Awdal region of western Somalia borders Djibouti to the northwest, to the south and the southwest lies Ethiopia, the Gulf of Aden to the north, and the Habar Awal of the Isaaq clan in the the regions of Maroodi Jeex and Sahil of Somaliland border to the east. With an estimated population of over a million and half strong, Awdal region comprises of the four districts of Borama, the regional capital, Baki, Lughaya, and Zeila.
The Gadabursi and Issa clans predominantly inhabit Awdal region. In Djibouti city, after the Issa, the Gadabursi are also the second largest inhabitants of the city.
Ismail Omar Guelleh (IOG), born in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, from the Mamassan subclan of the Isse Dir clan of the Somali ethnic group, is the President of Djibouti, one of Africa’s longest serving dictators. IOG is married to Khadra (Kadra) Mohamoud Haid of the Habar Awal (Isaaq, Dir) clan, and a cousin to President Muse Bihi of Somaliland.
The Mamassan subclan of IOG’s Isse clan predominantly inhabit the districts of Zeila and Lughaya of Awdal region. And here is where the political misfortunes of the people of Awdal began.
Because of the Isse and Habar Awal clan mix and their cross border political collaboration, Awdalites are caught between a rock and a hard place. As such, much pain has been inflicted upon them, and they have been suffering from that fate since the downfall of Siyad Barre regime. Cornered on all directions, their traditional leaders exiled, and their wealth slowly confiscated by Djibouti and Hargeisa, they have been caged and unable to find freedom or express their feelings.
Cornered and without credible leadership, Djibouti directly controls every aspect of life in Awdal and indirectly through the Habar Awal clan of Somaliland. In addition to money being made from the people of Awdal, what most concerns IOG is raw clan power politics. As such, working with Habar Awal clansmen of wife Khadra Haid and Somaliland security forces, IOG’s extensive security apparatus chokes off Awdal, so it may never be a foothold of any significance that can be used as staging grounds against the regime by his Issa clan opponents. For this reason, which is one not known to many Somalis, the people Awdal are pawns in a game of raw power politics, clan loyalty, and a devil’s bargain between the Habar Awal clan of Somaliland and IOG, where in the process the people of Awdal are disposable to the whims and the slightest clan interest or opportunity by the Habar Awal clansmen. Without hesitation and without questions asked, Awdalites are taken away at gunpoint, murdered, and their wealth taken away. Case closed and never to be revisited.
IOG and Khadra Haid thrive on the misery of Awdalites
IOG is a master manipulator. He thrives creating clan division and chaos. He pretends to find a solution while sowing the seeds of division. Chaos and political instability in Somalia has served IOG well, as it has practically ended his fear that Issa and Gadabursi clans may one day come together and create a rebel movement against his rule. Similarly, a stable Somalia is a threat to his thriving ports business, banking and telecommunications businesses, where all, if not most, of Somalia’s banks are registered in Djibouti and have branches. To date, Djibouti remains Somalia’s connection to the outside world.
As for Somaliland and the Habar Awal clan, Djibouti is the clan headquarters. Every Habar Awal politician and businessman holds a Djibouti diplomatic passport. In other words, Djibouti is the political capital of Habar Awal’s Somaliland. And not only that, but the Habar Awal clanmen, outside of IOG, practically control Djibouti.
The Gadabursi of Djibouti, the second largest inhabitants in the city after IOG’s Issa clan, hold no positions of power or influence in Djibouti or in Djibouti city. As for the Habar Awal of Kadra Haid, of the ten most important positions in Djibouti, all ten are held by Habar Awal clansmen:
- National Bank
- National Oil
- National Civil Aviation
- State Communication
- All Port Authorities
- Constitutional Court
- National Publication
- Public Security (Interior Security)
- Ministry of Communication
IOG and Kadra Haid’s Djibouti and their Habar Awal clansmen are so intertwined, it is often claimed that if one falls, the other will immediately follow.
Meanwhile, the Gadabursi and Issa clans, in Djibouti and in Awdal too, IOG and Kadra Haid have driven a severe wedge between the two clans. In addition, to keep clan loyalties and raise the suspicions between the clans, all community traditional leaders and elders are on IOG’s payroll.
As for other employment options, the average Gadaburi and Issa clansmen in Awdal, it is estimated that one out every five Gadabursi and Issa in Awdal is employed by IOG’s Secret Service (the SDS).
With the deck stacked against them, all their capable politicians and traditional leaders in exile, and their youth facing the combined guns of Habar Awal clansmen and Somaliland security forces, the challenges facing the people of Awdal seem insurmountable, but lately the youth of Awdal have proven that they are willing overcome the combined strength and enmity of IOG, Khadra Haid and their merciless Habar Awal neighbors. Meantime, SSC-Khatumo overcoming the combined economic and military strength of Somaliland and Djibouti has been a shining star for the liberation of Awdal State.
Daljir Media | SOMALIA