By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – Nationwide festivities marking 22 years of independence were distinct from past ones in the essence of the might displayed by the country’s armed forces.
To mark the auspices day Divergent units of the Armed forces marched past the ceremonial daises in all regions in new flashy uniforms and various types of ordnance that included newly acquired tanks, anti-aircraft guns, ground to air missile launchers among others.
The acquisition of these new ordnance that has completely given the country’s defence capabilities a new dimension are as a result of the recent lifting of arms embargo imposed on Somalia by the UN Security council which was geared towards enabling that country avail capabilities to counter Al-shabaab militants
Despite concerted efforts by AMISOM forces from a number of African countries the al-Qaeda Aligned Al-shabaab militants continue to be a thorn in the flesh of the Somalia federal government thus the militants controlling major areas outside the capital and sharing control of Mogadishu where the SFG rules during daylight while the militants are in control at night.
If the evidence displayed by the military in all regions of the country is anything to go by Somaliland which was at first skeptical and voiced its disapproval following the lifting of the Somalia arms embargo, seems to have taken advantage and equipped itself since the embargo also affected in lieu of the international community regarding it as part and parcel of the defunct republic of Somalia.
The acquisition of the new weaponry by the unrecognized country from pennies collected in taxes is a revelation in the determination of landers to maintain their sovereignty at all costs regardless of the never ending claims by president Hasan of Somalia that Somaliland is not a country but an administrative region under his domain.
In contrast as per the new weaponry is president Hassan’s SFG appeal to the international community for assistance with funds after declaring liquidity problems that are confounding in view of the millions in dollars poured on an hourly basis by the international community in its innocent desire to prop up its appointed administrators of a tiny portion of Mogadishu.
Another uneasiness is how the SFG managed to convince the UN Security Council to lift the two decades old arms embargo if it, the SFG, was not in a position to purchase any of the weaponry said to have been geared towards the ultimate defeat of the now increasingly invincible Al-Shabaab that is increasingly relying on guerilla warfare tactics to hamper SFG’s efforts to take full control of South Somalia.
That perturb more is the disappearance of a large cache of weaponry from the Villa Somalia residence of President Hasan Sh Mahmud immediately the lifting of the arms embargo was announced.
Regardless of the difficulties engulfed by his SFG at home president Hasan has continuously stated in public that his most important mission in the duration of his presidency is the realization of unification of former Somalia thus amalgamate all areas from Sayla in Somaliland to Kismayo in Juba land.
This according to Somaliland’s minister of foreign affairs Dr Mohamed Abdilahi Omar continued hate speech from the Mogadishu based administration is detrimental to further relations between the two neighbouring and former united countries that are currently engaged in talks sanctioned by the international community which again is desirous to see a satisfactory conclusion of the two decades arguments pertaining to Somalia’s claim to a greater Somalia and Somaliland’s adamant stand on sovereignty and self-rule as per the boundaries that existed during its independence from Britain in 1960.
“The SFG which has just co-signed the Ankara communique should respect its contents especially the point on deterring hate speech from either side” Said Dr Omar the foreign affairs minister.
Informing residents of Burao commemorating the 22nd anniversary of independence on 18th may 2013 that the SFG which is pursuing a course opposite from those agreed especially hate speech that is geared to anger Somalilanders thus create acrimony, Dr Omar urged the Mogadishu administration to desist thus salvage the ongoing dialogue that it, SFG, has repeatedly committed to.
Addressing the same festivities in Burao the aviation minister Mahmud Hashi Abdi who informed that the country’s independence is very dear having been achieved at a very costly price in both human and material costs said, “we shall not stand aside and let anyone or entity trample on this hard won dignity of sovereignty”
According to Hargeisa resident Mr. Roble Mohamed the president of Somalia Hasan sheikh Mahmud who continues to enjoy the protection of AMISOM troops while his people are daily victims of terrorism has no business claiming Somaliland as part of his Somalia federal Government.
“Imagine a president on never ending begging trips abroad who leaves his people to the mercy of militants claiming to control a nation that has been independent for 22 years whose president is protected by a few presidential guards and its people live in peace and harmony” says Roble
Roble who continuously keeps the world abreast about issues Somaliland through tweeter wants the unionists to first put their house in order before laying claim to other peoples country’s build on blood and sweat.
These sentiments coupled with the show of mighty displayed by the armed forces nationwide in addition to president Silanyo’s revelation that Somalilanders are in no way ready to negotiate their sovereignty nor parley anyone on its boundaries is a clear signal the Somaliland blind and deaf international community need to take seriously thus deter a fallout in the horn of Africa that will make Afghanistan and Syria look safe havens in comparison.
Current personnel including civilians in the Somaliland military is estimated at 35,000 with several divisions based within all the regions of the country while the bulk of the top brass and various divisions are at the military headquarters in the capital, Hargeisa.
Up until 2009, when cases of piracy grew at the Somaliland coastline and led to hostages being held at the waters, which geographically fall under Somaliland, the Somaliland military was composed entirely of army personnel. The surge in piracy and illegal fishing at Somaliland coast led to the formation of a navy unit, which operates from BulaHar and Las Qoray areas. The unit, which is still in its infancy, has succeeded in apprehending hundreds of suspected pirates, who were later arraigned in Somaliland courts and sentenced to jail terms.
The navy unit has also benefited considerably from support ranging from provision of equipment and training from the British government. Among the equipment they received include speed boats mounted with guns, brand new pick-ups and trucks that can withstand the harsh conditions in the Somaliland coastline.
Based at the port town of Berbera is a diving centre run by foreign divers with the primary goal of training the Somaliland navy. The centre has been in operation for nearly two years.
NO AIR POWER
The Somalia Air Force base which was based at the Hargeisa Airport collapsed immediately after the civil war in 1990. Its pilots and technicians, majority of whom were foreigners, mainly from South Africa fled and the remaining aircrafts all of which were Russian-made remain in a state of disrepair or were vandalized.
As a reminder of the atrocities committed by former Somalia ruler, Mohamed Siyad Barre, a downed MIG-21 fighter jet was mounted in the middle of Hargeisa town. By international standards, the Somaliland military can be considered as a rudimentary outfit, which continues to use outdated equipment. All of its army personnel are from Somaliland.
But by local standards, the military in Somaliland stand above those of it neighbour. The Puntland and Somalia in terms of cohesiveness, organization and command structure as well as the ability to win hearts and minds within local communities.
When the former ruler Barre was ousted in 1990, Somaliland inherited or took over all the military equipment, hardware and facilities that were within the territories of present day Somaliland. They include tanks, armed personal carriers, transport trucks and water tankers. Also taken over were missile launchers, a cache of ammunitions that included grenades, F1s and missiles.
These equipment which was about to be discarded due to disrepairs occasioned by the arms embargo are now fully rehabilitated following purchase of necessary spare parts that came in with the new machinery acquired recently