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Michael Rubin, a lobbyist pleasing his clients. It is time to debunk his clientelism mission in Somalia.

by Warsame O. Hashi Sunday, November 22, 2020
Michael Rubin and the Somaliland president Muse Biihi

Just over a year ago, Michael Rubin abruptly started publishing articles portraying Somalia and its officials with negative and fictitious lenses. On November 16, Mr. Rubin irresponsibly and erroneously criticized U.S. Intelligence “for bankrolling Somalia’s Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) who he accuses of, and its chief, of working with “Al Qaeda affiliate.” It is irresponsible and fictitious to accuse Somalia’s leadership, especially those leading the fight against Al-Shabaab for not being allies against terrorism, when in fact, they are in perpetual struggle, albeit limited resources to overcome a global phenomenon, as opposed to Michael Rubin, a sponsored campaigner for Somaliland’s secessionism bid who from the comfort of his armchair is accustomed to maliciously character assassinating without any shred of evidence those he deems to stand in the way of his quest of Somalia’s disintegration. 

Mr. Rubin can lobby for Somaliland, or any other non-proscribed entity without engaging in an egregious lobbying campaign wholly reliant on concocted fabrications, which again show his ignorance and despicable approach to Somali matters. The inescapable reality is that this lobbyist’s wicked intentions are to damage Somalia’s image as a whole, regardless of who is in government, as his campaign stretches far beyond defaming individuals, with the sole purpose of serving his clients' interests. To assume that Mr. Rubin is after certain individuals at the heart of the Somali government is wrong. In reality, he would do the same to anyone working towards achieving Somalia’s national interest. After all, his prejudiced writings and vicious smears is a manifestation of someone who routinely speaks from an oblivion position. 

Of late, there has been a spike in the number of cheap foreigners, especially Western men, who shamelessly offer mouth rentals to interfere in Somalia’s internal affairs, using social media platforms and websites to push through all sorts of wraped up and fabricated stories. They go to great lengths to malign, character assassinate and engage in misinformation and mischaracterization campaigns against their clients’ opponents. To demonstrate this, Mr. Rubin’s example as a lobbyist would suffice to illustrate the extent some people are willing to go to earn a dishonest living. By drawing from the tainted credibility of his previous articles, one could be forgiven to think that the more Mr. Rubin spouts fabricated slanderous claims, the more he is bankrolled by his check masters. 

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Mr. Rubin with his logical fallacies makes up fairy-tale stories to unimpressively urge the United States to stop supporting Somalia. To achieve this, he publicly decries US diplomats, and public and security services personnel engaged in Somalia’s recovery and state-building endeavours on unsubstantiated claims of impropriety. Through alarmist and scaremongering tactics, Mr. Rubin casts aspersions on the reputation and judgment of US foreign and defense service officials. He never ceases sending fabricated and confusing messages about US involvement in Somalia. Claiming the US government has been supporting a Somali government hell-bent on supporting the same terrorist groups the US spends a fortune to defeat, in terms of financial and human capital, flies in the face of reason and serves as a blatant disservice to the daily sacrifices made by thousands of servicemen, some of whom paid the ultimate price trying to make the world a safer and better place to live in, whereas Rubin is busy recycling same old failed narratives. 

With unimpressive but sensationalized headlines like “the US and UN are repeating Iraq’s mistakes in Somalia,” he falsely accuses the US State Department and USAID of “being wrong” by “wasting billions of dollars” to support “Al Qaeda renaissance in the strategically important Horn of Africa.” In another shoddy article, headlined: “Somalia’s president is no ally against terrorism,” he falsely accuses Somalia’s president of ‘supporting and abating terrorism’. Mr. Rubin’s unrestrained claims could weaponize terrorists by feeding into their insatiable appetite for propaganda and their recruitment drives.

Why a privileged former US Pentagon official like Mr. Rubin, with no predating background knowledge about Somalia, suddenly develop an interest in Somalia in his sunset years just to spew hate and disinformation against a country recovering from decades-old internal strife is anybody’s guess?

Thankfully, policymakers at Washington D.C. and New York do not source their information from misfits and maliciously motivated crooks like Rubin. They understand Mr. Rubin’s rants for what they are: a lobbyist for hire who cobbles together unverifiable claims and tittle-tattle to justify his smearing modus operandi for quid pro quo reasons. Mr. Rubin does not hide his motivations to sustain his war profiteering enterprise at whatever cost. Mr. Rubin does not bear the brunt of his actions, as for him, the end justifies the means.           

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On a closer inspection, what is evident is that Rubin’s articles can be seen from the prism of a sponsored political campaigning intended to intentionally misrepresent Somalia’s image and by extension, its civil servants, without making any effort to present evidence-based facts, amounts to nothing but a meritless hullabaloo and political chicanery. This indeed is an act of recklessness and one of a grave error of misjudgment on the part of Rubin whose unfounded outright mischaracterizations, and cheap shots against Somalia and its senior government officials reveal his ulterior motives as a force for hate, division and bigotry. What has become clear is that the tenets of his core message remain the same ‘smearing Somali government officials, and defaming them, irrationally disparaging the US foreign policy, and Somalia’s partnership with the international community and promoting Somaliland.’ On calling the “US to open a Consulate in Somaliland,” Mr. Rubin personally attacks Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, a career diplomat and Horn of Africa expert of immense repute, for “cutting funding for the Republic (sic) of Somaliland.” This is not only unfair but also a false characterization of Ambassador. Yamamoto. 

Indeed, no such sloppy and unsubstantiated claims by a discredited former US civil servant would deter Somalia from achieving its objectives of realizing its fullest potential. And as clearly demonstrable in his previous mudslinging articles, I am not at all surprised by his contempt for the very victims of terrorism who continue to pay a huge and damaging cost for fighting terrorism. This astonishing level of lackluster lobbying is an enormous disgrace to the integrity of journalism. Mr. Rubin’s mischaracterization and dishonest smear tactics will only embolden Somalia towards its path of achieving lasting peace and progress. As Michelle Obama famously said, “as you go low, we go high.”

Warsame O. Hashi can be reached at: [email protected], Twitter: @warsamehashi

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