How Las Anod could derail Somaliland’s independence quest?

Las Anod (Caasimada Online) – The City of Las Anod in Somalia’s Sool region had always been relatively peaceful. However, in December last year, tensions boiled over as residents took to the streets to demand a response to their security concerns from officials in the nearby breakaway region of Somaliland.

As security forces attempted to quell the protests, violence broke out, and dozens were killed. This further inflamed the situation, with many residents taking up arms and calling for the withdrawal of Somaliland forces from the town.

Once these forces had left, the protesters began waving the flag of Somalia and chanting for a united Somalia, a move that some leaders in Somaliland view as traitorous.

Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991, but it has yet to be recognized by the international community. The escalating situation in Las Anod could further complicate matters for Somaliland, undermining its long-standing efforts to present itself as a stable and peaceful region and potentially putting its independence aspirations at risk. 

In recent years, some clans in the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn regions, known as the SSC, have become increasingly agitated and are questioning their identity as part of Somaliland. Pro-Somalia protests have erupted in major cities of Cayn and villages like Taleh, Hudun, and Kalshale.  

The Dhulbahante clan, who constitute a significant proportion of the population in the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn regions, have traditionally opposed the concept of an independent Somaliland; the Isak clan primarily inhabits Somaliland.

The history of opposition in Las Anod dates back to the 19th century when the British began showing interest in the region. The Isak clan in Berbera welcomed them and signed colonial protective treaties. At the same time, the Dhulbahante in Sool territories refused to sign and supported an anti-European drive led by a Muslim cleric. This led to a pro-Somali union drive, ending with British airstrikes in the early 1920s.

Despite this history, politicians in Hargeisa remain resolute in their support for the separation of Somaliland. Abdurahman Mohamed Abdullahi Irro, a former chairman of the opposition Wadani Party and a candidate for the presidency of Somaliland, condemned the violent reaction by Somaliland security forces. 

The return of traditional elder Garad Jama Ali, who had been living in exile for 16 years after a falling out with the Somaliland administration, was met with widespread celebrations in Las Anod. 

Many see this as a major concern for the current leadership of Muse Bihi Abdi, with Khadar Hussein Abdi, the Secretary General of the Wadani party, stating that “every day he remains in power is a disaster for Somaliland.” 

The Dhulbahante clan, who make up a significant portion of the population in these areas, have historically felt marginalized by the Isak clan and the government of Somaliland.  

The recent protests and calls for a united Somalia are seen by many as a manifestation of these long-standing grievances. 

Local leaders and respected traditional elders have been holding talks to determine the course of their future. They are leaning towards leaving Somaliland and supporting a united Somalia, which could potentially lead to the disintegration of Somaliland as it is currently recognized.