Somalilandsun: The five million strong Somaliland populations deserve justice now, simply put recognition of their country as sovereign country.
On the other hand what will Somaliland and the international community benefit from Somalia –Somaliland reunification? Because It was patiently tried for more than two decades and it didn’t only fail, but it went down causing mammoth successive humanitarian, and socioeconomic tragedies, argues Dr. Yusuf Dirir Ali, in his latest article titled WHY SOMALILAND DE FACTO COUNTRY FOR 31 YEARS below
Quote- Somaliland is the only internationally ignored and neglected de facto African country. Somaliland has now been de facto independent country for more than three decades. Somaliland fulfills all the internationally agreed preconditions and norms as an independent nation worthy of recognition as a de jure state. It meets the requests engraved in Montevideo accord, the AU charter and the UNO charter.
The international community granted unconditional and instantaneous recognition to the former USSR Republics and to the Balkan countries as soon as the Soviet Union and Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ceased to exist, having dissolved to their constituent states. Equally, the Somali Republic has ceased to exist and has dissolved into Somaliland and Somalia. One will think that Somaliland would be accorded the same treatment, that didn’t happened, and for no seeming justifiable historic, legal or moral basis.
One cannot do justice to the geopolitics of the Horn of Africa without first giving bird’s eye view on historic synopsis of the region. To begin with Somaliland, it was a former British protectorate for almost nine decades, it attained its independence from Britain on June 26th, 1960 and five days later Somaliland voluntarily formed a union with Somalia, a former Italian colony which became independent on July 1st, 1960.
The two independent Somali states formed what was named the Somali Republic and not Somalia as it is frequently called by those who are not well versed in the history and legal nomenclature of the Somali Republic union.
The Somaliland and Somalia union was aimed to become a future precursor for the union of all five Somali inhabited territories in the Horn of Africa and the formation of the greater Somali state ( by the way, this was the true intention of Somalilanders, we are not sure what Somalia had in mind). The five Somali inhabited regions were the French Somaliland (Djibouti), the Somali region in Ethiopia and the Northern Frontier District in Kenya plus Somaliland and Somalia. 1977 Djibouti became an independent nation and refused to join the Somali Republic union, NFD and the Ethiopian Somali region were incorporated into Ethiopia and Kenya respectively. Strangely enough, Somalia doesn’t claim an inch of Djibouti, NFD or the Ethiopian Somali region; but it remains obsessed with the Republic of Somaliland.
Back to the Somali Republic history, the amalgamation of the two United Somali States (Somaliland and Somalia) immediately went into a bumpy start with multiple insurmountable legal, political and socioeconomic challenges. The president, the prime minister, the entire cabinet (except for one position) and the rest of the top military, police and civil service positions unjustly went to Somalia. These were based on the preconditions put forward by Somalia for the union to get underway. Owing to deep seated patriotic sentiments, Somalilanders had no choice but to accept these iniquitous Somalia preconditions. In that instance, a Britain based newspaper chose its front paging heading as “the country that rejected its independence”. The country that rejects its independence was meant to be Somaliland, because it accepted demeaning Somalia precondition in exchange for a union, which Somaliland contemplated that this was a noble first step in the right direction, hoping Somalia was to reciprocate.
Furthermore, an act of union passed by the Somaliland democratically elected assembly before the inception of the union was thrown into the dust-pin and Somalia came up with a unilaterally written constitution. That constitution was put into a national referendum. The overwhelm majority of Somalilanders boycotted that referendum and the minority Somalilanders who casted their votes did vote against the referendum. On the other hand, in Somalia more people than the entire Somalia population voted favorably in support for that sham constitution and by the way, the United Nations observers declared that referendum fraudulent. Soon after that, Somaliland was annexed retrospectively by a presidential decree. That gratuitous and illegal act became the mother of all disappointments in Somaliland.
Soon afterwards, in 1961, several Sandhurst Royal Military Academy trained junior Somaliland military officers attempted a failed military coup. Later on, those officers were taken to court in Mogadishu and the Somaliland military officers were released on the legal premises that the Mogadishu court had no jurisdiction over the incident that took place in Somaliland. That court’s decision was understandably alluding to the illegality of the constitution, so was the illegitimate Somaliland-Somalia merger.
Fast forward, in October 15th, 1969 the Somali Republic president was assassinated and on October 21st of that same year, the Somali government was overthrown by a military coup headed by the late Somalia dictator, General Mohamed Siyaad Barre. Immediately after the coup, the constitution, the parliament and the political parties were all abolished. A socialist pro USSR regime was established and freedom of expression was curtailed. In the mean time, political and socioeconomic ethnic cleansing of Somalilanders was gradually pursued by the Siyaad Barre regime.
The NATO member states were unsatisfied with the way things were going in the Somali Republic and they indirectly and through mediators (Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt and the Shah of Iran) cajoled Barre to come their way. In 1977, the dictator waged a full- fledged war against Ethiopia and with the censure of the USSR.
The war with Ethiopia was designed to eliminate the better-trained Somaliland military officers. To accomplish that malfeasant yearning, Barre decided to make Somaliland the major geographic frontline of the war with Ethiopia. After few weeks into the war, Ethiopia was being easily defeated by the gallant Somali military, which was mostly lead by high ranking officers from Somaliland.
Warsaw bloc wasn’t pleased at all with the abrupt and striking defeat of the Ethiopian military, and then the Warsaw bloc intervened with USSR air shipment of military hardware, which was the largest of its kind since USA air shipments to Israel during the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. In addition, there was a generous military contribution for Ethiopia from East Germany, Cuba and South Yemen and from other eastern bloc countries.
Few months into the war, the NATO countries lead by the USSR threw Siyad Barre regime under the bus, henceforth, the Somali army had no choice but to retreat back behind its borders.
After short time, dozens of top officers hailing from Somaliland were intentionally massacred in a fire squad and for no apparent reason, apart from belonging to the Issaq clan from Somaliland – almost nothing or little is told of that painful incident. There are also allegations that the cream of the Somaliland military officers were being shot at the back by their supposed compatriots from Somalia as the war with Ethiopia was intensely raging in full speed. Military logistics were sub -attached by senior Somalia officer, who later attempted a clan-based military coup.
In the mid 1980s, the regime exacerbated its political, economic and social injustices, which finally lead to an unprovoked and unhinged military war against Somalilander civilians. Massive civilian disappearances, rapes and fire squad massacres became the norm in Somaliland.
Aside from the malicious military operations, Siyaad Barre was also pitting the Somaliland clans one against the other, in order to divide and rule and ethnic cleanse the majority clan in Somaliland. To ethnic cleanse the majority clan; Siyaad Barre unleashed his military might committing indiscriminate genocide against men, women, children and elderly people in Somaliland. He used artillery, air bombardment and as well as inventory battalions. Fighter jets were taking off from Hargeisa airport and bombarding Hargeisa city. In a single week in 1988, more than 50000 civilians were killed in Hargeisa city.
Somaliland major cities like Hargeisa, Burao and Berbera were all leveled to the ground. Most of Somaliland population was either massacred or they fled across the border to Ethiopia as refugees.
In one evening, dozens of Somalilander civilians who were peaceful Mogadishu resident were rounded up and massacred in Jazeera beach.
At the end, the Somali National Movement defeated the Siyaad Barre forces and liberated the historic Somaliland territory. That was followed by the collapse of the Siyaad Barre regime and the USC took control of Mogadishu in January, 1991.
Instead of inviting Somaliland, which was then represented by the SNM, the USC decided to unilaterally form an exclusive government– the General Aideed and Ali Mahdi infighting ensued, which lead to the infamous USA military intervention that climaxed with the black hawk down incident.
After multiple and unsuccessful attempts for the formation of stable administration in Somalia, as a final point, the international community decided to recognize the undemocratic and turbulent Somalia faction as the legitimate government for both Somaliland and Somalia – that recognition had no legal or historic bases whatsoever. Again, Somalia adopted its own unilateral constitution and it naively continued with its impertinent Déjà vu Somaliland annexation mentality of the 1960s. These shows how illogic the ruling Somalia elite are – how can a failed state claim a fully functioning state under its jurisdiction and how come did the international community go with that crazy logic?
Subsequently, Somaliland clans held the illustrious all-inclusive Grand Burao Conference in which all the Somaliland clan delegates agreed in a landslide resolution that nullified the failed Somali Republic union and alternatively, the Republic of Somaliland was re-proclaimed on May 18th, 1991.
Somaliland adapted its own currency, flag and armed forces. It remained peace with itself and with the rest of the international community and forged diplomatic relations with more than dozen UNO member countries, which all have diplomatic offices in Hargeisa. It has also attracted multimillion investments from the UAE and from the UK governments. It started international road links with the landlocked Ethiopia to the Somaliland Red Sea port of Berbera and signed several corporation agreements with the UAE, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Since then; Somaliland held multiple local, parliamentary and presidential one-person-one-vote elections. It became the first country to use the iris voter identification system. All Somaliland elections were peaceful and were declared free and fair by the international and local election observers.
Somaliland is the only country were a presidential candidate immediately conceded after narrowly losing election with just 80 vote differences – no tedious recounts were conducted. Let us compare this to what happened in the latest USA presidential election, a country that pompously alleges to be the greatest democracy on earth.
In February 23rd, 2012 the international community held a conference on Somalis in London, UK. The international conference recommended that Somaliland and Somalia to have a dialogue on their future relations. Pursuant to the London conference multiple meetings between Somaliland-Somalia were held in different international capitals. But Somalia dragged its feet in implementing the points of mutual agreements and as a result, those bilateral agreements ended up becoming barren and unfruitful. From then on, the Somaliland-Somalia relations were left in the cold.
Up till the present time, Somalia remains a failed state, it has no functioning government and they could not come into agreement in the selection of clan-based legislator and executive branches. The Somalia judicial branch is non-existent. Somalia is invested with Al-shabab terrorists, who run about 90% of Somalia and collect excise from almost every business and other institutions in that country.
People in Somalia have more confidence and resort for justice to Al-shabab courts more than the so-called government run courts in the capital Mogadishu. The presidential compound in Mogadishu is heavily guarded by hundreds of African Union troops and there are frequent barrages of rock propelled grenades fired into the presidential compound, where in Somaliland, the president frequently walks in the streets of Hargeisa and without security protection.
Bearing all these facts in mind, unfortunately the international community continues to back-up and recognizes the failed and almost non-existent Somalia regime as the legitimate government for Somaliland and Somalia – this is how dim-witted and unjust the international community is.
In conclusion, the five million strong Somaliland populations deserve justice now. The international community must adopt and implement justice with unbiased open mind and must implement the following:
1. Somalia must be obliged to repatriate the remains of the Jazeera beach massacre victims for honorable re-burials in their own country.
2. The Somali UNO seat must be frozen until Somaliland and Somalia resolve their disputes in the international court of Justice or in another chosen international mediation arena.
3. The former Somali Republic assets must be frozen until the two-party’s disputes are settled.
4. All Somalia embassies in all UNO member state countries must be disaccredited.
5. To avoid expensive international legal rankling, Somalia must in gesture of good faith recognize Somaliland as an independent neighborly sister country – who knows, if that happens Somalilanders might soften up and seek a new way of integration with Somalia – a valid possibility?
6. With the help of a recognized Somaliland as an independent state, Somalia must concentrate in the formation of a new, democratic and all inclusive government in their country. This will put an end to its long standing anarchy.
With those six practical points, the decades-old predicament of the Somali people will come to an end and that will open up a new horizon for peaceful co-existence and prosperity in the greater Horn of Africa region and beyond. In my opinion, Point 5 and 6 are the superlative choices for Somalia to pursue.
Somalia has for too long buried its head in the sand and refused to accept the new reality in the region, it is time for Somalia to wake up and smell the coffee.
In conclusion, I close with a very simple question; what will Somaliland and the international community benefit from Somalia –Somaliland reunification? It was patiently tried for more than two decades and it didn’t only fail, but it failed causing mammoth successive humanitarian, and socioeconomic tragedies.
According to Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. I totally agree with Einstein, such is the posture of Somalia and that same judgment is shared by the International community. It’s time to learn from the lessons of the past and move on. The case for Somaliland recognition is more than valid than ever. Nonetheless, the international order is biased and broken down, that is why Somaliland remains de facto state for more than 30 years.
By: Dr. Yusuf Dirir Ali, MD