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Dr. Jowhar’s Camelot
By Ali H. Abdulla
March 07, 2011

"Somaali Jamaceed, yaa Dhankiina Joogtee
Gobannimadu yay Jabin, Dalka yaan lakala jarin
Jiilki Darwiishkow"

Saado Cali Warsame – Fannaanad Qaran

Saado is a Somali Nationalist who stood up against the excesses of the Military Regime of Somalia in the 1980’s when it targeted certain Somali clans. Ironically, she is today defending Somali Unity against the very same clans that she supported in their struggle against oppression and marginalization.  Her new song above calls upon her own States, the SSC states of Somalia, to stand up against secession and clan domination. In these words she assumes that all Somalis would support such a noble cause.

Saado would be greatly disappointed were she to read the recent article of Dr. Abdishakur Jowhar, the son of a prominent religious scholar from the great state of Awdal in Northwestern Somalia.

I am inherently suspicious of any Somali who carries a title before his name. This time I will assume that the title Dr. Jowhar sports is for real unlike the numerous doctors that adorn the Somali landscape these days. My understanding is that he is a psychiatrist although many people confuse psychiatry with psychology and I hope that I have not fallen into that category. Since I could not find any employment history for Dr. Jowhar in the field of either discipline, I am going to hazard a guess and assume that he is a practicing Psychiatrist who can treat mental patients.  This assumption is based on the fact that our doctor has recently relocated from Canada to the great city of Hargeisa, the second capital of the Somali Nation and the current seat of Somaliland secession, and the fact that Hargeisa needs more psychiatrists than psychologists. I hope that Dr. Jowhar is not planning to practice politics instead of healing the sick. 

Dr. Jowhar’s relocation would be a boon for the secessionist enclave which he unwaveringly supports with all his heart. Our learned doctor is a firm believer in the breakup of Somalia into tiny states. His presence there as a qualified psychiatrist, will help a lot of people who are in real need of such a rare discipline in Somalia. Many still suffer from the trauma of the civil war that destroyed Somalia. My recommendation for Dr. Jowhar would be to start healing the current leaders of Somaliland from the hate they have for other Somalis. He should probably start with the current president of Somaliland, Mr. Silanyo, who many believe is suffering from mental disorders that have plagued him since taking office last year. Many in Somaliland jokingly state that Silanyo still thinks that he is in the opposition side of the aisle. Then there is his chief of cabinet, a semi literate man who carries a six inch knife under his shirt which he uses to chase those who anger Silanyo down the long corridors of Silanyo’s Presidential palace.

When I first read Dr. Jowhar’s article, I thought that I may have mistaken the name of the author so I went back and read it again for two more times. I then called an old friend from the great state of Awdal and sought his feedback. My friend seemed to have read the first few paragraphs of the article when I called him and he did not see anything wrong with it. A few hours later, my friend called back after reading the whole article and he was equally flabbergasted. So what is wrong with the article you may ask?

The article is not based on facts but on conjectures. Dr. Jowhar assumes that the SSC leaders are war mongers who are out to destroy Somaliland and establish a tribal homeland. He also assumes that the mainstream Dhulbahante are against the SSC objectives. He also calls for Somaliland to build a strong army that is capable of imposing its will upon unruly tribes such as those in the SSC regions.

Learned men are supposed to be objective and impartial in their analysis of complex issues like the one that Dr. Jowhar is trying to address. The article breaks all these rules. Although the article is very long and contradictory at times, I will try to briefly address each of the issues raised by the author.

SSC- Objectively Defined:

SSC is an acronym for two regions and one district in Northern Somalia. Sanaag is in the east of Somalia and is inhabited by various clans such as the Dhulbahante, the Warsangeli, both from the Harti/Darod clan and two branches of the Issak clans, the Habar Jeclo and the Habar Yunis. The capital of Sanaag is Erigavo, a city that has been neglected by all Somali administrations and is difficult to access by road. Its proximity to Daalo in the Golis mountain range makes it a picturesque city that is endowed with a mild climate all the year round. All clans in the area live in harmony.

Sool is largely inhabited by the Dhulbahante clan although the Habar Jeclo/Issak clan also has a strong presence in some parts. It is one of the most neglected regions in Somalia. Unlike Sanaag, Sool has been racked by several wars between Somaliland in the West and Puntland in the East. Somaliland claims Sool as part of the old British Somaliland Protectorate, although Sool never signed any protection treaties with the British, while Puntland claims it as an area inhabited by the Harti/Darod clan. The area is currently classified as disputed territories that are off-limits to all international aid organizations. Hardly any aid reaches Sool which resulted in it becoming one of the least developed regions in Somalia. The only health care facility available is a small clinic left behind by the British colonialists. The only secondary school was built with funds donated by the Sool Diaspora.

The idea behind the HBM-SSC which was established in Nairobi was to liberate the area from the counter claims of Puntland and Somaliland and stop the destructive wars between the two, and to make it possible for international aid to reach the inhabitants that have been neglected for more than 30 years. SSC is not a war machine as Dr. Jowhar claims and is not a tribal homeland either. Its idea is in sync with the concept of the bottom-up approach for rebuilding the Somali State brick by brick. SSC believes in the Unity of Somalia and supports the Federal government that is recognized by the world community unlike Somaliland which is not recognized by any country in the world.

Dr. Jowhar is selective in his quoting from the Hadith and the Quran to justify his one-sided attack against the SSC concept. The Quran orders Muslims to be united while Dr. Jowhar calls for disunity. His quoted Hadith calls for helping the oppressed while he clearly sides with the oppressor, Somaliland which wants to force a secessionist agenda on the clans in SSC. Instead of calling on the SSC to disarm and join the illegal secession train, Dr. Jowhar should call upon the pro-secessionists to abandon their crazy idea and join their brothers in Somalia to resurrect the great Somali State.

A confused reading of Somali history

In this section, Dr. Jowhar compares SSC with the destructive rebel movements that destroyed the Somali State and transformed it into a failed state where Piracy and Islamic Extremism have taken hold. SSC is not a rebel movement. It has not rebelled against the Somali State. It supports the recognized Federal Government of Somalia. It calls for Somali Unity and is against Somaliland secession.

The Poisonous and Seductive Sweetness of Tribal Homeland

Dr. Jowhar’s bias comes out clearly in this section when he claims that the State of Puntland is a tribal homeland while Somaliland is a non-tribal State. The only difference between the two is that Somaliland considers itself as a state that is independent from the Federal Republic of Somalia while Puntland considers itself as an autonomous state within the Republic. Both are largely dominated by single clans: the Majerteen/Harti in Puntland and the Issak/Dir in Somaliland.

He also claims that SSC would break into mini tribal homelands were it to succeed in its Endeavour of establishing a tribal homeland like that of Puntland. As far as I know, Puntland is a functioning state and has not broken down into mini-tribal homelands, not that Puntland is a tribal-homeland in the first place. It has managed to co-exist peacefully with its other neighbors such as Galmudug with which it recently signed a treaty for cooperation.

Why is Puntland a tribal homeland while Somaliland is a non-tribal State? His argument is probably based on the fact that Somaliland has several non-Issak Somalis like Dr. Jowhar’s clan, the Gadabursi. Unknown to Dr. Jowhar, there are many small clans in Puntland that do not belong to the Harti clan. This misinformation detracts from Dr. Jowhar’s claim that hespeak as a self defined Somali, Somalilander and as humanist who wants to add his very humble thoughts to a peaceful dialogue among all Somalis that can help along the birth of a better future for all Somalis who are currently in the clutches of 30 years of wars, rivalry, drought, death and drowning in the high seas”.

Is the future of Somalis better served by breaking up their country into mini-states dominated by single clans or by Federal States with a reasonable degree of autonomy?

A War Fought in the Wrong place, and in the Wrong place

Dr. Jowhar claims that “SSC has succeeded to transform this region of Somaliland into a war zone”. On the 15th of October 2007, the former president of Somaliland, Dahir Rayale Kahin, Dr. Jowhar’s cousin, invaded and occupied Las Anod, the capital city of Sool, with the help of local collaborators who were promised huge amounts of money. The invasion and occupation resulted in the displacement of thousands of people who now live in refugee camps in Kenya. HBM-SSC did not exist at that time but was established in October 2009. How can an organization that did not exist when Rayale started his little war against the SSC regions transform the area into a war zone?

As for the current conflict that started in February 2011, IRIN, an award-winning humanitarian news and analysis service covering the parts of the world often under-reported, misunderstood or ignored has recently confirmed that more than 3,000 people have been displaced from their settlements following a five-hour-long battle in a small village known as Kalshaale.

This battle was not caused by the HBM-SSC but by Silanyo and his sub-clan, the Habar Jeclo who encroached upon the Nomadic territories of the SSC clans by digging wells in an area reserved for grazing livestock. Instead of reigning in his clan, Silanyo mobilized his militia and used heavy artillery to shell the SSC nomads who assembled to defend their territory. This incident is similar to an incident that took place in Dr. Jowhar’s turf, near Dila, where innocent people lost their lives because of a dispute over land. The Kalshaale incident is different in that the Somaliland administration took sides and supported a clan against another clan. The end result is the same, the murder of innocent people.

To prove to Dr. Jowhar that the SSC were not behind the current conflict, I would like to invite him to listen to one of the traditional leaders of Buhodle, Aqil Maxamuud Xaaji Cumar Camay, a known dove who always strives for settling dispute by peaceful means and does not support the HBM-SSC. The Aqil was infuriated by Silanyo’s call on the Somaliland military machine to secure the Somaliland borders, including Buhodle and the district of Cayn, the “C” in the SSC acronym. The Aqil called upon all the SSC clans to defend their land against Silanyo and his militia. This is justified under all religions and constitutions.

Dr. Jowhar unfairly tries to associate the conflict with the HBM-SSC.

War on Somaliland

This is where Dr. Jowhar unveils his true colors. His passion for an independent Somaliland knows no bounds. He again accuses SSC of waging war on Somaliland and tries to differentiate the SSC from its constituent clan, the Dhulbahante. He states that “Somaliland must not confuse the SSC with the great people of Dhulbahante. The tribe has broader shoulders, deeper intellect and clearer thinkers than the SSC. As far as I know SSC stands for Dhulbahante and Dhulbahante stands for SSC. There may be a difference of opinion among those who support the HBM, the SSC leadership established in Nairobi, and those who do not. But all the Dhulbahante clan members are supportive of the SSC concept, to establish an autonomous administration that saves the SSC regions from the scourges of war and perennial neglect, and resists the forced secessionist agenda of Somaliland with the help of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

Dr. Jowhar calls on Somaliland to open a dialogue with no conditions attached with all members of SSC who are interested in such a dialogue, but at the same time advocates the use of a big stick if such dialogue does not convince the SSC to join the secession train.

Dr. Jowhar concludes this explosive section with advising Somaliland to build a strong military machine and calling for “a more disciplined, better armed, better prepared and much stronger army than has been necessary hitherto for coming challenges of Tribal Homeland idea will mean that the state must impose its will over all its unruly tribes until the tribes are weakened and citizens of the state are better protected

Our doctor who is supposed to heal the mentally sick is calling for forcing the will of an unrecognized country on a nomadic population that covets its freedom dearly. In an old article,  Ich Bin Ein Hawiye (I am a Hawiye Citizen), Dr. Jowhar cries foul when Abdullahi Yusuf, the former president of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia tried to use Ethiopian forces to pacify Mogadishu. He states in that article that “The massacre of civilians must not be allowed to continue. We must confront evil and call mass murder by its name. We must banish hatred and revenge once and for all. On this day the curse of God will descend upon the living that bear witness and choose to remain silent. Any citizen, anywhere in the world, who has the moral courage to stand against genocide must speak out today loud and clear and repeat the words of solidarity made famous by President Kennedy "Ich Bin Ein Hawiye" "Ich Bin Ein Hawiye": I am a Hawiye citizen. I am a Hawiye citizen”.

In the world of Dr. Jowhar, it is okay for Silanyo and his SNM militia to slaughter the SSC nomadic clans in the interest of a strong state called Somaliland that strives to secede from the Somali Republic, while it is murder and genocide to pacify Mogadishu and re-establish the mother state of Somalia that was destroyed by the very same SNM militia.

Psychoanalyzing the Doctor

I am not a psychiatrist and I forgot all about my psychology 101 class in college, but I will try to understand what drives Dr. Jowhar to write such biased articles, and I will try to be fair. I am not going to accuse him of any hidden tribal agendas as most Somalis would do, since to Somalis everything smacks of clannish interests. I am going to base my analysis on some of his old articles.

In the Gadabursi Manifesto, Dr. Jowhar attempts to distance his clan, the Gadabursi, from the undemocratic actions of the former President of his beloved Somaliland, Rayale. He advises his cousin, Rayale: “And the tribe tells its son: Fear not Aweys. Fear not the Aweys inspired. Fear not Yusuf and the memories of the Las. Fear only the intransigence of the human soul that prevents critical self examination. Fear your court jesters and your carpet beggars. Fear your ego, your grandiosity and your inflating sense of entitlement. Fear the enemy within!” The Las here by the way refers to Las Anod, the capital of the Sool region that Rayale invaded and occupied in 2007.

In Midnight Forever, the doctor laments the death of innocent business people form his clan at the hands of members of the clan that wholeheartedly advocates the secession of Somaliland. In a heart wrenching expose, the doctor pours his soul out in remembrance of the men killed in cold blood. Reading the article, one would admire the magnanimity of the doctor and the way he skirted around the explosive issue thus gaining the sympathy of the clan that committed the murder. I am sure many were shamed by their actions after reading the article.

These articles and probably others give us the portrait of a man who would do anything to save his clan, the Gadabursi, from the wrath of the dominating Issak clan, some of whose members committed a lot of atrocities against the Somali citizens of Awdal when they succeeded to topple the Somali State in cooperation with other clan-based rebel movements. There were untold massacres in the city of Borame and Dila, the home towns of Dr. Jowhar clan.

The behavior of Dr. Jowhar reminds me of the movie Camelot that is based on the legendary city of King Arthur. In the movie, the renegade knight Malagant manages to infiltrate into Camelot with his forces and threatens to torch the city if King Arthur refused to kneel down and declare his allegiance to Malagant. Motivated by his desire to save Camelot, King Arthur starts to kneel down leaning on his legendary sword, but instead of completing his surrender, he rises up again and asks his people to fight for freedom and risk the burning of Camelot. Unfortunately, Dr. Jowhar takes a path that is opposite to the one that King Arthur took. He has completed his bow in front of Silanyo and his secessionist SNM militia in his valiant attempts to save his Camelot, the city of Borame which has become the Camelot of Somalia lately with its descent hospitals, good schools and enterprising community. Who can blame him?

As for the SSC, it seems that they have chosen the path of King Arthur and refused to kneel down and accept the illegal and unilateral secession.

Dr. Jowhar’s choice is not in sync with the choice of the great people of Awdal, the seat of Ahmed Guray who inspired all Somali clans to join him in his resistance against the domination of Abyssinia in the 14th century. Awdal and the SSC regions go way back in history from the days of British Colonialism. The United Somali Party, the USP, grouped these regions in their struggle for independence and later on in their cooperation as a balancing force against the domination of Somaliland by a single clan.

I call upon Dr. Jowhar to be true to that memory and sacrifice Camelot in the interest of a Federal State of Somalia instead of a clan-based enclave known as Somaliland.

I finally call upon Dr. Jowhar to apologize to his SSC brothers and write about their sufferings. The young boy in the picture was tortured by hanging from a tree with ropes tied to his wrists and ankles. He was found three days after the Kalshale battle stopped. He risks losing his limbs. SSC stands for preventing these scenes from recurring. It does not stand for a tribal-homeland that is waging a war against his beloved Somaliland.

Ali H Abdulla
A native of Buhodleh
E-Mail: aliegeh@gmail.com

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