Meet Jubaland/Azania, Somalia’s New Semi-Autonomous Region

The country called Somalia contains a host of would-be governments, including the Transitional Federal Government (which claims jurisdiction over Somalia as a whole) and the two semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland. Now Somalia has a third major semi-autonomous region: Jubaland, or Azania, whose creation was celebrated yesterday (see here for a map of Jubaland, and here for another, somewhat different political map of all Somalia).

Jubaland/Azania now has a president, former Somalia Defence Minister Professor Mohamed Abdi Gandhi, who has said a main goal of his administration will be to defeat al Shabab, Somalia’s Islamic rebel movement. This, Kenya’s Daily Nation reports, is one of the driving goals of the new region’s creation, but Somalia’s neighbors disagree on whether this tactic is a wise one:

The idea to create an autonomous region near the Kenyan border is hinged on the reason that it will prevent the movement of al Shabaab extremists within the region.

As the conference ended on Sunday, it was not clear whether the Kenyan Government supported the election but recent WikiLeaks revelations showed that the country supported the creation of an autonomous region near its border with Somalia to prevent the flow of illegal arms.

The meeting had been opposed by both Ethiopia and Djibouti, who argue that creating autonomies in the war-torn country could inspire further insurgency by other regions or degrade the gains made by the TFG.

The Jubaland initiative has a long history. A Wikileaks cable (see item 6) shows Kenyan support for the idea in early 2010 (via @slowfalling), and “Kenya has been pouring money [and] supplies into the Jubaland area for some time to fight [al] Shabaab.” But momentum toward the creation of an official state picked up with a seven-day conference last week that culminated in the formalization of Jubaland/Azania. Now it remains to see how Jubaland will negotiate its relationships with the TFG, with Kenya, and with the rest of Africa.

Commenter James Gundun, responding to an earlier piece, leaves us with some questions and issues to think about:

Jubaland has been in the works for years – forming a presidential cabinet electing a parliament is expected – although it’s difficult to say what comes next. While TFG officials attended the week-long conference before appointing Mohamed Abdi Gandhi, how much overlap are they willing to cede to Kenya? This arrangement can squeeze al-Shabab through local governance and attempt to remedy the refugee crisis, but friction may easily develop between Nairobi and the TFG. Ethiopia also opposes the formal recognition of Jubaland, citing fears of increased insurgency, as it monitors the newly-created Shabelle Valley administration and aspiring Somali Central State. Positive interplay between the TFG, Kenya, and Ethiopia is vital to stabilizing Somalia.

What do you think? Will this move hurt or help al Shabab, or make no substantive difference?

22 thoughts on “Meet Jubaland/Azania, Somalia’s New Semi-Autonomous Region

  1. I have to admit that initially I thought this was just a delayed April Fools Day prank. Irritatingly it doesn’t seem to have much attention, though I will admit that this has been a busy week for Africa.

  2. TFG Information Minister Abdulkareem Jama went on record against the move. Puntland officials are also weighing in negatively, accusing the TFG of being too weak to support its own people. Whatever the case, a consensus on doesn’t appear to exist yet.

  3. Is Azania under control of Kenya? Is it going to be useful for the stabilization of Somalia? or would be another focus of fights?

    • I think Kenya has a strong influence there, but Azania is formally part of Somalia. As for whether it will help stabilize Somalia, I don’t know. The regional government there will have a lot of tough tasks ahead of it.

  4. (Dayniile Online in Somali 18 Apr 11) A Somali scholar named Jamal Haji Ali has said the formation of the new semi-autonomous regional administration, Azania, and Kenya’s attack on areas along its border with Somalia are all part of a wider plan by the Chinese government to invest in the town of Lamu which is close to 95 kilometre border from Somalia. He said that the Chinese government is sponsoring forces trained for the newly formed semi-autonomous region of Azania to support a buffer zone preventing the conflict in Somalia from compromising Chinese investment in areas near the border. What’s your thought about that?

    • The port lamu is not an issue here and the main purpose of creating the state is to defeat al-shaabab and the one calling himself a scholar, if at all he is, have no knowledge of the area he is talking about. And if kenya can protect its area then we somalias from jubbaland have no problem with it. The writer had in mined the dirty somalia clans politics.

  5. Pingback: Somalia unravelled | First-Time Africa: know before you go

  6. The Azania is the most effected part in the whole of somalia during the twenty and so years of war. The al-shaabab headquaters is the port city of kismaayo,so if the terror group is defeat th, i believe there will be no more al-shabaab in somalia and the rest of east africa countries. For djibouti, they neighbour somaliland which is relatively peaceful and they have no problem with al- shabaab. For Ethiopia, they always dictate what happens in Somalia, so it is not new to us her wishes. Ethiopia will never see a stable somalia. The so called international community supports Ethiopia in acheiving that goal. So i think kenya has very right to help Azania state for betterment of Somalias and Kenyans.

  7. azania is some tribes want to missled the rest of people in kismaayo environment of kismaayo region we are in 2011 so the triblism way of gandhi is absolutely bad that can create war people in jubbaland,ok gandi is kenynan not from somalia i supprised why he became somalia defence minster, the confrence held in nairobi not invited 2 largest tribe in jubba land we can say that self proclaimed regional government,and Iam one somalia diaspora in somalia ,we are people of kismaayo,,our people peacefull tribe they are busy livestock and farmers ,they never too part the this endless fighting in somalia,alora Merci beaucoup de votre avant le mauvais sens du tribelism

  8. azania will create new conflict in somalia ,they are group of tribes they are belong the same ethnic
    the rest people of jubbaland was mistreated ,any we see the result azania ,they never work in somalia specailly jubbaland,iam sure pro gandhi will repeant alot,untill he will stop the way of daroodism or the way of triblism,i hope now he understand his weaken point.we are really people in jubbaland.

  9. this is daroods lying to kenya just like abdallah yousuf did with ethiopia it will never work kenya is using darood from ethiopia and kenya these cowards don’t even know how to fight south somalia is not like somaliland or puntland if kenya wants to create states in somalia like ethiopia they should wise up they picked tthe wrong people daroods have sudan sized mouth they cant do nothing in kismayo daroodism is not gonna happen kenya u are plying with fire keep ur hands off somalia just like u been doing for the last 21yrs
    leave us alone please

  10. Pingback: Updates on Kenyan Military Invasion into Somalia « kaarshe Blog

  11. Well well. I think the soloution for Somalia is could be achieved solely by the Somalis if there is no foreign intervention. The Empire is here using her proxies like Miles Zania (Zenawi), Ungadan Yoweri Musuveni and now Kenyan Kibaki (who is really the wisest African President). If you wanna defeat Al Shabab, simply allow the African troops and the Somali Army to use air power instead of involving the peaceful Kenyans who do know how to fight. Now that Somalia is attacked by our beloved neighbor (Somalis naturally like the Kenyans); we have no other option but to stand behind every Somali fighter including “Al Shabab fighters” to liberate it because if we do not, we might lose the most prosperous part of our land one day.

    C/llahi C/qaadir AxmadFiqi
    Toronto, Canada

  12. Azania wiil brin stability to this regions and indeed to the kenyan border line, given that somalis are victims of long and enless civil war ,which latter resulted , al shabaab to take the charge and cause a regional mayhem are the work of a few narrow minded folks who hails from a hawiye groups from central somalia whose objectives are to plunder the resources of these shabelle and juba regions which is been a victim of hawiye onslaought on jubbaland and shabelle regions ,therefore azanoia is working to alleviate those issuess and will solve and restore this matters to it,s origainal state, a stable jubaland means safe from hunger and war and terrorism indeed.

  13. I condem the Kenyan military action in Southern Somalia as known as JUBALAND. Onthe other hand i would like to see a peacefully Jubaland and Al shabab get out there. JUBALAND must be safe as Somliland and Puntland. We DAAROOD peole we are the mojority people in the region.
    The Jubaland population is 3.6 million DAAROOD 90% DIR 4% HAWIYE 2% RAHANWEYN 2% BAJUNI 1% JAREER 1%

  14. Pingback: Kenya’s misguided invasion of Somalia | Crisis Project

  15. Pingback: Kenya’s misguided invasion of Somalia « Emma Gordon

  16. Pingback: Al-Shabaab, Jubbaland, and the Future of Kismayo | Somalia Newsroom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s