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Las Anod Uprising: Is this the beginning of the end of the Somaliland saga?
by Naima Osman
Tuesday January 31, 2023

Garaad Jaamac Garaad Ali in Las Anod, Sool

Somaliland was created on May 18, 1991, after the collapse of the military regime in Somalia. A conference of the Northern People of Somalia in Buroa, held over six weeks laid the foundation for Somaliland’s independence from Somalia. Testimonies of people present at the conference called the outcome as being forced on them. Regrettably, they were told to support Somaliland’s independence or face prosecution.   It is a territory founded on immense hubris with a priority agenda of subjugating those opposing the breakaway.  Depending on whom you talk to, Somaliland has an oxymoron history. For the haves, it is joy, wealth, domination, and success, but for the have-nots, it is oppression and marginalization.

Nevertheless, it must be re-iterated that Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace compared with the chaotic south and a primitive democracy that is much embellished by the western media.  The hypocritic western media characterized Somaliland as East Africa’s only democracy ignoring the suffering of the majority of the people in Somaliland.  Democracy is a way of governing that fully depends on the will of the people. An election is not a measurement of democracy. The absence of the basic indicators of democracy which are holding free and fair elections, having freedom of speech, rule of law, and protecting human rights leads to a flawed democracy that suffocates the citizens.

The leaders of Somaliland have spent most of their time seeking international recognition despite the majority of its constituencies opposing the idea. If an opinion poll is conducted fairly and freely the majority of people in Somaliland will vote NO for secession.  It must be recognized. However, in 1960, Somali unity was attained because leaders from the North decided to join with their brothers in the South and form the Somali Republic. Without the heroic move of the Northern leaders, Somali unity would have been an illusion.  

The civil strife in Las Anod

Sool region is a disputed area claimed by both Somaliland and Puntland. The tension between the two regional states has been increasing in the past decades. The people of Las Anod rebelled against the totalitarian, clannish regime of Muse Bihi and are insisting on unilaterally deciding the fate of their region.  The separatist group, mainly from Hargeisa, has sown the seeds of destruction deep within their political institutions. Somaliland is a region built on a clannish mentality, squarely dominated by a minority group that ignored the call for dialogue and openly funded the collapse of Somalia. Likewise, resources and power are concentrated in the hands of a few, and it’s architecturally designed to dominate, oppress, and control the rest of the people. Currently, the situation in Somaliland displays all the necessary factors that cripple societies and inevitably lead to a civil war and total disintegration.

Somaliland is populated by clans that have many things in common including religion, and interclan marriages but have difficulties to forge a cohesive system of government that provides equal justice to all. Arbitrary detention, intimidation, and extra-judicial execution have limits and can’t go on forever as people will start rebelling against oppressive regimes. In Las Anod, people stood firmly resisting the separatist agenda of the Somaliland government and raised the Somali national flag across the city.   Similar uprisings, but on a lower scale have started or are expected to start in Borame and Erigavo.

Managing clan diversity is a complex problem that should have been addressed institutionally.

Suppressing dissidents can only lead to further clan strife as in the Las Anod case. Somalia is dangerously polarized where violence is sought as the solution to our social strife. Nation-building requires transforming a violent society into a peaceful one. And this has been the biggest challenge facing entire Somalia.  Overall, Somalia needs to create a society where all people can live together in peace and mutual respect.

The political crisis in Somaliland is inundated with complaints from various clans that make the regional state. It needs a more distinctive view in order to fully find a long last solution to its political quandary. Considering the mindset of clannish leaders, the crisis in Somaliland will not be able to be managed peacefully for several reasons. Somaliland has avoided embracing the diversity of the state. The regional state of Somaliland denied promoting the harmonious coexistence of separate clan groups and has promoted clannish agenda throughout its entire history.

Lessons learned from Somaliland

1    One clan cannot decide for the future of others

2.   Clannish institutions are a threat to the transformation of a violent society into a peaceful one, therefore are a disastrous recipe for nation-building.

3.   Artificial states with kangaroo courts are deemed to fall apart

4.   Elections are not a measurement of democracy

5.   Hubris is a delusional behavior that makes society deaf and blind.

6.   The collapse of Somaliland is a clear warning that the rest of Somalia will eventually disintegrate sooner or later.

Somaliland currently is at a point of no return, and it will be hard to redeem it back unless a new chapter is unveiled that respects people’s rights, allow an equal share of resources, adopt, and implement a constitution that guarantees civil liberty, freedom of expression, and rule of law. Unfortunately, these democratic values are not entrenched in the Somali way of life, and therefore, are not expected to happen. For the rule of Law to function, there is a need for a transparent legal system, strong enforcement structures, and an independent judiciary to protect citizens against the arbitrary use of power by the state, individuals, or any other organization. In a clannish state, the rule of law is exclusively heavy-handed by the ruling elite.  And secondly, anyone with innate hubris displaying arrogant behavior, excessive pride, and overestimation of his/her power is shortsighted and unable to concede.

To end the secessionist agenda of Somaliland, the federal government of Somalia and the public at large must fully support the civil strife in Las Anod.  The truth of the matter is that this is the beginning of the end of the Somaliland saga.

Naima Osman
[email protected]


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