Somalilandsun-Islands of stability in fragile states demonstrate that local rule can result in relative security and prosperity. According to the nonprofit Fund for Peace, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia all ranked in 2016 among the most fragile states in the world, with Somalia topping the list. Yet Afghanistan’s Balkh Province has experienced a remarkable recovery and remains one of the last pockets of relative peace in the country. Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region has become the most stable and economically thriving part of the country since the 2003 U.S. invasion. And in the northwest of Somalia, Somaliland has developed into a relatively peaceful and democratically governed entity after its self-declared independence in 1991.
According to Michael F. Harsch these marginalized regions provide their populations with relatively high levels of security and public services. Data from Uppsala University suggest that between 2002 and 2015, Balkh’s rate of conflict deaths was one-sixth of the national average. In Somaliland during the same time period, the rate was just one-20th of the national average.
In his piece titled “A better approach to statebuilding” Michael F. Harsch who argues that the international community mainly focused on the challenge of “getting to Denmark”: transforming unstable, poor countries into peaceful and prosperous democracies strategy has failed miserably urges the USA to change tack by utilizing Lessons From “Islands of Stability”
“There is nothing to lose for the USA which has spent more money on rebuilding. Afghanistan than it spent on the entire Marshall plan to reconstruct Europe after World War II”
As it embroils more in Afghanistan and Somalia,One important lesson for the United States is that less foreign support might be more beneficial for fragile states. If governments primarily rely on foreign aid rather than on local tax revenues, political accountability will decline, corruption levels will rise, and leaders’ incentives for delivering public services will decrease. Although extensive yet futile attempts were made to strengthen the central governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia, the international footprint in Balkh, Kurdistan, and Somaliland remained relatively light. As a result, these regions have developed greater self-reliance and use available resources more effectively.
The United States should also encourage decentralization and cautiously promote fragile countries’ islands of stability. It could help these regions by facilitating access to trade networks, advocating local autonomy in selecting leaders, and encouraging the longer-term establishment of more inclusive institutions. This approach is unlikely to work in active proxy wars such as those in Syria and Yemen, where external actors are fueling the armed conflict to such an extent that any local stability remains impossible. Yet for Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia, strong regions are a source of stability for the state: Balkh has helped to slow the momentum of the Taliban; Iraqi Kurdistan’s military contributions have been vital in containing ISIS; and Somaliland might become crucial in the fight against al Shabab.
Continue reading A Better Approach to Statebuilding,
Similarly In a recent piece co-authored by Michael F. Harsch, Maximilian M. Meduna, Teresa Krug the question of more involvement in Somalia by the USA was raised with urgings for the Trump administration to learn from Somaliland experiences in order to succeed in the war torn and under siege by Alshabaab jihadist country.
Arguing that Somaliland isn’t Switzerland not to mention that it is still unrecognized as a sovereign nation 26 since withdrawing from union with Somalia, stark differences prevail with its recognized and international propped neighbour to the South
“Here’s the difference: Somalia’s central government has been propped up by foreign powers with military support and food aid. Somaliland, by contrast, has a decentralized political system that produces leaders who are respected and supported by its citizens. Instead of relying on international charity, Somaliland has relied on revenue generated by remittances and trade”
So what can the United States and the international community learn from Somaliland’s experience?