“I think the international community sees the issue of Somaliland’s sovereignty as an issue to be decided by all Somalis” -Amb Shinn
By: Yusuf M Hasan
WASHINGTON (Horn) – The talks between Somaliland and Somalia have been termed as a positive step towards establishing peace in the Horn Region.
This was told to Hornnewspaper correspondent Mahmoud Ali Walaleye by Ambassador David Shinn during an exclusive interview.
Amb Shinn who spoke to Mahmoud before Presidents Silanyo and Sharif met in Dubai informed that the international community is not that important in Somaliland’s quest for recognition, Said he, “Even if a few countries recognized the independence of Somaliland, the government of Somaliland needs to convince a majority of Somalis that independence is the best way to go”.
Read below the full verbatim excerpts of the interview
How do you see the wording of the final communique of the Chevening House Declaration as concerns Somaliland?
I see the declaration primarily as a commitment to continue discussions and I believe that is a positive development.
It’s mentioned that the two presidents will meet to review progress as soon as possible. Does that sound like the signing of agreements?
No, I don’t believe the discussions have reached the stage of signing agreements. They have only agreed to continue talks and find ways to cooperate in specific areas such as fighting terrorism, extremism, crime, piracy, illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping.
What do you think the international community will do if both sides disagree on Somaliland’s sovereignty?
I think the international community sees the issue of Somaliland’s sovereignty as an issue to be decided by all Somalis. The position of the international community is much less important than that of Somalis themselves. Even if a few countries recognized the independence of Somaliland, the government of Somaliland needs to convince a majority of Somalis that independence is the best way to go.
Article 4 of the communique called on the international community to continue to facilitate the talks, including providing the two sides with external experts on legal, economic and security matters. What do you think is the meaning of this article?
A. I see it as nothing more than a willingness to accept outside expertise IF IT IS REQUESTED BY THE SOMALI PARTIES. In the past, there has been too much outside engagement and advice from non-Somali parties. It is time for Somalis to resolve these issues in their own way and only request outside assistance when they are convinced it will contribute to a solution.
What do you think will come out of these talks and how long will it take for them to achieve a result?
A. There are many issues to resolve and the talks, if they eventually are successful, will take many months. The 1993 Borama Conference took five months and it constituted continuous contact. I expect these talks will take considerably longer. First, the successor government in Mogadishu must show the world that it has wide backing in Somalia and that it is a viable alternative to al-Shabaab. Somaliland has established a government that works. Now Somalia must do the same thing. At that point, I would be hopeful that both Somalia and Somaliland would significantly narrow their differences. In the meantime, it is important for both sides to continue the dialogue.
On the last paragraph of agreement reads both parties “Reiterated their support for ending the Transition in Somalia.” given the wording, how do you see on political point of view, reason supported both sides, do that sound, as if Somaliland thrown inside Somalia’s problems?
This statement can be read in a variety of ways, but I think it is saying that both the TFG and Somaliland agree that the transition is over in August and both sides support moving forward with the next step in Somalia. I don’t believe that it commits Somaliland to any particular outcome in Somalia just that it supports the process that is underway.
Amb David H Shinn who is an expert on Horn Africa issues is currently an adjunct professor of international affairs at The George Washington University, he received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from GW, is a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia (1996-99) and to Burkina Faso (1987-90).
For more on the ambassador visit his official blog. http://davidshinn.blogspot.com