Is “Somaliland” Crumbling on Ahmed Silanyo’s Feet? By Mohamed F. Yabarag
Following the London conference on Somalia earlier this year in which the secessionist enclave called “Somaliland” was rejected by the international community as a separate state, some die-hardextremists in this camp are fighting tooth and nail to keep the momentum of secession going even when things seem to be crumbling right on their feet. In the aforementioned conference, the international community has clearly reaffirmed its support for Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which dealt a mortal blow to the secessionist’s twenty-year long quest for a separate statehood.
Since the secessionist movement hadnot participated in the Kampala Accord, Growe principles I and Growe Principles II, it was reasonably logic for the international community to call for a meeting between “Somaliland” and the TFG to bring the former on board.Consequently, a secessionist entity that refused to sit down with their fellow brethren time and again for well over two long decades of misery, division,isolationand economic doldrums had all of sudden initiated a unilateral dialogue with the TFG with a minimum set of preconditions to the astonishment of everyone, including their very own constituencies.
So why change of heart now?
As I mentioned many times on these pages the secessionist enclave based in Hargeisa has always existedon the tenacity and the undiminishing die-hard support and attitude of its largely one-clan constituency. In the eyes of international community it was nothing but a separatist movement. Lack of alternative government in the Somali capital was cited by many observers as the reason why it lasted this long.
Had peace prevailed in Mogadishu years ago, “Somaliland” would have fallen like a house of cards. That had almost happened when Islamic Courts Union (ICU) brought peace and normalcy to Mogadishu in 2006, albeit brief. With the improving security situation in Mogadishufollowing the ouster of the devious Al Shabaab group from almost all major cities and towns in southern and central Somalia, the silent majority of Northwestern regions of Somalia, particularly those from SSC, Awdal and Makhir were presented a golden opportunity that they can ill-afford to squander it. And so they dully grabbedit with both hands. Nothing short of Somali unity will satisfy them.
Almost all representatives of the pro-unionist communities are either in Mogadishu or on their way to the Somali capital to participate the selection of new legislators and the formation of all inclusive government that will lead the country in the next four years. Unfortunately,Awdal is an exception as its clan chiefs were either bribed or put under a virtual house arrest. Even the tribal chief of Ahmed Silanyo’s sub-clan is reported to have landed in Mogadishu.Thishas sounded a wake-up call for the secessionist authority andprompted its security apparatus to use all the tactics in the book to intimidate and harass any clan chief suspected to be participating in the Mogadishuconference. It was always obvious that an ill-advised and ill-conceived state concocted at the barrel of gun,which haslittle or no support from the pro-unionist communities,will fall into pieces once the circumstances on the ground changes elsewhere.The scenario dreaded by the secessionists is fast becoming a reality and hit home.
As I pen this piece, Hargiesa is hosting a meeting for all clan chiefs in northern Somalia to ensure that they stay away from the ongoing conference in Mogadishu. Funnily, this meeting is in all intents and purposes reminiscent to a seminar the former government of Somalia had held for the former Soviet military advisers stationed in Mogadishu so that the national army would wage a liberation war against Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Derg regime in Ethiopia.
In thatseminar,senior members of the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) had to deliver lectures to the unsuspecting Soviet military personnel for several weeks while the preparation of war was on full swing on the backdrop. Ahmed Silanyo’s secessionist authority is using similar tactics in the sense that clan chiefs will be entertained and dinned in Hargeisa while their counterparts are reconstituting a government in Mogadishu. As progresses are being made in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the south, Ahmed Silanyo’s administration is becoming desperate by the hour and resorting to spiteful tactics. His minister of interior warned the clan chiefs to expect a severe punishment should they misstep.
This is clear indication that “Somaliland” had always stood on wobbly legs that would falter the sooner peace and tranquility takes root in Mogadishu. In light of improving security situation in southern Somalia, together with the worsening political, social and economic situation in the secessionist enclave which is bereft of known natural resources, it seems the much-vaunted, much-hyped “Somaliland” is crumbling right on Ahmed Silanyo’s feet.Its days, as many predicted, may be numbered.
The way forward
Somaliland politicians are known for their brinkmanship and emotional decision-making. Cracks are already appearing everywhere in the enclave’s socio-political system, and people who were initially subscribed to the secession project and held it dearly are for the first time questioning whether it is worthwhile to continue this dead-end road. Twenty years of isolation is taking its toll on the ordinary men and women in the street. Business community, which prospered over the years, isfrustrated about the lack of business opportunity in the country. This is why Dahabshil HQ is based in Djibouti and not in Hargeisa.
To ensure the continuation of the relative peace and tranquility that prevailed in the enclave for the best part of the past two decades, Ahmed Silanyo and his administration should grab the bull by the horn and take bold and brave decisions in declaring the secession project nil and void (untenable)and start serious negotiations with his counterparts in Mogadishu.No part of Somalia is dispensable and “Somaliland” is no exception. The enclave can play a significant role in the reconstitution of Somali state should their leadershave the guts and courage to take the plunge.
The provisional Somali constitution, yet to be endorsed, has provisions for “Somaliland” should they decide to stay with their brethren. Failure to do so would mean the enclave sliding further into chaos and inevitably disintegrating into warring tribes as current events in Awdal, Las Anod and elsewhere illustrate.Hargeisa and Burao are no immune to such a chaos. Having largely been peaceful in the middle of chaotic but improving Somalia, the enclave has nothing to lose and everything to gain to remain an integral part of Somalia. The way forward for “Somaliland” politicians is to start a meaningful and constructive dialogue with their fellow Somalis before it is too late. The secession is doomed.
Mohamed F. Yabarag
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