Why Somaliland should not engage in talks with Somalia right now
Somaliland wants Somalia to, finally, concede that Somaliland’s independence is irrevocable. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, on the other hand, is in a blatant denial of Somaliland’s rights and decision to reclaim its sovereignty, and withdraw from the July 1st 1960’s, still bending for ratification, union. The TFG’s, current, standpoint undermines, with similar obliviousness, the political relationship of the two, if any exist. The TFG, constantly, and in every opportunity claims that Somaliland is part of what it represents. The truth, however, is that the TFG has no influence in Somaliland and, probably, considering the short period mandated for the TFG to last, it will have zero impact on Somaliland, in the future.
Such are irreconcilable facts and, thus, Somaliland shouldn’t have, even, attempted an arbitration process with the TFG, at the moment. The decision president Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud (Silanyo) has, recently, taken on selecting five charismatic ministers from his government cabinet to engage a process of arbitration with the TFG on the issues of Somalia and Somaliland’s current political affairs, is hasty and, quite frankly, a baffling one. Such engagement is fruitless, at the moment, for both Somalia, who are in a transition, and Somaliland, who should, only, talk with a central and permanent government representing Somalia, not Mogadishu and/or Garoowe.
Somalia’s TFG is in a twilight zone, right now. Sheikh Sharif’s team is in a desperate dash to create a portfolio of ‘being there and done that’ sort of entries to convince the 22nd February London Conference on Somalia signatories, who mandated the TFG to commit to positive changes, including forming a central and representative government for Somalia. Engaging talks with Somaliland is a recommendation issued at the London Conference’s Communiqué, it is not an obligation. This recommendation, however, would have served an admirable effort and top entry for the TFG and its portfolio, have they initiated the process, and followed legal and transparent procedures. Such effort from the TFG, furthermore, would have presented success, if the two countries [Somalia and Somaliland] reach a mutual agreement. Indeed, a one less thing to thwart the efforts that the international community are making to restore law and order in Somalia, and huge success for the war against extremisms of terrorism, Sea piracy, famine, and mass migration, which, today, stem out from the region.
Somaliland’s kick-start of this arbitration process is a policy, which seems to assist the antagonist administrations of Somalia, whom are doomed to fail. The TFG’s, recent and careless, meddling of Somaliland’s internal affairs has depicted Sheikh Sharif as an unfriendly political figure of Somalia. His policy is a hostile one for the peoples of Somalia and Somaliland. The TFG is in the way of many things that could lead the citizens of Somaliland and Somalia to attain peace and prosperity, and, thus, peacefully coexist as two brotherly nations. The TFG’s unjustifiable grip onto Somaliland and its independence and the deluded belief it is spearheading to represent who and what is Somalia, today, is just inexact and unwarranted account of the TFG’s contribution to the history of the Somali peoples. Such distorted history creates further discord between the peoples of Somalia and Somaliland, who, since the 1960’s rushed union, have burdened each other under the former totalitarian regime of late Mohamed Siyad Bare. The inconsiderate political agenda of the TFG, which has been, arguably, influenced by those who care less about Somali peoples’ cohesion and peaceful coexistence, is hostile and unacceptable one.
When Sheikh Sharif was one of the leaders of the Islamic Courts, which was listed a terrorist group and was, consequently, dismantled by the West and their allies in the region, he, often, accused the international community of meddling with Somalia’s internal affairs and dividing the country. This was a stance that brought him support from many communities in Somalia. Sheikh Sharif’s, recent, involvement in Somaliland’s internal affairs is hypocritical, and it conspires the same political deviation he accused the West for. His attempt to cause fragmentation in Somaliland by, illegally, recognising regions of that country is devious. Sheikh Sharif praised Somaliland for its successes during his speech at the London Conference, and he is, arguably, the first TFG leader to, correctly, refer the Republic of Somaliland as Somaliland. Having said that, Sheikh Sharif, thoughtlessly, announced his recognition for the, so called, Khatumo State, which claims to represent regions in Somaliland. His move was a political detriment that could jeopardise any potential diplomatic relations between Somalia and Somaliland.
The political gaffe of the Sharif’s move, or immaturity as some may argue, emerged after the TFG leader has met with one of the three presidents of Ali Galaydh’s scheme, and then, without consultation, of any sort, announced his recognition for it [Khatumo State]. His team was, somehow, quick to rectify their leader’s blunder, and dismissed his inadmissible decision. There are indications that such rectification might have came, too, late. The damage might be done, already.
The odds of attaining any successes, in this arbitration process between the two [countries], are very slim. The international community recommended a dialogue between Somaliland and the TFG, where the two administrations, representing the two countries [Somalia and Somaliland], to reach a mutual agreement in their political relations. The erratic personality and the political volatility of Sheikh Sharif ascended, again, when Mr Faroole, the president of Puntland, which is a regional state of Somalia, has, already, was allowed to interfere the process and publicly instructed, if not bullied, Sheikh Sharif and the TFG that his regional administration must be involved in any arbitration process between the TFG and Somaliland. Sheikh Sharif’s TFG has given in to Mr Faroole’s avowals and announced further number of ministerial committee [to the 5 he has announced in response to president Ahmed Silanyo’s decision] to engage in the arbitration process, which would be a partial representation of what is, now, known as Somalia. Somalia is to be represented by members of the TFG and Puntland officials, who, almost half of them, are in fact Somaliland origins. This one familial representational of the selected TFG committee to engage formal talks of, possibly, a recognisable parting of Somalia and Somaliland is, simply, unlawful and, most certainly, not a way forward for Somalia, which is mired with miscellaneous, conflicting, and confrontational politics. Sheikh Sharif’s misconception of Somaliland’s political sophistication led him to select his Internal Affairs minister to lead the [Somalia] committee. An act that is not just an insult to the intelligence of Somalilanders, as a whole, but, also, an act that indicates his lack of interest in promoting better understanding between the two countries [Somaliland and Somalia], and, thus, a fact that he lies, through his teeth, to the international community, whom he, constantly, pledges for his full cooperation to bring stability in the region.
Somaliland, an exemplary of democratic state in the developing world, will not disregard the rights of the millions of Somalis, who, rightfully, call Somalia their country of origin. Somaliland has made a hasty decision, and compromised its own sovereignty and rights for a union that has long failed and brought nothing but burden for both countries, it will not make such risk, again. And, most certainly, Somaliland will not allow the future of Somalia’s relationship with Somaliland to be negotiated by those who, unlawfully, represent the country.
I am glad to conclude my argument, here, that both the government of Somaliland and the public agreed that the arbitration process between Somaliland and Somalia is to be withdrawn, after Sheikh Sharif’s ill-advised scheme is exposed.
Brief biography of the author of this article: Salma A Sheikh is a BSc with Honours of International Politics and Sociology holder from the City University of London. A political analyst and advocate for African women and youth in politics. Salma, currently, lives in London and works as a Youth Mentor. She is an active campaigner for Somaliland’s reinstatement of its June, 1960’s sovereignty.