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The Secessionists Tactics of Misrepresentation: Has Adan Iman Over stepped?

By Ali Bahar, Ph.D.

In his recent article titled "Deficiency in the Samatar’s Response to ICG Report" posted in Hiiran.com, my friend Adan Hassan Iman, took the liberty, I thought, to misrepresent the general sentiments of Awdalites. What I took an issue with that provoked my reaction to his article was the substance, or the lack thereof, of his deliberately distorted picture of the Awdalites, if not his outright dishonesty that caters to only his secessionist sentiment. But to be clear up front, lest others perceived my disagreement with him as a personal attack on Mr. Iman, this is merely to express my Awdalite viewpoint that was not represented in Mr. Iman’s all-feel-good analysis on the region.


The Awdalites, just as is the case in all other clans in any region in greater Somalia, differ in their views about any things and everything. They are governed by their individual different principles, major among them, though not limited to, include nationalistic sentiment and loyalties to nationhood; clannish or local interest, grievances, disappointments, disapproval of and the feeling of let down or failure, as well as one of total blind support and acquiescence for Rayaale’s government. These differences are expected of any group of people, and Awdalites are no different. Such variables will definitely factor into the formulation and presentation of the nuances in the ways and the whys these communities live and operate in their respective daily routine. It is, therefore, profoundly irresponsible to misrepresent such human character and complex social dynamics reflective of the masses residing in a region as big as Awdal. Their social welfare is defined and shaped by various factors and aspirations that are necessary for their different roles of engagement and adaptation to their environment. One cannot but easily observe at first glance that there exist different subclasses and sub clans within and under the Awdalites’ one-big-clan umbrella. Some Awdalites expressed inequalities, nepotism and injustices in the employment system that the president himself encourages in the region.

Unfortunately, Mr. Iman lungs into the Awdalites complex social strata may be in desperation, without having observed these critical social factors that specifically and distinctively define them, and he ended up presenting to his audience an utterly inaccurate plutocracy’s statistics that suits only his secessionist propaganda. Mr. Iman’s article riddled with slogans and secessionist’s rhetoric is so typical of the secessionist’s propaganda machine that never bothered with the art of governing, of which most important among them is the art of listening or having an actual conversation with the real people in order to know their concerns. Mr. Iman focused more on accommodating the secessionist’s radical philosophy manifested itself in the form of corrupt and dysfunctional politicians that he and his SOPRI are willing to entertain in order to promote secession. Case in point is Mr. Iman’s blanket and unchecked statements regarding the Awdalites, such as the following:

"The residents of Awdal see themselves at the top of the state, in parliament and at all levels of the state bureaucracy. Residents of Awdal are at the center, not at the periphery or feel disenfranchised. Awdal sentiment towards Somaliland is strong and this is evident from the way they participate in the political process and go to the polls on election days"……….." the idea of Somaliland was a good one. It served the people of Awdal very well. The accomplishments they have made are due to the stable political environment of Somaliland"………..

I am not sure where and how Mr. Iman came up with these plutocracy’s statistics to determine how well the Awdalites have been because of secession and the achievements they wouldn’t have otherwise made that were able attain under Rayaale’s government. It is my gut feeling that Mr. Iman has either deliberately mislead his audience or has not been reading the rising mercury indicating the simmering anger, frustration and the feeling of let down, or the misgivings that at least some Awdalites have about Rayaale’s government, least among them are complaints about the constant intimidation and suppression of the dissent voices in the region by Rayaale’s loyalists. Reports also cited some general feeling of isolation that has been echoed across the region, jus like other regions in Somaliland. Under these circumstances, there are, indeed, few things more frightening than this steadily increasing discontent of the people in the region. These are not far fetch stories, by the way. One could read these sentiments on Somaliland.org, Awdalnews.com, and in other websites, where people express their disappointments with Rayaale’s government. I won’t go into specifics, suffice to say that the City of Borama itself is described as an isolated place, "Gari Go’an" where no good road leads to nor one leads out from it. All signs indicate that it is a matter of time before a significant number of citizens have become convinced that the proposed channels for change are not functioning to their favor and civil disobedience arises; in which case, God forbid, the government, as usual, embarks on force to silence such uprising. It has happened under Egal’s government, as we all know it. However, Mr. Iman’s all- feel-good report on the region missed those facts by a mile. I wonder if he has been there lately.

My point of contention with Mr. Iman’s article has also everything to do with the fact that he consciously and purposefully misrepresented many Awdalites, including myself, who are completely against the secessionist’s movement that promotes the disfiguring of our nation. I found it strikingly frightening, for the lack of a better word, that so much of what the secessionists theorize on Somaliland’s long-sought-after recognition that evaded them thus far, has little to do with how people in the region feel about this anti-nationalistic movement. The secessionist machine has been, for a long time now, running around selling northern Somalia to the least bidder without regard to the dissent voices in the region, exactly the same way Mr. Iman hosted his big sign on the top of the famous Borama mountain " Shar laga Naadi", reading "Awdal Is for Sale". And while accusing the Samater brothers for being insensitive or not being keen enough to understand the pain of the Somaliland people, Mr Iman, himself remains oblivious to the fact that he is doing exactly the same thing he is accusing on others, "using the people of Awdal as a complaint sheep that could be herded into shed", to use his exact words.

The Betrayal of the Somali Nation:

From the SNM movement down to the current SOPRI organizers, there are so many, who had benefited from and were able to realize their childhood dream because of the opportunity and support provided by their nation. They are today’s doctors, engineers, MBA’s, professors, the agronomists and many with whom our nation invested on yesterday, but unfortunately turned their back and walked away when our nation fell on its knees. If that is not treason of its worst form, I don’t know what is. If this not a moral assault on future generations or an outright attempt of concealment of history from today’s young generations and to deny their common birthright and heritage, I don’t know what is. If that is not unpatriotic act and betrayal of a nation when she is on its knees begging us to help her stand up again, I don’t know what is.

For many years before she was brought down to her knees by her own sons and daughters, Somalia, the nation, was nursing so many of her children regardless of what region they came from. She could have done even better had it been utilized to its potential. She was the symbol of freedom and hope for those who came as refugees from Kenya, Ethiopia and Jibouti. Whether it was offering free education or financial support, the nation has done a lot with its meager resources to educate its people. It was the spirit of that nation that helped the Somali script to be written in 1971-72 campaigns, as we know it. It was the spirit of a nation when the government introduced the national service program to help educate those who were not able to read or write. It was the spirit of a nation when we dealt with the infamous drought of 1973-74 when the government succeeded to resettle thousands of affected population and saved the lives of thousands who would have died otherwise, as it happens nowadays. Ironically, many of today’s secessionists were the beneficiaries of that generous caretaking of their nation. Call me naive, but why men and women who had been given the opportunity by our nation to be educated free of charge from elementary through college with full medical care; the hope and the dreams that the Somali nation and its people had invested on, would advocate for the disfigurement of their nation or for war against their own people; a war against their own brothers and sisters; mothers, fathers and children. Why this anger? Why such attack on the symbols of our nation and national identity, a fundamental unit for human social life?

More tragically, many secessionists who found opportunity in foreign countries and are enjoying the fruits of unity and strong belief of nationalism under their respective host nations, have chosen to, from the distance, advocate for divisive and destructive actions in their own motherland. Even when exposed to the ultimate triumph of nationalism enjoyed under all progressive society, one that demands as its first condition that it must be kept upon the high moral ground, a secessionists still failed to appreciate such model for good governing. Though they seem to enjoy the fruits of such sacrifice for strong and united nation based upon the soundest principle of uncompromising enthusiasm, they, unfortunately, animate forces committed to the death of their own nation in their own motherland. Such an outrageous moral-corrupt new wave of Nuevo- politicians in today’s Somalia in everywhere have become the glorifiers of violence and they are more dangerous even than the traditional dictatorial tribal politicians of yesterday. Such a radical group tends to project a behavior of "one against all and at any cost". More disturbing is Mr. Iman’s so typical secessionists’ threatening contention that war is imminent if and when Somaliland fails to be recognized. Here, I quoted Mr. Iman for the benefit of my readers.

"There is a different consciousness in Somaliland now, one enriched by the failure of the earlier culture, which is to reclaim the independence granted to them by the British on June 26, 1960. There will be bloodshed should Somalilanders of today are taken back to different era in the past"……

Advocacy for war against the rest, the other Somalis, is a disturbingly common theme that the secessionists use more often just to rule out any possibility of having a dialogue, a peaceful dialogue with those who stand for Somali unity. Secessionists contend war as the only option, war as the ultimate ratio and the only certain option with which they believe they have to engage the rest of Somalia. This contention for war as the only political discourse is underscored by today’s persistent military conflict between Somaliland and Puntland. There are Trained Somali military men armed to the teeth in Sool and Sanag, who are being used to kill other Somalis, probably, their own cousins and uncles. What a shame.

The Downside of scaled-down clan governing system

The secessionists thus far failed to recognize the growing dissent voices in the region. What they have in their disposal is a half empty basket that they failed to sell for the last 16 years. Thus far the Hargeisa government failed to bring even Togdheer into the fold successfully and in its totality; forget Sool and Sanag who remained free to decide their destiny, whether that is joining Puntland or stay as different entities. Many Awdalites cannot guarantee support for secession after Rayaale leaves office. Therefore, the Samater brothers are right in their assessment that there are increasing off shoots of concerned groups in the region that cannot be forced to join Hargeisa government even if Somaliland is recognized. Furthermore, there is possibility for the traditional clan loyalty gaining strength, which could weaken this delicate balance of clan power sharing. There are already reported noises of unsatisfied SNM remnants coming down from the shelves and threatening to regain power. Coupled with clan sentiment, such political opportunity is not far fetch for them to gain command and control of the leadership; and such scenario presents threat for Rayaale’s government and others.

If history taught us one or two things about the end result of downscaled clan governing system, lets briefly compare the Djibouti of the sixties and early seventies to the Djibouti of today. Djibouti was once a melting pot for people of all nationalities prominent among them were the Gadabourse and the Issa. Today, one can hardly see a Gadabourse man holding an important position in the government. Many Gadaboursi freedom fighters who risked their lives for the independence of Djibouti have been chased out of Djibouti, many others lost their jobs when replaced by newcomers of the Issa nationals if not put in prison to humiliate and frustrate them. Many of them died in exile and the surviving few still remained in exile without ever being honored for their struggle for freedom. They are simply buried unknown. Tell me why Hargeisa will be any different than Djibouti?

It is about time that secessionists listened and start a dialogue with the growing nationalist voices that they cannot afford to ignore them any more. We have reached an era that dissent voice ought to be accommodated and heard if the secessionists want to address the issue of Northern Somalia with a sense of political maturity and with civility. There are nationalists with theoretical, historical and legal accounts that can present their version of nationalism with vigor and precise historical facts. If the secessionists care enough to read these dissent voices and want to reflect on them, may be they should read (carefully that is) the writings of many scholars and prominent figures who are from the region themselves. Read Jama Mohamed Qalib (Jama Yare)’s article, on Wardheernews, and his perspectives on the past and present situation of Smaliland.. The name Jama Yare is synonymous with Somalia, specifically with Somaliland. A Hargeisa son, a decorated civil servant, who has paid his dues in building and promoting Somali unity all his life, has been deported from Somaliland by Rayaale’s government because of his nationalistic sentiment and promotion of Somalinimo. I wonder if the forefathers and nationalists of Somaliland, such as, Ahmed Gurey, Sh. Bashir, Farah Omar, Omar Ku joog, and the great Mullah (Mohamed Abdulla Hassan) would have a chance of surviving under the current anti-nationalist in Hargeisa today. They were neither Mujahidin nor members of SNM, but rather pure Somali nationalists.

Equally important, today’s nationalists cannot afford to watch this blatant attack on nationalism and ought to organize their forces and present an alternative to this highly charged running away train of secessionists’ propaganda. Many northern Somalia nationalists have already made their voices heard with abundance of factual historical evidence that will decisively shift the imbalance of misrepresentations and distortions made to the history of the region. Read Abdalla Hirad’s "SOMALILAND: Haunted by its Founding Mythology" in Wardheernews, or " The illusory: Smaliland-Setting the Record Straight" prepared by Northern Somalis for Peace and Unity (NSPU). These and many others are working to present a better vision and for the region that will shape the general course of political trends into nationalistic ideology reflective of their historical ties with the rest of Somalia.

The Organized Attack on the Samater Brothers and Other Nationalists

What I observed and I thought worth pointed out is that the Samaters have become a common mailing address for many secessionists’ hate mail these days. The distinction, however, in my opinion, between the Samater brothers and those who are attacking them is the higher moral ground that the brothers took when it comes to the prevailing Somali politics, specifically the issue of secession. Not withstanding the far advanced moral-intellect capabilities that the Samater brothers attained and promote in their capacities as the agents of Somali unity, they made a conscious choice of defending and upholding the animating principle of national character, a sense of consecration of our Somali nationalism…. a moral and noble cause; whereas the secessionists, on other hand, chose to defend a fraction of a region in the greater Somalia at best, if not, and more appropriately, a clannish enclave. Therefore, Mr. Iman is one of the latecomers who joined the stone throwing campaign at the big mountain, the Samaters. To their credit, which says volumes about their political maturity and intellectual attainment, the Samater brothers neither complain nor succumb to personal attacks, but instead managed to absorb all that the secessionists threw at them thus far. They remained the big mountain that symbolizes Somali unity; something earned them respect and statesmanship among their peers. I wished Mr. Iman had shown respect for his elders and recognized their invaluable contribution to the Somali struggle instead of defending the undependable ICG report or quoting Professor Mazrui; a man that ridiculed northern Somalia by his demeaning and condescending name-change suggestion (from Somaliland to Somalistan). Read Faisal Roble’s article " Mazrui’s Visit to Somaliland & His Call for Somalistan Nation". More disturbing than the name-change suggestion was the reaction of the secessionists, who welcomed and the applauded the suggestion of identity change, just to have a reason to dissociate from the rest of Somalia. I wish Farah Omar were still alive. He was a Northern Somalia nationalist who left with us, along with his nationalistic sentiment, the infamous quote ("my people and my country are too small to be divided"). Unfortunately no one is quoting him these days and no one will know him in the near future if things stay in the course that the secessionists want them to go.

In conclusion, I will suggest the following to my friend Adan Iman: Unless we agree to disagree but give each other our individual space and God given right to operate in the region we both came from, as all democratic societies do, we will live with our individual quilt. You will live with the quilt of turning your back to your country when it needed you. I will live with the quilt of going against my own friends to defend the same nation that they walked away from.

Ali Bahar, Ph.D.
E-mail: [email protected]

The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "Hiiraan Online"

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