For eight months, the breakaway northern Somali region, also called Somaliland, has been shelling on daily basis the city of Las Anod whose residents has vowed to remain part of a united Somalia. In spite of Sool, Sanaag and Ayn suffering and Las Anod’s plea for recognition, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud kept silent.
Today, despite their victory against their tormentors, after hundreds of deaths, the displacement of 200,000 residents in Las Anod alone and the complete destruction of civilian infrastructure, President Hassan Sheikh still remains deaf to SSC population’s expectation to rejoin its nation.
But why would a Somali president so keen in dividing his country and alienate millions of Somalis?
President Hassan guilty silence
When Somaliland started its onslaught on Las Anod, a number of Somali politicians, mostly from Puntland or SSC regions, took the stage to slam Musa Bihi and his secessionists for creating a human disaster. There were also politicians like former president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed or Abdirahman Abdishakur who raised their voices, condemned the violence used against civilians in Las Anod and called Bihi to use dialogue and not violence.
On the other hand, President Hassan Sheikh not only avoided exposing the aggressor, but also failed to seize the opportunity to stress his commitment to the territorial integrity of Somalia and to side with of those who defend the principle of national unity.
When Musa Bihi’s forces began shelling Las Anod on February 6, the president’s weak statement about an end to the violence failed to reassure the beleaguered population of the Las Anod and SSC regions. Then President Hassan and his docile Prime Minister Hamze Barre resumed their routine, shocking the nation for their inhumanity and in violation of their oath to uphold the constitution.
However, Hassan Sheikh, known for his empty fine words during public speeches, mentioned the suffering of the people of Las Anod and praised them for celebrating Independence Day and by displaying the unity flag.
Then, to close down international concern, he sent clans traditional chiefs from southern regions to mediate between Las Anod and Hargeisa.
The paradoxical collusion
This prompted Garaad Jama Garaad Ali, the Supreme chief of the 33 leading elders and intellectuals leading the region, to publicly states the obvious collusion between the secessionist Somaliland and the president of Somalia, as paradoxical as it may look like.
The declaration that shocked many when it was uttered has been proven more than one time and it is now not controversial to admit the obvious. Here are some of the facts that reveal President Hassan Sheikh’s tacit support for Somaliland in its fight to regain Las Anod.
These traditional chiefs returned empty-handed to Mogadishu in April and then disappeared from the radar until July. Bihi finally consented to receiving them for a photo-op with him and other secessionist leaders. President Hassan Sheikh reportedly pleaded with Bihi not to embarrass him after recent harsh accusatory remarks by Garaad Jama Garaad Ali who accused the president of colluding with secessionists.
Days later, the SSC-Khatumo Supreme Council, which represented the beleaguered region until July, apologized to the federal government for the Garaad’s allegations on President Hassan Sheikh involvement in Las Anod ordeal. The declaration is a political decision intended not to antagonize the federal government.
In fact, Supreme Leader Garaad Jama Garaad Ali’s blunt assertion, despite its controversy, is not far from the truth. Few weeks later, during his visit to Somali diaspora in Zambia, he persisted in his allegations and prnounced his famous “Proof me wrong” speech where he challenged the federal government to show alternative facts.
Shielding Somaliland secessionists
Ever since, he continued his avoidance to tackle the issue. His government did the same. Worst, he enacted diverse covert actions to keep away from the national issues.
First, he forbade national media outlet, like SNTV, SONNA and Radio Mogadisho, to broadcast the conflict that affect thousands of Somalis. The national media avoid news of violence against SSC residents while Al-Shabab attacks are prominently broadcasted.
Second, he shielded Somaliland from international scrutiny and sanctions. The UN Security Council raised the alarming violence after a panel presented the numerous war crimes perpetrated against the SSC population.
Third, in Djibouti, attending an IGAD summit, he kept the regional organization from intervening terming the conflict as internal and his effort to find a peaceful resolution.
Fourth, he encouraged, even pressed, federal MPs from Hargeisa and Burao to intervene and shut down any parliamentary attempt to get involved in Somaliland attack Las Anod. High profile politicians like the Deputy Prime Minister and his predecessor in that post both came out to have Somaliland regions sort out their issues, suggesting that any actions from the federal administration would only complicate the situation rather than bringing solutions.
Finally, President Hassan Sheikh, strong with hastily passed draconian security laws, is hunting down critics of his handling of Las Anod issue. Failing to use fake death certificates to close down the Facebook accounts of reporters and activists, his communication department now seeks to scare off critics and rights activists by directly requesting Twitter/X to remove contents that go against Somaliland.
Why is Hassan want Las Anod to lose
Now it is not a debate over Hassan wish to have Las Anod to fall under Somaliland, let’s see what could prompt the official president of Somalia to insidiously destroy his people and country.
Hassan Sheikh blamed people from SSC regions overwhelmingly supported his predecessor, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. At the height of his struggle to unseat Farmajo violently, clans and politicians, from that region made block around the outgoing president. So much so, they were targeted by opposition leaders like Hassan Sheikh.
Since he became president, Hassan tracked and purged all high ranking officers in the police and other security institutions that hail from Las Anod or from the SSC area.
Similarly, his hostile posture extend to the wider Darod clan of which this group are part. So much so, he does not want another Darod-led member state. So far, Puntland and Jubaland are the only regional states led by this clan.
Letting a third Darod-led regional state means getting his Hawiye clan get a third Hawiye-led state. Something he has been endeavouring for by snatching the Lower Shabelle from Southwest State. There are signs the president who is known to care more about his family and clan promotion that leading the Somali nation is mulling to accept SSC-Khatumo provided his clan makes strides in their long-sought Hawiye-led Benadir State.
The bitter realization the president is against national unity
Last but not least is the fact Hassan made deal with the devil, the former colonial power that cut Somali territory in pieces. It is no secret the British government wants Somaliland remained autonomous from the rest of Somalia.
Hassan Sheikh was vetted by former British ambassador on Somaliland issue. Kate Foster, like her American counterparts, Larry Andre and James Swan were keen on replacing Farmajo to a more docile figure. The deal, among others, was to not upset the status quo of Somaliland secession if he wanted their backing.
That the public found it a disgrace to keep silent on Las Anod bombardment by the much larger Somaliland forces. Many even suspect the President of collusion with the secessionists. A suspicion which is not without base knowing the Irir Samale drive to unite Hassan Sheikh clan with dominant Dir clan in Hargeisa and Djibouti.
the president conducts himself as a representative of foreign interests in Somalia. By throwing Las Anod under the bus, he demonstrated that he is incapable of running the country and that his behavior approaches treachery, punishable by law.
For its part, SSC-Khatumo preferred to steer clear from antagonizing the president in spite of his hostile stance and continue alone its fight against the secessionists of Somaliland who want to divide the country. Recent events show SSC-Khatumo is becoming a viable autonomous regional state that would be hard to ignore.