News / Africa

Clan Rivalry Complicates Terrorism Fight in Puntland

Abdurahman Mohamed Farole, president of Somalia's northern breakaway state of Puntland speaks in Apr 2009 at a press conference in Nairobi (file photo)
Abdurahman Mohamed Farole, president of Somalia's northern breakaway state of Puntland speaks in Apr 2009 at a press conference in Nairobi (file photo)

The United States says it is planning to boost ties with Somalia's two autonomous regions - Somaliland and Puntland - in an effort to restore stability in the south and to curb the spread of Islamic extremism.  Some analysts say the move, however, may end up increasing violence and instability in Puntland.

In late July, Puntland government forces began fighting with militants loyal to an Islamist factional leader based in the remote and mountainous Sanaag and western Bari regions of northern Somalia.  

Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole said the assault was a counter-terrorism operation, targeting the terrorist leader of the Puntland cell of al-Qaida, Mohamed Siad Atom.  The Puntland government has linked Atom to numerous kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations in the region since 2008.

In March, the U.N. Monitoring group for Somalia said it believed Atom was one of the principle suppliers of arms and ammunitions for al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate that controls much of southern Somalia.  A month later, the United States Treasury Department froze Atom's assets and those of a nearly dozen other suspected Islamist militants in Somalia.  

But the leaders of the Warsangeli, a sub-clan of the larger Somali Darod tribe, say the conflict in the north is not about entirely about terrorism.  They say it also is about long-held political and economic grievances the Warsangeli have had against the Puntland government since the region declared autonomy in 1998.  

Somalia observer Stig Jarle Hansen of the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research in Oslo said if the United States is planning to assist the Puntland government in its fight against Atom, it will need to approach the situation with extreme caution.

"The danger is that you could suppress the Warsangeli in a drastic way," said Hansen.  "Or you could act in a way that mobilizes the Warsangeli to the Shabab side.  So, you can make your predictions come true through your own actions."

The leadership of the Puntland government is dominated by members of the Majeerten sub-clan of the Darod, and there has long been a simmering power struggle between the two sub-clans for control of Puntland's lucrative commercial hub, Bosasso.

The rivalry between the sub-clans boiled over into a bloody confrontation in 2006, when Mohamed Said Atom's militia attacked Puntland security forces to protest exploration rights the government gave to an Australian mining company in the mineral-rich Sanaag and western Bari regions.  The Warsangeli said the deal was struck without its permission.  
In recent years, the Warsangeli, and other Darod sub-clans in Puntland have complained bitterly about the Puntland Intelligence Service, a counter-terrorism organization created in 2001, and which receives considerable support from the United States.  The clan makeup of the powerful service is predominantly Majeerten, and the organization has been accused of working to empower one clan at the expense of others.

Somalia observers warn a narrowly-focused U.S. engagement with the Puntland government, specifically in the counter-terrorism field, could unintentionally spark an inter-clan war.  They say the conflict then could be exploited by al-Shabab to expand its influence into the far reaches of northern Somalia.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid