Federation is the only realistic Option for “Somaliland”

By IndepthAfrica
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Jan 29th, 2013
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By: Mohamed F Yabarag

With the US officially reaffirming the recognition of President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud’s government as the legitimate and sole representative of Somalia after twenty long years of civil strife and political wilderness, the secessionist entity of Somaliland that failed dismally to muster any meaningful support for its futile exercise for international recognition has now been given one last diplomatic lifeline: to federate with Somalia or face a slow death and total irrelevance. In the Q&A session that followed president Mahmoud’s reception at the US State Department, the outgoing secretary Hillary Clinton had confirmed that the infamous dual track policy that seemed to favor the secessionists at one stage is now dead in the water, ultimately delivering a hammer blow to the secessionists’ elusive international recognition.

The writing was always on the wall for the secessionists, except the SNM elites in Hargeisa and elsewhere in the former British Protectorate have adopted no-hear, no-see policy on the international law to the point of delusion that Ismail Omar Geulleh of Djibouti had ridiculed them in his interview with the Indian Ocean Newsletter by saying this: “they [the secessionists] put the cart before the horse”. To put President Geulleh’s remarks in plain and simple English, the secessionists have got their priorities spectacularly wrong.

Their unrealistic and rather hopeless quest for international recognition has become an obsession to the point that even their own people have now lost faith in them that they don’t take them seriously anymore. Who will blame them? What is more ironic about the secessionists is the fact that Hargeisa is teeming with men and women of high diplomatic stature and experience who are well versed on the international law, but unfortunately the men with guns in their midst have taken them for a ride and put the entire population on straitjacket.

The long-awaited US recognition of Somalia comes on the backdrop of events that started last year with the endorsement of the United National Security Council that Somalia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and its unity (oneness) is sacred in resolution 10768. Unless secessionists are living in cloud cuckoo land, which indeed most of their politicians were living in the past twenty years, even the optimists in their midst should now hold up their hands and say enough is enough; it is all over. Even the diehard secessionist, Faisal Ali Waraabe, who infamously said that the boy born in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) is preferable to him [Somaliland] to the boy born in Mudug, has finally lost hope and relayed the doom news from Washington DC to his fellow politicians that the chance of “Somaliland” getting diplomatic recognition is dead and needs to be given a decent burial, even if his blame was directed at Ahmed Silanyo, the secessionist’s president.

Political pundits, including the author of this article believe the odds of Somaliland getting international recognition is comparable to winning the Euro Millions (a transnational lottery played in seven European countries) where the chance of landing the jackpot (the highest prize) is an astounding 1 in 76,275,360 (one in seventy six millions). Recognition is as hard as this, and this is perhaps why Fowzia Yusuf Haji Aden, the current Foreign Minister of Somalia and former aspirant for the top office of the secessionists, has jumped this stricken ship. To see the measure of desperation in the secessionist enclave, Fowzia has recently been mobbed by secessionist admirers in her latest stopover in Berbera airport en route to Mogadishu, whilst Mohamed Abdillahi Oomar, who previously held the same portfolio under the Transitional National Government of Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, was cruelly refused to attend the funeral of his beloved father for being part of Somalia setup. Somalia’s new foreigner minister is considered by many as lucky because she changed course at the right time.

How often you heard from their politicians that the green shoots of recognition is around the corner and that Hargeisa and Burao will soon become little Dubai or Kuwait city overnight?  Well, this could have been achieved, though not in the same scale as the aforementioned cities, had secessionist politicians stayed true to their Somali-ness and declared Hargeisa as the capital of Somalia following the collapse of the Somali state in early 1991 when clan militias have ousted Siyad Barre from power. Should secessionists used their heads rather than their hearts, Hargeisa and Burao could have prospered than they are today and subsequently Somalia might have been in a better position economically, politically and financially than it is today in what could have been a win-win situation for all Somalis.

Saca Faarsa tegay,
Soddon maalintuu qado,
sandulluu ku iman.

The above-mentioned Somali adage roughly translates: a strayed cow that refuses to drink with the rest of the herd will eventually come back after being thirsty for thirty days. The fact that the secessionists are more than willing to sit down with their fellow brothers that they so much despised in the past speaks volumes about their lack of understanding in the international politics. Not so long ago, when warlords were tearing Mogadishu residents into shreds, the secessionists thought everything was wrapped up for them at the expense of their fellow Somalis. Now it is their turn to face the music. What a turnaround of fortunes!

The British government, which is about to host a conference scheduled to take place in May this year, should thread very carefully on the issue of Somali unity as the secessionists in Hargeisa has neither the moral authority nor the mandate to represent the people of northern Somalia, except their own constituencies. The people of Northern Somalia, notably those from Awdal, SSC and Makhir have their own representatives in Awdalstate, Khatumo State of Somalia and Makhari State. As a former colonial master, the British government should know the history of northern Somalia better than anyone else. Let us remind everyone, including the May conference hosts that the unionist communities in the aforementioned regions are the very same people who formed United Somali party (USP) in late 1959 to ensure they remain part and parcel of the big Somali family, a noble principle they hold dearly to this date.

Even twenty years of lawlessness in Somalia as well as SNM hegemony and transgression in their lands could not dent their desire and aspirations to remain part of Somalia. They withstood everything the secessionists could throw at them, even when their cities and towns were razed to the ground, their properties vandalized and their men and women slaughtered by the ruthless clan militia of SNM. To this day, the people of Hudun, part of SSC territory, are threatened by the clannish army of Somaliland.

It will be folly, therefore, for the British government to extend a red carpet to the SNM-led secessionists who, in reality, represent nobody but themselves and exclude representatives of unionist communities such as Professor Ahmed Ismail Samatar and Dr. Ali Khalif Galaydh from the upcoming May conference scheduled to take place in London. These prominent figures in Somali politics from northern regions of Somalia should be given an opportunity to represent their people in Awdal and SCC territories respectively as well as the Somalis in general. As for the secessionists, they tried all they could to get international legitimacy i.e. recognition but failed miserably. In light of the latest US recognition of Somalia, which will soon be followed by the rest of the international community, the repetition of the same failed policies in the past twenty years will only result in the secessionists’ continued isolation and political wilderness. Federation is the only realistic option open to them. The question on everyone’s lip, therefore, is this: will they learn from their past mistakes, or simply continue pursuing the same failed polices of secession? Only time will tell.

Mohamed F Yabarag
E-Mail: Myabarag@gmail.com

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