Can Somaliland Profit from its Destabilization Policies?

Can Somaliland Profit from its Destabilization Policies?

Somaliland President Mr. Silanyo at the city of Laasqoray

by Mohamed Elmi
Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Somaliland’s leader, Mr. Silanyo’s visit in Laasqoray, Sanaag Region, though was unexpected and shocking to many, it underscores a sinister political agenda. Many members of the Warsangeli community allege that Silanyo’s motive is to frustrate, stop or divert economic development programs currently in progress and some in the pipeline. More sinister, however, is his desire to undermine the capacities of the local populations of Sanaag and Haylan to perform functions of peacemaking and governance. Silanyo also wants to adversely challenge the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM)’s mandate on peacebuilding and state-building. Among current initiatives for economic development in Makhir regions, which probably forced the separatist leader to infiltrate and destabilize Laasqoray and mainland Sanaag include: 


1.      The Ceeldaahir-Badhan-Ceerigaabo road construction project, a huge and costly undertaking (the Makhir community has already appointed a committee for the administration of the funds)

2.      The Maakhir University and Garowe Airport projects through a grant by Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. The airport project includes “building plane runway, passengers building, air traffic control tower, planes parking spots, runway lighting as well as fire and rescue stations.” Likewise the Maakhir project includes, “building campus, lecture rooms, laboratories, sports arenas, libraries, computer rooms, dormitories and other college services.” (KUNA, 2013, Oct. 07).

Destabilization of peaceful regions of Somalia only serves to expose the true colors of “Somaliland” as a rogue and illegal state that’s imposing its will on Somalia in contravention of international norms and obligations. A UN official shared this view on condition of anonymity, “I have a sneaking suspicion that this is all Somaliland wanted at the end. To make the areas seem disputed when they have nothing to do with it, and prevent aid organizations from working there” (personal communication, March 24, 2013).

Why is Somaliland so politically engaged in the regions of Sanaag and Sool regions? A number of contradicting theories have emerged, but the most powerful one is that the elites of “Somaliland” who had led also the Isaq clan’s uprisings against Barre’s military dictatorship are intent on making themselves relevant in the wider political configuration of future Somalia. Saadia Touval (1963) raised in his, Somali Nationalism: International Politics and the Drive for Unity in the Horn of Africa, intriguing questions on the unification of Somali territories. He found that some political groups in Somalia enjoyed a “leadership position in their respective [colonial] territories” and could, therefore, expect political marginalization and neglect. The conspiracy was that the Darod clan would be a minority group if “Somaliland” returns to its old protectorate status.  “It was obvious both to the Ishaq in the North and to the Hawiye in the South that their relative weight and political influence were bound to decline if the two territories were merged into a unitary state” (p. 118). Dr. Touval who taught in John Hopkins University was an “expert on mediation issues” according to an obituary by the New York Times. Touval wrote many books in his career in both academia and government; Somali Nationalism (1963) was his first book.

Faisal Warabe’s Call for Ethnic-Cleansing

For many years, Faisal Warabe wastes no time to stir up historical clan rivalry between the Darod and Isaq clans in his capacity as a chairman of Ucid political party in “Somaliland”. His latest diatribe is not unusual, but it could be a harbinger of an ethnic-cleansing campaign; it also speaks volume of the designs of the separatist entity to find ways to bring some territories it covets under its control (directly or indirectly). “Somaliland” has deployed hundreds of militias with armored vehicles at the outskirts of Armaale town near Erigavo, according to SPR. The call by Faisal Warabe’s radical stance to ethnically cleanse the inhabitants of Sanaag and Haylan regions (Warsangeli) should they continue to dismiss “Somaliland”’s right to secede from Somalia resonated well with many separatists and listeners of Universal TV, who called the channel to voice their frustration as to why it took so long to close the artificial borders. It’s a call filled with a foreboding—war, displacement and calamity.

Politics of Clientele

The failure to curb the advances of the secessionists also stems from self-styled leaders of Makhir. As Ali A. Isseh, a regional expert and political economist observed in the past, “When the politics of clientele becomes dominant in the circles of self-interested opportunists, representation becomes a social whore. Opportunists prostitute peoples’ interests, and exchange allegiance for nickels and dim” (Isseh, 2008).  Many proud members of this community feel hopeless and powerless as the warnings and predictions of Isseh turn out to be the norm.

Another political quandary is naturally born by the indifference of the educated class of Makhiris and the local media not to isolate, expose and ridicule the self-interested figureheads such as Cali Buureed, Cadami, and the likes. Rather than elevate the local heroes and heroines of Makhir who translate their beliefs of Somali unity, independence and dignity with tangible actions, the local media carries self-defeating stories that glorify agents of “Somaliland”.

As a matter of principle, the distinction lies not in whether an enlisted Isaaq member with a uniform bearing the insignia of “Somaliland” militia is peacefully stationed in Dhahar, Carmale or Badhan or whether an opportunist recruit the local youth to carry out the orders of Hargeisa in their own lands even if such actions lead to instability and/or diversion of allocated funds for economic development. Al-Shabab employs similar tactics to advance its wicked global agenda. Defending one’s land is an honor and obligation. The Makhir leadership shouldn’t shirk its responsibility in exposing the opportunists and shaming them publicly but also defending Makhir territories is an honor and obligation.

Mohamed Elmi



Isseh, Ali., & Elmi, Mohamed. (2008). Maakhirian Shift: Pre-empting a Melian fate. The Maakhir Solution. Retrieved from

Bernstein, Adam. (2008, April 25). Saadia Touval, 76, Expert on Mediation Issues. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

KUNA. (2013, Oct. 7). KFAED to give USD 10 mln in loans to Somalia. Kuwait News. Retrieved from

Touval, Saadia. (1963). Somali Nationalism: International Politics and the Drive for Unity in the Horn of Africa. Harvard University Press.