Somaliland was a former British protectorate for more than 80 years; it gained its independence on June 26, 1960. 5 days later Somaliland formed in a good faith a hasty union with Somalia, which rightfully made Somaliland the mother country of the two united Somali states; On July 1st, 1960 the two Somali states were jointly renamed the Somali Republic and not Somalia – the name Somalia is a misnomer, which is now routinely, slackly and out of intellectual laziness used by those who try to deny, delegitimize and do injustice to Somaliland history.
In short, Somaliland had and has nothing to do with the name “Somalia”, this name was and is specific for the former Italian colony, which is also the Southern neighbor of Somaliland.
The Republic of Somaliland re-asserted its sovereignty in May 1991 after a thirty year union with neighboring Somalia, which culminated in a long civil war and genocidal attacks on the people of Somaliland.
Despite what others try to make us disingenuously believe, Somaliland is not a country that was born out of a historic, political, legal, and moral wedlock. Somaliland is certainly not an autonomous region of Somalia, in that sense, Somaliland is everything that Somalia is not.
The Republic of Somaliland is a country with internationally demarcated borders and with its own currency, armed forces, democratically elected local and national legislative branches and an elected president and a vice president. As matter of fact, Somaliland is the only Horn of African country with a history of multiple free and fair elections.
International Agreements, Commitments and Somaliland’s Economic Potential:
Somaliland is renowned for its adherent commitment and fulfillment of international agreement and obligations. It signed multiple bilateral and multilateral agreements with other nations and with international organizations. Most recently, Somaliland signed major multi-million dollar agreements with DP world and with the Federal government of the neighboring Ethiopia.
Somaliland recognition is imperative, because Somaliland can and is willing to contribute to the world economy and prosperity. Somaliland’s natural resources are untapped and it is one of the most investment friendly countries in the world. http://www.somalilandlaw.com/foreign_investment_law_2004.htm
Somaliland is blessed with unexploited natural riches such as hydrocarbons, marine resources, enumerable precious and rare minerals, livestock and vast cultivable lands. And after the completion of the Berbera corridor project, Somaliland will become a sea gateway for many landlocked African countries, which include the fastest growing African economy – Ethiopia.
Berbera Airport has the longest runway in Africa. It is strategically located in the southern shore of the Gulf of Aden and is ready to become a top-notch international air traffic hub.
The hundreds of miles of untouched natural white-sand-beaches, twelve-month-long sunshine and its all year round moderate low humidity climate and its glamorous sea shore-hugging colorful mountains make Somaliland a fabulous and ideal place for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Let us also not forget the hundreds of archeological sites that are awaiting discovery. One can scuba dive, mountain hike and visit multiple archeological sites all in the same day. All these facts qualify Somaliland to call itself a blissful world class touristic destination.
International Recognition is an existential Issue:
Somaliland is geographically sandwiched between terrorist infested Somalia and Yemen and it has become a buffer zone and a security gatekeeper for the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and beyond. Unlike its neighbors, Somaliland is peaceful and politically stable and it deserves to be internationally rewarded for its noble accomplishments.
In the face of fulfilling all the international norms for statehood and becoming a promising world economy hub, Somaliland remains internationally unrecognized for more than quarter of century and counting. The international community often comes up with incongruous, unworkable and perverse conditions to block the recognition of Somaliland as a sovereign nation.
Among the many absurd conditions the international community urges Somaliland to carry out is the renegotiation of final settlement with Somalia as Eretria and South Sudan respectively did with Ethiopia and the Sudan. That condition is impossible to fulfill, because South Sudan and Eretria seceded from legitimate and functioning motherly states. In reality, Somalia is “a match-sticks state” with its weak selected government working inside fortified bunkers and Villa Somalia (the presidential hide-out) is a fire range and constant target begging for the mercy of the blazing fire of al-shabaab.
What’s more, both Eretria and South Sudan received helping hand from the international community, which applied political and economic pressures on both Ethiopia and the Sudan. Then again, there is no legitimate and functioning government in Somalia for Somaliland to negotiate with and the international community is not gamely and dutifully shouldering its responsibilities towards Somaliland as they previously did in the cases of Eretria and the South Sudan.
Thanks to the UK, UAE and the Turkish governments for investing time, material and political capital to generate a fruitful Somaliland-Somalia dialogue, but no tangible results were attained, because the Somalia arguments for Somaliland and Somalia reunion are odd and completely nonsensical. Somalia bases its “let us get-together” arguments solely on the following points:
- A Somaliland-Somalia union phrase in the former Somali Republic constitution of the 1960s
- Somaliland and Somalia both speaking the same language
- Somaliland and Somalia both sharing the same ethnicity
- Somaliland and Somalia both sharing the same religion
Let me address all those points fairly, squarely and without prejudice. Somalilanders voted in mass and overwhelmingly against the Somali Republic constitution in a referendum held in 1960s. That constitution was later nullified by the Siad Barre regime in 1969 and again it is nullified by the current interim draft constitution of the federal government of Somalia.
Speaking the same language and sharing the ethnicity arguments are misleading exaggerations, because the Somalia population is multiracial and multilingual and Somali is not the only language spoken in Somalia. There are different ethnic communities in Somalia like the Bantus, the Maymay and the Brawanes and many others each identifying itself as a separate ethnicity and each community has its own separate languages. These arguments do not only deny the rights of “other” Somalians, but are also deplorable and racist arguments to the best.
Uniting different countries and basing citizenship exclusively on language, religion and ethnicity is not compatible with today’s international order and with the global village that we live in. For argument sake, let us imagine what the world would look like if citizenships were granted based on race, ethnicity or religion? What will Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, the USA and the EU would epitomize if Somalia’s reprehensible and racist ideology is put into practice by each and every country?
More farcically the international community frequently brings to the table “the African Pandora box” believing that if Somaliland is granted recognition then that will create a domino effect on the African continent and all countries will be torn apart along tribal and ethnic lines. This is also a false assumption, because there is precedence of African countries break-ups, which did not result in domino effect and mass break-ups of African countries, Gambia- Senegal confederation and Egypt-Libya, the Sudan- South Sudan and Ethiopia-Eretria former unions are good examples.
Once more, the principle of inviolability of colonial boundaries embodied on the OAU declaration of boundaries is legally, politically and historically fitting to Somaliland’s reassertion of its sovereignty, because Somaliland borders remain the same as when it gained its independence from Britain. It is pity that African leaders do not read the OAU and AU charters. http://wargane.com/2015/09/06/somaliland-history-notes-agreements-and-exchanges-of-letters-in-connection-with-the-attainment-of-independence-by-somaliland-part-4.html
And by the way, the former Somali Republic was not a signatory to that 1964 treaty, because at that time the former Somali Republic was claiming ownership of all the Somali inhabited territories within Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Moreover, it is not Somaliland that broke away from Somalia, but the opposite is true. Soon after the collapse of the brutal dictatorship of Siad Barre regime in 1991, Somalia decided to go alone and without consultation with Somaliland, it reverted back to its old “Somalia” colonial name and adopted a new illicit constitution of its own. This indicates how imprudently and egoistically Somalia behaves – ignoring the rights of its neighbor to the north – Somaliland.
The EU and the USA argument of recognizing Somaliland once few African countries lead the way is meaningless, but again, the opposite is true. The EU and the USA are putting the cart before a Somalian donkey and in this case, no African country will recognize Somaliland without and before the USA’s and the EU’s sanctified blessings is offered.
More importantly, no fair-minded person would expect natural born African dictators to respect democracy, self determination and the rule of the international law. For that reason, it is illogical to seek merciful justice for the people of Somaliland from those who committed murderous crimes against their own people and for that matter were summoned to the International Court in The Hague.
Somaliland and the world at large will gain nothing through the current status quo and the situation in the Horn of Africa can deteriorate even further if the timing factor is not respected and taken into swift consideration.
The reunion of the two neighboring Somali states is not beneficial and will not serve the interests of these two neighboring states nor will it serve the interests of Horn of Africa countries and consequently it will have an adverse impact on already weakened and out of hand international order, peace and prosperity.
We all know that security and economic prosperity go hand in hand, therefore, let us not lose sight of the geopolitical and economic importance of Somaliland. Let us focus for a second, on the looming risk of terrorism and human-trafficking that are already originating from Somalia and elsewhere in the region and then spreading beyond the international borders into the oil-rich Gulf countries, to Europe and then to the rest of the world.
Currently 70% of the Somaliland population is under 30-years-old, it is expected to double, triple and quadruple in few decades. The unemployment rate is close to 60%. These are not only numbers, but the right ingredients for terrorist bombs and a recipe for innumerable future human-trafficking rings. The only way to preemptively avert this disastrous scenario is to grant international recognition to Somaliland.
There is no doubt that a better part of the risk of terrorism and human-trafficking in this region can be prevented and stopped through the reinforcement of Somaliland’s security and economic prosperity. Lifting the European and the USA investment, travel and trade embargoes will go long way and will create jobs for Somalilanders.
One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon to figure out that Lack of international recognition is what is hindering Somaliland’s economic prosperity and its ability to wall-off international terrorism and human-trafficking.
What will Somaliland and the international community benefit from Somaliland-Somalia reunion? The short answer to this question is ZILCH! And what will Somaliland lose reuniting with Somalia? The short commonsensical answer is EVERYTHING!
Dr. Yusuf Dirir Ali, MD
Burao, Republic of Somaliland