Somaliland's Rightful Stance on the Las Anod Crisis
The fight for peace and stability in Las Anod requires a powerful response from our international partners
In the wake of the recent joint statement by international partners on the situation in Las Anod and the upcoming Somaliland elections, it is critical to delve deeper into the challenges Somaliland faces in its pursuit of democracy, stability, and international recognition. While we appreciate our international partners' engagement and support, certain aspects of the statement require further examination and contextualization.
First and foremost, the armed rebellion in Las Anod poses a significant threat to our people's safety and stability. This is no mere small-scale clan rebellion waged by Las Anod's inhabitants. Somaliland is dealing with an invasion by forces from Somalia's federal structure and state-aligned militias, as well as dangerous extremists from Somalia, who have infiltrated the city and fight under the pretext of supporting a clan rebellion. This organized armed movement aims to forcibly remove Somaliland's democratically elected government from a key regional capital and advance into other parts of Somaliland.
The statement from our international partners falls short in explicitly condemning this undemocratic situation. In the absence of a clear condemnation, the international community inadvertently undermines Somaliland's legitimate actions to safeguard its sovereignty and ensure its citizens' security.
Led by H.E President Musa Bihi Abdi, the Government of Somaliland has a constitutional obligation to protect its citizens and uphold the rule of law. It is essential to emphasize that Somalilanders' security and well-being must be at the heart of all political decisions. President Bihi's government has demonstrated this commitment in its response to the ongoing conflict.
Despite its unrecognized status, Somaliland has consistently shown unwavering dedication to democratic values and principles. Regrettably, our partners' statement seems to downplay these democratic credentials. The fact that Somaliland, an unrecognized nation, is preparing for self-funded, free, and fair elections deserves praise instead of criticism. Additionally, Somaliland has maintained relative peace and stability in a region plagued by terrorism, piracy, and ongoing conflicts—a remarkable achievement warranting acknowledgment.
Furthermore, the will of Somalilanders to have their government protect the nation from the serious threats stemming from the Las Anod rebellion should be respected. President Bihi's actions in responding to the situation reflects this sentiment. The decision to not withdraw Somaliland forces centered around Las Anod is not a personal preference for President Bihi, as the statement implies, but rather a fulfillment of his constitutional duty as a democratically-elected President.
The people of Somaliland recognize our international partners' concerns but urge them to consider and appreciate the unique context in which Somaliland operates. Addressing the long-standing issue of international recognition and the lack of comprehensive political and security partnerships with the international community is vital. Somaliland has sought international recognition for three decades, and this unresolved status has left the nation vulnerable to such crises.
The call for a 'separation of forces' in the statement sends a mixed message. While urging Somaliland to uphold democratic principles, it inadvertently emboldens the undemocratic situation in Las Anod. Striking a delicate balance between ensuring our people's safety and preserving the democratic principles we cherish is vital in navigating these intricate challenges.
It's also crucial to emphasize the lack of certainty and reliability for actors in Las Anod to adhere to the international community's proposed idea of having forces withdraw to “agreed locations.” The rebels have violated previous ceasefire arrangements and refused mediation attempts launched by neighboring countries such as Ethiopia.
Given Las Anod's lawless state - which currently harbors various armed elements with differing ideologies - it raises an important question: does the international community want Somaliland to negotiate with invaders and extremists from Somalia?
The traditional head of the Dhulbahante clan, Garaad Jama Garaad Ali, has stated that he plans to take the rebellion past his native city of Las Anod to wage war in Burao - Somaliland’s second largest city and the native territory of neighboring clans that have no involvement in the rebellion he has launched.
Negotiating with Dhulbahante traditional elders at this point is out of the question, as it has become evident that the situation on the ground is beyond their control, and is now in the hands of these armed groups which have invaded Somaliland from neighboring Somalia.
Only after these external threats are removed from Las Anod can Somaliland begin genuine peace talks with Dhulbahante traditional elders and other representatives of the inhabitants of Las Anod.
Our international partners should consider these crucial facts and acknowledge the just and rightful notion that the responsibility to protect Somalilanders from these dangerous threats in Las Anod lies chiefly with the Government of Somaliland, led by President Bihi.
Somaliland has shown time and again that it remains devoted to working with its international partners to address the situation in Las Anod and ensure that our overall democratic system remains intact. We are a nation that has consistently demonstrated resilience, determination, and dedication to fostering democracy and good governance.
With the support and understanding of our partners, we can collaborate to create a peaceful and prosperous future for Somaliland and the entire region. By engaging in a more meaningful dialogue and recognizing the legitimate concerns of Somaliland, the international community can contribute to the long-term stability and development of this resilient nation, which has defied the odds to become a beacon of hope in a challenging region.