By Ahmed Abdi Isse
This is one of the myriad of articles I have written about the prevailing Somaliland issues encompassing the political and social context. As I have been one of the Somaliland politicians who has contributed into leading our country to the pathways of democratisation and as well as being an academic, my articles are aimed at contributing to the political discourse and to combating divisive issues that antagonise our people. Recently the issue of our security forces in particular the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) has been at the centre of the political hot debate of our country. This article argues despite recent hiccups of the RRU, it has made Somaliland a very safe country and there is a need for the force to continue and to have the full support of our people. Britain is a bankroller of this force – it has been approached to cut off its support. It was wrong and I will thus argue why I believe it is not only wrong, but also, against the national interest of Somaliland.
The horn of Africa has been endemic to insecurity whereby courtiers in the region traditionally have propensity to settling their differences by war. Endless and aimless wars in the region have dragged their people deeper into man made poverty, with paucity of opportunities existed gone into fewer at expenses of the masses. That situation saw thousands to succumb to deaths and millions coerced into displacement farther afield in Europe to escape poverty, hopelessness, diseases and torments. To seek safe countries has never been easy, as thousands have lost their lives before getting into their final destination in the seas and many were killed, raped at the hands of the network of clandestine people smugglers. Dictatorial regimes were accused to be fermenting discriminating against their own people and holding on to power far too long. That was the backdrop to have propelled people into resorting armed struggle to over throw them. Somaliland was a good example that has emancipated from the Doctorial regime in costly armed struggle.
Today in the armed struggle within and between countries in the region has paved the way to new phenomenon of terrorism. To this end, the horn of Africa has become a home to the most feared terrorist group in the world called Al-Shabaab. The whole region faces a serious threat from this group. Uganda and Kenya have become the most prone countries to the terrorism as Al-Shabaab has carried out a series of successful attacks in both countries. With latter has become the most susceptible to Al-Shabaab in the region, which have seen frequent attacks.
In this year alone, Al-Shabaab launched attacks in the capital, including Westgate Shopping Mall and a dozen places across the country and farther afield in the regions that are tourist attractions. The group claimed their attacks on Kenyan and Uganda to have been in response to their armed interference in Somalia and as well as being part of African union armed forces. With this regard, Al-Shabaab argued will continue attacks in Kenya until it withdraws its armed forces out of the country. Furthermore, it claimed that foreign forces to be corrupting the Somali people’s culture and religion. On the contrary, Kenya and Uganda argued to have been invited by the Somali government to help restore peace and stability in the country, which has seen in the last twenty years endless civil wars and chaos that has brought the Somali people into its knees.
Somaliland, in response to this new threat emanating from this group, it has taken steps to insulate its people from terrorism attacks encompassing creating strong special and RRU security forces – and of course awareness raising among its citizens to be vigilant. Both forces have been forefront to preventing and safeguarding our people from threats from terrorism. This has made Somaliland to be the safest country in the region and statistically it did have terrorism attack since 1998 thanks to the Somaliland counter terrorism forces and the people Somaliland.
Despite the huge success of the force, it has had its downs as it came under strong criticism from the opposition politicians following the ways in which the force conducted two raids in which it searched the dwellers of two households. One of the houses was in Hargeisa and the other was in the second largest city of Somaliland, Burao. In both houses a search had been carried out in the middle of night in front of children and women who got traumatised. The opposition was dismayed by the conduct of the force and went to extent to take the issue to the British government who funds and trains them, to cease funding at the narrative of these two cases.
In conclusion, the RRU is young army having existed less than five years and operating in a difficult environment by putting their lives on the line to prevent our people from terrorism attacks. It is learning from its mistakes as no one is immune from stamping into wrong judgement in arduous situation but I am sure the force is gaining the experience and the right skills to fulfil its duties with huge professionalism. Therefore, it is not wise to go to the extent to wind up the existence of this force on the basis of two episodes of misjudgement and the force deserves to be congratulated for their professionalism in making Somaliland a safe country.
Ahmed Abdi Isse, London
An Academic in Social Science
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