Ethiopia’s Brutal Campaign against Hawd Region-Catalyst for Somali Unity
After Ethiopia’s terrifying paramilitary forces known as Liyu (new) police massacred twenty one civilians and abducted dozens more in Jama-dubad village, in Hawd region of Ethiopia, on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, June 06, 2016, the Liyu police’s campaign of terror remains unabated. Now other villages namely Gorgor, Ali Burale and Bode Dheere are converted into torture chambers and killing fields. But could Ethiopia’s savage war on Hawd region be the long-awaited catalyst for Somali unity?
On June 27, 2016, the Liyu police once again murdered a number of unarmed civilians in Ali Burale and Bode Dhere villages, and tortured twelve men in Gorgor village by lynching them and having their testicles locked in vice-grip tools. Some of the victims are already dead. The rest of the men remain tortured as I write this article. And as one woman from Gorgor village, put it, “My children and I could hear the cry for help as my husband was tortured a few hundred feet from our house, in a makeshift Liyu police camp. And eventually, he stopped screaming because he succumbed to his injuries.” Also, dozens of villages in Hawd region are now abandoned as their inhabitants fled to safety. Many more villages are surrounded by the Liyu police. In addition, over sixty elders from Hawd region remain imprisoned in Gashamo district, the capital of Hawd region. Here are three video clips from eyewitness accounts of the Jama-dubad massacre: vidoe1, video2, & video3.
Additionally, in March 2012, the Liyu police executed ten civilians in Raqda village, near Gashamo district. Hart Sheikh also lost over thirty five civilians to Liyu police a few years ago. Countless other atrocities are undocumented.
For decades, the Liyu police, funded by U.K, committed horrendous atrocities against the Ogaden civilians in the Somali region of Ethiopia-pillaging, raping women and murdering civilians at will, burning villages, poisoning water wells, starving people to death and confiscating their livestock, among other nefarious tactics of the Liyu police; now it wages another war against another peaceful clan (Issaq) in the region known as Hawd, a small area within the Somali region of Ethiopia.
But Ethiopia is making a big mistake by slaughtering civilians. For one thing, this savagery will revive the Somali unity; for another, the people of Hawd region hail from the same clans that inhabit in Somaliland. In fact, the majority of Somalilanders, including its top leaders, were born and bred in Hawd region. Remember, “We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us!”
And if Ethiopia is under the illusion that it will sign major trade deals with Somaliland and have the privilege to use port Berbera all in the while the Liyu police continue its campaign of terror against the Hawd people, then Ethiopia needs to wake up smell the coffee. The Liyu police brutality will have negative ramifications for Ethiopia, both in security and in economics.
First, the same people that call Jama-dubad and Gorgor villages (and the rest of Hawd region) home also own port Berbera. And no way on hell they will respect any treaties or bounds when their civilians are murdered and tortured in the Hawd region, so Ethiopia might as well find another port soon.
Second, because Ethiopia’s intimidation towards Somaliland, there is now a growing discussion among the Somaliland intellectuals that reviving Somali unity may be the only way to offset Ethiopia’s bullying tactics. That is, reuniting with Somalia. Somalilanders are now asking themselves, can we survive the Ethiopian onslaught? Currently, Ethiopia enjoys the status quo: unrecognized Somaliland and chaotic Somalia. And if there is one thing that frightens Ethiopia, it is the Somali unity.
Moreover, for the first time, Somalilanders are boycotting using the Ethiopian airlines. They also want to stop the follow of Khat, narcotic green leaves, from Ethiopia into Somaliland. Thousands of Somaliland business communities and university students in Ethiopia may soon return to Somaliland. Similarly, dozens of Ethiopian universities and colleges operating in Somaliland will have no license to operate in the country. The economic loss to Ethiopia will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Why should we pay for the bullets that are killing our people? Economically, Somaliland gains nothing from Ethiopia, at the present time. That is, the economic advantage is clearly a lopsided one.
Also, what is amazing is: generally, the Somaliland people and the people of Hawd have no quarrels with Ethiopia. In fact, Somalilanders view Ethiopia as an important economic partner, in the near future (but much of that is now changing). After all, one hundred million landlocked Ethiopians need Somaliland ports. And Somalilanders want to take advantage of Ethiopia’s agriculture and livestock. This would be a win-win situation.
But the president of the Somali region of Ethiopia, Abdi Mohamoud Omar, remains clueless about Somailand’s strategic, security and economic importance to not only Ethiopia but to the Horn of Africa. He is embroiled into a mindless clan cleansing campaign. Or maybe Ethiopia is using him as an attack dog to provoke Somaliland into an action to pave the way for an Ethiopian invasion.
Whatever the case might be, Mr. Omar, a former Somali National Army officer stationed in Hargeisa, Somaliland before the collapse of Somalia, knows too well the torture techniques employed by his former boss, the former Somali leader, Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre. Mr. Omar not only horns his skills in mastering torture techniques, but he also divides clans into sub clans, and then attacks them separately, just like his former boss used to do.
Ethiopia may be in denial but doubtlessly Mr. Omar’s campaign of terror against the people of Hawd and other regions in Ethiopia as well as in Somalia will resurrect the Somali unity all the while giving the Al-Shabab terrorists group wrecking havoc in Somalia “compelling” reasons to recruit more fighters. These are the unintended consequences that Ethiopia needs to address immediately.
Ethiopia’s savagery is perhaps the catalyst for Somali unity. This is the only way to build a bulwark against Ethiopia’s army, something that Egypt would love to see as it struggles to maintain its domination on the Nile River. Can Ethiopia imagine Egyptian fighter jets taking off from Berbera’s airport runways? This will be the new reality if Somaliland abandons its quest for statehood and opts to reunite with Somalia due to Ethiopia’s unabated slaughter in Hawd region and incursions into Somaliland territory.
In short, the massacre in Jama-dubad and the torture in Gorgor villages may have now forced many Somalilanders to rethink about their independence. Soon, they will reach the turning point. And the president of the Somali region of Ethiopia, Mr. Omar’s ill-conceived policies towards the Somali people at large could result in the re-birth of Great Somalia. Therefore, the only way to dissuade Somalilanders reuniting with Somalia is to give the people of Hawd the right to govern their region, while they remain as part of Ethiopia, and assure Somaliland that Addis Ababa has no ill-intention towards Hargeisa. The clock is ticking and the ball is in Ethiopia’s court!