Ahmed I. Hassan
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Lately one is liable to find a barrage of unti-Somaliland articles in most Somali websites. In fact one of these websites namely wardheernews.com has become, despite its earlier claims of journalistic objectivity and fairness, nothing more than a mouthpiece of these Somaliland bashers.
The authors of these articles (Hirad, Mahad, Tani, A. H. Abdulla, Roble, Ali Geeleh, Gaildon, Gamal Hassan, so-called one-man NSPU, etc) naturally display diverse intellectual faculties and writing competences. However, they all show an intriguing pattern of commonality in their reasoning and themes. Though usually paying lip service to so-called Somali Unity (the demise of which was by way was caused by this group's kinship and like-minded opportunitists), their themes and arguments are decidedly and invariably based on tribal grounds. This begs one’s mind if this is all a concerted campaign of mudslinging born out desperation and envy towards Somaliland’s remarkable, though admittedly not perfect, political, social and economic successes.
Every time when the Somaliland independence cause seems to make even a resemblance of progress, these tribal wailers, go into frenzy. One instance is the recent publication of the US administration’s internal debate on the issue of Somaliland’s recognition. Some of the Wailers were driven to writing open letters to the US Secretary of Defense and President Guellah of Djibouti deploring this development and seeking their assistance to thwart it. Anytime when Think-Tank academics, scholars and prominent foreign journalists venture to comment on Somaliland recognition issue (which usually comes out favorably) they resort to unconscionable personal attacks on these personalities, calling them paid lobbyists, neo-colonists, marriage-biased advocates and even other unpalatable names and expressions not fit to be published. In short, they are bound to attack the messenger instead of the message, an unfortunate course of action that flies in face of the Somali tradition of decency and courtesy in disagreement.
Recently after Somaliland expelled the Puntland militia from its Sool Region, the Wailers responded with a litany of articles the invariable essence of which was that the end of the world was at hand. The clans of Somaliland, they assured us, will go for each other’s throat instantly and the whole region will go up in flames. Never mind that this was an expulsion of a foreign occupying militia from neighboring Puntland that occupied Las Anod in 2003. Never mind that Sool’s local population was instrumental in liberating the region and that Somaliland’s army was simply in a supportive role. If tribal mayhem were to happen, it would have taken place in 2003 when Puntland invaded Sool and Sanaag. The reason it did not happen then and will not happen now or in the future is that clan affiliation and clan-based politics in Somaliland have to a large extent waned and been replaced by more democratic dynamics.
When a while ago, the eminent Somaliland journalist Mr. Bashir Goth of Awadalnews.com penned the editorial Somaliland’s kowtowing to Ethiopia breaks all codes of decency, one of the Wailer, a Mr. Mahad, saw a distorted opportunity or rather a mirage (please see Mahad’s comments on the editorial: Applauding Awdalnews' editorial: Somaliland's kowtowing to Ethiopia....) He wishfully thought that Mr. Goth, a principled Somalilander and a formidable proponent of its independence is ripe to abandon his principles and his advocacy for his nation’s quest for recognition. He in effect invited Mr. Goth to join the Wailers Club by stating “that Bashir, so intelligent and so principled, will one day come back to the ‘unity’ fold, not alone but also, like Moses, leading his misguided folk back to the fold of their fellow Somalis everywhere - above all, their inseparable brothers in Somalia.” In Internet chatting diction, LOL.
Mr. Mahad’s “Applauding” piece of Mr. Goth merely lasted the first two paragraphs of his article. He immediately returned to the Wailers’ usual misinformation and doom mongering on Somaliland’s Sool developments. He also tried to recruit Mr. Goth to this futile and not so much amusing theatrics. This, I suspect, was his real purpose.
Though the Wailers will probably choose to ignore it, I would venture to point out one or two things. In our country, the blessed Somaliland, we have a right to criticize our government’s polices or actions and it is a right we avail ourselves quite liberally. For myself, I also applaud Mr. Goth’s editorial about “Kowtowing” Ethiopia. I am moreover disturbed about many others of our government’s actions including its expulsion of the Somali journalists who fled persecution in Mogadishu at the hands of Ethiopians and the so-called TFG and of the alleged “rendition” of persons from the Somali Region of Ethiopia to that government. Most Somalilanders are against the Ethiopian invasion and important political personalities including no less than the Chairman of the biggest opposition party Mr. Silanyo has openly spoken against the Ethiopian atrocities and savagery that have befallen on the innocent civilians in Mogadishu. Even the Somaliland government’s opposition to the Ethiopian policies on Somalia is no secret as has been recently admitted in an interview given by the Ethiopian ambassador in Hargeisa.
While the Wailers would dig up and exaggerate every seemingly pro-Ethiopian action by the Somaliland’s government, witness their open support to the so-called TFG who are no more than mere stooges for the Ethiopian government. While they accuse Somaliland of all sorts of clannish tribulations, witness their happiness with the TFG, which was openly constituted on the infamous 4.5 tribal formula. Witness their contentment with the Puntland regime, which is so overtly clannish, nay sub-clannish; so much so that when Abdullahi Yusuf was picked up as "President" of Somalia by Ethiopia and Kenya, the incumbent Vice President of Puntland, a Sool native, was set aside to allow a Yusuf kinsman as his replacement. Knowing what I do about Puntland and the mentality of its inhabitants, a native of Sool, which like Awdal, admirably harbors a disproportionably greater number of highly educated and smart citizens than other Somaliland regions, have a much better chance of becoming President of Somaliland that he can ever dream about assuming that position in Puntland. At any rate, this selective finger pointing and blind Somaliland hate mongering runs the risk of pushing Somaliland further to undesirable bedfellows.
We have even respect for the few Somalilanders, such as the Samatar professor brothers and Jama Mohamed Ghaleb, who are openly opposed to Somaliland reclamation of its independence due to their adherence to the erstwhile Pan Somalism. This is because they subscribe to a vision; to a kind of Utopia. I for myself have no problem with that vision as a destination; I only have a different opinion on how to reach that destination. The Samatars and Ghaleb say unity now and here. My opinion is: Let Djibouti be Djibouti; let Somaliland be Somaliland; let Somalia be Somalia; let Somalis in Ethiopia and Kenya find their ways. Then gradually and meaningfully let these countries explore whatever common grounds on which we can cooperate on for the common good. I endorse the European Union model, which half a century since the signing of the Treaty of Rome, still reserve certain sovereign powers for its member States while consolidating common polices and laws that add value and benefit to all.
Furthermore, it is worthwhile noting that the EU subjects its new potential members to strict criteria of political, economic and social conditions before they are allowed to join the Union. Undemocratic and chaotic countries in Europe are kept at arms length until they reform their ways up to the existing members’ standards. In our case, who in right mind in Somaliland or Djibouti would wish to be part of the havoc in Somalia? Professor Ahmed Samatar, ever the honestly candid academic, despite his convictions and Unionist wishes, confessed to as much in a recent question and answer session that he participated in the Hague, Netherlands.
In conclusion, only the naïve or the Wailers would think that criticizing our government is tantamount to surrendering our sovereignty. Clearly, the Wailers have not heard about something called loyal opposition or the difference between opposing a policy or even a government and opposing a nation’s existence. Goth’s criticism, for information dear Wailers, is aimed to correct what he thinks are his government’s follies. We might even contemplate to change our government if their blunders become intolerable. And we have thanks God Almighty, the mechanism in place to do so if need be. But Somaliland is forever.
Ahmed I. Hassan