A number of articles have been written recently about the secessionist enclave known as Somaliland which seek to portray it as a stable democratic nation.The recently concluded elections there have been touted as a milestone and many of your contributors have been urging the recognition of Somaliland based on this and other factors such as the stability and peace enjoyed by this northern enclave.The rest of Somalia,particularly the south,ravaged as it is by al shabab terrorists and an embattled Amisom backed TFG,is held up as the very antithesis of the idyllic haven in the north.This rhetorical and ideological combat launched by the supporters of Somaliland is often underwritten by that familiar imperial discourse which compares the civilized to the savage,the north to the south and the colonizer to the colonized.It is no wonder that imperial scholars such as IM Lewis and his ilk are often the most vocal in their support of Somaliland as a separate entity worthy of sovereignty and recognition.In pushing for the discourse of a separate Somaliland,these proponents of secession perpetrate several myths which are easily shattered under careful scrutiny.
The myth of Somaliland’s uniqueness and difference from Somalia is shattered by the fact that all Somalis,from Djibouti to Eastern Ethiopia,to Northern Kenya speak the same language,share the same religion,tradition and customs.Regional differentiation in terms of dialects do not in any way hamper Somalis from interacting socially and economically,and intermarriage between the clans is rife.The clans inhabiting Somaliland also spill over into Djibouti,Ethiopia and other parts of Somalia.And while Somaliland portrays itself as an inpependant unitary nation,the truth is that it is composed of four major clans ie the Isaaq,Dhulbahante,Issa,Warsangeli and Gudabirsi, and that these clans do not all subscribe to the separation of Somaliland from the rest of Somalia.Indeed the complete domination of the Isaaq clan from the Berbera-Hargeisa-Burao Triangle in Somaliland politics informs the secessionist agenda.The Dhulbahnate,who occupy the Eastern third of Somaliland do not ascribe to separatism and indeed have launched an armed political movement to expel the Somaliland presence from their ancestral land under the banner of a movement named after the regions they occupy,known as SSC(Sool,Sanaag and Cayn),under the leadership of Suleiman Haglatosiye.
The myth of Somaliland as the only island of stability in an ocean of Somali chaos does little to convince anyone with even a glancing familiarity with Somali politics.Except for Mogadishu and its environs,most of Notheastern,Central and southern Somalia are favorably compared to Somaliland.They have formed similar administrations such as Puntland and Ahlusunna wal Jama.Even the shabab controlled regions of the south have a rudimentary administration,regardless of whether one agrees with their religious extremism or methods.Somalia has hotspots of conflict and they are found in Somalia and Somaliland.However due to neglect and suppression of news,the conflicts in Somaliland are rarely,if ever reported by both the Somali and international media.There are no media reports for example of the deadly struggle of the SSC and their struggle against Somaliland’s occupation of their land.There is no mention of the the creeping genocide in eastern Somalia where Isaaq militias are depopulating areas belonging to Dhulbahante and Warsangeli clans.There is no mention of the flight of the citizens of Las Anod Town in eastern Somaliland since the occupation of the town by Somaliland.A cursory check at the refugee population in Kenya’s refugee camps will show the presecnce of at least 20,000 Dhulbahante’s who have fled the torture,arbitrary arrests misery and deprecations of Somaliland’s occupation of their hometowns.
The myth of democracy and fair elections in Somaliland belies the fact that that most of Somaliland’s clans are excluded from the political process.Out of the three parties allowed to run for office ie UCID,Kulmiye and Udub, the former two are headed by Isaaqs and the later is deputized by an Isaaq.Three of the major clans in Somaliland ie the Issa,Dhulbahante and Warsanageli have no significant presence in any of these parties.It is a formula designed to ensure either an Isaaq or their lackey wins any Somaliland election.There is no room constitutionally for any other parties thus effectively consigning large segments of the territories population to political and economic oblivion. The same formula pervades all institutions of Somaliland,from the civil service,civil society,media and military.This façade of a democracy and free elections is maintained and enhanced by the same Isaaq diaspora that made the bulk of the so-called international observers in the recently concluded elections.No mention was made of the fact that large areas of Eastern Somaliland violently prevented the sham pretense of an election in their regions.
The recent genocidal attack on innocent civilians and pastoral nomads in and around Buhodle Town in the Sool,Sanaag and Cayn (SSC)Regions of Northern Somalia carried out by the Somaliland Army On Monday, 7th February 2011 and the use of heavy artillery on unarmed people has resulted in the deaths of more than 20 civilians.This attack has been ordered by the President of Somaliland Mr Ahmed Silanyo,who has vowed to ethnically cleanse the SSC regions inhabited by the Dhulbahante clan and replace them with his own kinsmen,the Isaaq.Mr Silanyo’s policy of creeping genocide in the SSC regions stems from the fact the inhabitants of these regions are pro-Somali Unity and are opposed to the secession of Somaliland.
Since the collapse of the Somali Government in 1990,the Isaaq dominated administration of Somaliland has been waging a silent war of attrition against the inhabitants of the Sool,Sanaag and Cayn Regions(SSC) of northern Somalia i.e the Dhulbahante people of these regions.The Isaaq dominated administrations of Somaliland have been trying to secede from Somalia and have met fierce resistance from the Dhulbahante people who are Unionists who believe in the territorial integrity of the Somali nation.As a result of their opposition to the idea of a separate Somaliland,their region has been neglected and marginalized by the Somaliland Administration and the region is now wallowing in poverty and despair.No aid agencies are allowed to operate in the area and Somaliland has effectively crippled the area economically.The capital of SSC,Las Anod has been occupied by the Somaliland Army and most of its civilian population have fled to the refugee camps of Hagar Dheer in Kenya.In a desperate attempt to stamp their authority in Sool,Sanaag ans Cayn(SSC), the Somaliland authorities have in recent years resorted to military action,and the use of tribal Isaaq militia akin to the janjaweed to push out the Dhulbahante from their territories and secure the so-called Somaliland borders.Because of the economic,social and political blockade of the region by Somaliland,no independent media is allowed access and the Somaliland Administration has used the cover of darkness to commit atrocities against Dhulbahnate civilians.The situation has been made worse by the election of Ahmed Silanyo,a former warlord and Chairman of the Somali Nationa Movement(SNM),as President of Somaliland.Silanyo is a well know criminal and warlord who committed atrocities against Dhulbahnate civilians in the Town of Xuddun in 1990,where his militia killed159 men,women and children praying the Eid prayers in the grounds of the mosque of Xuddun.The atrocities commited by the Somaliland against innocent Dhulbahante civilians amounts to creeping genocide and happens far away from the glare of the media,as this region has been effectively close to the outside world.The Dhulbahante are also being displaced from their traditional grazing lands by the Isaaq janjaweed militia being supported by the Somaliland Government in a concerted move by Silanyo’s administration to ethnically cleanse the area.
All these actions point to a systematic plan by the Somaliland aministration to annihilate the Dhulbahante people of SSC because of their opposition to the idea of separating Somaliland from the rest of Somalia.All the civilians killed and displaced in the last decade belong to the Dhulbahante people. These crimes are tantamount to genocide and a crime aginst humanity.We appeal to the international and regional bodies to get involved in stopping these atrocious and shocking crimes against humanity in the SSC regions. It is extremely disappointing the international community did not respond to these horrendous atrocities committed by the Hargeisa administration. Indeed members of the international community,led by Britain have consistently supported the Somaliland administration and their donations have been used to bolster the Somaliland army in its criminal activities.There can be no justification whatsoever for any country or international organization to support or maintain relationship with Somaliland while it continues to ethnically cleanse the Dhulbahante people from SSC.
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