Information on the relationship between the government, the Somali National Movement (SNM) and other northern militias, and on the authority to which the militias are accountable [SOM17560.E]

The first government of Somaliland, announced on 4 June 1991 was composed of 16 members of the Issak clan and its subclans and six members of minority clans (Drysdale 1991, 45). According to a Somali professor of African studies at the University of Florida in Gainsville, the first head of government and chairman of the Somali National Movement (SNM) was Ahmed Ali "Tur," an Issak of the Habar Yoonis subclan. He was later replaced by President Ibrahim Egal, a member of the Habr Awal subclan of the Isse Musa, which in turn is a subclan of the Issaq (4 May 1994). Ahmed Ali Tur has since renounced the secession and now advocates the reunification of Somaliland and Somalia (Reuters 30 Apr. 1994). The Somali professor explained that Somaliland is composed of five regions: Awdal, North West, Togdheer, Sool and Sanag
(4 May 1994). The last three regions are located west of Hargeisa. Sources knowledgeable on Somalia agree that each of these regions is controlled by a different clan each with its own militia. Togdheer is under the control of the Isaaq, Sanag is a territory of the Warsangeli, the Dulbahante and the Isaaq, and Sool is controlled by the Dulbahante (ibid.; OFDA 4 Mar. 1994).

Since they are reportedly opposed to the current government of Somaliland, the Warsangeli are not represented in the Somaliland parliament (ibid.). According to Le Nouvel Afrique Asie of March 1994, there is no sign of the Somaliland Republic administration in Las Khorey, which is their stronghold. On the contrary, the Warsangeli's sultan reportedly displays Somalia's national flag in front of his house. Nonetheless, the Warsangeli were initially represented at the meeting of elders, customary chiefs, academics, politicians and soldiers that took place at Borama in February 1993 (The Horn of Africa Bulletin Mar.-Apr. 1993, 27). According Gilkes, in a report entitled "Ethnic and Political Movements in Ethiopia and Somalia," the Warsangeli were represented in the initial government of Somaliland when the Somali National Movement (SMN) assumed power in 1991:

The constitutional commission was very carefully balanced to represent all northern clans ... There are two Gadabursi, one Issa, one Warsengeli together with thirteeen Isaaq (July 1992, 52).

Relations between the Warsangeli and the Issaq appear to be tense. The head of the Warsangeli militia is quoted as saying that his clan would deal with Somaliland ... when its presumed president Ibrahim Egal, has extended his authority at least to the airport of his capital Hargeisa. At present, when he uses this airport, he has to pay a transit tax to the Isaaq clan (a clan different from his own) which controls the runway (Le Nouvel Afrique Asie Mar. 1994, 13).

According to a Somali professor of African studies at University of Florida in Gainsville, the majority of the Dulbahante are opposed to the secession of Somaliland, and although there are Dulbahante in the government of Somaliland, they do not represent the rest of the Dulbahante subclan (4 May 1994.). According to Bricker and Leatherbee, the interests of the Dulbahante and the Warsangeli are represented by the United Somali Party (USP), and they tend to oppose the secession of Somaliland from the rest of Somalia (Leatherbee & Bricker Jan. 1994, 29). According to Gilkes the Dulbahante are a subclan of the Darod and relations between them and the Marjeteen are "traditionally poor, largely because of feuding over land and water ... [and because of] the Dulbahante role in Siad's [Barre] operations against the clan after the creation of the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF)" (July 1992, 51). According to Bricker and Leathebee,
there are powerful checks on the power of the executive in Somaliland. The power of the clans, demonstrated in their reluctance to turn control of the national airport in Hargeisa and seaport in Berbera over to the national government indicates that these are independent and diffused loci of potential resistance to the state, (Jan. 1994, 31).

The government of Somaliland has a fragile economic base and is reportedly financed by remittances from Somalis abroad (Drysdale 1991, 47). Additionally, "the port of Berbera, and the customs collection point, is the only potential source of central government revenue until some other source of budget support is forthcoming" (ibid. 1991, 47). Drysdale states that there are small police forces in the cities and towns, but they do not wear or carry firearms, and reportedly receive a rations in lieu of salaries (ibid., 49).

Africa and the international community have not recognized Somaliland's sovereignty (Reuters 30 Apr. 1994), which means that Somaliland cannot rely on other countries for assistance. President Egal reportedly apppealed to Britain for international recognition, without which his country does not qualify for bilateral aid (The Herald 12 Feb. 1994). According to the Herald, Clearly there is a vicious circle in Somaliland involving lack of resources for demobilisation and recovery, lack of security, and lack of international recognition." U.S.@led troops did not operate in Somaliland and it reportedly received a meagre fraction of the U.N. funds (Reuters Feb. 1994).

Owing to the lack of international recognition, Kenya withdrew President Egal's visit to Nairobi in December 1993:

President Moi let it be known that he had been subject to pressure, both domestic and international, for him not to receive president Egal. One objection put forward had been that the Kenyan head of state could not receive officially the head of a country which is not yet recognised by the international community (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 18 Dec. 1993, 4).

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Dricker, Dale and Lea Leatherbee. 6 January 1994. Balancing Consensus and Dissent: The Prospects for Human Rights and Democracy in the Horn of Africa. New York: The Fund for Peace.

Drysdale, John. 1991. February 1994. Anne Johnstone. Somaliland 1991: Report and Reference. Hove, UK: Global-Stas Ltd.

The Herald [Glasgow]. "Somali Caught In a Cycle of Terror."(NEXIS).

Gilkes, Patrick. July 1992. "Ethnic and Political Movements in Ethiopia and Somalia."

The Horn of Africa Bulletin [Uppsala]. March-April 1993. Vol. 5, No. 2. "Grand Shir at Borama."

The Indian Ocean Newsletter [Paris]. 18 December 1993. "Somaliland: Nairobi Kills Egal Visit."

Le Nouvel Afrique Asie [Paris]. March 1994. No. 54. Pietro Petrucci. "Somalie: Oublier Mogadiscio?" pp. 12-13.

Office of United States Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Washington, DC. 4 March 1994. Situation Report No. 25. "Somalia-Civil Strife."

Reuters. 30 April 1994. BC Cycle. "Somaliland Leader Renounces Seccession." (NEXIS)

Somali professor of African studies, University of Florida, Gainsville. 4 May 1994. Telephone interview.


Drysdale, John (1991). Somaliland 1991: Report and Reference. Hove, UK: Global-Stas Ltd.

The Herald [Glasgow]. "Somali Caught In a Cycle of Terror." (NEXIS).

The Indian Ocean Newsletter [Paris]. "Somaliland: Nairobi Kills Egal Visit."

Reuters. 30 April 1994. "Somaliland Leader Renounces Seccession." (NEXIS)