Somalia/Somaliland: Ex-war commander running for presidency
By Abdirahman M. Dirye
Somaliland, thirty years later, is back to square one of military junta. Somaliland’s ‘dementia-suffering’ president hand-picking another military man to be his successor by mistake perhaps, is another HISTORIC MISTAKE second to none and sounded death knell to our democracy. Oral society like mine who has no record that identifies where they came from and to where they intend to head often end up in in woe; sorrow. Somaliland has practical moving museums of war victims sans limps or eyes and real War Jet Monument downed by freedom fighters—the icon below—but they ignore because they are tribally intoxicated. Much like Gambia experiences future in question before the hesitant president resigned to his fate, my country Somaliland at crossroads, coincides to the same dilemma and great nightmare. We keep our fingers across, the will of the people we will win.
My country is different from Gambia No recognition thus be will no outside salvation army if it descends into chaos. However, the regional power Ethiopia may intervene positively to force power lovers to stick to rules. Furthermore, the courts are rubber stamp for the ruling party and electoral body is accused weak and un-qualifying.
My late grandpa used to tell me amazing stories of what sounded to be ‘a benevolent’ dictator Siyad Bare of Somalia during the first years of the rule and given of his preaching of how compassionate he would be for the next years of his regime whose slogan was “The Blessing Revolution”. In fact, his misnomer paved the way for genocide against all Somali tribes for megalomania.
As young boy, in 1988, I fled from Hargaysa for the aerial, ground bombardment of brutal dictator based in Mogadishu who sent his combat jets and land troops to my family and their ilk to maim. “The war of genocide actually happened here but the world ignored” British TV correspondent began his chilling coverage of a ghost town. War-displaced folks dispersed all over the world. To this day, 25 years later, Hargaysa brags one of the highest lame women and children per capita because of the aftermath of the war and mines buried in mosques, farms, kiosks, graves, and courtyards by the former military junta.
The brutal military regime aka ‘The Blessing Revolution’s’ stories of raising Somalia out of its obscurity and its abject poverty, its industrialization, investment in healthcare, etc. didn’t square to the next 21 years of bitter reality. The country dived into political turmoil.
My family fled to outskirts of Hargaysa to wait the war dies down but to their utter shock, the war was only the beginning. My family packed luggage to make uncertain journey to unknown world to us. We split into two so that one group of us can survive. They went to Sabawanaag without me, then Bali Axmed villages seeking safety in the jungle to hide from flying helicopters in low height and the infantry deployed across the wide range of territory. It was sad moment for all of us. None of us expected to survive the ordeal and none of us ever imagined thirty years later; the very people victimized by the cruel soldier Siyad would crown another one and inflict themselves another political nightmare.
In Hargaysa and Erigavo, the destroyed tanks are the children’s toys. In Eid festivals of Muslim annual holidays, Most of the families don’t need to buy fake gun toys from China because we have the real ones though sometimes they kill kids playing with it. In Hargaysa, according to the Lonely Planet, the international tourist guide, the only tourist attraction in Hargaysa is the War Jet Monument —more recently a Tank— built by my uncle Elmi Abdala former mayor of the capital to caution the consequence of future military leaders in general regardless of their tribe be whosever they are.
Did the oral society have eyes to see the limbless, legs-amputated children paintings on the statue in central Hargaysa and ears to heed his advice? Camels have no ears unless bitten. Our naïve folks were led to believe Siyad Bare was not a dictator because he was a soldier when he came to office like Muse Bihi the wannabe presidential candidate of the ruling party but from hailed from “evil” tribe while Muse belongs to ‘inherently compassionate’ tribe.
This low-level racism and discrimination against one military man and giving special treatment to Muse Bihi worked for short-term. In my upbringing, I was told to listen to history not goes in one ear and out the other but learn something from it. But for me as average man, how should I reconcile of my people who fought one military junta and allowed the return of another to Somaliland? For me, it doesn’t add up. Their difference is their tribes, why is the double standards? Hell to both and dislike them for one simple reason: BEING A SOLIDER if you like to have soldier Muse as the next president consider Siyad Bare the late dictator of Somalia was prophet wrongly kicked out by deranged masses of Somalia.
In Somaliland, nobody even asks to level the War Monument to the ground and cancel 18 May anniversary of national mourning, of independence not from the UK or Somalia for that matter but independence from persecution and genocide by the military regime to avoid embarrassment. Visiting the Hargaysa War Statue in the middle of the town is a specular manifestation of intelligence deficiency since we are going to elect another military brute soon with the help of the government—God forbid that! lieu of the statue, Somaliland has to build Sadam and O*ama effigies and tribal war heroes statues written with Muse’s inflammatory Jihad slogan in 1994 civil war “ capable of killing , I need no soft power” otherwise this contradiction only reveals our utter silliness it’s like saying I hate French kiss but still do.
While military personnel protect human lives in the time of hostility, a history of scholarship proves there is scientific correlation between being a soldier and being callous reckless. History replete with examples of brutes of both sexes including the latest torture scandal of Janis Karpinski the female commander in charge of Abu Ghuraib Prison despite being a woman. Hawo Taako, soldier woman in ancient Somalian myth used to castrate men to enslave them. The brutes share one thing and just one thing alone, not tribe actually.
Growing up as boy in rebellious suspected quarters of Hargaysa, had reshaped my perception of military ‘leaders’ dramatically. Soldiers are no educated but trained like sniff police dogs at some airports of the world. They are trained to kill. My fears stem from that scope and I expect the wannabe military ‘president’ in post-conflict Somaliland for the first time to execute his military duties. It’s obvious what military obligations are, at the least in my view not included sparing lives or building hospitals.
The memory about the dramatic events in Somaliland is fading out. Therefore, another historic mistake is forthcoming: the war-orphaned voters, whom misled in so many ways that their fathers were killed by certain tribe unlike the naked truth by military junta and murderous regime, intend to vote in favor of another military man following the footpath of their illiterate ancestors.
Most Americans didn’t elect Sen. John McCain for president for they refused to buy the cheap campaigning for his card as Vietnam War veteran, former POW and displaying his callous hands, likewise, As a Somalilander living next door, I must do whatever it takes to prevent a military man to overtake my democratic country. Any voters in favor of the military presidential candidate unwittingly convey a wrong message that we don’t hate juntas or ex- warlords to run for presidency but only hate Siyad Bare for he who was for being a Daarod of his ethnicity. I heard a MILITARY picked up as our next president but i thought it was figment of my imagination. And I hope that to be the case.