By: Adan H Iman
Please take this from me: Do not read too much into the warm reception accorded to the new president in Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, during his recent visit to the US capital.
The foreign policy of the US and other western countries is driven by the economic and geopolitical interests of those countries. It is not determined by any altruistic, idealistic or emotional factors. The lawlessness of Somalia profoundly affected the western world economically and demographically because of the large influx of refugees fleeing into those countries from Somalia.
It also affected their geopolitical security interest because of threats from the Al Qaida affiliated Al Shabab as well as the danger posed by pirates to the free flow of energy and human traffic on the Indian Ocean. The defeat of Al Shabab and the semblance of peace gave the western world hope the threats posed to their interest by the lawlessness in Somalia is finally turning the corner. Probably, the western world would continue to give economic and security assistance to Mogadishu so that the triple problems of piracy, terrorism and refugees are under full control. Remember, they are doing so out of their own self interest and not because they love Somalia or President Hassan Sheikh!
There has never been any threat from Somaliland to the western world. Somaliland has been peaceful and genuinely democratic. The western world will never push Somaliland to rejoin Somalia. They know the history of these two countries. Any hostilities that break out between the two nations will jeopardize international security and peace.
There is NO interest for Somaliland to continue holding bilateral talks with Somalia. This is not the time for such talks. We have 15 years or more to go before such talks will be useful to be held. Great Britain should not have initiated those talks in the first place. The Somali President has a lot of work to do for many years to come in order to put Mogadishu on its feet again. Somaliland should not even come into his radar. No president any where else in the world inherits the totally failed state that President Hassan Sheik inherited. He needs to focus on his country and forget about Somaliland.
Somalilanders should focus like laser beam on moving their country forward and close their eyes from the flirtations between Somalia and western donors. The driving force behind the dance is not emotional feeling but real, cold interest.
Domestically, Somaliland needs to employ the bottom up, grass roots process that served the country so well in the past to straighten her electoral system. People in villages, towns, and cities should discuss the need for every body to abide by the rule of one person one vote. Then leaders of political parties, elected and appointed officials and all civil society groups- business, clergy, women, youth, media, and sultans- must meet and reach agreement on making certain election are free and fair. The electoral process is very important because it ensures orderly transfer of power at all levels of the government and enhances the reputation of the country. Any elite anywhere in the country who acts unethically during election time must understand that he is destroying the country.
Somaliland must remain very vigilant against terrorism. During the last decade there were several acts of terrorism in the country. Even though Al Shabab is weaker today, still vigilance is the way to protect the lives and properties of all as well as the progress of the country. There should not be any complacency when it comes to terrorism. There are those who are against the very existence of the country let alone for the dark forces of evil to see the people of Somaliland achieve substantial progress.
Somalilanders need to rely upon their resources and expertise to develop their country. If they can pave a small of stretch roadway at a time, build a school, a clinic, a business, and drill a well at a time, over time they will go a long way in developing their country. To foster trade they need to keep maintaining good relations with their neighbors- Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia.
If they follow such a strategy of self-reliance, they will end up being much better off than those who enjoy in being the grave yard of a foreign aid that ends up in the hands of few and is no good for the rest.