establish credibility and trust with each side, with no lecturing of any sort. With introductions achieved, the peace group should ask to return for more meetings, whereby they will explore a peaceful way-out of the conflict. This should lead to a possible face to face meeting of representatives of the two warring sides, with the third-way peace group always present to referee. All of it should take place on Somali territory. No need to go outside of Somalia, or the involvement of non-Somalis.
In conclusion, we cannot ignore the fact we Somalis are and have been the lead-actors in this all too real, horror and gruesome movie of our dreadful lives. Suicide bombing may be a foreign concept to most of us Somalis, but our children are the ones carrying it out on us now. No sooner a bomber’s picture is shown than his Somali mother, father, or a childhood friend cries foul. The Al-Shabaab fighters, however misguided or influenced by outsiders on a twisted religion, are our Somali young men! Making this Somali problem, by using George Bush’s black and white terms, somebody else’s is not going to solve our own Somali problem!

Just for once, we should recognize our problems and their solutions, however intractable, are both ours—with no outsiders to blame or expect solutions from. Let us go to work!

Hassan Zaylai

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