The Dubai Statement, signed on 28 June 2012 by TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Somaliland leader Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, was the wrong approach for Somalia at this critical time.
As Somalia’s marks its 52nd birthday since independence from European colonialism, our country is in complete shatters. The burden of disunity and disintegration, conflict and disease, exodus and brain drain, and the cultural nightmare of an identity-less new generation, has taken a devastating toll on our country, its people and its future.
Sharif and Silanyo sign Dubai Statement, 28 June 2012
At the onset, we say congratulations to the fallen and living heroes of our epic struggle for independence, nation-hood, and the desire for our beloved Somalia to become a respectable member of the community of nations. The point of history is to learn from past mistakes to prevent the future generation from making the same redundant and costly mistakes.
It is painful to wash our nations in disarray. Our forefathers sacrificed their lives, their properties, and even the idea of a life of comfort, to ensure that future generations lived as a free country, with equal rights and opportunities on the global stage. Mistakes happened, a military dictatorship emerged and fell, and we as a nation are still suffering from the subsequent civil war leading to implosion and national disintegration.
Nonetheless, our Islamic values and our Somali cultural traditions teach us that hope should never be lost. Even today, amidst conflict, disease and disintegration, there is hope that Somalia can recover towards the path of restoring peace, governance, and our national dignity.
In this spirit, one observes the trajectory that Somalia has adopted since 2011 to be different from the approaches of the past. All of Somalia’s neighbors – Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti – have deployed armed forces into Somali soil with the aim of ensuring that the contagious violence raging in Somalia does not step over international boundaries and destabilize their national security. Secondly, the ongoing political process is a Somali-led and owned process – despite what the detractors say. It is easy to criticize the “Six Signatories” by saying that national decisions exclude other groups and interests. However, the fact remains that the Six Signatories represent the relevant legitimate political entities in Somalia – with the exception of Somaliland’s separatist administration.
The Dubai Statement, signed on 28 June 2012 by TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Somaliland leader Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, was the wrong approach for Somalia at this critical time. Moreover, what Sharif and Silanyo signed was a four-point statement, brokered by the UAE Government, aiming to “continue the dialogue” and “clarify future relations.” The agreement purportedly signed following a process that began with the London Conference of 23 February 2012, which called for dialogue with Somaliland’s separatist leaders.
It is unfortunate that TFG President Sharif, a candidate for Somali President come August 2012, and Somaliland’s separatist leader Mr. Silanyo signed a document that lacks genuineness and political weight inside Somalia. Indeed, the two leaders cleverly played their cards by misleading the Somali people, including those in Somaliland, about the true intentions of their “agreement.” It comes as a surprise to no one that President Sharif has clear-cut political objectives to win the Somali presidential election next month. But for Mr. Silanyo, what was the true purpose behind this insignificant document that will serve no purpose on the ground in Somalia?
Indeed, Mr. Silanyo played a clever game by bringing opposition party leaders in Somaliland to Dubai to bear witness to this dubious agreement – Mr. Dahir Riyale of UDUB party, Mr. Muse Bihi of Kulmiye party, and Mr. Faisal Ali Warabe were all present – to testify to the Somaliland people on Silanyo’s behalf that this dubious agreement was of benefit to Somaliland’s ill-fated independence aspirations. Within Somaliland, Mr. Silanyo is hopeful that the opposition party leaders’ presence will quell internal troubles when the more extremist corners of Somaliland’s separatism supporters, but Mr. Silanyo also forgets that the opposition party leaders are all seeking his presidential seat and might not look so favorably on Mr. Silanyo’s move, if conditions require so.
It is noteworthy to mention that Mr. Sharif was given reassurances of receiving the parliamentary votes of Isaaq clan members in the emerging Somali Federal Parliament, while Mr. Silanyo got Sharif as Somali interim president signed a Berbera port deal with DP World. It is behind the scenes where the real action takes place.
A question arises: does this mean that Somaliland’s separatist administration will now appoint representatives to join the Somali Federal Parliament, instead of the usually hand-picked and unrepresentative Isaaq MPs in Mogadishu? If so, what does this say about Somaliland’s separatist ambitions and Somaliland’s internal political troubles lurking in the shadows?
In the end, Somalia needs a peace process at all levels – whether it is community reconciliation to heal past wounds or a genuine nation-wide political reconciliation process to chart Somalia’s national recovery, in the post-transition period. What happened in Dubai was a political act on an international stage – aiming to deceive the Somali people and the wider international community.
Essentially, Somaliland’s military attacks, abuse of civilians and violent land expansionist politicies and tendencies, were all aimed at Darod communities of Puntland region in northern Somalia. Since 2002, Puntland and Somaliland have fought countless battles, where many people lost their lives and properties, including the 50,000 displaced civilians from Las Anod who fled Somaliland’s invasion in October 2007. Who will be held accountable for Somaliland’s violent aggressions against unarmed communities and justifying their claims to represent non-existent colonial boundaries?
Moreover, Somaliland’s continued manipulation of communities in Sool region, by playing one greedy politician against another, is a short-sighted policy that neglects the true needs of the Somaliland people.
Today, it is a fact that Somaliland youth are seeking opportunities abroad, some via human trafficking methods, at a higher rate than most regions of Somalia. The Somaliland people and youth require their administration to deliver opportunities in education and employment, instead of spending government budget on funding military forces in Sool region, or paying off greedy politicians.
This policy has no long viability and it is not only bound to fail, but it is already creating new dimension to the hostilities – by seeking to sign an agreement with Mr. Sharif, all the way in Mogadishu, Mr. Silanyo effectively sent the signal that he considers the people of Sool region to be pests that can be attacked and abused without consideration. Surely, a part of the blame lies with the greedy politicians who sold their own communities for financial payment from Somaliland, and surely, Somaliland’s separatist administration must one day be held accountable for the military attacks in Las Anod and Buhodle districts.
Like all things political, the Somali presidential election will come and go, but the people and the land will remain and will remember Somaliland’s atrocities and Mr. Sharif’s act of political desperation hoping to save a sinking ship.
With Somalia’s destiny is hanging in the balance, it is costly and destructive to manipulate the nation’s political landscape for the benefit of short-term gains at the expense of national interests.
But what will be the cost of this dubious act to the political future of Mr. Sharif and Mr. Silanyo. This is the only thing that remains to be seen.