Doing so will bring about long-overdue historical justice, advance shared values and security interests, and promote regional stability and development.
Somalian-born congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s de facto admission that she’s an undeclared foreign agent, which she made last month while ranting against the Ethiopia-Somaliland Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), catapulted Somaliland to Americans’ attention. There’s now a fierce debate on social media over whether the US and the rest of the world should recognize its redeclaration of independence from 1991. Here are five reasons why that would be for the greater good:
- Historical Justice
Somaliland was briefly independent in summer 1960 and achieved official recognition from a handful of countries prior to merging with the former UN Trust Territory of Somalia in a failed unity experiment, which collapsed after the 1980s civil war and the Ishaaq Genocide that was carried out later that decade. It’s since established all the characteristics of an independent state, and finally recognizing its redeclaration as such would be an act of long-overdue historical justice.
- Shared International Values
Somaliland is a flourishing democracy whose values align with the international community’s, but continuing to ignore its redeclaration of independence sends mixed signals about their true commitment to these ideals. The people’s will, as reaffirmed in the 2001 constitutional referendum, should finally be recognized by the world in order to remove ambiguity about where they stand on democracy. Not doing so suggests that all talk about democracy is aimed at advancing ulterior interests under that noble cover.
- Shared Security Commitments
Somaliland also shares the international community’s commitments to fighting terrorism and ensuring freedom of navigation on the high seas as proven by the absence of Al-Shabaab on its territory and pirates in its waters. By contrast, both of them are thriving in Somalia, whose central government is either unable or unwilling to stop those two. By recognizing Somaliland’s redeclaration of independence, more robust counterterrorist and anti-piracy support can then be provided for containing these threats.
- Regional Stability
Recognizing Somaliland’s redeclaration of independence would discredit complaints about its MoU with Ethiopia, the importance of which was described in detail in the earlier hyperlinked analysis. In brief, it preemptively averts the latent domestic and international crises stemming from Ethiopia’s landlocked status, thus ensuring regional stability instead of continuing to risk a series of conflicts. Continuing to withhold recognition of both could be interpreted by some actors as tacit approval to attack Somaliland.
- Regional Development
The MoU will accelerate regional development through its pioneering of a new connectivity corridor between Africa’s second most populous state and the global economy. A rising tide lifts all boats so the development of Ethiopia and Somaliland will also serve the neighboring countries’ interests as well by creating more opportunities for mutually beneficial trade and the like. International investment, which is conditional on recognition of Somaliland’s redeclaration of independence, can speed up this process.
The five reasons shared above should hopefully inspire policymakers across the world to seriously consider recognizing Somaliland’s redeclaration of independence without delay. Doing so will bring about long-overdue historical justice, advance shared values and security interests, and promote regional stability and development. These are in the interests of all responsible stakeholders of the international community, who should put their prior misplaced doubts about this aside in pursuit of the greater good.