“The recognition of the S.F.G. by the United States and the willingness of the other “donor”-powers to acquiesce in it is due to Washington’s decision to draw back from Somalia by pretending that the S.F.G. is a “permanent government” rather than what it actually is – a four-year transitional government”-Weinstein
Somalilandsun – Somaliland is suffering the consequences of Washington’s recognition of the Somalia Federal Government- S.F.G. , because the S.F.G. is now, from Washington’s viewpoint, the legitimate authority in the territories of post-independence Somalia, which, of course, includes Somaliland
This is narrated by Mr. Michael Weinstein an American based Horn of Africa analyst during an interview with reporter Mohamud Walaleye of The Hornnewspaper and Somalilandsun in which the analyst further reveals that the recognition of the recognition of the S.F.G. by the United States and the willingness of the other “donor”-powers to acquiesce in it is due to Washington’s decision to draw back from Somalia by pretending that the S.F.G. is a “permanent government” rather than what it actually is – a four-year transitional government.
Below are the full verbatim excerpts of the interview
Previously the international community was cautioned towards rushing to recognize the TFG, which was something good for Somaliland, how does newly found love with Somalia affect Somaliland’s quest and anticipated dialogue between two entities?
The recognition of the S.F.G. by the United States and the willingness of the other “donor”-powers to acquiesce in it is due to Washington’s decision to draw back from Somalia by pretending that the S.F.G. is a “permanent government” rather than what it actually is – a four-year transitional government. The S.F.G. is the result of a process that began in December, 2010 (the Roadmap) that was engineered by the “donor”-powers when the T.F.G. was showing no signs of advancing toward permanent institutions. At that point, the “donor”-powers through the U.N. took over the “transition” and eventually pushed it through, although the most important elements of the interim constitution had not been determined. In their view and particularly in Washington’s view, by recognizing the S.F.G. it is possible to claim that the important work has been done and the Western powers can move to other conflicts that are more important to them. The S.F.G. is a cover for the Western drawback from Somalia and a legal basis for making agreements with a Somali “state.” Somaliland plays a very minor role in Western calculations and it simply suffers or benefits from the consequences of the decisions that the “donor”-powers have made for other reasons.
In the case of Washington’s recognition of the S.F.G., Somaliland is suffering the consequences, because the S.F.G. is now, from Washington’s viewpoint, the legitimate authority in the territories of post-independence Somalia, which, of course, includes Somaliland. As a result, the S.F.G. believes that it has the international backing to refuse to negotiate with Somaliland on an equal footing, but only as a “regional state” (at most). Any discussions on those terms have been unacceptable to Somaliland in the past, but now Somaliland has been placed in a compromised position that the S.F.G. will try to use to its advantage. If Washington holds to the implications of recognizing the S.F.G. as the legitimate authority over all of the territories of post-independence Somalia, then a roadblock has been placed in the path to recognition of Somaliland as an independent state. Indeed, it would appear that Washington has closed off the possibility that it would recognize Somaliland, giving the S.F.G. a high card that it can play in setting up the terms of negotiation. It is important to repeat the point that Washington did not recognize the S.F.G. in order to hinder Somaliland’s quest for independence or to help it; Washington simply did not put Somaliland’s wishes on its list of priorities. The damage to Somaliland’s quest is, for Washington, “collateral damage,” or, perhaps, Washington did not think of Somaliland’s interests at all.
In view of the yet to be clarified position of Somaliland in UK and Somalia co-hosted international conference on Somalia in May 2013, What is your take and advise to the Hargeisa administration?
As Washington draws back, it has handed the baton to the UK, which is hosting a spring conference on Somalia with the S.F.G. That event forces Somaliland to make a difficult decision. If it does not attend the conference it is possible that international aid for Somaliland will be diminished or funneled through the S.F.G., but if it does attend it will have to do so as a “region” of the Somali “state,” thereby acknowledging that it is not an independent state. It is this forced choice that is responsible for many of the recent vacillations of the President Silanyo administration and for the rumors and reports that are appearing in Somaliland of Silanyo making a secret deal with the UK and of selling out Somaliland’s independence. This is a push-comes-to-shove or rock-and-a-hard place predicament. The big question is how Silanyo will maneuver in it. It is shaping up as a lose-lose situation. It is already having the effect of contributing (though not causing) the separatist or autonomist factions within Somaliland. It is weakening Silanyo. This is not a position that any leader would want to be in, and it has been imposed on Silanyo by the “donor”-powers. How far the “donor”-powers will go in pressuring Silanyo to play ball with the S.F.G. is unclear. That they are pressuring him is clear.
Doesn’t the failure of then UN Secretary general Boutros-Ghali, bid to deploy UN peacekeeping in Berbera reflect strongly on Somaliland’s argument for sovereignty?
Somaliland has two cards that it can play to preserve its political space. The first is that although the “donor”-powers place Somaliland at the bottom of their priorities, they still want to maintain a relationship with it, so they are unlikely to try to isolate it completely. Somaliland’s strategic location requires the “donor”-powers to avoid alienating it. That is the first card. The second is the support of the people of Somaliland for independence. However, Somaliland is currently going through a period of internal political stress following the local elections and disputes over their conduct, and from a weakening of Silanyo’s overall credibility. That has made it more difficult for Silanyo to mobilize Somaliland’s public to stand up to pressure from the “donor”-powers. Somaliland is facing a forced test: Are Somalilander’s committed to an independent state sufficiently to hold out for it and risk diminution of aid, or is their commitment weak enough so that they will acquiesce in the folding of their independence tent? This to repeat is a forced test imposed upon Somaliland by decisions of the “donor”-powers that were made without concern for Somaliland.
If as you said recognition of the S.F.G. make difficult for Somaliland to negotiate on the state-to-state, don’t western cagey population will start backing those against western interests or create more pirates along Somaliland shores deterring commercial ships?
It is unlikely that the “donor”-powers/U.N. will alienate Somaliland to the point that Somalilanders will become anti-Western and act against vital Western interests. The “donor”-powers will simply neglect Somaliland a bit more than they do now and make it plain to Somalilanders that they can expect nothing but the bare minimum, however it is channeled. They will make it clear that they will give no diplomatic backing to Somaliland’s political interests, although they will not cooperate in any efforts to absorb Somaliland into the S.F.G. Somaliland would remain, under these conditions, in its current state of international-political limbo, with less prospect for changing it than it had before recognition of the S.F.G. and its diplomatic effects.
Lastly, how you gained familiarizing Horn politics, and view Somaliland’s quest on international recognition? Do you have sympathy?
On the matter of my personal view towards Somaliland’s quest for international recognition, I am neither sympathetic nor unsympathetic towards it; I do understand the reasons why that quest was initiated and has continued through thick and thin. Understanding is the most that an analyst can have along the line of sympathy, and you can rest assured that I understand. I take no sides in any of the disputes in the territories of post-independence Somalia. I simply monitor and record the pulse of power. My familiarity with Horn politics began in 2006 when the Islamic Courts revolution began and I recognized that it had the hallmarks of a genuine revolution and I decided to devote all my intellectual efforts to studying it in order to learn about revolutions, not about Somalia. When Ethiopia crushed the Courts my work was over, but several of my Somali correspondents wrote to me asking that I continue to do my analyses. They told me that it helped them and other Somalis get a grasp of the situation presented without side-taking. I decided that I would continue to monitor and analyze Somali politics and have continued to do so, becoming closer and closer to my correspondents and making friends. By now, spending hours in what I call “cyber-Somalia” every day has become an integral part of my life and I do not think of leaving.