The Badhan Fiasco: A Prelude to another military showdown between Somaliland, Somalia?


On 18 October 2015, an elections awareness delegation left Erigavo, Sanaag, for Badhan of Badhan region. It was led by the NEC regional Director, Ahmed Ali Behi, and included Erigavo council member Qamar Taleh, on the one hand, and Omar Jama Farah of Takulo NGO and Ismail Abrar of FOPAG, on the other, representing the two institutions that were to carry out the awareness raising campaign for the voter registration activities in the regions of Sanaag and Badhan.

Only 5o kilometres outside the regional capital of Erigavo, they were stopped at around 4:00 in the afternoon and escorted on gun point to Badhan by a detachment of the Puntland Dervish police and put behind bars there overnight.

Badhan? Puntland?

The two question marks following the two words above say it all.

Badhan and the land all the way up to Qaw less than 10 kilometres outside of Bossasso belongs to the Republic of Somaliland in the eyes of international boundaries’ laws.

The Republic of Somaliland, re-proclaimed as an independent at the all-clan conference in Burao, in 1991, lies within the borders of its 1960 independence as a recognized, sovereign state inheriting the boundaries and structures of its former British protectorate status.

The Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland defines the nation’s boundaries with its neighbors:

“Article 2: The Territory of the Republic of Somaliland

1. The territory of the Republic of Somaliland covers the same area as that of the former Somaliland Protectorate and is located between Latitude 8’ to 11’ 30’ north of the equator and Longitude 42’ 45 to 49’ East; and consists of the land, islands, and territorial water above and below the surface, the airspace and the continental shelf.

2. The Republic of Somaliland is bordered by the Gulf of Aden to the north; Somalia to the east; the Federal Republic of Ethiopia to the south and the west; and the Republic of Djibouti to the north west.

3. The territory of the nation is inviolable, and shall not be trespassed upon.”

This map of the Somaliland Protectorate and consequently of the independent STATE OF SOMALILAND, and, since 1991, the REPUBLIC OF SOMALILAND sets out clearly the international boundaries which were delineated under a series of international agreements.

SL Boundaries with Somalia
Somaliland Boundaries with Somalia

How this came to be is explained by Counsellor Ibrahim Hashi, Editor of

…the international boundary between Somaliland and Ethiopia was based on the 1887 agreement between Britain &  reached Ethiopia. The Treaty consisted of a formal convention of six Articles and annexures containing, among other things, an exchange of notes, which, according to Article 2 of the Treaty shall determine  the frontiers of the “British Protectorate on the Somali Coast”.   The exchange of notes took place during the same year and the final letters were annexed to the treaty by 8 December 1887. A boundary demarcation commission met in January 1932, and started the work on the ground setting up boundary lines, roads and bollards. We shall be looking at separately the controversial aspects of the 1887 Treaty, as well as the 1954 Agreement which re-affirmed the 1887 Treaty in respect of the “Haud and Reserved areas” grazing rights, but on its independence on 26 June 1960, the new Constitution of the independent STATE OF SOMALILAND defined the territory of Somaliland as “all that territory which, on the commencement of the Constitution, is comprised in Her Britannic Majesty’s Protectorate of Somaliland” (s. 2(1)). The Somaliland – Ethiopia boundary,  runs for 463 miles  from  at the 8 N. 48 E. (the tripoint of Somaliland-Eithopia-Somalia) to Madaha Jalelo at the tripoint of Somaliland-Eithopia-Djibouti boundaries. The demarcation of the boundray and its marking with bollards was undertaken in the early 1930s.

The boundary between the Somaliland and Djibouti was finalised  in an agreement between Britain and France signed in February 1888 and the actual demarcation of the trijunction point of the British/French Somaliland and Ethiopia was delineated by the 1936 British Somaliland-Eithopia Boundary Commission.  (For a brief account of this boundary see the IBIS  Boundary Study).

Finally, the boundary between Somaliland and Somalia  was defined in the Anglo-Italian Protocol of May 1894.  This boundary, which was demarcated by an Anglo-Italian commission in 1929 runs very simply along the 49th longitude (49E), from the Gulf of Aden to latitude 9 degrees north, and then diagonally across to the intersection of the 48th longitude (48E) and latitude 8 N. The Somaliland boundary then runs west along the latitude 8 N which is the start of the boundary between Somaliland and Ethiopia.  (See here map of the State of Somaliland’s boundary with Somalia on its independence on 26 June 1960 and before its union with Somalia on 1 July 1960).  Shortly after the 1894 agreement, it was was settled that although the village of Bandar Zaida (on the coast) fell to the west of the 49th meridian, it will remain in the (Italian) Somalia and so on near the coast the boundary moves to the west of the meridian for a few miles.

That is very clear. The Somaliland boundaries with Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti leave no room for doubt.

Now, one may wonder what Somalia, through its satellite Puntland, is doing in Badhan. Puntland is an extension of Somalia. It is a federal state of Somalia. Its actions are inseparable from that of Somalia ensconced snugly in its Mogadishu seat protected by the AU/International army personnel and hardware.

Since the day, the regional administration – now a federal state of Somalia – came to be in August 1997, it did not mince words on its geographical, administrational ambitions over large tracts of Somaliland in the regions of Sool, Badhan, Haysimo and Buuhoodle based on clan affinities.

Since that day, Puntland was trying to convince the international community that its regional state was no different from its neighbor – the Republic of Somaliland – and that it had every right on its geographical claims despite the dim view the IC has on accepting new boundaries drawn along clan lines.

This latest incursion of Puntland armed units indicates that Puntland, egged on by its Somalia umbrella, is spoiling for an armed showdown with Somaliland. The incident naturally would be analyzed and weighed in tandem with Somalia’s active involvement in the Wabar/Borama unrest and  Buuhoodle’s Khatumo which is seen as a blatant encroachment on Somaliland sovereignty and right to self-determination.

Puntland did not only show its full presence in Badhan, but, when it released the unarmed personnel it abducted, another fully armed unit escorted it back to about only 30 kilometres to the east Erigavo, showing that they were in full control of all the areas in between and beyond Badhan to the Puntland border some 200 kilometres to the east and southeast of Badhan itself.

This latest development is an incendiary bomb thrown onto an already simmering undercurrent of hostilities and geo-political differences between the neighbors.

Somalia, once more, shows its true intentions.

Within the past 30 days, the UAE  promised to pay for the Somalia personnel salaries and the EU pledged 187 million to contribute to AMISOM efforts.

Both of these overtures have a direct, threatening impact on the existence and sustainability of a republic that has every right to restore its sovereignty but is largely ignored by the international community for reasons that cannot stand the light of the day.

Somalia, with its huge armies and under the guise of an international identity, decimated whole areas of its civilian populations in planned genocides, razed whole cities to the ground, strafed civilian targets fleeing the atrocities from the air, deliberately poisoned wells, pitted neighbor against neighbor along clan lines and, practically, used residents in the former British Somaliland Protectorate as either a human shield to hang on to its teetering military regime or as target practice for its sprawling, ill-trained army recruits.

The Badhan incident has all the hallmarks of another confrontation, fully supported by an insouciant, diplomatically blind international community between the Republic of Somaliland and a Somalia it armed, protected, diplomatically and replenished without fully taking history into account.

The Somaliland government will certainly take all necessary steps to secure its boundaries and protect its citizens from marauding, politically and tribally motivated novices in regional politics.


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