Laascaanood conflict causes a rethink on Somaliland security partnership

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud gave the United States the green light to forge a security partnership with the secessionist administration of Somaliland

Hargeisa (PP Report) — The Laascaanood war is two-plus months old if 6 February 2023 is taken as the start date of the conflict, but three-plus months old if 5/5/2023 is counted as the day Somaliland forces were forced to withdraw from Laascaanood. Conditions that were favourable to Somaliland forces have disappeared— local militias in the payroll of the Somaliland government disintegrated; with the exception of Saleban Y. Ali Kore, Sool politicians have refused to be associated with the narrative of Hargeisa that Somaliland forces are fighting terrorists in Laascaanood — Somaliland has since revised this narrative to argue it is enforcing pre-independence colonial borders.

Somaliland was not expecting a war that forced its forces to retreat into Goja’adde on the outskirts of Laascaanood. The war exposed the tactical inadequacies of Somaliland troops. Somaliland was banking on dragging Puntland into the war, a move Hargeisa sees as a strategy either to sow disunity within the unionist constituency of Sool or turn the conflict into one between Somaliland and Puntland.

America had to abandon the Somaliland Security Partnership due to a civil war raging in Northern Somalia.

Since there was no organised political representation enjoying the full support of the Sool people, Somaliland miscalculated to the point of assessing the uprising as being far less effective than the Khaatumo movement ten years ago. Somaliland did not manage to activate its militias after traditional leaders made their base in Laascaanood to participate in a conference that culminated in the 6 February Laascaanood Declaration.

Civil War

A full-blown civil war is raging in Northern Somalia where a secessionist administration ignored all calls to withdraw its troops. The biggest elephant in the room is the Federal Government of Somalia whose leadership has so far failed to denounce the argument that Somaliland is waging a war to restore pre-independence colonial borders.

The war in Northern Somalia has had security repercussions in geopolitical terms. The United States had had to abandon the Somaliland Security Partnership that Africa Report hailed on 6 January 2023 as “a key diplomatic win in its annual Defence bill [for de facto state]”. Somaliland administration leaders rejected calls from the State Department to withdraw its troops from the outskirts of Laascaanood.

Wider repercussions of the Laascaanood conflict pertaining to the reliability of the Federal Government of Somalia to defend the sovereignty of the country. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud gave the United States the green light to forge a security partnership with a secessionist entity claiming to have seceded from Somalia. The level of cooperation accorded to the Somaliland administration under the security partnership was higher than the one it enjoyed before the US government ended the dual-track policy ten years ago. In 2013 the post-transition dispensation resulted in the end of the dual-track policy. In January 2023 Laascaanood conflict brought about a rethink on Somaliland’s Security Partnership with the United States.

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