The self-acclaimed grand Garaad of Sool, Garaad Jama Garaad Ali, pushed aside another call for peace and dialogue that President Bihi directed at him and his council of traditional leaders to end the Las Anod standoff.
The Garaad did not only push the offer carelessly aside but he again repeated his early-February call for an all-out war for everything Somaliland including its armed forces, trade, peace dialogue and social interaction.
“We will wage a no holds barred, all-our war against the enemy since Ramadan has come to an end. We will no longer hold back our forces. Neither would we allow allow any incoming trade from their side,” the Garaad said in a sermon at a congregation of the faithful performing Eid, end-of-Ramadan, prayers.
Garaad Jama, despite his previous, repeated calls to drive Somaliland out of the whole region, was at the time shelving those recorded facts conveniently aside.
“We have to stand guard against anything that they wish to enter our city including liquor in order to sow discord among our ranks,” he said.
The Garaad was referring to a festering crime climate that took root in the abandoned, militia-infested town of Las Anod since the Somaliland forces withdrew from it early February.
A council of 33 he heads had issued a blanket edict banning all trade with other Somaliland regions and cities which resulted in a complete stranglehold of the city’s formerly thriving business that the council misjudged. Everything that entered the abandoned town but for the armed throngs comes from Garowe. Alcohol and Khat rank first and second of incoming commodities.
Rampant rape, exchange of gun-fights that often left many dead behind, targeted killings of civilians and a general atmosphere of lawlessness and unfettered looting became the order of the day since then.
A close female relative of the Garaad was one of the first to lose her life gang-raped and callously shot.
And yet the Garaad in Friday’s harangue unsuccessfully tried to pin it all on a Somaliland that was practically out of it all since February.
Alcohol, reportedly trucked into the city by the Diana family who else controlled the PSF forces of Puntland who enormously feature among the amassed forces in the unfortunate town, has been blamed for most of the chaos.
Gang rapes, some of which have proven fatal, according to reports have entered the four dozen mark during the past three months where none had been reported for the 15 years Somaliland armed forces had been camping in the area.
“Jihad is in order,” the Garaad cried out.
President Musa Bihi’s Eid prayer call to the public directly contrasted the Garaad’s.
“Islam is all about peace and for bridging differences. Islam likened members of the society to body parts where if one part was in pain the rest ailed with it,” President Bihi said, adding “We call for dialogue and peace to settle the Las Anod issue”.
The President recalled that none of his calls have met with success thus far.
“We will not get tired of calling for sense and reason to prevail. This is my eighth call and I will continue doing so until they hit home,” he said.
President Bihi ordered troop and police withdrawal from Las Anod in February. The demonstrations, ostensibly to mark displeasure at lack of concrete steps to curb targeted assassinations in the city which claimed the lives of 40 citizens in the duration of 15 years, changed into an armed confrontation with the law agencies on late December 2022.
Garaad Jama, leading a dozen more traditional leaders who wished the region to go under the Puntland of Somalia administration, exploited the situation after the government allowed them to hold a consultative meeting in the city in the hope that reasoning and sense would win the day. They did not. Instead the Garaads called for war against Somaliland.
“Among all the top government officials in the Sool region, only one was not of the region,” President Bihi said, scoffing at the Garaads repeated assertions that the region was being colonized by non-residents.
Despite the massive presence of Somaliland army in the region the nearest barracks of which are some ten kilometers outside Las Anod, the government adopted a defensive policy that only permitted the army to use force to repulse attacks.
The forces grouping inside the city the majority of which were led, equipped and armed by Somalia’s Puntland federal member state and the Somali State of Ethiopia before the Ethiopian federal government stepped in, turned the city into shambles.
Some of the civilian facilities such as hospitals (above) were either wantonly demolished by hand or shelled to blame it on Somaliland. Civilian houses were broken into and turned into virtual alcohol and drug dens where men and women openly intermingled scandalously.
Others’ were torn down to turn houses into trenches and barricaded cordons using the rubble of torn down walls.
Following the Garaad’s most recent call, the situation may drastically alter.
Somaliland, in line with AU principles, will not allow clan boundaries within the territories it inherited from Britain at independence on 26 June 1960.
Garaad Jama, who presently promotes clan boundaries over internationally-recognized borders, appears not to acknowledge the efforts of his own father who was among the founding fathers of Somaliland who took over present-day boundaries from Britain.
Somalia-blessed claims that the Garaads forward call for one that applies only to the Anglo-Italian side of the borders, saying nothing of the Anglo-Ethiopian and Anglo-French border-related treaties.
Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace and stability for the past three decades starkly contrasting the changing fortunes of its erstwhile partner, Somalia, in the failed union of 1960.
The current government traces its roots back to a grand conference of all clans, including those of Sool, that convened in Burao to conclude on 18 May 1991 with the declaration of a restoration of the country’s short-lived sovereignty of 1960. Seventeen leaders representing major clans, among whom was the immediate uncle of Garaad Jama, signed the proclamation.