Zooming in Somaliland                           






President Dahir Rayaale







In the last 16 years, the history of northern Somalia is troubled by tensions within the sub-clans.  In mapping a way through this region, Roobdoon Forum argues that sub-clan rivalries, combined with artificial borders inherited from the colonial European powers, forms part of the responsibility for today’s crisis in Sool, Sanaaag, and Cayn regions (SSC) in Somalia.


In these regions, a belief grew up, particularly in Laas Caanood, that the current skirmish is an Isaaq plot, with its undertones of securing the so-called “Somaliland” borders. The conflict actually began with forces loyal to “Somaliland” invading outskirts of Laas Caanood on September 17, 2007.


We remind our readers that the latest outbreak of fighting in northern Somalia, extent of which remains unclear, killed civilians and forced dozens to flee from Laas Caanood.  The numerous times that armed conflict occurred in SSC regions, in the last 16 years, was described as a “Somaliland” military actions against an area considered hostile to the self-declared republic of “Somaliland”.  However, the inhabitants of SSC, who think the region is part and parcel of Federal Somalia, are in favour of being part of Puntland State of Somalia, as the efforts of the current reconciliation government gets underway.  Making no attempt to be comprehensive, here are glimpses of selected news coverage of the nineties that depict a mixture of hope and despair in northern Somalia.



Buba: The Dead in Burco Alone Go up to 4,000


London BBC World Service in English

1505 GMT 5 Apr 95

[From the "Focus on Africa" program]


There are fresh reports of fighting in the breakaway republic of Somaliland. Last week battles erupted in the city of Borao between forces loyal to ousted Somaliland leader Abdirahman Tur and forces of President Mohamed Egal's government. It looked like the beginning of an all-out war, (?but) Egal dismissed it as a little more than banditry. Well today, Abdirahman Tur's No. 2 man, Ismael Buba, called us from Mogadishu. Mary Harper asked him what, according to his information, was going on in Somali­land:


[Buba] In Somaliland, major battles have been going on since last Tuesday [28 March], a week from yesterday, and it has been reported to us that the dead in Borao alone go up to 4,000. In Hargeysa there are intermittent clashes taking place, and we have also been told that some colonel, also from the (Borama) area, has warned all the people who are on Egal's side to leave to (Borama). We have also been told that Egal is trying to amass some forces in the (Share) area.


[Harper] Where are you getting your information from? You are in Mogadishu, it is very difficult to communi­cate with Somaliland?


[Buba] No, Mary, on the contrary, it is not. We get briefings, you know, from Somaliland-whether it is Borao and its area, Boroma, and Rigabo-twice a day, we are well briefed (?about) what is happening in the north.


[Harper] How are you getting this briefing?


[Buba] So, we are getting this briefing through the communication (?such as) the radiophones that are in those areas.


[Harper] So, are you claiming that you and your allies, (?principally) Abdirahman Tur, are sitting in Mogadishu and commanding this war which is taking place miles away in Somaliland?


[Buba] Mary, we are not, and we are against an armed clash to take place anywhere in Somalia, whether in north or in the south. That has been our position and stick by it. [sentence as heard]


[Harper] So, who is fighting in Somaliland?


[Buba] Egal is.... [pauses] The people he has recruited by using the (?false money) has [words indistinct] (?reduced them) to simply killing as many people possible so that he can stay in power. Actually, the problem in Somali­land is that, you know, Egal is the, (?you know well), a lot of people know is power-hungry and he's got a number of bloodthirsty colonels who are actually engineering, you know, all of this conflict [words indistinct].


[Harper] Are you financing people, supplying them with arms, saying that they can fight against President Egal?


[Buba] No, we are not inciting anybody to fight, but the people are actually collecting the... [pauses] are putting their resources together to incite Egal war against them. [sentence as heard] [end recording]



Jama M. Ghalib Speaks Against Secession


 London BBC World Service in English

1515 GMT 31 Mar 95

[From the "Focus on Africa" program]



 The long-feared war in Somal­iland between Mohamed Egal's forces and militias loyal to his predecessor, Abdirahman Tur, apparently erupted this week in the town of Burao. All-out battles were reported from the city. Underlying the conflict is the question of Somaliland's self-declared independence, and whether it should rejoin Somalia. Now, the chief of the rebel forces, Major General (Jama Mohamed Ghalib), has been talking in Mogadishu about Mohamed Egal, the rebels' links with SNA [Somali National Alli­ance] Leader General Aidid, and the fighting at Burao. From Mogadishu, Ali Musa Abdi faxed this report:


Speaking at a press conference in south Mogadishu, former Maj. Gen. (Jama Mohamed Ghalib) said that in the latest round of fighting in Burao, his men had captured the commander of President Egal's forces and twenty government troops. He declined to comment on casualties suffered by his forces. He said his men had destroyed several gun-mounted vehicles and captured another. The fighting in Burao seems to have subsided, but the warring sides still remain entrenched along their defensive positions on the outskirts of Burao. During the press conference, Maj. Gen. (Ghalib) also denied receiving any military assistance from Gen. Aidid's SNA, but he admitted that he did have a political alliance with Gen. Aidid.


Maj. Gen. (Ghalib) also pledged loyalty to Abdirahman Tur, the ousted president of Somaliland and opponent of Egal. Abdirahman Tur said he wants the self-declared Republic of Somaliland to end its secession and rejoin the rest of Somalia under a federal system. Maj. Gen. (Ghalib) said he supported the federal system proposed by Abdirahman Tur, whom he respected as a true leader. He also said his forces were capable of toppling President Egal within the next two months, and that the present fighting could only be stopped if President Egal resigned or abandoned his unilateral declaration of independence for Somaliland. But contradicting himself, Maj. Gen. (Ghalib) said he was still a member of the Somaliland Parliament in Hargeysa, but then went on to say that most of the parliamentarians were corrupt, and that Somaliland had no legal entity.



USA Will Recognize Somaliland Only After OAU Does So, Says US Official


13 February 1996

BBC Monitoring Service: Africa


Source: Radio Hargeisa in Somali 1745 GMT 30 Jan 1996


Excerpts from report by Somaliland's Hargeisa radio on 30th January


An American delegation led by ambassador David Shinn, director of East African affairs in the State Department, held talks with Mr Muhammad Ibrahim Egal, the president of the Republic of Somaliland, at the presidency this afternoon.


The president briefed the American fact-finding mission on the economic situation, the activities of international agencies, the false impression being created about Somaliland and the security situation in Burco town, which, he said, was under the control of government forces. The president said despite Aydid's interference in the peace process, the Somaliland government had not tired of seeking a peace settlement.


Speaking about the American assistance, Mr Egal said Somaliland deserved Washington's aid. Responding to the ambassador's statement that America would only grant diplomatic recognition to Somaliland after the OAU had done so, the president said the OAU had not been established to take executive decisions. Mr Egal cited an example in 1960 when the idea of a greater Somalia was rejected by the organization which had said colonial boundaries must not be violated. And now when we wanted to have our own territory within the old colonial boundaries no steps had been taken to recognize us. Therefore, we would not rely on the OAU for diplomatic recognition...


For his part, Ambassador David Shinn expressed gratitude for the warm welcome accorded him. The ambassador said his government had nothing against Somaliland but its recognition would only come about after the OAU decision...


© 1996 The British Broadcasting Corporation



Somaliland demands recognition from aid agencies.


By Hussein Ali Nur

March 04, 1997


HARGEISA, Somalia, March 4 (Reuter) - The self-declared republic of Somaliland says aid agencies have three weeks to recognise it as an independent state or stop work and leave.


Somaliland President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, re-elected on February 23 by a clan conference, gave the ultimatum in a letter to U.N. and non-U.N. aid agencies dated Monday and released on Tuesday.


"We call upon all agencies to immediately upgrade their status in the Republic of Somaliland and appoint forthwith a resident representative in Hargeisa who would be independent of his colleagues in Mogadishu," Egal said in the letter.


"The above-mentioned resident representative should be prepared and empowered to enter into a country agreement with the government of the republic of Somaliland," he added.


Somaliland, which has about one million people and covers northwestern Somalia, declared itself independent from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but has failed to win international recognition.


"Any agency which finds these decisions unacceptable is hereby respectfully invited to leave the country within three weeks," said Egal, who added that he had already hinted at the recognition ultimatum to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.


"There will be no problem if any agency takes longer than three weeks to wind up its affairs but its activities must terminate in three weeks," said the president, who was first elected in 1993.


Aid agency officials said it was impossible for agencies to recognise Somaliland as a government as this was only done by states. They said they would meet and respond in due course.


Egal said agency resident representatives should be empowered to inform the government of what funds were provided for use in Somaliland and then consult on how they were used.


With widespread insecurity in the capital Mogadishu since 1991, many international aid agencies operate in Somaliland but have had tense relations over the years with the government.


Reports reaching Mogadishu by radio on Tuesday said at least eight people were killed and four were wounded in inter-clan fighting in Kurtun Warrey district, 140 km (90 miles) southwest of the capital.


Residents of the district said fighting on Monday pitting clansmen using bows and arrows against others armed with assault rifles broke out after two sub-clans quarrelled over land.


Egal, 67, was prime minister of Somalia before being jailed for 12 years by the late president Mohamed Siad Barre. He is loud in criticism of the international community for refusing to recognise Somaliland.


Somaliland covers the same territory as a protectorate established by Britain over the largely arid northwest in 1886. Britain granted it independence days before Somalia won self-government from Italy in June 1960. They both merged days later.


 © 1997 Reuters Limited



Somaliland's Egal returns after wooing Europe.


17 February 1998


HARGEISA, Somalia, Feb 17 (Reuters) - The leader of the self-declared republic of Somaliland returned home on Tuesday from a two-week tour of Africa and Europe which analysts said would help the territory's claim to legitimacy.


Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, "president" of the Horn of Africa territory carved out of Somalia, was greeted by thousands of cheering people who lined the streets from the airport to Hargeisa, the capital.


At an informal news conference at the airport, Egal said his tour had been "a great success", and that he expected Somaliland's claims for recognition to be given serious consideration.


The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional forum grouping the majority of East African states, would discuss the issue at a meeting in Djibouti in March, he said.


"It has been decided that the question of Somaliland will be raised and dealt with," he said. "The Republic of Djibouti has promised to play a leading role concerning the issue at the conference."


Somaliland, which covers the territory formerly known as British Somaliland until it merged with Italian Somaliland to create Somalia in 1961, declared its independence in 1991 after the overthrow of military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.


Since then Somalia has split into warring clan-based enclaves whereas Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace.


But Somaliland has not been recognised by any state and Egal's mission was seen by Nairobi-based Somalia watchers as being part of a drive to press for legitimacy.


They noted that Egal was received in Italy and France by senior government officials.


Egal said Italy had pledged to support Somaliland's budget for the next two years and would also advise revenue authorities on ways of gathering taxes.


The Italians would also send a military delegation to help train the police and military, he said.


Egal said that while in France he met officials of the state-owned Elf oil company and urged them to consider taking up exploration contracts formerly held by United States companies but which had since expired.


Egal cancelled planned visits to the United States and Britain because he felt officials there were preoccupied with the Iraq crisis, he said.


© 1998 Reuters Limited






Somaliland Flag






A Somali trader Shukri Ismail, 46 (R) sells her wares at a big trade fair in the centre of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland


Women line up to vote in Hargeisa during first multiparty parliamentary elections in breakaway Somaliland


U.N. emergency relief coordinator Egeland meets Somaliland President Dahir Ryale Kahin in Hargeisa.





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