Published On: Mon, Dec 16th, 2013

The Inevitable conclusion to the Somalia & Somaliland Talks

Twenty two years after self-declared Independence and twelve years after the ratification of Somaliland’s constitution by popular vote, the democratically elected Government of Somaliland (GoSL) headed by its fourth president Ahmed Siilanyo had finally been given the opportunity to open dialogue with the internationally accepted President of the Somali Federal Government (SFG), Hassan Sheikh. Talks were inevitable and have been highly anticipated by the Somaliland Govt and the citizens of Somaliland who finally have the opportunity to finalize the reality after waiting decades for a credible Government to be formed and acknowledged by the International community. Somaliland is considered a self-governing autonomous region of Somalia even though it was one half of the former Somali Republic which was formed by voluntary union of British-Somaliland and Italian-Somalia; this formation disbanded after the Somali Civil War which the Socialist Military dictator SiyadBarre was held responsible for the massacre ofan estimated 75,000 Somalilanders.

During my several visits to Somaliland, to this present day there are still vivid reminders of that period whether it’s the memorial in Hargeisa of the MIG which desecrated Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa to naturally occurring reminders such as bones appearing on the riverbank every time the rivers flow in both Gabiley & Hargeisa. These talks have the ability to provide a platform for acknowledgement of the atrocities as well as compelling the SFG to realise the reality on the ground.

Turkey initiated the first round of talks between the two sides to ‘open dialogue’ in Ankara on April 13th. The talks concluded with a memorandum of understanding known as the ‘Ankara Communiqué. The Ankara Communiqué consisted of seven points which both side agreed which can be viewed on the Turkey’s Foreign Affairs website.

Unfortunately the talks didn’t yield results in terms of breakthroughs from both SFG and GoSL, this deadlock became evident when SFG authorised an airplane to land within Somaliland’s territory breaking point seven of the Ankara Communiqué. This led to the GoSL grounding all UN flights in and out of the country. This issue was resolved July 7th – 9th2013 in Istanbul which both parties held further talks to rectify the situation. An agreement was reached which was to create a joint-control body which manages both airspace based in Hargeisa however this was reneged by the SFG which discreetly signed another agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The final talks was expected to take place in November however due to Political turmoil within the SFG which subsequently led to the ousting of its PMSaciidShirdon, the talks were delayed on several occasions. Somaliland’s FM Mohammed BihiYounis who was the former Deputy Joint Special Representative for UNAMID in Darfur emphasized during an interview with a Somali news outlet that “… Somaliland is ready and has been ready for a while” reiterating that the conclusion of the talks will be “Somaliland and Somalia living side by side as neighbours and brothers as two countries as it has been over the last two decades.”On the other hand, the SFG’s President Hassan Sheikh proclaimed “We will do our best and unite with our brothers from Somaliland by early next year.”

In my view, this proclamation by President Hassanisn’t just reckless, butalmost borderline delusional as it is completely devoid of the reality on the ground in Somaliland. President Hassan has set the bar very high for himself which he’ll soon realise. Somaliland unlike Somalia has stability which many argue is down to democracy. I agree to an extent that democracy is a factor which ensures a sense of national unity, participation and representation.  The idea that Somalilanders will reunite again with Somalia to form another Somali Republic is a dream held closely by Somali Nationalists that are predominantly located within former Italia-Somalia who aspire to reunite all Somali speaking regions whether it’s within Ethiopia, Kenya, Somaliland or Djibouti. Their arguments tend to be incompatible with the concept of democracy as they strongly feel there shouldn’t be a choice. They believe there should be one Somali speaking country irrespective of freedom and choices.

To understand the difficulty of a reunion with Somalia, I will address some hypothetical situations. Let’s say for argument sake the GoSL agrees to reunite with Somalia to re-establish the Somali Republic again, this agreement would have to clear a few hurdles and acknowledge that:

  • Firstly, the GoSL will have to call a referendum as it would mean a change in the constitution of Somaliland. Please note the constitution was ratified by 97% of electorates in 2001 which was considered free and fair by international observers.  The Government in power which attempts to implement this change will have automatically committed political suicide and would most likely be followed by an overwhelming defeat in the next elections and replacement for the foreseeable future after its motion is rejected in parliament. I’m sure every political party in Somaliland is fully aware of the reason why they have been voted for and their expectations to abide by the constitution.
  • Secondly, the Government in Mogadishu would be expected to acknowledge the atrocities committed under the regime of SiyadBarre and hand over all those evading justice in Somalia and the West. However a recent report eluded that the SFG has requested immunity for former Defence Minister Mohamed Samantarwho’s currently in Prison in the U.S. for War Crimes committed in Hargeisa, Somaliland during the late 80’s. Information on the case can be found online as ‘Samantar v Yousef.’ It is very unlikely President Hassan Sheikh would comply with such requests as it would cause him difficulty within his reconciliation efforts with the dozens of warlords in and around Somalia.
  • Finally, the SFG will have to acknowledge that Somaliland is not a region of Somalila but a country. The fact Somalilanders celebrate 26th June as their independence is testament to the history and reality of the region. Somalia’s Independence Day is celebrated 1st July. Regions such as Puntland and Jubba Administration which had always been a part of the former Ita-Somalia would likely reject the notion that the reunification will be implemented as two countries reuniting again and not a ‘Federal Region’ as they are/want to be recognised as.

The mammoth challenges which lie ahead are difficult indeed, I believethe talks will ultimately reach a deadlock which the international community will eventually be compelled to mediate. I believe this is actually the most beneficial solution for the GoSL as its clear the SFG have no logical reason to reunite other than the false hope that all Somali regions will eventually be reunited, this is known as ‘Somaliweyn’ in Somali. This logic is incompatible to the realities on the ground in Somaliland and the aspirations of self-determination of the citizens of Somaliland. Somaliland’s case for recognition is similar to every other annulled union around Africa and around the world e.g. Egypt/Syria and Senegal/Gambia.

In conclusion, the inevitable outcome of the talks will ultimately come down the ability of the SFG to recognise the realities on the ground and act on the olive branch being presented. The SFG recently lost an MP within its compound Villa Somalia; this displays the challenges it faces by threats not just within the country, but within its capital Mogadishu from Al’Shabaab. The opportunity for creating an environment of mutual trust and cooperation is required now more than ever in Somalia and I believe the inexperience of the unelected Government in Mogadishu are either inadvertently or purposely harming Somalia’s position in the region. The current status quo of delaying talks will not benefit the SFG but prove Somaliland has done everything and the situation calls for International intervention. Just last week I read reports of Somaliland’s first car was assembled along with the reports that a French investor is ready for invest a substantial amount into the infrastructure of Berbera port; these projects which have been implemented with the GoSL is testament to the reality on the ground. Moreover, the recent return of Genel Energy will raise eyebrows across the globe, especially if a vast reserve is discovered. It’s important to note than these Oil exploration licences were authorised by the GoSL and will be used to benefit its citizens only.

There a several options available to the SFG, one would ensure an amicably separation based on mutual trust and friendly relations whilst the other option wouldadd tension, mistrust and animosity in an already volatile regioneventually compelling International companies to act on the stalemate and lobby for recognition in lieu of their clients operating in Somaliland. The main issue many large international corporations have in Somaliland is insuring their products/services.Due to Somaliland’s status, financial services will not provide insurance because Somaliland is yet to be recognised, this is a barrier which I’m sure stakeholders will tackle if the Port of Berbera will be utilized effectively.It would be an embarrassment to President Hassan Sheikh who proclaimed the intention of unity whilst International Governments and NGO’s continue to coordinate, liaise and forge bilateral relations with the Government of Somaliland, this itself adds to reinforce that the GoSL is the legitimate representative of Somalis living in that region.

The inevitable conclusion to the Somalia-Somaliland talks will come down to the issue of freedom and the right to self-determination. Can a country enforce unity on another country? The answer is No. Somaliland earned it’s statehood through the darkest of timeslooking down a barrel of a gun. Think about it, those born in 1991 when Independence was reinstated will be twenty two years old. Twenty two yearsin living in what they know as Somaliland, how do you reverse that historical, physical and emotional attachment?  As long as Somalilanders continues to celebrate its Independence when it gained it from Britain on 26th June 1960, it will always remain a country in the hearts and minds of its citizens irrespective of recognition and that remembrance itself is the biggest obstacle for the SFG.

 

The author Sayid Madar was born in Gabiley, Somaliland and currently lives in the UK. A business graduate and a Civil Servant employed by the UK Government. Interests include Foreign Policy & International development. Please note, views expressed are views of the author only. You can contact the author on:

Blog: www.SJMadar.wordpress.com
Email: jmadar00@googlemail.com
Twitter: @1Madar_

 

 

  • Deeqa

    Except me all my brothers and sisters were born after 1991 and know nothing but SOMALILAND.

    • Musa Mohamud

      Do not say then, you know something about Somalia. If you have no knowledge of about the question of Somalia as a whole, that is acceptable, but if do know Somalia, why then not Somaliland.

      • Buuxiye

        Most of us are trying very hard to forget the nightmare called Somalia…

        You think we educate our kids to even know that place?

        We know more about Congo then we do Somalia… that is how foreign it is to our new generation.

        If those 27 and below know anything about Somalia it is DEATH, DEATH and more DEATH… oh and flies on the dead!

    • Ibrahim J. Ismail

      Those of you who were born during the nineties and grew up in Somaliland should watch your freedom and liberty that you have in your homeland (SOMALILAND), the So called Mogdishu war lords who have been manufactured by Europeans and other supper powers would like to take your country, your freedom, and your and self determination and lump your country with the Mafia headquarters of (MOOQDILA) Moqadishu.

  • mohamed cheers

    The FGS since replacing the TFG over a year is so far as total havoc under water!.
    Cheers.

  • Dahir

    It is a wishful thinking that Somalia would recognize Somaliland as a country, what a joke, one cannot disagree that Somaliland is a peaceful region of Somalia and we wish it to be peaceful forever, but the whole idea that Somaliland and Somalia talks is based on how to separate Somalia is a wishful thinking. The solution to the stand-off might be that whole of Somalia would have to vote for any separation, that's when the South is stable and Shabaab is defeated.

    • mustafa

      i agree with you that HSM will never recognize Somaliland therefore we must stop this nonsense talks however dahir if Somaliland people want to separate than that is up tho theme not to the south for example if people of zaila (far north) want to separate do they need the approval of those how live in ras kamboni of course no why because its their land and they can do whatever they want its like airport landing in Hargeisa and waiting the permission from Moq its bull"""

    • mohamed cheers

      @Dahir,
      A wishful thinking..as simple as that!. Wait to watch what takes hold between the GOSL and the
      FGS? It's not far off and a breakthrough has to happen in 2014 and asap.
      Somalia and Somaliland are two dissolutioned states since the defunct of the union in 1991.
      Cheers.

    • osman Qaal

      Over 22 yrs., it's the first time the 2 nations agreed to sit together at a round table for talks, It isn't limited to a permanent separation in the favor of Somaliland, but obviously it's one of the main agendas on the menu. Thus ruling it out arbitrarily the entire setting would never have taken place, whether in Ankara or or otherwise. In the event of a referendum vote, it only should pertain to the concerned constituencies regardless of who's in charge in Mogadishu. In fact, it was conducted in 2001 with resounding results in the favor of separation. Repeat it in my view, would be pointless.

    • Lander

      @Dahir
      If you accusing all Somalilander who believe in managing their affairs is a wish full thinkers, then i have the right to call you and likes delusional. We delivered our freedom, our country and flag in 60, We made that decision consciously, what did we get in return? Now we have decided to reclaim what we have given away so easily at the first place. No need to hold referendum on your side and waste a precious time and money to some thing you have no say in it.

    • Hargaisaawi

      Dahir typifies what is wrong with Somalia because they think different to every other person on this planet. Where on earth did it ever happen that a vote for independence is shared by both camps. Those who want independence are only awarded to vote. by the way, we have already voted yes and it will be the same if we do it again, again and again!!!

    • Patriotic

      My Dear Brother Dahir with your beautiful comment "It is a Wishful Thinking that Somalia would (the word would is past tense)recognize Somaliland as a Country. let me ask you one question Is Somaliland part of Somalia ? or Somalia part of Somaliland ? what is true about you is a freedom of speech and you have commented of what has come from your mind but my Brother the truth is they have never been a unity and will never be a unity as it was totally a shamble as there was no Nationalism and openness yes we are all Somalis but this dream of a greater Somalia has dead long Time ago. Where is Ogaden Where is North Frontier District (NFD) where is Djibouti. and why your sticking to Somaliland I think you have a secret agenda known to your self. Please leave alone The Republic Of Somaliland it is none of your business.

  • osman Qaal

    It would make a perfect sense if the 2 sisterly nations are equally sincere in achieving resolutions. I would assume that Somalilander reps are well prepared for this. But the irony is that Somali warlords have never exposed to negotiations without hidden interests thus they wouldn't understand the fundamentals of having 2-way dialogues of which boils down to prepare yourself to lose some likewise to gain some.
    Mr. Sheikh Hassan must understand: In negotiations, specially when it involves in politics there's no such winner takes all…

  • Dhygtame

    I hope people from Somalia will come to their senses and forget the reunion with Somaliland, which is just a delusional concept that lives only in their ignorant brains.

  • NLander

    You cant have an honest convo with dudes trying to steal millions in Xamaar F u g outta here. Crooks

  • Omer Hussein Dualeh

    Dahir show your face, and we may give you little advice if you are one of us, otherwise, please leave this website which is for Somalilanders only.

  • Buuxiye

    They are stalling until Jan2014 when the Air control is being transferred to Muuqdishu. They have ZERO Bargaining material until then.

    Unfortunately this will weaken their stance as agreements they sign are not worth the paper they are written on.

  • Ilyas

    First of all, Mr author, if you put any hope on that somali president to give you your independence, then wait for ever. Secondly, somaliland as it is right now, is the best selution for somalis in the north. Maybe you lack vision, but i tell you, if somaliland got its independence, it will be the nightmer that never ends. The fact that you're not recognised, you're not a country, but only a region within somalia, that helps. Everybody will claim their power, the clan loyalty will serfice and the situation will just go out of control. Your best example is south sudan look, they've been behind something called independence for more than 30 years, and they're killing each other just to get that seat.

    It is so different when you're a country, and when you are only a region. In fact, your independence is good for the sutherners but they don't realise that.

    • mustafa

      listen punk does south sudan have elections domacracy safty etc. let me give another example zoomalya independance was in 1960 tell me any thing postive turned out from that give me a solid reason for reunion with the lacks of you talking about SS like zoomalya is better just for the rocord i agree with south sudan that bashier was looting thir oil for ages and talking all this crap aboy reunion is power

  • PuntlandGeezer PIS

    Somaliland is a Isaaq villages nothing else.

  • Hargaisaawi

    Ilyas,

    I think there is no comparison between South Sudan and Somaliland. Most experts will tell you that lack of recognition creates problems in Somaliland. With recognition, Somaliland’s democracy and development would have been in much better condition than they are now. Democracy is inherent in Somaliland way of life. Furthermore, Somaliland’s democracy has been institutionalised in the sense that it’s attached to the peace in the country. So recognition if it comes, it will come to people who have already had democratic institutions and open society that embraces dialogue and consensus. With all due respect South Sudan didn’t have these when they were given their independence. Notwithstanding that Somaliland has always been a country even if we were forced to live under a tyranny in the past. So your analysis could never have been more wrong.

  • Osmanja

    Dahir

    Let me give a little education to the above named person called himself Dahir. I know your focus are not that educated. let me en-light you with a brief and quick crash about international law, though 97% of our people have chosen to reacquire our lost independence, in case another referendum has to be conducted in the Republic of Somaliland, the people who will participate in the referendum are the citizens of Somaliland, or the concerned party that is looking for the legitimization of Independence. Unlike South Sudan, we have liberated our country on the blood of our martyrs a quarter of a century ago. the referendum will only put the stamp of legitimacy to our independence we have already re-won. Somali-Italia has nothing to do with referendum. There is only two options for the world or anybody else who want to stall our independence, accepting our hard won independence or get ready for another more ferocious, and boundless war all the 5 millions Somalilanders will wage to defend our hard won independence. In both options, the out come is our full independence.

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