Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Somaliland Supports Al-Shabaab to Undermine Progress in Somalia and Puntland
Al-Shabaab guerrillas in the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia.
April 22, 2014
SPC | Somali Policy Centre

Secessionist elements of Somaliland government and influential business leaders have allegedly been supporting a proxy war to undermine security in south-central Somalia, and Puntland, according to credible sources and regional security experts who spoke with the Somali Policy Centre (SPC) on the condition that we keep their identity confidential. Hargeisa-based business leaders with close ties to senior government officials have financed al-Shabaab and other extremist groups in south-central Somalia and Puntland in an effort to stop the political and security progress made in Somalia, and/or keep the status quo in order buy more time for Somaliland recognition.

Western governments are investigating links between extremist groups and members of Somaliland executive and business leaders who may have violated international laws that ban material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations. The elements under investigation include key business leaders who allegedly provided safe haven, facilitation, financial, military and logistical assistance to al-Shabaab, with the blessing of the Somaliland government in a reckless effort to destabilize Mogadishu, south-central Somalia, and Puntland”.

The Puntland government recently accused Somaliland of supporting al-Shabaab and facilitating the infiltration of these to Puntland, according to media reports. Western and regional governments have long suspected Somaliland and al-Shabaab nexus, but were surprised at the level of coordination and support between business leaders, government officials and al-Shabaab’s.

A senior Western official remarked that “his government was disappointed with Somaliland efforts to undermine Puntland and sees the recent provocation in Las Khorey and Taleh as part of ongoing effort to by Somaliland to undermine stability and limit the international community security and development efforts in Puntland”. Somaliland government is desperate for recognition and is facing mounting dissatisfaction, corruption, and rivalry between religious groups and Isaaq sub-clans over who will succeed President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud “Silanyo”. Silanyo in his eighties is suffering from poor health and plays a minor role in day-to-day operations of the government.

The rivalry between Hirsi Ali Haji Hassan, the Minister of Presidential Affairs, the de facto ruler and Ali Mohamed Waran-ade, the Minister of Interior and their chief antagonist Faysal Ali Warabe, the leader of secessionist camp is fueling internal political struggle between several political factions and religious groups. The trio represents the interests of the three main Isaaq sub-clans (Habar Awal, Habar Jeclo and Habar Yonis), who are all competing to dominate power in Hargeisa post Silanyo terms. The Habar Awal and Habar Yonis who were marginalized since Silanyo’s election object to Habar Jeclo power grab and attempt to establish Minister Hassan as a successor to Silanyo.

Western governments are concerned that extremist groups remain unchecked in Somaliland and leaders of the group are active in Hargeisa, Burco, Erigabo and Las Anod despite government assurances that they will crackdown on the group supporters. Somaliland business leaders and religious figures continue to openly support and advocate for extremist groups return to Somaliland, where they are protected by their Isaaq sub-clans. Somalia experts assess that internal clan rivalry between main Habar Jeclo and Habar Awal and between Habar Jeclo and Habar Yonis has allowed al-Shabaab to leverage and exploit the situation in order to move operations from south-central Somalia to Togdheer, Sool and Sanaag.

According to reports, government officials in Burco, Erigabo and Las Anod are either complicit or are too weak to challenge the growing presence of al-Shabaab in the area. These groups have built a cross-border presence and support networks in Somaliland to exploit Sool and Sanaag porous borders, mountains and unguarded coast to smuggle weapons, possibly from Eritrea and Yemen destined for south-central Somalia, and Puntland.

Somaliland’s proxy war in Somalia and Puntland and growing ties to al-Shabaab and Puntland-based militants if it’s substantiated, marks a significant and dangerous turn for Hargeisa, potentially undermining Somaliland stand with the international community. Hargeisa officials need to be careful about supporting al-Shabaab and realize that the international community will never endorse terrorism or clan-based secession movement in Somaliland and the policy of all governments active in Somalia is focused on rebuilding a strong federal Somalia that includes Somaliland.

This report is produced by the Somali Policy Centre (SPC), a private institution focusing on Somalia public policy issues. All views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this report should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).

SPC | Somali Policy Centre
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