- Ever since the Silanyo Government embarked upon its dangerous and ill thought out policy of engaging with the ineffective, foreign-sponsored, donor-financed, and irretrievably corrupt lame duck ‘government’ of Sheikh Sharif, there have been many voices, inside and outside the country, asserting that this policy is the thin edge of a wedge designed to lever Somaliland back into some form of union with Somalia. To date, I have dismissed these voices as conspiracy-driven theorists, preferring instead to believe that the Silanyo Government had been hoodwinked by a combination of its own hubris and inexperience and pressure from foreign powers, particularly the UK.
However, I’ve begun to reconsider my position over the last several weeks, as the blatant lies, obfuscations and deliberate doubletalk of the Silanyo Government went from the merely ridiculous to the truly sublime. Lately, when our Foreign Minister speaks I am unable to determine if he is presenting a satirical spoof of a fictitious FM, or if he is truly so deranged as to believe that rational and intelligent people are going to buy the claptrap he is gushing. In truth, however, I really do pity the poor chap – it must be miserable to face the people he serves and feed them such shameless and obvious lies that are then promptly exposed by his counterparts in Mogadishu.
Take but the latest example: the fawning and servile congratulations extended by our government to the TFG on temporarily approving the new constitution under which the ‘post-transition’ government for Somalia will be formed. Yet, this constitution proclaims Somaliland to be part of Somalia, so the fawning congratulations had to be accompanied by plaintive complaints that Mogadishu ‘should cease such provocations and efforts to destabilise Somaliland’ i.e. the claims upon its sovereign territory. How one can welcome a document while simultaneously decrying some of its core, defining terms as inimical to one’s very existence is an intellectual and ethical gymnastic that the Somaliland Government can explain to us – I, for one, am stymied.
Then we have another example of this new sport of semantic and ethical gymnastics. The hapless Foreign Minister was on public display last week welcoming the opening of a consulate in Hargeisa by the British Government, and portraying it as a great advance for our country in its search for international recognition. However, this consulate will come under the diplomatic and operational umbrella of the British Embassy in Mogadishu – it is not a diplomatic mission sent directly by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to represent the UK to the Government of Somaliland. It is but a branch of the British Embassy in Mogadishu which receives its accreditation from the TFG and not from Hargeisa.
Thus, our government will have as much authority in dealing with it as the office of the Governor of California has in dealing with the British Consulate in Los Angeles, i.e. ensuring that they are good hosts and don’t annoy the diplomats enough to cause them to complain to the State Dep’t. in Washington DC. This is a ‘great advance’ in our search for recognition.
Contrast this consulate with the announcement a few days later of the opening of a Bilateral Program Office in Hargeisa by the Danish Government, designed to support democracy building in Somaliland. This office will be a mission sent directly by the Danish Government to the Government of Somaliland to represent Danish interests and promote democracy building in our country. It will not be controlled from an office in Mogadishu and will receive whatever accreditation it may require from the Somaliland Government.
However, as I said, I feel some pity for the poor FM because he must know that maintaining this ludicrous and ever more unsustainable charade that Somaliland’s sovereignty has not been compromised is no longer funny, but has become painful to watch. He must know this since we know it and it is obvious even to the most simple minded and gullible. No, I say don’t blame the messenger, blame the author of the message, and that is none other than our President, Mr. Silanyo. Now we can get to the heart of the matter and squarely address the 40 ton elephant in the room!
President Silanyo has made no secret of his personal affiliation with the unionist, Somaliweyn strand of political opinion, indeed he personally confirmed this in an interview with the Somali Service of the BBC World Service during the 2010 Presidential campaign when he was speaking from the USA. However, the fact is that he has sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution of Somaliland and to protect its independence and territorial integrity in his oath of office. Thus, I have found it impossible to accept that he would then conspire to subvert this very oath by embarking upon a policy that was designed to bring Somaliland back into some form of union with Somalia through the back door by subterfuge, deceit and political chicanery, as I’m sure have many Somalilanders.
However, now I’m not so sure. Things are beginning to look decidedly wrong with his co-signatory in Dubai openly stating that agreement was reached between him and President Silanyo in Dubai on reunification. There are even rumours that the peace deal reached between President Silanyo and the head of the SSC (who has recently been brought into the government as a Minister) was predicated on the understanding that reunification was in process. Djibouti, which had been among the staunchest opponents of Somaliland’s independence, has suddenly discovered how wonderful we are now that the talks with the TFG have started.
Despite some token bluster, the government has made no serious effort to deter, disavow or sanction the clan elders (‘prepaid’ though many of them may be) that have been lured to Mogadishu with wads of dollars to take part in the elders’ conference to ‘approve’ the new constitution for Somalia. Finally many pro-Somaliweyn Somaliland politicians who couldn’t even think of returning for fear of prosecution under treason charges are now welcomed back and have even been appointed to senior government positions.
The title of this piece is a re-working of Hamlet’s line in the famous play when he decries his mother’s marriage to his uncle, after his father’s murder, when he says, “Frailty, thy name is woman”. However, perhaps a more apt line to appropriate from that play would be “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. The Somali equivalent is contained in the mah-mah “Wixii qarsoon qudun ba ku jira”. Something is rotten indeed, and we better clean it up.
By Ahmed M.I. Egal