Topic: Somaliland
Ambassador David Shinn
Ambassador David Shinn

US Ambassador David Shinn was asked to address the US dual track policy towards Somalia and Somaliland on May 18, 2012 at the Somaliland Conference at the Hilton Hotel near Dulles International Airport in Virginia. While he expressed support for all that Somaliland has accomplished, he emphasized that the U.S. dual track policy does not portend diplomatic recognition.

Over the years, I have addressed several Somaliland conferences. It is always a pleasure. On this occasion, I have been asked to speak on the U.S. dual track policy towards Somalia and Somaliland. While you would receive a more authoritative presentation on this subject from someone who represents the U.S. Government, which I no longer do, I will do my best to address this important subject. Perhaps one of your other speakers will say something about the development implications of the U.S. dual track policy. What Is the Dual Track Policy?

Let's be sure we understand what the United States means by the dual track policy towards Somalia and Somaliland. In October 2010, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson announced the dual track approach. Track one involved continuing support for the Djibouti Peace Process, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), its National Security Forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Track two recognized that there were large pockets of stability in Somalia that merited greater engagement. These areas included Somaliland, Puntland and regional and local anti-al-Shabaab groups throughout south/centralSomalia. Track two included additional support for Somali civil society groups and clan leaders.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Don Yamamoto testified before Congress in mid-2011 that track one remained critical to political and security progress in Mogadishu and ultimately the rest of Somalia. He said the United States would continue to support the TFG‟s political progress in the coming year. He added that the United States expected the TFG would bring into the political process Puntland, Galmudug, Ahlu Sunna wal Jama‟a (ASWJ) and other Somali stake holders.

Concerning track two, Yamamoto said Washington had expanded its diplomatic outreach with regional authorities such as those in Puntland, Galmudug and other districts. In addition, ithad increased travel by U.S. officials to Somaliland and Puntland, which reinforced the U.S. commitment “to Somalia, the Somali people, and the Dual Track policy.”

Under track one, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) emphasized collaboration with the TFG and Transitional Federal Parliament on transition issues such as the drafting of the constitution and development of an electoral framework for elections leading to a permanent government. It also funded quick impact projects such as street lighting, market rehabilitation and government capacity building in Mogadishu and TFG-held areas of Somalia.

Under track two, USAID launched a Partnership for Economic Growth in Hargeisa that included rehabilitation of community infrastructure and technical assistance to improve livestock and agriculture. In Somaliland, Puntland, Galmudug and some emerging administrations,USAID began to identify projects in the areas of education, maternal health, democratization, elections support, local governance capacity building and youth engagement.

Following agreement in September 2011 by representatives of the TFG, Puntland, Galmudug and ASWJ on the “Road Map for Ending the Transition in Somalia,” the United States endorsed that effort. It continues to be supportive of the Road Map.Somali Reactions to the Dual Track Policy Somalis do not have a unified position on the composition of their future government.

Consequently, it should come as no surprise that Somalis have reacted in very different ways to Washington‟s dual track policy. Generally speaking, the TFG and most Somalis from south/central Somalia have been critical of the policy. They see any support for entities other than the TFG or some future national government as a reduction in central authority.

Somalis from Somaliland, Puntland and other local jurisdictions have been more supportive of the dual-track policy but they are by no means universally in favor of it. It is instructive to look at a few Somali reactions. Abukar Arman, the TFG Special Envoy to the United States, commented earlier this year that while domestic factors keep Somalia divided, the balkanization policies of the United States and Ethiopia have exacerbated the problem.

He argued that the U.S. dual track policy “provides political legitimacy and financial incentives to any political actors so long as they stand opposed to al-Shabaab, even if those actors are on a path that makes the reconstitution of the Somali state more difficult. As it is there are now several semi-autonomous mini-states that are given some degree of support and legitimacy by the policies of non-Somali actors.”

More senior TFG officials have been less critical, at least publicly, of the dual track policy.Writing for Foreign Policy in Focus, Abdinur Mohamud stated late last year:

“Instead of empowering the legitimately and internationally recognized government of Somalia to establish the necessary political, economic, military and social institutions and infrastructure of governance, the United States adopted what it called a dual track policy‟. While assisting the central administration, the United States was also planting the seeds to encourage the sprouting of quasi-independent local and regional administrations within and outside the government.”

Somali analyst Afyare Abdi Elmi is quoted in Kenya‟s The Nation that “the dual track policy only pro vides a new label for the old (and failed) Bush Administration‟s approach. It inadvertently strengthens clan divisions, undermines inclusive and democratic trends and most importantly, creates a conducive environment for the return of organized chaos or warlordism in the country.”

In even stronger words, Somali freelance writer Said Liban commented earlier this year that the U.S. dual track policy “has produced conceivably unintentional disaster, resulting in an explosion of mini-states that have undermined even the relatively peaceful areas in Somaliland and Puntland.”

He argued that the communique from the London Conference earlier this year constitutes the same policy because “it focuses on an all-out war against Islamist militants, and invites new regional or local tribal warlords to join in the campaign.”

Soon after the United States announced the dual track policy, the government of Puntland said “it welcomes, supports and endorses the new U.S. Dual Track Policy which is based on realities on the ground in Somalia.” The Puntland government also called for a conference to speed up national reconciliation. Puntland authorities have generally remained supportive of the dual track policy.Speaking in London in November 2010, Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo said:

“We also hope to secure stronger ties with individual donors, not least the United States, which recently announced its dual track policy that will see direct aid and cooperation with Somaliland increased. I very much welcome this as a positive step in keeping the realities on the ground.”

Somaliland officials subsequently became more cautious in their public comments on the U.S. dual track policy. Status of the Dual Track Policy. The director of the State Department‟s Office of East African Affairs, Deborah Malac, commented in January 2012 at a conference on Somalia at Ohio State University:

“We would argue that there is demonstrated progress and success for the dual-track policy. But as we do with any policy . . . we look at the situation on the ground and make determinations on when and whether we need to make adjustments to that policy. It is going to be a painstaking process to move things forward in a positive direction.”

Speaking at a press briefing in London following the February conference on Somalia,Secretary of State Clinton emphasized the need to create by August 2012 a new Somali parliament and constitution that take into account the interests of all Somalis— not from one region, one clan, one sub-clan, but all Somalis.

She also argued for a “unified Somalia” that takes into account the legitimate constituencies that exist throughout the country.The United States has never expressed support for an independent Somaliland. It has effectively left that decision to the African Union.

An independent Somaliland was not part of the dual track policy when it was announced and it never subsequently became part of the policy. On the other hand, Somaliland had every reason to expect more political interaction with and increased development assistance from the United States as a consequence of the dual track policy based on U.S. appreciation of and support for Somaliland‟s political and economic progress.

I have argued for the past decade that the United States should devote more development resources to Somaliland and Puntland. In the case of Somaliland, the security situation permitting, I have also urged the United States to open a small liaison office in Hargeisa to monitor an expanded development program. While there have been more frequent visits by U.S.officials, they still take place under security requirements that are unnecessarily stringent.

At a minimum, U.S. personnel should have more flexibility in visiting both Somaliland and Puntland.The U.S. dual track policy will continue to react to the situation on the ground in the Horn of Africa. As the situation changes, U.S. priorities will change and there could be even significant policy changes.

While the campaign against al-Shabaab has been the single most significant determinant of U.S. policy in the region, it is not the only one. The United States remains interested in advancing economic development and democratization in Somalia and Somaliland.

While pressures on the U.S. federal budget are going to make U.S. engagement increasingly more difficult in the coming months, Somaliland needs to continue to make its case for additional U.S. assistance.

Ultimately, the status of Somaliland and the rest of Somalia will most probably be determined by Somalis throughout the country in consultation with each other. Once there is agreement among Somalis, the international community will almost certainly follow their lead.

David H. Shinn is an adjunct professor of international affairs at The George Washington University, Amb. Shinn, who received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from GW, is a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia (1996-99) and to Burkina Faso (1987-90) and the author of China and Africa: A Century of Engagement. His blog can be found here. Reprinted with permission from David H. Shinn.

Party Chairmen Outraged as Only 6 of 15 New Parties Meet Requirements
By SULEIMAN OSMAN 05/11/2012
Abuse by Somaliland Authorities
©Somalia Report
Abuse by Somaliland Authorities

On January 15th of this year, Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo named a commission for the registration and selection of political parties, but at least half of the parties are crying foul over the commission's recent rulings. Somaliland formally adopted a multi-party system in August 2011.

During the registration process, 15 political parties started their campaign throughout the six regions of the self declared state of Somaliland by calling on their supporters to attend public rallies in major cities in order to fulfil the required conditions. The campaigns were conducted in a peaceful manner, and there were no reports of violence. On the 20th of April, the qualifying parties were announced by the Somaliland Commission for Registration and Selection of political parties.

The commission announced the parties which had fulfilled the requirements and those that failed to meet the set criteria. Only 6 out of the 15 new political parties fulfilled all requirements for registration.

The Council of Registration invited party leaders and other stakeholders to Maansoor Hotel in Hargeysa where they officially announced the qualifying parties. Security was tight as many police officers were deployed to the scene. The Registration and Selection Commission, the Somaliland Electoral Commission and party leaders attended the meeting.

Abdalla Ibrahim Mohamed, the deputy commissioner, made the announcement, “After examining and verifying the information of the political parties, we realized that only 6 parties had fulfilled the conditions that were given by the government. The qualifying parties are Wadani, Dalsan, Rays, Umada, Nasiye and Xaqdhowr. The other nine parties which are Nuur, Damal, Horyaal, NDB, Badbaado, Gurmad, Udhis, Jamhuuriga and SSCD have not fulfilled the requirements. This is our final decision and parties are able to appeal," Mr Ibrahim Mohamed told Somalia Report.

Hassan Ahmed Duale “Moalim”, the spokesman for the commission, confirmed only 6 parties were allowed to register.

“We started registering political parties on January 15th of this year. We had several lengthy discussions about the qualifications with the parties and found that only six are suitable and fit the criteria of political parties. I am calling upon them to observe and obey the law of Somaliland, the culture and the Islamic religion," Du’ale told Somalia Report.

Mr Duale described the major conditions necessary for qualification of a political party:

“The biggest conditions are; they have to have an office in all the six regions of Somaliland, they must register at least 1000 members from each province and give them party identification, they must organize a national meeting in the capital, and they have to act within the laws of Somaliland. After this, they can stand for local government elections. We also find out the source of funding of the parties to ensure that they are legally financed," he added.

Abuse by Somaliland Authorities Over Political Parties
© Somalia Report, all rights reserved
Abuse by Somaliland Authorities Over Political Parties

Party leaders from the rejected parties such as those from NDP, Udhis, Horyaal and Gurmad rejected the announced result, saying it was unacceptable and unfair.

Fauzia Yusuf Haji, the chairwoman of NDB, the first and the only woman to have formed a political party in Somaliland, was jailed and beaten with dozens of her supporters by Somaliland government.

“The announcement was unfair and we are not satisfied. Our party fulfilled all the necessary conditions. The selection of parties was not transparent. The commission even refused to meet with us despite NDP having 300,000 registered supporters throughout Somaliland. There are some organizations that didn't even campaign and were given the approval letters. When we asked the commission to produce clearing letters and justify why they rejected our party, they kept silent. That shows us they are not ready to correct mistakes they have made against us and the people of Somaliland. Also, the government is backing the commission,” Miss Yusuf told Somalia Report.

The chairman of Udhis party, Mr. Ibrahim Abdilahi Hussein Dhegoweyne, expressed his frustration with the outcome.

“Our party had influential people and we met all the requirements. We believe it was a plan that only six parties were selected. We are not accepting the results and we are going to start demonstrations, and call our supporters to come to the streets," he said.

“The announcement was a plan made before by the commission, and they prepared their own things but they must prove this in front of the people and the law. We will go to court," he added.

Miss Fosiyo accused the government of torturing and humiliating her supporters.

“During the preparation for our demonstration, the Rapid Response unit and Anti Terror Forces were deployed against us. 30 of our supporters were detained for one day. Ten of our party officials and I were jailed for four hours without reason in Hargeysa. My supporters were humiliated and tortured by the Anti Terror police. We are denied our rights, we are not allowed to talk, we are made speechless by the government, we are under pressure, and no one is respecting our request and suggestions. I call on the international community and donors to intervene and demand accountability for their funds which are used to beat us," Fosiyo told Somalia Report.

On the other hand, Somaliland Internal Security Minister Mohamed Nur Aarrale (Duur), warned any party which tries to create violence or protest.

“Somaliland is a peaceful country. We have our own security forces and any party which is not satisfied by the law, commission of registration or government is not a party of Somaliland. And anyone who tries to start hostility in this country will not be allowed to and we will take action against them. We will not let those people destroy what we were building for the last twenty years. We will show them that there is a powerful government," Araale Nur declared.

Sultan Mohamed Abdulqadir, one of the oldest Somaliland elders, called on both the Somaliland state and the political parties to remain calm.

“I call on unsuccessful parties not to demonstrate. A strike can bring violence in our land. We are not going to demolish our country with our own hands," he said.

Then again, Nuur Farah HirsI, the chairman of Gurmad, one of the unsuccessful parties, was banned from holding a rally in Erigavo, Sanaag region. He claimed that they completed all the requirements for a political rally, but it was halted by government officials and security forces, sources close to Mr. Hirsi told Somalia Report.

“The governor, Adan Diriye Geljire and police commissioner of Erigavo, Mohamed Jama, went to the home of Mr. Xirsi and they told him that he cannot talk to the people of Erigavo and he must go back to Buroa. After a meeting, Mr. Farah was forced to leave the city, without talking to his supporters," claimed the source.

Yusuf Ismail Ali, the Chairman of the High court of Somaliland, said that he has not received any complaints from political parties.

“The country’s justice system is independent from the government and the government does not dictate to us. So far, the high court has not received any formal complaints from the political parties that failed to meet the requirements. If they reach out to us, we will review their complaints and will take the suitable action."

While many political leaders are angry about the decision by the commission, elsewhere, the chairpersons of successful parties held a joint meeting to congratulate the commission of registration for their effort.

Abdurahman Mohamed Abdullahi, the chairman of parliament and leader of Wadani party talked to Somalia Report about the results.

“We are very happy with the outcome. We welcome the decision and selection by the commission for political parties. This is a victory for the people of Somaliland. The commission has done the right job at the right time. We request them to schedule elections," said Mr. Abdullahi.

Mohamed Abdi Gabose the chairman of Umada expressed his happiness at his party’s victory and being one of the six qualifying parties.

“Umada party and its officials congratulate the commission. This was fair and we are very happy to be among the selected six. My party fulfilled all the requirements," he told Somalia Report.

Ahmed Musa, a Hargeisa-based political analyst disagrees.

“If I look at the matter of political parties and their approval, it seems it was not conducted fairly. Let me give you examples. Most of the selected parties were chaired by politicians who are holding different positions in the current government. Secondly, the commission stated that they will accept any complaints and so far they haven't talked to any one of the aggrieved parties. The third point is that this commission is required to produce a letter articulating how and why these nine organizations failed; the commission has done nothing about that. On the other hand, the government put pressure on the protestors and political leaders. All these points show us that there is something messy. Perhaps the government, commission and key politicians of the elected parties agreed at some points to drop the nine parties,” he explained.

Political tension in Somaliland is rising every day and especially in key cities like Hargeysa, Erigavo, Burao and Berbera. The government and its security forces are controlling the matter, while the disqualified but influential political parties are angry with the government whom they accuse of not listening to them and pressuring them.

While there have been no casualties from the demonstrations that took place after the announcement by the commission, the situation remains unpredictable as the disqualified party leaders and followers nurse their anger. They may fail to heed the call for calm by local elders.

By ABDI HUSSEIN 05/09/2012
Somalia Report presents the first in a series of articles focusing on Somali-based media. In this report, we offer an overview of the media landscape in Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia.

Union of Somaliland Journalists

Due to its relative stability, the media landscape in the self-declared republic of Somaliland continues to grow despite successive efforts by the authority to bar licensing of a second radio station and ongoing media repression of local journalists. Somaliland boasts a vibrant print media sector in comparison to neighboring Puntland, a semi-autonomous region of Somalia, where newspapers are virtually non-existent as well as south central Somalia where a few newspapers exist due to the al-Shabaab militant group which controls much of the south. In the past five years, the television sector has seen some growth and penetration into global satellite, notably the Arab Sat.

The Radio Sector

Due to the low literacy levels and Somali's oral culture, radio remains the dominant medium to disseminate and receive information across Somaliland and Somalia. A transistor radio can be found in nearly every household in Somaliland.

Every government has refused to grant a license for a second radio station in Somaliland despite several applications by individuals wishing to set up a station. Even the current government which promised to liberate the Somaliland airwaves during its campaign trail has failed to keep its word.

The two previous regimes led by the late Mohamed Ibrahim Egal and Dahir Rayale Kahin both refused to heed requests to license new radio stations to compete with the existing state-owned, Radio Hargeisa citing that the security of the country would be compromised. They pointed to Rwanda’s Radio des Milles Collins which was largely accused of fanning and perpetrating the genocide in Rwanda. Indeed the late Egal, a veteran politician, was once quoted as telling his cabinet that he would allow the growth of newspaper as the readership was low, but vowed he would not allow more radio stations to spring up.

Radio Hargeisa, which lacks impartiality and quality programming, covers only a radius of 40kms from Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. Due to its limited footprint it is not heard by more than three quarters of Somaliland inhabitants. However, last week the Somaliland information ministry announced the arrival of a new 100kw radio set from china which it claimed will be heard across Somaliland.

According to analysts, the Somaliland government stance towards the licensing of a second radio station has led some of Radio Hargeisa audiences to migrate to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Somali and Voice of America (VOA) Somali Service whose programmes they believe are of better quality, diverse and impartial.

The Television Sector

Since 2003, the TV sector has seen the entry of two privately run stations, Horn Cable and Somaliland Space Channel. Initially viewers were only accessing the public funded Somaliland National Television (SLNTV) which is still firmly within the grip of the government. All the three TV channels can be watched via satellite. Their entry into satellite television has remarkably increased their viewership across Africa, Middle East and Europe. Like other local TV stations in Somalia they can be watched in virtually all Somali households in the Diaspora via the satellite. This has also improved the profile of the station and enabled the Diaspora to remain up to date with events in their homeland.

However, investment in the TV sector remains minimal. This may partly be attributed to a lack of data and and information with regard to the performance of the sector for would-be local and foreign investors there is still lack of information on the television sector’s performance, growth and returns. Their website does not provide any information on this aspect and there seems to be an assumption that little or nothing can be achieved from the sector.

©Somalia Report

Somali foreign based channels like Universal and Raad TV have correspondents based in Somaliland's major towns after getting permission from the authorities, but government officials continue to remain wary of them and believe they intentionally want to portray Somaliland in bad light.

The private station sources of income are mainly revenue from poorly made adverts, with the telecommunication sector and money transfer companies as the key advertisers. Currently Horn Cable and Milgo Digital, a local company, run subscription services where subscribers are able to receive close to a 100 channels most of which are foreign film, soap opera, documentary, sports and news channels. Subscribers are required to pay a monthly subscription fee of only US$10.

There is a downside trend whereby stations like SLNTV and Somaliland Space Chanel does not adhere to intellectual property or international copyright laws and air foreign programmes without any agreement or payment of required fees to the parent broadcasting companies. Stations, for example, re-transmit live soccer matches, such as those of the European Champions League and the World Cup, from foreign channels such as Abu Dhabi Sports, SuperSport without arrangement and making any payment.

The Print Sector

Somaliland commands a brisk print sector in comparison to other areas of Somalia. Newspapers growth in the past years has shot up remarkably almost a newspaper or two is launched every year and they currently stand at ten daily newspapers and two weekly English newspaper. The dailies include Saxafi, Ogal, Jamhuriya, Waheen, Saxansaxo, Dawan, Yool, Foore, Hatuf and Geeska Afrika while the weeklies which are published by Hatuf and Jamhuriya respectively are the Somaliland Times and Republican.

With an exception of Dawn, formerly known as Mandeeq, all the newspapers are privately owned. The pioneers are Hatuf and Jamhuriya both of which were started in 1991 when Somaliland seceded from Somalia. News entries are Yool and Foore.

Despite almost all of them being private, it is assumed the print media still serve the interests of those who own and control them. Most of them have been writing hard hitting articles against the government of the day. Despite its vibrancy in Somaliland the print sector continues to face myriad of problem ranging from government crackdown, lack of modern printing press to low circulation, caused to some extent by a lack of aggressive marketing strategies.

Most newspapers are still distributed and sold only in a few urban centers, because of a lack of reliable transport to small towns and rural areas. An additional challenge for the newspapers in Somaliland is affordability for the readers. Considering the low average household income in the country and the price of a single paper typically being the equivalent of about .40 cents (US), few people can afford to buy a newspaper on a daily basis. People tend to resort to radio for news and current affairs. In general, newspaper owners find it very difficult to make a revenue or profit.

Cocktail Journalism

To no fault of their own, many Somaliland journalists, like their counterparts in Somalia, lack formal training in journalism and are among the lowest paid in the region. Unfortunately, the lack of formal training (due to decades of warfare in the country), some journalists flout basic journalism ethics and standards. Local journalists demanding a token from events organizers, aid agencies officials or politicians to attend a press conference or cover an event is a common occurrence across Somaliland.

A common place to find journalist are cocktail parties in popular hotels hosted by either a commercial organization or certain know political figures where they are guaranteed meals, refreshment and some cash at the end.

The journalists plight hasn’t been helped by their organizations' inability to raise enough revenue or lack of credible and effective institutions of higher learning that can offer journalism courses. This situation has impacted negatively on the quality of media practitioners output and their outlets. It’s uncommon to read an interesting feature or a powerful investigative article in most of the prints. Also viewers are at times served with raw footage or unedited clips of certain events or press conference which are long and boring to watch.

Some international aid agencies have tried to cash on the Journalism and Somaliland media sector predicament by purporting to offer journalism courses and equipments to the media houses. The Organizations were backed by millions of dollars mainly from the European Union and USAID but after spending year and the cash the situation has hardly improve. Most of the journalist and media lobby groups in Somaliland concur the organization intervention has had no meaningful impact on them and their organization despite their name and plight being used when the money is sourced

A common trend among the media support organization is lack of coordination, competition, duplication of activities and their intervention not preceded by needs assessment studies thus leading to low impact. There is no single organization that has set up or supported a long term training projects among the few institution of higher learning which is the effective way to address the huge trainings needs in media sector.

The Lesser Evil

Somaliland President Silanyo
©Somalia Report
Somaliland President Silanyo

While the absence of the rule of law in south and central Somalia and especially in al-Shabaab control areas has led to the muzzling of media and the killing of journalists, some local journalists who spoke to Somalia Report believe Somaliland's crack down might be the lesser evil.

Somaliland did develop its own set of media laws and during the previous government of Dahir Rayale tried to implement a restrictive press law, but it was met with strong opposition from journalists and civil society groups the government eventually relented and shelved the draft law.

Nonetheless, at a time when the world honored “World Press Freedom Day” the media in Somaliland was repressed and their rights violated more than any other time. During the low key event in one of Hargeisa's hotels, media lobbyists accused the new government, led by Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, of repeatedly cracking down and arresting journalists across the country without tangible reasons. According to the secretary general of Somaliland Journalist Association (SOLJA), Mohamed Rashid, in a span of four month 51 journalists were arrested by the Somaliland government (see partial list below).

Rashid worried the spate of arrest have instilled fear among the media practitioners and dampened their inquisitive spirits. He asked the government, which was represented by the Information Minister Bobe Yusuf Duale, to reverse the trend and respect the rights and freedom of members of the fourth estate. Duale promised to look into the situation and make available support like media training.

The current government was overwhelmingly backed by the private media especially the print during the election period and on repeatedly promised to improve the working condition of journalists and ensure they enjoy freedom as guaranteed in Article 32 of the Somaliland constitution.

Somali Journalists Arrested by Somaliland (partial list)

July 5, 2011 - Editor of Jamhuuriya Arrested for Publishing 'Anti-Somaliland' News

January 4, 2012 - Four Journalists Arrested in Las Anod

January 14, 2012 - Six Journalists Arrested in Las Anod

February 21, 2012 - Subulahanews Journalist Arrested and Beaten in Custody

March 31, 2012 - Journalist Arrested in Las Anod

April 3, 2012 - Universal TV Reporter Arrested

April 15, 2012 - Three Journalists Arrested in Las Anod

Media Outlets in Somaliland


Radio Hargeisa (Haregisa), State Owned. The only one in Somaliland established in 1945 by the British Colonialists


Horn Cable (Haregisa), Privately owned by Farhan Haji Ali, a Somali-American

Somaliland Space Chanel (Hargeisa), Privatly owned. Founded by Somalilanders in Qatar.

Somaliland National Television (SLNTV)


Saxafi, Mohamed-Rashid Muhumed Farah (Chair SOLJA)

Ogaal, Owned by Muse Farah Jambir

Jamhuuriya, Owned by Faysal Ali Sheikh, Hassan Sicid and Khalif Nuh

Geeska Afrika, Owned by Maxamed Huseen Jaama (Rambo)

Haatuf, Owned by Yusuf Abdi Gabobe

Dawan (formerly Mandeeq), State Owned

Yool (no website)


Waheen, Owned by Ahmed Hussein Isse

Somaliland Times, Owned by Yusuf Abdi Gabobe

Republican, Owned by Faysal Ali Sheikh, Hassan Sicid and Khalif Nuh (no website)

"Conference Lacks Clarity," Says Somaliland Foreign Minister
By ABDI HUSSEIN 05/09/2012
Somaliland Billboard Promoting International Recognition
© Somalia Report, all rights reserved
Somaliland Billboard Promoting International Recognition

The government of the self-declared republic of Somaliland indicated it will not partake in the upcoming Istanbul conference scheduled for June this year despite receiving an official invitation from the Turkish government over the weekend.

Addressing reporters in Hargeisa, Somaliland Foreign Minister Abdilahi Mohammed Omar said among others, the conference lacks clarity on its agenda and does not grant Somaliland the status it received during the London conference hosted for Somalia on February this year.

“We will not participate in the Istanbul conference even though we’ve been invited to do so... but already the manner in which we were invited has caused suspicion among us. We wanted the Istanbul conference to be similar to the London conference where Somaliland was accorded a unique and important status, unfortunately that is not the case with this one,” Omar explained.

The foreign minister added that the gist of the Istanbul conference is the Somalia Road Map and the draft constitution which according to him does not concern Somaliland. “Somaliland has nothing to do with the Road Map and we did not participate in the constitution making process of Somalia since its inception. These are the main issues to be discussed and they are irrelevant to us,” he added.

The Somaliland government’s stance on the upcoming conference has received backing from the members of the opposition notably Faisal Ali Warabe, the chairman of Justice and Welfare Party (UCID), who recently met with Somali President Sheik Sharif Ahmed in Dubai where they discussed the stalled Somaliland-Somalia talks.

Speaking to Somalia Report in Hargeisa, Warabe said participating in the conference will make Somaliland appear part and parcel of Somalia and diminish all the gains Somaliland accrued over the years. “Our participation will be a confirmation that we are indeed part and parcel of Somalia, we have strived for 20 years to reach where we are, we fought and persevered and more importantly made a lot of gains .... in peace and democracy all of this will be washed away if we are involved in the conference,” he explained.

It took a lot of “soul searching” and convincing for Somaliland which is known for its political rivalry with Somalia to attend the London conference on Somalia. Due its sensitivity and exceptionality, it needed the backing of key and different players like opposition and traditional leaders and an overwhelming endorsement by Somaliland bi-cameral parliament and the House of Representatives, and for the President Ahmed Mohammed Silanyo and his entourage to attend.

Also the British government initially had to contact Silanyo through its foreign secretary, William Hague, after repeated visits by the British Ambassador in Ethiopia failed to yield anything.

The relationship between Somaliland and Somalia remains frosty and landmark talks between the two which emanated from the London conference stalled after Somaliland protested the inclusion of two persons in the Somalia committee which it claimed hails from regions that fall under the British Somaliland boundaries.

Locally there has been an outcry over traditional elders from Somaliland participating in the ongoing conference on Somalia constitution. Some people including politicians have termed their actions treasonable and called for their arrest upon return to Somaliland.

SR Speaks to Former Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galeyr
Prof Ali Khalif Galayr, Former Prime Minister of Somalia
©Somalia Report
Prof Ali Khalif Galayr, Former Prime Minister of Somalia

The conflict that arose in the Somaliland-Puntland disputed regions of Sool, Sanaag, and Eyn (Cayn) led the Dhulbahante clan to establish its own mini-state, Khatumo, independent from Somaliland and part of the federal government of Somalia.

Former prime minister of Somalia and retired Professor Ali Khalif Galeyr, a member of the Dhulbahante clan, is elder and advocate for Khatumo state. Somalia Report’s Muhyadin Ahmed Roble met with Prof. Galeyr in Nairobi to interview him about Khatumo's plans was well as its conflict with Somaliland.

You have been largely absent from the Somali political stage since 2001. What made you return?

I have been taking part in a number of meetings since that time, including during the Ethiopian intervention, but primarily I have participated from locations outside Somalia, usually over the telephone. I have traveled to Somalia only twice since 2001, once to Mogadishu during the Islamic Union's period, and once to the north of the country. Somali Politics is not a profession; events determine whether one participates or not. For me, it is the events that made me come back.

What was your role during Ethiopia’s occupation in Somalia?

My role was primarily participation in a number of peaceful demonstrations against the Ethiopian occupation. These took place in Washington, London, and Minneapolis. I was also engaged in writing petitions and giving media interviews.

So, what has changed, if anything, since the occupation?

There is a new face of Ethiopia intervention, mostly in southwest and central regions. I believe they are in the Gedo, Bay, and Bakool regions and even in Hiiraan and may be moving towards Galmudug but I think it is different kind of intervention. What they are doing now has the blessings of IGAD, the African Union and the United Nations, so it is different sort of involvement in terms of intervention. I hope it will be also different in terms of mandate and the exit scenarios of not only the Ethiopians but also the Kenyans who are also in the country, mostly in the Juba Valley. Initially, they went in to pursue their own self-interests and to counter what have been perceived as a threat from al-Shabaab but I heard now that Kenyan forces are very much under the command of AMISOM.

Some critics believe that Ethiopia still plays a role in Somali politics. Is that true?

Ethiopia is a neighbor and probably the most important player in regional politics. Kenya is becoming more engaged diplomatically and politically but as I said earlier, maintaining troops in the Juba Valley and are formally part of AMISOM. Ethiopia’s history with Somalia has been very troubled, dating back hundreds of years. But more recently, I think there has been a change in the way the two countries relate to each other. Yes, Somalis will still see foreign troops in Somalia negatively and not in the long time interest of the Somali people. But there is a change in the perception of this issues and Ethiopia it is more of now Ethiopia being more actually engaging the whole range of activities. They have a significant presence in Somaliland, Puntland and definitely in Mogadishu. That presence is an example of Ethiopia leveraging their regional influence but I think it is not outright antagonism, as many have suggested. Also, Ethiopia has legitimate concerns about its own border security, particularly with regard to the presence of guerilla groups there. Also, Ethiopia is a legitimate part of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union and the United Nations, which are all trying to bring about peace in Somalia. So, understand the difference between the previous Ethiopia intervention and current one in Somalia one has to look closely whether the different initiatives and engagements of this foreign troops it all add up and lead to effective and beneficial engagement. While they do need to be watch closely, Ethiopia appears not to be here solely to pursue its own agenda, but rather as part of the overall effort to stabilize Somalia and to bring about and maintain peace.

Since the formation of Khatumo, there has been armed violence with Somaliland in SSC regions; is there any process of engaging talks between Khatumo and Somaliland?

There are a number of people who tried to talk to Somaliland and us, some of them governments and as I said earlier, the Ethiopian government has really tried very hard to bring us together. Ethiopia invited Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud to come Addis Ababa and to sit down with us, and see if we can sort out things. Unfortunately, the president declined the invitation, and his justification was that he was planning to attend London meeting last February, and only after he attends that meeting will he have position on whether to sit down with Khatuma or not.

I heard other governments, European and North America, who also attempt to convince him in talks. There are also Somalis, some of them from that part of Somalia (Somaliland), others from other parts of the country who have genuinely try to use their own networks and talk to the president but to this day he has not accepted the invitation either for meditation or for direct talks with Khatumo.

So, in your view, what has made Somaliland refuse to engage talks with Khatumo?

I think there are two main issues. The first one is public opinion in Somaliland because the people for the last twenty some years have been bombarded with the idea that we are going to be a separate state, that we are very close to being recognized, but there is still the old sentiment that we remain part of Somalia. So, I think there is fear or at least apprehension on the part of the administration or members of the administration are that public opinion is against our state being granted autonomy. I don’t share that sentiment, of course, but I think that there is a place for leadership and that is Somaliland and the whole of Somalia are in serious historic moment - one that will require leadership. I find Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, president of Somaliland, to be a highly intelligent, experienced fellow and I think there is a desperate need for somebody like him to take the lead and to make sure to address the real roots of conflicts among clans in Somaliland as well as misunderstanding among Somaliland and Somalia.

The second issue is that it seems to me that the moment is just not right at the moment. There are no serious partners in Mogadishu and therefore I think that is outright miscalculation to believe the time is right for talks. There is no way under the presence circumstances, including the occupation of Las Anod, the very large number of troops which are lined up close to Buhoodle, that I don’t think that the Khatumo state will go back to fault if there were such fault before. I think it is the expectation or at least the idea that President Mohamoud will be able to win over some traditional elders or other important personalities in Khatumo state, which, in my opinion, is highly, highly unlikely. The traditional elders, of whom there are thirteen, and the members of the administration of Khatumo have the full confidence of the Sool, Sanaag and Eyn people, and I don’t think one of them would dare betray this united front of the people of our state.

If public opinion is against the Khatumo state, what can Somaliland politicians do?

Somaliland leadership has a very strong influence in terms of molding public opinion and I think public opinion in Somaliland, especially among the Isaq clan, has been evolving. I feel public opinion, on the one hand, puts pressure on leaders to make sure that their stated positions are maintained, but at same time the leaders have the responsibility to try and change public opinion at critical times such as this.

After twenty-one years or so no government has recognized Somaliland, nor do I think this will happen simply because the Isaq clan is a small ethnic group in broader Somali picture. I don’t think public opinion in Africa or in the neighboring areas are supportive of secession, which is why Somaliland has not been recognized. I doubt very much it will be recognized unless there was unanimity among the five ethnic groups or clans in Somaliland, which is not currently the situation. Four of the other major clans of Somaliland are opposed, either openly or covertly, against secession. There are individuals from the Esse, the Gudbibiirse, the Warsengeli, and the Dhulbahante who hold administrative positions but that do not accurately represent the public opinion in Borama or in Seyla, or Las Anod, buhoodle, Eyrgabo or Las Qoray.

So, the idea of secession is held by only one of five ethnic groups, which seriously undermines the idea of secession. Yes, they deserve the claim. They did not have a fair share in terms of political positions, development, nor the exploitation of natural resources being utilized in Somaliland. Nonetheless, I don’t think the neighboring countries or the whole of Africa, nor the UN or IGAD will approve secession, which why is I don’t think Somaliland is going to be recognized. The Somaliland administration is also weakening their own positions tremendously by being aggressive and trying by force to claim that Sool, Sanaag and Eyn is their territory, which groups like the UN do not view as a productive method of gaining support for secession and recognition.

Somaliland had experienced military atrocities from Siad Barre’s government in the past. Isn’t that enough justification to stand independently?

It was a brutal administration. I was part of that administration until 1982. I saw what was happening and I imagined what was just appearing in the horizon and that why I parted company with that administration. Yes, people of Somaliland have every right to complain about the atrocities that took place. My view is even before those things happened, in late 1980’s; they were people from Somaliland who were part of that very administration until the last days. They were prime ministers, they were ministers in cabinets, they were senior military officers, police force, civil servants, diplomatic core, etc. Therefore, the idea that the people of Somaliland were targeted as one large ethnic group, however, is largely incorrect and inaccurate and it is perhaps not the best idea to raise those claims as being justification for the secession of the entire Somaliland region. The important thing today is: what Somaliland is doing right now to the people of Sool, Sanaag and Eyn.

What is being done in Las Anod?

In Las Anod, school children who demonstrated and threw stones against the Isaq or Somaliland whatever you know them were laid down, shot, and killed.There are also a large number of young primary school students who are in Somaliland jails. This is not secret and something everyone knows. It is something Somaliland itself knows. They were simply killed and arrested because of their demonstration against the military occupation, because they say we don’t want that Isaq or Somaliland troops to occupy Law Anod against our will or to forcibly occupy the water wells of Hagoogane, Karshaale, Miigaagle and Soo Joogte. These wells are the lifeline of Somali nomads, a pastoral people who has been using these wells traditionally for hundreds of years. Today, Somaliland forces now are occupying those wells.

So, Somaliland is exactly doing what they are accusing that Siad Barre has done to them, and in fact are using the same tactics of the Siad Barre regime against the poor and unarmed people of Sool, Sanaad and Eyn, and in some cases they are even going beyond that. I heard and read statements made by the current foreign minister of Somaliland in which he says Somaliland is one, its borders are known, and if the people of Sool, Sanaag and Eyn don’t want be part of that, they can leave. I mean that is incredible statement to make; that is exactly taking a leaf from that horrific book authored by Milosevic of Yugoslavia, the Serbian leader who believed the only ways Yugoslavia could be held together is to engage in what has been called ethnic cleansing, and that is exactly what the young foreign minister of Somaliland is suggesting.

Khatumo Map
Khatumo Map
The people of Khatumo state have been part of Somaliland a long time, so why do you want to break away now?

We were part of supposedly former British Somaliland. The five ethnic groups that are the population of Somaliland, three or four of them signed friendship agreements with the British before they colonized the area. Khatumo or the people of Sool, Sanaag and Eyn never signed an agreement with British. On the contrary, they fought the British for over twenty years to resist the colonization. Yes, from the 1920s to 1960s during that thirty, forty years we were part of what was called British Somaliland. What we shared with the people you are saying now we were part of that was only colonial administration. There was a colonial governor and that is what constituted British Somaliland.

Traditionally, we were one people before and during the colonization and even now. We share grazing and wells and we also intermarry. We are people who have that historic cultural and social and political relationship traditionally. The difference arises when you try to replace the colonial administration with an administration that is Isaq-based. I don’t belong to them and they don’t belong to us. We can only come together voluntarily of sharing things. Unfortunately, Somalia everything is based on 4.5. It is based on ethnic relations, and no ethnic group can force the others to be part of their imagination. Somaliland or Isaq clan cannot overwhelm the people of Sool, Sanaag and Eyn even if they win couple of battles. This would cause long term pain for both sides, and both sides would lose.

There is win-win vision, however, and that is for both sides to sit down together. They are not moving out of neighborhood nor are we. It is in our common interest to come together and talk and agree on what will be of mutual benefits. But if they think they can force us to accept their dominance and through force, I don’t think that is something acceptable and we have every right to defend ourselves. This would be a justified war for us, though our strong preference is that neither side would fight the other. We don’t want to fight. We have been saying this publically and privately and will continue saying it but there is a limit to how far we can restrain our people.

From that point of view, does the federalism system seem to create division among Somalis, clans and central and regional government?

Yes and no. In the absence of central authority, whoever comes out and say, “I am autonomous and I have my own administrative and political arrangements in place,” they can have their flag, they can have their national anthem so long as that there is no sufficient reason to doubt their aim of getting its own flag and national anthem. Somaliland clearly says, “I am not part of Somalia." Puntland is the only one that leverages its position. The leadership of Puntland, started from Abdullahi Yusuf, the founder of Puntland, came to the meeting in Embakasi in Kenya, and Abdullahi gave his speeches of candidacy for the presidency of Somalia. Fine, he has every right to run for president but the problem was that everybody knew his true position was, "either I become president of Somalia or we will just walk out." I think Mr. Farole, the current president of Puntland, has that in his mind also - "either I will get what I want (from all appearances he wants to be next president of Somalia), or I will walk out."

But to come back to your question, if there are administrations like Himan and Heeb, Galmudug, Khatumo and others that emerging and are moving forward administratively, I believe that to be positive because those little administrations may produce credible local leadership which can then take part in reconstituting the reemergence of Somalia. So, it is positive, therefore, because if someone wants to say something about Himan and Heeb, there is local leadership there who are already in place. So, it makes the reemergence of Somalia that much easier. There are going to be political difficulties, but that is what politics is all about. There are different ambitions, different tactics, and strategic considerations that local leadership will be coming up with. I prefer that then imposing something in Mogadishu and saying here is the national government, without the requested support of different districts and regions.

The draft constitution reads that only two or more regions could form semi-autonomous states, but we see the emerging of mini-state phenomena whereby each clan-district became a base for mini-state. What are the positive aspects of such clan-based mini-states, if any?

The draft constitution, which has not been ratified, states that the federating units are going to be two or more regions of the old 18 regions of the last years of Barre regime in 1990s. So either two or more of those will constitute a federal unit. That is what is in the draft constitution. We shouldn’t jump the gun. I mean we have to wait for its endorsement. If we have many administrations, I really don’t see them in negative terms. I think they can contribute to the bringing everybody back home, back to the national framework.

In Galmudug, the old Mudug, there may be three or four administrations; in Hiiraan there may be three or four different little administrations. These are all attempts to get out of the mess due the lack of a central authority. I imagine, on the one hand, there is political ambition whether personal or one the part of an entire ethnic group to constitute and curve out their own little administration, but the same time it is out of frustration when things don’t happen in Mogadishu and we are getting beyond what can be tolerated. I mean people are just fed up with the chaos and the lack of movement or motion out of the center, the capital. So, the efforts, I think, are worthwhile if people go to their districts and regions and think through and spend time in conversing support in forming their little regional administrations. That is really positive.

If you read the draft federal constitution, what did you find out?

I read and I am familiar with a lot of papers that were represented before and even reactions to some of the drafts and competing ideas of some of the articles. I think the draft federal constitution is fine but it is technical document. What was needed and still needed is: are the Somali people aware of this, on board in terms of what the draft constitution provides. However, it is a draft, which one can see good aspects and good articles particularly in the attempts of dealing with the issues of human rights, civil liberties, and the issues of building democratic institutions. But what is missing and is very troubling is that some of these issues still require a great deal of discussion and debate. These are very controversial, decisive issues and you can’t just have a technical solution to some of these issues, it has to have the backing of the people.

We were talking earlier about federal setup and in fact the current interim transition government is a federal system and constitution talks about a federal system, there are differential orientation to what this is about. I meant there is more support for federation in a place like Baidoa or Garowe than there is in Mogadishu itself or I imagine Balad Weyne or Kismayo. And that issue should have been brought to the attention of those drafting of constitution: how do we address these critical issues? How do we make sure that we are consulting amongst government officials and with the people and are taking into the account of the serious differences among regions or among ethnic groups? Only when you come to a measure of the understanding and compromising, can you then draft a constitution or address some of these crucial points that will make or break the reemergence of Somalia.

As I stated, I don’t think there has been that sufficient political discussion and political discourse. It appears, in terms of ratifying the constitution that we are still relying on technical mechanisms. Some of the regions in Somalia or some of ethnic groups have more established traditional leaderships or authorities, others don’t. So, it will be a mixed bag. I mean when you talk traditional elders, yes for some areas you will find it is heritage the traditional leaders, it goes back many, many years and there will be no any contestation as to who are the traditional leaders of these places. Since the Siad Barre administration, it should be noted, there has been creation of new Caqils, new traditional leaders. There has been inflationary trend in the creation of those and most politicians - especially those who will try to fix the game - will say we have our own traditional elders also, and properly will announce brand new ones for the occasion. This is very serious and it will be will be very challenging. The idea now is to divide them up to the usual 4.5, so what you do with some of the constituent parts that don’t have traditional elders. That is one aspect.

The other more serious aspect is the 825 who are going to be constituted by 4.5 clans of Somalia. I understand perfectly well the notion of the constituent assembly. Before you even have a referendum for the whole country to come up with an arrangement, which can substitute for the general referendum but the 825 and the time they are going to be given, is very short. Even how you are selecting members of the constituent is more important issue than their number. This is deciding the destiny of the whole of the country and its people and to take Somalia out of ongoing multiple conflicts. I don’t think sufficient times have been allotted for this 825 to deliberate and to discuss.

I think the third concern is the perception is that Somali input in this whole exercise is not up to power; it is not to the level that no Somalis will be comfortable with. We need desperately international input, we need desperately for people of good will who even in some cases putting their own lives at risk to have an input on this. But how do you come up with what the average Somali will feel comfortable and will be supportive of? The Minister of Constitution, Hon. Abdirahman Hosh, and the Hon. Abdillahi Goodah Barre the other day convened a meeting in Nairobi and they gave good presentation of how they are taking to the account the opposition or reservation of the Somali people groups and ethnic groups. I welcomed that and congratulated them for convening that meeting the other day. But I don’t that is sufficient; I think we need more of that. I understand perfectly well Mogadishu is not very secure, though it is becoming relatively more peaceful, but you can curry support through local media and there are traditional Somali ways of even bringing the 16 districts of Mogadishu together for discussions or for having public meetings beyond Mogadishu in other regions and districts. Therefore, what I am suggesting is that a simple referendum is not sufficient, what is important is coming up with ways to present this draft document to the public for their input and approval.