Monday, August 18, 2014

Autonomy Activism Spreads from Siberia to Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg on Day of Action as Kremlin Cracks Down

Kaliningrad autonomists displaying Prussian flags in defiance of Moscow
Is Russia experiencing a second wave of anti-Moscow uprisings, after the initial, post-Communist uprisings that ended so bloodily in the Chechen Wars?


As reported earlier this month in this blog, bohemian ethnic-Russian activists in Siberia were planning a march for greater autonomy (not independence) for August 17th.  The day arrived yesterday, but, according to Western media, authorities quickly shut down a protest of about 40 people in Novosibirsk, Russia’s third-largest city and Siberia’s notional capital.  At least nine people were arrested, including an organizer, Konstantin Yeremenko, and some alleged to be resisting arrest.  Another organizer, Alexei Baranov, found a severed sheep’s head left on the doorstep of his home in Novosibirsk on the day of the march.  In Siberia’s second-largest city, Omsk, police closed a central square before any demonstration could begin.

One activist wearing a “Stop Feeding Moscow!” t-shirt
was hauled off by police (as posted on Twitter).
The Novosibirsk mayoral office had denied the marchers a permit, “in order,” supposedly, “to ensure the inviolability of the constitutional order, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Russian Federation.”  The planned march had been officially called the “March for the Inviolability of the Constitutional Order,” in order to call attention to the fact that autonomy is guaranteed in the Russian constitution.  But the authorities seem so ingrained in their doublethink that they weren’t even embarrassed by the contradiction.  Authorities also banned a planned march by a radical Communist fringe group called the National–Bolshevik Platform, which also advocates looser federalism and was trying to piggy-back its other ideological causes onto the original autonomy movement.  The Kremlin also threatened to ban the B.B.C., which had broken the story on the Siberian movement a few weeks ago.


Siberia is merely those parts of Russia which are in Asia, i.e. east of the Ural Mountains.  It is not a political entity in its own right, but the new wave of activists is calling for a Republic of Siberia within the Russian Federation.  The federation’s 83 constituent parts (85 if you accept this year’s annexation of Crimea) include 22 republics, most named for a particular ethnic minority.  They have varying degrees of autonomy, but mostly very little.

But the regional-autonomy idea is spreading to other ethnic-Russian regions—making this, incidentally, a fairly separate phenomenon from the mostly ethnic and sectarian movements for autonomy and independence such as those in the North Caucasus, Tatarstan, or even those large parts of Siberia away from the cities, where tribal cultures predominate.


A similar march was also being planned for the same weekend in Yekaterinburg, capital of Sverdlovsk Oblast (province).  That choice of location is highly symbolic.  Yekaterinburg was named for Empress Catherine, wife of Peter the Great, but was called Sverdlovsk during the Communist era, named for Yakov Sverdlov, a Russian Jewish Bolshevik party leader.  In 1918, Yekaterinburg was where Czar Nicholas’s family was cornered and executed by Bolsheviks amid the Russian Revolution.  And in 1993, two years after the Soviet Union imploded, the ethnic-German governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast (the oblast kept its Soviet name, while the city reverted to its imperial label) declared it an autonomous Urals Republic in federation with Russia itself.  Neighboring oblasts considered joining too, such as the vast Tyumen Oblast, which stretches from the Kazakhstan desert to the Arctic Ocean and is over a half-million square miles.  But President Boris Yeltsin, a Sverdlovsk Oblast native, shut the self-declared republic down after ten days.  Three other oblasts—Tomsk, Irkutsk, and Amur—also attempted, and failed, to set up republics around the same time.  Feliks Rivkin, one of the current Sverdlovsk autonomist leaders, says that he is merely trying to get the Kremlin to live up to provisions for autonomy in the federal constitution—a document which has been put through the shredder since Vladimir Putin took office.

Yekaterinburg, 1918
Also planned for August 17th was a march in Krasnodar, capital of Krasnodar Krai, between the Black Sea and the North Caucasus.  Using the same federalist slogan Siberian activists use—“Stop Feeding Moscow!”—the Krasnodar autonomists are calling for the reestablishment of a Kuban Republic.  Historical resonances abound here as well.  During the Russian Civil War that followed the 1917 revolution, Cossacks loyal to the Mensheviks—the “White” army opposed to the “Red” Bolsheviks—established several short-lived republics in southwestern Russia, including the Don Republic, the Terek Republic, and, in an area roughly corresponding to today’s Krasnodar Krai, the Kuban People’s Republic.  And Krasnodar Krai includes the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, which hosted this year’s Winter Olympics and was the focus of so much anger from the region’s native Circassians (discussed at the time in this blog in articles here, here, here, and here).

Locations of Cossack republics and other short-lived entities
during the Russian Civil War.  (The approximate area of the
Terek Republic is shown in green and white stripes.)
It is not known if Cossacks are involved in the current movement there, but a year ago, during the inception of Ukraine’s Euro-Maidan movement that led to the current Russian–Ukrainian war (let’s just stop beating around the bush and call it that, okay?), Kuban Cossacks in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, called for the annexation of the area they (the Cossacks) were still calling the Kuban Republic.  Mostly, this was a rhetorical move in response to the suggestion by the neo-fascist Russian nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky that Russia annex up to a third of Ukraine’s territory (a policy which was crazy then but which Putin is now apparently pursuing).  In any case, at least some westward-leaning Cossacks clearly regard the Kuban, a.k.a. Krasnodar, region as their homeland.

The coat-of-arms of the Kuban People’s Republic.
(Is this just the greatest coat-of-arms ever?  I think it might be.)
Meanwhile, in Kaliningrad Oblast, an exclave wedged between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea and cut off from the rest of Russia, there are stirrings of autonomy as well.  This territory was part of Germany’s region of Pomerania, before it was given to Russia after the Second World War—and renamed for Mikhail Kalinin, a Bolshevik politician.  Though the oblast is now overwhelmingly ethnic-Russian—Germans were relocated from there at war’s end—there has been a steady stream of Volga Germans (ethnic kin of the Sverdlovsk governor Eduard Rossel, referred to above) settling there since the fall of Communism.  Kaliningraders tend to prefer their capital’s former name, Königsberg, and over 60% of them have foreign passports.  Many of them feel more Western European than Russian, and they like to wave Prussian flags.  A popular affectionate name for this wedge of land is Yantarny Krai (Янтарный край), or the Amber Country.  Vladimir Titov, a Moscow-based expert, calls Kaliningrad “the single place in Russia where at present regionalism as a political direction has real prospects.”


It has been difficult to find news on how things played out on the day of action in Kaliningrad, Krasnodar, and Yekaterinburg.  In all three cities, marches and demonstrations were banned but organizers said they would go ahead and march anyway.  I will be keeping readers informed of further developments.

Kaliningrad’s occasionally pro-independence and thus banned Baltic Republican Party
uses a Russian tricolor overlaid with the emblem of NATO—heresy in Putin’s Russia—
for their proposed “Baltic Republic.”
[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  The book, which contains dozens of maps and over 500 flags, is now in the layout phase and should be on shelves, and available on Amazon, by early fall 2014.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook.]

Thanks to Jeff Groton for alerting me to some of the sources used for this article.


Cossacks patrolling the Winter Olympics this year in Sochi,
to be part of a proposed revived Kuban Republic.
Related articles from this blog:

“Meanwhile, at the Other End of the Empire ... Putin Scrambles to Squash Siberian Autonomy Movement” (Aug. 2014)
“Kremlin Hand behind Alaska Annexation Petition on White House Website?” (April 2014)
“‘Separatism’ Added to List of Things Russians Aren’t Allowed to Talk about” (Nov. 2013)
“Putin Wants to Revive Stalin’s Old ‘Jewish Region’ in Siberia; Israel Not Amused” (Aug. 2013)
“Will Siberia Become the 51st State—or Maybe 51 through 77?” (Jan. 2012)



Sunday, August 17, 2014

Texan “Pissed Off at America” Declares “Republic of Doug-E-Stan” during Dallas Suburb Armed Siege


Texas has long been known as the most secession-minded part of the United States, but that reputation, along with Texans’ reputation (earned or not) for being heavily armed and mentally not all there, was given yet another boost this week.  A sixty-year-old man named Doug Leguin, nicknamed “Dougie-Doug,” held police and firefighters at bay in a multimillion-dollar home in a Dallas suburb on August 11th while declaring that the home was now “my little republic I just started” called “the Republic of Doug-E-Stan.”  (That’s the spelling he gave a police dispatcher, including the dashes; I am merely assuming that the E is capital.)


(No relationship, apparently, to the similarly named Republic of Dagestan, a sometimes-secessionist multi-ethnic civil-war zone in Russia’s Muslim-insurgency-wracked North Caucasus region, home to breakdancing suicide-bombers and the most dangerous football club in Europe.)


Though details are murky, it seems that Leguin’s wife notified police that her husband had gone missing from their home in nearby Corinth and that he had in his possession an AK-47 assault rifle, several rounds of ammunition, and some propane tanks from his garage.  Meanwhile, firefighters were called to the large home Leguin was holed up in to put out a grass fire, and when they arrived he began firing at them, which drew the police.  An eight-year-old girl and what Leguin described to a 911 dispatcher he telephoned as a non-English-speaking Mexican maid seem to have been able to escape the home unharmed.  It is not clear what relationship Leguin had to the owners or inhabitants of the house; he appeared not to know the address when he spoke to the dispatcher.


The complete transcript of Leguin’s conversation with the police reveals deep mental instability.  Leguin told police, “I’m pissed off at America.  America’s broke, it’s got a sorry government, and the people won’t vote.”  He also told the dispatcher he was “pissed off at” a particular program by the Dallas Police Department; when the dispatcher asked which program that was, Leguin said, “Shootin’ the mentally handicapped.”  He added, “I’ve got a clear mind and a full heart.  And I’m serious about this.  America’s gotta change.”

Though the Republic of Doug-E-Stan was declared in a suburban part of
Dallas County, its founder hails from Corinth, in nearby Denton County.
Eventually, a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team was called in and he was easily arrested, despite his personal arsenal which he at one point said consisted of twenty-seven weapons.   One neighbor, Tosha Bryce, told reporters that Leguin was, “you know, the person that we know, that we spend time with, that we see outside, that waves at everybody, that's really friendly, someone who we spend time with our kids.  You know, what in the world could have set him off?”


What indeed?  Well, in an interview three days later in his Dallas County Jail cell, Leguin gave a television interviewer some context for the siege.  He said that he was partly motivated by patterns of injustice exemplified by a recent Texan scandal over the light sentence given a wealthy Tarrant County, Texas, resident who killed four people while driving drunk.  In fact, Leguin bucked the usual stereotype of the crazed Texan gunman by revealing significantly left-of-center views.  He expressed concern for the plight of unaccompanied refugee children from Central America arriving in the U.S.—a development that has stoked racist anger at the other end of the spectrum—and he denounced those who scapegoat President Barack Obama. “If you stub your toe, it’s Obama’s fault,” Leguin said, “and that’s just stupid.  That’s part of the racism that has to be talked about in America.”  His comments came as Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, continued to spiral out of control in street confrontations and demonstrations over the killing of an unarmed African-American teenager.

Doug-E-Doug’s rage reached a boiling point just as racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, exploded.
But mostly Leguin said he just wanted people to “get out the vote,” and the Republic of Doug-E-Stan and the rest of it were all an elaborate publicity stunt to get people to change the power structure in America by exercising their franchise.  As he put it, “This is a get out the vote campaign.  You have to do something big to get attention in this country.  I know what I did was crazy, but I’m going to pay for that.  I just got to do something to wake up America, man.  I got to do something to get people out there voting.  We got the perfect tool to change the government.  We can completely overhaul the government.  But everybody has to vote.”

A Twitter user shared a photo of an upside-down flag flying at Leguin’s home.
In anti-government circles, this is used to mean, “The republic is in distress.”
Disappointingly, no Doug-E-Stani flag design has yet been reported.  But I, for one, will be voting this November.

What’s left of Doug-E-Stan
[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  The book, which contains dozens of maps and over 500 flags, is now in the layout phase and should be on shelves, and available on Amazon, by early fall 2014.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook.]

Related articles from this blog:

“State of Texas Nonexistent, Claims ‘Child of God,’ in Court for Driving with ‘Republic of Texas’ Plates” (March 2013)
“Let a Thousand Secession Petitions Bloom: The U.S. Balkanized, but Perhaps Only on the White House Website, Nowhere Else—but Most Importantly: What Does All This Have to Do with Topless Car Washes and the State of Jefferson?” (Nov. 2012)
“Hispanics and African-Americans ‘Remember the Alamo’ Differently—at Least Some of Them Do” (Nov. 2012)
“Yee-Haw (Again)! Texas Patriots Ready to Defend Their State against O.S.C.E. Election Observers” (Oct. 2012)
“Yee-Haw! Texas Judge Vows to Defend Lubbock County from Obama and the United Nations” (Aug. 2012)

Many thanks to Jan Pierce for alerting me to this news story.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Solomon Islands Now the 108th Country to Recognize Kosovo Independence


The Solomon Islands, an independent nation in the southwestern Pacific, just east of Papua New Guinea, announced August 13th that it was granting diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Kosovo.  It becomes (see map below) the 108th United Nations member-state to do so, following the similar move by the Republic of Togo last month.  The portion of the General Assembly recognizing Kosovo is now 56%, but its membership is effectively blocked by the Security Council veto power wielded by the Russian Federation, an ally of Serbia, which still claims Kosovo as its own.

The foreign minister of the Solomon Islands, Clay Forau (left), with his Kosovar
counterpart, Enver Hoxhaj (no relation to the former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha)
The Solomons’ minister of foreign affairs, Clay Forau, announced after a cabinet meeting on the 13th, “Given the improvement of relations between Serbia and Kosovo and the need to broaden our relations bilaterally with other countries, it is important that we recognize the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state and to explore the opportunities Kosovo could offer for Solomon Islands.”

Countries that recognize Kosovo as independent are shown in green.
In addition to the 108 states referred to above, Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, is also recognized by one non-territorial sovereign entity, the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta, and by one partially recognized non-member of the U.N. General Assembly, the Republic of China (a.k.a. Taiwan).  (The Solomons are also among the 22 nations—including six island nations in the Pacific—that recognize Taiwan.)  The rest of the world either explicitly or implicitly regards Kosovo as part of the territory of the Republic of Serbia, which still claims it.

[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  The book, which contains dozens of maps and over 500 flags, is now in the layout phase and should be on shelves, and available on Amazon, by early fall 2014.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook.]

Jefferson State Fever Spreads to Colusa County as 51st-State Movement Refuses to Fade Away


Colusa County, on the banks of California’s Sacramento River, has become the latest jurisdiction targeted by the movement to carve a “State of Jefferson” out of the state’s far north.  Local media reported that a “declaration committee” has been formed to try to make Colusa the seventh California to pass a board-of-supervisors resolution (non-binding, of course), to join the proposed 51st state, which—and this is the idea—would be far more politically conservative than the current state as a whole.

Colusa County already borders two “Jefferson” states—Glenn and Sutter.
Activists from neighboring Glenn County—whose board of supervisors voted in favor of secession in January (as reported at the time in this blog)—is offering its help in organizing Colusa’s committee.  Modoc, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, and Yuba counties have passed similar resolutions.  Colusa is one of the least populous of California’s 58 counties, with just over 20,000 people.


Last month, Del Norte, Siskiyou, and Tehama counties, in the state’s far north, held non-binding referenda on joining Jefferson.  All three votes were close, but only in Tehama did the measure pass.



[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  The book, which contains dozens of maps and over 500 flags, is now in the layout phase and should be on shelves, and available on Amazon, by early fall 2014.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook.]

Related: hear the author of this blog discuss the Cascadia independence movement in OregonWashington, and British Columbia in a recent interview for Seattle’s N.P.R. affiliate station KUOW-FM.  Click here to listen.

Related articles from this blog:

Tense Standoff Eases as Gitxsan Nation Suspends Evictions from British Columbia Land; All Hinges on Aug. 25th Talks

Gitxsan activists during an “Idle No More” protest action in January 2013
The heated land dispute between the Gitxsan indigenous nation and the federal and provincial governments in north-central British Columbia, Canada, seems to have been resolved peacefully, at least for now, weeks after Gitxsan hereditary chiefs set a deadline for “evicting” those carrying out non-indigenous economic activities on their vast, 33,000-square-kilometer territorial claim.  Canadian media reported August 9th that the Gitxsan treaty office said the nation was suspending eviction notices to Canadian National Railway (C.N.) and timber and sport-fishing outfits after the Crown agreed to allow amendments to an agreement which Gitxsan claim signed some territories away to downriver villages of the Tsimshian nation.

Gitxsan activists during a C.N. railroad blockade protest last year
But the suspensions hold only until August 25th, the date of planned meetings between the Crown, the Gitxsan, and leaders from the two Tsimshian villages in question, Kitsumkalum and Kitselas.  The easing of the Gitxsan position came just days after the nation’s chief negotiator, Gwaans, whose English name is Beverley Clifton Percival, had told national news media, “The eviction is going forward.  [But] we’re being reasonable.  We’re giving all parties time to act.  We’re trying to work with all parties.”

The Gitxsan territorial claim
(some boundaries disputed by neighboring nations)
As reported earlier in this blog, the Gitxsan set the August 4th deadline last month after aboriginal title to territory was strengthened in official eyes by a dramatic court ruling in favor of the Tsihlqot’in (Chilcotin) nation in south-central B.C.  The deadline passed (reported earlier this month in this blog) amid a tense few days in the remote forest region, with C.N. temporarily suspending rail traffic and, according to news reports, First Nations people ejecting anglers from Gitxsan lands.


Nearly all land in B.C. was absorbed into Canada without any Indian treaties, and the Tsihlqot’in decision is only the latest in a series of court findings, starting with the Gitxsan’s own land claim in the early 1990s, which is determining that indigenous people have unextinguished rights in the land.  The extent of these rights is still being explored, but the Tsihlqot’in ruling requires aboriginal permission, not just consultation, for economic activities on the land.  In B.C., there is already a lot of political momentum in aboriginal communities, generated by a wave of protests over the past couple years as part of the nationwide “Idle No More” uprising against oil pipelines and other projects.

An aboriginal protester during an “Idle No More” day of action in Manitoba last year
Tenimgyet, a Gitxsan hereditary chief whose English name is Art Mathews, said of the suspension, “It is a very positive move by the Crown to undertake to work diligently with Kitselas and Kitsumkalum to ensure that all parties in the situation are dealt with honourably.  The government being honourable is not a one-size fits all.”


Joe Bevan, chief councillor of the Kitselas (Gits’ilaasü) First Nation, a Tsimshan community whose territory borders Tenimgyet’s tribal village, said that he was open to discussions but was certainly not ready to give ground.  “We’re true to our lands,” Bevan said, “we know where our territory is, our traditional land, and we’ve been using it for thousands of years.  Our door is open for the Gitxsan to come in and have an open and frank discussion.  It’s quite unfortunate that the Gitxsan have taken the role that they have and this type of route, that’s not the way we operate but that’s what they’ve chosen to do.”

Kitselas’s chief councillor Joe Bevan, second from right, flanked by Chinese trade delegates
and the mayor of Terrace, a town which sits on unceded Tsimshian territory
Clifton Percival, the Gitxsan negotiator, meanwhile emphasized that her nation’s dispute is with the government, not with the Tsimshian.

Beverley Clifton Percival
[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  The book, which contains dozens of maps and over 500 flags, is now in the layout phase and should be on shelves, and available on Amazon, by early fall 2014.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook.]


[Full disclosure: I have worked extensively with, and published about, Tsimshian communities, especially Kitsumkalum, and have conducted research which defends that community’s interests.  Also, Beverley Clifton Percival was once a graduate student of mine.  But none of my research focused on territorial disputes, and I take no position on the disagreements between Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, and the Gitxsan.]

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Puntland, Its “Ego” “Injured” by Galmudug Recognition, Withdraws from Somalia; In Reply, Mogadishu Sends in Warlord

Recalled Puntland MPs returning to Galkayo after being recalled from Mogadishu


Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gas, president of the Puntland State of Somalia, which governs itself like an independent state but has steadfastly called itself a part of the to-all-practical-purposes-nonexistent country of Somaliadeclared August 1st that his pirate-infested desert fief at the very tip of the Horn of Africa was withdrawing from the Federal Government of Somalia (F.G.S., also called S.F.G.)—such as it is—in Mogadishu.

Members of Puntland’s Council of Ministers
ratifying Pres. Gas’s withdrawal announcement earlier this month
A newspaper based in the neighboring unrecognized Republic of Somaliland, another fragment of the former Somalia, described the scene fairly dramatically: “This revelation was made by Gas during a post regional administration cabinet meeting press briefing in which he also ordered all legislators representing Puntland in the Mogadishu based parliament to decamp back to Garowe within 15 days.
The visibly incensed president Gas reported to have roughshod over his council of ministers during the hastily convened meeting on the night of 31st July at his Garowe residence.”

Somaliland is the area to the west of Puntland, though the border is in dispute.
Gas’s announcement of withdrawal was in reaction to a decision taken by the government in Mogadishu the day before to formally recognize as legitimately autonomous another de facto independent entity, the even-more-pirate-infested Galmudug State of Somalia, which lies just to the south of Puntland.  Galmudug, whose name is a portmanteau of two provinces of “Somalia”—Galgadud and Mudug—uses Galkayo, a city lying on the Puntland–Galmudug border, as its capital.  Puntland, which uses Garowe as its capital, governs only the northern half of Galkayo but claims all of Mudug, including all of Galkayo, its capital, as a constituent province.


It is not clear whether the Somaliland journalist or the Puntland administration itself is responsible for the awkward English version of Gas’s strident statement of protest, which states, “Puntland ego has been severely injured by the participation of the international community at the Mogadishu endorsement of the new regional administration.”

Somalian and Puntland flags flying side by side
But bruised Puntlandic egos may be the least of it.  Puntland’s withdrawal has led, among other things, to reports that a former president of Galmudug, the warlord Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdiid (a.k.a. Abdi Qeybdiid), is launching plans to “invade” Puntland via the airport at Galkayo.  The same newspaper referred to above, the Somaliland Sun, stated that the office of the F.G.S.’s president, Hasan Sheikh Mahmudadmitted openly that it had hired Abdi Qeybdiid to “raise mayhem” and to “dislodge” Gas from power.

Abdi Qeybdiid (with microphone), pictured here in the days of his presidency,
is said to be gunning for Puntland’s current leadership—literally.
In what may or may not be a connected development, the chairman of Puntland’s military court, Abdirizak Haji Adan Ahmed, narrowly survived an assassination attempt on August 9th when gunmen said to be members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist terrorist network al-Shabaab riddled his car with bullets in Bosaso, the large harbor city on Puntland’s north coast.

Abdirizak Haji Adan Ahmed is the latest to be targeted.
This is not the first time Puntland has taken its ball and gone home.  Almost exactly a year ago (as reported at the time in this blog), Puntland’s president at the time, Abdirahman Farole, announced a similar withdrawal.  That time, Puntland’s grievances were over more general issues of sharing of resources and powers between itself and Mogadishu, as well as the status of another autonomous state within “Somalia,” Jubaland.  Mogadishu was at that point refusing to recognize Jubaland, which is in the al-Shabaab-infested far south of “Somalia,” while Puntland backed it.  That confrontation was quietly resolved in the weeks that followed.  (Jubaland is now run by an interim administration, while Mogadishu has taken over the running of its harbor, Kismayo.)  Through it all, Puntland never goes quite so far as to use the word independence, unlike its western neighbor, Somaliland, which announced a formal separation from Somalia in 1991 (discussed at length in an article from this blog).  That was the year that Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia’s Communist dictator, was deposed in one of the many global reverberations of the implosion of the Soviet Union.  The former Somalia has been in a state of constant civil war ever since.

Jubaland has also at times been called Azania and Greenland.
As of yesterday (August 11th), Gas said that he and the central government in Mogadishu were negotiating how to proceed, but progress had not yet been made.  He hinted that the objections might mainly be territorial, stating, “Mudug is partially divided.  Puntland controls the north and the south is under other people’s control.  We will never retreat from our rights to administer the north of Mudug region.” This may be a shift, since Gas refers here only to the northern part of Mudug.  But whether an agreement can be reached is another matter.

President Gas, waiting for Mogadishu to blink
[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  The book, which contains dozens of maps and over 500 flags, is now in the layout phase and should be on shelves, and available on Amazon, by early fall 2014.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook.]


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