Las Anod, Sool, Somalia –
The SSC-Khatumo administration’s leadership was officially announced yesterday, with 45 members selected by Garaads and Sultans of the region.
These appointed members will oversee the governance of the SSC regions, commencing their responsibilities by attempting to remove the Somaliland forces from the Goja’adde military base. The base is situated near the regional capital – Las Anod, also known as Laascaanood.
During a gathering organised by the SSC-Khatumo culture council, Las Anod’s Mayor, Deputy Mayor, executive secretary, local councillors, and legal attorneys presented their identification cards to the members of the administration.
In the upcoming days, the administration’s leadership will be officially sworn into office, marking the commencement of their duties.
The conflict for Las Anod
This development reflects the people’s aspirations in the Sool region, expressing their desire for self-governance and the establishment of their own Federal Member State within Somalia. They seek to maintain autonomy from the administrations of Somaliland and Puntland.
The conflict erupted on 6 February in the contested city of Las Anod. The clashes have involved forces from the self-declared state of Somaliland and local militia affiliated with the Dhulbahante clan. The clan, which resides in the areas of Sool, Sanaag and Buuhoodle, historically disputed between Somaliland and Puntland and did not want to contribute to dividing the Somali state.
The Dhulbahante claim Las Anod as their capital. Markus Virgil Hoehne, a social anthropologist at the University of Leipzig, believes that any compromise will demand more from Somaliland than from Dhulbahante at this stage of negotiations.
“The latter made it clear that they will not return under the suzerainty of Somaliland. This position has become deeply engrained among many members of this clan during the months of bombardments and attacks by the Somaliland army.”
Somaliland’s recognition at risk
As the conflict over Las Anod prolongs, the administration in Somaliland must discover means to safeguard its positive reputation as a de facto independent state in the Horn of Africa. Achieving international recognition is one of the central objectives of the Somaliland government.
The current conflict over Las Anod can seriously damage Somaliland’s favourable standing on the international scene. According to the Protection and Return Monitoring Network, at least 200,000 people have been displaced from the Las Anod region due to conflict and insecurity.
Somaliland’s reputation has been built over the last two decades, during which the region experienced notable economic growth, particularly in the central areas predominantly inhabited by the Isaaq community. This reputation is now seriously threatened.
The land of Sultans and Garaads
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the SSC-Khatumo administration’s leadership was selected by the Garaads and Sultans of the region. But where do these terms come from?
“Sultan” (also known as Suldaan) is originally an Arabic word meaning “Ruler”. It was a widespread title for rulers in the pre-colonial and colonial periods, used throughout the Somali territories, particularly by the Isaaq.
“Garaad” is often used interchangeably to refer to a Sultan. Its etymology implies “wisdom,” “mind,” or “understanding.” The title shares similarities with the honorific al-Jaraad, utilised by Muslim governors in Ethiopia’s Islamic regions during the Middle Ages.
In Somaliland’s history, Garaad was traditionally employed by the Tol Je’lo and Habar Awal clans until the clan’s leadership transitioned to using the title Suldaan in the 20th century. However, the Dhulbahante clan continues to employ the term Garaad to this day.