Somaliland: Time to Make Choice between East and West

There is no permanent friendship in the world but there is always permanent interest, and that is what Somaliland people and its government need to focus on for a better future.

The political map of Africa that shows its independent countries had not been made by United Nations, by African Union, or by African nations. It is the result of the European Colonial Occupation legacy that invaded African Continent mainly at the end of the 19th century and divided it up into territories with colonial borders for their own political sphere of influence. When leaving most of Africa in 1960s, the Europeans based the independence and diplomatic recognition of all African emerging countries including Somaliland on their colonial borders inherited from colonial powers.

Likewise, all the borders of the Arab World [and the rest of Asia], and South America also emerged from colonial borders drawn mainly by Britain, France, and Spain and were all recognized too on their colonial borders.

Somaliland is located in the Horn of Africa. It lies between the 08°00′ – 11°30′ parallel North of the Equator and between 42°30′ – 49°00′ Meridian East of Greenwich. It is bordered by the Red Sea to the North, Djibouti to the West, Ethiopia to the South, and Somalia to the East. Somaliland has a coastline with the majority lying along the Gulf of Aden (Red Sea). The country is slightly larger than England, with an area of 137, 600 km. (53,100 sq. miles).

For groundless, unjustified reasons, The West is holding up Somaliland recognition knowing that according to African colonial history, an African country is recognized as an independent nation when it meets or fulfills the following three requirements:

1. That it is colonized separately
2. That it has its own colonial borders
3. And that it has official proclamation of independence granted by the colonizing power on specified date.

Somaliland has perfectly fulfilled the three required conditions to be recognized as independent country by the United Nations and international community.

The Soviet Union that had 15 Socialist Republics created by the Bolshevik Revolution led by Lenin in 1917 broke up after social upheavals and political discontent ended its existence peacefully in 1989 with new countries emerging from it such as Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia etc. The federation of former Republic of Yugoslavia that had 8 countries broke up too after bloody civil wars [1991-1995] and new countries such as Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia etc. emerged from its ashes. All these new countries were recognized as sovereign nations by the Western World. South Sudan, which was historically part of Sudan, Eritrea, and East Timor were too recognized as independent nations by the Western World.

So, why does the Western World deny Somaliland of diplomatic recognition since 1991 [25 years] knowing that Somaliland has its colonial borders inherited from colonial powers as the rest of Africa, that it achieved independence before Somalia in 1960 (Somaliland achieved independence from Great Britain on June 26, 1960 while Somalia achieved independence from Italy on July 1, 1960), and that Somaliland withdrew from the union with Somalia after Somalia committed atrocities and crimes against Humanity in Somaliland in 1980s? Why does the Western World require Somaliland to have approval from Somalia or from the African Union for its recognition whereas the same conditions were not imposed on South Sudan, Eritrea, Timore, or the new countries emerging from the former Soviet Union or from former Yugoslavia?

The declaration of Organization of African Unity (O.A.U) in 1964 on African Borders was the formal acceptance of the existing colonial borders inherited from colonial powers on which independence and recognition of each African country were based. The declaration had nothing to do with unifications or unions between two or more African countries like that failed union between Somaliland and Somalia formed in 1960 as any union could be dissolved anytime if the sides disagree each restoring and retaining its original independence and borders.
That declaration reinforces the rightful claim of Somaliland to be recognized as independent nation too based on its colonial borders.

Senegal and Gambia shared Union in 1982 named Senegambia Confederation but dissolved in 1989 then each regained its original statehood and diplomatic recognition. Then, why is the Western World not accepting Somaliland to regain its statehood and recognition that it had on June 26, 1960 and before the union with Somalia? Is not that height of hypocrisy or double standard? If Uganda and Kenya share union today and after some time disagree and dissolve that union, each would be still independent, recognized nation on its colonial borders.

African Union claims that if Somaliland is recognized, it would shift or change the borders of current African independent nations inherited from colonial powers leading to instability and political unrest in Africa. This is groundless claim and laughable argument of African Union to deny Somaliland of its inalienable right to independent, recognized nation. Somaliland has same historical colonial borders with the rest of African, independent, recognized countries, and achieved independence before Somalia on June 26, 1960. Somaliland recognition would solely be based on its own unique colonial borders of Somaliland British Protectorate as the independence and recognition of any African state was based on its own colonial borders. If that claim were true, why didn’t the recognition of South Sudan and Eritrea change the borders of Africa and cause instability and political turmoil and unrest in the continent? The Western World and United Nations unreasonably believe in such cheap argument of African Union.

If Nyanza Province of Kenya, or Arusha Region of Tanzania, or Puntland province of Somalia would break away from their own respective countries and then get recognized by the world, that would change or shift the colonial borders inherited from colonial powers and that would create instability and political unrest in Africa because these provinces share history and colonial borders with their own countries. Somaliland is not breakaway region or province from Somalia but it is a country that withdrew from the failed union it shared, as two independent nations, with Somalia for thirty years (1960-1991).

The Western World has been denying Somaliland of its rightful diplomatic recognition for 25 years taking orders from Somalia and from the African Union of not recognizing Somaliland. And because of that denial, Somaliland suffers from poverty and economic setbacks, its health and education are deteriorating, its youth is drowning in the Mediterranean Sea seeking better life to Europe, and its armed forces is not equipped with modern weapons, training, and communication for national defense. The country is in dire situation in all fields and the yearly $100.00 million meager financial aid from Europe to Somaliland is not of any relief for the economic woes of the country.

The location of Somaliland is very strategic and it closely links Asia, Africa, and Europe together as the world is globalized. The Cold War between Western World and Eastern World is almost back and that doubles the strategic importance of Somaliland, especially Berbera Seaport. The West does not afford to lose Berbera and the East cannot give it up.

United Arab Emirates is a small country protected by the West. It cannot afford to run the strategic Seaport of Berbera in the long term militarily and economically. The strategic position of Berbera is too important and too big for small dependent country like the United Arab Emirates to handle it. The recent agreement between Somaliland Government and United Arab Emirates cannot promise any tangible economic progress that Somaliland people would need. That agreement just seems to be distraction orchestrated by the Western World to protect Somaliland strategic location [Berbera] from falling to the East (Russia or China).

The new emerging Cold War seems much more dangerous than the previous Cold War because of the intensity of hostility between East and West today as the Western World seems losing important geopolitics in Asia and Middle East to the Eastern World. China is flexing its muscles on South China Sea, Philippines is leaning towards China, strategic Syria is falling to Russia, Eastern Europe is facing constant Russian threat, and cyber wars are being waged from East to the West. These events could be ominous precursors of Global Armed Clash

Since the discovery of the New World by Columbus Christopher in 1492 and the discovery of the route to India by Vasco Da Gama in 1498, the Western World has been on the rise in this world but that 500 year-old Western supremacy faces new threats by the Eastern World in 2016. The world seems much closer to Global War than ever before, and if there is Global War, God forbid, and the Superpowers rush to seize strategic military locations in the world to win the war, small countries like the United Arab Emirates would be easily overrun militarily leaving Somaliland helpless. Somalis say: “Either be a mountain or lean on a mountain.” United Arab Emirates is not that mountain that Somaliland can lean on for support.

Now, it is time for the West to recognize Somaliland Diplomatically and made huge economic investments in the country just for strategic sake to keep Somaliland from going to East. Definitely, the West does not want to see Russian or Chinese strategic nuclear missiles put at Berbera facing toward Europe. If the West fails to recognize and invest in Somaliland, then it is fair for the Somaliland people and government to reassess the relations of the country with the West and go for the East that would subsequently lead to recognition of Somaliland as well as turning Somaliland into strategic military and economic powerhouse in Africa because of its strategic location.

Permanent interest is more important than oral friendship. Friendship without real bilateral interest is false friendship. Either way, Berbera will be the gateway to Somaliland recognition at the end and not far. The Western World should know that Somaliland cannot remain unrecognized while it has legitimate right for recognition as well as being one of the most strategic locations of the world. It is inevitable for Somaliland people to make choice between East and West soon or later. Returning to the union with Somalia is not viable option for Somaliland people because unions are not successful in current Africa due to brutal dictatorships, chronic tribalism, and rampant government corruptions.

It is also important to suspend all talks with Somalia because it will not produce any results favorable to Somaliland and because Somalia is constantly undermining Somaliland sovereignty. Likewise, ties should be severed with Turkey for supporting Somalia militarily and economically while entertaining Somaliland.

Ibrahim Hassan (Gagale)