The United Nation’s Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) submitted its 2018 report to the Security Council earlier during the week.
As usual, the report is mostly hearsay and unsubstantiated ‘facts’ which seem to draw more on melodrama than useful facts which the UN body can base decisions and policy directions on.
As established by earlier reports, the SEMG revels in Somaliland-bashing more often than not.
Whether this latest report follows the old genre or is somewhat different, we leave it to your judgment. What is evident, nonetheless, is that – again as expected – to the SEMG and the UN, Somaliland is no more of a country than Puntland – a federal state of Somalia.
Below are paragraphs lifted from the report in which the word ‘Somaliland’ is raised.
In January 2018, tensions between Somaliland and Puntland erupted into armed
conflict near the town of Tukaraq in Sool region. International organizations reported
dozens of casualties on both sides and the displacement of an estimated 2,500 civilians
as a result of the conflict. The standoff was continuing at the time of writing, with
opposing forces separated by a buffer zone of approximately 2 km. The dispute has
created additional opportunities for Al-Shabaab elements in the Golis Mountains to
In its final report in 2017, the Monitoring Group reported that the establishment
of a foreign military base in Berbera, involving the transfer of military materiel to the
territory, would constitute a violation of the arms embargo on Somalia (see
S/2017/924, paras. 146–150). On 22 November 2017, Bloomberg news agency
reported that the United Arab Emirates-based Divers Marine Contracting LLC had
been contracted to build the base.30 On 15 March 2018, Reuters news agency reported
that the United Arab Emirates is to train Somaliland forces under the agreement.
“On 2 February 2018, the Monitoring Group sent correspondence to the
Somaliland administration reiterating that the establishment of a foreign military base
in Berbera would constitute a violation of the arms embargo on Somalia, and that any
assistance constituting support to security sector institutions in Somaliland would
require the notification of and approval by the Committee, pursuant to paragraph 11 (a) of Security Council resolution 2111 (2013). In its correspondence, the Group also
requested an update on the current status of the development of the Berbera military
base and asked which steps, if any, the Somaliland administration had taken to ensure
compliance with the Security Council’s arms embargo on Somalia. To date, the Group
has not received a response.”
“On 5 June 2018, the Monitoring Group sent correspondence to the United Arab
Emirates seeking information regarding the establishment of a military base and
expansion of port facilities in Berbera. On 7 September, the United Arab Emirates
responded, stating: “The [United Arab Emirates] has concluded an agreement with
Somaliland to develop and manage the port of Berbera. All agreements that the
[United Arab Emirates] has entered into with the Somali regions were concluded on
the basis of the constitutional powers vested in the heads of those regions, with a view
to achieving security, stability and prosperity for the Republic of Somalia and its
Following the cessation of AMISOM major offensive operations in 2015,
Al-Shabaab remains in direct control of territory along the Juba valley in southern
Somalia, centred around the towns of Jilib, Jamame, Bu’ale and Sakow in Middle
Juba region. Large coastal swathes around Harardhere and El Dher in central Somalia
also remain under direct Al-Shabaab control. Indications are that the Al-Shabaab
insurgency in the Golis Mountains in Puntland has swelled, with the group poised to
take advantage of the ongoing hostilities between Puntland and Somaliland, centred
around the town of Tukaraq.
Tensions between the Federal Government and the United Arab Emirates
surfaced on several occasions during the mandate. In its 2017 report, the Monitoring
Group noted its concerns regarding the establishment of a United Arab Emirates
military base in Berbera, Somaliland (see “Construction of a United Arab Emirates
military base in Berbera”, above), and the potential it posed to undermine relations
between the Federal Government and the Somaliland administration (S/2017/924,
paras. 146–150). In March 2018, the Federal Government voiced its opposition to the
establishment of the base to both the Arab League and the United Nations Security
Council, framing the activities of the United Arab Emirates in Berbera as an attack
on the sovereignty of Somalia.
Conflict between Somaliland and Puntland
The Monitoring Group is concerned by the ongoing armed standoff between
Puntland and Somaliland in the disputed Sool region. 105 Tukaraq, located 75 km west
of the capital of Puntland, Garowe, had been under the control of the Puntland
authorities since 2007 and served as an important security and revenue collection
checkpoint for the administration. On 8 January 2018, Somaliland security forces
deployed to the border area with Puntland and overran the strategic checkpoint in
Puntland retaliated by amassing troops in the border area. Throughout
2018, both administrations consolidated their military positions in the region,
separated by a distance of approximately 2 km. 107 International organizations reported
dozens of casualties on both sides and the displacement of an estimated 2,500
civilians as a result of the standoff.
On 11 April 2018, a representative of the Puntland administration informed the
Monitoring Group that any decision to escalate the conflict would be fully on the part
of Somaliland and, furthermore, that Puntland would not be willing to enter into
negotiations until Somaliland forces unilaterally withdrew from the region.
On 14 May 2018, conflict erupted again between Somaliland and Puntland armed forces; exchanges of heavy artillery and troop reinforcements on both sides continued until the end of May. Further clashes and a surge in artillery fire between the two forces were reported on 22 June.
The conflict has fuelled instability, increased the displacement of local residents
and allowed Al-Shabaab and ISIL to further entrench within the region. On 1 June
2018, for instance, Al-Shabaab conducted a major assault on a Puntland base in Bari
region, resulting in six causalities and the retreat of Puntland forces.
From 28 to 30 July 2018, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and
the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) conducted a joint
mediation mission to Somaliland and Puntland, focusing on the immediate cessation
of hostilities and the demilitarization of the area. At the time of writing, however,
the standoff was unresolved.
Detentions and executions in the conflict between Somaliland and Puntland
Conflict between Somaliland and Puntland centred around the town of Tukaraq
(see “Conflict between Somaliland and Puntland”, above) resulted in fighters being
captured and detained by both parties.
At the time of submission, Puntland was detaining three combatants from the Somaliland security forces, and Somaliland was detaining 14 combatants from the Puntland security forces. Seven of the Puntland soldiers were receiving treatment in Hargeisa, while the remaining seven had been transferred to Hargeisa prison, where, according to the Somaliland President, their families have been allowed unrestricted access to them.
The Monitoring Group received testimonies, however, indicating that fighters from Puntland had been tortured and killed by Somaliland security forces on 24 May 2018, in revenge for the killing of a Somaliland commander.
At the time of writing, the Monitoring Group had not received a response to
correspondence sent to the Somaliland administration on 6 September 2018,
requesting confirmation of the circumstances of the alleged torture and execution of
the four detainees from Puntland and details of the steps taken, if any, to investigate
Forced evictions and displacement
The Monitoring Group documented several instances of forced evictions of
internally displaced persons over the course of the mandate: in Mogadishu, Baidoa,
Bosaso, Galkayo and in the areas affected by the conflict between Somaliland and
Puntland in Sool region.
Armed conflict between Puntland and Somaliland also led to the displacement
of an estimated 2,500 civilians in Tukaraq and surrounding villages, including
Godgabobe, Falidyale, Higlo, Bocame and Gambadhe, in Sool region.
Its dispute with the Federal Government has affected the approach of
Somaliland to organizations registered as “local” NGOs and/or considered to
maintain close ties to the Federal Government. 151 On 15 July 2018, the Minister of
Planning in Somaliland revoked the licences of six humanitarian aid organizations
based in Hargeisa, preventing them from operating in Somaliland.
Annex 1.7: UAE military base in Berbera, Somaliland
Figure 1: Berbera airport and military base under construction, 21 September 2017.
Download the whole report here: SEMG Somalia report 2018