March 01, 2004 - 10:48
CUTTING OFF THEIR NOSE TO SPITE SOMALILAND
If we can’t succeed, we will not let Somaliland to succeed either
After remaining in isolation for twelve years, Somaliland is beginning to emerge from the shadows of diplomatic wilderness. This followed after a group of British MPs on the Select Committee on International Development paid a two-day fact-finding mission to Somaliland and subsequently secured a debate on its recognition in the British Parliament on 4th February. The debate reverberated across the globe wherever Somalis happen to be. For Somalilanders, it was a sweet dream that came true. For exponents of Somaliweyn, it was a bitter pill to swallow. Whatever the emotions of the opposing sides, the debate took everyone off-guard. As result, an ugly race has begun on the fast lane between those who want Somaliland to become a sovereign and independent state and those who want to reduce it, by hook or by crook, to a status similar to that of the anarchic fiefdoms in southern Somalia where there is no rule of law but the law of the jungle.
For the first time ever since Somaliland restored its independence in 1991, a high ranking delegation led by Dahir Rayale Kahin, president of Somaliland Republic, along with senior cabinet ministers including the charismatic Foreign Affairs Minister, Edna Adan, is expected to arrive in the UK at the invitation of the British Government.
In what appears to be a great historic occasion for Somaliland, President Rayale would be given an opportunity to sell Somaliland’s case to the British legislators by addressing the House of Commons, many of whom are sympathetic to Somaliland- a former British Protectorate cruelly forsaken by the international community for breaking away from Somalia proper.
Prior to the debate on Somaliland at Westminster Hall, the US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs indicated that the US ‘would consider recognising the breakaway regime in the north, which resumed the old British name of Somaliland in 1991’. He said in a conference held at the UCLA, “Let us reach out that group that’s functioning and start treating them as a real government, at the price of Somali nationalism”.
As members of Somaliland Community in UK are getting ready for what they see as a ‘historic event’ for their country, there is a flurry of activity in ant-Somaliland camp in the UK as they, too, prepare themselves for the arrival of the Somaliland delegation.
The Somaliweyn supporters are leaving no stone unturned in their attempts to ruin Rayale’s visit to the UK in much the same way as Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf’s rag-tag militias are making a last ditch attempt in Sool to sabotage Somaliland’s recognition. Futile as their attempts might be, they are taking no chances to see Somaliland’s efforts thwarted at any cost.
It is an irony of fate that the man the Colonel attempted on his life last year and subsequently tried to sabotage his country’s efforts for recognition, by occupying Sool, was accorded diplomatic courtesy in Britain while he remains an outcast in Nairobi clutching straws as he drowns in a tidal wave of deceit and envy of his own making.
It remains a mystery to the world community why Somalia’s political leaders cannot agree on anything about the well being of their own people and the future of their own country. Yet strangely as it may seem, southern leaders of all political persuasions and religious sects can agree on one thing: to wreck the Somaliland state in anyway possible. Professor Jeffry Herbst, Chairman of the Department of Politics at Princeton University, seem to have confirmed this in an article in The Washington Post, “The only thing the southerners can agree on is that they do not want Somaliland to secede”.
In the space of six months, saboteurs carried out a series of clandestine activities in Somaliland. They murdered western humanitarian workers based in the country, a lorry carrying Ethiopian Birr stuffed in tyres was robbed by men believed to be loyal to Abdulqassim near the border town of Wajale, Eritrean trained ONLF terrorists disguised as refugees were surreptitiously smuggled deep into Somaliland in an attempt to blow up Ethiopian jetliners taking off from Hargeysa Airport, a lorry laden with explosives was caught in central Hargeysa, not to mention the unceasing campaign of concocting lies and peddling loads of disinformation and propaganda about what Somaliland stands for. Day and night these dark forces are in a high state of alert and are watching, like a hawk high from above, every move and step taken by Somaliland. In so doing, not only they display the staggering degree and scale of animosity they harbour for Somalilanders but they are also unwittingly hurting themselves irrecoverably, too, for they have a vested interest in a recognised Somaliland state. They are oblivious to the fact that it is in the interest of Somalis to co-exist peacefully.
It is imperative to note that the massive military, financial and diplomatic clout of the US failed to make any appreciable change on the ground in Somalia let alone to form a functioning government. The US washed its hands from any responsibility and left the Somalis to feast on their own flesh. A series of 14 major reconciliation conferences that followed collapsed one after the other like a domino effect. The UN, notoriously incompetent in the Somali arena, abysmally failed in every step of the way to make any change whatsoever on the ground. There seems to be sense of despair everywhere be it national or international level. The international community ran out of ideas to find a solution for the Somali problem. Up until now the Somali problem seemingly defied the conventional wisdom of conflict resolution.
Enter the Kenyan era and you will see that, even with the celebration of the first anniversary of the world’s longest but most unsuccessful reconciliation conference that began in Eldoret, the possibility of making a breakthrough is yet far from over. Now the Ugandans joined the haunted Somali bandwagon.
Behind the phoney smiles, deceptive handshakes and hollow embraces of brotherhood lay a deceit and hypocrisy. With no agenda beyond subverting Somaliland and vying for power among themselves without the slightest compromise, the warlords offer only the possibility of more anarchy and disintegration. They have the unrivalled expertise of how to destabilise and wreck a state but do not have the ability to lead or build a country.
An honest and sincere reconciliation can only come from within Somalis, as the warlords themselves have said repeatedly, and the only way that this could be brought about is by recognising Somaliland as an independent state. Whether or not any of the major political actors in the south will have the guts to face that harsh reality is the major variable in Somalia’s political algebra.
Unlike southerners, Somalilanders from all clans across the political spectrum repeatedly pray for them and would love to see their brothers sorting out their own problems. Unfortunately, they cannot do so on their own and neither can foreigners do for them. The only country that could do this for them is Somaliland but the warlords do not recognise the existence of Somaliland. Dazed and confused, these warlords are therefore cutting off their noses to spite their faces.
When Abdiqassim was elected to the presidency of the TNG (Temporary National Government) that now appears to have changed to PNG (Permanent National Government) declared soon after his inauguration that Somaliland would be forced back to the union by force of arms. It’s this kind of language and mentality, in part, that drove the Somaliland people to the extreme and would not let them involve in the affairs of the Somali people in the south.
According to sources close to Somaliweyn supporters, preparations are underway in London to stage massive demonstrations and pickets against Somaliland’s delegation. Supporters of Abdiqassim, the President of TNG and Colonel Abdillahi Yousuf, the tyrant of Puntland, are being mobilised to disrupt Rayale’s entourage. A campaign of hate mail has already been directed at MPs and blame is being heaped upon them for putting Somaliland on the international spotlight. Most of these envious people accuse the MPs of encouraging the dismemberment of Somalia.
One might be forgiven to assume that these people are fighting for the unity of their country and are therefore responsible citizens or patriots. Far from it, they would like to see Somaliland to be in anarchic situation just like the rest of Somalia. It is the rule rather than the exception for supporters of Somalia’s warlords to carry out all kinds of acts of sabotage to derail Somaliland through every possible avenue. Such actions only reveal the frightening degree and depth of envy embedded in their hearts. It crosses all boundaries of Islamic teachings and breaks all traditional codes. Given the choice, these warlords would rather jump headfirst into hell-fire than seeing Somaliland recognised. But the harsh reality is that they have no place to accommodate Somaliland other than to join the club of ‘destroyers in the south’ as Tony Worthington, one of the British parliamentarians that visited Somaliland recently expressed in the debate on Somaliland at Wesminster Hall.
Somaliland- Mandeeq as it is known- is being pursued from all corners by relentless beasts of prey trying to kill her, or at least to maul her off, but so far, by the grace of Allah, Mandeeq has been able to shake off the tail of these beasts through wit and wisdom of her own.
Hiding behind the façade of phoney Somali unity, the leaders of southern Somalia fail to come to terms with the reality. The question they should ask themselves is: who brought the Somali unity, which they are crying wolf about now? It was the will of the Somaliland people that brought about the Somali unity in the first place without any strings attached to it. It was only four days after independence that Somaliland merged with the Italian administered Somalia to form in what was then known as Somali Republic. The world press caricatured Somaliland as ‘the colony that rejected freedom’.
Again, it was the will of the Somaliland people, following a nationwide referendum that became the determining factor in reclaiming their independence. Unfortunately, the southerners have not taken this to their heart for they had never given any recognition in the first place the democratic right for the Somaliland people to determine their future destiny.
The mind-boggling envy of those politicians in the south reminds me of a moral tale that captivated my imagination when I was a child. The story was about a selfish dog that went hungry one day. The dog began looking for food. He passed by a pen when he saw a cow peering out. The dog asked the cow if it had any food to eat. The cow said it had plenty of food and the dog began to sniff around for food but he couldn’t find anything at all to eat. ‘There is nothing in here but grass’, said the dog angrily. “But that is what we eat,” retorted one of the cows. “Silly cow” said the dog. He quickly but angrily climbed above the pile of grass and went to sleep.
When the animals came to eat the grass the dog snarled at them and would not let them eat their food. “We want our food”, the cows cried. “Never!” said the dog.
“If I can’t eat it,” said the selfish dog, “I am not going to let you have it either”. Today, the above statement aptly describes the mentality of the southern politicians who failed to establish any form or shape of a viable government. Therefore they seem to be saying to the Somaliland people, “If we can’t succeed, we are not going to let Somaliland succeed either”.