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Defense and Foreign Affairs

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Somaliland Presidential Election Besieged by Well-Financed Islamists, Threatening Horn/Red Sea Stability

It is now apparent that moves forecast by GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs  by pan-Somalians and Islamists to undermine, overthrow, and discredit the Republic of Somaliland’s June 26, 2010, Presidential elections have begun, and may be about to burst onto the streets of Hargeisa, the capital, and other towns and cities in Somaliland.

If the election process collapses, and the government is seized by the pan-Somalists through extra-legal means, such as street demonstrations, the Horn of Africa would revert to internecine conflict and move out of any influence by the West. Moreover, logistical support for Ethiopian trade - which has been made more feasible by having overland links to Somaliland’s port of Berbera on the Red Sea - would collapse, making Ethiopia once again dependent solely on export links through Djibouti.

This would be seen as a strategic victory for Eritrea and Egypt, both of which have been attempting to stifle Ethiopia’s strategic freedom of movement and access to the Red Sea.

See, particularly, Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, April 21, 2010: Somaliland’s Presidential Election Assumes Growing Priority as Major Powers Sense Strategic Urgency of the Horn Situation.

Significantly, the moves to subvert the Somaliland Presidential voting results were clearly prepared in advance of the election, and were put into action as soon as the international observer teams monitoring the elections had left Somaliland, but before the Election Commission had announced any results. These moves included the sudden shipment into the Election Commission, beginning on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, three days after the elections closed, of large numbers of stuffed ballot boxes, after all the monitored boxes had been counted, and shipped to the capital. These boxes came from four of the six regions of Somaliland, excluding Sahil and Awdal, areas where the opposition Kulmiye party and the major Islamist movements have little sway.

It seems likely that, given the probability of the rejection of the new, stuffed ballot boxes, largely coming from Kulmiye strongholds, that publicity attendant to the “rejection of ballot boxes” would be the trigger for moving the campaign onto the streets of Hargeisa and other Somaliland cities, essentially to ensure that the elections lacked domestic and international credibility, and to overthrow the elections by extra-judicial means.

A statement by the Government on June 30, 2010, said that clearly fraudulent boxes of ballots, shipped after the election monitors had left Somaliland, had been intercepted from six major areas. The Election Commission, which has representatives from all major parties, is in disarray, and there was, as of late June 30, 2010, no consensus as to how to deal with the surprise appearance of the additional ballot boxes.

At the same time, many areas of Somaliland, and particularly in the capital, Hargeisa, have become awash with foreign currency, mostly US dollars, being funneled in via pan-Somali and Islamist groups. From what can be detected, much of this money has come in from the Harwiye clan region in the center and south of neighboring Somalia, the area containing the Somalia capital, Mogadishu. Particularly, much of the inflow of funding has been coming from the Ayr sub-clan of the Habar Gedir clan, which is itself part of the Harwiye.

Significantly, pro-Islamists were, in Hargeisa, London, and Rome, on the night of June 30, 2010, already proclaiming that they now controlled the process and that “soon, shari’a law will be the law of all of a reunified Somalia and the West will be unable to influence us through UDUB (the party of incumbent Pres. Dahir Rayale Kahin)”, as one Islamist Somalilander said. Meanwhile, sources in the smallest of the three parties contesting the Presidential election, Justice and Restoration Party (UCID), on June 30, 2010, said that “something is going wrong” in the election process, but said that, like UDUB, UCID wanted to see any challenges to the election handled through legal channels, not street demonstrations.

The presence of the substantial amounts of money in the streets of Hargeisa and other towns has coincided with a substantial change of attitudes on Somaliland websites and some media in recent days in favor of a pan-Somali/pan-Islamist approach. One source in Hargeisa said: “We’re seeing people who have never seen a thousand dollars in their lives suddenly seeing $50,000. Of course it is significant.”

Significantly, one of the key figures involved in the funneling of large amounts of foreign currency into Somaliland has been identified by Somaliland sources as Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, head of the radical Hizb Islami movement. In the 1990s, Aweys, a former colonel in the Somali National Army (SNA) during the 1977 Ogaden War against Ethiopia, and former head of the radical Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Somalia, headed al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (AIAI), an armed Islamist group which was responsible for terrorist attacks on hotels and markets in Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Jijiga, and Harar (all in Ethiopia), and was originally funded by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden which was linked to the 1998 bombings of the United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es-Salam, Tanzania.

Dahir Aweys’ brother-in-law is a radical Islamist from Somaliland, Sheikh Ali Warsame (whose sister is married to Dahir Aweys), and he has been active during the election campaign — and long before — in attempting to push Somaliland back into the Union with Somalia.

Another individual involved in the movement of funds into Somaliland to influence the elections has been identified as Ahmed Abdi Aw Muhumad (Godane) (also known as Sheikh Muktar Abdirahman “Abu Zubeyr”), a Somalilander now leading the radical jihadist/Islamist al-Shabaab movement in neighboring Somalia. He was identified by GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs as early as 2004 in radical armed operations inside Somaliland, before al-Shabaab took shape.

The April 21, 2010, report by GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs, cited above, noted:

These men in [power in] Kulmiye, and many others who are less visible but hold important policy positions in the party structure, believe that the Somaliland Constitution should be abandoned, and that the nation should be ruled by Qur’anic law. In this regard, Kulmiye is supportive of Islamic extremists such al-Shabaab in neighboring Somalia. Some Kulmiye officials have said that they believe that democracy was a Western conspiracy to destroy the Islamic world. As such they see the US and other Western democracies as the enemy.

One Kulmiye source in Hargeisa told Defense & Foreign Affairs: “Many in the party are marking their time, hoping that Silanyo — who is ageing — will either die soon (preferably if he wins the Presidential election), or will retire after the election if he loses.” Fearing the advent of such a scenario, a seasoned Horn of Africa strategic analyst expressed concern about the possibility of Kilmiye taking power in Hargeisa, with its unpredictable ramifications for Somaliland’s quest for international recognition and for the stability of the region.

Mr Silanyo — who visited Washington, DC, in late 2009 — is known to be a pan-Somalist. In other words, he is known to be against the concept of a sovereign Republic of Somaliland, and in favor of returning Somaliland to the union with the former Italian Somaliland, including Puntland. There is widespread belief that if he was elected, and pushed for a return to the old union of Somalia, then Somaliland itself could break down into civil war, and, in that respect, make the now-stable Republic much like its neighbor, the presently lawless Somalia.

The alliance of pan-Somalists and pan-Islamists to oppose the continued independence of Somaliland has been emerging for some time, and these have worked with international groups which have also supported the reunification of the two Somalilands — the former British Somaliland, now the Republic of Somaliland, and the former Italian Somaliland — back into a unified Somalia. Some foreign groups are understood to have been offered mineral concessions from a new Somalian Government should the Somaliland political process be overturned. In another instance, there is strong support for the “reunification of Somalia” within the Italian Government, which wants to see a reunified Somalia controlled from the old capital of Italian Somaliland, Mogadishu.1

Our Special report of March 19, 2010, noted:

Somaliland has had a strong elected parliament and government since it resumed independence in 1991 from its dysfunctional union with Italian Somaliland in 1960 to create Somalia, but there have been strong attempts to distort the election process. That subversion of the election process – by creating false voter registration records – occurred in recent years as a result of foreign non-governmental organization (NGO) activity linked to US financier George Soros (who funded the ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, Ukraine, Serbia, and Kyrgyz Republic) and former Finnish leader and subsequent UN official Marti Ahtisaari. Ahtisaari had been documented by major European intelligence services as having taken extensive bribes from Albanian groups to ensure that he would give the UN imprimatur to the independence of Kosovo from Serbia, claims which the UN subsequently refused to properly investigate. ... There was evidence that the NGO activity was designed to create a new government in Somaliland which would grant major mineral, energy, and other concessions to the hidden sponsors of the de facto coup. The NGO bribed a number of Somaliland election commission employees when it began the phony voter registration campaign, and the endeavor was subsequently stopped, and a new, transparent voter registration was undertaken to prepare the country for elections, expected [at the time of writing] to be held in 2011.

Significantly, reports from Rome on June 29 and 30, 2010, indicated that the former Prime Minister of Somalia, Nur “Adde” Hussan Hussein, who was Somali Prime Minister between November 2007 and January 2009, and who is now Somalian Ambassador to Italy (since September 2009), had been preparing major celebrations to be held in Rome on July 1, 2010, to mark “Somalia reunification day” on the assumption that the manipulation of the Somaliland elections would have been complete.


Significantly, however, the Government of Somaliland and the Election Commission — which itself has been under great financial temptation in recent months and years — appear to have held the line against the acceptance of the late-emerging “ballot boxes”. It is possible, too, that the upper chamber of the Somaliland Parliament, the Council of Elders, the Guurti, could yet weigh in on the election results.

Either way, the Somaliland Presidential election has now been “taken to the streets” in the manner of one of the so-called “color revolutions” of the Soros organization. The effect, even if the election is carried by the incumbent President, is that the process will have been tainted, or at least questioned, by street protests and violence, and this could achieve what the pan-Somalists and pan-Islamists have been seeking: to deny international recognition of Somaliland’s sovereign status.


1. Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, of July 15, 2009 (US, Somaliland Attempt to Grapple Ways to Address Horn of Africa Stability, But Washington Psyche Now Dominated by “Kosovo Syndrome”), noted: Somaliland became independent from Britain on June 26, 1960, as the State of Somaliland, and on the following day was recognized by 35 states, including Egypt, Ghana and Libya. On June 27, 1960, the State of Somaliland’s legislature passed the Union of Somaliland and Somalia Law, but it was never signed by Somalia, which meant that the law remained without legal effect in the territory of the former Italian Somaliland. Instead, on June 30, 1960, the legislature of Somalia (former Italian Somaliland) approved the Atto di Unione, which was significantly different from the Union of Somaliland and Somalia Law, and, indeed, the Atto di Unione, passed in Mogadishu, had been created with considerable input from Italian officials, who drafted a constitution for the new Union, to which the northern politicians of Somaliland could make few changes. A referendum, six months later, reflected northern resentment of southern power, and the north overwhelmingly rejected the Mogadishu constitution. Thus the unification effort fell short of international requirements mandated by domestic and international law. This referendum verdict was to be mirrored by a British judge, presiding over a case of treason in the Mogadishu Supreme Court in March 1963.

On January 31, 1961, the National Assembly of the Somali Republic proclaimed a new Act of Union, repealing the Union of Somaliland and Somalia Law, and the new Act was made retroactive as from July 1, 1960. It withdrew from the union with Somalia after 10 years of warfare waged by the Somaliland National Movement (SNM) in May 1991, five months after late Somalia leader, Mohamed Siad Barre, was overthrown, plunging Somalia into anarchy. Somalia, even by mid-2009, still had no effective central government and remained riven by clan warfare. There had been, in any event, virtually nothing to hold the two former colonies together as a single state; the original expectation had been that the Italian, British, and French Somalilands would unite to create a greater Somalia, along with the Ogaden Province of Ethiopia and the Northern Frontier Province of Kenya (hence, the five-pointed star on the flag of the new Somalia, in 1960).

Analysis from GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs sources in Hargeisa

(c) 2010 International Strategic Studies Association, www.StrategicStudies.org

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  • Anonymous on July 02 2010 said:
    8) Dear Sir/Madam,I was surprised with the above report . It is abovious it intend to descret Kulmaya party.This is a time for Somalilander to enjoy a result and aprocess which was peacfull. Th eleader of UCID in one of his tour did say we will rule with Islamic Law!!.It seems you are singing the same song but in a different contest to those who are and were traying activley to stop Kulmya from winingRegarding the two names (So called Shikes) in your articlues you must understand that Somallander do not hold such extreem views. It is time form Somaliland to be recognised so that the vilounce in the south stops and the pirots in the west region vanish. Throgh supporting Somaliland togethr with the International community we prevent it from falling into the hands of extreem groups. We have no trust on people of the south as they still view us in a negative and houstile attitude.Thank you.Moahmed.
  • Anonymous on August 29 2010 said:
    Kulmiye party led by Mr.Siilanyo will definitely lead somaliland to another doom, This is obvious by the party's steps, 1- worsening relations with Ethiopia 2- inciting tribal war fogs in somaliland 3- many somali government officials coming to hargiesa 4- 2000 tents to hargeisa in order to held a somali peace conference.

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