By Jamal Gabobe
Seattle , Washington
The gathering that I am referring to is that of a group called “Northern Somalis for Peace and Unity” that is getting together on Dec.1 in Washington, D.C. Being aware that anytime one describes a whole group of people meeting as “a gathering of losers” one owes an explanation, I shall oblige and provide my reasons for using such a description. But first let me clarify that the participants in this meeting have a constitutional right to meet, but just as they have a right to meet, I also have a right to comment on that meeting.
Now, why am I calling this meeting a gathering of losers? The first reason is that this conference is based on opposing Somaliland’s independence and championing the territorial integrity of what used to be known as the Somali Republic or for the sake of brevity Somalia. What is wrong with that you may ask? The answer is simple: Somaliland’s independence is a reality on the ground, while Somalia’s territorial integrity exists only on paper. Moreover, this situation was the outcome of a long and bloody conflict in which there were clear winners and losers, the winners being the people of Somaliland and the losers being the oppressors who tried to annihilate the people of Somaliland in the name of Somali unity. Since the people behind this meeting identify with the losing side in the Somali conflict, then it is only right to call them losers.
There is another level on which this meeting can be called that of losers in that many, though not all, of the participants in this meeting were high level officials of Siyad Barre’s regime, including generals and diplomats. In other words, many of these people were the people who lost power and privilege when Siyad Barre’s dictatorship was toppled. Aware of the magnitude of their defeat and the horrible crimes they had committed against Somalis, many of them hid for many years ashamed and afraid to show their faces in public. But somehow they have decided that this is the right time to come out. Not only that, but they have made their public debut by attacking Somaliland’s right to exist as an independent nation, a clear case that the losers haven’t learned their lesson.
Other than being the losers of the inter-Somali wars and their vehement opposition to Somaliland, there is very little else that this group have in common. For instance, some of them, including the keynote speakers, are close to Mogadishu’s terrorist courts, others identify with the so-called government that is holed up in Baidoa, while still others are actually from Ethiopia’s Somali region.
Having little support in Somali inhabited territories and thus no real prospect of affecting the political situation where they hail from, it looks like these people have decided that they would focus their energy on disseminating anti-Somaliland propaganda overseas. What they seem to forget though, is that many of the countries they are targeting, especially the United States and the West in general, have institutional memories and know of their human rights violations as well as the false and inaccurate information that they used to feed the United States and the West, when these same people were either in power, or close to those in power, in Somalia, therefore, their opinions are not worth a damn in those countries.
My favorite example is this episode. In 1990, just before the collapse of Siyad Barre’s regime, the U.S State Department got in touch with one of the academics participating in this meeting and asked him if Somaliland was going to declare independence or stay with Somalia. The academic answered that there was no way they were going to secede. Of course, what happened was just the opposite. The State Department stopped consulting that academic after he turned out to be so wrong.
Based on my dealings with the U.S officials in charge of Somaliland and Somalia, I can say that they are adequately informed about the situation there, and as a result, it is unlikely that they would be easily fooled by propaganda that emanates from the participants in this congregation.
A quick look at its format and the fact that it has come on the heels of Somaliland’s Washington convention, leave little doubt that this meeting is an attempt to imitate Somaliland’s convention. It is said that mimicry is the best form of flattery, so if it were not for its malicious objectives, Somalilanders may have been flattered by this obvious carbon copying of their conference. However, since the organizers of this meeting have shown their ability to copy cat Somalilanders, then perhaps they would go the next step and follow the example of Somalilanders by actually helping their impoverished compatriots back home instead of indulging in intellectual masturbation and Somaliland bashing. For Somalilanders, the best way to deal with this seeming resurgence of Neo-Faqash, is to keep an eye on them, the way civilized countries keep an eye on Neo-Nazis losers, and, at the same time, work harder for Somaliland.
Courtesy of: The Republican