Somaliland: Why Talks Won’t Work

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By Abdirahman Mohamed Diriye

Somalilandsun – I woke up and started to browse the internet as usual to see how far Somaliland delegates forced concessions to their counterparts, but unfortunately, I saw nothing in the signed agreement but small office that will be in charge of Somalia’s airspace and Somalia’s airport toilets has been given to Somaliland as war bounty, then I asked myself why they openly refused UNSOM mission which will employ thousands of people in Somaliland that may die in their way to Europe instead.

Is it a matter of mood? This reminded me of when the president went to London conference and came back with great gift: a contract of turning the whole country into piracy prison systems! But what about his next trip to overseas? So much hope but the president will exceed the expectation of his unfortunate masse. He will probably ask US government the relocation of the Guantanamo Bay to his hometown, Buroa for nepotism if he is clever in project choosing, which Washington spends millions of dollars on it. Or turn Togdheer, great range land, into farms’ pigs. Now World War One tanning factories have relocated to Somaliland.

If you walk in the neighborhood where the president and Hirsi live, you won’t hear Talks are under way in Turkey, people simply tell you that Hirsi along with group of interpreters of his choice went to Istanbul to have a picnic probably to see Othman empire residence which contemporary Turkey got rid of. That sounds funny but really happens in our world. Why talks similar to North-To-South dialogue that led the disunity of the two provinces of Sudan have not yet started? In contrast, the shadow talks may undermine Somaliland quest for international recognition. Somaliland are unluckier than other nation on earth, they always have a bad start and then picked themselves and sacrificed their lives but finally have unhappy ending. Albert Einstein once said “foolishness is doing the same thing over and over in the same manner and expecting different outcome” or similar statement but the aftermath of miscalculation from the sixties and onwards are almost the same. Compare today’s guys to those of sixty, much better than today. But you cannot bit your tongue forever but we’ve to let bygones be bygones. But how ones trust ones’ fate with such naïve folks seems enigma.

The joint national aviation and air space controlling committee to operate from Hargaysa, Somalia’s second largest city, no a capital of Somaliland, and signed by both sides: Somaliland and Somalia, was brought the entire Somaliland cause into question. If the president Silanyo sees this “dubious” agreement as diplomatic milestone done by his green juniors, why he did not accept when his rival, the first president of Somaliland went to Mogadishu, not far Ankara, and successfully agreed with Aided on sharing national resources on equal footing without Turkish mediators. Why wasted decades and decades returned only tiny office that can give employment to delegates’ children only. The MPs were 180 total, 90 MPs were selected by Hargaysa and other 90 were from Mogadishu including Garowe. No more Galmudugists or Puntlandists or whatever you call.

Moreover, the recent talks ended in up in opening small office of 10 workers to Hargaysa shows that we abandoned what we used to search for the decades. And our minor grievances unlike before are mainly about economy or finance rather than sovereignty or independence. The former is much easier to solve; Suadis are ready to give alms to keep Somaliland in, and our Sheikhs, recipients of Zakats are here to cash in Gulf nationals cleansing of their filth.

Mohamed Farah Aided, the late General, has been serious about the addressing the North grievances whatsoever they are, but today Somaliland current regime is insincere what it comes to Somaliland as state, they don’t want independence. This is no mere assertion, let me prove it, first of all, there are no ad hoc task in charge of talks with Somalia. Hirsi and probably the First Lady as Amin artist caricature shows, nominate anyone they fall in love with. No criterion, and very often the president is unaware of, that why we see Hirsi declaring a group of new faces an hour before the talks start.

If talks are tough like the talks of Israel and Palestinian authority and need to have new venues every time, then we need to have a team, no cobbled group as the ones we have at the moment, of negotiators who are experts in International Relations to lead the team only if we adamant about sovereignty. We need people like Adna Aden, senior diplomat at the WHO for over twenty years.

However, the Talks between Somaliland and Somalia are on the wrong trajectory much like the Middle East endless negotiations to consume more energy and to disappoint Somaliland public. The changing venues from London to Dubai and to Istanbul do not augur well for positive outcome. south-to-North Sudan Talks begun in Kenya and reached a deal that South Sudanese autonomy would had six years to be indirectly ruled from the capital and the Khartoum government has to make unity attractive within that space, however; the South Sudan has the right to choose unity or secession after six years , and that is all. No other travels by South Sudan officials, no more noises. But the big question, why the venues are constantly changing? And the delegates are changing in every trip and negotiation too, except certain ministers whose integrities are in question.

We know the country cannot afford such luxurious air journeys like this.

If Somaliland officials are caring about Somaliland suffering people, they never booked business classes in Western jets, instead, board a cargo vessel heading back to Istanbul.

Each of the two sides brought their little worlds to the negotiation table: some Somaliland members of the delegation, not all, were adamant about the restoration of lost sovereignty while others were pushing their hidden agenda; the government makes some concession in terms of power. Anyway, the talk’s agenda diverged before even they begun.

Somaliland negotiations with Somalia are inconclusive as they wrongly focused on superficial issues: sharing begging aid from overseas rather than the core matters: unity or secession. Somaliland’s prioritizing sharing aid with Somalia casted a doubt whether Somaliland could be ever viable state?

In sum, the talks now and then will remain political, social embarrassment for Somaliland public. But no one knows exactly what the next talks shows will produce? The story of hiring new faces to repeat what the previous delegates had spoken will probably continue unabated.

Abdirahman Mohamed Dirye is a Somaliland activist. He is Democracy Chronicles’ Senior Editor for Africa and can be reached at dirye@democracychronicles.com

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