History of the Warsangeli
Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire in 1905
photo by: Richard.F.Burton
Early history traces the development of the Somali people to an Arab
Sultanate which was founded in the seventh century A.D. by Koreishite
immigrants from Yemen. During the 10th and 11th centuries Portuguese
traders landed in present Somali territory and ruled several coastal towns.
The Sultan of Zanzibar subsequently took control of these towns and their
The Warsangeli Sultante
was an imperial power centered around the borders of the North East
of then so called British Somaliland and some parts of South East
of then Italian Somaliland. It was one of the largest Sultanates of
all times in Somalia, and, at the height of its power, it included
the Sanaag region, parts of North East of Bari region. It was established
by a tribe of Warsangeli in North of Somalia and ruled by the descendents
of the Gerad Dhidhin.
The Sultan also known as the Garaad (Garad, Gerad, in some
parts of Somalia, sometimes the Sultan or Gerad), was the sole regent
and government of the Sultanate, at least officially. The dynasty
is most often called the Gerad or the House of North East Somaliland
Sultan. The sultan enjoyed many titles such as Sovereign of the House
of North East of Somaliland Sultanate , Sultan of Sultans of Somaliland.
Note that the first rulers never called themselves sultan s. The sultan
title was established by Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire in 1897
Garaad Dhidhin (12981311)
Garaad Hamar Gale(13111328)
Garaad Ibrahim (13281340)
Geraad Omer (13401355)
Garaad Mohamud (13551375)
Garaad Ciise (13751392)
Garaad Siciid (13921409)
Garaad Ahmed (14091430)
Garaad Siciid (14301450)
Garaad Mohamud (14501479)
Garaad Ciise (14791487)
Garaad Omar (1487-1495)
Garaad Ali Dable (14951503)
Garaad Liban (15031525)
Garaad Yuusuf (15251555)
Garaad Mohamud (15551585)
Garaad Abdale (15851612)
Garaad Ali (16121655)
Garaad Mohamud (16551675)
Garaad Naleye (16751705)
Garaad Mohamed (17051750)
Garaad Ali (17501789)
Garaad Mohamud Ali (17891830)
Garaad Aul (1830-1870)
Garaad Ali Shire (18701897)
Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire (18971960)
Sultan Abdul Sallan (19601997)
Sultan Siciid Sultan Abdisalaan (1997 - today)
Somalia's modern history began in the late l9th century when various
European powers began to trade and establish themselves in the area
that thet were located in. The British East India Company's desire
for unrestricted harbor facilities led to the conclusion of treaties
with the sultan of Tajura as early as 1840.
It was not until 1886 however that the British gained control over
northern Somalia through treaties with various Somali chiefs who were
guaranteed British protection. British objectives centered on safeguarding
trade links to the east and securing local sources of food and provisions.
The boundary between Ethiopia and British Somaliland was established
in 1897 through treaty negotiations between British negotiators and
King Menelik. During the first two decades of this century British
rule was challenged through persistent attacks led by the Islamic
nationalist leader Mohamed Abdullah. A long series of intermittent
engagements and truces ended in 1920 when British warplanes bombed
Abdullah's stronghold at Taleex. Although Abdullah was defeated as
much by rival Somali factions as by British forces he was lauded as
a popular hero and stands as a major figure of Somali national identity.
In 1885 Italy obtained commercial advantages in the area from the
Sultan of Zanzibar and in 1889 concluded agreements with the sultans
of Obbia and Caluula who placed their territories under Italy's protection.
Between 1897 and 1908 Italy made agreements with the Ethiopians and
the British that marked out the boundaries of Italian Somaliland.
The Italian Government assumed direct administration giving the territory
colonial status. Italian occupation gradually extended inland. In
1924 the Jubaland Province of Kenya including the town and port of
Kismayo was ceded to Italy by the United Kingdom. The subjugation
and occupation of the independent Sultanates of Obbia and Mijertein
begun in 1925 were completed in 1927.
In the late 1920s Italian and Somali influence expanded into the Ogaden
region of eastern Ethiopia. Continuing incursions climaxed in 1935
when Italian forces launched an offensive that led to the capture
of Addis Ababa and the Italian annexation of Ethiopia in 1936. Following
Italy's declaration of war on the United Kingdom in June 1940 Italian
troops overran British Somaliland and drove out the British garrison.
In 1941 British forces began operations against the Italian East African
Empire and quickly brought the greater part of the Italian Somaliland
under British control.
From 1941 to 1950 while Somalia was under British military administration
transition toward self-government was begun through the establishment
of local courts planning committees and the Protectorate Advisory
Council. In 1948 Britain turned the Ogaden and neighboring Somali
territories over to Ethiopia. In Article 23 of the 1947 peace treaty
Italy renounced all rights and titles to Italian Somaliland.
In accordance with treaty stipulations on September 15 1948 the Four
Powers referred the question of disposal of former Italian colonies
to the UN General Assembly. On November 21 1949 the General Assembly
adopted a resolution recommending that Italian Somaliland be placed
under an international trusteeship system for 10 years with Italy
as the administering authority followed by independence for Italian
Somaliland. In 1959 at the request of the Somali Government the UN
General Assembly advanced the date of independence from December 2
to July 1 1960.
Meanwhile rapid progress toward self-government was being made in
British Somaliland. Elections for the Legislative Assembly were held
in February 1960 and one of the first acts of the new legislature
was to request that the United Kingdom grant the area independence
so that it could be united with Italian Somaliland when the latter
became independent. The protectorate became independent on June 26
1960; 5 days later on July 1 it joined Italian Somaliland to form
the Somali Republic.
In June 1961 Somalia adopted its first national constitution in a
countrywide referendum which provided for a democratic state with
a parliamentary form of government based on European models. During
the early post-independence period political parties reflected clan
loyalties and brought a basic split between the regional interests
of the former British-controlled north and the Italian-controlled
south. There also was substantial conflict between pro-Arab pan-Somali
militants intent on national unification with the Somali-inhabited
territories in Ethiopia and Kenya and the "modernists "
who wished to give priority to economic and social development and
improving relations with other African countries. Gradually the Somali
Youth League formed under British auspices in 1943 assumed a dominant
position and succeeded in cutting across regional and clan loyalties.
Under the leadership of Mohamed Ibrahim Egal prime minister from 1967
to 1969 Somalia greatly improved its relations with Kenya and Ethiopia.
The process of party-based constitutional democracy came to an abrupt
end however on October 21 1969 when the army and police led by Maj.
Gen. Mohamed Siad seized power in a bloodless coup. Following the
coup executive and legislative power was vested in the 20-member Supreme
Revolutionary Council (SRC) headed by Maj. Gen. Siad as president.
The SRC pursued a course of "scientific socialism" that
reflected both ideological and economic dependence on the Soviet Union.
The government instituted a national security service centralized
control over information and initiated a number of grassroots development
Perhaps the most impressive success was a crash program that introduced
an orthography for the Somali language and brought literacy to a large
percentage of the population. The SRC became increasingly radical
in foreign affairs and in 1974 Somalia and the Soviet Union concluded
a treaty of friendship and cooperation. As early as 1972 tensions
began increasing along the Somali-Ethiopian border. In the mid-1970s
the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) began guerrilla operations
in the Somali region, recently known as (Kilil Five) of Ethiopia.
Fighting increased and in July 1977 the Somali National Army (SNA)
crossed into Kilil Five (Somali State of Ethiopia) to support the
insurgents. The SNA moved quickly toward Harer, Jijiga and Dire Dawa
the principal cities of the region. Subsequently the Soviet Union,
Somalia's most important source of arms embargoed weapons shipments
to Somalia. The Soviets switched their full support to Ethiopia with
massive infusions of Soviet arms and 10 000-15 000 Cuban troops. In
November 1977 President Siad Barre expelled all Soviet advisers and
abrogated the friendship agreement with the U.S.S.R.
On March 1978 Somali forces were terribly beaten by the Ruso-Cuban
backed Ethiopians and were forced to retreat back into Somalia; however
the WSLF continues to carry out sporadic but greatly reduced guerrilla
activity in the Ogaden. Following the 1977 Ethio-Somali war, President
Siad looked to the West for international support military equipment
and economic aid. The United States and other Western countries traditionally
were reluctant to provide arms because of the Somali Government's
support for insurgencies in Ethiopia. In 1978 the United States reopened
the U.S. Agency for International Development mission in Somalia.
Two years later an agreement was concluded that gave U.S. forces access
to military facilities in Somalia. In the summer of 1982 Ethiopian
forces invaded Somalia along the central border and the United States
provided two emergency airlifts to help Somalia defend its territorial
From 1982 to 1990 the United States viewed Somalia as a partner in
defense. Somali officers of the National Armed Forces were trained
in U.S. military schools in civilian as well as military subjects.
Within Somalia Siad Barre's regime became increasingly a victim of
insurgencies in the northeast and northwest whose aim was to overthrow
his government. By 1988 Siad Barre was openly at war with sectors
of his nation. At the President's order aircraft from the Somali National
Air Force bombed the cities in the northwest province attacking civilians
indiscriminately as well as insurgent targets. Some cities in the
north mainly, Hargeisa were carpet bombed and razed to rubble. The
warfare in the north sped up the decay already evident elsewhere in
the republic. Economic crisis brought on by the cast of the anti-insurgency
caused further hardship as Siad Barre and his cronies looted the national
treasury. By 1990 little remained of the Somali Republic.
The insurgency in the northwest was largely successful. The army dissolved
into competing armed groups loyal to former commanders or to clan-tribal
leaders. The economy was in shambles and hundreds of thousands of
Somalis fled their homes. In 1991 Siad Barre and forces loyal to him
fled the capital; he died in exile in Nigeria. In 1992 responding
to the political chaos and death in Somalia the United States and
other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified
Task Force (UNITAF) the operation was designed to create an environment
in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the
effects of dual catastrophes--one man-made and one natural. UNITAF
was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia. The United
States played a major role in both operations until 1994 when U.S.
forces withdrew after a pitched gun battle with Somali gunmen that
left hundreds dead or wounded.
Since then the Warsangeli People under self-governance have, despite
all the obstacles and many failed attempts of Somalia to re-establish
the state and numerous battles of inter-clan warfare, restrained themselves
from getting involved in the armed conflicts, but re-established the
local governance and the Sultanate.