Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
Ads By Google
What next in Laascaanood?

Ads By Google
Mohsin Mahad
The capture of Laascaanood by the secessionist militia of Somaliland and their local collaborators has, as was to be expected, unleashed widespread jubilations and unbecoming gloating among all sections of the population in the separatist heartland. Indulging in vainglorious heroics and phoney triumphalism has always been innately ingrained in the psyche of the people of that part of Somalia. Although there is nothing new about this, it has this time gone over the top.

The glory accruing from the defeat of the regime of Siyad Barre in 1991 was appropriated not by its true claimants, General Aideed and his USP, but by the SNM and its secessionist supporters when in reality distinguished themselves in killing unarmed and defenceless non-Isaaq civilians but were otherwise nothing more to the Siyad Regime than irritating pinpricks. When the State collapsed and the national army disintegrated, the SNM simply emerged from their hideouts in the bush and took over what was given to them on a plate. Ever since then, the carefully contrived larger-than-life SNM image had been idolised in the secessionist folklore with almost everyone from the area claiming to be an SNM “mujaahid”, an accolade that has since been added to the Somali lexicon.

Since the capture of Laascannod, the people in the secessionist area, true to their habit, are falling over themselves in their unsavoury, lavish praise and glorification of the SNM, with leading Sheikhs attributing to them divinely ordained missions. Their former tormenter and pet noire, “President” Riyale, not one to be left out of the act, has also shamelessly joined the spree as one of their born-again fans. But there is something surrealistic about this mesmerising spectacle as if this partying over the capture of Laascaanood was here to stay for ever, with everyone closing their eyes to what lies ahead or what their irresponsible actions might lead to. It is like watching the Titanic film where the passengers, the captain and crew are all having fun partying and decidedly oblivious to the looming dangers ahead-, the iceberg that will bring a brutal and tragic end to their ephemeral merry-making

Invasions, whether they are undertaken by one country over another, or one clan against another as is the case now in Sool, are misguided adventures that are often based on miscalculations, misinformation and short-sightedness and hence invariably end in disaster. Hitler thought he could invade and occupy every country in Europe but in the end it was his own defeated country that was occupied. Napoleon of France did the same thing and ended in failure and disaster.  

The USA went to Iraq believing it would be a walk-over and expecting the Iraqis to welcome their soldiers with flowers but instead showered them with bullets. President Bush was to rue his unseemly haste to claim victory in Iraq and prematurely proclaim “mission accomplished” when years later, they are desperate for an exit that would minimise their humiliating defeat, a replay of their disastrous defeat in Vietnam over 30years ago. Meles Zenewi had the same perceptions over his invasion of Somalia and reckoned his mission would be accomplished in a matter of days. He too is in the same quackmire as the American.

The lessons of history are that invading a country is easy but to remain there and face the resistance on its own ground can only lead ultimately to defeat. Only the timing of that defeat is questionable but not the outcome. The same fate awaits the invasion of Sool by the one clan-dominated secessionist administration based in Hargeisa.

Just as Iraqi collaborators misinformed the Americans about their reception in occupied Iraq, so had the collaborators from Sool misled their paymasters in Hargeisa. Contrary to their expectations, the ordinary residents of Laascaanood have risen up against the oncoming invaders and their collaborators and it is this impromptu uprising that kept the invading Isaaq militia at bay and denied them to set foot in Laascanood .

Contrary to their expectations, the Isaaq invasion and occupation of Sool, in particular its capital Laascaanood, has done more than anything else to unite the entire Dhulbahante clan against this invasion. The looming struggle will be between them and their Puntland allies on one side and the invaders and their collaborators on the other side. Preparations for liberation of Sool - whether at the level of Puntland forces, clan militia, or possibly the establishment of a Darwiishland liberation front - are either on place or in the pipeline. Time is on the side of those who own this land and against those who are trespassers. With their bases in Burco, Berbera and Hargeisa hundreds of miles away, and bogged down in a hostile territory, their camps and supply lines will be subjected to regular attacks by Puntland or other paramilitary forces. How long can the bankrupt Somaliland government continue to maintain this unsustainable situation? Not for long.

The invasion of Sool and the occupation of Laascaanood have wider clan ramifications. It is the first time that the whole Issaq clan invaded the Dhulbahanta. Hitherto, clan fighting had been confined at any time to two neighbouring clans without other third parties joining the fray. This time it is different. In normal times, it would have been the duty of the national government to deal with the problems of this secessionist enclave and counter its aggressive forays into other parts of Somalia. But in the absence of an effective Somali government, Somalia is simply reduced to an amalgam of clans each responsible for the running of its area. It therefore falls upon the SSC clans to fend for themselves and defend their territory. But it will also involve other Puntland clans as they are collectively bound to defend Puntland and liberate any part of it occupied by an outside enemy.

The Isaaq aggression in the SSC territory has one single main driving reason: to enhance the prospects for its recognition. It believes that the main reason for the absence of recognition after 17 years since its declaration of secession was because the SSC area were outside its control and served as the obstacle to its recognition. As such, occupying the SSC regions and in particular its capital would serve that purpose. It would also serve another concomitant purpose which is to de-stabilise Puntland as the only other functioning regional administration which in turn could unravel the end of the TFG. If these aims are achieved, it reckons, it will emerge as the only functioning entity which might merit recognition in the eyes of the international community which might give up on Somalia and its incurable problems.

What the secessionists fail to reckon is that they are setting ablaze a hitherto peaceful part of northern Somalia whose adverse consequences could be detrimental to them more than any one else. The sooner they realise they are player with fire, the better for all concerned. But for now, no one is in that mood as the partying over the capture Laascannood goes on. But sooner or later, the chicken will come home to roost and when it does, many political heads will roll including that of Riyale who is now temporarily riding high on the invasion euphoria.

Mohsin Mahad
Email: [email protected]

Click here