Somaliland/Somalia – The Looming War: From the Boardroom to the Battlefield

  In the past 25 years Somaliland has proven its commitment to peace, development, national security and most importantly taking an active role in stabilizing the region. Starting in...
In the past 25 years Somaliland has proven its commitment to peace, development, national security and most
importantly taking an active role in stabilizing the region. Starting in 2012
Somaliland officially entered into talks with Somalia with hopes of solidifying
its place in the international community as an independent state.

Up until today, Somaliland is the only honest
party in continuing the talks with Somalia hosted by the Turkish Government.
Even when Somalia violated all the agreements reached in previous meetings,
Somaliland hoped their presence will convince other side to respect their
“brother’s” position and honor those agreements.

In 2015, the scheduled meeting between Somaliland and Somalia in Turkey ended abruptly by Somaliland as a
direct result of Somalia sending native Somaliland politicians to
represent Somalia. Once again, Somalia has not only refused to implement
several agreements, but violated the fundamental principle of not including native
Somalilanders in their delegate representing Somalia’s interest. This has
always been the single most important condition that made Somaliland to
participate in the meetings from the beginning.

The stalling tactics has given Mogadishu sometime
to formulate another trick to trap Somaliland into this perpetual no good get
together. That strategy hinged on buying time until when Somalia is strong
enough to muscle Hargeisa.  Its working
because Somaliland has recently somehow agreed to meet with the Mogadishu Team
in Turkey without precondition, and hoping Somalia will reciprocate if shown a
good faith. In the meanwhile Mogadishu is using all diplomatic channels to stop
Somaliland develop its economic infrastructure.

Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud has
recently sent a letter to IGAD members asking them not to cooperate directly
with Somaliland. As a consequence,
the Berbera Corridor
project has been placed on hold and the European Union suspended fund raising activities intended to finance
that project. The Washington Post reported.

“Sometimes the Mogadishu government tries to
create problems when it comes to aid and development for Somaliland, even
though in the last meeting in Djibouti they agreed to keep development out of
politics,” Somaliland’s foreign minister, Saad Ali Shire, said in an interview
with the Post.

Simultaneously, with the Turkey’s help, Somalia
is building strong institutions such as large intelligence network and robust armed
forces including air forces that may be used for the next conflict with

Somalia has now abandoned the previously
accepted crucial recommendation from the international community on accommodating Somaliland as an equal
partner to find a lasting solution to resolve the current status quo.

By linking Somaliland with their made up
regional governments such as Puntland, and Jubaland, Mogadishu is alienating
Somaliland. This is a contradiction
to their commitment;
to avoid provocation and to have an open and genuine dialogue that calls for
compromise in order to interpret the failed union of 1960 to anything else that
make sense based on today’s realities on the ground.

The Somaliland Interior Minister, Ali Mohamed Warancadde has recently declared Somalia to
be the “biggest threat” Somaliland is presently facing, while testifying in
front of the Permanent Committee of Parliamentary Businesses and Operations. He
stated to the committee that Somalia’s strategy of
double talk and interference in Somaliland internal affairs created an
environment of hostility.

According to analysts in Hargeisa, involving
the Parliament, Warancadde’s declaration is precursor for nation’s security apparatus
to prepare the members of parliament for a future looming war and to allow more
spending in the army from the government’s discretionary budget on top of the
estimated $150 million allocated annually for the defense.

Unfortunately, weak institutions and unstable
political state caused by power struggle and infighting are making difficult
for Mogadishu to adopt the full brunt of this deceitful strategy the Minister
has mentioned.

Somalia leaders surely understand, and certainly
acknowledge in private their inability to apply pressure on Somaliland and
force it to accept their wishes.  If they
could, the most critical hawkish politicians in Mogadishu leadership circle
would have undoubtedly preferred to act on their daily empty threats in the
media. Fortunately for now, they were forced to opt to delay tactics while they

Instead, the only open venue for Somalia to
use now is their seat in international organizations such as the UN, AU, IGAD and
the Arab League. Somalia has recently stepped up to use the benefit of these memberships
in attempt to viciously affect Somaliland’s development and humanitarian

Rather than adjust their policy to fit
priorities and realities, same misguided Somalia leaders insisted that
Somaliland needs to be part of their dream ‘federal’ country.

This phantom idea of federal system has
further fractured Somalia proper into more clan fiefdoms. It’s not working for
them because it has no agreed formula for current member regions that are from
the Italian Somalia. Let alone for Somaliland which is a separate country that
has willingly united with Somalia in 1960 and now functions independently.

Somaliland has never been
part of the fabrication of the new
“Federal Constitution” and has nothing to do with the numerous failed ‘road
maps’ that their so called government is currently based on.  In fact, that draft constitution blindly
claims Somaliland territories and its people as part of “Somalia”.  Strikingly, this “Federal Constitution”
denies the existence of Somaliland while it has specifically acknowledged
Puntland as the “…preexisting (and the founding) state member” of the not yet
defined future “Federal Republic of Somalia”.

In contrast, in 2001 Somaliland’s reclaim
of its independence in a new constitution
was endorsed by a referendum overwhelmingly approved by 97% of its own citizens.

“Although no nation
officially recognizes it, Somaliland has its own police, army, flag and
currency, and for the past 24 years has held regular elections for parliament
and a president”, Wrote Washington Post in its latest article about Somaliland.

It’s for above reasons why Somaliland continues to
question Somalia’s authenticity regarding any future talks. Somaliland
Government previously stated that “…it is important to include additional
mediators from the international community”, as Turkey appears to be more
sympathetic to Somalia’s plan to conquer Somaliland.

It is obvious that Turkey has taken sides and can’t
continue to be an impartial arbitrator in Somalia/Somaliland talks. The lack of
empathy for Somaliland historical injustices and pursuing aggressive
geopolitical agenda have damaged Turkey’s credibility and has made this
powerful Muslim nation unfit to be an honest broker.

To add insult to the injury, Turkey’s Hargeisa Consulate
Office has tried to circumvent the legitimately elected Somaliland Government as
the legal representative of the people by reaching out to some clan leaders to
make them involve in the dialogue with Somalia.

That is why most international observers agree with
Somaliland to change the venue and bring other nations to the talks. It is only
fair than to ask Great Britain to re-join the talks. It has the ability, with
the help of such other neutral European countries of Denmark, Netherlands,
Sweden and Norway, to return the negotiations to the correct path.

After all, it’s the Great Britain that has initially
started this derailed talks in 2012 and stressed Somaliland to come to the
table, before Somaliland naively agreed Turkey to take over the mediation seat.
Therefore, Britain owes to the people of Somaliland to level the plain field.

In the end, if/when neutral actors are found and the
negotiations restart, Somaliland must have concrete forward choices: outline
clear strategy. This strategy must
start with an equal partnership, a
transparent agenda,
a realistic timeline as agreed upon by all involved parties, which clearly
mandates that any failure to comply by either side is tantamount to declaring a
war. And continue to pursue all legal channels to force Somalia to comply with its
commitments. While at the same time preparing for the inevitable war because as
Somalia strength grows so as the bold rhetoric from its politicians.

In 25 years, Somaliland has never expected a
reasonable politician to emerge from Somalia’s crowded pool of competing
interests, actors and egotistic individuals. Judging the behavior of the
selfish politicians now leading Somalia’s chaotic agenda, it is very clear that
they will not be satisfied with solving issues in the boardrooms but will
rather settle the “Union Matter” in the battlefields. Now more than ever,
Somaliland politicians need to get ready for the impending aggression and
implement deterrent policies.

By Magan Ibrahim, Ohio, USA

Roda Daud Alberta, Canada