By: Dr Yusuf Dirir Ali
Somalilandsun – The International Community has clearly set the agenda for Somaliland and Somalia dialogue, but for unknown reasons to me, the whole spirit, purpose and the substance of the internationally approved Somaliland and Somalia dialogue was defeated and reduced to something akin to Somalia’s scandalous and more than two decade-old conferences that were held in different venues around the world – or at least the future prospect of the dialogue is bleak and the needle of its compass is now pointing to the direction of complete disappointment for both Somaliland and for the sponsoring International community.
Right from the start, the agenda for the Somaliland and Somalia dialogue was set unambiguously straight forward by the International Community. The London communique gave unprejudiced considerations to the Somaliland and Somalia historical facts and also to the irrefutable present realities on the ground in both countries.
The international agenda clearly defined the parties that were meant to have the dialogue and the agenda of the dialogue. The conference unequivocally stated in it’s final communique of 23rd February, 2012 and I quote: “The conference recognized the need for the International Community to support any dialogue that Somaliland and the TFG or its replacement may agree to establish in order to clarify their future relations.” I underlined the words: “dialogue to clarify their future relations. In other words, Somaliland and Somalia were supposed to have dialogue whether to agree to come together as one state or to split into two states – nothing else was prescribed by the International Community of more than fifty countries and dozens of International organizations.
Again in simple words, Somaliland and Somalia were told to have dialogue regarding their future relations and the International Community was supposed to shoulder the responsibility to support and facilitate for the dialogue to move forward effectively. If the Somaliland and Somalia dialogue fails then the International Community is supposed to put up with its responsibilities in a fair and democratic approach.
The first dialogue between the parties that was facilitated by the British government and held in Greenwich went alright, but all the conferences that followed, starting from the UAE conference to the latest conference held in Turkey have all ran astray – the whole purpose of the dialogue ended up being about petty issues that were not supposed to be discussed until the two parties agreed upon the core issue – Somaliland Sovereignty.
Somalia has succeeded to derail the talks and almost reduced Somaliland into a Puntland-like Small Somalia regional state. Somalia did exactly what it is good at doing, which is taking advantage, and confusing the International Community, but those who succumbed to its malicious tactics and allowed Somalia on the steering wheel are to blame and not Somalia, which does not have a vested interest in Somaliland’s sovereignty.
That was a lost opportunity for Somaliland’s and the blame must be shared and be accepted by our Government, our negotiating team and the whole political elite including all the leaders of Somaliland’s
Political parties because they were all included in the advisory and the final decision making processes, but they all failed to strictly focus on the schema that was set forward by the International community and we all failed to come up with a comprehensive strategy to attain our goal.
There is no doubt that we have almost lost the game. At this moment, Somaliland does not have time for the exchange of accusations and finger pointing, but at least we must acknowledge our previous mistakes, learn from them and move on. Thus, we need to lick our wounds, regroup and refocus our efforts on a national strategy that will gear the agenda back on the right track. The future dialogue with Somalia must start and end with only two magic words- Somaliland sovereignty.
We are grateful to the Turkish government for being a generous host and for their precious time, but the base of the International community’s participation must be widened. UK, Norway, UAE and other European countries must get greater role to play in the facilitation of the Somaliland and Somalia dialogue. The dialogue whether successful or not must end with the upcoming dialogue with Somalia in Istanbul.
Finally and most importantly, Somaliland government must bring together a different team made up of Academicians, strategy planners, lawyers, historians and public relations experts, who will put in place a strong strategic plan for us to gain the upper hand in this final round of talks, but also this same team must simultaneously work on an alternative and comprehensive plan for Somaliland’s sovereignty in case these final talks with Somalia collapse and do not achieve our goals.
If the Istanbul dialogue ends in stalemate, the International Community will be obliged to intervene, that will be good for Somaliland, because the existing status quo is not idyllically in favour of our just cause.
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