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Issue 495 -- 23rd - 29th July 2011
South Sudan First Diplomatic Statement
When the flag of South Sudan finally flew on the towering pole, the jubilation and contagious merry of the long struggling South Sudanese reverberated across the continent and beyond, the world had at last got her youngest nation.
The impact of this national birth on the African inertia to acknowledge genuine quest for freedom and self determination is yet to be fully appreciated. However, as all eyes were on the elegant South Sudanese flag, no one seemed to have notice the new governmentís foreign policy statement, which incidentally was also allowed flap on the free winds of the free country.
Few noticed the green, white and red flag with black star flying along side sovereign members of the African Union and that United Nations.
The new South Sudan government went against the African Union grain to invite the president of yet another plausible addition to the community of nation, Somaliland and flew her flag alongside all the other national flags that colored the independence grounds.
Was this a diplomatic mistake of a novice state or was it a clear statement of solidarity with the voice of freedom and self determination by a most experienced and successful freedom fighters? I hope subsequent move by the new government will prove the later rather than the former.
But what commonalities do the two share apart from their decision to chart a different course from their former capitals? Apart from the usual list of grievance that includes genocidal attacks from their own supposed governments and extreme underdevelopment, there is one crucial bond that may prove of lasting significance for any relationship the two may have.
The Arab world resistance to South Sudan independence is common knowledge, what the general public is not aware is the subtle yet powerful opposition of the Arab world to Somalilandís reclamation of independence. While South Sudanís Arabic problems were framed along the religious lines, the real issues have been resources and more importantly the Nile.
On the other hand Somaliland quest to reclaim its sovereignty has also suffered from Nile syndrome. A centralized Somalia has always been a number one priority especially for Egypt as it provided a very strong pawn to use against Ethiopia Ė the source of alluvia rich Blue Nile that rejuvenates Egyptian agriculture. It was Arab countries that repeatedly refused the inclusion of discussion on Somaliland in the AU agenda.
It will be interesting to watch the progression of this diplomatic statement. As for Somaliland, the mere invitation and state-level reception of the president to attend the attainment of South Sudan has already contributed to the growing de facto diplomatic recognition of Somaliland. If South Sudan takes the unilateral decision to break the diplomatic gridlock and go ahead and give Somaliland the long cherished price of formal recognition, it will not only send the people of Somaliland to the stratosphere, but mark a watershed in paradigm shift in current Africaís attitude to breakup of colonial state boundaries.
With the Mubaraks and Gadafis out of the picture, the prospect for those not favored by the Arab North has never been rosier and well the rest of the AU will just do the usual of jumping on the bandwagon. Somalilandís prospects have never been on clearer skies.