Somalia:Clan Colonialism and warlordism: The case of Somaliland and Puntland
Mareeg.com-European colonialism might have ended but it is still alive and practiced in various countries in different forms. In the case of Somalia, much as we are supposed to have been freed from colonial hegemony when we achieved its independence in 1960, yet the paradox is that we have today two clan-based administrations, Somaliland and Puntland, behaving like warlords and colonialists. In a spectacle reminiscent of 19th Century European scramble for Africa, they go all out to appropriate the regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC). It is as if these regions are uninhabited no-man’s-land open for a grab, when in reality they are, first and foremost the patrimony of their people and, secondly, are part and parcel of Somalia under the constitution. Like warlords and colonialists, the inalienable fundamental human right of the Khaatumo people for self-determination counts for nothing.
What is striking about these two predatory clannish warlods is the similarity of the logic underpinning their bogus “claim” on the SSC regions. In the case of Somaliland, any clan/region that was once part of the now defunct British Somaliland must submit to their secession and be part of their “Somaliland”. Puntland’s logic follows that of Somaliland, contending that the SSC people/regions were once part of Puntland and for that reason they cannot separate from it and form their own Khaatumo State. It is as if the original partnership between the clans to establish Puntland is sacrosanct, irreversible and carved in stone. The people of Khaatumo have no say in the matter but must succumb to the diktat of their oppressors. This is the law of the jungle, warlordism masquerading as States of Somalia or outside it.
These facts do not cut much ice with Somaliland and Puntland – whose shared attribute is their predatory kleptomania. As predators, they have both common interests as well conflict of interests: Achieving the submission of the SSC people is their overall goal: to force them forgo their inalienable right to self-determination. This amounts to surrendering their right to be equal to and independent of the hegemony of these two self-appointed clan-based administrations. Once that common goal is achieved, their conflict of interest is bound to arise. For now, cooperation and collusion are the order of the day, which, among other things, include the following actions:
· maintain the siege and isolation of the Khaatumo State of Somalia and its people thereby denying them access to international humanitarian aid;
· collaborate to ensure that their concocted labelling the SSC regions as “disputed territory” remains unshakeable in order to discourage international contacts and cooperation;
· Thwart the struggle of SSC people’s to have their own Khaatumo State where they can enjoy the same economic and political rights that Somaliland, Puntland, and all other regions and peoples of Somalia take for granted.
All these nefarious actions and aims of Somaliland and Puntland were manifest in their recent separate attacks on Khaatumo’s provisional capital, Taleex – Puntland in December 2013, and Somaliland in mid April 2014. Their common goal was to prevent the holding of Khaatumo3 conference and foil the emergence of a stronger, better formed and led government that could end once and for all their hegemony of the SSC regions. Despite their common aims and actions, they also have inherent conflict of interests. As predators often do, they could fight over who should own the prey if ever they prevail for good over the SSC people – a very hypothetical and unlikely probability that the SSC regions will be any body’s property other than its own people.
If colonial-like practices of Puntland and Somaliland are a paradox in a country where its people, clans and regions are supposed to be all equal under the constitution, a greater paradox is that their treacherous crimes against Khaatumo are taking place right under the nose of the Somali government that is supposed to defend not only the unity and sovereignty of the country but also protect its citizens from internal and external aggressors. None of that is happening. On the contrary, Somaliland, in particular, has been receiving overt and covert support and succour from President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud at a time when it was committing war crimes against the very people he is supposed to be their president and protector.
Another paradox is the stance of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Nicholas Kay, a career diplomat coming straight from the British Foreign and Common Office, where realpolitik and Britain’s national interest is their mission. He is a stranger to the UN but what is unacceptable him is that he shows little inclination to mutate to the requirements of his new office and mandate, based on the ideals of the UN charter, and above all the respect for fundamental human rights, the right of people to assemble, establish their own institutions in line with the Constitution. Still glued to his foreign office mentality, he acts more like a colonial governor where picking winners is the rule of the game. Puntland is his chosen winner and winners deserve to be rewarded. Thus, without much ado, he has publicly proclaimed the SSC regions as part of Puntland. Since he took office, the Khaatumo people who inhabit these territories, their rights and their just struggle has rarely been mentioned let alone defended.
If ever the Khaatumo people entertained any hope or expectation that their leaders would rally to their defence of the country’s unity, that illusion has now been dashed for good, having witnessed their leaders abject abdication of their obligations to the people of Somali origin being subjected in Kenya to the most inhumane punishment and degrading treatment. With leaders like this, one may ask, who needs enemies?
What is bitter to swallow for Khaatumo people, as it is for the suffering Somalis in Kenya and elsewhere in the world, is not only the failure of our leaders but also the ambivalence or indifference of the whole Somali political and social set-up- from parliament, civil society organisations and the wider public. This state of affairs, taken in tandem with Nicholas Kay’s stance, is what gives Somaliland and Puntland free hand to take the law into their own hands in the SSC regions.
Much as the odds are stacked against the Khaatumo people, what is in their favour is their own perseverance, staying power and readiness to make sacrifices for their cause. The people who resisted their British colonial adversaries for 21 years have the tenacity and will to stay the course for their freedom and dignity until they win their inalienable human rights and their right to self-determination. The international community is at last coming round to supporting this just cause and standing up to the clan warlords. Witness their no-nonsense marching orders to Somaliland to get their invading militia out of Talelex which they did with their tails between their legs.
Change of heart is also apparent from Nicholas Kay who claimed in a Universal TV interview that he too told Somaliland the same message. In the same interview, he had for the first time acknowledged, albeit grudgingly, that there are SSC people who support neither Somaliland nor Puntland , though he could not bring himself to admit the fact they support Khaatumo. Since Khaatumo will win, and given his partiality for winners, he could change horses and put his money on it- if he still around.
The Khatumo Forum for Peace, Unity and Development is an advocacy organization that is dedicated to foster broad-based sustainable development in the Khatumo regions
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