Rejecting the call of the Puntland war drums at the Tukkaraq front, where the Republic of Somaliland army is facing a horde of ragtag militias amassed by Puntland leaders to ‘liberate’ Sool and Sanaag regions, a heavily armed and mechanized battalion crossed over to the Somaliland side Saturday.
The unit commanders said they were barred from leaving their positions and had to make a very long detour, which took them the better part of 24 hours, to reach the Somaliland military command post barely 15 kilometers from their original departure point of God Qaboobe.
“We have been mesmerized by hollow calls of glory which immensely colored and altered facts on the ground,” the younger of the two battalion commanders said.
“We were told at the time we were drafted that we were to liberate heinously and perpetually persecuted brothers and sisters in these areas. False. We found out that the only reason we were dumped over there was to protect Puntland and be used as defense barricades Puntland,” he said.
“The fact that we barely escaped with our lives and had been running since yesterday afternoon says volumes by itself,” another of the commanders said.
Sool Regional Governor, Abdirashid Hussein Abdulle, Colonel Ibrahim Ashkir, 7th Division Operation Commander, and other Division Officers received the new unit, promising them full army privileges henceforth.
Yesterday’s crossover was about the fourth or fifth of its kind since the Somaliland army reached the area showing locals how wrong negative perceptions spread of them were. Positive reputation supplants older misconceptions, and the appeal to join the more disciplined, highly respected Somaliland army soon turns to irresistible appeal for the less endowed fighters on the Puntland side.