|Regions with significant populations|
|Somali, Arabic and French|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Gadabuursi, other Dir groups and Somali clans|
The Issa (Somali: Ciise, Arabic: عيسى) are a Somali clan, a sub-clan of the Dir. Members primarily reside in Djibouti, Awdal in northwestern Somalia, as well as the Shinile Zone located in the Somali Region of Ethiopia and is one of the largest clans of the Dir. Traditionally, they live as nomadic cattle breeders, but they also engage in trade and have contacts throughout the region. The populations of Six major cities of Djibouti: Djibouti City, Ali Sabieh, Arta, Holhol, Ali Adde and Assamo – are predominantly Issa and in Ethiopia: Dire Dawa, Ayesha, Adigale, Erer and Āfdem and Somalia: Zeila and Xariirad.
The Somali first appeared in Africa around 1200 A.D., and began expanding westward and southward about 150 years later. They converted to Islam around 1550, under the influence of Arab traders. Today, the Issa branch of the Somali represent the largest ethnic group in Djibouti and make up nearly one half of the country's total population. In 1884, the territory was occupied by France and given the name "French Somaliland." Mahamoud Harbi was an important spokesman for the independence movement. 1977 continued the Issa of Djibouti's independence through, but not the union with Somalia. Under Hassan Gouled Aptidon to Djibouti became the party state of the People's Rally for Progress (RPP). It was not until 1977 that independence was regained. Traditional clan leader is the king of ugaas . He has been crowned Zeilan in the northern Somalia. The king does not have a permanent Celestial Court, but he will travel to the clan in Ethiopia and Djibouti. In the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935/36 Issa fought on the Italian side, and benefited in return of weapons, military training and lucrative marketing opportunities for their cattle. In the second half of the 20th Century gave Somalia more weapons to Issa, who see it as part of the Western Somali Liberation Front arming.
The Issa traditionally traces its Arabian connexions through its Dir affiliations to Aqeel ibn Abi Talib. However, by 1962 it had become the practice to regard the clan founder as a sheikh or even saint in much the same way (and no doubt at least partly in response to their claims) as the eponyms of the Darod and Isaaq clans. Although I.M. Lewis knows of no printed hagiologies in honor of the Issa ancestor, by the time of Lewis's writing a number of hymns (or qasiidas) have been composed for him, and there is a shrine in Djibouti City where he is said to have appeared miraculously. His actual grave lies close to that of Sheikh Ishaq ibn Ahmad al-Hashimi, in northeastern Somalia.
There is no clear agreement on the clan and sub-clan structures and many lineages are omitted. The following listing is taken from the World Bank's Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics from 2005 and the United Kingdom's Home Office publication, Somalia Assessment 2001.
In the south central part of Somalia the World Bank shows the following clan tree:
- Habar Je'lo
- Habar Awal
- Habar Tol
- Mahmoud Harbi, Vice-President of the Government Council of French Somaliland.
- Hassan Gouled Aptidon 1916-2006, first President of Djibouti from 1977 to 1999.
- Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, President of Djibouti as of 2012
- Daher Ahmed Farah, Djiboutian politician
- Abdourahman Waberi, novelist.
- Aden Robleh Awaleh, president of the National Democratic Party.
- Roble Olhaye, permanent representative to the United Nations for the Republic of Djibouti.
- Yacin Elmi Bouh, Djiboutian politician.
- Hussein Ahmed Salah, Djiboutian marathon runner.
- King, Preston (1987). An African Winter. Puffin. ISBN 0-14-052365-0., p.169.
- Lewis, "Historical Aspects of Genealogies in Northern Somali Social Structure", Journal of African History, 3 (1962), p. 46
- Worldbank, Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts, p.55 Figure A-1
- Country Information and Policy Unit, Home Office, Great Britain, Somalia Assessment 2001, Annex B: Somali Clan Structure, p. 43
- Worldbank, Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts, p.56 Figure A-2