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Perspectives

June 15, 2009
Stable Somaliland in the shadow of lawless Somalia

 

The Victory Monument in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital.

Somaliland, a break-away region of north-western Somalia, has gone unrecognized by the international community since it declared independence 18 years ago.

Since then, the Somaliland region has remained more peaceful and stable than the Somali Republic, which has descended once again into chaos. While the world’s eyes are fixed on Somalia, Somaliland — and its 3.5 million people — linger in the periphery.

Tristan McConnell of the Pulitzer Center laments the lack of concern for the small, unrecognized Somaliland.

It’s a disconcerting experience to report from a place that doesn’t exist. 18-years ago Somaliland broke away from Somalia, its bigger, nastier neighbor. While that benighted nation has continued its descent into chaos, death and mayhem Somaliland has kept the peace and built a likeness of democracy.

But as Somalia’s anarchy is showered with money Somaliland is diligently ignored. In April donor nations pledged another $213-million to the besieged Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu, that’s roughly seven times the annual budget of Somaliland’s entire government.

The reason is that Somaliland is unrecognized. It has most of the trappings of the modern nation-state: army, government bureaucracy, parliament and (limited) multi-party political system, legal system and functioning economy.

But not a single country in the world accepts Somaliland’s existence. The question constantly asked by politicians, businessmen, civil society activists, street traders and school children alike is, “Why?”

In the mean time Somaliland struggles on, isolated from the international financial institutions that could help transform the lives of its dirt poor people.

Part of the problem is that this chunk of stultifying semi-desert squeezed between Djibouti, Ethiopia, northern Somalia and the Gulf of Aden has little to offer the world: there are lots of sheep and goats, and maybe a little oil and some minerals but nothing much else.

In the absence of valuable resources Somaliland has to fall back on moral arguments – we are good neighbors, we are a stable country in a notoriously tough region, we are trying to be a good democracy, they say.

But moral arguments don’t carry much weight in the world of global realpolitik: Somalilanders (as they call themselves) can expect to be waiting a good while longer before the world accepts that they exist.

To read more, see the original post.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user tristam sparks under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments

3 comments

#3

Osman. Take over somalia? haha, do you really think it is that easy. is that not what many factions are trying. To say that Somaliland is should never be independent is wrong. It already is independent (perhaps not recognised, but in every other way), that is undeniable. If somaliland now were to join the proxy called TFG in the south, they would lose everything. Peace, economy, sovereignty and it would amount jumping into the abyss. is ‘taking somalia over’ not what countless factions have ripped somalia in tatters for. The Isaaq are probably as capable of running somalia as they are somaliland. They are as skillfull as anyone else, just not as ruthless or selfserving as the darood might be.

#2

Somaliland is a state based on clanism who are they trying to fool. It will never be a state that is recognized by the world unless Somalia itself just as Ethiopia recognized Eritrea does. All i see for Somaliland, and Puntland and etc is them working within a federalized system when Mogadishu gets its act together until then they must wait

#1

It is very difficult to comprehend why they stick on this dream which has not materialised in the past and will not in the future. Why can’t they choose to take over the sick man’s Somalia and claim all the donations for themselves. Surely, this would give them unpresedented power and bread & peace for the Southern Somalis. Moral grounds will take them nowhere. They lost good 20 years and they cannot afford for another 10 or so. But Isaaks have never been skillful in world politiik and will never be. They surrendered Somaliland in 1960 are surrendering Somalia in 2010. The mad cows in Mogadishu and the pigs in Bosaso know very well, there are little motivation to share something for themselves unless the Isaak man is around. But pity the man between the worlds.

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