Somalilandsun – We, Somalilanders are wedged between a hard rock and a hard place in our 23 years quest of recognition by the international community for a Sovereign Somaliland thence opportune moment to start figuring out right now, the terms befitting the loss of our independence in exchange for being a better part of Somalia, again, writes Jama Sheikh Dahir of Weybridge, Surrey the UK in an article titled “Somaliland: A Ubiquitous Delusion” which he urges Somalilandsun to publish though it may not go down well with its esteemed readers, since what makes this world so interesting, is contrasting views made accessible for all! While the Somalilandsun editorial board does not agree with the sentiments expressed by the writer and in pursuit of not condoning divergent views, reproduced below in verbatim is
Somaliland: A Ubiquitous Delusion
Somalilandsun – Is it conceivable for our people and government of Somaliland after twenty-three and half years that we are unable to intelligently quantify how far or near we are to an independent state recognised by the international community?
What’s more profoundly troubling is our inability, as a nation-state, to evaluate what the impact of all those years of intensive international diplomacy has accomplished for our recognition issue. Or, is it because such an evaluation will signal a mixed bag of home truths not to our likings!
How can we know we are not deluding ourselves today, if we cannot assess the progress of our nation’s quest for full diplomatic recognition? Maybe, we believe it’s better to be deluded than lose sight of such that bonds us together as a nation!
Looking back in 2003, Matt Bryden wrote; “Within Somaliland, the pursuit of international recognition has become a sort of national obsession. The government has addressed little else in its foreign policy efforts over the years, and several non-governmental lobby groups among Somalilanders at home and abroad have dedicated themselves to the cause. Hardly a week goes by without the topic appearing in the local media.”
Fourteen years down the road, you’d think this is not the same Somaliland Matt Bryden wrote about. Today, we and our current government seem all but unconcerned any more about Somaliland’s recognition. Why is it we seem to be somewhat, bit, indifferent today, to an issue that’s topped our nation’s foreign policy agenda for more than two decades?
The answer is simple, it’s because we have painfully come to realise and accept that as things stand, the international community is more than ever before—reluctant—to recognise Somaliland as a sovereign state. Maybe this is why, we Somalilanders are disinclined to wonder at all what has become of the many years of concerted efforts and resources ploughed into the cause of Somaliland’s recognition? Or, even discuss where we have failed or succeeded in our recognition pursuit. It would be nice to have at least some ‘official’ idea about what’s going on or hindering our recognition from our current government!
Many of my fellow diehard Somalilanders on the other hand wouldn’t care less whether full diplomatic recognition for Somaliland is forthcoming or not. To them Somaliland is not a political conviction any more but more akin to a fanatical dogma that is excelled only by religious extremism.
This is not to say, all diehard Somalilanders are alike, some of us are pragmatic in our political conviction for an independent Somaliland. If we cannot get recognition for Somaliland, common sense dictates we should seek the next best thing that comes close to our aspirations for an independent Somaliland, whatever this maybe!
Sleeping Giant, Arises
It’s crucial that we assess the current political turn of events that is fuelling the federal government of Somalia’s (FGS) new lease of diplomatic clout. Since 2013, the Somali federal government’s diplomatic recognition by the international community has utterly left us in our quest for diplomatic recognition in disarray.
What’s more alarming is our foreign policy’s failure to adequately address the new political climate, by not giving it any consideration whatsoever or hindsight, Somaliland, will surely and slowly see itself shunned by the international community, as Somalia is reintegrated back into the fold of the diplomatic world.
We already had a rude awaking early this year, when all of a sudden, control of our air space which for two decades was managed by the UN was officially, to our horror, handed back to the FGS. The FGS has been more or less ‘vested’ with the authority to allow or deny any international flight the permission to land in Somaliland airports.
It’s no exaggeration too, to predict that the FGS will soon enough be ‘vested’ also by the international community (International Maritime Organisation) with the authority to deny docking permission for international maritime bound vessels calling on Somaliland seaports.
It’s no secret too, that the FGS has for the past twelve months been busy haranguing international oil companies (IOC) contracted by Somaliland to explore for commercial petroleum resources in its territory.
We are already feeling the ripple effect this has caused in the sudden reduction of exploration activities by four of Somaliland’s contracted IOC’s. FGS made this clear only few weeks back when its oil minister stated that his government was currently suing these oil companies in their respective countries of company registration for operating ‘illegally’ in northern Somalia (Somaliland).
What will those politicians and leaders of ours, who today, foolhardily make hallow public statements like; “…even If it takes a thousand years for the international community to recognise Somaliland, so be it—we shall never abandon and compromise our declaration of independence”: do, when the very livelihood of Somaliland will slowly and surely be strangled by the FGS’s ‘diplomatic’ onslaught on our liberties to trade, travel and conduct international commercial agreements. Thirty days, could we barely survive in such a circumstances—let alone a thousand years!
The present political climate that is taking shape is nothing new! It’s always been the policy position of two decades by the international community to leave the issue of Somaliland’s recognition as a matter, ‘best left for Somalis to resolve’.
It’s no surprise then, in 2012, we grudgingly agreed to hold talks with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of President Sheikh Sharrif Ahmed. However much, at the time, this idea seemed repugnant to most in and outside of Somaliland. Nevertheless, President Ahmed Silanyo should be commended for opening the door of dialogue with Somalia. Although, initial meetings with the TFG and the current FGS produced lukewarm protocols that promised to keep the continuation of the talks open. Nevertheless, the likelihood of Somalia pressing ahead with these talks on an equal footing with Somaliland looked shaky from the start.
Unfortunately, by spring of 2014, it’s rumoured that the FGS, sent a letter, to the Turkish and British mediators overseeing the Somalia/Somaliland talks, proclaiming, “Unless Somaliland revoked its declaration of independence from the rest of Somalia that the FGS shall no longer be in a position to hold dialogue with Somaliland”. If this is true, it explains why the scheduled Somaliland/Somalia talks were cancelled three times in this year alone and worse still, means the end of the talks. Somaliland will never retract its declaration of independence and the FGS will not back down from its demands (if the FGS letter is true). Either way, we can be assured, there will be no Somaliland/Somalia talks taking place for some foreseeable time.
I’d like to put it to my fellow Somalilanders, can we truly afford to play ‘a wait and see’ game with the FGS, as its new found diplomatic momentum builds up by the day and gains direct authoritative control of our airspace, seas, maritime traffic, international telecommunications and our access to global money and banking sectors, to mention a few!
Breaking the Deadlock!
The deadlock between Somaliland/Somalia is a legal dispute. Somaliland believes its declaration of independence meets all the legal criteria under international law, while the FGS sees Somaliland’s secession as illegal. The likelihood that the FGS would agree to refer the matter to the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) to settle the dispute is improbable. Nor, can we “stick it out to the bitter end” and continue in an indefinite deadlock with the FGS, for reasons already mentioned.
So what are our options?
To be frank, none! The stark reality of Somaliland’s fate is all but too grossly manifest not to be ignored any more. We only have one option and that is to get the FGS back to the negotiation table, even if it means conceding our twenty-three and half years of Somaliland’s independence. We have the option today, to determine, the terms we are going to give up our unilateral declaration of independence. But this option won’t be there tomorrow, when the prevailing circumstances shall dictate the end of our declaration of independence!
We are wedged between a hard rock and a hard place. We need to start figuring out right now, the terms befitting the loss of our independence in exchange for being a better part of Somalia, again.
It’s worth mentioning, in such a scenario, terms that I believe would merit our contemplation are:
a. Inaugurate a new federal constitution between Somaliland and Somalia;
b. Redrawing the 1960 ‘Act of Union’;
c. An ‘independence referendum’ ballot for Somaliland within a fixed period;
Let’s turn the clock back and put right what was forsaken in 1960.
Jama Sheekh Dahir
Weybridge, Surrey. UK