SOMALIA: Why “Somaliland” is not Kosovo: the case of the failed recognition

Published: August 12, 2010

Why Somaliland is not Kosovo: the case of the failed recognitionBy: Abdulkadir Mohamoud:-
Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo who was for 13 years (1969 -1982), the Minister of Planning and later on the Minister of Commerce in President Mohamed Siad Barre’s government was on July 2nd 2010 elected President of “Somaliland”.1 With the help and funding of the international community the election in “Somaliland” has been conducted without a hitch. The transfer of power too was smoothed by the international community who had to nudge former President Dahir Riyale to hand power without an incident. In the process, Dahir Riyale was granted a decent retirement package which includes a monthly salary of US $5000, personal protection and other perks. Money to pay for former President Dahir Riyale’s retirement will of course come off from the coffers of “Somaliland”.

“Somaliland” has been actively seeking recognition since May 1991 when it unilaterally declared secession from the rest of the country.  One of the subjects President Silanyo needs to look into is the failed case for recognition. After 19 years of chasing recognition his administration needs to acquiesce not to waste more time and resources on the dead issue because international recognition for “Somaliland” is as far-fetched as sighting humans on the moon.
Northerner Somalis ought to understand that a separate recognition for the part of the land they inhabit concerns not only them but the whole Somali nation unless they are forgetting that whatever they may call themselves, they are after all, like me and you Somalis.  They should also understand that the land they occupy belongs not only to them but to the entire nation. Is it not the case that northerners are to be found in every town and city in Somalia and other Somali inhabited territories? Why do they always love to have it both ways?
Why were non-northern Somalis who live in “Somaliland” not allowed to take part in the election? One must wonder why they were not allowed to vote in the election. People everywhere are allowed to vote where they live unless they are illegal immigrants. What can possibly make Somalis illegal immigrants on Somali soil? In the Somali Region where I was told at least 10% of the population in main cities are from “Somaliland” everybody is allowed to vote.2 After all, why would the government of Meles Zenawi mind if Somalis from Hargeisa come to live in towns and cities of the Somali Region or the ones there go on to live in “Somaliland”. Who is complaining? Not Ethiopia but probably “Somaliland” might. What made authorities in “Somaliland” not to understand non-northerner Somalis too are entitled to be in “Somaliland” and vote in elections?
The legless argument for recognition
It is human nature people to detest those who stand their way even when they are throwing themselves off a cliff. We are not against the wish of northern Somalis who nowadays call themselves “Somaliland”. The truth of the matter is no nation will touch the recognition of “Somaliland” with a mile long barge because the people of “Somaliland” are like the ones in the south Somalis and their recognition would threaten the existence of every nation. It will open the gates of secessionist hell for every nation.
Which nation wishes to divide itself into smaller parts? Northerners need to ask themselves why even after Somalia’s recognition of Kosovo as the 69th nation to do so on 20 May 2010, Serbia, would not be tempted to recognize “Somaliland” because Serbia knows too well northerners are Somalis.3
Who are really the ones behind separation in “Somaliland”?
It is a legitimate question to ask who really in “Somaliland” wants separation and who wants union with the rest of the country. I don’t want to talk about which clan in “Somaliland” wants secession and which clan is against separation. That is the talk of the badow (the crude).
There are five regions in “Somaliland” of which only two Waqoyi Galbeed (North West) and Togdheer are the ones which want secession. The three unionist regions in “Somaliland” who do not wish secession are: Awdal, Sanag and Sool.
To want to have it both ways is not fair and respect for people’s wish must not be a one way street. Those who wish to cut themselves off from the rest of the country must also respect the wish of those who want reunion with the rest of the nation. It is not rocket science to understand that the people in Borama, Las Anod and Erigavo do not see in their interest to confine themselves and belong to only a small part of their territory. They want to access and claim the whole Somalia not only confine themselves to a one-third territory.
Achievements northern Somalis should be proud of
Somalis in the north deserve to be congratulated for keeping the peace and for administering themselves when the rest of the country is in chaos. But they should never forget that the territory they inhabit belongs to all Somalis and not only to them. To claim the right to inhabit in any part of the nation yet perceive the part they occupy belongs to them exclusively is to have it both ways.
Leadership, among other things, is about love of people and leaders do not hate anyone because of race or religion. Anyone who hates any section of the Somali people is not a leader but enemy of the nation. Confusion is only one of the ugly realities we face. How does one shower undeserved praise to someone who does not want him and who wants to dismember his homeland? I must say, I do not see any reason to congratulate Faisal Ali Warabe for leadership or other qualities. Faisal Ali Warabe, the head of the UCID party in “Somaliland” is full of malicious resentment and hatred towards a section of the Somali people. Those he hates know too well that he is up to no good. The people of “Somaliland” too know very well who he is. That is why they elected Silanyo and not him.
Truth like medicine is bitter yet beneficial. Northern Somalis have no cause to run away from their own nation or enumerate groundless and bogus reasons to be considered for recognition when a sheet of paper does not fit between them and Somalis from the South. That is why the world sees their recognition suicidal which will haunt every nation. It will throw the territorial integrity of every nation in turmoil.
The world may not understand why one family Somalis had to tear one another. There is a reason behind everything. There were planting the seeds of enmity among Somalis. This is the same small thinking which is behind putting a Mig in the center of Hargeisa to remind people and fuel enmity among Somalis. Even in Hiroshima and Nagasaki where atomic bombs were dropped the Japanese people in those cities are not resentful let alone hateful against the people or the country of the United States which they were at the time two enemies on opposing sides.
The main reason behind tearing Somalia apart is position (personal ambition). There were small-minded persons who were behind planting enmity who felt they would personally benefit from division and conflict within Somalis. Anyone who lost his position used to join a rebel movement. In 1982 when Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo lost his ministerial position he took part in the creation of the SNM.
“Somaliland” is not a nation by itself but part of a country and nation. To qualify international recognition, like Kosovo, a nation must have distinct characteristics which separates from its neighbours such as ethnicity, religion or historic. The superficiality of “Somaliland’s” case for recognition has never been flimsier. Not to mention the recognition of “Somaliland” will make every region in every nation to ask for separation. This will create ten thousand new nations. Who wants to live in a world where the membership list of the United Nations is 10,200 nations? Northerners should depart of reason that when the time comes, reunion with the rest of the country is the best future for them and the nation. In the meantime they should administer themselves. The new administration of Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo should heed to common sense and end the wild goose chase for recognition.  It should do what it can to the people under its jurisdiction.
1Wikipedia/ government media publications
2 According to Somali elders and public I met
Abdulkadir Mohamoud

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