My memory of the Late Muse Islan Farah Islan Adam is as vivid as if he had left me yesterday. My travels with him to the Middle East and Gulf States, and numerous chats and debates I had with him are still fresh in my mind. The hard times we shared together in the struggle for freedom and civil liberties in Somalia as we fought against tyranny and military dictatorship are recorded permanently in my mind. Muse’s unique talent for story-telling and sense of humor had no match. His diplomatic skills and deep knowledge of Arabic and Arab culture were rare and unparallel.
Of particular interest to WDM readers is the adventure of a journey that took us to Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt and United Arab Emirates in the height of Camp David Agreement between Israel 🇮🇱 and Egypt 🇪🇬 that split the Arab world into two rival camps. It was 1984 when we embarked upon this mission. Arab states were either from Steadfast Front or a minority, including Somalia, led by Egypt. We were two-man delegation representing the First Somali opposition front, the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), against the Military Junta in Mogadishu. We knew our journey was full of personal risks as most of the countries we were visiting supported Egyptian Camp and definitely were against any opposition against Mogadishu Regime. Our guarantee of personal safety were the Ethiopian Service Passports we possessed as travel documents – still we could be exposed and extradited to Somalia as Ambassador Muse Islan Farah was a well-known personality in the Arab World. We stayed on our course, occasionally facing close diplomatic challenges and dangers.
One such perilous diplomatic encounter was me arriving in Jeddah before Muse Islan, carrying with me a bag full of SSDF propaganda literature and materials. At customs checkpoint, I was asked to open that bag. I couldn’t dare to open it since doing just that would definitely create a diplomatic scandal between Egypt and Ethiopia, to forget about me entering Jeddah. I had resolved this diplomatic standoff by proposing to the Saudi authorities to leave my bag behind at airport safe-room so that I could collect it on my way back. In doing so, my thinking was to persuade and use Ethiopian diplomatic personnel in Jeddah to help release the bag from Saudi customs authorities. Next day a First Secretary of the Embassy and an Ethiopian/Harari wealthy man with Saudi citizenship joined me to get the bag from the customs. The Saudi officer at airport couldn’t budge. The Ethiopian diplomat told the Saudi customs officer whether the latter could recall Muslim Hijra, when companions of Prophet Mohammed (SCW) fled to Abyssinia for safety? The Saudi Customs and Immigration Officer replied: “That has nothing to do with immigration, Sir”.
On the same journey with Ambassador Muse Islan, we were coming to Cairo from Damascus. Since Syria 🇸🇾 was in the Steadfast Front, our plane was surrounded on landing by soldiers, screening every passenger for banned materials and documents. Luckily, our Ethiopian 🇪🇹 service passports were quite helpful this time around.
Once we were in Cairo, Ambassador Muse Islan, being well versed with the operations of Egyptian Establishment, wasted no time to contact the office of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who later became Secretary-General of the United Nations.
At Boutros-Ghali office, we informed him of our mission and argued our point of views. Boutros-Ghali was not happy with our visit. He could also do something against us, but he didn’t, I think, because I were carrying Ethiopian passports.
Muse Islan Farah Islan Adam, the princely man of high and strong character is one of the few diplomatic idols that would stay in my memory for life. RIP!