Imagine if two communities were at each other’s throat in UK, or in EU countries, or in US. Worse yet, imagine if an armed, violent groups were wreaking havoc in parts of UK, or EU countries, or US. And imagine if the International community demands the UK, the EU, and the US to withdraw their forces in the conflict-ridden area. Astonishing, isn’t it? Well, that is exactly what the UK, EU, and US demand Somaliland to do, in response to Somaliland security forces’ arrival in Sool province of Somaliland, without firing a shot.
Perhaps, taking advice from the unscrupulous, terror-infested Somali regime in Mogadishu and Puntland, the epicenter of human-trafficking and piracy, the UK, EU, and US envoys to Somaliland/Somalia, Neil Wigan, Michele Cervone d’Urso, and James Mr.McAnulty, respectively, entertain the idea that if Somaliland troops withdrew from Sool and Sanag provinces, it would pave the way for a peaceful resolution. But the evidence suggests otherwise. That is, if Somaliland abandons Sool and Sanag provinces, they will become a haven for terrorists, armed groups, human-traffickers, pirates, poachers, illegal fishing and charcoal business groups. And above all, the two local clans fighting in the town of Taleh, in Sool province, will unleash deadly clan warfare against each other.
Moreover, the massive deforestation campaign currently underway and the illegal fishing as well the ruthless poaching in Sanag region, which all remain lucrative businesses for none other than Puntland leaders will destroy not only the coral reef system and the last wild life sanctuary but also turn the Sanag region into a barren desert. So, there is more to the conflict than meets the eye. There are flourishing illegal business activities, impending environmental catastrophe, and looming human misery on the horizon.
Yet, another disinformation perpetuated by none other than the Puntland leaders and the violent armed group, namely Khatumo that fights against Somaliland security forces is: the locals in Sool and Sanag don’t want to have anything to do with Somaliland. Well, again the evidence speaks for itself. First, one must understand the clan dynamics of the region and how they inhabit their respective territories in Sool and Sanag. Both in Sool and Sanag regions, one would find: the Habar Jelo and Habar Yonis (sub clans of Issaq), Fiqishini (a Hawiye sub clan), Dhulbahante, and Warsangeli (Darod sub clans) and other smaller clans. Naturally, the first three clans overwhelmingly support Somaliland’s quest for statehood; also, the other two clans: Dhulbahante and Warsangeli to certain extent backup Somaliland existence as a nation. More important, the later clans support the idea of spreading Somaliland administration to their respective areas and sharing resources. This is something the Somaliland politicians who hail from Dhulbahante and Warsangeli clans demand time and time again, putting lots of pressure on Somaliland government. So, the UK, EU, and US envoy must be very circumspect in pressuring Somaliland to withdraw its forces from Sool and Sanag regions.
But what if Somaliland heeds to UK, EU, and US envoys’ demands? Between the Al-Shabab terrorists hiding in the mountainous eastern Sanag, the armed group in Sool, and the imminent clan conflicts brewing in Taleh area, the two regions would turn into an inferno, setting the clock back to the lawless early 90s.
As history attests, in 1991 Somaliland clans agreed to share power and resources and no clan should have its own armed group. They all signed an agreement. This is something that the founder of the violent armed group, Khatumo, in Sool, Dr. Ali Khalif, an American warlord, signed and agreed to; yet today, he wages war against Somaliland while also pitting local clans in Taleh against each other, for his political gain. Again, the evidence tells the story.
As shown in this clip, the locals in Taleh not only welcome the Somaliland forces, but they also give the army two camels, and more are on the way, as a gesture of welcoming the security forces. As the locals reiterate that they are relieved to see the Somaliland army in Taleh—which evidently dissuades clan violence in the area. One of the clan chiefs from Taleh namely Haji Abdirashid Haji Ali Shire states, “I welcome the army. This is your country and these are your people.” Clearly, the locals are delighted to see the security forces.
Also, Somaliland army has almost 4000 troops from the Dhulbahante clan alone, as reported by none other than a pro-Khatumo website. Not surprisingly, the locals remain reluctant to revolt against the Somaliland army. After all, these are their boys—not an invading army.
The deployment of the army to beef up security and thwart clan violence in Taleh is also confirmed by the Somaliland government. In response to the envoys’ remarks, Somaliland’s Foreign Minister,Mohamed Bihi Yonis, echoed that: “Somaliland reached Taleh as requested by the elders in the area. And Somaliland has the right to protect its citizens and borders.”
To top it up, in LasAnod, Sool capital, a group of women, all from the Dhulbahante clans, implore the world to stop Dr. Ali Khalif and his militias as they pose a credible security threat in the region, goading local clans against each other. Watch this clip and see it for yourself. One of the women states, “There was never a problem in Taleh before Dr. Ali Khalif and his group arrived”.
Additionally, as I have explained in my article entitled, “Somaliland: Clan Conference in Taleh Violates 1991 Peace Accord” if one clan in Sool could form its own armed militias, the other clans would follow in suit, paving the way for a wider clan conflict, intertwined with terrorist attacks, human trafficking, piracy, poaching, deforestation, and illegal fishing. Therefore, the 1991 peace accord should remain inviolable.
Even more dangerous is the unabated follow of weapons from Mogadishu and Yemen into eastern parts of Sanag and Sool provinces, which Somaliland doesn’t fully control. Without a doubt, this remains the biggest security threats that Somaliland faces. Little the envoys know that it is these illegal arms trade that finance the Khatumo faction. What’s more, Dr. Ali Khalif not only remains the front runner in this scheme but also the war profiteer. Therefore, pressuring Somaliland to withdraw its security forces from those regions is exactly what the armed groups, terrorists, human traffickers, pirates and clan militants want to see. This is music to their ears. And they couldn’t thank enough the UK, EU, and US envoys. Here they are, inadvertently, nurturing violence in Somaliland, and, gradually, breaking down the fabric of Somaliland society, regressing to early 90s, when armed clan militants roamed around freely.
What the US envoy should be aware is that Dr. Ali Khalif, the founder of the violent armed Khatumo group, holds a US citizenship, yet he wages a bloody war against Somaliland security forces.
With all due respect, Mr. McAnulty may I remind you that according to 18 U.S. Code § 959 – Enlistment in foreign service, any citizen who “enlists or enters himself, or hires or retains another to enlist or enter himself, or to go beyond the jurisdiction of the United States with intent to be enlisted or entered in the service of any foreign prince, state, colony, district, or people as a soldier or as a marine or seaman … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.” Clearly, Dr. Ali Khali, an American citizen, not only mobilized an armed group that has so far murdered dozens of Somaliland security forces, but he also implores his supporters to wage a violent war against Somaliland. Dozens of youtube clips are available where he advocates for violence against Somaliland.
Furthermore, should Dr. Ali Khalif and his armed militants succeed in destabilizing Somaliland, rest assured, the US forces in Djibouti would have a lot to worry about; after all, Somaliland is the only wall that separates the US forces in Djibouti from the Al-Shabab terrorists in Somalia. So, of course, Dr. Ali Khalif’s armed group is against the interest of the United States.
Also, doubtlessly, no sooner will Dr. Ali Khalif be apprehended by the Somaliland security forces and charged for the death of a number of security forces murdered by his militias than Mr. McAnulty will demand his (Dr. Ali Khali) immediate release. Then in that case, should the US inform Dr. Ali Khalif that his armed struggle against Somaliland tantamount to terrorism? Recently, he narrowly escapes from being captured by the Somaliland security forces that still pursue him. In fact, he could face the death penalty in Somaliland, if he is caught. Failure for the US to act now will result a diplomatic embarrassment later on.
In a nutshell, withdrawing Somaliland security forces from Sool and Sanag would be the biggest blunder, however; a two-dimensional, prudent solution is the key to solving the conflict in eastern Sool and Sanag. That is, political and economic solutions. So, what the UK, EU, and US envoys should pave the way for is: disarming the Khatumo faction and its founder Dr. Ali Khalif, peacefully, and reviving Somaliland’s economic to create jobs for its youth, while Somaliland must share power and resources with disfranchised clans.
More important, the UK, EU, and US envoys should remind the Puntland leaders that: replacing Somaliland’s internationally recognized boundaries with clan ones is the core of the conflict in eastern parts of Sool and Sanag. Hence, Puntland should stay out of Somaliland’s territory.
Similarly, the envoys should underline for the Mogadishu regime that it cannot negotiate with Somaliland and at the sometime permit members of its parliament, namely Dr. Ali Khalif spur violence in Somaliland.
Evidently, there is only one thing that unites the Somali regime, Puntland, Khatumo militants, and Al-Shabab. And that is, obliterating Somaliland from the face of the earth. And no sooner Somaliland withdraws its security forces from eastern parts of Sool and Sanag than these competing groups take advantage of the security vacuum, ringing death knell for the demise of Somaliland.