conclusion of Garowe Conference and subsequent recapturing of the city by Abdullahi Yusuf
and the de facto division of Puntland into two camps, Puntland has miraculously been in a
relative peace except the Garowe incident even though its politics and the security of the
region are drifting into uncertain horizon.
There have been
quite a number of political and military developments
in the region and
in Somalia as whole that are caused by the Puntland's
internal political fight and the recent external interest in Somalia by the US and others
In general people
are apprehensive about the anticipated American attack on Somalia and the direction of the
conflict in Puntland. However, in Boosaaso and its environs (Bari Region) there is centrally orchestrated campaign
mobilizing militias and resources by Jama Ali Jama's supporters.
Mr Jama draws his
support mainly from his sub-clan, rejuvenated and active
Muslim fundamentalists Businessmen (Al-Itihad) and the Transitional National Government
created in Jabouti.
There is a new
infusion of armies and dozen of refurbished battlewagons "technical" with couple
of hundred of militias from Jama's sub-clans. They are stationed in Laag, around the Airport and other economic
centers, and most of them at frontline in
between Gardo and YekeYeke.
There are no
significant and open campaigns for Mr Yusuf in Boosaaso or Bari region although are there
some of his supporter still active in Bari region. It is true to say that Mr. Yusuf has
some support in every locale in Puntland but they are not mobilized in any visible way.
The majority of
the clans in Bari region, except Jama's sub-clan, are
either neutral or divided between the two opposing camps.
Mudug regions & Buuhoodle distirct are
mainly pro Yusuf. Nugaal region, which seats the capital of Puntland Garoowe and which is
regarded to be the wildcard of Puntland's political game, is divided but now appears to be
tilting towards Mr Yusuf's side.
Islam Muse, who hails from Nugal region, had so far given numerous speeches and signals
that has been interpreted as a tacit approval for Mr Yusuf.
The most notable
one being a speech he gave to Puntland Forces stationed at Garoowes' 54th
Military Barrack, instructing them to take any action
necessary against who ever starts to endanger the peace and to keep an eye at those
troublemakers in Puntland.
This was after an
active and restless campaign by some local militias
in Garoowe supported wholeheartedly by Jama Ali Jama and Muslim fundamentalists
(Al-Itihad) with 4 to 5 technicals, logistical and financial support as well as with small
army have readied themselves in Garowe to spearhead the war against Abdullahi Yusuf soon.
Waging a military
war and capturing Garowe and whole Puntland is almost impossible for Mr Jama.
This is based on
the following observations:
Shallowness of his
political support in Puntland.
a) Mr Jama is
perceived as someone who has not interred into Puntland's political ring by his own
political convictions, but rather being pushed into it by combination of NTG, Al-Itihad
Muslim Fundamentalists and supporters of his own sub-clan.
b) Some quarters
of the society argue that Mr Jama lost their support because he didn't project himself as
someone who wanted to lead all Puntlanders but rather his own sub-clan.
c) It was widely
reported by the local media that during the Garoowe conference Jama was wrongfully given a
free access to public funds, by his Cousin Yusuf Haji Nur, which he had used for his
political campaign. Not only did this tarnish his political and personal image but it had
turned his yesterday's allies into his today's opponents as they accuse him of foul play
before the race started.
d) Puntlanders are concerned about Jama's
connections with the TNG of Mogadishu and the local Muslim Fundamentalists (Al-Itihad)
groups, which have now become an open secret in Puntland. They want to maintain their
identity as Puntlanders within federal Somalia, therefore are weary of being sucked into
centralised Somali government administered from Mogadishu or one which pays lip service to
the idea of federalism.
e) Some quarters of the society felt that Mr Jama had
tried to inject tribal animosity into Puntland's political dogfight, a phenomenon alien to
this region and people, therefore bringing the prospect of civil war ever closer.
a) The general
slowdown of the trade in the region and the sad state of the Puntland's economy have
caused airport and harbour revenue shortfalls.
b) Control and
usage of the meagre revenues from the airport and harbour are now becoming the focal point
of discussion and indeed a thorny issue among the sub-clans in Bari Region. This could
ignite an additional inter-conflict in the region.
c) There is a
great deal of resentment and open anger expressed by many Puntlanders, specially in Bari
Region, about the continues mis-use of public
funds by Jama and his tribal supporters.
d) The closing
down of Barakat Financial Services and some individual
business and Bank accounts as Jama's major supporters were affected by this action.
e) Lack of a major
cause and burning issue in the conflict.
f) The high cost
of feeding, arming, and maintaining a fighting force.
This is the case
unless the majority of Nugal region inhabitants come out in support of Jama , and in
addition to this, Mr Yusuf must lose support or not to gain it among the major clans in
the five regions and the district of Buuhoodle which Puntland consists of .
Of course, Mr
Yusuf has a mamooth task to overcome in order to secure his claim for Puntland's
presidency. He has been unable to solidify or
consolidate 100% support from Nugal region let alone taking the war all the way to Bari.
unless he is able to keep the Islam and majority support of Nugal citizens on column and
unless he secures a tangible external backing his task will remain surmountable.
Airport dues and some local contributions are the only reported financial resources for Mr
For him to
recapture the Presidency of Puntland at least the following must be met:
(a) Must gain an absolute support
from Nugal Region and its leaders. So far Islam Mohamed gave important signal that he is
on the side of Mr Yusuf.
(b) Putting his supporters in Bari
into action and coordinating with them
but a quite military and financial support from Ethiopia or other country.
(d) Most importantly a good economic
& political agenda to support his come back.
Mr Yusuf and his
forces are in Garowe where he is cajoling citizens of Nugal and Islan Mohamed into his
orbit, and regrouping and strategizing for his opponents in Bari, and re-supplying his
He is, on one
hand, asserting his authority and claim to the presidency, and on the other he is being
patient with them and trying at least not antagonize them. It seems he is succeeding
partially at best because he still has a a good portion of them and Islam Mohamed who are
at least as against Mr Jama's presidency as
they are against Mr Yusuf's.
Islan Mohamed is
trying to calm the Garowe residents and calling on them not to wage a war against anyone
ever since the residents started fleeing the city when Abdullahi Yusuf captured the city.
Now the majority, if not all, of the Garowe residents and their families who evacuated
from the city returned home and city has come to life again albeit slowly.
The Islam is the
wild card here in Puntland politics again. To the most people, his intentions are
ambiguous. On one hand, he is calling on his
constituents particularly those who re advocating and organizing themselves to evict
Abdullahi Yusuf from Garowe, and he is telling them to continue to go about their regular
business. On the other hand, he stated that he does not recognize Abdullahi Yusuf as a
president and called on him to vacate Garowe or else, even though he is not aggressively
opposing him or mobilizing forces to fight him.
It is reported
that he is agonized with division of his people and the outcome of the last conference,
and with the danger of various competing interests and politics. As one of the most
revered Issim in Puntland he would hate to go down in history as the one who presided the
dis-solvement of Puntland into the ill-fated TNG or being taken over by the Al-Itihad, two
scenarios he loothes most. It is believed that this is precisely the reason why the Islam and many others in Puntland have turned against
Jama's claim to the top office. Here they seem to employ the adage "it is better the
devil you know"!
It is also
reported that a portion of Garoowe residents are jittery to confront Mr Yusuf and his
presence in their city. This group is supported by Mr Jama's group and Al-Itihad business-people who gave them
couple of "technicals" and financial resources.
The inhabitants of
Nugal region are divided into two camps. The first group are mostly younger generation and
committed politicians and the second group are reactivated local Al-Itihad groups who are
The later was the
one who encouraged the city residents to flee first when Abdullahi Yusuf arrived, and who
are mobilizing local militias to face off with Abdullahi Yusuf and his militias. They are
coordinating with Jama Ali Jama's forces and are in positions in Garowe and its
surroundings. They are estimated at few hundred. The other camp who seem to be the
majority are either supporting Abdullahi Yusuf or are indifferent.
They have not been
mobilizing a countering militia for Abdullahi Yusuf yet. Most of this group including
Islam Mohamed are advocating for calm and peace and are against Jama A Jama.
Islam Mohamed, who
is regarded as the chief of Puntland's chiefs, seems to be overwhelmed but he is still
capable to being the peace-maker in the politics of Puntland if he receives backing
financially and politically for reconciliation and peace maintaining in the region.
There was a
24-hour visit to Bosaso and Shimbirale by group of foreign journalists led by NBC
journalist, accompanied by some local Mogadishu journalists. As told by Paul the lead
journalist, they were invited and their itinerary dictated by Abdulqasim and TNG. No
impact on anything- just some PR excercise for Jama and patrons. The NBC stayed behind and
visited Garowe and Galkayo.
It was reported by
one of the Journalist that a contact was initiated between regional level State Dept
officials and Jama Ali Jama. It is said that the officials just demanded that Jama not to
create problems but to cooperate if and when American take action in Puntland. It seems that the political groups in Puntland and
in Somalia generally are hastening to strengthen their political positions and cards
before the alleged America expedition comes in.
Due to the
writer's current exploration in the civil society structure and organizations in Puntland
thus gaining an understanding, the uninspiring available leaders, the general and public
indifference to the current political crisis and its state of deadlock, it is needed and
it is viable to explore a third alternative or reconciliation meeting between the
contestants and communities and to support them technically and financially. There are
local social infrastructure and support to initiate a way out of this political logjam and
to bring the peace and Puntland back.
This article was
sent to us from Somalia by a Puntlander who wishes to remain anonymous.