As a last act of desperation, the left over of the Siad Barre’s Nazi government are on a full swing campaign to rewrite the history of the dark ages. The politics of the spleen are on the rise again and in full bloom; there is no shortage of champions of the lost cause; and the vitriolic rhetoric spares none. The Somali government of the Embagathi Swine Stockyards fame really injected some fresh new blood into some of the characters on the rampage. Giving a new spin to the old routine or throwing in the towel in indignation; reckoning with the fact that ‘Somalia is gone forever’ does not and should not absolve one’s responsibility in the current predicament. The unexpected rise of Union of Islamic Courts of Mogadiscio to sudden prominence added a new dimension to the conflict. The new forces have at least the moral authority to lead. If they play their cards properly, they could galvanize the support of the masses. The war/drug lords lost on two counts: credibility and legitimacy. The negative influences of the external forces competing to curry favour with the rival political configurations in southern Somalia have a destabilizing effect.
A failed state is not any different than a multinational corporation that consistently falls short of the expectations of its stakeholders for any given length of time. In both scenarios, the postmortem analysis begins on how and why the state/conglomerate failed to deliver. At the current crossroads, it is prudent to take count of the assets [if any] and the liabilities of our ‘beloved country’. In the event of sudden collapse of a corporation, the records of the company are subpoenaed; the management team is subjected to criminal investigation. From thereon, justice takes its own course. The individual shareholder may never recoup a single cent of his/her lifetime investment. However, the fleeced public takes consolation in the moral victory of justice being served. And to this effect Grover Cleveland is frequently quoted to have said the following on the subject:
“There is no calamity which a great nation can invite which equals that which follows a supine submission to wrong and injustice and the consequent loss of national-self respect and honour, beneath which are shielded and defended a people’s safety and greatness.” Grover Cleveland
The same providence is in store for any nation that fails to accord its citizens the bare minimum essentials of life, liberty, and equality. Ours has been reduced to a dust, and unfortunately, the current political debate is on the reinvigoration of the dust of sorrow. The architects of the disintegration of the Somali state are on indictment and there is mythology to it. The question is: Why did we end up with this dust? How did we get there? Perhaps we should retrace the events of yesteryear. Indeed, we should to finalize the disposition of the spoils of the haunted Somali state. From June 26th 1960 to January 29th 1991, the Somali Republic had a depressingly dismal record on all three. Is it worthwhile to give such a nation a new lease on life? The answer is: The defunct Somali state deserves no revitalization at all.
A nation crippled at infancy:
From day one of its birth, the clan card played havoc with the political affairs of the infant nation. A classic example: A presidential decree exempted the indigents of Majertenia, regardless of place of residence in the country, the payment of any customs and excise duties. The justification for this state sponsored favouratism was the supposed deprivation and the desolation of the region. How well -off were the remaining regions? Was it fair that the meager resources of the nation are squandered to that extreme? The culture of dependency and parasitism is not lost on the younger generations and it has become almost a religious practice passed on from father to son.
The contemporary history of our ‘beloved country’ had mysterious manifestations of repeating itself time and again. A couple of years before its final demise, the military regime allocated a whopping sum of US$250.00 Million to Majertenia out of the international handouts channeled through the Italian government. Once again, the pork-belly politics of the state at its best squandering to upgrade the infrastructure of Majertenia region, a desolate wasteland with no possibility of ever contributing to the national treasury. This time, the bounty was in lieu of the property damages and blood money for the SSDF insurgency in the central regions. The incentive neutralized the SSDF’s as an effective, coherent fighting force. The Madrid deal sealed the fate of the SSDF for good. The financial incentive coupled with a blanket amnesty out weighed the benefits of a long drawn-out war. No other region had been fortunate enough to benefited to that extent.
According to Mr. Wolfgang Achtner, an Italian journalist, “ Between 1981 and 1990, Italy alone spent more than US$1 Billion to sponsor projects in Somalia. With few exceptions, the Italian ventures were absurd and wasteful. Approximately US$250.00 Million was spent on the Garoe- Bosaso road that stretches 450 kilometers across barren desert, crossed only by camels and nomads on foot.” How was the rest of the aid managed?
Here is classic example of the magnitude of waste in the development aid in the words of an Italian agronomist working at the technical unit of the Italian embassy in Mogadiscio from 1986 to 1990, who stated that, “ the majority of Italian cooperative projects were carried out without considering their effects on the local population. [The] Italian aid program was used to exploit the pastoral populations and to support a regime that did nothing to promote internal development and was responsible for the death of many of its people," Ugolini said.
During the proceedings of the Somali peace and reconciliation conference at the Embagathi Swine Stockyards, a gentleman hailing from Majertenia submitted a blue print for the future of the financial institutions of the federal government and the allocation of the national budget. The concept was borrowed from the Canadian system of Equalization of Payments programme where the more prosperous provinces subsidize the less affluent ones. The Canadian formula is based on, among other things, the size of the population and the number of federal tax dollars collected in each province. It is impractical to implement this system in Somalia because there is no federal infrastructure in place. Conspicuous from the preceding examples is a deep-rooted political culture catering to the financial well being of the few; of course, at the exclusion of the rest of the Somali masses. This has been the reality of the Somali Republic in the sixties, seventies, and eighties. There has not been any appreciable change in the mentality even in the new millennium. Forty-six years later, the magic card is still at work.
In a resources deficit nation kept afloat on the handouts of the international community, the competition for a fair bite of the national pie grows stiffer; progressively compounded by an increasing population. Sooner or later, such a system was bound to implode with an unpredictable consequence. The superfluous expectations of one region simply lead to the fragmentation of the society and the eventual disintegration of the whole nation. The past and the present crisis are an extension of this historic fact; the dissolution of the merger of the two regions has no major impact on the quagmire.
TREAT THE SYMPTOMS OR THE DISEASE?
The creed of modern crisis containment, management, and resolution emphatically state that the identification of the inherent root causes of the conflict is absolutely essential. Without addressing the underlying causes of the conflict, any conclusions made thereof or any recommendations will be off the mark and far fetched. In the context of current political discourse on the future of disintegrated Somalia, the emphasis is only on the symptoms of an unknown virulent epidemic; completely disregarding the cause and effect syndrome. Finger pointing and assigning the blame on others is not the panacea .The sum total of over y thirty years of corrupt political and mismanagement practices finally caught up with the Somali Republic.
The indictment of a mythology called ‘Somaliland’ or an outburst of indignation at those ‘married’ to that idea might not alleviate the eternal psychological torment of the true patriotic sons of Somali unity. The word indictment is frequently used by the law enforcement agencies and what comes to mind immediately is the criminal justice system: Law and Order versus Crime and Punishment. The author of the indicted mythology went into great length to portray the decision of the people Somaliland to unilaterally withdraw from the 1960 merger with Somalia as the root cause of the Somali crisis without any evidence substantiating his argument.
Contrary to the author’s convictions, fear or intimidation or coercion was not part of the proceedings of the peace and reconciliation conference of Somaliland clans at Burao in May 1991. The participants bargained in good faith [at least a far as those whose cities were razed to the ground are concerned] throughout the conference and no specific group was, pulverized or bulldozed as the author states. The document signed at the conclusion of the conference is a legal social contract binding on all parties. In the old days, the shade of the banyan tree was the convention forum and the traditional leadership of the communities used to address all matters related to peaceful coexistence. Any agreements concluded under these circumstances are as good as any bilateral agreements between nation states. This method of conflict resolution is a unique feature of the Somali customary law.
THE PROCEEEDINGS OF BURAO CONVENTION MAY 1991:
At the Burao conference as well as all the subsequent conventions, each community had delegated to the proceedings a slate of its traditional leaders [Sultans, garads, Ugaases, etc.], ex-politicians, intellectuals, and former civil servants. The event was an all-inclusive, grass roots based convention. The masses demanded the dissolution of the 1960 ‘union’ and the reclamation of Somaliland’s sovereignty and statehood.
Understandably, Mr. Hirad’s major cause of consternation is: the ‘secessionists’ committed the cardinal sin of tampering with: The perpetual Unitary Somali state. Here, we have a terminally sick patient whose systems have negatively reacted to all miracles of modern medicine. The probability of a speedy recovery was nil; all the vital organs shut off one after the other. Then what is the purpose of going through the harrowing experience of nursing a comatose state gradually inching into an irreversible vegetative form? Euthanasia was the only viable alternative in this situation. Considering all these factors, it was naturally inevitable to remove the life support systems. No question about that Mr. Hirad; in retrospection, it was the right decision and it was a courageous one for that matter regardless of the consequences. Any other option would have unnecessarily prolonged the needless pain and suffering. Sooner or later, the plug has to be pulled out.
On one side of this political divide are those of us ‘married to the concept of Somaliland’, diehard in our convictions; unwavering in our resolve; determined and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, if need be. On the other side of the fence are Mr. Hirad and his compatriots: fanatical and evangelistic in their outdated gospel of worshipping the banner: ”the territorial integrity, the unity, the sovereignty, and the political independence of the disintegrated Somali Republic is sacrosanct.” The hallucinogenic after effects of the gospel has an intoxicating spell on the thought processes of this distinguished crusader class.
THE REAL CAUSES OF CONCERN:
Instead of venting his anger and frustration at the wrong society, I think Mr. Hirad et al should be sincere and honest to their convictions. Let us be candid with each other: The real causes of concern of the champions of the lost cause are obvious. The outcry is not a genuine trepidation over the quandary befallen on the beloved country. In Mr. Hirad’s case, consider the following, among others:
A-The second coming of the dynastic continuity is on the horizon; the ‘secessionists’ maneuver short-circuited the dream;
B -Circumstances have changed and so does allegiances shift by the hour; regardless of one’s prior commitments;
C-The removal of the buffering effect of the ‘secessionists’ in the overall political dynamics of the failed state is abhorrently unthinkable; the dire consequences of the upset equilibrium are understandable;
D-Factor in the new doctrine of clan loyalties across international boundaries and the whole picture falls in place. The assertion that the colonial borders had disappeared at the instant of the declaration of a perpetual, indivisible, and a unitary Somali state, is a decoy.
Now, let me get to the demolition bulldozer. The symbolic significance of the bulldozer at the Burao Convention, and by extension all subsequent Somaliland Communities Conferences, is an implicit declaration stating: That Mr. Hirad’s community had no choice at the time but to accept the lesser of the two evils; war on two fronts was an unthinkable proposition. The clan had a terrible encounter with the USC of Farah Aideed in Mogadiscio, Kismayo, and elsewhere. Therefore, any commitments the representatives of the community made at Burao Conference or any gatherings thereafter are as of today null and void. The two-year long proceedings at the Embagathi swine stockyards turned around the political climate in Somalia. The gamble of wait, watch, and wonder on the sidelines has finally paid off and the bets are on uncle Abdillahi’s government.
FACT OR FICTION
On the problem of lack of sufficient preparation time and/or participation of the various stakeholders in the Burao Conference of 1991, the Borama Convention of 1993, and the Hargeisa Conference of 1997, the May 31st 2001 referendum on the Constitution, and the presidential election of April 14th 2003, as professor Samater contends and Mr. Hirad eagerly quotes and concurs, the truth of the matter remains that the traditional leadership of the various clans came together to chart a concordat at these various conferences. The signature of the clan Sultan/Garad/Ugas etc on any of these agreements make these contracts binding and valid at all times.
Compared to other armed opposition factions of the time, the Somali National Movement made an honest endeavor to prevent any outright atrocities against sister communities of Somaliland. The inhabitants of the disputed area, if there is one, should have cast their ballots in sufficient numbers to alter the outcome of the referendum, a far-fetched assumption. Failure to exercise your voting right in such a crucial matter is a self-marginalisation of choice. At any rate it is a foregone conclusion that the majority will always carry the day on all vital issues of contention. The frontiers tribesmen with a divided loyalty or confused allegiance are essentially a collateral liability in the event of an unexpected societal upheaval. The inhabitants of the province of Punjab were located at the crossroads of warring cultures: the Eastward expansion of Islam and the Hindu kingdoms of northern and central India. To survive the destruction of these wars, some Punjabi philosophers invented a unique blend of Islam and Hinduism as a religious belief during the seventeenth century.
AT THE SUBLIMINAL LEVEL:
The issue here is not about participation time at all. Mr. Hirad and Mr. Samater rolled the dice of the human blue print and eureka! Here is the conclusive evidence: irrational, fanatical, and an injudicious society with fundamentally flawed sense of reason, justification, or logic. Given any chance, there is no doubt that the Samaters and Mr. Hirad et al would have embarked or experimented with the research of Mr. Josef Mengele to weed out the undesirable element of Somali society. Given the fact that the Samaters have dedicated their lifetime to fight what they call Isaaq Chauvinism, this prejudice and unwarranted hate should not surprise anyone at all. To stem the tide of the inevitable, what else can we possibly expect?
God bless the Republic of Somaliland.
Ahmed Ali Ibrahim Sabeyse
Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.
June 19th 2006.