We at WardheerNews express our disappointment to the elders and leaders of the Arab and Reer Isaaq sub-clans whose mediation efforts come to a halting crash. It would have been a positive conclusion to the fueling feud if a settlement were reached at San Dhoore village in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia.
For some time now, a war of attrition has been underway in the Dhagax Buur zone of the Somali National State of Ethiopia. This war, covertly or overtly, participated by the outlawed Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Hargeysa administration has resulted in the death of many innocent civilians and the destruction of significant wealth and assets that Somalis can barely afford to loose.
This conflict is part and parcel of a bigger conflict whose root cause goes back to the days when the late Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal arbitrarily arrested Hargeysa residents of Ogaden extraction. In 1996, Mr. Egal arrested and handed over several alleged ONLF members to the Ethiopians. Citizens in the region voiced their concern on the consequence of such action and warned Egal’s administration not to “bruise” the brotherly coexistence between Somali clans and to stop creating conditions of civil war on the ground. It is very likely that most of those prisoners handed over to Ethiopia as far back as 1996, and others who were handed over at later dates plus some more after that date, were most likely killed by the ruthless regime of Meles Zenawi.
The practice of arresting people belonging to the Ogaden clan without any due process continues under the current administration headed by Rayaale in Hargeysa, only this time with the added agony of keeping them under inhumane conditions, which has resulted in the death of some of the prisoners. Most of the victims whom the Rayaale administration has imprisoned are falsely accused of being members of the ONLF. Such inhumane actions had earned the Hargeysa Administration the scorn and condemnations of Human rights groups in the region. Despite the acquittal of the accused by the Supreme Court of Somaliland some months ago, these prisoners still remain in jail for reasons that are only known to Rayaale and the cronies in his administration and the judiciary branch.
In retaliation, the ONLF and its leadership cursed with shortsightedness and a poverty of ideology, never being able to transition themselves from clannish orientation, started initially seizing and burning trucks hauling food items and other consumer goods from Hargeysa and other Somaliland urban centers to the hinterland of the Somali Region of Ethiopia. But as time passed, the conflict intensified, hence the ONLF embarked on a campaign of harming civilians of Isaaq background. Today, the ONLF spends much more of its resources and time on killing and looting both Isaaq and Ogaden merchants and Isaaq-owned trucks, instead of advancing its cause with the Ethiopian government.
The current chairman of the ONLF, Admiral Mohamed Omer Osman, in an interview with the BBC on this subject last year, did not shun away from fostering hostility against civilian Isaaq clan members, regardless of whether they approved or not what the Hargeysa administration did to the Ogaden prisoners. The ONLF seems to have adopted a policy of collective punishment by mercilessly taking revenge against civilian Isaaqs who have traded with their counterpart Ogadens and other Somalis in the region.
The situation seems grim as the conflict is expanding, and clouds of war are hanging over the region, when the neo-fascist Faysal Ali Warabe joins the choir of war mongering and starts beating the drums for a full-blown tribal war. As leeches thrive on animal blood, Mr. Warabe has made a career out of fanning minor clan conflicts, and making public prayers, to whom ever he considers his “God,” to put more complex wedges between Isaaqs and their neighbors Absame, and other Darood clans. He once again childishly attempted to expand the scope to drag the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) into this mess as he had done so mischievously and skillfully in the past. Sadly the moronic media groups who support each side are no help as they seem to be adding fuel to an already delicate situation.
Ironically, the only entity missing from the scene is the administration of the Somali Regional State in Ethiopia, who is responsible both for the clans and the territory, where the fighting is taking place. It is high time that this authority takes its responsibility seriously and brings about the rule of law and a lasting solution to this or other clan conflicts, most importantly the Raaso conflict. Clan conflicts, if left unchecked, would lead to instability in the region that would hinder the badly needed economic and development programs that the citizens of the state long for.
We call on all sides to stop using the clan card and to refrain from creating a wedge between groups who are already war weary. We urge the elders of the two sides to resume their traditional mediations and strive harder to manage this particular crisis from developing into a large-scale clan conflict.