HARGEISA, 16 March 2010 (Somalilandpress) – I write this letter as a Somaliland citizen that values the ancient, cultural, religious, kinship, commercial and geographic ties that bind the peoples of Somaliland and Arabia. However, I must, in all honesty, clarify that I speak for no one except myself, although I believe that many Somalilanders do share the perspective outlined in this missive.

Recently there have been reports, in both the Somaliland and international press, that Israel is prepared to recognise Somaliland as a sovereign nation. These reports have occasioned the predicable response from the TFG of Sheikh Sharif that Somaliland is part of Somalia and cannot be recognised by any country. It is ironic, to say the least, that an illegitimate and unelected government that is imprisoned in a few blocks of its own capital and which can only survive in this prison under the protection of some 4,000 foreign soldiers (which are not drawn from any Arab League member) has the temerity to tell real governments that are in full control of their territories, what they can and cannot do. However, this is the surreal fantasy that passes for a government in Somalia today.

What is sad is that the pathetic mendacity of the TFG was parroted by the Arab League in their accompanying statement which accused Israel of plotting to divide an Arab country. This is palpable nonsense since the people of Somaliland began the recovery of their sovereignty in April 1981 when they established the Somali National Movement (SNM) as the vehicle for their liberation from the oppression of the Siyad Barre dictatorship. The recovery of Somaliland’s sovereignty was finally realised in 1991 when the forces of the dictatorship were defeated and evicted from Somaliland, after a bitter, decade-long war of liberation in which Somaliland’s people were subjected to mass extermination, ethnic cleansing and a calculated and brutal savagery that has been documented by many human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Thus, the Arab League’s cavalier dismissal of Somaliland’s long struggle for liberation, not to mention its unique achievement of reconciliation, peace, representative government and reconstruction with virtually no outside help, is but another manifestation of Arab hostility and enmity towards us.

We Somalilanders remember that many of the weapons and munitions used by the Siyad Barre dictatorship to massacre innocent men, women and children was gifted to him by members of the Arab League, not to mention much of the funding that was used to prop up the regime and enrich its rulers. We also remember that while many other countries with which the people of Somaliland have no historic ties of kinship or culture or faith, e.g. such as Ethiopia, Canada, USA, Holland, Sweden, Norway and the UK, provided sanctuary and safe haven to the women, children and men that had managed to escape the scourge of the dictatorship with their lives and little else. Yet, the governments of the Arab League members were only too happy to cooperate with the enemy dictatorship to harass, imprison and repatriate to them many innocent Somalilanders who’s sole crime was to send financial support to their families and kinsmen which had been made refugees in Ethiopia and elsewhere by the said dictatorship.

Upon achievement of our liberation and recovery of our sovereignty in 1991, the Arab League embarked upon a sustained campaign to obstruct and thwart at every turn not only the success, but indeed the very existence, of Somaliland as an independent nation. This is despite the fact that when Somaliland first achieved its independence from Britain on 26 June 1960, several Arab countries, including Egypt, were among the 35 nations that recognised the Republic of Somaliland. Indeed, it is an irony worth mentioning here that Somaliland’s independence leader and first Prime Minister, the late Mohammed Ibrahim Egal was a personal friend and political ally of Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, yet the current Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, saw fit to characterise Egal’s death as “…the collapse of the wall that divides Somalia…”. This callous ignorance signifies the depths to which Arab understanding of Somaliland’s history and politics has sunk.

Somaliland was the first Somali colonial territory to achieve independence in 1960, and it was the principal proponent and champion of the dream of a pan-Somali state that would unite all Somali peoples in HOA, i.e. the irredentist dream of Greater Somalia. Infected with the same virus of anti-colonial nationalism that propelled Syria and Egypt to their hasty union, Somaliland rushed into union with ex-Italian Somalia as the first step towards realisation of the Greater Somalia dream. It is another irony of history that those who now base their opposition to Somaliland’s recognition on the grounds that this ‘dismembers Somalia’, are ignorant of the fact that it was Somaliland which gave birth to the concept of Greater Somalia and indeed sacrificed its statehood for this dream. Our political maturation and acceptance of the immutable law of politics, that true unity and freedom flow from the application of reason and adult reflection, and not from youthful and oblivious fervour, has been hard won and tempered in blood and steel, and we will never surrender it. Just as Syria recovered its sovereignty after its over-hasty union, so have we.

Concomitant with this overt Arab hostility to Somaliland’s legitimate rights has been the growing appreciation and support of our case throughout Africa and the Western world. Our country’s singular achievements in reconciliation, peace, stability and a functioning representative democracy in stark contrast to the mayhem in Somalia, the autocratic political structures of many of our neighbours and the political instability plaguing established democracies such as Kenya, has earned the respect and goodwill of many nations and their citizens. When we review the Arab World’s hostility to Somaliland and its cause over the last two decades, we have to ask what lies behind this undisguised antipathy. What crime have the people of Somaliland committed against the Arabs to earn such sustained enmity and disdain? In fact, the answer is simple and the crime can be neither mitigated nor undone, but simply accepted as irredeemable and irreversible. Somaliland’s crime is simply to exist, and we make no apologies for it, nor do we wish to ‘correct’ it.

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While the decisions of the Arab League are formally arrived at by consensus at formal meetings of Ministers and Heads of State, in reality the leadership of the Arab World is vested in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, usually acting in concert. In the case of Somaliland, Egypt has taken the lead in determining the position of the Arabs, and thus the policy of the League. This is because Egypt has a particular interest in the Horn of Africa region (HOA) because of its negotiations with Ethiopia regarding the sharing of the waters of the Nile. Egypt has determined that its interests are best served by a united Somalia hostile to Ethiopia and friendly to Egypt which it can use as an effective bargaining chip with which to ‘induce’ the required measure of cooperation from Ethiopia. An independent, sovereign Somaliland that is friendly with Ethiopia (as indeed Somaliland now is) is considered by Egypt as antithetical to its interests in HOA. Thus, in pursuit of its own national interest, Egypt has sold to its fellow League members a false bill of goods regarding Somaliland and the merits, justice and historical precedent of its quest for recognition. History is the one true enemy of falsehood, and Egypt’s selfish and short sighted misrepresentation of Somaliland and the wishes of its people is no exception, as there are now emerging signs that the Arab World is waking up to the truth.

A key indicator of this awakening is Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to rescind the decade old ban on livestock imports from Somaliland. This is a transformational move with respect to relations between the two countries, since over 90% of Somaliland’s foreign currency earnings come from the livestock export trade. This is evidenced by the fact that some 800,000 heads of livestock were exported from Somaliland to Saudi Arabia during the last Haj, resulting in a dramatic improvement in Somaliland’s economy. In addition, other GCC countries (including the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar) are establishing informal trade, cultural and assistance relations with Somaliland and these ties are growing and expanding by the day. Yemen has recently indicated its desire to establish diplomatic relations with Somaliland while developing close security and anti-terror collaboration. The fact is that the world is waking up to the reality of Somaliland and it is beginning to accept that we are here to stay. The world is also beginning to wake up to the truth that Somaliland has been impressing upon it for well over a decade, namely that the only route to finding a solution for the crisis that continues to bedevil Somalia goes through Hargeisa.

We are ready to assist our brothers in Somalia find a just and workable solution to the crisis of the collapse of the state in their country. But our assistance can only be given if we are not party to the anarchy and mayhem, but are separate and distant from it. Only a stable, peaceful and independent Somaliland can help Somalia find its way back from the abyss of anarchy and state collapse into which it has descended. However, this will require a complete review of the genesis of Somali nationalism and an acceptance that the irredentist dream of Greater Somalia has turned into a nightmare. Re-establishment of the state in Somalia will perforce mean a new social contract between the people of Somalia, and, by extension, between the Somali peoples of the HOA. This inevitably means that the irredentist nationalisms of the Somali peoples in Ethiopia and Kenya also need to be reviewed in a new light. Instead of seeking separation from these countries, these Somali peoples need to secure their full, national rights within these countries, including regional autonomy, self determination and social development.

This vision of a peaceful, stable, democratic HOA in which all the Somali people achieve their full rights and self determination does not suit the self-interested, hegemonic designs of Egypt, which seeks through conflict and manipulation that which it can secure through wisdom, fraternity and negotiation. Until the Arab League ceases to let its policy on Somaliland and Somalia be held hostage to the misguided and monopolistic Nile policy of Egypt, until the Arab League decides to let its regional and geo-political interests determine its policy towards Somaliland and Somalia, the people of Somaliland will continue to see little or no convergence of interests between them and their Arab neighbours and kinfolk. It is an axiom of history, not to mention faith that “ye shall reap as ye shall sow”. The Arab League has sowed the disdain and enmity of the people of Somaliland for over three decades (including the period of the war against the Siyad Barre dictatorship); can it now be surprised if the harvest is the disdain and hostility of Somaliland’s people, especially its youth?

In conclusion, let’s return to Israel’s reported willingness to recognise Somaliland. Firstly, let us be clear, Somaliland is a sovereign nation and, as such, it can establish relations with any country that it wishes. Somaliland is seeking international recognition from the community of nations, and it is in our interests to reciprocate every hand extended to us in friendship and mutual respect. Secondly, certain members of the Arab League have full diplomatic relations with Israel, e.g. Egypt and Jordan, while others maintain informal ties and/or trade offices with them, e.g. Morocco and Tunisia. Thus, the knee-jerk reaction of the Arab League to the news reports is not only unwarranted, but in fact misses the point.

The point is not whether Israel is willing to recognise Somaliland, but why the Arab League remains hostile to exercise of the people of that country of their legitimate right to self determination and so recover the sovereignty they unwisely surrendered in 1960? Somaliland will not sacrifice its interests for any third party, but those that seek our respect and friendship must show us the same respect and friendship. Despite the history of hostility outlined above, Somaliland’s hand remains extended in friendship to our Arab brethren, the question continues remains, however, as to whether the Arab League will take it in the same spirit of fraternity.

Written by:
Ahmed M.I. Egal


  1. Well done, Prince Egal, for a great article and well thought out statement. We, Somalilanders, stand with you shoulder-to-shoulder and support you all the way in everything you said.

    Somaliland is sovereign nation and will always be. Besides, we will never accept to be held hostage by any other country. Our national interest is above and beyond everything else. We are entitled to have diplomatic relationship with any country that satisfies our nation interest. And if anybody is not happy about it. Tough luck, who cares?

  2. Dear Ahmed Egal.
    Congratulations for your tireless effort to present Somaliland’s case; But, I have this terrible urge to sincerely put this question here; Do you really believe that Israel have actually projected in any form and enunciate something called Somaliland? F the answer is yes! I please accept my apology for my ignorance.
    Mohamed Ali

    • Hello Mohamed,
      Thank you for your kind thoughts on the piece. I had my doubts about whether Israel was willing to recognise SL, however these doubts were considerably reduced when I read that the Israeli Foreign Minister raised the matter at the last Israeli Cabinet meeting and that the matter is under consideration, although the Foreign Ministry supports it.

      Regarding whether we should welcome this or not, I think we have to look to our interest. From this perspective, we should welcome any country that is willing to recognise us, since this is of primary importance to us. Further, we have to find out what Israel wants to gain from taking this step and make clear to them what we wish to gain from such a step. Then, on the basis, that each party clearly understands what is on offer from the other, we can go ahead and recognise each other, or walk away from an unreasonable proposal. What we must not do is surrender to a knee-jerk, or emotional reaction as the Arab League has done.

      This is childish and will not serve our interests. To those who oppose recognition of Israel on supposedly religious grounds, I say study your faith more deeply – there is nothing in Islam which makes recognition of Israel "xaraam". To those who oppose recognition of Israel with reference to the plight of the Palestinians, I say let the Palestinians deal with Palestine, and let us deal with Somaliland. Recognising Israel does entail denying Palestinian rights which I support, but our primary duty is to the people of SL.

  3. I am at work right now and can not say much at the mo' However can I really say here that having relationship with Srael would be only a dream which would be much better that the Ethiopian relationship or indeed to any other Arab country. If it satisfies out National Interest then so be it.

    I work with So many Esraelians and they are really great people highly educated and forward thinkg people remember they are the only democratic country in that Region too.

    Finally Thanks for the great great & I mean great artical above

  4. ..you know u learn people by listening to them…I know now, that if it wasnt for the dhulbahante and warsengeli, you people would have been converted into Christianity by the English, off all people, I have never met such cheap easy and useless bunch of people, dont you have any moral values..none at all….you are a copy of ayaan hirsi ali, why because in order to get papers recognition and fame she sold her religion and culture to those who are willing to exploit it……if you people are so fond of Israeli's, then why dont you move to tel aviv…… hmm …and leave this country for the muslims, we puntland, will rent it out to the muslim oromo's..,

    I xaaji ahmed, hereby announce that I recognise somaliland, under the terms of you people not be called somali's, and chose a new name for your people, since we have many people in the horn who are different nations with the same looks, it wont be a problem…

    • Mr. Haji,

      Having a Government to government bilateral relationship does make one anti-Islam, if that was the case many Moslem Countries in the world who have bilateral relations with Israel can not be considered Moslem according to you.

      If you do not know, Djibouti is a Somali Country, so are people who live in zone five of Ethiopia and NFD of Kenya, Somaliland people can be free from the york of greater Somalia and still be a Somalis.
      So please, think before fooling yourself in front of the whole world.

  5. No Gobaad, it's not "Tough luck, who cares".

    I think what both the article (to some extent) and you Gobaad fail to see or question is what are the consequences, what will be the reactions of other parties and is Somaliland able to deal with those consequences/do the gains outweigh the losses. I've said that before. Do livestock bans ring any bells.

    • No, it doesn't Ahmed. We will explore other markets and find an alternative market for our livestock. Our livestock is organic and on demand around the world. Besides, Somaliland buys millions of various products the GCC and Yemen. We will also take our business elsewhere, why don't they put that into considerations. We will never, again be held hostages and Taxad Raxmat Alkhleeg.

  6. @ Xaaji, Nacnac iyo hadal tiro. Asaxaabtii baannu ku abtirsanaa, yaa xaywaan! Diin annaga noo sheegi maysid, noogamana dhawid. Dadkii adoo cawaan ah seeta kugu muslimiyey baannu nahay. Tabaad, Iimaan, Ayaan iyo Werisba idinkaa leh. So, why don't you shut up and take hike, heckler.

  7. Mr. Xaaji, I think you are mistaking for two points. First you telling people Dulmahate and Wersangari are more Muslims than others, that is simple not true because it go back to individual action and it's Allah who knows and judge. Secondly, you saying Somaliland should change the name Somali. What is Somali? Somali is a term that belong to all Somalis either in Ogaden, Jabouti, Somalia, Somaliland, abroad and N. Kenya. People have their rights to reject or welcome the name and there is no consequences. It's not wise to force idea to hard that you see them un-Somali or wahtever you may called it.
    I suggest you to open your mind and don't mix up things that shouldn't. Anyway, I would like to cut my comments and I may come here sometimes since we all argue for nothing rather than sharing better idea. It shouldn't be Somaliland is arguement all the time. Somalilanders also should change their reaction because the more people support your idea of breakaway, the better chance it will come true.

  8. This is the best written Somaliland text I have ever read… Like the others above mentioned, I am definitely shoulder to shoulder with you on this one.

    Well written, articulated and presented.

  9. Mr Egal I like your ideas and forward thinking, we need more people like you and yes most of us educated ones do support relationship with the State of Israel. I do believe Islam and Judaism can and will co-exist side by side just as they did centuries ago until some crazy Arabs hijacked Islamic faith.

    People from Somalia play the Islamic card when they hear Somaliland is about to have relationship with Israel because they scared. They are killing each others, Muslim killing Muslim, Sufism on Wahabism, Wahabism on "moderate Muslims" and they wanna talk about Islam. Ignore those sick people.

    If you want to learn the real Islam, the peaceful one that said: "Serve Allah and join not any partners with Him: and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the way-farer (ye meet) and what your right hands possess: for Allah loveth not the arrogant the vainglorious; – An-Nisaa (4),36" the come to Somaliland.

  10. Mr. Egal,

    A simple reason why Arab League will/do not recognize Somaliland is because there is nothing called Somaliland but a Somali Democratic Republic that is a full member of the league itself. How do you legally or rationally expect them to ignore that and recognize Somaliland, a recognised provinces of Somalia!

    This is not a political issue but a legal one. Even Israel will not recognize Somaliland. it is just a media gimmick by Somaliland media outlets. The big boys do not want that.

    Time to get realistic.

    • Reer Koofur,
      Your logic is flawed, the issue is not simply legal but but also, and maybe more importantly, a political one. Further, there is no separation between the legal and political in the relations between nations since they are sovereign entities accountable only to their citizens. As I said in the piece, Syria recovered its sovereignty from its hasty union with Nasserite Egypt in the 1960s, and this is a very apposite comparison to the situation today with respect to Somaliland's situation vis-a-vis Somaliland.

      The Arab League will eventually recognise Somaliland, of this I have no doubt, since Somaliland is a reality and increasing numbers of Arab League members are coming around to facing reality. What people like you should be focused upon is how to solve the crisis in Somalia and how to assist the Somali peoples of Ethiopia's 5th Province and Kenya's NFD achieve their full national and human rights. Insisting that the Somali Democratic Republic of Siyad Barre continues to exist is an infantile exercise of sticking your head in the sand in order to avoid reality.

      Wake up my brother and face the truth, it will not hurt you, but it does require you to grow up and find real solutions to the real problems of today, not live in yesterday's dream (for you maybe) and our nightmare.

  11. Ahmed Igal,

    The argument which you basing your secessionism is that the territory in question was once been a British Protectorate (which discredits the liberation struggle of our forefathers and is an insult to all freedom fighters.) Well, the British signed agreements with clans and those clans are part of the Somali people in the Horn of Africa. They share ethnicity, geography, culture, economy, and religion, everything that makes Somalia one of the only few, if not the only nation that qualifies to be a nation. All Somali tribes consciously decided to become a one nation and all are part of Somalia because tribalism is ended; we are a nation in a modern world of nation states.

  12. The Clannish elites, Siad Barre, as well as leaders of USC, SNM, SPM, SSDF and others, are the personalities who created this clan injustice and animosity by setting Somali clans against each other for their own personal gains. These CLANNISH ELITES AND THEIR COHORTS, FROM EVERY SOMALI CLAN, failed our national system and GOVERNMENT. And now, SINCE THEY REALIZED THEY CANNOT GET WHAT THEY WANT WITHOUT SOME FORM OF SYSTEM, their remnants are continuing the deceit by re-inventing their domination through 4.5 clan power sharing formula, clan secessionism and clan regionalism. The abstract entities so called TFG, Somaliland and Puntland among others are the fruits of their efforts, but can they succeed? IT IS NOT GOING TO WORK. WE ARE AWAKE. CONTINUES…….

  13. It is really simple, we have a clan problem that became a serious predicament to our national system and governance, all we need is to solve it and move on. But the clannish elites are FISH AND CLANISM IS THEIR WATER to survive. We should not buy it. We can end clanism and restore our central system free from tribal injustice, nepotism, competition and distrust, among others. EVERY NATIONA FACE CHALENGES AND TRIBALISM IS OURS. HOW WE OVERCOME DETERMINES OUR SUCCESS.

    However, it’s very disappointing to see an able person like you wasting his precious and useful intellect and wisdom writing such clannish fiction that do not serve the interest of the people of the territory you represent but a few clannish elites who feed off their blood! VERY SAD INDEED! OR MAY BE YOU ARE YOURSELF PART OF THE CLANISH ELITE WHO HAS A STAKE IN CLANISM? CONTINUES…….

    • Unfortunately, your are locked in a box and the message in this letter is beyond your comprehension. It will require a paradigm shift and out of the box thinking on your part, to understand and appreciate the message of this letter. The Arab countries will recognize Somaliland for a simple fact – the country that was called Somali Republic is not there anymore. Other than Somaliland, the rest of what used to be called Somali Republic is a ghost house of pirates, terrorists and foreign fighters. I have no doubt that Sheikh Sharif is a good man, but he lacks the experience and political skill to turn around the situation to his favor. And that is why his government is reduced to a few blocks of Mogadishu under the protection of African forces. Once Somaliland is recognized, we believe it is our strategic interest to have Somalia that is stable, terrorist free and prosperous as our neighbor. Somaliland will not spare any effort to help our brothers achieve that.

    • @ Reer Koonfur, you are repeating the same comments over and over and over again. Don't you have anything else to say or are you here for the sake heckling and menacing?

      For heaven sake, come up with something interest to convince us or shut up and get a life.

  14. A people of nation have a responsibility to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Somalia is one nation recognized by the world as Somali Democratic Republic. It has a flag, territory of its own and its inhabitants are known to be Somalis. If you really want change that and reform boundaries, you are dreaming. Somalia’s territorial integrity and its sovereignty is nonnegotiable and unchanging brother. The Somali people, no matter the circumstances, are duty bound to protect their nationhood. They will overcome tribalism and everything that associates with it. Also, Somali people will equally overcome religious sectarianism. And I hope you will see the light soon, until then, keep on dreaming brother IGAL.

  15. Alternative perspectives:

    – Any somali inetrested in somaliweyn will surely be pro-somaliland as a means to exert pressure on other somali-regions to align their politics to fascilitate a future somaliweyn.

    – Any country instrested in the general peace and stability of all somali regions will certainly accept somaliland and use the somaliland formula for creating peace and prosperity across all somali regions.

    With the above statements in mind SOMALILAND people should by now have already realised… Somaliweyn is nothing more then a pretext by the failed somali regions to prevent somaliland from pregressing ahead and one day dominating all other regions. Landers also need to awaken to the reality that the arab occupied african countries will continue to exert pressure on the AU to prevent recognition of somaliland. Kenya, Ethiopia, Eriteria, uganda and burudi all are making economic gains from somali's turmoil.

  16. alternative perspectives

    Most inteligent somaliweyn believers are pro-somaliland, they understand that sometimes you need to strip down the framwork of a machine to make it whole again.

    Most countries in the region gain from playing the terror card so long the wars in somali-regions continue

  17. Keep it my Bro!!!!!!!!!! simply i can commete as follow one israil death is equaverlent to 1000 arabs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    somaliland long live!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. This is by far the most well thought, well constructed article written by a somalilander. Your appreciation and sphistication are well demonstrated. We the next generation must begin to influence the overall challanges that our young democracy faces. Thank the older folks but its us that need to take on the Somaliland aspirations.

    Warsama Qoys