The conflict in Las Anod, located in the Sool region of northern Somalia, is a multifaceted issue that encompasses historical, political, economic, and ethnic dimensions. The Dhulbahante clan, which is distinct from the Isaaq clan that dominates Somaliland politics, seeks unity with the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to achieve a more inclusive political environment, as they fear marginalization under the Somaliland administration.

In this context, local legitimacy theories underscore the significance of comprehending the social and political structures in the region. The recent collaboration among all Dhulbahante subclans living in Las Anod and its immediate environs to re-launch the SSC-Khatumo movement has also served to escalate a local crisis into a wider one encompassing the disputed regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC); which are claimed by Somaliland based on colonial-era boundaries.[1] It will therefore be necessary to adopt a multifaceted approach that tackles clan rivalries as well as the aspiration for unity with the Federal Republic of Somalia in order to achieve a peaceful political resolution.

Efforts by Somaliland authorities to frame its own actions as part of a fight against international terrorism are intended to capitalize on the concerns of key international partners (notably the U.S., U.K and E.U) and build support for the military operation to re-establish control over Las Anod. However, there is no evidence that the local al-Qaeda affiliated Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (aka al-Shabaab) has taken any official or unofficial side in the conflict.

For its part, the Federal Government of Somalia’s response to the conflict has also inflamed tensions, including the appointment of a politically aligned envoy that was perceived by local Dhulbahante leaders as being more favourable to the Isaaq- dominated Somaliland administration.

Prospects for resolving the conflict will hinge on addressing local socio-political issues which include historic grievances, clan, and sub-clan rivalries. It is therefore important that any approach by the FGS to the conflict in Las Anod and the wider SSC region will require a balanced approach that avoids controversial statements or decisions and focuses instead on reconstruction, humanitarian support, peacebuilding, and respecting the wishes of the people of SSC. By adopting such an approach, the FGS will be able to create the conditions necessary for lasting peace and unity.

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