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Why is Puntland collapsing?

Issue 313
Front Page

Mass Rallies in Somaliland Call for Granting International Recognition To Somaliland

Top US envoy for Africa meets Somaliland leader

Somaliland: UK Reiterates Cooperation

Success Without Studying

US State Dept. Daily Press Briefing

President meets US government Officials and Somaliland Community

Hassan Sheikh Muumin [1930-2008]


Ethiopia: White Nile to Ink Oil Exploration Deal

Terrorism and War: Parallels, Differences and Suffering

Regional Affairs

AU head wants extension for Somalia peace force

Kenya opposition says will stop protests

Special Report

International News

U.S., German leaders to recognize Kosovo

'Dog handler risked his life to save mine'

No help for Mr. Bullaleh's 999 Call


VOA interview with the Somaliland President

The nation that hangs together hangs together

Kenya: roots of crisis

Stop Illegal Hunting In Somaliland

Book review: Whose World Is It Anyway? The Fallacy of Islamophobia

Who else is responsible of the political and humanitarian: Crisis in Kenya other than Kibaki?

Food for thought



Is Faisal Roble Another Mouthpiece for a Somali Warlord?

The United States and Somaliland: Recognition and 'Recognition'

The Power of Positive Thinking

Studying In Uganda: “Live To Learn, You Will Learn How To Live” Part 2

The New Somaliland Press & Publications Bill 2007

Dear philosopher if we could bring you back

The Paradox of African Democracy: So How Things Got Mixed Up?


Many commentators have attributed Puntland’s on-going collapse to rampant corruption and mismanagement. This is correct, but it does not tell the whole story. In our humble opinion, Puntland is collapsing because from its very inception, it was built on two unsustainable principles: greed and lies.


When Puntland was being established in 1998, it had two choices, with some people advocating that it should stick to the traditional clan borders of Majeerteenya, while others argued for a more expansionist entity which included incorporating the Harti inhabited areas of Sool and Sanag, supporting Gen. Morgan’s takeover of Kismayo, capturing Mogadishu and once that is achieved then whipping Somaliland into submission. The advocates of this latter vision won the very short debate and Puntland was declared on that basis. So, from the very beginning, Puntland’s orientation was directed towards outside conquest and not towards achieving internal development. It was indeed a bold and audacious vision, and many Puntlanders were dazzled by the prospect of their clan lording it over other Somalis one more time. Nobody asked: is it in our interests to alienate Somaliland, Kismayo and Mogadishu at the same time? Nobody asked: Are our interests served better by embarking on external military adventures or focusing on developing our region.


An important part of the unwritten understanding between Puntland’s leaders and its people (through their representatives), was that the leaders would focus on bringing all the territories of the former Somali Republic under Puntland’s control, and in return, Puntland’s leaders would have free reign and would rarely be bothered with questions about anything else. In other words, Puntland’s public officials were given a blank check, as long as they were seen as pursuing the expansionist agenda. It is this blank check, or license, that encouraged a culture of constant lying by Puntland’s public officials. It does not seem to matter to Puntland’s officials that nobody believes their lies. For instance, when Las Anod’s pro-Somaliland forces kicked Puntand’s military from Las Anod, Puntland’s leaders kept repeating that it was not Somaliland alone that defeated them but an alliance between Somaliland, Eritrea and the Islamic Courts, never mind the fact that Somaliland has good relations with Ethiopia and no relations with Eritrea or the Islamic Courts. Again, when Puntland’s people held demonstrations in which they protested against the huge rise in food prices and the printing of false money, Puntland’s leaders said the shadowy hands of Somaliland, Eritrea and the Islamic Courts are behind the printing of false money in Puntland, even though one had to be living in a cave somewhere in Bosaso not to know the exact the names of the people printing money faster than most people in Bosaso can earn an honest penny.


When Ethiopian troops took over Mogadishu and Abdillahi Yusuf was finally ensconced in Villa Somalia, many Puntlanders celebrated and looked at it as a dream come true. Finally, Mogadishu was in their hands. Finally, their time has come. But Puntland celebrated a bit too early, for soon it was clear that although they thought they had achieved a decisive victory, in reality, they were bogged down in a brutal, intractable conflict, a cesspool of death, blood and tears. It is this realization that Puntland’s dream of conquest has turned to dust that led to the disillusion of Puntland’s people with their leaders. That is not to say the bitterness and anger in Bosaso, Garowe, Galkayo has nothing to do with the deteriorating living conditions, but it is to say the deteriorating living conditions are the effect and not the cause. The cause is Puntland’s expansionist orientation which gave license to their leaders to engage in costly military adventures that brought economic ruin to Puntland and earned it the animosity of Somaliland, Mogadishu and Kismayo.


As it is, the downward spiral of Puntland may be irreversible. Still, to improve the awfully small chance of avoiding total collapse, it is imperative that Puntland get to the root-cause of its problem by scrapping the Faustian bargain of military expansion in return for a free license to engage in illegal activities that it had made with its leaders, and get new leaders with a strict mandate to attend to Puntland’s problems and eschew external involvements. This is the only approach that has any chance of success. Time will tell if Puntland has the wisdom to change course or if it will continue in that same doomed route.

Source: Somaliland Times

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