Somaliland calls for talks with Somalia - African Business Magazine
Somaliland calls for talks with Somalia

Somaliland calls for talks with Somalia

Somaliland wants to reopen talks with the newly elected government of Somalia on security, economic cooperation and development, according to the autonomous region’s foreign minister.

Speaking at a conference in London to mark the 26th anniversary of Somaliland’s contested declaration of independence, Saad Ali Shire said that his government intends to capitalise on the February election of Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed by pushing for substantive talks on future collaboration. 

“We started talking to Somalia in 2012, and we’ve had a constant dialogue since then but with the exception of issues around aerospace we haven’t gone very far to achieving anything. We think the previous government were not very committed to talks. The present government says they are more serious so we hope we’ll be able to make progress.”

The neighbours have had an uneasy relationship since Somaliland’s 1991 bid for independence. Yet while Shire insists that a diplomatic offensive to win over the international community is steadily gaining support, he hopes that the issue of independence will not be an impediment to enhanced relations with Somaliland’s troubled neighbour.

“Eventually we’d like to see an independent Somalia and Somaliland – two independent countries that collaborate on many issues. There are many issues that we can talk about – security, aviation, other economic issues, and cooperation on social development and health. I’d urge the international community to put pressure on the Somali government to make sure talks are productive.”

The region remains high on policymakers’ agendas following the inauguration of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who is attempting to catalyse humanitarian aid and longer-term development support while quashing the Islamist militants of Al-Shabaab. In May, the UK hosted a major international conference on Somalia attended by the Somali government and foreign donors. Shire warned that Somaliland, which did not attend the conference, was often unfairly overlooked by the international community because of its relative security and political stability.

“We have the feeling that perhaps Somalia is getting more attention at the current time as a result of the problems they are having and Somaliland being peaceful, stable and democratic is not getting the same attention. We feel that the international community should reward Somaliland for doing well and should not give an incentive for failure by just focusing on problems in Somalia and elsewhere.”

Both countries require immediate, large-scale financial assistance in a bid to fight a regional drought that aid organisations say has decimated livestock and places more than 6m at risk of famine. Shire called on the international community to provide immediate humanitarian assistance and longer-term development assistance to better prepare for future droughts.

Shire estimated that up to 80% of Somaliland’s livestock have been destroyed by the failure of rains. That provides an impetus to attempts to diversify an economy dependent on pastoral agriculture, he argues, pointing to government plans to boost investment in ports, economic free zones and the wider maritime economy.

“The combination of human and livestock population pressure and climate change has created a situation where the land has degraded tremendously and its carrying capacity has been reduced. Nomadism is no longer tenable and we need to change the way we live.”

David Thomas

  • Jose Neufeld

    As long as Somaliland is dominated by one clan and wish to have a government for their Isaaq clan alone no one will ever recognize this province of Somalia. They are better off selling themselves as the Somaliland State. Even now they are charging visa for Somali citizens living abroad who were in fact born in Somaliland simply to show off their muscles and deny other clans entry. How can that be? Are they trying to have a pure Isaaq race like Hitler’s Aryan race? I believe that they are wasting so much money and resources for an impossible dream. These Somalilanders should instead think like Taiwan, develop their country to the envy of Somalia.

    • Mohamed Abdinasser

      Welcome brother that is your opinion but the fact is that somaliland is democratic country who stability , on time election like there was referendum that the people of somaliland want to recognize as independent state . Thank you . We are and will be somalilanders.

      • Kajol Abdi

        How is it democratic when other clans can’t run for office or express their opinions or have the right to own land and they got killed by somaliland military or when the arm forces kill and rape other somaliland clans.
        what the hell you talking about.
        Somaliland is one clan dictatorship
        Nothing more or less.
        I know I’m from there.

  • Darwiish

    Welcome Mr Jose Somaliland is not a clan as you stated please be precise what you are writing before you write it that is an advice of mine brother. I’m totally disagree your post, Somaliland is a state and it was an independent State before Somalia become a state.

    Somaliland took it’s independence in 1960 from British while Somalia was colonized by Italian government at that time. the unification of Somaliland and Somalia was a dream of creating a powerful Somali Republic including NFD-Kenya, Ogaden-Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia the people from Somaliland including Dhulbahante , Warsengelli , Samaroon , Esse , Isaaq and others clans have that goal not to unify only.

    When a dream of Somali Republic become an impossible and unreachable there is no a factor that Somaliland people forced to be a party of failed attempt of Unity.

    • Kajol Abdi

      There was no such thing somaliland and somalia when unification was happening there was British Somaliland and Italian somaliland unified under somali republic.
      That’s what many somalilanders seems to forget.
      We the isaaq clan are not the only somalilanders get throu your thin heads

  • kalahun

    The fact that there is a majority of one sort or another is completely beside the point. International law which seems to have been ignored in the case of Somaliland establishes the foundation for recognition. By what insight can Mr. Neufeld’s opinion take the place of how the overwhelming majority of Somalilanders have voted for 25 years.

    The foundation is based on established borders, control of the borders, majority support, exercise of sovereignty of the claimed territory, a written Constitution, exercise of the rule of law, and a growing recognition of the rightness of Somaliland’s claim. As they used to say, the proof is in the pudding. Despite isolation, despite horrible drought, despite the murder of 300,000 Somalilanders, the country continues to grow, to attract investment, to improve its infrastructure, to act responsibly when there is war and chaos all around them, and to take a leading role in ensuring and improving the lives of their citizens.

    Sad and Strange how when no other argument will win, some people will stoop to Nazi comparisons. The world should cheer Somaliland and grant them every support and system. That requires recognition.

  • aweiss Feisal

    I think Somalia must not engage in any further talks with Somali land, Against the background of recent dialogue and talks in Ankara, Turkey, it seems alarming that dialogue should have deteriorated to such low ebb in 2017 that ongoing Somali land foreign minister Dr Saad Shire in an exclusive interview with journalist, James Wan of All Africa, was quoted recently as saying that self declared entity of Somali land would declare war if it had no alternative. In addition to his statement the president Mohamed Silanyo, the head of state of self proclaimed Somali land has also been quoted recently as having rejected 28th IGAD summit calls for Unity and Sovereignty of Somalia. In 2015 he was campaigning against Somalia having a national army , he views such institution as a regional threat; so Somalia being able to defend its territories is equated with balance of power ?; incredible irony in that he is not threatened by African nations military presence along with US, EU and human rights reports on these troops track record in Somalia including Ethiopia ; nor are concerns about treats from any other power, piracy, illegal fishing and security threats from other states in region were not a concern, even presence of EU and western forces are less of a threat but Somalia national army threatens statehood in Somali land according to the incumbent president.

    In the light of such threats , There should be no further talks between Somalia and the Somali land regime, Somalia federal Government needs to hold dialogue with donors and all administrations including Somali land need to be dismantled, there can only be one Government and president, time has come when endless talks must end and Somalia prioritizes the bigger issues , it faces existential security threats, threats to its borders by external states actors and piracy and violent groups such as Al Shabbab continue to undermine Somalia.

    The reality is that Somalia and federal Government face permanent challenge from Somali land, with its overstated claims and positive self appraisals, echoed frequently by sycophants repetitively telling us of their “success” , first hurdle is that current trajectory is likely to continue to stand as their official position of seeking recognition , regardless of party factions all will repeat same propaganda over and out , their politicians are fully aware that its zero sum to expect recognition, within the Wooqoyi region given the existing contestation and border disputes with Punt land and Khaatumo , Furthermore we cannot rule out such threats as a bluff , how can you negotiate with such an actor whose claims are disputed ? they have not in any way achieved a solution to ongoing drought , further more their claims to be free, and constitutional based governance with individuals having civil political rights are not backed by reality, press freedoms are growing increasingly curtailed in Somali land, Already in recent years trend is becoming obvious after 25 years to itself , glamour and propaganda is beginning to wear itself off and people are starting to see Somali land as for what it is , it is increasingly becoming apparent that Somali land is a police state with kangaroo courts and with corrupt Judiciary, people have no civil or political rights, as chronicled by spate of recent incidents, a musician was denied right to perform simply because she was wearing blue flag, while those who apply Somali land flag costume are legally allowed freedom of expression , a Journalist was arrested for reporting news, such is hallmarks of “bastion of democracy”, on 28th IGAD meeting which called for unity of Somali people was rejected by Somali-land’s self proclaimed leader , so how can we square the claims by the Dr Shire in same interview that they are committed to peace in horn of Africa ? Other factors we cannot ignore are that their non state entity is built on foundation of heresy to undermine Somali Federal Government, constitution and unity of Somalia and their aim is to facilitate foreign domination of Somalia.

    Somali land’s self proclaimed representatives continue to undermine the federal Government by negotiating with external states without due consideration of Somalia ‘s national interests , stakeholder rights and approval of federal Government, examples include United Arab Emirates (UAE) with whom they have negotiated to building a military base in Somaliland, in recent history by handing oil licenses to exploration groups like Genel Energy, an Anglo Turkish firm, and has signed a deal on worth “hundreds of millions [of dollars]” operators” to develop the harbor at Berbera, they signed a deal with Emirates firm DP World to expand and manage Berbera port. Lasting for 30 years and with a $442 million investment, how can they negotiate when its federal Government function to negotiate with external states in a territory the federal government has jurisdiction and as such is considered an integral part of Somalia.

    The Somali land government is undermining the new constitution and fragile democracy that is emerging under the new deal 2011-2020, at a time when priority for Somali government ought to be security, tackling climate change and institutional state building.

    UAE and other external states beneficiaries of bi lateral and multi lateral business dealing with Somali land without consent cannot be allowed to continue , as such activities undermine the fragile state and peace being negotiated through new deal between Somalia and its regional partners including IGAD such blatant aggressive self interest pursuits by a provincial government without consent of and bypassing federal government cannot be legitimate or sustainable , nor is it acceptable for external states in region and in Gulf to bribe their way in Somalia bypassing federal Government regional actors in addition by giving military hardware to Juba land State when nationally embargo is still on against Somalia , such external provocations and undermining of Somalia federal Government sovereignty should have been addressed by the London conference, nor were the drought in Somalia and nor is the perennial problem of Somali land non engagement with federal Government ever addressed by external powers including recent latest outbursts, what is Somalia supposed to do under such external constraints?
    Somali land is hampering Somali federal Government from gaining full access and control of territories in its region and disabling state institutions from gaining control and protecting national interests of Somalia , tackling illegal fishing and other piracy matters , how can such situation be allowed to remain like this indefinitely , under dual track engagement , while EU and IGAD engage separately with Somali land and Somalia separately both in regional and national engagements , if current trajectory is allowed Somalia and Somali land could evolve separately and chaotically undermine peace and reconstruction. EU, US and others must not allow status quo dual track containment strategies to continue on projected path.

    It should be therefore painfully obvious that with such illustration of its CV , Somali land to date has continuously stalled and delayed any meaningful reconciliation of Somalia taking place since 1990s ; it has intent to breakaway and is obviously making a statement of intent that the Somaliland is desperate, the regime is sending warning signals that the quasii state entity is going to use threats and force if necessary to attain their goal of recognition which is not negotiable in their view.

    The president, Faramanjo and Somali Federal Government need to therefore take a step back and review the recent dialogues, outcomes and accepting realpolotik that these talks are zero sum , going nowhere , so as the talks are a dead end and the recommendations therefore need reevaluation , it should be obvious to the Federal Government that the self proclaimed entity is unlikely to compromise , its strategy will remain eternal optimism about attainment of recognition and consequently current negotiations are fueling expectations from other factions consequently Somalia is likely to remain in a quagmire in future indefinitely and will be held hostage to violent and counter revolutionary factions equally seeking same tribal clan state recognition as in medieval times , recognition of one such entity will encourage other regions also to seek similar severance and independence , so given irrational nature of their, goals why should SFG continue accord the regime and SNM who created this state be accorded special status and be treated to elevated pedestal as exceptional ?

    Government must awaken to reality that such ongoing negotiations with such entity is in essence as though Somalia is renegotiating the 1960 constitution. How many more dialogues and talks are likely to be held between now and into the future with and between Somalia and “Somaliland”? does anyone in Somali federal Government naively believe that recommendations surrounding the talks will yield any positive outcome ?, it should be obvious that the ruling class in Somaliland are still living in the past and their understanding of international law and political science is deficient , hence they all repeat same mantra about two entities coming together in 1960, repetitively monotonously and over and out like mental torture , ignoring the reality that Somaliland has been a region of Somalia since 1960 under voluntary irreversible unitary union and since 1991 is a contested area and there are conflicting claims of statehood between Somali land , Somalia , Punt land and Khaatumo.

    As Dominic Balthasar demonstrated in his 2012 thesis on Somali land’s alleged state-making success between 1991 and 2010, has been attained through autocratic governance combined with coercive means coupled with traditional ‘home-grown’ democracy. Somali federal Government and state are too fragile to engage in protracted prolonged negotiations with a region that makes claims of exceptionalism and uniqueness. Existing new deal partnership and new deal is being undermined by dual track of separate engagement by EU and international community with Somalia, Somali land and other regions.

    The reality is that recommendations which have emerged in the ongoing dialogue have undergone full evaluation and should be reviewed by Somalia parliament and Federal Government ; alternative strategies to conflict resolution and reconciliation between all regions should be considered and equality of all should be priority, Somalia’s fragile state and nation needs to address the grievances of all regions of Somalia, all the clans , including minority clans also have grievances against Somali state and equally demand apology, in the 1990 report by Human Rights Watch , Somalia , a Government at War with its people should apply across the board , as Khadra Muhamed Abdi , who had been interviewed in 1989 then wrote that before looking ahead into the future it’s important to understand how we got into the current situation, important to address before the solution and let’s face it Somali Government was at war with all its people and not just Somali-land clan of Isaaq, as has been highlighted in 2005 by the world Bank sponsored report on Dynamics and Drivers of conflict in Somalia , then why is Somali land treated exceptionally ? When such research shows clearly logic and reality in civil war , it should be axiomatic that armed conflict engulfed the whole of Somalia and civil warfare took place in all regions of Somalia from 1977 – 1994 which resulted in conflict engulfing all regions , affected all clans, civilians and even many minorities also becoming refugees and victims, evidence can be ascertained in refugee and asylum claims by all clans of Somalia worldwide.

    The Government needs to undertake independent research and corroborate such reality and accord equal consideration to all grievances to all clans and gender groups , it should review again about the Somali land claims to state hood and state making and sovereignty ;because their claims are too propagandist to be true, there was no voting which took place in 1991, vast numbers had already fled , and their narrative should be reviewed in the light of facts and international law and representative democracy, if we accept the elders of one clan what about counter claims by other clans in the same region? We have to accept the findings of the world bank report that armed groups attained power by force and same applies to Somali land, you can see in Somali land that civil war and conflict there led to many refugees fleeing to Ethiopia and Europe after 1991, so the idea that there has been peace and conflict resolution and that state was constructed through some democracy is far fetched propaganda. Such quantum leap never happened and is too good to be true.

    The international community needs to understand that coexistence between Somali federal Government and Somali land is unlikely to yield any positive outcome , dual track separate negotiations and engagements is going to prolong failed state status and fragile democracy will collapse as other violent groups will also equally make similar demands for same concessions , it’s rare for rebel groups to give up power and current ruling Junta and regime of Somali land who come into existence under leadership of SNM in 1991 is no exception, they usurped legitimate power illegitimately in 1991 by force and are never likely to give up power peacefully and are unlikely in future to give up for fear of legal implications , especially after gains that they have accumulated fraudulently , they will forever seek to prolong themselves through foreign exile , domicile and investments , support from enemy states and imperial powers to perpetuate state failure in Somalia enabling neo-colonial powers to continue dominance in Indian Ocean strategic location and to prevent restoration of functioning state that is stable , and independent and functioning , IGAD countries like Kenya and Ethiopia stand to gain in current situation remains permanent.

    1. Somali federal Government must demand that all provincial Governments which exist outside of jurisdiction of SFG & Somali constitution of 1960 and seek to undermine fragile peace and legitimate Government must be dismantled; they must be reconstituted under auspices of Somali federal Government and must accept authority of Federal Government.
    2. Federal Government must investigate explicit and implicit threats of Somali land and must consult with donor states to notify them about them and demand that current foreign minister be bared and blocked from any dialogue , as foreign national should be confined to UK affairs and anyone else who makes such threat must be reported to UK government if a UK citizen, their country of citizenship; SFG must be given veto to block participation of any such European and foreign citizens harboring ill will against peace in Somalia from participating in conflict resolution and peace in Somalia. In the case of Somali land , it should not be funded nor engaged with by external states and Somalia must take over provincial Governance and security screening of all actors in all regions , must take place, only those who agree to the constitution and mandate of federal Government should be allowed to work in provincial administrations if security clearance is ok
    3. If Somali state is to be restored , Somali foreign office under auspices in embassies especially in western capitals must undertake Research & Development , and clearly given large presence worldwide of Somali foreign citizens of other states , I think Somali embassies must engage Diaspora Somalis , open cent re’s for annual celebrations , help set up infrastructure for fundraising , constructive activities , identify Geography of dispersion of Somali peoples ,who are citizens of where and to which state and their interference in affairs of Somalia must be reviewed for security reasons,
    4. Security blocking hostile players , Somalia must demand from example UK and other states to block any of their citizens who is known to be threat to peace and is a potential security risk, these could be profiled from among naturalized citizens of those who were refugees and remain hostile to Somalia having functioning Government to not participate in Somalia affairs , it should not acceptable for British or citizens regardless of their Somali origin should not be allowed to engage in affairs of Somalia without permission and approval of Somali Federal Government , they could be agents of external state bent on destroying Somalia , historical intelligence gatherings is vital for SFG and EU and US and other partners must help Somalia, some settled outside should be restricted from buying property in Somalia including Somali land until a functioning state is in place to regulate and similarly no Oil or any negotiations by provincial Government such as Somali land should be allowed and Federal Government should vet and have power over officials running Somali land Government , external donors must compel such autonomous region to obey federal Government and refuse dual citizenship for some actors who are undermining federal Government, Somalia citizens who have become refugees in Europe and worldwide who have contributed to contamination of academic literature in western universities , dissemination’s of false narratives in global media , black propaganda against Somalia must be reprimanded by Somali federal Government and especially former counter revolutionaries during era of 1969-1981 and sympathizers of Ethiopia during the 1977 war between Somalia and Ethiopia who used human shield and remain still actively betraying Somalia to enemy states, these must be held accountable by the military and Somali Foreign office .
    5. Finally , Somalia Federal Government must take decisive actions against those countries that undermine sovereignty of Somalia, that engage in “bilateral” or Multilateral negotiations with Somali – land self proclaimed state entity. The troops of any country that does that must be discharged from UN duties in Somalia. I urge Abdu Rashid, Somalia ambassador and other similar diplomats to undertake investigation with donor countries, particularly UK, EU, US and others for information gathering in their respective missions abroad, Somalia must also host events, and activities for truth and reconciliation active measures throughout globe, encouraging and revitalizing Somali nationalism to stem tide of negativity , so much black propaganda has been disseminated about Somalia by enemies of state, and economic migrants ; damage limitation requires state to undo the saturated contaminated propaganda in global arena which permeates and dominates discourses in academia in western universities and negative stereotypes and false narratives.
    6. Somalia as a state ‘s biggest enemy should not be former counterrevolutionaries of Barre era and hyenas like Al Shabbab from within seeking revision of history for their own criminal ends , perpetually undermining sovereignty but our existential threat and enemy is climate change, Drought and Famine while political instability fuels and exacerbates the crisis, Ethiopia is building a dam in region with ecological and hydro logical disparity arising and all the countries in region need to joint work together on climate change devastation’s, then we have illegal fishing and piracy, Somalia cannot remain permanently in civil wars while all these major factors are going on and the regional actors must be issued with carrot and stick to stop engaging with Somali land and any self proclaimed entities. Ethiopia has been since 1977 engaging such groups and needs to stop such activities.
    7. Somali land is neither De Jure or De Facto a state?, but some countries of the region have given them false hope and expectations, yet when it comes to the crunch, it has never been recognized under Montevideo convention as a functioning state but that has not hindered the entity to lay claims of jurisdiction of a contested areas of khaatumo and punt land entities. Somali land never seceded from Somalia and remains a region of Somalia, SNM which still exists as metamorphosed entity is still masquerading itself as a state , these days it claims itself as a self proclaimed functioning state of Somaliland…….26 years on reality is not kicking in , they are still getting high on delusion of independence , emperor still is not grasping that he has no clothes, perhaps it’s time neighboring states actors like Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and others stopped winding them up and time be frank with them that they are not a state but a small region and mostly represent only minority in the region and other actors also contest the areas. They should be told that contrary to their claims, they do not as Markus Virgil Hoehne research shows represent Dhulbhante and Warsengeli peoples within regions.
    Recent examples of South Sudan and Eritrea should raise alarm bells and international community must stop this ping pong toying and pursuit of contradictory objectives of restoring Somalia and commitments to Somali land, one should be encouraged and another to be sanctioned and be in history museum.

    1. All Africa .com article James Wan on interview with Dr Saad Shire on Somaliland threats to use force in last resort
    2. Garrowe news reports on President Silanyo’s response to 28th summit IGAD communiqué for Sovereignty and unity of Somalia
    3. Human Rights Watch report on Somalia , Government at War with its people,1990
    4. World Bank report, conflict Dynamics , Drivers in Somalia 2005
    5. Dominic Balthasar, State making in Somaliland and Somalia , LSE thesis 2012.
    6. Markus Virgil Hoehne, Between Somaliland, Somalia and Punt land , Anthropological Thesis

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