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Issue 506/ 8th - 14th Oct 2011
Somaliland Must Face-Up To Its Realities!
By Rashid M X Noor
Let me first say that I’m an ardent supporter of the Republic of Somaliland who dearly wants to see Somaliland gain full international recognition as an independent sovereign state.
Secondly, I believe that Somaliland has every right to revoke its historical ‘1960 voluntary-union’ with southern Somalia and exercise too, at the same time, the right to self-determination. And also, because of the very fact that Somaliland has fulfilled all the legal requirements and criterions for Statehood in International Law¹: full recognition—shouldn’t have therefore been a problem for Somaliland!
Not to mention that Somaliland, as well as having—ceaselessly demonstrated to the international community its commitments to upholding regional peace and the rule of law, the war on terror and piracy, freedom of speech, countless free and fair democratic multiparty elections—since its 1991 formation should have put Somaliland’s recognition in the headlines.
Now, after more than two-decade and all the admirable political, social and economic achievements which Somaliland has become internationally acclaimed for, we still find that the international community is still reluctant to give Somaliland its rightful place to be amongst the nations of the world, as a fully fledged and recognised sovereign state.
Who is to blame for this ‘non-recognition’ status of Somaliland’s claims to an independent statehood? Is it, the international community or is it Somaliland who’s at fault...?
Personally, I don’t blame the international community because no single country or state that I can think of, has openly opposed or lobbied against Somaliland’s recognition in the international arena: whether it be Egypt, Saudi Arabia or the USA—as some would lead us to believe . Nor do I blame the regional or world-governmental bodies like the UN, Arab League, AU or IGAD.
Even though, these international world and regional governmental bodies, from the very onset of the 1991 Somali crises have always had a preference for championing—the unity of the Somali state—holding it paramount towards finding ‘a comprehensive and lasting peace’ to the Somalia peninsula.
Hence, I don’t blame the international community for not recognising Somaliland because the international community has made an international concerted and collective effort to let the UN, AU and IGAD initiate a comprehensive lasting peace and political solution for Somalia’s woes from the very start of its all-out crises, back in 1991.
Nor do I blame the international or regional bodies like the UN, Arab League, AU or IGAD for pursuing the unity of Somalia because of their misconceptions to what—it would mean for the rest of Somalia and the African region as a whole—if ‘Somaliland’ were to gain its full recognition for statehood from the international community.
I blame Somaliland for the status quo that we find ourselves in today! I blame the various Somaliland administrations, including the present government, for pursuing a dead-end foreign policy. A foreign policy, that’s been getting us—nowhere for the past two-decades, much to the international community’s bewilderment at our arrogance and persistent refusal to at least come to the table and negotiate or discuss Somaliland’s claims to statehood with the various Mogadishu based Somali transitional governments that have come and gone over the years! Regardless, whether these talks with Mogadishu’s TFG authorities were to fall through or produce fruitful results for an independent Somaliland.
Yet, we keep on seeing Somaliland foreign ministers jet-setting to the capitals of the world in hope of getting world recognition for Somaliland. And the international community never tires on telling them, time and after time—again, where and to whom—they should really be focussing their energies on—with regards, to Somaliland’s recognition, ie. the TFG!
It seems—past and present Somaliland governments are intentionally ‘oblivious’ to the opening paragraphs of the forty-odd UN Security Councils Resolutions made on Somalia since the start of the 1991 Somali crises to the present-day—which state explicitly that, “(the UN Security Council), Reaffirms its respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia.”
These very same words are resonated too, in every IGAD, AU and Arab League communiqués and statements made on Somalia since 1991 to this very day!
It’s no wonder then, that the international community is ‘always’ ever reluctant to recognise Somaliland, especially, whenever Somaliland foreign ministers start knocking at their doors for recognition—irrespective, of the massive gains and accomplishments that Somaliland has achieved over the years!
Tell me too—which UN-member state country that might be ‘wittingly’ inclined to recognise Somaliland when the ‘UN Security Council’ keeps-on pledging in every resolution it makes on the Somali crises—to uphold ‘the territorial integrity and unity of Somalia?’ The answer is none!
It’s about time that the Somaliland government ‘faced up to the realities on the ground’ and start seriously looking at over-hauling its ‘wild goose-chase’ foreign policy on recognition.
Somaliland must seek “dialogue with the TFG in Mogadishu” and start negotiating for its inevitable “separation” from the ill-fated ‘1960-union’ of the former British Somaliland and Italian Somalia which produced the Somali Republic and later, changed name to the Republic of Somalia.
Let Somaliland demand—from the TFG and the international community—to have an internationally observed ‘independence referendum’ held within its (former British Protectorate) borders—in similarity, mirroring, South Sudan’s referendum of Feb’2011, and led to the recent peaceful breakup of ‘Sudan’ into two independent-states in July- 2011.
Rashid M X Noor*
* Rashid M X Noor is a political commentator on Somali affairs based in Hargeisa, Somaliland.
¹ Carroll, A. and Rajagopal, B (1993) ‘The Case for an Independent Somaliland’,
American University Journal of International Law and Politics, Vol. 8, No.653.