Sustainable Peace: Why
By Abukar Arman
Foreign Policy Association
June 14, 2012
Like in wars between states and other organized groups, civil wars and other protracted domestic conflicts are seldom caused by a single factor. Over time, even those that prove to be the exception to the rule eventually evolve into a much more complex conflict- hence the entity known as Somaliland.
A Brief History
Only five days after gaining its independence from the colonial power on June 26, 1960, British Somaliland joined in a union with their brethren in Italian Somaliland, which gained its independence on July 1, 1960. The union was widely supported by the public and the political leadership of both sides. Immediately, upon the latter’s independence, the legislative councils of both newly independent states met in a joint session in Mogadishu to form the new republic’s national assembly, in which they elected Aden Abdulle Osman as the first president of the new democratic nation.
Though historians and other reasonable minds might differ on this, the North—as today’s Somaliland was domestically known—is generally believed that it got the short end of the union deal. However, one thing that is not in dispute is the fact that in 1988 the military government led by Mohamed Siad Bare carried out a devastating and brutal military campaign to crush the resistance movement known as the Somali Northern Movement (SNM) which was gaining a popular support in the North. Though the said campaign was against the SNM whose main agenda was to recall the Act of the Union signed shortly after the founding of the new nation, in the process, it greatly affected various communities in that region.
While the SNM was generally the target and it operated out of the North, it was no secret that the tyrannical military system–which was made up of all sorts of clans–targeted the one particular clan considered to be the central pillar of the movement: the Isaqs. Never mind that there has never been a single clan that was entirely secessionist, let alone an entire region holding that view. That is why members of that clan were part of the military government, the first post-civil war administration known as the Transitional National Government (TNG), and are now part of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and all the transitional institutions.
Fast forward to 1991 and the subsequent two decades when the state imploded, the military by and large disbanded into clan militias, and anarchy, insecurity, famine, piracy, and helplessness consumed the mind and blurred the vision. It was in that period when the two entities currently known as Somalia and Somaliland would drift apart. Somalia would be mired by protracted wars, anarchy and their byproducts while Somaliland would establish a semblance of peace and stability and indeed good governance. The latter declared its secession and the former has ever since been chasing the political mirage of first solving the Southern problem before attempting to engage the Northern one.
Two decades later the quixotic task of ritualistically attempting to search and find the solution elements only in the South have proven futile and in many ways detrimental.
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