Somaliland government responds to UN Security Council report on Las Anod conflict

Hon of Africa International Relations News Somaliland

Amid escalating conflict in the contested city of Las Anod, the Government of the Republic of Somaliland appealed for increased support and understanding from the UN Security Council on June 8, 2023. Despite the council’s call for peace, Somaliland fears that a misinterpretation of the situation on the ground is undermining their efforts.

Somaliland welcomed but the statement of the United Nations Security Council but added that the UNSC appears to be misinformed about the facts on the ground.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Security Council appeared to have been misled about the real situation in Las Anod and that the Somaliland forces left Las Anod on February 26.

The statement added that Somaliland is concerned that the Security Council failure to recognize the presence of Al Shabaab in Las Anod and Sool region, which is not only a threat to Somaliland but also to neighboring countries and the region, and it called on the council to acknowledge.

Somaliland also said that the only way to resolve the conflict in Las Anod is to remove the Puntland forces from Las Anod.

The statement from Somaliland added that it has been calling for dialogue since the beginning of the conflict but the traditional leaders have refused and that it has provided access to international organizations to deliver humanitarian aid, and that the government has delivered food, water, and health services to the areas where people have been displaced.

The report stated that the Somaliland forces in Sool are defending the territorial independence of Somaliland and its borders recognized when it gained independence, and that the borders of Somaliland are in accordance with Article 4 of the African Union Act which the United Nations recognize.

Las Anod, located in the disputed Sool region, has been a hotbed of unrest since February 6, with violent clashes between the forces of the self-declared state of Somaliland and local militia of the Dhulbahante clan. This conflict, causing chaos and jeopardizing regional stability, resulted in a death toll of 299, with over 1,913 injured and over 200,000 displaced.

Somaliland’s statement follows a recent UN Security Council statement on the conflict in Las Anod. The UNSC reaffirmed its commitment to Somalia’s unity and territorial integrity. Concerned about civilian casualties, injuries, and displacement, the council urged the immediate withdrawal of Somaliland security forces and called for restraint. 

Faisal Ali Warabe, the chairman of the UCID party in Somaliland, contested the legal authority of the Security Council to discuss matters pertaining to Somaliland, arguing that as Somaliland is not a UN member, it lacks the standing to be included in such discussions. Despite this, Warabe’s plea to “either recognize our existence or leave us be” did not halt the Security Council’s urging of Somaliland to withdraw its troops from Las Anod and engage in peaceful negotiations with the warring parties.

Garad Jama Garad Ismail, a member of the SSC’s Supreme Council, urged President Bihi of Somaliland to withdraw his forces from the SSC regions, warning of retaliation if the call for withdrawal was ignored. Ismail stated that religious scholars had guided their stance on defending their land from what he perceived as an invasion by Somaliland.

These statements came in the midst of the Somaliland government’s claims about Al Shabab’s rapidly expanding presence in the Sool region and that the neighbouring Puntland State of Somalia is fueling the conflict. Somaliland asserts that the withdrawal of Puntland’s forces is the key to resolving the conflict in Las Anod.

The Supreme Council of the SSC-Khaatumo State, traditionally known as the Garaads, has endorsed the UN Security Council’s recent statement on the conflict. They perceive the UN’s engagement as an affirmation of their prolonged campaign for Somaliland’s retreat from SSC territories. The traditional elders are urging for a more vigorous response from the UN Security Council.

Meanwhile, international observers have commented that the conflict has affected Somaliland’s international standing and aspirations for recognition. Somaliland, which sees itself as a successor to the State of Somaliland that existed for five days in June 1960, has been lobbying for decades for international recognition. However, the current conflict has raised global concern over the region’s security and stability and questions about Somaliland’s handling of the situation.

Investigations by Amnesty International revealed the indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas, causing damage to essential infrastructure and the displacement of thousands of people. The shelling has led to calls for de-escalation and meaningful negotiations to facilitate a legitimate ceasefire.

A confidential report detailed a UN investigation into potential arms embargo violations and breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL) in the conflict. Preliminary findings suggest weaponry may have originated from Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, France, and China, violating the arms embargo imposed on Somalia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *