Tuka-Raq War:The dispute between Somaliland and Somalia is a political issue and could be resolved through political means. But the PUNTLAND TRIBAL VIRUS should be eradicated before it is too late.

The Tuka-Raq skirmishes have finally erupted into an all-out war last week. The argument is centred around the status of Somaliland following the latter’s declaration of independence way back in 1991. The historic background of Somaliland independence is well-documented and there is no point in narrated the details thereof. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that Somaliland has gained its independence from Great Britain in 1960, and jointed Ex-Italian Somaliland to form the Somali Republic during the same year. In 1991, and after 31 yearsof ill-fated union with the Italian South, Somaliland has decided to reclaim the independence they gained from Great Britain in 26 June 1960.

At present, Somaliland contends that their boundaries are the pre-union lines that are based on UN registered international treaties they have inherited from Great Britain.These boundaries were signed by the colonial powers and are just like any other African or Asian boundary that internationally recognized.

The boundary of Somaliland with Djibouti is based on Anglo-French Agreement dated 29 Feb 1888. The boundary of Somaliland with Ethiopia is based on Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 04 June 1897. The boundary of Somaliland with Somalia is based the Anglo-Italian Agreement of 05 May 1894.

It is interesting to note here that Somalia has no dispute over the demarcation of the borderline with Somaliland, but they claim that Somaliland is part of Somalia. They do not recognize the Somaliland declaration of independence in 1991. The dispute between Somalia and Somaliland is, therefore, a political issue and could be resolved through political means.

The real confusion in this conflict is created by Puntland which is the region of Somalia that borders Somaliland. They adopted a rather funny definition of the conflict and claim that their borderline with Somaliland should be based on tribal land claims. These are synonymous to the African lion’s urine marking that outline each mating lion’s domain. Besides, the Somali people are nomads and the tribal land is often marked based on where each tribe’s the camels reach in the autumn or winter seasons in search of grass and water. Therefore, the Somali tribal land boundaries are inter-twined, and no one knows where one tribe’s land starts or ends.

The argument of Puntland was first proclaimed by the late President of Abdullah Yousuf who claimed: “the territory of Puntland is where my tribe’s herds reach in the autumn”. This theory is the mother of all diseases in the Somali peninsular and indeed the entire Horn of Africa. Therefore, we appeal to the international community that Puntland should be stopped before it is too late.

In fact, the Puntland authorities dispute the international boundaries of the entire Horn of Africa which are based on the treaties signed in the pre-independence era. If the international community fails to put an end to Puntland Tribal Virus, these guys will claim parts of Ethiopia and parts of Kenya where they presume that their goats roamed, or their camels walked, once upon a time, in a nomadic seasonal migration. It will not be long before we ended up in quagmire of disputes in the Horn of Africa that will take decades to resolve.

Hassan Abdi Yousuf

Head of Horn of Africa Economic Research Center

Hargeisa, Somaliland