Published On: Tue, May 22nd, 2012

Why not recognize independent Somaliland?

OPINION | MAY 22, 2012

By Ali Mohamed

Twenty-one years ago this month, Somaliland was reborn when the tyrannical regime of Siad Barre collapsed.

Since then, the people of Somaliland, which is the northern part of Somalia, have established a country built on the principles of freedom and democracy. But they still await recognition by the world community including the United States.

Somaliland first won its independence from the British Empire on June 26, 1960, an event soon followed by recognition as a sovereign entity by the United Nations and 35 countries, the US among them.

But then, a week later, Somaliland voluntarily entered a union with what was at the time known as Italian Somaliland, to the south, creating modern-day Somalia. This was in response to the dreams of nationalists who wanted to unite the lands in which Somalis lived in the Horn of Africa region.

The hope that union would lead the Somalis into a free and democratic nation never materialized. Instead, the brutal military regime of Siad Barre took power from a nascent civilian government in 1969. Barre was a tyrant, described by some as in the mold of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who held power for 21 years through military force, money from foreign donors and by manipulating the region’s clan system.

Barre declared the majority of northern Somalis enemies of the state. They had legitimate grievances about his misrule, and the way in which the union between former British Somaliland and former Italian Somaliland was handled in 1960. Consequently, a political disenfranchisement and ruthless military campaign was unleashed against the civilian population. An insurrection followed and eventually, in 1991, the military regime collapsed.

Since then Somalia has been mired in chaos and violence. But Somaliland has succeeded in establishing a functioning government, with a constitution, defined borders and a flag. It is governed along democratic lines with pluralistic political institutions. In May 2001, its independence was supported in a referendum by more than 90 percent of the population. Two presidential elections took place with a peaceful transfer of power; one in 2003 and another in 2010. This summer, nine political parties are competing in local elections.

Despite its achievements, no country in the world has yet recognized Somaliland’s independence. The US State Department and the African Union each cling to the fiction that Somaliland is part of the failed state of Somalia. It would have made sense to award Somaliland the diplomatic recognition it deserves. Its brief history of freedom and democracy stand in stark contrast to the terrorism, reign of warlords and piracy that is rife in Somalia, where US President Barack Obama and the UN are expending vast resources to fund African troops, which are propping up the corrupt transitional Somali government.

The argument against Somaliland’s independence comes from the African Union (AU), which has been tough on Somaliland for creating an independent democratic state. There is understandable paranoia about accepting new states with shifting borders inherited from colonial powers in Africa. The AU’s argument to deny Somaliland sovereignty is not valid, however, because it has had defined colonial borders that were established at the time of independence.

The irony is that US State Department diplomats, for political reasons, endorsed the position of the African Union in order to appease other African leaders and to get their military support for America’s counter-terrorism efforts in Somalia.

For the last two decades, the international community has tried through outside military intervention and massive aid to reconstitute Somalia. These interventions have ended in catastrophic failure.

The United Nations is also arguing that recognizing Somaliland might hinder the UN-sponsored peace and reconciliation efforts for Somalia. Among these efforts is the US-backed “road map” for Somalia, which projects forming a new government at the end of the “transition” in mid-August. Most Somalis have no faith in the “road map” process, which seeks to reinforce and legitimize the nominal Somali government even though Somalia remains ravaged by violence and self-interested neighbors.

The world regards Somalia as a basket case, but Somaliland is not and deserves better. Recognizing independent Somaliland would have positive consequences, not just for Somalia, but also for the whole Horn of Africa region. Indeed, Somaliland is contributing the international community’s efforts to combat piracy that plagues the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

Keeping the status quo in Somalia would only prolong the human suffering there and spread radicalism and chaos that could engulf the region. In this scenario, diplomatic recognition for Somaliland would be unjustly denied and would further delay opportunity for investment, trade and economic growth.

Obama should do the right thing and fulfill the aspirations of 3.5 million people of Somaliland to have an independent and sovereign state.

Ali Mohamed is co-founder of the Horn of Africa Freedom Foundation. It is a grassroots organization, located in Lewis Center, Ohio, that advocates for the advancement of freedom and democratic values for the indigenous people of the Horn of Africa.

Displaying 57 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Wadani says:

    What voting power you guys from Somaliland have in the USA? We buy our recognition from Barack Obama and whoever is willing to trade. This world has lost the fairness, and democracy is just media consumption. American business is business, hence we should get involved this transaction if we want to change stats quo.

    Somaliland has a clean bill of health with regards to its' colonial borders, and has nothing to do with phobia that AU has about change of boundaries, but the agony is that, the interest of those who should have consciously admit and support our guest, are those who tie everything in a business.

  2. HMObsiye says:

    Whether the world community accept or not, Somaliland is here to stay. They can run away from the true but they cannot hide from the true, because the truth will eventually catchup with them. The true is that Somaliland will never be part of Somalia period!

    • Geezer4rmPuntland says:

      ask yourself this question who does somaliland represents? go home, have a shower, eat bread and jam then come to me. btw if i dnt get a reasonable answer then its true what ppl say that somaliland iz nothing but a clan state.

      • Dhugtame says:

        Geezer loser,

        Your answer is simple, Somaliland represents the 3.5 million Somalilanders who voted in a national referendum and said YES to Somaliland sovereignty. Will that satisfy you? I geuss not, because you are not used to democratic process.

  3. mohamed ali says:

    No need a lot of Thinking why s/land region not recognize five year old child can figure out,This’s not whole nothern somali wants separation but only small minoraty so The world are aware of This,secondly who wants to do trade Three small regions not enough population no resources no manufacturing sector no manpower.Third rest of The world not interested somalia become five or countries specaily UN.

    • Gobaad says:

      mohamed ali, the three regions you have mentioned is exclusively, exclusively, exclusively inhabited, as you put by one clan, but then again this particular clan is the majority of all other regions with the exception of Sool and Awdal. And the fact of the matter is that this clan is the most prominent and the most dominat alele and force in Somaliland whether anybody likes it not. And you have no choice, but to live with them. Get use to it, there no way around it. Otherwise, take your makeshift buul-cas elsewhere.

      Whether the world likes it or not Somaliland is here to stay and we will push the quest for our rightful Statehood recognition even if it takes 1000 more years.

      • khaatumo citizen says:

        yh sool, sanaag,(expect ceelafwayne and garadag district) awdal, also southern togdheer (cayn) are pro-somaliwayn+ the rest of somalis ,,, so who are the minority i'll let you do the maths..
        the majority of Garhajis (the largest isaaaq clan) are also pro-somaliwayn

  4. hodan says:

    Whether the world is interested or not, Somalilanders are not interested in Somalia. Keep on wishng, there is no retreat. Your mechanism of divide and rule will not work……… Keep your house in Mogadishu in order first before you start howling…….

    • i hate my clan says:

      "Why do you think South Sudan got recognised so quickly after their independence and it is nothing to do with it being a chrisian country."

      you have no clue are you?

      the anglican church using hollywood has campaigned tirelessly for s sudan the most powerfull institution together with AIPAC of israel on the other hand you are somali nomad the most hated race on the planet. stick to your somali brothers and smell the coffee if you can not live together is your own fault.

      • khaatumo citizen says:

        loool who said we are the most hated race in the world ..

        • i hate my clan says:

          well Seara Leone had civil war they got help AND have democracy now Bosnia as well Ethiopia got coup and mingiste haile m was told by the world to live the capital before the rebel reach capital Kenya was on the verge of civil war when they were told to sort out do not tell me black hawk down rubbishthey never came to "restore hope" they came to get Aidiid.

          the Arabs hate somalis
          The africans hate somalis
          the West? ( i let you that figure out)
          the somalis hate other somalis ( puntland hate somaliland, somaliland hate " wanlaweyn" "wanlaweyn hate "Qaldaan" somaliland hate Khaatumo Galmudug hate puntland XIBIN and Xeeb hate Galmudug)

          we somalis need to grow up qabiil qaran ma noqdo you die and go to grave alone we neet to leave bettter legacy to our children a country that is respected we all know we are all diaspora which ever region we come from.

  5. Egghead says:

    I am intrigued by all the arguments….However what is more puzling is why somaliland has not been recognised after all these years of independence…..The answer is quite simple our people spend too much time arguing between themselves rather than interacting with the powers that be so that somliand is is quite a simple formula to be honest to gain recognition and the answer is to dangle a carott infront of those powers opposing recognition.

    Why do you think South Sudan got recognised so quickly after their independence and it is nothing to do with it being a chrisian country. Time the somaliland people started thinking strategicly in order for the country to achieve its goals..

  6. Abraham says:

    Oh may be its too early as I can't see Kayse's comments. I opened this article just to see whether he is still at it or moved on.

  7. cimraan says:

    Let us establish on thing here especially to this kayse dude. This is not a Somali cafe where everyone spews whatever comes to his/her mind be it facts or otherwise and throws it wherever. honorable debating is a respectable way of arguing the facts and explaining or interpreting them without insulting the intelligence of your debater. Northern Somalis are known to honor this tradition and deal with it in a respectable way without exception. It is a time honored method of dealing with issues among tribes. People who used to excel in this were honored and revered in all places. It is obvious from your rants you have no clue. I can’t blame you on that because as I said before you’re not a Somali, but at least, you will respect this tradition since you are in Somaliland home(website)who afforded you without prejudice ( hargarla’an) to express your views no matter what they’re. It is true those who said ” if you honor the kareem he will be greatful,but if you honor the weasel (la’eemm) he will dishonor you.

  8. Omer Hussein Dualeh says:

    Kayse hate monger is given a platform to spit his venom, by this website. He can post any length, while others do not get a paragraph or little more at most. What is going on here?

    Let him go to Mogadishu, and we will see him dead meet there in few days. If he is man of principles let him to and share the so-called elder's conference going negatively there.

  9. fowsiya says:

    You belong with me I belong with you please

  10. Geezer4rmPuntland says:

    when somaliland declared independent i wasnt even born yet, now i have two wives goin on my third & somaliland hasnt moved yet 4rm its first stage, its lyk time has stopped. what i need is a time machine so i can go back to the past & ave a chit chat with Snm leaders.

  11. Somaliaqueen says:

    Good things come to those who wait. All somaliland has to do is talk and work with khaatumo cuz they share the north side of Somali. The truth is in 1960 they came to us and we disrespect them. I know all ppl are not the same but explain that to the human feelings ones the TRUST is gone. Is not like slander is changing their deen, dhaqan nd colour. If i wish freedom for the kufars why not my brothers n sisters in deen n dhaqan.

    • Somaliaqueen says:

      Loool, its not ur concern what i were, you stop the alcohol if you believe in ALLAH swt and wish the same things u wish for your self.

      • Somaliaqueen says:

        wish for your brothers n sisters the same things you wish for your self

        • amal says:


          I agree with you everything you said walalo. But we wish that which is of goodness inahAllah

        • Somaliaqueen says:

          Loool i don't like al shaba they fake just like you. And i am from somalia who follows ALLAHS right path as much as i can no one is perfect but at least i don't do haram n brag about it. I left somalia wen i was 5 yrs but follow my deen n dhaqan

          • GeezerFrmPuntland says:

            you are such a liar, neither you follow ur dhaqaan or deen. first of all ur a fanatic wahhabi who is being anti sufi, most somalis are sufis including myself.
            secondly you were jilbab which is an alien culture imported by taliban into somalia.

  12. Kayse says:

    Theres nothing called Somaliland, some people havent realised the Brtish officers have long gone so is Somali division. This is a little project in parts of Burao, west Hargeisa and few farms innn Gabiley. Im from Hargeisa and Im tired of this never ending begging.

    Always why why andwhy not recognize the Coucil…and the worst thing is they dont have plan B thats why they been on plan A for two decades. During time the kids who born in Somalia are today taking the war to al shabab. Somalia has went through wars, invasions, substates, terrorism, good days while the Council broke down on one hill called "dude! where ismy Recognition?"

    • mohamed omar says:

      if They had plan B today would not be in This mess,shanty project two sub-clan will not work it’s time rest of s/land and nothern somalis stand up & ask freedom of speech-free Press, realse all polital prisoners & journalist lift self-imposed isolation.

    • Nuurdeen says:

      I believe 'Kayse' speaks the truth. After 20 years, do you think the world is deaf to Somalilands cry? Kurdistan for example, a region of 30million + oppressed for years brutally by many regimes still do not have an Independant country. Whereas 'Somaliland' somehow wants to work the system backwards, asking for recognition from their own colonisers? Work with me here, is this not absurd?

      Somalia should be one country, and its people who have suffered enough should come together and defend its borders and make links with countries such as Turkey, who have offered aid at Somalia's time of need when nobody else cared.

      I also believe the majority of the north of Somalia's population want to remain part of Somalia, and don't want to split due to one unfortunate incident. It's only my opinion but isn't it sane to say forget these greedy western country's attention and turn to development and Sharia from the middle east and China? Take a look at the Nato countries, their own greed is now destroying them financially..

  13. Abraham says:

    Oh he is here now. Laakiin ninku wali wuu barooranayaa!!!

  14. Troll Hunter says:

    Lonely lonely Kayse, no friends but tries to be important online, sad sad….
    No job no hope, no wife no life…..
    Please read my comments, please answer me, make me feel important !

    Lonely, lonely Kayse.

  15. Geezer4rmPuntland says:

    I used to visit this hostel wer my abgal friend used to live, his roommate was a issaq geezer, a hardcore separatists, he adored somaliland, he was crazy, he used to dream bout becoming the President of somaliland but somehow we can of lost in touch but he sure remeinds me of this person Gobaad.

    i think Gobaad iz my lost amigo.

  16. Geezer4rmPuntland says:

    I used to visit this hostel wer my abg@l friend used to live, his roommate was iss@q geezer, a hardcore separatists, he adored somaliland, he was crazy, he used to dream bout becoming the President of somaliland but somehow we can of lost in touch but he sure remeinds me of Gobaad.

    i think Gobaad iz my lost amigo.

  17. AntoninusPius says:

    The question should not be ‘why has the world not recognised Somaliland’, but will recognition that Holy Grail which we so vehemently desire be a panacea to all our ills.

    In the question of secession it seems to me Somalis are polarised in to two irrational camps, those that, want to Separate, their primary reasoning being the that they have been wronged, can never get their rights in a united Somalia and they alone should be the sole masters of their destiny. The problem with this group is they are overwhelmingly from one clan and the fact remains a significant portion of the Somaliland population are either ambivalent or outright oppose their idea. These people are often heard chanting the line “Jiritaanka Somaliland waa Muqadas” which in my opinion is an empty expression without any well though through justifications, instead they should say “wadajirka reer Somaliland waa Muqadas”

    As for those who oppose the separation of Somalia in my opinion they can be subdivided into two; those who sincerely belief in the Unity of the Somali people they are well reasoned people who when expressing their opinions do not foam at the mouth, they do not use implicit or explicit insults aimed at a certain clan nor are they extremist wahabis who spew venomous hate ideology, however it must be said these people are uncommon. The fast majority of those who oppose Somaliland’s secession oppose it on purely perceived clan interests and what all their words of hatred do is only justify and harden the stance of the secessionists entrenching mistrust and hatred between fellow Somalis.

    In my opinion it is high time that those in charge and with vested interests in the Somaliland enterprise should put all their efforts in to reaching a mutually satisfactory understanding with the clans that have misgivings about the whole Somaliland idea, because it would be a gross injustice if we on the one hand demand our right for self-determination whilst on the other hijack their rights to reach our interests. When this is done we can truly decide on our future united and come to a LOGICAL CONCLUSION,

  18. amal says:

    The problem is not whether Somaliland has a legal case or not for recognition. I personally believe Somaliland has a strong legal case especially when most African borders are based on colonial borders. But the problem is can the international world recognize Somaliland whilst its counterpart is in turmoil and has no working legitimate government? This is not an easy thing for the international world to make such big decision especially when Somalis are going through difficult moments and division and is probably why they didn't recognize Somaliland in the past 20 years.

    This is why the communique in article 6 to let Somaliland-Somalia engage in dialogue to decide their future is the best proposal. However this talk should not be done in hasty and it should not be just once but several times. Time should be taken, both should think thoroughly through it, both should introduce their ideas, solution and proposal and a mutual and practical agreement should be reached.

    The warlords that were in control of Somalia all these years were helping to bury any possible understanding or union between the two sisterly states especially when they constantly mingle with Somaliland's internal affairs. Somalia or TFG promoting division in Somaliland (whether it is khatumo state or awdal state) would only contribute to the Somaliland-Somalia problem and make things more complicated. Good relationship between Somaliland-Somalia should always be sought so that when decision is being made emotions should not come into the equation. Otherwise any desperate attempts of bringing Somaliland down would only be an obstacle to any solution.

    My funny two pennies :)

  19. khaatumo citizen says:

    somaliland who??????????? the days of hiding behind british somaliland territory are over… it is one united Somalia, forget all these tribes

  20. Kayse says:

    Im killing the Council supporters, so bad that Im starting to feel sorry for them because they cant rebut my facts all they got is "oh Kayse is trol, no family, no one, lonely".

    This is why no one would recognize the little Council because they have no argument just personal attacks in hope that they will chase you. Its not working and Im from north Somalia and not going to alow two subclans to hijack us.

    Britain is bulding its embassy in Mogadishu, Ethiopia said no…they hosting a meeting right now in which issak elders are taking part to help the country move out of transition. You still think UK is coming, the place has nothing for UK.

    Im killing them. Keep the calaacaal coming may Dora The Explorer will add Somaliland to her map. Imagine if she visited the Council, they would go crazy because like Simon Reeve, Dora also carries a packbag…"packbag packbag donde esta la Somaliland?"…bag "No comprehendo…Dora lets ask Micky Mouse"

  21. Gobaad says:

    Folks, you when I say this guy, ma saaloona! Look, what kind of a grown up man talks garbage such as baby toys. Ilaah baan idinku dhariyeye, what mental capacity does he has?

  22. Kayse says:

    mohahaha Gobaad

    The makers of Dora the explorer are all adults and anyone with family and kids in their family know those programmes. Your just angry because even Dora The Explorer is more well known than the Council in western Hargeisa.

    Find "Somaliland" on her map and stop getting so cut.

    She cant debate…just "lonely, psychotic, mental, welfare".

    Put it however you like but Somaliland is as imaginary as the Dora character but at least Dora knows she is Spanish, Council supporters don't they are Somali.

    • osman5 says:

      Kayse, Let me tell something you're a useless sleazy individual with no matters whatsoever.
      You're no match for Gobaad, she's a well educated smart Somalilander, she's very articulate and always makes her point crystal clear. If there's a live public debate between you and Gobaad, she would blow you out of the water with no time

      You've been bad mouthing to Gobaad recently because she brings your fake Somaliladerism out to the public.. I firmly believe you aren't even a Somalilander or Somali in that matter, you can't fool us, we know that you're just a pretender. Kayse if that's your real? buddy, you're mentally ill, please seek immediate professional help.

      Osman Qaal

      • Nuurdeen says:

        Theres no need for personal attacks at all. Every one should have free speech, doesnt Somaliland's govt say that? I think people are scared the truth will prevail, Somaliland is disintergrating and Somalia is rising once again..Turkey, China, Iran, and The UK are all interested in Somalia..thats what we are offering in Somalia, chance to invest, develop. While the sole agenda in Somaliland is recognition…!!

        I know many sane people from Hargeisa that would second this, so please, act sane.

  23. GeezerFrmPuntland says:

    @hassan ali

    maybe she's watching too many mexicans movies lol

  24. GeezerFrmPuntland says:

    Plz don't bore us with your clannish idea of Somaliland. somaliland is just one of the thousands of mini tribal state now emerging through out Somalia.

    Somaliland does not exist, plz move on.

  25. GeezerFrmPuntland says:

    the somalia world enters a new critical stage, a stage wer NOW the somali womans are islamic extremists, separatists, racist & qablist.

    let's take for example Gobaad & Kayse
    i am 100% sure that Gobaad iz a woman & kayse is a man
    these two folks ave a lot in common not only they from the same clan but they also from the same rural small village of hargeisa. Mr Kayse wants to restore somalia unity & destroy the disease called qabil while Miss Gobaad want to promote the idea of qabil & carve out separate state.

    most of the somali leaders lyk Somali Transitional Federal & Puntland are promoting somali woman, giving them a very important role to play in somali culture & politics.

    a somali woman doesn't know tribal boundaries
    a somali woman are the best mothers in the world, they work hard to give their children a decent & good life. But they always say its just a few bad apples, gobaad & amal are the bad apples.

  26. osman5 says:

    what's going on in Puntland? it's funny that Puntlanders started a bootlegging business, I'm sure it won't be as lucrative as the piracy. A word of advice tell your buddies get complete wasted on your next trip out to sea. You'd feel no paint in case your makeshift boats capsized and drowning in the high seas becomes inevitable or a bullet hits in the head by a sniper on American aircraft carrier ..

    One more thing, Somaliland agreed to accept incarcerated pirates from certain nations, don't let yourself be on the next batch of prisoners destined to Hargeisa correctional facility. If you do, you might get your testicles removed without sedation just to calm you down.

    Osman Qaal

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