Somalia
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SSC elders arrive in Mogadishu for talks amid ongoing conflict


Monday May 29, 2023

Mogadishu (HOL) - The traditional elders from Sool, Sanaag, and Ayn (collectively known as SCC) landed in Mogadishu this Sunday, having accepted an invitation extended by the Federal Government.

The delegation, comprising elders such as Garad Jama Garad Ismail, Ugas Mohamud Ugas Abdilahi, Garad Abrisaq Garad Soofe, Garad Abdisalan Hassan Mohamed, and Sultan Mustafa Mohamud Awseed, was warmly received at Aden Adde airport in Mogadishu. The welcoming party included Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Abdilahi Timocade, the Upper House's Deputy Speaker, and several members of both parliamentary chambers.

The Federal Government of Somalia extended an invitation to the regions of Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (SSC) to the capital city for talks aimed at resolving the conflict. This move came on the heels of weeks filled with violence, alleged violations of the arms embargo, and a breakdown in communication between various factions in the region.

Sources suggest that the primary objective of this trip is to discuss the allocation and distribution of international aid to the troubled region. The federal government is reportedly planning to transfer their share directly to the SCC committee present in the SSC.

Since the 6th of February, the disputed city of Las Anod has been the stage of violent clashes between the forces of the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland and the local Dhulbahante clan militias in northern Somalia. Las Anod hospitals have registered a death toll of 299, with 1,913 injured and more than 200,000 displaced since the conflict's inception.

Somaliland's international partners have repeatedly voiced concern over Hargeisa's management of the conflict, particularly the alleged shelling of civilian areas and infrastructure in Las Anod. The Las Anod declaration rejected Somaliland's administration's claim to the area, proposing the formation of a federal state within Somalia instead, to be named SSC-Khaatumo.

The traditional elders from the SSC will meet with federal government leaders and representatives from civil society.

A fortnight ago, Garad Jama Garad Ali, the supreme traditional clan chief of the Sool, Sanaag, and Ayn regions, claimed that the President of Somaliland dismissed a meeting proposal with the traditional elders from Mogadishu, advocating instead for continued conflict. The clan chief also disclosed that President Bihi invited the elders to his hometown but refrained from meeting them while they were still in Hargeisa.

A delegation of traditional elders from Mogadishu visited Somaliland earlier this month with a similar aim of resolving the four-month-long conflict. However, they were rebuffed by the President of Somaliland. Before their trip to Somaliland, the elders had visited Las Anod.

Ethiopia and Djibouti have attempted to broker peace in the region, with Ethiopia dispatching a delegation to Hargeisa and Garoowe in March 2023 to discuss the possibility of a cease-fire in Las Anod. Ethiopia has strategic interests in safeguarding its access to the Berbera Port.

Somaliland, a self-declared republic that lacks international recognition, emerged as a separatist state in 1991 amid the civil war in Somalia's northwestern region. It covers nearly 137,600 square kilometres along the southern edge of the Gulf of Aden, a crucial maritime passage connecting the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. It is a significant route for petroleum shipments. The SCC lays claim to a third of that territory.