Somaliland: Democracy in Action - VII

Somaliland: Democracy in Action - VII
Abdulazez Al-Motairi
March 09, 2009
The recent visit of Somaliland President Dahir Riyale Kahin was very important to strength the relation between the two countries - UK and Somaliland. UK government received Kahin with full diplomatic head of state reception, and he met number of MPs and UK Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Somaliland flag was flying high at the UK House of Commons, and large crowd of Somaliland community in UK welcomed the president and his delegate to London. UK Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited the president officially to visit London, in an attempt to support the growing democracies in Africa.
The below is informative article about democracy in Somaliland by Somali intellectual.
The article highlights the terrorist attacks in Somaliland, in which terrorist planned to stop the democracy development in Somaliland on 29th Oct 2008.
Somaliland: War on Terror Threatens Democracy - November 07, 2008 - 00:32
Despite the fallacious war on terror, in fact terrorism spread beyond control. Places that suicide attacks were unknown before are now struggling to cope with the devastation caused by them. Evidently, in the wake of massive terrorist attacks in Somaliland—its nascent democracy faces uncertainty. Never before did Somaliland witness horrific crimes committed by terrorists in its soil.
But on the beautiful morning of October 29, 2008 everything changed. After living peacefully in their country for almost two decades and establishing a remarkable democratic state, Somalilanders—once again—witnessed bloody attacks in their capital, Hargaisa. (In late 80s, close to 60, 000 civilians were massacred in Somaliland by the former Somali Army led by the infamous Gen. Morgan—the butcher of Hargaisa.) And again, chaos and panic swept through the streets of Hargaisa as scores of innocent Somaliland citizens—over twenty two people— lost their lives due to the simultaneous suicide attacks detonated in the heart of the city. The targets included the presidential palace, the Ethiopian commercial office, and the UNDP headquarters. And although understandably emotions are running high and there are more finger-pointing and blame-placing accusations than answers, the most crucial question remains unanswered: why was Somaliland attacked?
Though overwhelmed and frightened, Somaliland citizens continue searching answers. Meanwhile, the Western Media, while—of course—speaking to its captive audience and offering not a single shred of evidence quickly blamed the usual suspects—the Southern Somali group Alshabaab (the youth) which resolutely opposes the occupation of its country by Ethiopia.
Somaliland adversaries: Alshabaab, TFG and pirates
The plausible reasons that Alshabaab would attack Somaliland are plenty and clear. After all, Alshabaab is not pleased with Somaliland´s ties with the West and Ethiopia. And naturally, Alshabaab strongly believes the reunification of Somalia—including Somaliland—so this group will do whatever it takes to achieve its goals.
On the other hand, despite the Transitional "Federal" Government TFG claims that it is the only authority in former Somalia which theoretically includes Somaliland, the TFG barely controls its seat in Baydhabo, a city in Southern Somalia, much less rule Somaliland. Even worse, both Ethiopia and Kenya are now declaring their client TFG—led by the notorious warlord Col. Abudullahi Yussuf—as a hopeless regime doomed to fail. Ethiopia and Kenya parachuted the TFG into power in October 2004.
However, currently, the TFG has three priorities in its agenda: taking attention away from its failure, convincing the International community the presences of Al-Qaeda in the region, and most important—stopping Somaliland independence. The TFG knows that the year 2009 will bring some wonders to the Somali world. While the upcoming Somaliland presidential election in March 2009 will inevitably lead to its recognition, the TFG will not only crumple but also its five-year mandate will end in October 2009. However, without a doubt, after a successful, fair and transparent presidential election in Somaliland, Hargaisa will be on the verge of gaining its independence. And for the TFG derailing Hargaisa´s quest for independence is far more important than stabilising Southern Somalia, therefore. The timing could not have been better for Somaliland enemies either. Whatever it takes the TFG to sabotage Somaliland vote registration which has kicked in recently may be the ultimate goal. So whether it is Alshabaab or an earthquake, a civil war or a tidal wave—whatever is needed to stop Somaliland recognition makes no difference to the Somali quisling leaders. But what do the TFG, Alshabaab, and Al-Qaeda have in common? In fact, if the TFG, Alshabaab, and so-called Al-Qaeda groups in Somalia could agree on one thing, it would be: sabotaging Somaliland´s efforts to stand as a sovereign state—at any cost.
The war on terror has had ugly twists and turns. For instance, despite Col. Yussuf´s crying wolf about terrorists in Somalia he is now using the heinous attacks against Somaliland to his advantage for two reasons: to show the world that terrorists are even attacking Somaliland—an oasis in Africa—and to hinder Somaliland´s efforts to gain its severity. Therefore, undoubtedly the TFG ruthless thugs led by the belligerent warlord Col. Abudullahi Yussuf—the butcher of Mogadishu—whish they could congratulate the culprits of Somaliland attacks.
Meanwhile on a smaller scale but equally dangerous, the TFG employed pirates are chocking Somaliland´s ability to export livestock to the Middle East. Surpassingly, these pirates are directly connected to the same TFG the makes loud shrills about the presence of piracy in Somalia´s waters. The head of the Kenya-based Seafarers' Assistance Program, Andrew Mwangura could not have said it better when he stated, "Most of [the pirates] are linked to warlords…And the warlords are linked to the [government], all the way to the top." Read also about the danger that pirates pose to Somaliland: awdalnews
The proliferation of Alshabaab
Truly, the unabated Ethiopian onslaught against Southern Somalia, the merciless U.S. bombings against Somali villages, and the never-ending plight of the Somalis in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia have infuriated Somalis around the world. Even Kenyan soldiers are reported gang-raping Somali women in the Somali region of Kenya. reuters.comAs a result, Alshabaab groups are now recruiting sympathisers not only in Somaliland but also in Djibouti. Whether the world accepts or not.
Then, it is no surprise that some of the attackers in Hargaisa may be locals who have been enraged by the plight of fellow Somali ethnics throughout East Africa. And the longer the Ethiopian military adventure into Somalia continues, the more recruits for Alshabaab. Hence, Ethiopia and U.S. are in fact responsible for the proliferation of groups like as Alshabaab, introducing suicide attackers and roadside bombers. To make matters worse: Ethiopia isn´t safer than it was when it invaded Somalia in December 2006. Additionally, with the exception of few pockets in Mogadishu, and Baydhabo which is home to the foreign-imposed Somali regime, Alshabaab runs the show in the rest of Somalia. Possibly Ethiopia may exit Somalia by the end of December 2008. So in essence, Ethiopia´s invasion not only strengthened Alshabaab fighters but it will also bring them to power, just as the U.S. brought power to the Islamic Court Union I.C.U, after the U.S. supported brutal Somali warlords were defeated by the I.C.U. Ethiopia just reinvented the wheel, didn´t it?
The irony of Hargaisa attacks
Sadly, the terrorist attacks in Somaliland have an ironic twist. While the relatives of the victims mourn the loss of their loved ones, the government may find the attacks as a blessing in disguise. The government which received the fury of the attacks may in fact use the devastation in Hargaisa as yet another stale propaganda to demonize the opposition parties—namely KULMIYE—as Hargaisa has done in the past. Not so long ago, Somaliland Interior Minster, Abdullahi Irro accused KULMIYE party of committing terrorist acts against the country and having ties with Alshabaab group. But in reality, Mr. Irro´s laughable smear campaign has less to do with terrorism and has more to do with the government´s deceptive efforts to either monopolies or chock the lifeline of Somaliland people—exporting livestock to the Middle East. So, at times of massive devastation in Hargaisa, Mr. Irro may make yet another vomit-worthy accusation against KULMIYE. Truly, Somaliland yearns for a half-decent Interior Minster, don´t you think so? Terrorism became a propaganda gimmick just as communism was during the cold war. (Next war will be against Chinism!)
Indeed, the terrorists may have shrewdly concluded since the authority was bound to blame KULMIYE for everything including terrorist attacks, (lack of rains…you name it), why not wreck havoc and watch as Somaliland engulfs itself in a violent firestorm. That is, the foolhardy policy of our government towards KULMIYE party possibly accelerated the attacks.
Next attack: Djibouti
The terrorists that attacked Hargaisa know that there is a bigger fish to fry across the border to Djibouti. Both U.S. and France have troops in Djibouti. Now, the perpetrators gained experience, and without a doubt they have sympathisers and perhaps fighters in Djibouti; then it will be a matter of time before U.S. and France send body bags home.
Given Somaliland´s limited resources, lack of high tech weapons and proper anti-terrorism trainings, it will impossible for the government to seal off its border with Djibouti. For instance, Somaliland doesn´t have single fighter jet, or a helicopter to patrol its borders, nor does it have the resources to fight off terrorists.
As long as Somaliland lacks technology and resources to rebuild its armed forces, to secure its borderers, and to uproot extremists groups from its soil, the American and the French troops in Djibouti will have to deal with the wrath of terrorists at the gates of their [American and French] bases rather than stop the attackers at Somaliland border.
Final thoughts
There is hardly a nation which terrorism has not affected. Just like uncontrollable diseases, terrorism spread like a wildfire. But while governments do at most to control epidemics, terrorism is—inadvertently and imprudently—spread by authorities.
Behind the fa├žade of curbing terrorism, a new breed of extremist groups is about to hatch in East Africa. Thanks to the war on terror. Neither suicide attacks, nor roadside bombs were known in Somalia before the invasion of Ethiopia. But these desperate tactics are daily occurrences. Truly, terrorism is an act of desperation—when people are not give hope or a reason to live, they do whatever it takes to alleviate their pains. The myth that the terrorists envy the Western way of life and they want to impose their ideologies on the civilised world lost steam. It is an overused propaganda.
Additionally, the war on terror is now threatening one of the most democratic nations in Africa: Somaliland. Apart from economic and political isolations, among other problems, Somaliland struggles to cope with high seas pirates who threaten its only economic lifeline—the export of livestock to the Middle East—and terrorist attacks; the nation is stretched beyond its capacity to handle crisis. If the International community doesn´t act quickly—Somaliland could be the first nation succumbed to terrorist demands.
Doubtlessly, both Alshabaab and TFG factions are pleased with the terrorist attacks in Hargaisa, and the efforts of the perpetrators to derail the upcoming Somaliland election. Through the eyes of Alshabaab and TFG whatever it takes to stop Somaliland gaining its independence—including terrorist attacks is a fair game.
Also, evidently, the adventurous and reckless war on terror is in fact responsible for the proliferation of extremist groups in Africa and elsewhere. And as long as the plight of the Somali people remains ignored, Somalia´s neighbours won´t sleep comfortably.
It is about time to help Ethiopia evacuate its troops from Somalia. Understandably, Ethiopia has security concerns, but giving it the green light to invade its neighbour neither made Ethiopia more secure, nor curbed radical groups in Somalia. Ethiopia is the natural adversary of Somalia. And the idea of having the Ethiopian troops in Somalia as "peacekeepers" is ludicrous. Just as it is ridiculous to call the Israeli troops in Palestine peacekeepers, and so it is pathetic to camouflage the occupying Ethiopians in Somalia as "peacekeepers". Ethiopia needs peaceful neighbours, and the world could help Somalis choose their own government that approaches Ethiopia as a partner of peace and a good neighbour, rather than imposing a client Somali regime on the Somali people.
My assertions are not about accusing U.S.—Ethiopia coalition of creating mayhem in East Africa all alone, nor are they about defending Alshabaab´s possible crime committed in Somaliland—they are about looking into and beyond the thick smoke caused by Hargaisa terror attacks and how the war on terror would eventually undermine Somaliland democracy as well as its existence as a nation. Will the world rescue or watch as the nascent democracy of Somaliland surrenders to pirates and terrorists? Dalmar Kahin

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