WHO HAD SABOTAGED SOMALI NATIONAL RECONCILIATION CONFERENCE IN BOSASO IN 1997

After many years of trials and errors in creating the 2nd Somali Republic on the ashes of the first, following a vicious clan warfare dubbed “Civil War”, the now defunct National Salvation Council, better known as Sodare Group after the name of Ethiopian City of Sodare, was established in 1996. All Somali political/militia factions, with the exception of Hussein Caydiid, the son of late General Mohamed Farah Caydiid, joined the group. The group was chaired and led by five co-chairmen, namely Abdullahi Yusuf, General Gabyow, Osman Ali Caato and Soobe – all heavyweight militia commanders and participants of the Civil War. Only Col.Yusuf opposed the Regime of Siyaad Barre before its fall in January 1991. At the time Ethiopia was a designated country by the Organization of African Unity OAU (later AU) and IGAD, to handle Somali National Reconciliation and Peace Process.

The Sodare Group had captured quickly the imagination and support of the international community through their representatives and diplomats in Addis Ababa. This recognition and support had enabled the Group to make executive decisions to convene a congress in peaceful Northeastern Port City of Bosaso, scheduled for 1997.

Preparations for would-be national congress started in earnest. IGAD bought and transported Conference tents and equipment to Bosaso. Various Sodare Group delegations went to different countries to solicit for Congress support. One delegation led by Abdullahi Yusuf went to Yemen, and under its auspices sought visits to Gulf States. While the delegation was still in Sanca, officials from Ethiopian foreign Ministry had conveyed a message to them to return to Addis Ababa immediately. When they asked why, they were informed that Egypt intended to convene a meeting in Cairo with the participation of “Salbalaar”, Hussein Caydiid’s faction. Big diplomatic mistake on the part of the Ethiopian, who never understood Somalia as they pursue diametrically opposing national interests. It was also an extremely naive for Ethiopians to be so gullible to trust Egyptians, who wanted to sabotage Bosaso Conference. How did that happen?

Egypt, through its intelligence services, and by then its chief officer by the name of Calaa, had maintained contact with and influence over both Caydiid and Cali Mahdi throughout the course of the civil war. Hussein Caydiid was their man in Mogadishu. Cali Mahdi then was an important man as co-chairman of Sodare Group.While Mahdi was in Mogadishu at that particular time to prepare his community for Bosaso Congress, Egyptian Security Chief, Calaa, met him there, to persuade him attending Cairo meeting. Mahdi accepted the invitation and phoned up co-chairman and rotational current monthly chairman of the Group, Soobe, in Addis Ababa, advising him to expect a call from Calaa and to accept his invitation to Cairo on behalf of the Council. While all these were happening, Abdullahi Yusuf and his delegation were still in Sanca, preparing to return to Ethiopia to discuss on the issue.

Ethiopia had pressed the Group to go to Cairo meeting. To make a long story short, Egypt succeeded in dividing Sodare Group, thus sabotaging the Bosaso Congress. As a result, both Sodare Group and Salbalaar Faction of Hussein Caydiid had collapsed and ceased to exist.

IGAD had re-collected tents and Conference equipment from Bosaso and returned to IGAD Secretariat in Djibouti. Later, these tents and materials were used in Carta Somali Conference of 1999-2000.

The failure of Cairo Talks and undermining of Bosaso Congress had convinced some important political figures of Northeastern Regions (now Puntland) to re-think the national reconciliation strategy in order to spearhead the foundation of a 2nd Somali Republic. These leaders had invented and pioneered the theory of “Bottom-up” or “Building-blocks ( Federal Member States); hence, the creation of Puntland State of Somalia, an historically important First Pillar for the Federal Republic of Somalia.

In conclusion, many people say that it was Egypt that sabotaged Bosaso Congress in 1997. While I don’t argue with that assertion, it was mainly the fault of Ethiopia under the misleading and unwise advice by officials of its foreign ministry, and in particular, Dr Takeda Alemu, then the deputy foreign minister.

Author. Warsame Digital Media at https://ismailwarsame.blog
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Author: Warsame Digital Media WDM

About the blogger: This blog is associated with the former Chief of Staff in Puntland State Presidency, 1998-2005. He also worked with the UN and World Bank Joint Secretariat for Somalia’s Re-construction and Development Program (RDP), 2005-2006, as a Zonal Technical Coordinator for Puntland and later as National Aid Technical Coordinator with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and European Union. He is now an independent political analyst and commentator on current issues and occasionally gives historical perspective on modern Somalia’s politics. He lives and works in Toronto, Canada. He can be reached at: ismailwarsame@gmail.com

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