Matt Baugh

Ambassador to Somalia

Part of UK in Somalia

18th March 2013 Nairobi, Kenya

Opportunity, partnership and commitment.

Last Thursday, the Federal Government of Somalia, together with the UK, hosted the latest meeting with a number of key international partners in Mogadishu. The location was significant.

This was the first time such a meeting had been held in Mogadishu since the Federal Government came to power last year. It was a real demonstration of the ‘paradigm shift’ in Somalia’s relationship with the international community that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has called for since he was elected last September.

Importantly, the meeting was about more than just location. It also offered the chance to listen and discuss the Federal Government’s emerging plans to deliver on their priorities – priorities that the Government and its international partners, like the UK, believe will form the foundations on which a successful and increasingly stable Somalia will be built.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Fauzia opened the meeting by setting out the political achievements and objectives of the new government. Representatives of the government then talked the international partners through their strategic vision for increasing security and the capabilities of Somali security forces; the plans for judicial reform and enhancing the role of police, as well as the progress being made in strengthening financial accountability, transparency and management.

These are all clear priorities of the Government’s Six Pillar Plan, and the key issues that the Somalia Conference in London on 7 May will focus on. They are signs of the progress being made by a Government that has been together for less than 4 months.

However, as was reiterated on several occasions during the course of the day, the Government’s ability to deliver is more likely to be successful if the international community commits and gets behind them in a coordinated way. So the challenge for the Somalia Conference is not simply one that rests with our Somali colleagues – but one that also demands that international partners improve their coordination, coherence and impact in Somalia.

On this, progress is also being made: new funding mechanisms are being discussed to support Somali authorities, including the Federal; Government, deliver; a new ‘aid architecture’ – how donors work together – is being elaborated.

As importantly, a new UN Security Council Resolution was recently passed in a clear signal of support to the new Somali Government and further evidence of international commitment to support the Somalia’s recovery from two decades of civil war. The new Resolution, UNSCR 2093, does four things: it extends AMISOM’s mandate for another year; it sets clear parameters for the future of the UN’s engagement in Somalia; it suspends some elements of the arms embargo on the government of Somalia for 12 months; and it introduces a number of monitoring and reporting mechanisms to allow the Security Council continued oversight of weapons flows and use in Somalia.

This Resolution also underlines the importance of AMISOM continuing for a further year in its vital work in helping free Somalis from the dark days of AL Shabaab. It also directly responds to the request to the UN family from President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud: support us and give us one door to knock on.

Resolution 2093, therefore, sets the scene for both: a new UN Mission based in Mogadishu, supporting Somali solutions to Somali issues.

Over the coming weeks, our aim – working in partnership with the Federal Government – is to drive forward this agenda, so that by the time we all gather in London 7 weeks from now, we have the basis for a real and strengthened partnership – not simply between the UK and the Federal Government, but between the international community and Somalia.

Teams from both governments are already working hard in Mogadishu, London and Nairobi, and I’m confident that – together – we will be ready. We’re on course to make the Conference on 7th May a real success and fulfil the themes of opportunity, partnership and commitment that underpin this shared agenda.

If you want to find out more about the conference, including how you can join the debate, please do go to our new Somalia Conference website .

As ever, your comments and contributions will be very welcome.

17 comments on “Opportunity, partnership and commitment.

  1. To the British Government,
    Through the May 7 Somalia Conference organizers
    With all due respect, Sir, and with all honestly the people of the unrecognized Republic of Somaliland cannot afford to have bad relations with Great Britain. To the contrary, they prefer that Britain to be one of the most favored countries in its political and economic cooperation. I am writing this letter to contribute my opinion with the hope that it might help forestall any more developments to the negative direction, and that it might instead herald more amicable relations between the two unequal sides. A flash back into the motives of the Somaliland people’s position might suggest a face-saving compromise to move forward.
    Sir, Somali rivalries run deep and far in both time and space.
    No need to mention that Somalis of the formerly united Somali (Democratic) Republic had fought a very decisive war in the late 80’s. Prior to and during the war, the ‘National’ government spared no effort carry out physical elimination tactics of large portions of the population of Somaliland. The intention was to seriously humiliate them forever by making any survivors assume a permanently embarrassing back seat in all country affairs. The idea was that the people of Somaliland be so incapacitated that they will not have a say in their own fate. To the disappointment of Siad Barre and his cronies, we won the war and the peace, they lost both, plus, of course, the parasitic opportunity which they so freely indulged in over two to three decades.
    The issue at hand is in actuality between the winners and the looser of that war.
    After the conclusion of the war, Somalilanders set out immediately to build a viable ship of state from the floating pieces of wood in the midst of high seas during the very storm that had wrecked the union. The other camp, failed to attend to their problems. They focused to effectively glue themselves onto the former international diplomats, former investors, experts on Somali studies and conferences conveners with the aim to influence Somali problem solution recommendations in their favor. This camp was all the time intent only on one thing: To deny final victory to Somaliland as a sovereign country on its own. Knowing that they lacked the strength to challenge Somalilanders openly, they always designed that others fought proxy-wise for them. The recommendations which had since then landed on the tables of decision makers were always seeking the return of Somaliland to complete or partial re-union with Somalia in accommodation of their strong wish. The one thing which they always wanted was NOT to recognize Somaliland.
    All the previous conferences failed because of that irrelevant recommendation by the cajoled experts. The British initiative should be different to succeed, because we have no issue with Great Britain.
    The matter here is not only a political problem, it is more so a sociological one: If the Siad Barre cronies who had lost the war are until now incapable of accepting defeat, will the winners of the war and the peace accept the ignominy of sharing a country of a federal system designed to satisfy their very contesters? In the words of an average Somalilander: Anybody who thinks that we will give a say to Somalia in the determination of the fate of our present and future generations, many, many of whom were orphaned and widowed by Somalia is wrong.
    Accordingly, Somalilanders do like that Britain not to assume a position, which would signal anti-Somaliland sentiment. People have already begun to ask themselves ‘what interest would Britain have to humiliate the Somalilander populace?
    We have already noticed for the first time too abusive remarks on some sections of Somalilander clans by some writers from Somalia, they are obviously being encouraged by the British position on the London conference. They certainly feel secure because they are being transformed to winners without their own effort.
    The insults against Somalilanders and their ancestors may soon develop to derogatory epic poems by other Somalis to celebrate the shameful return of Somaliland back into union with Somalia, after wasteful 20 years of Somalilanders running away to complete a return cycle.
    If the above scenario takes place, will there be friendly and easy relations between the two peoples of Somaliland and Britain ever after? Somalilanders will blame Britain, among others, for their eventual embarrassing defeat.
    Contrary to some over simplifiers, the rage of Somalilanders, they may maintain, will be limited to a few demonstrations in the first few weeks and will then subside. Contrary to that, the people of Somaliland may opt to be totally eliminated rather than become permanently humiliated and subordinated by bigger forces to a disabling bondage.
    To avert any more worsening of the new trend, we propose a number of suggestions, which go beyond the PR niceties between the two governments.
    We take into account the position of Britain, a world power and would never hope for any clash of interest with Britain.
    But we, Somalilanders, in contrast to the jubilant Somalis from Somalia are at the receiving end. The mood in Burao and Hargeisa is already becoming bleak.
    They perceive what is going on to be a forcible re-union with Somalia in a loose federation, to start with, to end up with their total demise.
    There should be found a compromise, not limited to the two governments but one which down trickles to the average man and woman in the streets of Burao and Hargeisa. .
    Our proposals don’t concern the London Conference, but they are related to the general friendship between Somaliland and Britain

    We propose:

    1. To give a group of representative civil society Somalilanders in Britain –and other parts of Europe and N. America-, to help attune the British leadership on the motivations of the people of Somaliland regarding their unwavering insistence on standing separate from Somalia as a sovereign country. They don’t want that Britain becomes accountable for their humiliation.
    2. To set ways of sharing the hitherto unexploited resources of Somaliland with the high tech Britain and others, like USA. (By the way the recent proclamation of USA that it is not one of the countries pressuring Somaliland to attend the London May 7 Conference, has earned it a great number of enthusiastic Somalilanders who are willing to share their location resources with America compared to only a few days before the above announcement.)The resources we are talking about include (a) location resources as Somaliland is situated on a strategic position between two main world seas with global geopolitical significance. (We hope that Britain is not oblivious to the fact that we are known to be excellent friends in both comfortable and dire times.), (b) vast oil reserves, hailed as the actual source of the oil fields in the countries to our north, and mineral resources of almost all kinds in economically meaningful quantities and qualities in this resource-tight century, and most of all (c) the type of trustworthy human resources, who could build a viable country bare handedly from zero without any outside assistance, but who are still always very jovial and friendly especially once they are given peace. We are willing to share these resources with our international friends especially Britain and USA on our own volition, so there is no need to try to come through a Somalia back door.
    3. To give us a lasting opportunity to attune British decision makers to the security, political and economic needs of the average Somalilander. We do not want that British policies inadvertently make us loose to our contesters, which consists of an odd jumble of strange bed-fellows -surviving Siad barre cronies, former failed investors, ex diplomats and some cajoled Somali studies experts- including some of our kin and countrymen. You get the accommodated views of our contesters through recommendations of reconciliation conferences, but give us opportunity this time that we express our opposing views-
    4. To request, despite our feeble stature compared to Great Britain, a review of Britain’s heavily lopsided policy, to the disfavor of Somaliland, in order to approximate the famed British sense of justice, which some of our dwindling Somaliland Protectorate days population fondly recount with a noted sense of pride.
    This is a draft. These points may be refined further and others added or dropped with time, if you would positively answer to our petition. We believe that affording us audience will help avert average Somalilander bad feelings on account of British pro-Somalia policies. We price your goodwill which we hope will translate to a practically cordial British engagement in its relations with the people of the hitherto unrecognized Republic of Somaliland, who are willing to extend out to you a peaceful handshake.

    Ahmed A. Daar
    Uppsala, Sweden

  2. In Somalia what we were lacking for the last 22 years was a credible honest and impartial leader. Despite all the euphoria and unquestionable support that the president received from the Somalis and international community alike he delivered little or nothing so far. Restoration of confidence by putting in place a legislation which addresses return of illegal property to their right owners would have attracted many Somalis and this would make Mogadishu as the Capital for all Somali citizens, not as its current situation i.e. clan city. Almost all of the 16 districts of Mogadishu is run by commissioners who belong to Presidents tribe. This is a clear demonstration that President is not addressing injustice in Mogadishu. HRW report indicates that the enslavement of the IDP’s in Mogadishu by the so-called Gatekeepers of Mogadishu (mainly from one tribe) who runs “Ghost camps”. One of the gate keepers is alleged to be the president’s own sister Nurto Sheikh.
    What surprises many is, this government is focusing and putting all of its efforts to derail what is going on further afield Kismayo, which is about 600km away from Mogadishu while turning a blind eye to a well documented injustice that s underway in their own backyard. The people of Jubbaland are exercising their own constitutional rights by establishing their own federal State, as enshrined by the Federal constitution article 46, and 49 (C and D) this right is also a human right (The right to self determination).
    Our hopes were higher during and after the first few weeks of the last year’s election; however, all this was dashed away by the president by not implementing a clear coherent policy. On the contrary the current policy as many regarded is driven by either clan interest, or religious sect interest. In my opinion our biggest problem is crisis of confidence, thus we require a unifying leader one that appeals to all not a divisive one. We also require a coherent policy strategy that incorporates all the stakeholders.
    As for the London Conference, “Security and Justice” are among the top issues; good to address those two issues, however, this should be started and implemented in Mogadishu. Once justice and security are delivered in Mogadishu the trust and the confidence of the Somali people are likely to resume and that is the key to stability.
    As for President Hassan if he wants to succeed he should avoid controversial and sectoral policy and respect the constitution.

  3. Thank you very much mr Ambasor. I am happy to see somalia moving from forgetten to international community, as much i saying thank you british people and GOV UK leadership under PM CAMERON. May ALLAH Bbless you all!

  4. Before we go deep into the Federal subject, we need to discuss about if this federal thing is viable? given that we need to consider Somali land as a major factor that needs to be addressed, given that we don’t have viable border lines, given that Galkacyo/Kismayo are unique in their situation? and more…..

  5. We commend the British Government, and Ambassador Matt Baugh in particular, for their untiring efforts to support Somalia get back on its feet. Much progress has been made and the forthcoming London conference will set a new milestone towards putting Somalia on a stable sustainable course. The UK government is right for adopting the functioning and stability of the federal government as the cornerstone of its policy. Once the central, federal government is functioning, the rest are likely to follow suit. No region, whether secessionist or self-centred, should be allowed to hold Somalia and the international community to ransom.

  6. Could you please clarify for the role of Somaliland for the May conference in London which is designed for Somalia. Even-though it is great thing to support Somalia, this should not affect the decision made by Somalilanders to decide their future destiny to be an independent state. We can sense a lot anxiety, worries and losing confidence with international community among Somalilanders. We wish you to express clearly the Somaliland’s role in the coming Somali conference to ensure the trust and confidence of Somalilanders with the International Community. The International community should keep the balance which is not to destroy a stable country (Somaliland) for the sake of supporting another one (Somalia). It seems that is what is happening now.

    Thank you for your attention and please consider this concern as it it very serous issue at this stage.

    Yussuf Ahmed,

  7. Very effective and beneficial strategy there and couldn’t be more proud of my Somali government as well as host country. Worrying aspect here is only the centralisation of Mogadishu which Barre regime gravely made error in and current government is seems to be repeating. There should be clear mandate for stabilising other main parts of the country and making sure the success of Mogadishhu is replicated.

  8. All good and well and a great improvement from the last London Conference on Somalia which women had no representation. I am delighted that Fouzia opened the meeting in Mogadishu and hopefully will be opening the conference in London on May the 7th. However, the issue of women and the rape of women in the refugee camps in Mogadishu and Kenya is still not being addressed. I urge the international community together with the new Somali government to take this issue very seriously. The protection of women is as important as security.

  9. Greetings Mr. Ambassador,

    All this is great. Britain’s role is significant and it already shows positive results as far as mobilizing the world community and bringing back Somalia’s stability and statehood is concerned. The Somali people understand and appreciate it. Because, at the end of the day, what benefits Somalia that takes it out of the dark tunnel will also matter to the international community interests. But, more than anyone else, Somalis need to understand that they must do the heavy lifting themselves to better their circumstances and do a little favor for the international community.

    Khaatumo State of Somalia has done more than its share in ending the transitional phases of the Somali Federal Government and stands ready to make the May 7, 2013 London Conference on Somalia a success. Khaatumo State of Somalia is looking forward to receiving the invitation which will allow them to participate.

    Thank you,

    Thank you,

  10. Dear Ambassador
    I am very moved by your efforts, individually and collectively in the Government in London, to address the issues of Somalia and help that country to finally restart its history as a nation with a functioning, viable state. However, as you are aware, my family originated from Somaliland which has over 20 years ago declared its (re)independence from the union with Somalia and has yet not been given the recognition its truly deserves. The Somalilander population is adamant that no other option than full independence and sovereignty will be acceptable and our people are very sure that if push comes to shove, they would take up arms to protect their nation’s independence and a war with a rehabilitated Somalia is of no benefit to the world, the Horn region, Somaliland and most of all Somalia whereby Somalia will reverse its achievements of recovery and everyone would be upset with that. Somaliland’s case must be granted as a sui generis ala Kosovo and the benefits of separation over unity are grand because:
    1. Somaliland is the successor to the briefly independent State of Somaliland of 1960 and also British Somaliland
    2. It satisfies the Montevideo Convention
    3. The union with Somalia (1960-1991) was a union like Senegambia and the UAR (Egypt/Syria)
    4. It can easily gain more than 50% of its permanent population’s support for independence in a UN mandated referendum within Somaliland’s borders – no doubt about it with Montenegro in 2006 comes to mind
    5. A stable Somaliland can showcase its enormous reserves of gas and oil and serve as a bulwark against radical Jihadism
    6. It is the only genuine democracy in the Horn of Africa
    7. It will not open a Pandora’s Box in Africa as an AU commissioned report says it has colonial borders upon independence
    8. Unlike South Sudan, we was a separate entity from Somalia during the colonial era and unlike Eritrea, we was a UN member state before we entered our ill-fated union with Somalia in July 1960 that was one sided and resulted with us suffering genocide in 1988
    last but not least
    9. The UK is our dearest friend and we hope to join our former colonial rulers in the Commonwealth once recognised

    So to sum up, the people of Somaliland are not for turning, our independence must be acknowledged by the world and we say to Somalia don’t patronise us as a war will harm you more than us and we would win so come to your senses and recognise your brother has gone and lets have a sound relationship between two states

    Thanks Ambassador

  11. First of all we welcome the British Government’s endeavour in creating stable Somalia. However, Britain and other international Community alone cannot save Somalia from its ruins unless Somalia leaders show willingness to deliver its responsibilities, “It takes two to tango”. Sadly the current leadership in Somalia seems t be creating unnecessary conflicts. The current leadership are denying constitutional rights from the people of Jubbaland to establish the State of Jubbaland. The leaked document from the President’s office indicated that his willingness to create his own constructed Federal States For instance: – He recommends Mudug to unite with Galgaduud (Hawiye State). Hiiraan Shabeellada Dhexe and Shabeelada Hoose to form a State (Hawiye dominated State). He also wants Bay Bakool to unite with Gedo while dismantling the Jubbaland State leaving Jubbada hoose and Jubbada dhexe alone. One could argue that President intends to strengthen the Hawiye’s domination in the South and weaken both the Daaroods and the Digil-Mirifle. What is more the president never mentioned a word about what plan he had for Mogadishu as the Capital for all.
    See here (http://taleex.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Federal.Government-Policy-Plan.pdf).
    As for lifting Arms embargo I believe it is a dangerous precedent, first of all there is no national army in Somali at the moments as what is now known as National Army are bunch of tribal militias mainly from Mogadishu and its surrounding environs who are loyal to their respective clans and warlords. One could argue that once these Militias are armed with the newly sought weapons all the other weapons they had had will slip away into the market and obviously Al-Shabab will be biggest potential buyers of these weapons. It is a self evident that last week cache of weapons was stolen from the Villa Somalia this is a clear indication that under the leadership of President Hassan there is no credibility in giving more ammunition and I can assure you even to think about will be a counterproductive.
    It is often cited that President Hassan gets mixes up State with NGO and his policy resembles of NGO project proposals rather than National Policy strategy. I couldn’t have disagreed more with this characterisation.

    A. Ali

  12. Thank you mr ambassador for your tireless engagement .
    While United Kingdom and others are working very hard to help revive Somalia ,there are those who do not seem to have the same intentions of insuring the restoration of somali state.This has been made clear by the recent abrupt withdrawal by the Ethiopian troops from the regional capital of bakool province,which they held for more than a year without apparently even informing somali government .if the intentions of Ethiopian government was ,as we often here, to help defeat extremists and support the somali government why would they do this one would wonder.Rather than having any interest in seeing stable Somalia Ethiopia is doing everything in its power to undermine any hope of resuscitating Somalia. Ethiopia has always been the single biggest factor to the prolonged civil conflict in Somalia.It is common knowledge that it consistently violated Somalia’s arms embargo but for some strange reason it has never featured in the successive UN reports of arms embargo violations in Somalia.Ethiopia arms an array of militias across south central Somalia who answer to nobody other than the Ethiopian military. The main reason why somalia’s conflict became intractable is because there was zero accountability for those who facilitated this calamity both among the Somalis and foreign governments. So unless that is firmly dealt with peaceful Somalia is far distant prospect. United Kingdom has the diplomatic power to tackle these obstacles,but will there be a will to do so.We would like to believe there is this time around, given the UK’s genuine efforts to help Somalia stand on its feet once again. Thanks

  13. i don’t think that International Community can achieve more about somali issues because they always make debates and talk more but they don’t implement their promises as usual.

  14. Dear UK GOV’T

    As you might already know, the politics of Northern Somalia are more complicated than most people think. I believe that it’s even more complicated than Southern Somalia for many different reasons. I would like to mention just few of them below.

    1: In the so called somaliland which is basically North of Somalia (Sool, Sanag, Togdher, Awdal and Waqoyi Galbeed regions) there are 4 different major clans and ONLY one out of the four favors the separation from the rest of the country and that’s the Isaq clan of Hargeisa.

    2: The biggest mistake was made by the Isaq clan in 1990s when they declared the so called somaliland to be separated from Somalia without consulting with the other 3 clans. And the key players were militias from the SNM that was created by the Isaq and for the Isaq only!

    3: Now there’s another administration in Northern Somalia and this one is a unionist and its called Khatumo State of Somalia and it was created for/by the people of Sool,Sanaag and Ayn/Togdheer regions after a three month grand Confrence held in the historic town of Taleh, Sool region in 2012.

    4: Now that there’s a pro unionist administration there are daily clashes and fighting between Khatumo and Somaliland Forces the last such clash took place in the city of Las Anod, Sool and up to this day the clashes are expected to continue or even get worse and that’s because there was never a referendum or agreements between the Northern clans of Somalia.
    History teaches us that the Somali clans dont trust each other and in this case the the other non Isaq clans in Northern Somalia do not trust the Isaq led separatist movement of Somaliland. Now that there’s a federal gov’t elected by all Somalia clans in power and that the world has supported people of north Somalia are welcoming their new govt with optimism and are hoping that the upcoming London Conference will focus problems within northern Somalia instead of the southern part of the country.

    As a Somali citizen from the north I am very greatful to the UK gov’t for their hospitality and support to the Somali gov’t and poeple and I wish them success.

    Best regards,
    God Bless Somalia

Comments are closed.

About Matt Baugh

Matt is married to Caroline, a GP from South London specialising in pre-hospital care and tropical medicine. They have 3 small children. Matt has been working on Somalia since May…

Matt is married to Caroline, a GP from South London
specialising in pre-hospital care and tropical medicine. They have 3
small children. Matt has been working on Somalia since May 2010, when he was appointed the UK’s Senior Representative and Head of the UK’s
Somalia Office. On 2 February 2012 he was accredited as the first
British Ambassador to Somalia for 21 years. Since taking up his Somalia
appointment, he has been able to travel to Mogadishu, Hargeisa and
Garowe, and has been deeply touched by the warmth of the welcome he has received, but also the scale of the challenges that Somali people face
every day.
Matt is a career civil servant and is currently on secondment to the
Foreign Office from the UK Department for International Development. Now 37, he has spent much of his career to date dealing with conflict,
security and humanitarian issues. Since 1999 he has worked in Iraq,
Sudan, Afghanistan and the Balkans, as well as a number of major relief
operations and protracted emergencies. He also helped to set up and lead
the UK’s Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit, now the UK Stabilisation
Unit. Matt is a graduate of the UK Joint Services Command and Staff
College’s Higher Command and Staff Course (2010) and was previously
Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for International
Development (2008-9).
Away from work, Matt is an avid England rugby fan (although he
refuses to admit his own playing days are long over). He is also a keen
mountaineer and skier and, together with Caroline, was part of a team
that raced to the Magnetic North Pole in 2005. These days he is more
likely to be found teaching his children how to swim and build

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