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Somaliland's gamble will cost peaceful coexistence in northern Somalia
Issue 300
Front Page

Duale: “We’ll Take Pre-emptive Strike”

Somaliland Takes Control Of Las Anod

Haatuf Media Chairman Meets Lord Avebury In London

Media Executive of Prominent Radio Station Assassinated in Mogadishu

Somalia 'investigates' WFP head

Expert: Ethiopia's Invasion Of Somalia 'A Disastrous Miscalculation'

Mass Murder in the Horn of Africa

Who Is Behind The Campaign To Smear The Reputation Of SHURO-Net, And Why?

University Of SA On Somaliland In Ohio And Havana!!

Only fearful officials resign: Somalia PM

Islamist leader denies having links with Somaliland-Puntland fighting

Regional Affairs

Puntland Calls For Intervention In Regional Fighting

CPJ Condemns Assassination Of Prominent Somali Journalist

Special Report

International News

Cheney increases U.S. oratory against Iran

Somalis’ Struggle In The UK

Somali Writer Added To 'Most Wanted' List In Minneapolis

Two plead guilty in slaying of teen who escaped war-torn Somalia


The Ogaden Crisis And Its Implications Within The Horn Of Africa Region

3 Top Govt. Officials Urgently Called in Addis Ababa

The Ethiopian Jewish community discovered by Scottish explorer

Can African Wildlife And Forest Be Protected?

Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2007 - Eritrea Ranked Last For First Time While G8 Members, Except Russia, Recover Lost Ground

Taiwan is already a `normal country'


Eyes Wide Shut

Iranian-Born German Striker Refuses To Play In Israel

Food for thought


A letter of appeal for cessation of hostilities to the leaders of Somaliland and Puntland

How Puntland Administration Has Become A Rudderless Ship In Sool

Recover After Heart Surgery

All Las-Anoders Are Winners

The Theories And Realities Of Kulmiye!!

Somalilanders Refute The Claims From Puntland

A Job Well Done For President Rayale But What Is Next?

Complaint About Your Editorial

Editorial: Garowe Online

The basis for the clan argument is evident in Las Anod today.

In much of the world, there is the generally held view that Somalia is a chaotic country that continues to defy international attempts to restore national order. Closer examination of this Horn of Africa country reveals a different picture that takes into account "local reality." In northern Somalia, for example, peaceful coexistence has reigned for years between the region's major clans. Western newspapers and TV images often depict the war reality in the south, especially in the city of Mogadishu which is central to Somalia's perpetual power struggle.

The war dynamic in the south, between the Ethiopian-backed interim government and Islamist rebels, is distinctive from the burgeoning war reality in the north. "Somaliland," a self-declared independent republic in northwest Somalia, seeks to secede from the rest of the country and has based its case for independence on boundaries left behind by departing British colonialists. Its neighbor to the east, the self-governing region of Puntland, wants to remain part of Somalia under a federal formula which gives regions some political leverage. The two regions have been praised for returning law and order to the north. Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and destitution in southern Somalia have fled to the relative peace and quiet of Somaliland and Puntland regions.

But these regions renowned for their peaceful coexistence are on the verge of erupting in open warfare after Somaliland troops assumed control of Las Anod, a provincial capital that has become the centerpiece of the Somaliland-Puntland conflict. Both regional governments claim Las Anod, and the greater Sool and Sanaag regions, for different reasons. Somaliland leaders say Sool and Sanaag regions formed the eastern border of the ex-British Protectorate of Somaliland. But their rivals in Puntland say colonial borders are meaningless in this day and age, and that clan boundaries were there before and after British colonial legacy.

The basis for the clan argument is evident in Las Anod today. Although Somaliland troops were successful in routing out Puntland soldiers from Las Anod, they have been unable to enter the town in big numbers because they are unpopular locally. The clan dimension to this reality is irrefutable: the bulk of the Somaliland army is composed of members from the Isaaq clan, the dominant clan in northwest Somalia. Sool and Sanaag regions are predominantly home to Dhulbahante and Warsangeli clans, who, along with the Majerteen of Puntland, form a major branch of the Darod clan-family. Somaliland's military success in Las Anod is in large part due to serious divisions within the Dhulbahante clan; Ahmed Abdi Habsade, a former Puntland government minister and a Dhulbahante clansman, backed Somaliland's takeover of Las Anod. Habsade is not a unique character in Somali politics, for many politicians switch sides as they continue to look out for their own narrow interests, often at the expense of their "constituents."

Today, Mogadishu and Las Anod are the only two cities in Somalia where residents are fleeing in mass numbers. The fear is that armed reprisal from Puntland will not bring a definitive conclusion to the long-standing conflict in the region. Loyalties have been broken and blood spilt. Somaliland troops are facing Garowe, the heart of Puntland. In 17 years of civil war, no non-Darod clan has ever waged war on Garowe.

Certainly Somaliland leaders took the gamble of their political career when they backed Habsade's move to oust Puntland from Las Anod. The timing of the move, from the Somaliland perspective, is quite understandable. Officials in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, see a serious threat emerging from Mogadishu, where former Puntland leader Abdullahi Yusuf is attempting to restore central rule with Ethiopian military backing. If Yusuf's transitional government is successful in pacifying Mogadishu, and that is a big if , then naturally Somaliland would become the next sphere of operation to spread Mogadishu's influence.

And that's exactly what leaders in Hargeisa do not want. They don't want marching orders from Mogadishu, for they have functioned since 1991 as a de facto independent state. What is important to note is that Somaliland's peaceful existence for so long depended on their detached from the civil war. But by conquering Las Anod, Somaliland has effectively drawn itself back into the civil war.

Source: Garowe Online

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