Is Turkey Inadvertently Fueling Somalia’s Age Old Clan Conflict by Supporting the Hawiye and Isaaq Clans?
The Muslim nation of Turkey has been deeply involved in Somali affairs in the last four years. Turkey’s role became prominent in 2010-2011 when the worst drought in recent memory hit large parts of Southern Somalia. Turkey had sent a large amount of aid to the country, followed by a visit of its prime minster at a time when still some parts of Mogadishu was occupied by Al-shabaab. The Prime Minister’s visit was interpreted by most Somalis as brotherly and humane gesture.
Since then, Turkey’s role in Somalia, both economic and political, has substantially increased. For example, Turkey offered free scholarships to hundreds of Somalis in Mogadishu, Hargeisa and, to a much lesser extent, Garowe. It is also involved in rebuilding roads and hospitals in Mogadishu.
We don’t have any problem with that as long as it is purely humanitarian even though we would like to remind our Turkish brothers and sisters that much of the country is devastated due to 22 years of turmoil and that Mogadishu, despite holding the title of capital, is, in fact, nothing but a strong hold of one of Somalia’s clans. Mogadishu has lost long time ago the diverse population that most other capitals in the world have. Unlike Mogadishu, other capitals of the world are a microcosm of a nation’s population. In fact, it is hard for some clans to even set foot today in Mogadishu, let alone live or take part of its governance. For example, more than half of the capital is inhabited by squatters from the president’s clan, who moved from the country long time ago, after residents from other clans, most notably the Darod clan, were cleansed by members of President Hassan’s genocidal USC militia of which he was a prominent member, organizer and an activist.
Recently, the Turkish government hosted a meeting between President Hassan, who since his election last September has metamorphosed as a divisive individual who looks only after the interest of his clan and their allies, and the secessionist Isaaq clan leader, Ahmed Siilaanyo. The separatist Isaaq administration calls itself Somaliland for public consumption but, by all intents and purposes, it is a one clan project. If I may explain to you a little bit about Northern Somalia, the area is inhabited by five large distinct clans and a host of smaller clans. The secessionist Isaaq is among the five major clans and the only one that is interested in secession. All other clans in the region are adamantly opposed to the secession. To break the will of other clans in the North, the Isaaqs are using all sorts of brutality in order to get their way. Taking advantage of large of caches of weapons which the last government left in their area, they organized themselves and began occupying some regions which belong to the unionist clans in the North. To date, the Isaaq onslaught continues in some areas in the North including Khatumo areas which are inhabited by the Dhulbahante clan. The secessionist Isaaqs are committing all sorts of human rights violations which include brutal occupation of other clans’ land, summary executions, assassinations, rape, to name a few.
Against that backdrop, we (Somalis from unionist clans in the North) were dismayed when President Hassan, who has since his election became a very divisive figure and acts like a clan leader, has decided to turn his back to all four unionist clans in the North and has accepted to discuss the future of Northern Somalia with the leader of the secessionist Isaaq entity, Ahmed Siilaanyo. We understand that among the things they discussed in Turkey is their desire to share what ever support, including financial and military, they receive from Turkey and other nations. We would like to remind our Turkish friends that the meeting that took place in Turkey wasn’t a genuine conference to solve Somalia’ s problems, but a meeting between two friendly clans whose goal is to take advantage the foreign assistance that Somalia is expected to receive and use that against their adversaries in Somalia.
We understand that Turkey may not want to take sides in the Somali conflict. We also know that Turkey has its secessionist problem as she has been battling for years with the PKK. One may hope that Turkey will be very prudent in its support since that support may end up being used for potential genocide because Somalis are far from being reconciled and the current Hassan’s government truly represents the interests of his clan and their allies, which includes the secessionist Isaaqs in the North.
Mohamed Ismail (aka Shuuqiye)