Friday, August 17, 2018
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The SSC Liberation is in full Swing

By Osman Hassan

History is a witness to the misguided adventures or miscalculations of some leaders whose consequences have changed the course of the history of their nations. That was the case with Jamal Abdi Nasir, the president of Egypt, who in June 1967 closed the Gulf of Aqaba, Israeli’s sea lifeline, and threatened to throw them into the sea (or so the Israeli’s claimed).  His aim was to liberate Palestine. The result was the Six Day War in which the armies of Egypt and its allies, Syria and Jordon, were defeated and lost respectively Sinai, the Golan Heights and the West Bank, all still in Israeli’s hands to the present day except for Sinai which Israeli returned in exchange for a peace treaty with Cairo.

In our own part of the world, we have such impulsive foolhardy types and no more so than Colonel Muse Bihi, the strongman of the one-clan secessionist enclave calling itself Somaliland. He succeeded Siilaanyo six months ago and took over a “Somaliland” that extended to all other occupied unionist clans/regions in the north of Somalia (former British Somaliland) except for the Buuhoodle/Cayn region which repulsed its attacks. Thanks to Siilaanyo’s successful divide-and-rule policies, Sool was transformed into a safe vassal whose elite were falling over each other to compete as Hargeisa’s poodles – the likes of, Basha Mohamed Farah (the speaker of Parliament), Basha Ali Jama, Suleiman Ali Koore and Yasin Faratoon, among others. But these quislings have been eclipsed by Ali Khalif Galaydh’s defection to Hargeisa to become the biggest poodle, ushering the demise of Khatumo which he hitherto headed. Such successes on the ground and realpolitik considerations have persuaded the so-called Somalia’s international partners to deal with the enclave as de facto government of the north rather than the renegade secessionist pariah it is from Somalia’s perspective.

The enclave was pampered more than any other region/clan by the international community and at peace with Puntland which left them unhindered to occupy the SSC regions which technically are part and parcel of Puntland as per its establishment in August 1998. With such favourable state of affairs, a wiser visionary leader would have therefore built on his predecessors’ achievements, in particular Siilaanyo’s latter-years softly-softly approach, and tried to extend and consolidate the rule of the one-clan enclave in the occupied SSC regions through soft power, persuasion and sheer bribing of elders.

Colonel Bhi comes from a military background and more so as one of the leaders the clan’s SNM rebel movement that rose against Siyad Barre’s government in the 1980s and contributed to its downfall. In that role, he committed crimes against humanity against the civilian population in the SSC and Awdal unionist regions and if there was accountability he would have been indicted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for his crimes. As such, he might have other qualities but vision and statesmanship are certainly not part of them. Short of such prerequisite qualities for leadership and intellectual depth, his gut knee-jerk propensity in the face of challenges is to go for clan jingoism and the military option.

With that background, Colonel Bihi persuaded himself that the mission for “Somaliland” as a country separate from the rest of Somalia would remain unfulfilled until the last Puntland foothold in the SSC regions was removed by force and saw himself as the one leader who will go down in the annals of the enclave’s history as the one who fulfilled that goal. This is his flawed rationale behind his attack and capture of Tukaraq in January this year, taking it for granted that it would be a pushover (as an undefended customs outpost would be ) and no different from when they invaded Lascanod in October 2007 and captured it from Puntland’s defending forces without any resistance. Capturing Tukaraq might have been a piece of cake but keeping it like Lascanod with Puntland’s acquiescence is a different story altogether. This time, the stakes are too high for Puntland with Garawe within Somaliland’s artillery range from Tukaraq, a threat they have to take seriously when some loose talk from the enclave’s leading demagogues -notably Faisal Ali Waraabe who is close to Colonel Bihi and some say he is his mouthpiece – are threatening to attack it. For Puntland, this was an existentialist redline and the enclave has gone too far this time for its own good.

Colonel Bihi’s refusal to withdraw his militia from Tukaraq unconditionally served to force the hands of the normally prudent Puntland. Henceforth, it was no longer the withdrawal from their captured Tukaraq customs outpost but the whole SSC regions whose liberation was incumbent upon it as they are legally are part of Puntland. Somaliland’s invasion of Tukaraq and refusal to withdraw from it has served as a much needed catalyst that united the whole Puntland population on both sides of the old colonial border behind the liberation of the SSC regions which is now in full swing. Abdiweli Gaas, until now no SSC liberation enthusiast, has this time little choice but to swim with the tide – all the more when election for his post is imminent.

Vice President Abdihakim Abdullahi Haji Omar Camay is the born-again Darwish spearheading this liberation as one who himself hails from the occupied SSC regions. Support for the liberation is now snowballing far and wide, forcing many collaborators to abandon Somaliland in hordes like rats deserting a sinking ship. Widespread demonstrations for the liberation and freedom rocked Lascanod, Buuhoodle, Boocame, Xudun, and in most SSC villages. In the face of these realities, the desperate, panicking occupying clan is resorting to indiscriminate brutal repression with children and women detained at overcrowded prisons and open camps and released only when they are able to buy their freedom.

Puntland has geared itself for a long-drawn out war with the secessionist one-clan enclave. It is difficult to see how the enclave’s occupying militia in the SSC regions can prevail for long in such hostile unsustainable situation where they face both Puntland’s forces and the whole SSC armed population. This time, there can only be one outcome and victory belongs to those exercising their inalienable right to defend and/or liberate their territory. The onus is on the invaders/occupiers to minimize their loss and withdraw their militia to their clan enclave. That might not come easy to the stubborn Colonel unless arm-twisted by Somalia’s international partners whose material support is its lifeline has the necessary leverage.

Until now, Somalia’s international partners y have done little to end the occupation of the SSC regions or the secession itself- indeed, their financial, security and development support for the clan have if anything sustained the occupation and nourished the secession. This time, they should persuade the clan to withdraw its occupying militia to its clan regions and, even better, take its place in the new federal Somalia in which they are guaranteed equality with all other regions and clans, but no more and no less.

With that, Somaliland’s invasion and capture of Tukaraq will be remembered in posterity as the catalyst for the SSC liberation. Without that blunder from the Colonel to capture Tukaraq, the story might have been different today. Far from fulfilling the aspirations of the secessionist enclave, he will go down in history instead as the man whose rash action ushered the end of the occupation and the secession and thereby  restored Somalia’s unity. Thanks Colonel.

Osman Hassan
Email: Osman Hassan2


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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