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Northern Somali sultanates
Northern Somali sultanates
In the late Nineteenth Century, two sultanates emerged and ruled Northern Somalia, an area stretching as far west to Burco from Las Khorey. One of the most respected heroes among Warsangeli sultanates was Mohamoud Ali Shire. The other Sultan of Warsangeli , Sultan Dhahar ruled south of Sanag and some portions of Bari region. Both were valiant, aristocratic in nature and had incredible leadership. Sultan Dhahar fought against the Abyssinians and uprooted Christian communities in Galgala town who had churches and temples that are still present as monuments. In honor of his accomplishments Sultan Dhahar 's name bears not ephemerally but eternally on the great valley and mountains of the city known as Dhahar.
Initially, Internal defiance amongst Warsangeli had an effect at this juncture of Sultan Mohamoud Ali Shirreh's rise to internationally popular and powerful known leader. Bihidor clan (Warsangeli subclan) first withdrew their loyalty and support from the Sultan, thus making unflinching decision to join the Dervishes and defeat the army of the Sultan. In Robert L Hess's article, "The 'Mad Mullah'And Northern Somalia," cites this alliance. "In attempt to break out of Obbian-Mijertein circle, the Mullah sought closer alliances with the Bahidor Warsangeli of British Somaliland and Bah Geri of Ethiopia"(Hess, 423). The Dervishes and their lots planned ahead their venom routes and strategy of destruction. (In fact this was their gravest mistake in attacking a country that the English treated different from the way it treated the rest of the protectorate). The Sultan ordered his army to retreat from their main military posts in Erigavo (which was at that time a reserve well for the sultan horses and base for his army) following an unexpected onslaught. Sayid Mohamed Abdule Hassan's alliance with Bihidor clan was instrumental in expanding his Dervish sphere of influences as well as stretching the size of his dominions. On March, 3 1905, Italy entered into a treaty with the Mad Mullah at Illig , and he was offered Nogal territory. Thus, this new protectorate concerned both the Mijertein and Warsangeli sultanates as they foresaw dangerous wave of tides immersing their protectorate particularly after the establishment. once again, Hess cites the first Anglo-Italian success against the Dervishes. "The first success in this Anglo-Italian cooperation came in December 1910. In that month, the British Warsangeli and the Italian Mijertain peacefully resolved all their outstanding disputes and, convening in Bander Kasim , agreed to act jointly in combating Muhammed Abdullah and his Dervishes.....The Mijertain--Warsangeli Accord led to a common offensive against the Mullah, whose forces were cut off from arms and munitions smuggled in from the coast,"(Hess, 427). In 1920, the Dervishes unexpectedly captured Badhan and besieged LasKhorrey . The British Governor at Aden soon sent RAF biplanes to contain the advance of the Dervish into Warsangeli territory. Though the air strikes that bombarded Badhan , Jidaliand Talex never did a considerable harm to the Dervishes. They were still powerful but dispersed into unknown areas. Finally, forces of Warsangeli and Dervishes met at Jidali and this was in fact the final decimation of the Dervishes. "The Mijertein Somalis who in June succeeded launching counter-attack with the aid of their Warsangeli allies....Mullah and his followers were driven out of Italian Somaliland into British Somaliland, where they occupied Buhotleh with great cruelty and oppressed the Dolbahante who had shifted their allegiance back to British Somaliland," (Hess, 428). The Dervishes deserted the Nogal Protectorate as a result and disappeared into the deep jungle of Hawd Reserve Area .
British Treaty With Warsangeli
Historically, The British used Indirect Rule for their colonial advantages to control and exploit clans. Just subsequent to British treaty with Warsangeli in 1886, the Somaliland protectorate was formed. Much of the country’s economic dependency was the trade relationship it had with Aden, Yemen, which was based on the export of livestock, frankincense, and myrrh in return for food, cloth, and other materials. Since then, the protectorate was administered from Aden till 1898 just before the rise of Sayid Mohammed Abdulle Hassan. The British also realized that the effort to pacify native authority with treaties was not sufficient and it could insinuate malicious mischief within the protectorate. In 1884, the British government made protection treaties with Ciise, Gudabirsi and Isaq, all at once. This particular tripartite treaty was beneficial to the English colony in operating internally and in harmony with the clan social systems of North Western Somalia. Sultan Mohamoud Ali Shire, however, and his independent operation in his country was nonpareil and historically remarkable. How his Regency wielded such power to exercise independent operation and rule is still a baffling question to most historians. In article five of British treaty with Warsangeli states the historical context of Warsangeli territory as a legitimate country that in which the British government appointed an ambassador and was in the process of building an office there. Article V. The British Government shall have the power to appoint an Agent or Agents to reside in the Territories of the Warsangali, and every such Agent shall be treated with respect and consideration, and be entitled to have for this protection such guard as the British Government deem sufficient.” (Art V).
In another article of the treaty entered by British with Warsangeli highlights the independence of Warsangeli from colonial interventions against their territories.
III. The Warsnagali are bound to render assistance to any vessel, whether British or belonging to any other nation, that may be wrecked on the shores under their jurisdiction and control, and to protect the crew, passengers, and cargo of such vessels, giving speedy intimation to the Resident at Aden of the circumstances; for which act of friendship and good-will a suitable reward will be given by the British Government.
Civilization and Society
LasKhorey and Ceelayo was a growing international hub because of the significance of the ancient settlements in these two cities. The Sultan’s revolt against the British led to the decline and significance of these coastal areas after the British shifted their administration to the west side of North Somalia. Therefore, the commercial centers of Celanyo and Laskhorey diminished as an International hub. (Title 1Pre-Independency Socio-Economic of British Somaliland).
The ascendancy of Northern society in Somalia in terms of trade, civilization, contact with ancient pharaohs continued for many centuries. For example, the Land of Punt (currently Warsangeli territory), Makhir , (commercial center of the North also territory of Warsangeli), were all societies that excelled in the art of architecture, agricultural and civil engineering. Irrefutable evidence is the present 15 storey towers in Las Khorreh that were built during the Makhar dynasty. From 15th century, Somalis were already engaged in profitable commerce with the rest of world. In addition, they discovered a gum producing tree that aided architectures build towers and big boats. “’The gum-producing trees grow on the sterile hills near the coast in the Sanaag and Bari regions. In this districts there also grows a tree known in Somali as " damask," a species of willow which is valuable for house- and boat-building purposes. It grows along the banks of the " tugs " or dry water-courses which in the rainy season drain the interior.”(Burale).
In the land of Punt (Sanaag), when Queen Hatasu , a princess of the fifth dynasty of the Egyptian empire visited Somalia, it was mentioned in the journal of her expedition very remarkable supply of frankincense, (in Somali it is called Maydi, Adaad, Beeyo,Malmal Murre,Murkud) myrrh, spices, diamond and gold that were provided as gift to her kingdom in exchange of other goods and services. The land of Punt was also known as the land of Gods. Hathor and Bes, which are two deities that Egyptians worshipped, had their origin in Eastern Sanaag in a city now known as Galgala. Moreover, according to Lieutenant Speke in his journal of “What led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile” states the decline of the empire of Warsangeli thirty one (31) years before this treaty in1886 of which the English provided military and logistical support to the clans of Isaaq near Aden in Yemen. “The Warsangeli complained to me sadly of their decline in power since the English had interfered in their fights with the (Isaaq), which took place near Aden about seven years ago, and had deprived them of their vessels for creating a disturbance, which interfered with the ordinary routine of Traffic. They said that on that occasion, they had not only beaten (Isaaq) but had seized their vessels; and that prior to this rupture, they had enjoyed paramount superiority over all the tribes of the Somali; but now they were forbidden to transport Soldiers or make reprisals on the sea, every tribe was on an equality with them.” (Chapter II theVoyage----SomaliShore, Gerad Mohamoud ali Shire . The traveler also recounted the administration of the sultan, which was impeccable for the security, and the general weal of every foreigner visiting their country. "Of course no Mortal man was like their Gerad Mohamoud Ali in leading them to war. He was like the English or the French, and in settling disputes, he required no writing office, but sitting on the woolsack."
The two sultanates of Majerten and Sayid Mohamed ABdule Hassan were in the limelight, so it worked for the British in their effort to create havoc from possible tripartite unison of power sharing and common interest amongst the Harti tribes. In 1908, when the British air jets bombarded Jidali, Badhan and Taleh, it led to the Dervish dispersal into many areas, and it took long period for the Sayid to recoup his strength back. However, Sultan Mohamoud Ali Shire and his army within the British Protectorate claimed areas of Sanaag were severely angered by the decline of Dervish even though he was not a big supporter of that movement. To show his concerns, he ordered his army to shoot a British ship that was landing on LasQorey port. According to I.M Lewis, in his book, “Modern History of Somalia”, cites this brief incidence, “The Warsangeli clan within the British protectorate on the eastern coast who under their spirited leader Gerad Mohamoud Ali Shire had now decided to throw in their lot with the Dervishes and in Jan 1908, fired on a British dhow as it was landing on their coast. This incident has led to a hostile exchange of letters with the consul at Berbera and it was evident that the Dervishes would soon be on the March again.”(Lewis, 55). Furthermore, his association with Mohamoud Ali Shire as brother in law gave him access to the Makhir Coast, a door to the Arabian peninsula to import firearms and ammunition. Therefore, Dervishes marched again and once again, their movement was on the limelight. The British hitherto got extremely anxious of the return of the Dervishes with vengeance. Moreover, his alliance with clans of Isaaq proved unsuccessful after signing treaty with them in 1885 (All the Dir clans, Isaq, Gudabirsi, and Cise). Now, the British run out of options and were impelled to collaborate with Italian Somaliland and the Majerten Sultanates for comprehensive incursion, which retreated the Dervishes from their main strongholds such as Taleh. Then, sporadic resistance of guerilla tactics ensued, and the fall of their empire was crystal clear from this point. However, Gerad Mohamoud Ali Shire’s establishment of governance feared the British and mainly clans in Somalia. Some clans of Warsangeli also viewed the Sultan’s government as cruel and corrupt. They declared independence from his dominions as well as commencing defiance to topple him. This internal conflict occurred amongst the Warsangeli clans during the struggle of the Dervishes for the expulsion of the British and Italy imperialists. The Sayid composed poem for this situation in an attempt to lure supporters to side with him. The poem follows like this:
1-Mar hadday kudoortan isku diirad ma ihin 2-Dabcigaygu maoggola nin ku dallaasa e 3-War sow deero iyo cawl adigukamadhigin?(refers to the internal conflict asa vaunt) 4-Iney se Kuududahayaan sow ma ba dareensanid? 5-Sow dukaammadoodi daarahaaga kuma guran? 6-Sow doonyahodii dukhan naar ahkamashidin
1-Our visionary are varied once they chose you 2-My nature is averse to those who contempt you 3-Didn’t I turn you into gazelle and antelope (refers to deep internal conflict among Warsangeli clans) 4-Hast thou sense their fierce resentment 5-Hadn’t you taken their stores into your houses (this line refers to the English) 6-Hadn’t I shelled their ships into plumes of smoke
Historically, the Sultan killed many men of this clan Bihidoor,(Subclan of Warsangeli) which later nurtured the internal defiance and hostility based on facts I gathered from the 1855 journal of Speke(an English traveler) and elders of Warsangeli tribe through cautious inquiries. They settle, nonetheless, in Xiingalol (Most populated city in Sanag) and the long Plateau of "Xadeed" in great number even majority than Adan Sicid clan who dwell on the mountains and are said to be a majority clan. Despite the lack of stability and the pursuit of imperialists to defeat what they perceived to be their enemies, The Sultan was secretly invited a conference in Yemen to discuss issues of solving their differences. After short session before the conference began, scores of armed infidels who took him into custody surrounded him. Later, he was tried without prosecution and defense on his case. The verdict was to deport him out of his native country for at least seven (7) years based on accusations for forming his own government. However, truth is that the British did not want to face the Sultan in a battle but fulfilled their mission in a tactics of malicious mischief.
Chronological order of events in North Somalia
1884 - Egypt evacuated Somali Coast, British Garrison to Berbera from Bombay.
1885 - British treaties with Esa, Gadabursi , and Isaq tribes.
1886 - British treaty with Warsengeli .
1895 - Mohamed Abdalla Hassan 's Saleher religious revival in Berbera failed.
1898 - The British Foreign Office took over administration of British Somaliland Protectorate from the India Office . The Protectorate was then only self-supporting British dependency in eastern Africa.
1899 - First truculent letter from "Mullah" at Kirit to Protectorate Administration.
1900 - Abyssinians fought Mullah at Haradigit . Mullah took 2,000 Eidegalla camels.
1900, November - Swayne's first expedition: engagements at Kirit , Samala , Welahed , Anahadigli , Kurgerad , Ferdidin .
1901, October - Swayne's second expedition: Erago .
1904, March - Jidbali occupied: Higligab , and Las Khoreh .
1904, 21st March - Illig (Eil).
1904, October Restalloza Peace .
1909, November - British withdrawal to coast.(as a result of the Sultan)
1913, 9th August - Dul Madoba (Corfield killed).
1913, 5th September Mullah raided Burao .
1914, 12th March - Mullah raided Berbera. Somaliland Camel Corps started.
1914, November Shimbir Beris .
1916, May - Dervishes shelled from sea whilst besieging Las Khoreh .
1919, November - Fifth and "final" expedition.
1920, January - Defeat of Mullah: Medishe , Jidali , Badan , Taleh ,. 3,000 H.Y. Warsangeli , and Dolbahantaattacked Mullah at Gorah near Shinileh . The year of aeroplanes (Daiurada ).
1920, November - Mullah died of influenza, or perhaps smallpox. Gerad Mahamud Ali Shirreh of Warsengeli deported to Seychelles for seven years for exerting his own form of "native authority".
Lewis. I. M. A Modern History of Somalia: Nation and State in Horn of Africa.
Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1960.
Hess. Robert L. “The ‘Mad Mullah’ and Northern Somalia.” The Journal of African History. Vol 5, No.3 P.415-433. Cambridge: Ohio Cambridge University Press, 1964.
Speke. John Hanning. “Sultan/Garad Mohamoud Ali—Hidden Treasure—Royal Reception—Sultan Tries my Abban.” What Led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile. Edinburgh: Edinburgh William Blackwood and Sons 1864.
British Empire. “Protection treaties with Somaliland tribes.” Edinburgh: Edinburgh William Blackwood and sons 1887.
If you are interested in reading a complete articles of the treaty entered by the British with clans of Somalia, visit[] Note: All other treaties are similar and have the same precepts of contract articles. They therefore, indicate a control of British over the territories of other clans, for example, the Isaaq clans such as Habar Awal , and Dir clans such as Gudabirsi and Easa . The Warsangeli treaty with British is totally different from the rest. No tribal area is called Country except the Warsangeli one. The British dealt with Warsangeli as a nation and did not dare to tamper with their power and control over their territories.
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