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Why Somaliland Should Remain Independent
15 years later, following those events, Somaliland still remains an unrecognized country by the international community. But Somalilanders’ support for independence has not slackened the least. In fact since May 18, 1991, the confidence and commitment to retain independence has constantly grown in strength among Somalilanders.
Living under 15 years of peace, democracy and economic growth, Somalilanders feel proud today of their self-made achievements and are dedicated to preserve their independence whatever the cost.
There are of course good reasons for why Somalilanders stick to the principle of independence and why the international community should recognize Somaliland as a country separate than Somalia.
First, for Somalilanders “independence” is a question of security and survival as a people. Having experienced genocide under Somalia’s rule, Somalilanders opted to reclaim their sovereignty as the most essential security guarantee that would keep them safe from falling victim again to clan-based cleansing in the hands of Somalia. Somalilanders do not want to relapse into the conditions in which they found themselves during the 1970s and 1980s when Somalia’s Army turned Somaliland into a huge concentration camp where people were systematically killed because of their clan background. This is a point mostly overlooked by members of the international community involved in Somali affairs either due to their ignorance or due to their incomprehensibility of the contemporary political history of Somaliland and Somalia.
Second, Somaliland has in the last 15 years created an enabling environment for political and economic development. It has put in place stable and democratic structures of governance that allows for regular succession of leadership. Today, Somaliland is the only country in Africa where the opposition controls the parliament and again the only country where an incumbent president won elections by a margin as small as 213 votes against his nearest rival with the opposition conceding the results.
Somaliland is economically much more better today than the 30 years it was under Somalia. Somaliland doesn’t get aid but the Somaliland diasporra have been playing an instrumental role in rebuilding the country. They also send home annually over 300 million dollars as income-support for relatives. Somalilanders cannot risk relinquishing their political and economic freedoms for the sake of Greater Somalia coming to life.
While it is not fair that the international community continues to punish Somaliland for exercising its right of self-determination and performing well as a country and state, it is also equally unfair that the international community goes on inciting Somalia against Somaliland in the name of upholding Somali unity.
A recognized Somaliland would be suited better than anybody else whether in this region or the world over, to lift Somalia from the deep chaos and mayhem into which it has sunk. Since 1991, the international community initiated 14 vain attempts to forge a central government that can work for Somalia while Somaliland embarked on a locally led grass-root level efforts for the realization of peace and national reconciliation. Somaliland’s efforts succeeded while the international community albeit being armed with billions of dollars failed to restore peace to Somalia.
One of the reasons that peace in the former Italian Somalia was unattainable has been due to the insistence of external “mediators” that Somaliland was still part of Somalia. Recognition for Somaliland would have enabled the international community to become more focused on dealing with the situation in Somalia. With its knowledge and experience, Somaliland, if it were recognized, would have illuminated the road to peace for the people of Somalia and member states of both IGAD and the EU who currently lead attempts at restoring governance in Somalia by providing millions of dollars to the so-called Transitional Federal Government of Somalia.
Interestingly enough, some members of the international community believe that recognition for Somaliland would create war inside Somaliland or between Somaliland and Somalia. The assumption is baseless. Somalia has been reduced to a patchwork of mistrusting clans, subclans and sub-sub clans. Despite the rhetoric voiced by the TFG warlords from time to time that Somali unity was sacrosanct, in reality however there is not a single organized military force in Somalia at the present that can wage war against Somaliland. It would be absurd to say that Somaliland clansmen living at the border with Puntland would be interested in sparking violence for the sake of Somali unity.
In fact, nobody inside Somalia has the will to fight for restoring the 1960 union. Not even the fundamentalists who advocate creation of an Islamic state in the Horn of Africa. But the policies of the EU on Somalia may actually lead to the emergence of a situation where the TFG becomes tempted in the future to provocate Somaliland into war.
The EU and Arab states such as Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Libya are supplying money and arms to the TFG. Some of the parties of this core group such as Italy even accepted to provide military assistance after hearing complaints from the TFG that it was not capable of exerting control across the whole pre-1991 Somalia.
The international community’s on-going militarization of the TFG while denying Somaliland recognition, will only lead to the escalation of hostilities between the two sides. The EU and Arab States should avoid creating tensions that might generate instability well beyond the borders of this region.
The international community must understand that there is no longer any basis for pretending that Somalia actually exists as a unified Somali state. Somalia disintegrated while Somaliland exists and functions better than many African countries. Somalia must be helped to pull itself together while Somaliland needs to be recognized as an independent country. The two countries can no longer be maintained under a unified sovereign state.
This can not be compared to China/Taiwan situation. Somaliland had paid a high price for the reclamation of its independence and is ready to bear any burdens for defending it. To avoid planting the seeds of a future conflict, the international community needs to recognize Somaliland and Somalia as two separate sovereign entities.
Source: Somaliland Times