Somaliland: The 1889-1921 Mad Mullah Betrayal and Churchill Redemption


Churchill and the Mad Mullah of Somaliland

Somalilandsun- In the late nineteenth century, the British Empire commanded the seas and possessed a vast Indian Empire, as well as other extensive dominions in South East Asia, Australasia, America and Africa. To secure the trade route to the glittering riches of the orient, the port of Berbera in Somaliland was taken from the ailing hands of an Egyptian monarch, and to secure that port, treaties were concluded with the fierce and warlike nomad tribes who roamed the inhospitable wastes of the hinterland, unequivocally granting them ‘the protection of the Queen – Empress’. But there arose in that wilderness a man of deep and unalterable convictions; the Sayyid, the ‘Mad Mullah’, who utilised his great poetic and oratorical gifts with merciless and unrelenting fury to convince his fellow nomads to follow him in an anti-Christian and anti-colonial crusade. At great expense, four Imperial expeditions were sent to crush him and to support his terrified opponents; four times the military genius of the Sayyid eluded them. It was at this point that the rising voice of Winston Churchill convinced his Liberal colleagues to abandon the expensive contest and retreat to the coast. By this betrayal, one third of the British ‘protected’ population perished. It wasn’t until after the Great War that Churchill, now Minister for both War and Air, as well as a major influence in the rise of Air Power, was able to redeem this betrayal. The part he played in the destruction of the Sayyid’s temporal power at this point was substantial. By unleashing Sir Hugh Trenchard and giving his blessing to a lightning campaign, his original betrayal was redeemed in part and his honour belatedly and inexpensively restored. In this enthralling volume, Roy Irons highlights the controversial nature of Churchill’s intervention, an act often omitted from traditional biographies that take him as their subject. Potentially controversial in its depiction of the man who was to become one of our greatest leaders, this book is sure to provoke a reaction amongst the reading public.
Churchill and the Mad Mullah of Somaliland: Betrayal and Redemption 1899-1921 By Roy Irons is available here