The Fall and Capture of Laascanood

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Laascaanood was under neither Somaliland’s nor Puntland’s control.357 Both Hargeysa and Garoowe paid local ‘rump administrations’ consisting of a governor, a vice-governor, and a military and a police commander with their respective troops. These positions were taken by locals from different Dhulbahante lineages. The commander of the local Puntland army in those days was called Axmed Raan. Genealogically he belonged to Naaleeye Axmed/Bihidarays. The local Somaliland forces were led by Xasan Geerash, who descended from Jaamac Siyaad/Reer Warsame/Faarax Deer. Their forces comprised roughly three dozen men each, many of whom were genealogically close to their respective commanders. Most of the time, the two opposed administrations coexisted without major problems. In the eyes of the locals, no real administration existed, but the traditional authorities ruled the area.

Coexistence between both political camps and the rule of traditional authorities in Laascaanood, however, was not always unproblematic, particularly when politically adversarial allegiances, external interferences and sub-clan animosities combined, and violence spiralled out of hand. In early 2000 or 2001 a gunfight erupted between the Somaliland and the Puntland troops in town. There was a rumour that Axmed Raan wanted to erect new roadblocks against Somaliland. Xasan Geerash was upset about this and sent his soldiers to threaten Axmed Raan. Fighting ensued and two men, a soldier and a wealthy businessman who had returned from the Emirates, were killed. this conflict had not yet been settled.

The mediation through the delegation from Hargeysa in September 2002 soon prove to be politically highly relevant for the Somaliland government, despite the efforts of most locals in Laascaanood to keep politics out of the process. Daahir Rayaale Kaahin, the President of Somaliland, visited Laascaanood on 7 December 2002, as outlined in Chapter 5 above. The visit had been prepared carefully beforehand, through contacts to local supporters of Somaliland in an environment that generally was rather pro-Puntland and Somalia.

The first occasion was the visit of President Daahir Rayaale Kaahin of Somaliland to Laascaanood on 7 December 2002. This was an unprecedented move. Neither the Somaliland nor the Puntland president had set a foot inside the town before. The visit came as a surprise to many in Somaliland and Puntland. More than a dozen ‘technicals’ and about 200 soldiers accompanied Daahir Rayaale Kaahin. In the town several Somaliland followers had organised a number of local forces as guards. Puntland had to
react, even if totally unprepared. Several Dhulbahante politicians in Puntland collected a
force of three technicals and led them from Garoowe to Laascaanood. A brief battle
between Puntland and Somaliland forces erupted inside the town. Despite his troops
being superior, the Somaliland president ordered them to retreat.276 On the side of
Puntland, this rather chaotic operation was hailed as a ‘great victory’. Shocked by the
event, Daahir Rayaale Kaahin withdrew Somaliland’s local shadow administration from
Laascaanood (Bryden 2004b: 178; ***hne 2006: 406-407).

After an interim period of about a year without any state administration, Puntland
police forces occupied Laascaanood in late December 2003.277 The man in charge of the
operation was Cabdirisaq Af-Guduud. He was about 40 years old, belonged to
Majeerteen/Cabdirahiin, and was commander of the Ciidamka Poliska (Police Forces) of
Puntland. I was in Laascaanood when the first police technicals rolled into town.
Officially they came to intervene in a bloody conflict between two Dhulbahante lineages
in the countryside (see Chapter 6). Soon, however, it became clear that the forces were
there to stay. In the first days of this ‘creeping’ occupation, Cabdirisaq Af-Guduud held
many meetings with elders and other influential members of the local community. He
established a qaad-chewing circle in town that served his aim of establishing
connections. Cabdirisaq Af-Guduud’s mission was aided by the fact that he had
Dhulbahante/Nuur Axmed half-siblings. After having been divorced by his father, his
mother (who also was Majeerteen) married a Dhulbahante/Nuur Axmed man. Cabdirisaq
Af-Guduud grew up until he was a teenager together with his half-siblings in
Laascaanood. From that time he still knew a number of local men who by now (end of
2003) had become well established businessmen, NGO workers and politicians. This
certainly eased Cabdirisaq Af-Guduud’s and his forces’ way into town.

This initial move into Laascaanood by non-local Puntland forces was followed in January 2004 by the arrival of army units that set up several camps around town and established a military administration under Garoowe’s control in Laascaanood. The new administration engaged in some infrastructure projects such as rebuilding and expanding the jail in Laascaanood, which allegedly had been built by the British after the Dervish war and after Laascaanood had become fully integrated into the protectorate. The Puntland forces also started collecting some taxes in town. For this reason, they established, for instance, a checkpoint on the main road leading through Laascaanood; lorries transporting goods, mostly fruit that came from the south and were destined for Burco and Hargeysa in north-western Somalia, had to pay. Initially, some locals complained about the new regime. People were concerned about the rude behaviour of some Puntland soldiers, who were Majeerteen and thus not ‘at home’ in Laascaanood. Several children were run over by Puntland technicals speeding through town, and Majeerteen soldiers who had not been paid but still wished to chew qaad just took what they wanted from the local qaad sellers without payment. A 9 p.m. curfew was issued for everybody in town in January 2004. It remained in force for about two months. A few days after the curfew had been issued a group of young men gathered in a merfish (qaad chewing place) to watch a football match late at night. The Puntland solders passed by and warned the young men to go home. The football fans refused. When the soldiers came the second time, conflict escalated and several teenagers were shot.

In early 2004 both sides mobilised for a possible military clash. Hundres of troops and equipment were brought to the Sool region. The opposing forces established themselves along a front line near the village Adhicadeeye, some 30 kilometres west of Laascaanood. Yet, apart from minor incidences, both sides kept their distance and avoided full-fledged war until mid-2004. One minor incident actually involved Fu’aad Aadan Cadde, who was a Dhulbahante/Naaleeye Axmed politician and minister in Hargeysa and quite active in publicly calling upon people in Somaliland to go to war over Sool. In early 2004 (in February or March) he barely escaped a confrontation with a Puntland technical when he visited Adhicadeeye, escorted by some Somaliland soldiers, to convince the local Dhulbahante to join the side of Hargeysa. A few months later, The Republican quoted Fu’aad Aadan Cadde as saying, ‘There is no better cause than to fight in defence of one’s country or to be a martyr …. I wonder why the people of Somaliland are not fighting for their territory’ (The Republican vol. 8, issue 304, 17-23.07.2004: 1).

After Cabdullahi Yuusuf’s election as Somali president, which caused extremely negative sentiments among people in central Somaliland, the confrontation between Somaliland and Puntland took a new turn. In one of his first announcements as president Cabdullahi Yuusuf made it clear that he would not tolerate the splitting up of Somalia. Full-scale fighting between Somaliland and Puntland forces erupted near a village called Adhicadeeye, about thirty kilometres west of Laascaanood, on 29 October 2004. Around two dozen men were killed or wounded on each side. Most of the killed and wounded were Isaaq and Dhulbahante.

Immediately after this event the political climate between Hargeysa and Laascaanood worsened. Ordinary Isaaq and Dhulbahante, who had previously held tolerant political positions, became extreme in their support for either Somaliland or Puntland. Staying in Hargeysa in October and November 2004, I was able to observe how identifications became increasingly exclusive and ‘hardened’ in opposition to each other. For several nights, for instance, Isaaq neighbours threw stones at the house of a Dhulbahante member of the House of Representatives of Somaliland, whom I knew. He and his family had lived in Hargeysa for years. In reaction the MP sent his family to Laasscaanood, which was safe according to genealogical logic. He moved from his rented house into a small hotel mostly frequented by Dhulbahante. This clearly was a form of social and political disintegration. This incident was not an isolated event. I also realised that the sons of one Isaaq/Ciidagale commander who had been killed in the clash on 29 October 2004 were preparing to take revenge among the Dhulbahante community in Hargeysa. Several Ciidagale elders had to rush to their house in Dumbuluq, a neighbourhood in Hargeysa, to calm them down. Many Dhulbahante felt insecure in Hargeysa; simply by being Dhulbahante one was presumed guilty of anti-Somaliland sentiments in Hargeysa in those days, regardless of one’s personal background. In Laascaanood, some people feared that now the Isaaq would try to come and ‘kill us all’ (in revenge of atrocities committed by the ‘Darood government’ in the 1980s that had been strongly supported by most Dhulbahante). The situation calmed down after some weeks. No further fighting between the two armies happened for about two years. Puntland forces stayed in Laascaanood and surroundings. The front line between the two sides continued to run east of the town, through the Sool region.

The episodes outlined above marked the beginning of the escalation of military conflict between Somaliland and Puntland. Further details on these events are presented

More decisive developments, however, unfolded in Garoowe, as well as south of Garoowe across the border with Ethiopia and in the area of Buuhoodle in southern Togdheer/Cayn region. In March 2007, pastoral nomads belonging to Dhulbahante/Baharasame and Majeerteen/Cumar Maxamuud clashed in the countryside south-west of Garoowe, near a place called Cagaare in the Ethiopian Somali Region. The conflict was over clan territory; it had already started in the late 1990s. Puntland officials such as Axmed Cabdi Xaabsade (Dhulbahante/Faarax Garaad/Baharasame), the minister of interior, and Maxamed Cali Yuusuf (Majeerteen/Cumar Maxamuud), the minister of finance, as well as traditional authorities, rushed to the conflict site to calm down the combatants. The mediation attempt was unconventional because it involved the parties to the conflict as well as government authorities. The agreement reached did not satisfy the members of the Baharasame lineage, and new fighting erupted. Finally, a committee of traditional authorities who did not belong to the parties involved and did not include Puntland officials managed to settle the conflict (PDRC 2008: 59-64). Interestingly enough, the wounded of the Baharasame lineage in March 2007 were brought to the hospital in Hargeysa for treatment, which was much further than the hospital in Garoowe, the capital of Puntland (interview with Maxamed Xasan Ibraahim, Hargeysa, 22.02.2011

A factor that had led to the distancing of Baharasame from Puntland before the fighting in Cagaare was the power struggle between the Faarax Garaad and the Maxamuud Garaad branches of Dhulbahante inside Puntland. Between 1998 and 2004, Vice-President Maxamed Cabdi Xaashi from the Qayaad lineage of Dhulbahante, which is neither part of Maxamuud Garaad nor Faarax Garaad, was able to keep both rivals at bay. The balance was maintained because the minister of interior was Faarax Garaad and the vice-commander of Ciidamka Darawiishta was Maxamuud Garaad. However, when Xasan Daahir Maxamuud Afqurac became vice-president in January 2005, the Maxamuud Garaad branch, and particularly its Ugaadhyahaan sub-group, increasingly gained power in Puntland (see Table 3 above). The government in Hargeysa arguably tried to take advantage of the growing alienation of Dhulbahante/Faarax Garaad groups, as is outlined below. The medical treatment of wounded Baharasame fighters in Hargeysa in early 2007 certainly created opportunities for the two sides to approach one another

A few months later, in mid-2007, Axmed Cabdi Xaabsade went to Buuhoodle in southern Togdheer/Cayn region, which is predominantly inhabited by members of the Faarax Garaad branch. He officially participated in a conflict mediation effort after fighting had broken out between members of the Hayaag and Reer Haggar lineages. News emanated from the area in September 2007 that Axmed Cabdi Xaabsade was trying to establish a local administration there which was supposed to be independent from Somaliland and Puntland. This reflected the discontent of the minister and many of his followers, who felt that they had lost power in Puntland and that Garoowe was not properly administering Laascaanood. It also appealed to many Dhulbahante in the area who felt marginalised by Garoowe and Hargeysa, and who were against the independence of Somaliland (see Chapter 6 above)

President Cadde Muuse reacted to the news from Buuhoodle by calling Axmed Cabdi Xaabsade back to Garoowe. The minister delayed his return, giving the president of Puntland grounds to dismiss him for defying his orders (***hne 2007b). In this situation, the government in Hargeysa, which was carefully observing the alienation of Baharasame and some other Dhulbahante lineages from Puntland, was open to negotiations with Axmed Cabdi Xaabsade. Both sides struck a deal that guaranteed the ex-minister a new political future in Somaliland and allowed for a change of rule in Laascaanood, with Baharasame and some others paving the way into the town for the Somaliland national army.

Somaliland troops entered Laascaanood on 15 October 2007. Puntland troops had evacuated the town beforehand. The takeover therefore was not the result of a military clash between the armies. It is clear that the Somaliland troops entered Laascaanood upon invitation by some Dhulbahante sub-clans, particularly the Baharasame lineage of Axmed Cabdi Xaabsade, but also some others including Jaamac Siyaad troops that belong to Maxamuud Garaad, but not to the Ugaadyahaan branch. There were also persistent rumours that the Somaliland troops had received the ‘go ahead’ from Ethiopia (interview with Axmed Daakir, Laascaanood, 11.12.2010).

Between 2004 and 2006 it turned out that Puntland’s control over Laascaanood was not very effective. Ethiopia was concerned about militant Islamists infiltrating the north through Laascaanood. Another concern of Addis Ababa was that fighters of the Ogadeen National Liberation Front (ONLF), who were part of the Darood clan-family to which the Harti clans of Puntland also belong, could retreat to the borderlands south of Laascaanood or even enter Ethiopia from there. According to one informant, the Ethiopians had intelligence reports showing that there was a supply line of the ONLF running from Eritrea via Bosaso or other smaller harbours in northern Somalia through the Sool region into Ethiopia (interview with anonymous informant, Booroma, 25.02.2011). Some informants argued that there had been an agreement between the Ethiopian government and Cadde Muuse upon the latter’s election as president of Puntland in January 2005 that Puntland will let Somaliland take over in Sool (interviews with anonymous informants in Garoowe, 16. and 17.12.2010; and in Laascaanood, 11.12.2010). Be this as it may, Ethiopia’s main interest certainly is stability along its border with Somalia and preventing any threat from there against its own territory. Since Ethiopia is the patron of Hargeysa and Garoowe and enjoys enormous political and military influence in the region, a (secret) agreement over the control of Laascaanood between Somaliland, Puntland and Ethiopia is plausible.469 Of course, neither Hargeysa nor Garoowe could openly admit to complicity in this extremely sensitive matter of controlling their contested borderlands as dependants of Addis Ababa. The immediate trigger of the operation in 2007 was of course the move of Axmed Cabdi Xaabsade, which again was the result of the alienation process of the minister and other members of the Faarax Garaad branch from Puntland after the change of government in 2005, as outlined above.

The mass of the local Dhulbahante population in Laascaanood and surroundings, however, did not think in such strategic terms. On the one hand, apart from those who were anti-Somaliland hardliners, many locals observed the change of power calmly. The Somaliland troops had been in Dhulbahante territory in western Sool since 2004; they held towns and villages such as Yagoori and Adhicadeeye on the way between Burco and Laascaanood and cooperated with Dhulbahante troops, officers and politicians on the Somaliland side. Dhulbahante as a clan were clearly not willing to defend Laascaanood against Somaliland without the strong support of the Puntland army. On the other hand, immediately after the takeover of Laascaanood by Somaliland forces and their Dhulbahante aides people feared that clashes between the Puntland and the Somaliland armies would happen again near or even in their town (interview with Siciid Xaaji Nuur, Hargeysa, 27.02.2011).

Thousands of inhabitants of Laascaanood fled, mostly to the nearby countryside, to places dominated by their sub-clans and lineages, or to Garoowe and Bosaso in the Majeerteen territory.470 The traditional authorities of the Dhulbahante clan joined the exodus. For around six weeks, between mid-October and the end of November 2007, Laascaanood was a ghost town. The life of those who stayed behind (to secure their property, to continue their jobs or in the hope of gaining something from the new administration) was complicated by the militant resistance of some Dhulbahante against the occupation by Somaliland. This effectively triggered intra-clan fighting, since those Somaliland troops that stayed inside Laascaanood, at least right after the occupation, were Dhulbahante militias loyal to Hargeysa. They were under the command of the governor of the Sool region, Cali Sandulle (Dhulbahante/Maxamuud Garaad/Jaamac Siyaad).

Pro- and anti-Somaliland demonstrations took place in Laascaanood in which several people were killed or wounded. Eventually troops belonging to the Somaliland national army and who by clan were not Dhulbahante, but Isaaq and others, also entered the town to establish law and order (interview with Siciid Xaaji Nuur, Hargeysa, 27.02.2011).471 Many locals who were against Somaliland’s takeover were imprisoned. Amnesty International reported incidents of pillage and rape accompanying the skirmishes in and around Laascaanood (Amnesty International 2009: 13). The situation calmed down in December 2007 and, subsequently, some of the refugees returned (interview with Axmed Daakir, Hargeysa, 03.05.2009). The occupation and the fighting in Laascaanood between various Dhulbahante militias illustrates that, on the one hand, violence leads to the hardening of political identities (the anti-Somaliland hardliners took a stance and moved away), and, on the other hand, causes fragmentation within groups, e.g. the already split but now even further divided Dhulbahante clan.

The situation in Laascaanood eventually calmed down, despite the initial panic of the inhabitants and the strong rejection of the military occupation by most Dhulbahante traditional leaders and elites. When I visited Laascaanood for a week in April 2009 people stressed that the town was now much more peaceful than it had been under the Puntland administration prior to October 2007. Puntland had not done much about security, and revenge killings and criminality inside the town had continued unabated. In contrast, the new Somaliland administration in Laascaanood fought criminality and prevented revenge killings. Somaliland also initiated some moderate development projects. For example, the government in Hargeysa earmarked about US$18,000 from the 2009 education budget for the local university, Jamacadda Nugaal (University of Nugaal) The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) came from Hargeysa and conducted a few projects in Laascaanood and surroundings. However, most of these projects had a short-term focus and were not sustainable. The general level of development, including health care, education and the economy, remained low. Much of what had been promised by Hargeysa did not materialise. Many locals complained in 2009 and 2010 that Laascaanood’s economy had deteriorated under Somaliland. There were a number of reasons for this economic deterioration.

First, many of the former inhabitants who had fled in October 2007 did not return. The local market therefore shrank and small shops selling items for everyday use such as soap, cigarettes, soft drinks and snacks lost their customers. Second, since the Somaliland and Puntland armies established a new front line near Tukaraq, some eighty kilometres east of the Laascaanood, the transit trade from southern Somalia through Gaalkacyo, Garoowe and Laascaanood to Burco and Hargeysa, and back, decreased. The tarmac road running through Laascaanood that once had been the economic lifeline of the town was much less used by big trucks. Third, Somaliland began to collect taxes in Laascaanood, which burdened traders. In return, however, not much was invested in the local infrastructure (interviews with several anonymous informants, Laascaanood, 15- 18.04.2009). Fourth, many members of the Dhulbahante diaspora, who were strongly pro-Puntland and staunch Somali nationalists, stopped sending remittances. In their eyes, the town was under ‘foreign occupation’. Those locals who remained or returned were considered ‘traitors’.476 As the vice-chancellor of Nugaal University in Laascaanood explained, ‘For those who stay in the diaspora, the fact that Somaliland currently is here is much more problematic than for the locals. … Most people in town are willing to cooperate with the Somaliland authorities with regard to peace and development. But those in the diaspora argue: “We have been captured by force and our land and people have to be freed before we can think about development”’ (interview with Cabdinasir Abu Shaybe, Laascaanood, 15.04.2009).



Het beste uitzicht
Bla bla bla Lascanod is now an isaaq owned city, all these calaacal threads wont change anything get over it :damedamn:


Habar Magaadle
Read it all, interesting, kudos to Kaahin government that executed this fine skill of diplomacy in recruiting Xaabsade after Puntland dismissed him, next will be to cripple our cute wannabees. (Puntland)
Dhulo diaspora didn't send money in 2007 for religious purposes, no one wants to send money for bullets and guns. As I know they fear the sin of killing.

About Ethiopia 's role, that's was well known thing, especially during khatumo 's making, Ethiopia feared revival of the dervish state and requested from Ali Khalif to not support ONLP.


Medical specialist in diagnosing Majeerteentitis
Read it all, interesting, kudos to Kaahin government that executed this fine skill of diplomacy in recruiting Xaabsade after Puntland dismissed him, next will be to cripple our cute wannabees. (Puntland)
What will Sland gain from a destroyed Puntland?
But you're not gonna control the North ever again. All you're doing is pushing Somaliland further and further towards Ethiopian influence.
if i am not gonna get what i want. why would i let you. better for me you become another peasant people of Ethiopia if your primary goal is to dismember Somalia. maybe ethiopia will allow you 5th class citizenship
if i am not gonna get what i want. why would i let you. better for me you become another peasant people of Ethiopia if your primary goal is to dismember Somalia. maybe ethiopia will allow you 5th class citizenship
You've pretty much encapsulated everything wrong with your savage people and why you'll always be an AMISOM colony in one post. Not a single strategic bone in your body.

Have fun with your half Bantu population.
You've pretty much encapsulated everything wrong with your savage people and why you'll always be an AMISOM colony in one post. Not a single strategic bone in your body.

Have fun with your half Bantu population.
Amisom will leave Somalia in 2 years.
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