The Unintended Consequences of the Somaliland-Somalia Talks in Djibouti


Somalilandsun: On June, 14th 2020 the international partners led by the United States
Ambassador (Donald Y. Yamamoto) and other multi international stakeholders: including European Union, African Union, Ethiopia and the host country of Djibouti
held talks between Somaliland and Somalia.
The talks between the two parties started back in 2012 in Ankara, Turkey.
The talks stalled for the last three and a half years following the parliamentarian election of the current president of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi (Farmajo).
The Somaliland president was elected by one-man-one vote and was observed by international monitors which was declared free and fair election.
The Ankara communique included the following highlights:
“ . . . it is stated that the purpose of the Ankara meeting is to reopen the dialogue after the change in the leadership of the Somali Federal Republic, and to establish a way forward for the dialogue.
Moreover, the agreement concerning the encouragement and facilitation of international aid and development provided to Somaliland is also cited in the Communique where the parties commit to refrain from using any inflammatory language and any other act which may put the continuation of the dialogue at risk.
“Parties will share intelligence and cooperate in the fight against terrorism, extremism, piracy, illegal fishing toxic dumping, maritime crime and serious crime, stated in the Communique…” (“Somalia and Somaliland Sign “Ankara Communique””).
Unfortunately, the Farmajo regime started an overly aggressive campaign against Somaliland, undermining and violating all prior agreements between the two countries including: propaganda tactics, that included

Somaliland and Somalia recognized by the world atlas as two separate entities

Exploiting unsuspecting Somaliland youths through social media by luring them with few dollars, sabotage of developmental projects and programs, attempts to block livestock exports to Saudi Arabia.

This was one of the most naked aggressions against Somaliland since the collapse of the
military regime of Siad Bare. The Somali authorities suggested that Somaliland dealers obtain a certificate of health for their livestock from Mogadishu before they are able to export to Saudi Arabia. They also violated the accord of air traffic joint management between the two countries.

Somaliland president Muse Bihi and his Somalia Counterpart Mohamed Abdilahi Farmajo shake an unfreindly hand

Somaliland, having experienced these belligerent attempts from Somalia to undermine
their existence, was not fond of any future talks with the current regime.
However, after a lot of pressure and multiple attempts from powerful countries, especially the United States of America to restart the talks, they agreed to seat at the table with their opponents, provided it is an open and transparent talk at an international arena.
Obviously, different stakeholders and countries had their own different agendas in mind. However, the only intention of the Somali Federal government to participate in this round of talks was to use this opportunity in their reelection campaign. The Somali delegation was not prepared for an honest and difficult discussion.They did not anticipate how far apart the
two sides were on the issues.
Obviously, it was not the intended outcome for Farmajo and his regime.The Somalia delegation led by Farmajo anticipated cordial and comforting discussions that would ultimately lead to handshakes and photo-ops for their upcoming reelection campaign of 2021, hence the delay of the talks for three and half years.
On the other hand Somaliland leaders especially Muse Bihi, the president of Somaliland was well-prepared to seize the moment and take advantage of this unique opportunity and present a very strong case at an international arena. Muse Bihi litigated the case from the inception of the failed union to the tumultuous journey that followed and ultimately led to
the reclaim of their independence. He demonstrated a significant historic sequence of events up to the current affairs between the two neighboring countries and show-cased their agenda skillfully and with a style.
Muse Bihi showed undisputed and strong presidential leadership skills and superior knowledge of the issues at hand. On the other hand, the Somalia delegation showed lack of interest and lower confidence in their government by not having a mandate or decision making capabilities, especially for the last three days of the talks. When certain issues were
brought forth for discussion and immediate decision making, they said, we have to consult our leaders, which means the president of Somalia, Farmajo, who left the meeting after the opening.
Therefore, moving forward it would be very difficult to reach any formidable resolution unless the participants have a full mandate from their perspective governments.

By Mohamed A. Samatar
June 20, 2020


“Somalia and Somaliland Sign “Ankara Communique”.” Anadolu Ajansı,
255372. Accessed 20 June 2020.