Somaliland: A country that does not exist

By IndepthAfrica
In Article
Nov 12th, 2012
9 Comments
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The Hargeisa MIG - shot down during the civil war, and a symbol of Somaliland's defiance.

From as far back as the 1960’s, the people of Northern Somalia (Somaliland) have always felt marginalised by the rest of Somalia, preferably South-Central Somalia. Some would say it’s because South-Central Somalia had the more dominant tribe of Somalia, Hawiye for example. But that’s not completely true.

Back in the 1960’s tribes were not as influential and important as they are in the 1980s-present. Them days, Somali people respected one another and used tribe in a more positive light, looking back at the past clan leaders and relating with one another, not competing. Under the rule of Aden Abdulle Osman Daar, people of Somalia, even Northern Somalia were relatively happy and didn’t have much to complain about. He, the first president of Somalia Republic, somehow persuaded the British Protectorate, Somaliland to join in with the rest of Somalia in becoming one republic, and they did join.

Many people now regret it, but they cannot go back in time and change things. Siad Barre and his regime did terrible things to the people of North Somalia (Somaliland) and this is something the International community needs to reflect on when Somaliland ask for their recognition. You cannot refuse Somaliland’s recognition because they think it’s all about tribes and clans, it’s much more than that and only the people of Somaliland will know. Northern Somali’s have always been regarded as the outsiders to Southerners and it has been well reflected during Siad Barre’s reign as Somalia president.

From as early as the 1960’s Southern Somali’s always felt indifferent to Northern Somali’s and this has had its toll. You only have to look at Hargeisa and Mogadishu in the 1970s-mid 80s and you can pretty much see what I am on about. Even though Hargeisa was the second capital, just because of its size, it wasn’t as well established as Mogadishu. Then-president Siad Barre literally isolated Northern Somalia during his reign; refusing investors to build beautiful structured buildings in Hargeisa, Burco, Berbera etc… it came to a point where Northern Somali people were denied permission by the government to build brand new structured houses on their own land. This infuriated many Northern Somali’s but there is nothing they could really do.

The international community believes Somaliland and Somalia need to discuss things, work on getting back together and sorting the relationship between North and South, but it’s not that simple. Somalilanders will not ever forget the past and that’s very understandable, considering around 50,000 Somalilanders were killed by Faqaah soldiers on Siad Barre’s orders. Somalilanders believe that the people from the South (Mogadishu, Hiiran, Gedo etc…) didn’t do anything to stop what Siad Barre was doing; it comes to a point where people from the South supported what Siad Barre was doing against Isaaq people. There are some people from the South who stood up against what Siad Barre was doing, and they as well as many Isaaq’s were killed (Hawiye and some Warsangali’s) but his war against Hawiye and Warsangali is a different case also. People from South Somalia seem so bitter towards many Somalilanders for breaking free, but little do they understand what they had to go through. The torture and massacre, it was mass-genocide.

Since all this pain and destruction to the people of Somaliland ended, 1991, they have been pleading for international recognition and independence from Somalia. They have already broke away from Somalia and have a self declared government, but they have not won the international recognition and are unfortunately still looked at as Somalia, a territory within it. They have their own currency, government and president. Even though they haven’t yet been recognised, their people are the core of its country, working together to make everything possible. Then you look at neighbouring country Somalia who is yet to have a stable government since 1991, and terrorism on another scale, as well as piracy.

Somaliland allows people from South Somalia who seek asylum to come to Somaliland and refuge until things get better back home for them. The same way Britain and America offered Somali people asylum when war broke loose in Somalia. Yet the people of Somalia will not allow Somaliland to be independent from them. The people of Somaliland hold little bitterness towards people of Somalia, yet the people of Somalia, who pretty much went through half of what Somalilanders went through feel they have the right to believe Somalilanders did something wrong to them. There is no reason at all for Somalia to refuse Somaliland independence.

Somaliland had one of the most peaceful elections in 1st July, 2010 which gave the whole world an indication that Somaliland deserves its recognition. Somaliland has established itself as a beacon of peace in the whole of Africa, much of the western world has said many countries need to take example from Somaliland, a country that isn’t even recognised. Somaliland has also been entering the world of business and recently agreed a deal with a Turkish firm worth to be around $40 million. All you have to do is congratulate the people of this country and award them with international recognition for such achievements. From being part of Somalia and being so isolated, to becoming independent, rebuilding the cities that were demolished by Siad Barre , having peaceful presidential elections, having a stable government and tying deals with international businesses worth around $40 million is a transformation that would take some countries maybe 50 years, but all this was done in 21 years. That is probably one of the best news you would hear coming out of Africa in the last 50 years, yet they receive no international recognition.

Somalia and Somaliland’s history cannot be erased and that’s what the world needs to know before they want them to build relations again with Somalia and become one nation they once was, because that’s also history and should be left in the past. Somaliland’s people should be looked at as an example to all African countries and should be allowed what they deserve, recognition.

Allin Nuh

Photo: A Russian made mig fighter jet that was used in 1989 seen hanging in Hargeisa as a monument of reminder to the people of Somaliland of atrocities done by former dictator Muhamed Siad Barre, who was later toppled in 1991. (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

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