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Published On: Mon, Sep 15th, 2014

Ethiopia: Critical commentary on Ismail’s blog on Somali Regional State

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by Chris Brown

I read a blog written by Ismail Qodax and posted on SomalilandPress.com and I was surprised to learn that how some people turn to be delusional. In this writing, Ismail has proved simply that. i would like to give my point why I make this bold assertin. I don’t think this would be considered as a war between me and Ismail. But I am critically assessing his judgement and fact he wanted to give us.

I don’t know what he meant when he was saying the late Dr. Abdul majid Hussein has done a lot in structuring the political future of the Somali Regional State. First of all, the late Abdulmajid used to be a Federal Minister and, therefore, he had little influence on what was happening at the grassroots level at least until he found the Ethiopian Somali People’s Democratic League (ESPDL). Even after the League made him chairman, he did not made a significant impact in the change the regional state required. Unfortunately fact at the ground and history informs us that the late minister had made a momentous plunder in the regional state through his newly founded League and the impact of his legacy still lingers for the generation to come.

I have no dispute for late Dr Abdulmajid for his enormous contribution to the federal government. He led his two ministerial offices, he held when he was working in Ethiopia, namely: the Foreign Economic Development and International Relation and Communication and Transport Ministries. Undoubtedly he was veteran civil right movement leader and uncontested intellectual with significant portfolio in the federal government; however, he lacked calibre to lead a political party that specifically work with Somali people in the regional state. His intellectual status became his hurdle to effectively bring change in the regional state. He did not allow other young leaders to come out and help him to achieve this objective and take the mantle of leadership from him. Rather he surrounded himself by weak tribal and clan leaders who exacerbated the situation in the Somali regional state. From my point of view, the former Somali Regional State President, Iid Tahir was better than him in addressing the threats coming from the ONLF by becoming for fours the third man in the regional state, i. e., the secretary, to limit the domination of ONLF. As far as my knowledge of these two individuals are concerned, the late Dr. Abdulmajid even became hurdle to Iid in some instances.

Non-Ogadeni held power in Somali regional state for more than fourteen years, however, they were not bold enough to take sweeping change that could have brought an end to the current crisis and halted the ascendance of Ogaden nationalism. Abdi Ilay, the current president has already done significant damage to the political structure of Somali regional state by allowing his clan to dominate the whole region economically, social, and politically. Today you can see thousands of people who hail from his clan to be turned to millionaires overnight by granting them unfetter accesses to the regional tendering process. He had also created fertile atmosphere for his clan members to dominate even the cultural aspect of the regional state. For example, if you watch the regional state’s TV station, Ethiopian Somali Television (ESTV) you don’t see any other Somali culture except Dhanto which is an Ogaden folk dance. Now the regional state has made Dhanto as the only folk dance of the Somali regional state people. It is reminiscent of the former Ethiopian regimes where they enforced upon the whole Ethiopian population the Amhara culture. During this time Amhara dance and folklore were the only Ethiopian culture. Today the whole political structure is dominated by Ogaden. The president and one of his deputies are from Ogaden. While more than eight of his thirteen executive members are from his clan. Don’t talk about the Central Committee which composes of forty five individuals. Twelve out of eighteen bureau heads are Ogaden, let alone majority of military personnel.

The regional president even shunned his own wider clan and nowadays appoints individuals from his own sub clan, Ali Yusuf, marginalising the Ogaden clan too. To everybody’s surprise he even installed a sultan from his subclan on Ogaden. This all happened because the rest of Somali people failed to understand the situation at the grassroots level long time ago and made decisive decision to isolate the bad apple. One of the people who are responsible for this plunder is Dr. Abdulmajid Hussein. He left no legacy to combat the threat of person such as Abdi Ilay. I don’t also blame EPRDF because we failed to socially engineer the Somali regional state to the right direction.

Initially the Federal Government trusted the late Dr. in guiding the regional state to the direction they were visioning; however, he was not up to the scratch to address the political crisis in the regional state. Later on, he became the chairman of the then Ethiopia Somali Democratic League, known as League. However, he did not understand Somali people’s political mind-set, which was strongly influenced by tribal and clan rivalry. The late minister led a political party which only existed on paper but not with little ground work. The party did not even have register members, offices and cadres at the grassroots level working with the people. Even the head quarter of the party in Addis Ababa was occupied by individuals and no political works were being done from it. It is a fact that the EPRDF and Meles Zenawi overwhelmingly trusted Dr. Abdulmajid, but they disagreed in a number of situations where the late Dr. took individual decision that came against the Federal Government policy. In 1998 the late Dr. made a flagrant mistake, most probably, forced by the Federal government to unite the then ONLF faction and League. That resulted in the current state where the whole power is usurped by the ONLF faction and Abdi Ilay who makes decision individual. If Dr. Abdulmajid had wisely laid the ground work to bring settlement in the regional state, we would not have first of all to arrive at the present state of the regional government.

Also I fundamentally disagree with Ismail Qodax on his concept of 2Aggar”. The question is whether the Somali regional state is ready to be a full-fledged party within the EPRDF. I don’t think so the Somali regional state is ready to be a part of the EPRDF. Therefore, I don’t share the same sentiment like Ismail Qodah has on the issue of ‘Aggar’. In my opinion the Somali region is polarised into to clan politics and I don’t think this was not be the case for the next foreseeable future. It would be a disaster for EPRDF to fully grant the Somali regional party to be a full member of EPRDF without preparing it to be a political party that represents the whole Somali people. It is not totally possible, from my point of view, to allow Somali regional state to be one of the umbrella parties within the EPRDF.

I follow Ismail through his blogs, and I am astounded by the Ismail’s thinking and concept on the Somali regional. I contemplate that Ismail is one of the diaspora members from the regional state, who has left the regional state a long ago without returning to the regional state for a long period of time. Then I see why he proposes suggestions that did not resonate with the actual reality within the Somali regional state. I advise Ismail to come to the regional state as many of his colleagues done and contribute constructively to the change the regional state desperately requires.

 

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