Mahiga, Somalia, Somaliland and the clashes in Khatumo By, Osman Hassan.
Like a wild predator chased away from one place and trying its luck elsewhere, the renegade one- clan secessionist enclave calling itself Somaliland never seems to give up its predatory designs on the Khatumo State of Somalia. Ignominiously defeated in its colonial-like quest to wrest the Cayn region from its indigenous owners, it is once again on the warpath in the Sool region deluding itself that it can succeed this time where it had failed in the Buuhoodle/Cayn region. Under the guise of holding elections but in reality aiming to conquer and occupy more land, Somaliland launched on 28 of November 2012 a surprise attack on the town of Hudun. History repeats itself and. the very same arrogance, overconfidence and misreading of the situation in Kalshaale that triggered in 2010 their final rout in the Cayn region, is now playing itself out once again in the Hudun/Sool region.
For the people of Sool, already reeling under Somaliland’s barbaric occupation of their regional capital, Lascanod, their unprovoked attack on Hudun, just like that of Kalshaale before it, was the last straw that broke the camels back. Far from conquering them, Somaliland’s actions on the contrary have served as the spark that suddenly galvanised the resistance to this expansionist chauvinist occupier. The liberation of the towns of Hudun, Lascanod and other areas of Sool region has started, and the countdown to Somaliland’s dastardly occupation of the sacred Darwiish land have began.
Clearly Somaliland far from learning its lesson from Kalshaale has been emboldened by recent developments in Somalia and outside which it wrongly perceives as propitiations for its cause. First and foremost is the election of a new impressionable president for Somalia who now empathizes with their secession, having got elected thanks to their parliamentary clan votes. His appointment of a sworn secessionist from the enclave as Somalia’s foreign minister was his first down payment for their favours. All his subsequent actions have reinforced that trend.
A sabre-rattling president, in the case of Kismayo, ready to go to battle in the name of defending Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity from its recalcitrant but otherwise unionist locals, has been conspicuously silent about the secessionists’ flagrant attack on Khatumo State aimed at dismembering Somalia. The same goes for parliament and a Prime Minister whose so-called government only exists in name. From Somaliland’s perspective, this collective silence unmistakably amounts to consent to its colonisation adventures in the SSC regions (Sool, Sanaag and Cayn) and implicitly if not explicitly signifies approval of its secession.
The second factor that gave a fillip to their hitherto dwindling fortunes was the timely support (and not for the first time) from Ambassador Augustine Mahiga, the Special Representative for the Secretary-General of the United Nations (SGRG). Always flip-flopping unashamedly on any issue, he has a knack of ingratiating himself with his Somali audiences, telling them exactly what they like to hear as if they were kids, and from the look of it they tend to be taken for a ride like children. Like a chameleon, he changes his colours according to his surroundings and audiences. Thus when in Mogadishu or Nairobi, he will affirm Somalia’s unity to endear himself with unionists, officiously reminding them the resolute stance of the UN Security Council on Somalia’s unity and territorial integrity. But once he is in Hargeisa, he puts on a different colour, explicitly supporting the secession. His motto must be that if he pleases both sides in turn, he can never go wrong and this seems to be the case.
Ambassador Mahiga was at it again when he went the other day on an official visit to the enclave in order to smooth the ruffled feathers of their leader, who felt enraged when the SRSG in a letter to him referred to him as the “ president of Somaliland State of Somalia”. This is the worst sleight any outsider could commit in their eyes. Meekly pleading innocence, and blaming others for the letter that upset Siilaanyo’s presidential ego, he assured him that “such mistakes shall not occur in the future”. But when he added that he “recognises the aspiration of the People of Somaliland for self-determination “, this was music to the ears of the “president” and his enclave and Mahiga once again got himself into the good book of Somaliland. His actions may please his audiences in Somaliland but in practical terms they mean very little, for ultimately it is the stance of the international community that counts -which is crystal clear on where they stand – and not the shenanigans of an errant SRSG.
Since the SRSG recognises that Somaliland is a separate State and not a State of Somalia, with Siilaanyo as its president, he has flagrantly flouted the stand of his masters, the Security Council, and also the terms of his office. As such, it is incumbent upon the Secretary-General to replace him and salvage the tattered credibility of his office and the United Nations.
In the case of Somalia, one would have expected any Somali government worth its name to have declared the SRSG persona non grata. But the fact that there is not a word of protest or action forthcoming from President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and his sham government, speaks volumes about his ambivalence towards Somalia’s unity, and if anything is symptomatic of his cosy relations if not collusion with the secessionists, possibly in the name of mythical clan solidarity.
Both the support of Mahiga and the president of Somalia to the secessionists will undoubtedly encourage them in digging their secession heels and ratchet up their aggression against defiant Khatumo. A clan that opts to secede is bad enough. But one that wants also to colonise and force others to come under its tutelage is unacceptable. Though they will never succeed in their vain goals to either hold on to any part of Khatumo, or gain recognition, it is the unnecessary suffering they would be inflicting on civilians, and the threat they pose to the achievement of durable peace and stability in these regions that is bound to be of particular concern to the international community, now determined more than ever to work for a united democratic Somalia.
For too long, the secessionists have been indulged by some western countries who bear some of the responsibility for the durability of the secession and the damage its causing to their victims in Khatumo, wider Somalia and the region. The aims and objectives that the international community had set itself in Somalia would not be achieved unless they use their considerable leverage over the secessionists, including the threat of economic sanctions. Great Britain, for obvious historical reasons, and the USA among others, have special responsibilities to prevail over the secessionists to stop their aggression in the Khatumo State. Above all, and for the sake of Somalia and the region, they should dispel any lingering false hopes the secessionists still entertain regarding possible recognition from western countries.