On the other hand, Somaliland which obtained its independence, in June 26, 1960, before Somalia´s and voluntarily and hastily joined Somalia in the same year is not only repeatedly denied its independence, but it is also cruelly punished for seeking sovereignty and demanded to recommit itself into another emotional gunshot marriage with Somalia. For the past two decades, Somaliland remained politically and economically isolated.
Although the AU boasts about having the last say in Africa, the truth is from its claims. Take as an example, it was not the AU that forced or persuaded the Sudan´s brutal regime to let go South Sudan, despite the South Sudanese people enduring over 51 years of oppression. In fact, the AU´s approval to the secession of South Sudan was not even important.
Now, when it comes to Somaliland´s quest for statehood, although the West reiterates that it is an internal matter of the AU and it is up to the AU to take the lead, in the case of South Sudan, in fact, the AU was just shown where to place its signature on, never mind having a say or protesting against the creation of new borders. (Oops! There goes the AU´s charter—”the sacred cow”.)
But the real challenge for the AU and the West is: South Sudan which didn´t have defined populations or borders when the colonials departed from Africa is let go; then, Somaliland´s case will be unstoppable. After all, Somaliland was a country with populations and defined borders when the colonials fled Africa. The AU and the West cannot permit South Sudan to gain its independence, under the pretext of protecting humanity—or more precisely: oil fields—while, hypocritically, denying Somaliland´s.
Also, if the notion that the wealthy Arab regimes heavily armed the Sudanese tyrant, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, to oppress South Sudan, therefore, it deserves its sovereignty, holds any water, the Arab regimes also armed to the teeth the former Somalia´s dictator, Gen. Mohammed Siad Barre, to crush Somaliland. And he did so. He pulverized it to dust, savagely butchering over 60, 000 civilians to death and obliterating every major city from the face of the earth, in late ´80s. And if the South Sudanese suffered over 51 years, so did Somalilanders—from 1960 to 2011. Therefore, what is good for South Sudan is also good for Somaliland. (Hello!)
Additionally, the United States, Italy, former East Germany and other countries were major army suppliers to Gen. Barre when he was slaughtering the Somaliland people. Unlike, South Sudanese people, the Somaliland people not only suffered in the hands of a ruthless dictator, but also the Western governments, “the human rights protectors”, and former Eastern Block regimes provided him the killing machines. In the lat ´80s and early ´90s, Somalilanders begged for animal rights because human rights were unavailable for them. Thanks to the United States and its allies.
In my vivid memories, as a little boy, in 1988, at the height of the Somali regime’s devastating onslaught against the Somaliland people, from the hills, adjacent to the beach, near Mogadishu airport, I watched as huge East Germany military planes, marked clearly with East Germany’s flag, landed at the airport. Also, the United States´ support to the dictator and possible bribes from the American oil companies were crucial, as he couldn´t have otherwise slaughtered over 60, 000 civilians in Somaliland. In return, Gen. Siad Barre gave exclusive rights to five American oil companies to undertake oil explorations in Somaliland. One report states, “Beginning 1986, Conoco, along with Amoco, Chevron, Phillips and, briefly, Shell all sought and obtained exploration licenses for northern Somalia [Somaliland] from Siad Barre’s government. Somalia was soon carved up into concessional blocs, with Conoco, Amoco and Chevron winning the right to explore and exploit the most promising ones.” Again, it was oil that mattered, not humanity. Two decades later nothing has changed. Indisputably, the statement “protecting humanity” means “protecting oil fields” through the eyes of the imperialists.
In another stunning development, the current Somali regime recognizes South Sudan as a sovereignty country in less than twenty hours after it celebrated its independence, but the Mogadishu regime holds Somaliland hostage for twenty years. What an irony! Now because Somalia is willing to recognize other countries while, on the other hand, it argues it will sit down with Somaliland only when it [Somalia] becomes stable, exposes the Somali regime´s thuggish behavior. In fact, from now and on, whether Somalia is stable or not, Somaliland should press more than ever before to sit down with the foreign-imposed Mogadishu regime to end decades of holding Somaliland hostage. For Somalia, no more beating around the bushes! After all, Somalia is not mental, is it?
Doubtless, the Somali regime will work around the clock to forge a close relationship with South Sudan, dissuading South Sudan to extend recognition to Somaliland. A new battle to win the hearts and minds of the South Sudanese leaders will rage between Somaliland and Somalia.
But Somaliland must take the lead. The new South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, already sent a sincere brotherly invitation to the Somaliland President, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud Silanyo, to celebrate with the hard-earned South Sudanese people´s independence. Mr. Silanyo and large delegations of Somaliland officials and reporters celebrated with the South Sudanese people on July 09, 2011.
Now, Somaliland should invite Mr. Kiir to visit Somaliland, persuading him that Somaliland people suffered as much as the South Sudanese people endured atrocities. And Somaliland is a function government while Somalia is a playground for terrorists and pirates. Hence, Somaliland is the only authority in the region, which deserves its well-overdue recognition.
History attests that the struggles for freedom and self-determination of the South Sudanese and the Somaliland people have a lot in common. As the Somaliland President, Mr. Silanyo emphasized while en route to South Sudan, the independence of South Sudan bolsters—a golden opportunity indeed—Somaliland’s case for statehood. The president stated , “As you know there are rigid restrictions on changing the colonial borders of Africa. The restrictions demand the old borders cannot be changed. Somaliland is not changing its old borders. And the independence of South Sudan changes everything…”
Mr. Silanyo also reminded the public during the struggle of his rebel forces, a.k.a Somali National Movement (SNM), against Somalia´s dictator, he used to meet the founder of South Sudan, John Garang, in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, and were both on a mission to free their respective oppressed people.
In short, let bygones be bygones. Today, a new peaceful dawn rises over Somaliland. And as the current Somaliland President, Mr. Silanyo, stated on May 18, 2011, Somaliland´s independence day: “Even if it takes another 100 years to regain our lost sovereignty, we will never give it up”. That is, Somaliland may not have proven-oil fields and may be unable to challenge the AU and the West´s shameless double standard towards Somaliland’s sovereignty, but, recognized or not, Somaliland is here to stay.
Dalmar Kaahin (firstname.lastname@example.org)