By Mohsin Mahad
The conference held in Washington on Saturday 2 December and organized by the “Northern Somalis for Peace and Unity” (NSPU) has predictably stirred up a hornet’s nest in the secessionist camp and more so enraged their foremost bastion – the Somaliland Policy and Reconstruction institute (SOPRI). In a press release published in the secessionist websites on the eve of the conference, and under the title “Exercise in Fantasy,” SOPRI has launched a rearguard action and churned out its well-worn and hackneyed secessionist mantra, aiming to nip the conference in the bud and thereby blunt its impact. If any of the parties is engaged in an “exercise of fantasy”, it is surely SOPRI and not NSPU. The readers can judge for themselves on the basis of the following quoted extracts from SOPRI’s press release:
· “Somaliland’s independence ….is in conformity with the AU principle of the inviolability of the territorial integrity inherited from colonialism…”
The principles of the inviolability of borders and territorial integrity, as enshrined in the OAU/AU charters, are applicable to former colonies that gained independence and thereafter retained their independence. For such countries, who became members of the OAU/AU/UN, their inherited colonial borders are inviolable. Those principles however do not apply to former British Somaliland, or the former Somaliland that had independence for a couple of days in June 1960. This is for the simple reason that former independent Somaliland had, of its own free will, gave up its independence and separate existence when it joined former Italian Somaliland and became part of the united Somali Republic. It Somalia, and not former British Somaliland or former independent Somaliland, whose borders and territorial integrity are recognized by the OAU, AU, UN and all other international and regional Organizations.
Except for the secessionists, no one else will ever question the fact that former British Somaliland or former independent Somaliland had ceased to exist as a separate entity. It goes without saying that a territorial entity that does not legally exist by national or international law has no recognized borders and hence can not claim the relevant AU articles or principles relating to the inviolability of borders and territorial integrity. If these principles are applicable to the secessionist enclave around Hargeisa, as SOPRI claims, the AU and the rest of the international community would have recognized its independence long time ago. The reason why they did not do so after all these years speaks for itself. SOPRI and fellow separatists would rather close their eyes and minds to the reality and instead continue to indulge in futile make-believes and fantasies.
· “Somaliland’s independence is legal”
This is another fantasy not different from the statement in the preceding section . The fact that the secessionists have unilaterally bestowed ‘legality” upon their secession does in no way confer international legitimacy on them..
· The people of Somaliland refuse to be linked to, and have nothing to do with the borders inherited from Italian colonialism.
The memories of the secessionists are short or selective. Obviously, they want to close their minds to certain uncomfortable historical facts. But the rest of us ARE not suffering from amnesia and have not forgotten that it was the people and government of former independent Somaliland who freely initiated the union with former Italian Somaliland. If some sections of that population now want to put the clock back and reclaim their separation from the rest of Somalia, they would need to be reminded that neither Somalia nor the AU nor the UN nor the rest of the international community will countenance or sanction clan or regional secessions.. Having learned from their bitter experiences with the secessions of Biafra and Katanga, Africa and its regional organisations see any secession as only opening a Pandora Box that would de-stabilize its fragile member countries in the continent..
The secessionist could only achieve separation if, and only if, such an act is approved by a truly national and representative Somali government and then overwhelmingly endorsed by the Somali people in a national referendum in the country as a whole - a probability which is as remote as the dead coming back to life.
· Somaliland’s independence was adopted unanimously in a nationwide referendum
This is one of the oft-repeated lies spread around the world for the purpose of hoodwinking international opinion. The so-called referendum was conducted in the limited areas under the control of the administration based in Hargeisa. Close to half of the geographical area of former British Somaliland, comprising the regions of Sool, Eastern Sanaag and Cayn had nothing to do with this treacherous act. Little participation also took place among the Issa clan area bordering Djibouti and only some of the Awdalites in the West did so under duress. It is not as if these facts are not known to SOPRI and its followers. Rather, denial of the facts - a form self-delusion - and the dissemination of disinformation are key pillars in their secessionist strategy.
· “There is zero (repeat) zero constituency for unionism in the country”.
As mentioned in the preceding section, the totality of the people in the Sool, Eastern Sanaag and Cayn regions are solidly committed to Somali unity as do the Issa clan and the majority of Awdalites. Even within the secessionist heartland, support for the secession is far from being unanimous. Once again, these facts count for nothing for those, like SOPRI, who prefer to live in a world of make-belief and who in the end come to believe their own fantasies.
· “The chance of the Somali state coming back to life as remote as the Ottoman Empire coming back to existence”.
The inappropriate analogy drawn between the end of an empire, and the temporary absence of a Somali state only reflects another fantasy, and the nefarious wish of the secessionists to se Somalia remain stateless forever for the benefit of their recognition. Despite the bitter and long-enduring national strife – initially clan-based but subsequently perpetrated by the warlords in their fiefdoms for their personal gain - Somali unity has at no time been questioned anywhere in Somalia, North or South, except in the secessionist enclave around Hargeisa.
The Somali state may be temporarily dysfunctional or defunct as some may prefer to call it, but Somali unity is alive and becoming increasingly vibrant thanks to the advent of the Islamic movement. The revival of the Somali State is not a mirage as the secessionist would wish. Sooner or later, it is as sure to emerge as day follows night. All it requires is the establishment of a truly representative national government and that is on the horizon, a prospect dreaded only by two sides -: needless to say Ethiopia and the separatists like SOPRI.
· A civil war with catastrophic consequences is looming in the horizon [between] the forces of the Islamic Court Union (ICU) and Baidabo on the other.
The secessionists have cherished the Somali strife in the hope that this would benefit their recognition. They had fully exploited the mayhem caused by the warlord’s rein of terror in Mogadishu and Southern Somalia. Now that the warlords have been chased away, the secessionists are once again banking on another strife or civil war- this time between the ICU and the clique based in Baidhaba. A civil war in Somalia would entail by definition a national strife engulfing most of the country and fought along clan, ethnic or regional lines. None of that exist, or will happen in Somalia. Contrary to the wishful thinking of the secessionists, there will be no war between the ICU and the clique in Baidabo. What may happen instead is a war between Somalia and an Ethiopia that is determined to keep its puppets in Baidhabo in power. Almost all the Somalis, less the secessionists, are united in defending their country and chasing the Ethiopians and their lackeys from Somali soil.
· Any effort for reunification will spark a bloody confrontation of unprecedented proportion.
SOPRI’s blood curdling predictions are only meant for the international audience and are unlikely to materialise. The support for Somali unity has never wavered in most parts of the North West region. At a time when Islam and Somali nationalism had conquered Southern Somalia and are spreading throughout the rest of the country, not least in the North West region support for Somali unity is likely to spread to the whole North West region. This wind of change, rooted in Islam and Somali nationalism, can only win hearts and minds and serve as an antidote to the secessionists’ siege mentality - except perhaps those diehards among the Diaspora who from their safe distance in the USA or elsewhere choose to be hooked to the secession cause at any price.
The Northern Somalis for Peace and Unity (NSPU) is to be commended for organizing this successful conference. Some may lament the fact that the northern unionists, as organisations or individuals, are somewhat tardy with their initiative, having by default allowed SOPRI and its secessionist associates to have the field all to themselves during all these years, and to spread disinformation throughout the world unchallenged. But it is better late than never. Now that the nationalists/unionists from Northern Somalia have risen to the challenge, their initiative can only trigger an unstoppable chain reaction. Rather than being “an exercise in fantasy”, as SOPRI claims, this conference would have on the contrary achieved two important objectives: firstly, the message of the conference, and in particular the views of its prominent participants, have been broadcast over the BBC Somali Serve and disseminated in the internet. This will undoubtedly serve as catalyst to rally to the unity cause millions in Somalia, in particular in the North West region. And equally importantly, this conference, and those that will follow it, will debunk the secessionist lies and propaganda - still maintained by SOPRI - that population in the North West region as a whole fully support the secession.
Much as they are on opposite poles on the politics of Somalia and the North-West region, yet NSPU and SOPRI do at least share one common destiny: They will both close shops on the day Somalia’s national unity is restored- a prospect only doubted by cynics and secessionists . For NSPU, on that day, it will be a happy occasion of “mission accomplished”. For SOPRI, it is the end of the road though they still have the consolation to indulge in their delusions and fantasies – an exercise in futility? Yes
By Mohsin Mahad
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