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Somaliland’s Armed Forces Chief Says, “We Are Determined To Secure S/land Borders”
Las Anod, Somaliland, October 6, 2007 (SL Times) –Speaking to the Hargeysa based ‘Jamhuuriya’ daily newspaper on Thursday night, the chief commander of Somaliland’s armed forces, General Noah Ismail Tani who is currently touring the front lines and military garrisons in and around Las Anod, Sool region, reiterated that “Somaliland’s forces and the pro-S/land local militia have not vacated their positions in or out of Las Anod”.
General Tani added that Somaliland’s high command is determined to see through this campaign as has been planned.
The general was asked to give a brief description of the current situation in Las Anod, and he replied: “The situation in Las Anod, for your benefit, let me put it or classify it as being two zones/portions. The first zone is in the close vicinity of the town’s surrounding area, and the second zone is inside the town. Our troops in the first zone are manning the town’s western and northern control checkpoints (5km from the town centre), and in the second zone, inside Las Anod, the local militias allied to S/land continue to occupy those localities gained in last week’s conflict against Puntland forces.”
Gen. Tani was queried: “P/land has claimed that it is in control of Las Anod and that there were no S/land forces present or occupying the town?”
Gen. Tani retorted, “we have always claimed that those forces fighting inside the town were the local militia allied to our forces, and that it was never the intention of S/land’s armed forces to enter the town but to occupy its outer surrounding close proximities. We don’t want to capture Las Anod because this will endanger the lives of the civilian population of the town and we don’t want this to happen. It will be the S/land allied local militia who will claim the town, and our forces will stay put where they are, surrounding the town. We are aware that there are some of P/land’s forces and supporting militia are gathering in the southern sections of the town. We will take them out, as soon as the rains stop, so that they will no longer pose a danger to us and our allies inside the town”.
The general was requested to elaborate on “whether this current campaign by his forces is limited to just the town Las Anod or is part of the government’s wider policy to secure ‘outright’ all its eastern regions borders?”
“All things are done ‘step by step’ at a time. We are going to fulfil our promise made to the nation that we will secure all of Somaliland’s regions and borderlines,” the General explained.
Another question put to the general was:”many people have made statements that this latest campaign by S/land’s armed forces in Sool region is due to a plan by the Rayale administration to use it as pretext to postpone the up and coming general elections”.
The general categorically denied that this was the case and that the armed forces of the nation are only doing what they were obliged to do by the constitution and that it’s their national duty to defend the country and secure its borders. Gen. Tani then added, “the S/land military high command, in the past has often been scolded in the media for not securing all of S/land’s border regions, so when the high command has taken positive steps towards securing S/land’s borders from P/land, it should not be interpreted as anything other than a decision to reach all of S/land’s border regions.”
Gen. Tani was asked, “The last time the nation’s forces were involved in a conflict was only a few months ago in May, and not much was achieved. Again, we see that S/land’s forces are involved in another conflict. Will this current conflict differ from those in the past or will it be just another incidental skirmishes with P/land?”
The General stressed that “this current conflict has a strategic plan and coordination in place, while the May conflict did not and came about as a result of ministers’ actions and was entirely an incidental cause related conflict”.
S/land’s chief commander, Mr Tani, speaking from the eastern command headquarters of S/land military based in Oog town in Sool region, was asked: “S/land and P/land are susceptible to foreign pressures, particularly, from Ethiopia and some of the international organisations who do not want the current conflict to escalate any further, won’t this affect your decision to see through the plans of your forces to expel P/land from Sool and border regions?”
The general emphasized that “no person can be told to sit back and let his country be captured by foreign aggression. We will not accept to be told not to take any action against a foreign aggressor who has invaded our country. We have in the past paid courtesy to foreign pressure not to retaliate and ‘fight back’. This time we are not going to pay attention to any ‘foreign pressures’ or interferences whatsoever. We have a sole aim, and that aim is to secure our borders from foreign aggressors, and we will pursue this goal till the end because our borders are sacred to the very being of our nation and state. All governments have the right to protect their territorial integrity and international borders. Ethiopia lost hundreds of thousands defending Badme, just a 5km stretch on the border with Eritrea, while in this conflict (Sool), we have an area of 300km of border region at stake. No one gives up one’s land.”
Source: Somaliland Times