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The Burao Conference: A closer look
By Ali H. Abdulla
The rebuttal of Haboon to my short article that was meant to correct certain inaccuracies in an article contributed to this forum by Sougal, does raise several important questions that many Somalis seek credible answers to.
On a lighter note, Haboon’s eloquent defense of Sougal reminds me of a popular Somali saying by a Somali bard “Hablaa laysku dhaafaye, Hadaanan Habaryartay keenin”. Since I do not have an eloquent Habaryar like Haboon to come to my defense, let me try to fight my own battle.
On a more serious note, my comments on Mr. Sougal’s diatribes were never meant as a rebuttal because I normally do not get involved in regional issues as I tried to make it clear in the beginning of my comments, which were only an attempt to correct several inaccuracies in Sougal’s article. I guess my IT background could not stand the wrong math and chronology of events in the article.
As per Haboon’s request, let me try to answer the points she raised in her rebuttal to my comments to the best of my knowledge, although I would have preferred the debate on secession to remain at a more national level.
So what are the facts about the Burao Conference?
Given these facts, the valid question that needs an answer is: what prompted the two heavy weights, Garad Abdi Qani and Professor Galaydh to change their positions so easily?
As far as I know, Garad Abdi Qani was a strong leader who did not flop–flop in his stands for what he rally believed in, and he is well known for his vocal opposition to the military regime and its heavy-handed practices in the North. It is also worth mentioning that his late brother Garad Cali Garad Jamac went to jail several times for opposing the regime and is also known for his concerns regarding a hasty union with the South before the North and the South united to form the Somali Republic.
Some analysts provide two explanations for the change of heart of the Garad and the professor:
Many analysts tend to favor the second explanation and credit the quick thinking of Garad Abdi Qani, who was a seasoned politician before becoming a Garad, with averting a potentially destructive war in Sool and Sanaag by willingly attending the Burao conference and convincing hard-liners like Garad Saleeban to attend as well. The Garad had enough wisdom to foretell the consequences of going against the wishes of a well-armed militia army and might have gone along with the resolutions of the conference to save his people from potential harm.
Regardless of his initial stand, the important thing is that he later changed his position and came up strongly against the secession. His heir, Garad Jamac, who was trained under his close supervision, is also a unionist as illustrated by his coronation ceremony that was attended by Somalis from all corners of the country.
If the above explanations are not convincing enough for the current position of Sool and Sanaag, I am sure that Haboon is familiar with the famous saying “What is good for the goose is good for the gander”. If it makes sense to her for die-hard SNM supporters to arbitrarily and unilaterally dissolve the union with Southern Somalia, why would it be taboo for Sool and Sanaag to renege on any agreements some of their leaders might have entered into with the SNM in the Burao conference regardless of whether those leaders did that under duress or not?
It may be difficult for many to accept any of my explanations, so I would like to steer the debate to a higher level. I think we need to go beyond regional issues and tackle the many problems our country faces in these difficult times. We need to raise the debate to a national level and re-asses our stands in the light of the current events.
Our divisions have encouraged Ethiopia to invade parts of our country, and have given it the impetus to contemplate invading other parts as well. A group of Garads from Sool had to travel recently to Ethiopia to avert an impending Ethiopian invasion of Las Anod and surrounding areas under the pretext that these areas harbor elements of the Islamic Courts Union. Dr. Gabose and Engineer Mohamed Hashi have been falsely accused of sympathizing with the ICU and an Ethiopian invasion of parts of Somaliland may not be far-fetched. As we all know, the de-facto president of all Somali territories is Meles Zenawi and all Somali leaders are under his hegemony. So let us forget about the lands for the moment and try to save the core if we still have an iota of patriotism left in us.
Other issues that need to be addressed are the severe degradation of the environment; the cursed drug “Qaat” that destroys our youth and siphons off our meager resources; the disadvantageous mining and oil-exploration agreements being signed with small-time operators; the lack of proper infrastructure in all parts of the country; the lack of the most basic health care services; the lack of a proper education system; the lack of sufficient clean water in many parts of the country; the suffering of thousands of young women subjected to painful and harmful mutilations, and the list goes on.
As an aside, the word Siadism has been tossed around a lot in this forum and I tried to decipher its meaning. Although I am not sure of the criteria Sougal and Haboon have used for classifying some people like me as idiotic Siadists, I came up with three potential classifications:
I am sure that I do not fall in the second category since I left the country at the pinnacle of the Siad Worshipping era, when most of the current leaders in Somaliland were chanting “Guulwade Siyad”. However, I am a proud card-carrying member of the third category.
Finally, a clean debate is more productive than one that uses name-calling and I would propose that contributors to this forum abide by that rule.
Ali H. Abdulla