The Other Horn of Africa: Rejoinder by Ali Fatah

October 24, 2011 

“But truly the flimsiest of houses is the spider’s house; if they but know”. Qur’an, 29:41

Beyond the manmade and the natural disasters, and the chronic instability brought about by statelessness, there is a worrisome, pervasive moral degeneration among a number of high profile politicians in the Somali peninsula. This debauched social phenomenon is evident amongst the ruling elite, if that is what they are, at all levels particularly the autonomous regional governments, such as Somaliland and Puntland. It is a kind of self-indulgent approach to policy that focuses on perceived short-term political gains for a small segment of society at the expense of the rest; time and again these politicians willingly sacrifice the greater good at the altar of craven expediency.

Throughout the Somali peninsula, sectarian leaders are showing an incredible lack of moral rectitude. Their self-imposed pliant attitudes have effectively sapped the sense of self-possession and dignity that one would expect from political leaders. This is especially true when it comes to their dealings with Ethiopia whose meddlesome, menacing policies are in large measure responsible for the current state of instability that is gripping the Somali nation.

Take the case of Mr. Ahmed Mohamoud “Siilaanyo”, the President of the secessionist regime in Hargeisa, calling itself Somaliland, who days ago had an opinion piece published in WardheerNews.com. Apart from the usual bravado and bluster the article predictably lacked any compelling ideas regarding justification for the secession project.

 Still, the unreasonableness of his reasoning was stunning. Here are the highlights:

1.The south is problem-prone and is unstable, therefore the international community should go ahead and recognize Somaliland.

2. The centuries-old conflict over freedom, land, resources and power between Ethiopians and Somalis is over; Ethiopia and Somaliland are in sync on all socio-political and economic issues, hence Somaliland exists.

3. South Sudan has gained independence and that means it is a new day in the Horn of Africa (for secessionism).

4.Yemen is experiencing major political problems; suddenly Somaliland is the new linchpin for the security of the strategic Gulf of Aden sea lanes.

5. Mogadishu (and much of the South) is wracked by Shabab terrorism which makes Somaliland look awfully secure by comparison, meriting international recognition!

6.  Ethiopia and Somaliland are “collaborating” on a pipeline to ship gas from the occupied Somali territory in the Ogaden region and that works for his “homeland”.

7. All three political parties in Somaliland support secession and that disproves the fact that Somaliland represents the sentiments of only one clan!

Mr. Siilaanyo knows full well that his cobbling together the above random, disparate notions would not lend any legitimacy to his sham cause in the eyes of Somalis outside the enclave. So, as customary, he was addressing foreign benefactors that he hopes would give the illusory state of Somaliland a helping hand.

Still, trying to make sense of the veracity of his argument is like listening to the sound of one hand clapping.

 

But let us briefly examine few of his points:

South Sudan became independent because the Sudanese people as a whole approved of this choice in a constitutional manner. It did not come about by fiat as the clan-based regime in Hargeisa would have us belief.

 As for the Ethiopian-Somali conflict, it is predicated on real life issues of freedom, land and resources, and power. If the one-clan-entity of Somaliland politicians wants to sell out that is their choice. But that act of betrayal does not fundamentally change matters one wit. On the other hand, if Ethiopia comes clean and deals fairly with the Somali people under its occupation, to their full satisfaction, there would be every reason for the two neighboring countries to live side by side as sister states and trading partners.    

Yemen’s political problems make the case for the international community to redouble their lackluster efforts to help the Somali people restore a national government that can secure its territorial waters not only from Somali pirates on unseaworthy skiffs but from the armadas of resources-blundering pirates and toxic waste dumpers from developing countries that are devastating Somalia’s economic zone. The renegade region of Somaliland would also be restored to its rightful place as an integral part of the Somali Republic.

Concerning murderous Shabab killing sprees that bedevil Mogadishu, one can hardly, in good conscience, blame the victims for those crimes. The ring leaders of the Shabab criminal gang, Mr. Ahmed Godane and Ibrahim Afghani are natives of Hargeisa. But it would also be unfair to blame the Somali residents of that northern city for their bloodthirsty crimes in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the south.

Finally, Mr. Siilaanyo’s point that all three Somaliland political parties [that represent three Isaaq sub-clans] agree with secession, therefore secession is not one clan project must have been an attempt, on his part, at lighthearted banter. I got a chuckle out of it!

Ali A. Fatah

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