- Recently, world renowned special representatives and diplomats had been seen pouring into Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland with an especial request and invitation to vivaciously contribute to the upcoming London Conference on Somalia. The intend of this conference is no less than a strong endeavor by the international community to find an effective approach to the enduring “Somalia Problem”. The main discussions are expected to centre on around various issues including, but not limited to the piracy crisis, terrorism, enduring civil war, drought & other humanitarian crisis, the prolonged political impasses of the weak TFG, and the lack of democracy and effective governance in Somalia.
This is not a new approach, but rather an attempt to maneuver and redirect previous efforts that failed to yield workable progress after decades of ill advised and poorly conceived international interventions. Despite early multilateral and international approaches to the “Somalia Problem”, involving both energy and huge sum of international aid, solutions remain illusive and Somalia has only managed to further digress politically, socially, and economically into oblivion with no clear direction of where it is heading aside from remaining a failed state.
It is in here that the conference organizers, namely Britain and the West hope that important issues will be addressed and international effort be used as catalyst to find a new path that will lead to a real and practical solutions for the a range of “Somalia problems”. The conference will receive participants from many stakeholders in Somalia, as well as scores of senior representatives representing as many as 40 governments and other multilateral organizations from around the globe.
What can be discerned from the scope of this international summon and the serious attempt made by the British Foreign and Commonwealth office to persuade Somaliland to attend this conference in London, is Britain’s genuine interest in resolving the “Somalia Problems”. Given Somaliland’s reputation, as “Africa’s Best Kept Secret” coupled with its recently surging international engagement and improved diplomacy, there is no doubt that the West appreciates Somaliland’s bottom-up approach and self-reliance in managing many such similar calamities so successfully without much international help for the last 21 years.
The strong insistence that Somaliland participates in this conference by Britain and the West must absolutely reflect their feeling that Somaliland could make positive contribution by sharing its experiences in peace making, security, good governance, and the establishment of rare and unique pastoral democracy. It would seem the West understands that Somaliland’s contribution could be highly crucial to this process to help set a new direction, and infuse new energy to otherwise failed earlier approaches by the international community.
Although Somaliland’s mammoth achievements can not be ignored, it is highly questionable whether or not their contribution could make tangible difference to the “Somalia Problem” in many areas, despite Somalis on both sides of the border having common ethnicity, language, culture and a religion. The reality on the ground is, starting from the late 19th century, Somalia experienced an Italian colonialism which led to fractured and diluted cultural and religious values, and developed cultural trait, political practices and social behaviors that are so distinct from those practiced by the people of Somaliland.
Somalia has lost much of their essential cultural and religious tools to resolve any of the fore mentioned crisis, including promoting justice and reconciliation, or encouraging democracy, tribal harmony and good governance. Hence, it is exceedingly difficult for Somalia to emerge from this crisis a healthy, responsible nation that lives in peace within itself and its neighbors for long period of time. Somalia’s political, social, and cultural environment today is not conducive to encouraging similar achievements such as that witnessed in Somaliland in the short time it restored its independence. Somaliland’s accomplishments are rare in the Somali context, because of the different colonial histories and experiences and will no doubt remain important milestone achievements by any standard.
Even so, Somaliland’s participation is still crucial, if not necessary for a country in search of recognition and a podium to present its case to the international community. Many of the international community aren’t properly acquainted with Somaliland, its history or even its recent milestone achievements of the last two decades.
This conference would offer Somaliland a unique platform to present its case to the international community and an opportunity to stress to the world that ignoring Somaliland far too long would be exceedingly detrimental to the peace, security and the stability of the entire region. This is also an opportunity to embarrass the Somali representatives from Somalia in failing to uphold the interest of their own suffering people a head of their own selfish and personal interests, as well as to underline their failure to address the root causes of their protracted conflict, which no doubt includes addressing :
* Their Lost cultural and religious traits
* Rampant nepotism and corruption
* Selfish interests and enduring authoritarianism
In addition, it would be an opportunity for Somaliland to demonstrate its milestone achievements in peacemaking, security, and democracy as an attractive allure for economic engagement with those countries attending the conference. Furthermore, it would undoubtedly enhance Somaliland’s global image and profile as its achievements set this country as a sharp contrast to its trouble neighbor in the South. It is clear that this conference presents a rare opportunity for Somaliland and its international image, and in no way, shape or form presents any danger to its independence, repute or quest for international recognition. Somalilanders have nothing to fear from attending this conference, in fact they have a lot to gain.
Abdirahim Ali Harbi