By:Hersi Ali H. Hasan
“Erey-sami wuxuu gooyo
Allow yaan ku jarin soodhka
Garashada ka dhigan seefo.” – Hadraawi
In this article, I will be talking about what we, as a nation, can learn from the history of the conflict in the Horn of Africa region, specifically in the last 63 years; what had recently happened in Las Anod and how the government (of Somaliland) reacted; the advice we shared with the president, when he sought our advice, as a political party, at the beginning of the Las Anod uprising, and finally how the solution looks to me, personally.
Mankind usually faces problems and that within Allah’s plans for this universe. That is why the sciences of management, risk management and various leadership strategies are studied, though opinions may differ in finding solutions for these problems. However, theories on leadership, in its two forms (natural talent and learned), agree on the importance of finding solutions for common problems, and the human nature is basically good-willed, always looking for betterment and thus try to avoid problems.
As far as my memory goes, I have seen or heard of continuous wars. For my generation and the one before, it has been all war, displacement, or living with the devastating consequences of war. Also, the massed have been misled by a leadership who believe in their own lies. It is, therefore, essential that the leadership does not operate on ignorance and falsehoods. Instead, it should lead the nation with truth and a well planed bath. It should not believe in its own lies but rather strive truthfully to realize national dreams. Looking back at the history of the Somali inhabited territories, it is commonly agreed that WAR has been the most devastating common feature across the region.
Yet, nothing has been learned from these wars which include religious wars, tribal wars, national wars, political and civil wars. If we take, for instance, the most recent wars, especially those that happened after colonialism, we can mention:
- The rebellion wars from 1978 to 1991.
- The wars between OLNF and Ethiopia, from 1984 to 2019.
- The Civil War from 1991 to 1994, which engulfed many regions in Somaliland and Somalia.
- The war between Al-Shabaab and the government of Somalia, from 2006 to 2009.
- The civil wars from 1998 to 2023 , in Las Anod, Buhodleh, and other locations within Somalia and Somaliland.
All in all, very little or nothing has been achieved with these wars, except that the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown by the rebels in 1991. However, Somaliland which claims having the greatest role in overthrowing the dictatorship system has not yet reached its goal of being an independent nation recognized by the world. On the other hand, when war experts compare the pros and cons of war; its pros include historical, economic, political, and religious, while its cons include destructions of governing systems, livelihoods, peace, and loss of life and economy. Furthermore, other disadvantages of wars include mental damages and trauma which has negative affects on the national psyche and positive thinking. Also, wars cause immense damage to the ENVIRONMENT. Therefore, where there is war all problems are expected.
Therefore, all the losses mentioned above were inherited from that war in Las Anod, but what the government of Somaliland told the people, which is that it is fighting a coalition of terrorists and Puntland, securing its borders, has been nothing but hoax, as the administration of Sool was taken over by an administration put together the locals. On the other hand, even though I sympathize with the people of Sool and Sanaag in their age old grievances and rejecting all aggression and violations, I still do not understand the wisdom behind carving their own separate region while rejecting the independence of Somaliland, or putting their hopes on national unity that does extend beyond Mogadishu city.
Also, the terrible images (coming from the last war around Las Anod) of corpses being stepped on or mutilated are deplorable, disgusting, disgraceful to the culture and forbidden by the Islamic Sharia.
It is evident that the national consensus reached between the three main political parties in the Presidential Palace on 11/02/2023, which was “to solve the Las Anod issue peacefully and avoid everything that may fuel the conflict” has not been implemented. As consequence, such inaction worked against Somaliland. This resulted in that all forces from the Sool area, except few, opposing the control of Somaliland. Also, Somaliland lost all he regional/district administrators, the chairmen of political organizations or party leaders, the speaker of the parliament, and finally the assembly held by traditional leaders a unanimous decision against Somaliland.
The second time, eight-month long war broke out affecting thousands of people and both sides suffered (the people of Somaliland from Sool and the government of Somaliland). Most of the city of Las Anod was destroyed. Finally, the Somaliland army, which was the strongest in the Somali region, suffered a major historical defeat, for which there is no clear reason or reliable official report. We have learned from history that every war that does not have a clear purpose and goal ends in disaster, and this is where the old Somalis saying goes; “A man who goes into war laughing comes out of it angry, and a man who goes into war angry comes out of it laughing.”
So, the bad result of the war aside, it is also worth asking, knowing that the war among Muslims is forbidden by the Islamic Sharia, what are the basis for all this misery? In my opinion, it seems to me that the main causes are ignorance, misunderstanding of religion where each side seeks to heaven by eliminating the other, arrogance, oppression, injustice and low consideration for human life. The truth is that wars are what cripple the governance and development of the third world.
Before the war, we sent a recommendation to the President.
After the uprising, before the war started, the president asked us for advice on the issue of Las Anod. We started our efforts to find a solution for this problem by asking the Speaker of the Parliament (Abdirizak Khalif) who was on leave, to come back immediately and collaborate with the government to solve the crises at hand. The written recommendation we sent to the president:
Solution for Las Anod Crisis, January 20, 2023
We cannot underestimate the political uproar, the uprising in Las Anod, the successive uprisings that took place at different times in different places, and the fact that they are based on dissatisfaction with politics, age old anti-Somaliland grievances, troublemakers, or some people with other motives etc. The negative political sentiment is not something that emerged today among Dhulbahante but has been ongoing since the day the independence of Somaliland was declared, though it went through different stages. You can listen here how they (the Dhulbahante) reacted on May 18, 1991: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p034s4g8
A National Committee (Form & Number of a National Committee)
Preliminary plan 1: Quick fixes solution
- Activate Abdirizaq Khalif and facilitate everything that helps bringing in peace, settling the situation, and how to open a dialogue with the Dhulbahante appointed committee.
- Engage with the Garaad and bring him to President Musa to increase the confidence among both parties.
- Local forces led by Mahad Cambaashe, Ina Duale Dheeg and others be reconciled, and their troops slowly introduced into the city to keep the peace.
- To prevent anything that can cause civil conflict, death, and injury.
- To organize around Las Anod a group combining academics, intellectuals and politicians who have been selected to raise awareness about the well-being and mutual belonging between that community and Somaliland to balances the negative organizations and the alienating rhetoric that is going on in different areas.
- Calls for peace and calm are to be issued by scholars, elders, opposition parties and heads of Dhulbahante political organizations.
- That President should give a peace speech, showing that he is ready for anything possible that satisfies the these people.
Preliminary plan 2: Temporary solution
- Extending an official invitation to Dhulbahante and conduct a well-planned dialogue with the Garaads.
- Opening talks with head of Khatumo group, after the tension calms down.
- To increase the Dhulbahante government portfolios, targeting Jama Siad specifically and the Dhulbahante of Erigabo who have no noticeable visibility in the government.
- The president should invite the Dhulbahante businessmen, Ina Jabuutaawi being the first among them, to reconcile any grievances and then engage them further reconciliation efforts; the business activity of that community should be encouraged so that their interests are strengthened to make them feel the importance of their role in the country in every aspect.
- To send a joint delegation of religious leaders to Las Anod, to sit with the local religious leaders and strengthen the ongoing peace-building activities.
- To send a Traditional delegation (traditional leaders) to sit with the Dhulbahante Garaads and try to cool down tensions, open discussion, and start traditional negotiations.
- To send a national committee led by the Vice President and the Senate President consisting of the three national councils, the three national parties, and other indispensable elders.
Preliminary plan 3: Permanent solution
It is not a miracle to find a lasting solution, but it does not come without considering different options and think upright, trying to find a lasting political solution for the Las Anod area that the residents are satisfied with and can be implemented.
Not only that but other solutions include:
- To support or facilitate a large meeting of reconciliation between them, to find a unified voice and vision that is not based on emotion or being reactionary, and then have a meaningful and planned dialogue with their leadership. At the same time, Dhulbahante should received on their own terms and treated in a manner that shows that they are part of the solutions without dictating anything to them.
- That law and order reaches and is implemented in their areas, while they are part of, and implemented in their areas in different developments, and that they get the economic share and different opportunities based on fair share.
- To reach the country top leadership position (President and Vice President) by first creating a vision that aims for allowing them to lead this country (Somaliland).
I think that the points mentioned above can be the basis for the solution. These views are not newly minted to press on the current government but are opinions I had very long and readily available in my book, Hodanka Baahan, page 463. .
NB: I don’t think that what I mentioned above is the only right way. I shared this with you as a person who these solution as the right one, honestly hoping that the uprising should be managed wisely before things get out hand.
On another account, three weeks after the meeting with the President on 11/02/2023, we submitted another information and advice to him, which was that the Garaads meeting in Las Anod have communicated that the army should taken back to distance of only 2 km so that the bullets of the two armies do not reach each other, and only then they are ready for a dialogue. The president replied to me, “I can’t get out of Goojaajcadde, but you, Hirsi, would you get out?”
My answer to the president was, “Yes, I would order the army to retreat to any place where it can be in peace, even if that forces me to Oog, but now we are only telling you to retreat a bit form Goojacadde or to any other location, so that we can give peace a chance and the two armies don’t come into direct contact with each other. Also, since the army can face problems in territory that is more than 100 km, it is possible that it will fall into a trap which may cause immense suffering to both local people and us too, and the city will be destroyed, only to be forced then to take the army to Oog, because no one can be defeated in own territory.”
At the end, he insisted that will not order the army to retreat from Gojacade or relocated to any other location. Our exchange was much longer than this, but this is the main point to be taken from.
Anyway, the truth is, both the WADANI Party and many others who called for caution were not listened to, and the result has been massive loss of life and wealth, the destruction of Las Anod, and the damage of defeat suffered by the National Army. I think that the land will always be intact, the two peoples will do without the other, and there will a political reconciliation. Therefore, backtracking is not an option. Allah is the one who changes things and makes situations into unexpected, so we need to look at things from a healthy perspective, learn from what happened and ask ourselves why? Who is responsible? And where do we go from here? Whatever happened is bygone, so let us think about today and tomorrow. If religion does not reign us in; if positive cultural norms are not respected; if we do not learn from events and historical challenges and make the same mistakes repeatedly; it is guaranteed that we will forever be miserable and we will never achieve what our beers has achieved, let alone ever realizing any meaningful governance and development.
“Dib maxaa idiin celinayoo hore idiin diiday?
Mar uun maad ku dayataan khalqiga libinta doonaaya!” – X. Aadan Axmed Afqallooc
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hersi Ali H. Hasan, the Chairman of Waddani Party.