"SSC" Is the Last Hope to Bridge Somalia Back Together
> Sadia Ali Aden
> Sadia Ali Aden
Human Rights advocate and a freelance writer
Posted: 01/25/2012 6:38 pm
Like many nations in Africa, Somalia has endured the legacy of the foreign
expedition of greed throughout the continent. After the Berlin Conference
1884, Western European powers sought to divide Somaliland -- one of the most
homogeneous regions of Africa -- into British Somaliland, French Somaliland,
Italian Somaliland, Ethiopian Somaliland (the Ogaden), and the Northern
Frontier District (NFD) of British Kenya. Thus, sowing the seed for the
current ongoing inter and intra-regional unrest of Somalia.
Fast forward to 1991: a mix of northern and southern clan-based militias
armed, financed, and supported by Ethiopia toppled Somalia's central
government and, in due course, brought the strategic collaboration between
these militia groups to an end as each went to secure its area of influence
(read clan-based). This formula would work for some and not the others.
Stabilization has proven a difficult undertaking in a number of the southern
regions while in the northwest and northeast regions (Somaliland and
Puntland) clan militia groups and their clan elders were able to bring
relative stability to those regions. This, some argue, was possible mainly
because of the clear single clan dominance in both of those regions.
Though, both northwest and northeast regions of Somalia enjoyed relative
peace that gained them much praise, they both fell short of playing a
pivotal role in instilling hope in the hearts and minds of the majority of
people in the rest of Somalia. Neither Somaliland nor Puntland has indicated
any interest in mediating between their warring brethren in the South.
Many Somalis both in the homeland and in the Diaspora (including this
writer) have envisioned that a modified version of the northern model of
peace that is free of clan dominance could be duplicated in the rest of
Somalia -- creating a foundation of a homegrown national reconciliation that
could ultimately save Somalia. Lamentably, Somaliland and Puntland opted to
keep their respective successes local and within the confines of their
respective clans. The said approach has not only fueled the already underway
clanization of the Somali political problem, but has lent both of these two
political entities to forcefully subjugate dissenting voices of people from
other clans with impunity. And as a result have deepened the distrust
between local clans.
Squeezed between the powers of these two administrations are the people of
Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (SSC) -- their high rate of inter-marriage with
people of Somaliland and Puntland, notwithstanding. Clans within the SSC are
considered the bridge and the glue that kept the union of North and South or
the Somali state together. Over the years, the people of SSC have taken the
brunt of Somaliland and Puntland forces; each wanting to annex them.
In addition to the impact of the long drought, these people continue to
suffer sporadic violent campaigns from both sides. And though it is hidden
from the world's view, their condition is another humanitarian disaster in
Meanwhile, there are the howling voices of the women and children of these
regions as they are torn between the men they love, their husbands, sons,
fathers, brothers and next of kin, who are dying as a result of a tug of
lethal war fought in the name of secession versus union.
I recently received an email from a friend whose father is from Hargaisa
(Somaliland) and his mother from Buhodle (SSC). In it he made this
heart-wrenching comment that eloquently sheds light on the tragedy of
fratricide or clan wars; especially as it divides families. He said
"Territories that want to secede should not be allowed to force those who
want to remain in the union. My father should just leave my mother in peace
if she wants Sool to be part and parcel of Somalia. And he is free to pursue
his political desires to run with Somaliland as he wishes."
Somalia is inundated with arms and ammunitions, and anyone with money can
buy them to kill and maim the innocent such as women, children, elderly and
minorities with impunity. Let there be no mistake, using force to annex
these regions is a loose/loose proposition. It will only contribute to more
deaths and destruction that could end the relative peace long enjoyed by the
people of the north.
Against that backdrop, the Obama administration's Dual-Track (multi-track)
policy toward Somalia has exacerbated the situation for these people. This
policy gave boost to the institutionalization of clanism as it is set to
further polarize the society by engaging non-state actors such as clan based
administrations, militias, clan leaders and self-proclaimed ones as
legitimate leaders so long as they are against Al-Shabaab; even if these
actors are against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) -- the same
government that the U.S. claims to support. The continuation of the
counter-terrorism containment policy only provides bandages to festering
wounds that neither helps Somalia nor the U.S.
To remedy the long standing issue of SSC regions, both Somaliland and
Puntland must end their respective campaigns of forcing the people of SSC
into submission. Violence cannot solve this problem. On their part, the TFG
must be mindful of people of SSC's struggle for self-preservation while
genuinely addressing the grievances of their brethren from the north-western
and pave the way and indeed spearheading a genuine national reconciliation
initiative that holistically addresses the Somali political problem.
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Received on Wed Jan 25 2012 - 16:14:09 EST