Mogadishu (Sunatimes) I am writing in response to a writing with the title ‘ Why Somaliland Matters’ by Abukar released at foreignpolicylogs.com and halbeegnews recently in which the writer miserably went wrong in the history as well as in the current situation of Northern Somalia, “Somaliland”. I would, therefore, like to give the readers a brief factual history and also a true picture of the present prevailing circumstnces in this part of the country.
Northern Somalia, “Somaliland” was a Protectorate, not a Colony.
Before the arrival of Britain, the people and lands which became Somaliland
Protectorate in the late 19th century were traditionally divided into clans and
their territories. Each clan was separate and independent from the other.
Chiefs, Suldans, Grads and Ugases administered the civil and judicial
matters inside and outside clans.
During the British protectorate rule, each clan maintained its internal
administration and the United Kingdom recognized each clan area as a separately
protected people and territory. That was because, the clan treaties defined
land boundaries and people. This means that neither the British nor the clans
were interested in the creation of a unitary state of Somalis in the North. At
any point in their long history, the northerners never agreed to form a
The United Kingdom worked with each clan through the chiefs and in accordance
with the terms of an agreement. The major treaty that ever existed in
documented form was that signed in Zeila by the,Samaroon King on December 11,
1884. That popular treaty is known as the Gadabursi treaty and it defined the
lands and the people to be protected.
Liberation and Independence
In the middle of liberation campaign, the different clans did not agree on how
to share the proposed 33 parliamentary (legislative) seats. 21 out of the 33
were located in the constituency of one clan, the Isaaq. Samaroon
adamantly rejected the plan and in that case, Samaroon’s political vision
matched the system of checks and balances used by today’s modern democracies.
Checks and balances is a transparent administrative rule that denies empowering
one side against others. Today, in the United States, the executive, the
legislature and the judiciary branches are at constant check on each other.
Samaroon began to fight the injustice and leaders started their historic
journey to Lasanod, the eastern end of Somaliland Protectorate. The purpose was
to recruit alliances against the constituency plan.They were successful in
forming the United Somali Party (USP) for the Samaroon, the Issa and the Darood
The USP clans and others who feared for their future, formed a strong pressure
block. Large groups from the Isaaq tribes sided with the USP policy. That
power share disagreement fundamentally forced the Northerners to
join Southern people.
The fact is that clan treaties with British were automatically annulled by the
onset of independence declaration. After that, different clans could not agree
in the balance of seats and decided to form a bigger government with the South.
The blue flag was always the unifying factor in all Somalia and “Somaliland”
never stood a seperate state.
On July 1, 1960, the unification that took place in Mogadishu was between the
two peoples of the North and South and not between two governments. The
Northern delegation was fairly selected in their representation. They were Haji
Ibrahim Nur, Samaroon; Ali Grad Jama, Darod; Mohmed Haji Ibrahim Egal, Isaaq;
Ahmed Haji Duale, Isaaq. One year later, the national constitution was
completed by an all inclusive Somali committee with the help of United Nations
experts. A date was set on June 20, 1961 to put the constitution on a
referendum throughout the country. An absolute majority of 90% of the electors
voted in favour of the new constitution. That was the first constitutional and
internationally recognised Somali Republic state and was recognised by the United
Nations on Sept. 20,1961.
The Basic Facts
Today, after 52 years, The Isaaq clan “ Somaliland” is attempting to play
the long dead card which Northern clans buried within 5 days after
the British left in June 1960. The northerners, today are back to square
one, that of 1960 tribal rivalry. One clan is attempting to highjack the
destiny of the people. We are, therefore, warning the international community
that the so called Somaliland one clan authority has no mandate to speak for
other people in the north.
The Civil War Years
The 1960 Northern unresolved power
surfaced again in the 1980s.
Twenty years after independence, in the 1980s, Somalis generally revolted
against their government. Clans were equally unhappy about the system but
had their own ideological and interest differences. In this region, the
unresolved issue of power sharing in 1960 emerged on the surface again when the
Isaaq clan founded their rebel movement, the Somali National Movement (SNM).
Other clans and particularly, the Samaroon elite cautiously tried to
follow the SNM agenda and realized that SNM was not ready to correct the 1960
power share disagreement. Since it did not invite other clans, the SNM’s
objective, in that war, was to capture the whole north and dictate the destiny
of the country. That is exactly what the
Somaliland authority is doing today. In their fight, SNM leaders played
irresponsible strategic propagandas to generate financial contributions and to
unite their people behind their agenda. For that purpose, they pointed finger
at the neighboring clans as enemies. The aim was to touch deep into their
people’s sentiments and show that all people were against them.
During the civil war, Samaroon majority knew that SNM leaders, not their
public, were playing irresponsible campaign.That was why Samaroon public
administrators, security and military officials assisted the Isaaq public in
many difficult situations. True examples were General Yusuf Tallan, the Berbera
military commander and Elmi Roble, Elmi Kabal, the Hargiesa regional police
commander. Unfortunately, most Isaaqs did not acknowledg the Samaroon
assistance or their reasoning for not joining the civil war.
- Instead of directing their war on the
government and its forces, SNM began to kill the unarmed Samaroon and other
neighboring civilian populations.
- They never admitted the death and the
destruction that SNM forces did to their neighbors. They wiped out whole towns,
villagers and even worshippers in mosques.
- Today, they tell the international
community that they were the only people who suffered under the previous
- They don’t acknowledge the fact that one
bad Somali government had destroyed not only Hargeisa, but all Somalia and the
capital Mogadishu was heavily bombarded for months.
- They don’t try to understand that bad
governance ruined many countries in the world and Somalia is not the first
country. Todday, they have another bad one in their hands in Hargeisa but do
they want to see it ?
In 1991, after the collapse of the Somali government, SNM militia backed by
Ethiopian Mengistu overran the Samaroon’s main city, Borama. They killed
hundreds, ransacked homes, looted all business stores and displaced the city population.
On their way to Borama, they demolished the historic adjacent town of Dila
completely. Samaroon was only a peaceful and helpful neighbor and not a
government. Why SNM was fighting their neighbors is still unknown to most of
them and a mystery to other Somalis.
After the Civil War
In 1992, SNM proclaimed ‘Somaliland” a separate state from Somalia, forcing
Samaroon and other tribes to join the illegal declaration. In a short time, the
different Isaaq tribes started to clash with each other for power struggle. The
whole country was again awash with guns, looters, rapists and road blockers.
Roads were impassable with chekpoints by various clan gang members who claimed
the road passages as their territory. At broad daylight, wild gunmen overpowered
the president, Abdirahman Ahmed and his guards when he walked away from his
car. At that point, members from neighbouring Isaaq elders approached Samaroon
leaders for help. Samaroon decided to forgive the past and to mend fences with
their SNM neighbours. From there, they stepped in and began their long
journey of hope to
negotiate peace between Isaaq fighting groups.
Two loaded buses of elders, with white flags, left Borama. In a
short time, they were successful to accomplish inter-clan peace in Hargeisa,
Berbera and Burao. After that, they organised another meeting in Sheikh as a
platform for a country wide conference. More than 150 delegates gathered
in sheikh and decided to hold a general peace conference. At that point, the
conference hosting clan became an issue of serious debate. Each clan was
reluctant to be the guest to the other as there was no trust among the Isaaqs.
proposals like Hargeisa, Burao, Berbera and Gabiley were all declined by one
group or the other. As a last resort, Borama, the Samaroon city, was proposed
as the hosting region and all delegates unanimously accepted with applause. As
a result, In
1993, a long five-month conference in Borama succeeded to draft the terms of
the first functional administration for today’s Somaliland system
In addition to the Samaroon people’ssincerity, their land was the
only perfect place for peace conference. They had a 21 member council of
leaders that worked as their legislative body. In all inter-clan matters and in
other related issues, the council’s decision was final. Nobody could dare to
violate the laws that the council approved. The people had their own policing
system with each clan leader responsible for the actions of his people and that
eliminated lawlessness. Furthermore, Borama was the only town with electricity
power in northern Somalia and there were dozens of international aid agencies.
The airport was functional at its full capacity with a fair number of passenger
and cargo aircrafts each day.
How Samaroon in Somaliland got the wrong
reward for doing the right thing.
In exchange for their good work, Samaroon got the wrong reward when:
- Within few months, their Borama busy airport
was closed and all flights and passengers were re-routed to Hargeisa airport.
- All international aid agencies were
ordered to move from Borama to Hargeisa.
- Samaroon business people were forced to
use the Berbera sea port where they are mugged and sometimes killed. In
Nov. 2011, the latest victim on that road was a truck driver who was shot dead
by road control soldier in bribe dispute.
- Isaaq occupied 95% of the
Somaliland administration, the congress, the parliament, the armed forces, the
security, the judicial and financial systems.
- A 10 million dollar aid from Kuwait
governent was Somalilnad infrastructure investment. That money went to the
extension of Hargiesa and Berbera airports. In contrast, Awdal people and
Diaspora struggled to finish a four kilometer road between Dila an Borama.
Borama Airport is closed and all roads are unfit for travel. One of Awdal’s
renouned doctors died very recently on those extreme roads.
- A 30 million Europan Union and UN funded
water project is improving the water systems of the ruling clan towns of
Hargeysa, Erigavo, Burao and Togwajale
- Khalifa bin Zayed Charity Foundation has
completed 20 large water basins/dams west of Hargeisa and 14 water wells in the
north of the city. The foundation has also drilled 9 new water wells and a watershed
basins in Burao.
- In July 2009, business travellers
were stopped in public road. Four of them were taken to the bush, murdered in
cold blood and their bodies mercilessly mutilated.
- Students came out in masses in protest
against July ugly killings, raised the Somali flag and denounced the separatist
authority. SNM militia, angered by the sight of the blue flag, opened fire on
demonstrators when a young boy was shot dead. The young martyr died with his
right hand still clinging with his national flag.
- Within the last few years, 13 people are
killed in the area of Seemaal. Three of them were cut into pieces with an axe
while they were sleeping. The killers were identified by the “Somaliland”
Interior Minister on the TV news. Killers are still at large in their tribal
enclave safe haven.
- Samaroon public and others are denied to
claim their Somali identity and none can dare to keep the blue flag. From 18 to
22 May, 2012, more than 50 students are taken prisoners. Always, there are
large numbers of political prisoners, simply for denying the separatist policy
or for having the Somali national flag.
- On regular basis, news reporters are
arrested and tortured. In March 2012, Mohamed Abdirahman Ismail was arrested in
Borama, tortured repeatedly in jail and taken to Borama Hospital unconcious.
This document was first published at the
Africa foreign policy website- foreignpolicyblogs.com,
Osman Elmi [email protected]