Djibouti (Caasimada Online) – Djibouti, a small country in the Horn of Africa, has been making headlines lately due to allegations of its involvement in mediating the ongoing conflict in LasAnod in northern Somalia.
The government of Djibouti has officially rejected these allegations, stating that it has not been involved in the conflict and is not aligned with any of the conflicting parties.
The origins of the conflict in LasAnod
The conflict in LasAnod, the administrative center of the Sool region, began on February 6th, 2023, after a committee of local leaders, religious scholars, and civil society groups declared their rejection of the Somaliland administration and their desire to be under the jurisdiction of The Federal Government of Somalia.
The city has been under the control of Somaliland for years. However, the recent declaration by the local leaders has sparked fierce fighting between Somaliland forces and local militias.
The role of President Ismail Omar Guelleh
Recently, there were reports that President Ismail Omar Guelle had intervened in the conflict and aligned himself with one of the conflicting parties. These reports originated from the Secretary General of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Mr. Workneh Gebeyehu, who stated that the President of Djibouti took a peace initiative to resolve the ongoing tension.
The opposition Democratic Party of Djibouti (PADD) had also accused President Guelleh of intervening in the internal affairs of Somalia by supporting the Somaliland military.
The rejection of mediation allegations by Djibouti
Djibouti Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahmoud Ali dismissed these allegations as a vicious campaign aimed at damaging Djibouti’s relationship with its neighbors.
He stated that there is “shameful propaganda on social media against Djibouti accusing my country of taking part in what is going on in LasAnod” and that these accusations are “merely fabricated lies to disrupt Djibouti’s relation with its neighbors.”
The minister added, “None of the stakeholders in Somaliland requested Djibouti’s mediation in the unfolding situation in LasAnod.”
He emphasized that Djibouti and its government have always promoted peace in the region and have never interfered in the internal affairs of their neighbors.
The Impact of the conflict on the people of LasAnod
The conflict in LasAnod has resulted in the death of nearly 60 people and the injury of over 400, according to health officials. The United Nations reported that the fighting has displaced over 80,000 people and resulted in a cut of water and electricity.
In a joint statement earlier this week, the U.N. and international partners stated, “The indiscriminate targeting of civilians is unacceptable and must come to an end.”
The Somali Red Crescent Society reported that the casualties include one of its volunteers killed by a stray bullet.
The spark of the current crisis
The current crisis was sparked by the assassination of a local youth leader and opposition Waddani Party member in late December, which was attributed to Somaliland and led to an increase in violence and casualties.
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has yet to receive widespread international recognition for its status. It has faced opposition from some clan elders in disputed areas along its border with Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland state.