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Over the past few weeks most of our social media feed has been the absolute carnage that was taking place in Lasanod, Sool region in Northern Somalia. The city has been plagued by severe insecurity since it was occupied by a secessionist militia representing somaliland in 2007. More than 150 people have been killed in clandestine operations which the locals firmly believe are carried out by the somaliland administration. On top of this, secessionist militias kill, maim and kidnap (to far away prisons in Hargeisa) hundreds of civilians from the city on any given month. The city is also under a heavy economic embargo. On top of the diaspora investor assassinations, secessionist militias have placed taxation checkpoints all around the city to wipe out any regional trade. All of this finally boiled over into sustained and angry mobs on the streets of Lasanod for weeks at the turn of the 2023 new year. In response, somaliland’s militia in the city opened heavy fire at the protesters killing 21 protesters, injuring more than 100 and kidnapping around 200 in the span of a few days. The carnage took place as somaliland companies selling utilities to the city cut off the internet and electricity, which led to a further humanitarian crisis as most of the city couldn’t use electronic money transfers, and hospitals tending to the scores of injured people lost power. The massacre eventually concluded when the peaceful protests turned into armed struggle and the secessionist militia was pushed out of the city. There is now a sense of calm in the city as lasanod heals even though thousands are displaced to other parts of Sool. Scores of young people are getting body parts amputated and their lives forever changed as the rest of us watched in horror and desperately tried to get in contact with the city.
Throughout all of this, there has been an outpouring of support towards the city from Somalis everywhere. Everywhere, except where it mattered the most. The clan’s leaders have been missing in action for decades now. Carnage after carnage, the resources and leadership of the clan are not being utilized to stop the endless insecurity plaguing the city. The clan’s political leaders have absolutely failed to bring a homegrown solution to the region and keep failing to do so at every turn. Their failure pales in comparison to any other leaders in Somalia’s various regions.
The federal representatives of the city have been silent for almost the entire duration of the massacre, only putting together a late laughable statement. Most of these representatives are handpicked by the puntland leadership in a different region away from the orbit and influence of the people of Lasanod and will face no criticism or consequence for their lack of interest. In their disconnection from the reality of Lasanod and the region, they silently watch as the Lasanod issue is weaponized and misrepresented by members of parliament who covertly and overtly represent and ally with the secessionist somaliland within the Federal Government.
Abdulahi Ali Hersi (Timacadde), the deputy speaker of the senate, is one of the highest ranking members of the Federal government of Somalia and he hails from the city and region. While the rest of the country was left speechless over how such a large scale carnage could happen in Somalia in 2023, he has been completely missing in action. It is important to note that his signature was missing from the previously mentioned statement. The rest of his crew, the 10 other representatives the clan has in the federal government, are also nowhere to be seen. They have no desire to bring about change and stop the bloodshed. In the eyes of many, this bunch can be considered to represent their own interests and that of Puntland’s leadership and not the people and land whose name they are using to get a federal paycheck.
Another missing in action character who has been a constant in SSC politics for decades is Karaash, the vice president of Puntland. Instead of problem solving and bringing about lasting solutions for the decades him and his likes have occupied the clan’s decision making spaces they have been nothing more than toothless props in Puntland’s cafes and holding lavish weddings for their offspring every other week.
Abdirisaq Khalif, a man with the necessary education and resources to bring about self-rule and lasting solutions to the endless nightmare afflicting the clan, has also chosen to be a tool for Lasanod’s butchers and secessionist warlords. He is now running back from Hargeisa to Lasanod to calm the situation so he can go back to being pretend-speaker in Hargeisa. The indignity and delusion of his kind who choose somaliland over the common good of their own people has led to secessionist militias claiming mandate from them to be stationed all over SSC as they massacre and displace civilians from the region. Many of the clan’s so-called leadership who are running to somaliland for a paycheck do not even believe in the secessionist project as they mostly resort to marrying secessionist warlord’s daughters and cousins just to feel a bit safer in Hargeisa which they now all proudly call home. The politics of the clan has been a complete and shameful disaster and no one is being held responsible for any of this.
If we look at the local stakeholders and traditional elders who haven’t abandoned the region for Garowe, Hargeisa or Mogadishu, they too are busy infighting petty khat, pasture and baraag (well water) wars and have no idea how dire of a situation the people of SSC are in. The Garaads of the clan’s various branches, while they have been very responsive over the past few days, have also been missing in action for decades and have almost vanished from leadership spaces as everything spirals out of control and the youth get angrier.
The past week, this entire class of confused leaders, from businesspeople and politicians to traditional elders, have been running to Lasanod in hopes of salvaging the dire situation as the youth remain skeptical of their ability to put down the systems required to stop the bloodshed. We fear they may yet again fail in addressing the issue and go back to infighting instead of working on self-sufficiency and unity for the clan. The only option they have right now is to announce a locally-owned government and assess the damage their actions have caused over the past two decades. Anything less than this is a continuation of their failure.
It seems that the entire clan’s leadership is a simple minded and short sighted crew who would rather get a branded paycheck from the leadership of other clans rather than put in the hard work required to solve the unending problems of their clan. Even the traditional leaders who are free from these short term and self-defeating paychecks are all too comfortable to put in the required effort. They are happy to watch as the international aid and natural resources meant to enrich our region is used to enrich others and our taxes are loaded into bags and shipped off to Hargeisa. The indifference from our own cowardly and confusing clan leaders has not made us any more likable to our enemies as the entire world calls on each other to descend upon our resources and lives, from regional actors to international actors, the people of SSC have found many enemies and little allies. The cyclic never-ending chaos of Lasanod will not stop until we fill this leadership vacuum and produce leaders who have the expertise and patience to unite the clan’s ranks and bring about change in the region. The young people of SSC need to understand that today, their leaders are not in a place to lead but may even be in need of rescue themselves.
In a time when Somalia is trying to move into more democratic and modernized systems of governance, the people of SSC are being left behind. Lasanod should not have been a lesson in how deadly a failure in clan leadership can still be in this country, but that is exactly what has happened.
Khadra Jama is a human rights activist, You can see her writings on medium.com/@sschumanrightswatcher and contact her on [email protected]