Somaliland: Berbera Changes Hands for the Worse!


Somaliland national movement SNM rebels capture Berbera following their defeat of dreaded Somalia national army in 1991

Somalilandsun- Of the many  stories told at Kat sessions and at coffee parlors showing heroism and gallant sacrifices made by the SNM forces -both individually or by units- over the years, none struck me more than the one made by the group of young men who rode the leading vehicle that captured and liberated  Berbera Port and then Berbera district at large.  One got off the vehicle and  opened the gate  while the others remained ready with  their  single barrel Deshiko anti-aircraft gun pointed at whoever remained inside. There emerged a man in military fatigues with a white flag raised and hands flailing up in surrender.

”we didn’t see anybody else and therefore got closer to him,” Mustaf. said, ” I took his gun and ammunition pouches, searched him thoroughly, and then went past him to search for the remaining forces, quite apprehensive, if not disarmed can potentially do us harm.”

“We then proceeded to drive through the first quays and saw maybe two hundred men jump into the water, thrashing like a school of  startled fish  and heading to the east shoreline, where a freighter ship lay at anchor,” Mustaf. said.  

“I raised my AK, thought momentarily of emptying one 30-round into their midst – as they were barely 100m away- but then changed my mind, leaving criminal deeds for others to do,” he said.

The ship sailed off and the men  ended up going to various locations such as Aden.

“We drove further around the Port grounds, saw abandoned vehicles, warehouses full of goods and myriad varieties of merchandise,  but then decided to get on riding on one of the abandoned vehicles  searching for the enemy forces, that may be hiding with  our Tekniko vehicle,”  Abdirashid. said.

The death toll was heavy. Many a brave man met their destiny. There were no regrets. The death was for a patriotic cause and the liberation of the beloved motherland. Soon after, the commander of our forces came, congratulated the courageous effort. Dhegaweyne was the commander and it was through his far-sight and wit, we defeated a much superior force. The superiority lay in the number of tanks, armored vehicles and troop numbers. They thought of us as a rag-tag and ill-equipped bunch who had no chance to win against them. The US of A constantly supplied them with weapons and the UNHCR allowed the Ogadeni refugees, put in strategic camps in Sahil region to supplant the local population, receive weapons in contravention of UN rules and regulations. But our determination and gallant effort for a just cause- that of living in peace in our own turf won the day.  

”We were tired, we were hungry, disheveled and barely dressed but jubilant nonetheless,” Mustaf. continued,” I was not wearing a shirt. I threw it away as it was splattered with blood and brain bits when my friend and comrade in arms , J., got killed by a hail of fire that struck them  at …. Where they stayed until further re-enforcements came,’he stated.

 “Three consecutive days of heavy assaults at a ravine near Barqosan…and we staunchly held our positions…they thought we would come around and ambush them from behind…they was not their country, they knew that only too well”,Mustaf.explained

In the past few days, some young men from Dubai strutted and strolled over the same dockyard The swagger seemed like that done by the occupiers  during the hey-day of Siad Barre’s rule who ended up evicted from the Port 26 years before… At the present time, the Somaliland government Officials cannot enter the Port perimeter …. The Sultans.. .the Aqils … …were turned away recently. None would be allowed to enter the Port facility for the coming 30 years…(+ 10yrs optional)… This would be a private property …..belonging to whom ? Speculations abound… a portion would be owned by Dubai( or representatives thereof).. Another portion owned by family members of Silanyo…Another portion, and this speculation seems to be the most far reaching and cause of apprehension, is Ethiopia…who is said to own 20% as well.

The  Draft was  presented to the Parliament in Aug, 2016  and openly admitted to be  “incomplete”( by the four Ministers who presented the Draft);  the tacit approval  having been obtained( the public praying and placing their trust in Allah, the Almighty, that the ministers would act according to the Law of the Land). Even that  document, with all its shortcomings and flaws, according to insiders, has now been altered. It contained the construction of  an extension of (new Port quays  reaching 400m at the end of the very first year).  The present Port facility is 600m long and has quite an extensive infrastructure and equipment. It is ironic that the 400m extension would be 3 times more expensive in value than the existing 600m! 75% ownership by Dubai as compared to 25% ownership by the local partner. And who is the local partner? It is not the Somaliland Government. Then who could that be ?One can only speculate this- as everything regarding this is wrapped in mystery. 

  The inclusion of the demand to have Dubai’s investment take effect in the first year is a contribution by the demands of the local elders and persuaded rather effectively by the former Port Manager. Despite that inclusion, which must have convinced many persons in parliament and the public, has now been abandoned. The land reserved for the Port Extension has been given away to the rich elite and members of the government inner circle. This irresponsible act committed by the greedy and callous marauders is being concealed from the public notice.

Just yesterday, Dubai took over Berbera Port facility in the absence of any proper legal procedures. Close to 200 employees of the Port have been sacked and the remainder’s have been given tentative  assignments and in limbo. The pay they received consisted of basic salary, allowance and overtime that amounted to 400 USD for directors and approximately the same for other officers, but these persons signed 200 USD  contracts, or else ! No projects have been prepared for those who would be laid off. No development programs are on the pipeline as promised. This time, the private ego-manaiacs and sinister marauders have won  the war. But for how long?

Ali Ege


SNM capture of Berbera