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Somaliland: Clan Conference in Taleh Violates 1991 Peace Accord—But Somaliland Must Not Overreact

Mogadishu Sabti 21 January 2012 SMC

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Somaliland: Clan Conference in Taleh Violates 1991 Peace Accord—But Somaliland Must Not Overreact

In 1991, in Buroa, Somaliland´s second largest city, all Somaliland clans including the Dhulbahante clans in Sool province committed themselves peaceful co-existence. The agreement included that none of the clans would create their militias and warlords to prevent the spread of clan militants, warmongers, and violence that crippled the region back then. Power and resource sharing were also part of the agreement. While most of the Dhulbahante clans not only honored the Buroa peace accord but also safeguarded it, in 2009 and 2012, some Sool clans funded by the Diasporas (or the cyberspace warlords) not only violated the decades-old peace agreement but also openly rejected it, tirelessly spurring mayhem in Somaliland to dismantle it. But the Somaliland government cannot afford to overreact.

Despite the open declarations that some Sool clans are now reading themselves to create their militants—under the guise of establishing an administration that is independent from Somaliland—and despite that some of the well-known Garaads (clan chiefs) are annulling any agreements that Sool clans signed with Somaliland, the government cannot afford to overreact and fall into the trap. That is, engulfing Somaliland into violence.

In October 2009, some of the Sool clans held a conference in Nairobi, declaring war against Somaliland, if it doesn´t abandon Sool region. Indeed, Garaad Jama Garaad Ali, a British citizen, one of the major organizers of the meeting, said, "We must evict Somaliland from Sool by any means necessary".

As soon as Garaad Jama landed in Sool province, violence erupted. A rebel force called SSC (Sool, Sanag, and Cayn) launched a number of attacks against Somaliland forces.  The rebels were led by Suleman Essa Ahmed (Hagal Tosiye), a Somali-American from Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Ahmed is currently in the FBI´s terror watch list. The SSC´s deputy warlord, Col. Ali Hassan Ahmed Sabarey, a Somali-Canadian from Toronto, is also a wanted man by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

After suffering a major defeat in the hands of the Somaliland security forces, the militants vanished faster than ice cubes melt in a hot desert. The main purpose of the SSC was to spur violence among Somaliland's peace-loving clans to disintegrate the fabric of Somaliland society. According to the 2011 United Nations´ monitoring report about Somaliland and Somalia, the SSC posed threat to peace and stability in the region.

"Like several other largely notional Somali ´states´ and ´authorities´, the SSCA is a project largely conceived, funded and led by members of the Somali diaspora, who have appropriated legitimate local grievances to advance personal political ambitions and – in some cases – to enrich themselves.2 Although in many cases these entities exist principally in cyberspace and have little or no impact on the ground, in other cases, such as the SSCA, diaspora ´warlords´ make effective use of the Internet and social networking media to mobilize and radicalize their constituencies, aggravate hostilities, raise funds and obstruct reconciliation. " states the report.

The majority of the rebels, however, agreed to peace and abandoned violence. In fact, the third commander of the former SSC rebels, Kayse Abdi Yussuf, not only abandoned violence but also announced a democratic opposition party known as  Somaliland, Sinaan, Cadaalad iyo Dimuqraadiyad (SSCD) or Somaliland Equality, Justice, and Democratic party, in  Hargeisa, Somaliland's capital. However, a small group known as the Buhodle faction, named after their powerbase village of Buhodle, in Togdheer province, in Somaliland, tirelessly continues to trigger violence in Somaliland. The Buhodle faction is led by Mr. Ahmed and Col. Sabery.

As soon the SSC was dismantled, the Diasporas held another conference called Khatumo One in London, U.K., and vowed to focus on peace and developments in their region. The Diasporas also agreed to hold the second conference, Khatumo Two, in Sool province.  As the result, Somaliland agreed to not interfere with the clan conference in Taleh, in Sool province. The conference organizing committee toured Sool province, which is in the hands of Somaliland administration, freely. In fact, many of the delegates in the conference arrived through Somaliland´s major airports. Moreover, the Somaliland government vowed to protect the conference, if need be. But once again, the conference has been hijacked by bloodthirsty Diasporas led by Mr. Ahemd, Col. Sabery, and Garaad Jama.  For instance, Garaad Jama openly said, "As of today, we withdrew from any agreements that we signed with Somaliland…"

But the problem is: if Garaad Jama is permitted to formulate his clan militants, other clans in the region will feel threatened and they too will create their clan militias, violating the 1991 Burao peace agreement. Soon, these clan militias and their warlords will wreck havoc in peaceful Somaliland, regressing it to 1991 when each clan had its militias and warlords. Back to square one.

Somaliland has three concerns about the Taleh clan conference: first, the creations of armed militias that will, undoubtedly, compel other clans to assemble their militants. Second, the presence of the so-called Transitional Federal Government of Somalia TFG´s former Ministry of Information, Post and Telecommunication, Abdikarim Jaama, in Taleh, is another obstacle to peace and stability. In the past, Mr. Jama facilitated a meeting between the TFG and the SSC rebels in Mogadishu. Soon, the TFG shipped weapons to the SSC.

Mr. Jama is well known for his strong advocacy for violence against Somaliland. According to the U.N. report, "When the TFG received a delegation of SSCA leaders in mid-December 2010 and, according to unconfirmed media reports, provided a combination of military and/or financial assistance, Puntland President Faroole responded by accusing unnamed TFG Ministers from Puntland of supporting "anti-peace elements.

The leader figure within the TFG on the SSCA issue is alleged to be Abdikarim Jaama, the current Minister of Information, who like Hagle-Toosiye is a member of the Faarah Garaad sub clan of the Dhulbahante."

Third, the most significant threat to Somaliland´s peace and stability is the so-called Northern Somali Unionist Movement´s (NSUM) violent approach towards Somaliland. In the past, the NSUM just like the SSC stirred violence in Somaliland, as the U.N. monitoring report states, "Although not responsible for instigating the Kaalshaale incident, the NSUM/SSCA leadership deliberately sought to escalate the violence and incite further inter-communal conflict."  Additionally, the NSUM´s "leader" or cyberspace warlord, Mohamed Ali Mirreh, from the comfort of his home in Sweden calls for war against Somaliland. In his latest interview with a local internet radio, Mr. Mirreh sates, "The main purpose of the Taleh conference is to liberate the region from the hands of the enemy—Somaliland". Also, the NSUM´s spokesperson, Osman Hassan, who lives in Geneva, repeatedly calls for violence against Somaliland.

In 2008, the NSUM sponsored bombings against Somaliland police stations by providing the financial resource to Colonel Abdiaziz Garamgaram who bombed police stations in LasAnnod, the provincial capital of Sool region, on behalf of the NSUM. The U. N. monitoring reports states, "The SSCA´s initial military efforts under the leadership of Colonel Abdiaziz Garamgaram were unpromising. During the course of 2008, the militia made no appreciable progress against the Somaliland presence in Sool, and Garamgaram himself was accused of misappropriating US$50,000 funds collected on behalf of his forces by the NSUM."

The SSCA/NSUM tirelessly stirred clan wars among Somaliland clans, as one peace-loving Dhulbahante elderly man told the U.N. monitoring group, "They [the SSCA] are entirely dependent on external funding. They get money, cause trouble, and use that to raise more money […] The fighting at Kaalshaale was really between two clans over land, but the SSCA provided ammunition and fuel […] Their forces were kept mainly at Dharkeyn, not at Kaalshaale, since no other community will accept them." Today, in the Taleh conference, the NSUM group plans to trigger an inferno in Somaliland.

As history attests, the Sool Garaads and their Diaspora supporters, almost, held as many meetings as the Somalia´s warring factions, in Mogadishu, convened conferences. Yet the Sool and the Mogadishu factions spilled more blood and brought miseries to their respective communities. And usually, as the fighting flares up, the Mogadishu and the Sool factions—from the Diaspora communities—flee to their safe dens in Europe and North America, leaving Somaliland and Somalia´s destitute nomads to their own devices.

In short, although Somaliland has legitimate security concerns, for the sake of peace and stability in the country, the government cannot allow clan militias roaming around the country; but at the same time, the government must not overreact, launching military assaults against the clan conference. As the Somaliland tradition dictates, the government should reach out to the disgruntled clans in Taleh, listen to their grievances, and invite them to the negotiation table—to uphold the 1991 Buroa peace conference, which we still reap its fruits, two decades later.


Dalmar Kaahin


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Somaliweyn Media Center (SMC)

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