Friday, June 08, 2007

Somalia: The rise of Maakhir State and the fall of Puntland

OpinionSomalia: The rise of Maakhir State and the fall of PuntlandORIGINAL TITLE: The rise of Maakhir State and the fall of Puntland in Sanaag and Western Bari Regionsby Raz Shirwa**As observer in Puntland affairs for the last 9 years, I have witnessed many stories unfold in front of me, sad ones and good ones, the birth of Puntland State of Somalia was a moment of joy for many inhabitants of Northern and East regions of Somalia.The population of these regions have common clan and the have held discussions in order to establish an administration which will safeguard their safety and distributing wealth and resources between themselves until a federal government comes to active.

The birth of Puntland also triggered the idea of regions can survive until Mogadishu and the rest of the country settles, They agreed that Puntland will occupy the northeastern portion of the area compromising the post-colonial Somali republic, which in 1960 joined the former Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland into a single state.

Prior the establishment of Puntland, there was Somaliland which declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 and since then never has been recognized by any international body or local government.

The rise of Puntland angered Somaliland authority since the Somaliland was based on colonial border between British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland and therefore laid claim over Sanaag Region and Sool.

That led to a military clashes in Sool Region in 2003 and still there are opposing forces outside of Las Anod, the biggest city in Sool Region.Sanaag Region, which is the second biggest region in Somalia as whole had peace and tranquility that other regions in Somalia lacked and when Puntland was established the echo of civil war start ringing as some of inhabitant of this region did indeed want it to be part of Somaliland.Sanaag Region consist of five main districts, four out of the five is inhabited by the Warsangeli clan, districts of Laasqoray, Badhan, Dhahar and Erigavo is by larger or over all inhabited by the Warsangelis, who are counted as the fourth biggest Darod clan and have the oldest Sultanate in Horn of Africa.The first destabilizing attempt did accrued when Ade Muse forces was defeated by those of Abdullahi Yusuf, the current President of TFG and fleeing Ade Muse asked refuge from the Warsangelis and when they refused him sanctuary he went to the district of Eil Afweyn which is the Fifth district of Sanaag and the local inhabitant are loyal to the Somaliland Authority.

Abdullahi Yusuf chose not to attack the base of Ade at Eil Afweyn and finally the Warsangeli Sultan and King of the Haber Je'lo sub-clan of Isaaq lead a peace effort which finally has been accepted by both warring factions.Since Ade Muse came to power, Sanaag region has seen rollercoaster time as its stability has been jeopardized by the Puntland Authority when Adde sent some of his ragtag militia to guard a mining village of Majiyahan and that lead to bloody battle between the Warsangelis and mainly Osman Mahamood (Majerteen sub-clan) militia who were claiming to be representing Puntland, who were finally defeated 13 April 2006.

Also, the region did not just experience war and clashes but even in peace time, the region has been neglected by the Puntland and the government of Puntland did not bother even paying the serving army from Sanaag and Western Bari, which the Warsangelis viewed as humiliation.That contributed to the idea of creating new regional government named Maakhir State of Somalia, which is independent from Puntland and Somaliland and will put itself under the Federal Government. The main idea is that the Sanaag Region and Western Bari do not benefit from Puntland State and all the aid agencies and allocated funds for these areas do not reach it, therefore we should administer ourselves and govern our affairs. Puntland failed in these regions, mainly due to bad management and lack of respect for those who inhabit in these areas.Another argument was that if this vast area which the international bodies and aid agencies named as disputed territory does administer itself then the argument of that this area is disputed will no longer be there.As whole, Puntland never took off in these regions, mainly due to corruption, nepotism, and only benefited by one clan, this forced the locals of Maakhir State to build their own regional government.

The rise of Maakhir idea spread and became clear that this will soon or letter will be the case, the Diaspora supported this idea and sow this as solution for the lack of development of the Sanaag Region and Western Bari.

Col Jibrell Ali Salad, a former soldier and governor of Togdher and Lower Juba (Kismayo) regions, took this idea and traveled across Sanaag and Western Bari to sell the idea to the local population.Col Salad visited vast areas of Western part of Sanaag and visited cities such as Erigavo, Damalla Hagare, Armale, Yube and gave speeches to the local population which in return the population and the local elders agreed to the idea of Maakhir State of Somalia.Col Salad, also visited the rest of Sanaag cities such as Hadaftimo, Eil-Bu, Hingalol, Dhahar, Buraan and some small villages in western Bari and did repeated the same speeches and also the local elders and local population welcomed the idea of Maakhir State of Somalia.

Finally, the biggest breakthrough came on the 1stf of July this year, 2007, when the soldiers from Puntland and those from Somaliland entered the Badhan City, the capital city for the new state, and gave salute to Mr Salad and accepted him as the commander in chief.

This lead to jubilation and flowers been poured on the soldiers and the birth of Maakhir State was for real, the following weeks the new authority started to collect rubbish from main towns and re-arranged the security forces.The rise of Maakhir State of Somalia in Sanaag and western Bari will undoubtedly improve the security and development which these areas need badly.

Roads and ports are needed in order to improve the economy of this new state and also, hospitals are badly needed as the entire state has only 2 functioning hospitals, one in Badhan and the second one in Dhahar.There are still ongoing talks between the elders of Maakhir in order to establish legislators and then choose its speaker; also there are more discussions on distribution of ministries and governors.**Raz Shirwa can be reached at: risack2003@hotmail.comB adhan, Sanaag, Maakhir State of SomaliaRaz ShirwaSource: