A state of chaos and instability is striking Somalia due to the ongoing conflict with what is known as the Republic of Somaliland, which declared its independence and secession unilaterally in 1991 and did not gain international recognition, taking advantage of the civil war that struck the country at that time, especially with Somaliland occupying the Somali city of Laascaanood, prompting the UN Security Council to demand its immediate withdrawal following the escalation of clashes and tribal violence in the city and the fall of a large number of casualties, which led to the displacement of about 150,000 people from the combat areas.
Increasing frequency of violence
The city of Laascaanood is located in the border region separating Somalia and Somaliland. It is the capital of the Sool region in the north of the country. The pace of violence has recently increased, resulting in hundreds of casualties and injuries and the displacement of thousands out of fear for their lives as a result of this bloody conflict, in addition to the destruction of the country’s infrastructure.
Researcher Jamal Abdel Hamid, an expert in international relations, said that the increasing violence in Laascaanood reflects the tribal conflicts there, as the clans play a pivotal role in the politicians’ accession to power in Somaliland. One of the reasons for the Laascaanood problem is the increasing criticism by the peripheral clans of the dominance of the Isaaq clans over power in Somaliland since its unilateral secession in 1991, noting that the Dhulbahante clan constitutes the majority in the Sool region, with Laascaanood as its capital, followed by the Warsangali clan.
He added that the Sool clans prefer the idea of joining Mogadishu rather than remaining inside Somaliland, considering that the latter’s secession serves the interest of the Isaaq clans, and this is the reason for the escalation of violent clashes between security forces and clan militias, especially since December 2022, when the protests there turned into a widespread uprising by the Dhulbahante clan, which called for a return to a unified Somali federation, leading to an increase in the pace of armed confrontations.
Green light for Al-Shabaab
Abdel Hamid stressed the need for Somaliland to listen to the voice of reason and implement the UN Security Council resolution that demanded immediate withdrawal from the city of Laascaanood. He also called on all parties to stop violence until a ceasefire agreement is reached, noting that the continuation of the ongoing conflict there gives a green light for the terrorist Al-Shabaab movement to spread its elements inside the stricken city, taking advantage of the state of chaos and instability resulting from the ongoing conflict, which increases potential regional threats and negatively affects the security of the African continent.
He explained that the fragility of the situation in Somalia gives Al-Shabaab the kiss of life and makes it able to carry out its activities, recruit more fighters, and carry out terrorist attacks, threatening the security and stability of Africa due to its ability to control sea ports overlooking the Indian Ocean and threaten the entrance to the Red Sea, which enables it to obtain logistical support and recruit fighters, as well as to finance its activities through drug, weapons and human trafficking, and to cooperate with terrorist organizations in the Arabian Peninsula and Yemen.
Al-Shabaab cooperating with pirates
In addition to this, Abdel Hamid discussed the possibility of Al-Shabaab cooperating with pirates in launching attacks at sea, especially in vulnerable areas such as the coast of Somalia, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and East Africa. Earlier, Al-Shabaab praised the pirates and hinted at the possibility of cooperating with them to compensate for the loss of its strongholds in coastal cities and its lack of control over strategic ports, especially the ports of Baraawe, Kismayo and Merca, which were once important centers for the supply of weapons and foreign fighters.
He confirmed that the return of stability in Somalia blocks the way for Al-Shabaab, which has recently been suffering from restrictions imposed on it by the Somali security forces and international partners, and this has resulted in the arrest and liquidation of many of its members, which makes it unable to carry out its operations beyond the borders of Somalia. The terrorist movement is in a defensive position all the time, seeking only survival, and the greatest evidence of this is that its terrorist operations have declined significantly in recent months.