Monday, September 25, 2023
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Hassan Sheikh: Somalia’s absentee President

By Ali H. Abdulla

When elected, the President of the Federal Government of Somalia takes an oath before the Federal Parliament, where he swears to perform his duties honestly and in the best interest of the Nation, People, and Religion.

President Hassan Sh. Mohamud

The oath of office calls upon the President to serve the best interest of the Somali Nation by defending its territorial integrity against foreign and domestic enemies; it calls upon him to protect the lives, dignity, and property of the Somali people against internal and external threats. Since 99% of the Somali people are Muslims, it calls upon him to preserve and promote Somali unity as ordered by God in numerous verses of the Quran that urges Muslims to hold fast to the Rope of God and not become divided. 

The biggest threat to Somali Unity and territorial integrity is the separatist and unrecognized administration known to the world community as Somaliland, a name that, on the surface, means the Land of the Somali people but entails a completely different and sinister ideology: a clan-based ideology that seeks legitimacy in the old colonial borders that once divided Somalia into a British protectorate, which gained independence on June 26, 1960, and an Italian Trusteeship, which gained independence on July 1, 1960, after which both of them united voluntarily to form the Somali Republic.

It is worth noting that the British signed separate protection agreements with each Somaliland clan. The protection agreements expired on Independence Day over sixty years ago, allowing each group to pursue its best interest. Although all of them opted for unity with the South in 1960, they later splintered into two groups: a separatist group that took advantage of the vacuum created by the collapse of the Somali government in 1991 and a unionist group that wanted to remain within the Federal Government of Somalia.

Normally, free people detest colonization by a foreign power and celebrate the day that coincides with regaining their freedom from colonial powers. However, the ruling class in Somaliland is proud of its colonial legacy. They even replaced Somaliland Independence Day, June 26, with the day they declared their secession from the Somali Republic on May 18, 1991. The biggest problem is that not all former British Somaliland clans subscribe to the secession, and Somaliland wants to impose it upon them by force leading to an armed conflict that has been raging over the last six months and resulting in the displacement of thousands of innocent civilians and the loss of hundreds of young lives.

The vacuum created by the lack of a credible Somali government capable of defending its territorial integrity allowed the Somaliland administration to flex its muscles against the unionist clans that used to be part of the old British protectorate. The separatists in Somaliland inherited the strategic Berbera Port and other income-generating assets. They also got hold of the Russian weapons that the overthrown Somali government left behind in 1991, and they used these deadly weapons to coerce the unionists into accepting the secession agenda.

The current President, Hassan Sheikh (HSM), who serves as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, has not even condemned the Somaliland aggression and limited his role to call on both sides to negotiate a truce instead of standing up to the secessionists who threaten the territorial integrity of the country he has sworn to defend. His stand is hardly surprising to those who follow Somali affairs closely. In his first term, HSM declared the near completion of the Somali Federation process in a ceremony celebrating the establishment of the Hirshabelle Federal State. His speech signaled his intention to deal with Northern Somalia as a single block that did not differentiate between those posing an existential threat to Somalia as a united country and those who do not. The late Dr. Ali Khalif Galaydh, a Somali American professor who attended the ceremony, expressed his frustration as a Northern Unionist by declaring that Southern Somalia was condoning and blessing the Somaliland secession.

The following actions or non-actions by HSM attest to Dr. Galaydh’s declaration:

1. HSM tolerates all Somaliland actions detrimental to Somali unity and territorial integrity, such as establishing direct bilateral relations with foreign countries and illegally licensing predatory oil and mineral companies that pollute grazing areas.

2. HSM tolerates the actions of European MPs, such as Gavin Williamson, who keep pressuring their governments to recognize Somaliland as an independent country.

3. HSM prevents the Somali national media from reporting on the military conflict between Somaliland forces and Somali unionists to suppress the atrocities committed by Somaliland in Las Anod.

4. HSM has not pressured Somaliland to stop shelling the city of Las Anod indiscriminately with heavy artillery that destroyed hospitals, schools, and places of worship. There are credible reports that he and the President of Somaliland communicate directly over the phone.

5. HSM accepted and blessed the latest IGAD declaration, urging the warring parties in Las Anod to cease hostilities instead of adopting the stronger Security Council Statement, which called for the withdrawal of the Somaliland forces from their positions near the city of Las Anod for a permanent ceasefire to take hold and spare the city the recurring indiscriminate shelling.

6. HSM ignored the call of the Security Council to hold accountable those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights in Las Anod.

7. HSM suppressed the findings of the fact-finding mission of a team of Somali elders he sent to Las Anod and Hargeisa. The scale of destruction caused by the Somaliland shelling shocked the elders, but they were instructed not to report it.

8. HSM tried to arm-twist the unionist elders to accept a ceasefire agreement that did not include the withdrawal of the Somaliland forces. He promised limited financial support in exchange for them accepting his terms for a ceasefire and direct negotiations with Somaliland. The brutal war in Las Anod has not changed his long-standing position to deal with Northern Somalia as a single entity instead of two sides with opposed views on Somali Unity.

9. HSM has yet to facilitate the call of the security council to scale up humanitarian assistance to ensure the provision of humanitarian aid and essential service. Humanitarian agencies are only willing to work in Las Anod and surrounding areas with the permission of the Federal Government.

10. HSM did not contradict the British-born Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia when she reported an understated casualty figure for Las Anod by a factor of ten to the UN Security Council. The British have a soft spot for Somaliland as a former British colony, and HSM is oblivious to this glaring fact.

As an absentee president of Somalia regarding matters related to sovereignty and territorial integrity, HSM has failed to fulfill his oath of office to defend Somali Unity and territorial integrity and deserves impeachment by the Federal Parliament. Unfortunately, no one expects the clan-based Parliament to rise to the occasion and depose the derelict President. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the Security Council members to follow up on their statement and pressure Somaliland to stop the indiscriminate shelling of Las Anod and withdraw its troops from the city and its environs.

 Ali H. Abdulla
 Email: [email protected]


-Amnesty International April 20, 2023, Somaliland: Urgent investigation needed as fighting takes a heavy toll on civilians in Las Anod   
-World Health Organization (WHO)  July 14, 2023: WHO condemns the attack on the healthcare facility  in northern Somalia. 
– MARKUS VIRGIL HOEHN February 6, 2023: Crisis in Lasanod: Border Disputes, Escalating Insecurity and the Future of Somaliland 
-JETHRO NORMAN March 2, 2023: Conflict in Las Anod and Crisis in Somaliland: External Investment, Intensifying Internal Competition, and the Struggle for Narrative 
-Abdikani Jama Mohamud March 23, 2023: Core International Crimes Committed In Las Anod By Somaliland’s Forces – Analysis 
-Abdighani Hirad March 20, 2023: Conflict In Lasanod, Sool, Somalia: Somaliland’s War Crimes And Pathways To Hold It Accountable

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