10 Good Reasons Why Somaliland Cannot Attend the Somalia Conference in London on May 7 – By Prof Abdisalam Yassin
Here are 10 good reasons why Somaliland cannot attend the Somalia conference in London on May 7:
- The conference is organized by the UK for the failed state of Somalia out of which Somaliland reclaimed its independence and sovereignty after a devastating and bloody war that ended with the collapse of Siyad Barre’s dictatorial regime in 1991. It has nothing to do with the 22 year old state of Somaliland, albeit unrecognized internationally yet, and it also ignores the new political realities on the ground.
- This conference deviated from the outcomes and processes of the February 2012 conference held in London and its subsequent meetings held in the UAE and Turkey. Despite being controversial in Somaliland, this conference had at least mentioned the principle of brining two sides with conflicting view on the same table, seemingly while on equal footing, to sort out their differences. As stated by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office on its website, “The Government of the UK and Somalia will co-host an international conference on 7 May in the UK. The conference aims to provide support for the government of Somalia as they rebuild their country after decades of conflict.”
- Granted that the UK government does not recognize Somaliland and still sees it as part of Somalia like the rest of the international community, it should not have legally and morally assumed the role of leading the international community to rebuild this failed state out of which came Somaliland – a country which the UK ruled as a protectorate nearly 80 years.
Prof Abdisalam Yasin
If the UK pushes the idea of helping “to uphold the unity and integrity of Somalia”, as stated in the six-pillar plan of the recently formed Somalia government, it must remember that it is calling for further destabilization of a region that is already crippled by war and instability. For the “unity and integrity of Somalia”, a core that was founded in July 1960, is based on the idea of establishing Greater Somalia, i.e. uniting all the five Somali-populated territories in the Horn of Africa, namely Somaliland, Somalia, Djibouti, the Somali Province of Ethiopia, and the Northeastern Region of Kenya (formerly NFD). Incidentally, while pursuing this nationalist sentiment, Somalia is the only African country that has not signed the African Charter which stipulates the respect and maintenance of the borders left by the colonial powers.
- Somaliland and Somalia united on the basis of this national ideal. Since uniting all the five Somali-populated territories cannot legally and politically happen, by logical extension, the disbanded union of Somaliland and Somalia cannot be pursued legally, politically, and morally. Whatever diplomacy that pushes this agenda must remember that Somaliland rejects it. According to our perspective, this agenda will only rekindle war and exacerbate the large scale human suffering and the international security threats that has become synonymous with Somalia.
- In the notices of the May 7 conference posted on the website of the UK FCO, it is stated that, “Somalia has been through a dramatic shift over the last year and a new government has taken power in Mogadishu in the most representative process in a generation. There is now a unique opportunity to move on from the problems if the past.” This is indeed a benevolent support from the UK government for the six-month old government of Somalia and we do not resent it. However, we would like to remind the current government of this ancient kingdom that, while “Somalia has been through a dramatic shift over the last year”, Somaliland has been consistently making dramatic shifts for the past two 22 years. Some fair outside observers have called the rebuilding efforts and the developments that Somaliland has made for these past two decades, mostly with very little or no contribution from outside, “the miracle of Africa”. Unfortunately, the UK, with a long historical link with Somaliland, has refused to recognize this “African miracle”. Why?
- 7. The answer, in my opinion, is inside the nature of political expediency. The current UK government very well knows Somaliland and the history that they share (the name Somaliland clearly reflects that and triggers the historical link). However, they put their immediate interest to remove what they see as a threat to the “national security” of the UK, i.e. Al-Shabab, from Somalia and help to install a stable government there before any historical link or moral responsibility to support an independent and sovereign Somaliland.
- Since most political behavior is based on interest, we have no qualms about the actions of the current UK government. We understand the reasons for their conduct. We therefore ask for reciprocity. The UK government should understand that remaining independent and sovereign is in the interest of the “national security” of Somaliland.
- In the recent European geopolitics, Somalia used to be designated as the “sphere of influence” of Italy, and that is because Italy was the former colonial master of Somalia, or Mogadishu, since the capital symbolizes the state. Somaliland (or former British Somaliland and its capital Hargeisa) was effaced from the UK colonial memory. One cannot help to ask: what has changed? And what is behind this huge UK interest in Somalia? Surely it is not benevolence, for charity has no place in real politics.
- UK or no UK, US or no US, West or no West, Somaliland can no longer be part of a failed state (i.e. Somalia) and a failed ideal (i.e. Greater Somalia). And it is clear that the peace and security of Somaliland, Somalia, the Horn of Africa, and the so-called international community is inherently linked to maintaining this new political reality.