- After reading Mr. Abukar Arman’s article on “Sustainable Peace: Why Somaliland Matters”, I can’t help but notice a number of rather large inaccuracy and a surprising lack of knowledge on some basic facts. It is particularly disappointing when a representative of the TFG government; someone as eloquent and supposedly well versed on “Somali issues” treats such an important subject i.e. the current relationship and future one between Somalia and Somaliland with obvious inaccuracies peppered with casual and quite superficial observations readily available at coffee shops..
The author wrote that the SNM was secessionist movement; The fact is that the SNM Movement was never a secessionist movement; it was a struggle necessitated by pure survival for an entire people desperate simply to live. Not once did the SNM Movement declare that it is intention was to reclaim sovereignty back for Somaliland, they fought for nothing more than their survival, their dignity, and the need to protect their loved ones. They were made up of ordinary citizens who simply got tired of the daily dose of injustice and brutal treatment administered to them by the regime in Mogadishu.
Unlike what happened in Mogadishu, these very people after liberating their own country and people did not go on a vengeance binge but found the courage, and wisdom to start a reconciliation process in 1991 between the inhabitants of Somaliland and in the interest of peace and stability issued a blanket forgiveness to all its citizens.
That process culminated at a peace accord signed in Berbera by all the tribes native to Somaliland , which become the foundation of the lasting peace that exist in Somaliland today. The outcome of the reconciliation talks in Berbera led to the declaration on May 18th in Burao that reclaimed Somaliland’s sovereignty. This was followed by a National Referendum observed by a number of International Organizations such as the IRI (international Republican Institute), the NED (National Endowment for Democracy), as well as many other International election observers, where 97% of the people choose Independence over Union.
These are not innuendos or hear say, these are simply the facts!
In Somaliland a participatory process where everyone has a seat at the table has been in place since day one, and every action taken by Somaliland was one supported by the people and not by few individuals or by a particular clan. Where else but in Somaliland can someone not from the majority tribe be elected president and remain to this date the longest serving president in Somaliland (HE. President Dahir Rayale)? Where else in Africa but in a very mature democracy can a president loose an election and accept the will of the people and peacefully transfer power to the winner of the election?
The article also cited that during the massive genocidal campaign against the people of Somaliland by the Siyad Barre regime that there were some “Issaq” individuals who were serving the regime at different levels. I fail to see the relevance of that observation.
Does it mean it is less odious to commit genocide if some individuals of the clan one intends to eradicate take part in the act? Does it mean that the individuals in question represented the wishes of the people they were killing; therefore it was not a crime? Since the act cannot be denied, does it provide some comfort to some in saying that there were some individuals who were affiliated to the Issaq tribe who also took part in the death and destruction taking place in Somaliland?
Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that there were “Issaq” individuals serving the Barre regime , and let’s also assume that they were a bunch of sadistic murders who enjoyed inflicting pain on their victims. Does that make a difference for the masses that were bombed, looted and raped? Does it diminish the magnitude of the crime?
Please enlighten us, what are you saying here?
The same flawed logic was followed when the article stated that Somaliland was fully represented in every TFG past and present, simply because some carpet beggars showed up in Mogadishu looking to partake in the looting of the Somali people. Surely you cannot believe their presence constitutes the will of the people of Somaliland. Unlike Mogadishu Somaliland cannot be represented by an individual picked by some foreign power in a foreign capital, or a self appointed one for that matter. In Somaliland people elect their leaders at every level of government and unless you can produce any evidence where an official representative for the Somaliland government present or past has taken part or had anything to do with any TFG present or past, one can surmise that you are either ill informed or less than truthful in your presentation.
Lastly, you wrote about the imminent demise of Somaliland because of the lack of recognition and the triple threat posed by “Khatumo, Awdal and Maakhir, and even though there is no denying that Somaliland faces some monumental obstacles in its path, there is also no denying the ability, the resolve, the wisdom and the proven track record of these remarkable people to solve difficult issues as they face them and conquer them in short order
It is the case that not all the inhabitants of Somaliland are of one mind when it comes to independence, but unlike Mogadishu, in Somaliland consensus, respect for the rule of law, traditional peace resolutions and the democratic process is the chosen path for the people when change is in order. All of the regions you have mentioned in your article are full partners and signed the Borama peace accord. More importantly, the people ratified the Somaliland Constitution which clearly states the Sovereignty of Somaliland is sacrosanct.
Occasional flare ups in one region instigated and supported by personality fueled by political ambitions that are based in the Diaspora do not constitute the doom and gloom you so easily predict. There are some folks in Texas and Quebec who feels those states should become independent nations, but those aspirations are rendered mute by the democratic voting process when the majority of the inhabitants of those states vote otherwise.
The only lasting change that can take root in Somaliland is the one brought about by the ballot and not by the bullets. People in Somaliland have no need to go to a foreign capital or take up arms against anyone, they just use the power guaranteed by the Somaliland Constitution to all its inhabitants and vote the rascals out to bring about the desired change.
As far as recognition is concerned, you seem to think there is a specific time limit on it, where one should seize the effort if one has not reached that goal, yet you pay no mind to the fact that Mogadishu has been trying to establish a working government just as long as Hargeisa has been trying to be recognized as the capital of the newest nation. No one is suggesting that Somalia should stop trying to form its own legitimate government, why on earth are you suggesting that Somaliland should stop its aspiration to join the international community as a responsible member of its community. They most certainly demonstrated to everyone all the desired prerequisites and qualification for nationhood.
Anyone who still doubts Somaliland’s nationhood need only to notice how May 18th (Somaliland’s reassertion of Sovereignty day)is celebrated worldwide by Somaliland’s citizens in and out of the country and compare that to July 1st (Somalia’s independence day).
I will conclude this piece by sharing the story of the Rain Dance performed by some American Indian tribes which brings about the rain every time they dance. This not a magical dance, nor do they have special powers that the rest of us lack, they are successful because they don’t stop dancing until it rains!
To those who ask when will Somaliland stop asking for recognition I say, the very day it does get recognized!
It is unwise on your part to interpret Somaliland’s participation in these discussions as a sign of weakness, or that Somaliland engaging Somalia is brought about by external or internal pressures, the simple fact is that Somaliland has reached a maturity level and enough confidence in its system of governance to tackle complex and difficult entities such as Somalia is.
Somaliland is the senior partner in these discussions and the real issue being discussed here from Somaliland’s perspective is how can it amicably extricate itself from the affairs of Somalia and continue its journey toward a bright future shaped and chiseled by its own people.
By Mahdi Gabose (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Address: 1425 K Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington DC 20005 USA