UK’s warning of Somaliland Threat is wakeup call
Awdalpress – Hargeisa – Since Al Shabab were routed from major towns in Somalia, it was a given fact that fleeing die-hard fighters would seek refuge in places such as Somaliland, Puntland and wherever AMISOM troops couldn’t reach them.
But while Puntland was already on high alert due to its proximity to areas under Al Shabab domination in the south and for having its share of Al Shabab infringements on its security, Somaliland seemed to have opted for an ostrich mentality and was more embroiled in insignificant clan rivalries and individualistic political gains
Instead of uniting its communities and mobilizing its resources to face the impending danger of extremism spreading its networks from the Sahel States in the Atlantic through Yemen in the Red Sea to Somalia in the Indian Ocean, Silanyo government has doped its people with fake elections and kept a blind eye to the defeated Al Shabab militias who were streaming to its territory.
The fact that many of the leaders of Al Shabab such as the top man Ahmed Godane also known as Mukhtar Zubeer hailed from Somaliland and that he and his henchmen could find a hiding place among their clans in Hargeisa was not lost on the intelligence of UK and other western countries.
Somaliland people are also aware that Al Shabab and Salafist groups have both known and unknown cells in Somaliland. Recently one of the die-hard salafists in Somaliland, Sheekh Mahmoud Abdillahi Geelle, has announced a political party known as Hizbullah in Hargeisa. The government arrested him briefly but immediately released him not only because of the strong support the man has in Hargeisa but also due to the influence of elements in Silanyo government who the people suspect were members of extremist groups before they joined the cabinet.
It is only in Hargeisa of the entire Horn of African region where a Saudi-type moral police called the organization for the protection of virtues and prevention of vice operates with the full support and protection of the local authorities. Hargeisa is also a popular destination and venue for the annual gatherings of the Tablighi Jamaat groups who come all the way from Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has become almost familiar to Somaliland people to see Afghani and Pakistani preachers roaming in the countryside of under the pretext of teaching Islam to the Somali nomads. But the fact that these people speak neither Arabic nor English, let alone Somali, is not lost on many Somalilanders who believe that these people are nothing but vanguards of Al Qaeda. It is no more a bizarre thing for many passengers returning from Somaliland to see bearded Asian men spreading their prayer mats in the aisles of airplanes in mid-air to pray among fearful passengers.
Somaliland has also lost its international image of being an oasis of peace and stability since the Silanyo government came to power in 2010. Instead of building on the robust foreign policy followed over the years by the preceding governments, the Silanyo government has lost all its foreign friends due to its myopic, inward looking and clan based strategy.
The semblance of statehood that existed during the Egal and Rayale governments has disappeared and a government-sponsored clan animosity has taken its place. Today, Somaliland exists only in name. Khaatumo State has been established in the eastern parts and the communities in Awdal & Salal regions have become so alienated and disgruntled that they can no more afford to continue with the state of amnesia in which they lived over the last 20 years. The recent badly run local council elections had also dissipated any hopes that the people might have about the possibility of establishing a system based on institutions and the rule of law. Even the clans in the middle regions who were the core of the claim for Somaliland sovereignty are today deeply divided and do not have a common vision on the future of their country. This deterioration has come at a time when Somalia has made great improvements both on security and statehood. The new government in Mogadishu has been recognized by the USA and the African Union and it has taken its natural role as the sole and legitimate government of the Federal Somali State. The era that Somaliland thrived on the ruins and chaos of Mogadishu has come to an end.
This has put Somaliland in a precarious geo-political situation and made it a fertile place for extremist forces such as Al Shabab to relocate their operations.
It is against this background that the UK government has understandably issued a warning to its citizens to leave Somaliland as a pre-emptive measure to deprive Al Qaeda and its affiliates of taking British citizens and other westerns as hostages. It is also a call for the Somaliland government to wake up from its deep slumber and to act to contribute to the security of its own people and the region as a whole. One may also add that through this action the British government is sending a clear message to the Somaliland authorities that the game is over and that the UK government was not ready anymore to continue dealing with scattered enclaves in Somalia.
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