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May 18, 1991, the way back to the colonial plan

By   /  May 7, 2016  /  No Comments

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The central government of Somalia had collapsed on January 26, 1991, leaving Somalia rival clans, suicidal warring factions and overall chaos. USC rival factions vying for, just for power, hastily formed a government 48 hours within the departure from Villa Somalia by Siad Barre and his entourage. This hasty formation touched off diabolical cleavage and crises within the USC factions. Those with the least political insight could imagine what could come from the prevalent crises. The USC group which unilaterally decided to form its own regime failed to really understand the underlying deep and morose differences among themselves.

The group headed by Ali Mahdi, as the interim president, started power sharing and holding posts without consultation with other rival factions about the worsening general situation of the country. It did not occur to them that the former leadership of the country collapsed and security apparatus also disintegrated easily. Then while the group was struggling for power, lawlessness and chaos became prevalent after the military arsenals left behind by the defeated regime fell into hands of the thugs of war and vagabonds in the city.

SNM in the northwestern region of Somalia, probably, feeling snubbed declared secession from the rest of the country on May 18, 1991, as a response. Then a fresh headache knocked on the door as almost unstoppable intruder. To sooth the boiling circumstances in the north, Ali Mahdi appointed Omar Arte, a northern loyalist to Siad Barre, as the interim prime minister. Mahdi , as a callow , naïve, but ambitious contester , picked up Omar as generous gesture of giving the northern region full share in the new government spoils , but that was a critically miscalculated option since Omar had been known as a palace poet for Siad Barre and he also accepted Siad Barre’s desperate offer as his last prime minister when the regime of Siad Barre was in its death throes.

The secession declared by Abdurahman Ahmed Ali ( Tur) was another miscalculated judgement since a good portion of the clans in the area were staunch supporters of the military regime and in tribe wise Dulbahante and Warsengeli tied to the Majerteen in the east as blood relatives. So their option to support the Somali unity was more expeditious for them than support secession, dominated by the main clan in the north, the Issaak.

Abdurahman Tur, the speaker who announced the secession, was a former official of the government of Somalia and was also an ambassador who represented Somalia in some other country. In fact some people who knew him claim that Tur was not enthusiastic about leading a secessionist entity , but as they said the radical and hawkish SNM faction, tribal fanatic-turned politicians, kept for pushing through the secession and Tur caved in as the person responsibility of declaring a breakup of the Somalia nation and betrayal of the national unity and interest.

Due to the lawlessness and overwhelming chaotic circumstances, and the destruction of the infrastructure of the region, Tur and his group failed to stabilize the territory. As the secession was declared hastily, even the Issaak clans among themselves remained in a suspicious situation and that was what finally led them to slip into the civil war in the region in 1994-95.

When Mohamed Ibrahim Egaal, the last prime minister of the civilian regime of Somalia from July 1967 – Oct. 1969, stepped in and ousted Tur in 1993, matters remained extremely difficult. What Egaal was expecting to realize for the territory was to gain recognition. Egaal could not visit Arab countries because he was aware of their adherence to the Somali unity, as a brotherly Muslim country and a member of the Arab League. Instead he visited Kenya shortly after he took over the leadership of the secessionist regime. One reason of the priority of his visit to Kenya could be interpreted that he was looking for a positive response from the then Kenyan leader arap Moi regarding Egaal’s signing in Arusha in 1968 of what had been understood as Somalia’s abandoning of NFD’s cause in favor of Kenya during Egaal’s tenure of the premiership of Somalia. Moi i simply told Egaal that he should mind his business.

Egaal,s leadership simply increased the prevalent antagonism in Somalia as the result of the headache created by the rampant negative effect of the civil war after the collapse of the central government of Somalia. Firstly, few people were expecting his vehement willingness to lead a part of the country he led as a whole, and if that happened the sensible assumption was that he would pacify the area and could work on any means of foiling the secession using his political and personal weight in favor of the Somali unity and foil further instability in the area under his control. That did not happen. In place of that, he joined to angry rabble and started attracting attention of the people in uttering expressions which were below his dignity. In one occasion he said, “ I have united Somalia and today I smashed it with a hammer.” And few days before his death, Egaal said, “Somalis will not dispense with each other.” The latter statement was really a fact. But was it in its right time? No.

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About the author

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Ahmed nur Sheikh Ali, Writer, Poet, academic with long years of teaching experience; Holds M.A. in English and is PhD candidate at Aligarh Muslim University, India. Presently he teaches English at the National University of Somalia. He also taught Somali language at Dictyon language School, Virginia, USA. Laasoole30@gmail.com

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