The Sufi Disintegration Phase – 2
April 6, 2010 2 Comments
Continued from The Sufi Disintegration Phase 1
We continue to look at the gradual decline of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaaca.
The merger of the Sufis with the TFG could not come at a worse time. When internal strife had debilitated the energy of the group, the Ethiopians concluded the merger between them and the TFG. Though the aim of the merger was also partly to save the Sufis from disintegration, it was primarily two-fold:
- To bolster the weak government’s deteriorating credibility by allowing it to claim the few successes of the Sufis in Guriceel and Dhuusamareeb.
- To pressure the Islamists in the middle regions so as to reduce the pressure from Mogadishu
The results, however, were quite the opposite. The Sufis and their allied TFG forces met with a series of defeats in Galguduud and Hiiraan after their initial victories. Now the Sufis are confined to Galguduud region and maintain only the towns of Guriceel, Dhuusamareeb and Caabudwaaq under their control, with the towns of Ceelbuur, Galhariiri, Wabxo, Warxoolo, Maxaas and Ceelgaras under Al-Shabaab. Many of the prominent Sufi leaders also criticized the deal and the political wrangle between its top leaders did not go unnoticed, despite the media’s attempts to bury it.
At a press conference in Nairobi the Vice Chairman of Ahlu Sunna, Sheikh Hassan Sheikh Abdi convened a meeting to openly denounce the deal. The main cause of the split in the Sufi leadership is a complex clan structures. Sufis are comprised of a Hawiye and a Darood group, all sharing one common goal, i.e. to avenge their scholars. But with the merger, it emerged that since the parliament and allocation of seats were based on a 4.5 formula, the few Darood clans would receive nothing; therefore they all denounced the deal. A power struggle ensued, with the Darood elements of the Sufis disowning the deal and intending to retain the name of the group for themselves and the Hawiye tribes eager to join the TFG.
This immediately sent ripples of dissent throughout the region of Galgudud and each of the two groups had sharpened his sword and was on guard. In Dhusamareeb, one of the predominant Hawiye tribes, Yabardhoorakace, issued an order expelling all Darood Sufis, particularly those from Xeraale and Caabudwaaq, from their territory. ‘You are fighting in our city and it’s our families and children who are dying, not yours,’ was the reason they cited.
Cabsiiye, another major clan in Dhuusamareeb split from the Sufis in an attempt to end hostilities and signed a peace deal with Al-Shabaab. This further angered the Sufis. Sheikh Sharif, Somalia’s besieged president, was also selective in his assistance towards the Sufis. In August 2009, after having failed to send military reinforcements to ASWJ fighters in Western Galguduud, Sheikh Sharif reportedly sent military aid only to his clan living near Ceel Dheer. (UN Monitoring Group)
Now, apart from the media hype that frantically aims to resuscitate the dying group, the Sufis are breathing their last. They have no possible plans for the restoration of peace and stability in Somalia on their agenda. They neither have the leadership nor the capability to unite the Somalis under a banner, since their battle is one of spiteful revenge. Angered by the Islamists’ audacious campaign of destroying their tombs, the Sufis united to protect their scholars and their dignity. But before they could reach any meaningful military or political achievements, cracks within their leadership appeared and the group split. Some Sufi elements and reinforcements came from as far as Heema, Puntland, but that too did not help save them from further disintegration.
The Sufis main source of income was from the graves of their scholars. It was a custom that whenever someone visits the grave of a revered scholar to attain some of his blessings, they would bring along with them some camels or money. During the annual pilgrimages, thousands of camels, sheep and goats could be seen in large enclosures around the graves of their saints. But with the destruction of the graves, and the public’s realisation of the weakness of their holy saints, that steady source of income also ended.
It was said that the EU and the US had promised some finances for the group but so far nothing has materialised. Even if such claims were plausible, I believe that the money would be handed over to the Ethiopians, who are responsible for equipping them, or the TFG, one of the most corrupt governments in the world, and not directly to the Sufis.
At this juncture, with the exhumation of their highly revered scholars who, despite their acclaimed powers, could not fend off the hammers of Al-Shabaab, the Sufi’s high spirits also began to decline. A gradual depletion of their moral fibre, whose effect can be seen throughout their areas, is now evident. Surrendering to their fate, the Sufis have now come to the harsh realisation that dead scholars do not, as opposed to the common belief, hold any salvation for the living!
And it won’t be long before Ahlu Sunna completely dissolves into the intricate TFG structures – i.e step down from the political podium.