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Cablegate: Somalia - Disputed Northern Region's Clansmen

VZCZCXRO8963
OO RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #2305/01 3081618
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 041618Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1473
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA IMMEDIATE
RUZEFAA/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE IMMEDIATE
RUZEFAA/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE IMMEDIATE
RHMCSUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 002305

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E AND A/S CARSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: DJ EAID KDEM PGOV PREL PTER SO
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - DISPUTED NORTHERN REGION'S CLANSMEN
DECLARE SELF-ADMINISTRATION

1. Summary. Leaders of a newly-declared Sol/Sanaag/Ayn
(S/S/A) regional administration, including an American
citizen, have called on us to explain their Dhulbahante
clan's grievances against the Somaliland administration, and
their political vision for extricating themselves from
Somaliland's authority. They will travel to S/S/A from
Nairobi in mid-November, against the backdrop of a November 1
roadside bomb that killed a Somaliland official in the
region. The Dhulbahante leaders condemned the attack, and
denied knowledge of the group that carried it out. A
Somaliland government contact called us to discredit the
self-declared leaders. End Summary.

2. Leaders of a newly-declared Sol/Sanaag/Ayn (S/S/A)
regional administration have called on us to explain their
grievances against the Somaliland administration, and their
political vision for extricating themselves from Somaliland's
authority. The movement is made up of Darood/Dhulbahante and
many of its senior leaders are from the North American-based
Somali diaspora. The S/S/A administration announced itself
after a large conference in Nairobi, and claims to represent
a large majority of Dhulbahante in the region. It is unclear
to us what support these self-proclaimed officials have in
the S/S/A region, but we believe their views likely represent
those of many Dhulbahante citizens in S/S/A that resent
Somaliland's presence in the region. The senior leaders,
including an American citizen, Soulieman Ahmed, and two
Canadians, plan to go to S/S/A on/about November 11.

3. A faction of the Darod/Dhulbahante clan in Sol/Sanaag/Ayn
have long chafed under Isaaq-clan dominated Somaliland's
claims of authority over their homeland. (Note: Ayn is a
district of the Togdheer region. End Note). When Somaliland
declared independence in 1991, it based its borders on the
colonial boundaries of British Somaliland, which included
S/S/A. Multiple Hargeisa administrations have, therefore,
insisted that S/S/A remain part of Somaliland and have
struggled to retain control of the regions. Complicating this
picture was the 1998 formation of the semi-autonomous
Puntland administration and the subsequent conflict between
Somaliland and Puntland over parts of Sol and Sanaag. Over
the years the contested areas of Sol and Sanaag have many
times changed hands between Somaliland and Puntland,
including most recently in 2007 when Somaliland captured the
strategic town of Las Aanod. There are Dhulbahante on both
sides of the Somaliland-Puntland border. Dhulbahante loyalty
is, therefore, split among Somaliland, Puntland, and the new
administration pledging loyalty to the TFG.

4. The Sol/Sanaag/Ayn leadership detailed their grievances
against the Somaliland government. They blame Somaliland for
militarizing the region by capturing the area from Puntland
in 2007. Since the region is now disputed, S/S/A leaders
claim humanitarian organizations no longer feel safe
operating there, compounding the suffering of their
Dhulbahante clansmen. The Somaliland administration, they
claim, uses rival Isaaq clan militia to represent them
militarily, inflaming local clan sensitivities. The Isaaq
clan proxies have forcibly disarmed the Dhulbahante causing
concerns about the clan's security.

5. The new S/S/A leadership explained their political
vision. They are hopeful the formation of a new
administration will change the political dialogue with the
Somaliland and Puntland governments. By forming an
independent administration, they hope to de-link their
population from the Somaliland-Puntland conflict and
strengthen the hand of their independence-minded elders and
clan leaders. As expected, given their animosity toward
secessionist Somaliland, the S/S/A leaders emphasized their
support for a unified Somalia, under a federal government
based in Mogadishu. They claimed to have met Somali Prime
Minister Omar Sharmarke and received his blessing. They
conceded that there are some Dhulbahante that are loyal to
Somaliland or Puntland, but they claimed to represent the
will of Dhulbahante majority.

6. Comment: Throughout our discussions with the new
Dhulbahante leaders, we emphasized the need for peaceful
dialogue with Somaliland authorities. On November 1 a
Somaliland official was murdered by a roadside bomb in Sanaag

NAIROBI 00002305 002.3 OF 002


province. On November 3 Somaliland troops attempted but
failed to arrest the man claiming responsibility for the
attack, prompting a gun battle and spontaneous
anti-Somaliland demonstrations by citizens in Buuhoodle,
Togdheer region, according to media reports. The Dhulbahante
leaders have publicly condemned the attack and the assassin,
a former Puntland minister who is rumored to be mentally ill.


7. Comment, cont.: The Dhulbahante leaders are concerned
about Somaliland's reaction when they travel to S/S/A
on/about November 11. In fact, a senior Somaliland
government contact in the Information Ministry has contacted
us to discredit the group. We again urged Somaliland react
with peaceful dialogue. We have advised the American
Dhulbahante leader not to travel to S/S/A if he believes he
will be in danger. We've also advised him we cannot reliably
render consular services in Somaliland. Somaliland will
almost certainly refuse to let the regions go because
Hargeisa views its territorial claims as justification for
independence. A second Somaliland contact told us Somaliland
is amassing troops in the area in response to perceived
threats from Puntland. We will continue to monitor the
situation. End comment.
RANNEBERGER

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