ARTICLE ON WARDHEERNEWS
September 8, 2014
By Ismail H. Warsame
It was in April 2000 when I changed planes at Egal International Airport in Hargeisa on my way to Bosaso, Puntland. It was just on the eve of Arta Conference (May 2, 2000). I came from London, UK, via Djibouti, on a visit to my family. As I was the Chief of Staff of Puntland Presidency at the time and relations between Somaliland and Puntland were not that great, I was not at ease in the Transit Hall of the Hargeisa Airport.
Hargeisa Airport I was quite relieved when they finally called for boarding of the propeller plane to Bosaso, after having spent two hours in the Hall. Earlier, on deciding to transit through Hargeisa, I correctly assumed that no one would recognize me in Hargeisa. I also calculated that if someone would know me there, he or she would be from the Somali National Movement (SNM), who would respect the historical camaraderie that existed between the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) and SNM during our common cause to topple Siyaad Barre’s regime . It was my faint hope, as well, that my Grand Mother, Ayeeyo Dhoofa, hailing from one of the ruling and dominant sub-clans of Issak, would eventually play out in my favour if everything undeservingly happens to me transiting in Somaliland. While waiting for my flight in the Transit Hall, I received a large bundle of Somaliland currency in exchange for US dollars to buy a few things. Seeing me exchange money, a number of seemingly Airport Staff individually approached me for a Shaxaad (free money). When I tried to share my newly acquired Somaliland Shillings with them, each one said that this was not real money. They wanted dollars instead, saying “war ninyahow dhabcaalsanidaa ma Majeertayn baa tahay”? (Are you Majeertayn, how come you are that mean?)
On-board I happened to be in the same two-seat row with a well-to-do businessman from Hargeisa on his way to Dubai via Bosaso. I will call him Dahir (not his real name) for privacy and security reasons. Dahir was a joyful and talkative guy. After a brief mutual introduction in which I volunteered neither the title nor the description of my real job, he suddenly asks me: “War nimankii Dhulbahante iiga warran”? (Tell me about the Dhulbahante folks in Puntland?). “Ii jilci su’aasha”? (I didn’t quite understand the question), I responded. “War ninyohow nimankii saanu u raaligelineynay ayey naga wada carareen. Meelaha bulshadu isugu timaado, mid anaga ah oo is-ilaawey uun baa oranaya “War Faqashtii”, durbana markuu hareerihiissa eego raggii iyo dumarkii “Faqashka ayaa jooga. Markaa ayaa ninwalba raaligelintooda ku waashaa: War ina-adeerow idinka idiin majeedin! (Translation: People hailing from Dhulbahante find themselves uncomfortable to live among us (Issaks) as they are often called Faqash or belong to Faqash. That is one of the reasons they left us). In retrospect, I wonder if my interlocutor from Hargeisa had ever understood the main reason as to why Dhulbahante and Warsengeli opted to co-found Puntland in the absence of a cohesive national government, and given the horrendous abuses of power by the Military Regime of Siyad Barre and cowardly and persistently denial of clan cleansing in Mogadishu and Hargeisa by the leaders of USC and SNM, a serious obstacle to national reconciliation and re-building of trust among the Somali clans.
Faqash: The word “Faqash” is one of the key codenames for massive human rights violations in the Northwest Regions of Somalia (now Somaliland). The Code has been used by the Somali National Movement in identification for Darood clan cleansing in these regions following the collapse of the Somali Central Government. Originally, the word is used by Northerners to indicate the Somali Soldiers conscripted from Inter-river communities (Bantu farmers) of Somalia. Literarily it describes the way and sound of these soldiers’ make as they march through the streets of Northern cities and countryside.
According to Prof. ludwien Kapteijns, the Author of “Clan Cleansing in Somalia- The Ruinous years of 1991-1992”, other codenames for gross human rights violations including massacres, rape, expulsion, destructions of properties, dispossessions, clan cleansing are: “Looma-ooyaan, Lahaystayaal, Kacaan-diid, Haraadi” Among other codenames designed to target specific group of people or clan members include Dib-u-socod, Daba-dhilif.
In the repressive regime of Siyad Barre, Kacaan-diid (Anti-revolutionary), Dib-u-socod (Reactionary), Daba-dhilif (Foreign agent) and Haraadi (Remnants of Civilian Governments before Siyad Barre’s Coup) apply solely to Majeertayn sub-clan of Darood. It was huge project of the Military regime to purge from prominent positions of government and marginalize them from Somali body politic, accompanied by huge propaganda to unite the rest of the Somali clan system against the Majeertayn. Once someone is labelled with one of these code names, they lose all rights of citizenship and are subject to any kind of harassment and abuses by anyone and could lose everything including wife. Many Somalis, including educated class of different clans bought and embraced Siyad Barre’s brain-wash. Today any individual political ambition of Majeertayn has to face and fight this legacy of Siyad Barre’s propaganda machine.
What was the main Siyad Barre’s objective for initiating and implementing such huge political enterprise against a single Somali sub-sub-clan?
Siyad Barre, from the onset of his Military Coup, understood quite well that the Majeertayns have the numbers, territory, economic and manpower resources, history of self-government and great traditional governance and mechanisms for societal conflict resolution and potential for quality political leadership and therefore constitute a threat to his absolute rule. He had to start his war against them from Day One of his Regime.
Mujaahidiin (fighter, struggler in Arabic): This term is used by SNM and USC (United Somali Congress) for their respective militia. It was more popularly used by General Aididi’s Wing of USC. As the Central Government felt apart and Siyad Barre expelled from Mogadishu in January 26, 1991, law and order broke down, anarchy, looting and carnage of Daroods reigned. The Mujaahidiin turned into Mooryaan, then further into Al-Shabab during the short reign of United Islamic Courts in Mogadishu and now they split between Government soldiers and Al-Shabab militia. Today when they talk of Mujaahidiin they mean the Mooryaan that rampaged, pillaged, robbed and killed massively in Mogadishu, Gaalkacayo, Kismayo, Brava, Merka, Baydhada and other towns in South and South-Central. To them the Mooryaans (bandits) are pioneers of victory over Darood’s. Many of these Mooryaans suffer from post-war trauma and require long-term rehabilitation and therefore not fit to be soldiers anymore. In Mooryaan talk, their military ranks starts from how many people each had killed so far: tobanle (ten-person killer), kontonle (fifty-person killer), Boqolle ( 100 person killer) and so on. The whole central, south-central, especially in Mogadishu.are infested with these mad and sick beasts,
Looma-ooyaan (No one sheds tears for them) is a code name for unprotected non-Hawie person, who for whatever miracle transpired still remained alive in Mogadishu. Whatever happens to such individuals, there is no one to claim them and nobody would shed tears over the fate and misfortune of such human beings. Forget about retaliation and clan revenge resulting from abuse of these unlucky beings. I guess the cold-blooded murder of Hon. Singer and Superstar Saado Ali Warsame and Hon. General Xayd becomes increasingly difficult to handle under the codename of Looma-ooyaan.
Lahaystayaal (hostages) is another key code name for minorities considered outside the Somali clan system such as the Reer Hamar, Bravani etc, who had been possessed and abused by the Mooryaans. They can get freedom through extortion and high ransom payment with their daughters and wives already taken away. Prof. Lidwien Kapteijns’” Clan Cleansing in Somalia” is well researched study and most authoritative resource so far on the subject. It is the most commendable contribution any expatriate scholar has ever written about the Somali Civil War.
I am sure there are many other codenames for targeting people for barbaric abuses, condoned by political personalities, who until today refuses to acknowledge the horrendous abuses of lives during the past twenty odd years. And until that happens, all other efforts are exercises in futility. Consequently, this denial of heinous crimes committed in the name of clan against other clans in the Somali Civil War, would threaten the survival of Somalia as a country. That would be the biggest tragedy of all in waiting. Let us pray!
Ismail H. Warsame