Saturday, December 15, 2012

Catalans, Basques Organize Themselves for Secession; Also Bashkortostan, Oromia, Casamance, Mahalla Republic, Corsica, Kukiland, Kabardino-Balkaria, South California: The Week in Separatist News, 9-15 December 2012


Catalan Separatist Parties Form Coalition, Plan Referendum for 2014.  Reports emerged this week of a meeting between Artur Mas i Gavarró’s independence-minded ruling party in the CataloniaConvergència i Unió (CiU, or Convergence and Union), and the autonomous region’s second-place party from last month’s regional election (reported on at the time in this blog), Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (E.R.C., or Republican Left of Catalonia) about forming a government.  Part of the agreement is that a referendum on independence from Spain will probably be held in 2014, the same year Scotland decides whether to remain in the United Kingdom.  Mas had only promised to hold a vote by 2017, but the E.R.C. pushed for an earlier date.

Gradualist Named Basque Premier, Will Need Radical Separatists to Rule in Coalition.  In Spain’s Basque CountryIñigo Urkullu was appointed the autonomous region’s prime minister on December 13th after an election in October in which his Basque Nationalist Party (E.A.J.) came out with a plurality of 21 out of 75 seats (as reported at the time in this blog), but, although the E.A.J. are gradualists on the question of independence, they will need to govern with the help of the more stridently separatist Euskal Herria Bildu (E.H.B.) coalition.


Mali’s Civilian Prime Minister Nabbed, Forced to Resign by Sanogo Coup Plotters.  The interim prime minister of the Republic of Mali, Cheick Modibo Diarra, who took office in a negotiated handover after a military coup d’état in March, was arrested by members of the military as he was trying to flee the country on December 11th and hours later announced his resignation on state television.  The soldiers who apprehended him were loyalists of Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, who led the original coup and who never really let go of the reins of power.  The new prime minister is Diango Cissoko, who had been minister of justice in the 1980s.  The rough transition calls into question the legitimacy of the civilian government, as well as prospects for an international intervention to root Islamists out of the self-declared Independent State of Azawad that prevails over the northern two-thirds of Mali.

Diango Cissoko, Mali’s new prime minister;
the implications for the retaking of Azawad are as yet unclear.
New Somali President Vows to Retake Puntland and Somaliland Ports.  The newly elected president of a supposedly newly post-transitional Federal Republic of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, vowed this week in a media interview to retake the harbor cities of Berbera and Bosaso, using words that sounded like a threat to undermine or even dismantle the de facto independent governments of Somaliland and Puntland, which have flourished in the northern half of Somalia as islands of stability, economic growth, and democracy during more than two decades of chaos and civil war.  Speaking confidently of the recent ejection of Islamist armies from Kismayo, the main port in southern Somalia, Mohamud said the next step will be Somaliland’s main port, Berbera, and Bosaso, in Puntland.  “The country has four main ports,” Mohamud said, “namely Mogadishu, Kismayo, Berbera, and Bosaso, which we intend to take-over soonest,” adding, “Once we seize full control of all the four ports, the federal government in Mogadishu shall apportion regional governments a minor share of the earnings”—the “regional governments” referring perhaps to Puntland, which is nominally a state within  Somalia, or perhaps to the at-this-point utterly fictional “provinces” of “Somalia” which overlay the political realities in the region.  Mogadishu’s refusal to recognize Somaliland’s independence is not new, but the Mohamud’s threats to Puntland’s autonomous status are.

3 Killed, 7 Injured in Somaliland over Election Results.  Violence accompanied the announcement of results from last month’s violence-plagued elections (reported on at the time in this blog) in the independent but unrecognized Republic of Somaliland.  In Hargeisa, the capital, three people were killed and seven injured during protests on December 6th by supporters of the Haqsoor political coalition.  The protests and unrest continued into the next day.  Later, on December 8th in Erigavo, scene of some of last week’s worst unrest and capital of the disputed Sanaag region, the offices of the electoral commission were raked with machine-gun fire.  No one was injured. ...

Post-election unrest in Hargeisa this week
... Somaliland Troops Retake Sool Town from Khaatumo Loyalists.  Meanwhile, in the nearby Sool region—also administered by Somaliland and claimed by Puntland—Somaliland national troops have retaken the town of Widwidh from loyalists of the officially-dismantled but surprisingly resurgent Khaatumo State, which tried to establish itself earlier this year in the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn regions in the Puntland–Somaliland border zone.  The town was retaken without a shot being fired, and the Khaatumo loyalists are believed to have fled into Puntland-controlled areas.

Puntland Commandos Raid al-Shabaab Camp in Mountains, Inflict Heavy Casualties.  In the de facto independent Puntland State of Somalia, government commandos raided an Islamist militant camp in the remote Golis Mountains, inflicting heavy casualties, including deaths, though no exact figures were available.  The camp was operated by al-Shabaab, a jihadist army affiliated with al-Qaeda which has recently expanded into Puntland.

4 Homes Hit by Mortars in Somali City Divided between Puntland, Galmudug States.  Civilian homes were hit by mortar shells on December 7th in Galkayo, a city whose northern half is administered by the de facto independent Puntland State of Somalia but whose southern half is capital of the similarly self-governing Galmudug State—both of them nominally parts of the dysfunctional, barely existent Federal Republic of Somalia.  The mortars came from the direction of Galmudug territory and landed on the Puntland side of the border.  Four homes were damaged.

Kenyan Police Kill 3 Mombasa Separatist Militants, Disrupting Attack Plot.  In Kenya on December 9th, police shot and killed three suspected members of the Mombasa Republic Council (M.R.C.) who authorities the next day claimed had been plotting an attack on a police station.  There were also arrested of four other members of the M.R.C., an organization which seeks to form an independent state out of Kenya’s predominantly-Muslim south-coastal region.

Nigerian Military, Police Clash with Boko Haram in Potiskum; 14 Dead.  Suspected members of northern Nigeria’s Islamist militia Boko Haram attacked police in the streets of Potiskum, in Yobe State in the northeast, on December 11th.  The military was called in to repel the attack, and after a shootout one police officer and 13 of the jihadists were dead.  There was also looting and arson in the city blamed on Boko Haram.

Ethiopian Court Hands Long Prison Terms to 9 Oromo Separatist Activists.  A federal court in Ethiopia handed down prison sentences of eight and 13 years to two members of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement on charges of inciting a separatist rebellion, supposedly as members of the banned Oromo Liberation Front (O.L.F.), which seeks independence for the vast, sprawling southern region of Oromia.  Seven other Oromo activists were given long sentences for receiving paramilitary training in Kenya and for skirmishes with Ethiopian troops.

Police Round Up 15 Biafran Separatists in Enugu State.  Police in Nigeria’s Enugu State reported this week that 15 members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) were arrested when authorities busted up a planning meeting in Ogwofia Owa.  Charges have yet to be brought.

Casamance Rebels Release 8 Captured Senegalese Troops in Gambia.  Eight Senegalese soldiers were released this week by rebels from a militia which seeks independence for the region of Casamance, in southern Senegal.  The Movement for the Democratic Forces of Casamance delivered the prisoners to the International Committee of the Red Cross (I.C.R.C.) in a handover in the nearby Republic of the Gambia.

Alexandria, Other Egyptian Towns Declare Semi-Serious “Independence” from Morsi.  Separatism, if only of the tongue-in-cheek sort, has become a feature in the ongoing civil unrest and street politics in the Arab Republic of Egypt, where the new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, is facing what is increasingly resembling an Arab Spring revolution redux for his latest power grabs.  Alexandria and El-Mahalla El-Kubra, in the Nile Delta, are among the several municipalities across the country where local activists are declaring independence—in the case of Mahalla, one of the birthplaces of last year’s revolution and a major port with nearly a half-million people, a Republic of Mahalla.

Mahalla was one of the cradles of last year’s revolt against Hosni Mubarak.
This week, residents are talking (not seriously?) about independence from Mubarak’s successor regime.

2 Border Crossings Linking Serbia to Serb-Dominated North Kosovo Formally Open.  After protests and political wrangling, two border crossings operated jointly by the de facto independent Republic of Kosovo and the country that still claims it as its territory, the Republic of Serbia, opened on December 10th amid little fanfare.  The two crossings, Jarinje and Medarje, join Serbia proper with the region of North Kosovo, a Serb-dominated area lying out of Kosovo’s de facto control.  Four other crossings are to be in operation by the end of the year.

With Dominica on Board, Now More than Half of U.N. Member States Recognize Kosovo.  Following last month’s establishments of diplomatic relations by the Republic of Fiji (as reported at the time in this blog) and, the following week, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, another Caribbean island nation, the Commonwealth of Dominica this week became the 97th independent state to recognize the Republic of Kosovo.  This officially tips the balance, so that now just over one-half of the United Nations’ 193 member states now recognize Kosovo.  See this week’s full article on this development.
Separatists Burn 24 French Vacation Homes on Eve of Corsican National Holiday.  The Corsican National Liberation Front (F.L.N.C.) is claiming responsibility for the destruction of 24 vacation homes by arson and explosives on December 7th on Corsica, the large Mediterranean island which was transferred from Italy (the Republic of Genoa, actually) to France in 1769 following a brief period of independence.  No one was injured in the violence, which targeted vacated or partially completed homes.  A few hours before the blasts, a man believed linked to the F.L.N.C. was arrested in possession of explosives.  On the same day, the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is also Corsica’s unofficial independence day, a nightclub owner was gunned down and killed in what is probably an organized-crime hit rather than something related to the wave of arson.

One of 24 vacation homes in Corsica destroyed by separatists this week
Renzo Bossi, Son of Northern League Founder, Probed for Misuse of Public Funds.  The young son of Umberto Bossi, the founder and disgraced former leader of Italy’s now-marginalized separatist Northern League, emerged December 14th as the target of a new corruption investigation focusing on right-wing parties.  The son, Renzo Bossi, who is suspected of misusing public funds, was discussed in this blog earlier this year as no. 10 in a list of “The World’s 21 Sexiest Separatists.”  Ironically, the press this week are referring to his being nicknamed “the Trout,” “because of his looks”—but it’s not clear if that is a compliment or not.  Certainly, the bee-stung lips and just general Mick Jagger look does not prevent another of the dozens of politicians newly under investigation—Nicole Minetti, a former regional councillor for Lombardy for the former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Popolo della Libertà (P.d.L., or People of Freedom) party—from being considered a sex symbol.  Minetti, who is being investigated for spending €800 of public money on food and drink at a five-star hotel in Milan, is also still not free of charges that she procured underaged prostitutes for Berlusconi’s orgy-like  parties.  She began her political career as Berlusconi’s—ahem!—oral hygienist.  Yeah, that explains all the spit sinks at those bunga bunga parties.

Renzo Bossi and Nicole Minetti
Russian Troops Fail to Find “Bashkortostan Mujahideen” Training Camp in Urals.  The Caucasus Emirate separatist organization in the Russian Federation’s Muslim regions confirmed this week on their website an earlier report in the media from the Russian military that a militant Islamist training camp had been reported in the Urals region, run by the Bashkortostan Mujahideen, but that the feared Federal Security Service (F.S.B., successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B.) was unable to find it.  The website, the often-unreliable and propagandistic Kavkaz Center, which refers to the area in question, in Russia’s Republic of Bashkortostan, as part of the “Russian invader”–occupied “Idel-Ural,” links the Bashkortostan Mujahideen to a 2010 terrorist attack on traffic police in the city of Perm (which the site calls the “Russian-occupied Finnic country of Permia”).  The Idel-Ural State flourished briefly during the Russian Civil War as a multi-ethnic, predominantly-Muslim Menshevik state centered on modern Tatarstan, until it was crushed by Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks in 1920.  Bashkortostan, where native Bashkirs and Tatars just barely together outnumber ethnic Russians, declared independence briefly in 1992 before being cajoled by President Boris Yeltsin into joining the Russian Federation.

A new trouble spot?
A map showing the location of the Republic of Bashkortostan within the Russian Federation.
Dagestani Police Colonel Assassinated by Masked Housebreakers; 3 Militants Killed.  A police colonel was killed in southwestern Russia’s predominantly-Muslim Republic of Dagestan on December 9th when masked intruders broke into his home in the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala.  The victim, Khizri Dzhabatyrov, was involved in investigations into corruption and white-collar crime.  Later, on December 13th three militants were killed in a shootout with police at a checkpoint in Makhachkala.

2 Militants, Including Suicide Bomber, Die in Police Siege in Ingushetia.  In Nazran, capital of southwestern Russia’s Republic of Ingushetia, in the North Caucasus region, a police siege of militants barricaded in a house ended this week with the two rebels dead in a hail of gunfire.  One of the dead men, according to Russia’s Federal Security Service (F.S.B.), had been commander of a “suicide battalion.”

7 Dead as Russian Forces Clash with Rebels in North Caucasus.  In Tyrnyauz, in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, in the predominantly-Muslim North Caucasus region, Russian Federation forces clashed for two days with militants starting December 11th, in skirmishes that left six rebels and one police officer dead.  Three of the rebels were on terrorism wanted lists.

Suspect Nabbed in Killing of T.V. Anchor in Kabardino-Balkaria.  Russian federal security forces this week arrested a suspect in last week’s assassination (reported last week in this blog) of Kazbek Gekkiyev, a television news anchorman in southwestern Russia’s Kabardino-Balkar Republic, in Circassia.  The suspect is Zeytun Boziyev, age 30.

Plotters in Deadly Dagestani Suicide-Bombing Targeting Sufi Imam Arrested.  Meanwhile, in the Republic of Dagestan to the east, Russian federal security forces arrested three suspects for playing a role in planning a mass killing on August 28th, in which a female break-dancing suicide-bomber (though she was not break-dancing at the time of the bombing) killed seven people, including an 11-year-old boy and a prominent Sufi imam (as reported at the time in this blog).  The three suspects are said to be members of the Caucasus Emirate movement, which aims to create an independent state out of predominantly-Muslim areas along Russia’s southern rim.

Caucasus Emirate Claims Military Atrocities against Civilians in Dagestan, Chechnya.  The often-unreliable Jihadist website Kavkaz Center, run by the separatist Caucasus Emirate movement, reported this week on a series of violent “pogroms” against against civilians in the Russian Federation’s predominantly-Muslim North Caucasus region that were not reported in other media.  In one incident, on December 5th, troops from the Russian ministry of the interior, along with allied paramilitaries, removed two men from their homes in villages in the Chechen Republic on suspicion of being associated with the Mujahideen.  Their fates are unknown.  In the other alleged incident, on December 8th, Russian troops raided the village of Chontaul in the Republic of Dagestan, breaking into homes, smashing furniture, and getting as far as pouring kerosene over two captured young girls and a young man with the intention of immolating them, before villagers intervened.  The website also reported the “abduction” by police of two female terrorism suspects in Chechnya.


Russian Chopper Carrying Border Guards Crashes in Abkhazia; 7 Hurt.  A helicopter operated by the Russian Federation’s Federal Security Bureau (F.S.B.), successor to the dreaded K.G.B., crashed in the de facto independent but only partially recognized Republic of Abkhazia on December 10th.  Seven passengers were injured.  The craft was bringing border guards to the line between Abkhazia and the country that still regards it as its territory, Georgia.


Southern Movement Motorcyclists Kill 2 Yemeni Soldiers in Drive-By Shooting.  Two soldiers were killed in a motorcycle drive-by shooting on December 11th in southern Yemen’s Ad-Dali’ province.  The perpetrators are suspected of being members of the Southern Movement, which would like to restore the independence of South Yemen.


Mizoram Chief Minister Backs Creation of Kuki State in Northeast India.  In India’s far northeast, the Kuki State Demand Committee (K.S.D.C.) claimed this week that high-ranking officials in the region, including the chief minister of Mizoram state, support the creation of a State of Kukiland for the Kuki ethnic minority.  Speaking of the Mizoram chief minister, Lalthanhawla (who has only one name), a K.S.D.C. spokesman said, “He had told us that he was not just the Chief Minister of Mizoram but of all the Chin/Kuki/Mizo/Zomi brethren in India and the adjoining Myanmar” (i.e. Burma).  Meanwhile, the K.S.D.C. were carrying out more blockades this week to get their message across.

One proposal for the boundaries of Kukiland

Dozens of Burmese Troops Dead amid Upsurge in Fighting with Kachin Rebels.  Rebels from eastern Burma’s Kachin ethnic group reported this week that dozens of Burmese soldiers were killed—out of at least 60 casualties—in a recent upsurge in fighting on December 9th and 10th.  “Fighting seems like nothing new now; it occurs everyday,” said a spokesman for the Kachin Independence Organization (K.I.O.).  Skirmishes were reported the morning of December 14th in the Lajayang region of Kachin State.

3 Uyghurs Given Death Sentences in Fishy “Foiled Hijacking” of Chinese Airliner.  A court in the People’s Republic of China—a one-party dictatorship with no independent judiciary—on December 11th sentenced three Uyghur men to death and one to life in prison for supposedly attempting to hijack a domestic airplane flight in late June (as reported in this blog), although it seems just as likely (as also discussed in this blog) that it was a scuffle between passengers over seating arrangements that the authorities are linking to Uyghur separatist terrorism for political purposes.  The court, in western China’s vast Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, said the men were guilty of a hijacking plot that included a plan to blow up the plane.

A cellphone-camera image of the scuffle aboard a Chinese passenger plane in June
which Beijing called an attempted Uyghur terrorist hijacking
3 Self-Immolations Include 17-Year-Old Girl as Grisly Tibetan Protests Show No Let-Up.  The wave of self-immolations by Tibetans protesting the People’s Republic of China’s brutal rule in their country continued this week, with two such burnings in a single day.  Kunchok Phelgye, a 24-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk, died December 8th after setting himself on fire in front of the Taktsang Lhamo Kirti monastery in the Ngaba “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture” in western China’s Sichuan province.  After his death, monks and other worshippers carried his charred body into the monastery to offer prayers.  Later in the same day, Pema Dorjee, age 23, set himself ablaze in front of a monastery in the Luchu region in the east of China’s “Tibet Autonomous Region,” in full view of worshippers.  He shouted slogans calling for Tibetan independence and the return of the 14th Dalai Lama from exile as he perished.  The following day, a 17-year-old girl named Wangchen Kyi, burned herself to death in a Tibetan region of Qinghai province, making her the eighth minor to take the step in the several-years-long wave of self-immolations.

Pema Dorjee, age 23, immolating himself to protest Chinese rule in Tibet
China Sentences 8 Tibetan Student Demonstrators to Harsh Prison Terms.  Eight Tibetan students were given five-year prison sentences on December 5th (but it was only announced several days later) for their role in a November 26th demonstration in western China’s Qinghai province over language rights.  Many students were injured by police and hospitalized in the course of the unrest, which was centered on the Sirig Lobling Medical School in Chabcha, Qinghai.


Confederate War College Sets Southern “Secession Clock” Forward 1 Hour.  On analogy with the “Doomsday Clock,” maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to represent how close we as a global community are to nuclear annihilation, there is also, it turns out, a “Secession Clock,” maintained by the Confederate War College (C.W.C.) website, based in Gilmer, Texas, to indicate how close we are to the reestablishment of the Confederate States of America.  This week, the C.W.C. moved it ahead one hour to 7 p.m., citing the wave of online secession petitions after President Barack Obama’s reelection last month (discussed recently in articles on this blog here and here), a Huffington Post poll showing 22% of Americans favoring their respective home states leaving the Union, and other separatist chatter.  Officially, however, the C.W.C. “does not have a position concerning secession at this time, though it does defend the Constitutional right of the sovereign states which formed the United States to divorce as was originally intended when the Constitution was approved by the respective states.”

Garry Trudeau chimed in recently on red-state America’s secession fever.
Maryland Catholic Anti-Gay Hate Groups’ Ties to Racist Dixie Separatists Exposed.  Not only did the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Catholic fraternal order Knights of Columbus fail in their attempt last month to defeat a Maryland state referendum recognizing same-sex marriage.  But now the two groups are trying to contain the damage from revelations from the Human Rights Campaign (H.R.C.), a gay-rights organization, that Michael Peroutka, the third-largest donor to their ad hoc pressure group the Maryland Marriage Alliance is a member of the League of the South.  The Alliance raised nearly a half-million dollars to defeat the ballot measure.  The League of South, which advocates secession of the southern states from the United States, is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (S.P.L.C.) as a racist hate-group.  The League opposes interracial marriage, calls slavery “God-ordained,” and believes society should be governed by an “Anglo-Celtic” élite.  Anglo-Celtic?  Oopsie, sounds like that southern European Untermensch Cristóbal Colón himself—you know, as in “Knights of”—wouldn’t clear that bar.  Ah, well, details, details.  It’s inspiring that hate groups are able to set such minor doctrinal differences aside, especially when there are minority groups to gang up on.

Inland Empire Politician Envisions 51st State of “South California” by 2016.  The supervisor of Republican-dominated Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, California, acknowledged to media this week that his “Rebellion 2012” campaign (reported on in detail earlier in this blog) to break 13 counties away to form a separate state of “South California” has slowed, but he still sees 2016 as a target date for the partition.  Though last month’s national elections detracted attention from his cause, the supervisor, Jeff Stone, says that a rally is planned for March or April for Temecula, in Riverside County, while another rally in Kern County will be held later in the year.  He says six attorneys are at work drafting a constitution for the proposed 51st state of the United States.  South California is merely one possible name for the new entity; other suggestions include Southern California, Western Nevada, and Free State.  Also suggested has been an annexation of the region by Arizona.  Ironically, Temecula and nearby Murrieta, in the very southwest of the vast Riverside County, are at the center of a new movement to secede to form California’s 59th county.


Puerto Rico Governor Calls Special Session on Statehood before Giving Reins to Opponent.  The recently defeated, outgoing governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, who helped usher the territory to a referendum win for his pro-statehood initiative last month, said on December 8th that he was calling for a special legislative session on how to advance the cause of becoming the 51st state of the United States.  The new governor, Alejandro García Padilla, of the Popular Democratic Party (P.D.P.), favors an enhanced, more autonomous version of the current commonwealth status, rather than statehood.

Alejandro García Padilla, Puerto Rico’s governor elect, is not a fan of statehood,
but it’s on the legislative agenda anyway.

Falkland Islands to Hold Referendum on Status in March 2013.  The government of the Falkland Islands has chosen March 10th and 11th, 2013, as the dates for a referendum on the future status of the archipelago, which is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom threatened as of late by the saber-rattling of an expansionist Argentine Republic.  The question is to read, “Do you wish to remain a self-governing British Overseas Territory?”

[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a 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.  Look for it in spring 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]

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