February 27, 2012
Shabelle Valley: A Model for The Pacification of South Central Somalia
Right before New Year ’s Eve of 2012, The city of Beletwein, head quarter of the Shabelle Valley State of Somalia, had witnessed a tremendous change. The control of this historic city was taken over by forces loyal to the nearly two year old administration with some help from the Ethiopian army. The Shabelle Valley Forces (SVF) made adequate preparations as well as contingent plans before initiating the operations. Almost all the post-take-over operational necessities have been made ready. The military went directly to city borders to chase the enemy and safeguard the city. The men with police force uniforms started patrolling the streets of the city making peaceful announcements to calm residents. And the health care personnel went directly to the city’s general hospital to cure the wounded. This accurately calculated and carefully crafted post-war plan was so rare –if ever seen- in Somalia throughout the country’s civil war history. Yet, the administration says it has a broader strategy to pacify the territories it is looking forward to reach.
A week ago, the minister of defense announced that members of the SVF have waived their next month payout and asked the ministry to direct the funds to some social welfare programs that include helping orphanage centers. This is happening in a city only 185 miles from Mogadishu where government troops are constantly accused of killings, robberies, and rapes. In fact, the government in Mogadishu could not succeed to train enough personnel to guard the presidential palace despite its more-than 20,000 men and women in uniforms. The difference is clear: loyalty, desire, ambition and commitment. The SVF enjoy those qualities while the FG troops lack them.
Another major difference between the TFG and Shabelle Valley is the type and style of management of their top respective executives. Jeff Alex, a freelancer journalist, said this about Abdifatah Hassan Afrah, the young leader of the Shabelle Valley State after an interview in his presidential compound: “ he is very ambitious first and foremost for the cause, for the people, and for the work, not for himself”. If this assumption is right, then this leader possesses all the qualities it takes to be what management scholars call “level 5 leader”. Mr. Alex also interviewed some members of the SVF. After asking what he thinks about the president, one foot soldier said “he is very honest. He can put his life through the worst of circumstances if that is what it takes to serve his people”.
Unlike most of the leaders in the Somali political arenas these days, the president and cabinet of this state are not from the diaspora. Mr. Afrah is born and raised in Beletwein and spent some years in Sudan to get a university degree. He then worked for the TFG’s foreign ministry as a diplomat in several Arab countries before deciding to go to his home region and serve the people who need him most. Despite the lack of adequate resources to do the job, the leaders of Shabelle Valley have managed to form a very sophisticated, horizontally-co-ordinated organizational structure that pays less attention to vertical structures. This organizational model is what the people of South Central Somalia desperately need in order to gain a sustainable stability and seriously focus on the basic needs of the locals.