Hargeisa, 24 June 2009 – Recently, Media and Outreach Coordinator for the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs Greg Garland held online question and answer discussion entitled ‘Is there hope for Somalia?’. The discussion was very much civilized and transparent. The heat and pressure mounted as minute passed, but Garland remained very transparent and clear in answering the questions as per his administration’s policy towards the region.
However, the manner in which US Administration is approaching to the two decades old Somali unrest is wrong, because it believes in a unified Somalia. The administration failed to recognize the democratic, independent and free Somaliland that created complete structure of democratic and modern government without outside help.
State Department praised democracy progress in Somaliland and asked US Aid to double its operations in Somaliland. However, Washington administration botched to utilize Somaliland experience and Forces to ease the violence in Mogadishu.
Somaliland Forces have advantages over African Peace Keeping Forces, Ethiopian Forces and any other outsiders because Somaliland Forces are Somali, Muslim and know the culture of people and government in Mogadishu including the Islamists – Al-Shabaab. Based on these facts, USA shall recognize Somaliland and its forces will roll into brutal streets of Mogadishu. Knowingly, neither Al-Shabaab nor the government will have excuse to fight Somaliland Forces.
After British Somaliland (Today’s Somaliland) and Italian Somalia (today’s Southern regions of Somalia) united, the unrest and violence erupted in Mogadishu streets and Late & First President of Somalia Adan Adde used Somaliland Scouts to normalize the situation in Mogadishu. Britain established Somaliland Scouts and trained them at the beginning of last century. This gives Somaliland experience to stabilize Mogadishu streets, as it did in 1960’s.
Garland said that Washington administration supports the shaky transitional government of Somalia led by Sheikh\ Sharif Ahmed, who is facing growing militancy inside the capital – Mogadishu. The Islamist militant are receiving military, financial and logistics support from Al-Qaeda terror organization and others like Eretria. Recently US based New York Times published report that Al-Qaeda leaders are making shift to Somalia/Yemen from Afghan-Pakistan border. These are signs of growing influence of the militant in Somalia, and ineffectiveness of Sheikh Sharif Ahmed government.
Garland said “The U.S. believes that the Transitional federal Government provides the best solution for a unified Somalia. Inasmuch as Somaliland provides a degree of good governance, it offers an example to what is possible to all Somalis.” Here, unfortunately, Washington looks helpless and stuck with 40 years old failed policy of establishing “Unified Somalia” and overlooks the growing democracies in the region like Somaliland.
US shall realize that unity comes with acceptance from all uniting parties but compulsory union will end up with failure like that of Somalia during 1960’s. The uniting parties shall all agree upon constitution that protects their rights and ensures equality and freedom to all citizens. This cannot happen in Somalia because of tribalism and very complicated population structure.
Garland admitted the international community failed to establish effective and working central government for Somalia in last 20 years, and even US led forces to restore order and hope operation during 1993 failed. He knows international community organized more than 14 peace conferences for Somalis to settle their differences but all failed. Mr. Garland understands that terrorist organizations linked to Al-Qaeda (Al-Shabaab), control 90% of southern parts of former Somalia and thousands of foreign fighters are entering in Somalia from Afghan-Pakistan Border. He sees that Somaliland is the only democratic and active part of former Somalia, but unfortunately his administration in Washington overlooks Somaliland’s competence to win international recognition.
US Forces entered Somalia with same wrong policy, in which Washington administration is approaching to Somaliland and Somalia until today. Former UN General Secretary Boutros-Ghali was part of decision-making in the operation and started the initiative to use force in Somalia. The operation cost the lives of 18 US soldier and more than 30 UN soldiers of different nationalities including Pakistanis.
Mr. Boutros-Ghali had secret agenda to support Ali Mehdi (Transitional President of Somalia during the operation), but US Administration failed to unveil such undercover agenda between Mr. Boutros-Ghali and Ali Mehdi. The secret agenda was to eliminate General Mohamed Farah Aydeed (the rival of Ali Mehdi in Mogadishu) using UN Forces.
The solution of Somali chaos was simple during the operation, but the wrong recommendations of Boutros-Ghali and his secret agenda led the failure of the operation.
Somalia remained under harsh instability and violence for last 20 years, which weakened the country and led terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda to establish bases. Al-Qaeda planned the suicide bombing of US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; there are many Al-Qaeda fugitives hiding inside lawless Somalia. These can be minimized if Somaliland is recognized, because the US Forces can establish based inside Somaliland and use its experience to crack down the terror.
Today, Transitional President of Somalia Sheikh Sharif Ahmed lost control of the southern parts to Al-Shabaab, and only controls his residence in Mogadishu (Villa Somalia). Please refer the articles at the bottom for the story.
The USA is watching the growing terror inside Somalia and innocent civilians dying under harsh conditions of strict and wrong Islamic Sharia practices by Al-Shabaab. The group blocked the entire basic social services: No education, electricity, water…etc.
In other hand, the US administration is pressuring and forcing the free people of Somaliland to remain within the human rights violations and killing. Mr. Garland’s administration is holding Somaliland hostage for failed theory of “unified Somalia”. Somaliland government and people cannot do business with outside world due to the diplomatic embargo imposed by USA. They cannot sign trade and partnership agreements with other international business partners. The Somaliland students cannot attend international universities because their certificates are from unrecognized Somaliland. No passports to use and even no embassies for Somaliland across the world. All these are happing to Somaliland, due to lack of diplomatic recognition.
Mr. Garland added. “…The U.S. believes that the Transitional federal Government of Somalia provides the best solution for a unified Somalia. Inasmuch as Somaliland provides a degree of good governance, it offers an example to what is possible to all Somalis…”
Garland braces democratic process in Somaliland, at the same time doesn’t accept it, and he is holding Somaliland until southern Somalia comes out of the current chaos and violence. The question is, If Southern Somalia fails to recover from the violence and chaos that killed hundreds of thousands in last 20 years then will US administration continue overlooking development, democracy progress and good governance in Somaliland?!
There is most devastating humanitarian crisis in southern Somalia including ethic killing, hunger and killer epidemic diseases that take the lives of thousands of civilians. Human rights abuses are daily event. Illegal piracy is common in many parts of former Somalia that disturbs the international sea water, under sponsorship of Puntland. My question is why the world shall punish Somaliland for crimes it did not commit?!
Al-Qaeda’s makeshift & Talibanization of Somalia
Recently Pakistani High Commissioner to London during a debate at Press TV underlined that Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders are working on plans to relocate from Afghan-Pakistan Border into Somalia and Yemen. He added that fighting in Pakistan will end if these leaders leave their country, because the Pashtu tribes are protecting them as guests.
There are feasible Al-Qaeda activities of relocating from Afghan-Pakistan Border to Somalia and Yemen, after Pakistani Forces crashed the Taliban inside Pakistan. This forced Al-Qaeda leaders to look for alternatives like violent and lawless Somalia, which has 100% Muslim population.
Somali eyewitness from Mogadishu told Somali news website that foreigners including Arabs are fighting alongside Al-Shabaab terror organization – Al-Qaeda’s African Wing. These foreigners train the local Somali youth as suicide bombers and on roadside bombs.
NATO Forces operated last four to five years in Afghanistan to defeat Taliban but until now, there are no fruitful results, because Taliban is active and strong. Taliban carry out daily attacks on NATO forces and Afghanistan forces that kill many soldier. It will not be easy for the international community to fight terrorists like Al-Qaeda inside Somalia because Al-Qaeda will get plenty new recruits due to the poverty and lack of education in the country. NATO Forces will not use magic wind to eliminate Al-Qaeda inside Somalia except using Somaliland against the Al-Qaeda. This method succeeded in Iraq, after US forces formed Sunni militia to fight Al-Qaeda and this disabled Al-Qaeda’s operations and death rate of US forces dropped very sharply in very short period.
Comparisons are already being made between the Islamists in Mogadishu and the Taliban in Afghanistan. At some point, the United States government will have to make an unsavoury decision about how to handle the jihadists in Mogadishu. It will almost certainly be necessary to have allies on the ground willing to offer the United States assistance, local information, access to territory, and so on.
AFP new agency published on 12th June 2009 report about Al-Qaeda’s plans to shift to Somalia entitled “Some Qaeda fighters head to Somalia, Yemen”. Dozens of Al-Qaeda fighters and some of the extremist group’s leaders are shifting from their haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas to Somalia and Yemen, The New York Times reported on Friday.
Violent militant groups in all three countries are now communicating more frequently in a apparent effort to coordinate their actions, US administration, military and counterterrorism officials told the Times.
A senior administration official attributed the shift to “the enormous heat we’ve been putting on the leadership and the mid-ranks” with Predator drone strikes launched from Pakistan and Afghanistan that President Barrack Obama has intensified since taking office in January.
“Al-Qaeda has been hit by drones and it has generated a lot of insecurity among them,” said retired Pakistani general Talat Masood, a military analyst in Islamabad. “Many among them are uneasy and it is possible that they are leaving for Somali and other Jihadi battle fronts…The hard core, however, will like to stay on.”
Another explanation, the newspaper said, may owe to expanded violent extremist campaigns in Somalia and Yemen, with US officials pointing to Somalia as a failed state and to a weak central government in Yemen.
CIA Director Leon Panetta said Thursday that the intelligence agency is focusing on countries like Somalia and Yemen as possible safe havens for Al-Qaeda. The group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, is still hiding in Pakistan, Panetta told reporters… End of Report.
The Ideal Solution for Somalia
The solution for Somali unrest is to go back to old codes of 1960 union, and cure disagreements and uncertainties between the Somali communities. We understand that fact don’t satisfy all people, because there is always winner. However, in Somalia all shall be winners, even if it takes giving the leadership of the country to all tribes per term.
The unity of 1st July 1960 that created Somali Republic was not fundamentally agreed, because the Somalis were uneducated and did not understand the meaning of unity; there was no constitution and agreements. It was enthusiastic union that ended on 18th May 1991, after Somaliland was retained its sovereignty afterfive decades within Somalia.
The theory of “Greater Somalia” is based on unity between Somali dominated five regions in the Horn of Africa including Djibouti, Somaliland, Eastern Region of Ethiopia, North Frontier District of Kenya and Somalia (Former Italian Somalia). Somaliland and Italian Somalia united on 1st July 1960, but other three parts remained uninterested in the unity. The Somali dictator Mohamed Siyad Barre attacked Ethiopia to take the 5th Region of Ethiopia by force, as part of theory. Also, the diplomatic relation between Kenya and Somalia was very bad due to the theory, as Siyad Barre believed that Kenya occupies parts of “Greater Somalia”.
Recognizing Somaliland could be as good as the disintegration of USSR, because the people unite and disintegrate based on their own desire, and people of Somaliland voted for independence during 2001 Referendum with 97%. Yes to independence. Somaliland is 3.5 million with 168,000 miles square, and nobody in the world will be able to force them back into another marriage with failed state of Somalia. So, USA government shall recognize Somaliland and utilize its expertise in Somali conflict in the right path.
USA should change its policies in the horn of Africa, and support the growing democracies instead of dancing with dictators. The faith of Somalia will be similar to that of USSR, and dividing the country into Somaliland and Somalia will be an ultimate solution. USA shall not redo in Somalia its failed policy in Afghanistan that created terrorism after USSR lost the war. Dancing with dictators never pays off.
Frankly, the worst democracy is better than any dictatorship. Dictatorship leads to frustration, extremism and terrorism. Somaliland is unique form of democracy and it is growing without democracy mentors and Somaliland created peace without crisis management experts. Somaliland deserved appreciation from the outside world, as neighboring countries do every day.
Today, the landlocked Ethiopia uses Somaliland main port ‘Berbera’ for its imports and exports; Djibouti shares very peaceful border with Somaliland border securities of both countries cooperate on security. In other hand, millions of illegal and drug traffickers cross the border between Southern Somalia and Kenya; large quantities of weapons are smuggled daily into Kenya and Ethiopia. This is different between having Somaliland or Somalia on your border.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, in his recent article on Washington Post, said “once the Soviets were defeated, the Americans took the next bus out of Afghanistan, leaving behind a political vacuum that ultimately led to the Talibanisation and radicalisation of the country, the birth of Al Qaeda and the current jihadist insurrection in Pakistan.”
The world should put southern Somalia under UN Trusteeship for ten years in order to restore the basic social service and help the Somalis to establish their life again. The African Peace Keeping Forces should stay in Somalia during the trusteeship to protect the civilians from the terrorist organizations. Also, the world should recognize Somaliland as an independent state, which will reduce the magnitude of problem inside former Somalia.
Southern Somalia was under UN Trusteeship from 1950 to 1960, because the people in Southern Somalia failed to put effective administration in their part of the region. However, this shows that UN Trusteeship can be ideal solution to Southern Somalia, and recognition of Somaliland will support the growing democracy and good governance.
Members of US Congress believe that recognizing Somaliland will open Pandora Box in the region, and many other Somali regions will demand independence like Somaliland. However, the congressmen should understand that Somaliland was independent in more than two centuries before it united with Somalia on 1st July 1960.
Somalilanders joined Somalia to examine possibility of creating Greater Somalia, which includes Djibouti, 5th Region of Ethiopia and Northern Frontiers Province (NFD) of Kenya. However, this theory failed and created unrest in the region including war Somali-Ethiopian war in 1964 and 1977. Also, Djibouti, who was part of the Greater Somalia, turned down the theory and declared independent Republic of Djibouti. This was the end of Greater Somalia.
On the other hand, Somaliland could not retrieve its sovereignty from Southern Somalia because of dictator leaders, who bombed and killed thousands of civilians in Somaliland (former northern regions of Somalia) after the people of these regions called for independence until 1991. Somalilanders took up the arms against Somalia government and liberated their country on 1991, and suddenly announced the long waited independence. On 18th May 1991, it was rebirth of Somaliland. So my question is why US Congress holds back the independence of Somaliland from Somalia?!
US Government should encourage the democracy, good governance against the dictatorship and terrorism that dominated the Horn of African region. This can only happen if Washington administration recognizes Somaliland as strong, democratic and modern ally. Today, there are dictators everywhere in the Horn of Africa including Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, Sudan and Kenya except Somaliland, which had three leaders from its rebirth on 18th May 1991 and fresh presidential election expected on Sep 2009.
The below articles are fact-finding by scholars, university professors, former US ambassador, and other intellectual and politicians about Somaliland and the region in general:
1. Somaliland: The Little Country that Could
Africa Program £ Center for Strategic and International Studies
1800 K Street, NW £ Washington, DC 20006 £ Tel: (202) 775-3135 £
Fax: (202) 775-3199 £ www.csis.org
Number 9 November 2002
David H. Shinn
2. Why the United States Should Recognize Somaliland’s Independence
By Peter J. Schraeder
Peter J. Schraeder is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago. He writes on African politics and U.S. Africa policy.
3. The Ghost of Somalia: Somaliland Should be Allowed to Depart a Chaotic Country in Transition
Pittsburgh Post – Gazette. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Jul 12, 2006. pg. B.7
Dan Simpson, a retired U.S. ambassador, is a Post-Gazette associate editor (email@example.com).
4. U.N.’s Boutros-Ghali Proposes Armed Intervention in Somalia
By John M. Goshko
The Washington Post
5. Somalia –Afghanistan of Africa, HASSAN DAHIR AWEYS the Trojan Horse of Issayas Afeworki
By Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi
The American Chronicle
Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi, MA in Journalism and Mass Communication, Columnist, Freelance Journalist and Weekly article writer about Middle East and African politics and human rights. He is member of International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/102255
Somaliland enforced all possible procedures, codes and technologies to host free and fair elections. Somaliland Election Commission (SEC) installed biometric based system, where all fingerprints of the citizens are saves in centralized database. SEC conducts One-Man-One-Vote.
By\ Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi