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The Incitement Against Ethiopia Wont Work
Since taking power in Mogadishu in early June 2006, the militia of the Islamic Courts Union have been engaged in an ugly campaign of incitement against Ethiopia both as a people and country. The aim of this campaign has been to drum up support among Somalis for the courts. And to achieve this goal, the leaders of the Islamic Courts tried to rekindle an animosity that until the recent past used to exist between Somalis and Ethiopians.
Calls for jihad against “Amhara infidels occupying Somali territories” have suddenly become the courts standard slogan for vilifying Ethiopia.
Presenting themselves as Somalia’s God sent savior, leaders of the ICU have hardly missed a public opportunity without preaching hatred against Ethiopians while encouraging Muslim Somalis to rise up against the “Christian Abyssinians”.
The BBC’s Somali Service has of course allowed this poisonous anti Ethiopian propaganda to permeate its daily broadcasts to millions of Somalis who rely on it for news information. The international media has also played its part in this respect by reinforcing the stereotype of Ethiopians as the sworn enemies of Somalis. But these assumptions were challenged by some serious facts on ground. The last war between Somalia and Ethiopia took place in 1977/78.
In the next two decades both countries were busier with their own civil wars than waging war against each other. Both Somalia and Ethiopia were drastically changed by their respective internal conflicts.
People in the northern regions of Somalia [present day Somaliland] were subjected to a campaign of terror and clan cleansing that during the 1980s culminated in genocide. The perpetuators of these crimes were mostly members of Somalia’s army and security forces. Until before then Somaliland was the bastion of Somali irredentism, taking the brunt of all previous military conflicts with Ethiopia as a result of its proximity to Ethiopia’s strategic defense lines around Jigjiga, Harar and Dire-Dawa.
By January 1991, most of the Somali army was wiped out in the north with Somaliland declaring on May 1991 its withdrawal from its 1960 union with Somalia. In the same year the EPRDF swept itself to power in Addis Ababa while Eritrea’s succession from Ethiopia became a reality.
After styling his former Al-Itihad Al-Islami (Islamic Union) the Itihad Al Mahakem Al Islamiya (Islamic Courts Union), Hassan Dahir Aweys thinks that his Somalia may fight Ethiopia to the last Somaliland fighter as before. He is mistaken. Peaceful coexistence with Ethiopia has become one of the corner stones of Somaliland’s foreign policies.
This policy which was laid down by the SNM during the armed struggle now lies in the heart of Somalilanders’ psyche to the extent that the re-known Kenyan professor Ali A. Mazrui recently said “The people of Somaliland are probably already the most Ethiopia-friendly Somalis in centuries”. In reality not significant numbers of Somalis from the former Somalia itself would be tempted to pay heed to the calls for jihad against Ethiopia that have been emanating from Mogadishu. Certainly not the people of the Digil and Mirifle or the Dir whose fertile lands and hometowns remain under the occupation of Dahir Aweys clan militia.
The only problem is that the Ethiopian government still prefers to sacrifice its national interests for the sake of not offending an international community which likes to pretend that Somalia really exists and that Somaliland remains part of it.
People who have only heard recently about Abdi Samatar and are not familiar with his career may have been surprised by his latest reincarnation as a spokesman for Mogadishu’s Islamic Courts, an entity that is widely viewed as a terrorist organization. What happened to the good professor, they may be asking. But those who have followed his career, probably weren’t surprised. The reason is this: in the nineteen eighties, up until the collapse of Somalia, Abdi Samatar was a die-hard Marxist-Leninist; today he is promoting and defending a terrorist organization. Nothing has really changed. He has only switched his allegiance from one violent and destructive ideology to another.
Despite his latest metamorphosis, Abdi Samatar has also been consistent in other ways. Once the Soviet Union and Somalia collapsed (the two events took place around the same time), and Marxism-Leninism was discarded, Abdi Samatar dropped his Marxist rhetoric and adopted western liberal ideas such as democracy and civil society. However, his newly-acquired ideas never sat well with him, they did not offer the comfort of ready made solutions and panaceas. Therefore, when the terrorist Courts started taking over the broken city of Mogadishu, he threw his lot with them, and it became part of his mission to sell them to the American media as misunderstood boy scouts.
There is of course, a great deal of opportunism in this, on his part and on the Islamic Court’s. In Somali it is called “Shaadh bedelasho” or shirt changing. Just as Mogadishu’s thugs grew beards, recited a few verses from the Quran then claimed to be holy warriors, Abdi Samatar could one day peddle the most vulgar Marxism, the next day be a dyed in the wool democrat, and on the third day act as a staunch defender of a terrorist group. Abdi Samatar’s opportunism was noticed by Garth Massey who wrote in a review of his book The State and Rural Transformation in Somalia: “New quotations, ranging from those by David Harvey to Michael Burawoy, head the chapters, replacing former one by Marx and Lenin.” Since the aforementioned book was based on Abdi Samatar’s dissertation, and since several years had passed by the time he decided to publish his dissertation in a book form, it is not difficult to figure out why Abdi Samatar took out the Marxist-Leninist quotations: by then, Marxism-Leninism was discredited, therefore, it served his purpose to replace it with more innocuous-sounding ones.
When opportunism and demagoguery is not enough, the professor is not beyond resorting to barefaced lying, such as when he called the elected President of Somaliland, Dahir Rayale, an accidental president, or when he told National Public Radio that the last time he was in Mogadishu was in February, whereas a month later, he told a Somali audience he has not been to Mogadishu in a year and half.
Based on the latest pronouncements of officials in the US government and the direction of US policy, one can definitely say that Abdi Samatar’s attempt to market the Islamic Courts to the United States has failed. The same way that his attempts to convert Somalis to Marxism-Leninism had failed. The stakes this time, in a post 9/11 world, are much higher.
Source: Somaliland Times