Sanaag region and the path forward
WardheerNews recently published an opinion piece The Perils of Arrogance and Clan Chauvinism that made sweeping and quite deceptive statement on Sanaag Region, painting it as either occupied or part of the secessionist sphere of control. “Having put their relative military might to the test by occupying all the unionist regions in the north —except for Buuhoodle district,” Osman concludes unequivocally.
The purpose of this brief response is to illuminate Sanaag Region, Somalia’s second largest region. Important to mention, however, is the root causes of the occupied Sool region.
The militarization of Sool and Buhotle district in Togdheer Region, the principal homeland of the Dolbahante, did not happen overnight. Las Anod was in the hands of Puntland when Haabsade, a Dolbahante, held the Interior Minister of Puntland. In 2007, Haabsade was sacked from his post; he then switched sides to tip the balance in favor of “Somaliland” with the full backing of his own sub-clan.
In the ensuing weeks, the disgruntled minister had led Somaliland forces in alliance with heavily armed local clan militia to the fall of Las Anod. Puntland made multiple attempts to re-capture the city in the next 2 -6 months, but it was undermined by a series of defections in the ranks of its military and found itself fighting in the hearts of Sool region against an unholy alliance.
“Somaliland” then deployed more troops and expanded eastward into surrounding villages while capitalizing on the vacuum left by Puntland and the fission of Dolbahante clan, complicated by divided traditional and political leadership.
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After many setbacks, Puntland forces finally retreated to Tukarak village, which then becameits permanent and customs checkpointuntil recently. “Somaliland” officials have continued to makesecurity threats that Garowe, the capital of Puntland, will be their next target. The fall of Tukarak, which is roughly 70 km from Garowe, serves as a reminder that Puntland is weak and unable to deter an emboldened and expansionist “Somaliland”.
Sanaag Regionis the principal homeland of the Warsangeli clan.
ThereareseveralfactorsthatcontributetotherelativepeaceandstabilityinSanaagregions. TheWarsangeliSultanate haslong history of civilization, characterized by defined population, defined territory, and organized political structure. The borders of its territoryextend to the west ofErigavofrom Bosaaso (Bari region), straddling from the shore ofLaasoSuurad, (“Ras Surad”) in the Gulf of Aden totheplateausofSoolHaud (a land mass the size of Sool and Awdal regions combined).
Traditional and modern governance structures exist to maintain equilibrium amongst the clans in the region. Court systems that hear and adjudicate claims and public disputes have been established. A 2016 study by OCVP found the level of mutual trust between the elected executive and council members and their constituents to be as high as 90 percent. The police are regarded to be the formal institution providing security, per OCVP.
In addition, several districts have functioning police headquarters. The construction of one major penal institution in the capital of Sanaag region is nearly complete; additional corrections facilities are planned to be constructed in Dhahar whose residents recently elected a new mayor and an executive committee.
The recent tour of the Federal Minister of Planning, Gamal Hassan, with a sizable delegation of dignitaries and government officials, corroborates this relative stability and law and order in Sanaag and Haylan regions. During his tour, Gamal saw the progress of several infrastructure projects, including the Maakhir University and the rehabilitation of the main road that connects Ceeldaahir of Bari region to Ceerigaabo, Sanaag. Gamal is the first federal official to tour Sanaag region. In an interview with BBC Somali, Gamal said he held discussions with community leaders, the civil society, and government officials to assess the country’s general security, economic growth, and development.