As the country whose international status has been in limbo for decades enters the crowded Horn Region scene with establishment of a Somali Maritime Communications Initiative worth a meagre US $166,000.
By: Yusuf M Hasan
Somalilandsun – The main Somaliland port in Berbera is soon to acquire capabilities to monitor vessel movements and coordinate the security operations of the local coast guard and the European Union-led international navies involved in the counter-piracy operations on the Indian Ocean coast off Somalia.
This is courtesy of a coastal radar surveillance network dubbed Somali Maritime Communications Initiative-MCI to be established by Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) and financed by Taiwan to the tune of US $166,000 with the ultimate intent to secure Somali waters from piracy.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed between the EU, OBP and the Taiwanese representative to the EU in Brussels the donor will contribute US$166,000 to establish Maritime Communications and Safety Centres in Bosasso, Berbera and Mogadishu, and eventually in Hobyo and Kismayo. These centres will be linked to regional information sharing centres in Mombasa, Sana’a and Dar es Salaam and be able to notify international naval forces of problems.
While this initiative is very noble owing to the imminent resurgence of piracy within Somali waters being induced by a return of illegal foreign fishing vessels its success is in doubt since the MOU pertains to establishing the coastal radar surveillance network in Somalia ports including Berbera which is not.
The port of Berbera situated in Berbera the capital of Sahil regional in the republic of Somaliland is not therefore part or parcel of any area under the jurisdiction of the Mogadishu based federal government of Somalia.
Though not disclosed it is obvious that before the MCI was officialised the relevant authorities must have been consulted as can be ascertained by revelations by OBP representative James Burnell-Nugent that the project is intended to “increase Somali ownership of their maritime domain and avoid dangerous misunderstandings between local traffic and international partners at sea.”
As for the Taiwanese representative to the EU, Tung Kyo-yu the MCI underscores his government’s commitment to promoting Taiwan as a peacemaker and provider of humanitarian aid in the global community adding that “the centres will collaborate with international naval forces and local authorities to increase the safety of seafarers operating in the region.”
Despite the fact that MCI initiative will be a major boost to various international naval groups including EUCAP NESTOR and coordinate efforts with UNFAO, EUNAVFOR and US AFRICOM among others involved in counter-piracy operations within Somali waters and beyond, the inclusion of Berbera is tantamount to a breach of the territorial integrity of Somaliland.
While the said international naval groups aware of the Somalia-Somaliland divide are known to maintain a dual-track policy in implementation of objectives like joint operations, trainings and political engagements with the two countries the ignorance of both Taiwan and Oceans Beyond Piracy can be overlooked nor forgiven.
For OBP which since 201o continues its work to develop a sustainable and long-term solution to maritime piracy in the Western Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa through supporting maritime stakeholders in their work to build security capacity, create economic opportunity and enhance maritime situational awareness in and around the waters off the Somali coast thence aware of status its negation of Somaliland in the equation is a fallacy with a dangerous finale.
But the major misjudgement is from the authorities in Taipei whose aspirations of establishing Taiwan as a major player in the Horn of Africa region thence counter the emerging power of its nemesis China has led to financing a noble initiative blindly.
While Taiwan has never been involved with its alleged peacemaker and provider of humanitarian aid role in Somaliland or the region at large not to mention that it does not maintain a diplomatic presence in any of the Horn countries the inclusion of Berbera in a Somalia project that will ultimately:
“increase Somali ownership of their maritime domain and avoid dangerous misunderstandings between local traffic and international partners at sea.” and in the wider Western Indian Ocean is a setting for the belittling of Somaliland as well as negation of its irrevocable sovereignty and independence.
So the miserable donation of US$166,000 which though seeing the establishment of a coastal radar network shall pull Somaliland out of its prevalent peaceful and security status attained singlehandedly through its successful home grown reconciliation mechanism and push it head long into war and subsequent insecurity and bloodbath in the region.
On the hand one will not fail to wonder how naïve the international isolated Taiwanese who share non recognition status with Somaliland to malign the authorities in Hargeisa in favour of their antagonist in Mogadishu.
If the Taiwan foray into the Horn is a challenge to China then the authorities in Taipei need first to get the basics as pertains Somaliland and what ticks its people followed by a think twice meditation advisedly most imperative the recognition of Somaliland which will be an apt diplomatic move that will also increase its diplomatic presence to 24 countries.
Taiwan is an island which has for all practical purposes been independent since 1950, but which China regards as a rebel region that must be reunited with the mainland – by force if necessary thus its deregistration by the UN where it represented the mainland for a long time.
Its subsequent relationship with Beijing commonly referred to as status quo, an equilibrium which allows for much flexibility but which also curtails Taiwan’s possibilities to become a full-fledged international actor have ensued with prevalent decades long status of international limbo it enjoys.
Though it has been effectively self-governed by the government of the Republic of China (ROC) for over 60 years and has boasted a democratic government for the last 15 years Today Taiwan is left with 23 diplomatic allies, most of them small developing countries on Pacific islands, in Africa, or in Latin America namely :
Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Belize, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Paraguay, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, the Vatican, Swaziland, Malawi, Sao Tome and Principe, Haiti, Gambia and St. Kitts and Nevis.
Finally Taiwan need be acquiesced to the fact that whether it ever recognizes Somaliland or not the Hargeisa links to Beijing are so important and beneficial to be discarded easily for a US$166,000 worth Johnny come lately.
That said and done one would not fail to wonder whether the Taiwanese did actually consult properly thus engaged Somaliland authorities in their Somali Maritime Communications Initiative in lieu of the very loud silence from the Government in Hargeisa.
Copyright © 2015 Somalilandsun, All rights reserved.