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In praise of Somaliland -- a beacon of hope in the Thorn of Africa

By Peter Tatchell. June 28, 2011. http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=243234 This year’s civil war in Somalia has killed thousands of people and created over half a million refugees. Democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights are almost non-existent in Mogadishu, where war, banditry, corruption, hunger, illiteracy, disease and unemployment are the norm. Somalia is a failed state that has failed its people.

In contrast, the north-west breakaway region of the Republic of Somaliland is an oasis of peace, stability and progress in the Horn of Africa. Imperfect, but moving in the right direction, in May this year the country celebrated its sixteenth anniversary of independence.

Against all odds, and with little international recognition or aid, the three million people of Somaliland have – largely by their own efforts – begun to establish a secure, functioning democratic state and a fair degree of economic stability and growth. This is a truly remarkable achievement in a region of Africa that has long been a byword for chaos, repression and war.

Somaliland, a former British Protectorate, gained independence in 1960 and became the first free Somali nation to join the United Nations. In a unity move that most Somalilanders now deeply regret, the country joined with the former Italian protectorate to the south to form the Republic of Somalia.

Under the dictator Siad Barre, who seized power in a military coup in 1969, the new nation was beset by brutality.

Following the collapse of his military regime and of the Somali state, Somali-land declared independence on 18th May 1991.

Over the last decade and a half, the predominantly Muslim nation has made the transition from an autocratic clan-based society, notorious for its poor governance, conflict and human rights abuses, to a peaceful and progressive multi-party democracy.

A referendum in 2001 led to the adoption of a new constitution. Since then, Somalilanders have held successful elections for President, the House of Representatives and local government.

While Somalia has not had a free election since the 1960s, Somaliland has held three mandates since the turn of the millennium, each of which has been declared free and fair by international election observers.

In contrast to the intestinal conflicts that bedevil Somalia and many other African nations, Somaliland has found a way to negotiate and resolve these rivalries peacefully. It has bought previously hostile clans together in a pluralistic system that minimizes conflict by incorporating the clan elders into the advisory upper house.

An enviable peace

Somalilanders have achieved an enviable peace, progressively disarming and demobilizing thousands of gunmen, while in Somalia militias still run amok, looting, extorting and terrorizing the local population.

Many of Somaliland’s former clan fighters have also been successfully incorporated into the disciplined national army. And unlike many of her neighbors, the armed forces stay out of politics.

Moreover, Somaliland is country committed to the rule of law, upheld by an independent judiciary. Discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, gender or opinion is prohibited, and human rights abuses, such as torture, are criminal offences. The right to protest is protected by law.

Somaliland is not yet a fully-fledged democracy, and its unwavering observance of human rights is still a long way off. Somaliland has a multi-party system but only three political parties are allowed under the constitution. Islam is the state religion, and while non-Islamic faiths are tolerated, their promotion is prohibited.

Muslims do not renounce Islam, and the legal system is based on Sharia law. Although rarely enforced with harshness, this does nevertheless place inherent restrictions of the rights of women. The females are poorly represented in public life and state institutions, although the constitution does give women the right to employment training and property ownership.

Government corruption and inefficiency are not as bad as in many other African nations, but they remain a problem according to critics of the regime.

Somaliland’s significantly improved record on human rights suffered a setback earlier this year with the arrest of four journalists from the independent newspaper Haatuf.

They were only released at the end of March, after being detained for 86 days on charges of allegedly spreading false information and offending the President.

This worrying abuse of press freedom was, however, an exceptional curtailment of what is nowadays a fairly open and free media. Despite these flaws, Somalilanders have demonstrated, without any pressure from the West that a Muslim country can build a peaceful, democratic state committed to upholding human rights. It is a model for Africa and the Middle East.

Yet Somaliland remains unrecognized as a sovereign nation. While the United Nations and the international community focus their attention on the civil war in Somalia, Somaliland’s achievement in building a stable, harmonious nation is unacknowledged and unrewarded.

Betrayed by the Arab League and the African Union, it stands alone. Instead of singularly condemning Africa’s failures, isn’t it time the West did more to recognize and support its successes?

Sweden and Germany are moving towards diplomatic recognition, but not Britain. Somaliland wants to join the Commonwealth but has so far been rebuffed. This rejection sends all the wrong signals.

It is time Britain changed course. We should push the Commonwealth and the European Union to recognize Somaliland as an independent, sovereign state; and lobby the African Union, the Arab League and the United Nations to do likewise.

A modest increase in British and EU aid and trade would go a long way to strengthen Somaliland’s economic base. Tackling poverty and unemployment, and improving health, education and housing, would help underpin and enhance Somaliland’s development as a beacon in the region. Over to you, Gordon Brown.

Peter Tatchell is a leading human rights campaigner. (Source: The Liberal) Photo: Members of the Somaliland community in Britain's capital celebrate the 20th anniversary of its declaration of independence from Somalia during a demonstration in London on May 18, 2011. (Reuters photo)


SSC and Somaliland Sign Peace Treaty

Treaty on Thin Ice as SSC Militias Ignore Treaty and Attack Somaliland Bases

By AWEYS CADDE 06/27/2011. http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/1042/SSC_and_Somaliland_Sign_Peace_Treaty

After a four day conference between Somalia’s self-declared government of Somaliland and the Sool Sanaag Cayn (SSC) militia, including local elders from Dhulabahante clan in Widwid district of Sool region, both sides agreed to a ceasefire and signed a peace treaty in a power sharing agreement in Sool and Sanaag regions on Sunday.

In the treaty, known as the Widwid Agreement, Somaliland also agreed to release SSC prisoners of war, to stop digging for water, to work together to promote Sool and Sanaag regions, and to hold a regional meeting for absentees of this conference.

The deal was signed by Somaliland’s Livestock Minister Dr. Abdi Aw Dahir Ali, Abdirisak Hassan Ismail, an officer from SSC, and Kayse Abdi Yusuf representing local elders.

Keyse Abdi Yusuf told Somalia Report that the deal will be put into place as soon as it’s ratified and he requested both sides to respect the points of the meeting.

“The community is tired from civil war. It’s the time to conclude the fighting. You know that after years of war we lost our children, our brothers and important individuals for the people,” said Keyse. “We decided to end the war and solve everything by dialogue. I’m sending a message to absentees from this conference to take peace.”

SSC Militia Dismisses Treaty

Despite the peace treaty, a local militia attacked the bases of Somaliland troops in Sool region early on Monday. At least two people were confirmed dead and five others were injured during the heavy clashes.

The group that attacked the Somaliland forces is opposed to the Widwid agreement and are demanding that Somaliland withdraw all their troops from Sool and Sanaag regions, according to local residents.

“SSC has separated in two groups; one group signed a deal with Somaliland while the other is completely refusing Somaliland interference,” said Mohamed Amiin, a resident of Lasanod district.

“There is no meaning for Somaliland to sign a treaty with the SSC. The rift is between Puntland and Somaliland so I’m sure the fight will not stop until Somaliland stops interfering these regions. This community doesn’t want Somaliland,” said Amiin.

SSC is a pro-Puntland militia from Dhulbahante clan.

Puntland officials were unavailable for comment about Widwid Agreement.

Somaliland and Puntland been fighting over the region for ten years.


Meeting a Somali pirate in Hargeisa prison

BBC, 25 June 2011. By Mary Harper. BBC News, Somaliland. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/9522063.stm When Somalian pirates are caught there is often nowhere to try them, as Somalia itself has little effective central government. But some have been tried and jailed in the breakaway territory of Somaliland.

"You cannot go and see the pirates," said the commander of the prison.

"They are far too dangerous. And anyway, they are fed up with journalists who, they say, treat this prison as if it was a pirate museum.

Farah Ismael Elih made no apologies for what he had done

"No. No. And no again."

"Maybe you could bring a pirate out of his cell to speak to me?" I suggested.

After a long pause and a resigned shrug, the commander agreed.

He led me through sandy courtyards where a few men strolled about in bright blue prison uniforms.


We stopped to chat to them.

One was in for fighting with his parents, another for grievous bodily harm.

We then walked past the cells - there were 10 men in each, their faces glistening with sweat in the darkness - through various heavy doors and long corridors to a room almost completely filled by a big, glossy table.

The commander told me to sit down and wait.

People wandered in and out, some sitting down on the chairs around the table.

After sitting silently for quite some time, I asked when the pirate was coming.

'Mild face'

"He's here already," someone said, gesturing casually towards a man in a white skull cap, sitting at the other side of the table.

I was surprised, as I had expected someone to be brought in in handcuffs and chains. This man was one of those who had just wandered in and sat down.

I said I needed to be nearer to him, so that I could record his voice. He came over and sat right next to me.

Although he had a mild face and twinkling eyes, if he had wanted to, he could have hit me with very little difficulty.

He told me his name was Farah Ismael Elih, that he was 48 years old and that he came from the port town of Bossasso.

He sprawled back in his chair, and seemed very relaxed. He was also rather well-dressed.

He wore bright red flip flops and a sarong around his waist. His long-sleeved shirt was unwrinkled and he had a small white towel rolled up and wrapped rakishly around his neck.

His beard was quite neat. His two front teeth were white. The rest were black.

I switched on my recording machine and started the interview.

Bazooka

Farah Ismael Elih made no apologies for what he had done, and explained how unlucky he had been to be caught on his first ever pirate trip.

He appealed to all Somali pirates to increase their work

He said he had decided to change jobs from fishing to piracy because foreign trawlers had plundered all the fish in Somali waters.

He told me how, with the greatest of ease, he had bought a speedboat, an AK-47 rifle and a bazooka from a local market.

He had been sentenced to 15 years in jail, reduced to six on appeal.

He had already spent three years inside, and had no idea where his wife or children were. There had been no contact.

When I had finished the interview, he sat back in his chair and gave me a long look.

"Now", he said, "it is time for ME to interview YOU."

This really threw me. I knew the correct response would be to decline politely, saying that it was my job as the journalist to do the interviewing.

But something inside me told me to give him a chance.

Like a true pro, he fired off his questions. The easy ones first.

"What is your name?"

"Where do you come from?"

"Are you really a journalist?"

Then he went in for the attack. "What do you really expect you're going to get from interviewing me?

"What do you want out of it? What's the point?"

My mind went blank. I really had to think about that one. Good question.

I told him I had done a lot of reporting on Somali piracy and I wanted to understand why the pirates do what they do.

I said the media tends to tell the same stories about the pirates and I wanted to try to do something a bit different, to find out a little bit more.

Pirate economy

Farah Ismael Elih then launched into a passionate speech, saying he appealed to all Somali pirates to increase their work, to hijack more ships until the international community confiscated all the illegal trawlers.

I have spoken to a fair number of Somali pirates over the past few years, and they almost always justify their actions by blaming rapacious foreign trawlers.

However, evidence suggests that an increasing number of common criminals are becoming pirates because of the potentially huge rewards.

Ransoms of millions of dollars have been paid out for the release of ships and their crew - and it is not only former fishermen who are reaping the benefits.

A whole pirate economy has developed, with thousands of people involved, including negotiators, insurers, security consultants and even cooks for the hostages all taking their share.

But it is only some of those like Farah Ismael Elih - the people who take to the sea in their tiny speedboats - who end up behind bars.


Somaliland Reiterates Its Independence From The Rest Of Somalia

Hiiraan Online. Monday, June 27, 2011. http://www.hiiraan.com/news2/2011/Jun/somaliland_reiterates_its_independence_from_the_rest_of_somalia.aspx

Hargeisa, Somaliland (HOL) - Authorities in the self-declared republic of Somaliland said on Sunday they will not be taking any turn to join the rest of Somalia which has been marred by endless conflict since the ouster of Somalia’s former president Siad Barre in 1991.

Emerging defiant yet again, officials in Hargeisa joined thousands in marking the 51st anniversary since the colonial authorities granted Somalia’s self-independence in 1960.

“Today is indeed a remarkable day, the day we became free from colonizers. We have been an independent state for the last 51 years proving the peace and tranquility we the people of Somaliland are enjoying” President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo told a crowd of adoring of Somalilanders who attended the colorful function.

Hargeisa is the first town in Somalia where the blue flag of the entire Somalia was hoisted on June 26, 1960, paving the way for a union that was the origin of the amalgamation of the North and South that formed the Somali republic. Somaliland leaders used the anniversary occasion to push and raise their profile in the international geo-politics where they have shown their strident critic regarding the ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts to include the semi-autonomous region into larger Somalia.

"I respond to president Shariff following his comments during the anniversary in Mogadishu that unity between Hargeisa and Mogadishu is not an issue of force. We are not ready to bargain about our independence” Somaliland’s foreign minister Abdullahi Mohamed Omar told the BBC Somali service.

The comments by the minister followed what the president of Transitional Federal Government of Somalia said on Sunday in Mogadishu that the South is ready apologize to the North about the historic injustices while calling for a fresh unity for Somalia.

The self declared republic believes that initially it was there decision to merge with the South, but following endless problems in the country, it is yet another decision from Somalilanders to remain independent from the rest of the country. Somaliland appealed to African nations to grant the semi-autonomous region recognition as a sovereign state in the continent.

“We need more support from African states. We need recognition, cooperation and assistance from African states” the minister said.

June 26th is also a day earmarked as the International Somaliland Awareness Day (ISAD) as the region seeks international recognition, bold campaigns are waging across the African continent. Somaliland, a former British colony, declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991, following the civil strife that followed more than twenty years of military rule. No sovereign state has formally recognized the area as independent.


Aid and Somaliland

Mo money mo problems

Jun 24th 2011, 17:28 by J.N.L. | NEW YORK.http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2011/06/aid-and-somaliland

RULING parties in Africa often have to answer as much to their donors as their citizens. A recent paper suggests that the government in Somaliland has become more accountable to its citizens because of the lack of aid.

Somaliland announced its secession from Somalia in 1991 and has operated as a more or less independent country ever since. It has its own president, parliament and constitution. It even boasts a central bank that prints its own currency, the Somaliland shilling. The peaceful existence of its three million mostly Muslim, but secular, residents contrasts sharply with the disorder and instability of Somalia. The world, however, has refused to recognise Somaliland. Reluctant to encourage other separatist movements, the West remains committed to supporting the embattled Transitional Federal Government in Somalia which opposes its separation.

In his paper, Nicholas Eubank, a researcher at Stanford University, claims that some of Somaliland's success is down to a dearth of aid. Donors cannot give aid directly to the government since it is not recognised as such. It has been dependant on raising local tax revenue, which the paper says citizens have used as leverage to make the government more inclusive, representative and accountable. For those looking to bash the multi-billion dollar aid industry, it is an appealing thesis. But is it true?

The port of Berbera, a trade hub for landlocked Ethiopia's 80m consumers, is one of the government's main revenue streams. In 1992 the government tried to take the port by force form the Isle Muse, a small clan. Having failed, it entered into negotiations which led to the inclusion of other clans into a more representative government that won the backing of the country's richest businessmen. Mr Eubank argues that the government was forced to negotiate with the owners of the port because it was short of money. This would not have happened if it had access to aid money; the port brought in 80% of the government’s $51m budget in 2008, a measly sum compared to how much Somaliland could get in aid were it to be recognised.

Others say that the "benign neglect" of British colonial rule allowed stronger political institutions to develop which made negotiations about the port more productive. Even so, the government's dependency on taxation certainly gave local business people greater leverage.

Somaliland's experiences cannot be applied directly elsewhere. But it offers some lessons. The resource constraints which led to a more inclusive government gave each clan a stake in maintaining stability. It is impossible to judge whether this outweighs the benefits that aid might have brought, but it should give donors pause for thought when they start splashing cash around. Somaliland's chances of becoming a fully-fledged country have risen with the precedent of South Sudan's independence. But the Somaliland government should consider its options before accepting the aid that would pour in if and when it is recognised. Its stability has in part been a result of a weak central government that does not threaten traditional regional leaders. An influx of money could upset this delicate balance.


West Learns Utility Of Frankincense From Somalis

June 23, 2011,Medindia.http://www.medindia.net/mobile/news/news.asp?id=86757

Somalia might be one of the most unstable countries in the world. But its traditional medicine has something to teach us, it looks like.

Welsh scientists say that they learnt from the Somalis that frankincense could be used to alleviate arthritic pain.

* The search for new ways of relieving the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis is a long and difficult one, according to Dr Emma Blain, who leads the research with her co-investigators Professor Vic Duance from Cardiff University's School of Biosciences and Dr Ahmed Ali of the Compton Group.

* The South West of England and Wales has a long standing connection with the Somali community who have used extracts of frankincense as a traditional herbal remedy for arthritic conditions.

* What our research has focused on is whether and how these extracts can help relieve the inflammation that causes the pain, she added.

The Cardiff scientists believe they have been able to demonstrate that treatment with an extract of Boswellia frereana - a rare frankincense species - inhibits the production of key inflammatory molecules which helps prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue which causes the condition.

Dr Ali adds: The search for new drugs to alleviate the symptoms of conditions like inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis is a priority area for scientists. What our research has managed to achieve is to use innovative chemical extraction techniques to determine the active ingredient in frankincense.

* Having done this we are now able to further characterise the chemical entity and compare its success against other anti-inflammatory drugs used for treating the condition.

The research comes as a result of a seedcorn project, funded by the Severnside Alliance for Translational Research (SARTRE), through the MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme devolved portfolio.

SARTRE is a joint project between Cardiff University and the University of Bristol to combine and accelerate translational research.


Former Somaliland minister asks president to resolve problems of Awdal Region

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 22 June 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 18 Jun 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC.Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 18 June

Former Somaliland Minister of Aviation, Ali Muhammad Waran 'Adde, appealed to Somaliland President Ahmed Sillanyo to do something about the grievances of the people of Awdal region. He advised the president and vice president that if problems are not solved in time, they fester and become hard to resolve later. He also cautioned the president that some evil-doers might take advantage of the situation and create bigger problems. Mr Waran Adde articulated these concerns in a wide-ranging press conference which he held at Hargeysa's hotel Shiraaqle.

Mr Waran Adde stressed that Somalia has fallen under colonial control and that the UN Secretary General's Representative to Somalia, Mr Augustine Mahiga, is the actual president of Somalia, whereas Sheikh Sharif is only a figure-head. Waran Adde also noted that Somaliland is the only country that can save the people of neighbouring Somalia from this colonial situation.

The former minister called for banning Augustine Mahiga from entering Somaliland since he is executing the agenda of foreign countries who want to dismantle Somaliland. He also urged Somalilanders to rely on Somaliland's traditional methods to solve problems rather than foreign methods.

Mr Waran Adde was one of the most competent ministers in Somaliland's former government, and is a widely popular politician.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 18 Jun 11


Somaliland forces come under grenade attack in disputed Sool Region Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 21 June 2011. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 21 Jun 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report by privately-owned Somali Shabeelle Media Network website on 21 June

Armed groups last night targeted a police station in the [disputed] town of Laas Canood, Sool Region with hand grenades, causing unspecified losses.

Two grenades were hurled at the police station in southern Laas Canood, where Somaliland forces are based in. The explosion caused by the hand grenades could be heard throughout the town followed by sound of heavy gunfire opened by Somaliland forces base at the station. Residents of Laas Canood have since then been staying indoors.

Somaliland forces in the town were seen conducting operations in a number of residential areas, where those believed to be responsible for the attack, were suspected of hiding. It is not yet known whether anyone was arrested in connection with the explosions as commanders of Somaliland forces in the town are yet to discuss the attack.

Sources indicate that a Somaliland soldier was killed in the attack, whereas another one was wounded and those responsible for it are not yet known. The attack on the police station comes at a time when the two administrations of Somaliland and Puntland are fighting over the control of the town.

Credit: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 21 Jun 11


No Love Lost Between Somalia-Somaliland

Drive for Independence Creates Two Decades of Tension
By ABDI HUSSEIN 06/22/2011
Somaliland Celebrations
Somaliland Celebrations

Ever since unilaterally declaring independence from Somalia 20 years ago, soon after the ouster of military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, successive Somaliland administrations have consistently maintained it is a sovereign state, creating decades of ‘bad blood’ between the two governments. Somalia Report lays out the causes of friction between Somalia and Somaliland.

When announcing its self-determination in the town of Burao on May 18, 1991, Somaliland leaders indicated they would abide by the pre-independence ‘British Somaliland’ boundaries, which encompass the contentious regions of Sool and Sanaag. This move has been fiercely opposed by various governments institutions, both domestic and international, all of which have repeatedly stressed Somaliland still is part and parcel of Somalia.

Although Somaliland remains unrecognized by the international community, the drive for self determination has turned out to be a national obsession; it cuts across party affiliations and defines what it means to be a Somalilander.

Civil War

Also exacerbating the tension between the two is the claim by Somaliland leaders that during Barre's 22-year rule, inhabitants of Somaliland were tortured and subsequently massacred by his regime at the height of the bloody civil war in 1988.

This claim has hardened their stance and virtually extinguished any hopes of building political or foreign relations, or even engaging in direct talks with numerous Somalia interim governments.

The mounting of a Russian MIG-21 jet as a memorial, which supposedly crashed while bombing civilians during the civil war, in the heart of Somaliand’s capital of Hargeisa, is intended to serve as a stark reminder to both locals and outsiders of the atrocities committed by Barre forces against Somaliland.

Over the years, Somaliland has refused to be associated with Somalia, especially politically. It has never, in an official capacity, participated in more than a dozen peace talks that were held for Somalia, the country under which it technically falls. The talks ranged from Arta in Djibouti to the long and arduous Mbagathi peace talks in Kenya which culminated in the election of former president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.

Conferences

Nonetheless, the new Somaliland government in February this year sent an official delegation to London to attend a meeting organized by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, whose centerpiece was securing agreement on the long-term policy solutions and the framework required to effect real change in Somalia. In a similar manner, a delegation led by Somaliland's Foreign Minister, Mohammed Abdullahi, attended the UN Security Council meeting on Somalia, which was recently held in the Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

Observers saw both moves as a departure from previous hard stances and some insiders interpreted it as a commencement of dialogue with Somalia. The unprecedented moves taken by the government also raised eyebrows among some members of the Somaliland population, local media and politicians and opened a ferocious debate among the Somaliland Disapora community, which yields considerable leverage.

In effect, the foreign minister was forced to answer tough questions from the media and was summoned to parliament to shed more light on the reasons behind the extraordinary measures they took to attend both meetings. He dispelled rumors that the administration was softening its stance on sovereignty.

The issue of starting a political relationship with Somalia or the Transitional Federal Government remains a touchy subject and is rarely discussed in public.

In Hargeisa, Somalia Report asked Mr. Abdullahi if their attendance at the Wilton Park conference was worth the stir it caused both locally and internationally. He firmly stressed that they attended after they were given assurance by the conference organizers that Somaliland’s invitation and participation would be similar to other independent states like Uganda, which also took part in the conference.

And more importantly, since the conference focused on stabilizing Somalia through the attainment of peace, he added they were requested to share their experience of how they stabilized Somaliland through a process led by the inhabitants and also the gains they made on the democratic fronts.

On why they took part in the UN Security council meeting on Somalia, he echoed similar sentiments and said it was a platform Somaliland used to explain its case, like the gains it has made and the international recognition it seeks to delegations from neighboring countries and the UN Security Council members.

Somaliland Foreign Minister
Somaliland Foreign Minister

Both Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo and his foreign minister have repeatedly said they can only cooperate with Somalia and Puntland in the fight against terrorism and piracy as a separate entity.

Following their recent announcements, the masses still remain wary, and members of opposition groups within Somaliland have become vocal, and constantly criticize the new government from within and abroad.

Somaliland authorities have over the years allowed Internally displace persons (IDPs) from mainly southern Somalia, a region still engulfed in conflict and severe drought, to settle and received humanitarian aid in several towns inside Somaliland. Aid agencies estimate their total number at over 100,000.

But due to its unilateral declaration of independence, Somaliland demanded those fleeing the civil strife in Somalia be treated as refugees as opposed to IDPs. This position put Somaliland on a collision course with the UN, which says giving the Somalia IDPs in Somaliland refugee status will be tantamount to recognizing Somaliland.

The players

A crucial government organ, but hardly noticeable outside Somaliland, is the Upper House, also known as the House of Elders. It consists of 82 members nominated from all the sub-clans in Somaliland.

The elders were largely credited with the restoration of peace through the re-integration of various combatants and creating a deal between numerous clans in the early nineties. It also has exclusive power to extend the term of office of the President and the representatives when exceptional circumstances make an election impossible.

However, critics have accused them of using those powers irrationally by extending twice the term of the former president Dahir Rayale without any credible reasons, an action seen as succumbing to the whims of the former president.

Berbera port in Somaliland
©Somalia Report
Berbera port in Somaliland

Links with Ethiopia

Unlike the tense relationship with Somalia, Somaliland’s relationship with Ethiopia has been largely cordial and dates back to the reign of the former Ethiopia dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. In early eighties, Ethiopia supported and gave sanctuary to the Somaliland Armed Movement (SNM), which played a crucial role in toppling Siad Barre.

In its own interest, observers believe Ethiopia wants to see a stable Somaliland given their shared borders. It also acknowledges an eruption of conflict in Somaliland could easily spill into wider Somalia.

Ethiopia will likely use a stable Somaliland as “buffer” to halt infiltration of members of Islamist groups like al-Shabaab into Ethiopia and also stop members of the outlawed Ogaden National Liberation Front (OLNF), which it has fought inside Ethiopia, gaining a launch pad in Somaliland.

Being a landlocked country and following the conflict with Eritrea, Ethiopia over the last few years has been using the port of Berbera in Somaliland, creating a dependent relationship. To foster this, Ethiopia has opened a trade office in Hargeisa, which also doubles as a consulate which issue visas to Somaliland nationals wanting to go to Ethiopia. It has also over the years been training members of Somaliland Police Force and the army.

Somaliland opened an embassy in Ethiopia and has liaison or political offices in Kenya, UK, France , Ghana and Kenya. http://www.somaliareport.com


5 Questions for the Woman Who Found Somalia's History 06.19.2011. DISCOVER Magazine

After Sada Mire returned to her homeland, she found archaeological treasures that hadn't been seen in thousands of years.

by Amy Barth

Photo: Graham Trott, Grooming: Claire Hanson

When Sada Mire was just 12, her father, a Somali police official, was executed by the country’s brutal Barre regime, which saw him as a political threat. In 1991 she fled Somalia, reuniting with family in Sweden and eventually pursuing graduate studies in England. But while working on her Ph.D. in archaeology from University College London, Mire’s academic interests drew her back to Africa. She returned to her homeland for the first time in 16 years to carry out research in Somaliland—a relatively peaceful, self-declared state in the northwestern part of Somalia—where she discovered several prehistoric rock art sites. In 2007 she was named Somaliland’s Director of Antiquities. Mire hopes to spur interest in the region’s cultural heritage, using the past to foster peace and understanding among her people today.

You are the world’s only active Somali archaeologist. How did you become interested in this career?
When I was a refugee, I studied Scandinavian archaeology because I wanted to understand my new surroundings. After learning about European culture, I became interested in my own past.

What do you consider to be the most important ancient site in Somaliland?
From an archaeological standpoint, I would pick Laas Geel, a well- preserved 10,000-year-old cave art site that is one of the oldest in Africa. The images in the cave are mainly cows painted with big udders, apparently to symbolize fertility. The cows are shown? being worshiped by human figures wearing painted hides, who are perhaps idols themselves.

What challenges do you face in building Somaliland’s Department of Tourism and Archaeology from the ground up?
Looting and uncontrolled development are major threats to the local ?sites. I have seen archaeology cause conflict when it is used for political and religious purposes, but I want to help Somalis understand their past and accept different people, religions, and cultures.

And you have recently discovered a major ancient site in Somaliland?
Yes. Dhambalin is a rock art site in the desert, about 20 miles from the Red Sea, where there are 5,000-year-old paintings of animals in red, green, pink, white, brown, yellow, and black. It’s the only site in the region decorated with images of sheep, along with antelope and ibex. Those animals haven’t lived there in many years, so the paintings reveal an environment that was once more hospitable than today’s desert.

What was it like being one of the first people in thousands of years to see the rock art of Dhambalin?
It was an incredible feeling just to stand in front of the paintings. Then I lay down to take photos and heard a snake breathing in my ear. My assistant told me he was thinking how he would cut off my arm, leg, or wherever to stop the poison if it attacked. I believe he would have done it. I didn’t tell my mother. http://discovermagazine.com/2011/apr/05-questions-woman-found-somalia-history-sada-mire/article_print


Somaliland Government Calls for African Recognition, Help Fighting Piracy

By Mohamoud Ali Mohamed - Jun 19, 2011.http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-20/somaliland-government-calls-for-african-recognition-help-fighting-piracy.html

Somaliland appealed to African nations to grant the semi-autonomous region recognition as a sovereign state and called for international help to deal with piracy off its coast.

“We need more support from African states,” Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdillahi Omar said in an interview on June 15 in the capital, Hargeisa. “We need recognition, cooperation and assistance from African states.”

Somaliland, a former British colony, declared independence from Somalia in 1991, following the ouster of former Somali dictator Mohammed Siad Barre. No sovereign state has formally recognized the area as independent. In March, the region opened a maximum-security prison built with United Nations funding to incarcerate pirates convicted of attacks off the coast of Somalia.

An increase in piracy, spurred by a 36-fold jump in ransom payments in five years, has threatened vessels carrying 20 percent of world trade and raised expenses for shippers. Costs linked to piracy may reach $13 billion to $15 billion by 2015 as global trade rebounds and pirates operate over wider areas, according to research firm Geopolicity Inc.

The impact on Somaliland has been that fewer ships are visiting its main port of Berbera, doubling the cost of its exports, Omar said. He didn’t provide more detailed figures.

Somaliland’s economy relies on shipments of camels, cattle, sheep and goats to the Middle East and North Africa, as well as remittances sent home from citizens living abroad, to generate foreign exchange.

‘Hijack Fears’

“Many ships have stopped coming to Berbera Port because of the fear of being hijacked by pirates,” Omar said. “The price of exports has doubled and we need to have more cooperation with the international community to discuss how to handle that burden.”

Somaliland’s Finance Ministry currently estimates the size of the economy at $1.2 billion, while the central bank puts the figure at $700 million, Bank of Somaliland Governor Abdi Dirir Abdi said last month.

As a step toward gaining recognition, the country has begun working more closely with neighboring countries including Djibouti, where it has opened an embassy, Ethiopia and Kenya, Omar said. “We are hoping to gain a better understanding of our aims in the near future,” he said, without providing further details.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mohamoud Ali Mohamed in Hargeisa via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.


Somaliland goes for two-tier system

19 Jun 2011. By Steve Mbogo

A few weeks ago The Islamic Globe wrote about how Somaliland was planning to change its financial regulations. We can now confirm the government is putting its final touches to the proposed banking act. At present the constitution of Somaliland requires all financial transactions to be Shari'ah compliant, but according to the Central Bank of Somaliland's governor, Abdi Dirir Abdi - speaking to The Islamic Globe - new proposals will now allow conventional banking in order to open the economy up to international trade.

"We expect that within the next three to six months, the law that will allow setting up of private commercial banks will be passed by parliament," said Abdi.

Somaliland is a self-declared sovereign state and one of three breakaway regions in troubled Somalia, a country that has been at war with itself since 1991. Somaliland is seeking international recognition as a sovereign state.

The other breakaways are Puntland, home of many of Somalia's notorious pirates, and most recently the Juba Valley. Somalia is a predominantly Muslim country as is Somaliland and Islamic banking is expected to become a popular industry.

Abdi said that going down an exclusively Islamic finance route, much like Sudan, will deny citizens a choice of what form of financial system they would want to use and also dissuade potential non-Shari'ah compliant foreign investors.

Currently there are only two banks in Somaliland and both are state controlled; the Bank of Somaliland and the Commercial Bank of Somaliland - the former currently has the role of central bank while the latter acts as state treasury.

Abdi claimed that the Banque pour le Commerce et l'Industrie, based in neighboring Djibouti and other two commercial banks he declined to name have applied for licenses. Analysts have speculated that Islamic banks from the Middle East are bidding for banking licenses in the country.

He also said the central bank has just completed replacing the Somali currency with Somaliland shilling last week that is now being used across the country.

http://www.zawya.com/story.cfm/sidZAWYA20110619055543/Somaliland_goes_for_twotier_system


Blast Targeted at Somaliland Police Kills Several

Published On: Sunday, June, 19 2011 - http://www.sunatimes.com/view.php?id=1125

Reports suggested early Sunday morning that one of Somaliland policemen died hours later from the injuries while he was in a hospital in Laso Anod town. Mogadishu (Sunatimes) Unidentified assailant on Saturday night attacked Somaliland police station in Las Anod in the disputed region of Sol region in northern Somalia with hand grenades.

At least two policemen were so far confirmed injured in grenade attack that targeted at the police station.

Witnesses said the assailants escaped from the scene as soon as the attack took place.

Reports suggested early Sunday morning that one of Somaliland policemen died hours later from the injuries while he was in a hospital in Laso Anod town. Undisclosed number of suspects had been arrested during the crackdown

For the last few months, security in parts of northern Somalia had been precarious as a number of Somaliland officials have been assassinated in Las Anod town.


Somaliland Update: Powerful Friends, Powerful Logic

Posted on June 17, 2011 by nathanalbright

In today’s Somaliland update we have a set of pro-Somaliland independence updates from a wide variety of sources that demonstrate Somaliland’s international profile is increasing.

UKIP European Parliament Member Supports Somaliland Independence

Somaliland247 has obtained a statement from UK Indpendence Party European Parliament Member for the English Midlands, Godfrey Bloom, that the rise of Islamic fundamentalists in Yemen and the threat of the closure of the Red Sea requires that the world find support for its anti-piracy fight in Somaliland. This author could not agree more, and the statement is worth quoting in full [1]:

“On 6 June, Catherine Ashton, the EU‘s foreign policy chief, spoke to the Asia-Europe Meeting in Budapest and, among other things, she touched on the situation off the coast of Somalia, pointing out that 500 people have been imprisoned for piracy off the coast of Somalia and saying that the solution to piracy “lies on land”. It does, of course.

With the decent of Yemen and the port of Aden into chaos and with a very real risk that it will become the preserve of fundamentalists, one of the world’s most vital arteries has a distinct possibility of being cut.

So what to do? How can we help tackle the scourge of piracy and keep the Red Sea open for merchant shipping. Well, one simple way would be to recognise the country of Somaliland. A couple of weeks ago the peaceful democratic Islamic nation of Somaliland celebrated 20 years of independence. On the same day that Ashton was vapouring about things needing to be done, a Somaliland court put six pirates in prison for a total of 45 years.

Is it not time that this peaceful land was granted recognition by the international community? Not just because we morally should, but because it is in our interests to support the only part of that unhappy corner of the world that is looking forward to peace and prosperity?”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

UK-Based Overseas Development Institute Finds Hope In Somaliland Development

The UK-based Overseas Development Institute (www.odi.org.uk) recently completed a study of 24 nations to examine the key factors that led to international development. The study: Mapping Progress: Evidence For A New Development Outlook, has determined that a few key factors lead to the progress and development of nations, even those with difficult historical, geographical, and demographic challenges: effective leadership, smart policies, proper institutional foundations, and international partnerships.

The study found that Somaliland was among a small group of “surprise performers” whose progress made against daunting challenges showed that even in the most dismal of areas of the world, nations that are able to provide basic public security, improve the environment for business, and demonstrate legitimate government authority are able to overcome extremely serious challenges. The example of Somaliland’s development despite its marginal international position and its extreme poverty provides hope for other nations who struggle with terrible difficulties. Nonetheless, it also demonstrates that those nations that fail to develop and progress do so because of their own failures of leadership, wisdom, institutions, and cooperation with other nations.

Apples To Apples

A Tanzania-based political analyst has examined the case of Somaliland and has asked the (rhetorical) question as to why the international community has been so slow to recognize the independence of Somaliland when it has recognized easily the secession of nations that (unlike Somaliland) have had no historical existence as independent states [2]. This has been a frequent concern of this blog as well, especially concerning South Sudan.

Most of the arguments that Mr. Kagaruki cites for the recognition of Somaliland are very familiar to readers of this blog. Somaliland’s historical situation is much like that of Eritrea, which was granted its independence in 1991 by the international community. Somaliland additionally meets all of the definitions of the Montevideo Convention for statehood. (It is clearly not a Manchutko-type puppet state of an empire, but a legitimate nation under self-government via democratic institutions with a strong historical claim to a separate identity from the rest of anarchic Somalia via its distinct colonial history as a British colony.)

What Mr. Kagaruki does best, though, is explain the three main reasons why Somaliland desires recognition of its independence even after all these years: a desire to participate in the international community, a desire to do business with the rest of the world, and a desire to be able to sign international treaties. It is this willingness and interest in doing business, rather than engaging in pointless internecine struggles, that has made Somaliland far outstrip the rest of former Somalia in its economic and political development. For it is worldviews that are decisive in nations, rather than economic resources.

Somaliland: Now Even More Democratic

Somaliland247 reports that a Committee on political parties has returned the verdict that more than three parties will be recognized in future Somaliland elections [3]. Previously there had been limitations for only the largest three parties to be recognized, but the current Somaliland President, Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo, who campaigned on the promise of the expansion of recognized political parties, has delivered on the campaign promise as the committee he chose returned a decision saying that the will of the Somaliland people would be reflected by more political parties.

It would appear, therefore, that Somaliland’s government is heading not in the direction of an American-style two-party system, but rather in the European (and Israeli) democratic fashion of multiple parties that govern based on coalitions. Such parties tend to be more narrowly focused but also provide for the development of collaboration between those of a similar political mindset. Such a cooperative political system would appear to reflect Somaliland’s own clan-based social system and their genuine will. Whether certain parties develop strength far beyond others to become the leading parties in Somaliland politics is something that will have to be seen in the future.

[1] http://somaliland247.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/recognising-somaliland-would-boost-the-fight-against-piracy/
[2] http://somaliland247.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/why-the-international-community-does-not-recognise-somaliland/
[3] http://somaliland247.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/somaliland-committee-on-the-formation-of-more-political-parties-returns-with-yes-verdict/

http://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/somaliland-update-powerful-friends-powerful-logic/


Former Somaliland minister says UN envoy behind political crisis in Somalia

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 17 June 2011. Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 15 Jun 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The former Somaliland aviation minister, Ali Muhammad Waran Adde, has accused the UN especial envoy to Somalia, Augistine Mahige, of "fuelling the political turmoil in Somalia," the privately-owned Horn Cable TV reported on 15 June.

He said the UN envoy "is responsible for the political crisis in Somalia and wants to put it under colony that would be governed by the international community".

The former minister also said "the envoy wants to cause political instability in Somaliland" and called on Somaliland authorities to "ban him from visiting the country".

Credit: Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 15 Jun 11


UN: Somali pirate trials would cost more than 24 million dollars in Somaliland and Puntland

Jun 16, 2011.http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/africa/news/article_1645938.php/UN-Somali-pirate-trials-would-cost-more-than-24-million-dollars

New York - The costs of establishing courts in Somalia and prosecuting detained pirates would be more than 24 million dollars over a three-year period, a UN study reported Thursday.

The study focused on Somali courts in the semi-independent regions of Somaliland and Puntland, which detain the largest numbers of pirates and already have some jurisdiction over crimes of piracy. Funding for the courts will be borne by the UN Development Programme and the UN Drugs and Crimes Office in Vienna.

One possibility is to establish an extraterritorial Somali anti-piracy court in another country, the study said. International law experts would be attracted to serve in the court, given sufficient funding and security.

Some countries have arrested and convicted Somali pirates under their own national legal systems.

There are currently a total of 1,011 pirates in detention in 20 countries and many of them have been convicted in courts in those countries, the study said.

Kenya is holding 119 pirates and has convicted 50; the Netherlands is holding 29 and convicted five.

The United States detains 28 and has convicted eight, Tanzania detains 12 and has convicted eight while Yemen arrested 120 and convicted all of them, Oman arrested 12 and convicted them.

Pirates under detention but not yet tried are in: Germany (10), India (118), France (15), Japan (four) and Maldives (34).

But the largest number of detained pirates so far are in Somalia: Puntland has 290 and convicted about 240; Somaliland has 94 and convicted 68, while the country's South Central region detains 18 pirates.

The UN study, carried out by former French culture and education minister Jack Lang, said the key question would be whether the extraterritorial court should have jurisdiction over Somali pirates who committed minor acts of piracy as well as the financiers and planners that support piracy in the high seas.


Somaliland commander said arrested by Ethiopians forces

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 16 June 2011.Somali Puntlandpost website in Somali 15 Jun 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Muhammad Abdi Nur, a senior Somaliland commander is said to have been arrested by Ethiopian forces along with a number of others travelling with him in the town of Wajaale.

The arrests of this senior Somaliland commander along with a number of people travelling with him comes at a time when Ethiopian troops have been conducting security operation in areas along their border with Somaliland in recent months.

Ethiopian troops are said to have on more than 10 occasions in recent months arrested a number of people from Somaliland town's along the border. These individuals have been accused by Ethiopian forces of contributing to insecurity in their country.

Somaliland Minister of Foreign Affair Muhammad Abdullahi Umar has on several occasions in recent past, while speaking to the media in Hargeysa, denied that Ethiopian forces have crossed over into Somaliland territory.

The arrest of the commander for security forces in the town of Wajale now bears witness to earlier speculation that Ethiopian troops have indeed been coming into Somaliland as part of the security operations they have been conducting along border towns. Relations between Ethiopia and the Somaliland administration have in the recent months been under a lot of strain.

There are reports indicating that the Ethiopian government believes some in President Ahmad Muhammad Silanyo's administration have links with commanders of rebel groups fighting the Ethiopian government. Somaliland leader is also said to be maintaining covert relations with the Eritrean government thus Ethiopia's mistrust of the current Somaliland administration.

The Ethiopian government is also said to have learnt of reports that militias group from Somaliland town of Burco who are related to senior Al-Shabab officials such as Ina Godane of supporting Islamist loyal to Shaykh Muhammad Si'id Atam.

Shaykh Atam's militias have been fighting Puntland forces in the Golis mountainous areas. Puntland has in the past accused Somaliland of backing Shaykh Atam's militias who engaged their forces in fighting in the town of Galgala.

The arrest of this senior Somaliland commander in Wajale is said to be the first of other arrests by Ethiopian forces targeting senior Somaliland officials in President Silanyo's Administration, if the security situation in these areas are not addressed.

Credit: Somali Puntlandpost website in Somali 15 Jun 11


Long stay in camps likely for Somalia's internally displaced

By Eva Krafczyk Jun 16, 2011.http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/africa/news/article_1645768.php/Long-stay-in-camps-likely-for-Somalia-s-internally-displaced

Hargeisa/Dadaab, Somalia - Sahra Hassan Nuur feels like a stranger in her own country. The mother of seven tugs her veil to protect the small child she is holding from the glaring sun. Shade is a rare phenomenon in this refugee camp in central Hargeisa - the capital of the de facto republic of Somaliland, in northwestern Somalia.

Around 2.2 million of Somalia's 9 million people have fled the civil war in their homeland. During their search for normalcy, security and peace, many have for years seen nothing but the desperation of overcrowded camps.

Nine years ago, 40-year-old Hassan Nuur sought refuge in the Hargeisa camp after initially fleeing to Ethiopia.

'After all, this is my homeland,' she said.

But this is not quite how she imagined her return to what is largely the only peaceful part of Somalia. 'I wanted to rebuild our house and look for work. But now I'm a refugee in my own country.'

For international aid organizations and the United Nations, people like Hassan Nuur are internally displaced people. Yet for the government of Somaliland, she and her neighbour, Fatma Abdi Mohamed, are foreign refugees. Ultimately, they are 'tolerated' in the camp bordering the presidential palace's garden walls.

The refugees have to make do with day labour in the region where more than 70 per cent of the population is unemployed.

Although Abdi Mohamed and her three children have been living in Hargeisa for a year, she is still glad to have escaped the constant violence at home in the capital Mogadishu.

'At least we are safe here,' said the widow. 'My children can gradually start forgetting the war. My eldest son still has nightmares.'

Her husband was killed in Mogadishu - one of many civilian victims of the 20-year conflict still raging in the Horn of Africa. Abdi Mohammed dreads the day when government troops or Islamist militia try to forcibly recruit her 10-year-old son.

'In my neighbourhood, boys around his age were taken away to the fighting,' said the 30-year-old woman. 'I never wish to return to Mogadishu.'

The two women are among an estimated 1.5 million Somalis who have fled their hometowns for relatively safe parts of the country. Almost 700,000 refugees live mainly in neighbouring African states. The crisis-torn country is thus one of the few countries with the most refugees and displaced persons worldwide.

Yet the more the radical Islamist al-Shabaab (The Youth) fights to overthrow the government of Somalia and establish a fundamentalist state, the greater the unease that the refugees are confronted with.

Human rights organizations have repeatedly accused Kenya in particular of reprisals and harassing Somalis fleeing the conflict. The East African country is bearing the main burden of accepting refugees.

In Dadaab, near the Somali border, a refugee camp alone shelters around 350,000 people - making it the biggest in the world.

As the border in the semi-desert between Kenya and Somalia can hardly be guarded, security authorities fear al-Shabaab insurgents are entering the country among thousands of refugees arriving every month.

There are also fears that they could be recruiting new fighters from among Kenya's Somali communities. Aid organizations have long been warning that Dadaab is bursting at the seams. Since the beginning of the year alone, 44,000 new arrivals have been registered. And the UN expects numbers in the refugee camp to reach 450,000 by the end of the year.


Somalia's Piracy Problem: Robbery on the High Seas Too Lucrative to Refuse

By Horand Knaup in Hargeisa, Somalia. SPIEGEL ONLINE. 06/16/2011

There are hundreds of pirates serving time in prisons in northern Somalia. But for every one arrested, there are several people willing to fill the gap. A visit to a pirate jail reveals that, despite the risks, many Somalis are still being drawn to the sea by dreams of ransom, revenge and repute.

Omar Abdullahi, 45, knew the patrol boat routes. He knew the coast guard's equipment, and he knew their salaries were a meager $45 (€32) a month. That was all he made, too, despite being head of the Las Qoray outpost. At sea, he saw how easily the pirates in their fast boats got away from his fellow coast guardsmen. And, on land, he saw how they could afford expensive cars and fancy houses.

Finally, Abdullahi had had enough. In 2007, after 14 years of service, he left the coast guard of Somaliland, a republic stretching along Somalia's northern coast that declared independence in 1991. At the time, he said he could make more as a fisherman.

These days, Abdullahi is sitting in a prison in Berbera, a city on Somaliland's northern coast, waiting for his case to go to trial. On March 23, his former coast guard colleagues arrested him and six accomplices in a boat outfitted with a GPS system rather than gill nets. Members of the coast guard claim to have seen them throw their AK-47s and RPGs overboard before their arrest. The indictment says they were pirates and that they had attacked tanker and container ships.

Colonel Ahmed Ali is the commander of the coast guard unit in Berbera. He says his former colleague had spent some time in Eyl, the pirate stronghold on the country's eastern coast. "We know that he made a lot of money there," Ali says, adding that it didn't come from fishing. "If he were a fisherman," Ali explains, "he would go fishing where he comes from and not here."

Berbera's jail is a dark vault built by the Turks in the 19th century. He provides only evasive answers to questions. He insists that he is a fisherman and has five children to feed. And he claims he made $200 a month as a fisherman, considerably more than in the coast guard.

A Brand New Prison for Pirates

Abdullahi is just one of roughly 350 suspected pirates sitting in prisons on the northern coast of Somalia, in both Somaliland and neighboring Puntland. In Somaliland, in particular, officials are eager to get more serious about combating piracy. With strong support from the European Union, the United Nations has built a brand new prison in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. The two organizations invested roughly $1.5 million in the detention center, which now holds 88 suspected and convicted pirates.

Piracy has become an expensive matter for this seafaring nation. Indeed, a recent study found that piracy off Somalia and in the Indian Ocean has cost the global community somewhere near $10 billion. It also says that average ransoms for ships grew from $150,000 to $5.4 million between 2005 and 2010, and that there have been a record 98 attacks between January and March in this year alone. There are additional costs as well: having ships out of service, the deployment of naval vessels from a number of countries, tankers and freighters needing to take long detours to avoid danger zones, holding court cases and incarcerating the pirates.

Western security firms have now discovered piracy as a new business sector -- one worth millions. Their portfolio of services includes making contact and negotiating with pirates, supporting relatives and preparing and delivering ransoms. Occasionally things go wrong, such as when Somalian officials recently arrested three Britons, two Kenyans and an American at the airport in Mogadishu. When they searched through the group's luggage, they found $3.6 million in cash meant as ransom for two ships seized by pirates last year.

Ransoms Are a "Type of Tax"

Among those sitting in the new jail in Hargeisa is Ahmed Muhammed Adam, from the port city of Bosaso in Puntland. He was arrested on April 17, 2010 along with six others.

Like almost all the other suspected pirates incarcerated in Hargeisa, Adam claims to be just a hard-working fisherman with no connections to piracy. The motor of his boat broke down and Adam says they then drifted westward from the coast of Somaliland. Then, he says, a foreign frigate spotted his boat and relayed its coordinates to the coast guard. Adam was given a 15-year sentence.

Despite his denials, Adam went on to provide some astonishing insights into the piracy trade. "Anyone who goes out is assuming a risk," he says, "and most of them suffer a defeat." He adds that, before becoming a lucrative business, piracy was a way to fight back against foreign ships. In fact, the business has gotten so lucrative that the high risks involved no longer frighten people off. He also says that it won't stop, either, because people like him view the ransoms "as a type of tax."

These days, lots of people are dying off the coasts of Somalia, and only a fraction of the victims are ever identified. In mid-May, helicopter-borne American soldiers shot dead four Somali pirates as they were trying to board the Artemis Glory, a German supertanker. The ship's crew had already repelled a number of attacks before the helicopter took off from the USS Bulkeley, an American destroyer, and came to their rescue.

In recent months, there have been a number of similar episodes. But they still haven't done anything to reduce the number of pirate attacks. On the contrary, as the pirate Adam puts it: "Whenever 20 die, there are always 20 more to replace them."

The International Effort through Pirate Eyes

Adam also says that the pirates have devoted some of their profits to obtaining better equipment. "They now have speedboats that can escape from any warship," he says. He adds that the prestige that pirates gain from a successful seizure is enormous. "Whoever brings back a ransom is untouchable."

As such, it is no wonder that pirates who have successfully seized a ship enjoy so much support on land. "The major clans and families are also involved," Adam says, "all of them." He adds that the state no longer has any influence in Hobyo, a large pirate nest on Somalia's eastern coastline. "A minister recently wanted to talk with the clans," Adam recounts. "But he encountered serious difficulties already on his way to Hobyo."

Adam is also convinced that the state is powerless to stop piracy. "In the 1990s," he explains, "you could have still pulled it off. But that's no longer the case. It's too late now; the ransoms are too high."

Brainwashing the Young

Another prisoner in Hargeisa is Ahmad Muhamad Jama. The 30-year-old also claims to have been a simple fisherman and says his boat had also merely drifted off course. Though he claims to have never encountered any pirates, Jama says he supports them "morally." He also seems surprisingly familiar with the piracy business. "It's very hard to stop," he explains. "People are forced to avenge their brother or father whenever they are killed at sea." He also compares the riches that can come from piracy to "brainwashing for the young."

Indeed, the pirates have become heroes for many young Somalis. One of the prisoners in Hargeisa is 18-year-old Muhammed Yussuf Abdia, who was sentenced to a year in jail for attacking his father with a machete. The young man has no compunction about saying that he wants to become a pirate -- the "commander of a unit," no less -- once he is released. His role model is Farah Ismail Ilie, one of the unofficial bigwigs in the Hargeisa prison.

Discussions with prisoners at Hargeisa reveal the degree to which the situation has escalated. There are often no witnesses to the encounters between naval ships, pirates and the vessels they prey upon. Jama claims to have lost three relatives himself. He says they headed out to sea to go fishing. "We never saw them again," he says, "only the wreckage of their boat washed up on shore." No one knows if the boat was the victim of an accident or an attack by a foreign warship. "Many never come back," says Adam, Jama's fellow prisoner.

Hargeisa prisoners also provide a clearer picture of how the foreign fleets operate. Naval crews from around the world prefer to take as few pirates into custody as possible. Instead, they stop the suspected pirate boats and, if the pirates haven't already thrown them overboard themselves, they confiscate weapons, scaling ladders and GPS devices. Sometimes they destroy the outboard motors; sometimes they give the pirates food and water.

One notorious case involves the Russian destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov. In May 2010, the vessel arrested 10 Somalis after they attacked a Russian oil tanker. The Russians seized their weapons and navigation instruments and then gave them a little food and water. Then they were left to their own devices 600 kilometers (373 miles) from shore. The pirates were never seen again.

Fishermen Profiting from Piracy

Another pirate in Hargeisa tells the story of a Russian naval vessel that stopped his boat, tagged it with paint, removed its outboard motor and reported its coordinates to the Somaliland coast guard, which merely had to pick them up.

The pirates aren't the only ones to profit from their thriving trade; the fishermen do as well. Yussuf Muhammed Ahmed, the 39-year-old head of the local consortium of 500 fishermen, stands on the pier at Berbera. "When it comes to our earnings," he says, "the pirates are a boon. Otherwise we'd have nothing." He explains that pirates have forced the fishing fleets from Spain, India and Italy to go elsewhere. Catches, he said, are much higher now than they were five years ago. Only deep-sea fish have yet to recover.

In the harbor's small military area, base commander Col. Ahmed Ali deploys the members of his coast guard. They are a very strange-looking bunch, wearing well-worn boots and a mishmash of uniforms manufactured in the West and the former Soviet Union, boarding boats that the pirates can easily outrun. With the 400 men and 10 boats at his disposal, Ali is supposed to safeguard activities on almost 1,000 kilometers of coastline. He opts to say nothing of the replacement parts that never turn up, the lack of fuel and the salaries that always arrive late.

Ali knows what journalists want to hear. "Piracy is a scourge," he says. "But if we really want to get good at this, we need better radars for our boats, better training and real speedboats." And then he adds: "Instead of spending billions of dollars to deploy warships, the international community should invest in us. It would be a whole lot cheaper."

Translated from the German by Josh Ward.URL: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,768770,00.html © SPIEGEL ONLINE 2011


Recognising Somaliland would boost the fight against piracy

16.06.2011

Attempts to tackle the scourge of piracy and keep the Red Sea open for merchant shipping.

On 6 June, Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, spoke to the Asia-Europe Meeting in Budapest and, among other things, she touched on the situation off the coast of Somalia, pointing out that 500 people have been imprisoned for piracy off the coast of Somalia and saying that the solution to piracy “lies on land”. It does, of course.

With the decent of Yemen and the port of Aden into chaos and with a very real risk that it will become the preserve of fundamentalists, one of the world's most vital arteries has a distinct possibility of being cut.

So what to do? How can we help tackle the scourge of piracy and keep the Red Sea open for merchant shipping. Well, one simple way would be to recognise the country of Somaliland. A couple of weeks ago the peaceful democratic Islamic nation of Somaliland celebrated 20 years of independence. On the same day that Ashton was vapouring about things needing to be done, a Somaliland court put six pirates in prison for a total of 45 years.

Is it not time that this peaceful land was granted recognition by the international community? Not just because we morally should, but because it is in our interests to support the only part of that unhappy corner of the world that is looking forward to peace and prosperity?

Godfrey Bloom MEP
Brussels
© 2011 European Voice. All rights reserved. http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/imported/recognising-somaliland-would-boost-the-fight-against-piracy/71361.aspx


Why the international community does not recognise Somaliland?

11 June 2011 22:01.http://thecitizen.co.tz/sunday-citizen/43-sunday-citizen-opinion-editorial/11833-why-the-international-community-does-not-recognise-somaliland.html

On May 18, the self-declared Republic of Somaliland marked its 20th anniversary of independence from the rest of Somalia. The occasion must have passed almost unnoticed by many around the world since this breakaway nation is not recognised internationally and hardly catches the attention of the world media.

Somaliland, with a population of about 4 million, is an ex-British colony that willingly merged with the former Italian Somalia at independence in 1960 to form the republic of Somalia. But under the military dictatorship of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somaliland was neglected, although it remained an integral part of the Somali state.

Following the overthrow of the Barre regime in May 1991, which left behind a country engulfed by anarchy and bloody inter-clan fighting, Somaliland seceded from the rest of Somalia and declared independence on the same day. Since then, efforts at reconciliation between the different Somali clans, drafting a new Constitution and democratisation have helped Somaliland metamorphose into one of a few peaceful, stable and progressive states on our continent.

In the last two decades the country has made gigantic strides on the socio-economic and political front, though it does not get any assistance from Western creditors to build its economy due to lack of international recognition. It relies for its development, on livestock exports, tourism and remittances from Somalis in the Diaspora, which are estimated at $ 650 million a year.

Even with its sparse resources, Somaliland has registered striking accomplishments, especially in the health and education sectors. For example, it has registered considerable reduction in maternal and child mortality.

According to the deputy minister of Health, Nimo Hussein Qawthan, maternal mortality rate has declined from 1,600 deaths per 100,000 women in 1991 to 1,044 per 100,000 in 2006; child mortality rate which was 275 in 1990, has dropped to 166 in 2006. And because of the vigorous fight against malaria, the country is almost malaria-free!

With regard to education, Somaliland has three world-class universities and several colleges as well as polytechnic schools – all built without foreign assistance. In 1991, according to Prof Ahmed Hussein Essa of the University of Hargeisa, there were a total of 219 primary, intermediate and secondary schools. Today the number of primary schools alone has increased to 506. Literacy rates have gone up from 20 per cent in 1991 to 45 per cent in 2010.

And, politically, the country’s multi-party democracy experimentation has been impressive; respect for human rights and the exercise of the freedom of expression and assembly are some of the salient features of the democratisation process. The country has successfully held three parliamentary and municipal elections, two presidential elections as well as smooth transfer of power since the death of President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal in May 2002.

But despite all these successes, Somaliland is still not recognised internationally as an independent and sovereign state. This surprises many an analyst (and infuriates the Somalilanders) because the country, which will never rejoin stateless Somalia, meets all the standard criteria of an independent state.

Interestingly, Somaliland is remarkably different from Croatia and Kosovo – nations that never had a separate history from Serbia. Yet, the two break-away nations became independent with the support of the Western powers, followed by the rest of the world.

On the other hand, the republic of Somaliland is not different from Eritrea which had a separate history from Ethiopia, but was allowed its independence. And Southern Sudan, which is historically part of the Sudan, recently decided to secede through a referendum and got international support. Now, why, one might ask, should Somaliland be treated differently? Is it because it has no oil?

Soon, the Western countries will be falling over each other to open embassies in Juba, as they scramble for Southern Sudan’s oil, while Somaliland, which is well managed compared to most African countries that are endowed with natural resources, remains totally ignored; but for how long? This unique country needs to be recognised so that it can become a member of the international community, do business with the rest of the world and be able to sign international treaties.

Mr Kagaruki is a political analyst based in Dar es Salaam


Ethiopia Detains Somaliland Officials

Tit-For-Tat Move

By ABDI HUSSEIN 06/11/2011

In what appears to be a tit-for-tat move after Somaliland police arrested an Ethiopian plain-clothes policemen in the border town of Wajale, security forces from Ethiopia's Somali region arrested a Somaliland Intelligence officer and civil society workers in the region’s headquarter, Jigjiga.

Senior police officials at Somaliland Police headquarters, who requested anonymity, told Somalia Report the incident took place yesterday. Teams from both Somaliland and Ethiopia security and intelligence agencies have reach Wajale and are working on ways to resolve the matter.

The civil society workers were reportedly in Jigjiga to attend a workshop and were initially granted permission to enter Ethiopia.

"We came across an Ethiopian plainclothes policemen who was attempting to arrest a famous businessman and we suspected they were also doing espionage activities - as a result we confronted and detained the three of them,” said the police source, saying the subsequent arrest of Somalilanders was revenge for this arrest.

Commuters in the border town of Wajale indicated the incident has disrupted movement between the two border posts as vehicles from Somaliland are not allowed into Ethiopia.

The spar between the two comes as surprise to some locals and observers, as the relationship between them has been cordial over the years. Ethiopia opened a consulate in Somaliland, has been using Somaliland’s port of Berbera and trained the Somaliland Special Police Unit (SPU), which is tasked with safeguarding the security of international aid workers and VIPs.

http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/940/Ethiopia_Detains_Somaliland_Officials


Netherlands - Stability and good governance in Somaliland vital in combating piracy

June 10, 2011. http://www.isria.com/pages/10_June_2011_191.php

Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen paid a visit today to Somaliland, a region in the North of Somalia. His agenda included a meeting with Somaliland’s president, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, and its foreign minister.

Somaliland has been stable for several years and held democratic elections last year. Mr Knapen said that the rest of Somalia could learn from Somaliland’s experiences with stability and democratisation. Acceptance of government authority and a policy of active prevention is helping to stave off piracy. ‘No piracy attacks are launched from the coast of Somaliland. It is important to ensure that instability and piracy in the neighbouring region does not spread to Somaliland’, Mr Knapen said during his visit to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

The minister visited the Hargeisa prison where 87 pirates tried by Somaliland are incarcerated. The Netherlands plans to contribute a million euros, via the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, for the construction of a new prison, for pirates and other offenders, and measures to strengthen the justice system. This will increase the capacity available for imprisoning pirates in the region and UNODC’s involvement guarantees compliance with international standards.

In the presence of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Knapen laid the first stone for a new parliament building. The Netherlands is donating €700,000 for construction and for training parliamentarians and support staff. Earlier in the day, he visited a camp for displaced Somalis. Their presence sometimes leads to tension with the local population. Through the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) the Netherlands is supporting temporary accommodation for internally displaced persons throughout Somalia. ‘When Somalia is safer these displaced persons can return home’, said the Minister.

Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991. However, the international community does not recognise the unilateral declaration. Increasing stability in Somaliland could boost economic development in the region and have a positive effect on Somalia. Bolstering fragile states is one of the key themes of Dutch development cooperation policy.


USAID Supports Economic Opportunities for Somali People


Engineer services generator at one of Hargeisa’s private suppliers of electricity.

7 June 2011 | HARGEISA, Somaliland

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Partnership for Economic Growth was launched today in Hargeisa. The Partnership is working with Somalis to improve the environment for investment and expand economic opportunities. “We believe in the resiliency and entrepreneurial spirit of the Somali people,” said Acting USAID East Africa Mission Director, John Power. “This partnership will not only benefit the local economy, but will also promote stability.”

Partnership for Economic Growth will work with a broad range of government authorities and private sector to assess strengths, weaknesses and investment opportunities in the most productive Somali value chains, including livestock, fisheries and gums and resins. The Partnership will improve access to business development services, especially for women entrepreneurs. It will support the development of regulatory policies to do business better and ultimately attract more investment.

In today’s launch ceremony, representatives from the Ministries of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, financial institutions, private sector, women entrepreneurs and local associations attended. “The private sector is the pillar of the economy,” said Abdulahi Dirie Jama, Secretary General of the Chamber of Commerce. “It is a source of revenue for the government and a major supplier of livelihood for residents.”

For more information, please contact: partnership4econgrowth@hotmail.com or Marybeth McKeever, mmckeever@usaid.gov http://eastafrica.usaid.gov/en/USAID/Article/2804/USAID_Supports_Economic_Opportunities_for_Somali_People


Ethiopia reportedly mediates dispute between Somaliland, Puntland

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 10 June 2011.Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 10 Jun 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The Ethiopian government is mediating between Somaliland and Puntland regional administration on the dispute over Sool and Sanaag regions.

A meeting in which delegates from Somaliland and Puntland attended opened in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, yesterday afternoon.

Reports say the implementation of the resolutions of the latest UN conference held in Nairobi is a key agenda of the talks.

The delegations from the two sides are led by their respective presidents. Sources close to Puntland leader, Abdirahman Muhammad Farol, say the two sides have reached preliminary agreements on some of the issues.

Ethiopian diplomats say the talks will be fruitful, adding that the Ethiopian government is serious in ending the rift between the two administrations.

The Ethiopian has of late involved in efforts to reconcile Puntland and Somaliland administrations. The Addis Ababa government has in the past invited the two administrations separately over the matter.

Credit: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 10 Jun 11


Somaliland: Panel to submit findings to president over formation of new parties

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 08 June 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 4 Jun 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. [Unattributed report: "Deputy chairman says they are ready to transfer information on parties to president"]

The deputy chairman of the committee in charge of advising the government on political parties, Mr Muhammad Abdillahi Du'ale, held a press conference in Hargeysa in which he revealed that they are going to convey this coming week to the president the information they collected on whether to allow the formation of new political parties or not.

Mr Muhammad Abdillahi Du'ale said the reason they had taken so long to submit their findings was due to the request from the president to delay the release of the information until after the 18 May independence celebration. He also thanked Somalilanders both inside and outside the country for the enthusiasm and strong sense of nationalism that they displayed during the independence anniversary.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 4 Jun 11


Somaliland accuses militia group of recruiting "under-aged" children

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 08 June 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 4 Jun 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC.[Unattributed report: "SSC Militias Recruiting Children for War"]

Somaliland Ministry of Labour and Community Affairs released information that the militia group SSC are recruiting under-aged children, some of whom are less than 10 years old, into its ranks in Buuhoodle.

This was announced in a press release by the children's welfare section of the Ministry of Labour and Community Affairs. Haatuf newspaper received a copy of the press release which was signed by Mr Abdi Abdillahi Hasan, the Director of the children's welfare section of the Ministry of Labour and Community Affairs.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 4 Jun 11


Commentary seeks international recognition of Somaliland's independence

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 08 June 2011.The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 4 Jun 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. [Article by Abdikadir D. Askar: "Somaliland's Recognition: The Undiscovered Secret"]

Unknown to many people in the world is a yet-to-be-recognized state with three and half million population in the Horn of Africa. It is a phenomenal country that has emerged out from the ashes of the collapsed Somalia. Up till now it stayed stable for over two decades without any external support. It is a country that has set brilliant records in terms of government institution building and peace maintenance which was based on a unique blend of traditional conflict-resolving approach and modern democracy. This happens to be Somaliland-Africa's bonfire of peace and democracy.

The 18 May marked the 20th anniversary when Somaliland regained and declared its independence from the rest of Somalia. And since then Somaliland has not been formally accorded recognition by any country even though it has realized unparalleled successes. However, I would like here to share with my readers of why Somaliland has to be recognized as an independent state.

It is not a bombshell to any person that a country which was once an independent state and voluntarily joined their brothers, in search of the so called 'Greater Somalia', can anytime decide to withdraw from the union if need arises. Therefore, it is the people's wishes to stay away from the mess of their united partner in order to move forward and do their business separately.

Many popular bodies that have been established in this world to protect and preserve the basic constitutional rights-in which self-determination comes on top-are regrettably violating the very same rights. For example, African Union has discarded to admit the possibility of Somaliland's statehood. Let me tell you AU members, Somaliland neither created new borders, like Southern Sudan, nor defied AU's principle article which rejects African colonial borders to be redrawn but simply re-established itself from the unsuccessful marriage it had once with Somalia.

Somaliland has now everything to qualify for statehood; be it a permanent population, a defined territory and a functioning government. There is also a flourishing democracy with multi-party system whereby the president, the parliament and the local councils were elected through a process of fair and free election. It has handled peaceful transfer of power from one regime to another, which has coloured Somaliland's move with unmatched civility.

Constant killings and mayhem in many parts of Africa is everyday's practice but Somaliland has been an exceptional one. Due to its well-armed and equipped forces, peace on their part has been fully guaranteed. It has not posed any kind of threat to its neighbours, but instead maintained friendly relations albeit the many terrorist elements which are determined to destroy it. Truth thus is, without such outstanding efforts the miseries, frustrations, terrorism and piracy would have spilled over on other neighbours.

What Somaliland has accomplished single-handedly is reasonably glorious. It has stabilized its economy which relies mainly upon livestock, tax receipts and remittances from the Diaspora. With the little revenue gotten, much has been done in terms of providing social services, maintaining peace and nurturing democracy.

One will be astounded to observe that the voiceless society has been given a platform to engage in the active politics. Women, for instance, are now taking a lead in every single aspect of life from parenting to the leadership! Such a country with this puerile democracy cannot execute to give three ministerial positions to women; Somaliland is a unique case though.

The exercise of the human rights is vibrant in Somaliland. It is the government which acts responsibly in protecting primary rights-including freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of press. The impossibility is that an African country as young as Somaliland is actually unable to safeguard such rights but Somaliland did it with all greater popularity.

Recent research in Somaliland showed that the region has large offshore and onshore oil and natural gas reserves. There are several wells that have been unearthed over the past few years but due to its unrecognized status, foreign oil and coal companies have not been able to benefit from this.

Because of the above-mentioned reasons, I humbly therefore appeal to the civilized world by quoting my honourable former president's words, HE. Rayale Kahin, that Somaliland should not be punished for the success it has achieved by its own efforts, but rather should be given a full diplomatic recognition.

To sum up, Somaliland fulfils all the criteria that the international law requires for the attainment of statehood. The international community should no longer ignore Somaliland's pursuit for recognition. It is in the interest of the World to have an independent state that is stable and free of anarchy, with a viable economy and a functioning democracy.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 4 Jun 11


Six Pirates Convicted in Somaliland

By AWEYS CADDE 06/06/2011 Sahil Regional Court in Berbera has convicted six men for piracy and attempted hijacking. Five were given eight years in prison, while the sixth was sentenced to five.

Judge Osman Ibrahim Dahir told the media that they apprehended the six pirates on March 24 in the region of Sanaag.

“They were using speed boats and hand guns, ready to ambush any ship or tanker that came their way,” he said. “They dumped their weapons into the sea, when the coast guards approached them. They are from Puntland and it is not their first time (as pirates).”

The judge said the six men received $3 million in ransom fees for an unnamed ship hijacked in August 2008, but no evidence was shown to back this up.

Their defense lawyer argued the men were innocent fishermen caught in the rift between Punt land and Somaliland, but federal prosecutors argued during the trial that one of them confessed to the charges-believed to be Mohamed Ahmed Farah, who is to serve five years for his cooperation.

The other convicted men are Omar Abdullahi Abdi (leader of the group), Mohamed Abdirahman Mohamud, Du’ale Jama Said, Hashi Nur Mohamed and Egal Mohamed Saleh, all aged between 25 and 35.

Osman Ibrahim Dahir said the speedboats seized from the pirates are in the hands of Somaliland coast guards.


Somaliland Court Sentences Six Captured Pirates to Jail Terms

By Mohamoud Ali Mohamed - Jun 6, 2011.http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-06/somaliland-court-sentences-six-captured-pirates-to-jail-terms.html

Six Somali pirates were jailed by a Somaliland court for capturing an Italian vessel in April 2008 and receiving a $3 million ransom.

The Berbera Regional Court gave five of the pirates eight- year jail terms, while a sixth received a sentence of five years after he confessed to the crime, Osman Ibrahim Direi, head of the court, said yesterday. The six men were captured by Somaliland’s coast guard on March 24 near the coastal town of Maydh.

Somaliland, a breakaway enclave in northern Somalia, in March opened a maximum-security prison built with United Nations funding to incarcerate convicted pirates.

An increase in pirate attacks, spurred by a 36-fold jump in ransom payments in five years, has threatened vessels carrying 20 percent of world trade and raised expenses for shippers. Costs linked to piracy may reach $13 billion to $15 billion by 2015 as global trade rebounds and pirates operate over wider areas, according to research firm Geopolicity Inc.


Puntland and Somaliland Clash in Sool Region

Puntland Caught Between SSC and Somaliland Clashes in Gambara

By SAID ISMAIL, MJ 05/31/2011

Puntland and Somaliland forces have today clashed in Gambara near Tukaraq district in Sool region, some 28 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Las'anod, after Somaliland forces moved towards Puntland's base in Tukaraq.

There are varied reports on killed and wounded soldiers, but both sides and witnesses said there were no civilian casualities. Local residents told Somalia Report that 2 Puntland soldiers and 3 Somaliland soldiers were killed. However, Somaliland official, Yasin Abdi Mire, denied Puntland soldiers were killed, but that 3 Puntland soliders were wounded in the fighting. Sources close to the military of Somaliland said at least of four of Somaliland’s forces were injured.

Witnesses told Somalia Report that Somaliland forces with tanks and armored vehicles were seen moving towards the direction of Gambara earlier in the morning and fierce clashes followed around 12:00 PM local time (0900 GMT)

Sources from Garowe, Puntland’s capital, told Somalia Report that Somaliland forces clashed with the Sool, Sanaag & Cool (SSC) militia, a group is opposed to the government in Hargeisa, in the outskirts of Gambara. The fighting forced the SSC militia to retreat back to the Puntland base in Tukaraq village thus prompting Puntland forces into an unexpected battle with Somaliland.

“Puntland forces were caught in the middle after SSC and Somaliland fought somewhere near Puntland military base,” the source said.

Puntland’s former Aviation and Ports Minister Ahmed Ali Osman Karash, who now leads an armed militia to fight against Somaliland’s presence in the region, exclusively talked to Somalia Report while in Tukaraq.

He said that Somaliland military forces attacked his forces and the SSC militia a few kilometers away from Tukaraq.

“They attacked our forces as well as of those SSC in the outskirts of Tukaruq, and we resisted the offensive of Somaliland," he said.

Meanwhile, Colonel Ali Sabaray, the deputy leader of SSC told the local media that his militia captured a tank from Somaliland forces and a number of other military equipment, but could not confirm the number of casualties.

"We have managed to push the enemy back to their territory. We have captured a number of their military equipment,” said the colonel.

Puntland’s Information Minister Ahmed Ali Askar held press conference in the capital of Garowe and said that three of Puntland’s defense forces were injured in the fighting but no one was killed as far as Puntland’s side is concerned.

“Three of our forces were injured and are now being treated in Garowe. That’s the only casualty so far,” he explained.

He blamed the break-away administration of Somaliland for provoking Puntland by attacking its territory.

"Somaliland attacked our territory and Puntland responded in the similar fashion,” said the information minister. “Puntland as always will defend its territory and people," vowed.

Minister Askar blamed Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for trying to destabilize the region, but would not give details of how and why the TFG is involved in the Puntland-Somaliland conflict.

Somaliland Military Officials told local media that Puntland troops were trying to attack Lascano district and Somaliland military have succeeded to defend it.

Several local residents told Somalia Report that another clash might break out.

The tension is very high in the area, according to Ahmed Said Yare, a resident in Las’anod. “The situation is very high here in Las’anod, people are not sure of what may follow this,” he said.

That clashes come amid peace efforts focusing on Kalshale Village were continuing in Lascano and Buhodle districts in disputed region of Sool Peace elders asked both sides to bury the hachet and to get along.

Earlier this year, Puntland forces established military bases near the Tukaruq village while Somaliland forces moved 20km from Lascano district and the SSC front in a bid to take control of some districts in region.

Puntland and Somaliland both claim the Sool region as part of its territory and have previously fought for control of the region.

http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/866/Puntland_and_Somaliland_Clash_in_Sool_Region


Coca Cola invests millions into Somaliland

31 May 2011.http://www.voice-online.co.uk/content.php?show=19859

COCA COLA plans to invest up to 10 million dollars (USD) into a new bottling plant in the Republic of Somaliland.

The world's largest soft-drink maker has stated that the North African country's economic growth provides a "conducive" conditions to set-up business there.

Somaliland , who declared independence from Somalia twenty years ago, were also heralded by the beverage powerhouse for their post civil war "stability".

Coca-Cola's franchise general manager for the Horn Islands and Middle Africa, Ndema Rukandema, said: "Somaliland is a growing economy, made buoyant by the level of trading activity in the country."

He added: “The stability that the country has enjoyed over the last several years is a positive indication of a conducive business environment.”

The factory is currently under construction in the country’s capital of Hargeisa and is expected to open in September 2011.


Coca-Cola Invests $10 Million in Somaliland Bottling Plant

May 31, 2011.By Sarah McGregor

May 31 (Bloomberg) -- Coca-Cola Co., the world’s largest soft-drink maker, plans to set-up a bottling plant in the breakaway republic of Somaliland, saying its stability and economic growth provide “conducive” conditions for investment.

Somaliland Beverage Industries, owned by local businessman Ahmed Osman Guelleh, was awarded a license to operate the factory that’s under construction and expected to start operating by the end of September, Ndema Rukandema, Coca-Cola’s franchise general manager for the Horn, Islands and Middle Africa, said yesterday. Coca-Cola has so far invested $10 million to build the facility in Hargeisa, the capital.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia two decades ago, after the fall of dictator Mohammed Siad Barre. While no country officially recognizes Somaliland’s sovereignty, it has remained largely free of the clan warfare, kidnappings and assassinations that plague Somalia, to the southeast.

Coca-Cola enters an economy that the government says is almost entirely reliant on remittances sent home from citizens living abroad and the proceeds of camel, cattle, sheep and goat exports to the Middle East and North Africa. Output from the plant is meant to substitute sales from Coca-Cola beverages currently imported from the Middle East, Rukandema said.

“Somaliland is a growing economy, made buoyant by the level of trading activity in the country,” Rukandema said in an e- mailed response to questions. “The stability that the country has enjoyed over the last several years is a positive indication of a conducive business environment.”

Coca-Cola’s agreement with United Bottling Co., its partner in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu where Africa Union troops and government forces are trying to drive out Islamic rebels, is “not in effect,” and production has been halted, he said.

Somalia’s government has been battling Islamist insurgents, including al-Shabaab, since 2007. The rebels control most of southern and central Somalia. The U.S. accuses al-Shabaab of having links to al-Qaeda, which has said it aims to establish a caliphate, or Islamic government, in the Horn of Africa country.

--Editors: Paul Richardson, Karl Maier.


Ten seized in Somaliland crackdown

By ABDULKADIR KHALIF in Mogadishu. May 29 2011.http://www.africareview.com/News/-/979180/1171446/-/hnglktz/-/

More than ten people were on Friday night rounded up by authorities in Las Anod town in the self-declared republic of Somaliland.

Although no statement has been made on the seizure of the civilians in Sool region, some 1,150 km northwest of Mogadishu, the crackdown appeared to have been related to insecurity.

Las Anod is where where Somalia’s last democratically elected president, Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, was assassinated on October 15 1969 and has been proving ungovernable for Somaliland.

Gunmen have targeted officials in the region as a sign of discontent with a rule many people believe as unwanted.

On the eve of Somaliland’s Independence Day on May 18, the acting judge of Sool region was gunned down.

On April 30, the commander of the traffic police in the region was killed.

Disputed

Other killings and public demonstrations against the presence of Somaliland authority have been carried out since Las Anod was seized by pro-Somaliland forces in 2007 from Puntland, a self-styled autonomous region in Northeastern Somalia.


Somaliland Burns Currency As Message to SSC

Somali Shilling Press Stunt Brings Focus On Financial Underpinnings of Somali Regions

05/29/2011

Somaliland gathered and destroyed over 3 billion Somali Shillings outside Burao on Friday. Its part of a public information program to let people know that Somaliland will use their own currency in the Eastern region and a clear message to contested Sool and Sanaag regions that economic change is coming.

Somaliland is neither an official state nor a recognized country but has existed for two decades. Despite its aggressive public stance (you don't have to burn currency in public) the region should be proud of its relative success. Relative of course in Somalia takes into account the current and historic success of Mogadishu and Puntland.

The current projected income of Somaliland at $50 million is optimistically predicted to double by next year and then again by 2013 to $160 million. The recent lifting of a ban on livestock exportation due to fears of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) by Saudi Arabia has gone a long way to boost the outlook of the economy in Somaliland. Investments by companies like Coca Cola who can no longer function in Mogadishu has brought economic growth as well.

The Mogadishu based TFG recently approved an annual government budget of around $100 million, Somaliland approved a government budget of $61 million in 2010 posing the uncomfortable thought that with the expected growth, Somaliland may be poised to exceed it southern brother in economic success.

In 2009 the Annual Financial Report released by the Somali Prime Minister laid out an economic conundrum. Mogadishu spends ten million dollars just on government salaries. Not much as government spending goes, but when you figure that Somalia's income in fiscal 2009 was around $11 million with port taxes making up $6.2 million and airport exit fees contributing $351,920 it looks less successful. The worst news is that of the just under $3 million was bilateral aid.... of which half came from Libya. Libyan leader Muamar Qaddafi may have other things on his mind these days.

The 2011 budget for the TFG was approved in January (an effort supported by $3.8 million grant from the African Development Bank Group’s Fragile States Facility ) but was mostly a work of fiction, assuming that a third would be generated from local funds and somehow the remaining three quarters would come from foreign donors.

Somaliland introduced their currency in 1994 and a year later refused to accept the Somali currency. The exchange rate then was one Somaliland shilling to 100 Somali shilling. Now the exchange rate is about half. In the early days there was an attempt to create new coins, some featuring Sir Richard Francis Burton who made Berbera famous by getting a spear through his cheek from local tribesmen in 1854. Perhaps a humorous reminder of the regions attitude towards outsiders.

Somalia prints their currency in nearby Sudan in a 2010 agreement. The countries currency is propped up by about $300 million in exports to countries like the UAE, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Mostly in livestock. It imports about $800 million and receives millions more in aid.

The country hopes to establish a national bank and will take advantage of a number of electronic cash transfer options. Currently the Somali shilling is technically the official currency and trades for around 1,600 shillings against the US dollar. The establishment of a bank will allow the use of credit cards and traditional online payments or transfers.

The least affluent region Puntland is run by a former banker and has made responsible fiscal management a key part of its governance. President President Abdirahman Mohamed "Farole" takes pains to issue formal press statements and accurate, professional budgets but the social services and conditions are more accurate indicators of the regions economic health. The Puntland government budget was $11.7 million in 2008 and increased to 17.6 million in 2009. Income from the port is increasing and they also rely heavily on outside donors to maintain their programs. Puntland charges less than the Mogadishu port encouraging some traders to ship to Bosasso and then truck their goods southward.

Piracy is another financial player in Somalia and has collected around $150million in 2010 and is expected to increase their take from ransoms in 2011. Although some of this money (paid in U.S. dollars) enters the local economy much of it is spirited away to offshore banking havens.

The final fiscal organization is Al Shabaab which taxes the port of Kismayo at about a quarter of the rate charged by the TFG. They also tax local communities and rely heavily on foreign donors for its existence.

Printed currency may become a thing of the past if Somaliland gets their way. The Somali Shilling was devised in 1962 and has suffered from a lack of fiscal underpinnings and even rampant counterfeiting. Due to the massive presence of foreign donors and the worthlessness of the Somali shilling outside the region, he U.S. dollar is the de facto currency. Local currency is used by local traders and although the official rate is 1595 Somali Shillings to the dollar (labeled as SOS ironically) exchange rates vary across the region.

The transfer of money is Somali is both innovative and old fashioned. Halwala's like Dahabishil allow the effortless transfer of funds from around the world into and out of Somalia. This ancient idea kept money away from prying government officials and thieves and goes back centuries. Somali's can also use cel phones to transfer money. The opaque and private method of halwala has come under scrutiny by the U.S. and Al Barakaat was actually shut down after 9/11 after they alleged the firm was used to transfer money to terrorist groups.

In 2000 the Transitional National Government printed and imported about 30 billion shillings from Canada and crashed the economy. With Somaliland's move to enforce their own currency there now exists a wider gap between a united Somali and the reality of a divided nation.

http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/860/Somaliland_Burns_Currency_As_Message_to_SSC?PHPSESSID=46452331bdbfd2fc5bb35db5e9ad5577


Somaliland’s First Woman Mayor Takes role in Gabiley City

Hiiraan Online.May 28. 2011http://www.hiiraan.com/news2/2011/may/somaliland_s_first_woman_mayor_takes_role_in_gabiley_city.aspx

Somaliland’s district of Gabiley appointed its first woman mayor in the history of the self-declared republic that has been struggling to get recognition from the international community over the past few years.

Elders and officials of Gabiley District Committee nominated Ms. Kadra Haaji in an acting capacity following a vote of no confidence against former mayor Aden Muhumed, who is allegedly embroiled in corruption allegations.

The extra ordinary sitting of the local committee attended by Somaliland’s Attorney General Hassan Ahmed, Director of the ministry of internal affairs Abdullahi Hussein and Deputy Provisional Commissioner of Gabiley province, endorsed Ms. Haaji to take over as the new mayor.

The 18-member committee elected Ms. Haaji who has previously served as a deputy in the North West city which is located 54 km from Hargeisa the capital of Somaliland.

Ms. Haaji replaces former Mayor Muhumed who according to the office of attorney general of the breakaway republic misappropriated more than 250million Somaliland shillings during his tenureb as Gabiley boss.

Little is known about Ms. Haaji but sources indicated that she had previously made some unbounded attempts to take part in community initiatives to foster development in a country where many loaded the dice in life.

Her position as a full mayor will be confirmed when or if the former immediate mayor’s case is settled by a court of law which is investigating the case against him.

The appointment of a woman to the top civic role in the largely male-dominated Somali politics, defies the trend in the conservative population where leadership remained a no-go zone for women like Ms. Haaji.

Her appointment has certainly shaken the norms in Somalia and in the entire parched and bare Horn of Africa region, where women lag far behind men in almost every sphere of life. In Somalia women’s progress in the public arena has been slow.


Somaliland seeks UN recognition

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 26 May 2011: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 26 May 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Somaliland's Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Muhammad Abdullahi Umar has called on the UN to consider Somaliland's efforts for recognition, Shabeelle website reported on 26 May.

The minister, who was briefing the Mogadishu-based Radio Shabeelle about a meeting between a Somaliland delegation and UN officials, said the UN should "consider Somaliland's interests and its endeavours of gaining recognition" as an independent state.

He said Somaliland's "security" was also discussed during the meeting, which he described as "a positive one for Somaliland".

Shabeelle adds that "Somaliland had been seeking international recognition ever since it declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991".

Credit: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 26 May 11


Somaliland Still Facing Challenges

20 Years of Breakaway Status Bring Some Gains

Women on the street of Hargeysa wearing cloths made of colours of their Flag
By M ARTE 05/25/2011.http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/827/Somaliland_Still_Facing_Challenges Somaliland Women

Somaliland last week marked 20 years since it broke away from Somalia following a bitter civil war. The northern region has made strides in governance and development, despite a lack of international recognition, but it still face many challenges to its future.

Energetic and enthusiastic youth, dressed in the green, white and red colors of the Somaliland flag, take to the stage and dance to a patriotic tune blaring from massive speakers in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. They are here to mark the day 20 years ago when people in the northern tip of decided to set themselves apart from Somalia after the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre plunged the country into chaos.

For the youth - who did not witness the brutal civil war and attempts by Siad Barre’s regime to crush the revolt in the north - this was just another celebration, its historic significance vague at best.

In late 1980s, Siad Barre’s regime launched a heavy military offensive against the north, in an attempt to defeat a rebellion that was initially intended to bring about regime change in Somalia. The end result was what Somaliland authorities describe as “catastrophic”. Hargeisa - the second city of Somalia at the time - was attacked by military jets, which at one time bombed the National theatre, which was taken over by the Somali National Movement party (SNM). Many people fled to refugee camps in neighbouring Ethiopia.

This was just less than a decade after the regime in Mogadishu failed to claim the Ogaden Region of Ethiopia in a bloody war that saw Somalia soldiers moving into Ethiopia. From the onset, it was obvious to the regime that the SNM had the backing of Ethiopia regime, an arch-rival of Siad Barre, and had to be nipped at the bud at all cost

Mohammed Abdi Gabose is the Interior Minister for the Republic of Somaliland. He describes the early days after declaring independence.

“It was total mess with people scattered everywhere,” he says. “Ruins and destruction were evident everywhere in Hargeisa ... imagine fighter jets taking off from the military base in Hargeisa and bombing the same town.”

20 years down the line, Somaliland has developed, on its own, a unique system of governance, combining both the modern parliamentary system, where representatives are elected, with a traditional council of elders system known as Guurti. They work in tandem, in a bi-camera parliament with the house of elders acting as an arbitrator in conflicts.

Democracy praised

To date, it has held two successive elections. Widely praised polls last year brought a peaceful transfer of power from ruling party to the opposition, at a time when other African countries like Kenya, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe had to go through a period of political turmoil due to power struggles and manipulation of elections.

“We have demonstrated to the world how true democracy works,” says Gabose, adding that: “Somaliland has also enjoyed total peace as the south continues to be consumed in conflict that has defied almost all efforts.”

It has also developed its own flag, military, currency and postal service, and above all it had managed to establish political ties with many countries, including Kenya.

“This system of governance has worked wonders in Somaliland... I can say it’s what is lacking in south and central Somalia where dozens of peace conferences have not yielded any result,” says Abdirizak Ahmed Karani, Somaliland’s Deputy Representative in Kenya.

Due to the prevailing peace, the self-declared state of Somaliland has attracted dozens of aid agencies who have found it safe to operate in the region.

Terror threat

Despite these achievements, Somaliland faces a number of challenges, including a raging insurgency in the south of Somalia. Twin suicide bomb attacks hit Hargeisa in October 2008, killing dozens of people. One of the targets of the attack was a commercial office for the Ethiopian government.

“Somaliland is surrounded by elements that are not interested in peace - there are insurgents like al-Shabaab from the south who at any given opportunity would want to bring down the administration and harm its people,” says Karani.

However, two of the well-known leaders of al-Shabaab hail from Somaliland.

“We know that two leaders of al-Shabaab hail from Somaliland, but that doesn’t mean that we condone terrorism, far from it, these two individuals are banned from ever stepping into our territory,” says Karani.

Karani says even though a lot of effort has gone into tightening the security, fear is still evident among people of the region.

“People are worried day and night, fearing an attack by terrorist groups,” he says. “As you know, we have hosted a number of refugees from the south and you can’t tell the intentions of some of the people we are giving sanctuary in our land.”

SSC separatism poses challenge

Another major challenge to the authorities is the emergence of separatist group Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC), which wants to carve off the eastern part of Somaliland and remain in greater Somalia. The same region is also claimed by the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

It has become a security risk, so much so that Somaliland and Puntland went to war over the control of the territory twice in the past. Although this region is now controlled by Somaliland, the dispute over it rages on.

The SSC issue is a jigsaw puzzle, complete with the entire elements that make up the chaotic world of Somali politics. Clan loyalty tops the list. The Dhulbahante clan that dominates this region does not want to share anything with the Isak clan that controls Somaliland.

Although authorities in Somaliland are determined to use military power to overcome the rebellion, Rashid Abdi, an expert on Somalia with International Crisis Group (ICG) says this is not the solution.

“There is need for political settlement,” he says, adding the SSC could prove the downfall of Somaliland by prompting an all-out war with the Darod clan that dominates Puntland.

With a weak economy - the main foreign exchange earner being the export of livestock to gulf countries- Somaliland had to rely on its people living abroad for investment. Hundreds are now coming back to invest in Somaliland and as a result the skyline of Hargeisa is quickly assuming a new shape, and the hope for international recognition grows as ever.


Somaliland Arrests Oil Company Executives

Total Mer Rouge SA General Manager and Chief Accountant Held

By ABDI HUSSEIN 05/25/2011. http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/839/Somaliland_Arrests_Oil_Company_Executives?PHPSESSID=d0b362c1b122aa50d6545538be577dc3

Authorities in the self-declared republic of Somaliland today arrested the general manager of oil giant Total Mer Rouge SA, Mr. Sa’ad Elmi, and their chief accountant, Sa'ad Elmi, a Djiboutian national. Their arrest follows the revocation of Total’s license to run the oil terminal in Berbera by the country’s president two days ago.

Government officials from Somaliland’s commerce ministry confirmed the arrest but declined to give further comments.

Junior officials at the oil facility who requested to remain anonymous corroborated the government line. “Government officials and policemen visited us in the morning. After a short while they drove away with the general manager, chief accountant and his drivers. No explanation was given,” explained a junior official.

On Monday evening the office of the president withdrew Total’s license to operate the storage facility citing among others the existing agreement was not comprehensive and was not ratified by the parliament as stipulated by the law. It also added, as per the agreement, Total failed to carryout repair and maintenance on the oil storage facilities.

“Total is in breach the agreement with Somaliland when it sold the oil and its other products to external parties without getting consent from the government ...a technical committee has been set to temporarily run the operations of the facility,” said Somaliland Foreign Minister Abdillahi Omar while speaking to reporters.

The government move has raised skepticism among some members of the business community who feared this action might scare foreign investors which Somaliland greatly needs. They also said since a proper exit strategy for Total was not put in place it could potentially lead to fuel shortage which will negatively impact on the economy and livelihoods of the local communities.

Some people also doubted the government assertion that due process will be observed while choosing a competent company to take over from Total. “The government keeps talking about attracting investors but this action doesn’t help that. Also if fuel shortage occurs as a result it would affect everything including the air transport which we depend to important commodities,” said Hassan Mohamud, a local fuel dealer.

However, Adan Ahmed Director of Commerce tried to dispel this fear by emphasizing that Total’s role for the last two and half years were confined to only storing oil. “Total was not involved in fuel importation that ceased. We have main importers of fuel who have been using the Total facility...so I don’t see any fuel shortage.”

Total Mer Rouge SA’s took over management of Berbera port’s oil-storage facilities in January 2000 during the reign of the late president Mohammed Egal. It was the sole importer and distributor of oil in Somaliland until 2009 when under the rule of the former president, Dahir Kahin, the oil industry was liberalized and the local dealers allowed to import oil.

Ethiopia based TOTAL Mer Rouge was sold by its French parent company TOTAL SA last year. Somaliland, a former British protectorate seceded from Somaliland in May 1991 when the former ruler, Siad Barre was forced out of power. Last week it marked twenty years since the separation from Somalia and has been enjoying relative stability and made democratic gains.


Somaliland Banned the use of Somali Shillings in the City of Buro

Hiiraan Online. http://www.hiiraan.com/news2/2011/May/somaliland_banned_the_use_of_somali_shillings_in_the_city_of_buro.aspx. May 25, 2011

The Central of Bank of Somaliland stopped the use of the Somali shilling in its second largest city of Burco as the self-declared republic embraces to start blanket operation of its own currency by the end June this year.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Somaliland Abdi Dirir Abdi on Tuesday declared that the longstanding Somali shilling will no longer function as a means of currency in the markets of Burco and its surrounding environments.

The Bank official said they have so far collected about 20 billion Somali shilling which is equivalent to 10 billion Somaliland shilling that are meant to be withdrawn from the local markets of the entire Togdheer region.

"Starting from today we will be using the Somaliland currency in all our regions and towns. We will be using our currency to collect revenues and in other monetary payments” said the governor while addressing the local population of Burco A few weeks ago the self-declared government of Somaliland had officially announced its plans to halt the use of Somali shilling indicating the emergence of a functioning government which is trying to control its own economy.

Authorities in Hargeisa have been engaged in an operation to wipe out the much valueless Somali currency from the province of Togdheer which local economist say is groaning under the weight of hard economic times.

The Central Bank of Somaliland is sending a message to its citizens in the affected region that they should start adapting their own currency said the governor. It is believed that the changing of currency was part of pre-election pledges of the current authority of Ahmed Silanyo who has promised to marshal widespread economic reforms in a region that is yet to be recognized by the international community.

Earlier in April Somaliland’s Central Bank began exchanging 7 billion Somali shillings ($4.37 million) of notes for its own currency as part of a plan to stop using the original Somali currency.

The Somaliland shilling was introduced in October 1994. And by the end of 2008, the breakaway region’s currency was valued at 7,500 per dollar. The Somali shilling is currently valued at 1,601 against the U.S. currency according to Bakara market data.

Somaliland lawmakers are expected to enact a draft banking law in few days time in order to enable commercial lenders to extend credit to borrowers for the first time in the region’s history.

Somaliland is a former British colony which declared independence in 1991, following the ouster of former Somali dictator Mohammed Siad Barre.

Somaliland diaspora holds rally to seek UK government's recognition

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 25 May 2011: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 21 May 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. [Unattributed report: "Big rally for Somaliland recognition in UK, Memorandum submitted to David Cameron"]

Somalilanders and friends of Somaliland held a big rally in the UK to give a higher profile to Somaliland as an independent country, and to seek recognition from the British government. More than 9000 people participated in the gathering at Westminster.

The rally was addressed by renowned Somalilanders and friends of Somaliland including:

Lord Avebury (Member of All-Party parliamentary Group for Somaliland)

Lord German

Alun Michael MP and Kerry McCarthy MP.

As part of the overall plan to push for Somaliland's recognition by the British government, the UK Committee for Organizing Somaliland 20th Anniversary submitted a memorandum to the UK's Prime Minister David Cameron. The memorandum first thanked the British government for its assistance to Somaliland and stressed Somaliland's 134 years of unique political identity. The memorandum then went on to explain why it is important that the UK should revise its current policy of putting Somaliland in limbo, and should pursue a more pro-active policy and recognize Somaliland. The Memorandum also touched on how the approach of leaving the recognition of Somaliland to the African Union has not worked and cites the benefits of recognizing Somaliland.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 21 May 11


Money man serves the Somali diaspora

By Katrina Manson. Published: May 24 2011| http://www.ft.com

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Steeped in the community: Abdirashid Duale says his family has built the business through understanding its customers and developing a network of outlets

Aged eight, Abdirashid Duale would rush back from school to take his place in the family’s small shop in Burao, a dusty livestock trading town in Somaliland, selling everything from clothes and shoes to flour and sugar.

Today he divides his time between London and Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia that declared independence in 1991, and is the chief executive of Dahabshiil, a global money transfer company that operates through 24,000 outlets in 144 countries. Dahabshiil also offers debit cards, reward points and SMS notification services and, soon, Somaliland’s first fully operational bank which is currently under construction in the capital.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Audio slideshow: Somaliland hauls itself up - May-17.Somaliland aims to show coming of age - May-17.Coca-Cola boosts Somaliland economy - May-17.The last word: Somaliland’s scent of success - Apr-14.Patrol force proposed to combat piracy - Mar-02.Daunting challenge of pirates’ growing range - Feb-14..“From a very early age I got used to talking to adults ... while other friends or even my brothers used to play football, for me my fun was to stay in the store, and sell people goods,” he says. He even drove his father’s car, at age 13. “I was in competition with other people who were working for my father, so I wanted to be useful and serve him,” he says, speaking in the garden of a Nairobi restaurant.

In four decades, Dahabshiil has evolved into an internation­al bus­iness that uses the most modern technology. However, working in Somalia, a failed state, means danger has never been far away: in 2009, two workers were killed in an attack by al-Shabaab, an Islamist group, forcing the business to close half its 50 or so Mogadishu outlets. To this day, the company sometimes transports cash hidden in cars. Mr Duale thinks the company’s best protection is its local approach: “We are ‘money without borders’ – people need us. Customers see us as a part of them. We’re bringing money to them, not guns, so they will look after us.”

The business was transformed from the shop of Mr Duale’s 1970s childhood into a global business by finding opportunities in a string of calamities that have befallen Somalia – from poverty to war and terrorism.

For the family’s story is also the story of the Somali diaspora. Poverty and trade first sent Somalis to Yemen, Dubai and the Middle East. In 1991, the capital Mogadishu was overwhelmed by fighting between rival groups, earning Somalia its label as a failed state. Perhaps 1m Somalis scattered throughout east Africa but also to the Middle East, Australia, Europe and North America. “After 1991 all the Somalis were displaced in a way,” says Mr Duale. “I’m one of them, so we know where they live, how to communicate with them and serve them.”

Mr Duale says his company handles remittances of $200m a year to east African countries outside Somalia, and that the company also remits a large proportion of an estimated $1.6bn sent back to Somalia every year, making it the largest money-transfer service in the Horn of Africa.

Doing business in hard places

Abdirashid Duale learnt how to expand the family business amid war, poverty and even the strictures of doing business in the west.
? Start young. “In Burao [town], you can take more responsibility from a very early age: you become more mature by doing this kind of activity. It was job training from a very early age.”
? Serve your community. “Without knowing your people as your customers and your staff, and them trusting you, you cannot be in business. I knew Somalis, I knew how to serve them, so it was not some sophisticated customer I had to find.”
? Adapt. “I could have said ‘I don’t want to expand in Europe – it’s too much, it’s not easy to be in that field with a different language’ but I didn’t. I said: ‘I have to get used to it.’ And then I came back to Somaliland ... and I had to re-educate myself.”
? Market yourself. Dahabshiil took on a UK public relations agency to deal with international press interest when the company issued its first debit card in Somalia, which was – and remains – a failed state.
? Do what you love. “It’s by feeling passionate about it that you expand your business.”

Yet Dahabshiil started by default, a device to overcome one of many challenges in running a business in Somalia. In order to stock the latest shoes from Milan, Mr Duale’s father, Mo­hamed Saed Duale, needed hard currency for purchases from the trading hub of Yemen. Meanwhile, the Somali diaspora was keen to send money home, so Mr Duale’s father would collect hard currency from them in Yemen to buy the shoes, then hand the money over to the “lenders’” family members in Burao in local currency, making an additional cut on the exchange rate. Remarkably, rather than pay interest, he had found a way to turn a profit on borrowing.

That sideline would become the heart of the business. But it was not always clear it would be that way. Mr Duale can still remember when a liberation force invaded one day in 1988, and the defending regime res­ponded with bombs: “There was blood everywhere – we couldn’t stay. We left our car, our shop, our house, everything.”

The family fled to live among nom­adic herdsmen and eventually his father reached the Ethiopian border, found Somalis in desperate need of sending and receiving money, and set about making it happen. The business model soon changed, as no one want­ed rapidly depreciating local currency. Instead, the company made a double cut by charging a commission and operating a currency exchange service situated in its outlets, a model it keeps to this day.

Getting money back to Somalia was often risky and, in some countries, restricted. “You can manage to hide $200,000 yourself if you know the technique,” says Mr Duale of people’s ef­forts to secrete cash.

Another hurdle to expansion was regulations. When Mr Duale registered as a teenage sole trader in London’s East End, home to waves of immigrants over centuries, to set up the first European branch of Dahabshiil, he met an alien way of doing business: “I knew Somalis, I knew how to serve them, but I did not know about formality – in Burao you don’t need accountants, lawyers, a bank.” Despite his unsteady English, he found an accountant, bought a guide to doing business in 12 European countries and began unravelling the red tape, working seven days a week.

Dahabshiil has been so good at complying with host countries’ regulations that it won customers when al-Barakat, one of its Somali competitors, was shut down by the US after the September 11 2001 terror attacks. Mr Duale insists that no money within Dahabshiil funds pir­acy – an­other Somali blight – or terrorism, and regularly co-operates with international agencies when asked.

The father-and-son team plays to its strengths, especially when it comes to understanding the culture in which the company operates. Mr Duale looks after the western side of the business and his father, now chairman, looks after Africa. The strategy has helped the company keep up with developments: today, funds can be transferred online in minutes, and it uses Facebook and Twitter, alongside developing its banking and tele­coms operations as part of Dahabshiil’s expansion.

Although they work as a team and, as a boy Mr Duale hankered to be like his father, relations are not always straightforward: “Sometimes you don’t know – are you talking to your boss or are you talking to your father? When he tells me my mistakes is he talking to his son or to his staff? Sometimes you would like things to be a little bit separate.”


Somaliland pursuing an aggressive foreign policy to get recognition

21 May 2011 05:31 By YEMANE NAGISH. http://www.thereporterethiopia.com/News/somaliland-pursuing-an-aggressive-foreign-policy-to-get-recognition.html

Hargessa, Somaliland - On the 20th anniversary of independence of Somaliland, its self-proclaimed government says it is pursuing a new and persistent foreign policy to get itself global recognition. The government has asked the Ethiopian government to take the lead by recognizing the state.

During the completion of a colorful celebration of Somaliland’s secession from the mainland Somalia on May 18 twenty years ago, top government officials told reporters that the government is following an assertive foreign policy to urge the world the it recognize the country officially.

The foreign minister of Somaliland, Mohamed Abdilahi Omar, noted that his country has come up with new domestic political developments, including a “peaceful transfer of power from the losing to the winning party”, which he said happens only rarely even in some of the well-known African countries. According to the minister, the government is enhancing democratic governance, security and peace in Somaliland and the region as well. “Somaliland has been succeeding in a peaceful transfer of power recently. It is also expanding trade, security, political and economic relationships with very important countries, including Ethiopia”. He stressed the view that the benefits of securing Somaliland has direct positive effects on the peace and security situation of the region as a whole.

According to the official, the outcome of the democratic election that causes a change of government peacefully in the country has attracted the attention of the world, including the United Nations and the African Union Commission (AUC). Accordingly, his government is holding serious discussions with AU and UN officials working on the front of pursuing an international recognition. “We are in full engagements pursuing an aggressive foreign policy particularly with the AU and African countries on the basis of the experience of peace and security, to get their full support for recognition,” Mohamed Abdulahi Omar told The Reporter.

He noted that the Ethiopian government is part of the developments witnessed in the South Sudan referendum and urged the Ethiopian government to take the lead in recognizing his country. Appreciating the trade and security cooperation taking place between his country and Ethiopia, the minister added that his country is doing its best to provide best services on the port of Berbera

The chief of cabinet, Hirsi Ali Hassan, and the interior minister, Dr Mohammed Abdi Abose, also said that Somaliland has no security threat. “It has security worries. With regard to Alshabab, we manage to maintain our peace; we are confident,” they interior minister said. We are expecting Ethiopia to recognize our country, he added.


Puntland blames Somaliland over organized attacks targeting its senior officials

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 20 May 2011: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 20 May 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Puntland administration in [disputed] region of Sanaag has accused Somaliland of allowing the training of extremists who commit crimes in its region within its borders.

Puntland administration's governor for Sanaag Region, Mahmud Si'id Nur while speaking to the media accused the Somaliland administration of being responsible for the insecurity in Puntland region. The governor also accused Somaliland of plotting organized killings that target senior officials of its administration.

Mahmud Si'id Nur also accused the Somaliland administration of providing support to extremists who come through their ports with the sole aim of committing crimes in Somalia, and particularly in Puntland region. The governor without mincing words accused the Somaliland administration of being responsible for the renewed fighting in the mountainous areas of Galgala between Puntland forces and militias loyal to Shaykh Muhammad Si'id Atam.

The statement by the Puntland's governor for Sanaag Region comes at a time when the administration has in the recent past been experiencing rise in the number of organized killings and explosions targeting its senior officials.

Credit: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 20 May 11


Somalia: Unrecognised Somaliland Celebrates 20 Years of Self-Rule

Elias Gebreselassie. 23 May 2011.Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa) http://allafrica.com/stories/201105231730.html

Hargeisa — Alongside Eritrea celebrating its independence from Ethiopia earlier this month, and only seven weeks before South Sudan is to officially declare its independence from Sudan, the self declared republic of Somaliland celebrated its 20th independence day on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.

Tucked in the North-western corner of the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia's neighbour has not been recognised by anyone as an independent country.

Nonetheless, Hargeisa, the bustling capital with wide roads and 650,000 inhabitants, was teeming with people readying themselves to celebrate the occasion on Wednesday.

The colourful shops run by men clad in meweyen (traditional tunics) and women wearing direh (brightly coloured flowing dresses) or abaya (a more austere dress) were closed down for the celebration, one of the biggest Somaliland has held since independence.

The occasion marked the defeat of the forces of the former military ruler Mohammed Siad Barre by the Somali National Movement (SNM), a rebel group at the time, and Somaliland's subsequent declaration of independence from Somalia.

The festivities gave rise to a strong security presence to avoid possible terrorist attacks but this did not put a damper on the mood of the population who were out in force after several days of preparation to celebrate the occasion. Authorities not doubt remember October 2008 when the Ethiopian Embassy, the headquarters of the United Nations (UN), and the National Palace in Hargeisa were bombed.

The main celebrations took place on the evening of Wednesday at the National Palace where President Ahmed Mohammed (Silanyo) watched circus and theatre performances alongside prominent government officials, invited dignitaries, and the media. He also announced the pardoning of over 750 prisoners to coincide with the celebration.

Mohammed Abdi Gabose (PhD), minister of the interior, was among those being entertained. He tried to dispel fears that radical militant groups like al-Shabaab were preparing attacks on Somaliland to coincide with the celebration.

"We are dealing with an untraditional enemy that is undetectable," he told Fortune. "It mingles with the civilian population and since we have a large group of refugees who fled the fighting in Somalia residing within our borders, the group may plot attacks in our territory. Yet, we can detect these plots and stop them."

The theatre performance was sometimes comic in their depiction of the fraught relationship Somaliland has with its kin in Somalia and its friendship with Ethiopia.

Somaliland, with a population of roughly 3.5 million, has a festering border dispute with Puntland that has occasionally resulted in armed clashes.

The government insists that the border dispute with Puntland, on the eastern side of Somaliland, is an internal issue.

There have been some anti peace forces on Somaliland's eastern borders which occasionally have been aided by Puntland, according to Mohammed A. Omer, Somaliland's foreign minister.

"They have been called upon to cease support for these anti peace elements," he told Fortune.

Yet, the security threat coupled with the lack of recognition by the international community has forced the government to spend 60pc of its budget on security, such as intelligence gathering to avert terrorist attacks, the interior minister conceded.

Despite these, and in stark contrast to the violence racked anarchic Somalia, Somaliland is relatively stable and ruled democratically.

It has a republican form of government with the legislative assembly composed of an elected elder's chamber and a house of representatives as well as a cabinet nominated by the president and approved by the legislature.

Somaliland, which is holding a number of suspected pirates, is patrolling its seas and denting safe havens for pirates, according to Gabose. To date, no Somalilander has turned towards piracy, he claimed.

On the other hand, Somaliland's relationship with Ethiopia is mainly related to peace and security affairs, in addition to some economic issues.

The two are strategically located in the Horn, connecting Africa with the Middle East and Asia. They have had discussions to attract international investors.

Hirsi Ali Hassad, chief of the cabinet for Somaliland, confirmed that his government is talking to Chinese companies about constructing a road and railway line between Berbera Port and Ethiopia, but he declined to give details as discussions are at a preliminary stage.

This would improve not only trade, which heavily favours Ethiopia, but also connect Somaliland with the new soon to be independent state of South Sudan.

Somaliland's own independence celebration kicked off with marches held across the city. Police cavalry units and livestock traders rode camels though the main street, while armed personnel, police officers, government workers, and students of all levels of education paraded past the cheering crowds carrying banners.

"If you cannot remember the past, you cannot save the future," read a banner by 26th June Secondary School, named after the date Somaliland obtained independence from the United Kingdom (UK). It was an independent state only for a few days before being united with the Italian ruled Somalia to form the modern state of Somalia and rekindle hopes of a pan Somali republic encompassing Somalis in neighbouring countries.

Another elementary school carried posters of Ali Ibrahim (Sheikh), a freedom fighter for the SNM who died during Somaliland's bloody war of independence in the 1980s. The school is named after Ibrahim.

Another banner from New Generation University read, "Kosovo and South Sudan and East Timor: It is time to recognise Somaliland and accept the reality."

The lack of international recognition of its independence has stunted Somaliland's development aspirations, but the challenges of attaining international recognition are being tackled by a new strategy aimed at the practical implications of recognition.

"The lack of recognition means we do not have international institutions like banks and insurance companies hamstringing our ability to develop," the foreign minister said. "We are focusing on bilateral cooperation with the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) and have noticed a change of heart by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU). These were helped by power shifting to the opposition party in elections last June."

Legally, only three political parties are allowed to participate in elections and conduct campaigns. These are the United Peoples' Democratic Party ( UDUB), the Peace, Unity, and Development Party (KULMIYE), and the Somaliland Justice and Welfare Party (UCID).

In July 2010, Mohammed and Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail of KULMIYE were elected president and vice president, respectively for a five-year term, taking over from Dahir Rayale Kahin who was elected president in 2003.

The cabinet chief similarly senses a willingness from the international community to engage with Somaliland.

"The international community recently provided us with 100 million dollars," he said. "The UK has promised to increase its financial help to create a trust fund with our finance minister for our development."

The government is also happy with the signals and moves the Ethiopian government is making towards this process, according to Hassad, something that was reiterated by Omer.

"While my government maintains ties with Ethiopia in security, peace, and immigration, we know the AU is in the process of recognising South Sudan," he told Fortune. "As one of the African states sympathetic to our cause, Ethiopia is taking the lead in the AU in supporting our recognition."

While the friendly relationship between the two sides were dramatised for the entertainment of attendees at the National Palace on Wednesday, an adorned slogan on the building read, "The international community is obligated to accept the wishes of the people."


Anti-Somaliland demonstrations in disputed northwestern town

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 20 May 2011: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 19 May 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

A major demonstration in opposition to Somaliland's breaking away from the rest of Somalia was today staged in the town of Baran, [disputed] Sanaag Region [northwestern Somalia]. The demonstration opposing the Somaliland's proclamation of independence from the rest of Somalia was today staged in the town of Baran and was attended by various section of the population including women and children as well as scholars in the region.

Demonstrators in the town were shouting slogans expressing their opposition to Somaliland proclamation of independence from the rest of Somalia. One of the demonstrators who spoke to Shabeelle said they had gathered to express their opposition to Somaliland's breaking away from the rest of the country. He said demonstrators in the town were today waving the blue Somali flag.

The demonstrations come at a time when the Somaliland administration is celebrating the 20th anniversary since it declared independence from the rest of Somalia, a move that various sections of the Somali public are opposed to.

Credit: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 19 May 11


Somaliland eyes embassy in UAE

Self-declared sovereign state commemorates 20th anniversary of its founding

By Shakir Noori, Special to Gulf News. Published: 00:00 May 21, 2011. http://gulfnews.com/news/region/somalia/somaliland-eyes-embassy-in-uae-1.810588

Dubai: Somaliland commemorated the 20th anniversary of its founding on Wednesday — a major milestone in itself considering the unfortunate plight of central-south Somalia which plunged deep into a seemingly bottomless quagmire.

After the hand-over of power President Silanyo, the new government immediately tackled many of the outstanding problems. It managed to considerably improve the economic prospects through intensified contacts with international partners who agreed to reiterate their support to Somaliland, while maintaining peace and stability in the face of challenges initiated from outside.

On the occasion of the state's founding anniversary, Gulf News interviewed Dr Mohammad Omar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Somaliland.

Excerpts:

What is your mission in the UAE?

First of all it is an invitation of the leaders of this country, especially Abu Dhabi. The aim of our visit is to promote Somaliland as a people and as government in the Arab world. The UAE takes a key decision in the Gulf states and in the Middle East as an international partner of the international community.

Is it a political partnership?

We are looking for a couple of things: economic cooperation. We have commercial validity of oil and gas in our country and also we have a long coast for fishing and maritime resources. Looking for potential investment. I think many countries are interested in funding. So that we can discuss how we can manage this wealth. We are interested in creating jobs in our country for the young people.

Why [is your country] you called Somaliland?

We were two independent states since 1960. We were colonised by Italy. We have a legal state.

What do you think of Arab countries?

This is our first mission and we will [also be in] contact [with] Kuwait which also invited us for this purpose. We [will] talk with the foreign minister [about] the Kuwaiti fund.

What do you think is the position of the UAE [about your country's] investment [and] political situation?

We've had from Emirati leaders [a] very positive position and [they] appreciate that Somaliland is peaceful, stable and democratic state. We are [totally opposite from] Somalia.

[How's] your relation with Somalia?

We always [wanted to engaged in] dialogue with Somalia government, but the problem is that we [don't] have [a] unified group to dialogue with. There are many groups fighting [for supremacy] as you know, fundamentalists trying to maintain power by force, pirates. When we find one unified group to talk [to], we are willing to talk and dialogue because we want really to have a good relation with Somalia.

There are countries [that are similar to] your situation like [South] Sudan or other countries, do you take these countries as examples for you?

Why not. Eretria was part of Ethiopia for more than 50 years and then they became independent and also South Sudan which now will be an active member in the international community.

Do you feel that you are distinguished by democracy from Somalia?

I can say that we have parliament that has been elected by the people. We have three political parties. Our population is about four millions. We have election [every] five years.

[How's] your relation with the Arab League?

We sent a letter to the Arab League to be a member, but they replied us let us wait for Somalia. The Arab League doesn't want to create more states. When there will be stability in Somalia, we can discuss that. The priority for us [is the] stability [of our country] then economic development and political diplomacy.

What is your relation with surrounding countries?

We live peacefully with Ethiopia which [has] about eight million population. We have many treaties with them. Also with Djibouti, good relationships. The other neighbours [like] Somalia we have some problems. Some terrorists and pirates coming to our seas and land [and] cause trouble.

What are your main resources?

Oil and gas are the most important resources for us. We are now drilling and exporting oil and gas. And many oil countries come to us to exploit. There are many western and Arab and Gulf countries [that] want to fund and invest. We need other countries to come and invest because oil and gas need much money.

Which countries do you want to develop relations?

We are interested in developing relations with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Our aim is to [develop] good relationship with Egypt which is the biggest country in the Arab world. But Egypt wants a big Somalia unified [with] Ethiopia because of the problem [with] water. Ethiopia has a big power on the source of water. We can understand that, but at the same time we want Egypt to understand us also. Therefore I am trying to make contact with Egypt.

Do you have political problems to be recognised by the other countries?

Our interior politics is very good, with the parliament, the parties and democracy. First we focused on the politics and now we are focusing on the economic level.

[Do] you [have] strategic [plans] of unifying with Somalia in the future?

The main work of our government is to bring the peace to Somalia because without peace we can do nothing. Then we can negotiate about the other issues [whether] to be [an] independent state or becoming a [federation] like the United Arab Emirates. There are different political options. You cannot negotiate if there is no peace. We have to accept some land as independent states.

Does Europe consider you as a key player to stop the pirates in the region?

Yes, for this reason I participated in many conferences about piracy in the world. And in particular in Dubai recently. We are useful partners in this issue to fight against piracy. It is no more a Somali problem, but regional and international. So we are working with the international community.

Are you getting economic help from other countries?

Yes. We [get] some assistance. Many Arab leaders promised to give us tangible help and also to invest in our country.

Are you getting recognition from other countries?

We have six embassies all over the world and we hope that many countries will recognise us as an independent state. We are like the Palestinians who have many embassies in the world. We are planning to have an embassy in UAE in the future.

What do you think of the Arab Spring?

We're worried about that and we have no official comment on that, but the people have the right to change their lives and leaders.

What about the Islamic movement in your country?

We are Muslims 100 per cent, but beyond religion [we follow a] democratic system. The Islamists are not marginalised, but they have to work in the sphere of democracy. As I've mentioned, we have three political parties. Our party is in power and the other two parties are in the opposition but they are in the parliament.

Do you think that this revolution will come to Somaliland?

No. I don't think so because we have elections every five years. Our party took power [last] year and perhaps we will lose the next election. That is democracy and the transparency in the politics.

What is your model of democracy?

We don't have a special model of democracy, but we follow the basic values of democracy like respecting the freedom of expression and the elections and parties. We have our local democracy which inspired from our heritage.

Do you have a cultural strategy?

Somali people are part of the Arabic world. The young people are very educated. We want to develop our Arab culture and make Arabic language and culture more accessible. We use English and Somali languages. It is part of our Arab identity.

What are your ambitions?

First of all we would like to be part of the Arab world, [for] Somaliland [to] work with the Arab [world] against the piracy, terrorism and extremists. Also we want to work with African countries.

Shakir Noori is a journalist and writer based in the UAE


SOMALIA: Healthcare, education gains as Somaliland marks 20th anniversary


Somaliland held elections in 2010 (file photo)

HARGEISA, 20 May 2011 (IRIN) - The self-declared republic of Somaliland has made key improvements in sectors such as health, education and infrastructure in the past two decades, its leaders say, despite its lack of international recognition.

"One of the main obstacles for Somaliland is lack of recognition, but my government will never give up trying to gain it," President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Siilanyo said on 18 May, when the region marked 20 years since declaring unilateral independence from the rest of Somalia.

Efforts in reconciliation, nation-building and drafting a new constitution have helped promote peace in the region, Siilanyo said.

"We have put in place a new currency and passport, encouraged democratization and multi-party elections; improved access to healthcare and education, respect for human rights, freedom of expression and facilitated a free market," he said.

"[The rest of] Somalia has been in lawlessness during the last 20 years, and I am calling on the Somali politicians to look after their citizens and consider the problems they are living under and resolve their differences so as to give peace a chance."

Nimo Hussein Qawdhan, deputy health minister, said increased provision of healthcare services - by the government and private sector - was one of the developments made since 1991.

Qawdhan said the maternal mortality rate was 1,600 deaths per 100,000 women in 1991, compared with 1,044 per 100,000 in 2006.

The region's child mortality rate was 275 in 1990, falling to 188 in 1999, then to 166 in 2006, "signifying a very significant decrease, when compared to world standards", Qawdhan said.

Qawdhan said Somaliland had also made gains in the fight against malaria. The past two years have seen the region become almost malaria-free, Qawdhan said.

The region has also de-mined large tracts of land mined between 1981 and 1991 during the war between the Somali National Army and the Liberation Movement for Somaliland as well as during the war between Somalia and Ethiopia over the Ogaden region (now known as Somali region in Ethiopia).

Ahmed Hussein Essa, a professor of science at Hargeisa University, told IRIN: "In 1992, when the people of Somaliland started returning from refugee camps in Ethiopia to their war-scorched villages, towns and cities, they came face to face with a horrible reality. Landmines were everywhere. Walking was a risky business."

Since then, Essa said, de-mining efforts had made the region safer.

"Somaliland’s government and its people played a pivotal role in making Somaliland territory largely mine-safe in less than 10 years," he said. "The Somaliland Mine Action [SMAC], largely funded by the UN, coordinates all mine action efforts. The government of Somaliland, although not able to sign the Mine Ban Treaty as a sovereign member of the UN, has nevertheless accepted all its obligations, including the passage of local legislation banning the use of landmines and formulating a mine policy action plan."

Moreover, Essa added, Somaliland had destroyed stockpiles under the control of its army as well as mines confiscated from civilians.

"As Somaliland celebrates its 20th anniversary, the people of Somaliland can take heart that in mine action they can show the world a success story. School-children no longer feel afraid to play in its playgrounds," Essa said.

Improved literacy

"Literacy rates increased from 20 percent [in 1991] to 45 percent [in 2010]," an official from Somaliland's Ministry of Education said.

"We had only a total of 219 primary, intermediate and secondary schools in 1991, but now we have about 506 primary schools throughout the country."

A 2010 Millennium Developments Goals (MDG) report for Somaliland put the region's literacy rate of the population aged 15 years and above at 26.9 percent in 1999.

Besides education gains, Somalilanders also believe they have matured politically.

"The people of Somaliland have mastered how to overthrow their leaders through the ballot, not through the bullet," Ahmed Yasin Sheikh Ali Ayanle, an opposition member of parliament, told IRIN.

Ayanle added that Somaliland's first president, Abdi-Rahman Ahmed Ali (1991-1993), and his successors, Mohamed Ibrahim Egal (1993-2002) and Dahir Rayale Kahin (2002-2010), had helped establish peace and a respected constitution. "We hope [current] President Siilanyo will keep these efforts going."

Some of those who fought in Somaliland's 1981-1991 war said they were pleased with the progress the region had made.

"During the war, our mission was to overthrow [Somalia's President Siad] Barre and give the people a chance to decide their future; it is the people who decided to dissolve Somalia's unity, hence the creation of Somaliland," Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, a war veteran, said.

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportID=92769


Somaliland Arrests Prominent Cleric

Sheikh Yusuf Criticized State's 20th Anniversary Celebrations

By MOHAMED AHMED. 19 May 2011.http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/791/Somaliland_Arrests_Prominent_Cleric

Intelligence forces in the breakaway republic of Somaliland have stormed the house of a well-known religious leader and arrested him for criticizing the autonomous region’s celebrations of the 20th anniversary of its unilateral declaration of independence from Somalia.

Sheikh Mohamed Yusuf last Friday addressed hundreds at Wajale mosque, where he strongly denounced Somaliland’s preparations to celebrate its anniversary. Members of the audience say the cleric called the lavish celebrations inappropriate, a waste of time and unreligious.

“He is in jail but we were denied permission to visit him,” one of Yusuf’s relatives, who wished to remain anonymous, told Somalia Report. “We don’t know why he was targeted, as he was only expressing his religious views.”

An official from the local administration of Wajale, who requested anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the press, told Somalia Report police were interrogating the cleric as to why he made such a speech at a sensitive moment. Family members, other clerics and intellectuals have been calling for his release, saying anger over widespread poverty, exacerbated by hikes in food and fuel prices, made the Sheikh speak out over what he saw as a waste of money.

Somaliland has been unable to achieve international recognition of its independence, although in recent months the international community has placed an increased focus on direct aid to the semi-autonomous region, hoping to develop the relatively stable state.


Somaliland Seeks UAE Role Against Piracy

by Shafaat Ahmed, Khaleej Times, Dubai, May 17, 2011

The country, whose economy is largely based on livestock export, is struggling to keep its youth away from the lures of sea piracy and terrorism due to the lack of job opportunities and finances. However, it has large proven reserves of oil, gas and other precious metals, which it seeks to exploit with the help of regional giants like the UAE.

Though not officially recognized as an independent country, the tiny nation of four million people has been receiving favorable notice over the last few years for its stable democratic governance and fight against piracy.

The Somaliland leadership is proposing a joint anti-piracy shield across the region based on public-private partnership model and is willing to share with others its experience of keeping piracy at bay. They feel a secure and safe Horn of Africa would help make world a better place apart from creating more business opportunities.

Following their participation in the Anti-piracy Conference, which was held in Dubai last month, an official delegation from Somaliland, including its Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdallahi Omar, is on its first diplomatic tour of the region, with its mission to seek foreign investment in the country as a tool against piracy.

Khaleej Times caught up with the affable Mohammed Abdallahi Omar, following his meeting with the UAE leadership. Excerpts from the interview:

What brings you to Dubai?

We are here on our first diplomatic tour of the region. The UAE leadership has received us very favorably and we expect a lot to come out of this tour. We are seeking local support in fighting piracy and one way of doing it is to invest in our country. There are lots of investment opportunities for the local businesses, and many big companies have shown interest.

How is your relationship with Somalia?

Due to the lack of a central authority in Somalia, we have not been able to sit down and talk with them. We have been looking for an opportunity to have a meeting with their government and sort out our issues. However, in the absence of a government in Somalia, we have decided to continue to build our security, strengthen our democracy and improve our economy. But we are willing to talk to them and we hope there will be peace soon in Somalia because it is in our interest as well. We want to have good relationship with Somalia like we have with all our neighbours and regional countries like the UAE.

Even after 20 years of breaking away, Somaliland is not internationally recognized. Why?

One simple reason is the lack of government in Somalia, which hasn't allowed us to talk with them. But we are hoping to have the recognition very soon as we are working very closely with the UN on a lot of issues, including the fight against piracy. The world is taking note of our democratic progress and as we grow further democratically and economically, we believe, recognition will follow.

Is the situation in Somalia affecting Somaliland?

Unfortunately, we are facing a negative impact of the situation in Somalia and that is why we want to have peace there as soon as possible. There are around 300,000 refugees who are living in camps in Somaliland and we are working with the UN to take care of them, but the situation is getting worse day by day. Another major problem is terrorism: the infiltration of radical elements from the other side of the border. We have a growing number of young people who are educated, but we do not have enough jobs and we are afraid the radical groups from Somalia would influence them. The only way to keep them away from the negative influence is to provide them with jobs and that is the reason why we are here to seek foreign investment and create job opportunities for our youth. This, we believe, would be a multi-edged weapon which would improve the economy, create jobs, and help ward off piracy and terrorism.

We have five universities, which produce more than 5,000 graduates every year, but we do not have enough jobs. These young people are very vulnerable against the assault of radicalism and unless we divert their attention and give them good jobs, we won't be able to fight either piracy or radicalism. Investment would not only help us, it is in the interest of the regional and global security.

How have you managed to ward off the twin threats so far?

We have invested enormously in security systems and built a very strong police force, army and coast guard. We have prioritized securing our borders. We also have a number of successful partnerships with Ethiopia, Britain and the USA, which have helped us in fortifying our borders. These countries have helped us in building infrastructure and equipment as well as training.

Is there any foreign military presence in Somaliland?

No. We don't need them. We have enough security forces who are capable of fighting any threat. What we lack is financial support, information system, intelligence apparatus etc. Though our security partners are helping us, it is not enough.

How are you looking to develop Somaliland economy?

Half of our four million population is semi-nomadic and a majority is dependent on livestock. Livestock is the backbone of our economy, which we export to the Gulf countries including the UAE and Saudi Arabia. But we have potential; there are huge reserves of oil, gas and gold, which have been explored and we are right now in talks with several countries, including the UAE, to exploit it. Another important asset we have is a strategically located port in Berbera, which connects landlocked countries like Ethiopia, South Sudan etc. with the rest of the world through the sea. We are developing the port and are looking at port operating companies like Dubai's DP World to manage it.

What is your experience in tackling piracy?

Piracy is a regional issue, but most of it is originating from Somalia. However, in the past few years we have faced significant threats in this regard and have successfully rooted out all pirates operating from our shores. We have formed a special task force to fight pirates and have arrested around hundred of them who are currently serving sentence in our jails. But Somaliland alone cannot fight piracy and we need the region to step forward. We are proposing a joint anti-piracy shield through which all the regional countries can form a single task force and help share intelligence on piracy with others. We think this is going to be one of the solutions to the issue.

What is the response you have got so far?

Currently, the countries are studying our proposal, and they seem interested. The UAE has shown a lot of interest in helping fight piracy as well as investing in Somaliland. We have had preliminary discussions so far and we feel this will definitely go forward. What is heartening is the interest shown by private players which will help us form successful public-private partnership and we feel this is the practical way forward help solve the entire issue.

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UK Government urged to recognise Somaliland

by David Williamson, Western Mail. May 19 2011

THE UK Government was yesterday urged to recognise Somaliland, as Welsh campaigners descended on Westminster to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its separation from Somalia.

Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams MP said: “Somalis have long been part of the fabric of Welsh society, and, of course, Cardiff is particularly famous for its Somali community.

“It is always good when smaller countries come into being through the democratic choice of their peoples and Somaliland should now be fully recognised internationally and play its role in the wider world.”

Labour Cardiff South & Penarth MP tabled an early day motion which described the former British protectorate as a “beacon of peace and stability within one of the world’s more turbulent regional environments”.

However, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We do not recognise Somaliland as an independent state; neither does the rest of the international community.”

But Eid Ali Ahmed, one of about 10,000 Somalis living in South Wales, said: “Now is the time for the UK to lead the world.”

Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/05/19/uk-government-urged-to-recognise-somaliland-91466-28721087/#ixzz1MpyRdwzZ


Somaliland seeks recognition, twenty years later

Residents of Hargeisa cheer during independence day celebrations in the breakaway territory of Somaliland. The territory with an estimated population of 3.5 million people which straddles the Gulf of Aden and borders Djibouti and Ethiopia declared independence after the overthrow of Somali military dictator Siad Barre in 1991.Photo | AFP | AFRICA REVIEW |

By ABDULKADIR KHALIF. May 19 2011.http://www.africareview.com/Special+Reports/-/979182/1165692/-/10stpt6z/-/

In London, a huge crowd of Somalis from Somaliland turned up to push the British Parliament to recognise their country of twenty years. Back home in Hergeisa, thousands gathered to light fireworks to mark an anniversary. This is the city 1600 km northwest of Mogadishu which is also the capital of the authority in the territory formerly known as the Northwestern region of Somalia.

By local standards, the celebrations were breathtaking.

An entire nation had spent a whole month preparing for the occasion meant to show the rest of the world that Somaliland is a nation on own feet or at least on its knees, but never an inactive outfit as it has been depicted in some quarters.

On the streets, hundreds of enthusiasts waved the red, green and white flag that has become the symbol of the state that facing the Gulf of Aden. Others expressed their patriotism through shirts, hats even on their skins. After all, it is a proud territory that has held democratic elections, runs own economy and even witnessed a smooth transfer of power from one regime to another.

Standing to be counted

At the gates of the presidential residence, all sorts of dignitaries led by President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud alias Silanyo received salutes from parading armed personnel, police officers, special guards, government and private workers.

Students, youth and even women groups left behind their footprints too. Even organisations assembled by the Diaspora Somalis displayed slogans and depictions showing the greatness of the Independence Day.

To add to the colour were police cavalry and livestock traders riding camels. Many other towns in the territory including Berbera, a port town on the Gulf of Aden, Burao, Borama and others had similar merriments.

“We now have our own currency, passport, security and advancement towards good governance,” said the president to a cheering crowd. The president went on enumerating achievements that Somaliland has posted over the twenty years of self rule, away from Somalia that has mostly been in turmoil.

But missing on the list was international recognition of Somaliland, something that the twenty years anniversary addressed itself to.

As part of the celebrations, Somaliland was applying multiple efforts to portray the authority as worthy of international recognition. But it is not a smooth sail for there are pockets of opposition to the secession.


Somaliland: The little nation that could

Wednesday was a momentous day in the history of the Republic of Somaliland. The country, if we can call it that, celebrated the 20th anniversary of its declaration of independence from Somalia. It’s shown it is possible to rise above chaos and build a lasting legacy.

By SIMON ALLISON.19 May 2011,

The quiet, dusty, unpaved streets of Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa, came alive as thousands of people crowded the major thoroughfares, all sporting commemorative T-shirts or hijabs in the national colours of red, white and green. A well-organised, if occasionally ramshackle, parade of students, sports stars and professionals forced their way through the crowd, with the help of the hundreds of soldiers lining the route. This was followed by a full-scale military procession, with ranks of soldiers and sailors marching in time, for the most part, to the beat of the marching band. The president, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, his trademark dark shades firmly in place, watched it all from the temporary viewing platform, surrounded by ministers and military top brass. The parade kicked off a day of partying across the country. No champagne in sight, of course; Somaliland is a deeply conservative Muslim country, and the people’s drug of choice is instead khat, the ubiquitous bundle of mildly narcotic leaves almost everyone chews on.

But amid the celebrations, one small niggle: Somaliland is not independent. At least not in the eyes of the rest of the world. Certainly not in the eyes of Somalia, which continues to see the very existence of Somaliland as a threat to its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Which it would be, of course, if Somalia had any territorial integrity or real sovereignty. But the “failed state” of Somalia struggles to control even its own capital city, Mogadishu, and has been in the throes of civil wars of varying intensities since the fall of dictator Siad Barre 20 years ago. The Somali government operates courtesy of a mandate from the international community, but enjoys little authority in the country. Al-Shabaab, the Islamist insurgent group behind the World Cup attacks in Kampala, controls huge parts of Somalia, and the rest is divided into tribal areas and semi-autonomous regions, none of which answer to the central government for very much.

Somaliland, on the other hand, works like a real country. It has its own currency, infrastructure and laws. They are enforced, most of the time. There’s a functioning police service, armed forces and lots of schools, universities and hospitals. There is bureaucracy, lots of it; perhaps the ultimate sad sign of a functioning state. Historically, Somaliland has been distinct from the rest of Somalia since the colonial era. The Italians controlled most of Somalia while the UK turned Somaliland into a British protectorate. In 1960, when the UK realised the colonial times were over, it granted Somaliland independence. The new country enjoyed five brief days of sovereignty before deciding to throw its lot in with Somalia, pursuing the dream of a single nation of united Somali people.

But the whole Somali unity thing never quite worked out. Siad Barre, who took power in an army coup, was as brutal as they come and concentrated power in the hands of those he trusted, specifically in the clans to which he was related. None of these was in the Somaliland region, and the areas around Hargeisa were starved of resources and targeted for special attention by the secret police. A resistance movement soon sprang up, the Somalia National Movement, and in the late 1980s a particularly vicious civil war killed tens of thousands. Barre’s fighter jets stationed at the Hargeisa airport would take off and drop their bombs almost immediately on the city below them, levelling it. Almost everyone in Hargeisa knows someone who died in the war.

The civil war weakened Barre’s control, terminally as it turned out; rebel groups proliferated and eventually he was ousted by one in 1991. The SNM, under intense public pressure, used this opportunity to announce Somaliland’s withdrawal from the union of Somalia, and that it would henceforth be independent.

And since then that’s how they’ve operated. Somalia has never been strong enough to reassert its authority by force and the government of Somaliland has carried on with the business of ruling. Nonetheless, diplomatic recognition has not been forthcoming. Only Ethiopia has any kind of official representation in Somaliland. The Ethiopian mission consists of a single trade representative to make sure Ethiopia can continue to access Somaliland’s port in Berbera. And the costs of this are significant. Somaliland receives a pittance in development aid, because most of it flows to Mogadishu. It can’t join international institutions; for example, it has no international postal system, because it’s not allowed to join the International Postal Union. And its citizens can’t travel. A Somaliland passport can get you into Djibouti, Ethiopia and South Africa, but that’s about it.

And there’s no sign that recognition will be forthcoming any time soon. Because Somaliland has very little geopolitical significance, the international community takes its lead on this from the African Union, which has made no progress on the issue. This stems largely from the fact that most of the big movers in the AU face secessionist movements at home themselves, and to recognise Somaliland would create a compelling precedent. For Ethiopia, the issue is particularly sensitive. Although the country needs Somaliland for its port, there is also a large Somali population in Ethiopia, who have in the past agitated for secession.

The issue highlights the weaknesses of the state system, which conspires to fund a hollow government in Somalia while impeding the progress of a democratic entity in Somaliland which offers the services a state is supposed to provide to its people. But Somaliland has gone it alone for 20 years, and seems to be managing alright. Just this week, in his address to the nation, President Silanyo declared the country will go it alone forever if it has to - that Somaliland will be remain independent in its own eyes, even if no one recognises it for a hundred years. The huge crowd in Hargeisa’s Liberty Garden seemed to agree with him, if the cheering was anything to go by. DM

Simon Allison is a specialist in African and Middle East politics, with degrees from Rhodes university and the School of Oriental and African Studies. He lived in Egypt for four years. He also co-authors the politics blog Third World Goes Forth.

http://www.thedailymaverick.co.za/article/2011-05-19-somaliland-the-little-nation-that-could


Somaliland cancels the flying licence of small Kenyan airline

Capt Elly Aluvale, managing director Jetlink, addresses journalists during a past interview on board a Jetlink plane. The airline stopped flying to Somaliland a month ago. Photo/FILE

By JOSEPH BONYO. May 19 2011.http://www.nation.co.ke

The Government of Somaliland has revoked the operating licence of a Kenyan airline, barely a month after it stopped flying to the semi-autonomous horn of Africa state.

The break-away region’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said Jetlink Airline’s operations had been terminated over what it termed as “spreading lies to cover failure.”

In a letter seen by the Daily Nation, the acting director-general of Somaliland Aviation, Mr Saeed Mahdi Eleye, said the revocation takes effect immediately.

“In this regard, your air permission for this country is revoked with immediate effect,” he said in the letter.

The letter is dated May 12, 2011, and copied to among others, Somaliland ambassador to Kenya.

Jetlink had earlier pulled out of Somaliland over what the company noted were operational issues.

The airline used to ply between Hargesia, the Somaliland capital, and Nairobi twice weekly.

Speaking to the Daily Nation recently, Jetlink managing director, Elly Aluvale, indicated low passenger numbers as well as insecurity in the region as part of reasons it pulled out of the route.

But Mr Eleye, in his letter, intimated that these were lies the airline was sending out to the media, having stopped operations due to stiff competition.

Jetlink, he added, did not inform the concerned authorities of its pull-out.

Another Kenyan airline, East African Safaris, withdrew from the route after it grounded its operations last year.

The airline resumed flights to Hergesia in a new management arrangement with Fly 540, a low-cost operator.

This now makes it the only airline on a route that is key to opening up Somaliland to East Africa and Comesa region trading blocs.

But even with the action from Hargesia, local airlines are facing increased pressure from ballooning costs and shrinking passenger numbers.

Already, operational costs are said to be on the rise in line with the global surge in the cost of fuel.

Hard economic times are also pushing more passengers to review their travel plans, only sticking to essential travel.

The airlines have signed independent bilateral trade agreements with Somaliland since it has no diplomatic relations with Kenya.

Somaliland seceded from Somalia in 1991 and has enjoyed a relative calm over the period.

It is, however, not yet recognised as an independent state by among others the United Nations.

http://www.nation.co.ke/business/news/Somaliland+cancels+the+flying+licence+of+small+Kenyan+airline/-/1006/1165958/-/akbspuz/-/


Somaliland president pardons 751 prisoners

“I would like inmates in the detention center of the country to share with us this festival and resume their normal life,” the president said.

Source: (AHN) Reporter, May 19, 2011.http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/90048958?Somaliland%20president%20pardons%20751%20prisoners

As part of a celebration of its declaration of secession from Somalia two decades ago, the Somaliland president Wednesday night announced he had pardoned 751 prisoners.

Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo, the leader of the self-declared republic, made the announcement a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of independence from Somalia at the capital, Hargeisa.

“I would like inmates in the detention center of the country to share with us this festival and resume their normal life,” the president said.

He urged all prisoners, who will be freed soon, not commit again the crimes that caused them to be jailed.

General Mohamed Hussein Hirane, in charge of Somaliland jails, said that inmates charged with terrorism, piracy, armed robbery, rape and those serving life terms are not part in the president’s pardon.

Hirane added that the pardoned prisoners will be unchained in the days to come, according the president’s decree.

Recent reports said that individuals held on terrorism-related charges had been pardoned by the Somaliland leader.

However, Mohamed Mohamoud Abdillahi, a Somaliland officer, told the BBC Somali Service that the president has ordered the release of two clerics who were convicted for terrorism charges and sentenced to several years of jail after pressure from local elders.

Sheikh Mohamed Sheikh and Isma’il Muse Ali were arrested in 2003 by security forces after they were accused of planting mines near the state house, according to Abdillahi.

All these developments come as Somaliland seeks recognition from world countries and the United Nations.

Read more: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/90048958?Somaliland%20president%20pardons%20751%20prisoners#ixzz1MpuYrWIW


18 Arrested in Khat Trafficking Investigation

Matt Ackland. FOX 5 Reporter. May 20, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - FROM UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA

Authorities have arrested 18 people in four states, including 10 from northern Virginia, for what they allege was an international trafficking ring that distributed nearly 10,000 pounds of the illegal African drug known as khat.

Federal prosecutors in Alexandria charged Yonis M. Ishak of Arlington as the conspiracy's ringleader. He allegedly paid a network of couriers $1,000 each for trips to London to fetch fresh batches of khat, a leaf that gives users a high when chewed.

The drug is popular in East Africa. Of the 18 arrested, all were natives of either Somalia or Yemen.

John Torres, a special agent in charge with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, estimated the drug's street value at $5 million.

Arrests were also made in Maryland, New York and Ohio.

Others charged as part of the alleged conspiracy include the following:

· Abdulkadir Isse, a/k/a “Abdul” and “Burane,” a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia residing in Springfield, Va., is accused of being Ishak’s partner in the khat trafficking organization.

· Suado Mohammed Ali, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia residing in Burke, Va., is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat.

· Hassan Hassan, a/k/a “Elay,” a legal permanent U.S. resident from Somalia residing in Alexandria, Va., is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat, as well as laundering the proceeds of khat sales.

· Ahmed Hassan, a/k/a “Dirir,” a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia residing in Alexandria, Va., is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat, as well as laundering the proceeds of khat sales.

· Yonas Beyene, a/k/a “Yonka,” a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia residing in Alexandria, Va., is accused of using his position at a vehicle rental agent to assist Ishak in renting vehicles used to transport and distribute khat.

· Ismail Abdi, a legal permanent U.S. resident from Somalia residing in Alexandria, Va., is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat, as well as storing khat at his residence.

· Hibo Samantar, a/k/a “Fadumo,” a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia residing in Annandale, Va., is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat, as well as laundering the proceeds of khat sales.

· Osman Yusuf, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia residing in Clifton, Va., is accused of using his position as a branch manager for a money service business to remit proceeds from khat sales to individuals located overseas.

· Abdirahman Jibril, a legal permanent U.S. resident from Somalia residing in Fairfax, Va., is accused of using his position as an employee at a money service business to remit proceeds from khat sales to individuals located overseas.

· Adbi Muhumed, a/k/a “Juba,” a legal permanent U.S. resident from Somalia residing in Parkville, Md., is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat in Maryland, as well as laundering the proceeds of khat sales.

· Harun Salhan, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia residing in Wheaton, Md., is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat in Maryland, as well as laundering the proceeds of khat sales.

· Lutf Mohamed Albukhaiti, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen residing in Brooklyn, N.Y., is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat in New York, as well as laundering the proceeds of khat sales.

· Nagi Alashmali, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen residing in Brooklyn, N.Y., is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat in New York, as well as laundering the proceeds of khat sales.

· Moheeb Nasser, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen residing in Brooklyn, N.Y., is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat in New York, as well as laundering the proceeds of khat sales.

· Khaled Ahmed Isa, a/k/a “Adnan,” a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen residing in Queens Village, N.Y., is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat in New York, as well as laundering the proceeds of khat sales.

· Abdi Omar Abdi, a legal permanent U.S. resident from Somalia residing in Columbus, Ohio, is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat in Ohio, as well as transporting khat from New York to Ohio.

· Abokor Gurreh, a/k/a “Mubarak,” Mohamed Farhan,” and “Farhan M. Mohamed,” a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia residing in Columbus, Ohio, is accused of assisting Ishak in smuggling and distributing khat in Ohio, as well as transporting khat from New York to Ohio.

The ongoing investigation was conducted by ICE HSI with support from FBI, DEA, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Marshals Service as well as local law enforcement in Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and New York including Arlington County Police Department, Fairfax County Police Department, Alexandria Police Department,


Fear of Terror Attack in Somaliland


Soldiers man car bomb barriers at presidential palace, Hargeisa Warning Comes as State Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Independence Claim

By YAHYA MOHAMED. May 18, 2011.http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/782/Fear_of_Terror_Attack_in_Somaliland

Somaliland security officials are predicting possible terror attacks by al-Shabaab-linked militants and other groups as the semi-autonomous state prepares to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its unilateral declaration of independence from Somalia.

A security officer, who did not want to be named, said the authorities were on alert for a possible attack Wednesday during independence celebrations. The authorities believe the celebrations offer dormant al-Shabaab cells the chance to conduct high-profile attacks against Somaliland's institutions or obvious symbols of the international presence in Hargeisa.

Since deadly multiple bomb attacks in October 2008, threats of new terror attacks have been regularly reported. Somaliland forces have carried out frequent and regular patrol reinforcements and specific alerts on several occasions. The Somaliland administration has also welcomed the recent death of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, which many believed increases its vulnerability to terrorist attacks. Al-Shabaab sources have told Somalia Report Somaliland is on its list of targets for revenge attacks.

In the last three months, the frequency and credibility of such threats are believed to have increased. Al-Shabaab sleeper cells have been reported in Hargeisa and Burao districts, leading to multiple arrests by Somaliland authorities.

Clan disputes among senior al-Shabaab leaders have led its leader Mukhtar Abu-Zubeyr (Ahmed Godane), who is from Somaliland’s Isaaq tribe, to be challenged by other al-Shabaab leaders from south and central Somalia to perform operations in his homeland.

Somaliland is planning a parade that will start from Hargeisa University and pass in front of the Presidential Palace, where it will be joined by Somaliland’s president, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo.

Somaliland has been unable to achieve international recognition of its independence, although in recent months the international community has placed an increased focus on direct aid to the semi-autonomous region, hoping to develop the relatively stable state.


Does Somaliland deserve recognition?

BBC Africa HYS Team |Tuesday, 17 May 2011. Have your say

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Somaliland's self-declared independence. In May 1991, after the fall of Mohamed Siad Barre, the northern third of Somalia seceded and established a capital in Hargeisa. Somaliland now has a functioning political system and its own currency but is yet to gain international recognition as an independent country.

Meanwhile, in Africa both Eritrea and South Sudan have become countries and, thanks to their official status worldwide, are able access assistance from global financial institutions.

Elsewhere, separatists are agitating for independence in Cabinda in Angola, in Casamance in Senegal, and in Western Sahara on the Moroccan border.

What should qualify a country for independence? Should the political considerations of other countries determine this? Or should there be criteria such as economic viability? Do you think recognising breakaway countries like Somaliland sets a dangerous precedent? Would an officially recognised Somaliland help bring peace and stability to the rest of Somalia? If you are from Somaliland we'd particularly like to hear from you.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/africahaveyoursay/2011/05/does-somaliland-deserve-recogn.shtml


20 Years After Secession, Somaliland Still Seeks Recognition

BBC Online, James Butty. May 18, 2011. http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Butty-Somaliland-20th-Anniversary-Nur-18may11-122134824.html

This comes as Somaliland this month celebrates 20 years of its breakaway from mainland Somalia.

On May 18, 1991, Somaliland seceded from Somalia. Although the United Nations has a presence in Somaliland, U.N. members states have yet to officially recognize it as a country.

Rashid Nur says it is time for the international community to recognize Somaliland because it has demonstrated stability after holding two successful elections resulting in two peaceful changes of government.

“This day is important for the people of Somaliland because the people of Somaliland have built a nation from practically ashes when they came back from refugee camps in Ethiopia, and in the last 20 years they have built all levels of government institutions and have had multiple successful elections,” he says.

Nur says the international community should also recognize Somaliland’s independence because it contributes to the peace and security of the Horn of Africa and East Africa region as a whole.

“It is absolutely the right time to recognize Somaliland because Somaliland significantly contributes to the peace in the region as well Somaliland contributes to the economy of the region and could contribute much more if the country is recognized,” Nur says.

He says Somaliland has enough resources to sustain its own independence.

“There are a lot of resources in Somaliland. Obviously, a lot of them have not been exploited yet. There are minerals and gas in Somaliland that have not been exploited yet. One of the biggest industries right now is livestock. Somaliland exports livestock to the Middle East and it is a significant revenue contributor,” Nur says.

Nur says Somaliland has other industries such as telecommunication and construction that are also providing employment. He says the economy is growing at a reasonable rate, although he concedes that unemployment remains a concern.

Nur says the economy could grow a lot faster if the international community recognizes the country.

He says Somaliland does not harbor pirates. On the contrary, Nur says Somaliland plays a crucial role in the war against international piracy.

“There are over 100 pirates that are in the jails of Somaliland and, if you look at all of the piracy, none of it takes place in the waters off Somaliland. Beyond that, Somaliland also has a Coast Guard that guards not only its waters, but also in the Red Sea area and has captured over 100 pirates,” Nur says.

Advocates for Somailand's recognition note that the former British colony gained its independence on June 26, 1960, four days before voluntarily joining the former Italian colony of Somalia to become the new Republic of Somalia. Those advocates state that Somaliland has always maintained its right to withdraw from that union.


Coca-Cola boosts Somaliland economy

By Katrina Manson in Berbera. May 17 2011. The Financial Times.http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/35ab85bc-80ca-11e0-8351-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1Mk2xRUu4

While no government recognises Somaliland, the business stamp of approval is proving less elusive.

Related

Coca-Cola has issued a second licence within Somalia, which will cover Somaliland and neighbouring, semi-autonomous Puntland, a tacit recognition of Somaliland’s functioning economy. The company’s other franchise, which is based in Mogadishu, is no longer able to function because of violence in the Somali capital.

Ahmed Guelleh, a Somaliland businessman and owner of Somaliland Beverage Industries, had the franchise to Somaliland – then a region of Somalia – 26 years ago, before war broke out and he lost everything. He won the licence back in late 2010 and production is due to start this year.

Mr Guelleh’s band of five brothers is a typical, if highly successful, example of a strong trading family. Their $5m-a-year import-export operation brings in everything from porridge oats to tyres while sending out animal skins and frankincense, as well as serving as agents for a shipping company and DHL.

The Coca-Cola bottling factory, among the first manufacturing investments in Somaliland, with brand new machinery from Austria and Italy, has cost $10m and is expected to generate an annual $3.2m profit, bottling 11,000 an hour and employing 130.

Its establishment has required a tailored approach. SBI found and secured its water supply after drilling for six months in 200 sites. It will sell plastic, rather than glass, bottles because glass takes too much water to wash and can take months to return from the hard-to-reach and insecure east. Instead the company will pay locals to collect empty plastic bottles and ship them to a recycling company in India that will pay for the refuse in a break-even deal.

The company says it will undercut the current Yemen-imported Coke price by about 40 per cent, saying Somaliland is the most price-sensitive market in the world.

“Recognition is the problem, not the place,” says Gavin Dehning, managing director of SBI. A South African who left his job of 14 years to come and set up the factory, he has had to overcome the damaging impact of piracy and the issue of Somaliland’s lack of diplomatic recognition.

When SBI ran out of bitumen to paint a septic tank, it took three weeks to replace it, as pirate-nervous ships dock rarely. Twelve Indian steelworkers critical to putting up the factory were prevented from travelling because the Indian authorities equated Somaliland with its anarchic neighbour — for which it has an advisory forbidding travel.

But Mr Dehning also says Somaliland port authorities are the most speedy and accommodating of any African country in which he has worked, offering none of the red tape or bribery with which he is familiar, and that the company has done everything to make sure it exceeds the requirements of the franchise.

“Coke is not going to destroy its brand because of one small little country,” he said.


Somaliland Marks 20 Year Anniversary

The Breakaway Region Calls for More Recognition

By YAHYA MOHAMED.May 18, 2011. http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/787/Somaliland_Marks_20_Year_Anniversary?PHPSESSID=94a052c334c26ee53307528c59f05d0a

Residents of Somaliland, Somalia’s northern breakaway region, on Wednesday celebrated their 20th anniversary in a colorful ceremony in the capital of Hargeisa. Thousands of people gathered around the major streets and cheered hundreds of security officers who were in the official parade.

The ceremony, held between 09:00-14:00 local time, included a speech by Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo. Speaking from the Freedom Garden, Silanyo told cheering civilians that time will come when Somaliland will be recognized as an independent state.

However the president indicated there is reluctance of the world to accept Somaliland as a country. “I have met with the leaders of many countries, but none of them could boldly advocate for Somaliland’s recognition,” said Mr. Silanyo. The president vowed that the breakaway region would keep seeking recognition until the international community grants it.

The people of Somaliland were united in celebrations. “I am proud that we can today facilitate such a beautiful occasion to celebrate this great day,” Awil Mohamud, one of the Somaliland residents told Somalia Report.

Security Remained Tight

Security remained tight in and around the locations and traffic was disrupted where the military and civilian parade took place. Somaliland officials are also reported to have made some arrests in Hargeisa and Borama districts before the ceremony.

Fears of a major attack, however, were unfounded as there were not any major incidents to hinder the parade and celebrations.

All components of the government and of the civil society (private sector, schools, universities,) were mobilized to participate to this celebration.

Residents of Somaliland in other parts of the country, including Borama, Burco and Lasanod districts, and diaspora around the world also celebrated today’s anniversary.


Somaliland judge was among two gunned down in northern Somalia

“I was standing in front of a small business stall for shopping when I heard the sounds of gunshots as soon as arrived at the scene I saw the region’s high court judge lying on the ground dead” the witness explained but asked not for anonymity for security reasons.

Source: Abdi Hajji Hussein. May 18, 2011. http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/90048783?Somaliland%20judge%20was%20among%20two%20gunned%20down%20in%20northern%20Somalia

Las Anod: Unknown assailants armed with pistols on Tuesday night shot and killed two persons including a Somaliland official in the town of Las Anod in the disputed Sool region.

Sheikh Mohammed Ibrahm Samatar, who was recently named acting high court judge of the Sool region, came under surprise attack as he was returning to his home in the town Las Anod, the witness told AHN by phone on Wednesday morning.

Samatar took the bench in March, just days after his predecessor, Ahmed Suleiman Gelle, the court judge of Sool region, was gunned down in the same town.

“I was standing in front of a small business stall for shopping when I heard the sounds of gunshots as soon as arrived at the scene I saw the region’s high court judge lying on the ground dead” the witness explained but asked not for anonymity for security reasons

A nurse at the local hospital was also killed in the attack, according to local resident who added that the attackers fled from the area shortly after the shooting.

Early Wednesday morning Somaliland security forces arrested at least seven people in connection with the assassination. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Since Somaliland took control of the Sool region from Somalia's semi-autonomous state of Puntland in 2007, at least 13 Somaliland officials including police, military and intelligence officers have been assassinated in the region.


Somaliland celebrates 20th anniversary of Independence

Source: Abdi Hajji Hussein. May 18, 2011.http://www.allheadlinenews.com

Despite Somaliland's two decades of existence, it has failed on multiple occasions to gain recognition from the United Nations, a fact that drew comment from the region's leadership.

Thousands of people on Wednesday morning took to the streets of the city of Hargeisa to mark the 20th anniversary of the independence announcement from Somalia by the breakaway republic of Somaliland.

After congregating at Hargeisa’s Freedom Park, the overjoyed Somalilanders, along with top leaders including the president, watched a parade of military forces.

Festivals were also reported across parts of the northwestern Somali region.

Security was tightened during the celebrations. All movements of both private and public cars were put on hold as streets filled with large numbers of security forces. Officials said the step had been done against a backdrop of new accounts suggesting that terrorist attacks could occur.

Despite Somaliland's two decades of existence, it has failed on multiple occasions to gain recognition from other countries and the United Nations, a fact that drew comment from the region's leadership.

“The truly guileless and hardworking people of Somaliland will not tire seeking recognition from the world countries and the United Nations,” said Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo, the president of the separatist republic, in an address during the festivities. The leader also sent a congratulatory message to all Somaliland people inside and outside of the country.

He noted that Somaliland has managed to work democratically and peacefully in a region torn down by civil war, clan warfare and terrorism.

“Tens of thousands of Somalis have been displaced by political and protracted civil war. International community made mutable attempts to set up central rule in Somalia, unfortunately all have ended in vain,” Silanyo told the jubilant crowd, calling for Somali politicians to do the interests of their people before their own.

Somaliland, a former British colony, declared independence from Somalia in 1991 after the fall of dictator Mohammed Siad Barre.

While no country has yet officially recognized its independence, it has remained largely free of the clan warfare, kidnappings and assassinations that have plagued Somalia. Early last week, Somaliland warned that the al Qaeda-inspired group al Shabaab could launch terrorist attacks on its territories after the demise of their leader Osama Bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. Special Forces in an operation in Pakistan.

Mohammed Abdullahi Omar, Somaliland’s foreign minister, said that al Shabaab militants, who are involved in southern Somalia battles against the transitional federal government and African Union forces, could commit reprisal attacks in Hargeisa and other towns.

In the past, Sheikh Mukhtar Abdurrahman Abu Zubeyr, the leader of al Shabaab, who is from Hargeisa, has threatened to attack Somaliland.

Despite the threat, Somaliland security forces have several times said they thwarted an Al Shabaab terrorist attacks.

On Oct. 29, 2008, at least 21 persons were killed after suicide attackers in explosives-laden cars targeted the presidential palace, the Ethiopian embassy and United Nations offices in Hargeisa.


An unrecognised independence in Somaliland

Twenty years since it declared unilateral independence Somaliland still seeks recognition

Tristan McConnell. May 18, 2011.http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa-emerges/unrecognised-independence-somaliland

GlobalPost’s related articles

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Remittances a lifeline to Somalis
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Still waiting: Somaliland declared independence 20 years ago today but, despite relative peace and security, democracy and economic growth, has not been granted recognition by any other country in the world. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images)

Twenty years ago Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia but nobody paid any attention. Today celebrations are underway in the capital Hargeisa but Somaliland remains unrecognised, an invisible country.

While Somalia has plumbed new depths of chaos, killing and state collapse, Somaliland, a chunk of desert, scrub and mountains in the northwest, has gradually over two decades built a functioning democracy and a small but vibrant economy.

But no other country recognises Somaliland and so it exists in limbo, unable to truly break free of its bigger, nastier neighbour. African countries seem unwilling to recognise it for fear of encouraging their own secessionists, and foreign nations are wary of neo-colonialist accusations if they go first.


Somaliland Celebrates 20 Years of Self-Declared Independence

by Joe DeCapua. May 18, 2011.http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/decapua-somaliland-anniversary-18may11-122169484.html


Somaliland is celebrating its 20th anniversary of self-declared independence from Somalia.

Despite not being recognized as a nation by the international community, Somaliland has been very successful politically and economically. And it’s avoided the turmoil of Somalia. “I guess what I see is a remarkable success story,” said Mark Bradbury, author of Becoming Somaliland, who works with the Rift Valley Institute, a non-profit research, education and advocacy organization. Bradbury first visited Somaliland in 1992, when the capital, Hargeisa, looked very different that it does today.

“At the time, that was a city in rubble. Something like 70 percent of all buildings had been destroyed in 10 years of war leading up to that point. Today, if you go to Hargeisa, it’s been entirely reconstructed and expanded way beyond its original limits. A population of over 400,000. Vibrant economy. An exciting place to visit. Secure for most people,” he said.

He described it as a “remarkable” achievement and credits the Somaliland people.

Somaliland has a lot to teach

In a recent interview with the Royal African Society, Bradbury called Somaliland a “research laboratory” that “offers insights into current policy concerns about failed and collapsed states and international efforts at state building, as well as issues of migration, remittances [and] trans-nationalism.”

“I think there are a lot of things about Somaliland that are very interesting and have a lot to say to academics, development practitioners, on how a country recovers from war and how it reconstructs itself after war,” he said.

Its neighbor, Somalia, has been wracked by war since the fall of leader Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991, the same year Somaliland declared its independence. The two places are vastly different today.

Bradbury said, “To understand that, one needs to go back to the origins of Somaliland. And the peace and stability that Somaliland has today has largely been built on the basis of a process of peace and reconciliation that happened in the early 90s. That’s a peace and reconciliation between the clans of Somaliland. This is very much an indigenous process, locally designed and locally managed and locally financed with very little international involvement.”

The Somali Diaspora played a major role in financing the rebuilding of Somaliland.

A nation?

Bradbury declined to say whether he believes Somaliland should be recognized by the international community as a sovereign state.

“It’s the international community that recognizes states. Clearly, the majority of the people in Somaliland, their ambition and their desire is to be recognized as an independent state. And depending on how one defines a state and how one judges success, then I think they deserve for their aspirations to be taken very seriously,” he said.

If recognized as a nation, it could bring much more international assistance and investment and it would allow the government to have formal, diplomatic relationships with other countries.

However, Bradbury said there are regions and people in Somaliland opposed to becoming an independent nation.

“There would be a need to negotiate a relationship with people in those areas. Potentially, the peace and security that Somaliland has could be threatened by Somalis in other parts of the region. So it would bring a lot of benefits, but it would also clearly bring a lot of challenges,” he said.


SOMALIA: Burco bread sellers detained for price hike?

May 18, 2011. http://horseedmedia.net/2011/05/18/somalia-burco-bread-sellers-detained-price-hike/

The Burco district police detained 40 bread sellers yesterday after “ they raised the price of piece of bread was raised from 300 Somaliland shillings to 500 Somaliland shillings.”

Burco district authorities allege that the sellers’ decision to raise the price of bread was timed to coincide with the termination of the use of Somali shilling in Burco. “ You have increased the price of bread by 50% and we have information from the criminal investigation department and other reliable sources that restaurateurs will rise the price of food they sell too,” Ahmed Abdi Falay, the chairman Burco district assembly told the bread sellers detained in Burco central police station, according to Somali Channel correspondent Mohamed Awad Mohamed.

One of the bread sellers challenged the district authorities’ allegations: “ we wake up to new price for wheat flour every morning. The price of a piece of bread is Somaliland Shilling 500 , same price as the price for a piece of bread in 1994 when a 50 kg of wheat flour was US $14, now it costs US $ 32.”

Had the regional administration collected data on prices of food items , it would have been easier to check the validity of the bread seller’s argument.

In the absence of such data, Somaliland government had better avoid quashing business initiatives of its citizens. In 1988 former Somali Minster of Finance, Abdirahman Jama Barre attempted to set prices of food rations sold wholesale in Mogadishu markets after his ministry signed with International Monetary Fund an SAP ( Structural Adjustment programme) agreement to devalue the Somali shilling and auction dealers. Mogadishu traders hoarded food rations.

The former Somaliland president Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, who was then a president of the former of Somali Chamber conferences wrote an insightful essay in Sahan bulletin in which he advised the Somali government against IMF’s SAP. It is ironic that Somaliland government is taking a leaf from a discredited book to politicise business on which livelihoods of many people in Somaliland depend.

Liban Ahmad. libahm@gmail.com


Breakaway Somalis call for recognition

2011-05-18.http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/Breakaway-Somalis-call-for-recognition-20110518

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Hargeisa - Residents of Somalia's breakaway Somaliland state thronged the streets of the capital on Wednesday to celebrate 20 years since splitting from the rest of Somalia and to demand world recognition.

Thousands watched a parade staged to commemorate the occasion during which colourful groups from civil society marched, walked, or danced along Independence Avenue, followed by a full military parade.

"I've been here since four in the morning and there were many people here before me," said Mohammed Omer, a university student. "I'm here because my country is not recognised but I am still proud of our achievements."

Somaliland's President Ahmed Mohamed Silaanyo watched the procession from under a huge banner which read: "The international community is obligated to accept the will of the people."

He said Somaliland, a former British protectorate in the north of Somalia, would not stop seeking world recognition.

"I say to the people of Somaliland that our efforts (to achieve recognition) will not end. Even if Somaliland stands alone for 100 years, and we have not achieved recognition, then we will continue to strive for that goal, god willing."

Whereas Somalia proper has been mired in violence since the 1991 ouster of president Siad Barre, Somaliland has enjoyed relative stability.

Interior Minister Mohamed Abdi Gabose told AFP he was happy for Somaliland and its citizens.

"The citizens believe they have done enough. Now we are looking to the international community.

"With patience and with energy, Somaliland is going in the right direction. Somaliland is an island in the middle of a chaotic and unstable region, and we just want to live peacefully with our neighbours."

The independence day celebrations were attended by an official delegation from neighbouring Djibouti, the only official foreign representation in attendance.

The head of the Djibouti team, Ougoureh Kifle Ahmed, said formal recognition of Somaliland was a possibility, especially in light of the impending division of Sudan into two distinct countries.

"The door is open to all possibilities for the modification of former boundaries," he told AFP.


SOMALIA: Somaliland intelligence arrest well known cleric

May 17th, 2011.http://www.raxanreeb.com/?p=96400

HARGEISA (RBC) Somaliland intelligence forces hold on well known Imam in jail for the fifth day after addressing at Wajale mosque, RBC Radio reports.

Sheikh Mahamed Sheikh Yusuf who was the Imam Jama mosque in Wajale was detained on Friday by the intelligence police after he condemned the 20th anniversary Somaliland’s break way celebration.

Residents in Wajale told RBC Radio that Sheikh Mahamed criticized non-Muslim deeds which are celebrated in the anniversary including jazz playing as he also rejected putting the flag of Somaliland, which is written on the Islamic testification on the dancing places.

The detained Sheikh is now in intelligence custody where he is being questioned by the security officials.

The local elders and clerics in Somaliland have called for the release of the Sheikh Mahamed Sheikh Yusuf but the officials have not yet commented on the issue.

Somaliland which is unrecognized breakaway state in northern Somalia is preparing to celebrate on Wednesday 18 May for its 20th anniversary as breakaway government.


Somaliland aims to show coming of age

By Katrina Manson in Berbera. Published: May 17 2011


Camels are lifted on to a ship at the port of Berbera for export across the Gulf of Aden.

In a macabre twist on Noah’s ark, a crane in the Somaliland port of Berbera is hoisting camels two by two on to a ship taking them to their death across the Gulf of Aden. Just like the awkwardly suspended cargo, Somaliland itself has been left dangling for 20 years.

Audio slideshow. Katrina Manson reports on a region hauling itself up

In 1991 the former British protectorate declared independence from anarchic Somalia, but no country has recognised it, as it is considered part of Somalia. Yet Somaliland, which marks its 20th anniversary on Wednesday, is largely peaceful and has built itself up from ruin with very little outside donor help.

Somaliland: hauling itself up - May-17.Patrol force proposed to combat piracy - Mar-02.Daunting challenge of pirates’ growing range - Feb-14.Sharp rise in pirate ransom costs - Jan-16.British couple released by Somali pirates - Nov-14.Islamists ban cash transfers back to Somalia - Oct-21..Over the past 20 years, as its neighbour has descended into war, terrorism and piracy, Somaliland has sought to establish the trappings of a functioning state with its own currency, something approaching a central bank, democratic elections and a fiscal team of econometricians in pursuit of a wider tax base.

Local businessmen say that while livestock is worth 60 per cent of the economy, commerce in the largely unregulated private sector is flourishing against the odds and characterised by ferocious appetite for a tidy profit.

“The lifeblood of every Somali is trade,” says Paul Crook, chief technical adviser to the UN International Labour Organisation’s Somalia programme, who has lived in Hargeisa, the Somaliland capital.

Somalilanders have also become technologically savvy, transferring money across the world, making calls on solar-charged smartphones and shopping with debit cards. Their thriving business acumen may be the best way to effect de facto recognition.

“When you are a nomad you have to learn your own way to survive and I think we brought the nomadic experience to the city and tried to survive with an entrepreneurial community,” says Abdikarim Mohamed, head of Telesom, a local mobile phone operator with 400,000 subscribers that was formed when 650 shareholders clubbed together and raised $2.5m to get it going.

“The facts speak for themselves. For the past 20 years we have been much better than other countries that have recognition,” President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo told the Financial Times at his presidential palace, newly redecorated following a 2008 bomb attack attributed to al-Shabaab the extremist Islamist group.

“Without recognition it means we have not been accepted by the international community as a full member – there is no doubt about it, we need a lot of development and support.”

Much of this comes from the country’s diaspora. Somaliland inspires fearsome loyalty among its native sons and daughters and an estimated 1m Somalilanders abroad send home more than $1bn each year.

Educated expatriates, including public finance experts, have given up jobs in Europe and North America to return home and now want to more than double state revenues within a year to $88m and reach $160m by 2013. Already they have doubled civil servant salaries and rooted out more than 5,000 ghost workers after 2010 elections brought a new administration vowing transparency in government.

“What we get, we spend. We have a cash budget from hand to mouth and no development budget,” said Mohamed Awaed Mohamoud from the public finance management team. “But we try: we don’t take loans and we have no debt and no deficit up to now.”

The government aims to boost tax revenue from 5 per cent of gross domestic product, one of the world’s lowest, to 13 per cent next year – still far below the sub-Saharan Africa average of 18-20 per cent. Officials calculate that one company alone evaded $9.13m in taxes.

Investors remain wary but some, including Chinese telephone infrastructure companies and UK frontier private equity, are backing it. So confident is one British Somalilander, who runs a UK investment firm, he wants to set up a £30m diaspora fund.

“Somaliland is the classic anomaly: the perception and the reality are far apart and in the middle is a huge amount of money,” says Mohamed Yusef, CEO of London’s Invicta Capital.

He has already secured an oil block unencumbered by potential rival claims from foreign oil companies, who pulled out long ago.

He also sees fishing, livestock exports and power generation among possible growth sectors, saying: “I see Somaliland as an undervalued share – buy low and ride the tiger up.”

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates Somaliland’s 850km shoreline could yield 40,000 tonnes a year of fish compared with between 1,000 and 5,000 a year now. Telesom also says it could bring down energy costs by 50 per cent if there were a reliable power source.

In private, British diplomats are sympathetic to Somaliland’s cause, and although the UK is unlikely to recognise the country, in March it hosted the first UK-Somaliland investment conference, which could pave the way for a bilateral trade recognition.

As for the mid-air camels at Berbera port, among the first projects topping Mr Yusef’s list is a $9m cold packing export business to save the camels from live export and add value. The dangling may be about to end.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f48e64be-80a1-11e0-85a4-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1MdzLyuvJ


Somaliland official survives grenade attack

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 14 May 2011: Radio Hargeysa in Somali 1305 14 May 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The governor of Sool Region, Abdillahi Jama Diriye, last night survived a hand grenade attack that targeted him. Two of his bodyguards were injured in the attack.

The correspondent of Somaliland News Agency (Sona) in Sool reported that the bodyguards with the governor defended themselves against the attack by the terrorist group and responded with automatic machine-gun fire. The report added that the terrorist group escaped. The two bodyguards who were injured in the attack are being treated at Laas Caanood hospital and their conditions are stable at the moment.

The attack comes when the governor of Sool Region said that the region was engaged in preparations for 18 May celebration and would beef up security.

Credit: Radio Hargeysa in Somali 1305 14 May 11


"Disquiet" reported in Somaliland over new NGO legislation

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 13 May 2011:

Text of unattributed report entitled "Disquiet over new NGO law" by Nairobi-based online news service of UN regional information network IRIN on 13 May; subheadings as published

Nairobi, 13 May 2011: Some provisions of new legislation governing the activities of NGOs in Somaliland could undermine international humanitarian activity in the self-declared independent territory, say aid workers and donors.

The Non-Governmental Organization Act (National and International) is designed to establish a legal framework for NGOs, to ensure their activities are in line with the government's development priorities and to improve accountability and transparency.

These principles are not in dispute, but the perceived ambiguity of some of the law's wording and the practical implications of some of its articles have prompted high-level exchanges with Somaliland authorities involving not only NGOs but also donors and the UN.

"We are very concerned about the impact that this law in its present form could have on the population in need, which is largely being assisted by international NGOs," said Tanja Schumer, the focal point of the Somalia NGO Consortium.

"We are also concerned about increased operational transaction costs for all. We hope the authorities will further legally clarify those paragraphs in the law that are vague, which opens the potential for abuse and confusion. We hope to work with the authorities to better support the development goals of Somaliland and we will continue to assist those in need of humanitarian assistance," she added.

An official from one major bilateral donor told IRIN his government shared the concerns of NGOs and the UN as expressed in a letter sent to authorities in Somaliland.

Saad A. Shire, Somaliland's Minister of Planning and Coordination, told IRIN the law had been in the making for about two years: "It is based on a Letter of Agreement international NGOs always signed with the ministry and the best practice from neighbouring countries."

Shire said that while laws were in place in Somaliland governing the private and public sectors, "until now we did not have laws that govern the NGO sector, even though the NGO sector is bigger than the public sector".

Shire said the NGO Act had been signed into law by President Ahmed Mohamed Mahamud Siilaanyo.

Funding

Foreign agencies working in Somaliland are particularly worried about article 35 (3), which states: "International NGOs shall not become implementers for other international NGOs and UN organizations working in the country."

Shire told IRIN the law would prohibit international NGOs from "subcontracting a project designated for the country from a UN agency present in the country.

"The aim is to encourage international NGOs and UN agencies to work with local NGOs and local businesses for implementing projects, giving them the opportunity to build their capacity and the experience to take on major projects after the international NGOs leave."

There are fears that a blanket application of the principle, rather than a case-by-case approach, could drastically reduce overall donor funding.

In some cases, according to one aid worker familiar with Somaliland, having an NGO as a UN implementing partner is essential because "some of the programmes being carried out require specific technical expertise that is not easily available in-country".

In 2010, aid agencies working in Somaliland sought US$87m for their activities for that year.

Ambiguities

Another issue is that the Act empowers the government of Somaliland to determine where aid should go, whereas a fundamental humanitarian principle is that this should be decided solely on the basis of need. There appears to be some ambiguity in the law as to whether this provision applies to humanitarian assistance as well as development aid.

The law establishes an oversight agency, the Consultative Committee, appointed to govern and supervise activities of international NGOs and local NGOs. The committee, an advisory board, formulates policy guidelines regulating the activities of NGOs and ensures alignment of their activities to overall national development goals and plans.

"I appreciate the need for a regulatory environment," said one aid official familiar with Somaliland, "but I am not sure this [law] is the most constructive approach or if the [Somaliland] government has thought through all the practicalities of implementing these directives."

Working with a lawyer, NGOs operating in Somaliland have asked authorities there for clarity on more than two dozen of the Act's provisions. There is some uncertainty as to the legal validity of the responses to these queries.

Shire told IRIN: "We are planning to hold a question-and-answer session on 24 May, where we will answer all of their questions and address any lingering concerns. We are not in the business of putting obstacles in the way of the INGOs working in the country. All we want is to ensure that aid is more effective and accountable."

Credit: UN Integrated Regional Information Network, Nairobi, in English 13 May 11


Programme summary of Somaliland's Radio Hargeysa news 1700 gmt 9 May 11

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 10 May 2011: Radio Hargeysa in Somali 1700 9 May 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

1. Headlines.
2. Meeting to discuss collaboration between Ministry of Health of Somaliland, its partner agencies held in Hargeysa.
3. Chairman of Somaliland community in Diaspora calls on people living in abroad to take part in the forthcoming 20th anniversary when Somaliland declared itself independent republic from the rest of Somalia which is to be held on 18 May.
4. Chairman of permanent committee of Upper House of Somaliland sends congratulations to Djibouti President Ismail Umar Guelleh for his re-election.
5. Governor of Hawd Region in Somaliland Husayn Hure held meeting with local authorities, civil society, discussed ways to mark the forthcoming 20th anniversary which is to be held on 18 May 2011.
6. District commissioner of Gabaro town in Gibiley Region, western Somaliland, calls on government, businessmen to assist drought affected people in the region.
7. Foreign news.
Credit: Radio Hargeysa in Somali 1700 9 May 11


Programme summary of Somalia's Horn Cable TV news 1900 gmt 9 May 11

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 10 May 2011: Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 9 May 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

1. 19:06 Headlines.
2. 19: 07 The Vice-President of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland Abdirahman Abdullahi Sayli'i visits the electricity company in Hargeysa. Video footage shows the vice- president being welcomed by the company's management, staff at its headquarters.
3. 19:09 Somaliland commission in charge of citizen rights and politics calls on President Silanyo to accept formation of additional political parties. Video footage shows the commission in discussion about the additional political parties.
4. 19:12 Delegation led by education minister of Somaliland donate food, medicine to drought affected people in Maroodi Jeex Region. Video shows distribution of food, medicine to the people by government officials.
5. 19:14 Civil society groups in Banaadir Region (Mogadishu and its environs) held meeting in Mogadishu in which they appealed to top leaders of the government to sort out their differences and restore country's security.
6. 19:17 Somaliland MP says mysterious disease affected 200 people in Berbera District of Sahil Region, calls on government to urgently respond. Footage shows the MP telling the media about the disease outbreak.
7. 19:19 Three children burnt themselves after consuming drugs in Gibiley Region, western Somaliland. Footage shows the children being admitted at the main hospital in Gibiley Region.
8. 19:21 Meeting to discuss inauguration of new telecommunication company held in Hargeysa, Somaliland. Video shows government officials, traditional elders attending the ceremony.
9. 19:22 Forces of Transitional Federal Government of Somalia launch security operations in parts of Mogadishu. Footage shows troops with armoured vehicles conducting operations in capital.
10. 19:23 Somalia's interior minister Abdishakur Ali says his government is planning to restore security in capital. Video shows the minister in a meeting with government officials, traditional elders in Mogadishu.
11. 19:25 Former veteran troops of Somaliland warn against the sale of national army building in Burco District of Togdheer Region, eastern Somaliland. Footage shows former national troops of Somaliland telling the media about their complaints.
12. 19:28 Demonstration held by hundreds of students in Garoowe, capital of Puntland, against local Intelligent Security (PIS) over arrest of school teacher. Video shows hundreds of students protesting against the arrest of their teacher, shouting slogans against the PIS.
13. 19:30 Somaliland ministers return home from abroad where they were making fund-raising for drought affected people in the country. Video shows the ministers briefing the media about the success of their trip.
14. 19:32 Former aviation minister of Somaliland Ali Waran Adde has said broad consultation to be made on the formation of additional political parties in Somaliland. Footage shows the minister briefing the media about the parities.
15. 19:36 Local authorities in Gibiley District, western Somaliland, said to take part in 20th anniversary when Somaliland declared its independence from the rest of Somaliland which is to be held on 18 May 2011. Footage shows government officials telling the media about how they are ready for the anniversary.
16. 19:40 Ceremony to support Transitional Federal Government of Somalia held in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Footage shows government officials, traditional elders, businessmen attending the ceremony.
17. 19:44 Foreign news.
Credit: Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 9 May 11


Here today, gone tomorrow? Saving Somaliland's heritage

May 10, 2011 -- CNN.
Sada Mire -- one half of a pair of twins who are giving back to Somaliland
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
- Sada Mire is on a mission to raise awareness about Somali cultural heritage
- The archaeologist discovered prehistoric cave art in Somaliland in 2007
- Mire is the head of Somaliland's Department of Antiquities

Every week CNN International's African Voices highlights Africa's most engaging personalities, exploring the lives and passions of people who rarely open themselves up to the camera.

(CNN) -- When Sada Mire fled war-torn Somalia as a frightened teenager, the nation was descending into darkness, mired in the grip of a long civil conflict.

But several years later, when she returned to the Horn of Africa as an ambitious archaeologist, her fierce determination and meticulous fieldwork brought to light the region's rich cultural heritage.

In 2007, her archaeological pursuits resulted in the discovery of 5,000-year-old rock art in Somaliland, a breakaway state in the northwest corner of Somalia.

The prehistoric findings, which include renderings of animals as well as human figures, are significant in enhancing understanding about the prehistoric way of life across the region, says Mire.

Somaliland's first archaeologist, Mire is now on a mission to preserve and protect what she says is a heritage at risk of disappearing.

Gallery: Somaliland's pre-historic cave art Ancient findings like the rock paintings, which were discovered at Dhambalin, in a sandstone shelter near the Red Sea, not only have historic importance, but also help restore a sense of self-esteem and cultural pride in the people of Somaliland, she says.

Many were completely unaware of the existence and significance of archaeology before the discovery of the cave paintings.

"I would bring them to the site and explain how important the site is potentially for helping them," Mire says.

"Initially it was very difficult to communicate that but after a while I managed to get their attention -- they even ended up sort of feeling a sense of dignity that actually 'this is our site' -- a feeling that 'we have nothing but we have this.'

Somaliland declared independence in 1991, but isn't internationally recognized as a separate state.

Mire spent her early years in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, along with her identical twin sister Sohur. There, the two sisters enjoyed a normal childhood until a bloody conflict erupted in 1982.

Their mother decided that their future would not be in Somalia and started to plan an escape to Sweden.

When the two sisters arrived in the Scandinavian country, they encountered a completely different reality to the one they were used to before.

"I remember the first feeling was like a glass of milk in a fridge -- sort of thinking why is it so cold? But I think we got used to it," Mire recalls.

"The fact that it was totally, completely different to what we had experienced was in a way healing itself, because now you had nothing to associate with what we had been through -- you could sort of reinvent yourself in a new world," she says.

Determined to make the most of their new opportunities, Mire and her sister settled for a few years in Sweden before relocating to the United Kingdom to pursue their studies.

"Finding an extraordinary archaeological site I had to think how is this going to help these people." --Sada Mire

Mire's professional journey brought her back to Somaliland a few years ago, where she embarked on a mission to unearth its cultural heritage.

But while discovering significant archaeological findings, she also saw first-hand the tough conditions people lived in.

"There was no access to clean water, there was no access to basic education especially in the rural areas where the archaeology was," she says.

"So for me, finding an extraordinary archaeological site I had to think how is this going to help these people and not just me as a researcher."

Stemming from that sense of social responsibility, Mire helped set up and now heads Somaliland's Department of Antiquities, a branch of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Dividing her time between Somaliland and the UK, she is determined to educate her fellow Somalis about their history as well as raise awareness across the world about Somali cultural heritage.

"I feel very committed," she says. "My hope for this is to be able to set up an institution which can help produce students -- Somali archaeologists, Somali cultural heritage managers."

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/05/10/sada.mire.somalia.archaeologist/?hpt=C2


Kenya: Regional Airline Jetlink Pulls Out of Somliland

Lola Okulo, Nairobi Star (Nairobi) http://allafrica.com/stories/201105100038.html.9 May 2011

KENYAN based regional airline Jetlink has stopped operating flights to Hargeisa Somaliland few months after it was launched late last year.

The airline cited insecurity and low passenger numbers on the route as the reasons behind the decision to pull out. "It is not profitable we had low traffic and the al shabaab factor makes people afraid of travelling there," said Jetlink Managing Director Elly Aluvale.

Though Somaliland is peaceful, its proximity to war torn Somalia makes it unpopular for travelers. It is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia. It is bordered by Ethiopia, Djibouti, Gulf of Aden and the autonomous Puntland region of Somalia.

Jetlink operated two flights a week on Mondays and Fridays. "Even the two flights a week did not have enough passengers and the numbers were dwindling," added Aluvale.

Apart from Jetlink, East African Safari Air also operated flights from Nairobi direct to Hargeisa since February 2010 but stopped shortly after launch. The operational costs on that route are making it a hard nut to crack for airlines.

Prior to the connection between the two cities, it used to take travelers up to 12 hours sometimes even a whole day to get to Somaliland from Nairobi because of many interconnections. Travellers had to fly to Dubai via Djibouti and then Ethiopia to get a connecting flight to Hargeisa.

The Nairobi-Hargeisa connection was seen by Somaliland administration as key to opening up the area to East African business and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa trading bloc. Aluvale said that the airline will relook at that route once travel to the destination improves.

Other Jetlink destinations are Mombasa, Eldoret and Kisumu in Kenya and Mwanza, Juba and Khartoum within the Eastern Africa region. The airline is currently facing stiff competition that has spurred price wars locally.


Somaliland warns of al Shabaab terrorist attacks after Bin Laden's demise

May 9, 2011.http://www.allheadlinenews.com

Al Shabaab could launch terrorist attacks on Somaliland territories after the demise of their leader Osama Bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. Special Forces in an operation in Pakistan, a Somaliland minister warned on Sunday.

Mohammed Abdullahi Omar, Somaliland’s foreign minister, said that al Shabaab militants, who are involved in southern Somalia battles against the transitional federal government and African Union forces, could commit reprisal attacks in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, and other towns.

He said that al Shabaab, which he described as a terrorist group, can easily hazard the security and tranquility of all Somalia regions and throughout the Horn of Africa, citing as an example the twin bombings in Kampala, Uganda, in July last year.

“We are calling for the African Union and the international community to help the democratic administration of Somaliland to assure its internal security,” Omar said while speaking at a ceremony marking Djibouti president Isama’il Omar Guelleh's election for a third time.

He said al Shabaab¸ which controls large swaths in southern and central Somalia, is a key factor in stoking fighting in the south of Somalia.

In the past, Sheikh Mukhtar Abdurrahman Abu Zubeyr, the leader of al Shabaab, has threatened to attack Somaliland.

Despite the threat, Somaliland security forces have several times said they thwarted an Al Shabaab terrorist attacks.

In Oct. 29, 2008, at least 21 persons were killed after suicide attackers using explosives-laden cars targeted the presidential palace, the Ethiopian embassy and United Nations offices in Hargeisa, the capital of the breakaway republic.


Somali Women Pursue Entrepreneurial Dream

Inter Press Service. May 10, 2011

Saido Farah (L) and Deeqo Jibril (R) inside Farah's business, Roots Halal Meat Market.
Saido Farah (L) and Deeqo Jibril (R) inside Farah's business, Roots Halal Meat Market.

BOSTON (IPS) - Deeqo Jibril is always on the go. Whether she is tending to her four children or teaching breast cancer awareness classes to women in her community, the Somali-born community organiser is always up for a new challenge.

Recently, she gave up her job as a social worker to focus full time on the Boston-based Somali Community & Cultural Association, a nonprofit Jibril founded a year ago to support Somali-American women.

The organisation is located inside a 3,000-square-foot retail building in Dudley Square, the heart of Boston's African American community. Jibril is also a building co-landlord and currently subleases space for six businesses.

"Most of my tenants are from Africa and the West Indies," Jibril said. "I started subleasing the building two years ago so other entrepreneurs could have a chance at the American dream."

Statistically, Somalis have struggled more than nearly any other immigrant group in the United States. The American Community Survey estimated just over 100,000 Somalis lived in the U.S. in 2009, with almost 30,000 living in Minnesota, although other sources suggest 60,000.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income for Somalis is among the lowest, with 51 percent living in poverty. But that could be changing.

Jibril's enterprise is not only an example of the evolving multicultural dynamic within the U.S. workplace, but also the role of women. According to Joyce Stanley, head of the Dudley Square Main Streets Program, a city initiative to support business development in the community, there are nine businesses that were started up by African women in the area, many of them in the last four years alone.

"In the immigrant community, anyone who comes here to America is motivated to achieve," Stanley said. "Somalis are one of the fastest growing immigrant communities in Boston, but it is simply amazing to see the Somali women take charge."

Like many Somalis in Boston, Jibril immigrated with her mother and four siblings in 1991 to escape the civil war in Mogadishu. Entrepreneurship runs in Jibril's blood, as her mother, Lul Isak, is also an entrepreneur who sells women's scarves from a cart in her daughter's building.

Down the street is Mabruuk Fashions, a store specialising in traditional Islamic apparel for women, which was started up by Somali entrepreneur Sapia Gelle in 2007. Gelle is out of the country for several weeks, so her daughter Amenia Wasin is currently managing the store.

"My mother was always a businesswoman at heart even before she came here," Wasin said. "It's a special thing to see all these women running businesses here."

Dudley Square has been a revolving door of culturally diverse entrepreneurship for over a century. Up until the 1940s, the community was supported by businesses run by Jewish, Irish and Eastern European immigrants. The square evolved after World War II, when an influx of African Americans migrated there from the South, escaping harsh Jim Crow laws.

Most of them were Pullman Porters, who not only helped modernise the country's railroad system, but also contributed to the rise of the black middle class. Many of these businessmen were influenced by Marcus Garvey's call for black economic self-reliance.

Today, there are abandoned buildings reminiscent of Dudley Square's glory days of African American entrepreneurship, ranging from pharmacies, barbershops and restaurants. Beginning in the 1990s, some of those buildings were taken over by a new wave of entrepreneurs from South Korea, Jamaica and Nigeria.

For many of the Somali women, owning their own businesses here gives them financial independence, which is something they didn't have in their home countries. In Somalia, men are generally the breadwinners in their traditionally Muslim households, while their wives kept house and took care of the children.

However, once these families come to the United States, the roles change, and the women are setting up shop and bringing home paycheques.

Saido Farah moved to Boston from Somalia in 1996 and started Roots Halal Meat Market in the neighbouring community of Jamaica Plain in 2004. Farah, who is five months pregnant, runs the store seven days a week with the support of her husband and one of her 10 children. Farah says it can be hard at times, but she does good business with her predominately Muslim clientele. She also believes in giving back to her community.

While her husband is very supportive of her venture, she said many of her male customers are not sure how to take her.

"They are not used to seeing women in positions of power," Farah said. "However, the men are generally supportive of me."

Back in Dudley Square, Ismahar Warfa helps run the Indian Ocean Grocery and Halal Meat with her husband. She says that no matter whether a man or a woman is running the store, in this economy, "work is work", and everyone chips to support the business.

The male businessmen in Jibril's building are supportive of her work.

"I think it's healthy to have business women since some of the best world leaders are women, like Hillary Clinton, Golda Meir, and Indira Gandhi," said Josiah Faeduwer, the Sierra Leonean manager of Bintimani Restaurant located in the building. "Deeqo is a powerful woman who has the character to bring people together."

Unfortunately, Jibril says she is not getting that same support for her ventures from her husband, who she is currently divorcing. Despite the tragedy of a marriage breakup, Jibril says she has more freedom now to concentrate on her nonprofit's work, such as providing English language training and developing business skills for other Somali women.

In fact, she will be honored for her work in the community May 18 by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women as an "Unsung Hero".

"It is an honour to serve my community," Jibril said. "Giving back and empowering other women only makes our community stronger."


SOMALIA: Somaliland forces detain school teacher in Las’anod

May 7th, 2011.http://www.raxanreeb.com/?p=95150

LAS’ANOD (RBC) Reports from northern Somalia town of Las’anod confirm that Somaliland forces on Saturday detained famous school teacher alleging he is Al-Shabab member.

The detained teacher, Hassan Mohamed originally from southern Somalia has been teaching Islamic studies and Arabic literature in Muse Yusuf Secondary School in Las’anod town, the provincial capital of the disputed Sool region.

Eyewitnesses told RBC Radio that Somaliland armed forces stormed the school, tortured and then took the teacher. Reliable sources confirm that the detained teacher was sent to Mandera prison near Hargeisa.

A mob of angry students and teachers demonstrated in the streets calling for the release of the teacher.

The Somaliland local authorities in Las’anod town did not comment on the event.



Somaliland delegation leaves for Djibouti to attend Guelleh inauguration Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 07 May 2011:Radio Hargeysa in Somali 1700 6 May 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

A delegation led by Somaliland's Foreign Affairs Minister Muhammad Abdullahi Umar has departed for Djibouti to attend the inauguration ceremony of President Ismail Omar Guelleh following his re-election. The ceremony will be held on 8 May, reports government-owned Radio Hargeysa.

Briefing the media at Hargeysa Airport before his departure, Umar said "the president of Djibouti had invited the Somaliland president but President Silanyo could not attend since few days are remaining from a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary when Somaliland declared its independence from rest of Somalia which will be held on 18 May".

Somaliland and Djibouti enjoy good neighbourliness and share a common border.

Credit: Radio Hargeysa in Somali 1700 6 May 11


Somaliland president calls for "massive demonstrations" over recognition Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 07 May 2011: Radio Hargeysa in Somali 1700 6 May 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The president of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, Ahmad Muhammad Mahamud Silanyo, has called on the people of Somaliland to "stage massive demonstrations in search of recognition" during the forthcoming 20th anniversary which will be held on 18 May to mark when Somaliland declared itself republic, reports government-owned Radio Hargeysa.

Silanyo said "his government and its people have chosen to tell the world about their need for recognition and say it loudly. I'm calling upon the people of Somaliland, both at home and abroad, to stage massive, peaceful and organized demonstrations on 18 May 2011".

The president further said "his people have struggled for independence for so long and that he had confidence of obtaining recognition, calling on his people to show their need for recognition wherever they may be".

Somaliland, which enjoys relative peace since the fall of Somalia's central government, declared itself an independent republic from the rest of Somalia on 18 May 1991.

Credit: Radio Hargeysa in Somali 1700 6 May 11


Poll: 40% of Somaliland families receive remittance (WASHINGTON, D.C. May 6, 2011) In a study conducted by Gallup shows that about 40% of Somaliland adults receive remittance from abroad. This indicates that remittance is the main of source of income of majority of Somaliland families and source of foreign capital in Somaliland Economy. The Gallup survey was conducted worldwide by US firm, Gallup. Gallup surveys in 135 countries reveal about 3% of adults worldwide live in households that receive remittances — either in the form of money or goods — from someone in another country. In 35 countries, however, 10% or more report their households get this type of help. These countries are primarily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa.

The survey also shows that urban areas in Somaliland receive more remittance than rural areas. Towns with more than 50,000 residents receive 23% more in remittance than towns with less than 50,000 residents. This difference can be attributed to increasing migration from rural areas to more urban areas because of severe drought. Prolonged drought has devastated many communities and nomadic people in Somaliland for the last one-year and half. This extreme weather has forced many people to come to cities like Hargeisa seeking assistance.

These results from poll survey is based on aggregated data from surveys conducted in 2009 and 2010, capture information that complements officially recorded flows of money. Gallup’s surveys ask about financial help in money or goods and are not restricted to transactions through formal channels. The data also shed additional light on remittances in countries — particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa — where little or no official data exist.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/article/03bi3JU73Xe56?q=Gallup


Somalia / Newspaper Editor condemned to a fine for “defamation”

May 2, 2011. http://pr-usa.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=711880&Itemid=30

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) expresses its deepest concern over continuing legal cases against journalists and media outlets in Somalia after a regional Court ruled against an editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper over defamation charge.

On Saturday, 30 April, Hargeisa Regional Court announced its verdict of defamation case filed by Somaliland Civil Aviation and Air Transport Minister Mohamed Hashi Abdi in January 2011 against editor-in-chief of Saxafi newspaper Abdifatah Mohamud Aidid.

Aidid was charged for defamation by the Somaliland prosecution because of a December 2010 publication by Saxafi daily newspaper which reportedly cited “mishandling” of $10 million donation from Government of Kuwait by the Civil Aviation and Air Transport Minister. This donation was seemingly meant for refurbishment of Hargeisa and Berbera airports.

Somaliland Prosecutor Adan Salad Sed, who was representing the Minister in this legal case, requested the court to convict the journalist under article 287 of Penal Code which orders imprisonment for a period determined by a judge.

Journalist Aidid was convicted of offending name and reputation of Minister Mohamed Hashi Abdi, and was, as a consequence, ordered to pay a fine of 6,000,000 Somaliland Shillings which is equivalent of $1000 USD. The court, which obliged the journalist to pay this fine in 30 days from the day of the court decision, also warned that the newspaper that its licence will be revoke should the paper repeats same defamation against the Minister.

NUSOJ condemns this verdict which demonstrates the severe and constant violation of freedom of expression and of the press in Somaliland. “We believe Abdifatah Mohamud Aidid and Saxafi newspaper are targeted and prosecuted with the only aim to curb their freedom of the press. We therefore appeal to the Somaliland authorities to drop the charges against them,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

Hargeisa regional court judge Said Yusuf Indho'ad rejected the Prosecutor's request to convict the journalist under article 287 of penal code. But the judge informed the journalist, in the case he fails to pay the fine in 30 days, the editor faces imprisonment.

After the announcement of the court ruling, Prosecutor Sed was reported of furiously reacting and vowing to take an appeal against the verdict in order to get the journalist convicted under article 287 of penal code. Lawyers defending the journalist also stated that they will take an appeal against this verdict.

“This present case is an example of the use of the criminal defamation in Somaliland against media houses and journalists. These recurring legal cases are clearly intended to hinder the work of the independent press in Somaliland,” added Omar.

NUSOJ believes that the rights of defence of journalists who are having legal battles with Somaliland ministers and other public officials are not guaranteed and the basic standards for a fair trail are not met. “We strongly urge the authorities of Somaliland to guarantee the protection of journalists who face retaliations from public officials because of their exercise of the right to freedom of the press,” declared Omar.


Somali Region has no interest in reunification

Abdulazez Al-Motairi. May 02, 2011. http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/233131

After failure of 1960 unity (Somaliland gained its first independence on 26th June 1960 from Britain and united four day later with Italian Somalia on 1st July 1960. Again after decades of armed struggle with "Somalia" it restored its sovereignty on 18th May 1991), the reunification based on language, religion and culture is not at the interest of the region and will lead further bloodshed. "Somalia" adopts territory expansion policy to bring Somali speakers under one government – "Somalia". This policy led Mogadishu regime to invade Ethiopia in 1977 and diplomatic chaos with Kenya.

Somali speakers inhabit Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somaliland and Kenya, which makes these countries its targeted subject. The policy targets Somali dominated areas at any cost, including violation of sovereign countries.

The famous war between "Somalia" and Ethiopia in 1977 was result of the policy, where "Somalia" invaded parts of Ethiopia. Many high-ranking officials in Transitional Government of "Somalia" (TGS) and leaders of Al-Shabab terrorist group expressed their desire of adopting the policy again. Majority of the Italian Somalis believe in the policy, but can´t say as they are vulnerable. Somalians defy Somaliland because it puts the policy to end.

The corrupted principle behind 1960 unity to craft a power that can bring Somali speakers under "Somalia" government, even if use of force is necessary. This is wrong approach because language, religion and culture don´t unite people. The Somalians failed to solve their differences in last 20 years even though they share all the three abovementioned aspects.

In other hand, Somaliland, after withdrew from unity in 1991, achieved stability, democracy and modern state. The figures in Somaliland show development that is six times higher than the progress made during the unity with Italian Somalia. The education, infrastructure, good governance, human rights, freedom of expression and security improved extensively. Somaliland earned international praise over the progress without outside help.

Djibouti is another successful story, after it rejected to unite with "Somalia" because according to the policy Djibouti with Somali speakers supposed to be part of united "Somalia". It was 1977 when Djibouti gained independence, and Somalilanders warned it over the unity. Djibouti utilized the horrific experience of Somaliland with the unity and stayed away from the policy. This angered Mogadishu regime who threatened Djibouti.

Djibouti leadership extended the stay of French forces, in order to minimize of possible invasion by Mogadishu regime. Knowing, Djibouti is tiny country with population less than one million, and will be challenging to confront "Somalia".

After reemerge of Somaliland in 1991, Djibouti is enjoying peaceful border with Somaliland unlike Kenya and Ethiopia. The border guards of these two countries are confronting Somali militia on daily bases and weapons smuggled into their countries. Today, the weapons smuggled from "Somalia" are on sale in Nairobi including semi-automatic guns.

In other hand, Somaliland and Djibouti custom authorities are cooperating together and exchange information.

Somaliland – a victim of Nile Water Policy

Egypt and Sudan want united "Somalia" due to Nile Water Policy. Cairo is using "Somalia" as the destabilizing factor in the region particularly against countries that share Nile water like Ethiopia. Cairo knows international recognition for Somaliland will be end of united "Somalia" and strongly opposes. Egypt supported "Somalia" to join the Arab League in 1975, with little eligibility.

Cairo designed "Somalia" to keep Ethiopia busy in war and latter will not have time to consider any form of water development projects like building dams, particularly after Nile Water Agreement in (1929-2010) ended. The agreement signed between Egypt and European colonizers, which give Egypt 70% of water consumption. The remaining 30% is divided between the remaining nine African countries that the river passes their countries. The regime in Khartoum is Egypt´s henchman!!!

In other hand, the creation of new government in southern Sudan increases the number of shareholders. The government in Juba supports fair distribution of the water share between all stakeholders.

In my conclusion, Somaliland is victim of this Water Nile Policy and African Union (AU) failed to understand Egypt´s hidden agenda against Somaliland. AU invited Somaliland as observer in one of its recent annual conferences, however, it was cancelled after Egypt and Sudan conditioned their presence on extradition of Somaliland. AU excused Somaliland to bring the big boys on the table instead of unknown one – this is the AU´s justice and policies.


Programme summary of Somalia's Horn Cable TV news 1900 gmt 30 April 2011

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: May 1, 2011. Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 1 May 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

1. 19:06 Headlines.
2. 19:07 Foreign news.
3. 19:09 President of Transitional Federal Government of Somalia visits frontline where government troops engaged in heavy fighting with Al-shabab Islamic Movement. Footage shows president visiting battle areas.
4. 19:12 Permanent committee of Somaliland upper house holds meeting with minister of youth and sports, discuss ministry achievement and plans to develop sports of Somaliland. Footage shows minister in meeting with members of upper house.
5. 19:13 Gunmen raid a mosque in Laas Caanood town, the provincial capital of Sool region and wound Somaliland official. Footage shows police commander of region commenting on attack on mosque.
6. 19:15 Hargeysa regional court sentences officials of independent News paper of Sahafi to pay a fine of six million shillings. Footage shows reporters of news paper in court.
7. 19:17 Ceremony to welcome president of newly-formed Jubba Jaziira administration in Somalia held in Nairobi, Kenya. Footage shows officials of administration in ceremony.
8. 19:20 Reports of vocational training centers under education ministry of Puntland in main regions of Puntland. Footage shows government official commenting on achievement of ministry.
9. 19:23 Reports of demo against publishing of an article saying that Somali flag was raised in Odweyn district of Togdheer region, eastern Somaliland. Footage shows hundreds of demonstrators protesting against fake information.
10. 19:25 Reports of sanitation campaign in Boorame district of Awdal region, western Somaliland. Footage shows sanitation campaign in progress.
11. 19: 29 Mayor of Burco district of Togdheer region inaugurates new building of animal husbandry in the town. Footage shows mayor opening new centers.
12. 19:31 Foreign news.
13. 19:34 Local authorities of Sanaag region visits building of new university in Ceerigaabo. Footage shows governor and other government officials at site of new university building.
14. 19:37 Governor of Maroodijex makes a dinner ceremony for Awdal soccer team. Footage shows the soccer team in meeting with government officials.
15. 19:38 Somalia's Puntland administration says to hold regional soccer tournament. Video shows government official telling media about importance of tournament and how it can contribute to peace and development.
16. 19:40 Somaliland community in UK sends cash donations to vulnerable parents in Hargeysa. Video shows women receiving donations.
17. 19:41 Foreign news.

Credit: Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 1 May 11


Somaliland troops arrest two journalists over killing of police officer

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: May 1, 2011. Radio Voice of Mudug, in Somali 1130 1 May 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Somaliland troops arrested two journalists in Laas Caanood town following the killing of a senior police commander in the town.

Details are emerging from the killing of Somaliland traffic police commander in Laas Caanood town, the provincial capital of Sool Region. Unknown gunmen raided the residence of the traffic commander in Laas Caanood town on 30 May 2011 fatally injuring him. He died as soon as he arrived in hospital. Reports further say hundreds of Somaliland troops have arrived at the scene of the attack and have began investigations to pursue those behind the killing of the traffic police commander. The troops are said to have arrested several people in connection with the attack including the two journalists.

Gunmen recently injured the deputy police commander of Sool Region in Laas Caanood town.

Credit: Radio Voice of Mudug, in Somali 1130 1 May 11


Ten apprehended as second Somaliland official gunned down

Source: (AHN) Reporter: May 1, 2011. http://www.allheadlinenews.com

Security forces of the breakaway republic of Somaliland have conducted a massive security crackdown, apprehending at least 10 people just hours after another Somaliland official was gunned down in northern Somalia town of Las Anod, officials and witnesses said Sunday.

Abdullahi Hussein Ige, the executive director of Somaliland’s interior minister told the media that Adam Mohammed Hajji Ibrahim, the chief of traffic police in the disputed Sool region, has been shot and wounded by unknown gunmen armed with pistols.

“After the official [was] wounded, he was rushed to local hospital where he died hours later from his wounds” Ige added.

He said that Somaliland security forces arrested ten people in connection with the assassination plot. It is the second attack against Somaliland officials in the region in less than 24 hours.

On Friday night unidentified masked men armed with pistols shot and wounded three people including a Somaliland police officer in the northern Somalia town of Las Anod.

Since Somaliland took control of the Sool region from Somalia's semi-autonomous state of Puntland in 2007, at least 12 Somaliland officials including police, military and intelligence officers have been killed in the region.

Read more: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/90047015?Ten%20apprehended%20as%20second%20Somaliland%20official%20gunned%20down#ixzz1L8rkjNbu


SOMALIA: Scores arrested in Las’anod town

By: F. Atto, May 1st, 2011.http://www.raxanreeb.com/?p=94448

LAS’ANOD (RBC) Somaliland police have arrested at least twenty persons today in Las’anod town, the provincial capital of Sool region in northern Somalia.

Security officials said they carried out heavy operation to deter growing insecurity in Las’anod which recent nights the town had seen as unidentified gun men target the police ans other government officials.

Somaliland regional administration officer noted the detained people included the attackers of traffic police commander in Sool region Adam Ibrahim who was wounded on Saturday night after gun men opened fired on his home.

Eye witnesses in Las’anod confirmed that young local teenagers and students were among the detained people in suspicion on the current insecurity acts in the town.

Yesterday the director general of Somaliland’s interior ministry blamed Las’anod’s instability was behind SSC, Sool Sanaag Ceyn anti-separatist function in northern Somalia.

Somaliland declared to break away from Somalia in 1992 but has not obtained international recognition as many of its residents contest for the idea of separation.


A Treasure for Somali Children: School Meals

http: blogcritics.org/culture/article/a-treasure-for-somali-children-school/

Author: William Lambers — Published: Apr 28, 2011

Part of: Ending World Hunger

Puntland and Somaliland may not be household names when it comes to world geography. These are two regions in the conflict-torn and impoverished nation of Somalia.

They are also two areas where the UN World Food Programme (WFP) wants to help children by providing them school meals. In a nation of high food insecurity, these school meals are a precious treasure.

As you read this, WFP is feeding 41,600 children in Somaliland and 16,300 in Puntland. Combined, over 200 schools take part. WFP wants to reach more children in these two regions, as well as expand into Central Somalia and feed 2,500 primary school students.

WFP in 2011 aims to feed 1.2 million people in Somalia (WFP/Peter Smerdon)

Funding, though, is a huge obstacle. WFP says it "is facing a 55 percent shortfall (US $43 million) for our emergency operations, including emergency school meals, in Somalia from April through September."

School feeding for children will take on even more importance with ongoing drought conditions. WFP director Josette Sheeran was recently in Central Somalia and said, "I’ve seen today that this drought is deepening and I’m especially alarmed by its impact on the most vulnerable including children and the elderly."

Schools in these areas also lack infrastructure, and WFP Food for Work projects are needed to fill these gaps.

While getting school feeding for all children in Somalia is one goal, there is another key objective: producing the food locally. Yes, food for school lunches can be imported, but it's cheaper, and better for Somali farmers, if they can produce the food for the children. WFP has set their sights on local food production.

Peter Smerdon of WFP says a joint crop surplus assessment mission has been carried out with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to identify crop surplus zones in Somaliland. He adds, "WFP will continue to explore the possibility of buying food locally in Somalia in 2011 if overall food production allows this."

When Somali children receive school meals, it makes a difference. A survey conducted by WFP revealed "that 98% of teachers believe that children´s attentiveness in class increased due to the school feeding program. 75% believe that violence by children has decreased."

Need more be said about the treasure school meals are for Somalia, and why every child there should receive them?

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/a-treasure-for-somali-children-school/#ixzz1KrCMXhAg


Mobile courts speed up justice in Somaliland

Apr 26, 2011. http://www.so.undp.org/index.php/Somalia-Stories/Mobile-courts-speed-up-justice-in-Somaliland.html

The UNDP has helped establish mobile courts in all regions in Hargeisa, Burao, Berbera, Borama and Erigavo, speeding and simplifying access to justice for hundreds of people across Somaliland.

The mobile courts, an initiative that falls under the UNDP’s Access to Justice Project, are helping vulnerable groups living in rural and isolated areas access justice, particularly women, children, minorities and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Established in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, the courts use past experiences to engage and support traditional justice mechanisms, and support legal aid and legal clinic services, reducing the cost for those who use the courts.

Lawyers from the Somaliland Lawyers Association (SOLLA), the implementing partner organization, travel with members of the judiciary and prosecutors to help clients identify their legal claims, providing legal assistance as required.

One woman who has benefitted from the mobile courts is 40-year-old

Hibo Haji Yusuf from the Elafweyn District. She says that the mobile court in Erigavo helped to resolve her case quickly:

“I decided to take my case to a court only when I heard that Erigavo mobile court is coming to Elafweyn. I submitted my case to the mobile court through the Elafweyn District court. Judges from Erigavo Regional Court came and stayed for three days. They heard my case and quickly gave judgment.”

“I did not have enough money to cover expenses if I had filed my case in Erigavo Regional Court. The mobile court came in handy,” explains Hibo.

The UNDP’s Access to Justice Project prioritizes initiatives that support the prevention and prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence cases. The project also works to strengthen institutions and civil society to monitor and safeguard human rights in the country and make recommendations to address human rights issues.

The popularity of the mobile courts is reflected in the increase of court cases across the country. The number of cases heard by mobile courts in the five regions increased from 255 in 2009 to 418 in 2010.

The mobile courts were established in 2008.


Answering the Call for Peace and Security in Somalia

Giving Somalis the Needed Skills to Solve Problems Peacefully

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/answering-the-call-for-peace-and-security-in-somalia-120695934.html

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Choowa Institute and HAQSOOR NGO, a non-governmental organization operating in Somaliland, have agreed to cooperate on peace-building activities. This partnership provides technical assistance to the locally-operated organization to improve on existing, conflict resolution services. It also allows the Choowa Institute to provide standard and effective ways to help Somalis in settling their disputes and finding policy solutions that could secure a better future for the whole of Somalia. The Executive Director of HAQSOOR NGO said:

"I feel that with the shared principles and Choowa Institute's experience, talent, and outstanding practice, work on conflict mitigation and reconciliation practices will contribute at large the ongoing peace-building initiatives at the national level and this will also no doubt elevate our joined activities and bolster the name and achievement of our joint partnership."

Somalia is one of the poorest countries in Africa. According to a 2009 report written for the UN Development Programme, one million Somalis had emigrated to various countries as far as Europe and North America. A significant proportion of the population had been forced to leave their permanent home and remains living in temporary shelter elsewhere within the country. This large migration can be compared to the Great Famine of Ireland. A driving force that has led to this situation is the lack of a functioning central government since 1991. Individual persons and groups have been left with their own devices to survive. Somaliland in the north and Puntland in the northeast have been able to form stable governing institutions and are working to secure their respective region. But the region in the central and southern portions of the country continues to be mired in tense, intractable conflict. Ongoing violence, moreover, neutralizes the gains that have been made in the northern regions. Despite the absence of a central government and two decades of civil war, Somalia has been able to withstand total collapse due to annual remittances which have gone to assist family members still in the country and to start small-scale businesses.

As part of the Choowa Institute's five-year strategy, the Somalia country program will work to achieve several goals to setting the country on a solid path to peace and security. Through a series of mediation seminars with all possible stakeholders, public policies and general solutions will be developed and refined. Near the end of the program, a national security policy manual will be drafted that meets the needs of the Somali people. As the Choowa Institute's local partner, HAQSOOR NGO will become an authorized, local mediation center where Somalis can feel that a true, neutral party exists to help disputed groups come to an agreement. Local Somalis will be provided specialized training in conflict mediation with practical skills that can be applied in an environment that could spur economic development.

Choowa Institute has focused on Somalia via direct work in Somaliland. With collaboration from HAQSOOR NGO, the foundation for peace can be laid and movement toward greater security can progress. Somalis will benefit either through direct training or through dispute resolution. In both cases, Somalis will leave with a positive outlook and a process to making sound decisions, without having to pull the trigger of a gun.

The Choowa Institute for International Peace and Security ("Choowa Institute") is a (Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code) non-profit, non-governmental organization in the District of Columbia. The organization operates exclusively for educational and research purposes. Specifically, Choowa Institute is a conflict resolution organization that uses active communication and active listening to manage and resolve conflicts within and between groups, countries, and regions. The organization works to develop practical (win-win) solutions that all of the stakeholders can agree on. "Choowa" is a Japanese word that means harmony, balance, and accord. Choowa Institute is located on the Web at http://www.Choowa.org.

SOURCE Choowa Institute for International Peace and Security


Yoder & Sons: Somaliland extends warm welcome

All-cash economy, lopsided exchange rate means a wallet isn’t enough

Apr 27, 2011.http://www.marketwatch.com/story/yoder-sons-somaliland-extends-warm-welcome-2011-04-27

Stephen Kreider Yoder and Levi Yoder

BERBERA, Somalia — STEVE: Last night, I suddenly began to feel uncomfortable about where we were.

Levi and I were sitting in a waterfront restaurant here, watching the sun set over the port. The eatery wasn’t my concern: The staff were friendly, other diners smiled at us and Levi gave thumbs-up to his camel-meat stew. It wasn’t the weather: The day’s heat had died away with a cool breeze off the water.

After furtively glancing around, I leaned over to share my nagging doubt with Levi.

“How many shillings do you have left?,” I asked in a low voice. “I’m not sure I have enough to pay the bill.”

Getting money, it ends up, has been about our only major worry, traveling here in northern Somalia.

Which isn’t really Somalia at all. We’re not in the Somalia that many people in the West might visualize — the tortured country of pirates and Black Hawk Down.

We are in the Republic of Somaliland. Technically, it’s still part of Somalia because it hasn’t been internationally recognized as a separate country. But Somaliland — to the north of Somalia — has run itself as an independent nation ever since its civil war with the South two decades ago.

Downtown Berbera, Somaliland.

We got here easily enough, overland by bus from Ethiopia after two weeks in that country. (”Welcome to Somaliland!” the Somaliland consular official back in Addis Ababa told us, in what would become a familiar refrain, when she presented us our freshly-stamped visas.)

Although foreign tourists still must get a travel permit and hire an armed guard to travel east of the capital of Hargeisa, it’s safe to travel in many parts of this country.

The capital at first blush projects an alarming air of disarray that’s easy to mistake for anarchy. Its streets are mostly potholed dirt with makeshift markets crowding their curbs. Even in the center, some stone buildings are crumbling. Somaliland’s cities have still not completely rebuilt after the South bombed them to smithereens in 1991.

But we soon found that the predominantly Muslim Somalilanders are possibly the most welcoming people we’ve met so far in Africa. “How are you!” we heard at least 125 times in our first few hours wandering the markets and dusty alleys of Hargeisa after arriving overland from the South. Scores of locals — shopkeepers, students, office workers — walked up to shake our hands. “Welcome to Somaliland!” we heard from dozens.

Many people we’ve met are quick to distinguish themselves from the South. “We are different from Somalia,” a computer technician told us in an open-air cafe over sweet cups of “Somali Tea” one night. “Somaliland is peaceful. We like foreigners…We like Americans.”

Our worries about losing money to crime quickly fell away. But for the first time in our two months in Africa, we’ve had to worry about getting access to money in the first place.


Deal to transfer pirates to Puntland and Somaliland

Apr 27, 2011.http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/sports/InsidePage.php?id=2000034049&cid=464. By PHILIP MWAKIO

An agreement has been signed between the Republic of Seychelles and Somali Transitional Government to transfer pirates to Puntland and Somaliland.

Seychelles signed the memorandum of understanding with representatives of the two authorities on the sidelines of a high level conference on piracy being held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, under the theme ‘Global Challenge, Regional Responses: Forging a common approach to maritime piracy’.

Home Affairs Minister, Mr Joel Morgan said that the signing of the agreement was a clear expression of the goodwill and commitment of the regional authorities of Puntland and Somaliland following the letters of intent they signed in February at a meeting of justice ministers held in Seychelles earlier this year.

The minister said despite recent comments to the contrary, the MoU that has been signed with Somaliland covers the transfer of all sentenced pirates and not only those from Somaliland.

"Piracy comes from the land and not from the sea, Seychelles being a recognised country, we need you to tell the international community that the only way to solve this problem is on the ground and not on the sea," Morgan said.

Minister Morgan responded saying that Seychelles, as the only country in the region that is actively involved in anti-piracy maritime patrols on the high seas, would be willing to support them by working with the international community in reinforcing the coastal forces of the Puntland authorities and by assisting with training of its personnel in maritime patrols and in fisheries management.

He also told Rage that Seychelles fully supports the proposal that the development of infrastructure on the ground in Somalia must be carried out intensively.

Eradicate piracy

"Somalia needs to develop further its economy, so as to achieve political stability, an important step forward for prosperity and in eliminating the threat of piracy," said Mr Morgan.

"If we work together as one team we will be able to eradicate piracy in the region and also in the Gulf of Aden."

Meanwhile, a Somali man accused of negotiating a ransom after pirates seized a merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden has been brought to the United States to face criminal charges, the Justice Department last week.

It said that Ali Mohamed Ali, 48, was charged with conspiracy to commit piracy, piracy, attack to plunder a vessel and aiding and abetting in the crimes. If convicted, he faces a sentence of up to life in prison. Ali and others were charged with conspiring to take over the Mv CEC Future, a Danish-owned vessel.


Somaliland Plans to Halt Use of Somali Shilling by Mid-June

Bloomberg. By Mohamoud Ali. April 26, 2011

Nairobi, Kenya(Bloomberg) -- Somaliland’s central bank will begin exchanging 7 billion Somali shillings ($4.37 million) of notes for its own currency next month as part of a plan to stop using the Somali currency in the autonomous region by mid-June.

“We are preparing for the Somaliland shilling to be used all over Somaliland,” Central Bank of Somaliland Governor Abdi Dirir Abdi said in an interview on April 24 in Hargeisa, the capital. Abdi said the rate at which the currency will be exchanged has yet to be determined.

Somaliland, a former British colony, declared independence in 1991, following the ouster of former Somali dictator Mohammed Siad Barre. No sovereign state has formally recognized the region as independent.

The Somaliland shilling was introduced in October 1994, according to the government’s website. At the end of 2008, the currency was valued at 7,500 per dollar, it said. The Somali shilling is currently valued at 1,601 against the U.S. currency according to Bloomberg data.

The central bank of Somaliland expects lawmakers to enact a draft banking law by June enabling commercial lenders to extend credit to borrowers for the first time, Abdi said last month. Somaliland is in talks with Banque pour le Commerce et l’Industrie, based in neighboring Djibouti, and two other lenders to grant them banking licenses, Abdi said. The nation of 3.5 million people currently has no banks.

--Editors: Paul Richardson, Alastair Reed.


Grotto galleries show early Somali life Apr 25, 2011. http://www.africasia.com/services/news_africa/article.php?ID=CNG.82196a5b15ef45a2d4e744675740cd6a.6e1

Some of the cave paintings in Somalia date back 5,000 years or more

A galaxy of colourful animal and human sketches adorn the caves in the rocky hills of this arid wilderness in northern Somalia, home to Africa's earliest known and most pristine rock art.

But in a region ravaged by two decades of relentless civil unrest and lawlessness, the archeological site is at risk of destruction, looting and clandestine excavation.

The 10 caves in Laas Geel, Somali for "camel watering hole", outside Hargeisa, the capital of Somalia's self-declared Somaliland state, show vivid depictions of a pastoralist history dating back some 5,000 years or more.

The paintings were discovered in 2002 by a French archaeology team and have since been protected to bar looters after their value became apparent to locals who previously feared they were the work of evil spirits.

"The people around here thought the caves had evil spirits and never used to come near. They offered sacrifices not to be harmed," recounted Ali Said, an assistant archaeologist with the Somaliland government.

The cave galleries provide a peek into the little known history of this part of the world, which in recent times has mostly been famous for bloody conflicts and instability.

Paintings of decorated cows -- some with radiant neck stripes -- herders and wild animals point to the interglacial period when the now arid Horn of Africa region was lush and had plenty of wild animals, explained Sada Mire, a Somali-born British archaeologist working to preserve the rare heritage.

Much of Somalia is now a vast badland and the parched Laas Geel region no longer draws heards of cattle coming to graze and water, while human settlement is sparse.

"We know that the painters were pastoralists who lived in a much better climate than the present," Mire said.

"It is quite an important discovery as little is known about the history of this region and lots of archaeological heritage is being lost to destruction, looting and neglect," she added.

The Laas Geel rock caves are located near a confluence of two now dry rivers, which lend credence to its name and the practice of herders taking to etching cave walls with animal and other depictions.

While some of the Laas Geel cave paintings are stunningly vivid, others have faded off due to rock degradation and effects of weather. The caves house a constellation of brown, orange, white and red pre-historic sketches on the walls and ceiling.

"The paintings are vanishing if urgent conservation measures are not taken. At the moment we are protecting and recording them. Weathering as well as human threat in terms of unplanned development are immediate treats," Mire said.

Mire now works with the government of Somaliland to train locals to protect the artefacts as well as help authorities draft laws to preserve the region's historical sites.

A former British protectorate, Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia when war erupted following the overthrow of president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, but it is not recognised by the international community.

The small region in northern Somalia also boasts other pre-historic sites, also with cave paintings and other early human life.

In the northern Dhambalin region, rock caves also host colourful paintings of cattle and wild animals as well as dogs and a man on a horseback, which Mire said in a recent article is one of the earliest known depictions of a mounted huntsman.

Somaliland has been spared much of the violence that has flayed the south and central Somalia regions and authorities are looking to capitalise on the relative stability and the recently discovered historical treasures to woo tourists.

"People now appreciate these (rock) paintings and they hope they will attract tourism which will benefit them," Said noted, pointing to a cluster small drawings of wild animals in one of the caves.

"The government is encouraging those who can to build hotels and resorts around here (Laas Geel) to host tourists," he added.


Early Somali Life Depicted In Cave Paintings

25 April 2011, http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/2035170/early_somali_life_depicted_in_cave_paintings/

Known today for its bloody conflicts and instability, Somalia’s little known history can be found in the colorful cave paintings of animals and humans discovered in 2002 by a French archaeology team.

Laas Gaal, Somalia (also known as Laas Geel), just outside of Haregeisa, the capital of Somalia’s self-declared Somaliland state, contains 10 caves that show vivid depictions of a pastoralist history which dates back to some 5,000 years or more, reports AFP.

A French archaeology team was sent in 2002 to survey Somalia in search of rock shelters and caves that might contain stratified archaeological infills that could document the period when production economy appeared in this part of the Horn of Africa, according to Wikipedia.

During the survey, the Laas Geel cave paintings were discovered. The paintings were in excellent condition, depicting ancient humans who lived in the area raising their hands and worshipping humpless cows with large lyre-shaped horns.

Although the paintings were known to the local Somali people for centuries, it was not advertised to the international community until a team of experts returned to the area in November 2003 to study the paintings and their prehistoric context in detail.

Even with the history of Somalia wars, natural weathering, animals and other factors, the paintings have been well preserved and have retained their clear outlines and vibrant colors.

Sada Mire, a Somali-born British archaeologist who is working to preserve the rare heritage, explained to AFP that the paintings of decorated cows, herders and wild animals show a period when the region that is now the barren Horn of Africa was lush and had plenty of wild animals.

Laas Gaal, translated to mean “camel watering hole,” no longer attracts herds of cattle to graze and water. Human settlement is sparse and the land is dry and parched.

Mire says, "We know that the painters were pastoralists who lived in a much better climate than the present.”

According to Wikipedia, the local nomads used the caves as a shelter when it rained. They never paid much attention to the paintings until its value was apparent.

Some locals actually believed that the paintings were the works of evil spirits.

"The people around here thought the caves had evil spirits and never used to come near. They offered sacrifices not to be harmed," Ali Said, an assistant archaeologist with the Somaliland government says.

The site is now guarded by the local villagers and protected from looters.

"It is quite an important discovery as little is known about the history of this region and lots of archaeological heritage is being lost to destruction, looting and neglect," Mire says.

"The paintings are vanishing if urgent conservation measures are not taken. At the moment we are protecting and recording them. Weathering as well as human threat in terms of unplanned development are immediate treats," she warns.

Somaliland authorities hope to capitalize on these paintings when stability returns to the region and brings tourists.

"People now appreciate these (rock) paintings and they hope they will attract tourism which will benefit them," Said tells AFP as he points to a cluster of small drawings of wild animals in one of the caves.

"The government is encouraging those who can to build hotels and resorts around here (Laas Geel) to host tourists," he adds.


Seychelles signs deals with Somali autonomous regions to transfer pirates

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Apr 21, 2011. Seychelles Nation website, Victoria, in English 21 Apr 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

[Unattributed report: "Seychelles Finalises Agreements on Transfer of Pirates to Puntland and Somaliland"]

Seychelles has signed agreements relating to the transfer of pirates to Puntland and Somaliland.

The memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed by Minister for Home Affairs Joel Morgan with representatives of the two authorities on the sidelines of a high level conference on piracy being held in Dubai, UAE, under the theme 'Global Challenge, Regional Responses: Forging a common approach to maritime piracy'.

Mr Morgan said that the signing of these MoUs is a clear expression of the good will and commitment of the regional authorities of Puntland and Somaliland following the letters of intent they signed on February 9 at a meeting of justice ministers held in Seychelles earlier this year.

The minister said despite recent comments to the contrary, the MoU that has been signed with Somaliland covers the transfer of all sentenced pirates and not only those from Somaliland.

"This breakthrough in the agreement with the Somaliland authorities was achieved on Thursday April 14, 2011 after intense negotiations brokered by ambassador Thomas Winkler who is the chairman of Working Group 2 on Legal Issues for the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS).

Said Muhammad Rage (pronounced Ra-GEH), the Minister for Maritime Transports, Ports and Counter-Piracy of Puntland who signed the agreements with Mr Morgan, expressed his deep appreciation to the government of Seychelles for all the efforts and actions it has taken to counter the threat of piracy in the region and seized the opportunity to solicit Seychelles' assistance with the strengthening of Puntland coastal forces.

"Piracy comes from the land and not from the sea, Seychelles being a recognised country, we need you to tell the international community that the only way to solve this problem is on the ground and not on the sea," said Minister Rage, who was accompanied by his director general, Abdirisak Muhammad Dirir.

Minister Morgan responded saying that Seychelles, as the only country in the region that is actively involved in anti-piracy maritime patrols on the high seas, would be willing to support them by working with the international community in reinforcing the coastal forces of the Puntland authorities and by assisting with training of its personnel in maritime patrols and in fisheries management.

He also told Minister Rage that Seychelles fully supports the proposal that the development of infrastructure on the ground in Somalia must be carried out intensively.

"Somalia needs to develop further its economy, so as to achieve political stability, an important step forward for prosperity and in eliminating the threat of piracy," commented Mr Morgan.

Mr Rage said that "If we work together as one team we will be able to eradicate piracy in the region and also in the Gulf of Aden".

Minister Morgan said he views the historic signing as an important step in the collaboration of Seychelles and Somalia in the fight against piracy and as a platform to develop and extend this model further in the region.

The Seychelles delegation at the Dubai meeting also comprised ambassador Joseph Nourrice, Lieutenant Colonel Georges Adeline of the Seychelles Coast Guard and Jacques Belle of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Credit: Seychelles Nation website, Victoria, in English 21 Apr 11


Somaliland: Combating Piracy in the Indian Ocean region

Somaliland will support a United Nations-backed plan to hold convicted pirates in its prisons as it bids to gain recognition and independence.

Reuters, Apr 22, 2011. http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE73K04120110421?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true

Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo said Somaliland, which declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been formally recognised internationally, was already doing its part to curb piracy in its waters and was prepared to do more.

Piracy in the Indian Ocean has turned busy shipping lanes off the coast of the conflict-wrecked state into some of the most perilous waters on Earth and costs the world billions of dollars.

Silanyo backed the plan to set up special courts and prisons for captured pirates in the Indian Ocean region, along with neighboring enclave Puntland.

"We'll imprison people captured in our seas ... that's what we can contribute. We are preparing to put out the force and we are preparing to provide the prison facilities as well," he told Reuters in the United Arab Emirates' capital, during a Gulf tour to drum up investment and aid.

The Russian-backed U.N. resolution supported the piracy courts but avoided the delicate issue of where exactly to hold those convicted.

Silanyo, elected in 2010, said Somaliland had already imprisoned pirates captured off its Red Sea coast but needed training assistance to combat the problem stemming from its chaotic neighbour to the south.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since the 1991 overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. First clan warlords and now Islamist insurgents active in Somalia mean the government controls little more than the capital Mogadishu.

The Somaliland leader reiterated his region had no interest in reunification with the rest of Somalia.

He said the independence of South Sudan after a January referendum bolstered the case for a similar move for Somaliland, a former British colony that joined with the rest of Italian-ruled Somalia after each gained independence in 1960.

"The recent developments in southern Sudan is a good example that the old idea that countries should remain as they were at the time of independence has changed," he said.

"Examples like that can help our cause, they should help our cause."

Political analysts have said the African Union would treat Sudan as an exception -- as it did Ethiopia and Eritrea's split in 1993 -- and would not tolerate a domino effect across the continent.

But even if the AU were to entertain Somaliland's ambitions, it is stymied by the absence of a Somali partner to negotiate any potential referendum or terms of secession.

Silanyo said Somaliland was also not keen to put its independence at Somalia's discretion.

"The fact of the matter is, for all intents and purposes, there is no unity in Somalia. Who do you contact for negotiations? There are some people who come to us, who are in contact with us and understand our cause, but there is no unity, there is no entity to speak to as far as Somalia is concerned," he said.

"But we are prepared to seek their cooperation."


Somaliland president backs piracy prisons

By Amran Abocar. Reuters | 21 April 2011

ABU DHABI — Somaliland will support a United Nations-backed plan to hold convicted pirates in its prisons, its president said on Wednesday, as the breakaway northern enclave bids to gain recognition for its independence.

Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo said Somaliland, which declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been formally recognised internationally, was already doing its part to curb piracy in its waters and was prepared to do more.

Piracy in the Indian Ocean has turned busy shipping lanes off the coast of the conflict-wrecked state into some of the most perilous waters on Earth and costs the world billions of dollars.

Silanyo backed the plan to set up special courts and prisons for captured pirates in the Indian Ocean region, along with neighboring enclave Puntland.

“We’ll imprison people captured in our seas … that’s what we can contribute. We are preparing to put out the force and we are preparing to provide the prison facilities as well,” he told Reuters in the United Arab Emirates’ capital, during a Gulf tour to drum up investment and aid.

The Russian-backed U.N. resolution supported the piracy courts but avoided the delicate issue of where exactly to hold those convicted.

Silanyo, elected in 2010, said Somaliland had already imprisoned pirates captured off its Red Sea coast but needed training assistance to combat the problem stemming from its chaotic neighbour to the south.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since the 1991 overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. First clan warlords and now Islamist insurgents active in Somalia mean the government controls little more than the capital Mogadishu.

The Somaliland leader reiterated his region had no interest in reunification with the rest of Somalia.

He said the independence of South Sudan after a January referendum bolstered the case for a similar move for Somaliland, a former British colony that joined with the rest of Italian-ruled Somalia after each gained independence in 1960.

“The recent developments in southern Sudan is a good example that the old idea that countries should remain as they were at the time of independence has changed,” he said.

“Examples like that can help our cause, they should help our cause.”

Political analysts have said the African Union would treat Sudan as an exception — as it did Ethiopia and Eritrea’s split in 1993 — and would not tolerate a domino effect across the continent.

But even if the AU were to entertain Somaliland’s ambitions, it is stymied by the absence of a Somali partner to negotiate any potential referendum or terms of secession.

Silanyo said Somaliland was also not keen to put its independence at Somalia’s discretion.

“The fact of the matter is, for all intents and purposes, there is no unity in Somalia. Who do you contact for negotiations? There are some people who come to us, who are in contact with us and understand our cause, but there is no unity, there is no entity to speak to as far as Somalia is concerned,” he said.

“But we are prepared to seek their cooperation.”


Somaliland leader to visit in bid to secure aid in fight against pirates

Carol Huang. Apr 21, 2011. http://www.thenational.ae/

ABU DHABI // The president of Somaliland, Ahmed Silanyo, is to visit the UAE this week seeking aid to combat piracy in the region he rules in northern Somalia.

His visit coincides with a two-day high-level conference hosted by the federal Government in an effort to find solutions to regional piracy, with an emphasis on Somali issues.

The event was held to demonstrate the UAE's desire to play a bigger role in fighting piracy, and to urge others to do more.

Mr Silanyo's government, which has taken a tough stance against piracy, is seeking donors to help bolster its fledgling coastguard and gain broader economic support.

The Somaliland delegation has asked the UAE for support with counter-piracy training, hospitals and medicine, scholarships, water development and transport infrastructure. It is also looking for companies to invest in potential oil reserves and in its main port, in what is an autonomous and relatively stable region amid the volatility of northern Somalia.

"Our meetings were very fruitful," said Mr Silanyo. "There are general basic principles that we have agreed upon but we have not worked out the details yet."

Mr Silanyo secured promises from businessmen to send a delegation to Somaliland in coming weeks to look into possible investment opportunities, the Somaliland press reported.

Mr Silanyo said he and his delegation had met Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs. They also met Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, who arranged their meeting with members of the business community.

The UAE has shown willingness to donate to Somalia and to combat piracy. During the conference on Tuesday, the UAE committed US$1 million (Dh3.6m) to a UN counter-piracy trust fund. Other governments and private companies pledged a further $3.5m.

The UAE also delivers development aid to Somalia. The Khalifa bin Zayed Foundation recently sent three containers of medicine and medical equipment to the troubled country, the WAM state news agency said on Tuesday.

Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, stressed the need to help Somalia strengthen its economy, security forces and legal system.

"One of the important things is more effort in the Somali mainland," he said.

International efforts must be "part developmental, part security training and part increasing the capacity of the legal system," he said.

Mr Silanyo said his team will travel to Ras al Khaimah today and fly to Kuwait next Tuesday.

http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/somaliland-leader-to-visit-in-bid-to-secure-aid-in-fight-against-pirates


Somaliland's pirate prison

By Jane Ferguson, for CNN. April 20, 2011 --

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

* Somaliland is taking a tough stance against piracy
* Pirates who are caught face jail terms of 15 to 20 years
* Many prisoners claim they were not pirates, but fishermen

Hargeisa, Somaliland (CNN) -- "We want money," say the group of inmates with a smile. Somaliland's highest security prison hasn't dampened the hustling spirit of its pirate prisoners. My government handler rolls his eyes. They do this a lot, he explains.

I was told there are over 40 convicted pirates in this facility in Hargeisa, capital of the tiny breakaway east African state. The authorities say the coast guard has caught close to 100 in the past two years.

Prison officials tell me that most of the convicts ventured into Somaliland waters from Puntland, a haven for pirates just down the north Somalia coastline. They rarely hijack ships in Somaliland waters, because the coast guard has a reputation for catching them, officials told me. But the pirates often run out of fuel and are forced to come into the Somaliland port town of Berbera.

The first group of pirates brought out to speak with me refuse to talk without money, having decided on a union of sorts. Mohammed Ali Orsamen then comes down the corridor, chancing his luck for some cash but still keen to speak even after I refuse payment. He is serving fifteen years for piracy.

"I am not a pirate, I am a fisherman," he begins. They all say that, smiles my government minder. Ali Orsamen does however have strong opinions on piracy. "The Westerners are doing illegal fishing and arresting fishermen and accusing them of being pirates," he repeats several times.

To Ali Orsamen, arresting so-called pirates was an excuse for Western fishing companies to take over Somalia's fishing territory.

"Because of the collapse of the Somali government there is no patrolling of our territories and that is why there is illegal fishing and those Westerners are entering our territories, and those pirates are only hijacking ships in Somali waters," he says. "Please tell the international community to stay away from Somali waters. If we hijack one Western ship and we kill one Westerner, then they kill ten of us."

Ali Orsamen and his fellow inmates are at the mercy of a new and extremely strict judicial system in Somaliland. Pirates in the past used to get five to eight years here, now with the world struggling to combat a major pirate plague in the region, they are being sentenced from 15 to 20 years each.

Osman Rahim, Berbera's regional court judge, presides over an historic court house in Berbera, just down the dusty street from the old prison. When suspected pirates are caught by the coast guard, this is where they end up before being sentenced and transferred to Hargeisa's high security facility.

Shortly before my visit, a group of suspected pirates had been caught and taken to Berbera prison, causing much excitement amongst officials. Their boat had been marked by a coalition warship as a pirate vessel, said officials, and their leader was a well-known pirate boss.

The man in question, Omar Abdullah Abdi, disagrees. "We were arrested doing our work - fishing. I don't know why we were arrested," he says. The group of six had elected him their spokesman, and none of the others are keen to disagree with his version of events. Pointing out that his boat was marked, Abdi says: "We have not been charged in court yet. We have nothing to do with these charges."

Rahim explains that Somaliland is taking a very tough stance against piracy, in part to discourage others from following the practice. "Now when they hear that they can get 20 years and 15 years, everybody is stunned," he adds, "and not going to the sea. That's why we are sentencing them for a long time - to restrict them."

With millions of dollars to be made by pirates in hijacking ships for ransom, such risks may seem small in comparison. The hope in Berbera, however, is that these waters gain a reputation for a fierce rule of law: keeping pirates at bay.

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/04/20/somaliland.pirates.prison/?hpt=C2


Despite meager resources, coast guard defend Somaliland from pirates

By Jane Ferguson, For CNN.April 19, 2011 -

Somaliland Coast Guard takes on pirates

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
- During the past decade, piracy has proved an increasing problem off eastern Africa
- The Somaliland coast guard service is low on resources but keen to combat the piracy threat
- Justice minister: We need a communications center and more radar equipment
- The support of local people is key to combating piracy, says the coast guard service

Berbera, Somaliland (CNN) -- When you read about anti-piracy efforts off the coastline of Somalia, you imagine huge war-ships slicing through the waters, with terrified sea bandits scattering in their wake.

But closer to shore, in the tiny breakaway east African state of Somaliland, it's a different picture. Despite being only a few hundred kilometers down the coast from piracy-ridden Puntland, Somaliland's coast guard operates with more than modest resources.

A 20-foot long motor boat in Berbera, the country's port town, lies at the docks, seemingly broken beyond repair. One other coast guard boat - which I am assured is sea-worthy -- is brought out. Soldiers pile on board carrying RPG rockets and AK47s.

"As you know, we have only two boats and they are very small boats," explains Issa Mahad Abdi, second-in-command of the coast guard. "The coast is very long and we cannot cover it all but we try our best."

Their performance in the water, however, seems to prove that they are more than a rag-tag group of officers. One fishing boat far beyond the breakwater cannot be identified and the coastguard race toward it. After leaping on board and searching the tiny vessel, there is much hand-shaking and everyone is on their way.

Somaliland and environs "That boat came in from the east and nobody knew if they were pirates or local fishermen," Mahad Abdi shouts over the engine as we roared away. "Therefore we attacked it and we found that the boat was a Somaliland fishing boat. So always we go patrolling in this area and when the radar tells us, we attack."

But if their target is clearly armed then it's a much less friendly affair, he explains.

"When we meet the pirates, several rounds we fire over them. And they are afraid - they only have small boats, very small boats - so they give up. They put their hands up and we catch them, collect their arms, tie their boats and come here."

A group of pirates being chased by Mahad Abdi and his colleagues recently came ashore and fled through the coastal plains and into the mountains. The coast guard chased the fugitives deep inland on vehicles and caught them as they got lost.

"They don't know the land so it was a stupid place for them to run to," Mahad Abdi recalls, smiling.

The success of the coast guard is hardly surprising, considering the career paths of their leaders. Mahad Abdi and his senior colleagues were all members of Somalia's formerly strong navy, based in large southern ports such as Mogadishu and Kismayo. There they served under notorious dictator Siad Barre.

Mahad Abdi tells me he trained in the United States with the Marines. His boss, who he says is now too old to be out on raids, was taught in the Soviet Union, a testament to the Cold War that was then creeping deep into Africa.

"It was tough training in Texas and Virginia," says Mahad Abdi. "A lot of the men were younger than me and physically it was really tough, but I passed anyway."

Since then, these seamen have witnessed the collapse of government in Somalia in 1991, the destruction of the navy and Somaliland break away as an independent state from the chaos in the south. The phenomenon of piracy, however, has given them a new, crucial mission which they are embracing whole-heartedly. So much so that Somaliland's jails now have dozens of pirates languishing in their cells. That one small coastguard boat we patrolled on, Mahad Abdi tells me, has caught close to 100 pirates during the past couple of years.

But the coast guard can't patrol constantly. The state - which has not been recognized internationally as a country yet - is deeply impoverished. The coast guard sleep on the floor of their dilapidated headquarters. I had to insist on paying for the fuel costs of our trip out to sea.

But they have one secret weapon: local people. Berbera Port is the only economic option for the town, and Somalilanders know piracy on their shores spells disaster.

We have only two boats and they are very small boats. The coast is very long and we cannot cover it all but we try our best.

On the docks, one small employment office attracts a huge crowd of men every morning, shouting and pushing to the front, in hope of the only paid work in town that day. This, as well as a history of conflict and opposition to neighboring Puntland -- where most of the pirates are based - means that local people call the coast guard when they spot suspected pirates.

"If they are fishermen, rural area people, if they are businessmen, they have a general concept to fight piracy," says Ahmed Yussuf, Berbera's port manager, sat in his office overlooking the ocean.

Without local cooperation, Mahad Abdi explains, this strategy wouldn't work. "If we get more boats, we can go wherever the pirates are and we can save the merchant ships," he adds.

Limited international aid has been forthcoming, Mahad Abdi says, including 4 x 4 vehicles from the British government, which are used to drive around the port when the weather is very hot. As the piracy problem spirals, so there has been international interest in spending money on private navies. But at the same time many shipping companies have also paid ransoms to pirates to free their vessels.

"The money these companies are paid should go to the coast guards," says Ismail Aar, Somaliland's justice minister. "They should be given radars, they should be given communications. We need a communication center to be established here so that we can communicate with Yemen and Djibouti, so we can share information and experiences."

Aar argues that ransom payments only compound the problem, encourage piracy in Puntland and undermine the rule of law in the region.

He calls for the international community to support the democratic process that is going on in regions like Somaliland, which has seen democratic elections. Piracy cannot be solved at sea, says Aar, and only the rule of law on land can stamp out the problem.

But despite the security and political progress in Somaliland, the coast guard need more funds, equipment and training. Berbera does have a tiny university specializing in marine studies - but it has no means of teaching potential coast guards. Mahad Abdi and his most-experienced colleagues are now old men. They are due to retire and the future of their country's coastal waters causes concern. They worry that without them, the pirates could run amok.

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/04/19/somaliland.pirates.coast.guard/


Somali enclave to set up piracy courts, prisons

By Martina Fuchs. April 19, 2011. http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE73H0B120110418

DUBAI - The Somali enclave of Puntland plans to set up special prisons and courts to try pirates in the Indian Ocean region in the next three to four months, a minister said on Monday.

The breakaway enclave of Somaliland and semi-autonomous Puntland, itself a centre of piracy, are seen as relatively stable compared with the rest of the Horn of Africa country, where a weak interim government is battling Islamist insurgents.

"In the next to weeks, the construction of the prison in Bosaso and Garowe will start, and also in Somaliland," Saeed Mohamed Rage, Puntland's minister of marine transport, ports and counter-piracy, told Reuters.

Pirates based in Somalia have turned busy shipping lanes off the coast of the conflict-wrecked state into some of the most perilous waters on Earth and cost the world billions of dollars.

The UN Security Council in April backed the idea of special courts to try captured Somali pirates but put off a decision on thorny details such as where to locate them.

The Puntland prisons would enable the establishment of two courts in Bosaso and Garowe to try pirates and will be set up in the next 3-4 months, Rage said in an interview in Dubai.

There were now more than 260 pirate inmates in Puntland's prisons, he said. Asked about who will fund the prisons, he said: "The European Union will fund, in collaboration with Norway, and also mostly the U.K.."

PUNTLAND-SEYCHELLES ACCORD

Puntland borders on Somaliland to its west, the Gulf of Aden to the north and the Indian Ocean in the southeast. The capital is Garowe, but commerce and business is concentrated in the port city of Bosaso.

On Monday, Puntland signed an agreement with the Seychelles on the repatriation and transfer of sentenced pirates.

With Somalia lacking legal infrastructure, Kenya and the Seychelles have prosecuted dozens of suspects handed over by foreign navies. But both say they would have difficulties coping if all the seized pirates were sent to them.

A Russian-drafted UN resolution also urged all countries to criminalise piracy, saying the crime could be prosecuted anywhere no matter where it was committed, and called on states and organisations to fund prisons in Somaliland and Puntland.

Rage said attacks by pirates were increasing. "It is really every day. It was supposed to decrease, but every day there is another active operation because of the payment rise and the payment of ransom. We have to get them all," Rage said.

"We have to stop the payment of ransom, it will accelerate the pirates, their authority, and they will become another government," he said. "The solution is not on the international community, but on the Somalis."

At the beginning of the month, pirates were holding at least 29 vessels, ranging from fishing boats to tankers, holding their crews hostage and demanding multi-million-dollar ransoms.

The hijacking of ships near the coast of Somalia, where an Islamist insurgency and lawlessness has created a pirate safe haven, has cost the shipping industry millions of dollars.


Somaliland's president leaves for UAE to discuss trade, investment

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Apr 19, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 16 Apr 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 16 April

[Unattributed report: "Somaliland President Leaves for Gulf"]

Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo left for the United Arab Emirates this week. He was accompanied by his wife, the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of commerce, and the chief of cabinet.

The president and his delegation flew from the coastal city of Berbera.

The Somaliland government said the visit was in response to an official invitation and will focus on expanding trade and seeking investment capital from the Arab Gulf.

The visit is expected to last about a week. In addition to the United Arab Emirates, the president is expected to visit Kuwait.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 16 Apr 11


Political rights group urges people of Somaliland to protect peace, sovereignty

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Apr 18, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 16 Apr 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 16 April

[Unattributed report: "The Political Rights Organization"]

The Somaliland Political Rights Organization which held its first meeting in Somaliland's capital, Hargeysa, thanks all of those citizens who participated in the meeting and who made it clear how they see the current political situation.

The organization urges Somalilanders to guard and protect their God-given rights which are recorded in the constitution.

1 Political Rights

The organization stresses that a citizen has a right to elect and be elected. A citizen also has a right to form an organization, a right to assemble when and where he wants, and those rights cannot be taken away from him by the president, the legislature, political parties or anyone else.

2. Regarding the committee that is advising on the issue of political parties.

We condemn the violation of political rights, whether the violator is a committee or political party. We expect the committee that is advising on the issue of political parties to uphold the protection and safeguarding of citizens' political rights.

3 New blood and new minds

We want our political leaders to understand that no position of political leadership is permanent, and that they should encourage the introduction of new leaders who will bring with them new blood and new minds. Furthermore, we want our leaders to give citizens equal chances in assuming positions of leadership in political parties, the legislature, and other leadership positions.

4. Quota

We are opposed to politics becoming a quota system that are reserved only for a particular person or people.

5 The provisional political parties

We condemn the three political parties that do not practice democracy within their ranks, and that use repression, force, dictatorship and injustice.

6 Conclusions

We urge the people of Somaliland to protect their peace, sovereignty, and God-given political rights.

God is behind all success.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 16 Apr 11


Somaliland court jails man for anti-Islam propaganda in Hargeysa

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Apr 17, 2011. Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 16 Apr 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report by privately-owned Somaliland Horn Cable TV on 16 April

[Presenter].The regional court of Hargeysa, Somaliland. has sentenced a man who is accused of anti-Islam propaganda to two years in jail. The court also sentenced him to be deported after finishing his jail term. The man is reported to have pretended to be a holy man and begun to circulate anti-Koran messages to the neighborhoods of Hargeysa.

The chief justice said that the criminal who is identified as Sharif Ahmad Abdalle was found to be guilty of anti-Islam superstitions, insulting the Holy Koran and using magic against the people of Hargeysa. He said that the criminal was also sentenced to pay a fine of two million Somaliland shillings.

Credit: Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 16 Apr 11


Somaliland president meets delegation of international anti-piracy group

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Apr 17, 2011. Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 16 Apr 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report by privately-owned Somaliland Horn Cable TV on 16 April

The vice-president and acting president of Somaliland, Abdirahman Sayli'i, has met a high level delegation from International Global Anti-piracy Group in Hargeysa. The delegation which is currently in Somaliland is composed of four people, including the deputy chairman of the Global Anti-piracy Group, Mr Kenos.

The visit of the high delegation follows a previous one by a representative of UN anti-piracy group in Somalia and Somaliland to Hargeysa last month which held talks with President Silanyo on piracy issues in Somali waters.

The two sides discussed issues of anti-piracy operations in the region and how the Somaliland government could be effectively involved in the fight against Somali pirates.

Credit: Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 16 Apr 11


Somaliland Struggles In Effort To Fight Piracy

by Frank Langfitt.http://www.npr.org/2011/04/13/135345974/somaliland-struggles-in-effort-to-fight-piracy

Other nations that catch Somali pirates are reluctant to send them back because the prisons do not meet international standards. This prison in the coastal city of Berbera, Somalia, dates to the 1880s, and inmates constantly complain about conditions.

April 13, 2011.NPR. The first in a three-part series.

Somali piracy has become an epidemic.

Last year, Somali pirates seized more than a thousand hostages — a record. This year, they have already hijacked 15 vessels, including an American yacht whose four passengers were killed.

Somaliland's coast guard has just eight boats to patrol more than 500 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Aden.

The government of Somaliland, a self-ruling part of Somalia, is trying to fight the problem with a ragtag coast guard and a new prison, but battling piracy is like fighting a stiff current.

A visit to the local jail in Somaliland's port of Berbera goes a long way toward explaining why.

Duale Jama Sirat is sitting on the jail's concrete floor. The cell reeks of urine, and the walls are etched with names and phone numbers.

Sirat has been here ever since the Somaliland coast guard boarded his skiff last month about 50 miles off the coast in some of the world's most pirate-infested waters.

"We don't know why they captured us," says Sirat, feigning surprise at his predicament. "The coast guard from Berbera fired on us and ordered us to stop."

Catching Pirates With A Kind Of Neighborhood Watch

As Somaliland works to build a sense of civic duty, ordinary citizens are turning in pirates. Dressed in a black T-shirt and a Somali-style sarong, Sirat says the coast guard found no weapons. He insists he is innocent.

"I'm not a pirate," he declares in English. "Fishing. I fishing."

This is the mantra in the jails of Somaliland. People accused of piracy claim they are misunderstood fishermen.

There's just one problem with that defense.

When Sirat and his crew members were picked up in the Gulf of Aden, they had no nets, no fishing gear — just a global positioning system. Sirat struggles to explain.

"We didn't bring the equipment," he says. "First, we had to look for the fish."

From about a hundred miles away — that's how far Sirat lives from where he was picked up in the water.

Fighting Piracy With No Anti-Piracy Law

Sirat's story is laughable, but he's almost certain to walk, because it's hard to catch pirates in the act and the evidence against them is often painfully thin.

"Some of those captured pirates, when they are on the boat and they see the coast guard, they throw their guns in the sea," says Guleid Ahmed Jama, a Somaliland prosecutor.

Jama says there's another legal problem: Somaliland is working on an anti-piracy law but doesn't actually have one yet.

"In reality, I don't see anyone who has been accused of piracy," Jama says. "They have been accused of illegal weapons ... accused of breaching immigration law ... accused of attempting to make a robbery."

"Nobody sleeps when we enter these waters. We're on a 24-hour lookout for pirates." - Osman Daud, captain of the Safina Al Ibrahimi, an Indian freighter

Somali piracy exploded several years ago. Criminals took advantage of the country's lawlessness and began attacking ships with a vengeance. Pirates now hold nearly 30 vessels and more than 600 hostages, according to RiskIntelligence, which monitors the problem.

Staying Alert In A High-Stakes Game

Osman Daud captains the Safina Al Ibrahimi, an Indian freighter docked at the Port of Berbera. Standing on the deck of the wooden dhow, Daud says sailing to Somaliland through the Gulf of Aden is perilous.

"I have 20 people on the boat," Daud says. "Nobody sleeps when we enter these waters. We're on a 24-hour lookout for pirates."

Daoud says he does everything he can to avoid them, including changing his route. He uses his radio to monitor reports of pirate attacks and to find out where foreign naval vessels are providing protection. Then, he plots his course accordingly.

Daud says he has been held up at sea and robbed of radios and cellphones.

"I've been boarded so many times, I can't remember," he says wearily.

Somaliland Adm. Ahmed Osman says his coast guard needs just three things: "Boats. Boats. Boats."

Frank Langfitt/NPR Somaliland Adm. Ahmed Osman says his coast guard needs just three things: "Boats. Boats. Boats." But his boat, which carries everything from food and SUVs to brooms and TVs, has never been held for ransom.

Daud says that's because in the high-stakes game of Somali piracy — where multimillion-dollar ransoms are common — a small freighter like his just isn't worth it.

Boats And Prisons

While naval warships try to protect the sea lanes, Somaliland's coast guard uses small patrol boats to monitor the waters closer to shore. The trouble is that there aren't nearly enough of them.

Somaliland is desperately poor and mostly made up of desert, scrub and camels. It has more than 500 miles of coastline, but only eight working coast guard vessels.

Asked what are the top three things his coast guard needs, Somaliland Adm. Ahmed Osman answers without hesitation: "Boats. Boats. Boats."

Perhaps. But even if Somaliland had enough boats to catch pirates, where would it put them all?

The prisons here are dreadful. The one in Berbera was built in 1884 during the Ottoman Empire and doesn't look like it has changed much since. Piles of garbage dot the prison yard. Prisoners reach out through rusted bars to complain about conditions, including a lack of food.

The United Nations is working to change this. Last year, it completed a new, $1.5 million prison in Hargeisa, Somaliland's capital. The prison has freshly painted walls, a medical clinic and the ability to handle more than 400 inmates.

Alan Cole, who runs the counter-piracy program for the U.N.'s program on drugs and crime, says the new prison is a big improvement over the old one.

"They've got beds, properly secure cells, in-cell sanitation," Cole says during a tour. "It's still rudimentary but meets the minimum U.N. standards."

Cole says in the old prison, inmates slept on rugs on the floor.

Where To Put The Pirates

The new prison is part of a strategy to help Somalia handle the pirate problem itself. Because the country has few effective institutions, most pirates are tried overseas.

Cole says right now more than 900 Somali pirates are held in 17 countries.

"What we're looking to do in the longer term is to move the pirates back to Somalia," he says, "to serve their prison sentences there."

But the complexity of Somalia's politics is making that difficult. Somaliland is the best-governed part of the country, and it considers itself an independent state — even if nobody else does.

At a news conference, Somaliland's minister of justice, Ismail Aar, said his government refuses to take pirates from other parts of Somalia — much to the consternation of the U.N.

Farah Ismael Idle is a pirate serving his time in Somaliland's new prison in the capital, Hargeisa. Idle says when he gets out in three years, he is going to attack more ships.

"We accept all Somalilanders," Aar said, "but each country should receive its own pirates."

Imprisoned Pirate: 'I Will Go Back'

Farah Ismael Idle is one pirate Somaliland does claim. Unlike most inmates, Idle admits he's a pirate, though, he insists, not a very good one. Idle claims he tried to hijack three boats, but failed.

"I had a very small boat; it wasn't that fast," says Idle, who wears a yellow prison jumpsuit and a white skull cap. "It couldn't catch up with the big ships."

Idle says he used to work as a fisherman but turned to piracy four years ago after foreign trawlers decimated Somalia's fishing grounds. Then, in 2008, police arrested him as he was preparing to attack another ship.

"Some people who knew me told the coast guard," he says. "I was sleeping in my home when I was caught."

Chatting with foreign reporters, Idle fingers plastic prayer beads and alternates between magnetic smiles and steely glares. For someone who has already spent three years behind bars, he brims with self-confidence. As the warden listens, Idle says when he gets out, he'll return to piracy.

"I'm happy and I support the boys, particularly those who are going for the ships," Idle says. "The more the ships we get, the happier we are. I will go back myself."

With ransoms now topping $8 million and $9 million, it's easy to see the appeal, even for someone who claims he has never had a big score.

Farah Ismael Idle is scheduled for release in 2014.


Scent of success in Somaliland

By Katrina Manson. Published: April 14 2011 21:40 | Last updated: April 14 2011 21:40.http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/728582dc-66bf-11e0-8d88-00144feab49a.html#axzz1JXJz6PDZ

Natural resource: Saynab Jama sifts through frankincense

Bent over small, sticky "pebbles" of frankincense in Burao, a livestock town in Somaliland, Saynab Jama has no idea that the pieces of resin she picks through on a dusty floor will end up as perfume in France.

The 34-year-old mother of five has done well to avoid being included in her homeland's 50 per cent unemployment rate, in an east African region better known for piracy,?terrorism and daily mortal combat than fragrance.

"I like the work and I earn more than when I used to sell goats in the market," she says, her fingers working swiftly, legs outstretched, in a room musty with the hint of incense. "I need to be here – my husband left me and I have not seen him in a long time."

An aromatic resin prized since ancient times for use in cosmetics, medicine and incense for the gods, frankincense was once so valuable that, according to the Bible, three astrologer-priests put it on a par with gold and myrrh, another gum resin, when they set off for Bethlehem.

Two thousand years after the three wise men's journey, the price of gold is hitting new highs, while frankincense bumps along at $1.65 a kilogramme.

Keenly watching this price is 33-year-old Guelleh Osman Guelleh, Somaliland's biggest natural gums exporter. His family's trading company, Neo Trading/Beyomol, buys and sells $600,000 of aromatic resins a year, and employs dozens of people, such as Ms Jama.

Mr Guelleh, sitting in a hotel garden gazebo in Somaliland's capital, Hargeisa, says: "There is a lot of room for production to be increased, but the main obstacle is we're pressured on price. The lower the price, the more problematic it is for farmers to go out and spend time tapping and collecting."

Each tree is handed down through generations of local clans who appoint someone to tend and slash the bark of the stout leafless Boswellia tree, which grows wild in the region's sparse mountain forests. They return sometimes months later to collect the exuded resin. Low prices, despite tripling since 2000, must rise further and demand become more consistent if painstaking tapping is to be viable.

Transported by donkey and camel to Burao, much of the gum is processed by hand, although some machines have been imported from India.

Mr Guelleh began exporting natural gums in 2002 and says production of frankincense could reach 12 times what it is today. In the five years to 2009, port exports have already risen 22 times to 5.5m kg.

His is a sizeable business in Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991. The economy badly needs to diversify away from its precarious livestock industry, which accounts for 40 per cent of gross domestic product.

Mr Guelleh, who read economics in the UK at the University of Nottingham, speaks of developing supply sides, consistent demand and shifting the balance of the value chain as crucial to the industry's future. "When you look at the value chain, most of it is in Europe, so we need to transfer some of that here," says Mr Guelleh, who wants to set up his own refinery and start distilling the more valuable essential oil.

He also wants to find new markets. Most of his material goes to Marseille, where perfumers extract and bottle essential oils; the rest goes to the Middle East to feed an appetite for frankincense chewing gum.

"We're trying to get to Korea, to the Far East, and trying to diversify into packaging," he says.

But export prices are rising. His container export fees have risen steeply because of the piracy off the coast, while potential trading partners are put off by the risks of doing business in so chaotic a region. "The onus is on you in a huge way to prove that Somaliland is different in every way to Somalia," says Mr Guelleh.

The Roman army invaded Arabia in search of frankincense, Syrians offered it up to Apollo and Egypt's pharaohs were embalmed with it. Somalilanders in search of more viable economic and national independence may hope that the fabled power of frankincense will be restored in modern times.


SOMALIA: Explosion targets Somaliland police station in Las'Anod

By: Abdalle Ahmed, April 10th, 2011.http://www.raxanreeb.com/?p=91110

Mogadishu (RBC) At least three Somaliland soldiers were injured after bomb explosion targeted at police station in Las'anod, the administrative town of the disputed Sool region of northern Somalia.

Residents told the explosion was powerful hand grenade hurled to the station on Saturday night. The assailants are unidentified.

The wounded soldiers were the police forces operating in the station.

Somaliland security officials in the town said they were examining the event which they blamed no side was behind.

The town is still under curfew imposed in February by Somaliland forces after insecurity acts in the town. Several Somaliland officials were assassinated in the town following anti Somaliland protest with the local residents.

Las'anod is disputed between Puntland and Somaliland, a separatist region in the north of Somalia but not internationally recognized. Somaliland seized the region in 2007 despite the fact that Sool residents belong to Puntland clans.


Four adolescents die after drinking contaminated water in Somaliland

Source: (AHN) Reporter: Abdi Hajji Hussein. April 8, 2011

Burao, Somaliland- At least four adolescents died in the breakaway republic of Somaliland after drinking contaminated water at a mosque, officials said on Friday.

Suleiman Du'ale, Somaliland police officer in Burao town, the regional capital of the Togdher region in northern Somalia, said that a group of five youngsters, who were thirsty after playing football, had come to a mosque in the town.

"Four of them drank poisonous water in 3-liter plastic container. Two immediately died in the mosque while two other were rushed to the hospital where they lately died," Du'ale explained. He added that a fifth person, 17, did not drink from the container because he thought it had a bad smell.

"Ahmed Abdi Mohammed, 15, Mustafa Jama Abdullahi, 10, Ahmed Mohammed Abdi, 12, Abokar Mohammed Abdi, 11, have all died," he noted.

Security forces arrested one person in connection with the deaths.

The police officer said that further investigations are underway as the detained person had admitted pouring insecticide powder into the plastic container to spray plants in the vicinity of the mosque.

It is the first such incident of its kind to take place in Burao town, which is currently under the control of Somaliland administration. In February, at least 12 people perished in Puntland's Eyl district after drinking water stored in contaminated barrels. Read more: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/briefs/articles/90043985?Four%20adolescents%20die%20after%20drinking%20contaminated%20water%20in%20Somaliland#ixzz1Iy6OR7n6


Somaliland leader holds talks with visiting UN delegation

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Apr 7, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 2 Apr 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 2 April

A UN delegation arrived in Somaliland this week. The delegation was headed by Mr Yuri Ferdov, the Director of UNODC in charge of drug control.

Mr Yuri Ferdov was accompanied by officials from the Seychelles and foreign journalists. The delegation toured the Hargeysa central prison that UNODC played a big part in re-modelling.

Somaliland President Ahmed Muhammad Silanyo met with the delegation and welcomed them for coming to Somaliland. The president highlighted Somaliland's important contribution to combating piracy and reiterated Somaliland's commitment in that regard. The president also thanked the delegation for assisting Somaliland in fixing Hargeysa's jail.

Mr Yuri Ferdov stressed that when a criminal is sentenced, there must be a place where he could be held. He also revealed that they are not only interested in working with Somaliland on combating piracy but want to expand their programmes to include strengthening Somaliland's capacity in law and order.


Journalist Finds Village Called 'Finland' in Somaliland

published yesterday 11:38 AM, updated yesterday 11:40 AM April 6. http://www.yle.fi/uutiset/news/2011/04/journalist_finds_village_called_finland_in_somaliland_2496402.html

Somaliland, a de facto independent country located within what is internationally recognized as Somalia, is the subject of much Finnish influence. Many returnees from Finland have risen to prominent positions in Somaliland society.

Finland already had a good reputation in the country before refugees ended up in northern Europe. Journalist Wali Hashi found surprising evidence of Finnish influence while travelling in the country recently.

Hashi, a Somali-born Finn, drove to a coastal town a couple of hundred kilometres from the capital, Hargeisa. On his trip, he found a sign warning against travelling at sea because of pirates that was in three languages: Somali, English and Finnish. A bigger surprise was in store on his return journey.

"We came to a small village, and believe it or not the name of the place was 'Suomen kylS' (Finnish village)," says Hashi. "The whole village's name was Finland!"

The villagers had given their village the name 'Finland', because the village's water supply infrastructure had been built by Finns in the 1980s.

"When I interviewed the villagers, they said that they loved Finland," adds Hashi.

Democracy Learnt From Finland

Somaliland's Finland-positive attitude took Hashi by surprise, although he already knew that Finnish Somalis were in prominent positions in Somaliland society.

The parliament's spokesman and the rector of Hargeisa University are both Finnish citizens, for example, and one of Somaliland's biggest political parties – Faisal Ali Warabe's Justice and Welfare party – was born in Helsinki.

Hashi believes that the Finnish experience helped Somaliland avoid a bitter civil war similar to that engulfing the Ivory Coast following last summer's presidential election. Warabe, who lives in Espoo to the west of Helsinki, accepted his defeat when he came second in the vote.

"One interesting thing Warabe said was that he did not want war or conflict," says Hashi. "He just wants democracy, which he learnt in Finland."

Returnees Proud of Their Finnishness

Many of the returnees want to preserve their Finnish culture, he says.

"I've spoken to children with their mothers and fathers, and they've told me that they are really proud of their identity," says Hashi.

Hashi, recently named the 2011 'New Citizen of Turku', moved to Finland when he was 17 years old, and is one of the few Finnish Somalis to find work in the Finnish media. He has previously produced stories on pirates in Somalia for YLE, among other topics.


Ex-Somaliland spy chief blames Ethiopia, illegal arms traders for resignation

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Apr 5, 2011. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 5 Apr 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Excerpt from report by privately-owned Somali Shabeelle Media Network website on 5 April

Shabelle has received documents indicating that illegal arms were imported through Somaliland and later forwarded to southern Somalia regions and Kenya.

Husayn Kenyati, the former Somaliland intelligence chief, handed Shabeelle a private statement in which he gave reasons for his resignation from the position. He made a number of accusations against key officials in the Somaliland administration, whom he has implicated in the illegal importation of arms, which he said are then smuggled into parts of the Horn of Africa and eastern Africa countries.

Husayn, first of all spoke on the reason behind his resignation saying it followed repeated assertions that the Ethiopian government - which has close relations with the Somaliland administration - did not want him to lead the Somaliland intelligence accusing him of failing to work with their government to their full satisfaction.

He said a delegation of Somaliland officials led by the minister of foreign affairs, Muhammad Abdullahi, on his last trip to Addis Ababa, said they were not received accordingly because the Ethiopian government had a lot of reservations about the fact that he [Kenyati] was now in President Silanyo's administration, and was in charge of the intelligence services. Husayn said former Ethiopian government officials in Hargeysa between the period of 2000 and 2006, including one named Yadhadho Abdeta, communicated this particular message to Somaliland officials.

Husayn went on to say that those communicating these messages about the Ethiopian government's displeasure with the position he was holding, were also part of powerful clique who were engaged in the illegal importation of light firearms, which were then smuggled to Puntland and southern Somalia regions, as well as, Kenya, Ethiopia and Southern Sudan. He said these arms were being imported from Yemen and brought into Somaliland via a small informal port in the western part of the country.

The former Somaliland spy chief said the arms being imported through Somaliland included AK47 guns, Bazookas, pistols and materials used in making explosives in powder form, which are wrapped in plastic bags.

[Passage omitted: on names of those Husayn Kenyati implicates in the illegal arms trade]


Twenty wounded in Somaliland grenade explosion

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Apr 5, 2011. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 5 Apr 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report by privately-owned Somali Shabeelle Media Network website on 5 April

About 20 people have been wounded following a hand grenade explosion in Hargeysa, the capital of [self-declared republic of] Somaliland.

Reports from Hargeysa say that a mentally ill man hurled a hand grenade near Waayel Hotel at around 1030 local time, injuring 19 people, including the man who hurled the explosive. The wounded were rushed to Hargeysa general hospital. Dr Ahmad Jama'a Samatar told the media that the victims sustained light injuries.

The man is said to have hurled the explosive after traders in the market refused to give him something small [presumably money or food]. Health officials say they will diagnose whether the man is indeed mentally ill.

Somaliland Police Commissioner Ilmi Roble Fure said the incident was unexpected, adding that police would investigate the origin of the hand grenade.


Market explosion hurts 19 in Somaliland

April 5, 2011. http://gantdaily.com/2011/04/05/market-explosion-hurts-19-in-somaliland/. Shafi'i Abokar – AHN News AHN Correspondent

Hargeisa, Somaliland, Somalia (AHN) – At least 19 people were wounded Tuesday morning in a hand grenade explosion at a busy market in the city of Hargeisa, the capital of Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland.

Eyewitnesses told All Headline News that a man who was said to be mentally ill threw the grenade into the busy market in the city center, injuring himself and others.

"It was a very huge explosion which could be heard everywhere in the city—we have collected 19 wounded people who mostly sustained minor injuries," Salaad Ahmed Farah, who was present at the market when the blast occurred, told AHN.

"Several times the man threatened that he will explode the bomb and the people at the market got the chance to run away from the scene so that is why the casualty was much lower than it could be if the man had thrown the bomb without telling it," Farah said.

Explosions are very rare in Somaliland, which is more peaceful than the troubled south-central Somali regions where more than half a million people, mainly civilians, have been killed since the fall of Somalia in 1991.


Somalia: bomb explosion injuries 20 people in Hargeysa city

5 April, 2011. http://www.mareeg.com/fidsan.php?sid=19295&tirsan=3

Hargeysa(Mareeg)-Reports from Self stated government of Somaliland say that 20 people injured after hand bomb explosion occurred in a busy market in Hargeysa, northwest Somalia early today.

The bomb explosion occurred in a very busy market in Hargeysa after a mad man dropped hand bomb into the market and then exploded injuring 20 people including him, reports said.

The injuries were taken into the general hospital of Hargeysa city and the patients have little wounds except three people including the man who was said to be mad one and the attacker as Dr. Jama' Ahmed Samater told reporters.

Reports say that Somaliland police forces are investigating the case and it's true that the attacker was mad or not.

Somaliland is one stable area in Somalia and declared to be independent of other parts of Somalia as though it didn't get recognition yet.


Beyond The Failed State: Time To Recognise Somaliland

Mark Seddon on April 1, 2011.http://bigthink.com/ideas/31821

While the attention of the World continues to focus on North Africa and the Middle East, other conflict stricken countries fall ever further down the news agenda. In the case of Somalia - essentially a failed state - conflict and war has assailed people there since the early 1990s. Attempts to intervene by the United States famously failed, and a more recent intervention by Uganda has had limited success. Somalia is a breeding ground for terrorism and priracy - and yet...

The Northern part of Somaliland, encompassing the colonial boundaries of the former British Somaliland is a functioning, free and fair democracy. Bizarrely it remains unrecognised by any other country. Is that because it offends African Union opinion, in that effectively it is a breakaway state?

But Somaliland is a country we all do need to know a good deal more about – and fast. Where much else is a failed state, wracked by conflict and threatened by piracy and terrorism. And Somaliland ticks most of the international community's boxes. The UN, EU and Commonwealth approve of the young country's emerging democracy. The US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, approves Somaliland's efforts to control home grown terrorism, and understands the strategic importance of the country, sitting as it does across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. And Somaliland surely fulfils the AU's criteria for nationhood. Its boundaries are the colonial boundaries of what was once the Protectorate of British Somaliland.

Last year Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson fell short of offering President Silanyo recognition for his country. This year it could be different if the United States takes the lead. Throughout North Africa and the Middle East, the Obama administration has spoken out in support of human rights and self determination. Isn't it high time the United States and the rest of the international community recognise the comparative success story that is Somaliland?


Somaliland Government Plans to Enforce Compliance on Tax, Double Revenue

Bloomberg. March 31, 2011

Somaliland, the breakaway republic in northern Somalia, may double revenue collection this year as it enforces tax compliance among the country's 40 biggest businesses and richest individuals, the Finance Ministry said.

The autonomous region expects government income to total $100 million this year, even after the government slashed tax rates and abolished other levies, Vice Finance Minister Warsame Said Abdi told reporters in the capital, Hargeisa, yesterday. As of Jan. 1, payroll and sales taxes fell to 5 percent from 12 percent, while income taxes dropped to 10 percent from as much as 25 percent, Abdi said.

"Somaliland people aren't tax-oriented," he said. "What they give to the government is seen as a loss. We are trying to educate them. We'll use it to build schools, hospitals."

Somaliland, a former British colony, declared independence from Somalia in 1991 after the fall of dictator Mohammed Siad Barre. While no country has yet officially recognized its independence it has remained largely free of the clan warfare, kidnappings and assassinations that have plagued Somalia.

Somaliland's government relies entirely on taxes for its budgetary expenses and is debt-free, Abdi said. Foreign assistance is not channeled through the government, he said.

The World Bank is helping to train tax officials and the United States' aid agency this week agreed to build 10 state revenue centers across Somaliland, Hassan Jama Mohamed, the Finance Ministry's public finance management coordinator, said in Hargeisa yesterday.

Revenue Loss

The loss of annual revenue from Telesom, the country's biggest telecommunications operator, alone is about $25 million, because of authorities failing to enforce the domestic tax laws, according to Abdi.

"We haven't had the capacity to do the auditing or enforce the existing laws," Mohamed said.

The government is counting on improved revenue collection this year to pay for a doubling of salaries for civil servants, the police and military and a free primary-school education program introduced at the start of the year, he said.


Somaliland's Central Bank Plans to Grant First Banking Licenses

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- The central bank of Somaliland, a breakaway republic in northern Somalia, expects lawmakers to enact a draft banking law by June, enabling commercial lenders to extend credit to borrowers for the first time.

Somaliland is in talks with Banque pour le Commerce et l'Industrie, based in neighboring Djibouti, and two other lenders to grant them banking licenses "right away," Bank of Somaliland Governor Abdi Dirir Abdi said in an interview in the capital, Hargeisa, yesterday. The nation of 3.5 million people currently has no banks.

"Once we see credit to small businesses then our economy will start to grow," said Abdi, a 61-year-old former trade- financing expert with the Islamic Development Bank. "The presence of international banks will help us trade with the world."

Somaliland's annual gross domestic product is estimated at $500 million, of which remittances from overseas workers represent about 80 percent, Abdi said. The remainder of the Horn of Africa nation's economic output is mostly generated by the export of camels, cattle, sheep and goats to the Middle East and North Africa, he said.

Abdi, who received his MBA from Northrop University in Los Angeles, was appointed governor six months ago by President Ahmed Silanyo, who came to power following a June 26 election. Somaliland is stable relative to its southern neighbor Somalia, where a civil war has been raging for the past two decades.

Recognition

Somaliland, a former British colony, declared independence in 1991, following the ouster of former Somali dictator Mohammed Siad Barre. No sovereign state has formally recognized the region as independent, posing concerns for potential funders who question whether their investments can be legally protected.

"We have constraints of course because we're not recognized as a state. The risk averse may not come to invest in Somaliland," Abdi said. "We should be in a better position economically soon. Our democratic institutions and human rights record are strong, and we would like to see ourselves recognized as a state."

Legislators are also soon expected to approve legislation expanding the central bank's role to include regular monetary operations including supervising lenders, accumulating foreign currency reserves and controlling inflation, Abdi said.

"We expect the GDP to start growing," he said, without providing a specific forecast.

--Editors: Paul Richardson, Antony Sguazzin.


UN anti-crime office helps build Somaliland?s capacity to tackle maritime piracy

The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has voiced the office's commitment to strengthening the capacity of authorities in the Somaliland to prosecute captured pirates who have menaced maritime trade off the coast of Somalia over the past decade. March 30, 2011. By UN News

Berbera Court, Somaliland - The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has voiced the office"s commitment to strengthening the capacity of authorities in the Somaliland to prosecute captured pirates who have menaced maritime trade off the coast of Somalia over the past decade.

On a visit to the self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland yesterday, Yury Fedotov, UNODC"s Executive Director, met with the President of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud and the Justice Minister Ismail Muumin to discuss UNODC"s counter-piracy work in East Africa.

UNODC will assist Somaliland authorities in tackling maritime piracy as well as look into ways of addressing the underlying causes of piracy.

Mr. Fedotov also visited the recently refurbished Hargeisa Prison in Somaliland, which was officially opened in November last year as part of UNODC"s counter-piracy work in Somaliland. The prison is considered critical to Somaliland"s efforts to deal with the piracy and will provide additional space for pirates arrested by Somaliland"s Coast Guard and convicts tried in other courts.

UNODC"s involvement in Somaliland follows similar initiatives in neighbouring Puntland and Somalia on prison and judicial reform. With an estimated combined 350 suspects and convicted pirates held in Somaliland and Puntland, the complementary components of prosecutorial and prison services are key to responding to piracy in the region.

"Critical to the success of fighting piracy is ensuring that judicial provisions on land are in place. UNODC are working with the Somaliland authorities in their judicial reform process and prosecution services in a bid to step up responses to what is clearly a scourge both to maritime trade and travel and to local development," said Mr. Fedotov.

The UNODC anti-piracy initiatives in the Horn of Africa are in response to growing global concern over the rising number of ship hijackings in the Indian Ocean.

While the period between 2000 and 2007 saw an average 26 acts of reported piracy per year off the coast of Somalia, the number jumped to 111 in 2008 and quadrupled to more than 400 in 2009 and 2010, affecting shipping off the coast of Somalia, the Gulf of Aden and further into the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. In 2010 alone, approximately 790 sailors were taken hostage.

In addition to renovating the prison in Hargeisa, Somaliland"s capital, UNODC has also trained staff and provided uniform for prisoners.

"The shift in approach by authorities to supplement incarceration with skills development and rehabilitation is critical. This level of prison reform will assist in tackling the long-term goal of dealing with piracy and UNODC are glad to be able to be part of this process," said Mr. Fedotov.


With UN help, Somaliland opens prison especially for pirates

Carol Huang. Mar 30, 2011.http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/africa/with-un-help-somaliland-opens-prison-especially-for-pirates?pageCount=0

HARGESIA, Somalia. With aid from the United Nations, an autonomous region of Somalia officially opened a new prison for pirates yesterday, one of several that the international organisation aims to build in the Horn of Africa to help deter marauders at sea.

Despite the rising scourge of piracy, most of it carried out by Somalis, governments around the world have been reluctant to prosecute piracy cases out of an unwillingness to assume the burden of housing prisoners for lengthy jail terms. The new prison here and others like it are intended to ease that strain.

The new jail in Hargesia, the capital of this autonomous region, known as Somaliland, can hold 460 prisoners. The facility currently houses 300 prisoners, 40 to 70 of whom are pirates convicted in local courts, UN and local officials officials said. While the facility was officially dedicated yesterday, inmates began arriving in groups in November.

The prison's thick walls are topped with barbed wire and its metal doors are painted green. In the prison courtyard, inmates in crisp blue or yellow uniforms roamed yesterday. A column of men bound together by a metal chain attached at their wrists shuffled past. They sleep 10 to a cell.

To encourage humane prison practices in a region where squalid jails are the rule, more than 200 prison staff received several weeks' training from foreign experts. They will continue to receive advice and aid from the UN, which is assigning two staff members to the prison.

Yury Fedotov, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which oversees the world body's counter-piracy programme, yesterday praised the new facility, calling it a "model" for the region.

Problems remain, beginning in Somaliland itself. It has so far resisted international pressure to take pirates convicted overseas unless they originally came from Somaliland.

Its "Somalilander-only" policy stems from its long-standing desire to break away from the rest of the country and its feeling that it is not part of the Somali nation.

Ismail Mooummin Aar, the Somaliland minister of justice, said: "We accept all Somalilanders in the world, but we don't accept non-Somalilanders. We don't have the capacity. We don't see them as nationals."

Mr Aar said the neighbouring Somali region of Puntland, where most pirates hail from, might try to force Somaliland to release Puntland citizens from jail. In turn, that may lead to fighting in a country rife with it.

To avoid compounding long-standing regional tensions and rivalries inside Somalia, the UN has won agreement from Puntland to accept pirates convicted abroad. The problem is, there is no prison space in Puntland to house them.

However, Alan Cole, who heads the UN's counterpiracy programme, said he hoped Somaliland would agree to take all overseas pirates as well. Puntland officials say they will jail pirates convicted in foreign courts, no matter where the hail from.

"The hope is Somaliland will look favourably upon the same proposition," Mr Cole said.

If the new prison here is a model"for the region, as Mr Fedotov insists, it is a model that begs for emulation.

In the past year, pirates branched out from the Gulf of Aden into the Indian Ocean and raised their ransom demands to the millions. Sixteen countries from the US to Kenya to South Korea have detained or convicted 950 pirates, but thousands more remain, the UN says.

Besides an unwillingness to assume responsbility for imprisoning convicted pirates for lengthy terms, many nations are reluctant to bear the cost of trying pirates and many have not amended their laws to ensure their courts have jurisdiction. In addition, Western countries fear detainees will seek asylum.

Member states of the UN anti-piracy contact group last week stressed the need to send Somali pirate prisoners home at a meetingin New York.

"The group focused on the need increase prison capacity in Somalia and to arrive at transfer agreements that would allow for convicted pirates to serve out their sentences in that country," the chairman of the group, Ertugrul Apakan, from Turkey said at a news conference.

The UN is also building a 60-bed prison in the Seychelles, which has taken a lead in prosecuting pirates. Its 450-bed prison, 45 of which are occupied by pirates, is currently full.

Without more prison space, the Seychelles will be reluctant to try more pirates unless absolutely necessary, the Seychelles prison superintendent Maxime Tirant said.

"We were hoping somehow that things could be different, that Somaliland could receive them," Mr Tirant said. "We still can negotiate further in the hope that some pressure will be brought to bear somewhere down the line."


Somaliland warns will not take in foreign-seized pirates

AFP. March 2011 -

Somali inmates take their breakfast in the courtyard at the UN-funded prison in Hargeisa, the capital of Somalia's self-declared state of Somaliland. Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland on Tuesday inaugurated a UN-funded prison aimed at holding pirates but also warned it was not yet accepting those detained by foreign powers.

A Somali prison warden stands at his station at the UN-funded prison in Hargeisa, the capital of Somalia's self-declared state of Somaliland. Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland on Tuesday inaugurated a UN-funded prison aimed at holding pirates but also warned it was not yet accepting those detained by foreign powers. AFP - Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland on Tuesday inaugurated a UN-funded prison aimed at holding pirates but also warned it was not yet accepting those detained by foreign powers.

The prison in the region's capital Hargeisa was refurbished by the United Nations at a cost of about $1.5 million (1.06 million euros) with the aim of making conditions there acceptable to countries wishing to repatriate Somali pirates.

But the region has backed away from accepting pirates seized by foreign forces, in what is likely to prove the latest setback to attempts by the international community to repatriate Somali pirates arrested on the high seas to east Africa or the Horn of Africa for trial.

"The transfer issue has not yet been accepted," Ismail Moummir Aar, the Somaliland justice minister, told reporters during a visit to the region by a UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) team headed by its director Yury Fedotov.

Fedotov's team came for the official opening of the facility, which has the capacity to house about 425 inmates and which has actually been up and running for the past several weeks.

Of the 297 detainees currently in the facility, 88 are pirates from various regions of Somalia. All of them were intercepted by the Somaliland coastguard or by local people.

Aar said that Somaliland would for now accept only the repatriation of any Somaliland nationals to be prosecuted on piracy charges.

"We accept Somaliland (nationals) to be transferred to Somaliland. Each territory should prosecute its own pirates," he said.

His invitation appears rather theoretical, however, as according to him there are no Somaliland nationals being held in foreign prisons.

Kenya, which was the first nation to accept to try pirates brought in by foreign navies patrolling off the Somali coast, recently indicated it was unwilling to take in more.

The Seychelles last year became the second country in the region to accept to prosecute Somali pirates.

The refusal by Somaliland to accept convicted pirates originating from other parts of Somalia and arrested by foreign navies could jeopardise that deal with the Seychelles.

Seychelles Transport Minister Joel Morgan last week said his country's handling of pirates was clear: "We bring them to justice and then subsequently repatriate them to their respective countries."

"Seychelles therefore welcomes the setting up of this new prison in Hargeisa for this purpose," he concluded.


Somalia opens prison for pirates, more planned

03/29/11. KATHARINE HOURELD, Associated Press

HARGEISA, Somalia (AP) — A new maximum-security prison opened in northern Somalia on Tuesday, raising hopes that it can help relieve the burden on other nations affected by piracy that are reluctant to imprison pirates.

Most suspected pirates captured by international warships are released because other nations don't want to jail them, and most Somali prisons and courts are not up to international standards. Navies — who nickname the problem "catch-and-release" — say it's one reason pirates continue to threaten one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

There have been notable exceptions: A U.S. court this month sentenced five men convicted of piracy to life in prison. A U.S. court is also trying 13 Somalis and a man from Yemen over a February hijacking of a yacht that left four Americans dead.

As piracy has flourished and turned increasingly violent, an unprecedented 17 countries are prosecuting pirates. Still, Somali jails have borne most of the burden. Officials in Somalia's semiautonomous region of Puntland have had to release low-level criminals to make room for pirates in the overcrowded jail in the port city of Bosasso.

The U.N., which paid for the $1.5 million refurbishment of Hargeisa prison, says the facility is equipped to receive international transfers of prisoners. Compared to the overcrowded, rusty lockups elsewhere around Somalia, its cream corridors and 10-man dormitories seem spacious, sanitary and relatively comfortable.

Inmates say they get three meals a day and that they receive medical attention and visits from family members.

Somaliland, a breakaway republic in northern Somalia, has already said it will accept any convicted Somalilanders, and officials hope that other nations may eventually transfer convicted pirates from other regions in Somalia.

"It's entirely a matter for Somaliland, but we'd be delighted if they said yes," said Alan Cole of the U.N.'s Office on Drugs and Crime.

He said the U.N. plans to build two 500-bed prisons in Somalia over the next few years to help house more convicted pirates. One will be in Garowe, capital of the semiautonomous Somali region of Puntland. The other location has yet to be decided.

There are currently about 70 convicted pirates in custody in Somaliland, most of whom were captured by the local coast guard and are now housed in the new prison. But government officials say security worries mean they are reluctant to take Somalis from other regions, especially from the region's archrival Puntland.

"Some pirates have already attacked our private transport cars," said Somaliland Minister of Justice Ismail Mumu Aar, describing attacks on Somaliland vehicles that began in October. "Our people have been threatened ... (The pirates) said, 'bring our people back or your people will stay with us.'"

Cole said that problem could be solved if Somaliland agreed to only accept volunteers for transfer. Many pirates wanted to come back to Somalia to be closer to their families, he said. Seventeen countries currently hold around 950 pirates, he said, about two-thirds of which have been convicted.

Regional nations also encouraged Somaliland to consider taking prisoners from other regions. In the island nation of Seychelles, pirates make up about 20 percent of the prison population.

"We are a small nation — 86,000 people," said Joseph Nourrice, the High Commissioner from Seychelles. "We have done our part. Our position is that once we prosecute and convict the pirates they should serve their sentence in their country of origin."

The new prison is just the first of several reforms that are needed for Somalia to one day be able to convict and jail its own pirates, the ultimate aim of the U.N. strategy. Somaliland is the most stable and secure of Somalia's three regions. But it still lacks an anti-piracy law and officials acknowledge evidence is sometimes circumstantial.

In the local police station in Berbera, five men recently sat huddled in a stinking cell. They insisted, like almost all the prisoners interviewed by The Associated Press, that they are fishermen unjustly detained. The local coast guard said they were caught with a GPS navigator, no fishing equipment and that they threw weapons over the side of their boat.

The men gave different stories: They were fishing with their hands for lobster, or scouting for fish.

"I'm innocent," said Omar Abdullahi Abdi while squatting on his knees. "We are all innocent."

They will probably be convicted but unless the coast guard can produce weapons, it's unclear under what law. The typical sentence for piracy in Somaliland is about 15 years in prison but that can be reduced or overturned on appeal.

Ahmed Mohamed Adam, one of the inmates in the new prison, was one whose sentence was reduced. The lanky 23-year-old wore the canary-yellow cotton issued to high-risk prisoners. He said he was sentenced to 20 years for sailing in a skiff the coast guard claimed was marked as a pirate boat by international navies. He said he was a fisherman and had no weapons when arrested. Ahmed's sentence was reduced to 20 months on appeal. He will leave the new maximum security prison next month.

U.N. officials acknowledge that the justice system is flawed but say they are working on it. Puntland recently signed a new anti-piracy law and Somaliland is expected to soon, Cole said. There are programs in place to support and train court officials. But it will take years.

In the meantime, the new prison will gradually fill up with men in yellow uniforms.


Somaliland seizes six Somali pirates

"After received intelligence reports from neighboring Yemen, we were keeping truck of the pirates and today our naval forces managed to intercept them" Ator explained.

Source: (AHN) March 24, 2011.http://www.allheadlinenews.com

The coast guards of the breakaway republic of Somaliland have seized at least six Somali pirates and their boat, according to Somali-language website Hadhwanaag.com.

The website said Thursday that Mohammed Yusuf "Ator," chief of Somaliland coast guards in the Sanaag region, told reporters that the pirates were detained off Maydh, a coastal district about 90 kilometers east of the town of Erigabo, the regional capital of the Sanaag region in northern Somalia.

The official noted the pirates were armed with a variety of weapons including shoulder launched missiles, AK-47 assault rifles, hand grenades and other weapons in an attempt to hijack commercial ships and boats using Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden shipping lanes.

"After received intelligence reports from neighboring Yemen, we were keeping truck of the pirates and today our naval forces managed to intercept them," Ator said at a press conference in Erigabo. The arrests were made about 4 p.m. Wednesday local time.

He said investigations are underway and that the pirates will be transferred to Hargeisa to face trial.


Somalia: TV Journalists Targeted by Somaliland Troops

23 March 2011.International Freedom of Expression Exchange Clearing House (Toronto)

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) strongly protests violent attacks against TV journalists in Las Anod town in northern Somalia by the Somaliland troops.

On 22 March 2011, Mohamed Abdinur Hashi, a journalist working for Somali Channel TV, and Mohamed Shaqale, a reporter working for Universal TV, were attacked in Las Anod by Somaliland soldiers for filing reports that the Somaliland army deemed contrary to their forces. Mohamed Abdinur Hashi was arrested, while Mohamed Shaqale is in hiding in Las Anod but his laptop computer, camera and recorders were confiscated. Somaliland forces are reportedly searching for him in Las Anod.

"This violent attack is shocking. It is intolerable that journalists who went out to cover the conflict in Las Anod were targeted for simply doing their job," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "Both Puntland and Somaliland forces must allow journalists to enter, work and travel freely within the Sool and Sanaag regions without fear of attack or arrest".

NUSOJ calls on the Somaliland authorities to instruct their forces in Las Anod to release without delay Mohamed Abdinur Hashi and to return the confiscated equipment of Mohamed Shaqale, while guaranteeing his security.

Source: National Union of Somali Journalists.http://allafrica.com/stories/201103240007.html


UN special envoy for Somalia pays surprise visit to Somaliland

Source: (AHN)March 24, 2011.http://www.allheadlinenews.com

Augustine Mahiga, United Nations special envoy for Somalia, Wednesday paid a surprise visit to Hargeisa, the capital of the breakaway republic of Somaliland.

Immediately after his arrival at Hargeisa's Egal International Airport, Mahiga was welcomed by Somaliland officials including the minister of foreign affairs, Mohamed Abdullahi.

The UN official held a closed-door meeting with the president of Somaliland, Ahmed Mahmoud Silanyo and other top officials, according to reports. Issues such as the country's long-running drought and starting humanitarian services in parts of the separatist republic were high on the agenda.

No further details were immediately available from the meetings. Sources close to the authorities said that Mahiga's visit will last two days.

Reports said that Puntland would be the envoy's next stopover to give fresh impetus to the UN's efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to drought-affected Somalis in Puntland and other regions in central Somalia.

It is the second visit to Somalia for the envoy in less than three months


Targeted Attacks on TV journalists in Northern Somalia

African Press Organisation. Lausanne: Mar 22, 2011. National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)

MOGADISHU, Somalia, March 22, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) strongly protests violent attacks against TV journalists in Las Anod town in northern Somalia by the Somaliland troops.

Mohamed Abdinur Hashi, journalist working for Somali Chanel TV, and Mohamed Shaqale, reporter working for Universal TV, were Tuesday morning attacked in Las Anod by Somaliland soldiers for filing reports that Somaliland army deemed contrary to the their forces. Mohamed Hashi was arrested, while Mohamed Shaqale is in hiding in Las Anod but his laptop computer, camera and recorders were confiscated. Somaliland forces are reportedly searching him in Las Anod.

"This violent attack is shocking. It is intolerable that journalists who went out to cover the conflict in Las Anod were targeted for simply doing their job," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "Both Puntland and Somaliland forces must allow journalists to enter, work and travel freely within Sool and Sanaag regions without fear of attack or arrest".

NUSOJ calls on Somaliland authorities to instruct their forces in Las Anod to release without delay Mohamed Abdinur Hashi and return completely confiscated equipment of Mohamed Shaqale, while guaranteeing his security.


Somaliland 'yearns for international recognition'

March 21.http://uk.news.yahoo.com/11/20110321/tpl-somaliland-yearns-for-international-0a1c1a1.html#ynw-article-part2

Lord Anderson of Swansea calls on the international community to recognise the autonomy of the Somaliland region of northern Somalia.

The wind of change is howling around the Arab world. Longstanding autocratic presidents are blown away; monarchs seek to make peace with their people by devising constitutions to limit their powers. In this turbulence there is one outstanding and depressing exception Somalia.

There has been anarchy in the country for some 20 years. The internationally recognised Transitional Federal Government controls but a small part of the territory; various warring clans exercise a form of authority elsewhere. An Islamist movement with links to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has rumoured links to the pirates who successfully create havoc among international shipping across an ever-wider swathe of sea.

Somaliland is the exception, the former British Protectorate with its capital Hargeisa, where the pirates are imprisoned a haven of stability which has recently held democratic elections. The country yearns for international recognition, having been de facto autonomous for many years.

The traditional argument against such recognition has been that of creating a precedent for other disaffected regions in Africa but now Eritrea has broken away from Ethiopia; South Sudan will shortly be independent and there is a spirit of radical constitutional change throughout the Arab world.

Somaliland wishes to join the Commonwealth; already its parliamentarians informally attend meetings of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Surely, now is the time for the British government to revisit the issue and to encourage African members of the Commonwealth to press the African Union to work for international recognition of this remarkable democratic enclave within the classic failed state of Somalia.

Donald Anderson was Labour MP for Monmouth from 1966 until 1970 and for Swansea East from 1974 until 2005, when he was rasied to the peerage.


Somaliland plans to deport ethnic Oromos to Ethiopia

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Mar 20, 2011. Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 19 Mar 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report by privately-owned Somaliland Horn Cable TV on 19 March

The Somaliland government has announced that it would deport illegal ethnic Ethiopian Oromos.

Many displaced people and refugees are living in various regions of Somaliland, including the Ethiopian Oromos who beg in the streets of main towns of Somaliland.

The people of Somaliland have expressed concerns over problems the Oromos caused on the socio-economic situation of the country. [passage omitted]

The Somaliland government has, therefore, officially announced a plan to deport the Oromos.

The director-general of the Minister of Interior, Abdullahi Husayn Ige aka Abdullahi Balaki, told Horn Cable that the government would soon start the exercise.

"As the Ministry of Interior, our plan is to deport the Oromo people. We know that the Oromo people are a burden on security, health and employment in the country. The ministry has decided to appoint a commission that would be responsible for the deportation of the Oromos back to Ethiopia," said the director-general.

He said the ethnic Oromos will be registered and photographed soon, and those who fail to meet the asylum status, would be deported by the government in conjunction with Ethiopian government.

The director-general said the government would set up camps for the Oromos to gather before being deported. He said other illegal aliens would also be deported. [Passage omitted]

Credit: Horn Cable TV, Hargeysa, in Somali 1900 19 Mar 11


Somaliland reportedly bans demos, imposes curfew in disputed town

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Mar 20, 2011. AllPuntland.com website in Somali 19 Mar 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report by Somali pro-Puntland government website on 19 March

The Somaliland administration in [disputed] town of Laas Caanood, Sool Region [northwestern Somalia], has issued a number of new directives following recent tensions in which some of the administration's officials and senior commanders of the Somaliland forces were killed. There has been widespread insecurity in Laas Caanood as Somaliland forces that occupy the town, officials of the administration and the residents have all been getting targeted with organized attacks.

Somaliland police commander in Sool Region imposed a number of new orders on residents including the barring of any demonstrations against the administration and curfew on the town which starts from 2000. until 0600 [local time] in the morning. The Somaliland administration said they were imposing these measures in order to address the deteriorating security situation in the town.

Residents of the town have condemned these new orders imposed by the administration and some of the business people told Allpuntland.com that the curfew is a hindrance to their businesses and asked officials in the region to reduce the long hours of curfew imposed on the residents.


Visiting French businessmen hold talks with Somaliland Vice-President

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Mar 17, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 12 Mar 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 12 March

[Unattributed report: "French Development Fund and BCIMR Bank Arrive in Somaliland"]

A delegation from the French Development Fund and BCIMR bank arrived in Hargeysa this week. According to a press release signed by the presidential spokesman, Mr Abdillahi Muhammad Dahir (Ukuse), the delegation held a meeting with Vice President Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail (Zaylai). The vice president expressed his appreciation of delegation's visit and briefed them on the progress Somaliland has made in reconstruction, business and instituting democracy. He also stressed that Somaliland welcomes investors with open arms.

The Director of the French fund, Mr Levaneur Jocelyn thanked the vice president and Somaliland's government for their warm welcome and said he was impressed with the way Somaliland's people and government work together. He also pledged that they will make a substantial investment in Somaliland.

Among the ministers who took part in the vice president's meeting with the delegation were the minister of fisheries, the president's economic adviser, the president of the central bank, the general director of the central bank and the presidency's chief of protocol.

The members of the delegation were:
1. Mr Levaneur Jocelyn, Manager
2. Mr Andrien Absolu, Development fund of Djibouti
3. Philippe Lagier, Development fund of Paris
4. Jerome Perrin, Business Manager
5. Awil Mousa Jama, Corporate Bank Manager
6. Sa'ad Mousa, Director of Hargeysa


Danish delegation holds talks with Somaliland officials in Kenya

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Mar 17, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 12 Mar 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 12 March

[Unattributed report: "Danish Delegation Meets With Somaliland Officials in Kenya"]

According to a press statement dated March 11, 2011, that was released by Somaliland's embassy in Kenya, representatives from Somaliland held a meeting with a Danish delegation in Kenya.

The ten-member Danish delegation was led by the deputy to the official in charge of foreign aid to Africa, Mr Avders Fribolo.

The Somaliland officials who met with the delegation were the speaker of Somaliland's parliament, Mr Abdirahman Abdillahi Irro, the deputy minister of education, Ali Hamud Jibril, Somaliland's Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Muhammad Ahmad Nur (Indhabur) and his deputy Mr Abdirizak Ahma Karani.

The Danish delegation came to Kenya in order to prepare a study about the foreign aid that the Danish government provides to African countries.

The main issues that were discussed by the two sides were:

1-Piracy
2-Strengthening the peace in Somaliland
3-Increasing Denmark's aid to Somaliland

The Danish delegation included representatives from the ministries of Justice, Defence, interior and foreign affairs.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 12 Mar 11


Somaliland discusses need for more than 3 parties

http://www.afrol.com/articles/37588

afrol News, 17 March - Non-recognised Somaliland, one of Africa's leading democracies, by constitution only has three political parties. President Ahmed Silanyo wants to discuss if more are needed.

This week President Silanyo of Somaliland issued a press release in which he announced the formation of committee that will research into whether more political parties should be permitted in Somaliland politics.

Even though, Somaliland is multi-party system country with viable democratic institutions, many groups including the young generation have been calling for more parties than the current three. The limit was originally formulated to avoid region and clan-based parties and a development similar to chaotic Somalia.

The constitutional limit of three parties came in 2002, during the formation of Somaliland's multi-party system, when more than ten parties had registered. The legislation stated a party must receive at least 20 percent of the popular vote from four of Somaliland's six regions in order to advance to the next stage.

Six parties initially met these criteria and went into a battle to further minimise the number of parties in the country. A constitution was agreed on that only three parties with the most votes will be approved. The electoral commission announced the current three parties received the most votes and the other three parties had to merge with one of the three.

Those that are advocating for more political parties claim it would increase diversity of viable voice in the political dialogue of the country. Especially the Somalilander youth has called for parties that could better represent their aspirations than the current three, dominated by elder men.

Others argue that the minority groups currently disagreeing with Somaliland's unilateral split from Somalia in 1991 would be better integrated into the political dialogue by allowing for even pro-Somalia union parties.

In particular the eastern Sool region, where trans-border clan ties have caused resistance to the affiliation to Somaliland, the free establishment of regionally based political parties could create valuable channels for citizens to voice their grievances, constitutional reform advocates hold.

Those opposing the reform fear exactly the establishment of such parties, which could promote regional or clan-based factions and end up in political chaos similar to Somalia.

Mohamed Ibrahim Haji Abdi, founder of the media 'SomalilandPress' told afrol News that there is widespread concern that if the Pandora's Box is opened, "then each tribe or region will create their own political party thus dividing the cohesiveness that has made Somaliland democracy model in the region and Africa's best kept secret."

Opponents of reform also hold that the current three political parties - the formerly ruling Justice and Development party (UCID), the United Peoples Democratic party (UDUB) and the ruling Peace, Unity and Development party (Kulmiye) - are doing an adequate job and therefore there is no need for another party to join the group.

Mr Abdi says he personally is against the reform, at least for the moment. "I feel that the current three political parties that we have are doing a sufficient job for a country of our size and population," he told afrol News.

"I am aware of the discontent my generation has with the current political parties and the elderly bureaucrats that are still holding on to the post, however in time these old lions will have to retire," Mr Abdi adds. "In the meantime the three parties need to reform whereby the leadership position must have a term limit and not be a life time position."


SOMALIA: Scores arrested in Las'anod City

By: Abdalle Ahmed. March 16th, 2011.http://www.raxanreeb.com/?p=87364

Las-Anod (RBC) Scores of people were detained in Las'anod city of northern Somalia Sool region as Somaliland's security forces conduct heavy search operation, RBC Radio correspondent says.

The Somaliland forces lunched search operation towards last week's murder of the regional police officer, whom was killed by unknown armed men. Nearly ten people were detained and taken to custody last 24-hours.

The security forces were seen entering hotels, houses and business places in search for what they called 'suspected ones'.

Local sources claim that most of the apprehended people are youth and university students captured from their classes. There are also some women among the detained.

The is still no comment from Somaliland's security officials for this arrest. The city is under curfew at the moment

Las'anod which is the administrative capital of Sool region is under Somaliland's control since it invaded in 2007, but the inhabitants of the city are closely associated with Puntland.


10 arrested in shooting of Somaliland judge

It is the second murder against a Somaliland official in less than two weeks in Las Anod.

Source: (AHN) Reporter: Abdi Hajji Hussein.March 15, 2011.http://www.allheadlinenews.com/briefs/articles/90040129?10%20arrested%20in%20shooting%20of%20Somaliland%20judge

Witnesses on Tuesday said Somaliland security forces apprehended at least 10 people in house-to-house search operations in connection with the assassination of a high court judge in the disputed Sool region in northern Somalia.

Gunmen armed with pistols gunned down the judge, Ahmed Suleiman Gelle, as he left a mosque in the center of the town of Las Anod.

Ali Isma'il Farah, a Somaliland police officer, said authorities had declared a nighttime curfew starting at 6:30 p.m. local time in an attempt to curb rampant insecurity in the town. He said security forces were put on high alert, vowing the killers would be seized and brought to justice as quickly as possible.

It is the second murder of a Somaliland official in less than two weeks in Las Anod.

Since Somaliland took control of the Sool region from Somalia's semi-autonomous state of Puntland in 2007, at least 12 Somaliland officials including police, military and intelligence officers have been killed in the region


High court chief gunned down in northern Somalia

Source: (AHN) March 14, 2011.http://www.allheadlinenews.com/

Reports from the city of Laas-caanood in the breakaway republic of Somaliland indicate that unidentified assailants shot and killed regional court Chief Ahmed Saleebaan Monday evening.

Eyewitnesses told All Headline News that the perpetrators escaped after the attack outside a mosque. "He was on his car parked outside the Jaama mosque when masked men riddled bullets with him," Mohamed Burale, an elder in the city, told AHN by telephone.

Burale said that the court chief died on the way to hospital.

"More police cordoned off the whole area as soon as the killing happened, but the killers escaped, although police said they are hunting them down," the elder said.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the killing. It is not known whether the attack was politically motivated or a terrorist act. Last week, gunmen killed the region's security chief and wounded his deputy.

Although the region is now under the control of Somaliland, the Sool region has been disputed between Somaliland and Puntland, with each claiming ownership of the region.

Last month, dozens were killed in fierce fighting between the regional states in the disputed regions where Sool is located.


Senior Somaliland commander killed in disputed town

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Mar 11, 2011. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 11 Mar 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report by privately-owned Somali Shabeelle Media Network website on 11 March

A senior Somaliland commander was last night killed by armed groups in [disputed town of] Laas Caanood, Sool Region.

Reports reaching us from Laas Caanood indicate that armed groups last night shot and killed the Somaliland administration's senior-most Criminal Investigation Department's commander in the town and wounded his deputy who was at the same place. Somaliland police in the town launched security operations to hunt down those responsible for the killing of Mahmud Muhammad Hirsi who was the top most senior commander for the Criminal Investigations Department in Somaliland Administration in Sool Region. A number of men have since been arrested in connection with the killing of the commander.

Senior police commanders in Sool Region have said they are currently investigating the arrested individuals and that anyone found to be not guilty of wrong doing will be set free. Somaliland officials in Laas Canood are often targeted with organized killings and explosion attacks. Today's killing of this senior Somaliland official in the region comes at a time when Somaliland and Puntland forces yesterday clashed in the locality of Ganbara which is several kilometres away from Laas Caanood.


Somaliland’s miracle dairy farm.

BBC Africa 9 march, 2011

BBC Africa Editor Mary Harper in Somaliland for Assignment

BBC Africa Editor Mary Harper describes how she came to report on a remarkable green field dairy farm in the middle of the desert in a rejuvenated Somaliland.

I didn’t believe a word Abdullah Farah was saying when he first told me about his farm.

I had met him by chance in the Man-Soor Hotel while reporting for Assignment in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland – a dry, arid territory that broke away from Somalia 20 years ago and classed by the BBC as a ‘hostile environment’.

Like so many Somalilanders, Abdullah had fled the territory during a civil war in the 1980s. He ended up as a refugee in Canada, where, from nothing, he built up a lucrative business.

But he had returned to his homeland to set up what he told me was the “Green Valley Dairy Farm”.

Desert oasis

Most expatriates won’t leave their homes without armed guards, but I travelled all over the territory with no armed escort.

I’m sorry to say that I laughed at him and joked that he was living in some kind of fantasy land because I could never imagine such a thing in Somaliland.

On my journey through the territory, I had seen hardly any green vegetation and certainly no dairy cows. Just camels and goats.

He asked if I’d like to visit and I couldn’t resist, so the next day we set off early in the morning in his dusty jeep.

We flew across the sand at great speed, bouncing and leaping across territory that is still being cleared of the hundreds of thousands of landmines planted there during the civil war.

Suddenly, in stark contrast to the sandy landscape, appeared an expanse of bright green.

Dairy farmers in Somaliland

I thought I had seen a mirage, but there, built amongst the lush fields, was a green cowshed, full of black and white dairy cows.

Somaliland pioneers

Mr Farah didn’t know anything about farming when he started the project, but he wanted to produce fresh milk in Somaliland because many people, including his father, suffer from weak bones caused by calcium deficiency.

“I learned all of this from the internet,” he said, laughing.

His can-do attitude and spirit of adventure was something I encountered a lot in Somaliland, especially amongst those people who had returned from exile overseas.

I came to think of them as the ‘Somaliland pioneers’.

Boom town

Satellite image showing the dairy farm's remote location in the deserts of Somaliland

Somaliland doesn’t have access to big international loans because it doesn’t officially exist as a country.

Its government is poor and weak, but business people and local communities are rebuilding Somaliland from the rubble of war.

Twenty years ago, Hargeisa was called the ‘Dresden of Africa’ – the city had been flattened by systematic aerial bombardment by Somali government forces.

Now it is a boom town and many of the roads, bridges, schools and hospitals have been built with private money.

Some Somalilanders have contributed millions of dollars, others perhaps a camel, a goat or a few shillings.

Contrasting lands

Despite Somaliland’s ‘hostile environment’ status, I felt extremely safe there.

A dairy cow on the farm

Most expatriates won’t leave their homes without armed guards, but I travelled all over the territory with no armed escort.

There were several checkpoints manned by veterans of the civil war, but passing through them was always a good-humoured and relaxed experience.

The riskiest thing about my trip to Somaliland was getting there.

I travelled by air from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, via the Somali capital Mogadishu where, on an almost daily basis, al-Qaeda linked fighters battle a weak transitional government backed by African Union peacekeepers.

Fortunately there was no heavy fighting on the day I was there and the atmosphere was fairly relaxed.

But the city was heavily militarised – a complete contrast to Somaliland, where most of the guns have been put down and people are doing what they can to develop their homeland, including making sure the population has fresh milk to drink.


Somaliland said adopts policy to promote peace for regional, global cooperation

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Mar 10, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 5 Mar 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 5 March

[Press Statement Issued by the Somaliland Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "Solving The Problems Created by Puntland Involvement in Somaliland"]

The following is a press statement issued by Somaliland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on yesterday 4 March 2011:

"The Republic of Somaliland adopts a policy of peaceful coexistence with all the countries and regions in the Horn of Africa. It is the policy of the government to promote peace and stability and to seek areas of common interest that would allow increased regional and international cooperation.

We regret that our relationship with the Puntland regional authority has become complicated because of their refusal to respect the colonial border lines in contradiction to one of the basic principles adopted and maintained by the African Union. This has led to a growing tendency by Puntland to interfere in the internal affairs of Somaliland, especially by encouraging and exploiting tensions between Somaliland clans.

In this context, the Government of Somaliland is very concerned about the recent military build-up in Puntland that includes imports of a great number of military vehicles as well as training of paramilitary units -in violation of UN Security Council resolutions -by a private foreign military company reputed for its involvement in armed conflicts in Africa. Also, Puntland has recently deployed its forces towards Laas Caanood, and mobilized clan militias. The latter have attacked units of the Somaliland army with the support of Puntland on a number of occasions.

Regrettably, these developments have undermined the sustained efforts by the Somaliland government to pacify the inter-clan land conflict near Buuhoodle and to respond actively to their grievances. The involvement of Puntland in the inter-clan conflict on Somaliland soil has severely aggravated the situation and complicated the necessary dialogue, and so have the bellicose statements made by the Puntland president, Mr Abdirahman Farole.

As a result of this, a situation is now created where there is a danger of an enlarged conflict that could have a destabilising effect on the whole region. This is not only the concern of Somaliland but also that of other countries in the region that have a strong interest in maintaining peace and stability.

The president of Somaliland, Mr Ahmad M Silanyo, has repeatedly called for restraint and dialogue and has strongly encouraged the concerned elders to act as conciliators and peacemakers between the clans in conflict. As stated from the day of his election, the president remains ready for dialogue with Puntland on all matters of common interest under the condition that Puntland ceases the interference in internal affairs of Somaliland and stops its support to clan militias and anti-peace elements.

The way out of the present tension, nourished by threats of aggression, would be the return to the status quo ante, i.e., the cessation of all military activities including the support of clan militias by Puntland. Somaliland is ready to play its part in a process which can lead to such an arrangement.

Somaliland is grateful for the announced readiness of Ethiopia to get positively engaged in overcoming the situation that risks to do harm to the region. We would highly appreciate if the government of Ethiopia would deploy its good offices to de-escalate the present tensions perhaps through a shuttle diplomacy. Immediate objectives of such efforts could be to bring movements of a threatening nature to a halt, and to ensure that all sides have a clear commitment to confront the anti-peace elements, that are operating in the Buuhoodle area.

The Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Republic of Somaliland


Satellite Television Network banned from operating inside Somaliland

It is the second time in less than seven months the breakaway republic has acted against the media.

Source: (AHN) Reporter: Abdi Hajji Hussein.http://www.allheadlinenews.com

The breakaway republic of Somaliland has banned Universal Television, a private Somali satellite TV network based in London, from operating in Somaliland, an official said on Thursday.

Ahmed Abdi Habsade, Somaliland’s minister of communication and press, charged in a statement that Universal TV, which is directed to the Somali-speaking community, had created clan-related conflicts and was acting against the existence of Somaliland.

Habsade accused Universal of broadcasting video footage showing 12 bodies that the network said were killed by Somaliland military forces in Kalshale village in Buuhoodle district in the disputed Sool region during clashes between Somaliland forces and local armed clan militias.

The minister said the video footage had been shot in the Baidao district in southern Somalia.

On Feb. 7, at least 10 people were slain and 25 others hurt in clashes between the military forces of the breakaway republic of Somaliland and local armed clan militias that erupted in northern Somalia.

Somaliland also accused the network of biased and partial coverage of political issues in Somaliland.

It is the second time in less than seven months the breakaway republic has acted against the media.

On Oct. 6, the former Somaliland minister of communication and press, Abdullahi Jama Osman ordered Universal Television to stop operating inside Somaliland, although the network was later allowed to resume operation


SOMALIA: Record charcoal prices in Somaliland prompt search for alternatives

Photo: Mohamed Amin Jibril/IRIN. As the viability of pastoralism diminishes, many pastoralists have turned to charcoal production to make ends meet

HARGEISA, 8 March 2011 (IRIN-http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=92134) - Record charcoal prices in Somalia's self-declared independent region of Somaliland are threatening the livelihoods of many poor urban families who have limited alternative energy sources.

"Charcoal prices in Somaliland have increased in the past six months from 25,000 [Somaliland] shillings [US$5.50] per 25kg sack to 40,000 shillings [$7.50], making it difficult to us to buy charcoal, which we depend on to cook food for our families," Muna Ahmed, an internally displaced mother of nine, told IRIN. "We are now suffering; we do not know what to cook with."

The average urban household uses two to three bags of charcoal per month. In 2005, this monthly expenditure was about $10.

Abdi-Risak Bashir Libah, an environmental director at Candlelight for Health, Education and Environment, an NGO, said: "Because of the increasing urban population in Somaliland and the high demand for charcoal, its prices will increase even more. The problem will continue, unless alternatives are found.”

Some 95 percent of Somaliland’s 1.6m urban residents – about half the total population – use charcoal as their main source of cooking energy. This amounts to an annual consumption of some two million bags and up to 2.5 million trees, according to a 2007 report by the Academy for Peace and Development (APD).

The consequent deforestation reduces rainfall, soil depth and grass cover in Somaliland, where up to 65 percent of the population are pastoralists. As the viability of this livelihood diminishes, many pastoralists have turned to charcoal production to make ends meet, further accelerating the deforestation.

Alternatives

In an effort to slow down this vicious cycle, the government has imposed load limits on charcoal trucks, and is working on longer-term solutions, according to Abdikarim Aden Omar, director of the Environment Department in Somaliland's Ministry of Livestock, Environment and Pastoralist Development.

"We are now suffering; we do not know what to cook with".

"We know that prices of woodland charcoal have increased, even though it is the only energy for cooking in Somaliland; but as a ministry, we can't do anything in the short term. Our plan is to put in place a long-term strategy, which includes searching for investments in coal [of which Somaliland has considerable unexploited deposits], solar, and gas energy sources," Omar said.

In 2005, a presidential task force was set up to look into alternatives to charcoal, but political upheavals in the country interfered. “After we discussed the issue, we agreed to send some people to India to get more experience, because India uses cattle waste as cooking energy,” Somaliland's former vice-president, Ahmed Yusuf Yasin, told IRIN. “But before we did that, the new government came in [after parliamentary elections in September 2005].”

Libah says Candlelight has also been exploring alternatives to charcoal. "We have urged the government to decrease taxes on gas and kerosene stoves as well as on natural gas," he said. The organization also promotes more fuel-efficient stoves and the use of mesquite, an invasive plant that has been expanding in Somaliland over the past 20 years.

While using kerosene to cook would cost the average household some $14.30 a month, only about 5 percent of the population uses this fuel because it is not well known and supplies have been unreliable in the past.

Liquefied petroleum gas is another option, but one 11kg cylinder requires a $45 deposit, with each refill costing around $20 and lasting the average household about 20 days. Another deterrent is the widespread belief that the cylinders tend to explode.

Electrical energy is also beyond the reach of most households, with each kilowatt/hour costing about $1, one of the highest rates in the world.

However, for major shifts to take effect and for the high charcoal prices to push people toward alternatives, solutions cannot come from communities and the business sector alone, according to Candlelight executive director, Ahmad Ibrahim Awale.

“Viable solutions can work but they lack necessary support, promotion and social marketing from development agencies,” he said.

“The link between deforestation and recurring droughts should also be clearly highlighted. A political will and commitment from the government to support the process through enactment of conducive polices, tax exemption from all alternative energies, will also play a pivotal role facilitating such shift.”

Mohamed Hashi Elmi, Somaliland’s Minister of Finance, says such steps are being taken.

"Somaliland government is encouraging everything to stop charcoal use and environmental degradation in the country. We have already made 100 percent tax cuts on imported LPG equipment and we will do the same for gas stove importers,” he said.


Somaliland intelligence officer gunned down in disputed Sool region

No group claimed the responsibility of Somaliland officer’s murder.

Source: (AHN) Reporter: Abdi Hajji Hussein.http://www.allheadlinenews.com

An intelligence officer for the autonomous Somaliland region was gunned down Monday night in the town of Las Anod, the capital of the disputed Sool region in northern Somalia.

Mohamoud Mohammed Hersi, the intelligence chief for the region, was walking in the center of Las Anod when he came under attack from masked men armed with pistols, according to witnesses. A woman running a small business stall was also killed.

Witnesses said shortly after the assassination a large number of police reached the scene and began search operations. An unknown number of people were taken to custody.

The murder of the intelligence chief comes one day after clashes between forces of the adjoining regions of Somaliland and Puntland killed eight people and injured dozens more.

Over the weekend, residents of Las Anod conducted anti-Somaliland protests that turned violent as Somaliland security forces reportedly apprehended dozens of people after dispersing the protestors, according to local residents.

Somalia’s semi-autonomous state of Puntland has accused the breakaway republic of Somaliland of stoking clan-related conflict in the regions of Sool, Sanaag and Eyn.


Somali Women Heroes in Health: Edna Adan Ismail

Source: United Nations Country Team in Somalia. Date: 08 Mar 2011.http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/VVOS-8ERL36?OpenDocument

Somalia's health care system was utterly destroyed by the civil war leaving the country with,among other problems, the highest rate of maternal and infant mortality in the world. A Somali woman gives birth to an average of 6 children during her life time. 14 in every 1000 women die due to complications related to child birth. One in 4 women were attended during pregnancy at least once by skilled health personnel (doctors, nurses or midwives). About a third (33%) of births are delivered by skilled personnel.

The Edna Adan Maternity Hospital was officially opened on March 2002. The hospital situated in Hargeisa, Somaliland deals with mother and child health-related issues. Currently the hospital has operating theatres, laboratory, library, computer center and a complete wing dedicated to training nurses and midwives. Born in Hargeisa on 8 September 1937, Edna Adan Ismail is the founder and director of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital.

Edna attained formal training in the area of nursing, midwifery and family planning contributing immeasurably since to the health care sector in developing countries including her home country Somalia. As the first qualified Somali nurse?midwife, she has continuously engaged in building the capacity of health workers.

She initiated the first training courses for nurses and midwives at the Hargeisa Group Hospital. Edna is a woman of many firsts, having being appointed Director of the Department of Human Resources Development, Ministry of Health and Labor from April 1977 to November 1978, and the first female to be promoted to a position of director in Somalia. In the mid-80s, Edna embarked on putting up the first privately-owned hospital in Somalia's capital Mogadishu. This initiative was not completed as civil war broke out in 1991 forcing her to flee Somalia.

For about 9 years Edna Adan sat as a member of a Panel of Experts on Human Resource Development for Health for the eastern Mediterranean region that includes Somalia. She also served in the capacity of regional Nursing Advisor for WHO. Later until the early 90's, she was WHO focal point for the Eastern Mediterranean countries is for traditional practices affecting the including female genital mutilation, safe motherhood initiatives and, training of midwives and traditional birth attendants. Edna has been vocal and instrumental in fighting the practice of female genital mutilation which is endemic in Somalia. In 2010, she was awarded the French Legion of Honor, a French Knighthood in recognition of these and other achievements.

Edna is a strong gender and human rights advocate tackling health issues of women and children in developing countries. She is setting up a second hospital in Hargeisa as a non?profit making charity. The health facility will serve as a midwifery teaching hospital, having already trained 32 nursing students and 15 laboratory technicians.


Child Protection Advocates provide a safety net for vulnerable Somali children

© UNICEF Somalia/ 2011/ Morooka. Child Protection Advocate Nimo Daher (left) counsels Safia (not her real name), who has been disowned by her relatives and is raising her infant son alone at a settlement for displaced people in Hargeisa, located in Somaliland, Somalia.

By Iman Morooka. http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/somalia_57846.html

HARGEISA, Somalia, 7 March 2011 – If it wasn’t for Nimo Daher, a Child Protection Advocate in one of the settlements for displaced people in Hargeisa, a city in Somaliland, baby Hussein (not his real name) would have likely suffered neglect and abandonment.

That’s the fate of many Somali children born out of wedlock. When Safia (not her real name), 24, gave birth to Hussein three months ago, she faced an uncertain future. The child’s father refused to marry her or take care of the child. Safia’s relatives disowned her, telling her to move out of their home and give the child away. She had nowhere to go, no income and no support.

Helping young mothers

Ms. Daher learned of Safia’s situation during her regular community visits. The effect was immediate. “I told Safia that everything is going to be all right and that she is not alone,” she recalls. Ms. Daher intervened to make sure Safia received the necessary support and encouragement so that Hussein could stay with his mother.

That meant working closely with the Child Protection Committee (CPC) in the community to raise funds to assist Safia with housing and other financial needs. Ms. Daher and the committee also worked on sensitizing Safia’s neighbours to ensure she didn’t face stigma and discrimination. Thanks to these efforts, the neighbours are supportive of the young mother and her child.

© UNICEF Somalia/2011/Morooka. Zahra Omar, a Child Protection Advocate, teaches children in Hargeisa, Somaliland, where she and other advocates create awareness and mobilize communities around issues of child protection.

The same cannot be said for other mothers in similar circumstances. Young unmarried women who get pregnant often have to abandon their children because of the social stigma attached to pregnancy out of wedlock.

“Hussein was lucky,” said UNICEF Child Protection Officer Issa Ahmed Nur. “There are many cases of abandoned infants who are found on the street, and if still alive, they are often given to orphanages.”

Support for children

Children in Somalia are exposed to all forms of abuse, violence, exploitation, and lack of care. In the semi-autonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland, in particular, social welfare systems have been weakened by neglect, an influx of displaced persons and overall lack of capacity.

UNICEF is working with partners towards the creation of a protective environment for children by increasing community capacity to care for and protect them.

© UNICEF Somalia/2011/Morooka. Badr, 13, walks with Child Protection Advocate Zeinab Farah at 'State House' settlement for displaced people in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Ms. Farah helped Badr access rehabilitation services after he lost his leg in an accident.

With generous contributions from the Government of Japan as well as other emergency and UNICEF funds, UNICEF currently supports 68 Child Protection Advocates (CPAs) and 350 CPCs across the country. They are responsible for mobilizing communities around child rights as well as monitoring child protection issues and referring cases to appropriate services.

In Somaliland, UNICEF implements the project through collaboration with the non-governmental organization Comprehensive Community-based Rehabilitation Services (CCBRS), which runs a network of CPAs and volunteers.

A new beginning

Badr, 13, has benefited from the project. He was hit by a car five years ago on his way home from the market, where he was helping his mother sell milk. His right leg was so badly damaged it had to be amputated, but his mother could not afford to buy walking aids.

“I was sad and depressed after the accident because I couldn’t go out of my home for two years. I had to crawl because I had nothing to hold on to,” Badr said. “My mother and siblings used to keep me company at home when they could, but once they went out, I was lonely.”

Zeinab Farah, the CPA in the settlement for displaced people where Badr lives, heard about his case and consulted with her CCBRS colleagues. They referred him to a non-governmental organization that provides services for people with disabilities. This allowed Badr to undergo rehabilitation and receive walking aids, including a prosthetic leg.

For Badr, it’s been a new beginning. He has now enrolled back in school and can even play football again. “I can kick the ball with one of my crutches,” he said, “and sometimes even lean on the crutches and kick the ball with my leg.”


Somaliland, Puntland clash in northern Somalia

The clash comes one day after anti-Somaliland protests by residents in the town of Las Anod that resulted in injuries to about a score of the demonstrators.

Source: AHN Reporter: Abdi Hajji Hussein.http://www.allheadlinenews.com. March 7, 2011

Heavy clashes between military forces loyal to the break away republic of Somaliland and Puntland troops broke out in a village in the Sool region that lies in northern Somalia, officials said Monday.

The confrontation, which lasted for several hours, erupted after soldiers loyal to Somalia’s semi-autonomous state of Puntland attacked the village of Ganbara about 20 kilometers from the town of Las Anod in the Sool region where Somaliland military forces are based.

“The confrontation started at 2 p.m. local time after we had come under attack from Puntland forces armed [with] heavy and light guns and flanked by more than 20 military vehicles,” said Osman Abdullahi, a spokesman for the Somaliland military, adding that they repulsed them.

He stressed that Somaliland forces captured two of the military wagons and a number of prisoners. He didn’t specify the number of the captives, but he said they inflicted irretrievable losses on Puntland troops.

The clash comes one day after anti-Somaliland protests by residents in the town of Las Anod that resulted in injuries to about a score of the demonstrators. Somaliland security forces reportedly apprehended dozens of people including women after dispersing the protestors, according to local residents.

Earlier, Ahmed Ali Askar, the Puntland minister of information, accused the breakaway administration of Hargeisa of creating new conflict between the two neighboring administrations, claiming that Somaliland is trying muzzle the residents of Sool, Sanaag and Eyn, which disputed regions between Somaliland and Puntland.

He said that live ammunition was used to disperse the demonstrators.

The Puntland official condemned a statement from the United Kingdom that it will provide more aid for Somaliland, charging that the breakaway republic will use the aid to stoke the conflict of Sool, Sanaag and Eyn.

On March 1, UK aid allocations to help build peace and stability in Somalia could rise from the current level of £26 million to £80 million per year over the next three years, depending on the results achieved by 2013/14, according to a statement from the British government.

UK Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell visited Hargeisa on Jan. 31, where he explained that 40 percent of UK’s aid to Somalia will go to Somaliland. Somaliland has shown that greater democracy and stable government are possible.

Somaliland and Puntland had been the most peaceful regions in Somalia for the last 20 years.


Somali breakaway states clash

AFP. 2011-03-07 22:44

Hargeysa - Forces from the rival northern Somali breakaway states of Puntland and Somaliland clashed along their disputed border on Monday, leaving at least nine dead, officials and witnesses said.

Clashes involving anti-aircraft and machine gun fire erupted near the flashpoint town of Lasanod, at the southern end of the disputed border, near Ethiopia.

"Puntland militiamen attacked our military barracks in Ganbara village near Lasanod this afternoon," Somaliland military commander Keyse Ahmed told AFP.

"We defeated them and captured several of their fighters," he said. "Several of their dead bodies are still strewn across the area as we speak and we retain full control of the village they attacked."

Reports from local witnesses indicate that at least nine combatants were killed in the fighting, which lasted several hours.

"It was very heavy fighting, and the elders in the area counted nine killed. They are from both sides and all of them are fighters," said Abdihakim Mohamed, a local elder.

Yusuf Mustafe, another elder from the town of Lasanod, gave the same death toll but could not confirm which side had the upper hand.

Puntland officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Puntland declared itself autonomous in 1998 but long retained close ties to the central administration in Mogadishu, while Somaliland, which broke away soon after Somalia began its descent into chaos in 1991, is more peaceful than the rest of the country and is seeking international recognition.


Somali rival regions express keenness to open talks to resolve "ongoing" dispute

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Mar 3, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 26 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC.Excerpt of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 26 February

[Unattributed report: "Somaliland and Puntland Ready To Open Discussions"]

In its "A Week in the Horn" February 25, 2011 report, Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised issue about the recent conflict between Somaliland and Puntland and IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] Partners forum visit to Somaliland:

Puntland President, Dr Abdurahman 'Farole' visited Addis Ababa this week. He met and held extensive discussions with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, on current developments in Puntland as well as the recent conflict between Puntland and Somaliland and the overall security situation in Somalia. President Abdirahman briefed Ethiopian leaders on developments in Puntland, its relations with the TFG, its view on the decision of Somalia's Transitional Federal Parliament to extend its term of office by three years, and the way forward for Somalia. He thanked the Ethiopian government for its continued support in the area of security and other fields to help ensure peace and stability.

In turn, Ethiopian government officials briefed President Abdurahman on the view of IGAD that the transition in Somalia in August must be achieved without creating a vacuum. They emphasized the need to resolve Puntland's ongoing dispute with Somaliland through peaceful means and peaceful means alone. They noted the absolute necessity for the two sides to cooperate and work together as they both faced considerable challenges from extremist elements. Ethiopia was a friend to both administrations, and it wished to see their differences resolved peacefully and both continue with their reconstruction efforts to address the challenges of under-development and poverty. It is this that would ensure peace and stability along their common borders. It therefore suggested that both administrations should sit down together, to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue. Ethiopia offered its good offices for this purpose. Both Somaliland and Puntland have now expressed their readiness to open discussions. The leadership of both are fully aware that peace, stability and a readiness to participate in dialogue are values that have kept them on different and more peaceful trajectories than the rest of Somalia.

The IGAD Partners Forum Visits Hargeysa

Members of the IGAD Partners Forum (IPF), led by the co-chairs Ethiopia and Italy, paid a visit to Hargeysa, the capital of Somaliland this week. The visit was made in connection with the efforts of IGAD and its partners to encourage the relative peace and stability of Somaliland and to acknowledge the recent election in Somaliland and it's peaceful transfer of power. This was the first visit by the IPF to Somaliland and members of the delegation, which was warmly received on arrival at the Egal International Airport, held extensive discussions with President Ahmad Mahmud 'Silanyo' and members of the cabinet, as well as the leadership of the Guurti and Parliament.

President 'Silanyo' welcomed the visit of the IPF delegation to Hargeysa. It was, he said, a major departure for the international community. He emphasized that Somaliland had been waiting for the international community to recognize its efforts for a long time, and the visit was one step forward in this regard. He added that the delegation was welcome to a peaceful country where the people had built up a nation from the ashes of war. The Chairperson of the Guurti, the Somaliland Council of Elders, Mr Suleyman Gaal, on behalf of both houses of parliament, expressed his appreciation of the visit of the IPF members. He stressed that the people of Somaliland would continue to seek the support of the international community. In response the IPF delegation, through its co-chair, underlined its appreciation of the achievements of Somaliland and the development efforts of the Somaliland people. Members of the delegation emphasized their readiness to engage with Somaliland on how best to contribute to these efforts. The Executive Secretary of IGAD, who expressed his pleasure in being in Hargeysa, detailed the background to the visit and the need to keep up the momentum to ensure continuity and sustainability of IGAD contacts with Somaliland.

The IPF members were given an extensive briefing by the Minister of Planning regarding Somaliland's vision and the development plans for rebuilding the economy over the next two decades. The plan, prepared in collaboration with the IGAD secretariat, is expected to move Somaliland another step forward in strengthening its peace and stability and its efforts to achieve statehood. The IPF delegation also visited the port of Berbera where the port manager and other officials gave a briefing on the activities of the port, its plans and the support needed from the international community to improve services.

The visit provided a valuable opportunity for the members of the IGAD Partner's Forum to get direct information about developments in Somaliland and consider alternative options for assisting the efforts of the IGAD Secretariat in Somaliland. The IGAD Secretariat recently took over the Sheikh Veterinary Institute which is working to develop the capacity of IGAD member states on livestock sector development. [Passage omitted]


Somaliland women affirm support for country's armed forces

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Mar 3, 2011.The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 26 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC.Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 26 February

[Unattributed report: "Somaliland Women Support Armed Forces, Disavow Clanism"]

Hundreds of Somaliland women pledged their strong support for Somaliland's armed forces. The announcement of support for the armed forces took place at a conference in Labour's Hall in Hargeysa. The participants in the conference included female members of Somaliland's political parties UDUB, UCID and KULMIYE.

The attendees of the conference also stressed that the people of Somaliland are all brothers and sisters and that residents of Sool, eastern Sanag and Buhodle should reject the attempts by Puntland administration to manipulate them by appealing to clan ties.

Among the women who took part in this conference were: Amina Mohamud Diriye (Director of the Presidency's office for Humanitarian Affairs), Halimo Usman Rage (Head of UCID's Women's Wing), Khadija Ali Farah, Fadumo Bihi, Muna Asayr and Layla Osman.


IGAD partners forum envoys visit Somaliland to access socio-economic progress

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Mar 3, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 26 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC.Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 26 February

[Unattributed report: "Ambassadors From IGAD Partners Forum Descend on Somaliland"]

The largest number of ambassadors and officials from the IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] Partners Forum visited Somaliland this week. The purpose of the visit was for the ambassadors and officials to see for themselves the progress that Somaliland has made, and to form a better idea of how their countries can help Somaliland.

In addition to the ambassadors, the delegation included the Executive Secretary of IGAD, Eng. Mahboub Maalim.

A press release signed by the President's spokesman, Mr Abdillahi Muhammad Dahir (Cukuse), highlighted the meeting that the delegation had with Somaliland President Ahmed Sillanyo who updated them on the situation in Somaliland and requested from them to assist Somaliland economically and to grant it international diplomatic recognition.

The delegation did not limit its visit to Hargeysa but also toured the vital and strategic port of Berbera.

Here is the list of the delegation:

1. Ethiopia: Amb. Negash Kibret
2. IGAD Secretariat: Executive Secretary Eng. Mahboub Maalim
3. Belgium: Amb. Gunter Sleewagen
4. EU (Djibouti): Frederic Roberts
5. Finland: Amb. Leo Olsvirta
6. France: Amb. Jean-Chirstophe Belliard
7. Germany: Nichael Biontino
8. Japan: Amb. Hiroyuki Kishino
9. Italy: Amb. Renzo Rosso -Alberto Vecchi
10. Netherland: Sjoerd Smit
11. Norway: Amb. Odd-Inge Kvalheim
12. UK: John Marshall, Sean Cockburn
13. Spain: Jose Eugenio Thovar Loxano
14. Turkey: Amb. U. kenan Ipek-Elif Okutucu
15. USA Amb. Donald Booth
16. Brazil: Amb. Isabel Cristina de Azvedo Heyvaert."


Somaliland clashes leave 123 dead

Mar 3, 2011. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/168052.html

At least 123 people have been killed after troops from the self-declared republic of Somaliland attacked and opened fire on local clan militia in the Buhodle district.

The conflict erupted late Wednesday as Somaliland forces based in the village of Kalshale in the Buhodle district launched an attack against local clan militia called SSC (Sool, Sanaag, Cayn), a Press TV correspondent reported on Thursday.

Fierce skirmishes broke out in the aftermath and heavy weapons -- including artillery -- were used in the fighting. Some 149 people were also injured in the clashes.

Somaliland, situated in northwestern Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from rest of the Horn of Africa country in 1991.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

The Somali government has struggled for years to restore security but efforts have not yet yielded results in the nation.

Nearly a million people have died following years of fighting between rival warlords and also due to the country's inability to deal with famine and disease.

There are more than 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia. More than 300,000 IDPs have been sheltered in Mogadishu alone.

Most of the displaced live in squalid conditions at makeshift sites in southern and central Somalia, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


Somaliland police said arrest colleagues over arson attacks

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Mar 2, 2011. Haatuf, Hargeysa, in Somali 1 Mar 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report by privately-owned, pro-opposition Somaliland daily newspaper Haatuf on 1 March

Somaliland police have arrested a police officer and constable over the recent incidents in which a number of houses have been burnt in Ga'an Libah District in Hargeysa.

The former commander of New Hargeysa Police Station, Abdi Sigis, and a police constable have been arrested after they were suspected of being behind the burning of houses in the district. Reliable sources confirmed to Hatuf that the two have been arrested from New Hargeysa.

There has been no official statement from the police headquarters over the arrest of these police officers. However, reports received from other police sources say the two have been arrested over arson in Ga'an Libah District.


Somalia: Calm Returns to Kalshale Village in North of the Country After One Day

2 March 2011. Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

Buuhoodle — After one day of heavy clashes between Somaliland military forces and fighters loyal to SCC group on Tuesday, calm is reported to have returned to the village.

Reports emanating from Buuhoodle district of Sool region in northern Somalia suggested that at least one person was injured.

Somaliland official told the local media that SCC group is responsible for the clashes on Tuesday.

Witnesses told Shabelle Media Network that the residents in the area expressed a deep anxiety the repetition of clashes in Kalshale village.

SCC group is said to be against the presence of Somaliland military in the regions of Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn that is abbreviated to (SCC).

The Somaliland authorities have repeatedly accused the administration in neighboring Puntland of being behind clan violence in the disputed area.

Puntland declared itself autonomous in 1998 but long retained close ties to the central administration in Mogadishu while Somaliland, which broke away soon after Somalia began its descent into chaos in 1991, is more peaceful than the rest of the country and is seeking international recognition.


SOMALIA: How Somaliland president stokes clan hostilities

By: Liban Ahmed. Feb 27, 2011. http://horseedmedia.net/2011/02/27/somalia-somaliland-president-stokes-clan-hostilities/

In November 2010 a dispute over building water-reservoirs at Kalshaale hamlet in Togdheer region in northern Somalia developed into clashes between two sub-clans from two clans living in the area. The dispute over the water-reservoirs was brewing for several months. Two days before last year’s Eid-ul-Adha day a man from Buuhoodle traveling in his truck was murdered by some men from Somaliland president’s clansmen who were building water-reservoirs at Kalshaale grazing land. Rather than handing over suspects to the authorities in Burco, the administrative capital of Togdheer region, and starting talks with the clan of the murdered man as the Somali customary law stipulates if the clan or sub-clan identities of perpetrators are known, Somaliland president’s clansmen men let matters fester to a point where the murdered man’s clansmen from Buuhoodle attacked men they thought to be murderers.

A mediation conference has been held for the feuding sub-clans. Somaliland administration supported this approach to resolving clan disputes through the inter-clan customary law rather than through the Somaliland legal system. For the sake of argument give the Somaliland administration the benefit of doubt that its position is based on the logic that only one of the clans—that of Somaliland president’s— supports the Somaliland secession, therefore it is reasonable to adjudicate resource-related disputes through the customary law.

Joint mediation committee was formed to discuss the clashes and causes of clashes to avert further bloodshed. At the end of the mediation conference, a declaration was issued by the elders of the clan of the Somaliland president. Buuhoodle elders have rejected the outcome of the mediation. In such a situation the two parties call for a third, impartial party to adjudicate the disputes. Somaliland president, Ahmed Mohamed Siilaanyo has issued a statement supporting the outcome of the mediation and said government would send Somaliland forces to the disputed grazing land to enforce the recommendations from “ elders”. Somaliland president’s decree was not only a provocation but it also undermined all the goodwill that people in the Northern Somalia have built since 1991: he took sides in the dispute by aiming to enforce recommendation from his clan’s elders although he claims to be a president for all people in Ex-British Somaliland including Buuhoodle elders. After the deployment of forces that Somaliland administration calls a national army at Kalshaale, clashes had taken place between Buuhoodle-based militias on one side and assortment of clan militias with contingents of Somaliland “security forces” on the other side. More than 100 men have been killed on both sides. President Siilaanyo’s 2011 decree to use violence to bring the Kalshaale incident to an end is one of the documented presidential decisions to stoke clan hostilities in post-1991 Somalia.

Augustine Philip Mahiga, the United Nations Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia told Radio Daljir that the drought had caused Kalshaale clashes. Somaliland administration receives development aid from the European Union on behalf of regions Somaliland government regards as constituent parts of what was known as Ex-British Somaliland. Not all regions in Ex-British Somaliland are under the Somaliland administration. Somaliland has never disclosed how development aid is distributed and who makes decisions on whose behalf. The British government is funding training for Somaliland security forces being conducted in Ethiopia. In May 2011, Somaliland will celebrate its twentieth anniversary since a group of former Somali National Movement leaders declared a unilateral secession. There are three political parties in Somaliland; two successful elections were conducted in parts of ex-British Somaliland under Somaliland administration. Those achievements are eclipsed by Somaliland president’s miscalculations to fan clan hostilities and undermine both traditional and modern conflict resolution approaches in this age of increased awareness about human rights violations.

Liban Ahmad. libahm@gmail.com


Somaliland opens "pirates prison" in Hargeysa

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Newsfile. London: Feb 25, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 19 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 19 February

Somaliland ministers and a visiting donor from the Norwegian government inaugurated a new modern prison in Hargeysa, which will make it possible to convict Somali pirates caught by international forces.

A new central prison for persons convicted to long sentences has been made use of in Somaliland's capital Hargeysa. The prison, partially financed by Norway, was today visited by Somaliland Home Affairs Minister, Muhammad Abdi Gabose, accompanied by Norway's Deputy Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

The Hargeysa prison is to be formally inaugurated later this month, but already houses over 70 Somali pirates that had been arrested by international marine forces in the Bay of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

Many pirates so far have had to be released as there were no courts ready to sentence them or prisons ready to accommodate them. The Hargeysa "pirates' prison" comes as an international response to this vacuum, with Somalilanders happy to extend their international relations by hosting the new facilities.

According to Norwegian Deputy-Minister Eide, the new facilities - starring as the most modern building in run-down Hargeysa - "appeared effective and moderns, both regarding prisoners' conditions and security." High standards had been a condition to extradite captured pirates by many of the nations participating in the anti-piracy operations.

Consequently, Mr Eide also announced further Norwegian cooperation and funding for Somaliland's justice sector, "including police, courts and correctional services, and also for the development of more modern legal codes," according to a statement by the Oslo Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"When we know that nine out of ten pirates are released after being caught, it is obvious that the only answer to this problem cannot be sending more marine troops," said Mr Eide, who back in Norway faces critics because his maritime nation is not participating in the naval anti-piracy operations.

Mr Eide during his stay in Hargeysa also participated in an inauguration ceremony of a Norway-funded school building, officially handed over to Somaliland Education Minister Samsam Abdi Adan.

The Deputy-Minister's visit to Hargeysa represented the first-ever Norwegian official visit to the non-recognized state of Somaliland. Mr Eide met with Somaliland President Ahmad Muhammad Mahmud Silanyo and a large number of Ministers and dignitaries.

The visiting Norwegian was full of praise after having seen developments in Somaliland first-handed. "The contrast between Somaliland and most of the rest of Somalia is striking," he stated. "Somaliland has managed to establish a well-functioning democracy, where presidents not only are elected, but also leave their post if not re-elected, which is not a matter of course in Africa."

While promising increased economic and political cooperation between Norway and Somaliland, the Oslo Ministry today emphasized that "this should not be interpreted in a way that Norway wants to contribute to those forces that want to separate Somaliland from the rest of Somalia."


Somaliland government arrests President Sharif's minister in Hargeysa

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 23, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 19 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 19 February

[Unattributed report: "Sheikh Sharif's Minister Jailed in Somaliland"]

The Transitional Federal Government's Deputy Minister of Public Works, Mr Abdirashid Muhammad Ali, was jailed after he arrived in Hargeysa without Somaliland government's permission.

The minister is originally from Somaliland, and there is a law in Somaliland which considers it a crime for any Somalilander to take part in Somalia's government or conferences.

However, the government of President Ahmad Sillanyo has been inconsistent in applying the law which has created confusion and probably encouraged this minister and others who are reportedly in the pipeline to come to Somaliland.


Official says Somaliland deserves to be "recognized"

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 23, 2011.The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 19 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC.Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 19 February

[Unattributed report: "Somaliland: Seeking a Deserved Recognition"]

Dr Muhammad-Rashid Shaykh Hasan, from the Office of International Affairs and Recognition of Somaliland, makes an encouraging call to work together and focus on the future for a better Somaliland.

Below a press release issued by Dr Muhammad-Rashid Shaykh Hasan:

Beginning from the restoration of the Somaliland state in 1991, Somaliland has been working hard to prove to the world its ability to bring about fundamental structures and policies of a modern state. Somaliland gave first priority to peace and security. This peace and security has provided Somaliland population to enjoy law and order, uninterrupted democratic elections and freedom of expression, and above all deepening democratic culture which attracted the attention of the international community.

Somaliland put in place a system of government based on presidential model of governance with all its branches of legislative and executive. One of the main factors of the legitimacy of a modern state is the self-determination of the people. Therefore, testing the legitimacy of the Somaliland statehood, the Somaliland government held a free and a fair referendum in 2001. The people of Somaliland opted for the independence of Somaliland with an absolute majority of 97 per cent. This has been followed by holding series of democratic elections, starting with 2002-municipal election 2003-presidential election, 2005-parliamentary election and 2010-second presidential election. These processes have strengthened the democratic institutions and policies of the modern state where at the same time it reduced the negative aspect of the clan systems and clan structures of the society.

Other aspect of the strength of the Somaliland modern state is the viable non-state actors (civil society) and the Diaspora who have been playing a crucial role in the democratic process and policy-making of the country. Having all these dimensions and strengths, this nation has overcome many challenges. One of the biggest challenges was the last presidential election-The June-2010 election. The way in which the voters behaved during the election and election was implemented has shown the world the maturity and the magnanimity of the Somaliland emerging democracy. International observers witnessing the election validated the results of the election and praised the Somaliland electoral commission and the public in adopting international standards.

The winner of the 2010 election Mr Ahmad M M Sillanyo, the candidate of the Kulmiye Party is one of the experienced politician in Africa who has been involved in global and African politics and development in the last 40 years and a former freedom fighter who was the chairman of the Somali National Movement (SNM) in most its difficult times.

In connection to the above -mentioned factors, Somaliland deserves to be recognized and take its right place in the community of nations, sooner than later.

On the other hand, adversaries of Somaliland have been engaged in all sorts of designs to undermine Somaliland. The conflict in some spots of the eastern parts of the country is one of these evil designs which I am sure Somaliland will overcome it. There are also ill-informed politicians who have been recently creating confusion and deliberately making misleading statements of the current situation of the country and even surprisingly re-visiting the June presidential election that President Ahmad Sillanyo won with a slide majority, raising, doubts about the results.

We would like to say to these politicians, this democratically-elected president and his government have worked out a vision, and goal and objective to reach this vision during its mandate. This vision was mentioned in detail in the annual speech that the president made to the parliament (the House of Representatives and the Council of Elders). We would like to say to these politicians, let us work together and concentrate on the future for a better Somaliland.

The government together with the non-state actors, the Diaspora and other friends of Somaliland is organizing an international conference, in July in Hargeysa on the recognition issue, influential international personalities in media, international law and development who are friends of Somaliland will attend this conference. The conference will also focus on peace, security and the democratic process of Somaliland; issues that are important for the recognition. We are expecting that the conference will produce a workable strategic recognition roadmap.


Somaliland clashes leave dozens dead

Feb 23, 2011. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/166616.html

At least 26 people have been killed after troops from the self-declared republic of Somaliland launched an attack on local clan militia in the Buhodle district.

The conflict erupted on Tuesday as Somaliland forces based in the village of Kalshale in the Buhodle district opened fire on local clan militia called SSC (Sool, Sanaag, Cayn), a Press TV correspondent reported.

Fierce skirmishes broke out in the aftermath of the strike and heavy weapons -- including artillery -- were used in the fighting.

A total of eighteen people were killed and 22 others wounded. The clashes also claimed the lives of eight civilians and left ten others injured.

Somaliland, situated in northwestern Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Horn Africa country in 1991.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

The Somali government has struggled for years to restore security, but efforts have not yet yielded results in the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

Up to one million people have lost their lives following years of fighting between rival warlords and because of an inability to deal with famine and disease.

There are more than 1.4 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Somalia. More than 300,000 IDPs are sheltering in Mogadishu alone.

Most of the displaced live in squalid conditions at makeshift sites in southern and central Somalia, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


Somaliland could be force for good in Horn of Africa

Published: February 23 2011.http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/174cc918-3edb-11e0-834e-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1EpQNfPE0

From Charles Tannock MEP.

Sir, In your editorial Pirates of the Gulf” (February 19) you rightly call for more support for the “autonomous” former British protectorate of Somaliland, which has been de facto independent from Mogadishu in the south since a brief civil war in 1991.

Somaliland is currently a good news story in contrast to the failed state of Somalia, whose transitional federal government, supported internationally, has totally failed to control the al-Shabab jihadi terrorists who brutally impose Sharia law on the people or to defeat the scourge of piracy based on its territory and neighbouring Puntland.

In support of independence, a 2005 African Union report pointed out that the union in 1960 between Somaliland and Somalia was never formally ratified. Excitingly on July 9 South Sudan will become an independent new state and the Juba government has already stated it will recognise a sovereign Somaliland. In all probability this will result in other AU countries following suit.

An independent Somaliland could be a force for stability and good governance in the Horn of Africa. It is high time the AU and western powers recognised the sovereignty of the republic of Somaliland, which has all-party support under the government of President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, which resulted from free and fair elections.

Charles Tannock,
European Parliament (London Region – Conservative),
Brussels, Belgium


Fears of war in northern Somalia, dozens killed as Somaliland retreats

21 Feb 21, 2011 - http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Fears_of_war_in_northern_Somalia_dozens_killed_as_Somaliland_retreats.shtml

Fears of all-out war in erstwhile peaceful northern Somalia grew dramatically Sunday after Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole warned Somaliland to "stop the massacre of civilians," Radio Garowe reports.

During a Sunday interview, President Farole told the BBC Somali Service that Puntland's government "will not remain on the sidelines" if Somaliland continues the violence.

"We [Puntland] wish to live in this region peacefully. We wish that the two stable states of Somalia [Puntland and Somaliland] co-exist in peace and we hoped that a new administration in Somaliland would withdraw its forces from Las Anod," President Farole said, adding: "But if the situation is now at a point where our citizens are being massacred and Somaliland wants to seize Buhodle, then Somaliland must take responsibility for initiating this war."

He blamed Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo for the violence, saying that Silanyo's words "encouraged clan hostilities." Furthermore, President Farole said a dialogue process mediated by the regional bloc IGAD between Puntland and Somaliland was now in question, due to Somaliland's "war of aggression" against civilians.

President Farole's strong words to Somaliland come after day-long battles erupted along three villages in Buhodle district, where local clans have been fighting against Somaliland's violent aggression.

Upwards of 50 people were killed on both sides, with local sources confirming that local clan fighters remain in control of all three villages where the fighting took place.

Somaliland troops retreated from the battle zones, the reports added.

Sunday's fighting comes two weeks after Somaliland troops attempted to seize Buhodle district, but were repulsed by local clans.

Somaliland: Supporting terrorism

Puntland government forces are not directly involved in the fighting, but President Farole's warning let much room for speculation that Puntland might soon join the war.

"This is a continuation of Somaliland massacring our civilians. We condemn this and we will defend our civilians strongly," Puntland's leader said.

He went on to condemn Somaliland's "land expansion" and "baseless claims of ownership" over Sool and Sanaag regions, saying: "Supporting terrorists in Golis mountains [of Sanaag region] or massacring civilians in Buhodle [district] will not get Somaliland international recognition."

Somaliland has been accused of funding, arming and providing safe havens for Al Shabaab terrorists fleeing Galgala hills after losing a three-month war against Puntland troops. More than 96 Al Shabaab fighters were killed during the military offensive.

Reports say the Al Shabaab leader in Galgala, Mr. Mohamed Said Atom, resides in Burao, a major town controlled by Somaliland.

Land ownership

President Farole stated that Somalia's collapse in 1991, the country disintegrated and the clans regained control over their own territories.

"Land ownership is divided among the clans. If the issue is a farm, then each man owns his farm. But if the issue is land, then each clan owns its land," President Farole said.

There are two fighting forces in the Buhodle conflict. On one side, there is the Somaliland army dominated by Isaaq clan of Hargeisa area.

On the other side, there is the Dhulbahante clan of Puntland defending its territory from Somaliland's land expansion and separatist policy.

But Somaliland's leadership claims ownership over Dhulbahante clan territory based on defunct colonial-era boundaries drawn up by long-departed British colonialists, while Puntland claims ownership based on kinship, which existed centuries before the advent of European colonialism in Africa.

President Farole said the people of Puntland and Somaliland have "normal business relations," but stressed that the "solution lies in Somaliland stopping the war of aggression [against Buhodle] and Somaliland withdrawing forces from Las Anod."

Somaliland 'victim card'

Furthermore, Somaliland's separatist rulers have declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 with no international recognition to-date, but non-Isaaq clans who live in northwestern Somalia do not want to join a separatist Somaliland.

President Farole of Puntland told the BBC: "Those who blame the former military regime [of Gen. Siyad Barre] for civilian massacres are today committing civilian massacres themselves. As we all know, those people are even pursuing court cases as far as the U.S.A. against former Barre officials namely Gen. Mohamed Ali Samatar."

The aging Gen. Samatar, who resides in Virginia, was a former senior official during Barre's 21-year military dictatorship, which collapsed with the eruption of the Somali civil war in 1991.

Gen. Samatar's accusers belong to the Isaaq clan that has pursued similar court cases against former Barre regime officials.

Puntland and Somaliland, located in northern Somalia, have been largely stable since 1991. But the two sub-states are ideologically opposed, with Puntland supporting a united Somalia under federal system and Somaliland rejecting to be part of a united Somalia.

Southern Somalia, including Mogadishu, has been crippled by chronic armed conflict since 1991, with an anti-government insurgency raging in Mogadishu since early 2007.


Fighting between Somaliland forces, rebel group erupts in disputed region

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 22, 2011. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 21 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report by privately-owned Somali Shabeelle Media Network website on 21 February

Heavy fighting has once against erupted in a number of localities near the town of Buuhoodle [in Ceyn Region, northern Somalia]. The fighting between Somaliland forces and clan militias have this morning erupted in the localities of Kalshaale, Hagoogane and Meygaagle all of which are under the town of Buuhoodle. The fighting erupted after Somaliland forces launched attacks on the SSC [Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn] rebels who also engaged the Somaliland forces in fighting.

According to reports reaching us from areas where the fighting is still ongoing, heavy losses ranging from the loss of life and injury have been sustained. Five people are so far known to have been killed in the fighting among them senior commanders of the soldiers on both sides involved in the fighting and many more are reported to have been wounded.

Reports also indicate that each of the warring sides have captured prisoners. Some of the Somaliland forces captured by SSC rebel group have since been taken to Buuhoodle. Somaliland forces are also said to have captured members of the rebel group. An areas resident that Shabeelle contacted told us the fighting is still ongoing in these areas and that is highly likely the losses will be higher. We have also made contact with commander of both sides involved in the fighting each claiming victory.

Fighting in localities near Buuhoodle comes at a time when the situation in these areas has been stable in recent past, and particularly in the locality of Kalshaale where Somaliland forces and those of the SSC rebel group fought in recent past.


Puntland leader condemns Somaliland over conflict in disputed regions

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 21, 2011. AllPuntland.com website in Somali 21 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report by Somali pro-Puntland government website on 21 February

The president of the Puntland Administration, Abdirahman Muhammad Mahmud Farole, has strongly condemned the renewed attacks [in disputed] Ceyn Region of Puntland by Somaliland forces. President Farole said Somaliland massacred innocent civilians in these areas and trashed ongoing talks between the two administrations. The Puntland leader said his administration was now running out of patience with Somaliland.

President Farole issued a statement early this morning in which he said Somaliland forces launched attacks in Ceyn Region in an attempt to capture areas outside their territorial borders and that Puntland will have to issue an appropriate response.

Whether you deploy soldiers in Laas Caanood or Buuhoodle or create hideouts for Al-Shabab in the Golis mountains, you will not acquire land to use as fictitious border to use as bargaining tool for recognition. What you are doing is inviting a confrontation in Somaliland and we will play our role and my civilians will not accept what you do to them, said the Puntland leader.

The Puntland leader said his administration has on many occasions made concessions in favour of peaceful coexistence but that Somaliland as an administration is determined to take the path for chaos.


Dozens killed in Somaliland clashes

Feb 21, 2011.http://www.presstv.ir/detail/166263.html

Fresh clashes broke out in Somaliland's town of Buhodle on Sunday where the area's troops launched a heavy attack on local clan militias, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Fifteen of the victims are said to have been Somaliland troops.

Meanwhile, the warring sides have set fire to two small districts near Buhodle, namely Hagogan and Maygag districts, forcing hundreds of civilians to flee the region.

The Somaliland troops have also managed to capture more bases from rebels in Buhodle in Somaliland's province of Togdheer.

According to locals, scores of civilians have been killed and many others injured in the ongoing battle.

Somaliland, situated in northwestern Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Horn Africa country in 1991.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

The Somali government has struggled for years to restore security, but efforts have not yet yielded results in the Horn of Africa nation.

Up to one million people have lost their lives following years of fighting between rival warlords and because of an inability to deal with famine and disease.

There are more than 1.4 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Somalia. More than 300,000 IDPs are sheltering in Mogadishu alone.

Most of the displaced live in squalid conditions at makeshift sites in southern and central Somalia, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


Somalia: Clashes Break Out in Boohoodle in Second Day; Puntland President Visits Addis

21 February 2011. Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

Buuhoodle — Heavy clashes between Somaliland forces and Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn SCC rebel group re-started in the second day in the village of Maygaagle in Boohoodle district in Sool region in northern Somalia, locals said on Monday.

Witnesses said heavy gun battle and bombardments, which the two warring sides had been exchanging, could be heard around the battle zones.

Sources told Shabelle that at least 8 people were killed and more 10 others hurt during the clashes today.

Separately, Abdurrahman Mohamoud Farole, the president of Somalia's semi-autonomous state of Puntland flew to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

During his trip, Mr. Farole will meet Ethiopian officials and discuss the relationship between the two Puntland and Ethiopia.

Sources confirmed that Puntland leader will also discuss Addis Ababa issues including how the clashes of between Somaliland authorities and SCC armed group could be solved.


EU legislator calls for amending policy on Somaliland

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 19, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 12 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 12 February

Frank Engel, a member of the European Parliament, reminded his colleagues in a debate on the 2 February that EU policy on Somaliland should be revised to reflect the fact that the state is a liberal democracy.

Below is a speech delivered by Frank Engel MEP before the European Parliament:

"Dear Mr President,

I am looking forward to the future independence of South Sudan and I congratulate the South Sudanese people for having achieved it.

As stated by my colleague, Charles Goerens, who has been so kind as to approach me on this occasion, you can have the right not to live under shari'ah law. This is a right we need to honour. But I cannot stop myself from equally affirming that there are certain peoples who have got the grace of obtaining the right to that freedom. Besides, the people of Somaliland do not have this grace.

I wished we equally revised our policy which until now has consisted of not recognizing the efforts made by the Somaliland people, who have created a democratic, liberal and Muslim state in the region, which is commonly treated as if it did not exist.

Mr President, for those who are from South Sudan, another word on the situation of their land. South Sudan remains the poorest country in Africa despite the fact that it could access half of the petrol resources of entire Sudan during the five last years. I declare a blatant under-development which, until now, has largely been due to the neglect and ignorance practiced by Khartoum.

But from now on, I am hoping that the European Union will insist upon the necessity of governance and development and I wish that we do not contribute towards financing an underdevelopment, which, in the future will be self-inflicted in South Sudan."


Mogadishu minister seized in Somaliland

By ABDULKADIR KHALIF in Mogadishu. February 19, 2011. http://www.africareview.com/News/Mogadishu+minister+seized+in+Somaliland/-/979180/1109986/-/qgdt84z/-/

The authorities in the self-styled republic Somaliland have reported arresting a deputy minister of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.

General Elmi Roble Furre, the Commander of the police of Somaliland, said they were holding Mr Abdirashid Mohamed Ali, the TFG’s deputy minister for Public Works and Housing.

He said Mr Ali was arrested on Thursday in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, 1,500km northwest of Mogadishu.

“Our security forces seized Mr Abdirashid Mohamed Ali (the TFG’s deputy minister for Public Works and Housing),” said Gen Furre.

Financial assistance

The minister had reportedly made the trip to visit his relatives in Somaliland.

The self-made republic prohibits officials from the rest of Somalia to enter its territory.

The authority in Somaliland declared independence from Mogadishu on May 18, 1991 following the collapse of the dictatorial regime of General Mohamed Siad Barre.

The incident happened at a time a delegation from Norway, led by deputy Foreign minister Espen Barth Eide, was visiting Hargeisa to meet with Somaliland officials, including President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud Silanyo.

According to dispatches from Hargeisa, the Norwegians have promised the Somaliland authority financial assistance of undisclosed amount.


Somaliland opens "pirate prison"

Ministers inspect the high security prison in Somaliland's Hargeisa

© Norway MFA/afrol News http://www.afrol.com/articles/37366

afrol News, 18 February - Somaliland ministers and a visiting donor from the Norwegian government inaugurated a new modern prison in Hargeisa, which will make it possible to convict Somali pirates caught by international forces.

A new central prison for persons convicted to long sentences has been made use of in Somaliland's capital Hargeisa. The prison, partially financed by Norway, was today visited by Somaliland Home Affairs Minister, Maxamed Cabdi Gabboose, accompanied by Norway's Deputy Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

The Hargeisa prison is to be formally inaugurated later this month, but already houses over 70 Somali pirates that had been arrested by international marine forces in the Bay of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

Many pirates so far have had to be released as there were no courts ready to sentence them or prisons ready to accommodate them. The Hargeisa "pirates' prison" comes as an international response to this vacuum, with Somalilanders happy to extend their international relations by hosting the new facilities.

According to Norwegian Deputy-Minister Eide, the new facilities - starring as the most modern building in run-down Hargeisa - "appeared effective and moderns, both regarding prisoners' conditions and security." High standards had been a condition to extradite captured pirates by many of the nations participating in the anti-piracy operations.

Consequently, Mr Eide also announced further Norwegian cooperation and funding for Somaliland's justice sector, "including police, courts and correctional services, and also for the development of more modern legal codes," according to a statement by the Oslo Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"When we know that nine out of ten pirates are released after being caught, it is obvious that the only answer to this problem cannot be sending more marine troops," said Mr Eide, who back in Norway faces critics because his maritime nation is not participating in the naval anti-piracy operations.

Mr Eide during his stay in Hargeisa also participated in an inauguration ceremony of a Norway-funded school building, officially handed over to Somaliland Education Minister Samsam Abdi Adan.

The Deputy-Minister's visit to Hargeisa represented the first-ever Norwegian official visit to the non-recognised state of Somaliland. Mr Eide met with Somaliland President Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo and a large number of Ministers and dignitaries.

The visiting Norwegian was full of praise after having seen developments in Somaliland first-handed. "The contrast between Somaliland and most of the rest of Somalia is striking," he stated. "Somaliland has managed to establish a well-functioning democracy, where presidents not only are elected, but also leave their post if not re-elected, which is not a matter of course in Africa."

While promising increased economic and political cooperation between Norway and Somaliland, the Oslo Ministry today emphasised that "this should not be interpreted in a way that Norway wants to contribute to those forces that want to separate Somaliland from the rest of Somalia."


Somaliland Police detain TFG deputy minister

Hargeysa : Somalia | Feb 17, 2011 By Hassan Osman. http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/8222562-somaliland-police-detain-tfg-deputy-minister

HARGEISA – The Police forces of Somaliland have Thursday detained the public affairs deputy minister of the transitional government of Somalia, just as high delegation from Norway landed at Hargeisa, the central town of Somaliland, official said on Thursday.

General Elmi Roble Fure, the police commander of Somaliland talked to the journalists at Hargeisa city on Thursday and said that their forces arrested the deputy minister of public affairs of the transitional government of Somalia Mr. Abdirashid Mohamed Ali at Hargeisa airport.

The grounds of the arrest is not clear so far, but the commander said they had the order the seize any of the transitional government of Somalia that reached Somaliland.

Sources indicate the minister went to Somaliland to visit his relatives in there and there is no comment from the authorities of Somaliland about the detention of the official of the Somalia government.

Somaliland, a breakaway republic in northwestern Somalia has not yet received any recognition from the world.

On the other hand, high delegation from Norway led by the foreign affairs minister of Norwagian government had reached at Somaliland and had talks with the president of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud Silanyo.

Reports say that the Norwegian delegation discussed with president Silainyo on how Somaliland would be recognized as an independent state and lastly the foreign affairs minister said to Mr. Silanyo that his government promised financial support to Somaliland.


Dahabshiil Helps Strengthen Somali Currency, Says The Economist

LONDON, February 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In an article titled, 'Commerce amid the chaos', The Economist this week referred to the inherent instability of Somalia's monetary system and described how the country's banks, in particular Dahabshiil, are helping to resist the steady depreciation of the Somali shilling by facilitating large inflows of foreign capital in the form of remittances.

The Somali economy has become deeply dollarised, but the home currency continues to be issued on a large scale, resulting in its continuous depreciation along with double-digit inflation, especially for low-value transactions. With only reactive, ad-hoc government efforts to counter this decline in value, Somali businessmen assume the shilling is kept afloat by 'common assent'.

What is more likely, as the article points out, is that the constant inflow of foreign currency in the form of remittances plays a valuable role in retarding this trend by exerting upward pressure on the shilling's value. The largest of the transfer companies handling this capital flow, Dahabshiil, is a global money transfer operator with one of the fastest-growing agent and branch networks in the industry. It was established in 1970, primarily to enable migrants to transfer funds back to their families through the sale of imported goods.

Forty years on, remittance transfer remains Dahabshiil's core business, but the company has diversified to offer a broad range of services to international organisations, businesses and private individuals, and is compliant with international standards including AML (Anti Money Laundering) regulations. Dahabshiil is now the leading financial services provider in the Horn of Africa, with full banking licences to operate in Djibouti and a number of other East African countries.

With payout locations in some of Somalia's remotest regions, Dahabshiil's service is recognised by the inhabitants as an indispensable lifeline. But the benefits go beyond this. The regular flow of funding from abroad has helped to strengthen the private sector by expanding investment in construction, transport and telecoms. This process is set to be further enhanced by the introduction of increasingly sophisticated technology, central to Dahabshiil's strategy, to make remittances even easier to transfer and help them to penetrate further. Not only is the upward trend in remittance income likely to continue, but its effectiveness as a catalyst for development will be continually improved.

As well as facilitating private investment, Dahabshiil also invests $1 million of its annual profits in community projects in Somalia to improve schools, hospitals, agriculture and sanitation. In the UK, where Mr Duale spends much of his time, the company sponsors a number of social events including the Somali Week Festival and the Somali Youth Sports Association.

Dahabshiil has regional offices in London and Dubai, and employs over 2,000 people across 144 countries.


MPs blame Somaliland leader for recent conflict in disputed regoins

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 14, 2011. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 14 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report by privately-owned Somali Shabeelle Media Network website on 14 February

Some members of the Federal Somali Parliament today held a meeting in Mogadishu in which they accused the Somaliland leader of being responsible for the latest fighting in the town of Kalshaale.

Members of the Federal Somali Parliament who met in Mogadishu said they were holding Somaliland leader liable for the losses sustained in recent fighting between Somaliland forces and the SSC [Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn] rebels in these regions. Ibrahim Muhammad Deq who is among the MPs that met in Mogadishu and hails from the [disputed] regions of Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn regions said recent fighting in the area caused huge losses in the country.

Ibrahim said Somaliland forces transgressed against the three regions and killed many civilians in these areas. The MP said many families in localities surrounding Kalshaale have been displaced from their homes as a result of the fighting in recent weeks and added that it was unfortunate the hostilities erupted at a time when civilians are facing difficulties with the drought. The MPs called for the delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance to families displaced by the recent fighting.


Clashes re-start in northern Somalia as Somaliland troops attack local clan militias

The regions of Sool and Sanaag have been disputed between the neighboring administrations of Somaliland and Puntland in the last few years.

Source: (AHN) Reporter: Abdi Hajji Hussein. February 21, 2011. http://www.allheadlinenews.com

At least five people were killed and dozens more injured after the military forces of the breakaway republic of Somaliland launched several attacks on local clan militias in the Sool region of northern Somalia.

Locals confirmed a number of Somaliland troops ambushed local clan militias in the village of Maygaagle just outside of the Buuhoodle district, adding that the two sides used heavy and light weapons during the battle.

Eng. Mohammed Farah, the fishing minister of Somalia’s semi-autonomous state of Puntland, told local media that at least four people were wounded and brought to a hospital in the district of Buuhoodle.

Farah noted that the clashes are still ongoing and the death toll may rise in the hours to come.

Local inhabitants have reportedly fled their homes to escape the violence.

The regions of Sool and Sanaag have been disputed between the neighboring administrations of Somaliland and Puntland in the last few years. Residents in those areas are said to have close links with Puntland through clan relationships. However, most of Sool and Sanaag areas are now controlled by Somaliland.

Somaliland announced it had become independent from Somalia in 1991 after Somalia’s former military regime was toppled.


Somaliland Contributes to International Conference on Somalia

By Phillip Barea. http://www.ezega.com/News/NewsDetails.aspx?Page=heads&NewsID=2769

Addis Ababa, February 13, 2011 (Ezega.com) -- In a demonstration of good will, Somaliland representatives participated in a conference on postconflict reconstruction in Somalia that was hosted this week by the Wilton Park Conference organization in West Sussex, United Kingdom.

From February 7th to February 9th the organization invited guests from all over the world to discuss and propose strategies for Somalia´s transition to peace and postconflict reconstruction. For the first time Somaliland´s Foreign Minister, H.E. Mohamed A. Omer, was invited to attend and represent Somaliland.

Speaking about Somaliland´s invitation to participate, he stated that: “We see the invitation as recognition of the important role that Somaliland can play in regional affairs and as an opportunity to present our national views to the international community”.

Somalia and Somaliland Compared

In his formal address to the conference Foreign Minister Omer highlighted that indigenous forces as opposed to external forces explain why Somaliland was able to engage in a successful transition to statehood after the collapse of the Siad Barre regime, but Somalia has not been able to do so.

He stressed the fact that while Somaliland´s peace-building process and postconflict reconstruction developed internally through local initiatives, Somalia´s peace-building process and transition has been developed externally by competing international interests without locally formulated initiatives.

His Excellency considers that the indigenous nature of Somaliland´s transition and reconstruction was the key to its success, and the international (outside and foreign) nature of Somalia´s transition and reconstruction has been the key to its failure. He stressed the need to diverge from “essentially western” models for this process and incorporate models based on the local culture and Islam.

In his conclusion he stressed the importance of using Somaliland as a possible model for a successful transition in Somalia and for its postconflict reconstruction. Foreign Minister Omer then reiterated Somaliland´s commitment to being a responsible state that contributes to peace, stability, and development in the region.

Problems for Both

In a recent statement issued to Ezega.com, a government spokesperson for the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia expressed their dismay at Somaliland´s efforts to engage with the international community and intention to remain separated from Somalia.

It is the position of the TFG that the success of Somalia´s peace-building process (transition) and postconflict reconstruction depends partly on maintaining the territorial integrity of the state according to the pre-1991 map. However, many observers doubt the TFG´s ability to obtain this territorial integrity without the support and practical cooperation of both Somaliland and Puntland.

For example, the officially recognized government of Somalia currently only controls half of the territory of the capital city, Mogadishu; while the rest of the country is divided between Somaliland, Puntland, pirate organizations, clan militias, and militant Islamic groups.

For its part, Somaliland is not entirely peaceful and territorially stable either. Since its declaration of independence, the government has been continually unable to secure full control over both its westernmost and easternmost sectors.

For example, the biggest problem is in the Sool region to the east, which is also claimed by Puntland due to clan affiliations on both sides of the border. Just last week there were violent clashes in this region between a local clan militia and Somaliland soldiers. These clashes resulted in several deaths and many wounded individuals on both sides of the conflict.


Somalia: 150 Troops Defect Somaliland Army, Cite 'Clan Massacres'

Garowe Online (Garowe) 11 February 2011. http://allafrica.com/stories/201102111116.html

At least 150 soldiers have defected from the army of Somalia's separatist region of Somaliland after citing 'clan massacres' in recent fighting, Radio Garowe reports.

Col. Ahmed Mohamed 'Dalba', leading 150 soldiers and 7 armed trucks, defected Somaliland's army and arrived in Buhodle district on Wednesday.

Col. Dalba, who spoke with Radio Garowe, said he has been an army commander in Somaliland for the past 7 years.

"Me and my unit decided to leave [Somaliland] after clan massacres were committed against Dhulbahante clan," said Col. Dalba, who belongs to Dhulbahante sub-clan of Harti clan.

Somaliland government officials have denied allegations of clan massacres, but Somaliland's army is dominated by soldiers from Isaaq clan, the only clan in Somalia which supports separatism from Somalia.

Last Monday, heavy fighting erupted between Somaliland troops and Dhulbahante clan fighters in Kalshale village over control of territory. At least 87 people were killed during the day-long battles.

Local sources reported that 150 armed soldiers, all belonging to Dhulbahante clan, defected from Somaliland army, along with their commander, Col. Dalba.

The defectors escaped with 7 armed trucks, 2 army transport trucks and 1 Toyota Land Cruiser used by their commander.

All the troops are now in Buhodle district, where anti-Somaliland forces have coalesced as Somaliland troops have brought more heavy weapons to the region.

Located in northwestern Somalia, Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the country in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally.

There is growing violence in Sool and Sanaag regions, which Somaliland claims based on colonial-era boundaries, but local clans are violently opposed to Somaliland's separatist agenda.


Visiting Italian delegation expects 'stronger' ties with Somaliland

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 10, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 5 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

An Italian delegation led by Mr Gayni Vernetti, a member of the Italian Parliament and former deputy minister of foreign affairs arrived in Somaliland on Friday. The delegation is comprised of five members and includes parliamentarians as well as journalists.

Speaking to the press, Mr Vernetti said that although his government still supports Somalia's government and would like things to change for the better there, the advances that Somaliland has made in democracy and holding elections has made Somaliland a reality. He also said that he expects this visit to open the door for a stronger relationship with Somaliland. The visit is expected to take two days.


Somali MPs call for end to renewed clashes in disputed town

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 10, 2011. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 9 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Members of the Federal Somali Parliament have called for an end to the recent fighting in the locality of Kalshaale in Buuhoodle district [Togdheer Region, northern Somalia]. Some of the MPs that spoke to the media earlier today said they are quite concerned about renewed fighting in the locality of Kalshaale in Buuhoodle District.

MP Abdirahman Kulmiye Hersi told Shabeelle MPs are quite disappointed about the outbreak of violence in the town and that Somalis are tired of civil strife in the country.

"We are very disappointed by the outbreak of renewed fighting between Somaliland forces and others in the area. Frankly speaking the time for Somalis to fight over land is long gone," said Abdirahman Dheere. The MP called upon warring sides in Kalshaale to meet for dialogue and end the fighting in which the blood of innocent civilians is being shed. There has been fierce fighting between Somaliland forces and those of SSC [Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn] rebel groups in the town of Kalshaale in recent days.


Senior Somaliland commander defects to rebel group in disputed region

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 10, 2011. Somali Puntlandpost website in Somali 10 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

A senior armed forces commander in Somaliland has defected together with 250 soldiers in their armoured vehicles and took off to the [disputed] town of Buuhoodle [Togdheer Region, northern Somalia].

The senior Somaliland commander named Colonel Ahmad Muhammad Adan alias Dalbac upon arriving in Buuhoodle addressed the residents and said he decided to defect following massacre of his clan members by Somaliland forces. The commander said from today onwards he shares the view of Buuhoodle residents will take part in defending SSC regions [Sool Sanaag and Ceyn regions].

Various sections of the population in the town welcomed the defection of this senior armed forces commander from Somaliland. The commander brought with him 200 men under his command, their vehicles and some 12 battle wagons.


Residents of disputed Somali town reportedly stage demos over renewed clashes

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 10, 2011. Somali Puntlandpost website in Somali 9 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Demonstrations in opposition to the presence of Somaliland forces were today held in Laas Caanood, Sool Region. The demonstrations were in opposition to the presence of Somaliland forces and recent troubles in Sool Region and the town of Buuhoodle in Togdheer Region.

Hundreds of demonstrators among them women and children burnt tyres in Laas Caanood today causing widespread disruption in the town and challenged Somaliland forces there. Somaliland forces imposed night curfew in Laas Caanood as from 1800 local time following the demonstrations earlier today. Somaliland forces arrested a number of the demonstrators and many others were hurt in the confrontation.

The curfew in the town came after forces led by Ahmad Ali Usman Karash in their battle wagons arrived in the eastern outskirts of the town. These forces have been in the town of Tukaraq in the recent past where they have been conducting operations. Resident of Laas Caanood were protesting the presence of Somaliland forces in the town by force.


Commentary criticizes AU's stand on recognition of Somaliland

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 10, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 5 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

[Commentary by Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi: "As Southern Sudan, Somaliland Deserves AU's Recognition"]

The African Union (AU) chief told AP the organization intends to be the first to recognize Southern Sudan as a new state should the result of its referendum be secession.

Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika made the statement on 26th Jan 2011 after meeting Southern Sudan's Leader Salva Kiir. Mutharika currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the 53-member African Union. "Sudan will be on the agenda when the AU holds a regular AU meeting later this month" He concluded (AP).

After 21-years of civil war against Arab compatriots, the early results show strong support for secession. The final and official result will be announced on early February 2011. The referendum was part of peace deal signed 2005 between the late leader of Southern Sudan Dr John Garn and Sudan's Arab led government in Khartoum.

This statement is showcasing the AU's support to secession even before the official result announced. It seems the AU recognized South Sudan without agreed constitution, and no official name for the new government. No defined territory and population.

What is puzzling is why the AU and other international organizations like UN are giving a blind eye to the question of independence by Somaliland?! The world recognized southern Sudan government and Khartoum had no option but to accept. It is very normal that independence and secession could come from outside like East Timor, Yugoslavia, Bangladesh. All these countries won independence with outside intervention and local authorities were forced to accept.

This invalidates AU's argument asking Somaliland to negotiate with the shaky and powerless government in Mogadishu over its independence. Somaliland has elected government and parliament and controls every inch of its colonial border (British Somaliland), unlike transitional government in Mogadishu that controls less than two per cent of the capital.

Somaliland has world-standard, modern and democratic nation; it hosted free and fair elections; it has army that obeys international military regulations; police with excellent human rights record; currency that is circulated in many parts of East Africa; flag that flies in many countries; national anthem; finally it has elected parliament and government.

In 2010, the Somaliland opposition won presidential election and there was peaceful, civilized and democratic power transfer, unlike many African countries where dictators hang on the power like Ivory Coast and Kenya. Today's Opposition Leader and Former President Dahir Riyale Kahn handed over the leadership to the Former Opposition Leader and today's President Mohamed Ahmed Sillanyo -The power-transfer ceremony was rare seen in Africa.

UN's charters that define nations say "A sovereign state is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, independence from other states and powers, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states". Somaliland fulfils all these conditions and more like democracy, free-fair elections, good governance and excellent human Rights record, in addition to freedom of expression.

Again, Somaliland's case does not underestimate the right of self-determination of the people of Southern Sudanese, instead the government of Somaliland was first to vow recognizing the new government out of Southern Sudan despite its unrecognized status.

BOTh people of Somaliland and Southern Sudan suffered under brutal and merciless regimes for decades; both people faced discrimination on different bases; thousands of both people were murdered in addition to genocide and ethnic-cleansing by the regimes in Mogadishu and Khartoum.

Somaliland and Southern Sudan emerged after years of freedom armed struggle, they forced the occupying regimes to leave or negotiate peacefully. In Somaliland, regime was overthrown by force and Southern Sudanese forced Al-Bashir regime to negotiate and accept their demands.

In brief, Somaliland was an independent nation for five days before the disastrous unity with Italian Somalia on 1st July 1960. Somaliland had designated Prime Minister and Cabinet before the unity. The crawling unity continued until 18th May 1991, at the rebirth of Somaliland.

After 50 years, AU is not considering the freedom voice from Somaliland while it is offering unconditionally support to the new state in Southern Sudan that has no colonial border and defined population, which conflicts with African UnionAs charter on the territorial integrity.

Interestingly, the strong diplomacy of Southern Sudanese and western backing forced AU and its leaders to accept Southern Sudan without considering the AU's regulations that preserves the integrity of the colonial borders African nations inherited from European colonizers.

In contradiction, AU is waving conditions in accepting Somaliland as independent nation, which has a defined territory with bounders and inherited from the former British Somaliland; Somaliland has permanent population of 3.5 million. It controls its territory; it has bilateral diplomatic and security relations with neighbouring countries; Somaliland Passport is been used in Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. Somaliland President uses local passport while travelling to Europe and USA.

It was USA Former President Bill Clinton administration who started campaigning for southern Sudan, which built up pressure on Khartoum regime and forced the AU leaders to accept the new nation. Until today, former foreign secretary Madeleine Albright is leading the campaign that freed Southern Sudan. There are other USA famous figures including Congressmen and VIPs.

Most probably there are different interest behind such USA support including the oil in the region. It is very sure, that southern Sudanese without USA and western support could have face difficulties and conditions in achieving their dream of self-determination.

In such situations of AU's failure, all members including Somaliland are forced to seek outside support to convince AU leaders, who cannot decide for their own destiny. Somaliland unambiguously fulfils all the condition for statehood as per AU charter but without western backing.

Somaliland has more territory and a bigger population than at least a dozen other African states, we point out. Recognition will not "open Pandora's box in Africa". Neither will it set a precedent that has been done already in East Timor and Kosovo. "The international community is focused on Somalia, it is okay. We are saying, 'Keep doing what you're doing in Mogadishu, but for goodness sake help those who help themselves: Somaliland'."

Congratulations to the Southern Sudanese:

The African Union (AU) Observers have certified South Sudan's secession vote "free, fair, credible and a true reflection of the democratically-expressed will of the South Sudanese voters." In its preliminary statement on the conduct of the vote, which could lead to the creation of Africa's newest country and pave the way for the independence for Somaliland, the AU said the referendum was conducted in a safe and peaceful environment.


SOMALIA: Somaliland clashes displace thousands

Photo: Ann Weru/IRIN. "..we are worried that if the conflict continues it will be difficult to reach people in the area"said a Somali Red Crescent source.

HARGEISA, 10 February 2011 (IRIN) - More than 3,000 people have been displaced from settlements in Somaliland's eastern region of Toghdeer following a five-hour-long battle on 7 February between the Somaliland National Army and clans loyal to the Sool, Sanag and Cayn (SSC) milita group.

A long-standing dispute exists over the territories of Cayn, Sool and Sanag, with both the self-declared republic of Somailiand, in northwestern Somalia, and the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland in the northeast claiming them. SSC are fighting to remain part of the original state of Somalia.

Abdullahi Yusuf Koreey, an elder from the area, told IRIN that more than 500 families (3,000 people) were displaced from the village of Hagoogane. "Most are pastoralists."

He said the area had been suffering from severe water shortages before the fighting. "Many of the families have gone to areas with little or no water points. If their lives were difficult before it is 10 times worse now," said Koreey.

"We know about 100 families were displaced to Buhotle District from Kalshale, Maygagle and Hagoogane villages [north of Buhotle]," said Faisal Jama, an independent journalist in Las-anod, the main town in the SSC region.

A local journalist told IRIN the fighting was over water and land.

He said many of those displaced were in areas difficult to access. "They are nowhere where aid agencies can access them."

Over 30 killed

Ahmed H Abdillahi Roraye, director-general of the resettlement and refugees department of Somaliland's ministry of interior, told IRIN that another 120 families had been displaced to Burao, capital of the Toghdeer region.

"We are now sending an assessment team to evaluate the number of displaced in the area," he said.

According to journalists in the area, the 7 February clashes killed at least 32 and injured nearly 60 people. Gen Nuh Tani, Somaliland’s army chief, told the media the same day that at least four of his soldiers were killed in the conflict.

"According to information we have received from the Somali Red Crescent in Galka'ayo [south-central Somalia], 21 people were taken to hospital, but two of them died on the way," said an official from Somaliland's Red Crescent who requested anonymity.

Another 31 people have been hospitalized in Burao, according to army sources.

Aid workers say continued clashes will increase the suffering of people already dealing with severe drought. "This will make things worse for people who were also suffering the worst drought they have ever experienced," the Somali Red Crescent source said. "And we are worried that if the conflict continues it will be difficult to reach people in the area."


Elders intervene to end conflict in northern Somalia

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 9, 2011. Radio Simba website, Mogadishu, in Somali 9 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Elders in Sool Region say they have spoken to officials of Puntland and Somaliland administrations over the fighting in Kalshale locality in the region, northern Somalia.

The fighting involved Somaliland and Puntland forces and caused heavy casualties.

Sultan Abdi Boqor Ahmad, one of the traditional leaders in Sool Region, said the efforts to bring together the two administrations on the matter are at good stage.

The traditional leader said that he is confident the two sides will meet and discuss resolving the conflict and ensure that such fighting will not reoccur.

Tension has been high in Kalshale locality between Somaliland and Puntland forces in recent days.


UK minister says his government to increase assistance to Somaliland

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 9, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 5 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The United Kingdom's Minister of International Cooperation, Mr Andrew Mitchell visited Somaliland earlier this week. During his stay in Somaliland, Mr Andrew Mitchell announced that the United Kingdom had increased its assistance to Somaliland. He specifically mentioned security, health, roads and education as areas in which the United Kingdom will assist Somaliland. This and other information about the United Kingdom's programme of assistance of Somaliland for the next three years were detailed in a statement issued by the Minister of International Cooperation.

According to the statement, the UK's assistance programme will create 22,500 jobs by 2015; 7,500 of these prospective jobs will be held by women. The UK will also spend 6 million pounds in private investment by 2014.

The assistance package includes providing clean water for 20000 people in Sool and Sanaag as well as health care.

While in Hargeysa, Mr Andrew Mitchell met with the election commission and inaugurated a project called SEED (Sustainable Employment and Economic Development) which will go on until 2014. He also visited the Hargeysa General Hospital, the police headquarters, and a Koranic school called al-Najah.

Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo met with Minister Andrew Mitchell, updated him on Somaliland's progress and thanked him for visiting Somaliland. President Ahmed Silanyo was accompanied by Somaliland's minister of foreign affairs, the minister of planning, the minister of interior and the minister of finance.

This is the highest level minister that visits Somaliland. Both the nature of the visit and the minister involved highlight the elevation of Somaliland's status in the eyes of the international community since Somaliland's successful democratic election and the peaceful transfer of power that followed it.


Somalia: 87 killed as Puntland warns Somaliland 'not to attack civilians'

9 Feb 9, 2011 - http://www.garoweonline.com/

A Cabinet minister in Somalia's Puntland government has warned the separatist region of Somaliland 'not to attack civilians' after heavy fighting Monday killed at least 87 people, Radio Garowe reports.

A Puntland delegation led by Fisheries Minister Mohamed Farah Aden told Radio Garowe on Wednesday that the delegation is in Buhodle town to assess the drought and the impact of Monday's fighting.

Somaliland troops fought against local clan militias in Kalshale village, which is located near Buhodle, part of Cayn region of Puntland.

Local sources reported that the fighting started between two local clans -- Habar Jelo sub-clan of Isaaq clan and Dhulbahante sub-clan of Harti clan.

But Somaliland troops intervened with full force. At least 65 people were killed on the Somaliland side while the local clans lost 22 men.

Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo belongs to Habar Jelo sub-clan, which is directly involved in the fighting with Dhulbahante clan militia over control of territory.

Puntland's Fisheries Minister Aden warned Somaliland to "stop the aggression" and appealed for peaceful co-existence between Puntland and Somaliland.

"The people of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions are Puntlanders by blood and we urge Somaliland to stop the aggression," Fisheries Minister Aden said.

Somaliland's Information Minister Ahmed Abdi Habsade told the BBC Somali Service during a Tuesday interview that the death toll was 5 Somaliland soldiers killed and 12 Dhulbahante clan fighters killed.

However, local sources confirmed the massive casualties on both sides and the especially the heavy casualties inflicted upon the Somaliland troops, who lost control of the fighting area.

Somaliland has now amassed more troops in the region and there are fears that more fighting could spark. Somaliland officials, including President Silanyo and Information Minister Habsade, claimed that Puntland is "supporting" the local clans.

But Puntland Fisheries Minister Aden denied the allegations, telling the BBC Somali Service and Radio Garowe during separate interviews that Puntland has the "right to defend its people."

Sool and Sanaag regions, which Isaaq-dominated Somaliland administration claims based on defunct colonial-era borders, is home to Harti clan of Puntland. Observers say this is the reason why Somaliland troops are seen as aggressors in Buhodle, also home to Harti clan.

Since his election in June 2010, Somaliland President Silanyo's administration has come under the strong influence members of the Isaaq-based SNM rebel faction that used to fight against former Somali military dictator Gen. Siyad Barre regime in the 1980s.

Somaliland, located in northwest Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the country in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally. Somaliland and Puntland enjoy relative stability compared to the rest of the country.


In Somalia, youth centres provide young adults with crucial life skills-Burao Youth Multi-Purpose Centre.

UNICEF Somalia, 9 February 2011, http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/somalia_57641.html

© UNICEF Somalia/2011. Young Somali women get career information online at the Burao Youth Multi-Purpose Centre.

By Mike Pflanz

BURAO, Somalia, 9 February 2011 – Glancing down from the computer screen, Fathiya Suleiman taps swiftly at the keyboard, firing off Google Chat messages to a relative thousands of miles away in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The 23-year-old Somali from Burao town wants to know how best she can train to be a nurse. Messages of encouragement and links to helpful websites stream back from her cousin in Kuala Lumpur. “This is something very amazing to me, to be able to communicate for free, when before, all I could do was call on the telephone which was too expensive,” says Ms. Suleiman.

The computer she is using is one of four humming quietly in a newly built I.T. room at the Burao Youth Multi-Purpose Centre, which is run by the Somali Youth Society and funded by the Government of Japan through UNICEF.

Career guidance

The Burao Youth Centre was established five years ago to provide career advice to young people who are nearing or just beyond school-leaving age.

“It is often the hardest time, when they have worked hard and done well at school, but what comes next is not clear to them,” says Mohamed Aden, the youth centre coordinator. “Jobs are not easy to find, and it is tempting for them to fall into idle ways because there is no clear guidance for them. We aim to plug that gap with very productive advice and activities.”

The centre was rehabilitated and expanded in 2010 as part of a life-skills based education project funded by the Government of Japan. This project supports a total of 10 newly constructed or rehabilitated youth multi-purpose centres across Somaliland (north-west Somalia) and Puntland (north-east Somalia).

Centres of support

Key among their aims is to give young people not only options and ambitions, but the confidence to work towards achieving them, explains UNICEF Youth and Adolescent Development Officer Hussein Osman.

“We arrange activities which the young people lead themselves, like debates and tournaments, and we make sure girls are very much as central to these as the boys,” he stresses. “We want all of them to know their rights, to be able to question things, to have self-esteem and to speak out on subjects with the government, for example, or at home.”

“Before the centre was here, young people gathered together at school, or in informal playgrounds on waste areas in town, or in tea shops, to talk about their concerns,” adds youth centre director Najah Adem.

In the I.T. room, Hibaq Abdillahi, 23, updates photographs on Facebook, while waiting for a web page about diplomas in computer programming to load. “I was not aware that making computers work like this was a job people can do,” she says. “Now I have been inspired to find more information about computer programming, and one day I know I can do this for my profession.”


Somaliland clashes leave 40 dead

Source: PressTV (IRAN) February 09, 2011

At least 40 people have been killed after troops from the self-declared republic of Somaliland opened fire on local clan militias.

Forty people were killed and 50 others wounded as Somaliland troops attacked local clan members in the disputed village of Kalshale, located in the province of Sool, on Wednesday, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Fierce skirmishes broke out in the aftermath and heavy weapons -- including artillery -- were used in the fighting, which was concentrated around Kalshale.

Somaliland, situated in northwestern Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Horn Africa country in 1991.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

The Somali government has struggled for years to restore security, but efforts have not yet yielded results in the Horn of Africa nation.

Up to one million people have lost their lives following years of fighting between rival warlords and because of an inability to deal with famine and disease.

There are more than 1.4 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Somalia. More than 300,000 IDPs are sheltering in Mogadishu alone.

Most of the displaced live in squalid conditions at makeshift sites in southern and central Somalia, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


Eight killed in disputed Somali village

(AFP) – Feb 7, 2011

MOGADISHU — Fighting broke out Monday in a village on the disputed border between Somalia's northern breakaway states of Puntland and Somaliland, killing eight, officials and witnesses said.

According to the Somaliland defence ministry, clan militias from Puntland attacked a Somaliland army base in Kalshale village.

"It is a pity that the clan militias from Buhodle district broke their promise to end the conflict in the region," Somaliland defence minister Ahmed Ali Adami told reporters in the regional capital Hargeysa.

"They attacked the Somaliland armed forces in Kalshale village but the army responded and inflicted casualties on the enemy. We cannot provide further details on casualties at this time," he said.

An elder in the Buhodle district, which lies on the southern end of the disputed border and near Ethiopia, said that the attackers had lost five of their men in the operation.

"We are getting information that the armed militants lost five combatants in the fighting while witnesses sid three Somaliland soldiers also died in the battle," Mohamed Jibril told AFP by phone.

He said the fighting lasted several hours and that tension remained high in the entire area.

"The toll can rise but so far residents are reporting eight killed in the clashes and 18 others injured, including civilians," said Mustafa Idris, another local elder.

"The Somaliland forces currently control the village," he said.

The Somaliland authorities have repeatedly accused the administration in neighbouring Puntland of being behind clan violence in the disputed area.

Puntland declared itself autonomous in 1998 but long retained close ties to the central administration in Mogadishu while Somaliland, which broke away soon after Somalia began its descent into chaos in 1991, is more peaceful than the rest of the country and is seeking international recognition.


Somaliland Not Ready for Dialogue & Cooperation with Somalia - Foreign Minister

By Phillip Barea. http://www.ezega.com/News/NewsDetails.aspx?Page=heads&NewsID=2762

Addis Ababa, February 7, 2011 (Ezega.com) - Somaliland Foreign Minister, H.E. Mohamed A. Omer, told Ezega.com in an exclusive statement that Somaliland was interested in seeing peace and stability in Somalia but was not ready for dialogue and cooperation with the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.

This statement was issued as a direct response to a recent Ezega.com article about the current situation in Somalia [“Leaders See Need for Cooperation between Somalia & Somaliland”, 31-01-2011].

In that recent article the UN Special Representative for Somalia and the Foreign Minister of Somalia both expressed a concrete interest in dialogue and practical cooperation with Somaliland.

Protecting Somaliland´s Independence

Somaliland declared independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in Somalia; a brutal dictatorship that had engaged in mass killings and the displacement of Somaliland´s population. Since that time Somaliland has not only remained internationally unrecognized, but also uninterested in reunification with Somalia.

Furthermore, there have been longstanding tensions and mistrust between the governments of Somaliland and Somalia. Somaliland leaders have often expressed their mistrust of the TFG in Mogadishu, and any perceived attempt at reunification.

From that perspective, Foreign Minister Omer told Ezega.com that: “We would like to sit down with Somalia when there is a legitimate, accountable and responsible government to talk about how we plan to live side by side as two independent states that cooperate on a range of areas of mutual interest. Until such time, there are no plans for talks, but we encourage them to make peace”.

Support for Peace and Transition

Foreign Minister Omer assured Ezega.com that his government supports both international and domestic efforts to end the conflict in Somalia. He further expressed his appreciation of how the ongoing crisis in Somalia also has a harmful spillover effect on Somaliland; regardless of Somaliland´s history of relative peace and stability.

He further expressed his government´s position that “The instability in Somalia has claimed the lives of many innocent people and brought misery and poverty to millions…Therefore Somaliland would like to see this long-standing conflict resolved peacefully.”


Somalia: Fierce clashes erupt between Somaliland troops and local clans

7 Feb 7, 2011 -http://www.garoweonline.com

Fierce fighting erupted Monday morning in northern Somalia after troops from the separatist region of Somaliland attacked local clans in Buhodle area, Radio Garowe reports.

At least 10 people were killed and 25 others wounded during Monday’s clashes, which were continued as of print time (4pm local time Monday).

Sources said Somaliland troops attacked local clan militias from three areas, but were repulsed. Heavy weapons including artillery were used in the fighting, which was concentrated around Kalshale village, a hotspot of fighting in recent months.

Some reports said at least 13 Somaliland soldiers were captured alive and one vehicle burned by the local clan militias. Local sources said the fighters are Dhulbahante clan militias, who are part of Harti clan confederacy that rules Puntland.

Officials in Puntland government said Puntland is not involved in the fighting.

Somaliland's separatist government, dominated by Isaaq clan, claims Sool and Sanaag regions on the basis of colonial-era boundaries, but local clans say they want to be part of Puntland state to the west, with whom they share Harti clan ties.

Located in northwestern Somalia, Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the country in 1991. Puntland, located in northeastern Somalia, is stable and wants to remain part of a federal Somalia.


8 killed, 25 hurt as Somaliland forces, clan militias clash in northern Somalia

What has caused the clashes is still unknown, but local militias are against the presence of Somaliland forces in the area as they claim to be part of Puntland state.

Source: (AHN) Reporter: Abdi Hajji Hussein, February 7, 2011

At least eight people have been slain and 25 others hurt in clashes between the military forces of the breakaway republic of Somaliland and local armed clan militias that erupted in northern Somalia early Monday morning, witnesses and officials said.

Aqil Abdullahi Hassan, a local elder, said that Somaliland forces attacked the village of Kalshale, about 21 kilometers north of the Buuhoodle district in the Sool region, an area claimed by both Somaliland and Puntland.

“It is 4 p.m. local time, the clashes are still continuing as a lot of Somaliland troops deployed in Kalshale village,” Hassan said.

Heavy weapons and the crackling of machine gunfire, which the two warring sides had been using, could be heard in villages that lie on the vicinity of Kalshale area.

What has caused the clashes is still unknown, but local militias are against the presence of Somaliland forces in the area as they claim to be part of Puntland state.

Sources close to Somaliland military forces said that at least four of its soldiers were killed during the confrontations.

Speaking to the Somaliland parliament, Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo, the president of the Somaliland administration, talked about the clashes in the Buuhoodle district.

Silanyo said military forces in the area will be evacuated from Kalshale, a pastoral area.

Officials in Somalia’s semi-autonomous province of Puntland said they are not involved in the confrontations in Sool region, according to Puntland-run radio Garowe.


Dahabshiil Provides Vital Remittances, Says BBC

LONDON, February 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dahabshiil-provides-vital-remittances-says-bbc-115187439.html

By handling remittances from the international Somali diaspora, Dahabshiil provides a vital source of income for African communities and in doing so, has become Africa's largest money transfer company, according to a recent article by the BBC.

In the interview by Zeinab Badawi of the BBC, Dahabshiil's CEO, Abdirashid Duale, speaks about his company's operations in Somaliland and of the difficulties in doing business abroad that arise from the unofficial status of the region, once British-controlled, in North West Somalia.

However it is precisely this lack of formal international recognition, isolating Somaliland from official foreign aid, which makes remittance income so essential to its people, and Dahabshiil's service such an important lifeline.

The company was founded in 1970 by Abdirashid's father, Mohamed Saed Duale, and grew over the next eighteen years to become the largest remittance broker in the Horn of Africa, selling imported goods on behalf of migrant workers and transferring the proceeds to their families.

In 1988 civil war broke out, forcing half a million Somalis to flee the country. In response to this exodus and to conditions in Somalia, Dahabshiil called upon its extensive business network to establish a new venture, enabling Somali refugees to send remittances back to displaced relatives.

As the diaspora grew, so did Dahabshiil. Today it is Africa's largest money transfer operator with more than 24,000 agent locations and branches across the world. Tie-up agreements with strategic partners ensured its services reached the maximum possible number of Somali expats.

When asked by the BBC on the burning political issue of Somaliland's independence, Mr Duale was circumspect, but admitted that its unofficial status does present Dahabshiil with a challenge.

The World Bank estimates that the Somali diaspora worldwide sends around $1bn (GBP632m) each year to relatives in Somalia, a regular capital flow that has helped to bolster its economy.

The chain of payout locations is now so extensive that people living in some of the country's most remote regions have regular, easy access to funds sent to them from overseas.

Dahabshiil has remained committed to its low commission policy, charging fees significantly lower than other international providers and playing a significant role in helping to rebuild a vigorous private sector by facilitating investment in sectors such as telecoms, transport and housing, as well as in basic infrastructure, health and education.

Abdirashid Duale, CEO of Dahabshiil, added: "The fast and efficient transfer of remittances is an essential service for many people in the developing world, whose friends or family live abroad and regularly send money home.

"Dahabshiil is dedicated to assisting these communities and prides itself on its ability to provide a lifeline for people who need it most in hard to reach areas. This is why we have reliable systems and staff in some of the remotest areas."

While remittances account for its core business, Dahabshiil also provides money transfer and banking services to local businesses as well as to humanitarian and international development organisations. In fact, over 95% of international organisations operating in Somalia, including the UN, World Health Organisation, World Bank, Oxfam, Save the Children and Care International rely on Dahabshiil to make payments.

The United Nations has previously described Dahabshiil services as "the only safe and efficient option to transfer funds to projects."


Andrew Mitchell becomes first British cabinet minister to visit Somaliland

by by Nicholas Watt, 3 February 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/wintour-and-watt

International development secretary announces trebling of British aid to warn-torn country as resources are redirected to world's poorest regions

Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, talking to female police officers in Somaliland this week. Photograph: Pete Lewis/DFID

How's this for a photo opportunity? Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, is perched on the side of a truck talking to female police officers in Somaliland.

Unlike many photo-ops, this is no gimmick. Mitchell this week became the first British cabinet minister to visit Somaliland with a serious purpose in mind – to show how he is redirecting Britain's overseas budget to countries in genuine need. Aid to Somalia is to be trebled from £26m in 2010/11 to £80m in 2013/14.

Mitchell occupies an enviable position in the cabinet. His budget was only one of two to be ring-fenced by the Tories in their general election manifesto. The other was the health budget.

The international development secretary knows this brings huge responsibilities to show he is spending wisely. Mitchell told the Guardian in July that he is under a duty ensure money is being well spent in light of his "privileged position" of having a ring-fenced budget. David Cameron has pledged to meet the UN target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on overseas aid by 2013.

Soon after taking office in May Mitchell showed his intent when he announced bilateral reviews of all 102 countries supported by Britain. Some richer countries, such as China and Russia, will lose support as aid is directed towards the needy.

And this week we saw where some of that money will go when Mitchell stopped by for his chat with police in Somaliland, a self-declared sovereign state which Britain only recognises as an autonomous region of Somalia. During his visit to the capital, Hargeisahe, he met President Silanyo of Somaliland and toured a hospital.

Ever the diplomat, Mitchell chose his words with care as he announced that British aid to Somalia would be tripled:

British aid to Somalia is helping to save lives. This week I met a three-year old girl who had been on the verge of starvation. Now she is on the way to recovery, thanks to the kind of emergency nutrition that Britain will provide for some 40,000 starving women and children.

As a member of Britain's new national security council, Mitchell said the aid would also benefit Britain:

This is not just aid from Britain; it is aid for Britain too. Our aid to Somalia is helping to make Britain safer, because conflict doesn't just claim innocent lives in Somalia, it also leads to international problems like piracy, migration and terrorism. None of these will be solved without tackling their root causes: ongoing instability and extreme poverty.

Mitchell believes the aid will provide the following help:

• Emergency nutrition for more than 40,000 starving women and children.
• Safe drinking water to 350,000 people.
• Access to basic, life-saving healthcare for 268,000 people.
• Help for 68,000 people to keep their animals alive. This is a vital lifeline for families during droughts.

Mitchell was given a less than friendly welcome back to Britain by Harriet Harman, his Labour shadow, who raised questions about the Tories' commitment to meeting the 2013 UN spending target. In a speech today at the LSE, Labour's deputy leader announced a 'Keep the 0.7% / 2013 Promise' campaign because of what she called the Tories' "fragile" commitment to the target.

Harman pointed out that legislation to enshrine the commitment, promised in the Queen's Speech, has still not appeared. A senior DfID source told the Guardian last night of Harman's attack:

This is a pretty weak attack given that the coalition has promised to do it in the first session of this parliament which ends in June 2012.

We are also the first country in the G20 to set out the financial pathway to the 0.7% commitment. If that is the best Harriet Harman can do we will put that down as a tick for the coalition's development policy.

The usually uncontentious area of overseas aid may soon become a little more heated.


SOMALIA: Rising number of child landmine victims in Somaliland

Photo: Mohamed Amin Jibril/IRIN. Saida Mohamed with her child, Habon Ahmed, who was injured in a landmine explosion in January

HARGEISA, 2 February 2011 (IRIN) - Somalia's self-declared independent region of Somaliland has experienced an increase in landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) explosions in the recent past, with officials calling for mine awareness education in schools, as children have been the main victims.

"Child victims of land mines have increased in Somaliland in the past two months," Ahmed Ali Maah, director of the Somaliland Mine Action Center (SMAC), told IRIN. "Some 93 children have been killed by landmines in the past three years."

Farhan Abdi Saleban, a child protection officer with Comprehensive Community-Based Rehabilitation in Somaliland (CCBRS), a local NGO, said three children died and five were injured by landmines in January; and two others were injured in December 2010.

"Case fatalities and injuries associated with mine and UXO explosions have lately increased in the country," Saleban said. "A high proportion of the victims are children, according to comparative data/information recorded for the past two months."

Saleban said strategic interventions, including effective continuing mine-risk education and psychological rehabilitation of landmine survivors, were needed.

The latest incident occurred on 27 January in Sheedaha settlement in Hargeisa’s Kodbur District: One child died and two others were injured when a landmine exploded in a playground.

"My son had gone to play football in the evening, as usual. Suddenly I received a phone call telling me my son had been injured following an explosion," said Ibrahim Ahmed, a father of five, whose son Farhan Ibrahim was injured in the chest.

Photo: Mohamed Amin Jibril/IRIN. At least 24 types of anti-personnel mines from 10 different countries have been identified in Somaliland

No minefield records

According to SMAC, landmines were laid in Somaliland over two decades, and during three different conflicts. The first conflict (1964) and the second (1977-78) were between the Somali Democratic Republic and Ethiopia over what is now Ethiopia's Somali Region. The third conflict (1981-91) was when the Somali National Movement waged an armed struggle against the Somali National Army of the then Somali president, Mohamed Siyad Barre.

According to the UN Development Programme (UNDP), 400,000-800,000 landmines were laid in Somaliland between 1988 and 1991 alone.

At least 24 types of anti-personnel mines from 10 different countries have been identified in Somaliland. At least half of the landmines laid in Somaliland are plastic.

However, no minefield records were kept, contributing to the problem as exact locations remain unknown.

One of five children injured in an explosion on 20 January had been herding livestock when the explosion occurred.

"I was with my daughter; we were looking after the sheep when a huge explosion erupted where my daughter was. I ran to her but I was too late. Her legs and her hand were cut off and she was bleeding profusely," Saida Mohamed, a mother of seven from south-central Somalia, said.

Civil society organizations and the national demining agency have called for awareness-raising mine education programmes, especially in schools. SMAC mine education officer Hibaq Mujahid Abdikadir Kosar told IRIN mine education programmes should be included in the national curriculum.


Somaliland intellectuals commends President Silanyo's government

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 2, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 29 Jan 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Professor Ahmad H. Abdullahi Ashari and Usman Muhammad Shaykh, two of the city of Berbera's intellectuals praised Somaliland's government for improving conditions in Berbera.

The two intellectuals observed that since the new government of President Ahmad Silanyo came into office, a number of projects were started in Berbera, which was a big improvement on the situation that they inherited from the previous government.

They also commended the mayor of Berbera, Mr Abdalla Muhammad Ali for playing a leading role in the inauguration of these new projects.

The two intellectuals revealed these views in a written statement that they published in the Somali language newspaper Haatuf.


Is the UN Testing the Waters or is It Being Unjust to Somaliland?

Published On: Tuesday, February, 01 2011 - http://www.sunatimes.com/view.php?id=720

The report acqired by the newspaper indicate that some of the funds planned for development projects in Somaliland

By Mohamed Rambow

Hargeisa(Sunatimes):- Information pertaining to the share Somaliland gets from what the United Nations have planned for Somalia was acquired by our sister paper Geeska Afrika recently. The development budget in terms of aids for Somalia ( Somaliland included) that the UN has requested from the international community for this year is 530 Million US Dollars.

The report acqired by the newspaper indicate that some of the funds planned for development projects in Somaliland, Puntland and South and Central Somalia will be delivered through International and Local organizations in the three zones. The report shows that organizations working in Somaliland have received a total of $ 6,228,994 (Six Million, two hundred and twenty two Eight thousand, nine hundred and ninty four US Dollars); those working in Puntland received US $ 15,090,891 (Fifteen million, ninty thousand, eight hundred and ninty one US Dollars while organizations in South and Central Somalia got US $ 76,844,099 (seventy six million, eight hundred and forty four thousand and ninty nine US Dollars).

The overall total of the funds set is US $ 98,163,984 (ninty eighjt million, one hundred and sixty three thousand, nine hundred and eighty four US Dollars) of which Somaliland’s share is 6.34%, Puntland 15.37% and South and Central Somalia is 78.28%. This shows that the share Somaliland acquired to implement development projects through International and local organizations working in the country is the lowest compared to the other two zones; and no justification was given in the report.

The United Nations have not divided the remaining funds intended for Somalia ( Somaliland included) for this year, which would be delivered through UN organizations working in the three zones.

The question remains, since the United Nations promised to increase the development funds for Somaliland , does it mean that they want to check the waters with this first share before they release the second phase of the funds, which would be the increased part they promised?

We tried to get the views of the Swomaliland Ministry of planning on the issue in vain.

However, if the United Nations second phase delivery does not signify changes towards their promise, which was highly welcomed by the Somaliland populace, that will potray a picture that the UN has broken its promise to the people of Somaliland, which might lead to them losing confidence to the Organization highly regarded as the most just and has on several occassions bosted about the increase.


Anti-Somaliland protest in disputed northern town turns violent

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Feb 1, 2011. Garoweonline.com in English 31 Jan 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report in English by Somali pro-Puntland government Garoweonline website on 31 January

At least one person was killed and a half a dozen wounded in a northern Somali city of Laas Caanood as anti-Somaliland protests turned violent, Radio Garowe reports.

The protests started around 11a.m. [local time] Monday [31 January] after local demonstrators began burning tires and closing off roads.

Security forces loyal to Somaliland, a separatist region in northwest Somalia, began fighting back the rioters and the situation soon turned violent. Local sources reported that at least two police vehicles were burned, with medical workers reportedly treating six wounded civilians.

Protesters chanted anti-Somaliland slogans and demanded the withdrawal of Somaliland troops, who militarily seized control of Laas Caanood in October 2007 as Puntland troops withdrew.

Somaliland and Puntland, two regions in northern Somalia, have disputed violently over control of Sool and Sanaag regions since 2002, with Laas Caanood town becoming the epicenter of their dispute.

Somaliland-appointed governor of Sool Region, Abdullahi Jama Diriye, confirmed the violent protests to BBC Somali Service. He noted that one Somaliland police vehicle was burned, but stated that "no one was killed" during the protests. According to Diriye, five civilians were wounded.

Furthermore, he stated that 118 persons arrested by police during the protests were released Monday afternoon.

Residents of Laas Caanood have protested several times against the presence of Somaliland forces inside the town. Residents oppose Somaliland's separatist agenda, according to experts and observers.

Meanwhile, Monday's protests coincide with violent clashes between Somaliland troops and a rebel group Ayn region in the outskirts of Buuhoodle town near the Ethiopian border. At least five people including Somaliland soldiers were killed during the armed clashes in Kalshale village, according to local reports.

Located in northwest Somalia, Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally.


Rival regions clash in northern Somalia

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Newsfile. London: Jan 31, 2011. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 31 Jan 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Fierce fighting between Somaliland and Puntland forces has resumed in Kalshaale area in Buuhoodle District, Togdheer Region, Shabeelle website reports.

Yesterday, forces loyal to both sides clashed in the area.

"The fighting has erupted when many soldiers from Somaliland armed with battle wagons arrived in the area and this resulted fierce clashes with Puntland forces" says the website.

Reports from the area say sounds of artilleries and mortars being used by the warring factions can be heard.

At least ten people have been killed, and several others wounded.

"Somaliland president has recently declared Kalshaale as a new military base for his forces and the fighting erupted when his forces arrived" Puntland officials told Shabeelle Media Network.

Harir Mahmud Husayn, Puntland official in Kalshaale, Harir Mahmud Husayn, told Shabeelle that one soldier was killed from their side, while five others have been captured by Somaliland forces.

"We killed 8 soldiers including officials from Somaliland and we destroyed their battle wagons" said Harir Mahmud, Puntland official in the disputed area of Kalshaale.


Somalia: Anti-Somaliland demonstration in Las Anod turns violent

31 Jan 31, 2011 - http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Anti-Somaliland_demonstration_in_Las_Anod_turns_violent.shtml

At least one person was killed and a half a dozen wounded in a northern Somali city of Las Anod as anti-Somaliland protests turned violent, Radio Garowe reports.

The protests started around 11am Monday after local demonstrators began burning tires and closing off roads.

Security forces loyal to Somaliland, a separatist region in northwest Somalia, began fighting back the rioters and the situation soon turned violent.

Local sources reported that at least two police vehicles were burned, with medical workers reportedly treating six wounded civilians.

Protesters chanted anti-Somaliland slogans and demanded the withdrawal of Somaliland troops, who militarily seized control of Las Anod in Oct. 2007 as Puntland troops withdrew.

Somaliland and Puntland, two regions in northern Somalia, have disputed violently over control of Sool and Sanaag regions since 2002, with Las Anod town becoming the epicenter of their dispute.

Somaliland-appointed governor of Sool region, Mr. Abdullahi Jama Dirie, confirmed the violent protests to BBC Somali Service.

He noted that one Somaliland police vehicle was burned, but stated that "no one was killed" during the protests. According to Mr. Dirie, five civilians were wounded.

Furthermore, he stated that 118 persons arrested by police during the protests were released Monday afternoon.

Residents of Las Anod have protested several times against the presence of Somaliland forces inside the town. Residents oppose Somaliland's separatist agenda, according to experts and observers.

Meanwhile, Monday's protests coincide with violent clashes between Somaliland troops and a rebel group Ayn region in the outskirts of Buhodle town near the Ethiopian border. At least five people including Somaliland soldiers were killed during the armed clashes in Kalshale village, according to local reports.

Located in northwest Somalia, Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally.


Leaders See Need for Cooperation between Somalia & Somaliland

By Phillip Barea. http://www.ezega.com/News/NewsDetails.aspx?Page=heads&NewsID=2753

Addis Ababa, January 31, 2011 (Ezega.com) -- During the African Union summit this weekend, and as Chair of IGAD, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia led a special “mini-summit” regarding the continuing crisis situation in Somalia and the country´s future.

This special “mini-summit” ended on Monday morning after two days of closed door sessions of all the necessary actors involved. One topic of primary concern was the future of governance, peace, and stability in Somalia after an August deadline for the end of the Transitional Federal Government, and the start of a fully independent regular government.

Role for Somaliland

On Monday, Ezega.com was able to speak with the United Nations Secretary General´s Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Augustin P. Mahiga of Tanzania. During the exchange he provided some concrete details as to what problems were discussed during the “mini-summit” and hints as to what can be expected in the future.

Ambassador Mahiga explained that many of the IGAD heads of state were very disappointed as to the slow pace of Somalia´s transition and the continued inability of the Transitional Federal Government to secure the necessary power and control.

Mahiga emphasized that the only way to remedy that situation was to effectively implement serious reforms, finalize the constitution making process, and establish the necessary political base.

He further noted that in order to finalize the transition process, the TFG needs to reach out to all actors and necessary parties. Mahiga clearly stated that: “This government [the TFG] has not delivered well in the areas of outreach and reconciliation”.

Within that context he included Somaliland (a northern region that declared independence from Somalia in 1991) as a necessary part of the transition process for the establishment of peace and stability in Somalia. Mahiga further commented on Somaliland´s value by stating that: “Somaliland is a role model and good example for the rest of Somalis”.

Position of the TFG

After the interview with Ambassador Mahiga, Ezega.com was then able to speak directly with H.E. Mohamed Abdillahi Omar, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Somalia. When asked about the possibility of reaching out to Somaliland and cooperating with each other, the Minister was optimistic and positive about the idea.

Regardless of past conflicts, disputes, and animosities; His Excellency recognized the need for cooperation in the face of common problems and the primary need to stabilize the region and care for the people. He clearly stated that: “We must cooperate between all the three components”; a statement that refers to Somaliland, Puntland, and South-Central Somalia.

To summarize his point, the Minister went on record and told Ezega.com that: “We are very keen from Mogadishu, in the TFG, to have both dialogue and practical cooperation”.

Somaliland´s Position

The government of Somaliland has continually maintained its independence and disinterest in reunifying with the southern parts of Somalia. Therefore, it may seem to many observers as a difficult task to ask them to cooperate with the TFG in Mogadishu.

However, Ambassador Mahiga espoused the belief that if the leaders of Somaliland were confident that they had a trustworthy and earnest partner in Mogadishu, they would cooperate.


Somalia: Young man killed in Somaliland bomb blast

29 Jan 29, 2011 - http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Young_man_killed_in_Somaliland_bomb_blast.shtml

At least one young man was killed in a deadly bomb blast in the capital of Somalia's separatist region of Somaliland, Radio Garowe reports.

The explosion occurred Saturday afternoon in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland and Somalia's second-largest city.

Local sources reported that one young man was killed and two other men were wounded in the blast, which occurred outside of a stadium.

The young men, who were playing soccer, found the bomb and "played" with it before it exploded with deadly force, the sources added.

Somaliland security forces surrounded the scene of the bombing and police officials said there were investigations.

Some reports said a "group of men" in a car placed the bomb material near a garbage dump area outside of the stadium. The young men then began toying around with the bomb after that vehicle drove away.

Somaliland police have not commented publicly about this bomb blast, but Hargeisa is considered one of Somalia's most peaceful cities.

Located in northwestern Somalia, Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the Horn of Africa country in 1991 but has not gained international recognition.


Non-existant country

Somalia: 20 years of anarchy By Zeinab Badawi, 25 January 2011.BBC News, Somaliland

Freedom Square reminds people of the struggle to break away from Somalia Continue reading the main story

When you land at the clean, tidy airport in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, you feel you could have arrived in any small African state.

The police are courteous and wear freshly-pressed uniforms, the Somaliland flag flutters gently in the hot morning breeze, and you move briskly through the airport security.

The taxi you take into town is paid for in Somaliland's currency, the shilling.

But do not get carried away - despite the outward trappings of statehood, this is a country that does not officially exist.

Somaliland unilaterally declared its independence from the rest of Somalia in May 1991, after the fall of the country's military strongman, Mohamed Siad Barre.

He fled the country exactly 20 years ago on Wednesday, after two decades in power.

Monument

I made my way to Freedom Square in central Hargeisa to see the monument, which reminds those here of the bitter battle they fought to break away from the rest of Somalia. Around 50,000 people died.

The actual figher jet used by Barre's forces to bomb the city is on a dais, underneath the figure of a woman holding the green, white and red of the Somaliland flag, looking skywards in hope.

There, I spoke to a local journalist, Albdelhakim Mohamed from the Jumhuriya newspaper.

"We want our independence here in Somaliland," he told me.

"We have a country. We have a parliament, a free press, and businesses just like London and New York."

At the base of the monument, a body lay wrapped in cardboard.

At first I was not sure if it was part of the display, then I realised it was just a homeless man who had spent the night at its foot.

Around the monument is also a market where goods of all kinds are readily available.

Traditional spices mingle with the ubiquitous plastic of Chinese imports, brightly coloured sandals, plastic buckets and hair decorations.

Vital remittances

I walked through the market with Abdirashid Duale, the head of Dahabshiil, Africa's largest money transfer company.

Abdirashid Duale admits Somaliland's unofficial status affects business with abroad Tall, elegant and expensively clad - his company makes a lot of money here - he was reticent to commit to whether Somaliland should be recognised as independent; after all, his business interests extend all over Somalia.

When I ask him whether Somaliland's unofficial status affects business, he admits it is a challenge.

But Dahabshiil, like other financial corporations in the 21st Century, can base its headquarters anywhere in the world these days. Mr Duale spends most of his time in neighbouring Kenya.

From the people I chatted to informally in Hargeisa, I was left with the overwhelming impression that they would find it hard to re-integrate into the rest of Somalia.

Though with the Somaliland government so intent on independence it is hard to know if some were reluctant to speak their minds too freely.

People use money exchange centres to retrieve the funds sent to them by wire transfer According to the World Bank, the Somali diaspora as a whole sends about $1bn (£632m) to their relatives back home every year.

Here in Hargeisa, with no official help from the outside world and no recognition as a state, most official aid is closed to them. So the remittances are a vital source of income.

People use the many money exchange centres dotted around Hargeisa to retrieve the funds sent to them by wire transfer.

I went into one office with Mr Duale.

Some people recognised him as the big boss, and I had no trouble being escorted into the back office where money was being counted.

Despite the scene, often money does not actually change hands - many transactions are carried out over the internet.

'On our guard'

Somaliland seems a world away from the chaos and violence of south and central Somalia, which includes the capital Mogadishu.

The country is divided. Puntland in the north is a semi-autonomous state and Somaliland is a functioning state in all but name.

But Somaliland is not immune from the militant brand of Islamism that afflicts other parts of Somalia.

In 2008, suicide car bombings left dozens dead in Hargeisa, as well as in Puntland.

The leader of the main Islamist group al-Shabab, Ahmed Cabdi Godane - who is himself from Somaliland - was blamed for the attacks.

"We are on our guard," President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo told me.

"We are doing our level best to encourage young people through education and work, and to engage them in useful activities instead of going to extremist groups like al-Shabab."

Somaliland is seen as a transit route for militant groups going into Somalia proper, and the government here is keen to assist international efforts to tackle this.

Although Mr Silanyo has been applauded for his efforts since taking office in July, this has not given him the international recognition he craves.

Referendum hopes

On a recent trip of Western capitals to press Somaliland's case, he told me that it deserved to be seen as an independent country.

Somaliland is relatively free from the violence plaguing the rest of Somalia Historically, it was a different country from Somalia, which was divided by the French, Italian and British colonial powers, he explained.

Somaliland was British and was independent for five days in 1961, before it opted to join the rest of the country.

Those five days though are crucial in legal terms to the government and gives it a basis to claim it was once an independent state.

Ethnically, the people I encountered in Somaliland are no different from their brethren elsewhere, but their lives in the last 20 years have been relatively free from the violence and divisions that have plagued the rest of Somalia.

Now President Silanyo feels that with Southern Sudan likely to become independent, the people of Somaliland cannot be denied the chance of their own referendum to vote for secession.

The key question for the intentional community is whether it should be allowed to go it alone, or be forced to remain part of Somalia to help bring greater peace and prosperity to a country that has known only war for two decades?


Recognition of Somaliland Overdue

Ben Farley | 26 Jan 2011 Briefing http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/7673/recognition-of-somaliland-overdue

Nearly 20 years ago, Somaliland, a Florida-sized region of northeast Somalia once known as British Somaliland, declared its independence from Somalia. In the years since, Somaliland has emerged as a stable, democratic state that provides a measure of international security in a region overrun with pirates and transnational terrorists. Yet, no state or international body recognizes Somaliland's independence. Instead, the international community is content with the fiction that Somalia remains a unified state. Denying Somaliland recognition will likely result in its eventual collapse and the expansion of the chaos, instability and international insecurity that characterizes Somalia. To prevent this eventuality, the United States should grant recognition to Somaliland.

Since declaring its independence in 1991, Somaliland has pursued an indigenous process of transformation from a militarized, post-conflict society governed by traditional clan structures to a representative democracy. Following the ouster of Siad Barre, the longtime dictator of the Democratic Republic of Somalia, a series of conferences of the elders of Somaliland's clans resulted first in Somaliland's declaration of independence, then in a transitional charter establishing a presidency and legislature, and finally in a provisional constitution.* That constitution was approved by 97 percent of votes cast in a Somaliland-wide referendum in 2001. Municipal, presidential and parliamentary elections were held in 2002, 2003 and 2005, respectively. The first presidential election was notable both for its narrow margin -- fewer than 100 votes separated the candidates -- and for its lack of violence. It is also notable because the victor, Dahir Rayale Kahin, is not a member of the dominant clan of Somaliland. Presidential elections scheduled to take place in 2008 were repeatedly delayed until June 2010. That largely peaceful election was judged as meeting international election standards. More importantly, power was transferred peacefully from the incumbent to the victorious opposition candidate, Ahmed Mahmoud Silanyo -- a feat unmatched by any other state in the Horn of Africa.

As Somaliland's democratic institutions have developed, so too have its contributions to international security. In the 1990s, Somaliland successfully disarmed and demilitarized its population. A nascent coast guard now keeps Somaliland's waters free of Somalia-based pirates -- despite the fact that the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the waters off the coast of Somalia are three of the five locations with the highest incidence of pirate attacks in the world. Its police and judicial system have successfully broken up and prosecuted al-Qaida-linked terrorist cells. Recently, Somaliland arrested and prosecuted several Russians transporting guns to Puntland, a Somali region bordering Somaliland, in violation of the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia. Somaliland has even taken custody of transferred Guantanamo detainees.

The contrast with Somalia could not be starker. Somalia has been the subject of at least 16 reconciliation conferences, which have produced multiple interim or transitional governments. Both the United Nations and the African Union have deployed peacekeeping missions there in an effort to restore order, and the international community has expended millions of dollars to that end. In spite of all these efforts, no entity has exercised effective control over Somalia since Barre's ouster 20 years ago. Instead, an al-Qaida-linked militia, al-Shabbab, controls most of Mogadishu and the southern part of the country. Al-Shabbab is already responsible for one transnational terrorist attack -- the Kampala, Uganda, suicide bombings during the World Cup -- and has threatened additional such attacks. Al-Shabbab also reportedly shelters members of al-Qaida. At the same time, pirates based in Somalia ravage international shipping. According to the International Maritime Bureau, attacks attributed to Somalia-based pirates have increased steadily, from 111 in 2008, to 218 in 2009, to 219 in 2010.

Recognizing Somaliland's independence would not violate any international or regional norms governing state creation. State creation through secession is not prohibited in international law. State creation in Africa, however, is limited by the principle -- enshrined in the charter of the African Union -- that the borders inherited at decolonization are inviolable. Independence moves such as Eritrea's recognized secession from Ethiopia and South Sudan's ongoing split from Sudan have only been effected with the assent of the state from which those states have seceded. However, Somaliland is better viewed as the product of the dissolution of the Democratic Republic of Somalia than as a secession.

Dissolution occurs when the central government of a state formed through the merger of separate, independent states, ceases to exert effective control over one or more of those erstwhile independent states. The Somali Republic -- later, the Democratic Republic of Somalia -- was born from the merger of the then-recently decolonized states of British Somaliland and Italian Somalia. Though Somaliland was only an independent state for five days before merging with Italian Somalia, what is important for the purposes of dissolution is that Somaliland was a separate colonial possession from Italian Somalia, and that British Somaliland achieved independence separately from Italian Somalia. The Democratic Republic of Somalia ceased exercising effective control over both Somaliland and what is now Somalia during the civil war that culminated in the ouster of Barre in 1991. While no governing entity has been able to establish effective control over Somalia, Somaliland's government has exercised exclusive, effective control over its territory for nearly 20 years. Importantly, because Somaliland has re-emerged, resuming the boundaries it inherited at decolonization, its independence does not offend the principle that Africa's post-colonial borders are inviolable. In fact, Somaliland's independence restores the frontiers of Somaliland and Somalia to their status at the moment of decolonization.

Recognition of Somaliland will stand as an affirmation of the international community's commitment to democracy. It will also enhance the likelihood of Somaliland's survival and, with it, the contributions it makes to international security. Finally, because Somaliland's independence conforms to current international norms governing state creation, Western states will not set a new precedent justifying widespread African secession by recognizing Somaliland. It is time for the international community, particularly the United States, to to do just that.

*Editor's note: The original version of this article incorrectly identified former Somali dictator Siad Barre as Sayid Barre. WPR regrets the error.

Ben Farley is a J.D. candidate at Emory University School of Law and the editor-in-chief of the Emory International Law Review. He has a master's degree in international affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University.

Photo: Girls wearing the colors of the Somaliland flag before elections, December 2005 (Photo by flickr user F. Omer, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License).


Somaliland:The buffer Zone Against the War in Terror And Piracy

January 25th, 2011-http://www.somaliland.org/2011/01/25/somalilandthe-buffer-zone-against-the-war-in-terror-and-piracy/ By Prof Abdikarim Ahmed Hersi

Member of the steering comity of Economic, Social, and Cultural Council of the African Union: ECOSOCC-AU (The Advisory organ to the African leaders and the AU commissions)

The Republic of Somaliland has endured and surmounted great challenges since reclaiming its independence from the failed Union with Somalia in 1991. Embracing democracy and implementing it through elections were the last tests that it has successfully achieved. The subsequent peaceful power hand over between the outgoing President and the newly elected President cemented the notion that genuine democracy has deeply rooted in a country located in a region over shadowed by religious extremism, piracy and conflicts.

Having gone through that ordeal Somalilanders were expecting to hear what they longed for so long (recognition) from the international communities, spear headed by the democratic Godfathers of the western hemisphere. However, unfortunately it seems that their message is falling into deaf ears as the western nations are still avoiding considering the situation of Somaliland and only promising to give financial and moral support to this young blossoming democratic state of Somaliland.

Somaliland is located in a strategic place in the horn and the red sea and is an indispensible partner the fight against terrorism and piracy. On the other hand, it has proved to maintain stability and progress without much support from the region and the rest of the world. Nevertheless, its people have tolerated enough the international denial and it seems that recognition is like a waiting for a boat, which never comes. The question worth to be answered is how long will this neglected budding democratic state will hold its shield and defend democratic ideology from the evil forces that hampered the rest of Somalia that they share an open border with.

Let alone the well known Islamic jihadist in the region, the minor Piracy off the Somali Coast has been a threat to international shipping since the second phase of the Somali Civil War and many international organizations, including the International Maritime Organization and the World Food Programme, have expressed concern over the rise in acts of piracy. Piracy has contributed to an increase in shipping costs and impeded the delivery of food aid shipments in the African Continent and skyrocketed commerce costs all over the world. Ninety percent of the World Food Program shipments and international trade arrive by sea and pass here in Babal Mandeb and they are under threat every day, and ships into this area now require a military escort.

The situation is so gloomy right now in the red sea even though no piracy activity is reported or exists in the Somaliland Coast. However, how will it be if the people lose hope and Somaliland cease existence? On top of that, one should know that Somaliland has the longest red sea coastal aria comparing the rest of Somali speaking states in the region, and has long-range chain of Golis Mountains that can be a hub for evil doers (piracy and jihadists). If the international community remains indifferent longer and Somaliland is swallowed by the chaos nearby which some scholars consider the hell on earth.

Therefore, it is the interest of the international community to consider the danger that might came if Somaliland fails to exist.

I think the existence of Somaliland, as an independent state is the benefit for the continent in particular and the world in general, and the best tool that international community can give to Somaliland against the war of anarchy (piracy, terrorism) is an immediate unconditional recognition as an independent state. Otherwise, there will be a widespread chaos in the red sea and the region. Fire storm of religious terrorism and piracy will not only destroy the continent of Africa but also boost the international jihadist war and economic crises which has already damaged the peaceful co-existence of the two civilizations (Islam and Christian).

I think the exemplary democratic values Somaliland demonstrated during the Presidential elections and the responsible behavior its people are showing in managing their country peacefully having one objective in perspective which is developing their country and seeking for recognition merits the special attention and careful look of international community at Somaliland. When one look around, one can understand that the world we’ll living in is troubled and infested with social and political unrest and Somaliland a small nation from the Horn of Africa elevated and lived up to the true principles of Democracy and by this sole act surely deserves to be congratulated worldwide and shown as an example and eventually granted its recognition with the view of maintaining or even nourishing the hope of those proud and courageous men who fought for liberty and justice so as they could live in peace and democracy. It is the international community obligation to support that small nation endeavoring to exist in the region but also whose men have the ability to play an important role in the international scene for the benefit of the whole world.


Somalia: Free Education 'Too Expensive' for Somaliland

25 January 2011-http://allafrica.com/stories/201101250640.html

Hargeisa — The self-declared republic of Somaliland has introduced free education at primary and intermediate levels and doubled teachers' salaries but these decisions will be hard to sustain and could affect the quality of public education, say experts.

"We need to ask ourselves, does the Somaliland government have the capacity to handle this [salary] increase? The short answer is 'no'," Saeed Osman, a Uganda-based researcher in Somaliland's education development, told IRIN.

"The Ministry of Education requested the Finance Ministry to recruit 2,000 teachers but the response was that only 1,500 teachers could be recruited," he added. "This shows that Somaliland's government lacks the capacity to handle the increased school enrollment."

Somaliland's Finance Minister Mohamed Hashi Elmi announced on 16 January the introduction of free education in primary and intermediate schools. He also increased, by 100 percent, salaries of civil servants, teachers and personnel in the national forces.

"We have employed about 1,500 new teachers; for this reason all public primary and intermediate schools will be free of charge," Elmi said.

However, education experts say the government's move could damage the quality of public education in Somaliland.

"Look at the countries in the region, such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. When they announced universal primary education, school enrollment increased by about 200 percent," Osman said. "A similar increase will happen in Somaliland, can we handle this?

"The salary increase announced by the government will not amount to much because a teacher used to earn about US$100-$180 with the parents' support fee included; without the parents' support, a teacher earned $50, so with the new increase, this will come to just $100; this is not adequate if the parents' support fee is withdrawn [as will happen under the free education system]."

At least 200,000 students are enrolled in Somaliland's public primary and intermediate schools, according to estimates by the Ministry of Education.

Ali Mohamed Ali, the director-general for education in Somaliland, said: "Only 21,639 students in public primary/intermediate schools are currently benefiting from free education; we hope that the newly employed 1,500 teachers will bridge the gap. Somaliland's school enrollment increase is 6 percent annually, we do not anticipate a sharp increase from this."

Before the election in June 2010 of President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, Somaliland's annual education budget was 14.6 billion shillings ($2.3 million) out of a $45 million annual budget. However, sources in the Finance Ministry told IRIN this year's education budget was about 35 billion shillings ($5 million) out of the government's $90 million annual budget.

"About 90 percent of the increased budget is expected to come from the Inland Revenue," a source in the ministry, who requested anonymity, said.

The increased budget has yet to be passed by Somaliland's Council of Ministers and House of Representatives.

Welcome move

Somaliland has been largely stable since 1991 when it dissolved the union with Somalia and public schools were free until 1994 when civil war broke out with the former Somali National Movement - the liberation movement of Somaliland - between 1981 and 1991. This caused economic hardships for the government, leading to students being charged 15,000 Somaliland shillings ($2.50) each per month since 1995.

The increase will boost teachers' livelihoods and encourage them not to seek other jobs

Thousands of children are expected to take advantage of the free primary education. "The programme will give a chance to poor families to send their children to schools even though the yearly school enrollment in public schools was about 6 percent of the total number of students," Ali, the director-general of education, said.

Sa'ed Ahmed Khayre, a teacher in Ahmed Dhagah Primary and Intermediate School in Hargeisa, said: "Public school principals used to earn much more than the teachers and we believe that the new salary increase will give us the chance to evaluate the teachers who are doing their jobs well or not.

"The increase will boost teachers' livelihoods and encourage them not to seek other jobs; it will improve the quality of public school education because earlier we used to care more for quantity rather than quality."

Parents and students have welcomed the government's announcement.

"Three of my seven children are in the public schools; I used to worry about their school fees daily because if I don't pay on time, my children get thrown out of school," Nimo Ahmed Nuh, a petty trader in Hargeisa, said. "This [free education] was one of the promises made by KULMIYE [ruling party] during its campaigns last year."

Mawlid Mohamed, 16, a student at Sheikh Madar Primary/Intermediate school in Hargeisa, said: "We used to be chased home if our parents didn't pay the school fees on the 25th of every month; now we are glad this will come to an end."


Somalia: Editor Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

Committee to Protect Journalists (New York) 24 January 2011-http://allafrica.com/stories/201101250440.html

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a three-year prison sentence handed to a newspaper editor in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland in connection with a story alleging public corruption.

Judge Ali Sudi Diriye, presiding in a regional court in Hargeisa, found Mohamud Abdi Jama, editor of the private daily Waheen, guilty on charges of defamation and "spreading false news," local journalists told CPJ. The judge, who issued the ruling on Saturday, also fined Jama six million shillings (US$900).

Diriye denied Jama bail and sent him immediately to Hargeisa Central Prison, defense lawyer Mohamud Osman told CPJ. Osman said he plans to appeal the verdict to the Somaliland 's Supreme Court.

The charges stem from a 2010 story accusing a state electricity company manager of hiring more than 50 employees from his own clan, Somaliland Journalist Association Chairman Mustafa Abdi Isse told CPJ. Waheen, part of the Waheen Media Group, is known for its critical coverage of the government, local journalists told CPJ.

Journalists with four other newspapers—Saxafi, Hargeisa Star, Ogaal, and Yool—face pending criminal defamation charges brought by the state prosecutor, the National Union of Somali Journalists reported. Local journalists told CPJ they fear the administration of President Mohamed Silyano has reneged on its 2010 election campaign promises to allow independent news media to work without reprisal.

"Throwing journalists into prison runs counter to the administration's promises to support a free press and embrace accountability and transparency," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "CPJ urges the Supreme Court to reverse the conviction of Mohamud Abdi Jama on appeal."


Free primary education declared in autonomous region of Somalia

Jan 25, 2011-SOS Children - by Laurinda Luffman

In the last twenty years, Somalia has split into three distinct areas. The south and central parts of the country are ruled by the Transitional Federal Government, with large areas currently controlled by militant Islamist groups (Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam) fighting against the government and soldiers from the African Union.

The north eastern region, where a third of Somalia’s population lives, was declared as the autonomous state of Puntland in 1998. And in the north, there is Somaliland, an autonomous state since 1991. Unlike Puntland, this region would like to be independent as the Republic of Somaliland.

Since it offers a stable environment and functioning democracy (three parliamentary elections have been held since 1991), Somaliland has become home to many refugees from the southern and central parts of the country. A spokesperson for Africa Human Rights Watch estimates there are at least 300,000 refugees living in centres for the displaced in Somaliland and perhaps another 200,000 who have assimilated into the towns and cities. These refugees put a huge strain on health and other public services such as education in Somaliland. The director general of Somaliland’s Education Ministry estimates that 10 per cent of the state’s primary school children come from south-central Somalia.

However, despite this extra strain on resources, that government of Somaliland has declared it will introduce free education at primary and intermediate levels of schooling this year. Mohamed Hashi Elmi, the Finance Minister of Somaliland said that of the 200,000 students currently enrolled in primary and intermediate schools, just under 22,000 currently benefit from free education. The Minister announced that a further 1,500 teachers have been hired to cope with extra demand and salaries for teachers will be doubled (as well those of other civil servants and national forces personnel). The Finance Ministry therefore expects the education budget this year to need around 60 million dollars of the total 90 million government budget, though this increase has yet to be passed by Somaliland’s Council of Ministers and House of Representatives.

Some experts have warned the proposed salary increase will not be enough to offset the current level of parent-support fees given to teachers, who currently earn between 100-180 dollars with these top-ups. With the increase from the government, the maximum state salary would only be around 100 dollars. Experts are also concerned about the possibility for a dramatic increase in pupil numbers. When countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania introduced universal primary education, enrolments increased by around 200 per cent. There is concern that Somaliland does not have the capacity to handle huge extra numbers and the quality of the education will be affected.

Despite such doubts being raised openly, the Somaliland government seems determined to honour its election pledge from last year to provide universal education so that poor families can send their children to school. And parents in Somaliland have naturally welcomed the news. One father, Nimo Ahmed Nuh, said “I used to worry about school fees daily, because if I don’t pay on time, my children get thrown out of school.” He is therefore extremely happy to see the ruling party in Somaliland stick to the election promise they made.

http://www.soschildrensvillages.org.uk/charity-news/free-primary-education-declared-in-autonomous-region-of-somalia


Free primary education declared in autonomous region of Somalia

Jan 25, 2011-SOS Children

In the last twenty years, Somalia has split into three distinct areas. The south and central parts of the country are ruled by the Transitional Federal Government, with large areas currently controlled by militant Islamist groups (Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam) fighting against the government and soldiers from the African Union.

The north eastern region, where a third of Somalia’s population lives, was declared as the autonomous state of Puntland in 1998. And in the north, there is Somaliland, an autonomous state since 1991. Unlike Puntland, this region would like to be independent as the Republic of Somaliland.

Since it offers a stable environment and functioning democracy (three parliamentary elections have been held since 1991), Somaliland has become home to many refugees from the southern and central parts of the country. A spokesperson for Africa Human Rights Watch estimates there are at least 300,000 refugees living in centres for the displaced in Somaliland and perhaps another 200,000 who have assimilated into the towns and cities. These refugees put a huge strain on health and other public services such as education in Somaliland. The director general of Somaliland’s Education Ministry estimates that 10 per cent of the state’s primary school children come from south-central Somalia.

However, despite this extra strain on resources, that government of Somaliland has declared it will introduce free education at primary and intermediate levels of schooling this year. Mohamed Hashi Elmi, the Finance Minister of Somaliland said that of the 200,000 students currently enrolled in primary and intermediate schools, just under 22,000 currently benefit from free education. The Minister announced that a further 1,500 teachers have been hired to cope with extra demand and salaries for teachers will be doubled (as well those of other civil servants and national forces personnel). The Finance Ministry therefore expects the education budget this year to need around 60 million dollars of the total 90 million government budget, though this increase has yet to be passed by Somaliland’s Council of Ministers and House of Representatives.

Some experts have warned the proposed salary increase will not be enough to offset the current level of parent-support fees given to teachers, who currently earn between 100-180 dollars with these top-ups. With the increase from the government, the maximum state salary would only be around 100 dollars. Experts are also concerned about the possibility for a dramatic increase in pupil numbers. When countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania introduced universal primary education, enrolments increased by around 200 per cent. There is concern that Somaliland does not have the capacity to handle huge extra numbers and the quality of the education will be affected.

Despite such doubts being raised openly, the Somaliland government seems determined to honour its election pledge from last year to provide universal education so that poor families can send their children to school. And parents in Somaliland have naturally welcomed the news. One father, Nimo Ahmed Nuh, said “I used to worry about school fees daily, because if I don’t pay on time, my children get thrown out of school.” He is therefore extremely happy to see the ruling party in Somaliland stick to the election promise they made.

http://www.soschildrensvillages.org.uk/charity-news/free-primary-education-declared-in-autonomous-region-of-somalia


Journalist sentenced to three years in prison in Somaliland

24 January 2011, http://www.ifex.org/somalia/2011/01/24/jama_sentenced/

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - 23 January 2011 - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) strongly condemns the three-year prison sentence handed down to journalist Mohamud Abdi Jama, editor of the independent "Waheen" newspaper, following a defamation claim brought by a Somaliland police chief. Jama was also fined 6 million Somaliland shillings (US$900).

On Saturday, 22 January 2011, judge Ali Sudi Dirie found Jama guilty of "defamation and spreading false news" against a Somaliland police chief and director of the Somaliland Electricity Agency. The charges stem from articles the journalist wrote in his paper about reports of nepotism in the electricity agency and the police.

"We condemn Jama's sentence and call on the court of appeals to overturn the judgment. This verdict is out of step and can only be taken as an attempt to silence and intimidate the independent press," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

Jama was immediately taken to Hargeisa's central prison, where he was denied bail. His media house was also refused the option of paying a fine to avoid imprisonment. The journalist's lawyer will take the case to the appellate court.

NUSOJ is, in addition, tremendously disturbed by five legal cases pending against the independent press in Somaliland. The "Saxafi", "Hargeisa Star", "Ogaal" and "Yool" newspapers all face charges of defamation and slander, leveled against them by the Somaliland prosecutor. The Hargeisa regional court is expected to hear the cases and review the evidence.

"The independent print media is subjected to pressure tactics for freely exercising journalism. We demand all these charges be dropped immediately and unconditionally," said Faruk, adding that such legal harassment constituted "a blow to Somaliland's emerging democracy."


Race to save African cave paintings; Prehistoric art is in danger of being destroyed by developers and looters in Somaliland

Flora Bagenal. Sunday Times. London (UK): Jan 23, 2011. pg. 21

A BRITISH archaeologist whose team has discovered a spectacular array of prehistoric cave paintings in Somaliland, in the Gulf of Aden, has warned they are in danger of being destroyed.

The paintings, thought to be between 3,000 and 5,000 years old, depict male hunters and female dancers surrounded by animals ranging from turtles to giraffes and elephants.

The works are among about 100 ancient sites uncovered by the team led by Sada Mire, 34, a Somali-born archaeologist working with University College London. She has launched a campaign to secure world heritage status for the sites to protect them from thieves and developers. "There are no laws to protect monuments and landscape in Somaliland and very little appreciation of the value these places hold," said Mire, who is drafting her own law with the help of international experts and plans to present it to the government.

Somaliland is a former British colony that has been fighting for autonomy from the rest of Somalia since civil war broke out 20 years ago.

Its democratically-elected government has increasingly independent relations with other nations, including France and America, which are keen to promote stability in the troubled region. But despite maintaining a measure of peace, government institutions are chaotic.

Mire, whose father, a critic of the Somali government, was assassinated in 1989, has dedicated her life to preserving the newly-discovered art. When her father died she lived for a year as a refugee in the remote desert areas which she is now helping to excavate.

Later, she moved to Sweden and then to Britain, where she studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She returned to Somaliland to study its ancient heritage for her PhD thesis.

Until recently, the caves remained hidden from all but local herdsmen who used them to shelter their animals but who were reluctant to get too close to the paintings, fearing they were the work of evil spirits.

"When I was a child I was told these pictures were the work of Satan. If I had to come near them, I'd bring a spear," said Dahud Abdilahi, a herdsman paid to guard the entrance of the Laas Geel caves, the most detailed and elaborate rock art site in Somaliland.

The paintings were found in 10 caves high above a barren, rocky plain. Some of the pictures have faded while others remain vividly colourful, covering huge sections of the cave ceilings and walls. In some pictures the animals are decorated, suggesting they may have been worshipped. It is thought that the depiction of men on horseback could be one of the earliest of mounted hunters.

At present, visitors are able to clamber through the caves, with nothing to stop them touching the drawings or taking pieces away.

"This is where some French archeologists chipped off some of the painting and took it for testing," said Abdilahi, looking at a mutilated picture of two cows with decorated horns. He said they had never come back with any results.

The greatest threat is the growing realisation among local people of the value of ancient objects. "Somaliland has been recovering very slowly from its civil war," said Mire. "In rural areas people can't afford food, so looting is a big problem." Already a number of tombstones uncovered by her team have been stolen by villagers who sold them to illegal art traders.

Some of the stones were recovered after the team explained their importance to community elders but the incident has highlighted the urgent need for protection.

In two other sites, near the towns of Borama and Sheikh, the remains of two ancient cities are in danger of being destroyed to make way for a new road. Artefacts from Ming dynasty China and ancient Egypt have been uncovered at both sites, strengthening the theory that the Horn of Africa was an important trade route through which spices, frankincense and myrrh were exported. Historians say Mire's findings had added to their understanding of local communities. "By studying the underground structure of the walls we can tell where these people slept, where they ate and where they carried out ritual worship," Mire said. "But due to the lack of knowledge, developers are allowed to build roads straight through them."

The law she is drafting should be passed by the autumn with the aim of halting further developments.

'' PEOPLE CAN'T AFFORD FOOD, SO LOOTING IS A BIG PROBLEM

SOMALIA Borama Sheikh Laas Geel SOMALIA SOMALILAND Gulf of Aden YEMEN ETHIOPIA 100 miles


Race to save African cave paintings; Prehistoric art is in danger of being destroyed by developers and looters, writes Flora Bagenal in Somaliland

Flora Bagenal. Sunday Times. London (UK): Jan 23, 2011. pg. 30

A BRITISH archeologist whose team has discovered a spectacular array of prehistoric cave paintings in Somaliland, in the Gulf of Aden, has warned that they are in danger of being destroyed.

The paintings, thought to be between 3,000 and 5,000 years old, depict male hunters and female dancers surrounded by animals ranging from turtles to giraffes and elephants.

The works are among about 100 ancient sites uncovered by the team led by Sada Mire, 34, a Somali-born archeologist working with University College London. She has launched a campaign, with the help of international experts in ancient art and architecture, to secure world heritage status for the sites to protect them from thieves and developers.

"There are no laws to protect monuments and landscape in Somaliland and very little appreciation of the value these places hold," said Mire, who is drafting her own law and plans to present it to the government.

Somaliland is a former British colony that has been fighting for autonomy from the rest of Somalia since civil war broke out 20 years ago.

Its democratically elected government has increasingly independent relations with other nations, including France and America, which are keen to promote stability in the troubled region. But despite maintaining a measure of peace, government institutions are chaotic.

Mire, whose father, a critic of the Somali government, was assassinated in 1989, has dedicated her life to preserving the newly discovered art. When her father died she lived for a year as a refugee in the remote desert areas which she is now helping to excavate.

Later she moved to Sweden and then to Britain, where she studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She returned to Somaliland to study its ancient heritage for her PhD thesis.

Until recently the caves remained hidden from all but local herdsmen who used them to shelter their animals but who were reluctant to get too close to the paintings, fearing they were the work of evil spirits.

"When I was a child I was told these pictures were the work of Satan. If I had to come near them, I'd bring a spear," said Dahud Abdilahi, a herdsman paid to guard the entrance of the Laas Geel caves, the most detailed and elaborate rock art site in Somaliland.

The paintings were found in 10 caves high above a barren rocky plain. Some of the pictures have faded while others remain vividly colourful, covering huge sections of the cave ceilings and walls. In some pictures the animals are decorated, suggesting they may have been worshipped. It is thought that the depiction of men on horseback could be one of the earliest of mounted hunters.

At present visitors are able to clamber through the caves, with nothing to stop them touching the drawings or taking pieces away.

"This is where some French archeologists chipped off some of the painting and took it for testing," said Abdilahi, looking at a mutilated picture of two cows with decorated horns. He said they had never come back with any results.

The greatest threat is the growing realisation among local people of the value of ancient objects. "Somaliland has been recovering very slowly from its civil war," said Mire. "In rural areas people can't afford food, so looting is a big problem." Already a number of tombstones uncovered by her team have been stolen by villagers who sold them to illegal art traders.

Some of the stones were recovered after the team explained their importance to community elders but the incident has highlighted the urgent need for protection.

In two other sites, near the towns of Borama and Sheikh, the remains of two ancient cities are in danger of being destroyed to make way for a new road. Artefacts from Ming dynasty China and ancient Egypt have been uncovered at both sites, strengthening the theory that the Horn of Africa was an important trade route through which spices, frankincense and myrrh were exported. Historians of ancient Africa say Mire's findings had also added significantly to their understanding of the pastoralist and hunting communities that roamed the area.

"By studying the underground structure of the walls we can tell where these people slept, where they ate and where they carried out ritual worship," Mire said. "But due to the lack of knowledge developers are allowed to build roads straight through them."

The law she is drafting should be passed by the autumn with the aim of halting further developments.

SOMALIA Borama Sheikh Laas Geel SOMALIA SOMALILAND Gulf of Aden YEMEN ETHIOPIA 100 miles


Dismay at three-year jail sentence for Somaliland newspaper editor

Published on Sunday 23 January 2011. http://en.rsf.org/somalia-dismay-at-three-year-jail-sentence-23-01-2011,39376.html

Reporters Without Borders is “dismayed” by the three-year jail sentence and fine of 6 million Somaliland shillings (around 1,000 dollars) that a court in Hargeisa, the capital of the breakaway northwestern territory of Somaliland, passed yesterday on Mohamud Abdi Jama, the editor of the independent newspaper Waheen, for allegedly libelling local officials.

“This sentence has all the hallmarks of summary and punitive justice,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The court should have first established whether or not anyone was defamed and, if they were, a more measured and just penalty should have been imposed. Imprisonment is clearly disproportionate for defamation. We urge the courts to reverse this decision on appeal.”

Judge Ali Sudi Diriye found Jama guilty of defaming Somaliland’s chief of police and the head of the territory’s power company (Somaliland Electricity Agency) by publishing “false and misleading reports” about alleged nepotism within these institutions.

Jama was incarcerated in Hargeisa’s main prison immediately after the trial. His lawyer said he would appeal.


Danish money for Somaliland pirate prison

23 January 2011.http://www.somaliweyn.org/pages/news/Jan_11/23Jan29.html

Copenhagen: 22-Jan-2011. Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen (K), together with Development Søren Pind (V) provide financial support to renovate a prison in Somaliland, where condemned Somali pirates can be put behind bars. The newspaper Berlingske Tidende.

The joint decision is taken prior to an early publication of a UN report that will indicate the need for establishment of judicial and penitentiary sectors in Somalia as a key factor in preventing piracy.

But as the Somalia and security policy as economic lies across as a civil war ravaged failed state, the UN report, pointing to the relatively stable Somaliland, as the first place where it is possible to implement the prison project.

The two ministers will allocate 1.7 million dollars of the two ministries global framework to renovate an old jail to house convicted pirates.Several states in the region, including Kenya, Seychelles, has agreed to receive and judge the captured pirates.

Prison capacity in the two countries is limited, and Kenya has actually declined more captured pirates. Denmark grants already support for the part and leader of an international group advising the UN Secretary General on the law.


Six suspected terrorists arrested in Somaliland

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Jan 21, 2011.Haatuf, Hargeysa, in Somali 19 Jan 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Somaliland security forces have arrested six suspected terrorists near Badhan District in Sanaag Region, eastern Somaliland, Haatuf newspaper reported on 19 January.

According to the paper, "the arrest of the six follows information obtained from the suspects nabbed in Burco, eastern Somaliland recently". The six are said to have been "plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in the country".

Haatuf says Somaliland security forces have "stepped up operations to hunt terrorists" following the arrest of five suspects in Burco last week.


Somaliland: Governor of Sool Region calls for emergency drought assistance

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Jan 18, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 15 Jan 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

[Unattributed report: "Governor of Sool Region Pleads for Drought Emergency Assistance"]

There are reports of serious drought in Sool region. The latest report came from the Governor of Somaliland's Sool region, Mr Abdillahi Jama Diriye. The Governor drew attention to the severity of the drought which he said has affected both human beings and animals. He also strongly pleaded for help, adding that he is optimistic that the government will respond to their request.

Governor Abdillahi Jama Diriye noted that the cost of living has gone up in Laas Caanood which has had a negative impact on citizens, especially low income people. He gave a positive evaluation of the security situation in Sool region but underlined the need for emergency assistance against the drought.


Somaliland Minister Says to Push for Recognition After Sudan Referendum

By William Davison - Jan 18, 2011- http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-18/somaliland-to-push-for-recognition-after-sudan-referendum.html

Somaliland plans to step up efforts for international recognition on expectations that a referendum on independence in Southern Sudan will aid its campaign for statehood, Foreign Minister Mohamed A Omar said.

The referendum will have a “positive knock-on effect,” Omar said by phone today from the capital, Hargeisa. “We will be using the South Sudan case to take a more aggressive policy to the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.”

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 when a coup sparked civil war. It has never been recognized abroad because the Organization of African Unity ruled in 1964 that post-colonial borders in Africa were inviolable. The break-up of Sudan, Africa’s largest country by area, would be a rare exception to that rule.

Somaliland enhanced its democratic credentials with elections leading to a peaceful transition of power to President Ahmed Mahmoud Silanyo in June. The vote met international standards, according to observers Progressio, a London-based development agency.

Moreover, Somaliland was recognized as an independent state for five days in 1960 before uniting with Somalia, while South Sudan has never been a separate country, Omar said.

“Our case is not a secession, it’s a withdrawal from a union,” he said.

Cool Response

Neighboring Ethiopia said events in South Sudan wouldn’t lead it to recognize Somaliland. The situation is different to Sudan, as the north agreed to the south’s referendum, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said in an interview in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Jan. 15.

Independence is “up to the people of Somalia to decide,” Hailemariam said. “The decision cannot come from outside, it can only come from within.”

That is unlikely to happen in Somalia because there is no “representative legitimate government in Mogadishu,” Omar said. “This does not give us an opportunity to sit down in a similar situation to the Sudanese Comprehensive Peace Agreement,” he said.


Somaliland forces reportedly withdraw from disputed areas

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Jan 17, 2011. AllPuntland.com website in Somali 17 Jan 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report by Somali pro-Puntland government website on 17 January

Reports reaching us from [disputed] Ceyn Region in Puntland indicate that Somaliland forces who were in the region have in the last few hours withdrawn and headed to areas near the town of Burco.

Reports indicate that Somaliland forces last night withdrew from their biggest base in the region located in the town of Widh Widh and headed to the town of Kalashaale where the Somaliland leader asked the forces to go to. The commander for Puntland forces in Ceyn Region told Allpuntland they are aware of the withdrawal of Somaliland forces from these areas and that their forces are on high alert.


Somaliland arrests five terror suspects

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Jan 17, 2011. Garoweonline.com in English 16 Jan 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report in English by Somali pro-Puntland government Garoweonline website on 16 January

The administration in Somalia's separatist region of Somaliland has remained quiet as unidentified foreign soldiers helped arrest terror suspects in a major town, Radio Garowe reports.

The operation took place Friday night around 10pm local time when Somaliland police raided a house and arrested five terror suspects.

Local residents in Burco, capital of Togdheer Region, told Garowe Online that an unidentified aircraft flew overhead Burco several times and landed at the town's small airstrip ahead of the police raid.

It was unclear what country the foreign soldiers came from, but witnesses described the soldiers and the military equipment as British or another Western country.

Furthermore, it was unclear if the foreign soldiers took part of the raid or supervised it, but local reports have confirmed that the foreign soldiers landed at the airstrip in Burco on Friday night, when the five terror suspects were arrested.

On Sunday, local reports said that the suspects were transferred to a prison in Hargeysa, capital of the separatist region of Somaliland.

One of the five suspects hails from Somaliland region and was identified as Saleban Muhammad Husayn Naleye, while the remaining suspects "came from Mogadishu," according to sources. Locals described Mr. Naleye as a former employee of Telesom, a major telecommunications company in Somaliland.

Mogadishu has been torn apart by violence since early 2007 as Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabab insurgents have spearheaded a relentless campaign to overthrow Somalia's UN-recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu.

The leader of Al-Shabab, Ahmad Abdi Godane, hails from Somaliland and used to work for a major money-wiring company in Hargeysa.

Government officials in Somaliland have refused to comment publicly on the anti-terror raid in Burco, but insiders say that Al-Shabab has maintained an "active presence" in Burco for many years.

Somaliland, located in northwestern Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally.

The Puntland government, located in northeast Somalia and west of Somaliland, has accused the Somaliland administration was hosting and reorganizing runaway Al-Shabab insurgents in western part of Sanaag region, which is controlled by Somaliland.

Puntland troops overran Al-Shabab insurgent hideouts in Galgala mountainous region in late October after a three-month military offensive whereby more than 96 militants were killed and others fled to Somaliland.


Somalia: Somaliland silent as 'foreign soldiers' help capture terrorists

16 Jan 16, 2011 -http://www.garoweonline.com/

The administration in Somalia's separatist region of Somaliland has remained quiet as unidentified foreign soldiers helped arrest terror suspects in a major town, Radio Garowe reports.

The operation took place Friday night around 10pm local time when Somaliland police raided a house and arrested five terror suspects.

Local residents in Burao, capital of Togdher region, told Garowe Online that an unidentified aircraft flew overhead Burao several times and landed at the town's small airstrip ahead of the police raid.

It was unclear what country the foreign soldiers came from, but witnesses described the soldiers and the military equipment as British or another Western country.

Furthermore, it was unclear if the foreign soldiers took part of the raid or supervised it, but local reports have confirmed that the foreign soldiers landed at the airstrip in Burao on Friday night, when the five terror suspects were arrested.

On Sunday, local reports said that the suspects were transferred to a prison in Hargeisa, capital of the separatist region of Somaliland.

One of the five suspects hails from Somaliland region and was identified as Saleban Mohamed Hussein Naleye, while the remaining suspects "came from Mogadishu," according to sources. Locals described Mr. Naleye as a former employee of Telesom, a major telecommunications company in Somaliland.

Mogadishu has been torn apart by violence since early 2007 as Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabaab insurgents have spearheaded a relentless campaign to overthrow Somalia’s UN-recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu.

The leader of Al Shabaab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, hails from Somaliland and used to work for a major money-wiring company in Hargeisa.

Government officials in Somaliland have refused to comment publicly on the anti-terror raid in Burao, but insiders say that Al Shabaab has maintained an "active presence" in Burao for many years.

Somaliland, located in northwestern Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally.

The Puntland government, located in northeast Somalia and west of Somaliland, has accused the Somaliland administration was hosting and reorganizing runaway Al Shabaab insurgents in western part of Sanaag region, which is controlled by Somaliland.

Puntland troops overran Al Shabaab insurgent hideouts in Galgala mountainous region in late October after a three-month military offensive whereby more than 96 militants were killed and others fled to Somaliland.


Somalia: 10 Al-Shabab fighters apprehended at Burco town in Somaliland

Mogadishu- 15 January 2011-http://www.somaliweyn.org/pages/news/Jan_11/15Jan32.html

10 men widely believed to be Al-Shabab fighters were overnight apprehended at Burco town in Togdher region in the breakaway state of Somaliland in northern Somalia.

These Al-Shabab men were apprehended in an operation jointly conducted by the authority of the breakaway state of Somaliland and the United State of America.

Residents in Burco town who have early on Saturday morning spoken to Somaliweyn website have verified that the operators who were conducting the operation had with them especial automobiles, the residents have also added that on Friday night they could not sleep well because of airplanes flying in a very low range.

“I assure you that the detained men are all from Al-Shabab faction, and they are combined of natives of Somaliland and some others from Somalia, lately we have been hearing gossips that Al-Shabab are grouping themselves here in Burco, we have also been hearing that operations will soon be conducted, and it has now come” said a resident who has shortened his name as Jama only, because of security reasons.

A police officer in Burco town who has requested his name not to be quoted has as well verified for Somaliweyn website that the men are members of Al-Shabab, and are transferred to Hargeisa the capital of Somaliland where they will be judged.

So far the authority of Somaliland has not officially remarked about these men, and the general situation of Burco town is reported to be relatively calm.


Lawmaker urges Djibouti's leader to support Somaliland's growth

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Jan 12, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 8 Jan 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 8 January

The Chairman of the Upper House's Committee on Community Affairs, Mr Abdilqadir Muhammad Hassan (Indho-indho), appealed to Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh to assist Somaliland in its pursuit of political and economic progress.

Mr Abdilqadir Muhammad Hasan's appeal was part of a message in which he congratulated President Ismail Omar Guelleh for running for Djibouti's presidency for the third time.

He stressed that the reason President Guelleh is able to run for a third term is because of the progress that Djibouti has achieved under his administration.


German Sentenced to 4 Years for Making Porn in Somaliland

Man was lucky to be tried in Somaliland and not Somalia, where he would have likely faced a death sentence

By Tom Hymes. Jan 13th, 2011.http://news.avn.com/articles/German-National-Sentenced-to-4-Years-for-Making-Porn-in-Somaliland-423205.html

HARGEISA, Somaliland—A 72-year-old German national has been sentenced to four years in prison and fined $10,000 for engaging in un-Islamic behavior by creating porn videos and photos of him having sex with local women.

Gunter Bischoss, who has lived for several years in the breakaway northern region of Somaliland, is married to a Somali woman and worked for international relief agencies, according to police. The Washington Post reported that a 23-year-old woman also was sentenced to one year in jail and fined $880 in the same case.

AllVoices.com reported in November that despite being brought to justice in democratic Somaliland, and not in Somalia, which is controlled by an Islamist government that ruled according to Sharia law, Bischoff could have faced a death sentence.

The state’s director general of the ministry of religion and endowment, Ibrahim Ismail Mohamed, said in November that Bischoff’s alleged crime required that he be killed.

“This Germen man who has been living in Hargeisa for some time used to claim that he has taken the Islamic religion but the security officers in Hargeisa found some cassettes containing immoral movies that he recorded on Somaliland girls of whom some are behind bars and the case of this man was very much discussed in the mosques in Hargeisa recently in which the government was asked to take vital steps based on Sharia law,” said Mohamed.

The court was ultimately allowed to proceed without any government or religious interference, and Thursday the sentence was handed down. It would have likely been a very different story had Bischoff been tried in Somalia.


Somaliland to hand over Puntland-bound military cargo to UN

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Jan 12, 2011. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 8 Jan 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 8 January

Somaliland's government announced that it will transfer the military supplies that were on a Puntland bound airplane to the United Nations.

Somaliland had impounded the plane after it made an emergency landing in Somaliland. Upon inspection, military supplies were found on the plane which could be a violation of the UN embargo on arms to Somalia. Both the airplane and the pilots were later released.


Somaliland sentences German to four years for porn

1/14/11. http://www.portalangop.co.ao/motix/en_us/noticias/africa/2011/0/2/Somaliland-sentences-German-four-years-for-porn,c15bc18d-7469-4345-9c45-abc8a8750c8b.html

Somalia - A German man has been jailed for four years for making pornographic films in the breakaway Somaliland republic.

A judge said Gunter Bischoss, 72, was guilty of unIslamic behaviour and also fined him $10,000 (£6,300).

"The evidence in this case has been exaggerated and I will appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court," Mr Bischoss said.

A Somali woman who appeared in some of the home videos was also given a one-year jail term and a $900 fine.

A journalist in the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa, says the trial was held outside the city in the prison of Mandhera for security reasons.

"After serving his prison term, he will be deported from Somaliland and never allowed back again," the judge said.

Somaliland has been relatively stable since it declared independence from Somalia in 1991 after the overthrown of Somali President Siad Barre.

Although the region is not recognised internationally, it has its own working political system, government institutions, currency, police force and judiciary.

Much of the rest of Somalia, which has suffered two decades of fighting and clan warfare, is now controlled by Islamist groups which have imposed strict Sharia law in recent years.


Somaliland, Travelling Beyond the International Map

Abdirahman Mohamed Dirye. 13 January 2011

The international community should accept Somaliland into the family of nations, writes Abdirahman Mohamed Dirye.

Twenty years after unilateral declaration, Somalia continues to eclipse Somaliland and globetrotters see a journey to Somaliland as a risky business. The assumption that Somaliland is like Somalia, where the gun rules, has not an iota of truth to it. By contrast, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Somaliland operates according to the rule of law, where the ballot paper changes the sitting president. A biased media too preoccupied with Somalia, a confluence of terrorism, starvation, and the woes of war, hardly covers the positive stories of Somaliland, such as durable peace and democratisation. World-wide news consumers are led to believe that Somaliland is a part and parcel of Somalia and thus making a trip there is like committing suicide. But it is a de facto country and has informal links with Ethiopia and South Africa, amongst others. So far no courageous country has stood by Somaliland by establishing full diplomatic ties.

Somalia's ongoing and complex troubles often make the headlines and overshadow the milestones of Somaliland, such as the restoration of law and order, a rich democracy, and the running of a system without any help from external sources. If Somalia followed suit, all of the death and destruction could be avoided.

Somaliland is an oasis of stability. Over the years, thousands of returnees from the Diaspora have heavily invested in the private sector. They have built four-star hotels such as the Ambassador Hotel in the capital (www.ambassadorhotelhargeisa.com), beverage factories, money transfer firms, and private airliners. Unlike other Africans who wait for their governments to do everything on their behalf, Somaliland nationals have also raised funds to build infrastructure, including bridges. Despite the fact that it is an internationally isolated nation, it is still economically viable and progressing.

Although Somaliland is 20 years old, very few foreigners know about it. Popular Arab media ignore Somaliland's breakthroughs. The media is a spitting image of the countries that they operate in - if it is a liberal democracy, the media too is free and closer to the truth, but if it is working in an old-fashioned, authoritarian regime, freedom is not in the dictionary.

Somalilanders have done everything to give their country the international limelight and present their case, but the media works against them, sometimes deliberately. Therefore, Somaliland rarely catches the headlines. This tiny nation is struggling with the negative perception that it is associated by name with Somalia and foreigners often confuse Somaliland with Somalia. Some people in Somaliland even suggest changing the name to avoid the stigma associated with it.

Somaliland is a controversial issue among African states. Africa's semi-failed countries like the Sudan threaten to walk out whenever some AU member states like Ethiopia and Uganda suggest a more serious look at the matter. Despite the country's strategic location, the Somaliland case for statehood remains outstanding. On the other hand, Somalia, which has topped the list of failed countries for ten years in a row, has gained unprecedented interest from heads of African states. Nonetheless, the concerted blockade of Somaliland by the international community might not be the answer. By accepting Somaliland as a member of 'a family of nations' Somaliland will certainly offset the creeping danger of the Jihadists in Somalia.

The author is a Somaliland volunteer and activist based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201101140840.html


How does Somalia function at all?

By Damian Zane. BBC Focus on Africa. January 26, 2011

Somalia has nine mobile phone networks offering texting to internet access

Common sense dictates that security and stability are the necessary preconditions to economic development.

Since 26 January 1991, most of Somalia has had neither, yet the economy has not only been resilient, some sectors have shown remarkable growth.

But investment is very risky and long-term strategic planning is impossible given the political situation.

While business people may enjoy a no-tax and no-regulation environment, many argue that a stable government would allow for sustainable economic growth.

The main markets of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, are busy places, giving the impression that business is brisk.

It is not just the daily needs of food and clothing that are available. The latest electronic gadgets can also be bought.

The large Somali diaspora - estimated by the United Nations at around a million people - plays a crucial role in getting these goods to the market.

"One of the key things that have allowed business to carry on is the links that Somalis have with the diaspora across the world," says Roger Middleton, a researcher into Somali affairs at the UK think-tank Chatham House.

"Somalis living in Dubai, for example, will act as middlemen between their colleagues in Mogadishu and perhaps the markets in China where they're buying the goods from."

Somalia, though, is not just receiving traded goods - it also has a thriving livestock sector.

Mr Middleton says that it is the country's biggest employer, giving around 40% of the workforce a job.

He argues that the demand for meat has grown in neighbouring Kenya and nearby Saudi Arabia, and traders are willing to cross dangerous territory in order to meet that demand.

It's good to talk

Somalis, though, are not just traders.

The business success story of the last 20 years has been the growth of the mobile telecommunications sector.

Somali telecoms expert Ahmed Farah says the first mobile telephone mast went up in Somalia in 1994, and now someone can make a mobile call from anywhere in the country.

There are nine networks to choose from and they offer services from texting to mobile internet access.

All this required investment in infrastructure, but, as Mr Farah argues, Somali investors were betting on the need for people to stay in touch in times of crisis.

"The Somali business people who established these private telephone companies took a risk," Mr Farah says.

"They invested their money in Somalia, instead of a less risky environment, they got a return and the sector is growing every day."

The economy in Somalia, then, persists in the face of a very challenging business environment.

But the economy would flounder without remittances.

Ismail Ahmed, the Somali founder of the remittance company WorldRemit, estimates that $2bn (£1.3bn) is sent back to Somalia every year.

In the late 1990s, the UN found that remittances amounted to 67% of the Somali economy and that proportion is likely to be bigger today.

"That means that the Somali economy is more reliant on remittances than any other in the world," Mr Ahmed says.

He thinks that 40% of households in Somalia rely exclusively on money from abroad.

"It is the lifeline of the whole economy," he says.

Freedom

On the one hand, we can marvel at the fact that business does continue in Somalia, on the other hand things could be a lot better.

The lack of taxation and regulation may mean a certain amount of freedom from interference.

But business people have to pay security firms to ensure the safety of their goods, and need to pay off different factions if they want to do any trade.

The risky situation does not deter all investment, but it would be a lot higher if a stable authority was in place.

Mr Farah thinks that mobile phone operators would welcome an effective government.

"They will have security, they will have stability and they will be able to do their business smoothly," the telecoms expert says.

"So without a doubt, the telecom industry in Somalia needs a government."

But with the UN-backed government struggling to assert its authority, it is not clear when that day will come.

Listen to a special hour-long BBC Focus on Africa programme marking 20 years since the fall of Somalia's leader Siad Barre on Wednesday 26


Somalia: 20 years of anarchy

BBC Online, 26 January 2011

Somalia has not been under the control of a single national government since 26 January 1991, when military strongman Siad Barre was toppled. What impact has 20 years of war and instability had on Somalia and its people?

The conflicts

During the 1990s, the conflict in Somalia was between rival warlords and clan-based militia. This led to widespread hunger and the UN and US intervened before a humiliating pull-out.

Fighting continued but with less intensity until in 2006, the Union of Islamic Courts became the first group to exert control over the whole of the capital, Mogadishu, for 15 years.

Ethiopia then invaded to oust the Islamists, with US support. But the Ethiopians were unable to exert control and now the capital is the scene of regular battles between the UN-backed government and the al-Qaeda linked militants, al-Shabab.

About 1.4 million people are displaced within the country - mostly in southern and central areas, around Mogadishu.

The north has been relatively peaceful, especially the former British-run territory, Somaliland. Although its independence is not internationally recognised, it runs democratic elections and last year saw a peaceful transfer of power - still a rarity for Africa.

Neighbouring Puntland runs its own affairs but says it wants to remain part of Somalia. Many of the pirates who have taken advantage of the anarchy to hijack ships for ransom in the busy shipping lanes off Somalia's are based in Puntland port towns, such as Eyl.

Refugees

Civilians have borne the brunt of the conflict, with more than two million fleeing their homes - 20% of the population.

Some 678,000 have officially been accepted as refugees in foreign countries while thousands more have fled their devastated homeland to live abroad.

There are more than 600,000 registered Somali refugees worldwide, adding to a diaspora of settled Somalis who are believed to number more than one million.

This enormous migration has occurred largely during the last 20 years. A major exodus took place during the civil war which ousted Siad Barre in 1991.

In the following decade, many refugees returned to Somalia from neighbouring countries. But since 2005 a new exodus has begun - triggered largely by fighting between Islamists and government forces.

Living standards

Remarkably for a country which has suffered two decades of conflict, living standards have slowly improved.

Somalia remains poor in relation to most African countries, but its economy and its people have found ways to get by without a government.

Somalia's GDP has risen steadily throughout the last two decades, as has its life expectancy. And while neighbouring countries have been hit hard by the HIV/Aids epidemic, Somalia has largely escaped.

Although health facilities remain poor in most regions, the chances of a newborn child surviving to its first birthday have actually increased slightly since 1991.

Somalia - how has life changed?

The figures in the table above do not tell the full story. The relative stability in living standards may in part be because of the work of international aid agencies.

Throughout some of the worst periods of conflict, Somalia has still received assistance with food and health.

These figures from the UN World Food Programme show that food aid has increased in recent years, coinciding with a period of fighting between Islamists and forces loyal to the Somali government.

Pirates

Without any law enforcement and with few other ways of earning their living, piracy has become an attractive option for many young Somali men in recent years.

They earn millions of dollars for each ship they successfully seize.

Warships from around the world have been sent to deter attacks by patrolling off the Somali coast.

But the pirates have responded by travelling further and further afield - some ships have been hijacked closer to India than Somalia.

All the experts agree that the only long-term solution to the problem of piracy is to restore law and order on land.

But a succession of donor-funded peace conferences has failed to persuade the rival Somali leaders to put down their weapons and work together.


UNICEF and Japan support improved education and health for vulnerable Somali children By Mike Pflanz

BURAO, Somalia, 13 January 2011 – Teacher Faisal Ahmed turns from the blackboard and asks his class of eager teenagers about metres squared and metres cubed. In the third row from the front, Hibaq Abdirahman glances down at the math textbook on the desk before her, then shoots her hand up to explain the difference between area and volume.

VIDEO: UNICEF Somalia Chief of Communication Denise Shepherd-Johnson reports on steps supported by UNICEF and the Government of Japan to improve education and health care for vulnerable Somali children. Watch in RealPlayer When Hibaq, 14, was a baby, her family returned here to Somaliland, settling in a camp for displaced people 12 km from the city of Burao. They had spent four years in neighbouring Ethiopia as refugees from war in their homeland.

“When we arrived, there was nothing at this place. There were no schools – the first class was under a tree,” explains Hibaq’s mother, Halima Ahmed. “Now, it is very different.”

Textbooks provided

Abdulqadir Koosaar Primary School, composed of four single-storey buildings arranged around a wide playground, is only a five-minute walk from Hibaq’s home. On land that was empty scrub a decade ago, there are now seven classrooms for 424 boys and girls aged 7 to 15. Classes are taught by 12 teachers whose salaries are paid with support from a UNICEF-funded incentive scheme.

© UNICEF Somalia/2010/Pflanz. Hibaq Abdirahman, 14, smiles during a math lesson at Koosaar Primary School near Burao, Somaliland, in north-western Somalia.

In Mr. Ahmed’s math class, 22 boys and girls share a dozen textbooks that facilitate learning. “It allows us to move quickly and to learn more,” the teacher says.

In the school storeroom across the playground, the shelves are lined with math, Arabic, Somali, religious studies and social sciences textbooks. Footballs are gathered in a corner, next to skipping ropes and inflatable globes. Chalk and notebooks are stacked neatly on a table nearby.

Education for the most vulnerable

“You must realize that the people living here are among the most vulnerable. Some cannot afford even a pencil or a notebook for their children at school,” says Ali Abdullahi Ibrahim, headmaster at Koosaar since 2002.

© UNICEF Somalia/2010/Pflanz. Boys learn math in a class at Koosaar Primary School near Burao, Somaliland.

Most of the essential supplies at the school are supplied with funding from the Government of Japan. Since 2009, Japan has supported UNICEF’s efforts to improve services for vulnerable and displaced communities in Somalia, including access to basic education.

More than 400,000 school-age children and over 10,000 teachers across Somalia have benefited from materials provided through Japan’s contributions.

‘Generous contributions’

"Schools in Somalia lack even the most basic teaching and learning supplies, such as exercise books, chalk and recreational items that help teachers to provide child-centred education in primary schools," notes UNICEF Somalia Chief of Education Mette Nordstrand.

© UNICEF Somalia/2010/Pflanz. Vaccines are prepared during a UNICEF- and World Health Organization-supported Child Health Days campaign in Be'er village, Somaliland.

"But recently, thanks to generous contributions from donors, UNICEF has been able to provide such essential supplies to about 70 per cent of school children in the country. As a result, the quality of education has improved and more children – girls in particular – were able to go to school because of the reduced cost of education," adds Ms. Nordstrand.

“Now I can see that I can learn more,” says Hibaq. “I want to go to university, and my choice is to be a doctor to help people in my community.”

Essential health services

In a country where basic health care is also scarce, UNICEF provides essential drugs and vaccines to a nationwide network of primary health facilities – along with health outreach initiatives that help the most remote communities in this society of nomadic herders.

An hour’s drive south-east of Hibaq’s school, and then 45 minutes’ walk along dusty paths, lies the village of Be’er, home to some 250 families. One recent afternoon, a dozen staff from the Somaliland Ministry of Health gathered to help a queue of mothers and their babies waiting for a twice-yearly Child Health Days campaign.

Under this UNICEF-World Health Organization initiative, children under five are tested for severe malnutrition, and referrals to local treatment programmes arranged where necessary. In addition:

* Children are immunized against measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and polio
* Oral rehydration salts (ORS), used to prevent diarrhoeal dehydration, and purification tablets to ensure safe water are distributed
* And mothers are advised on best health practices. Contributions from the Government of Japan in 2010 helped UNICEF provide refrigeration and equipment for storing and preserving vaccines, as well as the vaccines themselves, ORS and water-purification tablets distributed during Child Health Days.

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/somalia_57436.html


Somaliland hands German four years for pornography

AFP. Jan 13, 2011

A court in the northern Somali state of Somaliland on Thursday sentenced a German national to four years in prison for making pornographic films with local women.

Gunter Bischoss, 72, has lived in the semi-autonomous region since 1993 and is married to a woman from Somaliland. He was arrested last year on charges of making home sex videos with several women.

"This man was found guilty of committing crimes against religious ethics and morality by shooting pornographic movies and pictures with women from Somaliland," Judge Abdirashid Mohamed Mohamoud said.

"This court therefore sentences him to four years in prison and a fine of 10,000 US dollars," he said. "After serving his prison term, he will be deported from Somaliland and never allowed back again."

The verdict was delivered at a regional court in Mandhera prison, a desert fortress outside of the Somaliland capital Hargeysa where the British forces used to hold Italian prisoners of war during World War II.

A previous hearing in Hargeysa had attracted demonstrators and the suspect was transferred for security reasons.

"The evidence in this case has been exaggerated and I will appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court," Bischoss told reporters.

A 32-year-old woman from Somaliland who was among several women featuring in the home movies found on Bischoss' laptop was also sentenced to a year in prison and a fine of around 900 dollars.

The public has reacted to the case with outrage, notably by expressing concern that it was attracting the attention of the Shebab, an insurgent group which has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

While the Shebab only control central and southern Somalia, some of the rebel movement's top leaders come from Somaliland, whose Western-backed government has been wary of an Islamist drive.

Some Shebab leaders in Mogadishu have in recent weeks accused Somaliland of dragging its feet in the case against Bischoss and urged local residents to storm the prison and kill the suspect.


Somaliland sentences German to four years for porn Continue reading the main story

BBC, 13 January 2011

A German man has been jailed for four years for making pornographic films in the breakaway Somaliland republic.

A judge said Gunter Bischoss, 72, was guilty of unIslamic behaviour and also fined him $10,000 (£6,300).

"The evidence in this case has been exaggerated and I will appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court," AFP news agency quoted Mr Bischoss as saying.

A Somali woman who appeared in some of the home videos was also given a one-year jail term and a $900 fine.

'Never allowed back'

The BBC's Ahmed Said Egeh in the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa, says the trial was held outside the city in the prison of Mandhera for security reasons.

"After serving his prison term, he will be deported from Somaliland and never allowed back again," the judge said.

Somaliland has been relatively stable since it declared independence from Somalia in 1991 after the overthrown of Somali President Siad Barre.

Although the region is not recognised internationally, it has its own working political system, government institutions, currency, police force and judiciary.

Much of the rest of Somalia, which has suffered two decades of fighting and clan warfare, is now controlled by Islamist groups which have imposed strict Sharia law in recent years.


Will Sudan referendum inspire secessionists elsewhere in Africa?

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/Africa-Monitor/2011/0112/Will-Sudan-referendum-inspire-secessionists-elsewhere-in-Africa

New countries borne of partitions and border changes are not common, but will partial autonomy in Somaliland lead to secession now that South Sudan provides an example?

South Sudanese children dressed in their Sunday best, who returned to the South by barges on the Nile river, sit amidst their belongings in Juba's port on Jan. 11. About four million Southern Sudanese voters began casting their ballots Sunday in a weeklong referendum on independence that is expected to split Africa's largest nation in two.

By Alex Thurston, Guest blogger / January 12, 2011

Yesterday the BBC invited readers to a discussion on Facebook about the potential impact of South Sudanese secession on political configurations in Africa:

" If South Sudan gets independence, will it encourage splits in other African countries? A number of voices are suggesting that could happen as the vote takes place in the South. Could Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Congo, Angola and others break up too? Colonel Gaddafi described a divided Sudan as “the beginning of the crack in Africa’s map” … Would that be a good or bad thing for the continent?"

From what I know, border changes and the partition of nations occur relatively rarely. In Africa, you have Eritrean independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s, but beyond that I am struggling to find an example of a country on the continent seceding from or joining another since the independence era (see Wikipedia’s list of border changes in Africa since World War I). So I think that South Sudan’s secession may inspire hope among secessionists elsewhere, but I do not think it will touch off a domino effect of splits.

There is one other region in Africa that appears within reach of independent nationhood: Somaliland, which has claimed independence since 1991. Somaliland has its own government and enjoys a greater degree of stability than other regions of Somalia. Recently Somaliland successfully transferred power from one democratically elected leader to another, reinforcing democratic credentials that outshine those of many independent African nations. As crisis continues in southern and central Somalia, moreover, the US and other Western powers are showing greater willingness to consider recognizing Somaliland or at least treating it, de facto, as its own nation.

Interestingly, given this discussion about South Sudan and Somaliland, The Economist recently interviewed Somaliland’s new president, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, and Somaliland’s foreign minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, on the subject. The interview is worth reading in full, but here is one key quote:

Baobab: What are the implications of the referendum in South Sudan for Somaliland’s quest for recognition?

AS: If the international community accepts South Sudan’s independence, that opens the door for us as well. It would mean that the principle that African borders should remain where they were at the time of independence would change. It means that If Southern Sudan can go their way, that should open the door for Somaliland’s independence as well and that the international position that Somaliland not be recognised separate from Somalia has changed.

What do you think? Is recognition for Somaliland in sight?

– Alex Thurston is a PhD student studying Islam in Africa at Northwestern University and blogs at Sahel Blog.


Will Southern Sudan be a precedent for Somaliland?

Posted By Joshua Keating Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/12/will_south_sudan_be_a_precedent_for_somaliland

If Southern Sudan successfully secedes, will other African pseudo-states follow suit? Guest-blogging at the Christian Science Monitor, Alex Thurston takes a look at Somaliland:

"There is one other region in Africa that appears within reach of independent nationhood: Somaliland, which has claimed independence since 1991. Somaliland has its own government and enjoys a greater degree of stability than other regions of Somalia. Recently Somaliland successfully transferred power from one democratically elected leader to another, reinforcing democratic credentials that outshine those of many independent African nations. As crisis continues in southern and central Somalia, moreover, the US and other Western powers are showing greater willingness to consider recognizing Somaliland or at least treating it, de facto, as its own nation".

He also links to an Economist interview with Somaliland's foreign minister, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, discussing the referendum (my emphasis):

"If the international community accepts South Sudan’s independence, that opens the door for us as well. It would mean that the principle that African borders should remain where they were at the time of independence would change. It means that if Southern Sudan can go their way, that should open the door for Somaliland’s independence as well and that the international position that Somaliland not be recognised separate from Somalia has changed".

I'm skeptical that the international community's support for Southern Sudanese independence sets much of a precedent outside Sudan. There was similar talk of nationalist movements being emboldened immediately after Kosovo declared independence in 2008, including talk about Somaliland.

The fact is, new states tend to be recognized by the international community on a case by case basis, and the laws and norms governing who gets to be a country are remarkably arbitrary. Precedents are far less important than they appear. Kosovo and Southern Sudan both had the advantage of having recently been at war with regimes accused of crimes against humanity. The Kremlin may have claimed that Kosovo's independence was a precedent for its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia several months later, but it actually had a lot more to do with things coming to a head between Russia and Georgia.

So I don't think Southern Sudan's positive reception indicates an urge to redraw more African borders, no matter how problematic those borders are. (See Bill Easterly's new paper on the artificial states problem.) Somaliland may have a good case for independence, but it will have to get there on its own.

http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/12/will_south_sudan_be_a_precedent_for_somaliland


Breakaway Somaliland hooked on Sudan referendum

Women wait to cast their votes in front of a polling station, in Hargeisa, in the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland. Somaliland, more tribally homogenous than the rest of Somalia, has been striving to attain international recognition for almost two decades and many voters saw the June 2010 election as a fresh opportunity to demonstrate their aspiring state's democratic credentials. Photo/AFP

By ABDULKADIR KHALIF in Mogadishu - January 12 2011, http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/-/2558/1088530/-/view/printVersion/-/kcub1vz/-/index.html

Somali journalists have descended on Juba to cover Southern Sudan's historic referendum. There is hardly anything odd about this, as over 250 media organisations and hordes of journalists from the world over have been accredited to the event.

But the journalists in question are actually from Hargeisa, the capital of the Republic of Somaliland, the region that unilaterally broke away from the rest of Somalia in 1999 following the collapse of Siad Barre's Mogadishu regime.

The Hargeisa Star Newspaper, and a motley of other leading Somaliland media organisations, have sent several reporters to Southern Sudan even as President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo back home this week declared a national rain-seeking day in the face of biting drought.

In the self-declared state struggling to find its footing, hardly any of the media organisations can comfortably afford to send reporters to Juba and they have had to dig deep to fund the expense.

Their mission is one: To satisfy the huge appetite in Somaliland for news over the secession vote which has captured the imagination of the people.

Many in Somaliland are rooting for a successful independence vote. The breakaway region has for years aspired to be officially free from the rest of Somalia.

Somaliland officials regularly travel the world, campaigning for recognition for their self-styled republic from the rest of the world; a tacit admission that they are still shareholders to a globally-recognised state known as Somalia, which has its capital as Mogadishu.

Implied

Reports from diplomatic circles say the officials are regularly told to seek separation--and recognition-- from fellow Somalis.

The territory, which is situated in north-western Somalia, has so far had four presidents. The first, Abdurahman Ahmed Ali, renounced the separatism and died while ardently campaigning for the unity of Somalia.

Presidents Darhir Rayale Kahin and the late Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, and the current head of state, Ahmed Silanyo, seemed to be agreed on a unilateral path, and could take lessons from the Southern Sudanese.

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) downed their arms and accepted a Kenya-brokered negotiated settlement in 2005 that offered a promise of the current referendum.

Somaliland leaders have always rebuffed the idea of looking for an internal solution, severally rejecting suggestions that they talk to other Somalis.

Their argument has been that Somaliland had been a British protectorate that gained independence on June 26, 1960, five days before uniting with Italian-ruled Somalia on July 1.

"We had been an independent state before the rest of Somalia," has been the refrain by separatist officials in Hargeisa.

Refrain

Western capitals have urged Somaliland leaders to convince its neighbours of its need for self-determination.

That assignment requires them to lobby their cause with the leaders of the regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Agency on Development (Igad). which apart from Somalia includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Eritrea.

The process of seeking self-determination for Southern Sudan and for Somaliland had been remarkably similar.

The Southern Sudanese embarked on their last armed rebellion to fight the Khartoum-based Sudanese government in the early 1980s.

In Somaliland, the first nucleolus of a guerrilla group was established in 1983 inside the Ethiopian border to wage cross-border attacks on the forces of Gen Barre in Somalia.

Neither the South Sudanese nor the Somaliland rebels declared their secessionist intentions at the beginning.

Surprisingly, the two movements did not even have names depicting their real secessionist plans. The pro-Somaliland rebel group called itself the Somali National Movement (SNM).

But when the central government in Somalia collapsed, the true face of SNM emerged, seeking separation for the north-western regions from the rest of Somalia.

The group in Somalia never used ‘Somaliland National Movement’ to hint secession.

Impression

Dancing to the same tune, the Southern Sudan rebel group used SPLM that stood for ‘Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.’ They did not use ‘Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement or (SSPLM)’ to suggest secession.

Both movements in Somalia and in Sudan gave the impression that they were struggling to correct faulty governing systems in their respective countries rather than their hidden separatist aspirations.

In Somalia, many people anticipate two fundamental things to happen if Somaliland is granted independence. The region’s clan dynamics may turn into a self-destructive phenomenon.

Groups unhappy with separation may rebel, seeking their own separation from an already separated territory. In such a scenario, people could helplessly witness one separation after another, unless measures to prevent that are now worked out.

For the rest of Somalia, new groups may set foot on the separatist path started by Somaliland. Puntland in north-eastern Somalia and several others may become potential candidates for statehood, bringing forth a horde of African mini-states with flags and other identities and all seeking recognition.

No wonder, then, that the leaders of Somaliland are critically looking at the referendum in Southern Sudan, particularly as the majority of the people look set to vote for total independence and the birth of Africa’s 54th state.


German national accused of recording indecent images to be charged in Somaliland

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Jan 11, 2011. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 11 Jan 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

German national who has been accused of committing acts contrary to the Islamic Shari'ah and the Somali culture is to be arraigned in court in Somaliland court in three days time according officials of the administration.

The case against a German man who has been charged with committing indecent acts that are contrary to the teachings of the Islamic Shari'ah and the Somali culture has and has been ongoing in a Hargeysa court in the last few days has been widely discussed among Somaliland public.

The German national who has been living in Hargeysa for a while has been accused of committing crimes of indecent nature by recording videos of pornographic nature with women from Somaliland. Somaliland's Chief justice, Hasan Adan Muhammad, told Shabelle that the accused will be arraigned before a Somaliland court in the next three days and will be charged according to the Shari'ah law.

Asked what will be done about the girls photographed with by the accused German national, the Chief justice said they too will be arraigned in the court in the next three days and charged according to the Islamic Shari'ah law. The statement by the Somaliland Chief Justice comes at a time when the actions of these Somali women has caused outrage among members of the public who are now eagerly following the trial of the foreign national and women from Somaliland.


Somaliland Islamic court to try German

Published: Jan. 10, 2011. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/01/10/Somaliland-Islamic-court-to-try-German/UPI-56341294705146/

HARGEISA, Somalia, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Somaliland authorities say they will try a German man accused of acting against Islamic culture and religion by making pornographic videos.

Hassan Adan, attorney general of Somaliland, a de facto independent republic of Somalia, told the Shabelle Media Network Monday the unnamed man allegedly committed "un-Islamic actions" by taking pornographic videos of Somaliland women and teenage girls having sex.

The accused will be brought to court within three days and tried in accordance with Sharia Islamic law, Adan said.


Another country-in-waiting

Jan 10th 2011, 14:30 by C.H. | LONDON. http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2011/01/somaliland

WITH South Sudan's referendum drawing international attention to the issue of secession in Africa, the quest for international recognition by Somaliland, the northern part of Somalia which declared independence in 1991, is back in the news. Since then, Somaliland has established a functioning state and held several elections—the latest, a presidential poll in mid-2010, saw Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo (pictured), once a minister in Somalia's government, defeat the incumbent.

Yet the country remains unrecognised, with some leading African Union members, Somali's transitional government and terrorist groups in Somalia alike opposed to its breakaway ambitions. The new administration has had to deal with territorial tensions in its east and the presence of enemies of Ethiopia's rule over ethnic Somali regions. As the vote in South Sudan approached, Baobab spoke with Mr Silanyo and Somaliland's foreign minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Omar.

Baobab: Why should the world care about Somaliland and its quest for recognition?

Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo: Somaliland is in a part of the world where there is so much instability, with international piracy and international terrorism playing a role. The kind of things going on in our part of the world affect the whole world. It is important that Somaliland and the international community work together against these sorts of activities. As far as security is concerned, we have done more than anyone else to fight against insecurity in our region. That's not an easy job, and that's why we need the co-operation of the international community. We are co-operating with other countries, like Ethiopia, America and Britain, who are interested in security in the region.

Baobab: What are the implications of the referendum in South Sudan for Somaliland's quest for recognition?

AS: If the international community accepts South Sudan's independence, that opens the door for us as well. It would mean that the principle that African borders should remain where they were at the time of independence would change. It means that If Southern Sudan can go their way, that should open the door for Somaliland's independence as well and that the international position that Somaliland not be recognised separate from Somalia has changed.

Baobab: How confident are you that a vote for change in South Sudan will see a higher priority be given to Somaliland's quest?

AS: We are convinced it will and we are working very hard towards that.

Baobab: Tensions exist in Somaliland's eastern regions, where clan authorities there do not recognise Somaliland's authority and Puntland [a region of Somalia which seeks autonomy under a federal system] lays claim to territory. Such tensions affected the conduct of the presidential election there. How are you addressing these?

AS: We have opened a dialogue with elders and traditional leaders there. We have already sent a very high-level delegation there, and many of those leaders have responded positively. At the same time, we have begun development programmes there, in water supplies and other needs. But there is no doubt about it: we are strengthening our forces there. The borders are not something that can be negotiated, that is a matter of state security. But there is nothing to stop us holding talks with the elders and we are optimistic about these.

Mohammed Abdullahi Omar: We are willing to work with Puntland on issues that affect all of us—piracy, terrorism, environmental issues. We are working with Puntland and other countries—Somalia, Uganda, Kenya and donor countries—to reduce the risk of piracy for the region. There is an international process for this, and we want to see these co-operations spreading to increase stability in the Horn of Africa.

Baobab: How is your relationship with the transitional federal government in Somalia?

MO: Our position has always been clear: we'd like the TFG and the local population to put their differences outside and work together to achieve peace and freedom in their country. That is in their interest; it is also in our interests, and in those of the region and the international community. We also support the African Union and international efforts to bring peace and government institutions back into Somalia, but we think it is for the Somalis to resolve, we don't think external influence or intervention will bring peace to Somalia. We are calling on our brothers in Somalia to sit down and make an arrangement to bring peace to Somalia.

Baobab: Does your administration have any formal contact with the TFG?

AS: No.

Baobab: What are Somaliland's relations with the United Nations?

MO: Previously there was a limited UN engagement with Somaliland, coming via the UN offices for Somalia, based in Nairobi. But since the election we have been informed that there are plans to open a UN office in Somaliland, and that other UN offices may move from Nairobi to Hargeisa [Somaliland's capital]. We welcome that change in attitude from the UN and the opportunities it brings. The UN has evaluated the security level in Somaliland since the election, and we are now at the level which permits top officials to come to Somaliland. We welcome that very much.

Baobab: Since the election, I've been coming across articles (such as this one) talking about Somaliland's tourism potential. Is the government doing anything to promote this?

MO: We have a dedicated tourism ministry, and indeed historical sites, and the Red Sea. But these all require international and local investment and development. With increased business stability, we hope we will get that investment.

AS: I have no doubt that Somaliland's stability will lead to terrorist groups trying to target Somaliland. But at the same time we are strengthening the groups that deal with terrorism, such as our police and security forces. We are giving them very high priority and more resources. But there is no doubt that we will be a target for terrorists.


Somaliland President Meets Saudi Investors

Published On: Sunday, January, 09 2011 - http://www.sunatimes.com/view.php?id=668

Somaliland has got strong business relations with most of the Gulf countries through its Berbera port

Hargeysa (Sunatimes) The president of Somaliland administration Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo has received five investors from the Saudi Arabia Kingdom in Hargeysa.

The investors are said to be enhancing their relationship with Somaliland businessmen and the administration. President Silanyo told the Saudi businessmen that his administration will welcome them to invest in Somaliland.

Somaliland has got strong business relations with most of the Gulf countries through its Berbera port where goods are either imported from or exported to the Arab countries.

Saudi Arabia has recently accepted to import hundreds of livestock from Somalia after livestock related diseases were eradicated from the Horn of Africa.

Livestock trading is Somalia’s main economic activity.


US State Department warns citizens against travel to Somaliland

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Jan 6, 2011. Source: Department of State, U.S.

Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia have demonstrated their intent and capability to attack air operations at Mogadishu International Airport. Kidnapping, murder, illegal roadblocks, banditry, and other violent incidents and threats to US citizens and other foreigners can occur in any region. Inter-clan and inter-factional fighting flares up with little or no warning. Unpredictable armed conflicts among rival militias are prevalent in southern Somalia, particularly in and around Mogadishu. This has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Somali nationals and the displacement of nearly one million people.

The Sanaag and Sool Regions in eastern Somaliland, bordering on Puntland (northeastern Somalia), are particularly unsafe due to ongoing border disputes and inter-clan fighting. Lines of control in Mogadishu are unclear and frequently shift, making movement within Mogadishu extremely hazardous. There also have been several fatal attacks and violent kidnappings against international relief workers throughout Somalia, Somaliland, and Puntland. On October 14, 2010, a British relief worker was kidnapped in Adado, near the Ethiopian border and held for several days before being released.

US citizens who choose to travel to Somalia despite this Travel Warning are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveller Enrolment Programme (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information. Travellers to the self-declared "Republic of Somaliland" should enroll with the US Embassy in Djibouti, and travellers to Puntland or southern Somalia should enroll with the US Embassy in Nairobi.


Somalia: Haatuf newspaper reports Somaliland link with Al Shabaab

6 Jan 6, 2011 - Radio Garowe

A newspaper in Somalia's separatist region of Somaliland has published a report stating that the spokesman of an insurgent group has appealed for military assistance from Somaliland, Radio Garowe reports.

Hargeisa-based newspaper Haatuf, in its January 4th article titled, 'Atom Spokesman Says Group is Ready for Talks with Somaliland,' exposed the shady connections between Somaliland's separatist administration and Al Shabaab insurgent faction that wages war to topple the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu.

Farah Ismail Sardheye, who identified himself as the spokesman for Mohamed Said Atom, told Haatuf newspaper that Atom's group has "no connections" with Al Shabaab.

In the interview, Mr. Sardheye claimed that Galgala village in Bari region of Puntland is "part of eastern Sanaag region." However, Galgala is a village located in Bari region and was formerly the base of operations for Atom and his fighters.

The Puntland government waged a three-month military offensive to seize control of insurgent strongholds in Galgala area. The conflict ended in late October after Puntland forces seized control over the area and the insurgents fled to Somaliland, according to Puntland officials.

Mr. Sardheye claimed that Atom is alive and well. But Puntland sources say Mr. Sardheye's claim that he was conducting the interview from Madarshon village was false, since Puntland government forces control Madarshon village.

The Haatuf newspaper interview claimed that the Puntland government wants to "explore for minerals in Galgala," a line often used by Atom, who has been hiding since armed conflict broke out in July 2010 and Puntland forces overran the Al Shabaab-linked Atom group out of Galgala.

Puntland considers Al Shabaab as a terrorist group and has blamed the group for a series of assassinations and bombings in Bossaso, Puntland's commercial capital in Bari region.

Somaliland authorities have denied that Atom and Al Shabaab fighters who fled Galgala village have sought safe refuge in Somaliland-controlled areas of Sanaag region around Erigavo town.

In November, Somaliland Interior Minister Dr. Mohamed Abdi Gabose said the Somaliland administration considers Mr. Atom "a terrorist," in response to Puntland allegations that Somaliland is providing safe haven for the fleeing insurgents.

Its not clear why a major newspaper in Somaliland is now claiming that Atom's fighters are seeking support from Somaliland and repeating Atom's claims that Puntland wants to explore minerals in Galgala, a charge denied by Puntland officials.

Last week, Puntland Deputy Security Minister Abdi Jamal Osman issued a strongly-worded press release condemning Somaliland's alleged links with Al Shabaab.

Somaliland and Puntland have fought several times over control of Sool and Sanaag regions since 2002. Both regions have been relatively stable since the national political collapse of Somalia in 1991.


Somaliland denies hosting Islamists

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Jan 4, 2011. Radio Gaalkacyo, Gaalkacyo, in Somali 1015 4 Jan 11/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland has strongly denied that it is hosting remnants of the Islamists that were driven out of Galgala Mountains by Puntland forces.

The foreign minister of Somaliland, Muhammad Abdullahi Umar, has described Puntland's allegations as baseless and unfounded.

He accused Puntland of concealing the facts of the matter and making baseless allegations against Somaliland. The minister said Puntland is training hundreds of troops to destabilise peace in the Horn of African region, and as a result of this wants to make accusations against Somaliland.

He accused Puntland of violating the [UN] arms embargo on Somalia by bringing arms and training a large number of troops.

The statement by Somaliland's minister comes after Puntland accused Somaliland of hosting and backing militants linked to Al-Shabab led by Shaykh Muhammad Sa'id aka Atam. [The militants were driven out of Puntland following fierce fighting with Puntland forces]


The breakaway enclave of Somaliland said the neighbouring Somali province of Puntland had linked it

Posted on January 4, 2011

The breakaway enclave of Somaliland said the neighbouring Somali province of Puntland had linked it with the al-Shabaab rebels to divert attention away from its creation of a large army.

Anonymous. Cape Times. Cape Town: Jan 4, 2011. pg. 2

The breakaway enclave of Somaliland said the neighbouring Somali province of Puntland had linked it with the al-Shabaab rebels to divert attention away from its creation of a large army.

Puntland said over the weekend that it was concerned by Somaliland's growing ties to al-Shabaab, an Islamist group linked to al-Qaeda.

Officials in Somaliland accuse Puntland of covertly building a large army with the help of foreign experts, despite a UN weapons embargo on Somalia. Officials say foreign security contractors are training an army of more than 1 000 in Puntland.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are donating $2 million to the Namibian sanctuary where they spent Christmas with their children.

The donation to the Naankuse Lodge and Wildlife Sanctuary was made through the Jolie-Pitt Foundation in the name of their daughter Shiloh, who was born in Namibia.

A Mozambique-flagged fishing vessel seized by pirates is under constant surveillance after being located by the European Union's anti-piracy forces three days ago, a Spanish fishing company said.

On December 31, the Vega 5 trawler carrying a crew of 14 was spotted near the Mozambican coast, south-west of the Comoros Islands, apparently towing a pirate attack skiff. It did not respond to any calls.

South Sudan's top election official says nearly four million people are registered to vote in a referendum to be held on January 9.

Justice Chan Reec Madut said the electoral body was completely prepared for the vote and it would be held on time.

Most people expect the oil-rich, mainly Christian south will vote for independence from the mainly Muslim north.


Independent South Sudan is expected to grant diplomatic recognition to Somaliland

January 3rd, 2011. www.project-syndicate.org

STRASBOURG – In the 1990’s, the world averted its eyes to genocide in Rwanda, and to the “Great Lakes War” in eastern Congo, which claimed upward of five million lives – the most in any war since World War II. Will such silence and neglect prevail again if civil war is renewed in Sudan?

The peace deal struck in Naivasha, Kenya in 2005 between Sudan’s government and rebels from the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) committed both sides, at war for most of the previous 50 years, to work for unity. But, as the so-called Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) reaches its climax, the SPLM, based in the autonomous region of South Sudan, has abandoned all pretense that unity with the North and the government in Khartoum is either possible or desirable.

A referendum scheduled for January 9 will give voters in the South the opportunity to create their own sovereign state. A separate but simultaneous vote in the oil-rich province of Abyei will allow voters to choose if they want to join the North or South.

The artificial fusion of the mainly Arab, Muslim north of Sudan and the African south, where Christianity and traditional animist beliefs are predominant, has been an abject failure. Since Sudan won independence from the United Kingdom in 1956, the country has been convulsed by almost constant civil war based on the north-south cultural and religious divide. Matters were subsequently complicated by a separate conflict – this time between Muslims – over resources in the western Darfur region.

If the non-Muslim South had gained at independence a large degree of religious, cultural, and administrative autonomy within a devolved federal structure, it is conceivable that the country could have remained at peace. But the South gained these freedoms only in 2005, with the CPA, and only after a huge and bloody conflict.

For most of the previous half-century, the North sought relentlessly to impose its will on the South. Southerners were subject to systematic and institutionalized marginalization. Islamization was the main tool of repression, in particular the imposition of Sharia law. More than two million people were killed in the second Sudanese civil war alone, which broke out in 1983 (essentially continuing the first war, which ended in 1972). Millions more became refugees.

Few places on earth are poorer and more destitute than southern Sudan. In most places, infrastructure is non-existent and millions of unexploded landmines litter the soil. But the South was never conquered, and its army, the SPLA, twice fought the North to a standstill.

The case for South Sudan’s independence is bolstered by the fact that it would be economically sustainable. Some 80% of Sudan’s oil is in the South, and the country’s vast swaths of fertile, naturally irrigated land hold much promise for commercial agriculture. South Sudan’s mineral wealth could also be substantial, though no one knows because exploration has been impossible for so long.

All polls suggest that, given the choice in a free, fair, and well-organized referendum, southerners will vote overwhelmingly for independence. But the run-up to the plebiscite has been fraught, with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide in Darfur, seeking to delay, disrupt, and overshadow it.

The North has been orchestrating a series of small-scale military strikes on South Sudanese territory in the past few months. It is also suspected of drilling horizontally into the South’s oil fields, in defiance of the CPA. And the SPLM fears that Bashir would use a vote in favor of independence in the south as justification to resume all-out war.

War, however, is in no one’s interests, not even Bashir’s. After all, he relies on oil for government revenue, and, according to recent leaks, is allegedly accumulating a massive personal fortune overseas. Bashir knows the tenacity and persistence of the SPLA. But if the SPLA ends up controlling or shutting down most of Sudan’s oil resources, the North could end up with nothing.

Renewed conflict could also drag in the United States (supporting the South) and China (Bashir’s key international backer) into a dangerous and potentially escalating proxy conflict of the kind that was common in Africa throughout the Cold War. China has been investing heavily recently in neighboring Ethiopia in the hope of buying neutrality from Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in the event of war, though the government in Addis Ababa is more likely to side with its Christian co-religionists in the South.

It is the prospect of a proxy war that makes all the unsettled issues – the division of oil revenue, the demarcation of the border, and the fate of the adjoining Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile region – so potentially explosive. But, proxy war or not, this almost unprecedented redrawing of Africa’s colonial borders (Eritrea two decades ago was the last example) could have profound consequences for the continent’s future.

An independent South Sudan would force the West to confront established orthodoxies about Africa, in particular the belief that countries like Somalia and Nigeria are more stable whole than they would be in two or more constituent parts. Indeed, an independent South Sudan is expected to grant diplomatic recognition to Somaliland, the successful and stable former British protectorate that has had de facto independence from the rest of Somalia since 1991.

As Sudan’s referendum approaches, the world holds its breath. Undoubtedly, South Sudan would face colossal challenges as a sovereign state, but the alternative – an inevitable return to war – would be incalculably worse, both for Sudan and for Africa. The people of South Sudan now have a chance finally to decide their own destiny. For them, and for the cause of lasting peace in the region, that could be an immensely valuable start to the new year.

Charles Tannock is Coordinator for the European Conservatives and Reformists on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.


A harbour to protect

The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ont.: Jan 3, 2011. pg. A.12

As a step toward restoring order in Somalia, a former nation-state that disintegrated in 1991, the international community should explore ways of granting limited recognition to the part of it known as Somaliland. The world is giving disproportionate effort to propping up a putative national government that controls only a few neighbourhoods in Mogadishu, Somalia's former capital, and which is called transitional; "artificial" would be more accurate. It would be wiser to build upon the stability of Somaliland.

Meanwhile, the Somali pirates of the Indian Ocean are thriving more than ever, in spite of the work of the navies of 30 countries in recent years, and are indeed ranging over a larger area. No country is showing consistent resolve to prosecute captured pirates in its own courts.

The pirates are not simply a floating confederacy of criminals. They depend on land bases, particularly in Puntland, another organized fragment of the former Somalia, where they can enjoy the fruits of their robbery in peace, thanks to a degree of civil order. International navies need to pursue the pirates to their safe havens. If the government of Puntland fully co-operates, it should gain a recognition similar to what Somaliland has already merited.

Somaliland is prosperous and democratic, but it needs some regular status that can provide the underpinnings for trade and investment. There is a reasonable reluctance to countenance formal independence from the rest of Somalia, especially because of the potential for chaos and war if a precedent is set for the redrawing of boundaries in Africa.

Somaliland should not simply become a separate country, or join the Union Nations, but the world has managed to accommodate some anomalies; the very different cases of Taiwan and the Vatican City illustrate such possibilities.

Somaliland, and perhaps Puntland, could eventually serve as a model for a reunified Somalia, or else for the reordering of the anarchic part of Somalia as another independent state. The piracy around the Horn of Africa cannot be ended only at sea - law and order on the adjoining shores is necessary, too.


2010 Hiiraan Online Persons of the Year: Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud (Siilaanyo) and Dahir Riyale Kahin

Hiiraan Online Editorial. January 02, 2011

Peace has been illusive in Somalia since 1991. Due to the protracted civil war the news from Somalia was always negative. This year alone according to human Rights watch Some 3.75 million people – roughly half of Somalia's remaining population – are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. More than a million people are displaced from their homes within Somalia and tens of thousands fled the country as refugees into neighboring countries.

More people who escaped from the daily shelling and bombardment of civilians by the warring parties in Mogadishu were extended to a welcome mat by both previous and current administration of Somaliland. Opening the gates to thousands of civilians, mostly Internally Displaced Persons (IDP's) from the chaos of Southern Somalia has earned Somaliland a championship title in humanitarian. Such a gesture indicates not only a strong commitment in brotherhood, but also a deeper value in human rights protections.

The Puntland administration equally played a vital role and deserves the admiration of all Somalis for welcoming IDPs as well as hosting the Somali Regions Soccer Tournament, this is a noble gesture that will build confidence and enhance communities to reconcile through sports.

There are so many Somalis inside the country and in the Diaspora community who worked tirelessly to alleviate some of the suffering subjected to civilians through aid and development assistance. While we couldn't possibly recognize all of them, we chose two outstanding individuals whose efforts contributed to the welfare of other Somalis last year and who through democracy and good governance are future beacons for other parts of Africa and regions in Somalia to follow suit their great exemplary footsteps.

Somalia had countless of heroes across the various spectrums, but the writers and editors of Hiiraan Online are delighted to split the "Person of the Year" award of 2010 between a former president Dahir Riyale Kahin and the current president of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud aka "Siilaanyo" for the following reasons:

a) The peaceful transfer of power; a rare occurrence in the continent since 1960s when many African countries got their independence from colonial powers, as this is the second time in the history of Somali, the first being in the sixties when the late president Aden Adde transferred power peacefully.

b) Fair and democratic election; on September 30, 2009 the three political parties in Somaliland, the ruling UDUB and the opposition parties Kulmiye and UCID signed a six point Memorandum of understanding (MoU) to bring an end to months of political bickering with respect to the upcoming election. Subsequently, Somaliland held a fair and democratic election in (exact date) according to the election monitoring commission and Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud (Siilaanyo) was declared the new president through fair and democratic process at the ballot box.

Other regional administrations should follow suit and embrace the election modality exercised by the people of Somaliland rather than using clan elders to select the president as in the case of Puntland. Respecting the aspirations of the people is an important milestone that is requisite for any functioning democracy. The last election in Somaliland has demonstrated that regional administrations can deploy their masses to the ballot box and respect the outcome as that instills the necessary political culture that improves the nascent system.

Despite the political and social upheavals that mired Somalia and its regional administrations, there has been never without opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the people. Leaders across the country should be brazen by a desire to impact positively on their respective constituents.

Hiiraan Online recognizes President Riyale the person of the year 2010 for conceding defeat and facilitating the peaceful transfer of power to the newly elected president Siilaanyo. Likewise Hiiraan Online recognizes President Ahmed Mohamud (Siilaanyo) the person of the year 2010 for contesting the presidential post through election and ballot box and by not contesting power through force and the barrel of gun.

We, the writers and editors of Hiiraan Online, urge President Siilaanyo to walk that extra mile and work towards uniting the nation by making use of his savvy leadership skills and his newly earned statesmanship status. At the end, no one thrives in a neighborhood that suffers from chronic wars, corruptions and with leaders that are unaccountable to the people. Replicating the strides that Somaliland has made in its security sector is an important step towards a constructive "Siilaanyo Policy" for the rest of the country.

Please join Hiiraan Online in congratulating both president Riyale and President Siilaanyo. http://www.hiiraan.com/op2/2011/jan/2010_hiiraan_online_persons_of_the_year.aspx


Somaliland says Shabaab ties claim a smokescreen

HARGEISA (Reuters- Jan 3, 2011 ) - The breakaway enclave of Somaliland said on Monday the neighbouring Somali province of Puntland had linked it with the al Shabaab rebel group in order to divert attention away from its creation of a large army. Semi-autonomous Puntland, also in the north of Somalia, said in a statement over the weekend that it was concerned by Somaliland's growing ties to al Shabaab, an Islamist group linked to al Qaeda.

The statement escalated a row between the two sides that has been simmering in recent weeks. Officials in Somaliland accuse Puntland of covertly building a large army with the help of foreign experts, despite a U.N. weapons embargo on Somalia.

Somaliland last month detained a plane that landed with military equipment on its way to Puntland's commercial capital Bosaso. Officials say foreign security contractors are training an army of more than 1,000 in Puntland.

"Puntland's concern about Somaliland and al Shabaab is baseless, false and intended to take the focus away from Somaliland's ... arming and training a large army," Mohamed Abdillahi Omer, Somaliland's minister for foreign affairs told Reuters.

Somaliland authorities say they are worried armed elements in Puntland could destabilise Somaliland, which is proud of the relative stability it enjoys compared to southern areas of the failed Horn of Africa state. Insurgents control large tracts of Somalia and are fighting a weak Western-backed government.

For its part, Puntland's government said in its weekend statement that its forces were obliged to "ensure internal security and stability" and expressed surprise that Somaliland saw such moves as a threat.

It accused Somaliland of providing a safe haven and organising support for "the fleeing remnants of the al Shabaab terrorist group which was recently defeated in Galgala hills area (Al Medo mountain range)."

Rejecting the Puntland accusations, Omer said Somaliland was a democratic state with universal democratic values abhorred by al Shabaab.

In July, Somaliland's President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo was sworn in after an election international observers said was free and fair, furthering its democratic credentials as it fights for international recognition.


Puntland claims Somaliland harbors al-Shabaab militants

Source: (AHN) Reporter: Abdi Hajji Hussein. January 2, 2011

The break-away republic of Somaliland is providing a safe haven for militants by organizing support for fleeing remnants of the al-Shabaab terrorist group, which was recently defeated in mountainous the Galgala area just outside of Bosaso. Puntland forces scored a major victory driving out militants led by Mohammed Said Atom.

Puntland's Deputy Minister of Home Security Abdi Jamal Osman Mohammed, told reporters in Bosao that the Somaliland administration has repeatedly issued hostile public statements regarding Puntland’s efforts to ensure its own security.

“We want to clarify that Puntland Government security forces have duties to defend the state by fighting terrorists, pirates, human traffickers and all forms of organized crime," Mohammed explained. "Puntland government forces are obligated to ensure internal security and stability. Therefore, it is a big surprise that the Somaliland administration sees this security effort as a threat.”

Despite the tensions, Mohammed says Puntland is always ready to help Somalia, and looks to maintain good relations. “Puntland is always ready to resolve all Somali disputes and crises through peace and dialogue.” Mohammed told reporters.

Last month, Somaliland officials voiced a deep anxiety about Puntland’s step to step-up military training for thousands of its naval forces, pointing out that the move might danger the overall security and tranquility of Somaliland.

Thought, Somaliland and Puntland territories are said to be the most stable places in war-destroyed horn of Africa nation, critics spell out that new tensions may break out between the two neighboring Somali administrations if the charges the two sides are exchanging, deteriorated.

Read more: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/briefs/articles/90029413?Puntland%20claims%20Somaliland%20harbors%20al-Shabaab%20militants#ixzz19v7HGU21


In Somalia, UNICEF-supported programme treats malnutrition before it becomes life-threatening

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/somalia_57331.html. 31 Dec 2010

© UNICEF Somalia/ 2010/ Pflanz

Filsan Yusuf, a health worker at the Outpatient Therapeutic Clinic in Hargeisa, hands a mother portions of Plumpy’nut food supplement. Severely malnourished children are monitored on a weekly basis and are treated with the high-energy peanut paste to bring them back to health.

By Mike Pflanz

HARGEISA, Somalia, 30 December 2010 – Salman Haji, 4, stands in the corner of a tin-walled hut, solemnly staring at the man in the white coat as he searches through an impressive amount of official looking paper spread across a large table in a seemingly random fashion. Eventually, a yellow medical card is found recording the details of Salman’s last visit to this mobile clinic, located on the outskirts of Hargeisa.

“He was improving, but now there are signs again of malnutrition, and of an underlying chronic respiratory illness,” Ali Mayag Muse explains to Salman’s mother, Hodan Mohamed, as her son struggles to contain a sudden coughing fit.

UNICEF provides support

Mr. Muse is a supervisor at an innovative Outpatient Therapeutic Programme which aims to treat children before malnutrition becomes so severe that other deadly illnesses - tuberculosis, diarrhoea and pneumonia chief among them - can take hold. The project is supported by UNICEF, and is funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), UK Department for International Development (DfID), Governments of Italy, Spain, and Denmark, as well as the Italian and French National Committees for UNICEF.

© UNICEF Somalia/ 2010/ Pflanz. A child eats Plumpy’nut after his mother bought him to a mobile clinic in Hargeisa, Somalialand. The high-energy, high-protein peanut paste is formulated to treat severe malnutrition.

The weight and height of the children are measured, as is the circumference of their upper arms, to create a weekly snapshot of each child’s nutrition status, which is then checked against records from previous visits. In addition, Plumpy’nut - a pre-packaged high-nutritional quality peanut paste specially formulated to treat severe acute malnutrition - is handed out, as are Vitamin A supplements and zinc tablets to treat diarrhoea. Children with underlying complaints, like Salman, may be started on a course of antibiotics.

In the first ten months of 2010, 90 per cent of the more than 6,000 children treated in Somaliland for severe acute malnutrition recovered. Unfortunately, UNICEF estimates only half of those in need can be reached.

Measured interventions

Asha Mohamed’s nine-month-old daughter, Ayan, was one of those still beyond the reach of the programme, in their remote village a 24-hour journey to the south of Hargeisa.

“She was sick for a month, and getting worse and worse,” Ms. Mohamed says. “Finally, I made the decision on my own to get a truck to come to Hargeisa. It was a day and a night on the road, and Ayan was so sick and exhausted. We were told to come here, and now she is recovering so fast.”

© UNICEF Somalia/ 2010/ Pflanz. A baby is weighed at a special ward for critically malnourished children at the Hargeisa Group Hospital in Somaliland. Severely malnourished children with medical complications are provided with round-the-clock special care at the UNICEF-supported stabilisation centre.

Little Ayan received her treatment at a special ward supported by UNICEF in the Hargeisa Group Hospital. It is one of Somaliland’s three ‘stabilisation centres’ for inpatient treatment, the step above the outpatient programme for the most serious cases. The infants must be slowly brought back to strength with measured interventions.

“It can kill a malnourished child to rush in to treat the malnutrition, first we need to treat the complications,” said supervisor Hawale Abdullahi.

Hope for expansion

Approximately forty cases are admitted to the centre each month, but Mr. Abdullahi has hope that those numbers will drop if the outpatient programme can be expanded.

Zivai Murira, UNICEF’s Nutrition Specialist based in Hargeisa, agrees. “Children can deteriorate so quickly to the point where their severe malnutrition is difficult to manage,” he explains. “That’s why the stabilisation centres are there, but it’s also why we are trying to widen the reach of the outpatient programme, to catch children before complications set in.”


Somaliland releases Russian crew

31 December 2010.

Six Russians have been released by a court in Somaliland after being sentenced to one-year suspended prison sentences for entering the enclave's airspace illegally and landing a plane with military supplies in violation of a UN embargo.

In his ruling on Thursday at the court in the city of of Hargeisa, judge Abdirqahman Jama Hayan also fined each man three million Somaliland shillings, or around $600.

The six Russians were arrested earlier this month after they landed an Antonov-24 cargo plane at the Egal International Airport on December 10.

Two South African citizens on board the plane have since been released.

The cargo on the flight also reportedly included bullet and grenade pouches.

Aden Ahmed Diriye, assistant general prosecutor, told the court that claims by the crew that an emergency landing was necessary because the plane was suffering from a fuel shortage were false.

Kadar Mohamed Guleid, the Russians' lawyer, said he was satisfied by the verdict and would not appeal.

All of the weapons on the plane will be confiscated, the judge announced.

Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 following violent crackdowns against local people by

President Siad Barre, who led Somalia from 1969 until his downfall in 1991, which precipitated the war that still engulfs the country.

Puntland, which unlike Somaliland does not seek recognition as an independent state, was formed in 1998.

Somaliland is involved in a border dispute with Puntland and the two security forces sometimes clash.

http://mwcnews.net/news/africa/7634-somaliland-releases-russian-crew.html


Editorial details impact of South Sudan's referendum on Somaliland's recognition

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Dec 30, 2010. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 25 Dec 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. [Editorial: "What Southern Sudan's Referendum Means for Somaliland"]

In a three part article in the Somali language newspaper Haatuf, one of Somaliland's prominent personalities, Mr Abdirahman Adami, addressed the question of whether the impending referendum in southern Sudan will hasten Somaliland's recognition by the international community (Aftida Koonfurta Sudan Ma Soo Dhaweyn Doontaa Aqoonsiga S/land).

Mr Adami is not the only Somalilander to wonder aloud about the impact that southern Sudan's referendum will have on Somaliland's recognition by the international community. We agree with Adami and others who argue that if the coming referendum in southern Sudan proceeds as planned and leads to the independence of southern Sudan, it is very likely that this event will have a positive impact on Somaliland's quest for recognition, for it invalidates (or at least suspends) the Organization of African Unity's (now the African Union or AU) clause that says Africa's colonial borders cannot be tampered with. This will not be the first time either that the colonial borders are changed in Africa, for before that, the borders of Ethiopia, the country that played the biggest role in the adoption of this article in the first place, were changed when one of its provinces, Eritrea, split from it and became an independent country.

This issue of not changing Africa's colonial borders does not really apply to Somaliland for Somaliland's borders with Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia, like almost all borders in Africa, are actually a legacy from Somaliland's colonial past. But since Somaliland's enemies have been twisting this issue and make it seem as if Somaliland's quest for independence is an attempt to change colonial borders, the referendum and the looming independence of southern Sudan will take away their central argument.

The southern Sudan issue has also made it clear that despite the lip service that African leaders ritually pay to African unity, the southern Sudanese would not be where they are today if it were not for the covert and overt assistance that they received from several African countries, notably Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. This should not come as a surprise to anyone for African countries, just like other countries in the world, pursue their interests.

The challenge for Somaliland's diplomacy is to persuade other countries that it is in their interest to diplomatically recognize Somaliland. That job was made a little easier by the events unfolding in southern Sudan.


Somaliland Court releases six Russian pilots

Dec 31, 2010. http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/12/31/38372682.html

The Court of the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland has released six Russian pilots, reports ITAR-TASS. On Thursday they were found guilty of supplying "military equipment" to the neighboring self-proclaimed state of Puntland, with which Somaliland is in a state of war.

Initially, they were sentenced to one year in prison, but then the actual sentence was commuted to ‘suspended’.

The company "Sarazin International, which chartered the AN-26 aircraft with a Russian crew, denies having violated the law. The An-26 was arrested December 10th at Hargeysa airport in Somaliland. The country's authorities felt that delivery of such goods violates the UN embargo on arms supplies to Somalia.

"Sarazin International” is a private British security firm operating in several African states. According to their information, the cargo was destined for Puntland, where they are training the local Coast Guard.

Several years back Somalia broke up into several autonomous regions. Somaliland broke away in the early 1990-ies.


Somaliland jails Russians for illegal plane landing

Dec 30, 2010. By Hussein Ali Noor

HARGEISA (Reuters) - Six Russians were sentenced to one year prison sentences by a Somaliland court on Thursday for entering the enclave's airspace illegally and landing a plane with military supplies in violation of a United Nations embargo.

Authorities in the northern breakaway Somali region arrested the six earlier this month after they landed the Antonov-24 cargo plane at the Egal International Airport.

They have said the plane contained weapons and military uniforms, including bullet and grenade pouches, army shoes and belts.

The judge, Abdirahman Jama Hayan, said on Thursday that mines were found on board and would be confiscated along with the military fatigues.

Officials in Hargeisa say there are elements arming the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, despite a U.N. weapons embargo for Somalia. They are concerned armed groups across the border in Puntland could destabilise Somaliland.

Assistant general prosecutor, Aden Ahmed Diriye, had told the court that claims by the crew that an emergency landing was necessary because the plane was suffering from a fuel shortage were false.

Kadar Mohamed Guleid, a lawyer for the defence, said he was satisfied with the verdict, which included $500 fines for each of the Russians, and that no appeal would be filed.

Somaliland is proud of its relative stability, which contrasts with the southern regions of the failed Horn of Africa state, where al Shabaab insurgents control large amounts of territory and are fighting a weak Western-backed government.


Somalia: Somaliland 'loots' air cargo after plane makes emergency landing

30 Dec 30, 2010 - http://www.garoweonline.com

Authorities in Somalia's unrecognized separatist region of Somaliland have fined a cargo plane, confiscated all materials on board and sentenced the plane's crew to jail terms, Radio Garowe reports.

A court in Somaliland capital of Hargeisa made the ruling on Thursday. The plane's six crew members, who are reportedly of Russian origin, were charged with delivering weapons to an enemy.

Abdirahman Jama Hayan, the judge at Hargeisa Regional Court, sentenced the six crew members to one-year jail terms. Court documents state that the crew members can buy off their sentence instead of serving the full one-year term.

Judge Hayan also fined the six crew members $500 U.S. dollars each, while fining the airplane approximately $4,000 U.S. dollars.

The six crew members had a defense attorney named Khadar Mohamed Guled, but it's not clear that the defense attorney could fairly defend his clients in such a highly-charged political case.

Plane story

A small cargo plane made an emergency landing to refuel at Hargeisa's Egal International Airport on Dec. 10. Somaliland police immediately seized the plane and its eight passengers, but later released two South African journalists.

Since Dec. 10, Somaliland authorities have spoken publicly a number of times claiming that the airplane was delivering weapons to Puntland, a self-governing stable state to the west that supports the establishment of a federal Somalia.

Officials in Hargeisa have claimed that Puntland is violating the 1992 U.N. arms embargo on Somalia, but Somaliland authorities have failed to produce any evidence that weapons were found on board the plane.

Puntland's government has not responded publicly to the plane seizure or Somaliland's accusations about violation of the U.N. arms embargo.

However, the plane's manifest states that a number of different items were on board, including: uniforms; boots; video cameras; T-shirts; mosquito sprays; and rat traps.

Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo appointed a committee consisting of five Cabinet ministers to oversee the case. However, confidential sources in Hargeisa tell Garowe Online that the committee members "disagreed" about Somaliland's response, with "hardliners" gaining the upper hand.

On Dec. 22, South African newspaper Cape Times reported that the coordinator of the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia, Mr. Matt Bryden, traveled to Somaliland at the authority's request to interview the plane's passengers.

However, the U.N. Monitoring Group has not issued any report of Mr. Bryden's visit to Somaliland or any violation of the Somalia arms embargo with regard to the seized plane.

Furthermore, the Hargeisa Regional Court ruled that the Somaliland government confiscated all materials for government use, which contradicts accusations that the materials was a violation of U.N. arms embargo.

Puntland's anti-piracy force

On Dec. 1, the Associated Press reported that Saracen International is training a 1,050-strong anti-piracy force in Puntland.

The report triggered immediate responses from the U.S. government and the U.N., with mild expressions of concern being voiced.

Puntland's government did not respond to any of these reports or public expressions from the U.N. and foreign governments. Saracen International, which is contracted to train Puntland's anti-piracy force, is currently training the force's second batch of recruits.

In recent years, the international community has repeatedly blamed Puntland and its government for the rising wave of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden waterway that straddles Puntland's northern coast.

Puntland officials say that the international community has failed to help Puntland establish a force to fight pirates, adding that Puntland should not be blamed for setting up anti-piracy force in the face of the international community's neglect.

Political tensions

Somaliland and Puntland have clashed several times since 2002 over control of Sool and Sanaag regions whose inhabitants share kinship ties with Puntland.

In Oct. 2007, Somaliland troops seized Las Anod town, which became the epicenter of the Somaliland-Puntland dispute. Puntland authorities have condemned Somaliland's military aggressions as provocative and demanded the withdrawal of Somaliland forces from Las Anod.

Insiders say Somaliland authorities are politicizing the airplane story after Puntland officials accused Somaliland's government of funding and arming Al Shabaab insurgents in Galgala hills area of Puntland.

In late October, Puntland troops completed a three-month military offensive and seized control over all insurgent strongholds in Galgala area, killing nearly 100 militants.

Puntland officials said that 70 Somaliland soldiers were "fighting alongside" Al Shabaab insurgents in Galgala hills area and some Somaliland soldiers were killed in the conflict.

Somalia's last effective central government collapsed in 1991 when the country imploded and disintegrated. Al Shabaab insurgents now control most regions in south-central Somalia, while Puntland and Somaliland in the north have remained relatively stable.

Puntland supports Somalia's UN-recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is facing a relentless insurgency since 2007 led by Al Shabaab, listed as a terrorist organization in many countries including the U.S.


Peaceful Somali Enclave Seeks New Business

By SARAH CHILDRESS. DECEMBER 28, 2010. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303550904575562173274229664.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

HARGEISA, Somaliland— Southern Somalia is wrestling with virtual anarchy, but entrepreneurs and officials in this relatively stable, autonomous part of the north are touting their gains as a model for leading the region toward stability.

Somaliland has operated in relative peace since it declared independence in 1991, holding four democratic elections, fostering private businesses and building universities and hospitals—though the region still lacks official international recognition as an independent state.

In July, Somalilanders elected a new government of technocrats from educated diasporas in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. to run the dusty territory, which is home to about 3.5 million people, most of whom tend herds of cattle, goats and camels, or else have settled in the capital, Hargeisa.

Somaliland relies heavily on private businesses to employ its people, import equipment, invest in the economy and donate to the government.

The relative stability here has spurred new thinking from donors. "I'm impressed by what does go on in Somaliland," said Mark Bowden, the United Nations' resident and humanitarian coordinator. Mr. Bowden said international aid—currently about $100 million annually—could double next year.

The U.S. has boosted funding to $26 million from $7 million in 2009. The top U.S. diplomat on Africa, Johnnie Carson, recently said the U.S. would pursue a "second track" policy in Somalia that would include more engagement with Somaliland. The U.S. pledged about $40 million in aid to the Somali government in Mogadishu last year, but channels much of its support to the African Union peacekeeping force there, and to groups that provide food aid to the region.

"The U.S. for some time has been wasting taxpayers' dollars on a place called Mogadishu," said Hussein Abdi Dualeh, the newly appointed minister of mining, energy and water resources in Somaliland, who had been working until recently in California. Unlike the Somali capital, he says, "We're the part of Somalia that's functioning. The aid they give here won't be torn up by shrapnel."

Because Somaliland lacks recognition as an independent state, it can't secure loans from international banks, enter agreements with other governments, or provide the legal stability demanded by foreign investors.

The international community fears that recognition of Somaliland could lead to further border disputes in Africa. But as the Somali government to the south borders on collapse, that thinking has begun to change.

In the meantime, Somaliland officials have focused on luring back overseas Somali entrepreneurs with low taxes, light regulation and political stability. "There's a lot of opportunity in Somalia, we have to champion that," said Abdirashid Duale, the 36-year-old chief executive of Dahabshiil Group, and one of several members of the diaspora who have built booming businesses in agriculture, water bottling and telecommunications.

Mr. Duale went to high school in London, then joined the family business, a money-transfer service that sent funds in and out of Somalia. Dahabshiil has since become the largest money-transfer service in the Horn of Africa, handling much of the estimated $1.6 billion transferred home each year to Somalia, including Somaliland.

The company was started by his father in the early 1970s to help Somali workers in Gulf states get money home. When civil war broke out in Somalia in 1989, the business collapsed and the family fled to the U.K. The business was revived there, and now operates in 144 countries, including several U.S. states.

In a sign that Somaliland isn't beyond the reach of militants, the violent extremist group al Shabaab, which dominates much of southern Somalia, has said it will ban mobile-phone money transfer services as of Jan. 31. The services, a recent innovation here, have become a popular way to conduct business transactions in a mainly cash-based economy. In a statement in Arabic, Somali and English, tAl Shabaab said the mobile money-transfer services had been set up by the West to exploit Muslims.

The government in Mogadishu said the move was an effort by al Shabaab to undermine the private sector's hard-won economic gains. The Somali government, because it only controls part of Mogadishu and nothing else in the country, is largely powerless to stop it.

Al Shabaab militants, who control much of southern and central Somalia, govern by fear. In the past, they have beheaded those who defied them.

Al Shabaab has a presence in Somaliland, according to African Union and Somaliland government officials. The Somaliland government has been aggressive about monitoring the militants, with help from a largely cooperative population. But the group and other militants still manage at times to disrupt the region's calm.

Mr. Duale, whose company has a share in a mobile-transfer service, declined to comment on the al Shabaab decree, saying he was concerned he might antagonize the militants.

Mr. Duale divides his time between London, Dubai and Somaliland, and still runs the family business out of Hargeisa, with simple headquarters on a dusty street, where donkey carts compete with cars and women in colorful headscarves run small kiosks selling household goods.

Shortly after the new Somaliland president came to power this year, he called a meeting with several major businessmen, including Mr. Duale. The previous government had borrowed "tens of millions" of dollars from the private sector, according to one government official. Now it was asking for more.

Mr. Duale said the business owners agreed to help, as long as the government didn't try to impede their growth. In addition, Mr. Duale said he gives about $1 million each year to hospitals and universities in the community.


Somalia: a delicate matter

Kapchits Georgy, Dec 24, 2010. http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/12/24/37710688.html

Galkayo - Georgi Kapchit's visit

A Somaliland court of Somalia’s breakaway republic has charged six Russian pilots with violating Somaliland’s air space and smuggling military equipment around U.N. sanctions. The case seems quite a mystery.

On December 10, Russia’s plane landed at the Egal International Airport, claiming an emergency landing due to a fuel shortage. However, Somaliland’s Minister of Civil Aviations says the landing was planned and the plane was carrying equipment to the neighboring Puntland.

The VoR asked Somalia’s Ambassador to Russia Mohamed Handule to comment on the situation

The incident in Somaliland doesn’t concern Russia at all. It involves the Somaliland government and a S.African private air company which hired Russian pilots.

Somalia is being torn apart by the civil war for 18 years. The country is split into Somaliland and Puntland in the north and Somalia (with the capital in Mogadishu) on the south which is the only territory recognized by the global community.

Somaliland and Puntland are now friends and are even talking a possible federation. If Russian pilots had really carried equipment to Puntland, their route would have been agreed by the two countries. Somalia’s Ambassador to Russia Mohamed Handule told the VoR that he hopes for a positive resolution of the case and for the soonest release of the pilots.


Somaliland fosters trade in frankincense and myrrh

Written by Tristan McConnell - GlobalPost.Dec 25, 2010

HARGEISA, Somaliland — In the mist forests of the Golis Mountains in northern Somalia, clouds roll in off the sea. Up and over the mountain ridges, they evaporate into the desert air.

There, in the southern slopes, stumpy trees grow as if anchored to the mountainside by some unknown force. From the hand-slashed bark of these stubborn, spiky trees leak droplets of a gum that hardens into a chewy resin.

These aromatic gums are the biblical frankincense and myrrh. Harvested and dried, they have been highly valued trade items for thousands of years. The gums are simply processed and exported. They look like dirty little stones, and they find their way out of Somalia's wild north and into European perfumes, Christian churches, Arabian households and Chinese medicines.

Somaliland is the northern territory of Somalia that functions largely independent from the war-torn south, although it is not officially recognized as an autonomous country. The production and trade in the aromatic gums of frankincense and myrrh is an important economic activity for Somaliland.

Guelleh Osman Guelleh, general manager of Beyomol Natural Gums in Hargeisa, told GlobalPost that he exports 330,000 pounds of frankincense and myrrh every year. Much of his product is distilled abroad for use in perfumes.

“The main market for us is in southern France, in Grasse. Ninety percent of what we sell goes there to be used in perfumes,” said Guelleh who studied in the United Kingdom before returning to Somaliland in 1999 to set up his gum exporting business.

The only processing done in Somaliland itself is sorting and grading the gums according to size and color but Guelleh hopes that will change, one day.

“It’s a technical issue because it is not a simple process to distill for the perfumery industry. You need to show reliability of quality and consistency of supply, you need to be able to process the same way the French do,” he said.

Nevertheless, exporting the unrefined gums alone is a profitable enterprise earning Guelleh up to $60,000 a year. Overall Somaliland's economy is estimated to be worth $50 million, of which 95 percent is exports of livestock.

Guelleh’s business operates out of Somaliland, where successive governments of the self-declared independent province have a laissez-fair policy toward private enterprise that borders on disregard.

“Somaliland is fantastic for doing business because the government keeps out of the private sector,” said Guelleh enthusiastically. Regulations are minimal, taxes non-existent. “Somaliland allows you to do your business and they don’t interfere.”

It was not always this way. During the years when Somalia was under the military rule of Mohamed Siad Barre, the government-owned Frankincense and Gums Trading Agency nationalized the sector and the crop was part of the corrupt state bureaucracy. But since the collapse of Barre’s regime and Somaliland’s declaration of independence in 1991, gums, like the rest of the economy, have been making a slow recovery.

Myrrh is extracted from the Commiphora myrrha tree that grows on the lower slopes. Frankincense comes from the Boswellia carteri tree that grows at higher altitudes. Both are used in herbal medicines, essential oils and perfume, not to mention religious ceremonies. Christians often incorporate frankincense and myrrh into traditions, given the fact that the Three Wise Men are said to have offered them to baby Jesus.

Lesser known in the Western world is "maidi" a type of frankincense that is extracted from the Boswellia frereana tree and is popular in the Arab world as a naturally scented chewing gum. This high quality gum — pure white in color — is sought after and sells for $12 per kilogram, six times the price of the best inedible frankincense.

The trees grow on farms owned by smallholders who cut the bark and allow the gum to seep out and harden over days. The gooey nuggets are harvested over weeks and piled into 90-pound sacks that are loaded onto donkeys and camels for the rocky journey to a nearby village.

The harvested gums are then laid on plastic sheeting in mud huts to dry while the farmers wait for a truck that will take the dried resins to the main gum market at Burao where they are traded and processed for export. From Burao most gums are driven by road to Somaliland’s Berbera port for export to Europe or the Arabian Peninsula.

Other regions where frankincense and myrrh are produced include parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and the Arab peninsula.

The woodlands on the northern slopes of the Golis Mountains where the trees grow are a rare sight in this arid, semi-desert country watered by just two rivers, both far from the south of the country.

“The mist forests of the Golis Mountains of the northern regions are the only true forest areas of Somalia and are important centers of biological diversity and species edemism,” according to a study of the area by the United Nations Environment Program.

But they are under threat from man-made changes both local and global, endangering the trees that have bled frankincense and myrrh for thousands of years.

The worldwide problem of climate change here thins the clouds of nourishing moisture that blow up from the Gulf of Aden, meaning there is less and less water to nourish the trees. Meanwhile deforestation is also taking its toll as trees are chopped down for charcoal to supply the growing fuel needs of a rapidly expanding population.

Resin producer Guelle, however, remains optimistic: "This is a good business and one with a great future," he said. "It may take some time but my dream is to begin distilling the gums, then things will really take off."


Somaliland charges 6 over plane with military fatigues

By Hussein Ali Noor

HARGEISA, Somalia (Reuters-Dec 23, 2010 ) - A Somaliland court on Thursday charged six Russian crew of a cargo plane authorities said entered its airspace and landed illegally while carrying military fatigues, contrary to a United Nations embargo.

The northern breakaway Somali enclave arrested the six, along with two South African journalists, on Sunday after landing in an Antonov-24 plane at the Egal International Airport. The journalists were later freed.

Assistant general prosecutor, Aden Ahmed Diriye, told the court the crew had violated Somaliland air space and said their landing was planned and their claim of fuel shortage and emergency landing was false.

Diriye said the claims that the plane was carrying ordinary clothes was also false.

"The plane was not carrying shirts, trousers and ordinary belts, but was carrying military uniform: pouches for bullets and grenades, army shoes and belts," Diriye said.

"There was no emergency landing for the route of the plane was Entebbe-Hargeisa-Bossaso and Dubai," Diriye added, referring to airports in Uganda, semi-autonomous Puntland and United Arab Emirates.

At the time of arrest, Somaliland authorities had said the plane was carrying weapons.

Officials in Hargeisa say there are elements arming the neighbouring semi-autonomous region of Puntland, despite a U.N. weapons embargo on Somalia. They are concerned armed groups across the border in Puntland could destabilise Somaliland.

Somaliland is proud of its relative stability, unlike southern regions of the failed Horn of Africa state, where al Shabaab insurgents control large amounts of territory and are fighting a weak Western-backed government.

The case was adjourned for until December 25, when the defence will make its presentation.

http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFTRE6BM2BC20101223


A vacation to die for?

By Florian Flade. 22 December 2010

Planning a Christmas holiday trip? You have already been to Egypt? India is not exotic enough? Safari in Botswana is not a real adventure? How about Iraq for a change, or Afghanistan, or Somalia, Darfur or Communist North Korea perhaps?

In war-torn Somalia, tourists are able to experience living with tribesmen and nomads in the northern break-away region of Somaliland. The US $6,500 trip includes “speak with jailed pirates, go on an anti-piracy patrol, discuss politics with the Somaliland President and various tribal elders.”

Rest of the article

http://www.periscopepost.com/2010/12/a-vacation-to-die-for


Community mobilizers help to fight childhood malnutrition in Somalia - Somaliland

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/somalia_57294.html. Dec 22, 2010

© UNICEF Somalia/2010/Pflanz.Halima Awali, a UNICEF-trained social worker, visits a family in Hargeisa, Somalia during regular door-to-door visits in the community to monitor children’s health.

By Mike Pflanz

HARGEISA, Somalia, 22 December 2010 – Halima Awali, 60, shushes the crowd of boisterous children gathered around her and proclaims, “I was there to bring almost all of these babies into the world.” Squinting into the fierce noon Somaliland sun, the smiling grandmother adds, “Now I am here to make sure all of them stay here.”

For most of her adult life Ms. Awali has been a village midwife, helping the community’s poorest residents through childbirth in places too remote for them to access professional obstetric care.

Door-to-door visits

Ms. Awali is one of an army of UNICEF-trained community mobilizers carrying out daily door-to-door visits and advising mothers how to keep their families healthy.

The community mobilizers’ programme aims to ensure that children who are identified as malnourished are treated before they need to go to hospital. It is supported by UNICEF, with funding from the European Commission humanitarian aid department, the UK Department for International Development, the Governments of Italy, Spain and Denmark, and the Italian and French National Committees for UNICEF – as well as the Somalia Common Humanitarian Fund.

© UNICEF Somalia/2010/Pflanz. Khadara Ahmed Nur holds her baby girl, Amran Yusuf, outside her rag-and-thatch home in Hargeisa, Somalia.

There is widespread lack of knowledge about the benefits of breastfeeding, better diets, hygienic handling of food and generally making a child’s environment as sanitary as possible, according to Ms. Awali’s colleague, Fatuma Gayid.

“These things were not so much of a problem for our mothers when we were children,” says Ms. Gayid, 52, who was a traditional birth attendant for many years.

Breastfeeding essential

As they conduct their tours through their neighbourhoods, the community mobilizers also give mothers advice on how to avoid health risks to their children. Chief among those suggestions is for them to breastfeed their babies from birth to six months.

“It’s a social problem,” explains Kaltun Hussein, National Health Officer for the Somali Red Crescent Society, which works with UNICEF across Somaliland. “A problem of lack of education, a problem of women thinking that the bottle is civilized and the breast is barbaric. It means babies are exposed to germs from far too young an age.”

© UNICEF Somalia/ 2010/ Pflanz. Halima Awali, a UNICEF- trained social worker, measures three-year-old Hodan Mohamed’s mid upper arm circumference during door-to-door visits in Hargeisa, to check on the health of the neighbourhood’s children.

For Khadara Ahmed Nur, the recommendation to breastfeed her first child came too late.

“He died when he was six months old,” she says during a visit by Ms. Gayid to check on her two other children.

Mobilizers provide support

As Ms. Awali and Ms. Gayid continue their rounds one recent afternoon, they are greeted by dozens of mothers who, before, had nowhere to turn for free advice on how to keep their children well.

“At first, when she came here offering help, I was not friendly. I thought that I needed no help,” says Tagiallah Mohammed, a mother with 10 children living in Sheikh Nur, on the outskirts of Hargeisa. As she speaks, she holds her three-year-old daughter Hodan while Ms. Awali expertly measured the circumference of her upper arm – a quick way of checking any child’s state of malnutrition. On this occasion, all is well. v “Now we are close friends,” Ms. Mohammed adds. “Three times, Hodan has fallen sick, and these ladies have stopped it from becoming much worse. Without them, maybe she would not be with me still today.”


IGAD delegation meets Somaliland president during three-day visit

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Dec 22, 2010. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 18 Dec 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of unattributed report entitled "IGAD delegation arrives in Somaliland" published in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 18 December

A delegation led by the secretary general of IGAD, Mr Mahbub Ma'allin, arrived in Somaliland for a three-day visit this week. The four-member delegation met with Somaliland's President Ahmed Sillanyo, Somaliland Foreign Minister Dr Muhammad Abdillahi Umar, and other ministers.

Somaliland's foreign minister revealed that during their talks, the IGAD delegation stressed that IGAD will get more involved in assisting Somaliland particularly in education, poverty-reduction and dealing with drought.

The IGAD delegation was scheduled to visit Sheikh Veterinary School, an institution that they fund.


In Brief: Water shortage hits Somaliland

HARGEISA, 22 December 2010 (IRIN) - Residents in parts of Somalia's northeastern self-declared republic of Somaliland are facing severe water shortages after poor October to December Deyr rains.

"In the eastern regions of Somaliland, such as Sool, Sanag and Togdheer, the people are already facing livelihood difficulties, as well as water shortages, because all the barkads [water pans] have run out of water," said Mohamed Muse Awale, director of Somaliland's National Disaster Committee.

Worst-affected areas include the Hawds of Togdheer and Buhotle, the Sool plateau and the Nugal valley, added Awale. In some parts, residents are relying on water brought in by truck.

"The nearest place to get water is Damal Hagare [160km northeast] in Sanag region and the prices have increased from US$8 to $15 [for 200 litres]," Said Mohamoud Abdi Mohamoud, from the Hudun District in Sool, told IRIN.

According to a Famine Early Warning Systems Network report, poor rainfall in December is likely to "further stress water resources and negatively impact [on] crop and rangeland conditions in the Greater Horn of Africa".


Two South Africans released from Somaliland

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA Dec 21 2010, Mail & Guardian Online. http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-12-21-two-south-africans-released-from-somaliland

The two South African media workers detained in Somaliland after authorities found military equipment on their plane have been released, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said on Tuesday.

"The department has been aware of this matter regarding these two South Africans. We have been providing consular assistance to them and they have now been released," he said.

Christopher Everson and Anton van der Merwe were detained after the plane they were travelling in landed in Somaliland on December 10 while they were on their way to do filmwork in neighbouring Puntland.

According to Iqbal Jhazbhay, a specialist on the region who helped the South African authorities facilitate contacts, theirs is a cautionary tale.

"They were in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people without knowing it.

"It is a serious lesson for people not to board a plane when you don't know what is on there," said Jhazbhay, a professor in the Religious Studies and Arabic Studies department of Unisa and author of Somaliland: An African Struggle for Nationhood and International Recognition.

Three different areas, three different situations

He said that in addition, the pilot knew little of the regional dynamics.

"He didn't know the political dynamics, and didn't know that Somaliland doesn't have healthy relations with neighbouring Puntland.

"I was totally amazed by the pilot -- he thought he had got his clearance for Somalia," he said, explaining that the situations in the regions of Somaliland, Puntland and southern Somalia were very different. The area of Somaliland had held a democratic election in June and was peaceful and stable, he said. Puntland was more of a "federal state" and in southern Somalia there was broad uncertainty and "not much of a government".

He explained that the two, who are according to the Cape Times a cameraman and a sound man, had been contracted by a company called Moonlighting Films to work in neighbouring Puntland.

A producer already in Puntland had made their travel arrangements. They were to travel on a Russian Antanov going there for security company Saracen International, which is believed to be contracted to protect oil drilling interests in Puntland.

Jhazbhay acknowledged that there was a theory that Saracen was doing military training, but he felt that it was more plausible that their job was to protect the drilling.

Refuel

After boarding in Uganda and heading for region, the pilot had intended to refuel in Ethiopia's Addis Ababa.

But, apparently because the process is slow at that airport, he decided to press on to Somaliland and refuel there.

Jhazbhay said that when the pilot stated that his destination was Puntland, which he describes as similar to a federal state, the authorities pricked up their ears and searched the plane, finding 583kg of military style uniforms from Cape Town.

There is a UN embargo on taking military equipment to Somalia and this includes military uniforms, so all eight were detained for further investigation.

After verification, the Somaliland authorities decided to release the two South Africans but the last word was that the six Russians would face charges of importing non-lethal military contraband.

He said the two were lucky they were detained in Somaliland.

Because of the relative stability there the process was quick.

"If it had been elsewhere it would have taken much longer."


SA 'journalists' released

Dec 20, 2010 | By SALLY EVANS, REUTERS and AP

Two South Africans arrested by Somaliland authorities for "falsely claiming they were journalists" after weapons were discovered aboard their airplane, have been released.

On December 10, a 44-seater Antonov-24 plane - designed and manufactured in the Soviet Union - made an unscheduled landing in Hargeisa, a northern Somaliland city.

Local authorities searched the plane after becoming suspicious, and found mine-detecting equipment and military uniforms. These were confiscated and the crew - six Russians - and the two South Africans on board were arrested.

Clayson Monyela, a spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, confirmed the release of the two South Africans but he said the department was still trying to whether confirm they are journalists or not.

"They have been released, but we don't have confirmation that they are actually journalists," said Monyela.

"We have a team of people following up on the story, and checking the details as the come out."

It is unclear whether the two South Africans are still in Somaliland.


Somaliland frees South Africans in weapons plane

HARGEISA (Reuters-Dec 20, 2010) - Somalia's northern breakaway enclave of Somaliland has freed two South Africans who were passengers in a plane that officials say was laden with weapons destined for Puntland, its deputy chief prosecutor said. Aden Hero Diig told reporters it had been confirmed that the two were journalists and they had been released, a day after Air Transport Minister Mohamed Hashi Abdi said they would be charged with falsely claiming to be journalists.

"They were only passengers and are working for SPA, an American TV station," Diig said. The plane, an Antonov-24, landed in Hargeisa on December10 on its way to the semi-autonomous region Puntland.

Officials in Hargeisa say Puntland is obtaining arms despite a U.N. weapons embargo on Somalia, and are concerned that armed groups in Puntland could destabilise Somaliland.


For Africa: Success by country not on the map

“It’s a successful democracy in a part of the world where there isn’t a lot of democracy to celebrate.” –Roger Middleton

ELISABETH BRAW,December 19, 2010.http://www.metro.us/newyork/international/article/724087--for-africa-success-by-country-not-on-the-map--page0

As a result of the fact that Somaliland isn’t recognized internationally, the nation’s currency isn’t accepted anywhere and has no exchange rate.

“It’s a successful democracy in a part of the world where there isn’t a lot of democracy to celebrate.” –Roger Middleton Mohamed Yusef knows a good opportunity when he sees one. Recently the London businessman invested $5 million in Somaliland oil exploration.

But though Somaliland is thought to have large oil resources, Yusef remains one of very few investors. “Everybody I meet recognizes that Somaliland is a great investment opportunity,” he says. “It has lots of mineral resources and a strategic position. But other investors stay away because they worry that officials in Somalia, a failed state, will come and tell them that legal documents in Somaliland aren’t valid.”

Yusef, an attorney, has no concerns that his contracts will be declared invalid. Somaliland’s brief period of independence in 1960 gives business contracts legal validity, he says. Britain and Italy’s Somali colonies merged on July 1, 1960, after a week as separate independent countries.

Even so, the region of 3.5 million people suffers under its legal limbo.

“Somaliland poses an extremely interesting dilemma to the international community,” says John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria who is now an Africa expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s succeeding as a country but is recognized by nobody.”

But by African standards, Somaliland is thriving. “It’s a successful democracy in a part of the world where there isn’t a lot of democracy to celebrate,” notes Roger Middleton, a Horn of Africa specialist at Chatham House, a London think tank. “It’s not as prosperous as Kenya, but it has become a beacon of stability in Africa. And it’s much more successful than the official Somalia, where chaos rules and the government now only controls a couple of square miles.”

But that won’t automatically lead to legal recognition. “Countries outside of Africa will wait to see what the African Union decides,” says Middleton.

“And, given the potential domino effect, the AU is reluctant to give an African region independence.”

‘The name is always under discussion’

Ahmed Mohamud Silaanyo rules a peaceful country with democratic elections, functioning businesses, a police force — even broadband. He’s the president of Somaliland, the region of Somalia that declared independence 19 years ago.

There’s just one problem: No country officially recognizes Somaliland. President Silaanyo, who was elected earlier this year, has made recognition his goal and travels around the world to lobby for his country. He enjoyed the first fruits of his labors earlier this year, when the U.S. announced it will increase aid to Somaliland and send more diplomats there. Metro met Silaanyo:

Why should the international community recognize Somaliland?

We’re democratic, peaceful and cooperate with the international community. And we’re a bulwark against threats coming from Somalia, which are also a threat to the international community. Unfortunately, until now the world hasn’t recognized us. But even though we aren’t recognized, countries like the United States are starting to deal with us. The internationally recognized secession of South Sudan, which is expected on Jan. 9, strengthens our case.

How do the piracy and the chaos in Somalia affect Somaliland?

The danger of violence spreading to our side of the border is always there, and there have already been several attacks against us. We don’t have any power to change the situation in Somalia. But the international community assists us in keeping the violence away, because this is a war between extremism and the international community.

How does the international community help you? With money or with weapons?

They work with our security forces on the intelligence side. In this sort of war, information is crucial.

Most people confuse Somaliland and Somalia. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to get a new name?

The name is always under discussion, but this has been our name since 1888. We’re an old country.


Somaliland to charge 8 over weapons-laden plane

HARGEISA (Reuters-Dec 19, 2010 ) - Somalia's northern breakaway enclave of Somaliland will charge the crew of a plane laden with weapons with airspace violation and carrying weapons to Puntland despite a U.N. arms embargo, a minister said on Sunday.

Mohamed Hashi Abdi, minister of air transport and civil aviation, said Somaliland had shown a U.N. delegation from the Committee of Weapons Embargo on Somalia, the weapons the plane was carrying when it landed on December 10.

"Investigation of the Antonov-24 plane, which landed in Hargeisa carrying weapons, a six-man crew and 2 South African passengers, is completed. Their case is in the hands of the prosecution and will be taken to court soon," Abdi said.

The two passengers will also be charged with falsely claiming to be journalists, the minister said.

Details of how the plane came to land in Somaliland and what type of weapons it was carrying were not clear.

Officials in Hargeisa say there are elements arming the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, despite a U.N. weapons embargo for Somalia. They are concerned armed groups across the border in Puntland could destabilise Somaliland.

"The aim was to show the (U.N.) committee and the world what the plane was carrying and that our complaint that Puntland is being armed was correct," Abdi said.

There have been attacks in the town of Las Anod near the border with Puntland, the latest in September which killed a civilian and an army colonel.

Somaliland is proud of its relative stability, unlike southern regions of the failed Horn of Africa state, where al Shabaab insurgents control large amounts of territory and are fighting a weak Western-backed government.

In July, its president, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, was sworn in after an election observers said was free and fair, furthering its democratic credentials as it fights for international recognition.


Somaliland to probe Puntland military supply plane

(AFP) – Dec 19, 2010

MOGADISHU — Authorities in autonomous Somaliland said Sunday they opened an investigation into a plane seized en route to neighbouring Puntland that contained military supplies and two South Africans posing as journalists.

"We have sent transferred the case to the prosecutor and the affair will now go through the courts," said Transport Minister Mohamud Abdi Hashi.

The government of Somaliland, a northern region of Somalia which has declared independence but is yet to be internationally recognised, made the decision to investigate on Saturday evening, Hashi said.

Hashi said prosecutors would probe a violation of Somaliland airspace, the violation of an international embargo on arms to Somalia, and the presence of two South Africans who passed themselves off as journalists.

Somaliland authorities seized the plane on December 10 after it was forced to land in regional capital Hargeysa because it was short on fuel.

It was heading to Puntland, another autonomous Somali region which is home to many of the pirates who threaten international shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, after travelling from South Africa via Uganda.

It contained military equipment including uniforms and there were six people on board, authorities said.

Tensions run high between Somaliland and Puntland, which are separated by a disputed territory where armed clashes sporadically break out.


Somalia can learn from Somaliland

It's dangerous to ignore the failed state, but any solution has to come from within

Gulf News. December 17, 2010. http://gulfnews.com/opinions/editorials/somalia-can-learn-from-somaliland-1.731476

Somalia is a failed state, and has not had an effective government for almost 20 years since former dictator Siad Barre was deposed in 1991. It is deeply divided, with political and tribal factions running well-armed militias which cripple any attempt by the nominal government to take control.

Many parts of the country depend on international aid agencies, so when Deputy Water Minister Abdirahman Yousuf Farah announced that Unicef, the Red Cross and other agencies would be banned from Somalia after they did not attend a meeting last week, the Prime Minister in Mogadishu was quick to deny his minister's actions, saying that "we support and encourage humanitarian agencies to come to Somalia."

But the answer to Somalia's chronic failure lies within the country itself. The deep chaos only exists in the southern half of the former state, and the northern part known as Somaliland has set up an effective government, which holds regular elections and has brought a fair degree of civil administration to the benefit of its population. This experience shows that it should be possible to rebuild Somalia, with strong political will and effective international support for a new effort to restore this dangerously failed state.


Somaliland's ex-chief spy says Ethiopia behind his resignation

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Newsfile. London: Dec 15, 2010. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 15 Dec 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The former head of Somaliland intelligence, Husayn Hasan Guled aka Kinyatti, has spoken about the reason behind his resignation. The Somaliland ex-spy chief presented a press statement Shabeelle office in Nairobi on the reason for his resignation.

He said the Ethiopian government had a hand in the reason why he resigned. He said the Addis Ababa government was not pleased with his appointment as an official in the government of President Ahmad Mahmud Silanyo.

He said the Ethiopian government wrote to the new Somaliland foreign affairs minister informing him that the Ethiopian government was not pleased Husayn Kinyatti to be part of a delegation visiting Addis Ababa. He said the Ethiopian representative to Somaliland and the former Somaliland foreign minister, Abdullahi Muhammad Du'ale, who is currently in Ethiopia, and others in the Dahir Riyale's government and Ethiopia, were behind his resignation from Riyale's government, which he termed as a corrupt government.

He said the former Somaliland president, the former foreign minister, Sultan Buur Madow, and Ethiopian officials were behind the ferrying of arms through the western coast of Somaliland. He said the arms were later taken to Somalia, Kenya and southern Sudan.


Hope and caution in Somaliland: Three months after the presidential elections, where are we?

Steve Kibble and Michael Walls. 2010-12-09, Issue 509. http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/69454

Somaliland's Hargeisa government 'will need to be far more clear-sighted and long-term in its vision to obtain not just outside support but sustained momentum for democracy and development', write Steve Kibble and Michael Walls, in an assessment of the first few months of the new presidency.On 26 July 2010, Somaliland swore in its fourth president, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud ‘Silanyo’, leader of one of the former opposition parties, Kulmiye, after an election declared free and fair by international and domestic observers. The decisive election result and the peaceful handover of power from the previous regime under ex-President Riyale marks an opportunity for Somaliland to take further its steps towards democratisation – and for many in Somaliland to gain the international recognition they crave and believe they deserve. President Silanyo visited the UK in late November and many supporters of Somaliland inside and outside the diaspora were keen to ask what the vision was to take Somaliland towards development, further democratisation and of course recognition as an independent sovereign state.

In 1991 Somaliland unilaterally declared the restoration of the independence they enjoyed for several days in 1960. This represented an end to the territory’s allegiance to a greater Somalia. In the late 1990s, Somaliland’s political leadership declared a commitment to representative democracy, and local body elections in 2002, a presidential election in 2003, and parliamentary elections in 2005 all contributed to this process, though not without problems and obstacles.

Somaliland held presidential elections on 26 June 2010. These elections were postponed on a number of occasions from 2008 onwards, but when an outside-brokered six-point agreement was signed on 30 September 2009, there was the basis for the appointment of a new National Electoral Commission (NEC), the establishment of a viable electoral timetable and the cleaning up of a corrupted registration system. This marked a major turnaround from before the agreement, when political infighting and NEC incompetence had made agreement on voter registration and an election date impossible.

The elections went ahead despite concerns over security, the relevance of which were graphically illustrated by a shootout between alleged political Islamists and police in Somaliland’s second city Burao in early June. That action appeared to have dismantled a well-planned anti-Somaliland operation. Just before election day, the Islamist organisation al-Shabaab based in (South Central) Somalia warned Somalilanders against voting – ‘advice’ Somalilanders ignored by turning out in large numbers. Security considerations had led some international organisations to adopt a ‘hibernation’ mode or to send staff out of the country. The bombings in Kampala a month later illustrated the fragility of the security situation, while also underlining the fact that, increasingly, Somali insecurity extends beyond Somali borders.

All parties stressed their commitment to respecting the verdict of the electorate and they explicitly repeated this commitment to the international observer mission. All parties stressed and observed the need for peace, as did many religious leaders and elders. Parties adhered to the Code of Conduct agreement that campaign rallies be held on separate days. The run-up to the election provided an opportunity for youth, and particularly young women who are otherwise more socially constrained, to enjoy the occasion, giving a carnival atmosphere.

BACKGROUND TO DEMOCRATISATION

Many African states struggle to reconcile traditional social institutions with the precepts of nation-state democracy within previously colonial borders. Somaliland offers similar contradictions, not least through clan politics, yet such contradictions also suggest possible resolution. Despite increasingly autocratic government moves until July 2010, socio-political norms that emphasise the importance of negotiation and compromise have averted a number of crises in recent years, while cautious and fully engaged external interventions have, in marked contrast to efforts in southern Somali areas, been successful in supporting this process. One can point to some successful interventions in situations where the dynamics of Somaliland have been understood and the complexities of who is an insider and who is an outsider have been at least partly comprehended.

The Republic of Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from Somalia in 1991, after a civil war caused the collapse of the dictatorial Siyaad Barre regime. While the southern areas of Somalia have endured endemic conflict, interspersed with unsuccessful periodic, peace conferences, the north-western territory of Somaliland embarked on a home-grown process of reconciliation and state-building, largely escaping the pressure of outside-brokered and lavishly-funded interventions aimed at establishing a government for the whole of the erstwhile Republic of Somalia.

Much of the process of democratisation has been enabled by an overwhelming public desire to avoid a return to conflict and an accompanying urge to win international recognition (although yoking the two has also proved problematic). The nascent state remains weak and poorly-funded, but has paradoxically enjoyed a degree of legitimacy exceeding that of many African and other governments. However, until the recent elections, the institutionalisation of a system that combines elements of traditional ‘pastoral’ male democracy in the context of the Westphalian and Weberian nation-state seemed to be starting to unravel. In its place a personalised ‘securocratic’ approach was gaining the upper hand, with a concomitant fear of debate and criticism. This intolerance of dissent is at odds with Somali tradition more generally and can be seen as a legacy of the Siyaad Barre regime. However, it remains to be seen how deeply embedded it is as we move into the era of a new government and a promised more open, transparent society rethinking its engagement with outsiders as well as internal policy.

Many look to the new government for the implementation of new approaches to overcoming the previous stasis in the arenas of justice, further democratisation and development. There are a number of questions that will determine fundamentally the ways in which traditional institutions interact with the norms of nation-state democracy. Clan will continue to play a significant yet dynamic role in the political realm, while external actors, from private, public and non-governmental sectors, must also expand their involvement.

On the first day of the new regime, they delivered on a pledge to abolish the unpopular security committees. Originally established to address urgent issues of security in the wake of the civil war, these committees had been permitted to imprison without trial and they lay outside any due judicial process. A new National Security Board has been established instead, with a mandate that embraces the security of the country, defence of its borders and the fight against terrorism.

There has as yet been no effect on other parts of the judicial system from this policy change. The judiciary remains ineffective and subject to executive pressure arising from its lack of independence. It is also alleged to be corrupt and non-professional with untrained clerks acting as judges. A seasoned observer described the system as ‘a hell of a mess which will take a lot of cleaning up. It’s still based largely on judicial practice under Siyaad Barre – i.e. who has the most money wins’.

The position of women has been another key element in the fight to further and deepen democratisation and Kulmiye has as well as its clan base, majority support among women, youth, civil society and diaspora. We spoke to key activists on the subject, and they cautiously welcomed the increase in female cabinet ministers from 5 per cent to 20 per cent but pointed out this still only means two ministers and an assistant minister. (We can note however that the cabinet has shrunk in size). There is also a woman commissioner on the Human Rights Commission. The new (female) minister for labour and social affairs is, unlike her predecessor, more open to dialogue with civil society. Women’s groups welcomed these developments, with the umbrella network Nagaad sending government an advisory paper on gender issues. However, women’s groups are also looking for much greater progress, which still appears distant. There is, for example, little noticeable movement on key issues such as proposed 30 per cent quotas for women in parliament.

There has also been movement on a much-improved relationship with civil society. A new NGO Act defining roles and responsibilities for non-governmental organisations as well as giving them legal protection was signed into being, while a number of new ministers have civil society backgrounds. These include one of the female cabinet members, Zam Zam Abdi, now minister of education and formerly executive director of the Committee of Concerned Somalis (CCS) and ex-chair of the human rights network SHURONET. The new minister of planning was himself a founding member of the NGO Somali Relief Association (SOMRA) in the UK in the early 1990s, and spent the past few years working with the private sector hawala (money transfer company), Dahabshiil. Early in his new ministerial role, he held his first coordination meeting with the UN and international NGOs and presented new guidelines for aid coordination. In addition, there is the promise of forums for domestic civil society to engage with government and to monitor performance, including input into the budgetary process.

Before the elections, the (then shadow) foreign minister spoke of taking a far more nuanced approach to Somaliland’s neighbours, including pursuing reconciliation with Somalia and Puntland, as well as with other Somali groups and neighbours in the Horn in general. This necessarily requires that Somaliland address specific sensitivities on the question of recognition, on which neighbours remain the key.

In a recent talk in London, one of the authors of this editorial floated the concept of ‘incremental recognition’ in which we suggest that Somaliland leaders engage in confidence-building measures, such as pursuing the possibility of greater engagement with regional bodies such as the IGAD forum (Intergovernmental Authority on Development). The premise is that this would allow Somaliland themselves to assume a more active and self-directing role in the pursuit of recognition, setting modest incremental objectives that are nevertheless achievable and should one day lead to a situation in which full recognition becomes a mere acceptance of an ipso facto condition. Such an approach would contrast with past tendencies to emphasise recognition as a one-stop solution requiring a single, substantial policy shift on the part of other nations.

Since taking office, there has been an unexpectedly positive presidential visit to Djibouti in which President Silanyo was awarded red carpet status as if he were a recognised head of state. The long closed Somaliland liaison office was also reopened, marking a shift from the rocky relations between Djibouti and the Riyale regime. It may be that this change is linked to the new fibre optic cable coming into Somaliland via Djibouti. A number of government advisers themselves have links with Djibouti, and there were accusations within Somaliland that the agreement had favoured Djibouti against Somaliland interests.

Having initially viewed the new Somaliland government with suspicion, Ethiopia also hosted a Somaliland delegation led by Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, the new minister of foreign affairs. In so doing they indicated a willingness to work with the new administration. Hargeisa has also seen a visit from the new UN envoy, apparently at the invitation of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

However, relations with Puntland have continued to be tense, with the contested sovereignty of areas of Sanaag and Sool complicated by recent accusations from Puntland that Somaliland was harbouring and indeed promoting the ‘terrorist’ Mohamed Said ‘Atom’. Puntland forces had clashed with Atom in the mountainous area of Galgala, and accused Somaliland variously of sending militia to fight alongside him and of sheltering him when he fled. The Somaliland account inevitably differed from this, with senior politicians declaring Atom a terrorist and insisting that the two territories were cooperating over terrorism. These claims were repeated to us when we spoke to the Somaliland president and the minister of foreign affairs in London in November, who suggested that the dispute was essentially between the Puntland administration and local clan groups.

There were some early disagreements between the incoming Somaliland government and the media, with the most high profile being suspension of the right of the popular Somali cable broadcaster Universal TV to work in Somaliland. The reason given was that Universal had consistently ‘treated Somaliland unfairly’. Much more recently, the chief editor of YOOL daily newspaper was threatened by ministers and security personnel for unfavourable coverage. The editor of the daily newspaper ‘Waaheen’, which belongs to Ahmed Hussein Essa (a long-time politician with good insider knowledge but with a combative past inside Kulmiye), was arrested for publishing articles that accused some of the government institutions of nepotism, although he was released on bail after a few days. So far, the new administration has not resorted systematically to the measures of the prior regime, which had a tendency to lock up perceived opponents including journalists. To this point, the government has shown a willingness to discuss disputes, helped by the fact that the new media spokesperson is an ex-journalist. However, there is a significant need for work on fully institutionalising the freedom of the media.

Despite this recent activity and some promising moves, commentators and people on the streets see little evidence of a unifying vision behind the new government. In the five months since taking power the concentration appears to be on reshuffling the institutions and getting rid of supposedly corrupt civil servants, while creating new agencies such as the Anti Corruption Commission. Essentially some charge that Kulmiye did not have a plan for governing. This line holds that they concentrated too hard on winning the election on an anti-government platform and, despite the high expectations of the population, they are now weighed down by the day-to-day job of governing. A popular joke asks whether ‘change’ meant ‘change of ministers and staff’. One commentator opined that the president seems to be overwhelmed and that he lacks the stamina for the job, relying instead on others to do the work for him.

It is still too early to tell whether such criticism is well-founded. The early months of the presidency have seen considerable advance as well as areas of disappointment.

There is nevertheless ample evidence of general donor goodwill. In September, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs announced a new policy on Somaliland that would see ‘aggressive’ engagement with the administration there, as well as that in Puntland. This is part of a ‘dual track’ strategy which will see the US continue to support the Mogadishu-based Transitional Federal Government, but which will also result in an increase in direct aid to Somaliland. The British ambassador to Ethiopia, a Danish minister, the Swedish ambassador and the UN envoy to Somalia all also confirmed increased aid to Somaliland and there has been some talk of direct budget support for the Somaliland government. If implemented, this would mark a significant shift in donor engagement with Somaliland, contributing materially to the process of incremental recognition mentioned above. However, these discussions are yet to result in action.

Finally, Somaliland has a significant potential opportunity at the present time given the impending expiry of the mandate of the Transitional Federal Government in the south. With the TFG representing an obstacle if Somaliland is to extend the depth and breadth of its formal engagement with the international community, negotiation over their future offers a leverage opportunity for both Somaliland and those amongst the international diplomatic community who would like to see a change in the nature of that engagement.

The new Hargeisa government will need to be far more clear-sighted and long-term in its vision to obtain not just outside support but sustained momentum for democracy and development. Civil society too can play a material role in seeing that Somaliland continues down a road in which the transition from discursive to representative democracy continues to advance the needs of the wider population, not just of a political elite.

* Steve Kibble (Progressio) and Michael Walls (UCL) were joint coordinators of the 26 June 2010 international election observers in Somaliland.


Somaliland meets giant education challenge

http://www.afrol.com/articles/37001


Teacher Suleiman Khalip runs the small nomadic open-air school in Bacado (Kristian Buus/Stars/afrol News)

afrol News, 2 December - Less than one third of school-aged children in Somaliland receive education, and even these low numbers represent a doubling of schooling rates in one decade. An NGO is behind much of the success.

The Hargeisa-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Africa Educational Trust (AET) is among the main drivers in Somaliland's efforts to improve its disastrous education situation. Also government in the self-declared republic is spending much of its limited resources to re-build a nation-wide education system.

As recently as 2000, only around 15 percent of school-aged children in Somaliland attended schools, and only 7 percent of these were girls. Today, it is estimated that 30 percent of school-aged children are in schooling and 30 percent of these are girls.

"Progress has been made, but much more still needs to be made," Muna Wehbe of the UK-based Stars Foundation told afrol News. Ms Wehbe today presented her charity's Impact Award, consisting of US$ 100,000 in unrestricted funding, to the Somaliland educational trust at a ceremony in London.

"Delivering any level of educational service to children in Somaliland whilst working under such difficult conditions is impressive, let alone reaching the high standards of innovation that AET manages to," Vicki Peaple of Stars Foundation commented.

Indeed, the educational situation in Somaliland has been difficult since Somali Dictator Siad Barre reacted to Somalilander opposition to his regime by destroying much of the social infrastructure of the former British colony.


The small school in Bacado follows its nomadic pupils (© Kristian Buus/Stars/afrol News)

Most schools and educational resources were destroyed during the Barre regime, resulting in the virtual collapse of the education system. It is estimated that 80 percent of the educated population of Somaliland fled the country during conflict and this has left a drastic void in the development of post-conflict Somaliland.

Since its unilateral declaration of independence in 1991, the unrecognised - and therefore under-funded - government of Hargeisa has tried to rebuild a public education system in the country. Many primary schools, and even several universities, have since been inaugurated, but government funds are too limited to reach the goal of offering universal schooling.

The Somaliland branch of the Africa Educational Trust meanwhile has become the most important NGO providing education in the country. "Through its range of innovative educational services, AET has reached out to generations of children and adults who have missed out on an education, and has gradually raised levels of literacy and numeracy across Somaliland and beyond," Ms Peaple told afrol News.

The organisation runs a number of education programmes which target some of the most rural and hard to reach areas of Somaliland. Internally displaced people, nomadic people, and people living in rural areas are taught through a radio-based literacy programme and mobile and makeshift schools. These programmes focus mainly on providing basic literacy Library of the Hargeisa Disability Resource Centre

Library of the Hargeisa Disability Resource Centre (© Kristian Buus/Stars/afrol News) It also runs schools in camps for internally displaced people in and around Hargeisa. The camps go back to the civil war in 1991 and some of the inhabitants have been there 20 years. Others are new-comers from the countryside fleeing climate change which is causing livestock to die and crops to fail.

Also in Hargeisa, the organisation runs a Disability Resource Centre that also provides education. Many disabilities are caused by polio or landmine incidents.

In rural areas, AET schools are mostly the only education offered. In the remote village of Bacado, teacher Suleiman Khalip says his school is following the movements of the nomadic population. The service is popular: "The children walk up to 7 km to get to school through the rough terrain, often alone after their parents have initially shown them the way," Mr Khalip says.

Also Somaliland authorities recognise the big effort of AET. Authorities aim at provide universal education services, but the entire government budget for 2010 is only totalling US$ 61 million. The Hargeisa Ministry of Education was allocated a total of US$ 2.44 million out of this, or 4 percent of the national budget.

Government estimates the population of Somaliland at around 3.5 million. More than 73 percent of the country's population lives in poverty and 43 percent in extreme poverty.


Puntland accuses Somaliland over collapse of clan mediation talks

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Dec 11, 2010. AllPuntland.com website in Somali 11 Dec 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Following the collapse of the mediation talks in the conflict between Somali clans that recently fought in the locality of Kalshaale, Puntland accused Somaliland officials of being responsible for the collapse of the talks as a result of their direct interference.

Puntland's minister of fisheries and marine resources, Muhammad Farah Adan, who was among Puntland administration's representative in the talks in Buuhoodle said a delegation led by Somaliland's minister of defence brought in a group of religious scholars from Somaliland to mediate in the conflict. These religious scholars, the Puntland minister said, were biased in their mediation and wrongfully gave the land in Kalashale which belongs to residents of Buuhoodle away.

Muhammad Farah said residents of Buuhoodle were ready to live in peace with others in Burco but that Somaliland as administration is not willing to see a resolution of the conflict between warring clans in the region. He said Puntland officials are as of now consulting traditional elders and residents of Buuhoodle about the collapse of the talks and interference from Somaliland officials.


Somaliland holds plane taking military supplies to Puntland

(AFP) – Dec 10, 2010

MOGADISHU — The authorities of the northern Somali region of Somaliland on Friday seized a plane carrying military supplies to Puntland, a neighbouring and rival self-proclaimed state, officials said.

Somaliland's interior minister, Mohamed Abdi Gabose, told reporters in the regional capital Hargeysa that the cargo plane was in violation of the international arms embargo on Somalia.

"The aircraft was originally coming from South Africa and Kampala. They asked for permission to land at our airport after experiencing a fuel shortage," Gabose said.

"But it landed before we officially gave our green light and we have seized the plane," he said, adding that the six crew members were arrested.

"This aircraft was heading to Puntland and carried military uniforms as well as other supplies for the newly recruited militiamen," the minister said.

Puntland, on whose shoreline are most of the main bases for the pirates marauding on the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, has enlisted private security company Saracen International to train a dedicated anti-piracy force.

The move sparked criticism from the Pentagon, which said it was concerned at the lack of transparency regarding the programme's funding.

Tensions also run high between Somaliland and Puntland, which are separated by a disputed territory where armed clashes sporadically break out.

"This company that is training the militiamen is doing illegal business and violated the international arms embargo on Somalia," Gabose said.

"The military training provided to Puntland is a threat to Somaliland's security and to that of the region in general," he said.

Airport officials said heavy security was deployed around the plane, as its cargo and manifest were being further investigated.


Puntland denies antipiracy force threat to Somaliland, urges USA to support it

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Dec 9, 2010. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 9 Dec 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Puntland Administration has said the anti piracy force being trained in their region are of no threat to Somaliland. The statement follows concerns by Somaliland ministry of foreign affairs which said these Puntland anti piracy force which is being trained now will pose security threat in the Region.

Muhammad Farah Adan, Puntland minister for fisheries and marine resources in an interview with Shabeelle dismissed recent concerns by the Somaliland Administration that Puntland's anti piracy force are a threat to Somaliland shores. The minister said Puntland forces will be fighting pirates and will not go beyond the Region's territorial waters. Asked who is providing the training for Puntland soldiers, the minister said his administration has contracted a London based South African firm that works in the field of maritime security to undertake the training.

Puntland's minister of fisheries and marine resources also asked the United States of America to support these anti piracy force being trained in the Region. US just recently said it does not support these forces. Credit: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 9 Dec 10


Somaliland: Former minister accuses Puntland of hiring mercenaries

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Newsfile. London: Dec 6, 2010. Haatuf, Hargeysa, in Somali 6 Dec 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The former minister of sports in the administration of President Riyale, Mahmud Sa'id Muhammad, has disclosed that about 250 South African mercenaries with sophisticated weapns are currently in Puntland's Boosaaso town.The purpose behind the presence of the mercenaries is to guard areas where the Puntland regional administration plans to explore for minerals and oil. The area of the planned exploration is in the eastern part of Sanaag Region which is part of Somaliland. He added that the Puntland administration is being assisted in this venture by a company named Kuwait Energy.The former minister disclosed this to Haatuf by telephone last night.[Passage omitted].


Somaliland: Editorial urges parliamentarians to serve interests of constituents

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Dec 7, 2010. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 4 Dec 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC [Editorial: "Somaliland's Parliamentarians Should Serve Their Constituents Rather Than Serving Their Own Interests"]

Somaliland's parliamentarians are at it again. This time some of them are busy trying to change their leadership. On the face of it, changing their leadership is within their prerogative, so there is nothing wrong with that. There is a problem (or problems to be more accurate) with what they are trying to do. First, even as they are manoeuvring to achieve their aim, those who have spearheaded this drive are loudly claiming that they are not planning to change the leadership, a claim that stretches credulity, for it is hard to believe that they would go through all of that hassle just for the sake of it. Even if they are given the benefit of the doubt and granted that there might be some other purpose behind their moves, they have not explained what that other purpose is. The only explanation that they have given so far is that they want to change parliamentary rules that have to do with parliament's leadership, but that is not much of an explanation, because it does not answer the question why.

There is also the problem of time and timing. It is simply inappropriate, unseemly and un-gentlemanly for some members of parliament to try to use the absence of their leaders from the country as an opportunity to replace them. It is also a waste of time and strengthens the belief among much of the citizenry that members of parliament are mostly a greedy, selfish and incompetent bunch who cannot think of anything to do other than come up with various schemes to use their positions for their own self-interests. And who can blame the public for thinking so. Wasn't it only recently that parliament got their own terms in office extended through dubious means? Wasn't it only a couple of weeks ago when some members of parliament were agitating for raising their own salary? And now this!

The net effect of all of this is that parliament's reputation has sunk so low, it is now close to the point of being totally discredited. Parliament should wake up and smell the coffee. Instead of jumping from one silly idea to another and manufacturing crises, they should focus on at least solving some of the long list of problems affecting citizens. Instead of serving their own selfish interests, parliament should serve the interests of their constituents.


Press Release: Launching a Major Seaport Project at Lughaya, Awdal

Posted in December 2nd, 2010

Toronto (Canada), November 30th, 2010: Adal Resources and Development Assistance Association (ARDAA), announces the official launching of a major port construction project at the Red Sea town of Lughaya, Awdal, Somaliland.

This project was on the drawing board of ARDAA for more than a couple of years. It was and still remains the number one strategic priority and objective of the Adal community in the Diaspora in their contributions to the development projects of their homeland.

In the early hours of Saturday, November 20, 2010, members of the Board of Directors of ARDAA, the Governor of Awdal, Assistant Governor of Salal, representatives of the Awdal & Salal parliamentarians both houses), religious, business, political, military and other prominent community leaders, all headed north in a convoy of seven four-wheel-drive vehicles and reached the coastal town Lughaya late in the morning under the banner of a welcoming community led by the mayor of Lughaya, Mr. Bahsane Saeed Aye, the city council, fishermen and residents of the town. The long-awaited moment came when three members of the Board of Directors of ARDAA; namely Abubakar Hamud Jibril, Rahma Sheikh Abdillahi Sheikh Ali Jowhar, and Dr. Mohamed Daud Qaudan, laid the foundation for Lughaya Port Development Project (LPDP). “It is a dream come true and a mission accomplished” declared Hon. Ahmed-Yassin Sheikh Ali Ayanle, Member of Parliament from Awdal. “Today is the beginning of a new era for Somaliland in general and for Awdal in particular” he added, referring to the benefits this project could have on the economic development and prosperity this port could have for the entire region.

Geographically occupying a vast land in the Horn of Africa with a population of approximately 1.5 million people, Adalites inhabit the regions of Awdal, Salal, and Gabiley in Somaliland as well as areas in neighboring, Djibouti and Eastern Ethiopia. The strong kinship and economic relationship of the people of Adal has compelled an inclusive economic development plan for the entire region. ARDAA has become the icon of the Diaspora community from these regions for the past couple of years and an inspiration to promote economic growth, prosperity and relief efforts. Today, ARDAA is leading the way in turning dreams into reality.

The strategic vision is to improve the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in the fisheries sector and to open up new and sustainable trade routes across the communities in the Adal regions and beyond. Today, the livestock inventory and the agricultural production of these regions are not enough to support and to sustain the growing population. Therefore, alternative sources of supply to meet the growing needs of our people are very critical. “ARDAA is taking the lead in the development of our resources: fishery, agriculture, livestock and trade routes” said Ibrahim Absiye, President of ARDAA. “We envision a future where fish caught in Adal coasts is consumed in the hinterland on the same day, and livestocks from the Harawe valley are exported through Adal coastal terminals”, he added.

ARDAA visions capital and human mobility as a fundamental requirement of economic development and therefore improving this mobility through ports and a network of roads are our priority. ARDAA Vice President for Development, Mahamud Iman (Qama) described this vision as “a major undertaking that will require the coordination and consolidation of all the efforts and resources in the community, both outside and inside the homeland”.

ARDAA is working on an investment and development master plan encompassing the coastal line from Eil Sheikh to Loyaado and with specific targets of developing tourist resorts at the historic city of Zeila and its neighbouring islands of Saaddin and Eebad while at the same preserving the rich ancestral history of our civilization. The over arching goals are:

1. Poverty reduction through the improvement and introduction of artisanal fishing communities and creation of income-generating employment opportunities
2. Access to medical services at urban centers through improved network of roads,
3. Opening up potential businesses with the huge market south of the border
4. Settle the nomadic population along the coast to engage in fishing, import/export business
5. Settle the nomadic population along the Lughaya/Borama road as rural settlements with schools, health care centres and agricultural/farming communities.

These goals, if and when achieved, will eliminate the drastic effect and negative impact of the cyclical draught, famines, crop failures, trade barriers, poor health system, and community isolation and dependence. Mohamed Abdi Omar, ARDAA Vice President for Finance, expressed high hopes for the people of Somaliland and said “ARDAA is making history today by creating a process to reverse the misery of poverty in our region, and to pave the way for restoration of its dynasty”.

Adal communities traded with the rest of the world since pre-Islamic era. Zeila was one of the few major commercial routes and business centres of the whole of the Horn of Africa since time immemorial. ARDAA is inspired by this history, by the opportunity, by the need for economic independence of the Adal communities, by the geopolitical realities in the region, and by the location of Lughaya as it relates to its distance from major markets in the Horn. Lughaya is currently a government recognized official port with a central government Customs Office to levy taxes on imports and exports.

Since the failure of the Somali Nation, Adalites have committed themselves to taking the destiny of development in their own hands. They have a proven record of accomplishments. They have built high schools, universities, hospitals, water catch basins and much more. ARDAA would like to congratulate the efforts and important developmental milestones as well as success stories achieved by our organizations: Amoud University (first of its kind in the region), IQRA (Geb boarding school), Amoud Foundation (Al-Hayatt Health Centre), ASARDA (roads network), TOL Leadership Council, and many other grass-roots agencies. We look forward to working with all our organizations in the very near future and to celebrating, together, yet another but critically important life changer, the Lughaya Seaport.

The Board of Directors of ARDAA hereby reaches out to the Adal community in the Diaspora, national and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the government of Somaliland, other regional stakeholders and donors for, advice, financial and in-kind support. Plans are also underway to reach out to all stakeholders including the international community to get this project off the ground as early as January 2011, God willing.

Adal Resources and Development Assistance Association (ARDAA): Contact E-mail: info@ardaa.org

ARDAA is a non-profit, community-based umbrella organization established in 2007 in North America. This organization was formed to support socio-economic development projects in the Adal regions, to coordinate resources and other efforts through fundraising, training, capacity building, and to unite the community through leadership development, public relations and advocacy.

Ibrahim Absiye, absiye@gmail.com


Somaliland: Former minister accuses Puntland of hiring mercenaries

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Newsfile. London: Dec 6, 2010. Haatuf, Hargeysa, in Somali 6 Dec 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Excerpt from report by privately-owned, pro-opposition Somaliland daily newspaper Haatuf on 6 December

The former minister of sports in the administration of President Riyale, Mahmud Sa'id Muhammad, has disclosed that about 250 South African mercenaries with sophisticated weapns are currently in Puntland's Boosaaso town.The purpose behind the presence of the mercenaries is to guard areas where the Puntland regional administration plans to explore for minerals and oil. The area of the planned exploration is in the eastern part of Sanaag Region which is part of Somaliland. He added that the Puntland administration is being assisted in this venture by a company named Kuwait Energy.The former minister disclosed this to Haatuf by telephone last night.[Passage omitted].

Credit: Haatuf, Hargeysa, in Somali 6 Dec 10


Somalia: 'Christian schools opened in Somaliland' - Al Shabaab

Dec 2, 2010 - http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Christian_schools_opened_in_Somaliland_-_Al_Shabaab.shtml

Somali hardliners have accused the Horn of Africa country's separatist region of Somaliland for allowing Christian missionaries to open schools and commence Christian religious teaching in the predominantly Muslim country, Radio Garowe reports.

The spokesman for Somali insurgent group Al Shabaab, Ali Mohamud Rage (alias Ali Dheere), accused Somaliland's government for planning open what he referred to as, 'non-Muslim schools'.

"The government of Somaliland agreed a framework of establishing new Christian schools in many parts in their region. I am urging the leaders to shut down this process of teaching Christianity and democracy which supports gays," Ali Dheere was quoted as saying at a public gathering in Mogadishu.

The Al Shabaab insurgent spokesman said several pastors arrived in Somaliland region and their work is against Islamic religion, he added.

According to witnesses, Mr. Ali Dheere showed copies of Somali-language documents about Christianity that were supposedly handed out in Somaliland.

Ali Dheere also accused the top Islamic leaders of Somaliland for being silent about those issues, while he appealed to the residents to stand up and fight for their religion.

Since 2007, Al Shabaab has been notorious for labeling Muslim people as non-Muslims as a justification to kill them, to rob them and to destroy their reputations.

The population of Somaliland, in northwestern Somalia, is 100% Muslim like the rest of Somalia. It is not clear where Al Shabaab insurgents get this information from, but Somaliland officials have not responded publicly to these allegations.


Somaliland police arrest local journalist

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Nov 30, 2010. Garoweonline.com in English 29 Nov 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report in English by Somali pro-Puntland government Garoweonline website on 29 November

Authorities in Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland have detained a journalist without reason, Radio Garoowe reports.

Mr. Mahmud Abdi Huto, the editor of Waaheen newspaper in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, was detained by police and taken to the CID custody in Hargeisa, local journalists said.

Somaliland officials have not publicly commented on Mr. Huto's arrest, but he has spent the past two nights in jail, according to Garoowe Online correspondent in Hargeysa, Mr. Muhammad Jamal.

According to our correspondent, Mr. Huto's newspaper Waaheen supported former Somaliland President Dahir Riyale's re-election bid. In June, Mr. Riyale lost the Somaliland presidential election to Mr. Ahmad Silanyo.

Somaliland, located in northwest Somalia, unilaterally declared independence in 1991 from the rest of the country but has not been recognized since.

Credit: Garoweonline.com in English 29 Nov 10


Somaliland paper discusses president Silanyo's visit to UK

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Nov 30, 2010. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 27 Nov 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 27 November

From all indications, beginning with the telltale signs of the absence of official reception at Heathrow Airport, it is clear that President of Somaliland's visit to the United Kingdom is an unofficial visit. This is a big blunder on the part of Somaliland's government, for this was precisely the moment when our government should have used the psychological and symbolic impact of the successful democratic presidential election to insist on a formal upgrading of Somaliland's relations with the United Kingdom and a high profile reception by the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, for some odd reason Somaliland's government squandered this opportunity and the president and his delegation arrived in Britain without a formal invitation or mention. We deliberately characterized the government's action as odd because the government could not have done so out of ignorance since it knew how to take advantage of the timing and meaning of the president's first visit to a country as president when it came to Djibouti and Ethiopia but failed to do so in the case of Britain.

Despite this strategic, baffling, and unexplained error, the visit has so far produced a couple of good results. One, the UK Foreign Office's clear references in its press release to the United Kingdom's "historical ties to Somaliland", the "close bilateral relationship" between the UK and Somaliland, and the United Kingdom's commitment "to supporting Somaliland's development", all of which, if translated into reality, would meet some of the fundamental goals of Somaliland's foreign policy. Two, the inauguration of the Anglo-Somaliland Chamber of Commerce, an institution that may provide a much needed link between Somaliland and Britain's private sector.

Just like the president's trips to Djibouti and Ethiopia, a thorough evaluation will have to wait until the visit is over, but there is little doubt that, by going unofficially to Britain, Somaliland's government committed a strategic blunder.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 27 Nov 10


Somalia: Somaliland police arrest editor who supported former President Riyale

29 Nov 29, 2010 - http://www.garoweonline.com/

Authorities in Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland have detained a journalist without reason, Radio Garowe reports.

Mr. Mohamud Abdi Huto, the editor of Waaheen newspaper in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, was detained by police and taken to the CID jail in Hargeisa, local journalists said.

Somaliland officials have not publicly commented on Mr. Huto's arrest, but he has spent the past two nights in jail, according to Garowe Online correspondent in Hargeisa, Mr. Mohamed Jamal.

According to our correspondent, Mr. Huto's newspaper Waaheen supported former Somaliland President Dahir Riyale's re-election bid. In June, Mr. Riyale lost the Somaliland presidential election to Mr. Ahmed Silanyo.

Somaliland, located in northwest Somalia, unilaterally declared independence in 1991 from the rest of the country but has not been recognized since.


“We are no longer content to be Africa’s best-kept secret” says Somaliland President

27 November 2010

On Friday, 26 November, in a meeting chaired by former British Minister for Africa, Lord Triesman, President Silanyo addressed a wide ranging audience of international government officials, academics, journalists and business leaders at Chatham House in London. In one of Chatham House’s most popular seminars in history, over 200 people attennded with scores of others turned away.

A full transciprt of the President’s speech is below:

Address to Chatham House, Royal Institute for International Affairs

26 November 2010.http://www.somalilandglobe.com/1276/we-are-no-longer-content-to-be-africa%E2%80%99s-best-kept-secret-says-somaliland-president/

H.E President Ahmed .M. Silanyo

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished colleagues and friends,

A. General

1.It gives me great pleasure to be with you here as the representative of my people and our country, Somaliland. I am most grateful to Chatham House and the Royal Institute for International Affairs for extending this kind invitation to us. It is symbolic of the longstanding interest and commitment to constructive dialogue and positive engagement on the important issues affecting the Somali people that the Royal Institute for International Affairs and its members have illustrated over many years and decades.

2.I am also aware of your recent work on the livestock trade in the Horn of Africa as well as your recent examination of the problems of insurgency, terrorism and economic hardship in the region. These are areas of fundamental importance for Somaliland and the region more widely. At the same time, I know that your interest in our corner of the world is only a small part of the larger work done by Chatham House in its catalytic role in encouraging international debate about our continent, Africa.

3.I would also like to take this opportunity to salute the Somaliland Diaspora living in the United Kingdom, without whose unflinching support, encouragement and commitment to the cause of their people, Somaliland would be a thoroughly different place. I am delighted to see some members of that community represented here today.

4.I should also like to express my profound gratitude to the British Government, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Minister for Africa, Mr. Henry Bellingham and members of the Somaliland All Party Parliamentary Group led by Alun Michael MP for their consistent support and continuing engagement on the key issues of concern for the people of Somaliland. We in Somaliland have always been keenly appreciative of the special friendship between our two nations deeply rooted in history, and a commitment to democracy, human rights and freedom. My Government and I look forward to further strengthening those links, and collaborating on issues of mutual interest for the benefit of our countries and our people.

5.My message to you today is one of HOPE, in an otherwise often bleak region of the Horn of Africa. We in Somaliland are no longer content to be Africa’s best-kept secret but have launched upon the unstoppable trajectory towards becoming a full functioning and responsible member of the international community of states, in keeping with our rights and obligations under international law. I shall take the opportunity today to talk to you briefly about recent developments, as well as issues of importance for our country.

B. Elections

6. Following in the footsteps of the first Presidential election in 2003 and the Parliamentary elections of 2005, the Presidential elections on 26 June 2010 marked almost 20 years since Somaliland reclaimed its sovereignty, and 50 years since the end of the British Protectorate.

7. Despite security threats aimed to discourage and stifle the will of the electorate, over a million people queued from early dawn, in the blistering summer heat, determined to peacefully cast their ballot and vote. Many of these voters were women and the youth. International observers determined the results of the elections to be free and fair. My popular mandate derives from this process of which I’m very proud and humbled. With the ensuing peaceful transition and handover, Somaliland once again, set itself apart from many countries in Africa and distinguished itself in a corner of the world often synonymous with instability, lack of security and absence of rule of law.

8. We believe that the success of our elections has demonstrated Somaliland’s commitment to the “democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and good governance”, which are enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union. I am immensely proud of the achievements of my people born out of struggle for survival and recognition in the face of isolation and hardship. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the people of Somaliland, and ask them to remain steadfast in their commitment to peace, democracy and the rule of law.

9. I also want to express my profound gratitude to our growing number of friends in the international community, including Great Britain, who stood by us throughout our struggles and whom we will continue to draw on for support, wise counsel and friendship in the days, months and years ahead.

C. Local Elections

10. One consequence of the delayed Presidential elections is that local elections have also been pushed back. However, the Government will press ahead with these as a matter of priority. We are determined that all Government, including at the local level should be accountable to the people. We are talking to the National Electoral Commission, political parties and donors about the timeframe for holding the local elections and expect to finalize arrangements very soon.

D. Development

11. My Administration has ambitious development plans. There is an urgent need to tackle poverty, enhance institutional Governance capacity and increase access to basic services including, health and education. We will need support in this endeavour.

12. Having previously suffered from years of neglect by Mogadishu, and compounded by the conflict that followed, as well the somewhat uncertain approach of the international community, Somaliland had a difficult past. However, a tremendous amount has been achieved in the past 20 years.

13. Under my Administration, we will seek to find new opportunities building on the achievements of the past 2 decades – to promote the social and economic welfare of our people.

14. While we are very grateful to the international community for the humanitarian support which they provided, we would like to see more emphasis on development to ensure a successful transition from humanitarian assistance to recovery. The peace dividend must be manifest in concrete results for the people of Somaliland.

15. We look forward to closer cooperation with the United Nations and international organizations, as well as strengthened bilateral links with donor community who have positively signaled their commitment in this regard.

E. Trade and investment

16. Development assistance alone will not do enough to lift Somaliland out of poverty. Investment and economic diversification will be key. Since the Kulmiye Administration came to power, it has made a concerted effort to raise revenue and broaden its sources. As a result, the last quarter saw a 24% increase in revenue.

If sustained, the Government will be able to spend more of our own money on economic and social development.

17. My Government also recognizes the need to boost Somaliland’s exports and diversify its markets. Provided that the issue of veterinary certificates can be overcome, we do not believe that it is fanciful to think of exporting our lamb – which is excellent, by the way – to the European Union. The lifting of the ban on the export of livestock from the Rift Valley by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was an important and welcome development, but the ban demonstrated the need for Somaliland to have other outlets for its trade.

18. Somaliland also needs better roads and telecommunications. The Berbera Corridor, including the port of Berbera itself, is of vital importance to our future economic prosperity as well as being important to our landlocked neighbor, Ethiopia. The Government is seeking foreign direct investment in infrastructure, and is prepared to make investing in Somaliland more attractive to foreign companies. Such improvements will be powerful drivers of economic growth and much needed revenue. Smaller scale projects at the community level will be equally important. Here, I believe that the Somali Diaspora has an important part to play in leveraging its considerable resources.

19. More widely, there is a clear need to promote Somaliland as a trade and investment, opportunity. That is part of the reason why I am here in the UK where we have just inaugurated the first Anglo-Somaliland Chamber of Commerce (on 23 November 2010). Over the course of the past week, I have met with many business leaders and potential investors who recognize the unique opportunities of investing in the emerging markets of Somaliland. I hope that you will spread the word that Somaliland is open for business!

F. Recognition

20. I make no secret of the fact that my Government’s ultimate goal is full international recognition of Somaliland’s independence as a sovereign State. We believe that such international recognition, long over due, will allow us to unlock more direct assistance, promote more trade and investment, maintain our security and further the social and economic well-being of our people.

21. Secession was not born out of a top down approach, but was the popular expression of the overwhelming majority of the Somaliland people who sought to exercise their international legal right to self-determination, similar to Kosovo, East Timor and elsewhere. Upon gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1960, the Republic of Somaliland was recognized by some 35 countries before the entering into a voluntary union with Somalia in the same year.

22. The dissolution of that union and the resumption of Somaliland’s independence nearly 20 years ago was not based on territorial expansion as its present borders are the same as those of 1960. This is particularly relevant to African Union principle of respect for borders existing on achievement of independence. We also wait with great interest on outcome of the upcoming referendum in the South Sudan early in the New Year.

G. Situation in Somalia

23. Despite our non-negotiable position on independence, Somaliland bears no ill-feeling towards our neighbour Somalia, as it’s in nobody interest to see the conflict in the Somalia perpetuated, and wishes the administration of President Sharif, and other relevant parties in that country success in ending the long suffering of their people.

24. At the same time, my Government views with deep concern the continuing violence and instability in Somalia, which poses a direct threat to the Somaliland, the region and in the international community. The recent terrorist attacks, including in Kampala during the world cup, clearly illustrate the need for concerted international cooperation on security issues.

25. The use of Somalia as a base for operations by pirates – the consequence of the breakdown of central Government – has given the crisis in Somalia an international dimension that stretches far beyond its shores. I am heartened to see the successful conclusion recently of the Chandler’s kidnapping after more than a year in captivity. For our part, we have successfully sought to prevent pirate operations on or near our own coast, and have taken concrete steps to combat that insidious threat. We will continue to strengthen our capacity as a security provider in our own region with international support, as necessary.

26. Clearly the search for a durable peace in Somalia – which has to date remain elusive – is paramount. Whilst the international community has invested immeasurable resources, time and commitment to the resolution of the Somalia crisis– these efforts have been constrained in part by the fact that they were often externally driven. In the case of Somaliland, a grassroots approach, utilizing the best aspects of the traditional conflict resolution at the community level provided the basis for dialogue and peace. It was neither quick nor easy but we believe that elements of that model could be successfully replicated in Somalia, as appropriate.

H. Integrating with the region

27. Somaliland is not an island: for good or ill it is affected by events in neighboring countries. Far from wishing to turn our backs on our neighbors, my Government wants to improve its interaction with them and with regional organizations such as IGAD and the AU, to make sure that Somaliland’s voice is heard, its interests are promoted, and the security of its people and neighbours assured.

28. Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya will be key partners in the region. In the same vein, we want closer links to the EU, the UN and its specialized agencies, and the League of Arab States. We also hope to secure stronger ties with individual donors, not least the United States, which recently announced its dual-track policy that will see direct aid and cooperation with Somaliland increased. I very much welcome this as a positive step in keeping the realities on the ground.

I. Relations with the UK

29. Before concluding, I would once again like to reiterate the special bond between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Somaliland. We will continue to look to Great Britain to be at the forefront of the Somaliland question, including in supporting our bid for formal representation at international forums, such as the United Nations.

30. I would like to thank the Government and British people for the humanitarian and development assistance, which they continue to generously provide during difficult times, and for the hospitality and sanctuary provided to the Somaliland community here. With the British government’s support and assistance, including in the areas of security cooperation and economic investment, we continue to make positive strides in the development of our country, and will create conditions conducive for those displaced globally wishing to return voluntarily, with safety and dignity.

J. Conclusion

31. In sum, Somaliland has achieved democracy, peace and stability largely through its own efforts. As a new administration we have also met many of the benchmarks we set ourselves for our first 100 days. With the support of our people, we are determined to go to the next level and build a state on the foundations of the rule of law, democratic principles and good governance. With the help of the international community, and the support of our regional partners, I am confident that Somaliland will take its rightful place amongst the community of States.


Somaliland Pushes for International Recognition

Jennifer Glasse | London 26 November 2010.http://www.voanews.com

Somaliland has been fighting for its independence for three decades. Its newly elected president, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, is in London to strengthen economic ties and lobby for support to have his country recognized as a sovereign nation.

Somaliland president Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo launched a new economic cooperation center here in London, the Anglo-Somaliland Chamber of Commerce. The president is in Britain looking for economic as well as political support.

"We would like recognition for our country of course, but we would also want to see the international community and Britain our friends engage with us to mobilize development to give us development, recognition and cooperating with us in many areas," said the president.

He says the June elections that brought him to power were widely regarded as free and fair, and the peaceful transition of leadership marked another step in Somaliland's development.

"We have made tremendous progress, Somaliland has been operating on its own, Somaliland has been relatively peaceful in a region which is not stable enough, known for instability activities of al-Shabab and other extremist groups," he said. "Somaliland has been fighting against these people and Somaliland has been working on stability, not only that but on its democracy and development of its people."

Silanyo says his government has worked hard to crack down on piracy and Islamic militancy, and is concerned about the instability of Somalia.

"We would like to see peace restored to Somalia itself because lack of stability in the region is bound to affect us, it's affecting the whole world, it's affecting our region more than anyone else," he said.

Somaliland's new president says international recognition of Somaliland would help with stability, its banks and other institutions would be able to interact freely with the rest of the world.

"Not being recognized by the international community is a huge setback, naturally that goes without saying and that's why we are moving around and asking the international community and sending an appeal to them to recognize Somaliland," he said.

Silanyo says Kosovo's recent recognition as an independent country and the January referendum on independence for Southern Sudan are both positive developments for Somaliland.

"We are heartened by Kosovo and what's happened to Southern Sudan that means it opens the door for us. The principle that countries should remain as they were at the time of independence has changed so why should it not work for us as well," Silanyo said The United States says it will "engage" with Silanyo's government. Britain, Denmark and Sweden are all increasing their bi-lateral ties with Somaliland. The president said Ethiopia is also deepening its relationship with Somaliland, and, he hopes a new railway will link the two countries.


Strengthening the UK’s relationship with Somaliland- A Press Release From British Foreign Office:

Source: British Foreigh Office- www.fco.gov.uk, November 26th, 2010

Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham met the President of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud Silanyo in London on 24 November.

Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham greets the President of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo (crown copyright)

This is the President’s first visit to the UK since his successful election in June this year. He was accompanied by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Planning.

Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham said: “The UK is proud of it’s historical ties to Somaliland, and we are keen to maintain and strengthen our very close bilateral relationship”.

The UK also has strong links to Somaliland through members of the diaspora, many of whom contribute positively to Somaliland’s development as well as to communities across the UK.

Somaliland has made admirable progress in maintaining relative peace and stability in a difficult region. Somaliland has set a positive example of democracy and can play an important role in enhancing security and development in the Horn of Africa. To this end, the UK is committed to supporting Somaliland’s development and cooperating in areas of shared interest to ensure a positive and sustainable future for Somaliland and the region.


Doyen of Somali Studies, Prof Ioan Lewis's review of Prof Iqbal Jhazbhay's book on Somaliland

Nov 24, 2010, Ioan M. Lewis, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/inta.2010.86.issue-6/issuetoc Next>

Book Review: International Affairs 86: 6, 2010, page 1451
Somaliland: an African struggle for nationhood and international recognition. By Iqbal D. Jhazbhay. Johannesburg: Acumen. 2009. 243pp. R185.00. isbn 978 1 92021 620 7.

Ali Mazrui in his foreword rightly characterizes this compact book as a significant contribution to understanding Somaliland and the predicament of the Somali people more generally. Although the international community still fails to recognize it officially, the Somaliland Republic (the former British Somaliland) has existed de facto as a lively small state since it split off from Somalia in 1991. Iqbal Jhazbhay, a South African political scientist, examines the Somalilanders’ quest for recognition, presenting their case with clarity and sympathy, analysing the factors which have so far militated against the achievement of this aim. The book’s particular strengths reflect the author’s academic background in International Relations, work with the ANC, and the South African Institute of International Affairs. These provide a fresh approach to the problem and one which highlights Africanist and African Union interpretations of the issues it raises. On these, in terms both of theory and practice, Jhazbhay speaks with authority.

The book opens with a brief and somewhat selective historical sketch of the formation of the Somaliland state, very appropriately stressing the bottom-up decentralized agreements which have brought its constituent clans together. The resulting bicameral government (elected party representatives and clan elders) is closely based on the uncentralized traditional political system which is highly democratic, at least in terms of male representation and decision-making. The next section deals with reconstruction, although, as the author aptly remarks, ‘there is no neat cut-off point between reconciliation and reconstruction’.

In the formative history of what is today the Somaliland Republic, these two activities can be viewed as ‘mutually reinforcing imperatives’. In the construction of the new Somaliland state, as Jhazbhay emphasizes, the clan elders throughout the land have played a crucial role, and are now a similarly significant force in contemporary government, jointly with elected politicians. The highly significant part played by the country’s over a million expatriate nationals, especially through the remittances they send home (worth an estimated US$500 million annually), is fully acknowledged.

Islam naturally receives due attention in the picture Jhazbhay paints, which claims, somewhat misleadingly, that Somali xenophobia does not extend to fellow Muslims. It does, and there is certainly a growing opposition to the militarily dominant al-Shabaab fundamentalists who are currently trying to establish Saudi theological control throughout the whole Somali region and, in the process, are violating the graves of local Sufi saints, to the consternation of many Somalis. ‘Meanwhile, a second generation of Islamism emerges from a class of politically conscious and entrepreneurially aggressive wadaads (religious functionaries) in Somaliland who compete for leadership within the country’s democratic system’. The future impact of this remains to be seen.

Finally, in a valuable assessment of the recognition issue, the author justly points out that Somalia ‘no longer exists … despite the fiction dreamt up by African, Arab, and international diplomacy to serve their vested political interests’. Those who seek a realistic solution to the Horn of Africa’s threateningly active Islamist fundamentalism must grasp this, and accurately evaluate Somaliland’s potential contribution to moderation and stability in the region.


Somaliland's paper upbeat president's visits to Djibouti, Ethiopia

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Nov 23, 2010. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 20 Nov 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Anyone who has been following the news regarding President Ahmad Silanyo's visits, first to Djibouti, and now Ethiopia, cannot but be impressed with how he was received in both countries. True, President Ahmad Silanyo was not met at Bole airport by the Ethiopian president or prime minister which made the Ethiopian reception fall a bit short of the Djiboutian one, still there is no denying that he got an outstanding reception, especially when you consider the fact that Somaliland is a diplomatically unrecognized country.

President Ahmad Silanyo was met at the airport by some of the highest officials in Ethiopia including the deputy prime minister, and the visit was given high profile coverage by the Ethiopian national media. As in Djibouti, it was literally and metaphorically a red carpet treatment. Somalilanders are pleased with the Ethiopian government's warm, dignified, and respectful welcoming of their president. But whereas Somaliland's public were surprised by the high level welcoming that their president got in Djibouti, they were not so surprised by the significant attention the president received from the Ethiopians.

The reason for this discrepancy in the Somalilanders' reactions are not that difficult to figure. The Ethiopian-Somaliland relations have been steadily developing for three decades, since the days when the SNM was based in Ethiopia. There is no better indication of the continuity of relations between Somaliland and Ethiopia and their specialness than the fact that one of the architects of this policy is none other than Mr Ahmad Silanyo himself who helped in crafting this policy when he was the chairman of the SNM and is now visiting Ethiopia as the president of an independent Somaliland.

But what we said about the president's visit to Djibouti also applies to Ethiopia: the ultimate test of whether the trip was a success or not will depend on whether progress is made on substantive issues. Yes the visual and verbal sings coming from the Ethiopian capital look good, and they are a big plus for Somaliland, but the final judgment will have to wait until all the evidence is in.


Ethiopia said working to help Somaliland get recognition

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Nov 21, 2010. The Reporter, Addis Ababa, in English 20 Nov 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Somaliland Foreign Minister Dr Abdullahi Umar has told The Reporter that the Ethiopian government had assured the Somaliland government that it will work with it in order Somaliland to get recognition.

"We are pleased with the Ethiopian government in promoting our interest. Ethiopia is working on economy, diplomacy and security issues that we expect will help us to achieve our final goal, which is full diplomatic recognition," he said.

"That has not been achieved so far but we are working on it. The Ethiopian government is in support of that and we are very critical to that."

The new Somaliland president, Ahmad Muhammad Mahmud, and Foreign Minister Dr Abdullahi Umar were here in Addis Ababa on a three-day official visit since last Wednesday [17 November].

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and other high-level government officials welcomed the president on his arrival at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

The Somaliland Foreign Minister appreciated the close relationship that his country has enjoyed with Ethiopia so far. He said that Ethiopia is a strategic country in achieving his country's international recognition. He added [that] the new Somaliland president, Ahmad Muhammad Mahmud, discussed issues of recognition and bilateral relations with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The two parties are working closely on issues related to security, peace, trade and communications.


Somaliland president meets with visiting UN official

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Nov 15, 2010. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 13 Nov 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report in English by Somali newspaper The Somaliland Times website on 13 November

[Unattributed report: "Somaliland President Receives UN Secretary Generals Representative"]

Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo met with the Mr Augustine Mahiga, the UN Secretary General's Representative for Somalia. Speaking to the press about the meeting, Somaliland's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Muhammad Abdillahi Omar said that Mr Mahiga congratulated Somaliland's President on the successful presidential election that took place in Somaliland on June 26th and welcomed the dual track policy that was recently announced by the United States' government. Despite welcoming the US's dual track policy, Somaliland's foreign minister further added that Mr Mahiga emphasized that the UN already followed such a policy of working with Somaliland on economic development and reconstruction projects.

Mr Mahiga spent two days in Somaliland.


Somaliland Court Sentences 3 To Death For Murder, Terrorism

November 15, 2010.http://www.allheadlinenews.com. Abdi Hajji Hussein - AHN News Correspondent

Berbera, Somaliland, Somalia (AHN) - A court in Somaliland’s town of Berbera on Monday sentenced to death three people found guilty of murder and terrorism.

The judge, Osman Ibrahim Dahir, announced the sentence against Ahmed Ibrahim Farah whom he said confessed to killing a Somaliland police officer and wounding two other policemen in a shooting spree in the center of Bur’o town on June 24.

Three others, including one woman, were sentenced to death in absentia. They were accused of helping Farah. They have eluded arrest.

Three other people, convicted of involvement in the same crime, were given jail terms of one year each.

Dahir, the judge, said that two other women were freed after they were acquitted of criminal charges.

Separately, on Sunday, a military court of Somaliland sentenced two fighters from the Ethiopian rebel group Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) to 10 years imprisonment each. Abdi Hashir Mo’allim and Abdiwali Dhuuh Yusuf were captured in September when ONLF fighters, who had been trained in Eritrea, crossed from Somaliland into Ethiopia after landing on the Somaliland coast, according to a court statement.


Somalia: Somaliland's intelligence chief resigns over 'dispute'

14 Nov 14, 2010 - http://www.garoweonline.com/

The intelligence chief in Somalia's separatist region of Somaliland stepped down from his post on Saturday, presenting a new challenge for newly elected Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo's administration, Radio Garowe reports.

Some reports have revealed that Mr. Hussein Hassan Guleid (Kenyati) had an undisclosed "dispute" with President Silanyo over finances.

Garowe Online received a statement from the resigned official that says the president "interferes" with the security budget, although President Silanyo's officials reject this claim.

Mr. Kenyati reportedly had close relations with Somaliland's former president, Mr. Dahir Riyale, who was a senior intelligence officer during the 21-year Barre dictatorship prior to Somalia's political collapse in 1991.

Top Somaliland officials, including senior parliamentarian Suleiman Gaal, have called on Mr. Kenyati not to resign at this critical moment.

In recent months, Somaliland's government has failed to stop upwards of 200 heavily armed ONLF rebels who traveled by land via Somaliland into Ethiopia, where the ONLF is waging an insurgency since the mid-1980s. The ONLF claims to seek self-determination of Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia, which is inhabited by ethnic Somals.

Separately, Somaliland's government has been accused of supporting rebels loyal to Mr. Mohamed Said Atom, whom the Puntland government accuses of having links to Al Shabaab.

Last week, Somaliland's information minister said Atom is a "terrorist," but Puntland officials suspect that Atom's fleeing militia have found safe havens in parts of Somaliland.


Somaliland Accused Of Aiding Militias Fighting Against Puntland

November 8, 2010.http://www.allheadlinenews.com. Abdi Hajji Hussein - AHN News

Garowe, Puntland, Somalia (AHN) - Somalia’s semi-autonomous state of Puntland on Monday accused its neighbor, the breakaway republic of Somaliland, of helping Islamic militias fighting against Puntland during the last few months.

Sa’id Hassan Shire, Puntland’s minister of livestock has, for the time, charged that the Somaliland security forces directly helped and took part in recent combat between Puntland and Islamic militants in the mountainous Galgala village just outside of Puntland’s commercial town of Bosaso.

“Terrorist militant militias who have links with Somalia’s Al Shabaab and Somaliland forces were in cahoots during our anti-terror raid in the mountains of Galgala village,” Shire told reporters during a press conference held in Garowe, the capital of Puntland. He said intelligence services had informed them that a number of Somaliland forces were killed while fighting alongside the militants.

For his part, Muse Jama’, a Somaliland military officer, denied the allegations, saying they were baseless. Jama’ said the primary aim of Puntland's fighting in Galgala was to restore the village of Jajyahan that lies very near to the Galgala mountainous area in order to restart explorations for gold and diamonds.

The allegations come as Puntland said it crushed radical Islamic militias led by Mohammed Sa’id Atom in the mountainous Galgala areas last month. Atom is believed to have links with Al Qaeda’s proxy in the Horn of Africa nation. On Sunday, Abdisamad Ali Shire, the vice president of Puntland, called on Somaliland to withdraw its troops from the town of Las Anod in the Sool region, where many people died after the two administrations fought years ago. Somaliland now controls the town


Somalia's Puntland leader says region sharing intelligence with Somaliland

BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Nov 7, 2010. Pro-Puntland AllPuntland.com website in Somali 7 Nov 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The president of the Puntland [regional] administration, Abdirahman Shaykh Muhammad Mahmud alias Farole, has said Puntland's intelligence and those of the Somaliland administration do work together and that officials on both sides do cooperate in fighting groups that cause insecurity in the two administrations.

President Farole said intelligence groups on both sides exchange important information on issues of security and added that such cooperation was important because the two regions are peaceful and have an obligation to work together. President Farole said there were no reasons why the two administrations would not work together.

"There are no rules barring us from working with Somaliland on issues of security and particularly on gaining information regarding the movements of terrorists groups. We are two neighbouring administrations and it is important that we work together on these issues," said the Puntland president.

President Farole also said the Somaliland administration had asked Puntland to hand over a number of men who are on Somaliland's administration payroll but who were caught fighting alongside militias loyal to Shaykh Sa'id Atam during the recent fighting with Puntland forces in Galgala town, Bari Region [North Eastern Somalia].

"We have held direct talks with the Somaliland minister of defence who has asked us to hand them some of the men we captured during the fighting in Galgala who had ties with Atam. We are hopeful that we will do so and that these criminals will also be prosecuted in Puntland courts," said Puntland leader.


Somali Government Commends Somaliland and Puntland Initiatives to tackle Violent Extremists in Northern Somalia

Source: Government of Somalia, 05 Nov 2010.http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/MDCS-8AWF8V?OpenDocument

(Mogadishu, 5 November 2010) Over the past months security forces from Somaliland and Puntland have conducted several successful operations against violent extremist groups in Sanaag Mountains straddling the two authorities.

Starting in mid October, operations began in Puntland to eliminate a terrorist stronghold in Cal-Madow mountain range, Bari region. Puntland troops launched attacks against extremists fighting for a local al-Shabab leader named Mohamed Said Atom, who wants to destabilize northern Somalia on behalf of Al-Qaeda. After several days of intense fighting, the Puntland forces succeeded in overtaking Atom's key logistic hub in the region. Several vehicles, weapons, and bomb-making materials were seized during the raid.

Atom has a long history of criminality in Puntland and Somaliland. His practices include arms dealing, kidnapping, and indiscriminate bombings and represent a direct threat to the safety and security of all communities in Northern Somalia. The operation was a big success and disrupted terror activity in the Galgala area. As the area becomes increasingly secure, it should open the door to future development.

It is evident that the Somaliland and Puntland leaders understand that security threats from extremists like Al-Shabaab are serious impediments to the development of these areas.

Somalia Information Minister, Abdirahman Omar Osman (Eng. Yarisow), said: "The Somali Government stands with their brothers and sisters in Somaliland and Puntland in their resistance to violent extremism. The people of northern Somalia have worked long enough for a safe environment in which to improve their lives and the lives of future generations. We will support their impressive efforts to establish peace and stability in these regions."

Ministry of Information, Republic of Somalia, Mogadishu, Somalia


Djibouti leader, visiting Somaliland counterpart to hold talks 4 November

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Nov 4, 2010. ADI news agency website, Djibouti, in French 3 Nov 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Text of report by state-owned Djibouti news agency ADI website on 3 November

Somaliland President Ahmad Muhammad Silanyo has began a 24-hour working visit to Djibouti. Leading an important delegation, Silanyo was welcomed upon his arrival by the head of state, Ismail Omar Guelleh, in the presence of members of government and the national assembly, as well as the first lady, Kadra Mahamoud Haid.

The Somaliland leader who was on his first tour of sub-region countries following his inauguration last July, will hold talks in private with President Guelleh at the presidential palace tomorrow [4 November].

Ahmad Muhammad Silanyo and his delegation will also hold a series of briefings and meetings with Djibouti authorities with the aim of strengthening bilateral relations.

It is worth noting that President Ahmad Muhammad Silanyo, 74, was elected as president of Somaliland last June after polls that pitted him against outgoing President Dahir Riyale Kahin.


Somaliland's foreign minister visits Ethiopia to strengthen bilateral ties

BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Nov 2, 2010. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 23 Oct 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Somaliland Foreign Minister, Dr Muhammad Abdullahi Omar, arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Wednesday (Oct.20).

According to a press release issued by Somaliland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Somaliland's foreign minister held talks on Thursday (Oct.21) with the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister who is also the Foreign Minister, Mr Haile-Mariam Desalegn.

The two sides discussed the growing bilateral ties between Somaliland and Ethiopia and gave particular attention to security, trade, the Berbera-Wajale corridor, education and aviation links.

After the meeting, Somaliland foreign minister briefed the Ethiopian press on the importance that Somaliland attaches to its relations with Ethiopia and Somaliland's desire for these relations to develop further to the benefit of people in both countries.

Somaliland Foreign Minister, Dr Muhammad Abdullahi Omar, also held a meeting with the General Director of IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development], Mr Mahbub Ma'alin in which they discussed how Somaliland and IGAD could work together.

In addition, Somaliland's foreign minister met with the Deputy Chairman of the African Union, Mr Erustus Mwencha. The foreign minister is expected to hold talks with the US Ambassador in Ethiopia as well as the United Kingdom's ambassador in Ethiopia.

The foreign minister was accompanied in his talks with foreign officials by Somaliland acting representative in Ethiopia, Mr Ayanle Salad Deriye.


SOMALIA: Concern over nutrition situation in Sanaag

Health officials say food insecurity has seriously affected 22 villages in Sanaag (file photo). http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportID=90941

ERIGAVO, 1 November 2010 (IRIN) - Health officials in Sanaag, a region to the northeast of Somalia's self-declared republic of Somaliland, say food insecurity has seriously affected 22 villages in a mountainous area, where more than 200 children have been found to be malnourished.

Sahra Hassan, an official in Somaliland's Health Ministry, told IRIN the cases of malnourished children were recorded in Mayd, Xaad and Ceel-Kibir, all in the northeastern region of Sanaag.

"At least four malnourished children from the mountain areas were admitted to Erigavo hospital," Hassan said. "We are also providing medication and nutritional food, provided by the IMC [International Medical Corps] to the children in the affected areas."

The September-October post-Gu nutrition update by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Somalia unit (FSNAU), rated the nutrition situation of most livelihood zones in Sanaag as on "alert", with a small section of the west Golis/Guban livelihood zone to the west of Sanaag in "a serious nutrition phase".

"The 'Alert' nutrition situation was mainly attributed to the improved household food security, resulting from the favourable Gu 2010 rains received in that region," according to the update.

FSNAU said: "Results using the WHO [World Health Organization] growth standards and estimated by the CDC probability calculator, reported a GAM [Global Acute Malnutrition] rate of less than 8.5 percent and a SAM [Severe Acute Malnutrition] rate of less than 0.6 percent."

Sanitation concerns

“Also of concern is the access to safe water, sanitation and health facilities, which are limited to less than 50 percent of the assessed population," the agency said. "Poor access to milk for consumption or sale, mainly due to poor livestock body conditions and out-migration, are an aggravating factor in the pastoral population in the area during this time of year.

Also of concern is the access to safe water, sanitation and health facilities, which are limited to less than 50 percent of the assessed population.

"The proportion of children assessed that had reportedly fallen ill in the two weeks prior to the survey was high at 26.5 percent," the agency said. "The proportion of children reported to have suffered from diarrhoea in the two weeks prior to the assessment was 9.4 percent. However, a higher number of children were reported to have suffered from pneumonia (14.3 percent) and febrile illness (14.8 percent)."

Ettie Higgins, the Hargeisa field officer for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), said international aid organizations were providing outpatient treatments to malnourished children in Sanaag region.

"UNICEF, working in partnership with Somaliland Red Crescent Society and International Medical Corps, is supporting outpatient treatment and care service provision for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition," Higgins said. “In addition, support is being provided to improve the nutritional status of pregnant women through multiple micronutrient supplementation, thus preventing severe micronutrient deprivation and ensuring a good nutrition start to an infant’s life during the neonatal phase."

In remote areas like Sanaag, Higgins said, ready-to-use therapeutic foods such as Plumpy’nut was an excellent form of treatment for malnutrition.

"However, for cases of severe acute malnutrition, with medical complications, babies and infants are admitted to one of the three UNICEF-supported stabilisation centres, housed in the hospitals of Hargeisa, Boroma and Burao," she said.


Puntland accuses rival Somaliland forces of fighting alongside Islamists

BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Oct 30, 2010. AllPuntland.com website in Somali 30 Oct 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Officials of Puntland intelligence have said that a senior commander of the Somaliland armed forces has been killed in recent fighting in the town of Galgala, Bari Region [North Eastern Somalia] and particularly in the locality of Colmadow.

Puntland intelligence has issued a report in which it said the Somaliland commander named Si'id Salah Ceynab has been fighting alongside forces loyal to Shaykh Muhammad Si'id Ataam who were recently defeated in fighting with Puntland forces. Puntland's intelligence chief has also said there were over 70 members of the Somaliland intelligence that were fighting alongside the militias loyal to Shaykh Muhammad Si'id Ataam.

The Puntland Administration has also said investigations to ascertain whether there are any more Somaliland armed forces commanders that were killed in the fighting took place in Galagala are currently underway. The report issued by Puntland intelligence comes at a time when senior officials of the Puntland Administration have in the past said they are quite concerned about the relations that Somaliland maintains with Shaykh Ataam's militias. Puntland intelligence earlier also said some of Shaykh Ataam's militias who were wounded in the fighting with Puntland forces were taken to hospitals in Burco and Hargeysa for treatment.


Visiting Danish team, Somaliland official discuss repatriation of refugees

BBC Monitoring Africa. London: Oct 28, 2010. Jamhuuriya, Hargeysa, in Somali 27 Oct 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC. Excerpt from report by Somaliland newspaper Jamhuuriya on 27 October; subheadings inserted editorially

The Danish minister for development cooperation, Soren Pind, has officially announced that his country and Somaliland have agreed on the repatriation of Somali refugees living in Denmark to Somaliland.

The minister said that development cooperation between the two countries includes the repatriation of the Somali refugees. The Danish minister also handed over an undisclosed amount of money to the president of Somaliland, Ahmad Muhammad Mahmud aka Silanyo.

The Danish minister, who was leading a large delegation, arrived in Somaliland yesterday and held a meeting with the president and a number of ministers at Maansoor Hotel in Hargeysa.

The two sides discussed the repatriation of Somali refugees in Denmark and development programmes in Somaliland.

Repatriation of refugees

"We discussed [with Somaliland officials] the repatriation of refugees from Denmark so that they can take part in the development of their motherland; in fact, this is part of the development cooperation between the two sides. We have agreed on this matter and you understand that the relations between the Denmark and Somaliland are functioning, " said the minister responding to a question from the press on whether he had discussed the repatriation of Somali refugees in Denmark with the Somaliland authorities.

However, this issue was not included in a press statement issued by the presidential palace on the talks between the president and the Danish delegation.

The Danish minister also told the press that his mission to Somaliland was also to witness first hand, the peace and development achieved by Somaliland and how his government could assist Somaliland safeguard these achievements.

He said that the current discussion within the EU is not only centred on the hardline Al-Shabab group and the conflict in Mogadishu, but the democratic process that has been attained in Somaliland.

Recognition

Responding to a question from the press whether Denmark would help Somaliland efforts of seeking international recognition, the minister said, "I'm not surprised that you asked the same question raised by the president [of Somaliland] and his minister. The question of the recognition of Somaliland is not a specific one to the Danish government, but it is upon all member states of the EU. It is also upon Africa, especially the AU, and the people of Somaliland to handle. I hereby inform you that the issue of recognition has been presented to me [by the Somaliland officials] and I will table it to the Danish government," said the minister.


British naval officers, Somaliland counterparts discuss piracy

BBC Monitoring Newsfile. London: Oct 28, 2010. Jamhuuriya, Hargeysa, in Somali 27 Oct 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

British naval officers stationed along the Somali coastline arrived at the port of Berbera yesterday and held a meeting with Somaliland government officials that lasted for hours.

The officers, who disembarked from warships along Somaliland coast, used two small boats to reach the port of Berbera.

They were received by the commander of the Somaliland Navy, Gen Ahmad Aw Usman, deputy police commissioner, Abdirahman Jama'a Liban aka Fohle, Sahil Regional Governor Mahmud Ali Suleyman aka Ramah and the mayor of Berbera, Abdullah Muhammad Arab aka Sandheere.

The British naval officers held a closed-door meeting with the Somaliland officials at the headquarters of Somaliland Navy in Berbera.

Details of the meeting remain unclear. However, sources close to the Somaliland officials, who attended the talks, said it centred on war against Somali pirates, who are causing problems to humanitarian and commercial ships plying the Somali coastline.

The commander of Somaliland Navy, Gen Ahmad Aw Usman, was asked by the media about the agenda of the meeting, but declined to comment on the matter. He however, said that the two sides discussed the general security situation in the Horn of African region.

Report say that the Somaliland officials explained the efforts of their government in fighting Somali pirates, who have become a big threat to international trade.

Somaliland government is strongly fighting Somali pirates and has on several occasions tried at the Berbera court a number of pirates captured as they were trying to hijack ships on Somaliland waters. The Somaliland waters are free of pirates, who have greatly affected operations along the coast of the neighbouring Somalia.

This is the first time naval officers from a Western nation fighting pirates along the Somalia coastline have held direct talks with Somaliland officials in Somaliland territory.


Somaliland: Debate Explores Living Apart Together

Written by UNPO, Oct 28, 2010. Below is an article published by UNPO:

The convening of a timely discussion in Nijmegen on the current and future prospects for the Horn of Africa has advanced a debate bringing together academia, parliamentarians and civil society

Following presidential elections in Somaliland in July 2010 and the ongoing instability in Somalia that allows piracy to persist off Africa’s East Coast, the Dutch town of Nijmegen played host to a discussion focussing on how Somaliland, Somalia, and Puntland could coexist and what this, or the alternatives, might spell for the region as a whole.

With the participation of Mohamed Yunis Awale (Somaliland Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs), Sjoera Dikkers MP (PvDA), Andrew Swan (UNPO), Abdi Jibril (Somaliland Societies in Europe), and Dorothé Appels (Centre for International Cooperation) discussions took place over two hours with passionate engagement from an audience that could view the developing situation from several viewpoints.

Moderated by journalist Rik Delhaas, discussions were prefaced by background to the current situation in the Horn of Africa given by historian, Anneleen Tilburgh, who has studied and written of the Horn of Africa since the collapse of Somalia in 1991. The piracy situation loomed large but Ms. Tillburgh drew attention to the shifting nature of the conflict in Somalia - what had been a clan struggle was now becoming a conflict that was characterised by religion more than anything else.

Opening the discussion, Mohamed Yunis Awale spoke of Somaliland’s colonial legacy and the peaceful campaign to bring reform to the Siad Barre’s Somalia, but which was met with repression and the terrible destruction of Hargeisa in 1988 that left the city utterly destroyed. Recounting the 1991 Burao Conference, he noted how Somaliland had been able to find solutions to its immediate problems and ultimately voted to unilaterally end the union first forged with Italian Somaliland in 1960. Democratic consolidation had continued apace since that time, with repeated peaceful transitions of power, the most recent being in July 2010.

Despite non-recognition, “we like to contribute to the international community” Vice Minister Awale said, stating that this had increased in recent years, inparticular with efforts to combat piracy – Somaliland’s 850 kilometer coastline having avoided any pirate attacked to date. But he also noted that the international community “shuts its eyes” to the situation in Somaliland. Despite welcome aid contributions, Somaliland continued to exist on a government budget of approximately $60 million. Security continuing to be the main source of expenditure, closely followed by education and healthcare - “we see chaos” in Somalia Awale told those present, and commented that until this changed Somaliland had to spend a large part of its resources to ensure security and stability, without which other services could not realistically function.

Talking of the international developments surrounding Somaliland and Somalia, Sjoera Dikkers MP, Member of the Dutch Parliament for the Labour Party and Director of the Evert Vermeer Stichting, spoke of the importance that women had to play in any reconciliation and development efforts in the region. Domestically, the Netherlands would be keenly affected by any instability in the region due to its importance to international trade and shipping and the current administration in The Hague had to recognise this fact. Consequently it was disappointing to see the cuts being made in the current budget and how starkly these contrasted to the policy being pursued in the United Kingdom, where development aid was on track to reach 0.7% of GDP by 2013.

Speaking for the UNPO, Brussels Project Coordinator Andrew Swan noted that Somaliland had made a significant step when it decided to join the organisation in 2006 – and since then the progress made had been remarkable. Explaining the role of the UNPO, he spoke of its part in raising awareness of Somaliland’s situation vis-à-vis Somalia. Much still remained to be done but the level of debate, interest, and engagement was rising he concluded.

Progress in differentiating Somaliland from the regional context was also being made with references in recent ACP-EU and African Union communiqués recognising the realities on the ground and making the first official and explicit references to Somaliland. But obstacles still remained in the shape of those countries that saw a benefit in maintaining the status quo of the region and perpetuating existing influences over trade entrepôts, Nile waters, and proxy conflicts.

From the diaspora, the Somaliland Societies in Europe (SSE) had also been working to promote small scale projects that could support development and education in Somaliland and the integration of Somali into the societies of their host countries in Europe. Chairman of the organisation, Abdi Jibril welcomed the opportunity to meet again Vice Minister Awale and welcomed the new government’s use of talent drawn from the wide Somaliland diaspora and also its technocratic expertise. The Nijmegen meeting came after the April 2010 meeting of the SSE in Lyon, France during which the SSE have discussed how to support development in the region – an effort from which the SDO had itself grown. In 2011 the tenth anniversary would be marked of the SSE with over fifty organisations from across Europe coming together to share experiences and future plans.

Closely connected to diaspora effort was the need to support diaspora groups as part of the ‘circular migration’ that could be seen in the Somaliland context. This was one of the issues raised by Dorothé Appels, Director of COS Nederland, who spoke from first-hand knowledge of the changing environment in which aid agencies and non-governmental organisations had to work. Although the Somaliland authorities had sometimes shown reticence at the developing independence of civil society “the Somaliland government has to be congratulated” on what it has managed to achieve she concluded. Responding to the question of recognition for Somaliland, the conclusion had to be she believed that this was ultimately something that would come if people wanted to see it happen.