How the Somali political quandary started, the current dilemma, how to solve it and the history behind it.
By: Guleid J
Somalilandsun – Ever since the start of the 1884 Berlin conference nicknamed the “Scramble for Africa” where a decision to invade and partition the Somali territories under the various colonial powers at that time was made, namely Italy, Britain and France, things have been going downhill for the Somali people. Under the several deals that occurred between the World War 1 and World War 2 Super powers and their cronies it resulted in NFD and the Ogaden desert being given to Kenya and Ethiopia. Although the fault entirely does not lie on the shoulders of the previous colonial powers but also the Somalis were country less politically inexperienced nomads who never shared a country before 1960 as the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta in his visit to Mogadishu in 1331 pointed out that “Somali peoples were never under any unified political structure”.
Somalis from ex Italian Somalia, ex British Somaliland, ex French Somaliland had never been a people who experienced what the concept of Somali nationalism is before the premature pseudo creation of Somalia in 1960. It was also mainly because for centuries they all had different or was under different administrations, kingdoms such as the Adal Sultanate 1415-1577 (Somaliland), Ottoman Empire of the exterior Somaliland and mini clan sultanates such as the Reer Guleed Sultanate in the interior of Somaliland. While ex Italian Somalia were part of different administrations and Sultanates such as the Geledi Sultanate (18-19th century), Ajuuraan Sultanate (14th -17th century), in 19th century large parts of the southern Coasts in ex Italian Somalia such as Marka were under the rule of Sultan Said Barghash bin Said the second sultan of Zanzibar before being ousted. Those are some of the historical differences that make it harder for Somalis from all corners to come under a united one administration.
1960-1969 – Democratic period.
A short-lived concept of Somalia nationalism sprung up after the reunion of ex British Somaliland and ex Italian Somalia in 1960 against the advice of some of the far-sighted people as they the Somalis of those areas sought to experience what it was like to share one political structure ever since civilization. However the honeymoon was so short-lived that after one year of the reunion in 1961 a coup of dissatisfied Somaliland officers led by Colonel Hassan Kayd Walanwal who graduated from the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst attempted an unsuccessful coup to restore the sovereignty of Somaliland because they felt deceived by the southerners in the cabinet representation even though the Somalilanders held one of three top posts at that time namely Mr Jaamac Cabdilaahi Qaalib the first Speaker of the Somali republic 1960-1964 who hailed from Salahley and Hargeysa area. The group of men was never persecuted because of legal issues; the courts in Mogadishu couldn’t find them guilty of their doing because sections of the union between Somaliland and Somalia were null (invalid). These early events were the beginning of the tensions between the north and south which will later explode and lead to the demise of the short-lived Somalia project. It is noteworthy that the Aadan Cabdulle Cismaan administration of Somalia 1960-1967 quickly diffused the situation peacefully and adopted a policy of intermixing the southerners and northerners to avoid further fraction. In 1967 Abdirashid Ali Shermarke who defeated Mr Aadan Cabdulle Cismaan in a democratic election took over, this period was a period of calmness and Somalilanders once again although not that satisfied were holding the second highest political spot in the Somali republic Mr Egal being the PM. The fact that this government was democratic made sure at that time there was no armed conflicts threatening to collapse the state. This period was short-lived after the slaying of President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke in Las Anod 15 October 1969.
1969-1991 – Dictatorship period.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back.
In 1969 a group of officers led by Mohamed Siad Bare of the Supreme Revolutionary Council took over power after the assassination of Abdirashid Ali Shermarke. PM Egal who was responsible to find a quick replacement for the assassinated president at that time got delayed as a result that provided loopholes for coup d’état. Between 1969 and 1977 Somalia saw a brief period of development, media restrictions, and the majority of land being nationalized. After the 1977 war with Ethiopia which the Somali army got routed by allied forces of USSR, Cuba and Ethiopia. After those events the government of Mr Barre worsened, it started to encourage tribalism openly among the Somalis, pitting the various Somali groups against each other, using the military to subjugate certain clans that challenged the administration democratically. This however was a grave mistake as by 1978 the SSDF led by the Majerteen clan whose movement was commonly known as Somali Salvation Democratic Front was created sending the first message to Dictator Mohamed Siad Bare that he can’t forever hold on to power illegally and silence the masses. Aside from several border raids in the Mudug region the SSDF were ineffective rebel group and couldn’t capture major cities. By 1981 a more advanced and determined rebel group by the name Somali National Movement was created by several members native to Somaliland region, the motive of the SNM was not entirely to dislodge dictator Barre but also to act as a defence tool to protect the Somaliland civilians from rebel groups like the WSLF who we’re armed by Barre in the late 70s to target the natives of Haud and Somaliland thus promoting military officers who took part of the 1977 war with Ethiopia such as Muj.Mohamed Ali a high-ranking member of the SNM to defect from the army in the late 70s and aid the Somaliland groups with ammunitions. The SNM unlike the SSDF quickly started to make military success against the Somali National Army by 1982 when they started making attacks in the former Somali Republic to dislodge the occupying forces, by 1983 a successful raid on Mandera (south of Berbera) prison by the SNM freeing many Somaliland prisoners occurred. In 1984, 1985 and 1986 several places were liberated from the Somali National Army such as Balidhiig, Ceeg, and Bisiqa all in Togdheer region of Somaliland, the SNA were struck and overpowered in settlements like Lebi Sagaale, Qorilugud. By 1988 the SNM mounted successful attack on the SNA garrisons in Burco and Hargeysa capturing it briefly while in that same year liberating Oodweyne, Caynabo. In 1989 the SNM captured Erigavo (Ceerigaabo) the largest city and capital of Sanaag. By 1990-1991 SNM controlled much of Somaliland, there was also a rebel
group by the name USC (United Somali Congress) led by the Hawiye clan of south Somalia created in 1989 in Rome. The USC which was based at
Mustahil, Somali region, Ethiopia at first started to mount successful attacks against the SNA in the Hiiraan region, by early 1990 USC was active in vast areas in the south and in 1991 they dislodged dictator Barre and his demoralized few remaining red beret loyalists from Mogadishu, delivering liberty to the people of south Somalia and the rest was history. Mohamed Siad Bare who was born in Shilabo, Ethiopia and hailed from a small group called Bon according to historical records literally meaning low-caste and hunter gatherer native to the Gedo region unlike Aadan Cabdulle Cismaan and Abdirashid Ali Shermarke who hailed from a better off and sophisticated backgrounds; Mr Barre
lacked political acumen and was unable to defuse the situation when all those events were unfolding in front of his eyes which led to the collapse
of the Somali state and loss of trust between the Somalis.
Some of the solutions.
Separation of Somaliland and Somalia who together made up the former Somali republic, this is appealing to many in the breakaway state of Somaliland as they believe the answer to their woes is cutting loose the cadaver that is Somalia and finally accomplishing the vision of Colonel Hassan Kayd Walanwal and the group of Somalilanders who believed the union with ex Italian Somalia in 1960 was a blunder. This is thought to be the solution to the Somaliland and Somalia dispute by the majority of its inhabitants in order to avoid another cycle of violence between the two sides as they don’t have much in common historically, culturally and among many other things. Peaceful partition by is welcomed in this side of the world.
Just a little short of autonomous states, some states that claim to be federal states within Somalia such as Puntland within the last years has signed oil exploration deals, armament deals with South African without informing the Somalia government based in Mogadishu. For this reason many in ex Italian Somalia are wary of the problems federalism can start for Somalia as Somalis naturally over abuse things and don’t know their limit. Puntland is no.1 Advocate of clan federalism in Somalia; Puntland believes this can keep the peace between the Somalis and federalism can succeed.
This group is usually those who use to benefit from the Boli Qaran days of embezzling Somali public funds under the dictatorship period of Siad Bare who dream about a return to the days of being hand fed by the state and stealing properties, lands. There are also those whose aspirations are having all the relief from the outside world put in their particular city instead of being distributed fairly among the different areas. A return to centralism for Somalis is highly unlikely as there is a huge distrust present in the hearts,minds of the Somalis which was originally created by the ousted dictatorship government.