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Responding To Abdillahi Yusuf’s Plea, ONLF Fighters Arrive In Majerteenia
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- Responding To Abdillahi Yusuf’s Plea, ONLF Fighters Arrive In Majerteenia

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Las-Anod (SL Times) – Hundreds of fighters belonging to the Ogaden National Liberation Front secretly arrived last week at the western and southern parts of Majerteenia (Puntland) following a recent plea by Col. Abdillahi Yusuf for Darood clans living in Ethiopia to send him arms, ammunition and combatants which, as he put it, were needed to bolster Puntland’s capabilities in an imminent military confrontation with Somaliland. The ONLF which for the last decade has been engaged in a hit and run insurgency against Ethiopian government forces in some parts of Ethiopia’s autonomous Somali regional state, draws its recruits exclusively from the Ogaden/Darood clan. Abdillahi Yusuf’s Majerteen, along with Somaliland’s Dhulbahante and Warsangeli, form the Harti sub-group of the Darood clan. There are many other Somali clans including Somaliland’s Isaak, Issa and Gadabursi that live in Ethiopia’s Somali regional state. The ONLF’s decision to respond favorably to Abdillahi Yusuf’s request was understood to have been prompted by the arrest in Hargeisa of 34 suspected ONLF fighters in the period falling between the end of November and early December 2003. In statements issued after these arrests, the Somaliland police authorities disclosed that the suspects confessed having undergone military training in Eritrea as well as belonging to the ONLF.

A number of reliable sources have told the Somaliland Times that the ONLF leadership has sanctioned sending its expeditionary force to Majerteenia after they concluded that Abdillahi Yusuf's relationship with Ethiopia is currently strained. Garowe’s warlord who is attending the Nairobi talks on Somalia has been frustrated by the lack of any regional sponsors for his bid to become Somalia’s future president.

According to well-informed sources in Las-Anod, capital of Somaliland’s Sool region, a fresh contingent of ONLF troops arrived in the Haud of Garowe. The sources said most of the troops will join Abdillahi Yusuf’s forces while the rest will be kept as units entirely made up of ONLF fighters. The flow of ONLF combatants into Majerteenia has been noticeable in the last few days, the sources added.

As reported by our sister publication, al-Haatuf Al-Arabi on January 1, 2004, Abdillahi Yusuf had, following the occupation of Las-Anod by his militia on Dec 23, sent emissaries to plead with ONLF and Ogaden traditional leaders to come to the assistance “of the only exclusively Darood-based administration in Post-Barre’s Somalia”.

Abdillahi Yusuf’s envoys had reportedly covered the Wardheer, Goday, Galadi and other areas in the autonomous Somali regional state of Ethiopia. According to the same sources, Garowe’s envoys had resorted to inciting tribal hatred against the Isaaks, Gadabursi and Issa. In a recent interview with the BBC’s Somali Service, warlord Abdillahi Yusuf denied that his militia had invaded Las-Anod and claimed he had not violated Somaliland’s territorial integrity. He said he was not obligated to respect boundaries drawn up by colonial powers. He also announced that since eastern Sanag and Sool were inhabited by his Harti kinsmen, the two areas were an integral part of Puntland. ``The interview, which was conducted on new year's eve, drew feelings of disgust from most Somali listeners as Abdillahi Yusuf boasted to his radio audience that unlike Rayale [Somaliland’s president] who knew nothing about war, he [Abdillahi Yusuf] was a combat-hardened military man.

According to sources close to the Nairobi talks, Abdillahi Yusuf wants to create tension between his region and Somaliland in order to impress his Somali counterparts and representatives of the international community attending the talks. He also wants to drag Somaliland into conflict so that he could portray it as a party to the on-going conflict in ex-Italian Somalia, the sources said. The main idea behind Abdillahi Yusuf's invasion of Las Anod is to create an artificial dispute between Somaliland and the Puntland regional state as a pretext for demanding Somaliland’s participation in the Nairobi talks, the sources added. Somaliland has refused to attend the over 15 peace and reconciliation conferences held on Somalia.

Meanwhile, Puntland’s Minister of Interior, Ahmed Abdi Habsade, was forced Wednesday to end a speech he was giving in front of Las-Anod’s local government office after angering the audience by saying that people in the region should get ready for an Isaak – Darood war. The Minister was chased by the crowd. He left Las-Anod on Thursday.


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