September 29, 2012 ·2 Comments
Lately there’s been renewed statements from the usual corners regarding the impossibility of Somaliland going its own separate way. What’s peculiar about these arguments is the assumption that the question of Somaliland recognition is primarily in the hands of the South.
The major impediments to Somaliland’s recognition are regional powers and international organizations opposed to a new Somali state cropping up in the Horn of Africa. These range in contrast from the Egyptian obsession with recreating a militaristic, unitary Somali state used as a pressure point to prevent Ethiopia from implementing its NIle dam projects to UN agencies losing their control of significant portions of the ‘defacto’ Somali national budget. Given this reality, the last stake holders to be consulted on the Somaliland issue (or any other Somali issue, including the direction of their own political fates) are the political actors within the South. These same Southern stakeholders (from Puntland to the TFG, Galmudug to ASWJ) were ordered/mandated to draw up a ‘Roadmap’, write a ‘Constitution’ while being sheperded by an internationally appointed legal team (who did the bulk of the constitutional framing), given the termination dates for their current government, appointed their election dates, etc., etc. The whole process was externally driven, as opposed to an organic process indigenously crafted by the Somali stakeholders.
So the question remains: How is it possible for those who are not even allowed to determine their own political direction and the implementation dates of their political actions (the world’s only officially declared failed state) to be in a position to decide on the fate of Somaliland? This supposition is simply a concoction held in the egos of a frustrated diaspora.
The international community, observing the tension present among the regional powers, divided between those diametrically opposed to a Somaliland state and those sympathetic to the Somaliland cause, chose the path of least resistance – force a dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia on their future relations. This created a great deal of turmoil and resistance in the Somaliland political scene. To overcome this, extensive ‘diplomatic pressure’ was brought to bear on Somaliland political actors in order to bring them to the negotiating table. This could be observed through the changing positions of the key political actors(major parties and well-known politicians) as the ground work was laid for the first meeting to take place in London.
To bring back to present circumstances, it was in the context of this previous narrative that the newly elected TFG President’s initial speech and interviews were intriguing. President Hassan Sh. Mohamoud stressed the continuation of the Somaliland/Somalia talks as one of the priorities of his new, yet to be formed administration. What made this statement so curious/unusual was his choice of words: Hassan Sh. Mohamoud stated that neither ‘military pressure’ nor ‘diplomatic pressure’ would be used to bring Somaliland into the fold of the Somali Republic. Now any observer or analyst understands that a TFG that’s still unable to protect its members from assasination on the streets of the capital it calls home (or pay the salaries of its own administrative staff and security forces) is realistically unable to exert military pressure 50 km away, let alone militarily threaten Somaliland or any other entity in the former Somali Republic. Rather, it was the negation of ‘diplomatic pressure’ as a tool by this current TFG President that was seen as an extended olive branch by the Somaliland political class.
Whether this change in attitude in Villa Somalia is implemented in practice remains to be seen. However, one must keep in perspective the actualities on the ground in analyzing the potential outcomes of the Somaliland/Somalia talks. To measure the fortitude and negotiating power of each side, one must look at what’s at stake. Politicians, universally, are primarily concerned with keeping ‘the seat’/incumbency. Would a Somaliland administration that nullified Somaliland’s sovereignty realistically stay in power in Hargeisa? Would a TFG administration that dissolved the territorial unity of the old Somali Republic survive in Mogadishu? Both would be unpleasant for either administration and would face resistance from regions each administration nominally represents. But which would be the more impossible for the respective administration to survive given its seat of power (in either Hargeisa or Mogadishu)? The answer to that question provides a quick glimpse into the future of these talks…
Mintidh FarayarFollow @somalilandpress