History is replete with tragic wars that resulted either from illusion of power or political impasse. Whether or not they would cause future wars, power struggle and political impasses are increasing in these days.
War is an evil activity in which humans have been involved since time immemorial. Scholars now describe war as a state of armed conflict between different countries or between opposing forces (rebellions against a ruling regime) within a country.
The latter was the war that broke out in the year 1988 between opposition forces, Somali National Movement, and Siyad Barre’s military regime that ruled Somalia almost 22 years with might and main.
Opposition to Siyad Barre’s government gradually increased during 1980th and in May 1988, Somali National Movement, rebellions mostly from northern tribes – in what has once been British Somaliland protectorate – waged an all-out war against Siyad Barre’s military dictatorship regime. This war provoked the full force of Siyad Barre’s military power and thousands of northern Somalis were killed, hundreds of thousands were displaced and many cities were ruined out to ashes.
The war dragged on for a number of years, leaving mass exodus from northern ghost cities and overwhelming lost of Siyad Barre’s military power in a labyrinth of ambushes and attacks from SNM forces, particularly when his former allies abandoned him.
Three years later, in 1991, rebellions from Southern Somalia equipped by Somali National Movement (SNM) rose up against Siyad Barre’s regime, crushing his grip on power and capturing his stronghold villa Somalia in Mogadisho, and was finally brought down in 1991.
Ranked by death tolls and material destruction from civil wars in recent years, Somaliland is the most war-ravaged country in Africa. But what is puzzling is how this war-ravaged
country, Somaliland, survived without the international intervention to lessen the consequence of the war.
Revealingly consequence is what connects cause with effect, when cause is what makes events occur and effect is the consequence of what has happened.
The war was a crime, all the more heinous crime for having been committed by a ruling regime against its own citizens and even more so for letting war criminals go unpunished.
A jury is often asked to distinguish between a mistake and a crime. The first is unconscious, the second deliberate. Crime demands punishment and mistake apology.
There are many reasons why Siyad Barre and his military regime, largely from Southern Somalis, should have admitted their crimes against Northern innocent civilians. They should have been punished for killing fellow citizens at Northern regions; for their cruelty to continue to squeeze the trigger on unarmed, helpless civilians amid screams and shock until ammunition ran out.
If a punishment could change the past, it might mean something. If it could rescue the future, even more so. But no punishment arrives until the mind has already changed, making it a historical lesson.
From the year 1988 till today no president from Somalia has admitted that Somaliland massacre was “deeply shameful”. The “sorry” word still did not slide through Somalia’s constipation, leave alone punishment, but
Leaving this civil war grievance aside, Somaliland Republic was born at the genocide committed by Siyad Barre and his ignorant organization that didn’t know that their efforts and attempts to root Northen Somalis out of the earth will finally kick in at ripping apart the last mask of the union in 1960.
The brightest side of that civil war in Somalia in 1988 was the secession of the northern regions from southern regions in May 1991, proclaiming its independence and declaring itself as Somaliland Republic. The breakaway republic still maintains its separatism today, but has hardly any international recognition.
Another appalling outcome of the war, right after Somaliland secession, was that Southern Somalia descended into factional fighting enclaves of an anarchist stateless society, with no law and order. Large areas of the country such as Puntland and Galmudug were internationally unrecognized and administered as autonomous regions of Somalia. The remaining areas, including the capital Mogadishu, were divided into smaller territories ruled by competing faction
Still other appalling outcome of the downfall of Siyad Barre’s military regime was the rise for power struggle, with myriad competing, conflicting factions and frequent interventions by foreign powers and neighbouring countries. In 2006, the Islamic Courts rose to power by defeating the warlords and administered Mogadisho region for six months, but they lost power when invaded by Ethiopian troops, and then split into several factions, one of which is Al Shabab. The radical group still controls large parts of the south of the country today.
From the fall of Siad Barre’s government in January 1991 till today there is and was no legitimate government elected by the people in Southern Somalia. The problem is not that a lack of unity of Somalis has led to a lack of a legitimate, likeable and livable government. The real problem is the hand that takes the decision.
One may wonder when we look back at how international intervention isolated and eliminated Somalia presidents whose policies seemingly didn’t go in line with western interests. History reminds us how president Abdisalam Qasim has been isolated and kept in a quarantine, how general Abdillahi Yusuf has been removed and his prime minister Ali Geedi replaced and ways in which Farmaajo has come into political arena. The agenda to remove and replace Somalia’s presidents and prime ministers doesn’t always come from within Somali politics but from international influence and intervention.
The whole set up of the legislative and executive bodies, the capacity to model culturally evolved institutions with democratic elections is not heralded anywhere near the future in Somalia.
What it points to is the wholesale failure
of Somalia’s state and the international community’s abandonment of Somalia’s problem except where it affects its interests – in terms of shipping industry and the ‘war on terror’ for the West and on a more local scale for the regional interests of Ethiopia and Kenya.
The repeated externally-driven strategy and funded agendas to impose a puppet government (a government whose tasks are directed by an outside authority that intends to impose hardships on those governed) on Somalia have not yielded peace, stability and local legitimacy.
Evidently among the hurting foreign interventions that are designed to hinder Somalia’s ability to stand on its own feet include the absence of a strong national army forces that has allowed outlaws, as well as violent criminal and political groups, to take terrorist acts that look like a guilt-of-merry-go-round.
On the contrary, Somaliland has been a self-governing nation for 27 years, having a functioning government whose political direction and control are not dictated by another power, to put the context in its proper pretext. Thanks to Somaliland’s ancestral culture that is always attentive to rebuff and rebel any attempt and influence of an outside authority intending to meddle in the local legitimate institutional structures.
Reality teaches logic. And logic, in its simplest form, is common sense. Humans can longer be kept in darkness. All Somalis and international communities are fully aware that Somaliland has its own army and police forces, its own coast guard, its own demcractically elected legislative and executive head of a state, its own judiciary body, its own constitution, its own house of elders, its own currency, and its own undisputed boarders with neighbouring countries and thus completing all legal requirements of a soverign state.
This evidence-based chronology has been slipping repeatedly into the political attitude of the two administrations, Somaliland and Somalia, with a call to find out the solution for the contentious issue that keeps the two countries in a political seesaw.
A devil, goes the saying, is always in the detail, but when it comes to reality, detail is everything. The historical detail of the two states in question is always found in the way things are.
Today the way things are is that Somaliland and Somalia are locked not in a territorial dispute, but in a war over the secession of Somaliland from Somalia.
A political deadlock mostly starts when people begin to bicker over a certain issue. It begins when two people have a different world view. The deadlock between the two administrations arises from the disintegration of the union of what has been “British Somaliland Proctectorate ” and “Italian Somalia” in 1960.
Somaliland political stand
Somaliland believes that it has the right to secede from the unification with Southern Somalia. Somaliland believes that it has not benefited anything from the union except destruction. Somaliland population believe that they cannot share any government with Southerners as equals. Somaliland secession is based on the peoples’demand and determination. Somaliland government believes in a two-state solution.
Somalia political stand
Somalia, in contrast, argues.that Somaliland cannot break away from Somalia and that unity of Somalia is non-negotiable. Anythinng other than unity is subject to compromise They argue that the constitution never allows Somaliland to secede from the union, without even assuming when that constitution was made and when ratified jointly.
SInce the current political situation between the two administrations is enmired in gridlock, to resume Somalia-Somaliland talks is an essential tool of this trade, as all scholars of the day recommend.
Somalia’s weak points
Somalia cannot deny that Somaliland was a state when it united with Somalia, and cannot explain what compels and obliges Somaliland to be part of Somali state. Somalia does not have the courage to admit the truth that unity is a brotherhood and not a nationhood.
Tough points before Somaliland
Somaliland’s quest for a secession is a slap in the face of the Federal Government of Somalia. Somalia’s ruling elites, as they have repetitively contended, are not ready to recognise Somaliland as an independence state and are of the opinion that Somali unity should always remain the ‘most divisive and emotive’ dimension of the talks.
Basic points Somalia cannot overlook
The most communal punishment humans can inflict on other humans is to deny them the right to determine their future destiny. The true interpretation of Somalia’s political stand towards Somaliland secession is nothing more than sheer nonsense.
In the toss-up between deniability and acceptability the former generally loses. What is perceived as human rights by common law cannot be prevented by delusional intent.
Where does the solution for this deadlock lie?
The solutions lies in dialogue and discussion. What is to be discussed? Secession and Somali unity? What is Somali unity? A return to the union of the two regions to build one state under the blue flag with the five stars. What is secession? A departure from unity.
What might come out of a political dialogue
A political dialogue could result either in a mutually satisfactory form of merger or an agreeable divorce. Whichever the result, people are interested in a solution everyone understands. Fairness is what can be easily understood by all people.
The solution for this political dead lock does not lie in the way things are at the present. The best solution lies in the way the two administrations embrace things not the way they are, but the way they can be. This kind of concept can divide today from tomorrow. And In that lies the future.
Basics essential to political negotiation
Negotiation is how humans settle differences. It is a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding arguments and disputes.
In order that to happen, there must be sensitivity by both parties to other’s requirements. The ability to trust one another is an asset. Each party must know what it wants to achieve. There must be a negotiating team from both sides which is well acquainted with historical record of the past with skillful use of communicative capacities to resolve differences.
Lack of sincerity in both administrations.
Neither side is prepared to give the talks the essential weight they deserve. Both parties lack sincerity and seriousness to make the negotiations bear fruits. Both parties from the two countries can neither make a compromise nor a concession? Both parties fear their people more than their country’s constitution.
Questions both administrations cannot answer
What is in unity for both countries? What does each party gain or lose in the event that reunion of the two countries becomes realisable or unrealisable? What are the decisive points both parties could sell to the other? What else other than stability and crimes committed by Siyad Barre’s against northern citizens during the civil war Somaliland might sell to Somalia? Similarly what else other than the slogan that “unity” is a taboo that no one can touch and talk about Somalia could sell to Somaliland?
The most interesting thing to imagine is what Somaliland must do If the would-be talks fail and international communities step in as mediators intending to arrange an atmosphere in which compromise and concession are to be made? Having a predetermined plan B is what this particular condition requires.
There is nothing called a one-way street in political talks. When a party ventures on any path, the road bringing returns must be a much wider avenue.
Somaliland’s art of negotiation must be based on abject denial of any semblance of “giving-in,” or “selling-out.” The terms compromise and concession have pejorative connotation that must be avoided by all means. Somaliland must demand far more than it gives from a party anxious to survive.
In all cases considered, negotiation is typically the only pragmatic lubricant available tool to stave off the tension arising from secession, but the fulfillment of which is constantly constrained by myopia and limited intellectuality and a multitude of idiosyncratic personal agendas in a tribal society.
Somalia and Somaliland leaders must learn ahead of the would-be talks that yesterday is neither today nor tomorrow and that what can be, not what has been, is what divides yesterday from tomorrow
Somaliland and Somalia can — if all goes well — walk and work together as two separate states. That is the only symbol of hope.
By: Jama Falaag