Repeat of 1884 Somalia leaders compete for foreign domination.doc
Somalia to have a mutually beneficial relationship with the States neighboring Somalia, he managed it
in manner worthy of a proud Somali patriot. Those of us who had the distinct privilege of witnessing it
firsthand could attest to that. Abdillahi also deeply believed that the Horn region is so inter-dependent
that it could only realize its true potential if there is a paradigm shift in its people’s thinking and
approach. To the skeptics that is far off and futile but to those of us who share Abdillahi’s vision of
stable, peaceful and prosperous Horn region believe it is a cause worth fighting for.
In coincidence, in a discussion about President Yusuf’s life and political legacy moderated by VOA
Somali Services, Mr. Mohamed Abshir Walde asserted that before the rebel movement - Somali
Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) - against the Siad Barre Regime was established in Ethiopia
in 1978, a group of SSDF intellectuals assured the Ethiopian leaders that their vision and political
agenda was to change Somalia’s thinking towards Ethiopia as a long term commitment. The implicit
goal of changing the thinking of Somalis was and is to subordinate the sovereignty, liberty, and dignity
of Somalia to Ethiopia.
At present, against the will of the majority of the Somali people wanting a patriotic national agenda for
shaping the political future of Somalia, Somalia leaders in power and some intellectuals subscribed
to that pledge of allegiance towards Ethiopia. Last month, President Sheikh Sharif travelled to Addis
Ababa to receive instructions related to Hiiraan, Bay, Bakol, Gedo and Galgudud regions under the
control of Ethiopian forces.
Fortunately, President Abdulahi Yusuf made crystal clear his accusatory views against Ethiopia before
his death. He wrote:
The true policy of Ethiopia: I never forgot an Ethiopian adage Mengistu Haile Mariam [the
former dictator of Ethiopia] told me in our first encounter after he accepted the establishment
of SSDF base in Ethiopia. The adage says, “Don't catch a leopard by the tail, but if you do,
don't let it go because it will attack you and eat you……….. The thrust of the adage indicate
that in Mengistu and Meles Zenawi periods the leopard (Ethiopia) will not stop in eating
anyone who let it go but it (Ethiopia) will violently attack anyone or any state which resists the
fulfillment of the Ethiopian interests. (p. 405)
I retired from the Somali politics but two major issues that need urgent actions are still
outstanding. The First one is the Ethiopian’s concern [obstruction] about the Somali unity and
the revival of effective State of Somalia. The second issue is the tragic domestic situation of
Somalia without hopeful solution in the horizon.” (p. 418)
Furthermore, Ethiopia has publicized its security and foreign policy strategy towards Somalia. First,
the strategy assumes that Somalia will remain stateless in the short and medium term and will go
through a long process of transformation before peace and stability take place. The time framework
Ethiopia foresees for Somalia’s recovery seems more than two decades from now. Second, the
strategy makes sure that Somalia will not have relation with countries deemed anti Ethiopia. Third,
the strategy acclaims that the ‘greater Somalia’ ideology has been discredited. Fourth, the strategy
asserts that Somalia has no relevance to the development and security of Ethiopia. Indeed, Ethiopia
decided to dam the two rivers Shabelle and Jubba so that less or no water will follow to Somalia.
So, taking into account president Yusuf’s counsel and Ethiopia’s foreign policy strategy, why some
Somali intellectuals and leaders bought the idea that Ethiopia is critical to Somalia’s revival? Another
Ethiopian adage says: The eye of the leopard is on the goat, and the eye of the goat is on the
There is no question that Somalia and Ethiopia are neighbors. But they are two distinct nations with
different political and cultural systems, interests and aspirations for liberty and economic prosperity.
Inevitably, citizens of Somalia will always keep eye on the welfare of all Somalis but the long term
stability in the Horn of Africa will depend on the level of confidence in the freedom, justice, and
human rights guaranteed to the inhabitants of the region. Prof Tobias Hagman and Benedikt Korf
of University of California who wrote a paper on the violence and sovereignty in the Ethiopian
Somali Frontier have investigated the negative views the Ethiopian political elite from the highlands
have towards the culture of the Somali ethnic considered as savages awaiting civilization and the
institutionalized punishments in the past 120 years like encampment, arbitrary and discretionary
emergency laws and the politics of starving people. Mukhtar M. Omer’s article on what is happening
now in the Ethiopian Somali region, Hate as a losing political strategy , echoes the conclusions of the
investigation of Prof Tobias and Korf.
Here the wisdom of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America should
help the Somali politicians and intellectuals to rebuild their country by resisting the temptation of
subservience to foreign country. The words of wisdom in the farewell speech of 1796 are:
A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils……. Such
attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the
satellite of the latter.
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens, the
jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake since history and experience prove that
foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.
There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to
Somalia as a distinct nation should have its national strategic interests and pledge of allegiance.
Dutifully, a citizen of Somalia cannot pledge allegiance or feel affection/sympathy to another nation.
Otherwise, he or she will trade Somalia’s liberty with slavery. Repeat of 1884 when Somali tribes
competed for foreign domination should be avoided at any cost.
Mr. Mohamud M Uluso