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Duale: “We’ll Take Pre-emptive Strike”
Hargeysa, 20 October, 2007 (SL Times) – Somaliland Foreign Minister, Abdillahi Muhammad Duale warned Puntland that, “Somaliland forces will take ‘pre-emptive strikes’ against the enclave of Puntland and will attack its major cities, if it doesn’t stop its aggression against Somaliland.”
Speaking to the BBC World Somali Service on Wednesday, Duale reiterated his government’s commitment to secure “ Somaliland’s borders from foreign aggressors.”
“Somaliland has lost patience with Puntland and will not sit by and watch, doing nothing, while its people and territory is under constant attack and terror,” Duale said.
The minister was asked: “what truth is there to Puntland's President, Ade Muse’s, claim that Somaliland was helped by former Islamic Courts fighters and Al-Qaida terrorists and that he has strong evidence to back his claim?”
“What nonsense. Nobody is going to fall for such propaganda. The entire world knows that Somaliland does not harbour terrorists, particularly, when you consider the fact that Somaliland has been a victim to terrorism. With 5 assassinations carried out on expatriates working in our country. These and similar operations were plotted and funded from the south ( Somalia) and trained in Eritrea. Somaliland is the only country in the region which has captured terrorists and prosecuted them in a court of law and secured long prison sentences against them.”
Excerpts of the interview.
BBC: P/land claim's S/land attacked its forces in Las Anod, is this true?
Duale: No, it’s not true. It was P/land who first attacked our forces from three positions in the early hours of Monday morning. Our forces repelled all three of P/land’s attacks and this led our forces to chase out the rest of their troops, positioned, in and around Las Anod.
BBC: Isn’t Las Anod a town belonging to P/land?
Duale: No. Las Anod is part and parcel of S/land. Sool region has been historically, culturally and politically linked with rest of S/land and has always been part of S/land. It was in 1991, in the Buroa conference, all the clans and representatives of the six regions (making up S/land) conveyed to the world that they have withdrawn from the 1960 act of union with Somalia and have established their former territory comprising of the ex-British Somaliland Protectorate as the independent state and republic of S/land. P/land has no whatsoever historical or legal claims over this region. P/land’s flimsy argument is based on clan ties and that’s all.
BBC: S/land and P/land, both, blame each other for starting the conflict. Who are we to believe?
Duale: The international community, know full well that S/land is responsible for the stability and peace prevailing in this region. P/land has in the past attacked, on at least ten different occasions, the armed forces of S/land based in the region, and every time, it was S/land who restrained its forces because the stability of the region was more important and valuable to us than taking retaliatory punitive actions against P/land.
It was not longer ago when the current president of P/land, Ade Muse, was fighting Abdillahi Yusuf (current TFG president) who was then P/land’s president. His forces were defeated and chased out of P/land by Abdillahi.
Ade Muse and his forces, numbering a few thousand took the refuge and protection of the government of S/land and were settled in the S/land’s armed forces base in Yagore, in Sanag region.
Ade Muse begged us to support him and help him capture P/land from Abdillahi Yusuf. He pleaded for us to supply him arms and logistics in his struggle to liberate P/land from Abdillahi Yusuf. And in return for our assistance, he vowed to recognise S/land.
We refused to arm Ade Muse and use him and his forces ‘in a proxy war’ to fight against Abdillahi Yusuf in P/land. Even though, P/land’s forces, at that particular juncture of time were occupying Las Anod and were at war with us.
Instead, we convinced Ade Muse to settle the matter with Abdillahi Yusuf through dialogue. It was S/land who mediated the conflict between Ade Muse and Abdillahi Yusuf. We nominated traditional elders from S/land to act as envoys and reconcile the two.
S/land spent time and money in getting Ade Muse and Abdillahi Yusuf to cease their hostilities and come to an agreement. It was us who reconciled the two warlords to patch up and guaranteed Abdillahi Yusuf that Ade Muse is willing to talk and put down his arms. Again, it was us who got Abdillahi Yusuf to agree to some of Ade Muse’s demands. Ade Muse returned to P/land and was given an official ceremony by Abdillahi Yusuf and became a high ranking government official in Abdillahi Yusuf’s administration and went on to become the president of P/land.
All this said; it’s obvious that S/land, past and present has valued the region’s stability more than its neighbouring countries. And, it’s unfortunate that today, the president of P/land, Ade Muse, is claiming to the world that S/land wants to destabilise the region as a whole. This is the very same man who begged us few years ago to supply him arms to fuel his war with Abdillahi Yusuf.
BBC: You recently travelled to Addis Ababa, was this to hold talks with Ade Muse
Duale: No. My trip had nothing to do with our conflict with P/land. Ade Muse was present in Addis when I was there but we never met. Nor did we go their to talk with the Ethiopian government over the conflict, we went their as routine, to discuss strengthening on how the two states can improve the current bilateral ties and partnership enjoyed by the two countries.
BBC: Did the Ethiopian government talk to you about the conflict in Sool region?
Duale: No, it didn’t. As I said, we merely talked about issues relating to the cooperation in security, trade and commerce existing between us (S/land and Ethiopia).
Source: Somaliland Times