Oct. 20, 2010
Prime Minister Mohamed A. Mohamed
Dr. J. Peter Pham
“Also jaundiced is Farmajo's view of the Cold War. In contrast to the "opportunism [that was] a fixture of American foreign policy," Siyad Barre's pact with the Soviet Union was, according to him, "a prestigious treaty of friendship" which enabled "the ambition of a greater, stronger Somalia [to] come to fruition when Siad Barre invaded Ethiopia to liberate the ethnic-Somali Ogaden region in 1977.” Unbeknown to him, that is a view widely held by most Somalis, schooled or not.
Mr. Pham’s reincarnation of the defunct theory of the so-called Mareehan-Dhulbahante-Ogaden (MOD) constellation, originally coined by a pseudonym who wrote under Mohammed Hassan in a 1978-79 article on the Horn of Africa Journal, and later on publicized by I. M. Lewis, who in his later years of life seems to have lost his keen eye on Somalia’s clan segmentation dynamics, is again an indication of Mr. Pham’s extent to which he is out there to get Mr. Mohamed at any cost.
With the sole purpose of unearthing any dirt where there is none, Mr. Pham nit-picks Mr. Mohamed’s phrases and parses words with malice. He goes at length and tries to take advantage of the elastic meaning of terms like “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “persecution,” which Mr. Mohamed uses in his thesis.
Fully aware of the volatility and utility of clan and how much impact it can have on inter group dynamism, Mr. Pham writes the following at length:
“The aspiring academic had difficulty keeping his clan biases in check. While he had not a word to say about the Siyad Barre regime's genocidal repression of the Isaq and other clans, he dedicates several pages in his thesis to lamenting the "revenge and ethnic cleansing against the innocent Darood clan family" which came in the wake of the dictator's fall. In particular he seems to have a bone to pick with the Hawiye clan-family which, in his view, "lacked discipline and a sense of purpose" and whose leaders "were confused as to what their priorities should be." In fact, he asserts "one thing that they did not care so much about was protecting the weak and vulnerable people of the capital." (With opinions like these, one wonders what kind of welcome Farmajo expects from the Mogadishu's well-armed Hawiye clansmen if his nomination is approved and he ever moves into the prime ministerial suite in the city's besieged Villa Somalia presidential compound.)”
Guaranteed that any time someone, academics or otherwise, uses “genocide,” or “ethnic cleansing,” controversy is a given due to the sweeping impacts and severity associated with them. Remember President Bush’s use of the phrase “genocide,” when referring to the conflict in Darfur, and all the uproar it created – some saying the conflict does not reach the threshold of “genocide,” while others insisted otherwise. In hindsight, Mr. Mohamed would have been better off not to have used some phrases that are highly controversial in post conflict societies, notwithstanding that these phrases are better communicated to the general audience by those trained in the legal field. Often than not, these terminologies are better understood by the general population when one can back them up, in addition to their legalistic meaning, with specialized data to justify each situation at hand. It was not the most prudent use of the terminologies at the time of submitting his thesis.
“For instance, in the Northern colony of British Somaliland, the Isaaq tribe was awarded virtually all of the best jobs for its collaboration with the imperialists. In the South, the Italian colony found similar willingness in two loyal tribes: the Majeerteen of the Darood clan and the Mudulod, sub-clan of the Hawiye. These two southern tribes helped the Italians without reservation. In return, Italian and British colonies enabled these clans to claim some superiority over the other clans in terms of wealth, scholarship for their children in London and Rome, and future government influence in the post-decolonial era. Naturally, when the Somali government was formed, most parliamentary seats went to those tribes that had been loyal to the colonial rulers, as they were seen as best suited to stability. Somalia’s first president, Adan Abdulle Osman, is a prime example. He was a former civil servant under the Italians as a member of the Mudulod, Hawiye sub-clan. On the other hand, his prime minister, Italian-educated Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, came from the other favorite tribe, the Majeerteen of the Darood clan. This arrangement did not change until the election of 1968, when the Somali parliament elected Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke as the second president of the country. He selected as his prime minister English-educated Mohamad Ibrahim Egal from the Isaaq clan of the former British Somaliland.” P.55
Again, I see no major problem in terms of the content of what the PM wrote, except that it comes short of theoretical foundation. At numerous occasions and articles, I have similarly argued and joined him company with the PM in the following:
Elites from the three dominant regional groupings have so far dominated the shaping of the Somalia question. According to Donald Horiwitz, the origins of the domination of the Somali society by these three regional groupings are found in the colonial administrations of that country. Whereas elites in Somaliland and South Central regional groupings disproportionately benefited in the form of trade, education and social benefits associated with urbanization of their regions, which served as the administrative centers for colonial rulers (Hargaisa in Somaliland and Mogadishu in South Central), Puntland elites seized the military power of the country that guaranteed them national prominence in the affairs of the country (See Faisal Roble, Horn of Africa, Volume XXV, 2007, “Local and Global Norms: Challenges to “Somaliland’s” unilateral Secession”).