lasanod uprising, the perfect antithesis of Secessionist project
Somaliland took the control of Lasanod in 2007; since then, more than 100 people from all walks of life have been killed. The first person who was killed in Lasanod was a man called (Suxufi) according to a local source.
Surprisingly, majority of the martyrs were closely working with Somaliland. No investigation and accountability that have been made by Somaliland to make criminal accountable for their bloodletting.
The local people kept bemoaning for years for the oppressive and counterproductive policies of Somaliland in the city. The people in LasAnod, and the wider Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) regions have encountered not only insecurity, but also social injustices and economic deprivation compare to other regions under the tutelage of Somaliland. This egregious disparity, emanating from the administration in Hargeisa has paved the way the current spontaneous uprising, and later became full-blown rage that spills onto streets against Muse Bihi’s administration.
During the first days of the spontaneous demonstrations, Somaliland forces have incarcerated many people mainly youngsters and sent to the largest prison which is called (Mandera Central) jail, 95KM, Northeast Hargeisa. One of the local community told me that, the officers in the jail were asking a ransom for releasing the prisoners.
As a response to these sinister actions, the local community has formed a committee comprising 33 members from the diverse categories of the people in LasAnod, to discuss what at stake. Then, they called the traditional leaders of the Dhulbahante clan. When the traditional elders have gathered in LasAnod, and engaged in serious deliberations for deciding for their own future, on 6 February this year, while they were about to unleash the communique, the Somaliland forces have wittingly attacked the city, and the Garaads urged the local people to resist against this naked aggression. Since then, the war has metastasized the entire city, and both sides have engaged in a direct confrontation.
The president of Somaliland administration Muse Bihi could not fathom the gist of the problem, rather he ordered to bombard indiscriminately the civilians in the city. Shelling in the town, especially the public facilities like hospitals became a daily damage. According to the Mayor of Lasanod, more than 200 people were killed, over 680 were injured, and more than 200,000 have displaced (Abdirahim Ali, 2023).
With all these dastardly deeds tended by the Somaliland administration, they could not re-capture the city, rather they are pushed far from the city. While Somaliland realizes this military defeat, they started trading accusations that the forces of Puntland State of Somalia have involved in the current conflict, aiding and abetting the battle for their own political interest. Puntland State of Somalia has denied that accusation, and labelled as a null and void. But if this persists, then a bloody conflict is imminent may erupt.
The End of Secessionist Doctrine at the hands of war veteran Muse Bihi
Somaliland is a fractured mirror; and the secessionist project has been limping for many years, but now came to a dead end. It is a nasty concoction of things. Muse’s political fate is finished, and could not unravel the nettlesome problems that the local community in LasAnod, and the wider Sool, Sanaag and Cayn has been facing for many years. The latest revolt and resistance is none other than stirrings for freedom. It is free of fear and full of hope. Somaliland’s historical package is full of fundamentally flawed arguments of pitching the colonial demarcation which the local people in those regions are contumacious. And this is the crack in the edifice. That is why every decision that the Somaliland administration led by Muse takes becomes reverse midas touch.
As the Ghanaian Author and economist Goerge Ayittey mentioned in his book (Defeating Dictators) “A smart opposition can capitalize on the venting of public anger on the streets by managing and channeling the energy into effecting regime change, but this can happen only with the aid of an auxiliary agent”. In this context, the “Auxiliary Agent” could be the federal government of Somalia to capitalize and grab this rare opportunity, and unite the country under one Somalia policy.
One of the Trojan horse agenda of Somaliland in the LasAnod city was to divide the tribes in the city so that they can maneuver and rule them. They kept backing for one sub-tribe of Dhulbahante clan for some time, give government positions and other incentives at the expense of the rest, in order to fetch the community, and once they secure their collective allegiance, they start demoting such tribe, and supplant other one.
The three major sub-tribes of Dhulbahante in LasAnod are Jaamac Siyad, Bah-Araarsame and Ugaadh-Yahan. Somaliland administration has created notoriously unending infighting among these sub-tribes; and this has led a deep-rooted grudges and grievances among them. They have created a patron-client relationship, and those who belong the Dhulbahante clan, but assisting Somaliland’s suppressive policies, are recognized by the local residents as (Horgal). This makes me remember the case of the (Black Americans) in the US in 1960s who were marginalized by the (White Americans).
During this tough moments, there were some black men who had been doing acts that are against the black community’s aspirations, and colluding with the White patronizers. These accomplices were later recognized as (Uncle Tom) by the famous black American activist (Malcolm X).
Similar to this, the occupied Somali region in Ethiopia, better known as (Ogadenia) has been groaning the colonial peons who had been assisting the ruthless rule of Ethiopia against the Somalis. There is a notorious name which the local community in the Ogaden region labelled those Somalis who work for the interest of Ethiopia as a (Dabaqoodhi).
Dumbfoundingly, with all these subterfuge and ill-intentioned policies that have applied by Somaliland, they failed to indoctrinate their ideology of secessionism.
Apart from that, there has been social injustices that have ingrained for over 15 years, and the local community has encountered many difficulties. No major developmental projects that has been offered to the local people. Humanitarian and other organizations have considered LasAnod as a no-go zone; and this makes the city economically disadvantaged. The sweltering heat of injustice is ubiquitous in LasAnod.
From SSC to Khaatumo: Bottom-up trials
In 2009, Sool, Sanaag and Cayn administration was pioneered by the local community. In 2012, Khaatumo has become the successor. After the late Somalia, prime minister Ali Khalif Galeyr became the president of this newly established Khaatumo, he had tried to reconcile with Somaliland in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, and open a discussion between Somaliland and Khaatumo as equal administrations. At the end of the conference, many issues were agreed, but Somaliland did not implement, infelicitously. Galeyr has publicly and famously declared that there is no agreement between them. Since then, Khaatumo was morally active in the minds of the local community, but practically lame-duck.
Opposing Narratives: Historical package and contemporary reality.
The fundamentally flawed argument of Somaliland is, they argue that, the borders created by the colonial powers should be abided. As such, they believe that (Yoocada) which is roughly far from Garowe 10Km. on the contrary, Dhulbahante believes that, their border with Somaliland is (OOG) which is roughly 100KM from LasAnod. This is the biggest impetus for the repetitive conflicts in those areas. And if concrete steps are not taken, then this will last forever.
Dervishism and SNM: Ambivalent notions
With the presence of Somaliland authority in LasAnod, they kept extolling their SNM movement’s history, while at the same period defaming the Dervish movement’s history, and regarded as their biggest pet-peeve. The Dhulbahante tribe was the largest fellows of the Dervish movement led by Sayid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan that fought fiercely with the British colony in the Northern regions of Somalia, especially (Taleex) town. How these contradicting ideologies can exist and live together; it is an ironic.
- The long-standing aspirations of the local community on their quest for self-determination for their own future should respected and allowed.
- The federal government of Somalia should mediate and decide the way forward.
- In order to cease the current conflict, SSC/Khaatumo should allowed as a new autonomy state of Somalia.
Anwar Abdifatah firstname.lastname@example.org