The complexity of Somaliland’s struggle goes far beyond the surface conflict in Las’Anod, delving into a web of global interests, regional power plays, and ideological clashes. At its core, this conflict embodies more than a Clan’s demand for secession—it’s a stage for geopolitical maneuvering.

By Yousef Timacade

The geopolitical landscape of the Horn of Africa, particularly the case of Somaliland, presents a complex interplay of regional interests, historical contexts, and strategic alliances. The emergence of conflict in Somaliland, a beacon of democracy in a strife-torn region, has underscored the complexities of geopolitics and regional power struggles. The war that ignited in Las’Anod, ostensibly a bid for secession, has revealed deeper layers involving global players, proxy interests, and the clash of ideologies.

At its core, the conflict in Somaliland’s eastern territory serves as a smokescreen for various vested interests. While the initial pretext might appear as a Clan demand for secession, the underlying motives are multifaceted. One crucial aspect revolves around disrupting the burgeoning diplomatic relations between Somaliland and the United States. The impending establishment of a US military base in Berbera seems to have become a focal point, triggering opposition from certain global powers.

Since declaring independence from Somalia in 1991, Somaliland has made significant strides in establishing democratic institutions, holding credible elections, and fostering a relatively stable socio-political environment. However, its quest for international recognition faces significant challenges due to the non-recognition policy upheld by the international community.

This conflict has evolved into a proxy war, with China taking a veiled stance against Somaliland’s aspirations. Furthermore, Somalia’s staunch resistance to Somaliland’s independence intensifies the intricate web of this conflict. America’s reluctance to overtly support Somaliland might stem from delicate diplomatic considerations or a broader strategy in the region, which may involve balancing interests among various stakeholders.

The involvement of external players further complicates the situation. China’s role in supporting anti-Somaliland factions signals a broader strategic interest in the region. For China, undermining US influence and securing its own strategic foothold in the Horn of Africa might be the primary motivation. This proxy involvement exacerbates the conflict and complicates efforts toward resolution.

The absence of overt support from the United States for Somaliland can be viewed through a multifaceted lens. While Somaliland embodies democratic ideals and stability, geopolitical calculations often dictate foreign policy decisions. The US might be cautious in overtly supporting Somaliland’s independence due to concerns, potential backlash from Somalia, and the delicate balance of alliances in the region.

Furthermore, the establishment of a military base in Berbera might have strategic implications for the US, but the complexities of local politics and international relations necessitate a careful approach. Balancing support for Somaliland’s democratic aspirations while considering broader regional implications requires a nuanced and cautious strategy.

The plight of Somaliland highlights the intricate web of geopolitical interests, regional dynamics, and the challenges inherent in supporting emerging democracies in volatile regions. Resolving the conflict and supporting Somaliland’s quest for recognition demands a delicate balance between fostering democratic values and navigating complex geopolitical realities.

Religious militancy has also found fertile ground in this turmoil, exploiting the situation to expand its influence and sow seeds of discord. Their involvement poses an added layer of complexity, threatening not only the stability of Somaliland but also the broader region.

Somaliland, as a pro-Western democratic entity, finds itself at a crossroads. It requires robust support from the United States and the international community to fend off multifaceted attacks. To safeguard its democratic ideals and resist external pressures, Somaliland’s plea for backing its military and diplomatic efforts should be seriously considered.

The world should acknowledge and reward Somaliland for its resilience against terrorism, piracy, and other destabilizing forces. Supporting its stance for peace, stability, and democratic values not only serves the interests of Somaliland but also aligns with broader global objectives of combating extremism and fostering democracy in volatile regions.

The war in Somaliland’s eastern region, seemingly rooted in a Clan movement, is a symptom of deeper geopolitical rivalries, proxy interests, and ideological clashes. For Somaliland to uphold its democratic principles, resist external pressures, and combat militant extremism, it urgently requires substantial support from the United States and the international community, such backing is not merely a gesture of goodwill but a strategic imperative to maintain stability and promote democratic ideals in an otherwise turbulent region.

Despite its democratic achievements and geopolitical significance, the nation faces the challenge of recognition on the global stage. To truly leverage its importance and garner international support, Somaliland must depart from traditional diplomatic approaches and embrace contemporary international relations strategies. One of the pivotal moves in this paradigm shift involves showcasing its democratic triumphs. Somaliland has held credible elections, a rarity in the region, underscoring its commitment to democratic principles. These accomplishments serve as a testament to the nation’s stability and readiness for global engagement. However, effectively marketing these achievements requires a departure from conventional diplomatic methods.

Moreover, the strategic alliance formed through the Berbera base with the United States presents a crucial opportunity, while this move has geopolitical significance and potential benefits, it has also sparked proxy wars and internal conflicts, such as the Las’Anod conflict. To mitigate such repercussions, Somaliland’s government needs a nuanced approach, t should highlight the mutual benefits of this alliance while addressing and mediating internal tensions that stem from it.

Another critical aspect necessitating change is the appointment of government officials based on clan affiliations. Somaliland’s leadership must transition towards a merit-based system, nominating competent diplomats and officials well-versed in the intricate geopolitical landscape–This shift would enable Somaliland to navigate international relations effectively, fostering relationships based on mutual respect and shared interests.

Surviving the multifaceted diplomatic battles requires strategic foresight, Somaliland must cultivate mutual respect, solidarity, and support from its international allies, including the United States and the United Arab Emirates. These alliances, if nurtured strategically, can bolster Somaliland’s position and aid in overcoming diplomatic hurdles.

Additionally, breaking away from clan-based power-sharing can foster unity and coherence within the government, presenting a more cohesive front to the international community. A unified government, driven by competence rather than clan affiliations, will enhance Somaliland’s credibility and strengthen its diplomatic footing.

Somaliland’s journey towards international recognition and sustainable diplomacy demands a departure from conventional practices, and by emphasizing its democratic achievements, balancing the implications of strategic alliances, reforming government structures, and cultivating strategic alliances, Somaliland can assert its geopolitical importance and pave the way towards recognition and respect on the global stage.

Yousef Timacade is lawyer, legal analyst and commentator. He has a master’s degrees in law and executive management, and has been working with national and international non governmental organizations for the last ten years in the areas of program management, research