Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Only Road To Peace In Somalia

The procedural system of selecting parliaments and forming governments for Somalia (In this article,Somalia is referred only to the South) since the fallof Siad`s dictatorship in 1991 is solely responsibleand to blame for the failure of all peace talks and prolongation of civil strife and political turmoil inthe country. The agendas for peace talks and nationalreconciliation conferences held for Somalia between1991-2004 were all based on Greater Somalia approach with their delegates coming from Somalia, Somaliland,Ethiopian- occupied Somali Western Province, Kenyan-occupied Somali North Eastern Province, and Djiboutito participate in talks instead of holding exclusive peace conference for Somalia. To this date, no singletrue national reconciliation conference was held forthe people of Somalia, where the problem exists, andno government genuinely representing Somalia`sinterest was formed yet. These misguided agendas forconferences created calculated political confusionthat gradually led Somalia to anarchy and violence for16 years and turned it into perennial failed state.Such situation, finally and sadly gave false pretextto the illegal invasion of land-locked Ethiopia, thearchenemy of all Somalis in the Horn of Africa, toimpose its infamous and brutal occupation on Somaliain order to exploit forcibly its seaports against thewill of the people through puppet government.

Of the many peace talks conferences held for Somaliasince 1991, only three conferences set upgovernment-like administrations without tangible results. The first one held in Djibouti in 1991,elected Ali Mahdi as the head of state and picked OmerArteh Galib, hailing from Somaliland, as the primeminister of the government. The Second one held inDjibouti too in 2000, elected Abdiqasim Salad Hassanas the head of state and picked Ali Khalif Galayr,hailing from Somaliland too, as the prime minister ofthe government. The third one held in Nairobi in 2004, Kenya, elected Abdullahi Yussuf Ahmed as head of stateand Ali Mohammed Ghedi succeeded in the premiership.Unfortunately, the first two conferences failed andthe last one, which authorized Ethiopia to invade Somalia, is facing the same fate. The failure of theseconferences was caused by making similar seriouspolitical blunders for claiming falsely to representall the five Somali territories in the name of Greater Somalia.

The idea of Greater Somalia had momentum in the 1940sand 1950s with the political objective of liberatingall the five Somali territories and bringing themtogether under the same flag and government. Unfortunately, this Greater Somalia dream did not cometrue yet and its realization is unpredictable asDjibouti rejected it, Somali Western Province andSomali North Eastern Province are still beingcolonized by Ethiopia and Kenya respectively, and the union broke up into Somaliland and Somalia. Delegatesnot representing any one and hailing from Somaliland,Somali Western Province in Ethiopia, Somali NorthEastern Province in Kenya, and Djibouti are each time allowed to participate in Somalia`s peace conferencesoffering them many parliamentary seats, some of themholding important positions, and cabinet ministersthat are neither recognized in their homelands nor serving for the interest of Somalia but turning itinto no man`s land with no man`s government living ingun-culture and lawlessness. At the end of eachconference, Somalia is stranded in the middle ofpolitical confusion denying its people of golden chance to have their own peace conference that wouldlead to form their own government which, in turn,would restore peace, law and order, and stability.

It is well known that Somalia`s citizens are notallowed to become members in the parliaments andgovernments of Somaliland, Djibouti, Ethiopia, andKenya while many elements from these countries fillthe ranks of Somalia`s parliament and government. Someof these pseudo representatives falsely claim that they will bring Somaliland back to the union whileothers use Greater Somalia umbrella for theirpresence. But the truth is, these elements takeadvantage of the political confusion in Somalia andcome there either for personal greed or for tribal power ambitions. When democratic elections are held inSomalia in the future, these outsiders will not havedistricts to run for to be elected.

Many of these elements are deliberately engaged inacts preventing Somalia`s people from having reconciliation conference believing that they wouldlose their profiteering positions if Somalia forms itsown government. To mention some examples, the foreignminister of Somalia, Mr. Ismail Mohamoud Hurre (Known as Buuba) hails from Somaliland but he is not welcometo Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland, becauseSomaliland people and their government regard him as apuppet serving for Somalia. Recently, he openly rejected the inclusion of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed,A Southern famous politician and a leading member ofthe Islamic Courts Union, in the proposal of theinternational community to hold nationalreconciliation conference for Somalia. Mr. Buuba sees Sheik Sharif as a defeated terrorist who should not beincluded in the talks of his own country. Likewise,the vice president of Somalia`s parliament, Mr. OsmanElmi Boqorre, who is also hailing from Somaliland, engaged recently in relentless campaign against SharifHassan Sheikh Aden, a famous Southern politician too,and removed him from the presidency of Somalia`sparliament in January 2007. Mr. Yussuf Omer Az-hari, Somalia`s presidential advisor, hails from SomaliWestern Province in Ethiopia (From Diridhaba) and heis one of the fierce opponents of Sheikh Sharif SheikhAhmed and Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden shockingly calling the first "CRIMINAL." These two politicians areembraced by the international community for being seenas key players in any future peace talks andreconciliation process for Somalia. Outsiders,opportunity seekers, prevent citizens of Somalia fromhelping their people in need for peace.

The world witnessed that the Islamic Courts Unionrestored peace and law and order in the capital,Mogadishu, and other parts of the country in less than 6 months after 16 years of violence and anarchy. Thereason why they succeeded in such a short period isbecause all the members of the leading council ofIslamic Courts Union were citizens of Somalia touched by the long ordeal and blight of their people andcommitted to help them. The so called federalgovernment and its Ethiopian backer, which overblewthe threats from the Islamic Courts Union to justifyinvading Somalia, put Mogadishu back in anarchy, violence and chaos again.

Having seen the endless anarchy, fear, violence, andmisery in Somalia and the total failure of thesuccessive Pan-Somali parliaments and governments,Somalia`s politicians, business people, intellectuals, traditional leaders, and civil society must stand upfor the cause of their country and take matters intheir own hands to restore peace and law and order inSomalia. They must reject the idea of basing Somalia`s peace and reconciliation conferences on GreaterSomalia which is not realistic today but perpetuatesthe misery and suffering of their people. The OnlyRoad To Peace in Somalia lies in holding SouthernNational Reconciliation Conference to form parliament and government that belong and represent only Somaliaand its people. Somalia must no longer remain hostageto Greater Somalia. An old Somali say tells: "Fruitskept in the waist are not discarded for fruits on a tree." "Miro gunti ku jira, looma daadiyo miro geedsaaran." Somalia must rely on itself forreconciliation and peace.

To implement The Only Road To Peace in Somalia, withthe help and sponsorship of the international community, the following 4 step-plan needs to beadopted:

1. Immediate withdrawal or expulsion of all Ethiopiantroops from Somalia. Any genuine reconciliationprocess or government formation for Somalia will be impossible under Ethiopian occupation and influence.For historical hostility, Ethiopia is and has beendestabilizing factor in Somalia for the last 16 yearsand now is practicing old colonial divide and rule policy. Somalia must be free of all foreign influenceand meddling to determine its destiny.

2. Holding Southern National Reconciliation Conferencefor Somalia where the delegates of the conference comeonly from the provinces of Somalia which are:Banaadir, Sh/Hoose, J/Hoose, J/Dhexe, Gedo, Bay,Bakool, Sh/dhexe, Hiiraan, Galguduud, Mudug, Nugaaliyo Bari - the land formerly known as Italian Somalia.Delegates from Somaliland, Ethiopian- occupied Somali Western Province, Kenyan- occupied Somali NorthEastern Province, and Djibouti must be banned fromparticipating in this conference to avoid the pastdeceptive Pan-Somali conferences that prolongedanarchy and violence in Somalia.

3. The conference dissolves all clan-basedadministrations within Somalia to restore the nationaland territorial unity and identity of Somalia.

4. The conference elects provisional parliament andgovernment that restores peace and stability inSomalia and paves the way for democratic elections.

This article may draw ire and anger from Somalilandcritics accusing me of justifying Somalilandindependence. That is not the case but my heart sympathizes with Somalia`s people living in fear,violence and misery for 16 years of political gamblinghijacking their destiny. Somaliland`s legitimacy isalready justified by the 1960 independence status and the history of the failed union. Somaliland is not aprovince like Nugaal or Bay that broke away or secededfrom Somalia. Somaliland achieved independence fromBritish colonial rule on June 26, 1960 and dulyrecognized as sovereign, independent nation by theUnited Nations and 35 countries including UnitedStates and Egypt. Pioneering Greater Somalia dream,independent Somaliland joined voluntarily with thenewly independent Southern counterpart (Italian Somalia) on July 1, 1960. Somaliland withdrew from theunion in 1991 as the successor states of the formerSoviet Union and former Yugoslavia did in 1990s.Somaliland`s withdrawal was based on the two following major reasons:

1. The voluntary union of 1960 was derailed in 1969 bymilitary coup d`etat led by General Mohammed SiadBarre who ruled the union with brutal dictatorship fortwo decades. Siad Barre, a southerner, destroyed the foundations of North-South democratic agreement andunleashed merciless, murderous military campaign ofethnic cleansing in 1980s against northern civilians.This brutal campaign resulted in more than 50,000 deaths, dumping the bodies of many in mass graves atmidnight, and created over 500,000 refugees let alonethe massive destruction of cities (Hargeisa andBurao), rural villages, and public and privateproperty through shelling and aerial bombardment.

2. When Siad Barre was ousted in January 1991 and SNMseized the North, the northern expectations fornational unity government were dismissed by unilateralgovernment declared in the South in February 1991 naming Ali Mahdi, a southerner, as president thushijacking the union again.

These are the historical facts of Somalilandindependence and the reasons of its withdrawal fromthe disastrous union. The South squandered the unification opportunity and betrayed the good will ofthe northern people by committing heinous crimesagainst them. Many of those advocating for unity todayor screaming behind Somaliland were either behind the horrendous crimes, supportive or silent. Somalilandhas the same legitimacy for international diplomaticrecognition within its borders drawn in 1884 asDjibouti or any other African independent country has.

Threats against Somaliland independence, interferingits internal affairs, false claims over its, anduncalled invitations of Somaliland to Somalia`sconferences will only put the two sisterly statesfarther apart. If the people of Somalia form their own representative parliament and government that bringhope, peace, and stability to them, then Somalilandgovernment is not ruling out to have bilateral, mutualtalks with Somalia.

Writer: Ibrahim Hassan Gagale


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