Puntland Scheme                           

Mogadishu Debacle



P  U  N  T  L  A  N  D      

A   Q U I S L I N G    S C H E M E ?

A U G U S T  01, 2 0 0 9






Puntland: A Quisling Scheme

Roobdoon Forum

August 01, 2009


This month, Puntland leadership is marking a new day of struggle for the creation of a semi-autonomous region. The day is now instituted by its administration in memory of August 1st, 1998. In commemorating the occasion, Puntland Diaspora communities are pronouncing an official holiday, pledging Puntlanders everywhere to participate in the political process by which the design of Puntland flag, symbol, and anthem will be adopted. As the lessons from the secessionist Somaliland show, independence can not be promptly attained merely with the adoption of slogans, flags, and militant songs (such as the new tune “ku dayo Puntland”).  This anniversary has a particular undertone, in view of the completion of the SSDF’s long-awaited goals. The emergence of Puntland Regional Administration and its efforts to transcend a regional level and attain a complete independence from the rest of Somalia are dealt with extensively in this short paper.


What Kind of Anniversary?


As Puntland is celebrating the 11th anniversary of its establishment, as a regional administration, some bitter questions about its future are arising. Its leaders now can’t resist expressing dismay at the growing fanaticism and clanism in the ranks of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG).  Propagated by the TFG’s new leadership, the Mogadishu-centered mentality, which the existence of regional federalism was meant to be eradicated, is not a shared vision among all Somalis.


Therefore, this year’s anniversary will be different from what it has been in the past. Puntlanders who take part in this year’s celebration will be stepping on each others feet. The fanfare occasion could even become the turf to exact old wounds. Those who often get emotionally identified with Puntland (zealous SSDF veterans) and regard themselves as “true” Puntlanders will surely celebrate with new tunes and certain manifestations of profanation. They speak with mounting anxiety about the growth of Islamist influence in the south and the threat that it could pose to the interests of Puntland. More recent developments in Mogadishu have also suggested that this fear of the Shabaab take-over is not exaggerated. This view gradually gained ground in Garowe and its reaction to Mogadishu debacle is predictably hostile.


In the period immediately following President Abdullahi Yusuf’s forced resignation, December 29, 2008, many voices from Puntland were heard saying “Somalia is sliding back into chaos. IGAD is putting everything where it was before etc”. To our understanding, Puntland’s new mood may perhaps be ascribed directly to Yusuf’s resignation. This momentous event accelerated a mutual distrust between the already strained relations between Puntland and Mogadishu, and this could impede Somali unity.


Zealous supporters of Puntland argue that those who forced their hero, Abdullahi Yusuf, to resign from the presidency without finishing his term, had ulterior motives. They now pronounce, without a fear, secessionism; and claim that this anniversary will underline Puntlanders’ ability to discover a new confidence of political ascendency and possibly an independent state. Zealots feel that their leaders have been too lenient with Mogadishu clans for too long. They say: before the European invasion, almost all of what is now Puntland had always been completely under one ruler. They believe that it is the right time to reclaim that old glory and establish an independent State under their supervision.   


These groups have already designed their personal flags and symbols that ought to be adopted by Puntland. However, many Puntlanders are reluctant about this idea of statehood, and anxious to show that Puntland leadership still masquerades under false pretenses. They believe that Puntland has yet to be liberated from the shackles of pirates, clanism, and fear complexes.


A Quisling Scheme or a “Bottom-Up” Approach!


Roobdoon Forum finds numerous writings about the rise of mini-states in Somali websites, in Western media, and the books of Somali contemporary history. In these writings, one can glean from these sources information about Puntland’s efforts to follow the footsteps of the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland and to establish a quisling regime in the northeastern regions of Somalia – i.e. to secede from the rest of Somalia.


Many Somalis have been reassessing literatures about the rise of such mini-states. Some of these literatures, though written through the lenses of euphoria, regarded the disintegration of Somalia Proper as signaling the end of Somali Unity and the emergency of clan-fiefdoms. This new interest can as well be seen within the Somali Diaspora communities, where the renascence of the ideas of clan-enclaves leads to rather favourable reappraisals.


In fact, the achievement of a regional administration in northeastern parts of Somalia has already, to a certain degree, checked the idea of Somali Weyn national sentiment. Similarly, in northwestern Somalia (Somaliland), hopes of unity gave way to a sense of anticlimax, the resurgence of clan loyalties, and the adaptation of old artificial colonial borders. Indeed, the trauma of unsuccessful Somali Weyn doctrine is enormous in these regions. Is this Puntland/and Somaliland trend reversible? Perhaps, though it seems less likely. The 18 years of Somali civil wars have, if truth to be told, shattered Somali unity and diminished the cherished Somali Weyn conviction.


Still, the choice that Puntland makes these coming months/years will be momentous, not only for themselves, but also for Somali unity. For some, our speculation about the immediate future of Somalia seems doomsday thoughts rather than a political concern. In any case, since no credible solution is as yet in sight, this frightening prospect and its possibility are worth to be reassessed.


The October Revolution


On closer examination of the Somali crisis, the 1960-69 civilian governments shrank to the role of relatively insignificant player in the drama that then unfolded. Instead, at the center stage, one finds 21 years of military and one-party rule.


Some scholars argue that there is a dearth of serious accounts of the causes of the Somali revolution – i.e. accounts honest enough to explain the circumstances that framed the revolution. Conversely, the “memorandum of understanding” with Kenya signed by former Somali Prime Minister, Mohammed Ibrahim Egal, at Arush, Tanzania, on October 28, 1967 is believed to be one of the main issues that ignited discord among Somali elites and led to charges in Mogadishu that Egal’s government had betrayed Somali interests in Kenya’s North-Eastern Province (aka NFD).


Somalia’s ruling party, the Somali Youth League (SYL), was in a state of disarray, with disturbances and quarrels among its ranks. Many MPs have called the Arusha understanding a “sellout of the NFD” and demanded from the SYL Central Committee to expel Egal from the party, on the grounds that he acted against the interest of the party and the nation. To ease the situation and pave the way for reconciliation, Abdirizak Haji Hussein have resigned as the SYL’s secretary-general and subsequently the Committee nullified the expulsion of Prime Minister Egal from the party. Nonetheless, the tensions within the parliamentarians created the almost total erosion of the government institutions – the weakening of the legal system and the increasing venality of the deputies, which eventually led to coup d’état by the army.


Premier Egal’s government lasted less than three years. It was in October 21st 1969, when the popular coup d’état replaced the civilian government, detaining and charging the civilian Prime Minister of ‘complicity with foreign intelligence’. [1] Somalia was just one of many African nations that experienced what was then referred as “coup-struck” nations – the 21st African nation in the scoreboard of military coups in Africa.


Scholars with in-depth African experience formulated the theory that states: the civilian governments have been supplanted by the army forces because of the fact that the military men controlled the weaponry and had the capacity for organized violence. However, in all fairness, the army-led Somali coup was popular and quick to justify its actions, based on a number of grounds including corruption, nepotism, and clan favouritism. It was the ruling SYL cliques who were not able to take their rhetoric of democracy in its literal sense and dispense with the need for a military takeover.


The first six years of the military rule (Oct 1969-1976) generally proved more stable and progressive than its predecessor. In an interview with Siyaad Barre conducted by Yugoslavia’s POLITIKA in March 26, 1976, he said:


In the country, in the six and half years since the army overthrew the corrupt civilian administration, five times more industrial facilities and seven times more roads have been built in the country than in the preceding decade. [2]


Despite the sweeping programs of social and economic developments witnessed, the military regime had met its major frustration in 1977-78. Siyaad Barre launched his campaign of liberating Somalis in the Ogaden region, since the restoration of the territories of the Somali ethnic group was and still is the heart of Somali Nationalism.


The Ogaden war represented the most serious disappointment in Somalia. Its outcome was a severe psychological blow to the morale of the Somalis. Siyaad Barre’s major political miscalculation was that knowing the Americans decided not to arm Somalia – by toeing a straight OAU line – he kicked out the Russian and Cubans from Somali soil. As a result of this, the general mood of the public was at its lowest peak, after more than 60% of the country’s army equipment, such as heavy armoured, was either destroyed or captured in the war. Siyaad Barre’s position inside Somalia came under severe pressure. With the help of the Russians, Cubans, and Yemenis, Ethiopian forces became victorious, forcing Siyaad Barre to withdraw Somali forces from the Ogaden.   


Factionalism in Somalia


Many scholars have noted that the Ogaden debacle are attributed for triggering or motivating, at least, much of the long-standing clan animosities toward Siyaad Barre and his clan. It was however a year before the Somali-Ethiopian war, the beginning of 1976, when a group of Majeerteen elites formed an opposition group called Somali Democratic Action Front (SODAF), in Addis Ababa. [Read below].


In July 01, 1976, Siyaad Barre’s regime refurbished itself into one-party rule. The Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) transferred the power and authority of the country to Somali Socialist Revolutionary Party (SSRP). Siyaad became secretary general of the SSRP and the president of Somali Democratic Republic. His aspiration was to transform his power, which came through coup d’état, to a government managed by a civilian-military elites – i.e. a regime no longer organized by just the Supreme Revolutionary Council, who were all military men.  It took him not that long when he realized that to move between the two worlds of military and civilian authority is not an easy proposition; and it did not help his authority to lump them together under a single barrack.


Siyaad Barre’s guess was perhaps transferring the responsibilities to SSRP would create a cohesive, modern, and progressive institutions; however, these changes brought no real change. Intractable clan rivalries in the administration and in the army have actually increased.  Siyaad Barre began to experience increasing opposition to his rule. In fact, an opposition group crystallized in that year (1976), as Siyaad sought to legitimize his rule as an elected leader who gained the confidence and the majority vote of the new socialist congress.  


Many observers thought that Siyaad has been genuine in his attempts to destroy clanism in Somalia, despite the fact that he has protected his own position by surrounding himself largely with relations and clansmen from his own clan. The new opposition group, Somali Democratic Action Front (SODAF) noted and used as a justification a secret document signed by President Siyaad Barre, in which SODAF viewed it as an institutionalized clanism that marginalized certain group of the Somali society [See the secret letter below].


This insignificant group of 13 people (SODAF) appeared no coherent opposition to Siyaad Barre. The group was led by Osman Nur Ali “Qonof”, former Minister of Justice (1969-1970),) and Mohamoud Gelle Elmi “Dhurwa”, former Minister of Industry and Commerce (1969-1970). The opposition group in exile was made up largely of one clan, Majeerteens, and was operating clandestinely from Addis Ababa. The Majeerteens therefore have largely isolated themselves from other clans in Somalia. Not only by making a narrow clan issue of their opposition to Siyaad Barre has ensured SODAF’s own suicide but also the group “has explicitly stated it does not wish to unite Somalis outside Somalia by force.” [3] Furthermore, a widespread disgruntlement felt in Somalia when a Majeerteen dissident quoted in Nairobi as saying: “My brother’s enemy is my friend. We are prepared to join hands even with Israel to bring down this dog.” [4]


In Addis Ababa, one of their rare news conferences, SODAF leaders affirmed that the creation of the new organization “fulfills the need for all Somalis to liberate themselves from dictator Siyaad.” SODAF leaders deplored that Ethiopia (led by Mengistu Haile Mariam) “stands by passively, without the slightest reaction to Siyaad Barre’s regime.”


SODAF’s attempt to forge relations with Mengistu, who himself came to power through the barrel of a gun, was interesting. Mengistu was a ruthless dictator who pretended to be a communist. He hung on to power only by force and he ruthlessly killed many civilians. Once, Mengistu’s wife and children were abducted for ransom by disgruntled army officers. He responded with a note of his own saying, “Boil them and eat them for all I care. The officers freed his family.” [5]   


Yet, the 1977-78 war provided the catalyst to capitalize on broader anti-Siyaad feelings; and in the aftermath of the war debacle, some of the embittered field grade officers (again, most of them were from Majeerteen clan) expressed their resentment towards Barre’s handling of the war. And this resentment took shape in the attempted (but failed) coup of April 09, 1978. A diplomat in Mogadishu described the coup as ‘ill-timed, ill-planned, ill-supported and tiny.’ [6]


As many sources also indicate, the coup collapsed quickly of mainly Siyaad Barre’s advance knowledge of the event, which permitted him to move ahead against the coup leaders. Subsequently, there have been no major disturbances in Mogadishu or Hargeisa – soon after brief clashes in Mogadishu surroundings, government forces succeeded to round up most of the coup plotters, including the Mogadishu-based ring leader, Col Mohamed Sheikh Osman “Cirro”.


Government-owned Mogadishu Radio in Somali stated in one of their lead stories, in that week, that  the government have been patient in the face of frequent provocations by this tiny group, who make use of  “political brokerage” (afmiinshaarnimo) as a habit. [7]  


Nonetheless, the major ring leader of the abortive coup, Col Abdullahi Yusuf, with thirty junior officers escaped into Kenya and then to Ethiopia. Col Abdullahi Yusuf masterminded an opposition group, the Somali Salvation Front (SOSAF), absorbing the already Addis-based front, SODAF. [Read below].  Again, SOSAF was perceived as a clan-oriented party of the Majeerteens, and indeed they did provide the bulk of his followers. [8] In August 02, 1979, SOSAF was incorporated with other dissident groups and became Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), still though a Majeerteen-based opposition group. In order for SSDF to gain legitimacy and to be projected as an alternative ruler for all Somalis, Abdullahi Yusuf and other SSDF top brass should have sought a multi-clan movement that would transcend the interests of the Majeerteens.


The Emergence of Puntland Regional Administration


Prior to Puntland’s establishment in 1998, some hundreds of thousands people fled or were driven from their homes to places outside the capital city of Somalia, Mogadishu, and its surroundings – including refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.


This human tragedy, which led to the emergency of national disintegration, was placed in motion when (May 18, 1991) a northern part of Somalia declared itself to secede from the rest of Somalia.


Also, in the summer of 1998, delegates from five regions in northeastern part of Somalia expressed their hope of contributing to strengthen the general security and stability in the Horn of Africa region, particularly in Somalia. These delegates from not so friendly clans gathered and formulated a regional state. In regard to the proposals offered by the delegates, the new regional administration, Puntland, was represented as a model applicable to the settlement of the war torn Somali crisis.


The delegates pledged to unite all clans in northeastern Somalia and thereafter make peace with their neighboring regions. They believed that the success of the process of national reconciliation is intimately related to the reconciliation based on “bottom-up” approach – i.e. “clan-reconciliation-first” approach.


From the inception of the Administration however, as we know it, the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) veterans have expressed a strong feeling of marginalization directed towards their sub-clans during the long period of Siyaad Barre's regime.   The initial reaction of the other non-SSDF clans in the region was to curb the SSDF veterans’ fear and allowed them to handle the new Regional Administration's helm, as a compensatory gesture to draw popular unification.  Soon the new Regional Administration simply invented sub-clan hegemony where it did not exist before; and, to many, the compensatory gesture from the delegates turned into bitterness which generated administrative sub-clan demarcation. It is therefore less surprising that the struggle to appropriate “a fair share” of the new Regional Administration's resources have suddenly assumed sub-clan distinctiveness.


Many elders have now sought in various ways to remedy this shortcoming. They understood that their efforts was for long, mistakenly, directed to satisfy SSDF veterans beyond the limit. The moment still seems opportune to derail the previous gestures – of waiting on the sidelines – and initiate a more to direct action, and to try and wrest the destiny of Puntland from SSDF clique.


Furthermore, the prime objective of Puntlanders should not, as on previous occasions, rely on or even look up to as a guide for the current leadership. We are deluding ourselves if we fail to recognize the existence of anti-democratic feelings among the top Puntland leadership. These anti-democratic feelings have been expressed in various ways. The most striking is how in the last three elections its top leaders were elected by a lousy Legislative Body, mere 66 in composition; and the Administration has yet to strive for direct elections (universal suffrage). Equally important is how Puntland leadership had, in the past, consciously helped sea-piracy to become a widespread phenomenon in Puntland.  


Undoubtedly, another example that will create resentment towards the current leadership will be if it tries to toe the line with the current mood of over-zealous supporters of Puntland, who are pushing the idea of an independent state entity, without referendum. If this happens, Puntland leadership alone will be held responsible for Somali Weyn humiliation.


In this short paper, it is not possible to draw up the long list of grievances against Puntland leadership, all which can be described as the principal cause of discord. Failing to incorporate fully into its administration to Sanaag, Sool, and Cayn regions is one of the most important, however, there are many others – the Mijiyahan incident, Laascaanood debacle, sea piracy, corruption and venality in the administration etc. Finally, Roobdoon Forum forwards to its readers the following letter and news-coverage, which may have a special interest and deserve to be made accessible to a wider circle of readers.   




[1] Rogers Morris and Richard Mauzy, “Following the Scenarios: Reflections on Five Case Histories in the Mode and Aftermath of CIA Intervention”, in The CIA File (New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976), edited by Robert L. Borosage and John Marks, p. 3-38.


[2] Belgrade POLITIKA in Serbo-Croatian, March 26, 1976, pg 2 AU.


[3] Africa Confidential, February 14, 1979, Vol. 20 No 4.


[4] The Weekly Review, Nairobi, February 16, 1979.


[5] The Globe and Mail, January 12, 1978, in “Power factions rise in Ethiopia.


[6] The Guardian, Manchester, 10 April 1978.


[7] Mogadishu Radio Domestic Service in Somali 0930 GMT Oct 26, 1978.


[8] It is worthy to note that even though Abdullahi Yusuf masterminded the formation of SOSAF, its first general-secretary was Mustafa Haji Nur (from the Isaaq clan). Similarly, SODAF had a non-Majeerteen leader, in the beginning of 1979 before it dissolved, and its leader was Omar Hassan Mohamoud "Cumar Istarliin" (from the Hawiye clan), who was the mayor of Mogadishu 1965-1966.


Roobdoon Forum

Toronto, Canada


Secret Document Signed by President Siyaad Barre

Africa Confidential

September 26, 1975, Vol. 16 No. 19, pg: 8


SOMALI OPPOSITION. In our last issue we pointed to the Somali government`s undoubted success in handling the very difficult situation caused by the drought. Opposition to the regime continues, however. We have recently seen a secret document signed by President Siyaad Barre and circulated to all ministries, the armed forces, regional and district commissioners and top members of the Supreme Revolutionary Council, which announces an official campaign against all the civil servants and businessmen of Mudug region and particularly its capital Galkayu.


The region has long contained many people critical of the military regime.


President Siyaad`s remarkable document says that officials appointed to the region have displayed very little experience or ability, that the traders and businessmen of Galkayu are capitalistic and anti-revolutionaries and that “all sic) civil servants and members of the police and army from Galkayu by birth are committed to tribalistic thinking.” As a result, says the document, they have combined to bring about doubt and disruption of progress in the region. Before now patience and leniency in dealing with such a situation could have been counselled. “It now appears to me” writes Barre “that this dire lack of principles, responsibility and patroitism can no longer be tolerated . . . therefore it is essential to wipe out this disease as speedily and as mercilessly as possible.” The document says the following actions are to be taken.


a)      Any person born and working in Galkayu must he transferred from it immediately,

b)      The anti-revolutionary traders and business men of Galkayu must receive the severe punishment they deserve.

c)       The leaders of regional government must increase their control and inspection and forcefully impose upon (the people of Galkayu) the political orientation (of the SRC).


“Any person who tries to resist these objectives must be punished harshly while being treated in a fair manner.


“I have every confidence that the ministries, agencies and commands of the armed forces will faithfully implement the directive of the present circular letter.”


The letter was dated August 23 [1975] and already Galkayu civil servants are being thrown out of regional jobs while businessmen fear that their businesses will be taken over by the state or by SRC officials. The Galkayu people are not represented on the SRC itself and have few voices to speak up on their behalf though they number many civil servants in Mogadishu. The danger is that the Mudug province will find itself entirely occupied by “foreign” officials, a situation that could only lead to further alienation.


There are now rumours in Mogadishu that the turn of other regions will follow. Opposition to the regime in Hargeisa district (ex British Somaliland) would put it next in line but Hargeisa would be a much tougher nut to crack with many supporters in the SRC itself.


Defector Discusses Attempt

Nairobi Domestic Service in English

1600 GMT 8 May 1978


[Excerpt] Col Abdullah Yusuf, a former Somali officer who defected to Kenya, said told that his group defected to Kenya after the abortive coup attempt to oust General Siyaad Barre after losing the Ogaden war. Colonel Ahmad said the coup failed because the groups involved had no means of communication as President Siyaad Barre had concentrated the troops at the Somali-Ethiopia border without transportation facilities.


He claimed further that Siyaad Barre had only sent troops who were not members of his clan to die in the Ogaden, while some 10,000 troops of his own clan were concentrated around Mogadiscio to protect him and his close friends. Colonel Ahmad said further that President Siyaad Barre had run away from his presidential palace and hidden in a slum on the day of the attempted coup.


He also accused President Siyaad Barre of banking the financial assistance sent to him by Arab states in his special account in Europe. He observed that the Somali ambassador to France, a relative of Siyaad Barre, has bought two huge villas in Paris with the money that has been given to Somalia for development. Colonel Ahmad has appealed to Arab countries and the Muslim World to stop giving aid to Somalia, because that aid would only be used to oppress the Somali people.


He also appealed to the Western World to stop arming Somalia for the same reason. The Somali defectors accompanying Colonel Ahmad have applied for political asylum in Kenya and their applications are being considered.


Executions carried Out

Hong Kong AFP in English

0704 GMT 26 Oct 1978


[Text] Mogadiscio 26 Oct, (AFP) – Seventeen people were executed by firing squad before a crowd of several thousand today for taking part in an abortive coup last April against Somali President Mohamed Siyaad Barre. The executions were carried out on a patch of waste ground on the outskirts of the capital. Several thousand people were, warned in advance of the executions by Mogadiscio Radio, massed in silence on the sandy hillside overlooking the execution site. Streets in the vicinity were closed to traffic and army reinforcements were called in to help police control the crowd.


The seventeen, who were sentenced on September 13, 1978, were:


1. Col Mohamed Sheikh Osman “Cirro”

2. Maj Siad Mohamed Jama

3. Maj Ibrahim Mohamed Hersi

4. Maj Siad Jama Nur

5. Capt Mohamed Ahmed Yusuf Aganeh

6. Capt Abdisalan Elmi Warsame

7. Capt Bashir Abshir Isa

8. Capt Abdillahi Hasan Nur

9. Lt Abdi Osman Ugas

10. Lt Abdirahman Maalin Bashir

11. Lt Adan Warsame Abdillahi

12. Lt Abdillahi Mahamud Guled

13. Lt Mohamed Abdullahi Husein (Gorod)

14. Lt Abdulwahab Ahmed Hashim

15. Lt Abdulqadir Gelle Omar

16. Sgt Farah Mohamed Halwo

17. Director Abdulqafar Warsame Abdilleh


Sentences Announced for Coup Conspirators

Mogadiscio Domestic Service in Somali

1115 GMT 12 Sept 1978


According to Mogadishu Radio, the National Security Court of Mogadishu sentenced the above 17 accused to execution, having found them guilty as per Chapter 1 Law 54 of 9 October 1970 of the crime of having participated on 9 April 1978 in an abortive coup against the unity, peace and sovereignty of the Somali nation, thereby causing many deaths and injuries and much other damage.


The Security Court however found not guilty and discharged: 2nd Lt Mohamed Muse Kaynan and Mah Abdullahi Gelle Yusuf.


The Charges against Capt Mohamed Ahmed Guled and Lt Abdilatif Sheikh Ismail were dropped because they died before they could be brought to trail.


A Second group, 46 in number, were charged under article 1 of Law 54, 10 September 1970. They were accused of aiding the first group who organized the coup plot of 9 April 1978. The court named them as:


Lt Omar Ahmed Gab

Lt Hasan Haji Abdi

Lt Abdullahi Ahmed Shire

Lt Abdullahi Mohamud (Wardhere)

Lt Mohamud Mohamed Afrah

Lt Dahir Maalin Elmi

Lt Yusuf Ismail Awale

2nd Lt Mohamud Rashid Jama

2nd Lt Mohamud Sheikh Mohamed (Yilgor)

2nd Lt Yusuf Madar (Egeh)


The court has found the above guilty of full participating in the crime, and each of them is sentenced to 30 years imprisonment and their property has been confiscated. The court has also [words indistinct]; Lt Ismail [words indistinct]; Lt Sharif Sheikh [words indistinct]; 2nd Lt Jama [words indistinct], 2nd Lt Muse Farah Guled; and 2nd Lt Dahir Mohamed Hasan, and sentenced them to 26 years imprisonment and the confiscation of their property.


The court has also sentenced each of the following to 20 years imprisonment and the confiscation of their property:


Lance Cpl Said Botan Elmi; Pvt Suleiman [words indistinct]; Cpl Isa Yusuf Araleh; [words indistinct] Cpl Ahmed Farah Jama; Lance Cpl Abdulqadir [words indistinct]; (Cpl) Jama Hersi Jama; Corporal [words indistinct]; (Cpl) [words indistinct] Yusuf Farah; private [words indistinct]; Lance Cpl (Ismail) Ahmed Diriye; 2nd Lt Jama Ahmed (Gedi); (Cpl) Abdi Mohamed Mahadalle; (2nd Lt) Aidid Ali (Diro); Lance Cpl Yusuf Ali Elmi; Lance Cpl Hasan Mire Nur; Cpl Mohamed Ahmed Diriye.


The Court has also ordered the release of the following, for lack of sufficient evidence:


Maj Yusuf Mohamed Osman; Lt Elmi Ahmed Iman; Lt Abdullahi Duale Mohamud; 2nd Ali Abokar Sheikh Ahmed; Lt Mohamed Omar Ali; Lt Markali Amin Munyo; 2nd Lt Mohamud Mohamed Dahir; Lt Ahmed Mohamed Hasan Bilal; Lt Mohamed Farah Jama Bodi; Lt Hasan [words indistinct] Mustafa; 2nd Lt Mohamed Husein Lolow; Cpl Hasan Nur Dinlo; Lance Cpl Muhyadin [words indistinct] Gaid; Pvt Said Muse Dualleh; and Cpl Abdi Warsame Awad.


The Court has also sentenced Brig Gen Abdullahi Mohamud Hasan (Ma Tukade) to 28 years imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 [denomination unspecified]. He is convicted of favoritism under the article 10 of law No 67, of 1 November 1970, on which count he received 20 years; encouraging tribalism under article 2, on which count he received 5 years; and contravening article 22 of law No 54, of  10 November 1970, on which count he received 3 years.


Maj Yasin Ali Yusuf has been sentenced to 3 years imprisonment under article 22 of Law 54, 10 September 1970 for failing to report to the authorities while having prior knowledge of the plot.


The Court has discharged the following:


Lt Col Abdullahi Ahmed Yusuf, Capt Shaykdon Abdulle Elmi; Lt Ali Farah (Tifow); and Lt Abdullahi Ali Ahmed; who were charged with having prior information and failing to report it.


The Horn: Rumblings in every camp

Africa Confidential

March 11, 1981, Vol. 22 No 6: p5-7


Pro-Somali factionalism


Ethiopian action in the south, along the Somali border, has produced its first successes for several years, partly because the two years of drought, both in Ethiopia and Somalia, have now dried up the Juba and Shebelli rivers, pushing much of the population out of the area and thus removing food and support upon which pro-Somali guerrillas have largely depended.


The three guerrilla movements in the area, the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF), the Somali Abo Liberation Front (SALF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) have been suffering splits over the question of relations with the Somali government in Mogadishu. In late January/early February the WSLF membership ousted its entire 70- man central committee, including Secretary-general Abdullahi Hasan Mohammed and deputy secretary- general Abdi Nasir. Mohammed Dirye Urdoh became the new secretary-general of a fresh 50-man central committee. So the WSLF faction hostile to Somali President Siyaad Barre won the day, and will try to distance itself from Mogadishu. But in the longer term it is hard to see how it will maintain its arms supplies.


The SALF congress early this month may witness similar problems. We hear its leadership, too, may be changed. Indeed the movement may well formally disappear into the WSLF and the OLF, which many SALF members have already joined. The OLF appears to be the most coherent of the anti-derg forces.


To some extent Mogadishu winks at these re arrangements, in order to convince the US that Somalia really does not have any troops inside Ethiopia. Siyaad badly needs promised military credits and arms from the US, but the Ogaden question has meant that Somalia has gained minimal amounts of new weaponry: a squadron of Chinese-built MiG-21s, and now some second-hand hardware from Egypt, Visits to Cairo by Somalia’s chief of staff in October and by the defence minister, Lt. Gen Muhammed Ali Samatar, in January, have produced promises of T 54 and T-55 tanks plus ammunition for BM-21 rocket launchers and for various artillery pieces, some armoured personnel carriers, and spares for diverse Russian-made equipment.


But Siyaad is still pinning his main hopes on Reagan. Already the US/Somali deal over the port of Berbera has accelerated Mengistu’s (and Soviet) plans for a regional grouping of states with little in common save unease over the US use of Berbera and/or Somali irridentism. Somalia has consequently begun to look more isolated in the Horn. Ethiopian-Sudanese detente has encouraged Nimeiri to help end the Eritrean war. Bandit activity by ethnic Somali in north-east Kenya has kept Kenya suspicious of Mogadishu. Mengistu paid a successful visit to Kenya in early December. President Daniel Arap Moi went to Sudan a few days later. Though Kenya has agreed to grant the US facilities in Mombasa, Nairobi remains sceptical about Somali denials of claims to Kenyan territory.


Relations between Addis arid Djibouti have also much improved, while South Yemen’s President Au Mohammed Nasser, who visited Addis last month, remains friendly to Mengistu. So Somalia’s sole stalwart friend in the region is Egypt.


Anxiety at home


More pressing for Siyaad is the domestic unrest indirectly arising from the US deal. Many of the ruling Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party are uneasy about the offer of Berbera to the US. This was a key factor prompting Siyaad to declare a state of emergency on October 21. He also recalled the old Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC), Siyaad’s circle of military officers who took over in 1969. It seems that Siyaad now wishes to bypass the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party. Subsequently the government and administration have become far more military-dominated, and many civilian members of the party have been edged aside.


The key governing group remains the five-man political bureau of both the SRC and of the party:


Siyaad himself, his son-in-law and head of security Brig. Ahmed Suleyman Abdalla; the first vice- president and minister of defence, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Ali samatar; the second vice-president, Maj. Gen. Husayn Kulimiye Afrah; and Brig. Ismail Ali Abokor, the president of the people’s assembly. As part of the state of emergency, five special committees have been set up (for defence and security; commerce and finance; a political committee; a social committee; and a public auditing committee) each with powers to implement SRC decisions.* Early in January, 85 new district and regional secretaries or administrators were appointed: 78 were military officers. Only four Out of 5 regional secretaries are still civilian.


The takeover of the administration and party by military has inspired several radical party members to defect. First ideologue was a leading party dialogue, Abdulrahman Aidid Ahmed, chairman of party central committee’s powerful ideological bureau since February 1980. With him went a senior diplomat from the embassy in Djibouti, Abdala Abdulrahman Ahmed. Another former member of ideological bureau, Sae’ed Jama, defected in December to Aden, where he set up the Somali Working People’s Party.


The half a dozen unexplained bomb explosions in Mogadishu in January were followed by further yes by Siyaad against other opponents within the party. Mohammed Yusuf Weyrah, once an important ideologue as minister of finance, Mohammed Warsame, ex-minister of education, and Col. Abdullahi Warsame, former head of the audit department, were detained, along with several hundred others. In mid-February Siyaad declared a general amnesty for any dissident who surrenders before May 14.


His opposition, however, remains diffuse and ill-organised. The Somali Salvation Front (SSF or SOSAF), led by Col. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as secretary-general, is probably the leading group. The of its operational headquarters in Ethiopia is offensive to the deepseated nationalism of most Somalis, but SSF’s several hundred trained and well-armed guerrillas have now carried out several notable attacks on isolated Somali police and army posts, now enjoy some financial help from Libya’s Col. Gaddafi. Two leading SSF civilians, Dr Hassan Ali Mireh, former minister of education, and Dr Muse Farah, ex-ambassador in Cairo, are now lobbying in Washington.


But opposition to Siyaad has been weakened by charges of tribalism. The SSF leadership is predominantly Majerteen. Another small opposition faction that has resurfaced, the fundamentalist Islamic Party of Somalia led by Sheik Mohamoud Haji Dualeh, is centred on the Issaq, from northern Somalia, as opposed to the Darod, the Majerteen and the southern tribes.


Even more dangerous for Siyaad is the economic malaise and the drought. Over a million ethnic Somalis from the Ogaden have moved into Somalia. Thousands from within the republic are also moving into camps because of drought. Despite angry complaints from relief agencies, Siyaad has been forced to divert relief supplies to satisfy his own population. If they remain hungry, Siyaad’s position must be in peril.




*Defence and security committee: chairman, Lt. Gen. Samatar; vice-chairman, Brig. Ahmed Suleyman Abdalla.


Economic committee: chairman: Maj. Gen. Abdullah Muhammed Fadhil; Col. Ahmad Mahamud Farah, vice-chairman; members include Col. Farah Wa’ays Dhulleh and Col. Musa Rabileh Good.


Political committee: chairman, Brig. Gen Ismail Ali Abokor; vice-chairman, Col. Muhammed Umar Jays; member, Col. Abdiqadir Haji Muhammed (Masale).


Social committee: Maj. Gen. Husayn Kulmiye Afrah, chairman; Brig. Muhammed Ali Shire, vice chairman; members: Col. Abdirazzaq Mahmud Abubakar; Col. Usman Muhammed Gelle; Col. Abdi Warsame lssaq.


Public auditing committee: Brig. Mahmud Gelle Yusuf, chairman; Col. Abmad Hasan Musa, vice chairman.



Africa Confidential

November 28, 1984, Vol 25 No 24: p7-8


SOMALIA: OPPOSITION FAILURES: The two Ethiopian- based opposition movements, the Democratic Front for the Salvation of Somalia (DFSS) and the Somali National Movement (SNM) have recently suffered further serious setbacks. On 17 October two DFSS central committee members, Abdurahman Aideed Ahmad and Ikar Haji Mohammed Husayn, were apparently gunned down at the DFSS’ forward HQ at Dire Dawa in eastern Ethiopia. The DFSS version is that a Somali government agent penetrated a DFSS training camp near the Ethiopian-DFSS occupied village of Balamballe in central-western Somalia, where he then shot dead the two DFSS central committee members.


The assassinations point strongly to a continuation of the internal splits that have plagued the DFSS for some time (AC Vol 24 No 24 & AC Vol 25 No 21). In May this year mutinies in DFSS camps led to serious internal fighting, the flight into the bush of several hundred guerrillas, and the return to Somalia of about 200 of them. DFSS chairman, Col. Abdullahi Yusuf, hurriedly cut short a foreign trip. He then convened a central committee meeting at which his opponents, including Abdurahman Aideed, mustered only 10 Out of 50 votes. The mutineering guerrillas were crushed by DFSS military commander, Col. Mahmud Farah Hassan Da’ardeh. In August the latter was blown up by a land mine. It is quite likely that Abdurahman Aideed’s assassination was revenge for Col. Mahmud’s death.


We understand that shortly before his death Abdurahman had acquired a sizeable amount of ammunition, which was then distributed to his own supporters in the DFSS camp near Galadi. He had also attempted to get in touch directly with the SNM. Though the SNM and DFSS are under strong pressure from the Ethiopian government to unite, Col. Abdullahi evidently saw a threat to his leadership in the way Abdurahman was establishing his own close rapport with the SNM.


The SNM also suffered a major blow in October when one of its top military commanders, Col. Mahamoud Hashi “Lixle”, died in a clash with government forces. A former head of the SNM’s military wing, Col “Lixle” masterminded the highly successful raid on the top security prison of Mandera in January 1983.


The SNM was about to start an offensive in north-west Somalia following a Somali army attack on one of the main SNM training camps, at El Habashi, about 20 kilometers inside Ethiopia. The SNM, after its last congress in July and the change of leadership, devoted some time to reorganising itself. Its renewal of activity in October was apparently spurred by the appointment of Hassan Keite as governor of Hargeisa. Keite, a colonel and a former ambassador is a member of the Habr Yonis clan of the Issaq. A popular figure, his appointment is clearly intended to pose a threat to SNM support in the region. Another reason was the need to react to the death sentences (yet to be carried out) Of seven students. Like 13 others who got sentences ranging to life imprisonment, the students were all accused and convicted on 3 October by the National Security Court in Mogadishu of belonging to an illegal organisation, of distributing pamphlets and of being involved in a series of small bomb explosions in Hargeisa in June and July. Thirdly, by early October the SNM’s new arms supplies (probably from Libya) had arrived, and a batch of new guerrillas were ready for action following a recent SNM recruiting and training drive.


Several SNM groups were preparing to cross the border when the Somali army tried to pre-empt the SNM offensive by attacking El Habashi. The SNM admitted to over 50 casualties. The following week it went on the offensive, attacking several government military positions. The government imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in Hargeisa, and for a time all vehicles coming from Djibouti were halted at Boroma several hours drive to the north of Hargeisa. On 16 October the authorities executed by firing squad a camel-driver caught with a camel-load of ammunition and five others who were charged with not informing the authorities about it. Further executions of SNM sympathisers in the last week or two have been reported.


Despite the security precautions, in late October and early November the SNM infiltrated several small groups over the border. At least a dozen military posts have been attacked in hit- and-run raids, including two key positions on Hargeisa’s Outer defensive perimeter: Dararweine, one of the main fuel and ammunition dumps, and Toon. Both are about 10 kilometres from the centre of the town. Fighting has taken place at points between Hargeisa and the border, at Bokol, Qol Bulale, Salahle and Inagaha, and further north at Baki, beyond Boroma. There have been several clashes further south, to the west of Burao and between Burao and the border. Some of the more remote military positions have apparently been evacuated. Government troops have concentrated at Wareebeya 45 kms from Burao (leaving the villages of Eik, Bisika, Balaydig and Duruqsi unguarded. A government convoy was also attacked last week on the Burao Berbera road.


Although the above were small-scale operations, the government is worried. There have been a number of special meetings on security in Hargeisa and Berbera over the last few weeks and a number of top level visits to the region. Col. Ahmed Mahmud Farah of the party’s political committee has been to Berbera; and On 5 November defence minister Lt-Gen. Ali Samatar arrived on a two day visit, partly to hand out medals to the troops in Hargeisa. Minister of the Interior Gen. Ahmed Suleiman Abdallah took his Italian counterpart, Oscar Scalfaro, to Hargeisa at the end of October, causing the curfew to be temporarily lifted.


Scarfaro has been one of a series of Italian visitors to Somalia recently to take a look at the security situation. The Italian deputy prime minister, Forlani, was also there last month; and in early November Lt-Gen. Ricardo Barsanova, head of the Italian Carabinieri, arrived for a four-day visit. Recent American visitors have included Gen. Vernon Walters, President Reagan’s trouble shooter, and Lt-Gen. Robert Kingston, commander of the US Central Command (or RDF), who has just held talks with both President Siad Barre and Lt-Gen. Samatar.


The government has also sent two top-level delegations overseas in an attempt to acquire more weapons. Gen. Ahmed Suleiman is in Romania and Italy; Lt-Gen. Samatar paid a short visit to Egypt early in November for the same reason. (While there he was also briefed on the latest Egyptian attempt to mediate between Ethiopia and Somalia an idea probably made at Somalia’s request, with US backing). Lt-Col Mengistu, the Ethiopian head of state, met the Egyptian foreign minster at least twice during the OAU conferences.



Following the hijacking last weekend of a Somali airliner by Somali officers, the death sentences might have been commuted.



Africa Confidential

November 13, 1985, Vol. 26 No 23: p7


SOMALIA OPPOSITION BUST-UP. The Ethiopian government has finally lost patience with the divisions in the Democratic Front for the Salvation of Somalia (DFSS). On I October the founder and chairman of the DFSS, Col. Abdullahi Yusuf, was detained by Ethiopian security a few hours after four of his closest Supporters, including two of his bodyguards, were shot and killed by Ethiopian security at the Karamarda Hotel in Dire Dawa. Col. Abdullahi is now being held in Addis Ababa. Half a dozen other leading DFSS members were also detained, including Col. Abdullahi’s personal adviser, Abdullahi Mohammed Hassan; the DFSS military commander, Mohammed Warsame ‘Hore’; the operations officer, Col. Abdulkarim Sheikh Doon; and the commander and deputy commander of DFSS forces at Balambale, the enclave inside Somalia captured for the DFSS by Ethiopian forces in July 1982.


The latest trouble follows months of attempts (AC Vol 26 No14) to Oust Col. Abdullahi. It resulted in the deaths of two central committee members in October last year; the breakaway of others to form a new group in Aden, the Somali Popular Liberation Front; and the return of hundreds of others to Somalia under an amnesty. Under heavy pressure at a central committee meeting last August, Col. Abdullahi agreed, most unwillingly, to allow investigations of DFSS finances and strategy, and to have them made public at the next congress, due in a month or so. However, we understand he also planned to pre-empt any criticism that might have surfaced by arresting his opponents first, before the congress met. But with Ethiopia finally convinced that Col. Abdullahi was not prepared to join with the other main Opposition movement, the Somali National Movement (SNM), his opponents were able to get Ethiopian permission to strike first.


As soon as Col. Abdullahi was detained, about seven members of the DFSS central committee met to choose an acting chairman until a congress can be held, probably in December, though there are already moves to postpone it for another year. At least two candidates who attended the meeting turned down the job before it was offered to Mohammed Abshir [Walde], a DFSS member from Nairobi who was not on the central committee. We understand a Libyan representative was present at this meeting, even though earlier this year Libya stopped its financial support for the DFSS, despite a visit to Tripoli by Col. Abdullahi. Mohammed Abshir [Walde] accepted the offer and flew to Ethiopia, to be confirmed at another central committee meeting, this time of 20 members in Dire Dawa on 21 October and in the presence, it appears, of the permanent secretary of the Ethiopian ministry of public and state security, Moges Habte Mariam, and the Ethiopian security liaison officer with the DFSS, Col. Miskine.


The appointment of Mohammed Abshir [walde] will not end the DFSS’ problems. Several members of the central committee, including the vice chairman, Omar Sterline, in Nairobi, have made it clear they will not return to Addis Ababa for the time being. Others, in Ethiopia, have indicated their anger at Ethiopian interference in DFSS affairs (though they had no love for Col. Abdullahi). The new acting chairman also has yet to win backing from the 1,000 or so DFSS guerrillas still in the military camps near the border, or from the influential traditional Majerteen Sultan, Sheikh lslan Abdillahi Farah. (Both Abshir and the Sheikh come from the Rer Mahad, the same section of the Omar Mohamoud sub clan of the Majerteen who make up the bulk of the DFSS. Many of the actual guerrilla fighters come from another section of the Omar Mohamoud, the Rer Khalaf.). Most important perhaps, Mohammed Abshir [Walde] has yet to prove to the Ethiopians that he will be more malleable or any more prepared for unity with the SNM, one of the main Ethiopian requirements for supporting any future DFSS chairman.












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