For quite some time now, little doubt remained that the violent armed group that so far murdered a number of Somaliland security officers purchased its weapons from Bosaso, Puntland´s commercial hub. But few knew that Puntland authority might be arming this Alshabab-affiliated rebel group, known as PSS (SSC/NSUM), and local clans to attack Somaliland security forces. But that perception has changed. Recently, Somaliland Foreign Minister sent a stern warning to Puntland for spurring violence in eastern Somaliland as well as undertaking clandestine operations to sabotage Somaliland´s tireless efforts to pacify the region and hold Al-Shabab at bay.
In his interview with the BBC on February 03, 2011, the Somaliland Foreign Minister, Dr. Mohamed Abdilahi Omar stated, “Our government is fully aware of Puntland´s involvement in arming the local clans and the anti-peace elements.” “Puntland must abandon its efforts to destabilize eastern provinces of Somaliland. We know the anti-peace group that attempted to assassinate our security officers is armed by Puntland”, he added.
Similarly, Somaliland Information Minister, Ahmed Abdi Habsade echoed a similar sentiment. Mr. Habsade recently told Jamahuriye Newspaper, “Puntland is not in position to attack Somaliland but vows to arm local clans in eastern Somaliland to destabilize the country”.
The preceding statements from Somaliland officials could, in fact, damage Puntland´s image. On one hand, Puntland accentuates its genuine desire for peace, to combat against piracy, Al-Shabab, and human traffickers. And, on the other, it arms anti-peace elements against Somaliland. Worse yet, its bellicose attitude towards Somaliland and proactive confrontations towards the fragile Somali regime in Mogadishu are anything but peaceful. Surely, Puntland´s belligerent and inflammatory remarks could serve as an indicator that the authority is—undisputedly—the second obstacle to peace, after Al-Shabab.
Of course, it is an open secret that Puntland claims parts of Somaliland territory and that is where its hostility towards Somaliland stems from, but Puntland also remains at loggerheads with other Somali regions. For instance, there is a land dispute between Puntland and the Galmudug authority of central Somalia. Puntland also has land disputes with southern Somali factions because it claims Kismanyo city, located deep in southern Somalia. So does this mean Puntland will continue spurring mayhem in every corner of Somalia and eastern provinces of Somaliland? Well, unfortunately, that might be the case because Puntland remains stuck in a belligerent mode.
Doubtless, Puntland´s behavior is neither fathomed in Somaliland nor in Somalia. And rest assured, the U.S., U.N., and A.U. are scrutinizing the current governor of Puntland, a prickly, paranoid leader (with borderline schizophrenia, almost everybody is out to get him, including his own shadow), Abdirahman Mohamud Farole´s reckless behavior, which very much states: “If I don´t get my way, I will ruin everything else”, just like a bullyboy in a playground.
Even more childish, it was not that long ago when groweonline, a website owned and managed by none other than Mr. Farole´s son, Mohamed Farole, unleashed a barrage of nefarious verbal assaults against Somaliland because Puntland failed to persuade the world that its [Puntland's] “anti-pricy” force was not just a group of pirates undergoing rehab treatment, but a real army. For instance, groweonline wrote a number of vomit-worth articles that would force you to either quiver or cringe with indignation, entitled, “70 Somaliland soldiers fought alongside Al Shabaab in Galgala”, “Somaliland is becoming Africa’s ‘terrorism secret”, “Al Shabaab rebel Atom ‘hiding in Somaliland”, “Puntland is Deeply Concerned About Somaliland’s Growing Ties to Al Shabaab”, “Somaliland ‘loots’ air cargo after plane makes emergency landing”, and “Haatuf newspaper reports Somaliland link with Al Shabaab”, just to name few. Evidently, Puntland intended to inflict deep lacerations on Somaliland’s reputations. But not only Puntland failed but also made itself the laughingstock of the region, if any thing.
Puntland’s assault, however, wasn’t just against Somaliland but also Somaliland people, especially the Isaaq clans. The Farole gang respected no bounds. Mohamed Farole´s website writes, “It is somewhat understandable that Somaliland’s Isaaq clan suffers inferiority complex in the face of a perpetual Hawiye-Darod struggle for dominance in Somalia…It is Garowe Online’s resolute position that the Somali National Army’s war and bombardment of Hargeisa and Burao [Somaliland cities, home to Isaaq clans] in 1988 was not “genocide” But in another article, Mohamed Farole´s website showcases its self-proclaimed professionalism, as the site writes, “…most Somali-owned websites found on the Internet advance the interests of a clan or a sub-clan, while we here at Garowe Online have consistently strived to advance the formation of a peaceful, democratic and united Federal Republic of Somalia.” Are the proofreaders of garoweonline dead? What a contradictory remarks from the Farole gangs! Paradoxically, Mohamed Farole, who has an innate talent for propaganda, is the top advisor of his father on “information”, or more precisely: disinformation.
Patently, the aforementioned provocative titles call for wars. Puntland falls short of declaring war against Somaliland. However, amazingly, Somaliland never runs out of patience. For the most part, Somaliland seems to be ignoring Puntland´s ramblings. For one thing, the current Somaliland President, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud Silanyo refuses to lower his standards to Mr. Farole´s. For another, Mr. Silanyo has a bigger fish to fry: receiving high ranking International delegations flocking into Somaliland, aligning Somaliland with the West, and reaching out to the neighboring countries, such as Djibouti where he received the red carpet treatment, among other things, that keep him busy.
To sum up, evidently, Mr. Farole’s behavior, a blatant gangster-ism, remains the second obstacle to peace in Somalia and incites violence in Somaliland. If the U.S., U.N. and A.U. are serious about Somalia’s peace and containing Al-shabab, they should put a leash on Mr. Farole—first. Because he is clearly dancing to Al-Shabab’s tunes: wreck havoc in Somalia and Somaliland.
Puntland´s corroding public confidence as well as its growing piracy, insecurity, and human trafficking, among others, compels the authority to deflect attention and look for a scapegoat. The authority accuses Somaliland of backing terrorists, but one would feel more comfortable with Puntland´s veracity were it backed by an inarguable proof, instead of anecdotal evidences. Also, Puntland´s accusation won’t hold water for the same reasons that its past aggressive rhetoric failed. Logically speaking, Puntland’s reasoning is based on the premise that anyone who opposes its authority is a terrorist, and if Somaliland disagrees with Puntland´s incursions into Somaliland territory, then Somaliland harbors terrorists. But beneath the façade of hurling absurd accusations at Somaliland, Puntland´s verbal assaults remain an illogical strategy to win cheers at the U.S. and its allies, embroiled in the war on terror. But is it working?