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Issue 502/ 10th - 16th Sept 2011
Puntland’s False-Flag Terrorism Could Undermine Its Stability
By Dalmar Kaahin
Although staging a false-flag terror attack and reminding the public the past abhorrent acts of terror are now overused in many parts of the world, nowhere else in Africa are more terror plots fabricated and foiled by the culprits themselves than the Puntland region, in Somalia. And if the boomerang effect of a false-flag terror attack could undermine a semi-stable area in Somalia, it certainly will destabilize the sun-baked region of Puntland.
Now and then, Puntland officials showcase a small armature from an old electric motor, intertwined with numerous wires, decorated with nails, screws, washers, an old Nokia cell phone, and, of course, a few gray hair strands, among other components, all neatly shrink wrapped. This is the bomb; we being told. But is it? Then, the authority boastfully adds that it will hunt down the terrorists. But who are these imagined terrorists?
The problem with the Puntland administration is that anyone that opposes its policies (or reminds the authority that it lacks rudimentary PR skills) will be labeled as a terrorist and hunted down. Providing the evidence is as meaningless as labeling the person as a terrorist, in the first place. What matters the most is: conducting what the authority calls a security sweep against the perceived terrorists. And then shortly after, Garoweonline website, owned and operated by the Puntland governor, Abdirahman Mohamed Faaroole’s son, Khadar Mohamed Faaroole, who also happens to be the information (an undiluted, regurgitated, palpable propaganda) advisor for his father, publishes a 500 word "article", in which "terror attacks" is mentioned no less than 250 times. Bingo! Then, the gullible U.N. will publish in its next monitoring report about Somalia that Puntland foiled a dozen terror attacks (or more precisely: it fooled itself a dozen times).
In fact, as I write this article, U.N. news agencies like Reuters dance to Mr. Faaroole's tunes. Repeatedly, Reuters, rather than publish the real news, which both sides of the warring factions’ grievances are examined impartially, the agency, as if it is a mouthpiece for the Faaroole gang, publishes what exactly Puntland wanted to see on the headlines. Reuters, simply, recycles Mr. Faaroole’s baseless and childish accusations, labeling everyone as a terrorist. It is these kinds of half-backed news reports that will, inevitably, reshape the International opinion towards, not just the Galkayo conflict, but also the entire Somalia.
But the reality on the ground paints a different picture. Although Puntland attributes every murder in its cities to terrorist attacks, the truth is: most of these killings are nothing more than Puntland’s traditional clan wars that are now raging in its big cities. Historically, when clan wars erupt, the skirmishing remains confined within the villages that the warring clans inhabit. But in Puntland the clan wars have been modernized and brought to the cities. For the past two decades, dozens of clan leaders and chiefs have been murdered in Puntland. The authority always jumps on the anti-terror wagon, accusing imagined terrorist groups of carrying out the killings.
But for some odd reason, these imagined terrorist have never killed a clan leader or a chief in Somaliland. So the question is: why would the terrorists hunt down Puntland clan leaders, after all they support Somali unity, and spare the separatist Somaliland clan chiefs? Despite Puntland’s interminable false-flag terror attacks, simply, common sense prevails, doesn’t it?
Additionally, every war the Puntland authority wages against disgruntled clans in its territory or sometimes those in Somaliland, Mr. Faaroole quickly accuses them of being nothing more than terrorists. For instance, in the Majihan area, in eastern Sanag of Somaliland, when the Warsangeli clans opposed Puntland’s quest to explore oil in their territory, Mr. Faaroole didn’t hesitate calling them terrorists. And shortly after, he attacked them, displacing thousands of villagers. Read my article entitled, "Somalia: Puntland’s Anti-piracy Forces—Smokescreen for Hunting Oil & Minerals Unlawfully".
Again, as more clans oppose the Puntland administration for different reasons, the authority accuses them of supporting terrorists. For instance, recently, two provinces in Puntland declared a new administration, independent from Puntland. No sooner the region named Raasassayr state was announced than Mr. Faaroole labeled it as a rotten den for terrorists and pirates. Although the idea of creating tiny clan enclaves in Puntland is destructive, Mr. Faaroole’s baseless accusations are equally dangerous and could eventually undermine the stability of Puntland.
Yet the ongoing clashes in Galkayo city in Puntland between the Layl Kase clan and the Puntland security forces (mainly from the dominant Majerten clans in Puntland) doesn’t escape from Mr. Faaroole’s obsession with labeling the opponents of his regime as terrorists. Initially, the conflict erupted between the Issa Mahamoud (a sub clan of Majerten) and the Layle Kase clans near the nomadic area bordering Somaliland. As usual, the fighting erupted after the two clans could not agree on the ownership of water wells in the area. But once the Layle Kase clan suspected that the Puntland authority was arming the Issa Mahamoud fighters, the war was brought to Galkayo where both clans inhabit. Soon the Puntland security forces launched a major military assault involving tanks and armored vehicles against the outnumbered and outgunned Layle Kase fighters. Worse yet, the authority categorized them as Al-Shabaab terrorist supporters, as anticipated. However, in the following video, clearly young unemployed, frustrated men, not Al-Shabaab terrorists, are waging a deadly battle, to defend themselves and their families, against Puntland forces’ incursions. And as the deputy mayor of Galkayo, Dahir Mohamoud Muse, clearly states in the video clip, "The fighting is between Puntland forces and one of the local clans…and Puntland is waging a war against a particular clan…" Evidently, as one can see in the preceding video, the young men are underequipped, lining up to take turns to use only two guns. On the other hand, Al-Shabaab is always heavily armed.
Despite the facts on the ground, the governor of Puntland, Mr. Faaroole went on about his usual ramblings: terrorists this…terrorist that…blah…blah. In response to the governor of Galmudug region, which includes parts of Galkayo, Mohamed Ahmed Alin’s interview with the BBC where he stated, "Puntland is waging a war against a specific clan…" Mr. Faaroole lashed out Mr. Alin, branding him a terrorist supporter and sympathizer. Without a tinge of evidence, Mr. Faaroole accused Mr. Alin of arming, training, and treating the wounded Al-Shabaab terrorists fighting in Galkayo.
Similarly, Mr. Faaroole’s administration echoed the perceived Al-Shabaab groups in Buroa, Somaliland’s second largest city, were waging a war against his administration in Galkayo. Mr.Faaroole’s son, Khadar, writes on his Garoweonline website, that Al-Shabaab is "planning the bombing from bases in south Somalia and Burao [in Somaliland]".
But for Puntland officials spitting out terror accusations against one another or against their neighbors is not a crime, but it is a tradition. In 2007, in my article entitled, "Crying Wolf: TFG and Puntland desperately play terrorist card" I wrote, "It has become a deep-rooted culture for Puntland and for TFG (Tigray Founded Government) leaders to play the terrorist card (their new Ace Card), in every opportunity, in order to obfuscate and to distort the facts on the ground." Four years later, nothing has changed.
Evidently, Puntland keeps recycling the same stale propaganda. But what the authority doesn’t realize is: eventually, its security will be undermined by none other than its false-flag terror attacks, as the local clans are alienated and labeled as terrorists.
The governor of Puntland not only wages a deadly war against Puntland clans, but he also attacks Somaliland officials in Taleh area, in Sool province of Somaliland, killing a number of them, and kidnapping others.
His senseless wars, killings, and accusations respect no bounds. Mr. Faaroole also accuses both Somaliland and Somalia’s Transitional Government of sponsoring terrorists to destabilize his region. This is the worst form of Schizophrenia. (What about your shadow, I ask. Isn’t it also after you?)
In short, in the midst of a crippling drought in the Horn of Africa, Puntland authority attacks its clans, labeling them as terrorists, and Somaliland officials, killing some of them. Doubtless, the peaceful people of Puntland people need security and developments, not wars and destructions. They also need a democratically elected leader, not a gun-toting warmonger, waging mindless wars in every corner.
Accusing disgruntled Puntland clans, southern Somalia and central Somalia (Galmudug) regions as well as Somaliland of waging a terror war against Puntland, demonstrates the immaturity of the current Puntland leaders. More dangerously, their reckless remarks are provocative and pose a considerable threat to the stability of Somaliland and Somalia alike. Almost anything (including a bird dropping) or anybody that gets on Puntland’s way is a terrorist.
In the long run, the Puntland’s fabricated terror attacks will alienate many of its citizens, and many more small regions, independent from Mr. Faaroole’s authority (or the Faaroole gang), will emerge. Therefore, the Puntland intellectuals, the U.N. and the International community should not allow Mr. Faaroole to hog power any longer. A democratic, multi-party system where a sensible leader is elected is the only way to rescue Puntland from remaining in a free-fall mode.