What is doomed is not Somalia as the secessionists cherish and pray. Sooner or later, Somalia will emerge from its prolonged strife as other countries before it have done. Nations as different as Lebanon, Northern Ireland, Nigeria (the Biafra secession), Congo ( the Katanga secession), Sri Lanka (the Tamil secession), among others, have all gone through similar or worse conflicts and have in the end pulled through intact and stronger. Rather, what is doomed to failure is the one-clan driven secession which is opposed by all the other clans in former British Somaliland, by the rest of the Somali people in Somalia and, by all the regional and international organisations which routinely reiterate their support for Somalia's unity and territorial integrity. As such, the question is not about the secession's ineluctable failure but how soon will its supporters realise that, after chasing a mirage all these years, they have come to a dead-end leading them no where. It is in everybody's interest that this year's commemoration will be the last and they return to the union fold.
What is mind-boggling is the rationale that the separatists give to justify their secession. It is not based on any legal or constitutional basis but simply on the ludicrous reasoning that they were at one time a separate entity under British colonial rule and that this fact alone gives them inalienable right to renounce the union with Italian Somaliland and go their own way as a clan. And not only that, but also to drag with them all the other clans belonging to the area as if they were their property and had no free will or choice in the matter. One has to recall that those clans who were forced to be part of the British enclave had never existed before as separate people, nor had any exclusive bonds that set them apart from those in the rest of the Somali territories in the Horn of Africa other than that they were colonised by the British and the others by different colonial powers.
Far from constituting a distinct people, the clans in former British Somaliland were a microcosm of the clans in the other Somali territories, each having stronger blood ties with its kindred clans across the artificial colonial borders. As such, a bygone foreign occupation cannot give God-given right to any one clan to put the clock back and break from the Somali State, forcing in the process all the other clans in the area to succumb to the secession. If that was allowed to every clan in Somalia, or anywhere else in Africa, it will be a recipe for the end of the nation state as we know it, and that is why the African Union and the wider international community are deadly against it.
It is also important to remember that while the secessionist clan has accepted British colonial rule in 1888, through bilateral treaties, the people in the now unionist regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) have by contrast refused from the outset to be part of the British colony. Their Dervish resistance movement, under Sayed Mohamed Abdalla Hassan, had fought against British colonial occupation for over 20 years (1900- 1920). Even if the British finally managed to defeat them militarily, thanks to the collaboration of the secessionist clan, the SSC people never formally signed to accept British colonisation. In the absence of a binding bilateral treaty with the British, the SSC regions and people were therefore not bound to remain as part of that entity once Britain's colonial rule ended. Such being their nationalist past, it is inconceivable they will ever agree, or bow, to secession and leave the union for which they had made incalculable sacrifices. Alas, history repeats itself, and it is the same people who played a treacherous part in the defeat of the Dervish free fighters who are once again bent on Somalia's dismemberment, this time in collaboration with its worst enemy, Ethiopia.
Once the end of the era of colonialism was on the horizon, and independence was finally approaching in the 1950s, the clans faced three options about their future: they could go their separate ways, or form a new independent nation or else opt to unite with Italian Somaliland in order to fulfil the aspiration of Greater Somalia which almost all Somalis of the time yearned for. Not surprisingly, it was the union with Italian Somaliland that they all agreed on, and it was solely for this purpose that they sought independence from Britain which it granted accordingly. Contrary to baseless secessionist propaganda, the newly-independent four-days old territory was never admitted to the UN nor recognized by any single country for the simple reason that it never sought recognition in the first place but only to unite with Italian Somaliland.
The critical importance of the control of the unionist regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn to the possible success of the secession has been uppermost in the strategy of the one-clan based separatists (better known as Somalidiid) from the time they declared their breakaway from Somalia. Though invariably wrong on most of their calculations, they have been right for once to see the SSC regions as the lynchpin that binds together north and south Somalia. And as long as these SSC regions remain part of Somalia, the clamour for recognition by the residual secessionist rump in Somaliland would sound hollow and not make much headway with the international community for whom all one clan-based secessions are reminiscent of those in Biafra, Katanga and their likes. This forms the backdrop to the invasion and occupation of the SSC regions by the secessionists in October 2007. Unfortunately for the separatists, the sons and daughters of the Dervish, who refused to succumb to the might of the British Empire, will not surrender to one clan occupation and its crimes against the union .
Though opposition to one-clan-driven secession is the bedrock of the Charter of the African Union, the separatists remain blinkered, bigoted and so far averse to peaceful dialogue and reconciliation. Having despaired of any political gain from their campaigns of the past 19 years, they continue to bank on illusory hopes. The delusion still persists that the insurmountable wall facing them could be breached if only they could get recognition from one or two bribed corrupt African leaders, or from Ethiopia in return for the shameless collaboration they provide against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). Out of desperation, it has now jumped on the "war on terror" bandwagon, actively peddling the area's coveted strategic importance to any interested western power. No stone has been left unturned in the search for recognition and even Israel has been wooed. These moves are unlikely to be more successful than those they undertook in the past.
The people of the unionist regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn, betrayed by Puntland, remain true to their history as defenders of the Somali homeland against alien invaders and colonisers and continue to pay heavy sacrifices in defending Somalia's unity, this time against its internal clannish enemies. Despite the odds they face in terms of the strength of the enemy, yet no other groups in Somalia, whether clans, organisations, or individuals, have come to join or aid them in the defence of Somalia's unity. Worse, the Somali governments established in Embegathi in Kenya and in Djibouti, for whom the defence of the country against its external and internal enemies were their raison d'être, have been indifferent to their responsibilities, shamelessly engrossed in their own political survival and personal pecuniary pursuits. Thus, the battle to maintain the unity has been left by default to the SSC people which they heroically shoulder. No matter how long it takes, they will defeat the enemy of unity and banish the bane of secession from Somalia's body politic once and for all and consign it to the dustbin of history.
NSUM Excecutive Committee
Web: www.n-sum.org Email:firstname.lastname@example.org By O. H. Omar Northern Somalia Unionist Movement May 17, 2010