The deadly union between Somaliland and Somalia that caused catastrophe effect for Somaliland people has come to end in 18 of May, 1991

By Ismail lugawayne

History is series of stories that occurred in our past. People that ignore their history has no past and no future as well.  Somaliland has an undisputed unique history which is old way back to centuries ago. The modern history of Somaliland begins when representatives from the UK government has signed protectorate treaties with various Somaliland traditional sultans between 1884 and until 1987. However, the effects of the Second World War has influenced Africans and Asians to speak against the colonial rule in Africa and Asians. This has generated a large number of educated Africans and Asians voicing against the European colonizers. In this regard, the wind of independence in Africa has sourced great impact with Somaliland people. The European colonial governments responded to the black Africans resistance against European colonizers by promising they will prepare Africans self-rule. This is why Britain formed Somaliland Legislative Council just before independence. In 1960. Thereafter, Somaliland Legislative Council passed to the British government a resolution requesting independence in April 1960.   

This has sourced the British government to prepare granting independence to Somaliland in May 1960. Earlier than this, in April 1960, leaders of the two territories (Somaliland and Somalia) met in Mogadishu and agreed to form a united country.  This is followed the British government voluntarily ceded control of their administration in Somaliland in 1960 so that Somaliland will unite with Somalia when Somalia will became independent. Subsequently, Somaliland which was British protectorate from 1884 and until 1960 has gained independence from the United Kingdom in June 26, 1960. However, Somaliland independence has lived only five days as Somaliland on voluntary basis united with Somalia to from greater a Somalia which become later a dead dream taken into account many historical facts that proves the union between the countries was wrong in the first place.  In other words, Somalia was formed in 1960 by the federation of a former Italian colony and a British protectorate.

 However, the early years of the union between Somaliland experienced political and economic isolation for former Somaliland.  The southerners dominated the political life of united Somalia as they reserved the top government positions like the president, the prime minister, the military general and the police general in the expanse of the northerners.  The military top positions awarded disproportionately to “southern” Somalis. Immediately after the union, Somaliland people were marginalised under the unification venture as the southerners dominated the political life of independent Somalia. This was the beginning of the discrimination imposed by the southerners to the people in the north.  This is why a group of junior military officers from Somaliland attempted a military coup.  These young military officers graduated from British and Egyptian military academies and colleges. Despite their military academic background which was not true in the case of the southerners, they were discriminated.  Immediately after the deadly union, they became disenchanted with the system and the union.   

 They faced direct discrimination and injustices within the military force.  Just before the union, Italian Somalia, there was rush for promotions among the armed forces, which mean, there was a large scale promotion for the officers in the South.  The officers of the Somaliland Scouts regiment of the Somaliland protectorate were not involved in the commotion and mayhem of that matter.  The officers from the South before union were all from the Police force as Somalia has no military force in Italian-administered Somalia. Contrary is true in the case of Somaliland, there were well-trained Somaliland Scouts military regiment. Just before the union, in Italian Somalia, many of the police officers were transferred to form a new military force even though they had no military experience and training at all. Most of the officers in the south were promoted twice. The ranks like captains or Majors have promoted a rank up that made dressing as Majors and Lieutenant Colonels respectively. Even the junior officers dressed two ranks up with some being promoted to senior positions. There was plainly a mad rush for promotions. Meanwhile, the government’s top posts were dominated by southerners.  This discrimination imposed to northerners has continued from 1960 and 1969. Despite above systematic discrimination, however, the situation worsened when Mohamed Siad Barre staged military coup in October 1969 that led a brutal military dictatorship, marked by widespread human right abuses

 Sayid Barre regime became increasingly oppressive and violent.  However, when SNM was formed in exile (UK) in 1981, the local population in the north have extended overwhelming support to the liberation movement in view of oppressive practice the dictatorship committed to the people in the north, presently Somaliland. From 1982 and onwards, SNM has waged military operation against regime military targets in the north. The 1980s saw the rise of opposition armed movements that developed in response to state marginalization and abuse including the purge of local population for the northerners. Beginning in 1982, the regime imposed curfews in Somaliland major cities and towns that cause serious implications for the lives of the civilians.  Looting has become a lucrative source of funding for state forces and paramilitaries that were referred to as the ‘meat market.  The regime has employed mobile military courts (MMCs) to combat the opposition. Many countries have inserted pressure the former oppressive to stop killings, violence and human misery against the innocent citizens, but no vain. . Somaliland people have experienced one of Africa’s most notorious dictatorships.

When SNM waged large scale military operation in Somaliland big cities like Hargeisa and Buroa in 1988, the brutal regime responded airstrikes and artillery shelling. Eyewitness has told fighter jets lunched airstrikes from Hargeisa airport to bomb the highly populated centres to kill maximum number of civilians. Hargeisa was literally carpet-bombed.   Every building in the capital even the worship places like mosques carpet-bombed as the regime leadership has issued an instruction to destroy the entire city.  The regime has denied journalist and human rights representatives to enter Somalia to eyewitness the suffering, the misery and the agony of Somaliland people imposed by brutal regime. The regime continued to launch targeted reprisals against the civilian population throughout 1990.

28 years ago, there was no single building in Somaliland capital saved from the regime bombardment as the dictatorship system instructed destroying every building in the capital including schools. Even the mosques were not spared from the regime air and artillery bombardment.  Virally Hargeisa was razed to the level and as a result, became a ghost city to the extent two German journalists described it in relative similarity to Hiroshima and Nagasaki of Japan during second world II in terms of destruction ensued.  The regime tactics against civilians included laying land mines around towns, destroying water forces also laid over a million unmarked land mines to kill maximum number of civilians. The regime bombed towns and strafed fleeing residents and used artillery indiscriminately. The whole civilian population and their homes discriminately targeted by regime forces. This brutal bombing forced almost half a million of the local population to flee their homes in an effort to save their lives from the regime heavy bombardment and aerial bombing. The terrified civilians run away their homes and become refugees in neighbouring countries, in particular, Ethiopia causing humanity crisis. The relentless violence against civilians in 1988 resulted in the world’s largest refugee crisis.. International observers labelled the destruction of Hargeisa as the Dresden of Africa

Ismail Lugweyne

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