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Somalia Civil War - Puntland

Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region cut ties with the central government on August 12, 2014 after it learned of a plan to form a new federal state in the center of the country that would allegedly include part of the Puntland region. In July 2014, the Somali federal government and representatives from the central regions of Galgudud and Mudug signed a document that said the region's leaders would work together to form a new administration.

Since the first successful exploration wells were drilled in semi-autonomous Puntland in early 2012, oil has become a deciding factor in the reduction of piracy. The Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF), a privately paramilitary force armed and funded by the UAE, celebrated its third birthday n October 2013. The PMPF has been pivotal in reducing pirate operating bases on the coast of Puntland. Onshore dynamics directly impact offshore risks. Private security companies offering armed protection teams has evolved from a niche market to a multibillion dollar norm in the region. Floating armories and training bases in certain countries have allowed these companies to circumvent local regulations on prohibiting arms within territorial waters. Although liability and the inherently non-transparent nature of the sector often bring it into question, it is nonetheless a fact that no ship with armed security teams on board has ever been hijacked.

Puntland is an area in the northeastern part of Somalia and is composed of the Bari, Nugal, Mudug, Sanaag, Sool, Ayn, and Karkaar regions. Leaders in the northeast proclaimed the formation of the "Puntland" state in July 1998, after a conference was held in Garowe attended by delegates and observers from the Bari, Nugal, Sool and Sanaag regions. The conference ended by formulating a new "social contract" as a basis for the restoration of effective state authority in these regions. In contrast to Somaliland, however, Puntland has never considered itself a separate entity. Although the Puntland's leader publicly announced that he did not plan to break away from the remainder of the country, suspicions lingered. Puntland's leadership banned all political parties for 3 years, starting in August 1998.

Puntland is a stable region in northeastern Somalia with a surface land comprising one-third of Somalia and close to half of the country’s coastline. Approximately 3 million people live and work in Puntland, where there is not only a functioning constitutional government with security forces and public finance management, but it is built on a unique democratization process. In January 2009, the State of Puntland held its third peaceful and transparent election followed by a smooth transition and a major shift to a new government. Puntland has also made strides toward reconstructing a legitimate, representative government but has suffered some civil strife. Puntland disputes its border with Somaliland as it also claims portions of eastern Sool and Sanaag.

Puntland eventually wants to join a genuine Federal Republic of Somalia. Tension persists between Somaliland and Puntland over the Sool and Sanaag regions, which are claimed by both.

According to an old obscure tradition, the land of Punt was the original abode of the gods. From Punt the celestial beings had travelled to the Nile valley; at their head Amon, Horus, Hathor. The coast land, washed by the Eed Sea as far as Punt, was sanctified by the passage of the gods, and its name, 'the land of the gods' (Ta-nuter), shows of itself a trace of the tradition. Amon is called Haq, that is, 'King' of Punt; Hathor, in the same sense, 'Queen and ruler of Punt;' while Hor was honoured as 'the holy morning star which rises to the west of the land of Punt.' Peculiar to that land is the idol Bes, the oldest form of the deity in the land of Punt.

Although pre-colonial Somalian society did not have a national government with modern structures and clearly defined international borders, the northeast region had traditional structures of government dating from the early years of the 19 th century; namely, the Sultanate of Majerteen (1901–1927), whose territory included the current regions of Bari and Nugal, the Sultanate of Mudug/Hobyo (1885–1925) and the Sultanate of eastern Sanaag (1896–1925).

These Sultanates were relatively under-developed and far from achieving a modern status in terms of political and state management systems. They had administrative and military structures, which safeguarded security, social welfare and political stability until these were disrupted by colonial powers; the Italians in the first two Sultanates and the British in the third one. Trade and commercial relations existed between the Sultanates and the Indian sub-continent and Arabian Gulf states. For instance, ad valorem taxation systems, export of livestock, animal and agro-forestry products and import of consumer goods thrived in the Sultanate of Majerteen during the second half of the 19th century and first quarter of the 20th century.

The Italian and British conquest of the Sultanate in (1923-1927) suppressed the peoples’ resistance and destroyed all political, economic and commercial structures. The Italian fascist authorities were more repressive than the British, as reflected by the economic policies they applied to these regions.

In 1991, after the collapse of the Somali State, the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), which was one of the opposition fighting factions against the Somali Government, was the only political and military structure that existed in the northeastern region at the time. After a series of locally sponsored conferences, in which a traditional council of elders (Isimada) played an important role, the SSDF leadership and community elders had at last taken positive steps by calling an all-inclusive general conference in Garowe on May 5, 1998. The Puntland Regional State was formed, based on the design of three branches of government; Legislative (66 members, with 5 women), Judiciary, and Executive (President with Vice-President and 9 Ministers). Two regions- Sool and Eastern Sanag- also joined the former northeastern regions and, thus, jointly formed the Puntland State of Somalia as an autonomous regional administration.

On June 21, 2009, Somalia's Puntland State's parliament adopted a new constitution which is said to have 141 provisions and which, for the first time in Puntland's history, provides for the introduction of a multiparty political system. According to the speaker of the Puntland parliament, the Constitution received overwhelming support, with 49 members voting in its favor, while three voted no and three abstained.

The absence of significant military or coast guard forces has allowed pirates to set up enclaves and hubs for operations across its coastline. The Puntland government expresses a desire to fight al-Shabaab, piracy, and crime, but lacks significant resources. Puntland government forces successfully removed pirates from the port city of Eyl, and recently turned back an al-Shabaab offensive in the mountains south of Bosasso. These security forces vary greatly in their training and abilities, and the government has no maritime resources to patrol its waters.

H.E. Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole), President of Puntland State, Somalia, testified June 25, 2009 to the US House Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health: "In order to provide a comprehensive and effective response to the problem of piracy, we need assistancein establishing eight coastal stations, with jetties, along the Puntland Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden village centers. These stations will be placed in the following towns and villages, all of which are in Puntland: Garacad, Eyl, Beila, Bargaal, Caluula, Kandala, Bosaso and Laas-Qorey. We will need equipment at each of these Coastal Task Force stations, which is not limited to: Port Command Centers – Intelligence coordination and surveillance capabilities shared by Puntland Government agencies; Speed Boats and Aircraft; Communications Equipment and Training for the 600 member Coastal Task Force. We will also need to provide incentives for the Coastal Task Force to ensure the first priority is to the Puntland Government."

In late 2010, unidentified foreign donors financed a program to recruit and train a counter-piracy force for Puntland. After allegations that this force violated the UN arms embargo, it was put on hold indefinitely. If the UN decides to support the formation of this force, it could be reconstituted .

USAID’s estimated FY2010 contribution to Puntland is $16.4 million for programs similar to those in Somaliland. USAID’s food assistance program provided an estimated 5,000 metric tons in 2010. USAID planned on expanding Development Assistance programs in 2011.

On April 18, 2011, Reuters reported that Somalia's Puntland semi-autonomous regional state will soon put in place special prisons and courts to try pirates in the Indian Ocean region. According to Saeed Mohamed Rage, Puntland's Minister of Marine Transport, Ports and Counter-Piracy, construction of prisons will soon commence in Puntland (in the cities of Bosaso and Garowe) as well as in Somaliland. Puntland also recently signed an agreement with the government of Seychelles, on the repatriation and transfer of pirates convicted in Seychelles, which would probably enter into effect upon the completion of the new prisons.

On 27 September 2012, the Somali Youth Leaders Initiative (SYLI) with the Puntland Ministry of Education launched a five-year program to build and rehabilitate secondary schools in Puntland. The objective of the initiative, funded by USAID, is to boost enrollment and retention of secondary school students, particularly girls. The SYLI education project is being implemented through a consortium involving Mercy Corps, Save the Children, and CARE International, in partnership with the Puntland Ministry of Education. The project is currently assisting 10 secondary schools--with a target of 20--across all regions of Puntland. It is increasing the number of classrooms, laboratories, and other learning facilities. In addition, to ensure that more girls in particular attend secondary school, the project will construct separate sanitation facilities for girls and boys, train more women teachers, run local campaigns on the importance of girls’ education, and involve the communities in school management.

In December 2010, the Puntland Parliament enacted provisions under Islamic law prohibiting the death of smuggled or trafficked persons and prescribing punishments of between one and five years’ imprisonment. In April 2012, Puntland courts sentenced a Somali man to 12 years’ imprisonment for attempting to traffic nine children between the ages of seven and 14 from southern Somalia to Yemen, via Puntland, for forced labor. The court transferred custody of the children to a local UNICEF-funded NGO until their parents could be identified. In 2012, Puntland’s anti-trafficking unit intercepted five children in Galkacyo who they identified as potential trafficking victims.

President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali “Gaas” signed a law establishing the region’s Election Commission on 06 January 2015, as part of an effort to restart the democratization process suspended in July 2013. On 12 April, following two days of talks, the Federal Prime Minister and the President of Puntland issued a statement including an agreement that Puntland would contribute 3,000 troops to the Somali national army. They also recommitted the Federal Government and the “Puntland Administration” to the implementation of earlier agreements, and acknowledged the need for the Federal Government to consult the states on federal legislation and commissions.

The Federal Government of Somalia accelerated efforts to advance the process of building a federal state in 2015. Puntland’s administration initially denounced the Galmudug Interim Administration as unconstitutional, owing partly to its claim over northern Mudug region, which was long considered to be part of Puntland. Following discussions between the Federal Prime Minister and the President of Puntland, the Galmudug Interim Administration revised its constitution on 29 July 2015 to remove any claim to northern Mudug.

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