The Aden Declaration

There is so much happening right now and I just do not have the cycles to address all of it. In the Horn of Africa, Somalia to be precise, some forward progress may have been made a couple of days ago. The Aden Declaration will hopefully become one of many steps toward stabilizing Somalia and shifting it away from “failed state” status. With my limited time right now and with all the traffic to this site for Somalia / Horn information, I will post the Power and Interest News Report (PINR) on the Aden Declaration without comment.

Somalia’s Uncertain Future
Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein

On January 5, 2006, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan signed the Aden Declaration in which they pledged to end their conflict, which had blocked the implementation of the country’s Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.) that had been formed in Kenya in 2004 to end Somalia’s stateless condition.

Strategically located at the juncture between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with coastlines on the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, Somalia underwent the collapse of its central government in 1991 after a successful military campaign against the regime of strongman Mohamed Siad Barre failed to produce a political consensus and power dispersed to traditional clan leaders and warlords based in the country’s regions.

Ever since then, Somalia’s neighbors and interested Western powers have failed in their repeated efforts to restore a functioning state apparatus to the country. The Aden Declaration is the latest result of external pressure on Somalia’s contending factions to reconcile, and it is not clear that it will be any more successful than previous attempts at peacemaking have been.

Often called an anarchy, Somalia is better characterized as a failed state in which the groups composing its society lack the will and the leadership to reach an accord on the terms on which they could accept a centralized authority. When a territory that is nominally part of the global state system loses a central government, it does not fall into chaos, but simply falls under the decentralized control of its constituent social groups, which organize themselves regionally and maintain relations with one another that range from violent conflict to cooperation.

Statelessness poses obvious obstacles to economic development, leaves the society vulnerable to higher levels of civil violence and opens up opportunities for extortion by armed gangs, but it does not necessarily destroy the society, as the case of Somalia has amply demonstrated.In its 15 years of statelessness, some regions of Somalia, such as Somaliland and Puntland, have achieved relatively high levels of political integration, whereas others have remained relatively lawless and subject to strife among competing warlords, especially the constitutional capital Mogadishu. The face-off between Yusuf and Hassan reflects the complexity of Somalia’s fractured political community and the responses of its component political forces to external pressures.

The Aden Declaration

A compound of the former colonies of British Somaliland in the north and the larger and more highly populated Italian Somaliland in the south, Somalia moved, through 2005, toward greater political integration in some of its regions and toward more intense conflict between Yusuf’s and Hassan’s factions within the T.F.G.

In October 2005, the region of Somaliland, comprising the territory of the former British colony, completed its transformation into a mini-state by holding its first competitive presidential election, having already voted in a parliament. Meanwhile, the deadlock between Yusuf and Hassan deepened as their factions and other warlords stepped up their purchases of arms, reportedly from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Yemen, and Yusuf threatened to march on Mogadishu.

The United Nations Security Council, which had imposed an arms embargo on Somalia in 1992, responded to the accelerated arms race, which had been documented in a U.N. report, by voting to resume monitoring of the embargo and to send an investigative team to the country. Judging that Somalia’s chances for political reunification were slipping away, the U.N. and Western powers, which supply Somalia with vital humanitarian aid, began to exert pressure on the contending factions in the T.F.G. by threatening to withdraw or suspend funds if the two sides did not move toward reaching an accord.

Donor pressure bore fruit in the decision by Yusuf and Hassan to enter negotiations in Yemen in early January 2006 in conjunction with the fourth Sanaa summit on regional cooperation (the Sanaa Forum), which brings together the leaders of Yemen, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Following the Forum, Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has cooperated closely with the West since the airliner bombings of the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001, mediated talks between Yusuf and Hassan, resulting in their agreement to issue the Aden Declaration.

Four of the five points in the Declaration do not break any new ground, but simply affirm the parties’ willingness to cooperate within the terms of the T.F.G.’s charter, urge all factions to set aside their differences and unite, and call on the international community to support reconciliation efforts.

The only substantive movement comes in the third point, which deals with the key issue of where the central government will be located. The conflict between Yusuf’s and Hassan’s factions crystallized soon after the T.F.G. was formed, when Yusuf set up his administration in his stronghold of the Puntland region, and Hassan moved his supporters into Mogadishu, where he leagued with the urban warlords who control different sections of the city.

Since then, neither side has budged from its position on where the seat of government should be and who can convene parliament — the members of which, as well as the cabinet, are dispersed among the factions — with Yusuf claiming that it is unsafe to govern from Mogadishu and Hassan insisting that the T.F.G.’s charter stipulates that Mogadishu is Somalia’s capital.

Behind the dispute over location is the deadlocked power struggle between the two factions. Yusuf had counted on consolidating and expanding his administration in Jowhar without having to face opposition in Mogadishu, whereas Hassan had hoped to organize the militia in Mogadishu as a power base from which he could effectively contest Yusuf.

Although some local analysts believe that the reconciliation talks and the Declaration register a conviction by the antagonists that their respective strategies have failed, it is unlikely that the negotiations would have come off without external pressure since neither side had been gaining momentum against the other and both were arming themselves.

The third point of the Declaration states "That the Transitional Federal Parliament should be called upon for an official session that shall be held within 30 days from today [January 5], inside the country in a venue to be agreed upon."

The failure of Yusuf and Hassan to reach an agreement on where parliament will meet shows both an unwillingness on both sides to reach a decisive compromise and, more importantly, an inability of the respective leaders to control elements within and outside their factions. Press reports have speculated that the parliament will be convened in Kismayo or Baidoa, which are neutral towns. When word got out that Kismayo might be chosen, squads of militia were reported to have been dispatched there by warlords anxious to secure their influence.

It is too soon to tell whether the third point of the Declaration will be fulfilled, or — if it is — whether the underlying conflict will be resolved. Early signs point to emerging opposition to the Declaration, with leaders in the south of the country rejecting negotiations until Yusuf’s forces commit to accepting Mogadishu as the capital. Warlords in Mogadishu, some of whom are also cabinet members, have not affirmed the Declaration and their support for advancing the political process is essential.

On the other key issue between them — disarmament of militia and the formation of a unified security force — Yusuf and Hassan made even less progress. Holding a more unified armed force that would become the nucleus of a national security apparatus in his hands, Yusuf has been in favor of the introduction of international peacekeepers into Somalia who would supervise disarmament. Presiding over a fractious coalition of warlords, Hassan has resisted international intervention, which would weaken his power position and encourage defection from his unreliable ranks.

In a toothless addendum to the Declaration that marked a setback for Yusuf and an acknowledgment of the power of the warlords, the antagonists addressed "a vibrant appeal to the Somali people to contribute towards the implementation of self-disarmament."


Hailed as a breakthrough by Yusuf and Hassan, the Aden Declaration is, at best, a halting start toward a protracted process of national political integration in Somalia. Donor powers will continue to push the two sides toward resolution, but their threats to withdraw aid are probably empty because the country faces a critical food crisis that will require outside support to alleviate. Among the Western powers, only Belgium and Italy, which hopes to benefit from future reconstruction projects, have recognized the T.F.G., with other states holding back pending further progress.

The future political configuration of Somalia remains as uncertain as ever. Even if Yusuf and Hassan reach some kind of substantive accord, there is no assurance that they will have the power to mobilize the support of regional leaders and warlords. Ethiopia — the major power center in the area — has leagued with Yusuf, permitting Hassan to rouse nationalist sentiment against Somalia’s traditional adversary and to impair Yusuf’s legitimacy.

The donor powers and Somalia’s neighbors want an effective central government in the country to suppress the Islamic revolutionaries who have found safe haven there and to staunch the flow of refugees. In the near term, there is little chance that their interests will be satisfied.

Report Drafted By:
Dr. Michael A. Weinstein