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Somali’s forgotten territories

AllPuntland(Opinion/Fikradaha)    
December 01, 2001
Posted to the AllPuntland.com  December 01, 2001
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Opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of AllPuntland.

By

Aden Mohamed

adenmohamed60@msn.com 

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The Arte group’s foreign policy has been disastrous and destructive to Somali’s occupied territories causing to a relapse to pre-independence situation. The Arte group must have openly disputed Kenya and Ethiopia’s claim over Somali territories and must sought a negotiated settlement, the split over border disputes which are central problem in the current African history and must have shown their desire for peaceful reunification of all ethnic Somalis and a united country under Federal system. However, rumor has it, that Mr. Abdikassim Salad Hassan and his designate Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah have been  secretly negotiating with Kenya and Ethiopia  that, they will renounce Somalia’s claim of occupied territories of Northern Frontier District (NFD) and Somali West in exchange for recognition. These two clowns are beyond desperate and will do anything to further their personal interests, even if it means selling Somalia at any price.

Luckily, the Arte group is not a representative, lacks public support and it only controls small enclaves in the city of Mogadishu. Therefore, a sit at the UN as a result of support from African and Non-aligned countries on the UN’s credential committee of the General Assembly and a token recognition of one or two unsavory countries wouldn’t confer them any legitimacy under International Law to renounce Somalia’s occupied territories which are still denied their right to self-determination.

Similarly, the SRRC Ethiopia’s favorite group is unprepared and ill-equipped to govern Somalia, since they couldn’t form a real opposition to Arte group and have failed to combine their forces under one leadership. I believe, any insistence of Ethiopia to hold on Somali territories and leave the artificial colonial boundaries to remain as the colonialists have left them, in my view they will look the other way.  

Historically, the African continent is divided into fifty-three countries and today’s States were defined by colonial powers and present frontiers in Africa are not real boundaries because territorial lands were drawn up; thus fragmenting entire people and as result remain sources of many conflicts in the continent. This 80,000 kilometers of boundary, designed by the European in 1884 Berlin Conference was to divide and rule the continent and remain vague and in need of redrawing. Wole Soyinka the Nigerian Nobel Prize-winner said, “We should sit down with square rule and compass and redesign the boundaries of African nations”. 

The colonial boundaries undermine nation building, since the Europeans colonialists deliberately and with total disregard for their actions created enclaves, exclaves, perforations and product territories including corridors, trans-state clans, and ultra-state ethnic divisions that provide structural basis for continued conflict. As a result Africa witnessed endless wars, ethnic violence, failed states and Africa became notorious as number one continent for coups, refugees and genocide. 

No continent on earth has suffered more carnage arising from territorial disputes than Africa and from its foundation the Organization African Unity (OAU) in May25, 1963 has unwaveringly refused to host any discussion of modifying colonial boundaries. In addition, what African heads of States has perpetuated since independence the Europeans set 1884 at the Berlin Conference, because of entrenched political interest? However, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to be credible must go on board upon the issues of the artificial colonial boundaries, which is vital to the rebirth of the whole continent and hasn’t so far received much attention. 

There are two options available for the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to resolve the border conflict; one is to redesign or to de-signify the boundaries through regional integration. I don’t see any problems and African heads of States need not to be scared since there are ample colonial treaties, maps, specific areas with particular ethnic identity (ethnic settlements) providing clear boundaries and instead clans of similar features, cultural and traditional affinities now find themselves divided on both sides of these artificial borders. On the other hand, The organization must set up a procedure for mediation under the rules of diplomacy, where countries who have border conflicts can engage direct negotiations with a third party agreed upon and if they can not reach a satisfactory solution to their dispute, should have a recourse to the International Court of Justice. 

Somalia will never compromise but will pursue to resolve its dispute over border conflict with Ethiopia and Kenya by means other than war. Somalia’s President Hon. Aden Abdulle Osman one of the founding members of the Organization of African Unity openly disputed and refused to recognize the current African borders set by the colonialists. The Organization of African Unity’s (OAU) Charter (article 3, Paragraph 3) calls for “respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State”. As a consequence the President of Somalia at the time Hon. Aden Abdulle Osman didn’t sign the Charter regarding the African borders to remain as colonialists left them and to date Somalia still remains the only country that opted out of that provision. 

Mohamed Siad Barre, during 1988 Peace Accord, which he signed with the Ethiopian leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam, obliged only each side to cease supporting Somali anti-government guerillas. Somalia didn’t renounce its claim to the region nor will it renounce its claim to Somali inhabited northern regions now under Kenya and strongly supports the Somali communities in Ethiopia and Kenya’s aim of self-determination and union with Somalia. Therefore, no government in Somalia presents or in the future can sign off these territories occupied by Kenya and Ethiopia but must continue to work towards cherished dream of reunification. However, because of Ethiopia and Kenya’s unyieldingness insisting to hold on to territorial integrity and Somalia’s long-term goal of uniting all its compatriots these differences remain unresolved? 

Even, Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Egal who embarked on a policy of détente while Prime Minister of Somalia for the missing territories, but now wants to secede from Somalia and demanding sovereign status for “Somaliland” in a letter of January 3, 1998 to the Secretary General of the United Nations, he suggested that France, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States of America should form a panel to organize the formation of a State in the Somali-inhabited territories in the Horn of Africa. Not to do so this, he claimed, would make any call for territorial integrity of Somalia unrealistic; as an alternative, “Somaliland” demands recognition of its sovereignty and resents vehemently any equation of itself with the factions of Somalia.  

Mr. Egal recognizes the fact that, only the total sum of all parts makes the whole, to reconstitute Somalia and while in Parliament in 1963, he voted with the Government to break ties with Britain after the referendum results were denied when a commission of inquiry endorsed Somali aspirations in Northern Frontier District (NFD) who overwhelmingly voted in a referendum to unite with Somalia. 

At the time Kenya wanted to return only three Regions (Garissa, Wajir and Mandera) but the Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, then the Prime Minister refused to accept and as a result the Somali government broke diplomatic relations with United Kingdom who didn’t respect the will of the people in the Northern Frontier District. It was United Kingdom who gave Somali territories to Ethiopia and Kenya at different times. As a result Somalia went wars with Kenya and Ethiopia over the split of border disputes and the latest being 1977 when Somalia almost invaded Ethiopia only to be pushed back by coalition of Ethiopians, Soviets, Cubans, East Germans, Yemenis, and Libyans.  Similarly, Somalia was offered to retain up to Jigjiga more than half it was claiming but Siad Barre refused to accept it and said all or nothing. This is why border conflict and internal unrest in Western Somalia and Northern Frontier District (NFD) will remain unresolved until effective control of these territories is turned over to Somalia. 

I believe, in the long term its Ethiopia and Kenya’s best interest to let these people free and allow them to join their brethren in Somalia where they share a common language, religion, way of life, and destiny which transcend clan divisions and make them all Somalia not Ethiopian or Kenyan. Both Kenya and Ethiopia could free up a meager resources now spent on armaments to direct towards their development, raise the living standard of their people and live in peace and harmony with Somalia. What is the moral argument for Ethiopia and Kenya to justify their domination? It is high time for Ethiopia and Kenya to recognize it is best restored these territories to their legitimate inhabitants who have nothing in common with them and give attention to their development, which hasn’t been taking root. 

In Islam one’s gender doesn’t count as criteria of superiority or inferiority and Islam promotes the feeling of brotherhood and equality among its followers. Thus, Islam considers women as human as men and equal in rights; but considers their roles in society as complementary but not superior or inferior to each other. Of the four verses in Qur’an addressing the issue of equality between men and women, I will quote one of the verses fourteen hundred years ago, the Qur’an recorded: “Whoever, be it a male or a female, does good deeds and he or she is a believer, then they will enter the Paradise.” (Qur’an: chap.4, verse 124). So in Islam, man and woman are equal in rights and no difference in degree or level of women’s humanity or tribute in Islam; but equality is not one and the same to similarity. 

Muslims are not evaluated on the basis of a gender, but on the basis of their faith and character and Islam promotes the sense of brotherhood and equality not only between male and female but also equality among human society- we are all equally related to God in the same way. However, Islam totally rejects the equality notion in the Western world between male and female, which pays a lip service to women’s equality, doesn’t emphasize on the rights which people have over each other (man and woman) and doesn’t seek to give a meaningful purpose to their life on this earth. But it rather creates confusion, dissatisfaction with their status as women in this society, and as a result many women find themselves difficult to deal with their daily life: whether they are adults, adolescents or children. 

The article on the subject of gender equality of the ‘African Unity Treaty’ is offensive implying African women in the 21st century are still behind their fellow men and are denied equal opportunity or are not liberated enough. However, in Somalia’s case a Muslim country it is inconsistent with our religious values and role in which Islam has envisioned for man and woman and had we signed would have opened the door to many social problems. If approved could have been a real challenge where children are raised under social and moral norms that conflict with the teachings of Islam.  

Islam doesn’t deny women for equal opportunity but ostracizes what some call ‘modern’ woman, which was the intent of the gender equality clause. Haven’t we learned anything about the past experience when Siad Barre introduced ‘the family law’ a decree allowing the equality of women and men, where women were given the right to divorce men (Islam allows women to divorce their husbands in some circumstances) or deny divorce if they don’t want to and the family inheritance be divided equally among family members contrary to Islamic law. Said met strong resistance from the devout 14 religious men who lost their lives to the dictator’s firing squad. 

On the issue of borders, Somalia will never compromise but will pursue to resolve its dispute over border conflict with Ethiopia and Kenya by means other than war. Somalia’s President Hon. Aden Abdulle Osman one of the founding members of the Organization of African Unity openly disputed and refused to recognize the current African borders set by the colonialists. The Organization of African Unity’s (OAU) Charter (article 3, Paragraph 3) calls for “respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State”. As a consequence the President of Somalia at the time Hon. Aden Abdulle Osman didn’t sign the Charter regarding the African borders to remain as colonialists left them and to date Somalia still remains the only country that opted out that provision. 

There must have been however, a legislation setting out the terms for secession and since there was no central authority in Somalia before Djibouti, participation of Somaliland was must to put forward their motion for secession. Despite this fact, the Somaliland administration refused to attend the Djibouti peace process, missing their chance to put forward a motion for secession and resented those former government officials and representatives of civil society from the north who participated and became members of the new assembly of Somalia.

There must have been however, a legislation setting out the terms for secession and since there was no central authority in Somalia before Djibouti, participation of Somaliland was must to put forward their motion for secession. Despite this fact, the Somaliland administration refused to attend the Djibouti peace process, missing their chance to put forward a motion for secession and resented those former government officials and representatives of civil society from the north who participated and became members of the new assembly of Somalia.

This means he will be required to hold a referendum on secession to separate from Somalia and he will need an amendment to the Constitution and to do that, he needs to negotiate with the government of Somalia, which is formed in Djibouti, which was non-existent before and still long way to go. He has to be little bit more patient and use the transitional period of the current government of three years to prepare Somaliland for eventual separation through democratic process (referendum, plebiscite etc). I have no doubt that, the new government will accommodate Mr. Egal's wishes if he wants to explore fully the right of self-determination of Somaliland to separate from Somalia if agrees in principle to a referendum on accession to sovereignty supervised by the United Nations and results interpreted on the bases of simple majority However, there is a big question mark over Egal's ability whether he will be politically strong enough to pull off the secession threat when the majority of the people in the north are opposed to secede from Somalia and want peace to get on with their life. He is mindful that, Somaliland's territorial boundaries would be under discussion in any negotiations of secession and if Somalia is divisible so is Somaliland region.

This falls within the scope of his prerogative as a President of Somalia and he will exercise without acting recklessly to curtail the ambitions of secessionists in both regions to ban them from freedom of movement and any foreign support of assistance of money and material they receive to destabilize the country will also be banned. Egal must realize that, now it is the time to seek a recognized legal possibility of negotiated secession Somalia with the new government without wasting with time the U.N Secretary General, the U.N. Security Council and the International Community.

Aden Mohamed

adenmohamed60@msn.com 

Opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of AllPuntland.

 

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