Investigative Reports

Somaliland Office in Taiwan Rejects Sexual Misconduct Allegations

The Republic of Somaliland Representative Office in Taiwan has...

Ministry of Information Spends 600,000 US Dollars to Fix a Decade Old Radio Station

According to a contract signed by the Minister of Information, Culture...

How Somalia is trying to Stifle Somaliland – US ties with an Online Troll and a pseudo-Charitable Organization

In February, June, and  August 2022, Mr. Okeke-Von Batten filed Lobby Disclosure Act...
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National Election Commission Announced Nine-Month Delay of Presidential Elections


In their first press statement since sworn in, the new National Election Commission has announced that the constitutionally mandated presidential elections scheduled for November 13th will be delayed. The Commission stated that elections will be held in nine months starting on October 1st, and cited time, technical and financial constraints as the reason for the delaying.

The selections, confirmation by parliament, and swearing-in of the new National Election Commissioners have dragged on for months and were completed on September 7th, 2022. The previous Election Commission, led by Mr. Abdirashid Riyoraac, dissolved following a dispute among the commissioners and an accusation of corruption that prompted an investigation by the Auditor General’s Office. 

The opposition has accused President Bihi of orchestrating the disbandment of the election commission to ensure elections are not held on time. President Bihi has countered the opposition’s accusation that the delay was caused by opposition members of parliament who failed to confirm replacement commissioners

The opposition parties of Waddani and UCID have welcomed the statement from the Election Commission, although they have in the past opposed presidential term extension and staged protests where at least six civilians were killed and scores injured. It is unclear if the argument of which election, presidential or national political parties, comes first is settled between the President and the leaders of the opposition parties.

President Bihi has argued that the new parties currently amid registration are the only ones eligible to take part in Presidential Elections, whereas the opposition parties have argued that the President is trying to eliminate the current opposition parties and that the presidential elections come first.

Earlier this week, Members of Parliament approved a motion to amend the election laws Number 91/2022 and Number 14. The amendment ratified the combination of presidential and political party elections where the presidential elections will be participated by Waddani, UCID, and the ruling party of Kulmiye and the other parallel election will decide which of the new or existing parties will qualify as a national political party. Somaliland law stipulates that only three political parties can exist for a term of ten years. It is unclear if the Senate and President will approve the proposed amendment to codify it into law.

The National Election Commission’s statement that it cannot hold the presidential elections on November 13th, 2022 paves the way for the Somaliland Senate, which has the constitutional power to extend the presidential term to start deliberation and approve term extension for President Muse Bihi Abdi. In the past, the Senate has ignored the extension period recommended by the Election Commission and has given past Presidents two-year term extensions. This will be the sixth time presidential elections are delayed in Somaliland.

Despite the normalization of election delays and pitched political disputes in election season, Somaliland has earned high praises for its ability to hold one-person, one-vote elections and peaceful transfers of power. It is unclear if the latest delays in presidential elections and continued political jostling will effect in its quest for international recognition.

Dishonest Broker – Why Turkey Will Not Run Somaliland – Somalia Talks


On December 28, 2018, Turkey named its former Ambassador to Somalia Dr. Olgan Bekar as a Special Envoy for Somalia and Somaliland Talks. Thought the former Ambassador to Somalia has had limited contact with the Government of Somaliland especially President Bihi’s current administration, he known to be very comfortable in navigating the political scene in Mogadishu.

In this report, we are examining Turkey’s history in Somaliland and Somalia and their role as mediators in the past talks.

Dr. Olgan Bekar, Turkey’s Special Envoy for Somaliland – Somalia with President Muse Bihi Abdi

Turkey is not the only country interested to have Somaliland and Somalia get back to the negotiating table and reach some sort of a settlement.

The topic has come up during President Muse Bihi Abdi’s meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister in Addis Ababa this week though it is unclear the extent to which they discussed the subject or if any concrete steps to get the two sides talking were agreed upon.

Somaliland and Ethiopian leaders meeting in Addis Ababa

It is important to understand that various stake holders have different expected outcomes of such talks and Somaliland might be the odd man out as it seeks to gain an amicable completion of its divorce from Somalia.

According to statement from Somaliland Presidency following President Bihi’s meeting with the new envoy Dr. Bekar on February 9, The President informed Dr. Bekar and the Turkish delegation that since past talks has not yielded any results all future dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia must include the international community.

Sources from Somaliland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation present in the meeting with the President and the Turkish delegation stated that President Bihi also informed the Turkish envoy that bringing a level of balance in how Turkey invests in Somalia and Somaliland is a good way to show Somaliland that Turkey is impartial and a friend to Somaliland.

To understand if Turkey can be an impartial and an honest broker on Somaliland and Somalia talks and its general standing in the world community, we have spoken to Mr. Michael Rubin who is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where he researches Arab politics, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran, Iraq, the Kurds, terrorism, and Turkey.

President Bihi with Michael Rubin and Presidential Economic Advisor Dr. Osman Sh Ahmed

Somaliland Chronicle: Do you think it is wise for Somaliland to accept Turkey as a mediator in Somalia talks given the Turkish Gov support and massive investment in Somalia?

Mr. Rubin: Turkey does not have a track-record as an honest broker, and President Erdoğan has an ideological agenda which does not value Somaliland’s democracy and security. It is crucial to broaden any such mediation beyond a single country.

Somaliland Chronicle: In your latest article you wrote about Turkish support for terrorism and specifically for Al-Shabaab. What is Turkey’s reasoning for supporting Al-Shabaab?

Mr. Rubin: There is no single international definition of terrorism, and so Turkey often says it is combating terrorism, but denies groups like Al-Shabaab in Somalia or Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali are terrorists. Erdoğan’s goal is a more Islamist order. His fault, though, is confusing some Islamist movements with Islam itself.

Somaliland Chronicle: President Bihi recently met with a Turkish Envoy in charge of the Somaliland/Somalia talks, do you see any value in having Turkey to mediate or be part of those talks?

Mr. Rubin: Certainly, there is value in consultation with Turkey, as Turkey retains a diplomatic presence in both Somalia and Somaliland. President Bihi is correct, however, to seek a broader mediation rather than reliance on a single country.

As President Bihi informed the Turkish delegation, there is an imbalance in how Turkey provides and and invests in Somaliland and Somalia. Let’s break down what Turkey so far done in is to Somalia:

Turkey in Somalia

Security Influence

Turkey is Somalia’s true patron state, one of its most expensive efforts is to rebuild the Somali National Army from scratch and in its own image.

The largest military force in Somalia is of course AMISOM but Turkey’s military presence dwarfs that of any individual country in the AMISOM troops stationed in Somalia. In fact, Turkey’s largest military installation outside of Turkey is in Mogadishu.

Dr. Olgan Bekar with Somalia’s Prime Minister Hassan Khaire.

The 1.5 square mile Turkish military training installation is capable of churning out 1,500 fully trained and equipped soldiers at a time. This is according to Turkish and Somali sources familiar with the facility.

Below is a tweet from Turkish Embassy in Somalia showing images of Somali military personnel being trained in Turkey.

While Turkey rates as the 18th largest military in expenditure globally, it has a fledgling arms industry and rebuilding the Somali National Army represents a lucrative opportunity to supply it with the equipment it is manufacturing.

According to a recent VOA report, in what seems to be a clear violation of the United Nations Security Council’s weapons embargo on Somalia, Turkey has been supplying armament to units of the Somali National Army it has been training.

Economic Influence

Since September 21, 2014 Albayrak Group has been operating the Mogadishu Port on a 20 year concession where the company takes 45% of all revenues from the port.

Public records show that Albayrak Group does not have a track record in managing world class ports, besides Mogadishu Port, it also manages and the Trabzon Port in the Black Sea on Turkey’s Northern border with Georgia.

Compared to Albayrak Group and the 2 ports it manages, DP World manages about 77 marine and inland terminals including Somaliland’s Berbera Port.

Other Turkish conglomerates such Enez-İnşaat and Kozuva Group are also active in Mogadishu.

Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle Airport has been managed by a Kozuva subsidiery, Favori Airports LLC,since September 2013.

Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle Airport

Here is the Somali Prime Minister Mr. Hassan Khaire thanking Qatar for funding road networks between Mogadishu, Afgoye and Jawhar and also thanking the Turkish Government, presumably Enez-İnşaat who according to him have “won” the contract to build said roads.

Turkey bills itself as Somalia’s rescuer and multiple visits by Erdoğan to Somalia especially in what is considered a relatively difficult time for the Somali people were designed to convey that exact message but economically, Turkey stands to gain more from Somalia and Mogadishu than it lets on.

Image result for erdogan visits mogadishu
Erdoğan and his wife in Mogadishu.

According to some estimates, the most profitable route in Turkish Airlines is the Mogadishu – Ankara route. And aside from the large visible projects, there are tens of thousands of Turkish citizens living and working in Mogadishu.

Despite the obvious economic gains Turkey is making in Somalia, it is gearing up to do even more business in that war-torn country.

Getting involved in one of the least stable country in the world, Turkey is employing the concept of first mover advantage. This means less competition from the Chinese and other actors vying for influence in Africa.

Turkey heavy bet on Somalia and specifically Mogadishu is yielding economic results for Turkey beyond what Erdoğan has expected. In fact, Turkey’s largest embassy in the world is not where you would expect, like Washington DC, Brussels or Berlin, it is in Mogadishu, Somalia.

One of the most attractive features of Turkey’s patronage of Somalia is it is non-interference posture in Somalia’s domestic politics. It is worth nothing that Somalia ranked lowest in global corruption index and any country that is willing to look the other way is a welcome reprieve from the usual admonishment for President Farmajo’s weak administration.

Turkey in Somaliland

The most visible contribution of Turkey to Somaliland is a recent 216 medical machines donated by TIKA, the Turkish aid agency to Hargeisa Group Hospital.

Although this particular instance has been widely publicized by TIKA, Somaliland Chronicle has been unable to locate anything of note done in Somaliland either by Turkish Government or it is aid agency TIKA.

There are, however, multiple unfulfilled pledges by the Turkish Government in the past to help build roads in Somaliland according to multiple former and current Somaliland Government officials. None of these pledges have materialized.

One thing of note is that Turkey has been particularly adept in dangling a carrot of aid and development or simply inviting them to Istanbul on a whirlwind of meetings and tours to get them to buy into the importance of Somaliland and Somalia talks.

No other country has put so much effort to try to mediate Somaliland and Somalia as much as Turkey. In fact, this might be the only thing Turkey has done in Somaliland. There were many rounds of talks that hosted by the Turks in the past and personally supervised by President Erdoğan himself, unfortunately, these talks have been a disaster for Somaliland.

Turkey’s obsession with Somaliland is rooted in the simple fact that the rift between Gulf states of UAE and Saudi Arabia on one side and Qatar, Turkey and Iran on one side has been playing out in Somaliland and Somalia.

Image result for somaliland dpworld signing
President of Somaliland HE Muse Bihi Abdi and DP World CEO Mr. Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem

The United Arab Emirates base in Berbera and DP World managing the Port gives the UAE and its ally Saudi Arabia an advantage and a foothold in the strategic 850 kilometers of Red Sea coastline with a direct access to Bab Al-mandab.

Turkey and Qatar has been spending heavily in trying to unseat the Emirates from both the military base and the Berbera Port by mobilizing the Somali government to oppose these deals. Additionally, Turkey has been advancing particular talking points that have been seeping into public discourse in Somaliland such as the importance of Somaliland – Somalia talks, the ramifications of hosting a foreign army in Somaliland via the UAE base and the deterioration of service at the Berbera Port. These same exact talking points are parroted by many civil organizations and opposition parties in Somaliland.

Somaliland has repeatedly signaled it’s willingness to talk to Somalia but its demand for the international community including the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union to get involved and President Bihi’s impossible task for the Turks to raise their level of support for Somaliland to something comparable to Somalia’s almost guarantees that Turkey’s role will be a lot smaller in future dialogue between the two countries.

Three Reasons why Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Should not be Allowed to become the next African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson


Mahmoud Youssouf, the fiery and polarizing Foreign Minister of Djibouti, has boldly thrown his hat into the ring for the highly contested position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission. With this move, he becomes the third contender from the East African region, following in the footsteps of the charismatic opposition leader and ex-prime minister, Raila Odinga. However, Youssouf’s candidacy has quickly gained momentum, placing him as the second frontrunner in the race. Despite facing stiff competition from the former Somali deputy prime minister and current federal parliament member, Fawzia Yusuf, Odinga’s strong backing from numerous African leaders has solidified his position as the ultimate frontrunner. The stage is set for a fierce battle as these three powerful candidates vie for the coveted role of AU Commission Chairperson.

Despite the fact that the Djiboutian Foreign Minister harbors a strong desire for the coveted AU Commission chairmanship, his ulterior motives are rooted in seeking geopolitical dominance for his country alone. This narrow-minded ambition, fueled by his personal political ideologies, blatantly disregards the importance of promoting fair economic integration and sustainable peace in the Horn of Africa region. In essence, his flawed intentions can be attributed to three crucial factors.

It’s noteworthy that Djibouti, long aligned with Somaliland, has kept its unrecognized neighbor in a diplomatic purgatory. Privately, particularly to influential players like the United States, it has downplayed Somaliland’s importance. However, Djibouti has taken a public stance against the Somaliland-Ethiopian Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), indicating a recognition of Somaliland’s potential as a significant economic rival to its port and geostrategic economy.

Considering this perspective, Djibouti’s strong support for Somalia’s stance on the MoU, coupled with its recent closeness to Mogadishu and President Hassan Sh. Mohamed, raises suspicions. Djibouti might be hedging its bets in the African Union race by potentially backing both Somalia and its own Foreign Minister. This strategy aims to prevent Kenya’s candidate, Raila Odinga, a known ally of Somaliland, from obstructing Abiy Ahmed and Muse Bihi’s emerging alliance.

Reason #1:

Mr Yousuf’s candidacy poses a potential threat to Somaliland’s recognition, an issue that has been under consideration since a unique UN study in 2005 commended it as deserving international acknowledgment. When Congressman Payne inquired about the penalization of Somaliland in 2008 due to Mogadishu’s disarray, Djibouti’s Foreign Minister deflected blame onto Ethiopia, citing its opposition to a stronger Somalia, which he claimed bred instability and balkanized Somaliland. This argument is a typical red herring peddled by those who refuse to acknowledge Somaliland’s achievements in democracy, state building, and strong institutions, feats which are rarities in both the Horn of Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Reason #2:

Mr. Yousuf’s support for Abdullahi Yussuf’s presidency in Somalia was grounded in a misguided belief that he had previously quashed the SNM in Somaliland, a feat he thought could be replicated. Contrarily, during that period, Abdullahi Yussuf led the SDDF rebels against Siad Barre, who later bribed them to abandon their pursuit of change. What demands scrutiny is Mr. Yousuf’s denial of the Isaaq genocide perpetrated by Siad Barre. His hope that another Darod politician, hostile towards the Isaaq, could repeat such atrocities is deeply troubling and unfathomable.

Reason #3:

Mr. Yousuf supports the Houthis, causing harm to African trade: In a political forum organized by the Heritage Institute in Djibouti in 2023, Youssouf stated, “God bless the Houthis…We didn’t want to be part of the US coalition…the attacks need to stop as they harm our economy but we share the same feelings with the Houthis.” This statement is not only ironic, but also alarming as it shows that Youssouf supports the Houthis who are attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea, ultimately impacting African trade between the Gulf and EU countries.

For two decades, Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf has advocated policies that seem to hold Somaliland hostage, delaying its development until Somalia catches up, a strategy akin to a forced, unratified, and illegal union. From advocating a Saudi livestock ban that stifle economic growth, to blocking Chinese-Ethiopian plans to develop an oil export hub in Somaliland’s Berbera port, and undermining Somaliland’s democracy by promoting politicians with Djiboutian passports, his actions have been questionable.

The African Union requires leaders who encourage unity and economic integration, rather than those who propagate a divisive, colonial mentality. The last thing the AU needs is a politician like Yousuf, who obstructs potential agreements such as the Ethiopia-Somaliland MOU — a plan that could economically liberate approximately 120 million people, a feat seven times more impactful than the American Marshall Plan that provided relief for 17 million Europeans.


Guled Ahmed is a Resident Scholar with the Middle East Institute and an expert in Horn of Africa Security and Development.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, or viewpoints of Somaliland Chronicle, and its staff. 

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Notice: This article by Somaliland Chronicle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License. Under this license, all reprints and non-commercial distribution of this work are permitted.

Horn of Africa’s New Security Landscape: Geopolitical Consequences of the Conflict-Cooperation Dynamics


The Horn of Africa region is at the core of regional and international contentions. It enjoys a unique location on Bab El-Mandeb Strait and the Red Sea, diverse natural resources and fertile soil, a history and the present replete with conflicts and wars within and among regional countries. The region has many overlapping and competing ethnicities and several demographic and political factors. These complexities lead to a constant shift in the dynamics of conflict and cooperation, making the region stuck in a network of regional security issues.

The Horn of Africa region has recently been going through a critical juncture that puts its stability at stake, with regional – and perhaps international – repercussions. The conflict in Sudan between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has expanded. There is political and security uncertainty in Somalia due to political divisions, the threat of terror from Al-Shabab Movement, and turmoil in the southeast of Somaliland. Moreover, Ethiopia’s efforts to access a seaport have caused tension with neighboring countries on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

In January 2024, a crisis erupted with Somalia after Ethiopia signed an MoU with Somaliland, giving Addis Ababa access to the Berbera Port on the Red Sea. Mogadishu viewed it as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The crisis undermined Djibouti’s efforts to resume talks between Somalia and Somaliland. This coincided with foreign powers becoming active to benefit from regional shifts, boost their influence, and gain more competitive advantages.

The Crisis of the Ethiopia-Somaliland Maritime Agreement

The most significant development expressing Ethiopia’s strategic project for expansion to the Red Sea was the Addis Ababa-Somaliland MoU on January 1. This MoU gives the Ethiopian Navy access to the Berbera Port for commercial purposes and a potential military base on the shores of the Gulf of Aden. In exchange, Addis Ababa promised to recognize Somaliland as a sovereign country and gain some stakes in Ethiopian Airlines. 

The Somali federal government – which summoned its ambassador in Addis Ababa as an expression of its outright rejection of the agreement, viewing it as a “violation” of its sovereignty and a threat to its territorial integrity and vital security – continues to obstruct efforts to mediate between Mogadishu and Addis Ababa. Somalia demands “Ethiopia’s withdrawal from the illegal MoU and Addis Ababa’s reiterating Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Despite efforts by Abiy Ahmed’s government to engage its Somali counterpart to de-escalate tension and ensure a political solution, Ethiopia’s discourse has failed to calm Mogadishu’s fears regarding Ethiopia’s potential military presence on the shores of Somaliland and recognize the latter as a sovereign country because this will motivate the separatist inclinations of other Somali states.

The diplomatic controversy between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu increased after Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud accused Ethiopia of attempting to prevent him from entering the African Union headquarters to participate in the African Summit held in Addis Ababa from February 17-18. It has also deepened Somalis’ fears that Addis Ababa seeks to impose its perceptions by force, exploiting their country’s fragile situation.

While efforts to defuse the Ethiopian-Somali crisis have been discussed, notably by Kenyan President William Ruto, who has attempted to engage in back-channel diplomacy to facilitate negotiations, a direct meeting between their leaders, Sheikh Mohamud and Abiy Ahmed, remains elusive. Despite these attempts, there are no indications that the escalating tensions between Mogadishu and Addis Ababa, exacerbated by ongoing negotiations between the latter and Hargeisa, can be effectively contained. The crisis is anticipated to strain bilateral relations and significantly alter the geopolitical dynamics and calculations across the wider region. 

These tensions threaten regional cooperation and integration, particularly in regional security and counterterrorism efforts in Somalia and the Horn of Africa. They may also catalyze external involvement in the region and exacerbate water disputes in the Nile Basin, particularly given the impasse in discussions concerning the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Addis Ababa’s potential plans to develop similar projects on other rivers. This could disrupt freshwater flows to neighboring countries like the Woya Shabelle and Dawa rivers.

Even if both parties are willing to mitigate their differences, explore potential avenues for resolving the crisis, and address their concerns through amicable and cooperative means, achieving such a scenario appears optimistic. It will undoubtedly be challenging and will necessitate significant political will, genuine concessions, and the presence of objective conditions and geopolitical circumstances, which could involve addressing the issue of “Somaliland.”

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA – JANUARY 11: Hundreds protest against Ethiopia signing a memorandum of understanding for maritime access with Somaliland, which declared its unilateral independence from the country, in Mogadishu, Somalia on January 11, 2023. Abuukar Mohamed Muhidin / Anadolu (Photo by Abuukar Mohamed Muhidin / ANADOLU / Anadolu via AFP)

Heightened Somalia-Somaliland Tensions

The recent deal struck by President Muse Bihi Abdi’s government with the Ethiopian state has undermined Djibouti’s efforts, which were made just days earlier, to resume talks between Mogadishu and Hargeisa. It has also reset relations between the two entities, sparking a fresh cycle of tensions and mutual accusations. These tensions include disputes over airspace management, marking a departure from previous agreements focused on security, depoliticization of international aid, and airspace management.

On January 17 and 18, the Somali Civil Aviation Authority blocked two cargo planes destined for Hargeisa: One Ethiopian plane, purportedly carrying a high-level Ethiopian delegation to finalize a maritime agreement with Somaliland, and the other Thai plane, allegedly transporting an arms shipment to the secessionist region. This air conflict represents the first of its kind since the Federal Government of Somalia assumed control of its airspace at the end of 2017. The conflict has raised concerns about its impact on air traffic. It poses a new challenge for regional and international stakeholders concerned with maintaining regional security and international aviation safety.

The charged atmosphere highlights the depth of the crisis and the entrenched tensions in the north and south of Somalia. It underscores the intricate interplay of local dynamics, regional factors, and international alliances in the Horn of Africa. While Somalia endeavors to bolster its strategic standing by forging defense and economic partnerships with Türkiye and Egypt, it seeks to solidify its stance on the Somaliland issue, framing it as an “internal affair” to tighten external isolation and constraints on Hargeisa. Conversely, Somaliland endeavors to assert its independence from Mogadishu’s influence, asserting that the latter lacks the requisite power to impose sovereignty.

Thus, it consistently downplays the Sheikh Mohamud government’s efficacy. It cautions external powers against siding with Somalia against the “will of the people of Somaliland.” Hargeisa reaffirms its commitment to disengage from the Somali state, proceed with the maritime agreement, and bolster defense and security cooperation with Addis Ababa. It increasingly relies on its significant neighbor, Ethiopia, viewing its path to independence and international recognition as largely dependent on Addis Ababa’s support, particularly amid escalating threats to stability in Somaliland.

Somalis celebrate the victory of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he won the presidential run-off election during the celebration organised by the government in Mogadishu, on May 29, 2023. (Photo by Hassan Ali Elmi / AFP)

New Turkish Engagement

Amid ongoing geopolitical tensions in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea and against the escalating crisis between Somalia and Ethiopia, Türkiye, and Somalia, they reached a significant milestone on February 8. They finalized the Defense and Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, which was swiftly ratified by the Somali Parliament two weeks later. Under this agreement, Türkiye commits to safeguarding Somalia’s coasts and waters for 10 years, shielding them from “foreign invasion and external interference” and illicit activities such as piracy, overfishing, drug smuggling, and terrorism.

Additionally, Türkiye will assist Somalia in bolstering its naval forces, enhancing maritime security capabilities, and advancing maritime resource development and blue economy initiatives. Somali officials hailed these aspects, among others covered in the agreement, as “historic.” However, the agreement faced rejection from the Somaliland government and the extremist al-Shabab al-Mujahideen movement.

Based on available information, the comprehensive agreement, which will follow detailed sub-protocols, entails significant security and economic benefits for Türkiye. This agreement will bolster Türkiye’s presence in Somalia and its territorial waters, granting Türkiye access to Somali airspace and security zones. Furthermore, Türkiye will receive 30 percent of the revenues from Somalia’s exclusive economic zone.

Turkish involvement in Somalia’s hydrocarbon reserves, estimated to be tens of billions of barrels (approximately 30 billion barrels, according to US estimates), has already commenced. On March 7, the Turkish Energy Minister and his Somali counterpart for petroleum and mineral resources signed an agreement to explore oil and gas within Somalia’s economic zone.

This development coincided with Ankara dispatching a high-level military delegation to Mogadishu. It occurred shortly after Sheikh Mohamud’s visit to Türkiye to participate in the Antalya Diplomatic Forum, during which he received assurances from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regarding Ankara’s commitment to supporting Somalia in safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity. These actions underscore the mutual determination of both parties to promptly translate their directives into tangible steps to reinforce their partnership.

While the Somali president has reiterated that the defense cooperation agreement signed with Türkiye is not directed against any third party, implicitly referring to Ethiopia, it is framed within the context of advancing Somalia’s interests and safeguarding its territorial waters from external ambitions. However, some observers argue that Türkiye’s presence could potentially contribute to establishing a form of balance, limiting Ethiopia’s maneuvering space and slowing down its efforts to proceed with its maritime agreement with Somaliland. Moreover, it may enhance Ankara’s leverage and increase the likelihood of actively mediating and mitigating the crisis.

However, the Turkish initiative underscores a broader strategic vision to extend its military presence beyond borders to enhance influence and safeguard interests in the Horn of Africa and East Africa. Through defense agreements with Ethiopia, Kenya, and most recently, Djibouti, where it signed three cooperation agreements on February 19, Ankara is positioning itself to emerge as a significant player in regional security affairs and address various regional and African challenges. This approach aligns with Türkiye’s expanding network of economic relations and its evolving geopolitical aspirations.

The Turkish-Somali agreement carries more profound implications and potentially wider repercussions than the Ethiopian-Somaliland MoU. This is particularly evident in reshaping relationships, forging alliances, and altering the Horn of Africa’s balance and dynamics. The region is experiencing heightened international and regional competition, given its increasing geopolitical and economic significance in the strategic considerations of competing powers. This trend is underscored by major global transformations, including indications of a new multipolar world order and evolving dynamics in critical minerals markets, driven by the global shift towards new and sustainable energy sources.

A general view of the logo of the African Union at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa on February 15, 2024. (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP)

How Can We Contribute to Containing Crises?

Gulf states and international partners, particularly Western nations, are keenly interested in restoring the Horn of Africa’s stability. This includes increasing investment in collective action mechanisms and platforms to contain crises and reduce hotspots of tension in the region. These efforts also aim to reformulate relations and interactions between local actors, governments, and states while mitigating the risks of proxy conflicts and internationalizing issues in the Horn of Africa. These initiatives enhance regional peace and security and foster win-win partnerships by fostering climates that rationalize competition and cooperation.

Considering the entrenched positions, current tensions, and mistrust among local and regional actors, it is crucial to discuss guarantees, incentives, and joint pressures necessary to steer them toward peaceful resolutions of existing crises. In this context, the following guidelines should be considered:

  • Enhance joint diplomatic engagement to address conflicts in the Horn of Africa and East Africa. It has become evident that the adherence to the mantra African Solutions to African Problems (ASAP) has sometimes complicated and prolonged regional conflicts. This is due to the lack of proactive strategies by the African Union and regional organizations to prevent conflicts and establish mechanisms for finding final and sustainable solutions, ensuring that parties involved are committed to their implementation.
  • Preventing and de-escalating tensions between Mogadishu and Addis Ababa and between Mogadishu and Somaliland should be a priority. Drawing lessons from similar international cases and conflicts could offer insights into reconciling Ethiopia’s maritime ambitions with Mogadishu’s sovereignty and territorial integrity concerns.
  • Increase focus on the situation in Somaliland and address its long-standing issues. It is imperative to inform the parties involved in the Somali crisis about the potential consequences of escalating internal hostilities and pursuing “zero-sum” policies. Emphasize the importance of restoring cooperation, particularly in security and airspace management, and addressing common threats such as terrorism and drought. There is also a need to push for the resumption of negotiations between Mogadishu and Hargeisa and develop a roadmap for a settlement between them.
  • Intensify efforts pressure conflicting factions in Sudan to de-escalate tensions and pursue peace. Develop a clear roadmap to resolve the crisis and address its underlying causes. This should include practical plans to expedite and resume negotiations, focusing on achieving an interim cessation of hostilities that can be extended and used as a foundation to build confidence and initiate a comprehensive political process in the country.
  • There is a critical need for powerful external actors to engage sincerely in efforts to resolve crises in the Horn of Africa rather than exploiting them for their interests. It is essential to foster healthy and positive competition to prevent the region from suffering the adverse consequences of external polarization and competition. This can be achieved by increasing coordination among external actors, states, and regional actors to align objectives and minimize conflicts of interest. It is imperative to agree on reliable and diversified paths for long-term cooperation and to explore new opportunities and prospects for expanding partnerships to enhance mutual benefits.

The Emirates Policy Center (EPC), an independent think tank with its headquarters in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, originally published this opinion piece.

Somaliland & UK Parliamentarians Met to Discuss Important Issues


A delegation from England made up of members of the UK Parliament was received yesterday by MP Sayid Mire Farah (Gire), the First Deputy Chairman of the Somaliland House of Representatives who is also currently the Acting Chairman of that House, together with a number of other representatives.

The members of the UK Parliament, known for staunchly backing the Somaliland case for recognition, are accompanied by journalists from the British media and experts from the College Green Group firm.

London, England is home to the public relations company College Green Group. The company specializes in strategic campaigns and communication, assisting clients in influencing laws and achieving other political objectives.

According to a press release outlining the topics discussed at the meeting, the two sides discussed and exchanged ideas during the meeting at the House of Representatives Chamber. They also emphasized the close ties that exist between Somaliland and Great Britain as well as the role that the UK government can play in assisting Somaliland’s independence, particularly in light of global politics, the Horn of Africa, and the country’s democratic transition.

“Chairman Gire briefed the delegation on the journey of present-day Somaliland Republic for resuming its statehood and the eight one-vote-one-person elections that ensued since 2001 as well as the referendum on the Nation’s Constitution,” according to a statement from the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives in Somaliland is the lower house of the two houses of the Somaliland Parliament, and its role in legislating, monitoring, and representing the electorate is paramount.

The chairman went on to discuss the important laws that he approved during his tenure, including the “Amendment of the General Elections and Voter Registration Act, which made it possible to schedule holding joint elections for the President and the political organizations slated for later this year.”

According to the same press release, members of the ruling Conservative Party in the UK Parliament, Tim Loughton and Alexander Stafford, expressed their appreciation for the warm reception and pledged support for the Republic of Somaliland’s democracy and sound governance.

The delegates emphasized the significance of maintaining peace and commerce in this region for the benefit of the global community as well as the need to fortify the bonds of friendship and collaboration that bind Somaliland to its allies abroad.

“The MPs pointed out the need to work together in order to prevent obstacles that could derail the regaining of Somaliland’s independence by accelerating the international flirtation and highlighting the determination Somaliland people for recognition.”

To further enhance the role that members of both sides may play in strengthening the ties between the two nations, both sides decided to establish a joint forum that links members of the Somaliland Parliament and friends in the UK. This is what the press release stated.

The meeting was attended by MP Hussein Ismail Jama, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Committee of the Somaliland House of Representatives; MP Abu Bakar Said Ali, the deputy chairman of the Finance and Economic Committees; and MP Ibrahim Ali Jama, MP Omar Jama Farah, MP Mubarak Muse Ismail, Prof. Hassan Mohamed Jama (Hasan-Hiis), the presidential advisor on development affairs and international relations, and MP Mohamed Osman Limo of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Investment, and International Relations.

When the Somaliland public went shopping for the impending Eid Fidri, which marks the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan, members of the UK parliament strolled with Mayor Mooge around the downtown area of the nation’s capital city of Hargeisa without fear of terrorist attacks or criminal activity.

Speaking last night on behalf of a visiting UK delegation to Somaliland was Honorable MP Alex_Stafford.

Turkey and Ethiopia have had close ties for many years: Somalia maritime deals may shift the dynamics


Michael B. Bishku, Augusta University

Ethiopia and Turkey, which have had cordial ties since the early 20th century, have drawn even closer in recent years as both battle criticism from the west over domestic policies. But new developments are putting the relationship to the test. These include Turkey assuming the role of protecting Somalia’s waters – deemed to include the Gulf of Aden – as well as efforts by Ethiopia to gain access to the sea through a deal with Somaliland.

Michael Bishku, a Middle Eastern and African history scholar who has recently researched Ethiopia-Turkey relations, explains why Turkey’s ties with Ethiopia are largely economic while those with Somalia are sentimental, in assisting an impoverished Muslim country.

What binds Ethiopia and Turkey historically?

Turkey and its predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire, have had a long history of interactions in the Horn of Africa, going back to the 16th century. But formal diplomatic ties between Ethiopia’s Emperor Menelik II and the Ottoman Empire’s Sultan Abdul Hamid II were not initiated until 1896. At the time, the Ethiopians had just defeated the Italians at the Battle of Adwa. In 1889, the Italians began to occupy the largest share of Somalia, while the British established a protectorate in the Somaliland region in 1898. Ethiopia did not participate in the first world war and Britain and Italy were part of the victorious Entente. After the war, the Ottoman Empire, as part of the defeated Central Powers, was partitioned. Turkey, by 1923, asserted control over Turkish areas of the former empire.

The new Republic of Turkey opened its first embassy in sub-Saharan Africa in Addis Ababa in 1926. Ethiopia reciprocated by setting up its embassy in Ankara in 1933.

When Italy invaded Ethiopia between 1935 and 1937, Turkish soldiers volunteered for the Ethiopian army, with the Turkish government strongly supporting sanctions against Italy. During the occupation, which lasted until 1941, Ethiopia’s embassy in Turkey never closed. Turkey was neutral until the end of the second world war. But it embraced alliance with the United States after the war, as did Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia.

Relations between Turkey and Ethiopia remained close during the 1960s. At the time, both countries took the pragmatic approach of improving relations with both the Soviet bloc and the Arab world.

In 1974, Haile Selassie was overthrown by the military. The military then established a Marxist regime in Ethiopia which lasted until 1991. Relations were suspended by Turkey during this time.

What’s the history of Turkey’s relations with Somalia?

A united Somalia, including former British Somaliland, achieved independence in 1960. The enlarged state coveted the Somali-populated Ogaden region in Ethiopia. Turkey did not establish an embassy in Somalia until 1979, when that country shifted away from close ties to the Soviet bloc in the midst of a war against Ethiopia when it attempted unsuccessfully to occupy Ogaden (1977-1978).

Somalia’s President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991 and the country fell into chaos. The Turkish embassy closed until 2011. Turkey participated in the two United Nations operations in Somalia, the first one between 1992 and 1993 and the second one from 1993 to 1995.

In 2011 Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was then Turkey’s prime minister and whose government regarded itself as a defender of Sunni Muslim interests, became the first non-African leader to visit Somalia in two decades. Five years later, he visited the country again as president, to open Turkey’s largest embassy complex in the world. Mogadishu’s airport and seaport are run by Turkish companies.

In 2017, Turkey opened a military base in Mogadishu to train Somali soldiers. It has also built hospitals and infrastructure though the offices of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) as well as providing scholarships for Somalis to study in Turkey.

Turkey has provided more than US$1 billion in humanitarian aid since 2011, part of which came from Muslim NGOs.

Both Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) support the efforts of the Somali government against the threat of al-Shabaab.

The UAE’s assistance to Somalia has been far less than that of Turkey. However, it’s been involved in the country in other ways. In 2015, it also participated in the second UN peacekeeping operation in Somalia, and set up a military training facility in Mogadishu. It also upgraded Berbera airport in Somaliland and manages two Somali ports: Berbera and Bosaso. Bosaso Port is in Puntland, another breakaway Somali territory.

These moves were regarded as a means to increase security against Iran and its Houthi ally in Yemen.

How does Somaliland complicate matters?

Somaliland declared its independence in 1991. But it is still internationally recognised as a de jure part of Somalia.

Ethiopia, Turkey and Djibouti have established consulates in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital city. Other countries such as Kenya and the UAE have liaison offices there. But only the UAE and Ethiopia have bypassed Mogadishu to make deals directly with the Somaliland government even though the UAE publicly supports the territorial integrity of Somalia.

The UAE’s deal involved setting up a military base in Somaliland and training Somaliland’s security forces.

In January 2024 Ethiopia and Somaliland signed a memorandum of understanding under which Somaliland has offered Ethiopia port access through a lease for 50 years of 20km of Somaliland’s coastline. In return, Ethiopia would give Somaliland diplomatic recognition.

Somalia countered the announcement of this deal by making Turkey a key security partner. Turkey is to train and equip Somalia’s naval force and help patrol the Somalia’s coastline.

Michael B. Bishku, Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern and African History, Augusta University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Embracing Balkanization: A Path to Peace and Prosperity in the Somali Region


The recent developments in the Somali region, including Puntland’s decision to assert autonomy and Somaliland’s longstanding pursuit of independence, present an opportunity to reshape the regional landscape positively. Far from signaling the “crumble” of greater Somalia, these developments underscore the resilience and agency of Somali communities in shaping their own destinies. Embracing diversity and recognizing the unique aspirations of each region can pave the way for a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous future for all.

Puntland’s move towards greater autonomy reflects a desire among its people to assert their identity and govern themselves effectively. By withdrawing recognition of the Federal Government of Somalia and seeking to engage directly with the international community, Puntland is taking steps towards greater self-determination and independence. This shift can be a catalyst for stronger governance structures, enhance local decision-making, and empower communities to address their own needs and challenges.

Similarly, Somaliland’s pursuit of independence, spanning over three decades, demonstrates the resilience and determination of its people to chart their own course. Despite facing numerous obstacles and enduring years of unrecognized statehood, Somaliland has maintained stability, built democratic institutions, and fostered economic development. The recent proposal for an Ethiopian naval base in Somaliland in reciprocal to its statehood recognition presents an opportunity to strengthen regional cooperation, enhance maritime security, and bolster economic ties.

By embracing the diversity of the Somalis in horn of Africa region and recognizing the legitimacy of diverse governance structures, regional actors can unlock the full potential of the Somali people. Djibouti, Somaliland, Puntland, and South Somalia each have unique strengths, resources, and contributions to offer. By fostering dialogue, cooperation, and mutual respect among these entities, the Somali region can harness its collective potential to address shared challenges, promote economic growth, and build a more stable and prosperous future.

Regional and international stakeholders play a crucial role in supporting the positive trajectory of the Somali region. By respecting the sovereignty and autonomy of each entity, supporting inclusive dialogue, and facilitating cooperation, the international community can contribute to peace, security, and development in the region. Moreover, investments in infrastructure, education, and economic development can create opportunities for all Somali communities, promoting shared prosperity and reducing the drivers of conflict and instability.

As greater Somali region navigates its path towards peace, stability, and prosperity, there is much to be gleaned from the success story of the Gulf countries. The Gulf region, encompassing nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, stands as a shining example of how diversity, cooperation, and visionary leadership can transform societies and propel them towards unprecedented growth and development. By embracing the Gulf model, greater Somalia has the opportunity to chart a course towards a brighter future, characterized by economic prosperity, social progress, and regional cooperation.

At the heart of the Gulf model lies a commitment to unity amidst diversity. Despite being comprised of distinct nations with varying cultures, traditions, and governance structures, the Gulf countries have forged strong bonds of cooperation and collaboration. This unity has been instrumental in driving economic diversification, attracting foreign investment, and fostering innovation across sectors such as finance, technology, and infrastructure. Similarly, greater Somalia, with its diverse countries and communities, can harness the power of unity to overcome historical divisions and build a more inclusive and cohesive society.

Lastly, the recent developments in the Somali region offer a unique opportunity to redefine the narrative from one of fragmentation and discord to one of unity, resilience, and progress. By embracing diversity, respecting the rights and aspirations of all Somali communities, and fostering cooperation and dialogue, the region can overcome its challenges and build a future of peace, security, and prosperity for generations to come.

About the Author

Mr. Mohamed Aideed, co-founder of the BARWAAQO Party in Somaliland and the founder of Somaliland Youth Development and Voluntary Organization (SOYDAVO). Mr. Aideed holds a Master of Arts degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from Kampala University. Mr. Aideed is a commentator on on East and Horn of Africa politics, he has published notable work on the Somaliland-Somalia Talks.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints of the Somaliland Chronicle, and its staff. 

Creative Commons License

Notice: This article by Somaliland Chronicle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Under this license, all reprints and non-commercial distribution of this work is permitted.

Sahra Halgan Rose to Prominence as One of Africa’s Top Rock Stars


In the late 1980s, Sahra Halgan gave up her dreams of becoming a singer to join Somaliland’s secession movement, becoming a self-taught, gun-toting nurse tending to injured fighters.

But she soon realized that just as powerful as her newfound bandaging skills was the comfort she could provide with her voice.

“I don’t know why, but the people injured by gunshots – the pain was coming at night,” she recalls from her home in Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland. “We didn’t have nothing at that time – no painkillers, no antibiotics. And I said we will sing together. Song is not just for the concerts, for the festivals, to become rich. The song becomes the medical supplies, it becomes the army, it’s everything.” 

It was during this time that Sahra Ahmed Mohamoud earned her moniker Halgan – meaning fighter – that she took as her stage name.

Her unbridled faith in the potency of performance is written through every note of her third album, released March 29. Titled Hiddo Dhawr (Preserve Culture) – the same name as the music venue she established a decade ago in her home city – it is a pulsating fusion of Somali folk and French rock, full of rough guitar riffs, palpitating percussion and vintage keys. 

Its first single – Sharaf – is, the 53-year-old singer says, “a hymn to the pride and dignity of the human being”. It opens with her waving her national flag, with “I [heart] Somaliland” printed along its central white stripe. The state is still unrecognized by the international community.

After gaining independence from the UK in 1960, Somaliland – a territory to the north of Somalia, in the Horn of Africa – only existed as a sovereign entity for five days before it was absorbed into the Republic of Somalia (which had also gained its independence, from Italy).

In 1969, General Mohamed Siad Barre took power via a military coup and by the late 1980s, a recession fuelled internal turmoil, while Barre’s regime became more authoritarian, bombing his own people. At the same time, the anti-Barre Somali National Movement (SNM) in Somaliland took up arms and fought for independence. 

Halgan supported the SNM rebels, but in 1991 – after Hargeisa was turned to rubble – she fled first to Djibouti, and then on to France.

Halgan had started to become famous in her home country, but in Europe, she was a nameless refugee. “No one knew who I was. I became a cleaner, I worked helping disabled people.”

She raised five children – now in their 20s and 30s – and formed a trio with drummer and percussionist Aymeric Krol (founder of French-Malian band BKO Quintet) and guitarist Maël Saletes, who she met in Lyon. All her songs are in Somali, but her French band-mates provide backing vocals. 

She returned in 2013 keen to help rebuild her homeland. But tensions in Somaliland have not disappeared. For the first couple of years after she opened Hiddo Dhawr – a complex of traditional Somali huts – it was the only music venue in the city and she had local religious men arriving to try to close her down. Her response was straightforward: “I said to them, ‘during the civil war, I was a singer and my song became a medical tool, and then where were you? At that time, we needed you – where were you?’ And he didn’t give me an answer. I said, ‘leave me alone.’”

Halgan – who began singing aged 13 – is used to people trying to silence her voice. Her mother’s father was a singer, but her father’s family “don’t like it – until now. They said ‘Now you have a child, you have a daughter, why you sing?’ And then I say, ‘I love to sing – it’s no problem.’ But they said, ‘When you stop to sing? I said, I tell you on that day.’” That day does not look like it will be coming very soon. 

Halgan mentions the UK’s history with Somaliland – the British protectorate was established in 1884 – and says: “The people of Britain, I demand support for our cause.” She asks whether it is attitudes to Islam that are delaying progress: “What is preventing us from being recognized? It is our right. We got our independence in 1960. We need a reason why we aren’t recognized, if it’s not because of religion. What is the world waiting for? We can do this but what are they waiting for from us? I don’t know. They must respond.”

However, she has lost none of her belief in the liberating capacity of music. “When you sing, everybody comes to see you and is laughing and dancing,” she says. “In this world now, everything divides people, [whether] it’s political, religion, [or] money. But we have only one thing to bring us together. It’s music.”

Sahra Halgan’s new album, Hiddo Dhawr, is released on 29 March

U.S. Influence in Africa Wanes Amid Somalia’s Crisis and Geopolitical Rivalry with China and Russia


As Somalia faces escalating security threats and the resurgence of the militant organization al-Shabaab, the United States is encountering significant obstacles in maintaining its strategic interests in the region.

General Michael E. Langley, who assumed command of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2021, expressed apprehension regarding Somalia’s ability to counter terrorism during his tenure. Langley’s appointment to AFRICOM coincided with Somalia’s battle against the al-Shabaab threat, marking a critical period for security efforts in the country.

Nearly a year ago, General Michael E. Langley voiced optimism about Somalia’s potential to confront the terrorist group Al-Shabaab. He highlighted the Somali government’s adoption of a comprehensive “whole government approach,” emphasizing efforts beyond kinetic action. However, recent testimony from General Langley suggests that this optimism may have been premature, as Somalia continues to grapple with the challenge posed by Al-Shabaab.

Despite substantial resources and ongoing support allocated to Somalia’s security sector, recent events underscore the failure of both the Somali government and its international allies, including the United States, to effectively address the country’s security challenges.

The latest posture statement from USAFRICOM, presented to the House Armed Services Committee on March 21, 2024, sheds light on the escalating security crisis in Somalia. General Langley highlighted the persistent threat posed by al-Shabaab, whose attacks continue to target civilians and government officials. Despite U.S. support and military assistance, Somalia’s security forces have struggled to contain the insurgency, raising questions about their capacity and effectiveness.

Furthermore, the emergence of military juntas in West Africa further complicates U.S. efforts to promote security and stability on the continent. While the United States aims to counter the influence of China and Russia in East Africa, internal instability and governance failures in key partner countries undermine these efforts.

During his testimony, General Langley expressed deep concern about the escalating competition between the United States and China in Africa. He highlighted China’s aggressive economic investments and strategic partnerships on the continent as a direct challenge to U.S. interests. Additionally, General Langley raised alarms about the potential Russian military base in Eritrea, emphasizing the growing influence of strategic competitors in Africa. These developments underscore the urgency for the United States to reassess its approach and strengthen its engagement to counter the expanding presence of China and Russia in Africa.

China has significantly expanded its presence in Somalia, securing extensive concessions such as exclusive fishing licenses for Somali waters. However, despite these economic engagements, China’s contribution to the fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia is notably limited compared to other actors, particularly the United States, which has poured billions in humanitarian aid and has been actively involved in providing military support and assistance.

Moreover, recent events, such as the Al-Shabaab attack on a Mogadishu hotel and the civilian deaths resulting from a Turkish drone strike, highlight the complexities of Somalia’s security challenges and the risks associated with military interventions in densely populated areas.

The apparent inconsistency in U.S. policy towards the Somaliland-Ethiopian Memorandum of Understanding, highlighted by the State Department’s Africa Bureau’s opposition juxtaposed with support for Somalia’s objections, has raised doubts about the coherence of American strategic decisions in the region. This skepticism is exacerbated by the fact that Rep Ilhan Omar, who has been removed from her post in the Foreign Affairs Committee, still holds significant influence in shaping U.S. policy towards Somalia, as evidenced by her involvement in the U.S. Africa Policy Working Group meeting with the Assistant Secretary of State. Critics argue that this situation risks neglecting evolving geopolitical realities on the ground and jeopardizing U.S. interests in the region.

In late January, Representative Ilhan Omar claimed an unprecedented influence over U.S. policy regarding the Somaliland-Ethiopian Naval Base Agreement. Omar, facing increased scrutiny due to her recent removal from the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee, stirred further controversy by referring to Somalilanders as “Somali imposters” These blatantly racist remarks, delivered with fervent nationalism, have prompted concerns about her suitability in handling international matters.

Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center and former United States Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and Sahel, has warned of the consequences of Washington’s “One Somalia” policy. Pham’s analysis emphasizes the failure of the U.S. approach to Somalia and underscores the need for a nuanced understanding of the country’s complex dynamics. With militant groups like al-Shabaab gaining ground and military juntas rising in neighboring West Africa, Somalia’s crisis poses a significant challenge to U.S. interests in the region.

Furthermore, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Posture Statement for 2024, presented to the House Armed Services Committee, highlights the growing influence of China and Russia in East Africa. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Russia’s expanding military presence in the region present new challenges to U.S. dominance, complicating efforts to counter their influence effectively.

As Somalia’s security situation continues to deteriorate, experts call for a recalibration of U.S. policy towards the region, with a pivot towards recognizing the strategic importance of Somaliland. Without a comprehensive strategy addressing the root causes of insecurity and governance challenges, U.S. influence in East Africa is likely to further decline, leaving Somalia and the region vulnerable to exploitation by extremist groups and rival powers.

Civilian Deaths in Turkish Drone Strike Could Pose Legal Challenges for Turkey and Qatar


A drone strike outside of Mogadishu has resulted in the tragic loss of over 22 lives and left 21 others wounded, many of whom are children. According to The Washington Post, citing two anonymous security sources, the attack was executed by a Turkish drone.

The strike targeted a residential dwelling in Baghdad village in an agricultural district about 25 kilometers northeast of the Somali capital, during the evening after Ramadan Iftar. The area was reportedly quiet at the time, following clashes on the preceding day between NISA forces and Somali armed forces. Eyewitness accounts describe a harrowing scene as multiple strikes continued to hit, even as rescuers attempted to aid the initial victims of the trike, leading to a devastating toll on women and children in particular. At the time of reporting, neither the Somali nor the Turkish government had provided comments on the strike, while the U.S. Africa Command has refuted any involvement.

Turkey’s military presence in Somalia has been increasing, with forces there to train and bolster the Somali government’s campaign against Al-Shabab. This incident is likely to heighten scrutiny over Somalia’s dependency on drones from international allies in the fight against Al-Shabab and the consequences for civilian casualty. Marking a significant escalation, this is the first reported case of a Turkish-backed operation resulting in a massive civilian casualty. Human rights organizations and investigative journalists have previously documented civilian losses due to Pentagon-operated drones in Somalia.

Qatar’s Support to Drone Operations in Somalia 

Information obtained by The Somaliland Chronicle suggests that Qatari military personnel have been actively involved in drone operations in Somalia, collaborating with Turkish and Somali forces in training and execution of both surveillance and active strikes. It’s not clear if any Qatar personnel were involved in this specific operation. The United Nations panel of experts indicated that Turkey delivered Bayraktar TB2 drones to Mogadishu on December 6, 2021 via two Airbus A400M military cargo planes operated by the Turkish Air Force.

Two sources familiar with the operations disclosed to Somaliland Chronicle that Turkey supplies the drone technology and associated training, while Qatar finances the cost of operations, enabling Qatari military personnel to train in active combat operations to acquire hands-on combat experience. Meanwhile, the Somali Armed Forces receive training and contribute intelligence for the operations. As Somalia contends with a lingering conflict, this approach of international support—potentially more effective—raises complex issues of transparency and accountability. 

The UN investigators alleged that Turkey violated international sanctions on Somalia by supplying armed drones without notification to and approval of the UN. In response to letters of inquiry from the UN, Turkey claimed it had delivered the drones to a Turkish base in Mogadishu and that the goal was to contribute to the fight against terrorism. “Turkey informed the Panel that it has not delivered any type of unmanned combat aerial vehicles to the Somali authorities and that the systems in question are assigned to be used by Türkiye in the fight against terrorism in Somalia,” the report issued by the UN experts on October 18, 2022 stated. After 2017 diplomatic crisis between Qatar and other Gulf countries, Turkey and Qatar increased joint effort to compete with other Gulf countries by funding and supporting different political factions in Somalia. 

Since 2011, Somali military forces have been heavily reliant on U.S. aerial support. While this assistance saw a temporary halt in the final year of President Trump’s administration, President Biden’s resumption of military support in mid 2022, including drone strikes, has been cautious and measured to prevent civilian casualties. Somalia lobbied for more aerial support and other force multipliers from Turkey and other countries as it started a major offensive against Al-shabab. 

The accidental harm to civilians by drone strikes, involving forces from multiple nations, muddies accountability and legal compliance. International law requires combatants to differentiate between military and civilian targets. When non-combatants are inadvertently caught in the crossfire, the legality and culpability of these actions are fiercely debated. With the rules of engagement for these operations unclear, such incidents only deepen the existing complexities of warfare legality.

Ethiopia’s interest in recognising Somaliland.


Let’s leave out the “he said, she said” of Bloomberg’s fake news and discuss real geopolitics.

Having a navy near Bab Al Mandab signifies Ethiopia’s emergence as a major regional military power, while its leadership in recognising Somaliland serves as a diplomatic aspect of this emergence. Together, this puts an end to the vacuum filled by Houthi rebels as a result of Somalian anarchy and the lack of recognition of Somaliland.

The Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) causes short-term pain but is not a new phenomenon in international relations. That short-term pain often leads to rewarding gains, and that is why it is a power move reserved for major countries. Those who advocate for “territorial integrity” need to understand the ICJ ruling on Kosovo and review Wikipedia’s list of successful UDIs, which includes Greece, the United States, Indonesia, Namibia, and Bangladesh.

In that list, I use the Bangladesh example although Somaliland is not a case of secession but rather a case of state continuity, similar to the Baltic republics. However, I picked Bangladesh due to the geopolitical implications in the Horn of Africa, which mirror the tensions in the Indian subcontinent during the ’70s.

Bangladesh did not beg Pakistan for recognition and took the UDI route. India was the first major country to recognise Bangladesh. Tensions initially escalated but eventually eased after all countries recognised Bangladesh, with Pakistan being the last. That short-term pain is now part of the past, but it has left a lasting impact: reaffirming India’s hegemony in the subcontinent.

Similarly, Ethiopia’s interest in recognising Somaliland represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish an African hegemony in the Horn. As Africans, we should all rise together with Ethiopia rather than watch the Horn fall under the influence of Iran, Turkey, or the Arab Gulf states in a disordered, competitive, and neo-colonial manner.


Abdirahman Mohamed Abdi Daud is an Australian Somalilander and Software Engineer. Works as a principal developer for a financial technology company. Melbourne, Australia. Mr. Daud is also a Non-Resident Scholar at Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Hargeysa Somaliland

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints of the Somaliland Chronicle, and its staff. 

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Notice: This article by Somaliland Chronicle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Under this license, all reprints and non-commercial distribution of this work is permitted.

Somaliland Cabinet Reshuffled Again


Muse Bihi Abdi, the Somaliland president, reshuffled, dismissed, and made new appointments to his Council of Ministers on Sunday.

Suleiman Awad Ali Bukhari, the Minister of Transport and Road Development, was sacked by President Bihi, who then named Rabbi Abdi Mohamed in his place.

In addition, Mohamud Warsame Jama has been named as the new Fisheries Minister.

President Bihi picked Faisal Mohamud Said Abdulle as Somaliland’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Tourism and Abdinasir Aydid Mohamed Farah as the nation’s Deputy Minister of Agricultural Development.

Finally, Muse Ibrahim Yusuf Salaf was named to hold the position of Deputy Minister of Road Development and Transportation.

One day after President Bihi signed into law two crucial revised election laws – the Regulation of Organizations and Political Parties Law (No. 14/2023) and the Election and Voter Registration Law (No. 91/2023), the new ministries were appointed.

This legislation calls for the integration of Somaliland’s November 2024 presidential and political association elections, which were previously authorized by the Parliament.

For the past two years, the topic of election legislation has dominated political discourse in Somaliland, and sparked a divisive national conversation that pitted different facets of society against one another.

November 2024 is the date set by the chairman of Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (SLNEC) for the dual elections.