Somaliland: The Unloved Model Student

Busy street life in the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa, where khat stalls line the streets [James Jeffrey/Al Jazeera]

Somaliland is desperately poor, is not recognized by any country in the world and therefore does not receive development aid. But in the country prevail peace and democracy.

Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, wearing green, white, red. These are the colors of the countless flags hanging from buildings, lamp posts or shoulders, and the colors with which the almost man-sized Fences are painted concrete. Somaliland has just celebrated its 25th anniversary alone. For the nearly four million inhabitants which nation is not recognized by any other country in the world: And, although they, unlike the “motherland” Somalia since a quarter century leading a very peaceful existence. “It’s unfair,” complains Sa’ad Ali Shire, the only foreign minister in the world who can not use the fast lane for diplomats at passport controls at airports: “. With the recognition it contains us the chance for development”According to the foreign minister rejecting the international community is due to a misunderstanding.“Many think Somalia and Somaliland had always been a nation,” says Shire. “But nothing is more wrong than that.” In fact, Somaliland counted nearly a century to colonial British empire, while Somalia was occupied by the Italians. As both countries in 1960 were independent, they were a a “voluntary” connecting what Somalilanders repented bitterly soon.

Been follows dissatisfied with Somali dictator Siad Barre, that in 1988 a Revolutionary War began, during which put Barres Luftwaffe of Hargeisas airport just a few kilometers away, provides in ruins. More than 50 000 people to be killed in the civil war killed. When the dictator was finally thrown in 1991 from the country, Somaliland declared its independence.

In fact long independent

The accepted Somalia although never, however, was not strong enough to prevent the secession of linguistically, culturally and religiously identical brother people – finally prevailed in the mother country more than 20 years disorder. Even today Somalia is at war with the extremist Al-Shabaab, which could hold never walk in Somaliland. Despite the stability in Hargeisa, the Organization of African Union made sure that Somaliland has been recognized by any other country in the world: The confederation feared that the continent could be shaken by a whole wave of secessions. With Eritrea and South Sudan become two former member states was made possible secession – only Somaliland, the quietest and most stable candidate, stopped in front of the outside.

Here, the bone dry territory is de facto independent long. “We have our own flag, own money and their own government,” said Foreign Shire. “Although we are not de jure, but de facto nation.” Still, no red carpet for being trained in Cuba and the US agricultural economists rolled out when he travels to Washington, London or Berlin, he gets an appointment with a counterpart. Above all, can not count on direct aid, with World Bank loans or government guarantees his country: All that needs to be handled by the de jure capital Mogadishu. The government there, recently voted again for the most corrupt in the world, seeks to keep small the little brother. “From the foreign money comes hardly anything here”, complains Shire.

Economically Somaliland is a phenomenon of extremes, as it is known only in Africa. In Hargeisa, where a quarter of the population lives, the price of land Shires According to him, cost as much as in Europe, while in itself the Indian Ocean sprawling semidesert currently die thousands of cattle, goats and camels in drought. Somaliland has an average per capita income of 348 US dollars a year: the fourth smallest in the world.

But in Hargeisas center Abdirashid Duale has had three multi-story office palaces of mirrored glass draw in the air: The headquarters of the brilliantly devised global money transfer system called Dahabshiil, a cell phone company of the same name and a mobile payment system that enables the population, a used coffee or a trouser button to purchase the phone. The three temples of the Director General Duale show that you can also make money here. Nevertheless, thousands of young Somalilanders occur annually the perilous journey especially to Europe in order to escape a hapless future – 75 percent of boys are unemployed in Somaliland.

Unlike in other African countries Somalilanders their children do not encourage them to embark on the uncertain path to Europe, to support the family. On the contrary, you do everything possible to prevent them. Parents buy their children cars with mileage, so that they have as a taxi driver in Hargeisa a livelihood. The increasing number of vehicles are popularly called “hooyo ha tahriibin” which loosely translated, “My son, do not get yourself out of the dust” means. Whether this is a response to the economic needs, must be questioned. Somaliland should be recognized at last, so that it could compete for foreign investment, Foreign Shire believes.

Minister in shabby pensions

The port of Berbera is not waiting. Recently it was announced that the Arab Dubai Port Group there want to put $ 400 million into the expansion port. Berbera to Djibouti next to the largest hub of Ethiopian imports and exports to be expanded, because after the independence of Eritrea the awakening African economic giant does not have its own port more. Djibouti accepts from Ethiopia annually one billion US dollars in port fees a: Could Berbera as envisaged secure them a third, it would have the state income more than doubled. To date, the country lives from the money to send the scattered all over the world Somalilanders home: more than half a billion euros a year.

Profligacy can not accuse the government Hargeisa. At a visit to the drought-stricken region in the northwest of the country half the Cabinet of Vice-President is including six days in the SUV on the road.Ministers sleep in shabby pensions, the provincial town of Garissa, the Cabinet has spent the night even under a powerful acacia tree. “We want to be our people close,” said Interior Minister Ali Mohamed Waranade. This sounds not include an exact phrase. While the brothers at war in Somalia in the past quarter century, a government was elected by the other and again voted, without being able to come to problems in Somaliland. Few African countries can make that claim.

Diplomats have been trying for years to persuade the two Somali entities, to a negotiated solution. But the Turkish government invited the representatives of the Somalia nine times to the Bosporus – with no result. This spring, there should be a tenth this week in Turkey, but political infighting in Somalia prevented the meeting. From foreign observers a confederation is proposed on the Swiss model, which would allow Somaliland considerable autonomy.

Foreign Shire will not hear: “. We lost in the Somalis every confidence” The chance that the world will eventually agree to the recognition of an independent Somaliland, but also keeps Shire for low: “You have to have either oil or be a notorious problem child like Somalia, to be taken seriously by the world. “