By Osman Hassan
Sunday, 30 July 2017 will henceforth be a memorable day. The people of the town of Buuhoodle came out in their thousands, some draped in the Somali national flag and others wavering it, to witness and share, in words and deeds, the inauguration of the monument erected for the memory of the fallen heroes of Kalshaale.
So, in late 2011, the renegade one-clan secessionist enclave calling itself Somaliland attacked the water catchment area of Kalshaale outside Buuhoodle and later, in January 2012, invaded the town itself. Taking leaf from the book of their former colonial master, it used one of its sub-clans as a front to contest the ownership of traditionally SSC lands. This gambit was to give it the pretext to attack and overrun the area, including Buuhoodle town, on the specious ground that it had to intervene in order to preserve the disturbed peace between two hostile neighbouring clans, a peace it cynically hatched to scuttle in the first place. In reality, the objective of this reckless action was first for Somaliland to bring to heel a defiant Buuhoodle, and secondly for its sub-clan to grab the Kalshaale areas as war booty through ethnic-cleansing, relying on its protégé, Somaliland, for overall protection.
Man proposes, God disposes, and disaster rather glory was all that Somaliland reaped from its misguided adventure. The memories of those fallen selfless and poorly armed heroes of Kalshaale, mostly nomads from the area, evoke multiple emotions for their people: first is their valour to defend Kalshaale, Buuhoodle and other areas in the Cayn region against all odds and in the face of a foe armed to the teeth, using massive arsenal acquired after the collapse of the Somali national army in the north; secondly, many of the Kalshaale defenders stood their ground and Somaliland’s forces used armoured vehicles to run over them to death- acts tantamount to war crimes; thirdly, and no less important, the lives of these fallen heroes of Kalshaale were also sacrificed to defend Somalia’s unity as free Buuhoodle represented the remaining bridge linking together northern and southern Somalia, a sacrifice that has not so far been appreciated or supported by the federal government in Mogadishu. The monument now erected in their memory evokes all these symbols.ff
What preserved the peace in the Buuhoodle region since then and kept the predatory beast at bay was that humiliating costly defeat inflicted on Somaliland. That does not mean however that Hargeisa has changed its true colours and given up its designs on Buuhoodle and its region: its objective indeed still remains the same but the lesson it learned from its defeat forced it to change its tactical tack. Henceforth, it resorted to colonial-like divide and rule tactics, often relying for its dirty work on defectors and collaborators hailing from the SSC regions, and gains made backed up by its militia. These tactics and the absence of resistance in any form from Khatumo under its leader Galaydh as was his mandate have enabled Somaliland to extend its tentacles to most parts of the SSC regions.
Somaliland’s biggest breakthrough however came when the leader of Khatumo, Mr Galaydh, handed over Khatumo to be part of Somaliland through an agreement he signed unilaterally with them in Hargeisa. A provision of that agreement calls for Somaliland and Galaydh’s “Khatumo” to join hands against any third party that defy or challenge the agreement, a reference mainly to the SSC people who strongly object to this agreement and consider it not only contrary to Khatumo’s constitution but also to that of Somalia which also binds the SSC people.
Another Kalshaale clash is afoot
Galaydh’s actions have left no choice for the paramount traditional leaders and the stakeholders of the SSC regions (Isimo) but to call for a conference to be held at Buuhoodle to deliberate on what actions need to be taken to counter what they consider as treacherous unconstitutional deal reached in Hargeisa and above all to restore the soul and integrity of Khatumo through appropriate credible actions that would most likely include regime change. Aware of the threat to Galaydh’s position which would unravel their golden agreement with him, the joint response of Somaliland and Galaydh was to issue dire warnings against the holding of the conference excluding no option, notwithstanding the fact that the Isimo and the SSC people, in calling and holding their conference, are doing no more than exercising their inalienable unquestionable democratic right to assemble and need no diktat from what they consider as two renegade parties – Somaliland and Galaydh’s delegitimized Khatumo.
In the looming confrontation at Buuhoodle, Somaliland’s military response seems broadly to be the same tactic it had used in Kalshaale. The only difference is that its partner this time would be not one of its sub-clans but “Khatumo”, with Galaydh still masquerading as its legitimate head albeit seen by most of his people as a discredited renegade who sold out himself and the SSC regions to the secessionist enclave for his own personal interest. Towards this palpable approaching clash, Somaliland and allied interests have funded Galaydh to recruit militia from people in the SSC regions left destitute ate by the recent draught. Galaydh has now integrated his militia with those of Somaliland and together plan to take joint action against Buuhoodle and stop the announced conference in line with the “binding” provision in the Hargeisa agreement as they would justify it.
Needless to say, unless Somaliland backs down, and respect the fundamental inalienable rights of the SSC people, to hold their conference anywhere in their land, the alternative they are pursuing is another Kalshaale-like clashes in the offing, only may be worse this time. If that happens, it is unlikely to be confined to Buuhoodle but could have wider adverse ramifications for the security and stability for Somalia and the region. It therefore behoves each of the parties concerned to prevail over this one-clan secessionist enclave to mind its own business and leave others alone who choose to remain part of Somalia. Above all, this is incumbent upon those members of the international community who wield considerable leverages over this barren enclave whose aid keeps it afloat. That support is what sustains, directly or indirectly, the clans occupation of the SSC regions and therefore share responsibilities for the crimes they commit in the regions.
But how long the people of Buuhoodle will continue to die or suffer for the sake of defending the union will depend on how far Mogadishu cares about the union. If it does, that has to translate into concrete action, not least by providing moral and material support to those who are defending the union and particularly to Buuhoodle now as it faces imminent attack. Farmaajo’s place in Somalia’s history would be largely decided by his response to this existentialist threat to the union.
Email: osman.hassan2 @gmail.com
Osman Hassan is a seasoned journalist and a former UN staff member. Mr Hassan is also a regular contributor to WardheerNews.
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