A little town in northern Somalia called Ainabo has acquired a shameful place in Somali history, not all of its choosing. It is here that Siilaanyo, the leader of the one-clan secessionist enclave calling itself Somaliland, and Ali Khalif Galaydh, the deposed former head of Khatumo, held a meeting on 19 October 2017 and signed a dastardly deal pronouncing the Khatumo regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) as part and parcel of Somaliland. What this is all about is that these regions are no longer held by force against their will to be part of Somaliland but through their own free choice as unilaterally ordained by Galaydh, a lone pariah representing no one but himself. It is meant to be the final act to seal the breakup of Somalia, an act which has been in the making for over a year since Galaydh became – covertly in the beginning but openly in the end – a turncoat doing Somaliland’s bidding.
What legitimacy one might ask can this deal have that is fathered by two men, one a lame duck leader in his twilight days and soon to exit office, while the other is deposed and disowned by his people?. If their assumption was that what is good for Galaydh and Somaliland is good for the SSC regions, they were given a rude awakening by the people of Buuhoodle who came out in their thousands on 22 October denouncing what they see as a treacherous deal. Their mood was captured in a stirring defiant speech by Garaad Abdirasaak Garaad Soofe, the leading traditional leader from the Buuhoodle region. Not mincing his words, he said a deal reached at a sham meeting, boycotted by the entirety of the SSC grand traditional leaders (Isimo), the chiefs (save for one long wolf from Buuhoodle) and the whole SSC freedom-loving political class is a dead duck deal not worth the paper it is written on.
That was the message that Buuhoodle sent not only to Siilaanyo and Galaydh but to the self-deluding secessionists everywhere and the international community engaged in Somalia’s affairs. As far as they are concerned, the meeting in Ainabo was a show intended for domestic secessionist audiences for cynical political or personal ulterior motives. For the SSC people, until they liberate their occupied regions, or unless Somaliland withdraws peacefully and unconditionally from their lands, the true relation they have otherwise with the secessionist enclave is not based on consensual agreement to unite and breakaway from Somalia, as the Ainabo deal is falsely purporting. That relation is simply one between an occupier and the occupied and maintained by the barrel of the gun. No amount of sophistry or Ainabo deal can mask that reality.
There can never be therefore any meeting of minds between Somaliland and the SSC people so long as their goals are irreconcilable: one clan striving to have their own breakaway sovereign enclave where they can lord over others; and the SSC people for their part are committed to remain part of Somalia and the end of the occupation of their regions. Something has to give in between these two unbridgeable positions. And it has to be the unsustainable goal of the one-clan enclave rather than giving up Somali unity and the inalienable rights of its adherents. As such, no amount of hollow promises to tinker with the prevailing one-sided asymmetrical relation between the occupier and occupied, and offer token concessions can ever entice the SSC people to join the secession.
One has to ask why Siilaanyo and Galaydh, who should know better unless they are getting dotty in their old age, should engage in this sham exercise in Ainabo? The answer is simple: Siilaanyo has been persuaded by his close aides- and egged on by Galaydh – that, just as the capture of the capital of the SSC regions, Lascanod, made his predecessor, Dahir Riyaale, a household hero in the enclave, he too could leave a bigger legacy for posterity if he was to succeed in uniting the SSC regions with the SNM-enclave before leaving office. Achieving that legacy, they reckon, is the surest way to usher the breakup of the union and the realization of their aspirations for separate Sovereign Somaliland.
This is a delusion, pure and simple. The reality is that the secession is doomed from two different quarters. The first of course is the opposition of the SSC people to go along with it. That alone is sufficient to sound its death knell. And the second is the changing demographic composition of the population of the secessionist clan. After 26 years since the declaration of the secession, the old chauvinistic revanchist partisans of the secession, the likes of foulmouthed Faisal Ali Wearable, are becoming dinosaurs irrelevant to the needs of a population increasingly dominated by the younger generations. Unlike their seniors, they carry no baggage from the poisonous past and unencumbered with the anti South hatemongering mantra that in the past sustained the secession. These are the new generations attuned to a new Somalia with no borders among Somalis. Time therefore is on their side as the old guard is outnumbered and consigned to the dustbin of history.
Siilaanyo and Galaydh might be comrades in arms these days but that should not mask their fundamental differences. The former strives for the cause of his clan enclave even albeit leading it astray. As for Galaydh, what drives him is not empathy for Somaliland or its leader but only what serves his personal interest of the moment. Until he turned Somaliland’s quisling, he considered Siilaanyo as one of the nemeses of the SSC people. What made him change tag is his bigger loathing of the powers in Mogadishu and Garawe for having in their different ways blocked his cherished ambition to be recognized as president of (occupied) Khatumo, on equal footing with other regional heads.