Prisée des touristes pour ses plages et ses safaris, la côte kényane subit depuis plusieurs mois une vague d’attentats meurtriers. Ces crimes, demeurés impunis, commencent à faire fuir investisseurs et agences de voyages. La recrudescence des violences serait due au terrorisme islamiste venu de la Somalie voisine. Mais cette explication, trop aisée, masque les fractures politiques et sociales qui déchirent le pays.
In Somalia , the wonderful new image of President Hassan Sheikh’s recent government is beginning to suffer for the wrong reasons . Yes , there has been a series of Shebab bombings in Mogadiscio , the last one killing a total of 43 people . Yes , a journalist was shot dead on April 21st , the fourth to die that way since the beginning of 2013 . And yes , the Shebab have not disappeared because they have lost control of the capital . These events are painful and they have to be deplored . But this is not where things are really grating . The real problem is much less violent and is not getting much news coverage : it is the failure of the planned Jubaland Conference . This conference was going to be the test case to define the new philosophical approach to the Somali problem . Since 1991 , Somalia has not been so much the victim of a civil war as that of a failed experiment in social analysis . Law and order cannot be restored , a believable government cannot take root , because the approach to the Somali problem is basically to bark at the foot of the wrong tree . The demise of the TFG last November will not be regretted . But the enthusiasm at the birth of the SNG seems to be somewhat premature . Why ? Because the new government is persuaded that , through the support of the international community and a modicum of financial transparency , it has regained a legitimacy that enables it to dictate to the rest of society the way it should operate . And doing that in Somalia for a “central government” is the kiss of death .
In the clan-fragmented Somali society authority can only be produced out of consensual debates among actors who are linked by a number of commonalities . Trying to impose authority from the top down among actors on the lookout for their segmentary interests unavoidably ends up in disaggregation .Jubaland (indeed a hot potato , by any reasonable criteria) could have been a test case for a new approach . It did not work because the government , sure of its good faith , international support and legitimacy , approached the problem in forceful manner (which it did not even have the military strength to back) . The Shebab attacks are just a nasty form of opportunism because the Islamic extremists , who are largely discredited in ideological terms , remain deeply embedded in Somali social practice and use that “grounding” to thwart the TNG’s abstract westernized approach . The small clans , for example , see the Shebab as their defenders against the larger ones . They also see them as guarantors of regional autonomy (which they are not ; but never mind) and the expression of a genuine form of federalism . The TNG uses the word “Federalism” and everybody knows it means “centralism”. The gap between the discourse and the reality is too wide and the Jubaland Conference fell through it . Back to square one . Or perhaps 0.5 . Because money is coming into Somalia . Coming but not spreading . It stays in key locations , especially in the capital, and finds it difficult to flow in upcountry where things have not changed much