Somaliland: Bad Days in Istanbul


By Abdirahman Mohamed DiryeAbdirahman M Diriye

Somalilandsun – With U-turn of events once reached in Istanbul, the emergent sharing agreement rather than de-sharing has resurrected a painful history of sharing air and land with Somalia in early sixty that led to the death of thousands of innocent people.

However; already unofficially sharing piracy related revenues in the form of Gitmo-style prisons funded by the UN with but for rent, Somaliland again successfully finalized Joint Airspace for rent! But what is next for rent? A “million mile journey begins one step” to many people, sharing airspace is small process but at the last may screw Somaliland up.

The desperate measure of injecting Somaliland stagnant economy with piracy and ex-soviet outdated air polluter aircrafts revenues to boost is paradoxically a precise economics as well as “necessity knows no law” but remember Somaliland economy apart from hire-purchase pirate prison networks infrastructure by the UN, Khat drug trade, and some “black” money, is based on livestock in the Hajj season; remittances from unskilled labor in the industrialized world from South Africa to Seattle Washington. Somaliland is the second largest beneficiary of Hajj next to Saudi Kingdom and it is hard to imagine Somaliland without the pilgrimage.

Ever since Somaliland’s agreement with the international community to shelter or imprison internationally (of legally or illegally) indicted pirates of Somalia, the more piracy cases committed, the more finances flow to our country’s economy and occasionally a wish to see piracy happening to western holidaymakers in Somalia’s exclusive maritime zone because the whole world is about making dollars now no matter what. The more Somalia sin by committing piracy, the more that enormously benefit Somaliland’s reversing economy.

The Sharing Scandal Series that begun in Istanbul had made no room for even an autonomy or self-rule for Somaliland people. The cornerstone of the treaty is share for all major national assets of the country and Somaliland has signed the agreement recklessly. Such hasty move plunged Kashmiri in ocean of war and bloodshed since second World War Two up to this day as a result of just a fabricated document by Hindu Governor at the time of the colonial that was calling Kashmir had wanted union with Delhi which is not true. But the silence of Somaliland public has already signaled of overwhelming acceptance which is not true either.

Despite the un-ratified power-sharing with Mogadishu in the form of Foziya Yusuf H. Adan who holds two key ministerial positions, Somaliland began completing the unfinished business with Somalia on minor projects on behalf of Dr Abdilahi Omar. The lopsided reunification process seems to begin again after twenty two years of no-unity-and-no-recognition impasse by Somaliland: useless offices including tannery outdated factories are headquartering in Hargaysa while Mogadishu would be the seat of international offices such as World Bank Group, UNDP, UNSOM, major oil firms, Turkish aid, and Saudi Zakat for never-ending orphans. Somalia’s interior minister said “Somaliland recent delegates were more eager to unity than their predecessors…” “We discussed unification and had common views on unity”, in other words, Somaliland is more likely to join Somalia now.

There is some truth to that. One of the most brutalized people on earth who lost some of their beloved ones have been systematically disappointed by cat-and mouse game played with by unelected officials who hijacked the mantle of the nation as a result of presidential inaction. Some Somaliland intellectuals, however, are not opposed to unity as long as fairness and equal power sharing exist but the unilateral sale of the province (or Somaliland once aspiring to attain a nationhood) by one vested interest group worries all rather than tribal consensus, and this is where the problems lies but the same hunger to union in the sixty is not here, in contrast, there is much reluctance and an anxiety o f what the future holds for them beyond every-thing-sharing or unity to be exact. Farhan Biindhe, underhand middleman serving for clandestine businesses with certain guys whom Faysal Ali Warabe, Boss of UCID Party said that he had doubts about his underground activities of traveling to Mogadishu and back to Hargaysa. However; the cause of creating an independent nation has gradually turned into minor grievances to be addressed by Somali government to return Somaliland prior to 1991 status. A minority in the power unrepresentative of any, unrelentingly ask Somalia corrupt government to “lubricate their palms” to undersell Somaliland without heeding to any opposition parties or National Councils.

Next trip back to Ankara, Somaliland president or his coterie may argue over sharing Somalia’s piracy ransom revenues itself by asking to expand their prison systems to accommodate every pirate in the world today. But the question is whether Ankara could ever accept organized crime to be discussed in their land of the free? Ankara, very little in common with Mogadishu or Hargaysa but Muslim by faith, has been subcontracted by the West to bridge the gap between two entities of similar nature.

As the aviation office relocation to Hargaysa drew celebration and massive excitement, President Hassan of Somalia would probably say “if this is good enough for them why they make hullabaloo in so many years” but whether such revenues collected from passenger and cargo planes flying over Somalia’s airspace could be ever acceptable compensations is yet unclear but many Somalis from Mogadishu I met here consider this as a compensations for official injustice that lasted for two decades. How paltry it is!

While democracy dictates everything to be transparent and put to voters to decide, Somaliland “duo ruling” excluded all national parties from the delegates instead involved in murky talks. A group of yes-men are at their disposal to follow to wherever they go unquestioning. But people need explanation of what is agreed upon or to what direction we are going or even the technical relevant details as Joe, foreign guy who commented my earlier article “Somaliland: why talks won’t work” had stated.

The acceptance of such tiny office marked with “Thanks” ; to allow to operate from Somaliland’s “former” capital with the name of Somalia, is an explicit acknowledgement that Mogadishu government’s asserted authority over has been finally accepted and that Somaliland public has been in this cause for a game, not to be an independent nation! But single question arises of the acceptance of the office would ever be outstanding: for what reasons did they base their refusal of UNSOM office given that they accepted similar or less significant office from Somalia? Or it is just a matter of mood fluctuation, a psycho mental disorder.

Since the “dubious” agreement in Dubai and subsequent conferences in Turkey, the return of Somaliland to unity has been widely covered by Somalia’s local media as well as Somaliland. This deal was, nonetheless, a heavy blow to what many thought was “sacrosanct” business. Many Mogadishu dwellers stated that their president outmaneuvered to dismantle a” rebel” region by inviting them to dare to sit with him and to speak out of their grievances openly to be compensated; the tiny office maybe a good start for that matter.

The recent formation of Libyan’s style of the National Council in Hargaysa born out of frustrations that have been accruing over the years but came to light when Faysal Ali Warabe of UCID Party confirmed the country is ripe for anything today because people have been systematically demoralized by meaningless, costly elections that put only the wrong guys to power. Everyone wants an exit of the current crisis; that is why the National Council took the law into own their hands. The founding members though no common denominator among themselves whatsoever, felt that they are left behind and uttered the country is edging to chaos, a pretext often made when a certain political force ponder to go to Somalia or civil war is intended to instigate.

To Somaliland insiders, Silanyo’s refusal to take part in London Conference wasn’t out of sincerity or patriotism but a stunt. Later days, however; Somaliland government foreign minister Dr Abdilahi Omar was seen embarrassingly sipping tea in Somalia Reinvestment Conference held in Nairobi! Much is going on but only behind the scene.

Silanyo, a seasoned politician, said “we want to be for our own but more powerful forces are compelling us to join Somalia” when he refused to participate in London conference, in fact , that was attempt to hear the feedbacks on the unity from the ordinaries and indirect assessment of how far people had conceded the concept of secession. The absence of negative response to his attempt was clear crystal many has already compromised the secession altogether not because it does not bear fruit any time soon but the political drivers deliberately derailed the whole process ; back in 1993 or around that date, Salaben Nur of the Guurti Council, but minister at the time of Tuur led government returned from Mogadishu and made memorable speech at Khariyad Square in Hargaysa that Somaliland would share passport, currency, and etc with Somalia….,” people weren’t stupid as they are today but swiftly deciphered the unity is all about that( common passport, currency, airspace) and rushed to him to stab him with knives to death, surely, he could not survive without the police presence in the Square, but today both the secession and the unity response has blurred and our independence too encountered a great ambiguity : some called the agreement of the relocation of tiny, tiny office which violated Somaliland sovereignty a ” historic and gave a warm welcome!” even others went too far by describing the agreement the first ” diplomatic milestone” that born out of lengthy, complex negotiations and also because of diplomatic ” finesse” of Dr Abdilahi Omar ,the outgoing minister, whom many of his critics called “the biggest flip flopper of all times” .

Somaliland publicly fighting the relocation of Somalia’s airspace office and the share of foreign aid with Somalia suggested independence-search mission had come to halt or at the least become less significant. Somaliland is supposed to ask sovereignty first and talk aid later, not vice versa only but only if we practice what we preach: sovereignty from house- to-house search with little bi-battery-powered dim torch. The entire political process is upside down.

Asmara, next door to us, never asked sharing resources or jointly running a department with Addis Ababa, likewise, South Sudan to share oil revenues in 50% before secession was imposed with force, and the South Sudan moved shoulder in utter shock. By why we? Somaliland negotiators are oblivious of their risky moves.

In sum, one cannot bring Somalia’s airspace office to our backyard and yet simply dismiss the concept of territorial unity as something irrational. Unity is simply defined as jointly running the country’s executive organs including airspace or maritime resources or piracy for outlawed regimes. The joint declaration of co-running of Somaliland airspace is small step but meant for something great. As the Sharing Scandals Series begun in Istanbul when all local press and TV channels were muted to dishonor our little country but where will it end?

Abdirahman Mohamed Dirye is a Somaliland activist who is based in Ethiopia. He is Democracy Chronicles’ Senior Editor for Africa and can be reached at

A recent article by the same author Why Talks wont work