The Somaliland Times
Haatuf Media Network
Tel: 252-828-3783 (Soltelco), 252-213-6546(S.T.C), 252-2-528015 (Telesom)
At Togdher Street, Near Ged-deble Hotel
Editor: Yusuf Abdi Gabobe - Asst. Editor: A. Dubad & Abdifatah M.Aidid - Sub. Editors: Hasan Hosh - Layout and Design: Ahmed Jama
Issue 24, June 29, 2002
Rayale Rules Out Somaliland’s Participation In Nairobi Talks
Hargeisa (SL Times): President Dahir Rayale Kahin has ruled out his country’s participation as an observer in the forthcoming reconciliation conference on Somalia expected to be held in Nairobi by mid next September.
Mr. Rayal’s rejection of Somaliland’s participation in the Nairobi talks, even as an observer, was disclosed on Thursday, during a conversation between the Somaliland leader and the British Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr. Myles Wickstead, who arrived in Hargeisa earlier, on Tuesday.
President Rayale has told the British diplomat, who is also responsible for covering Somaliland affairs, that there is no way in which Somaliland will ever consider rejoining the South [Somalia].
“It is the people of Somaliland who decided in 1991 to reinstate their independence and it is them who voted 97% for independence in a public referendum held last year,” Rayale said.
The Somaliland leader has also pointed out that the priorities of his government is to gain international recognition for the country, as well as securing assistance from the international community for reconstruction and development.
During the conversation, Mr. Rayale has mentioned the devastating impact brought on the national economy by the continued Saudi ban on importation of Somaliland livestock.
The British ambassador who will be back in London in few weeks time for consultations, promised to report to his government on what he has found here and make recommendations about how relations with Somaliland can be developed. Accompanying ambassador Wickstead were Mr. Tony Berry from the Home Office and Mr. Owen Richards first secretary in the UK Embassy in Addis Ababa.
Asked about the possibility of Somaliland receiving asylum seekers whose applications were rejected in Britain, President Rayale responded by saying, “As we are still unable as a country to have normal interaction with the world and considering that Somaliland is deprived of receiving any meaningful assistance from the international community, it will be beyond the capacity of Somaliland at this stage to absorb returnees from Britain.”
During their stay in Hargeisa, the British delegates visited various locations in the city. Members of the delegation also paid visits to a number of business centers including the famous Dahabshil Company where they have witnessed money transfer transactions in action. They also toured Edna Adan Maternity Hospital.
On Wednesday the visiting Britons attended the grand opening of the new Ambassador Hotel.
During their visit, members of the British delegation stayed in Mansoor Hotel.
Britain To Review Its Policy On Somaliland And Somalia
At a press conference held at the ministry of information on Thursday, the British Ambassador to Ethiopia Mr. Myles Wickstead talked at length about a number of interesting issues including the status of British relations with Somaliland and Somalia; the fate of the Arta outcome, the forthcoming Nairobi talks, and other topics.
For excerpts of this interview, see the next issue of the Somaliland Times.
Law And Order In Hargeisa: Who Is In Charge?
By Rakiya A. Omaar
Somaliland has just celebrated it’s 42nd year of independence. That is a moment for celebration and thanksgiving. It is also a moment for pause and reflection. The people of Somaliland have fought long and hard to establish what they now consider their greatest treasure—peace and stability. Comparing Hargeisa and Mogadishu, a recent BBC correspondent emphasised again and again the security that reigns in Hargeisa. All sectors of society have made their contribution: the government, the elders, former fighters and politicians. But above all else, it is ordinary people who turned their backs on the politics of the gun. Given recent history, it is indeed an achievement to be proud of, to monitor carefully and to safeguard with all the resources that are available.
Nothing can or should be taken for granted on such an important and sensitive issue. History is all too full of tragedies that have taken people by surprise. Caught off-guard, we lack the presence of mind to respond quickly and in a timely fashion to ward off disasters. And a threat to security would indeed be a tragedy for the people of Somaliland, individually and collectively. Therefore any hint of something wrong in the way security is policed—or not—needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
About three months ago, a friend in Hargeisa decided that she wanted to have 24-hour electricity, so she arranged to switch from her supplier. She expressed her regrets and looked forward to the luxury of around the clock electricity. She was not to enjoy it for very long. Another supplier, Ahmed Aw Dahir, was anxious to declare the zone as his. He took the law into his hands, and in the middle of the night cut all the supply lines from my friend and from the homes and offices in the area that had recently become clients of Mohamed Hussein, the owner of a fuel station in the neighbourhood. His men set up camp in the area to ensure that their illegal action was not challenged. Outraged, the affected people and Mohamed appealed for police intervention. The police were slow to react despite numerous visits to their stations. Promises were made but were not fulfilled. In the meantime; the conflict escalated for several days with talk of a bloody showdown if the police did not take decisive action. Former SNM fighters vowed to “settle” the matter if the police continued to drag their feet. Eventually the police called a meeting and told Ahmed in no uncertain terms that his action was both wrong and illegal. The meeting was followed by a circular stating that everyone in Somaliland was free to enter into a contract with anyone of their choice and that suppliers of electricity—or anything else for that matter—had neither a monopoly nor the right to force people to remain their clients.
There the matter remained for a few months. Then last week Ahmed was back in action. While people slept, his men crept in to cut their electrical supplies, plunging homes and offices into darkness. Mohamed waited for police intervention. But none was forthcoming. So Mohamed repaid him in kind, cutting his lines and in turn subjecting his clients to suffer needless inconvenience. He also reconnected his lines. But at 4:00 a.m. Ahmed cut them again. The climax came when the two sides exchanged gunfire at that hour, frightening people. The delay in the response of the police only helped to intensify the conflict. As in the past, former SNM fighters expressed their readiness to intervene in the affair, bringing their military experience and weapons.
It was then that the police took charge of the matter, imprisoning both Ahmed and Mohamed. This was the wrong response. The responsibility of the police was to punish the wrongdoer, which in this case was clearly Ahmed. It was their failure to act at the very beginning, which complicated the issue and finally brought matters to a head.
The police are right to be concerned about gunfire in a residential district and to want to send a message that such behaviour will not be tolerated. But the way to get that message across is not to confuse the perpetrator and the victim. Mohamed’s mistake, to a large extent, is that he had faith in the police. He waited for them to sort the matter out which they did not do quickly. When the police do not exercise their duties, they cannot blame citizens for trying to defend themselves and their interests. What else are they expected to do?
Having detained the two men for a few days, the police then committed another major error when they promptly released them, apparently because of pressure and the intervention of elders. So who exactly is in charge of law and order in Hargeisa? Who makes the final decisions? And what is the criteria on which such crucial decisions that affect lives are based? Where were these elders when Ahmed was taking unilateral and punitive action against other people’s customers? What did they do to make sure that he complied with the police instructions forbidding him from denying people their freedom of choice?
Everyone in Somaliland has an interest, both immediate and long-term, in helping to build up an efficient, trusted and fair police force. The police have come a long way in the last few years. But as this case illustrates, they also have a long way to go. They need training and resources. But they also need to be given the political space to do their work without interference either from politicians or elders. Creating a parallel system of policing through self-selected groups of elders, who are not accountable to the public but only to their relatives, is a recipe for future trouble. And without a professional, reliable and neutral police force, the stability of Somaliland is being endangered.
And until people have full confidence in the competence and judgement of the police, they will continue to regard former fighters as their only effective rapid deployment force. Foreign donors and the government are due to spend huge amounts of money in demobilisation, as well as effort and human resources. But how then can we talk about a successful and thorough demobilisation exercise if people have more confidence in the fighters they know than in the police? Many young men and boys took up arms in the 1980s because they could not bear to witness the atrocities and humiliation inflicted on their loved ones. These same men are not going to stand by now if they see their families and close friends mistreated by businessmen and ignored by the police.
So before we spend money, time and energy on demobilisation, let’s first understand what that means in the context of Somaliland. It means showing people, through the actions of the police and the judiciary, that they are right to trust these institutions. It means demonstrating to them, on a daily basis, that the police can and are willing to act decisively, fairly and speedily against wrongdoers, so that their victims do not have a reason to appeal to former fighters. And it means that the police must be guaranteed independence of action, free of political pressure and from interference by elders.
In the meantime, the people want to know who is going to repair and pay for the televisions and other equipment that was damaged and replace the food that rotted in their fridges? And they want to know what is going to happen. They go to sleep, unsure whether their wires will or will not be cut by someone bent on profit. That’s no way to celebrate 42 years of independence; nor is it a basis to feel confident about the future.
Somali Nationalism: Fact Or Fiction?
By Jamal Gabobe, Seattle, Washington
The Ethiopian Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Abd al-Majid Hussein has recently been the subject of an intense smear campaign. Dr. Hussein was described as “the Somali traitor of the century”, he was lambasted as someone who hates Somali unity “Waa nin aad u neceb midnimada Somaaliyeed”, he was called a turncoat, a quisling. Some even said he is non-Somali posing as Somali. The common thread among these attacks on Abd al-Majid Hussein is that he has been disloyal to Somali nationalism. Two underlying assumptions of the attacks is that there is something called Somali nationalism, and that the people making the accusations are nationalists, while Abd al-Majid is not.
The charge that Abd al-Majid Hussein is not a Somali is so silly it is not worth discussing. So, let’s talk about the question of Somali nationalism (I mean nationalism in a political rather than cultural sense) and whether it exists. Most specialists in Somali history agree that much of the history of Somalis in this century is the history of the evolution of Somali nationalism, which culminated in the merger of two of the territories inhabited by Somalis, namely, the State of Somaliland which got its independence from the British in June 26, 1960, and the Italian Trust Administration (a.k.a Somalia), on July 1, 1960. The hope then was that the three remaining Somali-inhabited territories would eventually join the Somali Republic. But no such outcome materialized. Instead, Somali nationalism (or pan-nationalism, the two are often synonymous) suffered deadly blows as time went on.
Somali nationalism began to show signs of trouble immediately after the union, when citizens of the former British Protectorate of Somaliland began to feel that the Italian Trust Territory was determined to secure all the benefits of the union without bearing any of its costs. This sense of injustice prompted a majority of Somalilanders to vote against the proposed constitution in the June 1961 referendum. Six months after the failed referendum, Sandhurst-trained officers from the British Protectorate of Somaliland staged a coup. The immediate cause of the coup was that officers from the British Protectorate were incensed at having to serve under officers from the Italian Trust Administration who had no military training, and who were only trained in police work. But the larger cause for the coup was, of course, the sense of injustice the officers from Somaliland shared with the rest of the people from Somaliland.
But be that as it may, it was really under Siyad Barre’s regime that Somali nationalism suffered the deadliest blows. The first blow was when Djibouti rejected union with the Somali Republic and opted for independence in June 1977. Djibouti’s defection undermined the very logic that led to the merger between British Somaliland and the Italian Trust Administration. Once Djibouti opted out, many Somalilanders began to ask themselves if little Djibouti could stand on its own, why not us? The second blow to Somali nationalism occurred when the Somali Republic lost the Ethiopian-Somali war of 1977-78. The crushing defeat of the Somali army made Somali nationalism synonymous with defeat and failure. The third blow was the agreement reached by Siyad Barre with Ethiopia on April 1988, in which Siyad Barre basically gave up Somali territorial claims on Ethiopia in exchange of Ethiopia kicking out the S.N.M from Ethiopia (anyone who doubts that Siyad Barre gave up Somali territorial claims, should listen to the recent interview with the BBC’s Somali section in which Siyad Barre’s own half-brother and then Foreign Minister, Mr. Abdirahman Jama Barre characterized that agreement as “grand treason”). The fourth blow was the genocide committed against Somalilanders (the people who had sacrificed the most for Somali nationalism) by the Somali state, and in the name of Somali nationalism. The final blow was when Somalis in the former Italian Trust Administration killed, raped and starved each other, making it plain to the whole world that all bonds that tied Somalis were broken.
Now let’s turn to the other question: are the people accusing Abd al-Majid Hussein of betraying Somali nationalism themselves nationalists? To answer this question, we have to identify who these people are. As far as I can tell, there are two groups who are the most vocal against Abd al-Majid Hussein. The first group is the Arta Faction and their supporters. Many of these people were high ranking members of Siyad Barre’s regime and bear a great deal of responsibility for the disintegration of the Somali state. Their adoption of the rhetoric of nationalism is just a smokescreen through which they want to regain power. They have also repeatedly shown in their dealings with Ethiopia that they are ready to abandon their nationalist rhetoric if Ethiopia would accept them, or just turn down the heat on them.
The other group that has been trumpeting the rhetoric of Somali nationalism is the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). This group’s use of Somali nationalism is not credible either, because, as one can tell from the name of the group, it is fighting for the interests of one clan, the Ogaden. Listening to some of the representatives of this group, one gets the impression that they live in a time warp, as far as they are concerned this is 1960 not 2002. They seem oblivious to all the things that Somalis have gone through and done to each other, as well as the realities on the ground. How else can one explain the ONLF’s Foreign Affairs Representative, Mr. Mohammed Sirad Dolaal’s shouting in the midst of an interview with the BBC (April 13, 2002): “ no one can stop me from going to Hargaysa (Hargaysa la ima diidi karo).” They never seem to ask themselves if they are fighting for the interests of the Ogaden, why should Abd al-Majid Hussein, or any non-Ogaden Somali for that matter, support them?
Anyone who knows the least about Somali affairs will also notice that, while these two groups constantly castigate Dr. Hussein for being a high official in the Ethiopian government, they never criticize the non-Issaq Somali members of the Ethiopian and Kenyan government. They also have nothing but praise for the government of Kenya, even though from a Somali nationalist perspective, Ethiopia and Kenya should be treated the same. Moreover, according to their logic (or lack of), Djibouti, which was the first territory to betray Somalis by choosing independence over uniting with the Somali Republic, is a shining embodiment of Somali patriotism.
One can see this sort of crass opportunism and selective memory in the statements of Mr. Abdullahi Mohamed Sadi who condemned Abd al-Majid for holding high office in the Ethiopian government, although he himself served that same government as the head of the Somali zone. Clearly, the problem is not whether one works for Ethiopia or not, as the ONLF would have us believe, the problem is that Ethiopia has apparently committed the unforgivable sin of giving high office to an Issaq, or a non-Ogaden. Mr. Sadi more or less admitted this much when he said in an interview “it is they [the Ogaden] who can bring peace or block it (ayagaana nabad ka keeni kara, ayagaana diidi kara).”
The pattern followed by Mr. Hussein’s detractors is this: first they try to get Ethiopia to accept them as Somali leaders, if Ethiopia refuses, then they start portraying themselves as hard-line Somali nationalists and accuse those who work with Ethiopia, especially if they happen to be Issaq, of being traitors. This is, essentially, what the Arta Faction did, and is still doing. Many members of this group have been trekking to Ethiopia for more than a decade now. Ethiopia even paid for the tent which was set in Arta to protect them from Djibouti’s searing sun. Abdi Qasim Salad Hasan himself went to Ethiopia soon after being picked as “president” to win Ethiopia’s support. He even made statements through his then spokesman, Mr. Dinari, in which he said there were no Ethiopian troops in Somalia, when other members of his faction were saying the opposite. When none of Abdi Qasim Salad Hasan’s tricks worked, he started painting himself as an uncompromising Somali nationalist, and began depicting Ethiopia as the sworn enemy of Somalis. This is the same, by now very predictable pattern, followed by successive high officials in the Arta Faction, such as the previous “Foreign Minister”, Mr. Ismail Hurreh Buba, as well as the current “Prime Minister”, Mr. Hassan Abshir Farah.
Abd al-Majid Hussein's opponents can denounce him as much as they want, but the truth is, many of them are known to shamelessly sing and dance for the Ethiopians when they think its in their interests to do so. A high point in this song and dance routine came in one of those interminable Somali conferences in Addis Ababa, when Mr. Abd al-Qadir Hirsi Yam Yam who is now a member of the Arta Faction’s “parliament”, payed tribute to Meles Zenawi in the following lines, from a poem called “Thank you Addis Ababa (Addis Ababa Mahadsanid)”:
Addunyada ku kala maqan
[Whose country] is the most honored
Of all Black African nations
Dispersed in the world [including those in the Diaspora]
This is the same Mr. Yam Yam who used to mouth Siyad Barre’s propaganda. It is the same Yam Yam who reportedly said in Djibouti: “Soomaalidu waa geel; geelana waxaa iska leh Geele.” For the benefit of those who do not know Somali, this roughly translates to: Somalis are camels, and camels belong to their owner. Since the Somali word for camel-owner (Gelleh) happens to be the last name of Djibouti’s president, Yam Yam is flattering the president by portraying him as the owner of Somalis, in the same way he lavished praise on the Ethiopian Prime Minister.
Somali nationalism is clearly being used as a whore (if memory serves me right, this is not an entirely original statement, Senator Patrick Moynihan was the first to call the Somali Republic “that one time whore of the Soviet Union”). Like any other politician, Abd al-Majid Hussein should be held accountable for what he says and does, but to attack him for not embracing a dead Somali nationalism is like attacking someone for saying no to necrophilia. Fortunately, most Somalis are not buying the Arta Faction and the ONLF's nationalist rhetoric because they know the huge damage done by demagogues and charlatans in the name of Somali nationalism. The prevalent attitude among Somalis these days is one of giving priority to rebuilding their communities from the bottom-up, the way Somaliland is doing, which is the Ethiopian approach to the Somali problem, which was also the UN approach until it was diverted by the Arta conference. Since Dr. Abd al-Majid Hussein has done nothing more than articulate this Ethiopian policy which is in harmony with the wishes of most Somalis, it is the people attacking him who are out of step with the Somali people. A good indication of how out of touch with Somalis are Abd al-Majid's critics, is the fact they have so far miserably failed to garner any substantial support among Somalis. The average Somali may not have heard of Samuel Johnson's dictum: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel," but the good doctor's observation sums up how Somalis view Abd al-Majid's critics. No wonder that these critics can't find support among Somalis.
Australia's Camel Industry Starts Selling To Saudis
By Gemma Daley
Alice Springs, Australia, June 27 (Bloomberg) -- Australian rancher Ross Morton, like his father before him, has just begun his annual roundup. The difference is, Morton junior has swapped a horse for a helicopter and is herding camels, not cattle.
Morton scans his 2,500 square kilometer (1,000 square mile) outback property, about 1,800 kilometers west of Brisbane, from the skies. He herds camels toward holding pens where they will wait before being trucked to ships bound for Asia and the Middle East. Camel is a favored meat of some Muslims.
Australia, which has the only wild camel herd in the world, shipped A$400 million ($230 million) worth of the animals to Asia last year and this month sent its first shipment of 118 to Saudi Arabia, a market that may be worth double that in 2003.
``It's like selling ice to Eskimos,'' Morton said. ``The potential for this market is huge and this client alone wants 5,000 camels a year. The customer wanted 500 now, but we only had time to get 118.''
Australia's 600,000 wild camels roam across the center of the country in areas straddling the Simpson, Great Sandy and Gibson deserts. About 12,000 camels, first introduced here in 1840, were imported between 1860 and 1907 as draught and riding beasts for people exploring the rugged interior, where temperatures regularly reach 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit).
``They thrive in the conditions here and the herd just ballooned,'' said Peter Seidel, director of the Central Australian Camel Industry Association. ``They have been regarded as feral and there have been culls. Now we are trying to turn it around and make it a viable business.''
Until now, the live camels have been bound for Asia, Kuwait and Jordan, where they are slaughtered according to religious traditions. More sales in the Middle East will add to the economy of the Northern Territory, which is twice the size of Texas with 214,000 inhabitants and two-thirds of the wild camel herd.
The northern-most state's economy is forecast to grow 5.9 percent in the year ending June 30, faster than South Korea, which grew 5.7 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier.
Key to growth is a A$1.3 billion railway being built between Alice Springs in the center of the country to the northern capital of Darwin, and the development of $30 billion in gas reserves in the Timor Sea, off Darwin.
Darwin's Chief Minister Clare Martin estimates gas developments by Phillips Petroleum Co., the Royal Dutch/Shell Group and their partners will boost state production 46 percent and create some 5,200 jobs.
``We want to support industries that are going to let the territory stand alone,'' Martin said at an oil conference this month. ``We don't want to be the mendicant territory.''
At the Tjuwanpa Outstation, covering 8,000 square kilometers of land belonging to indigenous Australians east of Alice Springs, steel fencing has arrived in preparation for 800 Aborigines entering the camel business.
Men living in the 40 Tjuwanpa communities will be trained starting in July to put 82 kilometers of custom-built camel fences on part of the land, managed by central Aboriginal trusts, to capture some of the wild herd.
``We'll use helicopters to herd them in,'' said Ron Lisson, general manager at Tjuwanpa, adding it will ``give us a slice of the export market.''
Middle Eastern countries have had to look elsewhere for camels because of civil wars in traditional markets such as Sudan and Somalia as well as foot and mouth disease.
Tastes Like Lamb?
Australia has an abundant supply of camels and the country is disease free, prompting orders from Jordan and inquiries from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Seidel said.
``The first load of 118 camels gets to Saudi Arabia there in a matter of days, and we will find out in the next few months whether the meat is suitable,'' Seidel said.
Australia is already the largest exporter of beef, although cattle farmers in the Northern Territory are looking to diversify as drought threatens stock and disease concerns turn consumers off the red meat.
``Cattle prices are going up and down and the drought can hit you hard,'' Morton said. ``Camels are easy to handle and if the meat proves suitable, there is huge potential for us to make it a viable part of our business.''
Australia's domestic market is limited, with lamb and beef still preferred, said Graham Foster, chef at the Outback Steakhouse restaurant in Alice Springs. Camel is on the menu as part of a platter with emu, kangaroo and crocodile steaks.
``It's a similar texture to lamb but people still haven't quite come around to camel like lamb or beef,'' Foster said. ``It doesn't come back to the kitchen, so it's good to incorporate it.''
Kahin Trip Set To Improve Somaliland-Djibouti Relations
NAIROBI, IRIN - Relations between Djibouti and the independent state of Somaliland, are set to improve following a three-day visit to Djibouti by the Somaliland interim president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, a Djibouti official told IRIN on Monday.
The official said the two sides had reached agreement to iron out any differences between "the two brotherly peoples". The provisions of the agreement include ending hostile propaganda by both sides, reopening the common border and "allowing traders from both sides to freely conduct their businesses", according to the official.
Somaliland authorities had confiscated a consignment of cigarettes worth US $800,000, reportedly belonging to a Djibouti businessman, Abdulrahman Bore, in April last year. Bore is reportedly close to Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh, sources told IRIN at the time.
Kahin's trip to Djibouti was his first to a foreign country since assuming the Somaliland presidency last month after the death of Muhammad Ibrahim Egal.
Relations between the two sides soured following Djibouti's hosting of the Somali peace talks, which led to the establishment of the Transitional National Government (TNG). The Somaliland administration boycotted the talks, accusing Djibouti of interfering in Somalia's internal affairs.
However, a Djiboutian government official told IRIN on Monday that Djibouti "will continue to support the TNG and Somali unity in general, and will not compromise on this".
The people on both sides of the border were one and the same, he said, so they "had to take advantage of this new opportunity to eventually solve their differences".
Explosion At Dire Dawa Railways Office
Addis Ababa, June 26, 2002 (The Daily Monitor): A bomb planted by unidentified individuals exploded at the Dire Dawa Rail Way office building on Monday, the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported.
ENA said that there were no human injuries, except for damages to one of the rooms in the building and a train compartment.
The news agency reported the Security, Immigration and Refugees Affairs Authority, as having disclosed that investigation were underway into the identity of those responsible for the crime.
The Authority has called on residents of Dire Dawa, to help by immediately informing the relevant bodies of any suspicious looking persons in the area.
Despite the explosion, railway operations between Addis and Dire Dawa have commenced; ENA quoted Police Commissioner of Dire Dawa, Ato Mebrahtu Gebreselassie.
Residents of the locality are also reported to be going about their day-to-day activities as usual.
Dire Dawa has been target of similar attacks in previous times. In 1995, a bomb exploded at the Dire Dawa Ras Hotel. A group that was based in Somalia (Al Ittihad Al Islamiya) claimed the responsibility.