In brief

Somaliland-Puntland military tension growing

Somaliland government seeks to reinforce de facto independence from Somalia

An increase in military tensions between Somaliland and Puntland, in the north of the internationally recognized territory of Somalia, is being witnessed since 2018 started. According to a Crisis Group report, the two republics are massing troops in the Sool and Sanag region, which both claim as their own.

In January, Somaliland forces took control of the city of Tukaraq. Since then, Puntland is threatening its western neighbour to retake it by force.

Tukaraq lies within the limits of ancient British Somalia, the territory that Somaliland claims as its own. Somaliland authorities argue their country’s national sovereignty will not be guaranteed until all the territory of the former British colony is under their control.

Somaliland is a de facto independent state since 1991, when it broke away from Somalia. It has not been formally recognized by any country. However, it maintains diplomatic relations with countries such as Ethiopia, Djibouti or the UAE.

In contrast, Puntland —which essentially behaves independently from Somalia too— regards itself as a federated state of Somalia. It rejects Somaliland independence, and argues that the Sool and Sanag lands under dispute should be included within Puntland borders, based on clan and geographical criteria.