At Least 20 Killed in Somaliland Clashes

At least 20 people have reportedly been killed and dozens injured in Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland as anti-government protesters and security forces have clashed for more than a week, with Somaliland officials appealing to demonstrators to stop protesting and engage in negotiations.

At Least 20 Killed in Somaliland Clashes
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Facts

  • At least 20 people have reportedly been killed and dozens injured in Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland as anti-government protesters and security forces have clashed for more than a week, with Somaliland officials appealing to demonstrators to stop protesting and engage in negotiations.
  • The casualties have occurred in the administrative capital of Somaliland's Sool region, Las Anod, which has long been disputed between Somaliland and the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland.
  • The protesters, who are demanding Somaliland to relinquish control of the town to Puntland, accuse the security forces of carrying out a "bloodshed of civilians" while failing to end insecurity in the town.
  • This comes as Somaliland, which took control of Las Anod some 15 years ago, has expelled some 7.2K Somalis in recent months, alleging security threats, and its president, Muse Bihi Abdi, is accused of orchestrating political killings and clinging to power with an illegitimate mandate.
  • Last week, Puntland's Pres. Said Abdullahi Deni sent troops to the disputed Las Anod as he accused Somaliland security forces of conducting a brutal crackdown on civilians protesting in the town for the first time in 15 years.
  • Somaliland, a former British protectorate with a population of 4.5M, declared independence from Somalia in 1991, a move not recognized by the international community. Despite the region's poverty, it is largely peaceful and stable, while Somalia grapples with a decades-long civil war and faces an Islamist insurgency.

Sources: Reuters, Hiiraan, VOA, MSN, All Africa, and Africa News.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Salon. Violence and tensions in Somaliland stem from its territorial claims and alleged statehood. And while the narrative of an undisputed and homogeneous state territory doesn't match the facts, right-wing voices are growing louder in Washington, calling for Somaliland to be recognized as an independent state in a neocolonial maneuver and for geopolitical considerations. If the US should take this step and thus further undermine Somalia's already fragile statehood, it will lead to an incalculable erosion of security.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by National Interest. The most prudent way to address the territorial dispute between Somaliland and Puntland is to recognize autonomous Somaliland as an independent state. Somalia has explicitly asked the US for recognition, and Washington shouldn't just agree to this for its own strategic benefit but also to impose the resolution of the land conflict with Puntland as a precondition for recognition. Denying Somaliland, which meets international criteria for statehood, the right to self-determination is a recipe for continued violence.

Predictions