Truce With ONLF Is A Liability Rather Than An Asset to Ethiopian Somali State

Founded in 1994, ONLF recently gave up the armed struggle that they pursued over the years and agreed to transform into a political party. Therefore, they will be probably the most organized political group operating in the Somali State of Ethiopia. They are second only to SEPDP, the State’s ruling party.

However, it is imperative the notice that the group’s agenda was, and still remains to be, the liberation of what they call “Ogadenia” from the Ethiopia territories. This is in controversy with the agenda and the mindset of the other Somali communities in the region who have long embraced the concept of being Ethnic Somalis but Ethiopian citizens.

Therefore, the ONLF party should review their political agenda, and change its name to conform to the realities on the ground. I believe the insertion of the ONLF into the Somali community at this time will create havoc and confusion on the following grounds:

  • ONLF stands for Ogaden National Liberation Front, and the name Ogaden is one of the scores of Somali tribes that lived in the territories. Accepting this tribal name for a political party will encourage other tribes to follow suit. I will not be surprised to see names like Gurgure Liberation Party, Akishe, Bartire, Hawiye, Issaq, Essa etc. Consequently, the royalty to the Ethiopian/Somali State citizenship will be lost and the rest will be history.
  • Under the influence of the ONLF, the new state leadership has already reintroduced the old Pan-Somali Patriotism to the Somali Ethiopian equation. In recent rallies in Jijiga,the crowds were waving the national flag of Somalia and singing “Somaliyeey Toosoo Tooso Isku Tiirsada”, which is Pan-Somali Nationalist song composed by the renowned Hargeisa poet, Yousuf Haji Aden in late 1950 teeth. We are all proud to be Somalis but the people should be educated that they are ethic Somalis, but Ethiopian citizens – not the other way around.
  • If the ONLF guys insist on keeping the Ogaden name, they should then be prepared to accept the notion of dividing the Somali territories. This is simply because the other Somali communities will not accept to be named Ogadens. Besides, the Region traditionally known as Ogaden, which was originally created by the late Haile Selassie in his Divide and Rule politics, is vast enough and could form a separate Ogaden State of Ethiopia. Otherwise, our ONLF brothers should embrace the romantic Somali name as their ethnic identity and at the same time accept the Ethiopian Nationality. You cannot be the citizens of Ethiopian and Great Somalia at the same time. You cannot eat the cake and at the same claiming to preserving in the plate.

Hassan Abdi Yousuf

Riyadh Saudi Arabia


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