IN 1991, after the overthrow of Somalia’s military leader Siad Barre, the northern territory of Somaliland declared independence. While its mother nation has been in meltdown, Somalilanders in Hargeisa established a currency, set up a working government, held a series of free elections and saw through a peaceful transfer of power. But after two decades, they still haven’t won recognition as a country from international partners.

Mohamed Bihi Yonis, the foreign minister, claims that is about to change, saying that “it will happen soon”. His optimism is overblown, but not entirely without foundation. A number of factors have converged to buoy the independence bid.

Last year Somalia elected its first permanent government since the fall of the military regime, giving Somaliland a credible partner for negotiations. Ministers have been trying to win Somali leaders over in talks brokered by Turkey.

Mr Yonis says the negotiations have stretched as far as “how best to disengage from each other”. He claims that Somalia’s government, which formally recognises its breakaway neighbour as an autonomous region, is willing to make concessions. “They have accepted the understanding that… it is in the best interests of everybody to move things forward,” he says.

Somaliland has a strong legal case for recognition because it sticks to old colonial borders favoured by the international community. Increased financial security may also support its bid.

The Somaliland government has handed out a number of oil licences to exploration groups like Genel Energy, an Anglo-Turkish firm, in recent years, and is about to sign the biggest business deal in its 22-year history. An offer worth “hundreds of millions [of dollars]” has been tabled by “one of the world’s best port operators” to develop the harbour at Berbera, according to Jason McCue, a human rights lawyer who works as an envoy on the independence bid.

Serving as a trade route for landlocked Ethiopia, which has annual exports of about $1bn, could strengthen Somaliland’s bid for recognition amongst its neighbours. Big international investors could also influence their home governments to acknowledge Somaliland as a country.

But there are limits. Sources close to Somalia’s government say that it is committed to maintaining a unified nation. All public signals from Mogadishu point in the same direction. Somalia wants Somaliland to adopt its planned replacement currency, and is attempting to exercise control over the territory’s airspace. It has also contested the legality of Somaliland handing out oil licenses, saying that right lies with the federal government. A new draft constitution openly lays claim to Somaliland.

Somaliland doesn’t necessarily need its parent nation’s permission to get legal recognition. But unfortunately for it, Western governments, which are mostly impressed with its efforts, say that the first move should come out of Africa. The chances of that happening look slim. The African Union is scared that acknowledging Somaliland could create momentum for other separatist bids, and none of its member states have shown any indication that they will recognise the territory. The current crisis in newly independent South Sudan makes this even more unlikely.

Somaliland’s problem furthermore is that its case is dwarfed by other concerns in the Horn of Africa. While the northern territory chugs along in relative peace and stability, both rump-Somalia and its international partners are face pressing security problems. Hargeisa will have to wait.

Source: Economist


  1. Somaliland recognition is a lifetime commitment. The issue is not what ambitious politicans want but what the people of somaliland want and get it brazenly. This is a fact, in the knowledge of Somaliland people, young and old alike, no matter how the road ahead is steep and rowdy.

    • Yusuf,
      I'm surprised you're still have the guts to comment. Go and do what you' should be better, fly a kite..

      • Osman I expected better of you. I am very disappointed . Since 1991 we have had bugger all attention whether it has been Ina Egal, abdrihman toor, riyals and now the adan medobe mafia boss

    • Plan B is to go after you in wanlaweyn hideouts, cook you alive and feed you to the hyenas you decimated.

        • because you say you are Isaaq your punishment would be even more severe. We wish you and your faqash ideological uncles rot in hell.

          You Isaaq faqash, Somaliland's plan A is stay away from your wanlaweyn ideological uncles, plan B is to destroy all remnant of Isaaq faqash.

          Your plan A is melt down in the decent people of Somaliland and reap the fruits of their peace and development is your don't get your way of wishing them otherwise. And your plan B is to join your wanlaweyn relatives.

          Come out of closed and declare your plans on the TV. Start your confession with the following words:

          In the name of bantu, the most wicked wanlaweyn, I, Yusuf faqash, declare here that my plan A is … and plan B is ….

          May you join your ideological Afweyne in hell.

  2. Somalia has no power over their own territory let alone somalilands air space. somalia is not an independent country is a country equiped by others, they have no control of their own security yet they claiming somaliland. somaliland is ready to defend itself from anyone including the west. poor somalia needs to deal with irt's own affairs. somaliland knows peace and war both so show what you got!!!!

    • In fact somalia needs to liberate itself from neighboring countries. if they need a help they should ask

  3. It is a well balanced article. In fact, if you read it carefully, you will see it states that Somaliland international de-jure recognition is a matter of when not if. But, some haters see the headline and go giddy. Nuxurka ma fahmaan, ciwaanka uun bay la cararaan. Was iska caruur ee ceeb ma laha.

  4. South Sudan did not get its independence after just 20 years, they fought more than 30 years and could not still get recognition until North Sudan allowed it to go ahead so negotiation is the right direction, Let Somaliland bring the reasons to the table and Somalia will listen to it, I personally will have no problem if the Somali parliament votes to allow Somaliland to secede, I believe the president will have no power over this matter, but as the article states it Somalia will not allow this to happen so I don't no the solution. South Sudan have disappointed many that advocated for its independence an so the international community made it clear that they will not get involved in Somalia affairs, I think the solution is that let the negotiating continue and we will wait for the outcome.

    • The Somali parliament is not democratically elected. It is for the time being a constituent assembly which has no jurisdiction over Somaliland and in which the people of Somaliland are not represented. Two independents nations joined in a union in 1960, we can all agree that the union has failed. Surely, it is better to go our separate ways rather than resort to more violence.

        • @ Anti-Qaldan

          First time I see a bantu giving the indication that he had made a breakthrough into his stone skull and wanting to lecture the quraysh what 'qaran' means. Hey bantu boy the platform is yours, consult all your bantupaedia resources and show us your skills. We have not seen a money in action lately.

          Somalilanders let us all watch the amateur bantu expert. Here he come: Antiiiiiii-Qaldaaaaaaaan

  5. It's in the best interest of African Union to recognize Somaliland. Otherwise, they are creating another war in the content, the content that has already suffered enough of many misery.
    And they better know very well that after 22+ years of being on its own, there is no way or how, will Somaliland people will ever accept reunion with Somalia. So what is the option? The world communities and sister Somalia has to come to its sense and accept a reality called Somaliland nation. There is nothing between full recognition of Somaliland.
    May Allah bless, Somaliland and its people and government.Amen!

  6. Somaliland's sovereignty is not in the hands of the warlords in mogadishu nor the IC. it's in fact in the hands of the ordinary Somalilanders, We have proved to the world time and time again that we'd never allow someone else to determine our destiny. We had overcome the most difficult hurdles a young nation ever faced in a span of a decade: such as the livestock ban in the name of a fake rift valley fever claimed by our # 1 customer, everlasting droughts and civil wars of which each one was anticipated to weakened the Somaliland's ability to survive as a nation, fortunately they all worked out for the opposite in the favor of Somaliland..

    Now, the talks between the great Somaliland and the failed of Somalia are meant to be a form of formalities to show the world again that Somaliland is indeed a mature and resilient nation so matter who we sit with, at where and when……Somaliland self-determination is stamped in the hearts and minds of all Somalilanders as nonnegotiable.

  7. The headline is so true, Somaliland Can't get no recognition. Their claim of the relative stability is something of the irrelevant past and are currently surpassed all other areas of main Somalia. They have not shown any measure of self reliance and are unsustainable due to lack of resources. Beyond subsistence no progress is possible for the starved, thirsty Somaliland the last 20 years progressless has proven.

    • Ali E,

      Stop this crap you been listening to your stupid mum for too long. Where the hell did she get all this rubbish she fed you, stupid!

      • 5 year old.

        It is my belief that you have grown up in where the code of austerity and ethics were always away and absent. Try to convince people with thoughts, proposals, concrete ideas, ideology – an insight that make one well conversant. Fanaticism for stupidity is just the measles of your social intellectual and social growth as well. Son of a b**ch

    • @ Ali E
      Here is another evidence that wanlaweyn, not matter what, are unable to understand because of their bantu skull. My dear enemy you have made me laugh wallahi and embarrassed yourself. You write "The headline is so true, Somaliland Can't get no recognition". This sentence does not mean your bantu understanding. In English double negative means positive. Because you have no bantu dictionary, ask your Kenyans neighbors to translate it for you.

      • @Crock
        Double negatives in english when used in the same sentence even makes more negative than one negative alone is often used as an intensifier to a negation.

        • @Ali E. bantu boy

          I see you have consulted your Bantupedia and have come back with your concocted understanding that because 1+1 is 2, no + no = 2nos.

          In standard English double negative does not mean intensified negation. Your pseudo-algebraic logic does not apply. Of course, there are languages that use double negative like French, Spanish, pidgin English and Somali.

          Je N'en sais RIEN (French)
          Yo NO se NADA (Spanish)
          I Don’t know NOTHING (pidgin English spoken in African American ghettos)
          WAXBA ma garanayo (Somali)

          All these sentences translated literally mean “I don’t have nothing”, logically mean “I have something” and laterally mean “I have nothing”. Are you still with me, Bantu boy? We will not forgive you if you confuse logic with grammar.

          Now the difference between the Quraysh of Somaliland and the Bantu in Wanlaweyn is that while the Qurash learn the starndard English, the wanlawayns learn the pidgin English spoken in African American ghettos because of their natural affinity.

          • "I don't know nothing", "I know something", "I know nothing". The same applies to the verb "to have"

    • Ali E, we got Oil and Gas, baby and even better, we have people made of the right stuff and don't you forget it.

  8. Villa Hargeysa!!!! Typical wanlaweyn fake love for Somaliland. Or is it an act of consolation?

  9. The writer mentions rump-Somalia. This means the South is not Somalia. It is a hodgepodge of fueding tribes each eager to seize the power to control the resources of the country. This is part of Siyad Bare's legacy where the Merehan tried to subdue the other tribes by military force. Now that the Hawiye, the Digel and Midile, and many other formerly enslaved tribes are aware of this history, each one is going to be on the helm to be save and secure. As far as Somaliland is concerned, it is a country where all the ingredients of a modern nation is found. It is unfair to compare the latter with Somalia.

  10. South Sudan got recognized because of America's self interest to steal their oil now look its in chaos just after few months. Somaliland on the other hand has all the ingredients of a nation yet the west is so hypocrites because the people of Somaliland and not as Dumb as those of South Sudan & not willing to give away their resources for nothing. We've built a nation from scratch and have survived for 23 years without outside help unlike Somalia and we will for another Hundred years with or without recognition.

    • Excellent point, Muna. Somaliland's ultimate decision makers are its people and they have already spoken, loud and clear. The union has failed and for over two decades Somaliland has charted its own course, it is time for acceptance of the realities on the ground.

  11. @ Ali. E bantu boy and his ilk Yusuf Faqash

    I have noted that all wanlaweyns and a few enemy inside like Yusuf Faqash misunderstood the gist of the above article. They both have consulted their Bantupedia and thought because 1+1 is 2, no + no = 2nos.

    You two morons, before you start celebrating your fake dream come true wishes, read the article again with the following lenses:

    In standard English double negative does not mean intensified negation. Your pseudo-algebraic logic does not apply. Of course, there are languages that use double negative like French, Spanish, pidgin English and Somali.

    Je N'en sais RIEN (French)
    Yo NO se NADA (Spanish)
    I Don’t know NOTHING (pidgin English spoken in African American ghettos)
    WAXBA ma garanayo (Somali)

    All these sentences translated literally mean “I don’t know nothing”, logically mean “I know something” and laterally mean “I know nothing”. Are you still with me, Bantu boy and Yusuf Faqash? We will not forgive you if you confuse logic with grammar.

    Now the difference between the Quraysh of Somaliland and the Bantu in Wanlaweyn plus their bantuzised Isaaq faqash, the inside enemy like Yusuf, is that while the Quraysh learn the standard English, these morons learn the pidgin English spoken in African American ghettos because of their natural affinity.

    Yusuf Faqash if you stab your people in the back, you will share your lot with your bantu ilk.