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Somaliland: Self Determination

The Voice of Somaliland Diaspora-Ottawa points to a paper on “Self-Determination and the case for Somaliland.

1 comment

  • Elmius

    For over a decade now the United States has been giving words of support to Somaliland but very little else. Even 9/11 and the fundamental changes it brought in US foreign policy seems not to have affected this policy of benign neglect by the US government toward Somaliland. Many Somalilanders are baffled by the US attitude. They cannot understand why the United States which is willing to spend $30 million dollars a year (the actual amount is estimated to be twice that figure) for basing its troops in Djibouti to stop terrorists coming from Somalia, is unwilling to extend any substantial assistance to Somaliland, which due to reasons of politics and geography, plays a more pivotal role in the fight against terrorism than the statelet of Djibouti.

    What do we mean by reasons of politics and geography? First the political reason: Somaliland, being a democratic country that rose out of the ashes of the collapsed state of Somalia, provides Somalis with a viable alternative to the road of civil war, terrorism and despair. The geographic consideration is this: a simple look at the map will tell you that a terrorist that comes from Somalia will have to go through Somaliland before reaching Djibouti.

    It is true that Djibouti, unlike Somaliland, is a recognized country which makes dealing with it diplomatically easier, but diplomacy is supposed to be a means for advancing, not hindering, national interests. In other words, if it is in the national interests of the United States to upgrade its relations with Somaliland, even if the rest of the world has not yet recognized Somaliland, it is not only perfectly reasonable to do so, but foolish not to do so. The Ethiopian government has understood this point, that is why it has upgraded the status of its representative in Somaliland to that of an ambassador.

    The yawning chasm in the United States’ dealings with Somaliland and Djibouti is also relevant given the increasing evidence of Djibouti’s close business and political relations with the terrorist courts in Mogadishu, the mullahs of Iran and Arab Gulf financiers of extremism. The question that many Somalilanders are asking is: why does the US continue to support Djibouti despite the fact that Djibouti is clearly in bed with terrorists, while at the same time ignores Somaliland which has done more for peace and anti-terrorism in the Horn of Africa, than the Djibouti government ever did.

    The issue boils down to reciprocity. Somaliland has done a lot of good things for itself such as peace, democracy and moderation. Many of the things that Somaliland did, had, and continue to have, a positive impact on the region. But some of the things that Somaliland does, and continues to do, is of vital importance to the United States. The US, however, has been taking Somaliland’s stance for granted. In other words, there is no reciprocity on the US’s part. This situation is becoming less and less tenable for two reasons: (a) the lack of reciprocity is becoming more and more glaring, which in turn, is increasing the frequency and intensity of calls for a re-evaluation of Somaliland’s stance; (b) increasing pressure from terrorist forces that have effective global networks, while Somaliland is left to fend for itself.

    The people and government of Somaliland have shown an extraordinary resilience and capacity to survive despite great odds. Their deep sense of self-reliance and modesty when dealing with the outside world has resulted in their being taken for granted. That is no longer acceptable. The standard US responses such as “we’re engaging Somaliland”, “we’re providing the largest humanitarian aid”, “African countries have to recognize Somaliland first”, are no longer convincing. Somaliland expects its true friends to assist it in re-building its roads, schools, agriculture, public health; to extend bilateral aid to it; to open the doors of international institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF for it. And above all, to recognize it as a full sovereign state.

    Why should the US do this? Because given the current takeover of large swathes of southern Somalia by terrorists and the fading fortunes of the one-city “government of Somalia” that is holed in Baidoa, Somaliland’s position as a front-line state against terrorism and extremism has become much more significant. Somaliland’s enemies know this and that is why they have increased their efforts to destabilize it. Unfortunately, US dealings with Somaliland does not reflect Somaliland’s enhanced status on the political map of the Horn Africa, which only adds to feelings, among a large number of Somalilanders, of being taken for granted. By taking the above-mentioned corrective steps, the US will close the gap between its policy and the reality on the ground; it will stem the growing dissatisfaction among Somalilanders with its policies toward Somaliland; it will establish a firm foundation of reciprocity in its relations with Somaliland; and it will strengthen Somaliland’s capacity to defeat terrorists.

    We are not in the business of telling other countries what to do, or how to safeguard their interest. But the gravity of the situation, and the gathering threat to our country, are compelling us to spell exactly what needs to be done. The ball is in the US’s court.

    Source: Somaliland Times

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