The Khaleej Times: Somaliland- need to be noticed

Dr Mohamed Abdillahi Omar

KULMIYE Targets the Arab World

Keeping the question of Somaliland on hold for so long is a risky strategy that has security ramifications in this age of terror.

Somaliland is a peaceful entity in an unstable region with a large Islamic population susceptible to radicalization. The longer the world ignores its achievement, the greater the risk. A better approach would be for the international community to offer Somaliland an interim UN membership. This would put Somaliland in a position to consolidate on its democratic credentials, to support the regional peace making process and to deny international extremist groups of a potential recruiting ground.

This is where it all began. On 26 June 1960 Somaliland gained its freedom from Britain and was recognized by the UN including Security Council member states within its colonial boundaries. It, then, joined on a voluntary union with Italian Somalia on 1 July 1960. The goal was to liberate all the Somalia-inhabited areas in the region such as Djibouti and parts of Kenya and Ethiopia and to unite them under a single Greater Somalia state – a vision that had brought a lot of misery to the regions in the past.

The union of the two newly independent states was mainly intended to serve as a means to an end, not an end in itself. The political realities in the region and the view of the international community had taken the end away, probably forever. Sticking to the means in the absence of an achievable goal proved difficult.

The1960 union did not provide a national cohesion. During the following three decades, people from Somaliland were treated as second-class citizens and their expression of discontent was repeatedly crushed by Italian-Somalia dominated regimes. Later, the union-state collapsed and Somaliland reclaimed its independence on 18 May 1991.

Since then, the two parts have followed dramatically different paths. The international community launched one peace process after another to try to restore a government for Somalia, but continuous fighting and violence have hampered political progress across the country. For nearly twenty years, Somalia, unfortunately, does not have a credible government. Radical Islamic Extremists control now most of the country.
In Somaliland, meanwhile, a political transformation and a nation building process provided different outcome: a national constitution ratified through a referendum, a bicameral parliament comprising an elected house of representatives and a nominated house of elders, a government elected through the ballot box, political parties, security forces and provisions of basic services. All were locally initiated and locally driven.

However, Somaliland did not yet achieve a political recognition even though it has a broader international sympathy. And despite various developmental initiatives and a relatively strong livestock export sector, accompanied with a generous inflow of remittances, the country remains poor and the unemployment is very high.

But the good news is that Somaliland’s claim for statehood is in line with the charter of the African Union. In a fact-finding mission report in 2005, the African Union said that Somaliland is “historically unique and self-justified in African political history” and that the AU “should find special method of dealing with this outstanding case”.

Offering an UN membership to Somaliland would be a step in the right direction. This will send a powerful signal to the countries in and outside the region that aspirations toward democratic process would be supported.

In exchange of this, Somaliland can give valuable support. Its location on the red sea, overlooking the gulf countries and its closeness to Somali and Yemen, makes it strategically an important country in dealing with regional and international security. The Berbera port and the nearby military base facilities are also among what Somaliland can offer.

Source: The Khaleej Times
Dr. Mohamed A Omar
The author is the Foreign Secretary of KULMIYE , Somaliland’s main opposition party.