Northern Somali sultanates

Northern Somali Sultanates: Two prominent sultanates ruled North of Somalia once, 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 parts 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 monumental. In honor of his accomplishments (Sultan Dhahar), his name bears not ephemerally but eternally on the great valley and mountains of the city known as “Dhahar”.

It is important to note that the downfall of the Dervishes was brought about by the stiff resistance of the sultanate Mohamoud Ali Shire.Bihidor clan (Warsangeli subclan) who withdrew their loyalty and support from the Sultan had now made unflinching decision to join the Dervishes and defeat the army of the Sultan. The Dervishes and their lots (Bihidor Warsangeli) planned ahead their venom routes and strategy of destruction. (In fact this was their worst mistake in attacking a country that the English treated different from the way he treated other Northern clans). After initially an unexpected attack, the honorable 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 the army). The only town that the Dervishes captured was Badhan before they besieged LasKhorrey. Therefore, The British air strikes bombarded Badhan, Jidali and Talex one time and then were ordered to return to Aden where they first took off. Actually, the Air strikes never did a considerable harm to the Dervishes. They were still powerful but dispersed into two places. Finally, forces of Warsangeli and Dervishes met at Jidali and this was in fact the final decimation of the Dervishes. The Sultan who resented by the fact that Sayid Mohamed Abdule Hassan, his brother in law would attack his dominions never took back a mercy on him.

Historically, The British used Indirect Rule for their colonial advantages to control and exploit clans. They also realized that this effort was not enough and it could insinuate potential mischief within the protectorate. in 1886, the British government signed treaty with Warsangeli. In the previous year 1885, the British government made treaty with Ciise, Gudabirsi and Isaq. This tripartite treaty and the one with Warsangeli sultanates were beneficial to the colonial powers in operating internally the clan social systems of Somalia. Despite Sultan Mohamoud Ali Shire’s independent operation in his country, he was secretly attached to the British Administration while maintaining his leadership to strongly revolt all Mad Mullah’s successive incursion and aggression in Somalia. In article five of British treaty with Warsangeli states the historical context of Warsangeli territory as legitimate country that in which the British government appointed an ambassador and was in the process of building an office there. “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 III).

"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 this 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 prince of the fifth dynasty of 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 presently a city 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 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 of 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 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 and goodwill, 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). 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 deeroiyo cawl adigukamadhigin?(refers to the internal conflict asa vaunt) 4 Iney se Kuududahayaan sow ma ba dareensanid? 5 Sowdukaammadoodi daarahaaga kuma guran? 6 Sow doonyahodiidukhan naar ahkamashidin 7 Sow dooraweynow, ma deldelin raggoodii 8 Inaanaddoclilayan diyaar ku ogaade 9 Dikirigii iyoshareecadda labadaad ka doodi ye 10 DurdurkiiFardoosiyo janadaad ka daahi ye 11 DarbadiiCadaabkiyo Dukhaankii baad ku tuuri ye 12 War, inaaddagaysanayd sow dareemi maayaan? (Interpretation of these lines will be e-mailed upon your request.)

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. SULTAN MOHAMOUDCALISHIRE. Chronological order of events in North Somalia. 1884EgyptevacuatedSomaliCoast, 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 Foreign Office took over administration of British Somaliland Protectorate from 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. Nov. 1900 Swayne'sfirst expedition: engagements at Kirit, Samala, Welahed, Anahadigli, Kurgerad,Ferdidin. Oct. 1901 Swayne'ssecond expedition: Erago.

March 1904 Jidbali occupied: Higligab, and Las Khoreh. 21st Mar. 1904Illig (Eil). Oct. 1904Restalloza Peace. Nov. 1909 British withdrawal to coast.(as a result of the Sultan) 9th Aug. 1913Dul Madoba (Corfield killed). 5th Sept. 1913Mullah raided Burao. 12th Mar. 1914Mullah raided Berbera. Somaliland Camel Corps started. Nov. 1914 ShimbirBeris. May 1916 Dervishes shelled from sea whilst besieging Las Khoreh. Nov. 1919 Fifth and "final" expedition. Jan. 1920 Defeat of Mullah: Medishe, Jidali, Badan, Taleh,. 3,000 H.Y. Warsangeli, and Dolbahanta attacked Mullah at Gorah near Shinileh. The year of aeroplanes (Daiurada). Nov. 1920 Mullah died of influenza, or perhaps smallpox. Gerad Mahamud Ali Shirreh of Warsengeli deported to Seychelles for seven years for exterting his own form of "native authority". 446. 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 Gudabirsiand 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 temper with their power and control over their territories.