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International Support for Somalia: Contributing to Instability in Somaliland.

The international community—including the US Government, UK, EU, Arab Gulf states, the UN, and other agencies—has contributed to several issues in Somalia and Somaliland that have led to regional instability. A significant example is the conflict in Lascanod, a city in the eastern region of Somaliland near Puntland. Additionally, the international community’s failure to address the ongoing issues between Somaliland and Somalia has exacerbated disputes over control of the airspace shared by both countries, including revenue generated from it. Despite agreement that both Somaliland and Somalia share the revenue gained from the air space.Somalia has never distributed any portion of this revenue to Somaliland, further straining relations and contributing to regional instability.

Over the past 14 years, successive Somalia presidents have formed the Somalia National Army by recruiting and training clan-based militias. These forces have been used to oppress or fight against opposing clans or tribes, as seen in Jubaland and South Somalia.

In the Lascanod conflict, Somalia soldiers trained by Eritrea, and the US government fought against Somaliland forces. Lascanod had been a peaceful city, and even though the local community had some grievances against Somaliland, the situation was relatively stable. Today, however, Lascanod has become a city where terrorist groups operate, and tribal militias are fighting over control. The Somaliland government has withdrawn its army, leaving a power vacuum that has escalated the chaos.

From 2012 to 2017, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia selected soldiers from various clans, predominantly from the Hawiye tribe, with some from other tribes, for training by Turkey, the USA and Uganda. These soldiers were later deployed to fight against the Biyomaal tribe in Marka, a conflict rooted in disputes over agricultural land.

From 2017 to 2022, former Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo recruited soldiers from his clan for training in Eritrea, the USA, and Turkey, with the intention of deploying them against Somaliland and not against terrorist groups. This shift in focus has led to significant destabilization in Somaliland, with armed confrontations in Lascanod—a region that had enjoyed relative peace for 32 years. The support from the international community intended to combat terrorism in Somalia has instead been redirected to conflicts against Somaliland or political opposition in Mogadishu.

The same forces have also been used in Mogadishu to suppress political opposition, as seen during protests when President Farmajo refused to hold elections in Somalia. This misuse of international aid and resources has raised concerns about the long-term consequences of training clan-based militias, especially as they have been repurposed for political and territorial conflicts rather than combating terrorism.

The irony is that the international community is indirectly empowering tribal militias within Somalia to fight against each other and against Somaliland, which could lead to wider regional instability.

Hypothetically, if Somaliland becomes destabilized, the cost of restoring stability could be high, given the presence of the Houthis in Yemen, terrorist groups who are based in Puntland, and pirates seeking to establish bases in Somaliland.

Many scholars, politicians, and academics in Somaliland believe the international community’s support for Somalia could lead to a larger conflict if Somalia were to attack Somaliland. The recent conflict in Lascanod is a troubling sign, with Somalia soldiers trained in Eritrea and by the US gov fighting alongside terrorists to destabilize Somaliland.

The debate in Somaliland’s streets revolves around whether to continue relying on support from Western and Arab Gulf countries or to turn towards other nations like Russia, Iran, and China for backing. The current Somaliland government, led by President Musa Bihi, is pro-Western and has ties to Arab Gulf countries. However, this could change if the opposition party gains power and seeks to align with China, possibly offering them a military base in Somaliland. To prevent this, Western and Arab Gulf countries must win the hearts and minds of the people of Somaliland before it’s too late.

In Summary

International support for Somalia, including aid from the US, UK, EU, Arab Gulf states, and the UN, has inadvertently contributed to instability in Somaliland. Although aid was intended to combat terrorism and promote peace in Somalia, successive Somalia presidents have used it to train clan-based militias for personal or tribal gain.

This redirection of resources has fueled conflicts like the one in Lascanod, where Somalia-trained forces fought against Somaliland troops. Instead of stabilizing the region, these actions have led to increased violence, repression of opposition, and growing concerns about wider regional instability. The situation has raised debates in Somaliland about whether to continue relying on Western support or seek alliances with other global powers like Russia or China. The international community’s role in this destabilization could have far-reaching consequences if left unchecked.


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By Arraale M Jama Freelance Journalist and Human Rights activist.