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Somali leaders should stop entertaining the nostalgia 'two state talks'

by Abdisamad Mooge “Kayse
Sunday, December 30, 2012

Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon
In the last two decades, there were much chaos, suffering and little room for substantial and constructive dialogue in Somalia. However, Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon’s recent bold move to call for a national dialogue no doubt deserves a national support. We might all agree that before rushing into dialogue, there should be a broad agreement and voices of concern should be taken into consideration. Unless the government listens, it remains an entity merely following the footsteps of its TFG predecessor without clear guidelines, preliminary conditions and framework for national unity. Can our government put her best foot forward and stop entertaining the imaginary ‘two state talks’?

During a press conference in Mogadishu, Mr. Shirdon on Saturday (December 29th, 2012), said his government was reengaging with the southern (Jubbaland), central (Puntland) and northern (Somaliland) regions. This is a positive development but the key will be whether Shirdon can create stalemate conditions in which all three political factions are brought in-line with government policies and national unity agenda.

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His remarks came shortly after a ministerial delegation touched down in the southern coastal-town of Kismayo for talks with an interim administration. Led by the defense minister, Abdihakim Haji Mohamud Fiqi, they were tasked to resolve a disagreement between the Ras Kamboni militia and Mogadishu. After meeting with the group’s leader Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam on Thursday (December 27th), they agreed to work together. Meanwhile, the rebels will be integrated into the Somali National Army (SNA).

It now appears that crisis have been averted in the southern regions, where SNA and AMISOM troops continue to battle a weakened al Shabab insurgents. The government now moves its focus on central and northeastern regions, where a delegation is due to arrive in Galmudug State and Puntland region for fresh talks. The government already enjoys considerable support in this strategic central region but issues that need resolving remain and challenges continue. The government should pursue with its efforts with this region, which continues to play pivotal role in Somalia’s national unity and stability.

The issue that is likely to grab all attention is the idea of resuming talks with Somaliland, a secessionist administration. Situated on the Northwest region of Somalia, Somaliland declared unilateral independence from the rest of the Somali State in 1991 after the civil war. It has since failed to gain international recognition and after exhausting every possible means, it now feels it can out-maneuver Mogadishu’s current leaders, most of them are first time politicians.

In my humble opinion, it will be waste of time and resources talking to those that claim to represent the northern Somali communities under the long gone colonial tag, who only have support amongst two small sub-clans. The government’s priority should be at this stage improving security in the south and removing the al Shabab militants. We should not be diverting our attention to minor issues such as entertaining the secessionist enclave of the Hawala (money transfer) administration that we all know too well. 

Somaliland does not represent the northern Somalis in any aspects what so ever and on top of that its declaration is not only invalid but also illegal. The 19th century British Somaliland Protectorate, which the separatists claim to be reviving, had the signatories of four Somali clans. Today, it would true if we said present Somaliland only represents two sub-clans of one of the original four signatories.

During the merger of British Somaliland territory and its much larger southern Italian Somaliland, again the union was endorsed by the four former signatories. Following the Somali civil war, a small group hijacked the popular movement for better economic conditions and democracy and claim that they want the reinstatement of ‘Somaliland’ on pre-1960 borders, despite the fact that these borders were artificial and that socially, politically and culturally, they are largely meaningless.

The support of secession for some is based on two perceptions: the first is nostalgia for an imaginary past and promotes an idealised collective ‘memory’ of the ‘good old days’ which, incidentally includes the British Colonial period. The British did not share the same fairytale views and could not wait to quit this ‘harsh and uncompromising environment’ that had no political or commercial value for them. The second is the equally spurious belief that all southerners have a good deal and that it is only the northerners ‘collectively’ that are oppressed and second class – despite the fact that the whole country was equally stateless. Suffering remains uniform and struggle is common from north to south to this day.

Dialogue is what Somalia needs more than anything else right now but Somalia must be discussing the right issues with the right players at the right time and venue. There is no point giving few separatists the opportunity to hijack our leaders’ good gesture and initiatives. The hawala administration of Hargeisa, as we all know, is rather too arrogant to care about the wellbeing of the Somali people whether they are in the north or south quarter. As soon as dialogue is mention, the hawala agents led by Hirsi Ali Haji Hassan (real president of that region), will be quick to make unacceptable pre-conditions such as that the dialogue be between the two the former colonial states. The fact is, if Hargeisa is to represent the pre-1960 borders, then it should bring Khaatumo, Makhiir and Awdal State along.

The hawala administration is on its last leg. It’s once die hard supporters are starting to see the cracks and finally understanding that they got misled. People in that region were over medicated with two prescriptions; one being ‘nabada ilaali’ or ‘keep calm’ and the other ‘all will be well once the old state is restored…stay on life-support son.’ These medications are no longer working after twenty-one years people have became immune to them and no longer overdose and go to sleep.

A good example is when last week, the hawala agents led by its front branch Kulmiye rigged the local elections; those that got cheated including Dr Mohamed Abdi Gabose were prescribed the ‘nabada ilaali’ medications. Two heavy doses put them in coma and it’s not clear when the medications will wear out.

Opening a dialogue with few individuals that only serve their tribal, personal and hawala interest will only serve their own self-promotion. This is particularly true when it comes to Hirsi Ali Haji Hassan, who is being groomed as the future supreme agent by ailing Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud “Silanyo”. He will be there willing to talk to the Somali media to promote himself and Silanyo takes him wherever he goes like his personal wallet. His wife, Amina Weris, often has to compete with Hirsi over Silanyo.

They completely disregard the social, economic and living conditions in the region and every time someone questions them over such matters, they simply throw the ‘no recognition’ remark at them. Any time someone grills them, they go absolutely berserk.  I am from that part of Somalia and for some time, I have been telling them that their boogeyman tactics and lies no longer work on me. I am neither addicted to their two prescriptions. My motto is simple; if you are claiming to be a government regardless of your sorry state, I have the right to demand what I want from a government that claims to represent me. If they cannot meet basic needs of the general public then they should shift it. In the state of Israel, some Jewish people believe that their “King” will return and in parts of north Somalia some people believe that artificial British territory will be reincarnated. Opening a dialogue only gives them that false glimmer of hope.  We should not be misleading the few that are over medicated. Let time heal and perhaps in due time, the prescribed medications will wear off. I hope they do. Everything around them is crumbling, disappearing or falling into pieces.

The dialogue between the Hawala administration of Silanyo and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was initiated by the former TFG leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and a permanent government like Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has no obligation to fulfill minor sub contracts. That transitional dialogue went with the suitcases of Sheikh Sharif Ahmed to Uganda. Mr. Mohamud needs to understand the status quo. Performing the tasks of a transitional authority will only reduce his rule to a transitional level.

The north (from Zeila to Tukaraq) needs to first secure all four signatories before it demands north-south dialogue and our northern leaders need to resolve their indifferences. There is no point coming to the negotiation table when 3 out of the 4 main players are absent and furthermore there are no clear regional agendas.  We need to have this dialogue outside the Mogadishu-Puntland-Jubbaland talks as south and north and renegotiate better power-sharing deals and system of government and national unity. The opportunities are there for the north to grab and play an important role in the country. As long as few self-promoting groups claiming to be victims while the real victims remain homeless, the struggle will continue.

If Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon and his team prematurely rush into dialogue with the hawala administration, they need to be prepared for an onslaught of frustration and anger regarding anything that designates Somalia’s national unity.  Giving them the opportunity to exploit and rearm their slowly dying propaganda machine, will have many supporters isolated and the government is likely to collapse. Furthermore, it will be seen as encouraging the division of Somalia and as a gross violation of the social contract Somali citizens have with their government. Ordinary people are the victims of Somalia’s political, economic and social unrest and those in the north remain hostage to a system that has kept them isolated, frozen all their dreams and in limbo. Now educated youth are spawning out and seeking contacts with the outside world including southern Somalia. Let us not encourage further isolation by fueling the secessionist’s propaganda machines in cosy offices in London and Hargeisa’s few hotels.

Abdisamad Mooge “Kayse
[email protected]


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