A few months ago, an important development took place in the Somali North, namely the area that spans in the east of Somaliland and in the west of Puntland.

On July 1, at a ceremony that took place in the city of Badhan, representatives from the predominant Warsangali and Darod Somalis met and declared the autonomy of the State of Maakhir. This came atop of many complaints about the disregard of the inhabitants of the area by both the authorities of Hargeysa (Somaliland) and Garowe (Puntland).

This is the famous land of Damask tree (willow) that was exported from here to all possible directions since the times of the Egyptian Queen, Pharaoh Hatshepsut (ca. 1490 – 1470 BCE).

The Maakhir State of Somalia, as its official name is (in Af Somali: Maamul Goboleedka Maakhir), covers an area of ca. 35000 km2 and is home to 700000 people. After having undeservedly been sideidelined within the frame of Puntland, the Maakhir authorities want now to act in a way that international aid (originating from either the United Nations Development Program or NGOs) reaches its due final recipient, the inhabitants of the state.

The Maakhir State of Somalia comes out of a long tradition of Somali Independence, as in the area of Sanaag (where it has been established) thrived – for many long centuries – the famous Harti (or Warsangali) Sultanates; quite notably, the British colonialists never attempted to invade the inland of Laasqoray (the Maakhir harbour), closing deals with the local sultans.

Under the leadership of Col. Jibrell Ali Salad, the Maakhiris, due to their long tradition of staunch opposition to Abyssinian Barbarism, thanks to their great spiritual, cultural and architectural achievements, and because of absolute commitment to Somali Unity, promise to use their autonomous state as key tool for Somalia’s re-unification.

The Maakhiris abroad have shown a keen interest in contributing to local development, an effort that now starts from scratch. Just yesterday, they launched an Appeal to international bodies and institutions. We re-publish the integral text of the Statement by the Maakhir Diaspora Forum, and we will focus on Maakhir extensively in several forthcoming articles and interviews.

Statement by the Maakhir Diaspora Forum

To: IGAD Secretariat

To: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

To: African Union

To: European Agency for Reconstruction

To: Somali Support Secretariat,

To: USAID

To: European Commission

To: World Bank

December 16, 2007

We, the concerned citizens of Somalia’s State of Maakhir, in order to create a more knowledgeable audience, appeal for your deepest consideration and most honest dedication to pacifying the Somalia’s State of Maakhir Needs. We draw your attention to the creation of the new State of Maakhir in Northern Somalia.

We, being of sound mind and with sincere peaceful intentions, do again appeal to all the pertaining bodies to hear us out.

There has been a new regional state in the former disputed area of Sanaag and Western Bari regions, named as Maakhir State of Somalia, which is independent from Puntland and Somaliland, and will put itself under the Federal Government of Somalia.

Although Somalia have not had central government, however there have been two separate states since the civil war broke out in the late 1980s and both states claimed Maakhir regions as theirs without any help or passing aids and other development proposals to Maakhir regions.

While Maakhir regions lacked international aid and all the other humanitarian activity, Maakhir regions have never lacked stability and peace and these regions are totally safe. We, the Maakhirian Diaspora, understand the challenges we are currently facing and are very optimistic, by starting everything from scratch, from zero, from basic, while our country folk have the will to progress but they do not have the means and financial ability to actualize the underlying objectives that tend to sustainable economic development. In the mid years of the civil war, the regions of Maakhir were devastated until a peace deal was concluded between the Isaaq and Warsangeli. The Health Unlimited, which is a relief organization that supports indigenous people and communities affected by conflict, had written extensively about this lengthy conflict on December 1996 and branded the region as “Neglected Part of Africa.” It stated, “the civil war devastated Sanaag and the inter-clan war continues. All and I mean all, the hospitals, clinics and health posts were destroyed. The work of Health Unlimited itself has been suspended until the charity can negotiate guarantees of safety.”(1)

Since toppling the late President of Somalia, Mohammed Siad Bare, the Somali conflict escalated and some northern regions created a new political argument in which Former British colony of Somalia claimed unilateral independence in 1991.

Maakhir does not believe such misleading argument, and we strongly advocate a Federal System to be governed in Somalia. However, the effective development and functioning of such an arrangement requires technical support from the international community. Therefore, collaborating international organization would assume a role in this regard, including the implementation responsibility to provide the required support for the system’s development.

We are aware that many may not know of the complicated geo-political history of Northern Somalia and so would like to enlighten those who may believe otherwise. Please understand that the present explanation, while accurate, is by no means a total historical explanation.

When the “Scramble for Africa” started and foreign powers came to Eastern Africa, Britain was the main colonizer in some of the Northern Somalia’s regions, and Maakhir Regions were left alone as Britain saw them as an independent and fully functioning State in which the Sultan had full authority.

Maakhir is the only Somali territory a foreign flag had never been hoisted while the rest of Somalia’s fast regions were cut into small pieces by other foreign powers. In general, Somali territories were divided into five territories. Present day Djibouti was called French Somaliland until 1977. Until 1949, the Northern section of Somalia in which Maakhir was part – but fully autonomous Sultanate – was known to Western Powers as British Somaliland.

The Southern and Eastern sections were known as Italian Somaliland, while the South End and the South West were given to Kenya – known locally as the Northern Frontier District. In parallel, a large western portion, known as Ogaden, was given to Ethiopia. One of the main reasons behind the establishment of Maakhir Regional State is to maintain and keep the existing peace and stability of Maakhir regions, and with its neighbours.

We are informing all International Communities that Maakhir is self-governed Region like any other regional Government, and rests on the building block system endorsed by the International community, as a way of reconstituting the collapsed state of Somalia.

Another reason for the establishment of Maakhir State of Somalia was to develop the socio-economic sectors and up-grade the life of the people. Maakhir will provide the much-needed public services by implementing a taxation system, and by ensuring governance structures for the safety and security of the port and private local enterprises whose fiscal management and ownership follow a non-intervention practice.

Once again the Authority is aiming to improve the co-operation and collaboration with the federal government, local organizations, and international community as the inhabitants of Sanaag and Western Bari did not receive all the available and apportioned aid from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and aid agencies.

Indeed, Maakhir State of Somalia is calling the International communities concerned with assisting Somalia to direct their aids and development to Maakhir Authority, and not via the neighbouring Somaliland and Puntland, as they both neglected Sanaag and Western Bari region of Somalia.

Maakhir State of Somalia is against the dismemberment of Somalia. We are strongly calling for Somali Unity and Prosperity of the Somali Nation. This regional system, which authorizes a local level government in Somalia, is seen as a workable long-term strategy in Somalia in resolving inter-clan conflicts and building institutions such as police, court system and a local military base that protects and safeguards the humanitarian aid and the proper operation of International NGOs, as well as the provisions of the United Nations Development Program.

As we mentioned earlier, Maakhir territory did not receive any direct international help and aid since the collapse of the Central Government in the early 1990s. There are no paved roads; there are no banks, no office buildings, no functioning police stations, no health authority, no airports, and not even functioning ports.

The Maakhirians and the new authority are both aware of the challenges they are currently facing and are very optimistic by starting everything from scratch, from zero, from basics. The Maakhirians and the new Authority do have the will to progress but they do not have the means and financial wherewithal to make possible the realization of them having their own regional State.

Maakhir regions are in need of any kind of assistance and the most needed ones are health projects, Educational projects, women’s empowerment, and good governance project.

In considering the current situation, we strongly emphasize these measures:

The support of Maakhir State of Somalia’s declaration of self rule and self governing within Federal Somalia.

We are urging all the International and National bodies to support the new state of Maakhir.

Following this, we are urging the immediate delivery on the promise of aid and development of which the Maakhirians have been deprived during the course of Somali’s civil war.

We are urging the neighbouring states of Somaliland and Puntland not to interfere in Maakhir’s affairs.

We support of a new conference between the states of Somaliland, Puntland and Maakhir to negotiate border issues, economic issues, and all the other issues that need a resolution mechanism.

Abdirizak Haji-Ali

Chairman of Maakhir Diaspora Forum

razshirwa@gmail.com

References

- Darcus Howe, “Official Africa Rejoiced at the Elevation of Kofi Annan; but in the Cathedral We Paid Homage to the People of Sanaag, the Neglected Africa”, New Statesman, December 6, 1996 (http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5001642040)

- Asha Abdalla, “Constitutional Blunder by the Speaker of Somali Parliament”, May 2007 (http://www.hiiraan.com/op/2006/jun/Asha-Abdalla.aspx)

Note

Picture: the Somali Maakhir coast near Old Laasqoray

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Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

Orientalist, Historian, Political Scientist, Dr. Megalommatis, 51, is the author of 12 books, dozens of scholarly articles, hundreds of encyclopedia entries, and thousands of articles. He speaks, reads and writes more than 15, modern and ancient, languages.


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