The Republic of Somaliland’s incoming President, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, on July 28, 2010, announced his new Cabinet, but the formation of the Government has done little to stem the internecine squabbling within the ruling Kulmiye party, but has opened – as predicted – the Government to the al-Shabaab terrorist movement. Significantly, the outgoing Pres. Dahir Rayale Kahin’s UDUP Government of Somaliland had held the line against al-Shabaab and the Islamists.
Dr Mohamed Abdi Gaboose, a radical Islamist and longtime associate of the new President, was named Minister of Interior and Domestic Affairs. He is a member of the Yunis sub-clan of the Isaaq, and, as noted by Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis of July 14, 2010, has strong personal connections with al-Shabaab. His new position places him in direct control of internal security and intelligence, and thus overcomes all of the efforts of the previous Government to work with the Western states against al-Qaida-linked terrorist groups, such as al-Shabaab.
Pres. Silanyo’s medical condition – due to his advanced Type One diabetes – means that he is not in full control of the transforming political situation, but the trend of pan-Somalist and pan-Islamist activities already means that Somaliland has become less-than-reliable ally to neighboring Ethiopia. This has fully justified the faith of the governments of Eritrea, Iran, and possibly Egypt, in supporting Kulmiye. However, the Ethiopian Government – which itself had expressed concern that UDUP leader Kahin was not up to facing the challenge from Kulmiye – has been preparing to respond.
This is of prime importance to Ethiopia, given that Somaliland’s port of Berbera has become a significant trade link for Ethiopia. Military action by Ethiopia against Somaliland-based al-Shabaab terrorists is entirely feasible.
Meanwhile, Dr Mohamed Abdullahi Omar was named Minister of Foreign Affairs in the new Government, highlighting the fact that the new Administration places a low priority on foreign affairs, and intends to pursue its “foreign policy” within the framework of neighboring Somalia, Eritrea, and Iran.
The US Government did not send a representative to witness the transition of power from Pres. Kahin to Pres. Silanyo, and it now seems less than likely that Washington will help promote the sovereign recognition which Hargeisa had been seeking. The Kulmiye Government continues to claim that it seeks this recognition of Somaliland sovereignty, which is what most of Kulmiye’s traditional support base wants. However, the reality is that the “new Kulmiye”, now dominated by Islamists, will not seek to integrate with a broader international community.
In the meantime, al-Shabaab is working to expand its operations throughout the Horn of Africa and down as far as Burundi while beginning to expand its contacts with other jihadist and new-salafist groups throughout the Middle East, the Maghreb, and West Africa.
From GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs Station, Hargeisa. for oilPrice.com - the no.1 source for oil prices
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