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Somaliland accuses Ethiopia of fueling conflict as the humanitarian crisis unfolds, further imperiling its stability and mediation efforts.
Somaliland, the self-declared independent region in northern Somalia, has accused Ethiopia of fueling the conflict in Las Anod, the administrative capital of Sool region.
On 9 March, the Somaliland Council of Ministers, in a communiqué, called on allied troops, including those of the Somali region of Ethiopia, to withdraw from Las Anod.
The following day, leaders of Ethiopia’s Somali region released a statement categorically denying the allegation and called for Somaliland authorities to refrain from statements that could “alienate the people of both regions.”
Somaliland, which unilaterally declared its independence in 1991 but is not internationally recognized, claims Las Anod as its own despite opposition from the governments of Somalia, the Puntland region, and local elders who want to form an independent state within Somalia.
This accusation comes on the heels of mediation efforts by the Ethiopian government to end the conflict.
Ethiopian mediators had earlier met with the representatives of Sool, Sanaaag, and Cayn as well as Somaliland authorities. Somaliland’s refusal to withdraw its troops to Oog was the sticking point in the negotiations.
In response, the leaders of Ethiopia’s Somali region urged the Somaliland administration to refrain from making statements that could drive a wedge between these two fraternal societies.
Somaliland had previously portrayed itself as a “buffer zone” for Ethiopia and tried to sell its activities in Las Anod as fighting al-Shabaab terrorists.
Meanwhile, the government of Ethiopia has sent troops to Somalia to participate in a counter-terrorism operation. This move by Ethiopia hasn’t been received well by Somaliland’s leaders, who view it as meddling that risks souring their political relations.
The situation in Somaliland is further compounded by a humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Ethiopia, as thousands of people fleeing the fighting in Somaliland have taken refuge in a remote area already suffering from severe drought.
The UN and Ethiopian refugee agencies estimate that 98,000 people have arrived in three districts bordering Somaliland since 6 February. Shelter, food, water, and medical aid are the pressing needs for these refugees, who are mainly women and children.
The refugees from Las Anod, who have reportedly been welcome by locals, express a desire to return home and are calling for solutions to the conflict in Somaliland.1Despite facing drought and other challenges, the inhabitants of these districts are said to have been welcoming and hospitable, offering their homes and limited resources to those in need. “Even before we arrived, they hosted them in their homes and shared their little food,” said Tesfahun Gobezay, director general of the Refugees and Returnees Service.
Since unilaterally declaring its independence in 1991, Somaliland has enjoyed relative stability until recently when rising political tensions triggered hostilities between Somaliland forces and militias from the neighboring semi-autonomous Somali region of Puntland.2Somaliland has been seeking international recognition as an independent state since it declared independence from Somalia in 1991. Although it has its own institutions and has held multiple elections deemed to be free and fair by international observers, Somaliland has not been recognized by the international community.
The conflict is rooted in a territorial dispute between Somaliland and Puntland, with the Dhulbahante clan inhabiting the contested regions of Sool, Sanaag, and Buuhoodle.
The Dhulbahante clan, a part of the larger Harti clan family which is a majority in Puntland, also claims Las Anod, the capital of Sool region, as its administrative center. In contrast, Somaliland is largely inhabited by the influential Isaaq clan which is a minority in the contested areas.
Before 2007, when Somaliland seized Las Anod, it was administered by Puntland.
Somaliland, which has long sought external recognition, has benefited from increasing international engagement in recent years.3The United States, United Kingdom, European Union, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Taiwan have announced infrastructure, trade, and military cooperation initiatives, while the number of diplomatic missions within Somaliland has grown. The UAE’s investment in the Port of Berbera is expected to reshape the regional economy, and oil was recently discovered in Somaliland’s central region, raising expectations of a lucrative new revenue stream. This has emboldened the de facto state to pursue aggressive measures to silence self-determination demands of the residents of the contested region.
A more immediate spark of the violence, the assassination of a local opposition politician, Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi, by unknown assailants on 26 December 2022 led to anti-government protests across the city.
On 6 February, Dhulbahante elders in Sool announced their desire for independence from both Somaliland and Puntland and to form their own federal state under Somalia, named SSC-Khaatumo.
Just before the declaration was released, Somaliland forces reportedly attacked Las Anod, indiscriminately shelling civilian infrastructure while forces loyal to the locals fought back.
The recent flare up in violence has reportedly led to at least 82 deaths and 400 injuries.
This latest round of conflict in Las Anod has elicited global condemnation and sparked concerns over the possibility of a regional conflagration.
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Somaliland’s claim over the Sool region is reportedly motivated by a need to establish its claim to statehood, which is based on colonial boundaries.4Somaliland was ruled by the British during colonial times, while Somalia was a colonial territory of Italy. The protectorate gained independence on 26 June 1960 before unifying with Italian Somaliland (officially known as the Trust Territory of Somaliland) five days later to form the Somali Republic. Puntland’s claim, on the other hand, is driven by its clan ties with the residents of the contested territories.
Somaliland has blamed the Somali government and Puntland of attempting to destabilize the breakaway region by supporting the local militants.
Las Anod is currently in a perilous stalemate, with Somaliland refusing to budge on the withdrawal of its troops from outside the city, and the Dhulbahante traditional leaders unwilling to negotiate unless troops withdraw to Oog.
The involvement of regional actors, which is driven by their own strategic interests, complicates efforts to find a peaceful resolution.
Djibouti is allegedly involved in the fighting, though it has denied claims that it’s supplying Somaliland’s government with weapons.
Ethiopia, on the other hand, is accused of tacitly supporting Puntland and the local rebels. Ethiopia’s intervention in the conflict could be seen as an attempt to assert its influence in the region.
The accusation by Somaliland that Ethiopia is fueling the conflict in Las Anod is a worrying development that could further strain their partnership.
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Main Image: Las Anod, Khatumo; 2 January 2021; Siirski
Published under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
- 1Despite facing drought and other challenges, the inhabitants of these districts are said to have been welcoming and hospitable, offering their homes and limited resources to those in need. “Even before we arrived, they hosted them in their homes and shared their little food,” said Tesfahun Gobezay, director general of the Refugees and Returnees Service.
- 2Somaliland has been seeking international recognition as an independent state since it declared independence from Somalia in 1991. Although it has its own institutions and has held multiple elections deemed to be free and fair by international observers, Somaliland has not been recognized by the international community.
- 3The United States, United Kingdom, European Union, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Taiwan have announced infrastructure, trade, and military cooperation initiatives, while the number of diplomatic missions within Somaliland has grown. The UAE’s investment in the Port of Berbera is expected to reshape the regional economy, and oil was recently discovered in Somaliland’s central region, raising expectations of a lucrative new revenue stream.
- 4Somaliland was ruled by the British during colonial times, while Somalia was a colonial territory of Italy. The protectorate gained independence on 26 June 1960 before unifying with Italian Somaliland (officially known as the Trust Territory of Somaliland) five days later to form the Somali Republic.
Please stay away from well know failed arguments of playing the old failed nationalistic game of the dictator, Siad Barre era. People you trying to cajole into lion’s dent are far smarter than you think, One simple example is Ethiopia, it doesn’t need Alshabaab terrorists in their door step and specifically in Las Anod , which borders the Alshabaab infested Galgala in Puntland.
Greater Somali state is also not in their favour as you urged – stable Somaliland is in their menu and they love Somaliland being a terrorist buffer zone, a sea gateway & having economic partnership with Somaliland. Ethiopia is smart enough to know that if the terrorists who claim Las Anod on clan bases then Ethiopia is going to become second in line to attacked next to Somaliland.
May suggest that you must work your brain harder and try to convince the international community in single valid argument that is devoid of propaganda and throwing out childlike tantrums. You know deep in your heart that destroying Somaliland is not a favourite international desire, it is only popular in the minds of Siad Barre remnants.
Once again you are making non sequitur argument besides other baseless acussations of whatever ideology or beliefs someone prescribes to without any proof. That is mere specultive notion on your part. To the crux of the topic, where are the evidence that supports your claims? Where is the proof of presence of ethiopian Somali Regional Liyu Police, al-shabab group, militia from Puntland region ,etc. in the conflict? Are you citing the fake social media making rounds in the cyber world or do you referring to other propaganda machine concocted by Hargaisa’s de facto admin? If making all these accusations without giving a shred of evidence is isn’t throwing temper tantrums I don’t what it is. Unless you are stirred by other emontions, doing this comments on behalf of the so-called Somaliland regime as a hired PR’s agent, and they do often hire heck a lot of dubious characters and charlatan types thereby wasting in meager resources of the impoverished enclave, it is a losing bet and battle now. You will not convince anyone to sipport the long failed cause. It is absurd notion to think that foreigners or other imaginary allies and magicians would treat you especial and give you legitimacy while shunning, abusing and killing your own people and kind. Better your warlords reshuffle the deck now to have some traction if anything ever. And no way Berbera could be more relevant geo-strategically than the other Somali coastal cities along on the Red Sea and Indian ocean starting from Zaila to Kismaio. And don’t be naive and try to tell others their own national interest while yours is in state of oblivion. They have dedicated civil servants, foregn diplamats and other intellectuals, who are well-versed with the realpolitik and the notion that nations have no permanent friends but only interest.
This article is correct. Somaliland is not a country is just like puntland or jubaland. So attacking and bombing peaceful city is unacceptable.
Ethiopia had enough about Somalia none ending war.
The world had enough Somalia stupid wars.
So the solution is to leave Somalia alone and let themselves sort out…
Somaliland always supported alshabab and dacish..
So calling elders in lascanood a alshabab is a pure lie..
Somaliland doesn’t have brain or know about policts but they are good at business that’s all..
The world know 1990-1994 what hawiye did to darood people and attack American peace keepers.
So America must support darood people because they always work with you and they are civilised people.
Somaliland and Mogadishu are hawiye and isaq and both are animal they don’t understand respect or peace..
All darood people can run their cities peacefuly. So I don’t understand why Somaliland thinks that they are the only one who run their city peacefully..
Somaliland is just one tribe living together.so they don’t understand how to run a mixed tribes in one cities.
Somaliland throwing tantrums is rubbish. Soldiers from captured Ethiopian Somali region Soldiers were handed over to the Ethiopian ambassador in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Puntland Soldiers are also captured along with their heavy weapons and are now in Burao jail for all to see. Abdi Madobe and Kutie, the latter was held in Hargeisa prison for more than a decade for the killing of Europeans and Abdi Madobe is internationally known Alshabaab terrorist who commands about 500 Alshabaab foot Soldiers and is now fighting shoulder to shoulder with other like-minded militias in in Las Anod. Aren’t these proof enough for Somaliland to call a spade a spade. Please don’t try to side with the terrorists unless you already are a member of a terrorist group. You intentionally omitted talking about the clan chief, who publicly declared war on Somaliland and planned the attempted cold blooded murder of the senior Somaliland cabinet ministers, who were in Las Anod to quell the public uprising. The body guards of the Somaliland ministers were assassinated by the Alshabaab terrorists in Las Anod. Please refrain trying to sell to the reads an outright misleading fabricated facts.
Ethiopian ambassador? Ethiopia has fully restored its diplomatic relations with Somalia and has appointed an ambassador with full credentials in Mogadishu, but I’m not sure if there is such thing in Hargaisa. As far as I’m concerned , there is a presence of one or two military attaché-cum-intelligence gathering officials. The same is true for Garow of Puntland region. Generals from the core TPLF memenbers were used to be posted before Abiy’s regime but I have no idea as who replaced them now. As per claims of evidence and involvement of al-shabab group or other external actors in the conflict, the Ethiopian , USA and the European officials haven’t cited or reported anything yet. However, there no credible evidence and/or report supporting it beyond the usual and unrealible Somali social media’s sensationalist talking points. The said actors monitor any security threat and development of the region very closely and by minutely than you could imagine. Au contraire, they are arguing Hargaisa regional admin for restrain and negotiations on the table to settle the dispute, which is mainly centred around on clannish Somali political nature. On other side, there is no credible bases or evidence of Jibouti government’s interference case beyond the ubiquitous social media fabrication and rumors.
The author could have been more reasonable and shed a balanced view on the Lasanod crisis by sharing the facts with his audience so that people can make informed choices about the root cause of this matter. The root cause of this war is simply driven by 21 individuals who are former prime ministers of Somalia and their objectives have many dimensions. One of dimensions is creating instability in somaliland and allowing Buhodle and Lasanod by caaling darodism war which nobody know where this would end amd it may go deeper in to Ethiopia. The other dimensions which they have not thought through is allowing Alshabah to have bases in Lasanod in the future.
Somali Administration lead Mr Cagjar is reported to have heavily involved in Lasanod crisis alongside with other 20 members whose chair is Dr Abdi weli Gas, former president of Puntland. Mr Cagjar has send liyu police to Lasanod to fight alongside with alshabab and local insurgents and this has been confirmed by somaliland following presenting the evidence of this matter to Ethiopian Ambassador in Somaliland
The Dhulbahante and allied Harti militia have captured Djiboutian troops and weaponry on the 18/03/23, the UN and Mogadishu already sent a fact finding mission to Las Anod where a 100,000 persons fled from indiscriminate shelling by Somaliland. IGAD should penalize Djibouti now that there is proof on the ground of their involvement and not stay idle. The USA should also desist supportig the depraved dictator; Ismaïl Omar Guelleh for playing a major role in sabotaging a stable Somalia, just look at how he levelled Somaliland’s reputation in mere weeks. And finally, Ethiopia should immediately intervene and force Somaliland troops to withdraw to Oog, the Dhulbahante do not want to be part of one clan dominated Somaliland. Indeed, the Harti clan militia are more than capable of destroying Somaliland and disrupt essential supplies from Berbera to Ethiopia, will they only spring into action when they suffer due to their inaction?
The Achilles heels of many african societies and countries is the curse of tribe division or clan card. It seems even more so among Somali folks eventhough this virus is increasingly infecting in Ethiopian society as of late. It is pity that the intellectuals as well as the laymen in the street are obsessed with invoking an obstract clan issue and clan names of x, y or z , which is the least common denominator and primordial notion in any given societal organization in the world. Don’t they know any other way to articulate or express their pseudo-ideological or political difference without invoking magic card? Does Ethiopia or any other state, for that matter, gives damp about the petty clanish quarrels or obscure names ? Unless one comes up with clear and intelligible political agenda in which he can achieve his political and socio-economic agenda that is also palatable to larger and mutual interest of the appealed part or the second part, it is an exercise of futility.
An absurd nonsense! No single Djiboutian soldier was captured and djibouti didn’t supply weapons to Somaliland and I challenge you to come up with a single proof attesting to the fact of your claim.
You are ignorant of the fact that USA along with other NATO member countries were on vigilant air surveillance 24/7 over Las Anod and they would have known the fact on the ground than you do. You said no Federal Somalia Soldiers were fighting in Las Anod. Do you think General Hajar, the recently fired Somalia police chief and the commander of Somalia’s elite forces were baking cookies for the Somaliland Soldiers? Definitely not, they were there to kill Somaliland Soldiers.
To have its own national security, regional stability, reliable friends and neighbor or even a reliable future sea outlets, the least Ethiopia could do is supporting wholeheartedly a united Somali national government in its next door. Supporting one particular clan fiedom, warlord faction or mini-region over another is not far-sighted and viable policy initiative. Not the least of which could have a boomerang side effect on its own existence and stability in the meduim- and long-term, including a potential disintegration and separatism groups that sprint up within. Be careful what you wish for yourself and for others and neighbors. The devious policy approach of the divide meddlesome in which the previous regimes pursued has in the end miserably failed both Ethiopia and Somalia for decades and their impoverished masses. It made even more volatile the whole region and Ethiopia, but not the vice verse. The good news is , despite the potential policy inconsistence and frequent faux political moves thus far, the current Abiy’ current regime fares much better or atleast it seems so than his predecessors in office. It now seems that as if either the old policy folly is realized and some made course changes or a if atleast slowed down the process for the time being. That is why as of late the failed separatist clan project admin in Hargaisa is throwing tantrums at everyone including Ethiopia, Somali Federal Government, Al-shabab terror group and Puntland Region to no avail.