Somalia and Alshabab terrorists vow to divide Somaliland into warring clans

The Somali regime and the Alshabab terrorist group may have different ideologies and objectives, but they share a common goal—the complete destruction of Somaliland at any cost. Despite their bitter enmity, they both agree that bringing Somaliland into the fold as their top priority. However, if reunification between Somaliland as a single entity and Somalia proves impossible, Somalia and Alshabab aim to sow discord among Somaliland’s clans. And this is the epicentre of the Lasanod conflict. This paradox highlights the complex nature of Somali unity, where the pursuit of unity has led to disunity and conflict.
The conflict in Lasanod is far more complicated than it appears at first glance, as it involves numerous actors. In 2007, Somaliland took control of the city from Puntland forces, and since then, both Somalia and Puntland have allegedly targeted and killed several officials who supported Somaliland’s bid for statehood while blaming Somaliland for the assassinations. However, it seems counterintuitive for Somaliland to assassinate officials who support its cause. Adding to the complexity, members of Sool clans have also carried out targeted killings against prominent members of rival clans in Lasanod, akin to the lawlessness in Somalia’s capital.
Recently, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia declared that “The people of Lasanod have the right to decide their future.” However, this statement has a double-edged implication. Is the President overlooking something? It is hypocritical when the President acknowledges the self-determination of one region in Somaliland while working against the rest of Somaliland. Mr. President, what is beneficial for the people of Lasanod is also favourable for the rest of Somaliland. Why doesn’t the President acknowledge the desires of the Somaliland people for self-determination and an independent state?
While shedding crocodile tears for Somali unity, Mr. Mohamud and his predecessors actively worked to undermine Somaliland’s economic and political stability. They knocked every door that Somaliland approached; they reneged on agreements they had previously signed with Somaliland; and no sooner did Mr. Mohamud resume office, the second time, than he pointed his daggers towards Somaliland again. Despite controlling only a few blocks in Mogadishu, Mr. Mohamud is determined to disintegrate Somaliland into warring clans and factions— turning it into another country riddled with terrorism.
Although the presence of organized Alshabab fighters in Lasanod may not be evident, Alshabab-trained individuals actively participate in the conflict in the city. Their main goal is to detach Sool, Sanag, and Cayn (SCC) region from Somaliland. Regrettably, the International community seems to be disregarding this issue.
The International community is making efforts to resolve the conflict in Lasanod. However, one of the reasons that Somaliland has managed to maintain relative peace is by keeping foreign interventions at bay. This is a lesson learned from Somalia’s turbulent, where competing foreign actors played a role in tearing the country apart. Thus, organizations such as IGAD which demand Somaliland’s exit from Lasanod are essentially paving the way for lawlessness and a possible Alshabab takeover, especially in the absence of Somaliland security forces. It is important to note that Somaliland security forces are the only barrier between the Alshabab terrorist group and the US military base in Djibouti. Hence, the United States and other International forces stationed in Djibouti must recognize that Somaliland is the bulwark against Alshabab. Any weaknesses in Somaliland’s security forces could attract suicide bombers to Djibouti, resulting in preventable tragedies.
Furthermore, if Somaliland’s security forces withdraw and Al-Shabaab takes control of Lasanod, the Somali region of Ethiopia adjacent to Somaliland would face a persistent threat of destabilization from Al-Shabaab terrorists.
Often, the international community lacks a comprehensive grasp of the region’s geopolitics and presumes to direct the course of events. However, when things unexpectedly go awry, a plan for mass departure ensues, leaving Somaliland, Djibouti and Ethiopia to fend for themselves. In the event that the Somaliland security forces withdraw from Lasanod, the local clan militias would inevitably engage in violent conflicts for control of the city, resulting in greater loss of life and destruction than the city has ever seen. Soon after, Alshabab will either force the local militia to join its ranks or simply wipe them out. Then, what would be the most rational course of action?
To prevent Alshabab from encroaching on Somaliland, the global community must urge the leaders of Somaliland to adjust their approach to the Lasanod conflict while simultaneously bolstering Somaliland’s security forces.
Previously, the Khatumo (SSC) militia engaged in a violent conflict with Somaliland security forces in an attempt to dislodge them from Lasanod. The conflict ultimately ended with a peace agreement that involved the integration of the SSC militia into the Somaliland security forces, as well as efforts to promote economic and power sharing to address the grievances of marginalized Dhulbahante clans. However, Mr. Bihi himself has obstructed efforts to honour these agreements, making it clear that conflict would likely erupt again. The ongoing violence in the region is partially the result of the ineffective leadership of Somaliland and their clan hegemony doctrine.
The conflict in Lasanod will only worsen and could result in a confrontation between Somalia, Puntland, Alshabab, and local militias on one side, and Somaliland on the other, as long as Somalia and its Puntland region are allowed to destabilize Somaliland. The current Somali President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and the Puntland leader, Said Abdullahi Dani, should not use the local inhabitants of Lasanod as cannon fodder for political gain.
The recent outbreak of violence in Lasanod is unquestionably a multi-faceted conflict. On one side, the Somali government, Puntland, SSC militias, and Alshabab members all agree that Somaliland must reunite with Somalia by any means necessary. On the other hand, the Somaliland government and its supporters believe that replacing Somaliland’s colonial borders with clan boundaries will result in the downfall of Somaliland, transforming it into another failed state plagued by terrorism.

Faysal Haji Diriye

As per usual the opinions expressed in this articale are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of