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Issue 527/ 3rd - 9th Mar 2012
What Do Djibouti And Somaliland Have In Common?
By Abdi H. Gass
The Somaliland people felt excited and pleased with the Somaliland participation in and resulted outcomes from the London Somali conference. The President of Somaliland and his delegation supported by the unprecedented thundering roar emanating from the massive Diaspora demonstration called for the recognition of Somaliland. The Somaliland people must congratulate all those who made this momentous event a success. However, I want to take this opportunity to express my personal thoughts about an unsung hero. In a recent televised interview in Djibouti, Ismail Omar Geele said this about the British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, in his active involvement of the London conference: “Nin walba wixiisa sheeg – roughly translated: Give everyone their due.” In this article I will try to give Ismail Omar Geele, the president of Djibouti, his due as it relates to his remarks in support of Somaliland in this conference as well as the amicable relationship he maintains with Somaliland and its leaders.
Ismail Omar Geele, along with other fifty-plus delegations from Somalia and members of the international community were present at The London Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House on 23rd February 2012. In his speech at the conference, Mr. Geele spoke highly of the democracy and peace achieved by Somaliland; and he asked the world community to assist Somaliland and Somalia to have a discourse to chart their future dealings. This point was also further echoed in the final conference communiqué, sanctioned by all attendees: “The Conference recognized the need for the international community to support any dialogue that Somaliland and the TFG or its replacement may agree to establish in order to clarify their future relations.” 1
The commendable remarks made by Mr. Geele in support of Somaliland could have been primed by what had transpired in a question and answer session in the United Kingdom’s parliament, where The British prime minister, David Cameron “praised Somaliland’s achievements and upheld it as an example to others.” 2
Mr. Geele is well versed with the history of Somaliland. The British Government used to be the former colonial power of the former British Somaliland; and the two have shared history. Godfrey Bloom, an Honorable Godfrey Bloom MEP of the UK Independence Part, is a strong supporter of Somaliland’s recognition. In a recent interview with Somaliland Times spoke about the historical relationship: “ Somaliland provided a battalion of the Kings African Rifles and of course the famous Camel Corps and I am well aware of the enormous sacrifice both in the 1920's and during the Italian invasion of 1940.” 3
Mr. Geele has always been a good friend of Somaliland and its leaders and the two countries have shared history and ties. In a recent Eid Prayer event, he commended Somaliland for its democracy, progress, and peace and security development. The listeners were pleased with the president´s support for Somaliland, which demonstrated the strong and ever-increasing support of Djibouti people for Somaliland independence. The Somaliland people and the Somaliland government stood with people of Djibouti against Eritrean illegal invasion of Djibouti. In its bid for independence from France in 1977, the people of Somaliland played a great role in Djibouti’s struggle against the French colonial power. It also true that Somaliland and Djibouti share blood ties. Khadra Mohammed, The First Lady of Djibouti, and many other important cabinet members and MPs have Somaliland roots. Since the people of both sides, Djibouti and Somaliland enjoy the same language, common culture, tradition, and religion, the Somaliland quest for recognition may be realized sooner than later. 4
When Somaliland is recognized, Djibouti and Somaliland can have strong economic ties that would benefit their people and their respective regions as a whole. Mr. Geele has big ambitions for Djibouti. A large amount of overseas investments from Dubai, France and America is permeating the country which could make it a prominent trade center utilizing its port, which is a doorway to the region. There is a rush of many prospectors in the country for gold, oil, and other natural resources. It is also very interesting to know that even Tarek bin Laden, the half brother of Osama bin Laden, is exploring to construct 18-mile bridge across the Red Sea, which might cost billions of dollars. 5. In comparison, Somaliland enjoys a thriving booming economy fuelled by ambitious “entrepreneurs in all sectors hoping to escape poverty and to develop their capacity in order that they are able to one day trade and compete globally. It is also a place where dialogue between differing tribes, government and businesses exists and is strong and valued as all relevant parties realize its importance to their interests.” Therefore, the economies of Djibouti and Somaliland may complement each other so as to spur economic development for their countries and neighboring nations. 6
Mr. Geele has also been the champion of the Somalis and their efforts of solving their insurmountable problems; and in my humble opinion, he has been a zealous supporter of a unified Somalia. What could have changed his heart and the heart of the international community in support of Somaliland is the lack of any progress in establishing a peaceful Somalia for the past twenty years or so. Therefore, the unending concerns about stability, security and the humanitarian condition in Somalia became the focus of British Prime Minister, David Cameron; He recently declared that ‘Somalia is a failed state that directly threatens British interests.’
In response, the British Government galvanized international efforts and has planned the conference in London to address the security of the Gulf of Aden for trade routes, escalating piracy off the coast of Somalia, Somalia’s insecurity and instability on neighboring countries, and the extremism posed by the militant group Al Shabaab. These problems are being further exacerbated by the refugee concerns and the planned demise of the ineffective transitional government in Somalia in August 2012. 7
Mr. Geele heard what the Somaliland President said in his speech at the London Conference; He shared with attendees the Somaliland’s recipe for a democratic and peaceful Somalia, just like Somaliland:
“The international discussions on stabilizing Somalia have all shared the assumption that stabilization and recovery will be most likely to occur on the basis of the existing, de jure boundaries of the state. Seeking solutions which focus on these boundaries risks the very stability that we desire. We must take into account the realities on the ground. Somali politics are decentralized, and Somalis themselves must own the solution. This will not be achieved by a top-down imposition of a re-created centralized state. A bottom-up approach to state-building should be preferred. We also firmly believe that increased support to Somaliland would help to promote stability and recovery in Somalia, because it would strengthen our role as an example of how to build peace and democracy in a similar political culture. Somaliland built peace through an indigenous bottom-up process, drawing on traditional conflict resolution methods and Islam.” 8
I believe that Mr. Geele’s visionary and strong leadership coupled with that of Somaliland leaders may be the most effective vehicle to facilitate the establishment of a democratic Somalia at peace with its neighbors! I equally believe that Mr. Geele’s spearheading the recognition of Somaliland will contribute to the security and the economic development of the region.
In a nutshell, I take my hat off to Ismail Omer Geele for supporting Somaliland Republic and for its quest for recognition. Somaliland and Djibouti share the same language, common culture, tradition and religion. And when all is said and done, Mr. Geele and his people will help Somaliland secure its rightful place in the world as a democratic and peaceful nation- remember blood is thicker than water!
1. http://world.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201202/82024.php. (n.d.).
2. http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/2011-2012/Somalia. (n.d.).
3. http://www.longlivesomaliland.com/somaliland_and_djibouti_indeed_Brothers.htm. (n.d.).
4. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/30/world/africa/30djibouti.html?ref=djibouti. (n.d.).
5. http://www.somalilandfoundation.com/home/?p=476. (n.d.).
6. http://www.somalilandtimes.net/sl/2012/525/3.shtml. (n.d.).
7. http://www.somalilandtimes.net/sl/2012/526/3.shtml. (n.d.).
8. http://www.somalilandtimes.net/sl/2012/526/4.shtml. (n.d.).