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Issue 434 -- May 22-28, 2010
SOMALILAND: Canadian, American Warlords, Al-Shabaab Vow To Disrupt Elections
By Dalmar Kahin
A Canadian and an American of Somali nationals, among other nationalities, with al-Shabaab terrorists plan a massive violent campaign against Somaliland polling stations in June 2010. A Canadian and an American! Hard to belief, isn’t it? Not only is it hard to swallow that some of the individuals gearing up for a showdown with Somaliland security forces live in the heart of Canada and U.S., but also these warmongers would slip back to Canada and U.S. without any problems. What is more upsetting is that both Canada and U.S. hypocritically scream about terrorist threats against their nations while they remain oblivious of their citizens fomenting a destructive campaign in Somaliland and elsewhere.
From the moment the conference convened in Nairobi, Kenya, by the Sool Diaspora communities, from North America and Europe, ended in October 2009, one thing was clear: bloodshed was inevitable in Sool region of Somaliland. In retrospect, were the perpetrators for the brewing conflict predictable? Was it the Ethiopian, Somaliland, Puntland troops or Diaspora communities who instigated the current conflict which turned once-peaceful town of Buhodle into the new Mogadishu—with its factions, terrorist connected and warmongering groups—of Somaliland?
Before doweling on the root cause of Buhodle conflict for starters: in Buhodle the border between Somaliland and Ethiopia runs through the town. Puntland leaders resolutely oppose the Somaliland section to remain part of Somaliland because the residents share tribal lineages with Puntland people, not with Somaliland’s. That is, the inhabitants of Buhodle are part of the Harti tribes:Majerten, Warsangeli and Dhulbahante. However, these leaders have no objection—at all—to the second half of the town to remain within Ethiopia’s boundaries. Now you may ask: are the residents of Buhodle ethnically closer to Tigrians (Ethiopians) than to Somaliland people? Of course not!
Also, Puntland leaders and Somali unionists argue that the populations in Sool and Eastern Sanag of Somaliland should join Puntland because of tribal lineage reasons. Be careful what you ask for—you may not like it. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say Somaliland agrees to join Somalia. Now we have the republic of Somalia (Somaliland and Southern Somalia). What if the Issa tribes of Somaliland in Awdal region decide to join Djibouti? After all they have tribal “lineages” with the people of Djibouti. Therefore, we must respect their wishes too. You see now the tribal affiliation crap is backfiring, isn’t it? A doubled-edge sword indeed! This is the problem with Puntland leaders and some unionists; time and time again, where common sense prevails, they fail. And this is the root cause of the current conflict in Sool region.
Now back to the drawing board. It was Garaad (a tribal chief) Jama Garad Ali from Sool region, a participant of the Nairobi meeting, who threatened to wage a war against Somaliland if it doesn’t leave the region. He stated unambiguously, “We must fight against Somaliland by any means necessary”. That is: including terrorist campaigns. And no sooner did the Nairobi conference ended than the attacks against Somaliland security forces began.
In the provincial capital of Sool region, Las Annod has witnessed at least ten terrorist attacks carried out by al-Shabaab and its dormant supporters in the last ten months. A number of Somaliland officials—including the governor of Sool region Farah Askar Hussein sustained injuries from bomb attacks. Worse yet, the commander of Somaliland’s 12th infantry division Col. Osman Yusuf lost his life, instantly, after a remote controlled bomb hit his vehicle.
But who finances these attacks? Some Sool Diaspora groups instead of funding schools and hospitals have opted to invest their hard-earned money into a war to” liberate” Las Annod, but from whom? From pro-Somaliland Sool tribes, despite the nonsensical tribal rants inundated with the public that the other Northern (Somaliland) tribes from as far as Awdal region bordering Djibouti have invaded Sool region.
Generously, the Somaliland Diaspora communities have collected millions of dollars to rebuild schools, hospitals, and water purification projects for their respective regions. However, for some Sool Diasporas igniting an inferno in their region to reach their political goal is the only thing that appeals to them.
For instance, the Nairobi meeting was clearly hijacked by the so-called Northern Somalia Unionist Movement (NSUM)—a violent Diaspora group connected to Al-Shabaab terror network in Somalia. In the conference Dr. Suleyman Issa Ahmed [Hagle tosiye], an American citizen from Ohio State, and Col. Ali Saberey, a Canadian citizen from Toronto, were elected to lead a campaign of terror against Somaliland security forces.
In fact, Dr. Ahmed, Col. Saberey and others were recently arrested in Kenya for terror connections. Only after Somalia’s current Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Jengeli who also hails from Sool region of Somaliland intervened, the two terror suspects were freed. But they wasted no time. After landing in Mogadishu and holding meetings with Al-Shabaab officials, the two men departed to Buhodle town. Ever since their arrival, they have been mobilizing militias from the area. See some pictures of Col. Ali Saberey and his militias gearing up for destruction.http://tinyurl.com/25eszpc
Soon Ethiopia, Somaliland and Puntland opposed militias arming themselves in Buhodle town. Dr. Ahmed and Col. Saberey, however, not only spoke to the residents in public gatherings but they also revealed the intention of the NSUM armed group.
The NSUM wants to achieve two objectives: to take advantage of possible election fiascos that could erupt in Somaliland’s upcoming presidential election in June 26, 2010 and to attack polling stations in Sool region during the voting.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia, Somaliland and Puntland have their different reasons for opposing the violent group in Buhodle town. Ethiopia is aware of the NSUM’s connection to Al-Shabaab and won’t allow Buhodle to be used as a base by al-Shabaab. Puntland opposes armed gangs because it rejects another authority established in Buhodle which Puntland claims to rule. Somaliland, on the other hand, just like Ethiopia is fearful of al-Shabaab terror groups operating the town where they could finish building its airport. Soon Eritrea could send shipments of weapons to attack Somaliland forces to start a new war to unify Somalia as the NSUM and al-Shabaab demand. Also, Somaliland has little tolerance for any violent threats against the upcoming elections. Read more about the NSUM, its connections to al-Shabaab and how some Diaspora communities are spurring mayhem in Sool region. http
Yet another question is: are the NSUM leaders really advocating for the development of the region or they are shedding blood to reach their political agendas? Be the judge. Only few years ago, Dr. Ahmed competed for the vice-president position in Puntland’s election. However, after he lost the election he though he found a bigger fish to fray. With the help of the NSUM, the Nairobi meeting was convened to establish a new authority independent from Somaliland and Puntland. He is now the leader of the armed group formed in Nairobi. Other members include: the commander of the NSUM militia, Yasin Ali Abdi (Tamaad). He also competed for Puntland presidential election but failed to win significant votes. Also, Said Ali Salah Khaarajiye, Keyse Abdi Yusuf and Hassan Geerash: the military wing of the NSUM group, in fact either held posts in Puntland or competed in its elections. So ambivalent are these individuals that they change their allegiances as many times as there are months in a year. So much for “liberating” Sool!
Now the predictable conflict in Buhodle erupted after the Ethiopian troops refused to allow any vehicles to leave the town with the exceptions of those destined to Somaliland. However, other reports indicated only after the NSUM tested its weapons by firing heavy machine guns and mortars in the Somaliland section of Buhodle, the Ethiopian troops in the other side of the town investigated the sudden gun eruptions. What ensued was a deadly war between the armed group and the Ethiopian troops. In any event, was it really a wise move for Dr. Ahmed and Col. Saberey to instigate trouble in the region at this time?
Col. Saberey, a former member of Somalia’s brutal army during Gen. Mohammed Siad Barre’s doomed regime and Dr. Ahmed, a naive Doctor who knows diddlysquat about military and who suppose to operate patients, not lead them to the killing fields, are in fact responsible for the deaths of dozens of innocent citizens in Buhodle. Dr. Ahmed instead of building hospitals in Buhodle, he destroyed the hope of the town’s people who preferred him performing surgeries over waging wars. Also some bellicose Sool Diaspora communities are equally responsible for destroying Buhodle town. Between the Nairobi conference and arming the NSUM, two million dollars has been raised. Imagine if a quarter of that money was spent on rebuilding Las Annod or Buhodle’s hospital.
As history attests, never before have Buhodle residents embroiled in a conflict with Ethiopian troops. But as soon as the NSUM militia has arrived, all of sudden a war erupts. A question remains for NSUM leaders? Why not keep your forces outside Buhodle instead of using the town as a base? Why engulf a town which has never witnessed a conflict? Or perhaps the objective of the NSUM leaders was once the city residents are slaughtered, the population will start supporting the militia.
Today, Dr. Ahmed and Col. Saberey are on the run. They are stranded somewhere in between WidhWidh village inside Somaliland border and Buhodle. The Ethiopians have already surrounded Buhodle town and Somaliland troops led by commanders who hail from Sool region have secured most of the border villages. For these Canadian and American warmongers, the noose is tightening around their necks. Was this necessary at all?
Of course not! In less than 24 hours Buhodle town residents fled to avoid Ethiopia’s cruel army which devastated the town after its inhabitants attacked the soldiers, as some reports pointed out. But the Ethiopian army’s brutal reaction is well too known. In 2006 to 2008, the Ethiopian forces pulverized Mogadishu to dust with the help of the NSUM (formerly known as NSPU). The NSUM (NSPU) even called Ethiopia: “The sister state of Somalia” and labeled the Islamic Court Union of Somalia who bitterly fought against Ethiopia’s occupation: terrorists. So much for advocating for Somali unity! The NSUM or NSPU’s statements speak for themselves. Read this article:http://www.somalilandtimes.net/sl/2007/298/15.shtml
Understandably, the Ethiopian forces in Buhodle reacted after they were attacked. Also, today the NSUM group perceives Ethiopia as the enemy—a grave concern for Ethiopia—of Somalia. But during 2006 to 2008, the NSUM was putting makeup on Col. Abdullahi Yussuf—the butcher of Mogadishu—and beautifying his eyelashes while he performed spectacular table dances for the Ethiopian Generals occupying Mogadishu.
Additionally, in the past the NSUM admitted openly in an audio clip for attacking police stations in Las Annod with grenades. Here is the clip:http://tinyurl.com/q3kbbp And Ethiopia is concerned that its forces may face the same bomb attacks. But the Ethiopian troops’ reaction is still condemnable, not commendable.
Meanwhile, Somaliland traditionally prefers resolving conflicts through a dialogue. So far the government while perusing the NSUM militia, Hargeysa, Somaliland capital, maintains peace in the region. Much of Somaliland’s resources are used to avert Sool region becoming like Southern Somalia.
Evidently, just like Southern leaders, some Sool individuals would wage a catastrophic war to show how destructive they are—a bargaining chip—to gain a seat either in Puntland or Somaliland: it doesn’t really matter which one. Similarly, Sool tribal chiefs failed to perform their traditional duties: acting as peacekeepers. They remain embroiled in politics and manipulation for personal advantage. And they too resemble Southern tribal leaders. Now, Sool region would soon turn into a battle ground just like Southern Somalia. Also, al-Shabaab already operates in Sool region.
To sum up, whether the population in Buhodle town opposes Somaliland or supports it is irrelevant. Their well-being is utmost priority. Unfortunately, the population is already fleeing. Thanks the selfish cowards like Dr. Ahmed and Col. Saberey who left their families in the comforts of Ohio City and Toronto, far from the killing fields in Buhodle while these tow warmongers wage war against peaceful Somaliland.
Dr. Ahmed and Col. Saberey should be apprehended and handed over to the U.S. and Canadian authorities. The government of Somaliland must formally protest against these men slipping back to U.S. and Canada with impunity.
How unfair and cruel is it for the people of Somaliland in general and for the victims of Buhodle town in particular that these American and Canadian individuals to inflict destruction in a region that is already destitute and then slip back to their comfort zones: U.S. and Canada?
Dr. Ahmed and Col. Saberey’s naivety (or their utter stupidity) is beyond belief: they have neither Puntland nor Ethiopia’s support. What’s more, the Sool Diasporas, population and tribal leaders don’t all agree on attacking Somaliland. Some want to be part of Somaliland; others want to deal with it peacefully. Yet these two men naively decided to wage a war against Somaliland security forces: the worst suicide attempt. And guess who is leading the Somaliland forces currently hunting these warmongers? It is none other than Sool commanders and politicians who are determined to pacify their region and reject portraying it as a conflict-prone area.
The Somaliland communities in Ohio and Toronto cannot allow Dr. Ahmed and Col. Saberey to slip back to their comfort zones after waging a bloody war in Somaliland. These blood-soaked warmongers must be reported to the authorities.
Similarly, the NSUM armed gangs should be rounded up where they will face local courts in Somaliland and held responsible for Buhodle’s destruction.
As for Somaliland, the authority has the moral obligation to aid the displaced residents and demand the Ethiopian troops to pull out from the town. In fact, the Somaliland government should ask Ethiopia to compensate the population in Buhodle for their losses.
Equally, the elders of Buhodle, intellectuals as well as the religious leaders of Sool region need to understand this latest tragedy could have been avoided through dialogues and negations. As I have always argued: it is time for Sool Diasporas to rebuild their region, not engulf it. If armed conflicts could resolves crisis, take Somalia as an example.
Also, a “liberation” that turns a peaceful town into ghost where dead bodies are littered on the streets is far from an achievement. If the new culture of “liberating” a region is about using a peaceful town as a base where, rest assured, your opponents would use the same town as their target then we really need to redefine the term “liberation”. Or more important: who are we liberating from the region?
By Dalmar Kaahin