Somaliland: The Escalating Border Tensions with Puntland

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Sufficient firepower deployed in both Sanaag and Sool regions to deter any incursions into Somaliland by Puntland

By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The government of Somaliland has acknowledged the incursion into its territory in Sanaag region of armed forces from the Somalia administrative region of Puntland.

“Puntland has deployed forces near its borders with Somaliland” informed Defence minister Ahmed Haji Abdilahi Adami during a press conference in his Hargeisa offices where he also revealed that the country’s armed forces are closely monitoring the situation.

The acknowledgment by Defence minister Adami is in apparent responses to the Puntland designate governor of Sanaag region Mahmud Ismail Iyoon who two days ago informed that forces from Garowe have been deployed between Erigavo and Badan towns which is deep inside Sanaag region.

According to Iyoon the Sanaag governor designate who runs his purported region from Garowe the capital of Puntland the deployment by Garowe is in reaction to the Las Qoray visit by Somaliland President Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo, a clear violation of Puntland’s territorial integrity according to Puntland which claims the eastern parts of Sanaag region and entire Sool region in the east of Somaliland.

Earlier on during a visit to Rako Raho District the president of Puntland Abdiweli Gaas told area residents that he has issued orders for the deployment of military forces charged with deterring any movement by Somaliland officials with East Sanaag and Sool regions.

“Our forces are ready to repel further incursions by Somaliland” ,Gaas said in clear reference to the Las Qoray visit by Somaliland president Ahmed M Silanyo where he jumpstarted various development projects accompanied by several senior government officials from Hargeisa and local politicians and under escort by hundreds of the port city residents.

Minister AdamiThe Eastern parts of Sanaag and entire region of Sool that are predominantly inhabited by Darood clansmen have been the Achilles tendon of Somaliland due to jurisdictional claim by Puntland whose argument is based on the Darood card thus asserts that it is the only authority being a Solely constitutional Darood Clans residences administrative region and nothing else.

On the other hand the areas claimed by Puntland are in the territorial jurisdiction of Somaliland a former British protectorate whose boundaries were established over a century ago during the scramble for Africa when the then colonial masters of Somaliland (Britain), Djibouti (French) and Somalia (Italia) as well as Ethiopia apportioned themselves desired lands within the four effected demarcation thence today’s boundaries.

Since Somaliland pulled out of its 1960 voluntary later turned fateful union form the republic of with Italia-Somali to in 1981 following the massacre of thousands of somalilanders by the Said Barre government thence the protracted war waged by a ragtag band dubbed SNM,

since then, exactly two decades plus three years Subsequent Hargeisa governments have been confounded by the Darood card played by Puntland that has over the years extend from mere verbal claims to establishing secessionism under the banner Khatumo state through arming militias to fight for the said state and more recently since Gaas ascended to the Garowe presidency the declaration of intent to forcefully annex the Eastern parts of Sanaag and entire Sool region.

Abdiweli Gaas who was earlier this year selected to be Puntland president in place of former strongman Farole by the Garowe parliament of 66 actually used the Somaliland Darood inhabited areas for his campaign for office promising to annex the eastern regions of Somaliland to his Puntland administrative region.

True to his word Gaas and presumably as ploy to show seriousness in annexation campaign pledge selected as his deputy Abdikarim Haji Amay a Somaliland citizen from Buhodle district in Sool region and a committed and avowed unionists whose allegiance has of long been to Mogadishu rather than Hargeisa.

Immediately upon assuming office Gaas who started trumpeting intent to forcefully take east Sanaag and Sool regions from Somaliland announced that his deputy was to visit Buhodle to initiate development projects funded from Garowe.

But Gaas who though highly educated is politically naïve failed to grasp realities on the ground as pertains to reactions from Somaliland

In the days of his (Gaas) predecessor’s (Farole) who regardless of being a former taxi driver in Europe was political suave thence establishment of the secessionists Khatumoists as a façade for pursuing the Darood card, with sparse confrontational attacks between the Khatumo militias and Somaliland forces, rhetoric of war was completely absent from Garowe.

Jubilant Las Qoray residents escort their head of State president Silanyo through the streets of the eastern port town

In his naiveté Gaas upon assuming office failed to grasp the diminishing fortunes of the quest for a Khatumo state purportedly to have been hived-off by his Darood clansmen from areas under the territorial Jurisdiction of Somaliland with her capital in Taleeh district of Sool region.

The Khatumo state dream that was crafted by Farole in January 2012 during a Dulbahante clan meeting in Taleeh started to collapse after it failed to achieve its main and original objective of negating the “peaceful and cohesive nation” image that Somaliland has over the years attained internationally.

The 2012 Dulbahante Khatumo meeting was formulated in the run-up to the London conference on Somalia of the same year presumably to garner a seat for the Khatumoists thence dent Somaliland which had for the first time in two decades been invited as a sovereign state with president Silanyo perched at the high table under his country’s flag among other leaders from more than forty governments and international bodies.

Unable to achieve its initial objective the Khatumoists secessionists who after the international Community- IC failed to notice it started seeing a gradual disengagement by the politically suave Farole when upon the IC facilitating talks between Somaliland and Somalia now going to the fifth phase, stopped financial and military support.

A short while later president Silanyo and the minister of Health Dr Suleiman Hagaltosie then commander of the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn-(Ain)-SSCV militia group signed the Buhodle peace accords geared towards peaceful reconciliation between Dulbahante clansmen and the Somaliland central government in Hargeisa.

The Buhodle peace accord now in full flight implementation saw the SSC disbanded, weapons handed over to the government and militias abridged into various arms of the country’s defence forces in addition to senior figures from the community among them Hagaltosie assimilated into higher echelons of government.

Farole politically savvy and  Gas politically naivewith the cold shoulder given to the Khatumo state dream by the IC coupled with the financial and military support withdrawal by Farole, the signing and implementation of the Buhodle peace accord and the continuous decisive crashing of aligned militias by the Somaliland national army Khatumoists secession started to dissipate at a very fast pace.

While the above factors were not noticed by the Naïve Gaas from his Garowe perch most astounding was his failure to perceive that Farole having discerned his untenable re-selection failure as Puntland president dispatched his deputy Gen Abdisamad Shire to Taleeh where the native of Sool region and in command of forces from Puntland massacred his own clansmen mostly women, children and the aged in Taleeh in addition to displacements and loss of property that resulted in Khatumoists politicians led by Somali MP Ali Khalif Galayd recanting any association with and vowing revenge on Puntland.

To the here and now the ongoing escalation of tensions between Somaliland and the Somalia administrative region of Puntland are as a direct result of the rhetoric of war being trumpeted from Garowe by the politically naïve Abdiweli Gaas.

The build up now reaching saturation point in both Sanaag and Sool regions of Somaliland and in the Puntland areas bordering Somaliland is as a direct and despite several warnings by both politicians and ministers in Hargeisa is as a direct result of the overtly declared intent to annex East Sanaag and Sool regions to Puntland.

In Sool region Somaliland Special Forces have established dry-land beach heads a few kilometers from Garowe where they plan to attack if Puntland infringes on an inch of their national.

After the Sool deployment and continued rumours of war permeating from Gaas in Garowe who announced a tour of Sanaag region the army further established other dry-land beachheads in Badan district of Sanaag region with the one mandate of capturing him, Gaas, for prosecution in Hargeisa.

With a very clear warning from Health minister Dr Suleiman Hagaltosie that the slightest incursion to Somaliland will result in dire consequences for Puntland the planned visits by both Gaas to Badan and his deputy Amay to Buhodle are yet to materialize.

With the very historic visit of president Silanyo to Las Qoray which is legally and entirely part of Somaliland but claimed by Puntland under the Darood card Gaas who recently told an Institute of Peace meeting in Addis Ababa that his has no beef with Somaliland and any existing misunderstandings should be solved amicable.

Gaas who was echoing similar sentiments by Mahmud Muse Hirsi “Adde Muse” former Puntland president and savvy politician who said the two entities Republic of Somaliland and administrative region of Somalia share lots in common and clear-headedness should prevail in Garowe.

Urging Gaas to bridle his untested and unbroken horse Adde Muse said “We have centuries old relations like commerce, brotherhood, borders, inter-movement of peoples and security among many and rhetoric of war should cease immediately”

Now the Silanyo visit to the Easternmost Somaliland port city of Las Qoray thought impossible before seems to have incensed Abdiweli Gaas thence his deployment of forces to bordering areas and promises of vengeance To reciprocate Gaas in kind the Somaliland army under its Sanaag commander Colonel Suleiman Mohamed Guleid are in a massive build-up from Badan to Las Qoray under its highest level of alert since formation two decades ago.

According to Col Suleiman M Guleid his regiment strong troops are under orders to respond with all within its arsenal to the slightest incursion be it an inch into Somaliland territory by Puntland forces.

Though the defence minister Ahmed Adami informs that elders from east Sanaag are currently engaged in persuading Puntland forces to return to their pre-Silanyo Las Qoray visit bases and the overwhelming support given by Somaliland citizens to any move into Puntland by their army whatever results is solely the responsibility of the politically naive Abdiweli Gaas.

And As Hagaltosie the youthful Somaliland health minister reminds president Gaas that Garowe and Bossaso are only 5 & 15 kms respectively from Somaliland while daring any Puntland official to visit Buhodle the sentiments of tired somalilanders from never ending disturbances “Puntland Shall Regret and Solely Bear Consequences of any Incursions

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