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New Mini-State Created in Somalia
Khaatumo II Conference Results in Further Balkanization
By ABDIRASHID MUSE 01/11/2012
The Khaatumo II conference of Dhulbahante clan leaders held since January 5 at Taleeh fort in Sool region has culminated in the proclamation of a new semi-autonomous region in northern Somalia.

Delegates at the Taleeh conference from the Sool, Sanaag and Ayn regions announced that the new administration will function independently from the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland, a senior spokesman of Khaatumo conference said.

Conference spokesman Adam Abdullahi Shuuriye told the local and international media that delegates of the Khaatumo Conference had unanimously agreed to the establishment of a semi-autonomous federal region in the northern administrative districts of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC).

“The delegates of Khaatumo II conference unanimously supported the formation of their own administration which will function as a federal state of Somalia," Mr. Shuriye announced late yesterday.

“The delegates will discuss the name and administrative structure of the new state on Wednesday,” he added.

The Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions are disputed by Puntland and Somaliland, but the local community and the Dhulbahante diaspora have been organizing conferences in the region and abroad to discuss self-determination. In a high level October 2009 meeting in Nairobi, for instance, prominent Dhulbahante leaders declared the creation of "The Unity and Salvation Authority of the SSC Regions of Somalia."

While the three regions lie within the British colonial mandate of Somaliland, the Dhulbahante belong to the Darod clan family that inhabits Puntland. In 2007, Somaliland forces invaded Sool, occupying its capital of Las Anod and causing a rift amongst Dhulbahante clan elders, some of whom remained loyal to the Puntland administration.

Following the takeover, the Northern Somali Unionist Movement (NSUM), a diaspora network opposed to the Somaliland administration, formed a military wing, the Sool Sanaag Ayn Army (SSCA), which Somaliland officials have designated a terrorist organization.

There were fears that SSCA elements would hijack the conference and strong-arm other Dhulbahante leaders into accepting self-determination, but the outcome appears to have been an expression of majority will.

The Somaliland and Puntland administrations, which were strongly opposed to the conference, have yet to comment on its outcome. It remains to be seen if the creation of an SSC statelet will destabilize already tense Puntland-Somaliland relations.

The creation of a new independent administration creates further difficulties for the UN-sponsored 'Roadmap to end the transition,' whose recent consultative conference in Garowe lacked the participation of key non-state actors, such as Somaliland and elements of Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa (ASWJ). While the roadmap process seeks national reconciliation amongst competing polities, Somalia appears only to be fragmenting further.

In another development, the president of Awdal State, Abdirashid Nor Hersi, arrived in Mogadishu on Tuesday to a cordial welcome from TFG officials.

Mr. Hersi has told local media that he was going to meet with top TFG leaders.

The Awdal State, inhabited primarily by the minority Gadabursi clan, is an autonomous region recently declared by members of Awdal's anti-Somaliland diaspora community.