January 31, 2011 ·13 Comments
When the Tunisian and Egyptian populace took to the streets, the Western leaders suddenly realized that there was no turning back, they jumped ship, denounced the actions of the security forces and severed decades-old friendships. They abruptly told the dictators; to respect the will of their respective peoples. Thus, the Western leaders suddenly became the newly found friends of the Tunisian and Egyptian peoples. To their credit, they also supported the succession of Southern Sudan from the North, these are not bad moves at all, but it would have even been better if the Western political moves were premeditated years if not decades ago.
The Republic of Somaliland is another blind spot of the Western leaders that has the potentiality of further damaging their credibility in this politically volatile part of the world. Somaliland gained its independence from Britain on June 26th, 1960. Somaliland was immediately recognized by 36 member nations of the United Nations organization, but the euphoria of the Somaliland independence did not last for too long.
Somaliland joined Somalia in a voluntary union; Somalia was a former Italian colony that became independent in July 1st, 1960. Somaliland’s horrendous nightmare began on the very first day of the union, when Somalia ignored the rectification of the union by the elected Somaliland National Assembly and all the other prior bilateral agreements of the union. Therefore, Somalia single handedly decided to rob the independence and statehood of Somaliland. This unspeakable Somaliland nightmare continued for another thirty long years of oppression followed by destruction, genocide and ethnic cleansing. This dreadful and unjust Somaliland history is well documented in the UNO archives in New York and in Human Rights Watch files.
Similar to what was happening in Egypt and Tunisia, the Western World was supportive to Somalia and its ruthless dictator, Siad Barre, who was responsible for the devastation of Somaliland and its people. To be precise, the USA was supplying arms to Siad Barre even at the climax of the Somaliland genocide in 1988. The major European states didn’t even denounce the genocide and ethnic cleansing at that time, but instead were channeling financial aid to the ruthless dictatorial regime of Siad Barre.
In the present day, Somaliland is an oasis of peace and democracy in the Horn of Africa, but not recognized as a country. Despite twenty years of unfair and unjustifiable international denial of Somaliland’s historical, legal and moral rights for self-determination, Somalilanders are not bitter and are cooperating with the international community. Somaliland is literally holding the gates against terror and Sea piracy.
Somaliland is strategically located in the Gulf of Aden, a major maritime route for the international trade and it has a close geographic proximity to the Arabian Peninsula. It is a major sea gate-way for the land-locked Ethiopia, which has a population of more than eighty million. Somaliland is rich with unexploited oil, natural gas and minerals. Somaliland is peaceful and democratic and has the potential of becoming a prosperous country. Hence, the recognition of Somaliland does not only make a security sense, but it also makes an economic sense. China and India are already rubbing their hands against one another and will be more than happy to grasp this valuable opportunity if the West misses to seize it. For that reason, it is to the advantage of Western countries to show both short and long term strategic leadership and welcome Somaliland to the family of nations before someone else does.
If we want peace and Justice to prevail in that region, then the Western leaders have no option but to recognize The Republic of Somaliland as an independent country. Somaliland waited painfully and patiently for too long to have the international community on its side. With its meager financial capabilities Somaliland is trying its level best to improve the lives of its people and deserves to be recognized for its values and its achievements. The USA and Great Britain should take the lead and be the first and the second countries to recognize Somaliland, these two countries must meet and respect their historical, legal and moral obligations. After all, at this time of nippy political changes in that region, sitting on the fence and passing the ball is not enough and no longer acceptable, this is the time for a genuine Western leadership.
Dr. Yusuf Dirir Ali