By Ibtisam


What do you have against HIPS? Do you know any of them personally? Have they done something to you?  I’ve been asked these question repeatedly all week- sometimes by the same people- it must be personal, come on just tell us!


People are amazed when I say, I actually don’t know them personally, and I have nothing against them individually- In fact most of them I have never met. It is not personal and I don’t dislike them.  In fact, last year when their formation was announced, I cheered and celebrated on facebook and twitter for what would be “Somalia’s First think tank”. Heritage Institute objectives and aspirations made me feel hopeful that there would be a Somali voice in the discussions and discourse amongst the predominately none Somali experts on Somalia and Somali issues.  But more importantly I was happy that research on Somali issues and the analysis of such research would be better carried out by Somali’s, after all I know firsthand as a researcher how much is often lost in translation.


Maybe I was too hopeful, maybe I expected too much and because of that my disappointment was much greater and more apparent when they failed to deliver on their promises. Most people laugh and say well what did you expect and I always want to say; I wanted what they promised- I still do!


Their first briefing paper on the US Recognition of Somalia was a bit flat and not enlightening- rather just regurgitating what was already in the media, a summary of a sort- and that was okay with me, after all it was just their first briefing.  Their second briefing  was a song and a dance for the president (yes I get that they were trying to make friends and some people even say help their relatives out- but I never use the clan card). But for me it was still too early and I made public excuses for them like maybe they did not want to make too many enemies so early in a dangerous place- the truth can sometimes get you in trouble- I know that more than anyone.


The Somalia-Somaliland Negotiations briefing was a disaster from start to finish and did nothing to advance the dialogue but instead was ridiculously insulting to research (forget evidence based research).  While I do not mind forcefully advocating for Somali unity if that is what the research indicated, what about the other side of the coin, and what evidence did they use to reduce people who support Somaliland to “dogmatic” and “radical secessionists”? I don’t really need to get it to the evident bias as well as the lack of research to support that briefing paper because I am sure that even HIPS look back and cringe. I am hopeful, now that all of the members of HIPS have managed to venture out to Somaliland at some point in the last year, that they have seen people in Somaliland are not ignorant or isolated from the region or the happenings of Somali affairs and more importantly that Somaliland hosts and offers a home to all Somali’s.  I wish HIPS just presented the two sides of the arguments supported by evidence; the SFG would have done their own insulting and the chest beating.  I wonder why they didn’t have one of their many foreign International friends, backers or fellows to proof read it? I can’t imagine their fellow Laura Hammond read that briefing paper and said “excellent piece of evidence based research and analysis”.  Even if that did happen and she suffered from a case of, they are Somali, so maybe they know something I don’t, I can’t imagine that once it was published and researchers independent or otherwise gave their feedback, HIPS did not acknowledge their mistake and offer an apology.


Instead in January 2014 and while in Hargeisa they continue with the patronizing tone that somehow it was our imagination and their paper was apolitical- in their feedback section of the Annual Report 2013 they say:


“Our March Briefing, for example, focusing on the negotiations between Somalia and Somaliland, prompted strong condemnation from pro- Somaliland independence groups who accused HIPS of adopting an anti-Somaliland bias. A Somaliland Diaspora umbrella organization released a strong rebuttal and the Deputy Speaker of the Lower House of the Somaliland Parliament criticized the Briefing on the BBC Somali Service. Organizers of the Hargeisa International Book Fair rescinded an invitation for HIPS to participate. The Institute has taken tangible measures to address a perception of anti- Somaliland bias. Representatives of the Institute went to Hargeisa to reassure officials and civil society actors that HIPS does not harbor an anti-Somaliland agenda. HIPS publications have commended the significant achievements Somaliland have made in securing relative peace and stability in the region.”


 Again if I forget about the whole Somaliland and Somalia issue and focus on factual and research based information here is what is wrong with that statement:


1-      It was not only pro-Somaliland independence groups who objected; the briefing paper was rubbished by average Somali who was neither informed nor educated by it and people with research background who could not trace the facts in the piece


2-      The rebuttal was not written by an umbrella organisation- it was signed by four different independent organisations in different continents. By saying it is a single umbrella organisations it distorts the facts intentionally or due to lack of research- even Google would’ve told them.


3-      Hargeysa International Book Fair retracting their invite- is that because HIPS insulted Somaliland or because you neither stand for research, learning or education and therefore have no place in a literature festival?  A delegation from Puntland and Mogdisho participated in the festival and stayed throughout, despite not recognising Somaliland as a state but they shared their literature, the issues and difficult that face arts and literature in their society.


 HIPS have clearly not learnt anything from the feedback it got and is too proud and stubborn to acknowledge its mistakes. Continuing to clutch at straws and asserting that they acknowledge Somaliland’s peace and prosperity to divert the issue- great so at least you are not totally in denial- but can you address your political divisive bias that made you mask your opinions are research?


HIPS report on “The state of Higher Education in Somalia” prompted the researcher who collected the data from Somaliland to pull out in protest and take to social media to discuss the distortion of research data she collected.


I could go on but I believe I have explained why I have issues with a provocative journalistic opinion pieces masquerading as evidence based research and impartial analysis on Somali issues and affairs.  Having a five day course in Hargeisa on research and ethical issues is not going to help HIPS overcome their difficulties and biases, but hopefully it will help them mask their political ranting and prejudices a little better in 2014.


For HIPS and the friends who have decided to stick by them, while you can continue praying that they get better, It is clear that HIPS is no longer welcomed in Somaliland as an institution or as individuals for research. For those organisations who hope to partner with HIPS in Somaliland, you will have complications and people will constantly ask you; why are you associated with such dubious, dishonest and unethical institution. For those few interviews you manage to get by paying DSA and kick backs, participants will worry how you will distort their facts and their stories to suit HIPS narrative. And when or if you get passed all these challenges and do publish your findings, we will assume that you probably made it up or distorted the data.That is assuming that you manage to get HIPS members into Somaliland and past the ports of entry of course.


We have managed to distort politics, governments and the media into different mouth piece for clans, interests and lobby groups- please let’s try or aim to keep research independent, nonpartisan and accurate. It is all of our duty and if the equivalent of HIPS was based in Hargeisa distorting research in the public arena- I would be the first to hold them to account. This is even more important considering the research fatigue in the Somali context. I have the same problem with western researchers who publicly claim to be a member of clan X or distort history and facts to suit a particular state, region or clan. We should name them, we should shame them and stop them from bothering our people in the name of research, earning money on it and then distorting the facts to suit their own agenda.

So there you have it- it is nothing personal after all.


  1. I suspect they are there to cultivate the Somali (and by extension International community) public opinion against Somaliland. They polish their service for those who fail to note the lack of clear declaration of conflict of interest in their briefings.Glad people on the ground in Somaliland could spot their wicked ideologue. Their briefings masqueraded as research is there to provoke the fantasies of the western world.

    • "I suspect they are there to cultivate the Somali (and by extension International community) public opinion against Somaliland."

      Nobody is against Somaliland if Somaliland is a shared deal rathen than what it turned out to be the selective non-inclusive, one-clan-show. Not to be fooled the world can see who goes to meet them on worthy trips abroad like current France, UK and all the former trips.

      • Roble do u know many politic team in Djibuti is only made of from really one clan since independence so why this tiny country is recognized and not Somaliland.

        • Roble

          Let us not label each Gov't with a cheap shot, Somaliland was ones represented/lead By President Dahir Rayale. Siilanyo made the choices who will do what on his cabinet, that is his prerogative. You don't like get rid of him on the next election.

  2. Wax kale oon idhaa garan maayee, inanta maqaalka qortay hees wacan haloo tiriyo.

    These guys are dubious to the bone. Falsification, equivocation, dishonesty, conjuring tall tales, distorting facts and many more typify their way of life. No wonder that they have been in a mess (and slaughtering each other) for 20 years and counting; I am sorry to say, no hope in sight for them.

  3. If these people consider themselves as scholars of Somalia, that should be a sign that Somalia had no scholars. People used to wonder why people from Somalia always carry the title professor or dr. The intellectual inflation that as star talks about springs to mind. My 7 year old nephew has more reasonable intellect than them.

  4. 10 years ago when Abdi Aynte (Founder of HIPS) was a trainee editor at He was known to sensor and not publish any articles that would support or argue the merits of Somaliland's sovereignty.

    We shouldn't be seduced by someone who thinks he is extremely canny. I don't blame him though as shrewdness is a Southern Somali heritage. In a nutshell, he is true to his Southern heritage – cunning and shrewdly canny. Beware of his smiles and crocodile tears, they are laden with venomous poison.

    HIPS, their associates, contributors, or representatives who come to Hargeisa should be stopped at the airport and sent immediately to Mandera to rot there for the rest of their lives. There will be no consequences for abusing these hate filled cheap Southern Somalis. Sometimes I wonder why we can't have Ina Mire or Ina Biixi as our president. These 2 mute soldiers know how to abuse their enemies even though they are bad managers. They are natural soldiers and perhaps that is what God created them to be.

    Ibtisam, 2 thumbs up and thanks for bringing this to our attention. Your open response to: Why you don't like HIPS was extremely clever. Thanks for outing HIPS own dogma that what used to be the Somali Republic can be resuscitated. They are not clearly in tune with the reality on the ground. I vividly remember their briefing paper on Somalia/Somaliland negotiations which was heavily loaded with misinformation about violent inter-clan conflicts in Sool, Sanaag and Awdal. That was not research based information based on facts. It was pure propaganda. But that kind of propaganda exactly answers what they represent. They represent the resuscitation of the failed union and it epitomizes their real mission. There is no way they can be non-partisan when their real mission is unionism.

  5. Somalilandpress. Thank you for posting my blog. The issue is not that we want them to be pro-Somaliland but just ethical, accurate, accountable and preserve the data collected without distorting it.

  6. Policy institutions serve a purpose, an interest and a mission. HIPS mission statement is to advance peace.
    Translation: HIPS mission is to advance Somali Unity. How could they achieve this? Of course through misinformation warfare. HIPS, I heard is funded by Qatar and Italy.
    Thanks Ibtisam for exposing their shameful bias toward Somaliland

  7. lett's pray for them and keep our toughts for their sevour, somalia went mad for real and as reer dumbuluq says no hope in sight for them

  8. I can confirm Abdi Aynte censored any article supporting Somaliland's sovereignty, a trend that continues to this on Hirran online. Their bias against Somaliland is so blatant they rarely publish news items that depict Somliland in a positive light. HIPS is of course a Somalia think-tank and they work for what they believe to be good for Somalia. They just happen to believe Somaliland leaving Somalia is not good for their country.
    I think that is perfectly understandable stance. The problem is their short-sightedness and lack of vision or intellectual rigour. If they had any strategic thinking they will plainly see Somaliland's departure is in the best interests of Somalia, Somaliland and the Somali race in the long-term.

    Lets hope that one day, the penny will drop at HIPS. But I will not count on it.

  9. One thing about Hiiraan online though. I congratulate them for creating what is by far the best and from Somali affairs point of view the most balanced website run by Somalis. Nothing like it exists in Somaliland. Ours are all petty, grim, childish, navel-gazing clan squabble-fests with no redeeming features whatsoever.

    This portal used to be the exception. It started really well so much so that 'The Economist' no less used to blog about their articles on its website. It then went downhill a little with news items and opinions getting jumbled up(unforgivable sin in Journalism) and the publishing of low quality pieces(Coca Cola recipe discovered? Swallow your saliva?).

    I am glad to say things seesm to be on the up again. Lets hope it keeps improving and fullfills its early promise