Puntland: A Quisling Scheme
This month, Puntland leadership is marking a new day of struggle for the creation of a semi-autonomous region. The day is now instituted by its administration in memory of August 1st, 1998. In commemorating the occasion, Puntland Diaspora communities are pronouncing an official holiday, pledging Puntlanders everywhere to participate in the political process by which the design of Puntland flag, symbol, and anthem will be adopted. As the lessons from the secessionist Somaliland show, independence can not be promptly attained merely with the adoption of slogans, flags, and militant songs (such as the new tune “ku dayo Puntland”). This anniversary has a particular undertone, in view of the completion of the SSDF’s long-awaited goals. The emergence of Puntland Regional Administration and its efforts to transcend a regional level and attain a complete independence from the rest of Somalia are dealt with extensively in this short paper.
What Kind of Anniversary?
As Puntland is celebrating the 11th anniversary of its establishment, as a regional administration, some bitter questions about its future are arising. Its leaders now can’t resist expressing dismay at the growing fanaticism and clanism in the ranks of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG). Propagated by the TFG’s new leadership, the Mogadishu-centered mentality, which the existence of regional federalism was meant to be eradicated, is not a shared vision among all Somalis.
Therefore, this year’s anniversary will be different from what it has been in the past. Puntlanders who take part in this year’s celebration will be stepping on each others feet. The fanfare occasion could even become the turf to exact old wounds. Those who often get emotionally identified with Puntland (zealous SSDF veterans) and regard themselves as “true” Puntlanders will surely celebrate with new tunes and certain manifestations of profanation. They speak with mounting anxiety about the growth of Islamist influence in the south and the threat that it could pose to the interests of Puntland. More recent developments in Mogadishu have also suggested that this fear of the Shabaab take-over is not exaggerated. This view gradually gained ground in Garowe and its reaction to Mogadishu debacle is predictably hostile.
In the period immediately following President Abdullahi Yusuf’s forced resignation, December 29, 2008, many voices from Puntland were heard saying “Somalia is sliding back into chaos. IGAD is putting everything where it was before etc”. To our understanding, Puntland’s new mood may perhaps be ascribed directly to Yusuf’s resignation. This momentous event accelerated a mutual distrust between the already strained relations between Puntland and Mogadishu, and this could impede Somali unity.
Zealous supporters of Puntland argue that those who forced their hero, Abdullahi Yusuf, to resign from the presidency without finishing his term, had ulterior motives. They now pronounce, without a fear, secessionism; and claim that this anniversary will underline Puntlanders’ ability to discover a new confidence of political ascendency and possibly an independent state. Zealots feel that their leaders have been too lenient with Mogadishu clans for too long. They say: before the European invasion, almost all of what is now Puntland had always been completely under one ruler. They believe that it is the right time to reclaim that old glory and establish an independent State under their supervision.
These groups have already designed their personal flags and symbols that ought to be adopted by Puntland. However, many Puntlanders are reluctant about this idea of statehood, and anxious to show that Puntland leadership still masquerades under false pretenses. They believe that Puntland has yet to be liberated from the shackles of pirates, clanism, and fear complexes.
A Quisling Scheme or a “Bottom-Up” Approach!
Roobdoon Forum finds numerous writings about the rise of mini-states in Somali websites, in Western media, and the books of Somali contemporary history. In these writings, one can glean from these sources information about Puntland’s efforts to follow the footsteps of the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland and to establish a quisling regime in the northeastern regions of Somalia – i.e. to secede from the rest of Somalia.
Many Somalis have been reassessing literatures about the rise of such mini-states. Some of these literatures, though written through the lenses of euphoria, regarded the disintegration of Somalia Proper as signaling the end of Somali Unity and the emergency of clan-fiefdoms. This new interest can as well be seen within the Somali Diaspora communities, where the renascence of the ideas of clan-enclaves leads to rather favourable reappraisals.
In fact, the achievement of a regional administration in northeastern parts of Somalia has already, to a certain degree, checked the idea of Somali Weyn national sentiment. Similarly, in northwestern Somalia (Somaliland), hopes of unity gave way to a sense of anticlimax, the resurgence of clan loyalties, and the adaptation of old artificial colonial borders. Indeed, the trauma of unsuccessful Somali Weyn doctrine is enormous in these regions. Is this Puntland/and Somaliland trend reversible? Perhaps, though it seems less likely. The 18 years of Somali civil wars have, if truth to be told, shattered Somali unity and diminished the cherished Somali Weyn conviction.
Still, the choice that Puntland makes these coming months/years will be momentous, not only for themselves, but also for Somali unity. For some, our speculation about the immediate future of Somalia seems doomsday thoughts rather than a political concern. In any case, since no credible solution is as yet in sight, this frightening prospect and its possibility are worth to be reassessed.
The October Revolution
On closer examination of the Somali crisis, the 1960-69 civilian governments shrank to the role of relatively insignificant player in the drama that then unfolded. Instead, at the center stage, one finds 21 years of military and one-party rule.
Some scholars argue that there is a dearth of serious accounts of the causes of the Somali revolution – i.e. accounts honest enough to explain the circumstances that framed the revolution. Conversely, the “memorandum of understanding” with Kenya signed by former Somali Prime Minister, Mohammed Ibrahim Egal, at Arush, Tanzania, on October 28, 1967 is believed to be one of the main issues that ignited discord among Somali elites and led to charges in Mogadishu that Egal’s government had betrayed Somali interests in Kenya’s North-Eastern Province (aka NFD).
Somalia’s ruling party, the Somali Youth League (SYL), was in a state of disarray, with disturbances and quarrels among its ranks. Many MPs have called the Arusha understanding a “sellout of the NFD” and demanded from the SYL Central Committee to expel Egal from the party, on the grounds that he acted against the interest of the party and the nation. To ease the situation and pave the way for reconciliation, Abdirizak Haji Hussein have resigned as the SYL’s secretary-general and subsequently the Committee nullified the expulsion of Prime Minister Egal from the party. Nonetheless, the tensions within the parliamentarians created the almost total erosion of the government institutions – the weakening of the legal system and the increasing venality of the deputies, which eventually led to coup d’état by the army.
Premier Egal’s government lasted less than three years. It was in October 21st 1969, when the popular coup d’état replaced the civilian government, detaining and charging the civilian Prime Minister of ‘complicity with foreign intelligence’.  Somalia was just one of many African nations that experienced what was then referred as “coup-struck” nations – the 21st African nation in the scoreboard of military coups in Africa.
Scholars with in-depth African experience formulated the theory that states: the civilian governments have been supplanted by the army forces because of the fact that the military men controlled the weaponry and had the capacity for organized violence. However, in all fairness, the army-led Somali coup was popular and quick to justify its actions, based on a number of grounds including corruption, nepotism, and clan favouritism. It was the ruling SYL cliques who were not able to take their rhetoric of democracy in its literal sense and dispense with the need for a military takeover.
The first six years of the military rule (Oct 1969-1976) generally proved more stable and progressive than its predecessor. In an interview with Siyaad Barre conducted by Yugoslavia’s POLITIKA in March 26, 1976, he said:
In the country, in the six and half years since the army overthrew the corrupt civilian administration, five times more industrial facilities and seven times more roads have been built in the country than in the preceding decade. 
Despite the sweeping programs of social and economic developments witnessed, the military regime had met its major frustration in 1977-78. Siyaad Barre launched his campaign of liberating Somalis in the Ogaden region, since the restoration of the territories of the Somali ethnic group was and still is the heart of Somali Nationalism.
The Ogaden war represented the most serious disappointment in Somalia. Its outcome was a severe psychological blow to the morale of the Somalis. Siyaad Barre’s major political miscalculation was that knowing the Americans decided not to arm Somalia – by toeing a straight OAU line – he kicked out the Russian and Cubans from Somali soil. As a result of this, the general mood of the public was at its lowest peak, after more than 60% of the country’s army equipment, such as heavy armoured, was either destroyed or captured in the war. Siyaad Barre’s position inside Somalia came under severe pressure. With the help of the Russians, Cubans, and Yemenis, Ethiopian forces became victorious, forcing Siyaad Barre to withdraw Somali forces from the Ogaden.
Factionalism in Somalia
Many scholars have noted that the Ogaden debacle are attributed for triggering or motivating, at least, much of the long-standing clan animosities toward Siyaad Barre and his clan. It was however a year before the Somali-Ethiopian war, the beginning of 1976, when a group of Majeerteen elites formed an opposition group called Somali Democratic Action Front (SODAF), in Addis Ababa. [Read below].
In July 01, 1976, Siyaad Barre’s regime refurbished itself into one-party rule. The Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) transferred the power and authority of the country to Somali Socialist Revolutionary Party (SSRP). Siyaad became secretary general of the SSRP and the president of Somali Democratic Republic. His aspiration was to transform his power, which came through coup d’état, to a government managed by a civilian-military elites – i.e. a regime no longer organized by just the Supreme Revolutionary Council, who were all military men. It took him not that long when he realized that to move between the two worlds of military and civilian authority is not an easy proposition; and it did not help his authority to lump them together under a single barrack.
Siyaad Barre’s guess was perhaps transferring the responsibilities to SSRP would create a cohesive, modern, and progressive institutions; however, these changes brought no real change. Intractable clan rivalries in the administration and in the army have actually increased. Siyaad Barre began to experience increasing opposition to his rule. In fact, an opposition group crystallized in that year (1976), as Siyaad sought to legitimize his rule as an elected leader who gained the confidence and the majority vote of the new socialist congress.
Many observers thought that Siyaad has been genuine in his attempts to destroy clanism in Somalia, despite the fact that he has protected his own position by surrounding himself largely with relations and clansmen from his own clan. The new opposition group, Somali Democratic Action Front (SODAF) noted and used as a justification a secret document signed by President Siyaad Barre, in which SODAF viewed it as an institutionalized clanism that marginalized certain group of the Somali society [See the secret letter below].
This insignificant group of 13 people (SODAF) appeared no coherent opposition to Siyaad Barre. The group was led by Osman Nur Ali “Qonof”, former Minister of Justice (1969-1970),) and Mohamoud Gelle Elmi “Dhurwa”, former Minister of Industry and Commerce (1969-1970). The opposition group in exile was made up largely of one clan, Majeerteens, and was operating clandestinely from Addis Ababa. The Majeerteens therefore have largely isolated themselves from other clans in Somalia. Not only by making a narrow clan issue of their opposition to Siyaad Barre has ensured SODAF’s own suicide but also the group “has explicitly stated it does not wish to unite Somalis outside Somalia by force.”  Furthermore, a widespread disgruntlement felt in Somalia when a Majeerteen dissident quoted in Nairobi as saying: “My brother’s enemy is my friend. We are prepared to join hands even with Israel to bring down this dog.” 
In Addis Ababa, one of their rare news conferences, SODAF leaders affirmed that the creation of the new organization “fulfills the need for all Somalis to liberate themselves from dictator Siyaad.” SODAF leaders deplored that Ethiopia (led by Mengistu Haile Mariam) “stands by passively, without the slightest reaction to Siyaad Barre’s regime.”
SODAF’s attempt to forge relations with Mengistu, who himself came to power through the barrel of a gun, was interesting. Mengistu was a ruthless dictator who pretended to be a communist. He hung on to power only by force and he ruthlessly killed many civilians. Once, Mengistu’s wife and children were abducted for ransom by disgruntled army officers. He responded with a note of his own saying, “Boil them and eat them for all I care. The officers freed his family.” 
Yet, the 1977-78 war provided the catalyst to capitalize on broader anti-Siyaad feelings; and in the aftermath of the war debacle, some of the embittered field grade officers (again, most of them were from Majeerteen clan) expressed their resentment towards Barre’s handling of the war. And this resentment took shape in the attempted (but failed) coup of April 09, 1978. A diplomat in Mogadishu described the coup as ‘ill-timed, ill-planned, ill-supported and tiny.’ 
As many sources also indicate, the coup collapsed quickly of mainly Siyaad Barre’s advance knowledge of the event, which permitted him to move ahead against the coup leaders. Subsequently, there have been no major disturbances in Mogadishu or Hargeisa – soon after brief clashes in Mogadishu surroundings, government forces succeeded to round up most of the coup plotters, including the Mogadishu-based ring leader, Col Mohamed Sheikh Osman “Cirro”.
Government-owned Mogadishu Radio in Somali stated in one of their lead stories, in that week, that the government have been patient in the face of frequent provocations by this tiny group, who make use of “political brokerage” (afmiinshaarnimo) as a habit. 
Nonetheless, the major ring leader of the abortive coup, Col Abdullahi Yusuf, with thirty junior officers escaped into Kenya and then to Ethiopia. Col Abdullahi Yusuf masterminded an opposition group, the Somali Salvation Front (SOSAF), absorbing the already Addis-based front, SODAF. [Read below]. Again, SOSAF was perceived as a clan-oriented party of the Majeerteens, and indeed they did provide the bulk of his followers.  In August 02, 1979, SOSAF was incorporated with other dissident groups and became Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), still though a Majeerteen-based opposition group. In order for SSDF to gain legitimacy and to be projected as an alternative ruler for all Somalis, Abdullahi Yusuf and other SSDF top brass should have sought a multi-clan movement that would transcend the interests of the Majeerteens.
The Emergence of Puntland Regional Administration
Prior to Puntland’s establishment in 1998, some hundreds of thousands people fled or were driven from their homes to places outside the capital city of Somalia, Mogadishu, and its surroundings – including refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.
This human tragedy, which led to the emergency of national disintegration, was placed in motion when (May 18, 1991) a northern part of Somalia declared itself to secede from the rest of Somalia.
Also, in the summer of 1998, delegates from five regions in northeastern part of Somalia expressed their hope of contributing to strengthen the general security and stability in the Horn of Africa region, particularly in Somalia. These delegates from not so friendly clans gathered and formulated a regional state. In regard to the proposals offered by the delegates, the new regional administration, Puntland, was represented as a model applicable to the settlement of the war torn Somali crisis.
The delegates pledged to unite all clans in northeastern Somalia and thereafter make peace with their neighboring regions. They believed that the success of the process of national reconciliation is intimately related to the reconciliation based on “bottom-up” approach – i.e. “clan-reconciliation-first” approach.
From the inception of the Administration however, as we know it, the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) veterans have expressed a strong feeling of marginalization directed towards their sub-clans during the long period of Siyaad Barre’s regime. The initial reaction of the other non-SSDF clans in the region was to curb the SSDF veterans’ fear and allowed them to handle the new Regional Administration’s helm, as a compensatory gesture to draw popular unification. Soon the new Regional Administration simply invented sub-clan hegemony where it did not exist before; and, to many, the compensatory gesture from the delegates turned into bitterness which generated administrative sub-clan demarcation. It is therefore less surprising that the struggle to appropriate “a fair share” of the new Regional Administration’s resources have suddenly assumed sub-clan distinctiveness.
Many elders have now sought in various ways to remedy this shortcoming. They understood that their efforts was for long, mistakenly, directed to satisfy SSDF veterans beyond the limit. The moment still seems opportune to derail the previous gestures – of waiting on the sidelines – and initiate a more to direct action, and to try and wrest the destiny of Puntland from SSDF clique.
Furthermore, the prime objective of Puntlanders should not, as on previous occasions, rely on or even look up to as a guide for the current leadership. We are deluding ourselves if we fail to recognize the existence of anti-democratic feelings among the top Puntland leadership. These anti-democratic feelings have been expressed in various ways. The most striking is how in the last three elections its top leaders were elected by a lousy Legislative Body, mere 66 in composition; and the Administration has yet to strive for direct elections (universal suffrage). Equally important is how Puntland leadership had, in the past, consciously helped sea-piracy to become a widespread phenomenon in Puntland.
Undoubtedly, another example that will create resentment towards the current leadership will be if it tries to toe the line with the current mood of over-zealous supporters of Puntland, who are pushing the idea of an independent state entity, without referendum. If this happens, Puntland leadership alone will be held responsible for Somali Weyn humiliation.
In this short paper, it is not possible to draw up the long list of grievances against Puntland leadership, all which can be described as the principal cause of discord. Failing to incorporate fully into its administration to Sanaag, Sool, and Cayn regions is one of the most important, however, there are many others – the Mijiyahan incident, Laascaanood debacle, sea piracy, corruption and venality in the administration etc. Finally, Roobdoon Forum forwards to its readers the following letter and news-coverage, which may have a special interest and deserve to be made accessible to a wider circle of readers.View:3823
Short URL: http://www.somalpost.com/?p=1942