Somalilandsun -The decision to go to war should be a last resort and diplomacy should always prevail, these assertions are factual terrible painful lessons learnt from the first Somali state collapse in 1990.
However tumultuous recent events in Somalia indicate leaders of all Somali regions have failed to grasp this rational. As the deadly artillery shelling taking place in Tukarag since May/ June 2018, a small town between the borders of Somaliland and Puntland war in the northern region requires urgent attention. The instability and elimination of Somali’s in DDIS by Oromo militias openly supported by Ethiopian government who wishes to plunder Somali western regions oil is an interesting development.
Federal government of Somalia is occupied with asserting dominion and building counter measures to combat Isis/Shabab influence, the latter using political contention in the north and south to reassert its declining power, all this wrangling ought to be raising alarm bells to all state actors involved in The Horn of Africa yet the level of political paralysis in certain areas is astonishing.
It is unacceptable, costly and peculiar to see the presidents of Somaliland Musa Bihi (newly elected) and Abdweli Gaas of Puntland ( hoping for re-election )escalating a deadly conflict that neither benefits the people living in Northern regions of Somalia. There are two issues at stake, firstly its pertaining sovereignty and territorial validity of Somaliland and Puntland semi-autonomous region decision to advocate hawkish policy based on kinship support of (Sanaag and Sool clans contested regions within Somaliland territory). Secondly role played by external forces in precipitating the conflict itself, did the UAE Port deals in Berbera 2016 and Bossaso unwittingly or implicitly raised expectation of further rapacious plunder of Somali national wealth by scrupulous organisations, individuals and nations?
Did the UAE military bases emboldened a newly untried president Musa Bihi in assuming a robust military action would improve his image and legitimise his position as a leader especially as November 2017 elections were heavily contested in Somaliland?is this war even necessary or unavoidable conflict that must ensue as the regions Sannag and Sool have rich deposit of oil and minerals both Bihi and Gaas are vying to control using tribalism as an issue?
The world is watching Somalia fragmenting region by region its territorial sovereignty disintegrating in a worse position than even the former Yugoslavia.
Somaliland a breakaway nation in the northern parts along with Puntland enjoyed stability which was non existent luxury in the rest of Somalia, so why are they fighting after all these years of peace and stability? Is this about tribalism and kinships and can it be mediated by peace keepers deployment on the border? The decision to involve AU forces could make the situation even deadlier as warring parties may make concession to undesirable terror groups bolstering their influence further. Sadly this might not be the case anymore as in the next coming months if the conflict between Puntland and Somaliland continues it may have a domino effect igniting inter clan warfare similar to 1990s.
Somaliland seceded 1990 from the rest of Somalia and languishes unrecognised for the past 26 years, foreign ministers and diplomats from successive Somaliland governments have fought for self determination alas without AU support, federal government of Somalia acquiescence and collaboration as well as international/regional nations hesitancy and reluctance to support Somaliland independence an unsure future is tied irrevocably to unstable Somalia albeit in name only. Federal government of Somalia efforts to unfairly deny Somaliland autonomy, meddle in its affair (DP World deal) created toxic relationship that has now engulfed two of the most stable northern regions , this animosity increased exponentially since the Berbera port deal 2016 as Bossaso port of Puntland followed suit leading to increase likelihood of further risk to Somali sovereignty and territorial integrity. To further make matters worse historic Berbera port deal lacked transparency, initially it was introduced as part of developmental and economic accomplishment and success of the Silanyo administration yet upon reflection the details of contractual agreement publicised has shockingly awarded UAE 51% control, Ethiopia 19% and Somaliland mere 30% this led to accusations of corruptions subsequently divided Somaliland people and prompted federal government of Somalia to deny Somaliland right to enter future agreement with other nation states stipulating sovereignty as point of contention.
International efforts to endorse Somaliland quest for self determination is marred by the possibility of other regions in Africa plunging into an abyss of territorial chaos, Syria and Iraq prime example of failed states consequences of national disunity. Somalia has no central bank and having several states ( Somaliland , Puntland, Jubbaland, Galmudug, South-West State and federal government of Somalia) a viable frame work establishing and implementing single currency would be welcome by the entrepreneurial thriving businesses and exponentially improve much needed infrastructure services.
Thus negotiation between all states is inevitable including Somaliland because in order to economically thrive and progress (London May 2017 Somalia Summit attended by newly elected president Farmajo, Teresa May and UN secretary Antonio Guterres) Somali political leaders must collaborate to alleviate poverty and hopelessness of its unemployed 70% youth, after all Somali people are “most entrepreneurial people of Africa” Forbes 2017 Somalia has the potential to be the Qatar of East Africa with its small population and rich resources. Yet this hasn’t happened and the root causes of fragmentation are obvious (terrorism, Tribalism, elitism between the ultra wealthy diaspora and the poor unrepresented IDPs, foreign parties meddling etc) and with multiple variables, chief amongst them being disunity and paranoia which are unfounded I quiet rightly attribute to legacy of colonialism and despotism.
The imperial dismemberment of Africa 1885 has much to account for ( treaty of Berlin) 90% of African continent came under the control of Europeans, colonialism further exacerbated intra-war conflict creating divisions between Africans that plagues African politics. Since the 2nd WW, collapse of the Cold War era and emergence of new world order post 9/11 African continent vast riches and resources unparalleled in the world remains stuck in poverty, corruption and mismanagement.
Somali history is littered with Pan Africanist idealism (Somali youth League), resistance to imperialism and colonial rule go as far as (controversial Mohamed Abdullah Hassan “mad Mullah), instead of unity however Somali people are being taught capitalism is the way forward and a solution to all our problems. The few are getting wealthier from the misery of many who are in daily battle to be represented. The governments role would be to legislate policies to support private enterprise without infringing on the rights of least vulnerable, for example safe guarding rights of Berbera work force.
In the Horn of Africa due to its geopolitical and strategic position Somaliland, Puntland and Federal government of Somalia’s social, political and economic stability has come under pressure. The humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen and consequences of atrocities committed by the Saudi coalition forces is perpetuating further destabilisation and may lead to implosion of regional conflict that may not be attributed to terrorism, tribalism and political rivalry alone.
Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa second to Madagasker, it stretches from the Gulf of Aden to the Indian Ocean. Incidentally Somaliland is nearest country to Socotra Islands appropriated from Yemen by UAE forces 30th April 2018, hundreds of military troops and armoured vehicles deployed to guard vital interests which I presume to be more shelling and depopulation of the Yemeni people by Saudi coalition forces. Are Somali leaders condoning massacres of Yemeni people (UAE ,military bases in Berbera) to profit from the misery of war? Who are the people/organisations/ conglomerate/ profiteering from this illegal war on women and children.
Somalia has untapped, unexplored oil and rich minerals (largest deposit of uranium) insurmountable and geopolitically known as Jewell of east Africa. The destruction of Somali people could be best described as calculating , meticulously conducted and worth noting in historical events as even the Somali populations were unaware they’ve been manipulated by external forces vying for control using divisive techniques (tribalism, financial support to different political parties and regions during elections) to conquer and enslave its people.
Farmajo president of Federal government of Somalia handling of Qalbi Dagaxh fiasco that entailed a jurisdiction/constitutional error by the government where by a Somali citizen was rendered to Ethiopia to be tried by foreign court questions legitimacy of somali judiciary and rights of its citizens. Why would a legitimate people appointed government institution chooses to be a vassal state or act so subservient to the dictate of another nation state?
Since when did foreign troops of the African Union dictate Somali affairs? How long should a nation be prohibited from organising its own affairs and why treat Somali people as infantile and regressive? Why dump nuclear toxic waste into the shores of Somali coastal areas and then punish a poor nation for defending itself using Maritime piracy laws to silence dissent?
War between Punt land and Somaliland is a distraction from the inevitable which is to divide and conquer Somali territories, appropriate its lands, national assets, weaken its resolve to rise from the ashes of the civil war. The only solution is to appoint transparent and just leaderships to counter act corrosive cancerous corruption and nepotism long associated with dictatorship rule, Somali leaders inability to reconcile and resolve internal disputes is an a obstacle to progress. Thus somali’s exist in limbo unable to comprehend the dire straits separate agendas and interests placed upon its sovereignty. The Somali population are aware of it, the politician know it, foreign troops, donors, UN, inter governmental and every concerned entity about Somali politics acknowledges insecurity still exist (terrorist attack October 2017) that Somalia has become a mess of separated regions and political factions.
Somali people committed atrocious acts against one another, during the civil war people descended into a vicious blood shed built upon years of misinformation and injustice. The northern tribes of Isaaq suffered most with bombardment and massacres by the Somali military, towns like Hargeisa and Burco were levelled and it took decades to reach the peace and security it has today which is a tremendous accomplishment.
The somali federal government had numerous occasion to assist Somaliland people as it received generous monetary funds from international organisations, donor countries and bodies yet it choose not to do so. Yet Somali federal government has the audacity to dictate to Somaliland people about Berbera deal, it’s the hypocritical approach which is the root cause of conflict.
The republic of Somaliland is an unrecognised territory but it has managed to accomplish more than the rest of Somalia by relying on it self to build peaceful and secure institutions based on democratic principles. The recent violent events between Somaliland and Puntland primarily stems from greed over Sanaag and Sool regions. Punt land government claims kinship with Dulbahante and Warsangeli clans but geographically Somaliland counter claims are that it’s an encroachment on their jurisdiction, thus both regions mobilised troops on the borders readying themselves for a war that could end badly for all concerned.
According to Danish Institute for international studies (DIIS) 2016 report on “Concessions and conflicts:Mapping Oil Exploration in Somalia and Ethiopia” increase in authoritarian rule and conflict is more likely to occur in countries high in rich resources and Somalia/Ogadenia is no different.
This impartial 2016 study is very insightful, the authors assertions denounces the current Puntland/Somaliland war in highlighting that conflict is not sadly about “kinship” or “territorial integrity”, it’s about self enrichment and corruption by certain groups. The people of Sannag and Sool should be angry and quiet rightly seek an understanding directly with oil conglomerate interested in their lands negotiating terms that any profits should only be for their communities and not to absent shady governments.
The destruction of the Yemeni people should not go unanswered, genocide is perpetuated and the international community in particular countries supplying Saudis coalition with weapons of mass annihilation “cluster Bombs” are breaking all principles of human rights and by not condemning/warning Saudi coalition are complicit in a genocide.
It is wholly unacceptable to punish an entire nation for religious affiliation Houthi are people too, it is regressive and incomprehensible to exclude and denigrate an entire nation, it seems Rwanda Massacre in 1994 lessons have not been learnt.
Syria conflict, Iraq conflict and Iranian influence isn’t threatening, there are 1.8 billion Muslim people 24% of world population and only 10- 20% are Shia since when has Islam became a religion of intolerance
The message prophet Mohamed promoted has been to adhere to Islam true principles based on justice, tolerance, kindness, understanding, good conduct and above all truth. Yet most leaders of the Islamic world perpetually lie, deceive and disappoint their citizens thus their conduct is questionable and how can a leader legitimately be elected when the criteria is woefully lacking.
In conclusion the collapse of the Somali state as an entity is eminent, it’s foundation is built upon greed and profit. As the old adage “united we stand , divided we fall”, there are too many leaders and no consensus which inevitably provides terrorist and criminal enterprises opportunities to exploit the state weakness.
According to the world bank group 2017 annual report update on Somalia’s Economic growth is projected at the rate 5% to 7% , GDP growth has slowed down due to the drought and famine but economically the private sector with clear government legislations can play a significant role in rebuilding Somalia. However without robust government intervention in tackling corruption and fiscal mismanagement the business community will struggle. By establishing legitimate tax administration it would eliminate Al-Shabab illegal extortionate racketeering , by agreeing to a national/central bank currency devaluation and inflation decreases and deciding on how to deal with external debt estimated at £5 billion or negotiating with IMF collectively rather than territorially every one will benefit. The development of efficient infrastructure and fiscal policies across all Somali territories should become a priority for political leaders instead of constantly issuing dictates about sovereignty and border rights. Ultimately it is these tiresome disputes about clan politics and self destructive tendencies that conflates and leads to conflict. Somali people are not restricted from moving across their lands, it’s false allegations to claim borders has any value. Dahabshille is a prime example of cross border business that has offices in all of Somalia North and South, this international funds transfer company succeeded in breaking economic barriers, there may not be political unification but businesses operate without borders therefore an economic agreement across Somalia is pivotal step for progress and maybe reconciliation.
The federal government of Somalia has a grave responsibility to establish a dialogue with Somaliland government to end hostilities. It is far better to establish diplomatic and peaceful resolution as all Somali people are inextricably linked and division had never really been an option.
By: Fatheya Yallas Abdulahi Abdi Gelleh. MSc international conflict