By Osman Hassan
The one clan secessionist enclave calling itself Somaliland has been around more than two decades. A pause and a reality check on its state are therefore timely and in order. The first fact in its factsheet is that it is not the first clan in Africa to secede. Others, like the clan in Katanga Province in the Congo, or the one in Biafra in Nigeria, have been the pioneers of secessions in the 1960s but were defeated. What distinguishes the one based in Hargeisa is that it is the first in the African continent if not the world to highjack other clans and regions and force the secession on them under its hegemony to the present day.
The third fact is its unrivalled longevity, having lasted nearly 30 years. And fourthly, it is the only renegade entity in the history of independent Africa which is sustained politically and economically by some circles in the international community for their own ends. In some ways, it enjoys a standing among some of them more superior to that given to Somalia. That contrasts sharply with previous African clan secessionists who were disowned in Africa and equally shunned by the outside world and in the end fell by the wayside. Until recently, it has been doing well by the standards of Somalia but now, like Somalia did before it, facing a terminal collapse, victim of its own making, self-inflicted contradictions and failed governance.
After more than dozen years as an occupier of Somalia’s northern unionist regions of Sool and Sanaag (Cayn region is free), not to mention Awdal, the one-clan enclave masquerading as a born-again Somaliland has inexorably transmuted into a colonizer in all but name. The proof is its practices in the unionist areas it occupies. Taking leaf from the book of its former colonial master, divide-and rule, setting one clan against another, carrots for collaborators and the stick for insubordinates – these are its modus operandi so far propping up the occupation and quasi- colonial rule.
The inevitable question is how long can one clan maintain colonialism in the 21st Century? History has shown that all colonial rules in the past by big powers that dwarf the one based in Hargeisa were forced by their subjects to give up their colonies. Clearly, a tiny, bankrupt one-clan enclave cannot be an exception even if it is kept afloat for now by some generous aid donors. Sooner or later, the same ineluctable fate awaits them. This article is a signpost for that outcome. Faint-hearted sensitive secessionists would read it at their own risk!!
First, the good news for the enclave just to cheer up my fellow countrymen for a change. For a start, the federal government is not the enemy since it undertook no action at any time to end the secession. It is simply a passive onlooker if at all it looks the enclave’s way. For President Farmaajo, like his federal predecessors, Somalia for all intent and purposes is synonymous with Southern Somalia. The north, the secession, the occupation and repression of the SSC people, which should weigh heavily with him, seem to be in his eyes of no significance.
Facing a leader like Farmaajo in Mogadishu, a more prudent enclave would have left sleeping dogs lie. And yet hotheads in the enclave, the likes of Faisal Ali Waraabe whose hobby is to stir the pot, never miss an opportunity to demonize Farmaajo/Mogadishu and the South. One can only conclude that the need to whip up concocted anti Farmaajo/Somalia invective to maintain public support for the secession outweighs other considerations. Now a lame duck entering his twilight days in office, they feel they have little to fear from him. And they could be dead right.
The second good news for the enclave is that Puntland like the federal government is no enemy of the enclave. They both continue to refrain from doing what they are constitutionally and legally bound to do: in the case of the federal government to take action to end the secession and the occupation of unionist regions that are part and parcel of it; and given federal failure, for Puntland to liberate the occupied SSC regions which are legally part of it in line with the requirements of its establishment. Both abdicated from their constitutional obligation and by default are intentionally or otherwise with the enclave rather than against it.
For the one-clan enclave, the success of the secession to deliver their aspirations, namely a born-again recognized Independent Somaliland, in which they are the masters, was predicated as a minimum on two prerequisites: first the ability to maintaining the quasi colonial occupation of recalcitrant unionist northern regions (SSC) to ensure break with Somalia; and, secondly, maintaining a united front within the clan to pursue its goals. When those occupied are freeing themselves and the clan’s unity is falling apart, as both are happening now, then the days of the secession are numbered.
The one-clan enclave had a good run for its money, as the secession, the occupation and their unity lasted most of these years since 1991 beyond its expectation. But sooner or later, its day of reckoning was bound to catch up with it as it is doing now with vengeance. An unstoppable wind of change is sweeping the occupied areas of the SSC regions. Within a fortnight, the unionist clan in Sanaag threw off the yoke of occupation and at last they are masters of their own region. The Cayn region (aka Buuhoodle) is not in contest as it has never been occupied in the first place having successfully defeated successive invasions mounted by the enclave.
The enclave’s s control in the unionist SSC regions is fast unraveling with Sool – mainly around the capital Lascanod and its environs – remaining its final foothold. As Sanaag’s liberation snowballs and heads for Sool, the enclave’s militias are getting the jitters. The die is cast for the end of the occupation and those who remain are unlikely to dig in and die for a lost cause. They will see no point in sacrificing their lives all the more when internecine intra-clan fighting, and armed clan militias battling the army, are tearing the one-clan enclave apart.
The demise of the secession is now ineluctable, facing as it does both the imminent defeat of the occupation of the SSC regions, and a clan and its administration turning out to be their worst enemies. Their failure is victory for Somalia, no thanks to Farmaajo, Khayre or company who raised no finger to defend the union but put all their efforts to topple regional leaders. Thanks are instead due to the descendents of the Darwiish. Like their forefathers who refused to surrender to the mighty British, they too refused to surrender to their protégé in defence of the union.
When it comes to Somalia’s so-called international partners, it is their support more than the inaction of the federal government and Puntland that is in reality the enclave’s sustainer economically and hence the maintainer of its separatist aspirations, all to the detriment of Somalia. This is in sharp contrast to their robust stand against previous African secessionists. Inevitably, this begs the question of why Somalia is the exception and what is their hidden strategic design on Somalia.
Many Somalis believe, rightly or wrongly, that the same European powers that partook in the curve –up of the Somali nation in the 19th Century are now scheming for their own ends the breakup of a strategic, potentially rich Muslim country in the Horn. That deep-seated history is ingrained in the Somali subconscious. It is a history that will not be lost upon them so long as these powers are seen to be propping up a breakaway one-clan enclave, just as their professed support for Somalia’s unity and territorial integrity would go down as cynical and hollow. In spite of their actions, the tide is inexorably turning against the one-clan secession. It would be in their interest – as it is for Somalia – to swim with this tide rather than against it. The Somali nation will neither forgive nor forget if twice wronged.
Email: Osman.hassan2 @gmail.com
Osman Hassan is a seasoned journalist and a former UN staff member. Mr Hassan is also a regular contributor to WardheerNews.
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