Reasons For Janan Defection

Today all of Somalia was jubilant after one less thorn was stripped from the government’s side. The government used the force of persuasion to bring back into its fold a strong opponent who endangered the country as long as it played in Kenya’s hands.

One wonders, however, why Abdirashid Janan has defected and why now, especially when he triumphantly said last November that the government was courting him and refusing?

He made numerous attempts to invade Gedo from Kenya, but was repulsed each time by government troops. And just in February, he gave a speech urging Farmajo, whom he called his cousin, to step down and save the country from inevitable chaos. What made him change his mind?

Since he escaped from the NISA-run prison to Kenya a year ago, he reappeared in Mandera, Kenya, just across the border, heading a well-equipped militia assisted by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) in his incursion to Somalia.

He was a centerpiece of the political game of Kenya which wanted to put the entire Jubaland back to Ahmed Madobe’s control.

Kenya was hoping the political stalemate on the elections and deteriorating security in Mogadishu would undermine the government’s ability to run the country, and particularly hot spots like the border.

The government’s tough response on February 19th to opposition agitations showed that not only are all security forces and army leaders behind the president, but the administration remains uncompromising against any attempt to disrupt the hard-gained stability.

The last major attempt to surprise the government troops in the middle of the night in Beled-Hawo showed Janan the security apparatus is not only strong but his plans would ultimately fail if he continues with his rebellion.

On the other hand, NISA, some high ranking army officers and key individuals within Farmajo’s Marehan clan knew an ambitious and frustrated Janan could be easily persuaded rather than Ahmed Madobe who was fully controlled by Kenya and whimsical Said Deni.

In fact, Kenya staked everything on Madobe than a fugitive like Janan who was unable to take Gedo back by force.

Among the reasons Janan cited to join the government were primarily his “care” for the local population which is going through a period of drought that displaced many in the region.

Another reason he mentioned is that he didn’t want to be part of the current political deadlock which would hurt Somalis. In other words, he didn’t want to be Ahmed Madobe’ stooge.

The exact details of the negotiations between Janan and the government are not known yet but we get cues from current standoff and government expectations from individuals like Janan.

Already, by listening to Janan speech to the public who welcomed him in Beled-Hawo, he was talking as if he is part of Jubaland leadership, probably unaware he was fired by Ahmed Madobe earlier in the day.

This may be an indication; the government is planning to replace Ahmed Madobe as the head of Jubaland.

His presence in Beled-Hawo and welcoming indicates also he received full clemency for his past criminal activities as Janan was mentioned by Amnesty International for killings and tortures in the region when he had the Gedo region under his thumb.

Once again the realpolitik has trumped on human rights. Ahmed Madobe, one of Al-Shabab founders, was for a time on CIA’s Wanted List but he is now the preferred interlocutor to top American diplomats like U.S. Ambassador Donald Yamamoto or the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Mr. James Swan.

In short, Janan may be convinced his only political survival can only be through his support to the Farmajo’s administration.

In this political game of arm wrestling and who’s going to last longer, it’s hard to predict losers or winners. Many have predicted Farmajo won’t last beyond February 8th. He is here to stay and many would fall in line. Janan is the 1st of them.

Recent movement of troops to Gedo and decried by Deni and Madobe is a preparation on Madobe stronghold and it could be a show of force to convince Madobe to change route and sign the Sept 17th  agreement or know else.

AbdiQani Badar

AbdiQani Badar is a historian, political commentator and avid writer. He has written extensively on Somali issues and historical events.