The May 2013 London Somalia conference was a somewhat muted remake of the triumphant February 2012 event . The new tinge of humility that permeated its background was unfortunately fully justified
. The reasons are simple : the Brits are standing up in the first row , clapping and cheering , putting about £190m in the pot . The Americans , who have learned over the years that cheering about Somalia tends to be a self-defeating business , were more restrained and thought $40m was all what the situation called for . The rest of the European Union was transparent and Uhuru Kenyatta was there mostly to try to stay out of jail in The Hague . Why this restraint ? Because in his first six months in power Hassan Sheikh has achieved precious little . Yes the Shebab have moved out of Mogadiscio – sort of . Once in while they blow up a building or kill a few people for no visible reason , something which does little for their popularity . But their military semi-defeat has been , 80 to 90% , the work of foreigners (Ethiopians , Kenyans , Ugandans and Burundians) .
The Somalia National Army is nowhere near capable of holding them off and as that old Somalia hand Matt Bryden recently said in an interview : “The security forces can operate effectively only where the government has earned local legitimacy” . Elegantly said . But the government is not earning any legitimacy anywhere because it is so sure that his foreign friends have put it way above the sweating clanic masses that it considers political loyalty a due .
But God knows political loyalty in Somalia is a product in short supply ! At the London conference Hassan Sheikh , when asked about the absence of a Somaliland delegation , answered that yes there was none , but it did not matter since “Somaliland’s ideas were present” . It was a little bit like boasting that the unions might not be present at a Conservative Party Conference , but , yes indeed , the working class’ philosophy was a fundamental element in the Tory world view . Amusing , to say the least .