White African’s First Flame War: Somalia / Somaliland

Somali_Flame_WarYes, I have my first flame war. You see, I had no idea that there was such a place as Somaliland (which is in dispute between a couple of readers at the moment), which was carved out of Somalia. Currently, Yasmiin is telling me that there is no such thing as Somaliland, and his friend Faisal is questioning Yasmiin’s mother’s heritage. I quote:

We in Somaliland are on the up while you guys down south are still killing one another like savages who have escaped from a zoo.

I’m all about healthy debate, and though I find flame wars very funny, I must ask that my two Somali readers try and reign themselves in a little bit while debating this topic. I also understand how any political discussion can become hot very quickly, whether it be about US policies or Somaliland independence.

I must put some ground-rules into play for future flame wars:

  • No crude obscenities – I prefer my obscenities witty and humorous
  • When referring to your enemy-of-the moment, please refer to them as “the honorable ____”
  • Try to remember that though there are others who read my blog daily, but I HAVE to read it – so keep it informative and interesting for me

Now, back to Somaliland.

19 thoughts on “White African’s First Flame War: Somalia / Somaliland

  1. JKE

    Oh my…maybe someone should come up with a posting referring to Godwin’s Law to end those endless debates?

    But still, those discussions on the “country formally known as Somalia” are interesting.

  2. Thainamu

    Wow, this looks like an interesting blog I may have to start reading it regularily. I found it while googling “mzungu,” a word I had just read in an email from Uganda.

    Then I see you talking about Flock, and Serenity, and asking for no crude obscenities–I felt like I was talking to one of my kids’ friends. Any chance you are an MK?

  3. HASH

    JKE, good idea, however I’m enjoying the debate a lot. It’s adding a whole new level of enjoyement to blogging for me. :)

    Thainamu, yes, I’m an MK from Sudan/Kenya. Thank you for your kind words about this blog, but I can’t always claim to have interesting content -only interesting to me. :)

  4. yasmiin

    Lol Sorry Dearest Hash, I should have known the fanatics will come out of the woodwork! They don’t have an ounce of decorum! Trust me no other Somali from the other clans would call a women names, but then what do you expect they stone a Somali woman to death for singing, they have no respect for women just last August they also imprisoned a little teenage girl and raped her for months in their jails until the UN intervene on her behalf, the girl is still being threated for the wounds she sustain. so if they call me names, It was an expected thing, no surpise there. :)

    Take it from me, these people do not know the beginning of healthy debate. They like to intimidate and that is all. They remind me of Nazi’s . I will straighten them out in my turf. Let me tell you, they cannot debate against us, but they tried to bring lots of lies when the see foreigner. They are the ultimate con artist. before they sully your website I shall lead them out of here. Looool since I am such an expert in zoo animales. ehehehehe.

    You have such a lovely website, I would hate for the fanatics to destroy it for you. Take care Dear White African Brother. I shall prepare that writing on this weekend, and if any little boy wants to challenge me they can come after me. :) looooooooooooooool

    BTW,
    thanks for recomending Serenity, It was lovely, I enjoyed it.

  5. HASH

    Yasmiin, thank you for your comments. I do appreciate your debate with the other Somalis, so don’t feel like you have to leave this site to do that. I was just trying to set a checkmark in place before anyone got to wild. I think debate is healthy and good, and I truly enjoy learning both sides of this argument.

    I’ve also enjoyed your blog – particularly the “Kill Your TV” article. :)

    HASH

  6. yasmiin

    Ok, I send one more “debate” let us see who bites. looooool Anyway, I took my crude remarks to my website, I was told to treat other the way they treat me. and I want to treat Faisal the way he treated me. I am pleasant and kind to everyhuman and animals, until one crosses me… than I became potty mouth looooool

    I hope I did not lose you with my writing, since you are not very familair with the players in Somalia. I was having this “debate” gee for a long time now, I never came across one of the seperatist who can tell me why they want to secede, if I ask they tell me “go back to your zoo” loooooooooooool or something to that affect.

    we tried everything, to reconcile, they will not come to the table, we talk to them on the streets they call us names, we try to go to their home turf and see if they will at least treat a guess the respect one normally show guests, they put us behing bars. We dont know why they want to secede up to today after 14 years, on a gun point they said they want to secede, and when we asked why they said “faqash don’t question us” Derogatory remark for non-Isaak clans.

    “serenity now!” ;)

  7. Axmed

    SOMALILAND

    The land and people

    Somaliland comprises the territory, boundaries and people of the former British Somaliland Protectorate, defined by the following international instruments (GOS-Background: 1994):

    1. The Anglo-French Treaty of 1888

    2. The Anglo-Italian Protocol of 1894

    3. The Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 18972
    From the shores of the Gulf of Aden, Somaliland extends southwards to the Somali National Regional State of Ethiopia, bounded by Djibouti to the west and Somalia (Puntland) to the east. Within these borders, Somaliland’s territory covers an area of 137, 600 square kilometres, with a northern littoral of 850 kilometres (GOS – Somaliland in Figures, 1999). The territory’s geography is distinguished by three main topographical features locally known as the Guban, Oogo and Hawd (Lewis: 1961).

    The Guban (meaning “burnt”) is the narrow coastal region, which is hot and humid with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees centigrade during the summer season (Xagaa) between June and August. The terrain is relatively barren, allowing only desert-type sparse vegetation. Eastwards from the main port of Berbera stony mountains hug the coastline, while to the west, the plain widens to provide rich grazing for pastoralists during the cooler months between October and March. With the exception of Berbera, the population of the Guban’s sparse settlements tends to migrate southwards to the highlands during the torrid summer months, returning home when the climate becomes more bearable.

    Inland from the coast, elevation climbs rapidly as the Guban gives way to the Oogo: the cooler highland zone dominated by the Gollis mountain range, which crosses Somaliland from west to east. The Oogo zone possesses an abundant supply of underground water, which together with its agreeable climate has encouraged settlement and development. The Oogo is home to all of Somaliland’s major towns and supports a degree of cultivation, notably between Hargeysa and Boorame in the west, and around Ceerigaabo in the east.

    The third topographical zone is the Hawd, which stretches across the border from Somaliland into Ethiopia. Although rich in pasture, the Hawd has virtually no permanent water sources. Historically, nomadic pastoralists grazed their herds in the Hawd during the rains, but were forced to migrate to more hospitable areas during the harsh dry season (Jiilaal) when water sources dried up. In the past half century, however, since the introduction of berkado (cemented underground water reservoirs), the Hawd has come to support permanent settlements. This has led to a steady process of desertification, decimating the rich pastures that once made the zone ideal for rearing livestock.

    The inhabitants of these zones are ethnic Somalis, united by race, language, religion (Sunni Islam) and culture, which they share with the Somali inhabitants of neighbouring states. Population estimates vary between 2-3 million inhabitants.3 Somaliland’s inhabitants also identify themselves with various clans and sub-clans, described in a submission by the Somaliland government to the 1996 Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit as including the Isaaq, Gadabuursi, Ciise, Dhulbahante, and Warsangeli clans (Mohamoud: 1996). The west is inhabited mainly by the Ciise and Gadabuursi clans. The central regions are chiefly settled by the Isaaq, while the eastern areas are peopled principally by the Warsangeli and Dhulbahante clans. Numerous smaller kin-groups share the Somaliland territory with these major groupings, and the major clans also contain innumerable sub-divisions.

    Historical overview

    The establishment of the Somaliland Protectorate in the second half of the 19th Century epitomized the “absent-mindedness” with which much of the British Empire is said to have been acquired. Perceiving in the Somali hinterland a potential source of fresh meat for the British garrison across the Red Sea at Aden – a key naval coaling station on the sea route to India – the British entered into a series of agreements with the traditional leadership of the clans of the area. The original treaties represented no serious territorial ambitions on the part of British,4 but inroads by other imperial powers (namely France, Italy, and Abyssinia) endowed the British claims to Somaliland with strategic importance in the context of the “Scramble for Africa”. Through an awkward sequence of agreements strung out between 1885 and 1955, the colonial powers ultimately arrived at Somaliland’s present shape – a territory determined not by geography or demographics, but rather by the arbitrary logic of international and regional politics. In the process, the British surrendered considerable expanses of territory to the aggressive eastward expansion of King Menelik of Ethiopia (Drysdale: 1994). Most of the western, eastern and southern boundaries simply represent compass bearings. Only in the southwest, where the boundary follows peaks of the mountain ranges, does the demarcation correspond to recognizable landmarks. The southern border thus divided many of Somaliland’s nomads from their most fertile pastures.

    Although the British sought little more from Somaliland than rations for their troops, big game for their hunters, and a bit of adventure (for explorers like Richard Burton), they inevitably discovered more than they had bargained for. In 1899, they were confronted with a vigorous uprising led by the leader of the puritanical Salihiyya order, Sayid Maxamed Cabdulle Xasan (known to the British pejoratively as “the Mad Mullah”), which reminded them disconcertingly of the Mahdist revolt only years earlier in the Sudan. The Sayid’s Darawiish (Dervish) movement tied up the energies of the British in bloody and unpredictable campaigning for two decades. In 1910, at the height of the uprising, the British were obliged to retreat to their coastal outposts, leaving Somaliland’s interior in violent turmoil. The subsequent years were a period of such acute distress and scarcity that they came to be locally known as Xaarame Cune (literally: “eating the forbidden”). It is estimated that during this period as much as one third of Somaliland’s male population perished (Jardine: 1926).

    Following the defeat of the Dervish Movement in 1920, the British gradually initiated administrative and social service programs in Somaliland. Some roads were cleared, a few students were sent to Sudan for higher education and a number of agricultural and water initiatives were undertaken. But in the 1940s, their efforts were again interrupted – this time by the Second World War. In 1940, British forces retreated from Somaliland to Aden, paving the way for a short-lived occupation by Italian fascist forces. In 1941, Somaliland was recaptured by the British, and remained in their hands until independence nearly two decades later.

    In the world-wide wave of anti-colonial sentiment that followed the Second World War, the “wind of change” was blowing as strongly in Somaliland as elsewhere in Africa, and the British undertook to prepare their protectorate for existence as an independent state. In the few years that remained to complete the task, their neglect of the territory became dismally obvious. On independence day, June 26 1960, Somaliland possessed only a handful of university graduates and a single secondary school. Not a single sealed road linked the major towns. The principal natural resource of the territory was its livestock, and an industrial base was non-existent. Nevertheless, in its newfound freedom, Somaliland greeted these challenges with optimism – even euphoria.

    Pre-independence socio-economic context

    One reason for Somaliland’s optimism was the relative prosperity it enjoyed in the decade prior independence. During the 1950s, the Arabian oil boom generated an unprecedented demand for Somali livestock. The central towns of Hargeysa, Berbera, and Burco became the hubs of that trade, forming a triangle that would eventually become the core of economic development in the region. During the same period, in the Hawd region, the colonial authorities (in the person of engineer Jack Laurence5) built a chain of earth dams along the Ethiopian border to collect run-off water. These man-made depressions prolonged the period nomads could graze their livestock in the Hawd, and thus changed the face of the land forever. Permanent settlements began to appear, raising surplus livestock for export to Arabia through the markets of Somaliland’s central economic hub. In the years following independence, this zone became increasingly specialized in the commercial production of livestock and related export services. The relative economic dominance of this central triangle, and its relationship with the Arabian livestock markets, has changed very little up to the present day.

    Eastern Somaliland (composed essentially of present day Sool and Sanaag regions) was affected relatively little by the livestock export boom. Nomadic pastoralism has historically been the predominant social and economic mode in eastern Somaliland, but the area has nevertheless evolved somewhat separately of the central economic zone between Hargeysa, Berbera and Burco. Sanaag region has long maintained independent, sometimes clandestine, trade ties with the Arabian countries, especially Yemen. Export of livestock and frankincense in exchange for consumer goods from the Arabian side evolved into a strong commercial and cultural relationship of central importance to Sanaag’s social and economic life. Further south, the inhabitants of Sool region long ago developed a niche as an economic and social gateway between Somaliland and Somalia – a role the region still plays.

    Western Somaliland, comprising present day Awdal and western Woqooyi Galbeed regions, also embarked on a course of slightly separate development. Around the turn of the century, inhabitants of the area began to borrow ox-plough farming techniques from neighbouring Oromo groups (in Ethiopia) and have since developed an agropastoral mode of production in which cattle raised in sedentary agricultural villages have replaced camels as the principal stock. The region has since become increasingly specialized in the production of cereal crops – chiefly sorghum and maize – which are traded throughout Somaliland. More recently, cereal production has been supplemented by fruits and vegetables grown on small scale irrigated farms for domestic consumption.

    The sedentary agricultural mode of production in the west created a concentration of settlements unmatched elsewhere in Somaliland, including Gabiley, Tog Wajaale, Dila and Boorame. Furthermore, this zone came to serve increasingly as a transhipment point in the trade linking Djibouti, Jigjiga and Dire Dawa to the major population centres of Somaliland. Despite the region’s “separate development”, western Somaliland’s relative prosperity, the metropolitan influences from neighbouring towns, and the settled nature of the population have encouraged its gradual integration within Somaliland’s broader economic and political context.

    The growing importance of central Somaliland over the past century has been matched by the gradual decline of the coastal areas. The importance of ancient settlements like Seylac, Bullaxaar, Xiis, Maydh, Laas Qoray and Ceelaayo was diminished when the British colonial authorities shifted their administrative centres from the uncomfortable coastal climate to the cooler Oogo zone, and was further eclipsed by the development of major ports at Berbera and Djibouti. Among the coastal towns, only Berbera, by virtue of its port facilities and its key role in the central “triangle” export trade, has gained in size and importance.

    From independence to unification

    For most of the period of British rule in Somaliland, very little political activity was either permitted or encouraged. The colonial authorities exercised control through a system of indirect rule that relied upon traditional leadership structures. Only in the two decades prior to independence did the British foster any meaningful indigenous political development. The small, educated civil service elite, which adopted British administrative discipline and work ethics, also inherited – to an extent – a reluctance to involve itself directly in politics. Thus as Somaliland braced itself for independence in 1960, it was equipped with a relatively strong civil service, adequate both in quality and in quantity, but was almost entirely lacking in political cadre.

    As the clock ticked towards independence, the few political leaders who had emerged were absorbed with a single issue: the question of unity with their neighbour to the south: the United Nations Trust Territory of Somalia. Those who advised caution, or engaged in a nuanced debate over issues were overwhelmed by the nationalist cause of unification in the quest for a pan-Somali state – Greater Somalia – to include Somaliland, Somalia, the Somali-inhabited region of Ethiopia, the Côte Français des Somaliens (Djibouti) and Kenya’s Northern Frontier District (NFD). Immediate and unconditional merger with other Somali territories – beginning with Somalia – was considered by many in Somaliland to be a panacea; so powerful and persuasive was the impulse towards unity that even the sceptics were borne along by its urge.

    The politics of independence led to a mushrooming of political parties in the closing years of the 1950s. The Somali National League (SNL), the National United Front (NUF) and the United Somali Party (USP) all emerged in response to the overarching need of that particular moment in history: to receive the independence of the Somaliland Protectorate from the British authorities. In 1960, their purpose served, they disappeared – just as the Somaliland state disappeared into the new “Somali Republic.”6 But before even a year elapsed, the Somaliland population’s initial euphoria was exchanged for a more sober appreciation of the true situation.

    Politically, Somalilanders entered the union at a disadvantage. Despite Somaliland’s preference that a single Act of Union be agreed to by both governments prior to merger, this fundamental step was never taken. A presidential decree entitled the “Law of Union of the State of Somaliland and Somalia” submitted to the combined legislatures failed to win their approval, and the matter was ultimately referred to the people in a problematic referendum. Somaliland’s Prime Minister was assigned the relatively junior post of Minister of Education in a cabinet heavily dominated by southerners. Likewise, Somaliland was allocated only 33 seats in parliament versus 99 for the south. The designation of Muqdisho as the remote national capital left the majority of Somalilanders estranged from their new government and alienated from the country’s social and economic nucleus.

    The north had sacrificed more than the south. The south, with the capital and National Assembly at Muqdisho, was still the hub of affairs; but from its former position as the capital of a small state Hargeysa had declined to a mere provincial headquarters remote from the centre of things. Even though many northern officials now held key positions in the government, northern pride found it hard to stomach this reduction in prestige. (Lewis: 1965)

    Northern discontent with these arrangements surfaced almost immediately. When a referendum was held in June 1961 to approve the new, joint Constitution, the Somali National League (SNL), decided to boycott it. Of the 100,000 recorded voters in Somaliland, over 60% opposed the constitution, 72% in Hargeysa, 69% in Berbera, 66% in Burco and 69% in Ceerigaabo. As a vote of confidence in unity with the south, Somaliland had given a resoundingly negative verdict (Drysdale: 1994). Nevertheless, the vote was carried by a southern majority.

    The outcome of the referendum was echoed in popular plays and songs critical of unification, and in the unsuccessful efforts only six months later by a group of Sandhurst-trained military officers to stage a coup d’etat in Hargeysa. The rebellion, which was poorly organized and quickly suppressed, proved to be less of an embarrassment to national unity than the subsequent trial of the officers involved:

    When the leaders of the attempted coup were brought to trial in Muqdisho before a British judge on charges of treason… he acquitted the officers on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction over the State of Somaliland in the absence of an Act of Union. (GOS – Background: 1994)

    The ruling in favour of the northern coup plotters had exposed a very basic flaw at the heart of the Somali Republic: legally, it did not exist. It would survive for only three decades before the contradictions at its core would lead to its dissolution.

    From unity to civil war

    The unification of Somaliland and Somalia had been predicated not on the promise of a bilateral treaty, but rather a multilateral one in which the three remaining Somali territories would also ultimately be incorporated. That dream would also be badly shaken in the years that followed independence. In 1963, the British awarded independence to Kenya, including the mainly Somali-inhabited Northern Frontier District (NFD), disregarding their pledge to respect the findings of an independent commission that an overwhelming majority of the people in the NFD sought unity with Somalia. The following year, in 1964, Ethiopia and Somalia fought their first major military action over the disputed Somali-inhabited region of Ethiopia, in which the might of the Somali armed forces was shown to be unequal to the task of annexing the territory. The initial momentum towards a pan-Somali state had suffered another setback.

    The fledgling Somali Republic was soon in difficulty at home. During a brief period of parliamentary civilian rule (1960-1969), the country’s experiment with western democracy proved poorly adapted to the clan-based nature of Somali politics, and was soon corrupted. Against a backdrop of growing popular discontent, President Cabdirashiid Cali Sharmaarke was assassinated by one of his bodyguards while touring the Laas Caanood area, and one week later on October 21, 1969 the army commander, General Maxamed Siyaad Barre, seized power in a bloodless coup.

    Although few Somalis relished the prospect of military rule, Barre’s “Supreme Revolutionary Council” was widely received as a welcome alternative to the disappointments of civilian rule. A mix of young idealists and ideologues flocked to his banner of “Scientific Socialism”, which also won the backing of the Soviet Union. The “Revolution” quickly introduced the first official Somali script, launched massive literacy campaigns, and embarked on an ambitious programme of self-help schemes and social development projects.

    But the regime’s popularity proved short-lived. Barre’s vision demanded the dismantling of the traditional clan-based social order, economic networks and political institutions upon which the majority of Somalis still depended. The regime’s primitive attempts at social engineering revealed an ideological arsenal dominated by crude shock campaigns and a cult of personality that drew heavily upon China’s Cultural Revolution and the “Juche” philosophy of North Korea’s Kim Il Sung (Lewis: 1994). Each campaign employed armies of revolutionary opportunists to ensure coerced participation of the population. No aspect of Somali private or public identity was spared the government’s zeal for command and control: culture, family life, nomadism, traditional authority and social organization, religious beliefs were all denounced as anachronistic or subversive and targeted for reform. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a subtle and manipulative exercise in corruption and clan politics was beginning to take shape.

    As the first flush of enthusiasm for his “Revolution” began to fade in the mid-1970s, Barre turned to the pan-Somali dream to reinvigorate his flagging support base. With the help of the Soviet Union, Barre built up the Somali army to become one of the largest and best equipped in sub-Saharan Africa. By 1975, clandestine units were operating across the border in Ethiopia’s Somali region, and in 1977 full-scale war broke out as Barre launched his forces in a dramatic offensive across the border. Somali forces made early, rapid gains, but when the Soviet Union withdrew its support from Barre and weighed in heavily on the Ethiopian side instead, the tide began to turn. The Somali army was routed, suffering heavy losses and Barre was forced to capitulate.

    The 1977-8 Somali-Ethiopian War marked a watershed for the Barre regime, for the Somali people, and for the state they had fashioned for themselves less than 2 decades previously. Somalia’s defeat decisively buried the dream of a pan-Somali state – a fact underscored by Djibouti’s choice of independence rather than union with the Somali Republic in a referendum the previous year (1977). Two important threads in the fabric of Somali unity had just unravelled.

    The defeat also sowed the seeds of mistrust between the north and the south. Northern officers who had been at the front felt not only that they had borne the brunt of the campaign, but also that they had been deliberately undermined by the machinations of a southern military hierarchy. Northern civilians, who had backed the war enthusiastically, also felt that they had been subtly manipulated by rival southern interests and suffered disproportionately from the conflict.

    Far more profound and far-reaching on its impact in relations between North and South, however, was the massive human influx to Somalia generated by the war. More than 1,000 refugees a day poured into Somalia – most of them ethnic Somalis, although a substantial Oromo minority joined them in their exodus. By 1981 refugees constituted about 40% of the national population (Simons: 1995) – about 400,000 of them in the north.

    Although the refugees were settled throughout Somalia, their arrival in the North created considerable tension. Most of the refugees were Ogaden Somalis, a group non-resident in the North, and whose political leadership were closely associated with the Barre regime. Local inhabitants felt overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the arrivals, who overflowed from the designated camps and began to settle in the major towns. Aid resources earmarked to settle and care for the refugees, without any obvious benefit to the local people, became a source of envy and resentment. Many refugees, by virtue of their clan, were favoured by the regime for posts in local government and in the military garrisons of the area. Over time, the refugees also received preferential treatment in terms of business licenses, contracts, and other commercial benefits. As the rift between the refugees and their hosts widened, refugee militia were established and armed by the Barre government, escalating the situation dangerously. In a memorandum to the president dated March 30,1982, a group of 21 Isaaq elders enumerated the grievances of their community concerning the refugees, warning ominously (and prophetically) of “the dangers facing us,” which included “a real threat to the unity of the Somali people,” and “the threat of disintegration”(Africa Watch: 1990).7

    Tensions between the local inhabitants and the refugees were just a symptom of the government’s cynical manipulation of kinship divisions within Somali society for the purposes of “divide and rule.” Shaken by its defeat in the Somali-Ethiopian War and by an attempted coup d’etat by military officers in Muqdisho in April 1978, the regime had concentrated the economic resources of the country in its hands, using their selective redistribution to ensure loyalty to regime. Massive amounts of foreign aid were diverted and misappropriated by the regime, whose cronies amassed enormous private wealth.8 Very little of the assistance ever reached the north,9 except for that destined for the refugees, whose allegiance was important to the ruling clique; perversely, northerners suffered instead from the draconian economic conditions often imposed by foreign donors.

    In contrast with the treatment the government accorded the refugees, during the 1980s, it became evident that the Isaaq clan had been singled out as a target for political, economic, social and cultural oppression (Ghalib: 1995). At the national level they were discriminated against in terms of public employment, international appointments, and even business opportunities. Two major sources of revenue for the Isaaq community, the “Franco Valuta” exchange system, in which traders were permitted to retain a portion of their hard currency earnings to purchase import goods abroad, and the traffic in qaad, were both abruptly curtailed for reasons that seemed based as much on clan politics as any other rationale.

    In the north itself, the government crackdown manifested itself in a variety of ways. Restrictions were placed selectively on the livestock export trade, making it increasingly difficult for Isaaq exporters to acquire licenses, open Letters of Credit, or transport livestock to Berbera for export, while their competitors from other clans were relatively unaffected. Similarly, multiple layers of bureaucrats and security systems preyed upon the Isaaq business community, initially by skimming profits and later by cutting to the bone their commercial earnings. Ultimately, business activity was reduced to a subsistence level, as traders resorted to bribery and smuggling in order to provide goods to the urban population, who endured curfew for months on end. As repression intensified, urban commerce such as transport, retail stores, and hotels was effectively placed off-limits to the Isaaq.

    Some of the regime’s methods were more direct. In February 1982, imported goods estimated at a value of US $50 million were confiscated from Berbera port (Africa Watch: 1990) – an act interpreted by many in the Isaaq business community as a declaration of war by the government. A threshold had indeed been crossed, and outright appropriation of Isaaq’s private property by government officials and members of the security forces became commonplace.

    The State of Somaliland was occupied wholly by a corrupt and inexperienced army of officers purporting to be administrative officers in charge of Districts and regions. The judicial system no longer functioned. It was superfluous since Habeas Corpus had been annulled in October 1969. The country was effectively administered…by the Hangash (military intelligence), the Dabarjebinta [sic] (military counter-intelligence), the Koofiyad ‘Asta [sic] (red berets – military police), the Barista Hisbiga [sic] (party investigators), and the Guulwadayaal (party militia). Imprisonment, torture, and execution without trial were de rigeur. (GOS – Background: 1994)

    In 1981, the pent up frustration within the Isaaq community was explosively triggered by the government’s arrest of a group of Hargeysa intellectuals,10 whose only crime was to have organized self-help programs (Ghalib: 1995). Accused of distributing anti-government propaganda and other subversive activities, they were handed down sentences ranging from death (later commuted to life imprisonment) to long-term prison sentences. Their detention and torture helped to mobilize national and international condemnation of the regime.

    At roughly the same time, consultations within the Isaaq, both within Somalia and in the diaspora communities of the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom, led to the formation in London, of the rebel Somali National Movement (SNM). By 1982, the SNM had established bases in Ethiopia, from where it waged an armed struggle against the regime’s forces in the north, initially in the form of clandestine cross-border incursions. In January 1983, the SNM campaign gathered momentum with a daring raid on Mandheera Central Prison, which released over 1,000 political detainees and other inmates who had been condemned to death (GOS – Background: 1994).

    In return, the government redoubled its campaign of brutal repression. In the urban centres, arbitrary arrests, detentions and executions accelerated. In the rural areas, the regime sought to undermine the SNM’s support among nomads by destroying their livelihoods. Water points were declared off limits, closed, destroyed, poisoned and mined. Commercial trucks were grounded, starving the rural community of food, medicines, and other consumer goods. Villages were razed to the ground and soldiers allowed to confiscate livestock without compensation.

    In May 1988, following the signature of peace accord between Ethiopia and Somalia that threatened to terminate their campaign, the SNM launched an all-out offensive against government forces in Hargeysa and Burco. Caught off-guard, the government responded with a brutal ground and aerial bombardment. Over 50,000 people are estimated to have died, and more than 500,000 fled across the border to Ethiopia, harassed by government fighter-bombers piloted by foreign mercenaries. What remained of Northern towns and villages was systematically destroyed by government forces, looted and strewn with hundreds of thousands of landmines.

    The fall of the regime was now only two years away. From its bases in Ethiopia, the SNM offered a springboard for newly established guerrilla groups in the south and continued its campaign in the north. Government retribution against suspected SNM sympathizers escalated to new levels leading to mass detentions and executions both in the North, and in Muqdisho. In January 1991, as USC militia entered the Somali capital, SNM forces launched a lightning offensive in the North, recapturing the major towns and putting the government troops to flight. The war was over.

    Reconciliation and peace

    Cessation of hostilities in the immediate aftermath of the SNM victory was advanced by the relatively low level of animosity between the Isaaq and other communities. Although military resistance to government rule in the north was concentrated mainly within the Isaaq, some members of other groups had also opposed the government, and many had worked hard to contain the violence. Government attempts to provoke inter-communal violence between the clans in the north had been strongly resisted and ultimately proved unsuccessful – largely because they relied upon interest groups within clans, and not upon broad-based support. In 1988, for example, a meeting of the Dhulbahante leadership in Laas Caanood opted not to mobilize as a clan against either the SNM or the Isaaq, despite pressures from senior Dhulbahante figures within the government.

    During the war, prisoners held by clan militias (not by government forces) had been generally well-treated, and prisoner exchanges were common. Trade and commerce had continued between the various clans through mutually agreed channels. Regular contacts between leaders of the various communities inside and outside Somalia had helped to defuse potential animosity between them. Once the government was removed from the scene, there remained few obstacles to real peace.

    In February 1991, the responsibility for peace-making fell upon the traditional leaders (Guurti) of the various clans. A meeting convened by the SNM at the port town of Berbera established a formal cease-fire and fixed a date for a conference of the Guurti to be held in Burco two months later, to be followed by an SNM Central Committee meeting. In the meantime, the Guurti would have time to consult with their constituents. Their peace-making skills were about to be tested on a grand scale.

    Burco has often played the role of cradle of change in Somaliland’s history, but rarely as dramatically as during the 1991 Grand Conference. More than a dozen Garaaddo, Suldaanno and Ugaasyo (titled traditional leaders) representing the Isaaq, the Harti and the Dir clans, together with their delegations, converged upon Burco. They were joined at the conference by participants from other sectors of society, including artists, intellectuals, and business people (who provided most of the financing) as well as delegates from the diaspora. The conclusions of the conference were presented as recommendations to the subsequent SNM Central Committee meeting, which agreed upon the following:

    Reconciliation of the warring parties to the conflict

    Declaration of the Somaliland Republic on 18 May 1991

    A transitional two-year rule by the SNM, and the accommodation of the non-Isaaq communities in the government structure during this period.

    Initiation of a separate reconciliation process for Sanaag region
    Although the agreement reached at Burco remains the cornerstone of the peace that prevails in Somaliland today, it by no means settled all grievances, nor resolved all differences: it simply terminated active hostilities and created a common political framework. It was then followed by diverse local reconciliation initiatives (Farah and Lewis: 1993) that have continued, almost without pause, ever since.

    State-building

    The Burco conference had effectively neutralized the potential for violent conflict between the Isaaq and their neighbours, but it did little to resolve the latent tensions within the SNM itself. During the war against the regime, the SNM’s internal struggles had been sublimated by the twin imperatives of survival and solidarity, but with the common enemy defeated, schisms rapidly emerged.

    Less than a year after the Burco meeting, the government of Cabdirahman Axmad Cali “Tuur” found itself at war with a coalition of militias loosely based on clan, and linked by political affiliation with the Calan Cas (Red Flag) faction of the SNM. Clashes took place first in Burco, then Berbera, and Hargeysa was reduced to a state of near-anarchy.

    In October 1992, the Guurti once again stepped in, with representatives from the Gadabuursi clan playing a lead role in peace-making. A cease-fire was agreed at the town of Sheekh, and a date fixed for a broader reconciliation conference to be held at Boorame, in western Somaliland. The Grand Boorame Conference held between January and May 1993 represents another watershed in Somaliland’s recovery and development. In the absence of meaningful support, the burden for hosting the meeting was shouldered by the Boorame community. During five-months of deliberations, the 150-member Guurti, together with hundreds of delegates and observers from across Somaliland, agreed upon the following:

    The peaceful transfer of power from the SNM interim government to a beel (community) based system

    Election of a civilian president (Maxamed Xaaji Ibrahim Cigal) and a vice president (Cabdirahman aw Cali)

    Adoption of a National Charter and a Peace Charter, intended to serve as the basis for efforts towards peace-building and state-building, during a further transitional period of two years.

    The Guurti also used the occasion to review and revamp the ongoing reconciliation processes in different parts of the country.

    A combination of factors including deeply rooted mistrust between clans, continuing factional discord within the SNM, the clash of powerful egos, and international interests, all came into play when the Boorame process moved from conference hall to the proving grounds of Somaliland in mid-1993.11 By November 1994, these tensions had erupted into full-scale conflict that engulfed the central regions of Woqooyi Galbeed and Togdheer (Bryden: 1994) for almost two years. Fighting broke out in Hargeysa in November 1994, and by March 1995 Burco was also in flames. The war continued until early 1996, displacing a considerable portion of Hargeysa’s inhabitants and the entire population of Burco.

    Despite numerous attempts to quell the conflict within Somaliland society, as well as from the diaspora, peace talks made little progress until 1996 (Bryden and Farah: 1996). Finally, in February 1997, after nearly five months of consultations, peace was concluded in Hargeysa (Bradbury: 1997) at a Conference that achieved the following:

    · Cessation of hostilities (the “Ceel Xume” opposition group from Burco did not attend this conference but later joined the general peace settlement).

    · A new constitutional document, to be valid during a further 3-year transition period.

    · Re-elected President Cigal, with a new vice president, Dahir Riyaale Kahin, for a term of 5 years.

    · Addressed some of the grievances of opposition groups, by increasing their share in the two Houses of Parliament.

    · Accommodated Somaliland’s minority communities in terms of political representation
    The Hargeysa Conference was followed by the longest period of uninterrupted peace since Somaliland’s reclamation of independence – a sign that things are moving along the right track. But the challenges to reconstruction and development remain formidable: indeed, the complexity of the issues and the stakes involved appear to have grown. Somaliland has made tremendous progress, but there is no room for complacency if past gains are to be consolidated and progress to be sustained. The remainder of this paper is dedicated to illuminating the way forward.

    2 Subsequent agreements between Britain and Ethiopia in 1942, 1944, 1948 and 1954 concerned the implementation of the 1897 treaty, but did not alter the substance of the original accord.

    3 The official figure from the Ministry of National Planning and Co-ordination is 3 million.

    4 The original treaties gave the British no rights to cede territory on behalf of the Somaliland clans – a prerogative that the British nevertheless exercised illegally and unilaterally in their negotiations with other imperial powers.

    5 Laurence was the husband of renowned Canadian author Margaret Laurence, whose early works include two volumes based on her experiences in Somaliland: A Tree for Poverty and The Prophet’s Camel Bell.

    6 Many Somalilanders resent the use of the term “Somalia” to describe Somaliland’s union with the south. They argue that Somaliland and Somalia united to form the “Somali Republic,” and that substitution of “Somali Republic” with Somalia in casual use has helped to obscure Somaliland’s independent origins and the voluntary nature of the union.

    7 For a detailed account of events during this period, see: Somalia: A Government at War with its Own People (London: Africa Watch, 1990).

    8 An entire section of Mogadishu distinguished by extravagant Villas came to be known as Booli Qaran, meaning the “National Loot”.

    9 Between 1987-89, an estimated 6.4% of total overseas investment was allocated to the north (GOS – Background: 1994).

    10 The group was variously known as the Hargeysa Group, Ufo (a type of whirlwind signalling a change in the weather), and Ragga u Dhashay Magaalada (Men Born of the City – a pseudonym employed by anti-government pamphleteers).

    11 The United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) declined to recognize the legitimacy of the Boorame process and sponsored alternative leadership instead, contributing directly to a destructive round of civil strife in 1994-96.

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    Renewed push for recognition of Somaliland independence

    afrol News, 12 June – After the 31 May referendum over the Constitution of breakaway Somaliland – including a paragraph stating its independence – campaigners for an international recognition of former British Somaliland are making a new diplomatic push. Over 97 percent had backed the government in its strive for independence.

    A statement released yesterday by the Somaliland Forum, a Diaspora group campaigning for the international recognition of Somaliland’s independence, made clear that “on May 31, 2001, the people of Somaliland made their wishes clear to the world.” The wishes were of a quick international recognition of their ten year old state.

    In its “Message from the People of Somaliland to the International Community”, the Somaliland Forum (SLF) called on the international community “to recognise the state of Somaliland and grant the people of Somaliland their God-given right to self-determination.”

    The SLF is a powerful Diaspora working for the recognition of Somaliland. Access to financing from Somalilanders living and working abroad has made the organisation an important support to the poorly financed Somaliland government in its international campaign. The SLF for example contacted and financed the international observers to the 31 May referendum, giving it more weight and substance. The organisation also plaid a vital part in financing the smooth referendum itself.

    – The republic of Somaliland reinstated its sovereignty in May 1991 from Somalia, the illegal and ill-fated union of July 1960, the SLF communiqué states, leaning closely on to the statements made by Somaliland President Muhammad Ibrahim Egal on the background of the new state. “The international community, however, has been ignoring this historic decision, for Somaliland still yearns for a diplomatic recognition a decade later.”

    In a plea especially directed towards the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the European Union, the SLF “urge them to respect the wishes and rights of the people of Somaliland”. In the referendum, the people of Somaliland had “approved the constitution of Somaliland, which, in addition to upholding the sovereignty of Somaliland, also sets the rules and procedures under which their government will operate.”

    World leaders are set to await the actions taken by the OAU, which in uncertain how to assess its most holy principle, enshrined in the OAU charter, of the inviolability of the old, colonial borders. As Somaliland actually had been a separate (British) colony before independence, and enjoyed four days of independence before joining with former Italian Somaliland, gives the petition certain legitimacy.

    OAU and UN support however still goes totally towards the Transitional National Government (TNG) of Somalia in Mogadishu, which claims to represent all Somalia, including Somaliland. Great hopes were given the TNG, established last year as the first central government in Somalia (except Somaliland) after ten years of civil war. The more and more visible failure of the TNG – now only controlling parts of Mogadishu – however could shift sympathy in favour of Somaliland, which has experienced peace, order and economic development since its establishment in 1991.

    Leaning on the continuing chaos in Somalia outside Somaliland, the SLF urges world leaders “to recognize Somaliland and reward the hard work and dedication the people of Somaliland have shown in rebuilding their country from the ashes without any outside assistance.” Especially the OAU should fulfil its “duty in promoting and safeguarding peace and stability in Africa and recognise Somaliland.”

    Sources: Based on Somaliland Forum, UN sources and afrol archives

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    Somali Reconciliation processes: A perpetual failure

    Mohamed Hashi Elmi

    The international community has conferred legitimacy on Somalia’s warlords by hosting them, in Five-Star hotels, at the expense of the donor countries while shaking hands with Heads of States. Now these Warlords were declared by the international community as being the sole representatives of the people in Somalia. This appeasement however does not change the fact that the majority of the people in Somalia see these warlords as pure criminals who have been responsible for perpetrating their suffering for over a decade.

    Among this lot of suspected mass murderers are individuals wanted in Somaliland for war crimes and crimes against humanity that had been committed here back in the 1980s. The mass graves found in the outskirts of every major town and city, and in particularly around the capital Hargeisa, stand testimony to the large-scale human rights violation and colossal destruction and pillage of property that took place.

    Since 1991, when SNM, SPM and USC forces defeated the army of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia plunged into civil wars, internal displacements, genocide, destruction etc. To stop bloodshed and destruction, outside intervention was inevitable. The UN, IGAD countries, AU, EU, US and the Arab League were all eager to find solution to the Somalia problem.

    Conferences were, held with the desired objectives of making peace and National Reconciliation among the Somalia’s Warring factions. Equally important was to return properties taken by force to their rightful owners, to bring the perpetrators of human rights abuses to justice and then to establish a central authority for Somalia.

    The question, which comes to mind now is: will the Mbagathi Crowned president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, achieve some degree of success where his predecessor failed? Why Reconciliation conferences for Somalia always create more warlords, conflicts and end up in disasters? These and many more questions need to be addressed in order to understand Somalia’s chronic problems and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) lack of genuine intentions for dealing with the crisis in Somalia.

    Unlike Somalia, for example, Somaliland (The Former British Protectorate) convened its conferences inside the country. No foreign governments or International Organisations were invited or involved. The first reconciliation conference of all clan leaders held in Burao in 1991. It was under trees on mats and in partially demolished buildings. The total expense of the conference was less than ten thousand ($10,000) US Dollars, all paid by the citizens. The follow-up conferences, one in Borama 1993 and in Hargeisa 1997, were convened in similar circumstances.

    Then, Somaliland demobilized its militia in 1993, formed a National army, a police force, custodial corps and established all governmental institutions. It began its democratization in May 2001 with plebiscite on a new Constitution (97% yes vote), with the introduction of multiparty electoral system and in December 2002 with municipal elections that were open and transparent. Following in 2003 was the Presidential election. All these were achieved with great success and with insignificant financial assistance from outside. The final stage is the legislative elections scheduled on March 2005. Determination to move forward was the key to all these successes. Today, Somaliland enjoys peace and stability accompanied by experimental multi party democracy.

    Reconciliation Conferences for Somalia took totally different approach. The fourteen conferences, which were held on Somalia since 1991, were initiated, organized and financed by foreign Governments and International organizations. They were, convened outside Somalia and erratically managed by IGAD countries.

    The first two conferences were hosted in and by Djibouti Government in 1991 to form Government of National Unity, in which Ali Mahdi was nominated the President of Somalia. Somehow the armed-wing of United Somali Congress (USC), lead by General Mohamed Farah Aideed, was ignored. That initial mistake was the cause of the split of the USC into two factions and triggered the ensuing civil war for the control of the capital Mogadishu and the neighboring regions.

    Since 1993, subsequent Conferences on Somalia sponsored by the UN were held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. General Mohamed Farah Aideed was dissatisfied and felt antagonized. As a result, fighting broke out between Aideed’s forces and those of the UN. Despite these failures, lack of commitment to peace by the Somalia warlords and without improvement to the methodology, Somalia’s major events and Peace Conferences still continued; In Sodere, Ethiopia (1996), Cairo, Egypt (1997) and Khartoum in January 2002 and so on.

    In the year 2000, the government of Djibouti again convened a conference at Arta in which the Transitional National Government (TNG) was formed and Abdi-Qasim Salad Hassan was elected President. The TNG failed because of incompetence, corruption, and the lack of a working program. It could not even control more than few blocks of the capital, Mogadishu, and it gradually melted into non-existence.

    These failures could rightly be attributed to the derailing of the concept of peacemaking and reconciliation for the election campaign just to Crown a criminal warlord. Hence, to save the Conference itself for that purpose outweighed the desired objectives of a meaningful peace settlement among warring parties and antagonists. Peacemaking and reconciliation was inescapable prerequisite for the establishment of Central Authority for Somalia.

    Secondly, IGAD States, unfortunately could not overcome their political differences, internal divisions, and rivalry to gain fame and recognition of regional power. Djibouti Government and some Arab League States openly supported the TNG and Ethiopia the SRRC.
    The Role of Senior Somali Professionals and Scholars, chaired by Mr Abdirazaq H. Hussein (former Somalia Prime minister) was neither helpful, healthy nor realistic, by recommending to IGAD members the following:

    “Adopting the South African Truth and Reconciliation model is not viable, under the present circumstances in Somalia, for the following reasons:
    I. Most of the warring parties, and all antagonists have jointed the peace process and are active in the formation of the transitional federal government.
    II. Repercussions of a televised voluntary public confession of crimes committed, in a Somali context, needs further careful study.
    Adopting the Rwandan and Bosnian Models of setting-up an International Criminal Court to try people who have joined the peace process and are part of the transitional federal government is also not practical.
    The massacres, crimes against humanity, and human rights violations that took place in Somalia are very grave and will be deferred to the elected Somali parliamentary government as soon as the transitional period (five years) is over. This elected body will decide what model is appropriate to bring those who committed these crimes to justice”.

    Work of two years and an expenditure of millions of US Dollars have again produced corrupt criminal leaders to decide the destiny of the people they have destroyed.
    Mbagathi President, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, admitted in his recent State visit to Sana’a Yemen that he was the first man to fire the first shot that triggered the civil war in Somalia.

    He spent four million U. S. Dollars to be elected while his people are suffering from the worst drought in recent history of the region. Why do the warlords spend such huge sums of money just to be elected? There are two main reasons for that, first they fear of revenge of the crimes they committed and power is a source of protection for them. Secondly, it is investment to get much more from the State. Peace and development for Somalia are not viable propositions with the warlords.

    The words peace reconciliation and development are used in Somalia’s externally driven processes because they are attractive and appealing to the donor countries but they are excluded in any IGAD agenda and in the minds of the warlords. The exclusion of peace and reconciliation from the agendas is a signal of encouragement to the warlords. It enhances their political position by expanding their territories of control and forming alliance with other groups.

    As usual, whenever a warlord is elected, the game continues; State visits to Arab countries and the EU for financial support, acquisition of ammunition and to occupy the seats of the AU, The Arab League and the UN, and like his predecessors, to wage fresh civil wars. As soon as the Mbagathi initiative was over, the newly elected President has started a fresh civil war between Puntland militia and Somaliland forces.

    To complete the cycle, the beneficiaries of Somalia crisis, United Nations Political Office (UNPOS), Kenya and Djibouti, will be on the drawing board soon, only to plan the venue for Somalia’s next Reconciliation Conference. So the tragic events of violence will continue. Like the Great Lake regions, wars could spread from country to another.

    It is not surprising that the President, Prime minister and the entire 275 members of parliament are in exile in Nairobi, Kenya and probably will be there until their tenure of office expires.

    There are no simple solutions to Somalia crisis but to curb the expansion of violence from Somaliland and the region as whole and the International Community must recognize Somaliland, which was a separate State that got its independence in 1960, from Great Britain and voluntarily united with Somalia. A marriage that was not successful.

    Ethnicity as claimed by the Mbagathi president cannot alter the Recognized International Borders. The claim of territories by ethnicity will not be confined to Somaliland alone, it could also spill over across the border to Ethiopia for the same reason. The border between Somaliland and Somalia is not different from that passing between other countries, through out Africa, Europe and Asia clans sharing ethnicity or lineage inhabit, at least, in two or more different countries, and good examples are, Mr. Ibrahim Hassan Gagale’s list in his open letter on Somaliland / Somalia Border Conflict, 04 November 2004:
    · Fulani: inhabits in Mali, Niger, Chad etc
    · Hausa: inhabits in Nigeria and North-western Niger.
    · Yoruba: inhabits in South-west Nigeria and Benin.
    · Bobo: inhabits in Western Burkina Faso and Mali.
    · Massai: inhabits in North-central Kenya and Southern Tanzania.
    · Issaq: inhabits in Somaliland, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya.
    · Samaron: inhabits in Somaliland, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
    · Hawiye: inhabits in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
    · Darod: inhabits in Somaliland, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. So are many others throughout the African continent and even other continents”.

    The author is a former Minister of Industry and Commerce and a winner of the prestigious award of the United Nations Habitat for Humanity in 1996.

    WardheerNews.com

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    WORLD BEYOND RECOGNITION

    There are many countries that don’t officially exist, but their lack of status and inaccessibility make them perfect for an adventure holiday, says Simon Reeve.

    Top tips for hot tots Holiday ideas for young families PAGE 6Fruits of the Caribbean The best luxury resorts in the Grenadines PAGES 4-5Somaliland’s Minister for Tourism was delighted that he finally had a rare foreign visitor he could take to see his country’s national treasures. “Don’t worry!” said the enthusiastic minister, as I reluctantly agreed to accompany him to some rock etchings recently discovered at Laas Ga’al outside Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. “The drawings are beautiful, and it will just be a small detour from the road.” After bumping along potholed dirt tracks through the parched African bush, I started to think my scepticism was justified. But we crested a hill, dodged wiry bushes on a wide plain, and scrambled over boulders to find exquisite rock paintings dating back thousands of years.

    Even under the scorching sun, the paintings had strong, vibrant colours and stark outlines, showing the area’s ancient inhabitants worshipping cattle and venerating a pregnant cow. In a low cave farther up the hill I found human figures dancing along the rock.

    Laas Ga’al is probably the most significant Neolithic rock-painting site in Africa, and for a brief moment I felt like an explorer finding hidden treasures, at a time when the entire world seems within easy reach. But there are still areas of the world off the beaten track which can excite and amaze. Somaliland is not on many tourist maps. In fact, it is not supposed to be on any maps at all, because, according to the international community, Somaliland does not exist.

    Although there are almost 200 official countries in the world there are also dozens more unrecognised states such as Somaliland that remain separate and independent. These countries are home to millions of people; they have their own rulers, armies, police forces; they issue passports and even postage stamps; but they are not officially recognised by the rest of the world.

    I was visiting Somaliland as part of a journey to and through a group of these unofficial states for a five-part BBC2 series, Holidays in the Danger Zone:Places That Don’t Exist. Besides Somaliland, my travels to some of the world’s most obscure corners took me to Transniestria (between Moldova and Ukraine), Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan, and three regions of Georgia that broke away after the collapse of the Soviet Union. My itinerary also included Taiwan, surprisingly, for lack of recognition is not limited to poor nations. No major power recognises Taiwan as a proper country. It has one of the world’s largest economies but no seat at the UN.

    I also wanted to visit the neighbouring states from which the unrecognised countries had declared their independence, generally after bloody conflict. In the case of Somaliland, that’s Somalia. So I began several months of travel by flying into a dusty airstrip outside Mogadishu, the Somali capital, on a tiny UN flight from Nairobi.

    Years of fighting have destroyed once-beautiful Mogadishu, which is now the most dangerous city on the planet for foreigners. The crew and I had to pay a dozen gunmen to keep us alive. Corpses lie in the streets for days, and locals eke out a living in a state of utter chaos. I went to the main market and bought myself a Somali passport from a man called Mr Big Beard.

    Despite the chaos, and though Somalia has no real government, the rest of the world recognises it as an official country. By contrast Somaliland, in the north of Somalia, has a government, police, democracy and traffic lights, but no recognition, making it extremely difficult for the country to attract aid, investment, or visitors.

    A UN cargo flight stopped briefly in Mogadishu to lift us out of chaos and take us north. The chirpy Afrikaans pilot casually warned the flight might be a bit rough. He wasn’t joking. I could have kissed the ground after landing in Somaliland. A smartly dressed immigration official stamped our passports. His presence and uniform were an immediate sign of order.

    Britain is the former colonial power in Somaliland, an overwhelmingly Muslim nation. Locals went to Britain’s aid during the Second World War, and Somalilanders still feel a strong attachment to Britain. They struggle to understand why the UK has not recognised their country and politely quiz visitors about the reasons. As we drove into the sweltering capital, Hargeisa, Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, my towering local guide, explained that Somaliland voluntarily joined Somalia after independence from Britain, but when the relationship soured in the 1980s Somalilanders fought a war for independence.

    Visiting Somaliland is to receive a humbling lesson in survival. Hargeisa, where 50,000 died during the conflict, is being rebuilt with little help from the outside world, and refugees are returning from camps in Ethiopia. A Somali MiG jet which bombed the city sits atop a poignant war memorial.

    Outside Hargeisa there are ancient rock paintings and stunning journeys into the mountains and the port of Berbera, home to a runway once hired by Nasa as an emergency space shuttle landing strip. Tracks run along the coast west from Berbera towards Djibouti, and mangroves, gorgeous islands and coral reef. But Somaliland’s main attraction is its determined and inspirational people. Without aid or loans and largely ignored by the world, they are building a state from scratch and seem determined to keep their independence.

    I was sad to leave, but we headed back to the edge of Europe, to Transniestria, a nation of 700,000 people that split from Moldova to become an extraordinary Soviet-era theme park. The hammer and sickle of the Soviet Union still adorns many buildings, while Lenin looms over the streets and stands proud outside the House of Soviets in the capital, Tiraspol.

    Our route to Transniestria took us through Moldova, the poorest country in Europe. Ruritanian-style villages were empty of all but children and the elderly. Everyone else had fled abroad in search of work. I met a villager who sold a kidney to buy a cow, and the hospitable President kindly taught me to fish, got me drunk, and claimed that Transniestria is a black hole for arms-smuggling and crime.

    Moldovans had warned me that hungry armed men roam the streets of Transniestria, but though the border is tense, the leafy lanes of Tiraspol were full of cafés and restaurants. Fighting talk was limited to thoughts on political strife in neighbouring Ukraine and the impact on the price of salo (pig fat), a major Ukrainian export. Transniestrians eat it covered with chocolate, which is as unappetising as it sounds.

    Transniestrians celebrated their National Independence Day while we visited, an event that bore a striking resemblance to old Soviet parades. The army goose-stepped past a platform of officers awarded medals by the pound. Having always wanted to visit Soviet-era Russia, I watched goggle-eyed. They still have the KGB in Transniestria, a fact we discovered when they detained us for spying. It was tense in their cells, but after a while the KGB agents softened, gave us KGB cap-badges as souvenirs, and allowed us to leave.

    The collapse of the Soviet Union was the cue for a number of smaller regions to declare independence. In the Caucasus, never the most stable part of the world, I visited Nagorno-Karabakh and the three breakaway regions of Georgia: Ajaria, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    Karabakh sits high in snowy mountains, which locals believe makes them the longest-lived people in the world. The scenery and churches were impressive, but it is difficult to visit without asking awkward questions. Before Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan its population was evenly split between Azeris and Armenians. After a bloody war only a handful of Azeris remain.

    To the north, Georgia gave the world a Golden Fleece and Stalin, who it commemorates with a museum. When my guides vanished I sat on Stalin’s personal lavatory and struck my own small blow against the veneration of a murdering madman.

    Georgia rarely failed to impress. There were ancient monasteries to explore, old sulphur baths, trendy new bars in the capital, Tbilisi, and a population that prides itself more on drinking toasts than on eating.

    We headed towards South Ossetia, and crossed yet another tense border to be told the government would only allow us to linger for a few hours. It was time enough to learn that the people are Ossetes, who speak a different language to Georgians, to share birthday toasts with young Ossetian soldiers, and to realise that the locals are prepared to fight and die for their independence. But it was an uncomfortable visit, and we were rather obviously shadowed everywhere by the secret police.

    Heading west across Georgia, an overnight train took us to Ajaria, a summer paradise with beaches that attracted tourists from across the former Soviet Union. Ajaria was formerly a breakaway region headed by a strongman whose son closed roads to race a Lambourghini along the seafront. Strangely this did not go down well with locals (average monthly wage £20). They kicked out the strongman and were partially welcomed back into Georgia.

    Farther north, the government of Abkhazia reneged on an offer of entry, so we left the Caucasus and headed east to Taiwan. When Mao’s Communists defeated Chinese Nationalists they fled to Taiwan and took over. China says it wants Taiwan back, and will use force if necessary.

    For decades, the nationalists in Taiwan claimed they were the rightful rulers of China and wallowed in heritage, protecting buildings the Chinese destroyed during their economic boom. Ancient temples and chic hotels sit snugly beside mountain lakes. In the capital, Taipei, visitors can trek to the top of Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world, to watch as planes fly beneath them.

    But of all the unofficial and official countries I visited, Somaliland had the greatest impact. War between Somalia and Somaliland could erupt again, but there is also a much more optimistic future for the country. Perhaps one day Somaliland will have its own seat at the United Nations, and tourists will flock to its stunning beaches. It is nothing less than Somalilanders deserve.

    ‘Holidays in the Danger Zone: Places That Don’t Exist’, written and presented by Simon Reeve, starts on Wednesday, at 7.30pm on BBC2. For further information visit http://www.shootandscribble.com.

    Adventure basics

    Getting there Flights to Somaliland are available from Daallo Airlines (www.daallo.com) via Djibouti. Several airlines fly to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, from where buses and taxis will take visitors to Transniestria, or at least to the border, where more taxis wait on the other side. Major airlines also fly to Tbilisi in Georgia, from where visitors can take a train to Ajaria (tickets are around £5). Entry to Abkhazia and South Ossetia is more difficult and best attempted via Russia. British Airways (0870 850 9850; http://www.ba.com) flies to Yerevan in Armenia, from where you can take the long road south-east to Nagorno-Karabakh inside Azerbaijan. Make sure relevant permissions are obtained. The Foreign Office advises against travelling to many unrecognised nations, so most personal travel insurance policies will be invalid.

    Staying there Taiwan has many good-quality hotels, but tourist facilities in most unrecognised nations are poor. Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, has a couple of surprisingly good hotels, including the Ambassador (www.ambassadorhotelhargeisa.com), which has comfortable rooms and friendly staff. Outside Hargeisa people are so pleased anyone is visiting Somaliland they make up for poor facilities with a warm welcome.

    When to go Taiwan is good from spring to summer. Nagorno-Karabkh and Georgia’s breakaway statew are freezing in winter. Transniestria has a warmer climate than the UK. Somaliland is warm in winter and one of the hottest parts of the world in summer.

    Eating out Taiwan can boast excellent food, but beware of scantily clad women selling amphetamine betel nuts by the side of the road. In Transniestria it helps to have a local guide who knows the restaurants and can book your meal several hours ahead, otherwise you will probably have a very long wait. Good, hearty organic produce is plentiful in Nagorno-Karabakh; otherwise, why does everyone there live so long?

    Security update Unless war breaks out with China, Taiwan is safe. I cannot encourage anyone to visit Mogadishu in Somalia, but by contrast Somaliland is relatively safe, though visitors must always remember that they are a long way from a Western embassy. The same is true of Transniestria, Ajaria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh, which also fall into a diplomatic no-man’s land: Western governments don’t recognise the existence of these breakaway nations, so it will be harder for them to help if you get into trouble.

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    SOMALILAND RECOGNITION

    “Any attempt to coerce Somaliland back to the Somali fold would entail a bitter and probably futile conflict” ICG warned.

    “The UN and the African Union, on the other hand, were urged to “adopt a more open-minded approach to the question of Somaliland’s ultimate status,”

    The international community should take Somaliland’s demands under formal consideration, including a legal review of the territory’s case vis-à-vis the current AU charter and grant Somaliland observer status pending a final decision on its international status” ICG urged.

    “The Bush and Blair administrations should come together and immediately recognize Somaliland to reward them for pursuing a constructive path toward free market democracy. If we do so, I would bet that, within a year, most other nations will have followed our lead. “ Washington Post by Richard W. Rahn a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute

    “my belief is that we should stop waiting as we have done for about 14 years for the Somalis to come together and love each other. This is not going to happen. We should build on the one source of strength in the area – Somaliland. Recognition may not be the risky step that it seems to be. I believe that if we were to give a lead, many other countries would quickly fall into line. There can be no doubt that we would have to give that lead.” Tony Worthington MP Britain

    “The Somalis in the south had completely destroyed Hargeysa – every house and hospital had been destroyed by MiGs, Tanks and other equipment. How on earth one can expect there to be a reunion of those peoples is beyond credibility.

    We saw mass graves, in which thousands of Somalilanders had been murdered in cold blood with their hands and their feet tied together. Bodies were piled up and crammed into ditches, and bones were scattered all over the area—we could still see them.” Tony Baldry MP Britain

    The fourteen old patience of Somaliland people in these trying times for diplomatic recognition proves the perseverance and resilience of that nation and its commitment to independent, sovereign state. Somaliland suffered, before, from a two-decade long humiliation, dereliction, injustice, and repression (1960-1980) and a decade long merciless campaign of atrocities and destruction (1981-1991) through indiscriminate heavy bombardment on civilians, cities (Hargeisa and Burao) towns, and rural areas by warplanes, tanks and artillery. It was motivated by both tribal hatred and desire for land expansion and devised to ethnic cleanse an entire people, either by massacring or expelling in order to resettle refugees from Ethiopian-ruled Western Somali Province and others in their motherland. The insane campaign, which violated Islamic righteousness, conscience, and morality, was mounted from Mogadisho by Siyad`s divisive, brutal regime.

    The valiant armed struggle of SNM (1981-1991), supported by its courageous people, rescued Somaliland and its people from the well plotted statelessness in January 1991. This liberation facilitated the victorious national reconciliation, the immediate withdrawal from the disastrous union with Somalia, and the reclamation of Somaliland sovereignty in the Pan-Somaliland Conference held in Burao, capital of Togdheer region, in May 1991. Subsequently, law and order were restored, clan militias were disarmed, and democratic institutions were established. The joint efforts of Somaliland police and army made Somaliland a peaceful, stable country since its proclamation, and protect it from international terrorism, drug trafficking and smuggling. The army is also ready to defend the country from external aggressions. As a result, the country is now the most peaceful country in the Horn of Africa, and one of the most peaceful in all of Africa; there is low
    inflation, a growing economy and a balanced budget.

    The United Nations, which has the authority of international legitimacy, is still withholding the legitimate recognition of Somaliland unjustifiably for the last 14 years. Somaliland has fulfilled the fundamental condition for diplomatic recognition: An existing independent nation with its own colonial-drawn borders- a legal basis for diplomatic recognition. Somaliland fulfils the criteria of statehood according to Article 1 of the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of State: Somaliland has a permanent population; a defined territory (the former British Somaliland) with clear international boundaries of which it has an effective control; a democratic government, and a capacity to enter into relations with other states. Somaliland fulfils the criteria for recognizing new states, according to the guidelines set out by the European Union (EU) in 1992, even though they only apply to European nations. Article 4 of African Union charter asserts that the organization respects and recognizes independence of African countries based on colonial borders. The diplomatic recognition of all the 54 current African states is based on these colonial borders. Provisions on sovereignty in the charters of the UN and Arab League also support and recognize independence based on colonial borders. Somaliland is not a breakaway or a separatist country. The UN, the African Union, and the Arab League know undisputedly that Somaliland achieved independence before Somalia on June 26, 1960 within its colonial borders, and was one of the 17 African countries that obtained independence in 1960 from Europe. However, it had unratified merger with Somalia for 30 years (July 1960- January 1991) but withdrew from that union due to the above mentioned atrocities and destruction. In that year of independence, 1960, and before the merger, 35 countries recognized Somaliland diplomatically including Egypt, Israel and the five Permanent Members of the Security Council. Why not now? What is the difference between then and Now? Somaliland is not the first country that withdrew from a union. Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia withdrew from the Soviet Union collapse in 1989, Bosnia and Macedonia withdrew from the Federation of disintegrated Yugoslavia in 1990s and East Timor from Indonesia 20 Feb 2002. All these new countries were automatically recognized by the United Nations. Somaliland is not exception as it fulfilled the same criteria. We are by no means the first African State to have entered into a voluntary union with another state and subsequently withdrawn from that union intact. Egypt and Syria, Senegal and Gambia, and Senegal and Mali have all done likewise. Nor is Somaliland the first African colonial entity to have asserted its separation and independence from another; Eritrea and the Sahrawi Republic are today both full members of the African Union.

    The Somalilanders, almost unanimously, ask what more they can do when the international community continues to recognize Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo and other anarchic, violent places as sovereign units. It is time to give them an answer.

    Besides the withdrawal decision of May 1991, the landmark referendum held in Somaliland on May 31, 2001, overwhelmingly approved Somaliland constitution and reaffirmed, in the presence of international election monitors, the will of the Somaliland people to have independent, sovereign state of their own. Neither the UN nor the regional organizations (African Union and Arab League) have the right to nullify the decision of Somaliland people in that referendum.

    In May 2001, an overwhelming majority of Somalilanders re-affirmed their support for their sovereignty in a Constitution entrenched in the Charters of the African Union and the United Nations. In December 2002, we held our First Local Government elections. Five months later in April 2003 we followed it by our very first Presidential elections where three political parties, peacefully contested the seat of the President of Somaliland and the simple majority won by our President H.E Dahir Rayale kahin.

    The neglect of Somaliland by the international community exposes its shocking double standard that on one hand advocates for peace, stability, and democratic institutions, and, on the other hand, ignores peaceful, stable, democratic Somaliland by denying it of diplomatic recognition. This denial has no legal basis in the court of international law. The delay is just a mere hope by the UN and regional organizations that Somaliland may return to the union with Somalia one day. This political gambling at the expense of Somaliland people for 14 years is irresponsible. It is also perpetuation of lawlessness, despair, famine, and violent, factional fighting in Somalia. This unfounded hope will not affect the iron will of Somaliland people toward self-determination but will consolidate their unchanging stance to have independent, sovereign state from the injustice and killing machine of Somalia. Somaliland government will not attend any peace talks held for Somalia because that would undermine its sovereignty and damage its legitimacy for recognition.

    The government of Somaliland rejected publicly the pressure from UN, African Union, Arab League, and IGAD, and showed the impracticality of what is called “Federalism”. When the UN, African Union, and the Arab League push Somaliland to reunify with Somalia again, can they guarantee for Somaliland people that a ruthless Southern military or civilian dictator will not emerge in Federal Somalia again, dissolving any federal constitution, parliament, and government immediately, and inflicting the same atrocities and destruction upon Somaliland again?

    The answer is simply NO. Then, they should stop that push , recognize Somaliland, and let the two peoples live in peace separately. Somalia itself has no delusion that Somaliland has international legitimacy for recognition for achieving independence before it in 1960.

    There is no doubt that Somalia would be peaceful and stable country today led by its own government if Somaliland were recognized long time ago. This would happen for two reasons. First, the people of Somalia would not waste any more time on waiting for Somaliland. Secondly, they would emulate jealously with Somaliland. Now, neither Somaliland is recognized nor Somalia has peace, both peoples are punished equally in the hands of UN. The current UN policy of keeping both countries at bay is not working any more. The sooner Somaliland is recognized the better chance to restore peace, law, and order in Somalia.

    There is no question that Somaliland will be recognized diplomatically, soon or later, for having full legitimacy and the statehood of Somaliland will be real. The patience and resilience will pay soon.. Opposing Somaliland sovereignty is treason but opposing an incumbent rule or administration advocating better political reforms is a progressive democratic view and must be respected by all.

    The administration, governance, and defense of Somaliland solely belong to Somaliland people. God`s willing, Somaliland will hail soon its diplomatic recognition and will consolidate its statehood.

    Imam. Abdi Halim M. Musa

  12. Knowledge is power

    Somaliland exists and did exist since the 1800s when the colonial powers came into force. British Somaliland gained independence 26th June 1960, it was regarded then a state which existed and not part of Italian Somalia. It was recognised as a country by Britain, Egypt and various other countries. British Somaliland joined Italian Somalia in July 1960 when Italian Somali became independent. This union as you all know dint last due to several reasons which were as follows: Italy ruled over Italian Somalia with force and set up plantations in the south, while Britain left British Somaliland alone except for securing it’s precious trade to India route along the Red sea and exporting meat to its Aden in Yemen. This Italians had supreme grip on Italian Somalia and even to some extent destroyed Xir or Somali debate and cultural change happened as a result to the southerners. Italy educated majority of the southerners but to a low standard which resulted in northerners(Somaliland) taken posts in technical position in government in the unification as Britain educated a minority in British Somaliland but this was done to a high standard. Another reason was that the two countries were apart for almost a 100years and a lot changes in that time. When the government was formed there was also a problem as Somali was not a written language and the two parts could write and speak in two different European languages there wasn’t any common ground even the Somali spoken was different as the dialect varied so much it was like speaking two different languages. Finally all the in ports came in to the country via the north which happen to be ‘Somaliland’ because of its location being closer to other countries, Italian Somalia became jealous of that fact and everything that was established in the North was taken to the South such as universities and health care e.t.c and this was the beginning of the neglect of Somaliland which resulted in civil war. Somali people on the other hand live in the horn of Africa. Britain broke up ‘the Somali lands’ which consists on the Ogden region given to Ethiopia, Somali people also live all the way in Dire dawa in Ethiopia. The wajeea region give to Kenya and Djibouti. As you can see Somali people have been split up for centuries by five powers (Britain, Italy, Ethiopia, France-Djibouti and Kenya) we need to unite put our differences apart and claim OUR LANDS back particularly from Ethiopia and Kenya. Our biggest loss made to Ethiopia as the Ogden region makes up 40% of present day Ethiopia. Conflict is not the way (I’m talking to my Somali brothers and sisters in the south) we need to pull our selves from the warlord statues and corruption the world labels us as. I’m proud of Somaliland for being a democratic country and long may it prosper even though we are the forgotten country which doesn’t exist on any map.
    But I pray for a united Somali land , If not I pray for all ‘Somali lands to be returned home.
    To conclude situations have changed since the 1800s due to colonial powers as sometimes separation is better then war don’t you agree? So Somaliland deserves to become the recognised country it once was.

  13. Abdi

    Now you see the difference between Somalilanders and the southern Somalis.

    One group is determined to better themselves and their country and are condident enough to do it alone despite the lack of recognition and against the interest of other powerful foreign countries such as Italy, Egypt, and the Arab countries that are standing in the way of our progress and the Southerners are busy fighting not only against each other but are also trying their best to stand in the way of of the somalilnaders.

    I believe the solution to the southern Somali problem would be to recognize Somalilnd. This will free up their time and resources that they are using in fighting the progress in Somaliland and then they might be able to chanel all that effort in trying to better themselves.

    Yasmin stated that Somalilanders have no respect for women and that we are murderers and thieves, the questions is why then are the southerners clinging to Somalilanders like parasites? or are they just that? Parasites!

    Here are some good news for somalilanders and their friends and supporters. The rest of the world is getting tired of funding reconsiliation meetings around the world and eventually they will decide to do the right thing which is to SUPPORT DEMOCRACY AND RECOGNIZE SOMALILAND

    GEORGE BUSH, PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS. SOMALIND SHOULD BE YOUR EXAMPLE FOR DEMOCRACY AROUND THE WORLD NOT AFGHANISTAN, NOT IRAQ .

    LONG LIVE SOMALILAND!!

    The West Pushes for Somaliland Recognition

    Mar 21 2006 WASHINGTON, D.C–There is evidence that the European Union (EU) and the US Government are preparing to sidestep the Egyptian Government and work directly with the African Union (AU) in bringing about the recognition of the Republic of Somaliland, possibly within 2006.

    Egypt had used its strong position within the AU and the Arab League to block international recognition of Somaliland because of fears that a sovereign, recognized Somaliland would have greater freedom to act as a transit port for Ethiopia and could possibly provide strategic basing support to Israel and the United States at the mouth of the Red Sea.

    The basic premise of international recognition of states is that they first be recognized by regional bodies—such as the African Union in the case of Somaliland — before the United Nations and the international community at large recognizes the state. However, despite the fact that Somaliland was a sovereign, independent state in its own right before joining in a union with the former Italian Somaliland to create Somalia in 1960, Egypt has used all of its efforts to stop Somaliland rejoining the international community since the collapse of Somalia, and Somaliland’s declaration of resumed sovereignty in 1991.

    The strong steps, being taken by the United Kingdom, Germany, and the US show how far Egypt’s influence has fallen—to the point where it is seen as disrupting Western influence in the Red Sea —and how critical the mouth of the Red Sea is seen as a security zone. Moreover, there are significant signs of offshore oil and gas deposits in the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden area, off the Somaliland coast.

    The rulers of the autonomous Puntland region of Somalia, to the immediate East of Somaliland, had been “selling” oil leases in Somaliland waters to foreign investors, notably to an Australian oil search company. The Puntland deal was repudiated by the nominal Government of Somalia — which has proven unable to establish its writ even in the official capital, Mogadishu, let alone Puntland—but the Somaliland Government began moves immediately to ensure that the sovereign waters off the Somaliland coast would not be claimed by Puntland or Somalia.

    At the same time, during 2005, an African Union mission to Somaliland produced an extremely favorable report on Somaliland, and several African states —particularly South Africa and Nigeria, the two biggest powers in sub-Saharan Africa —have indicated a readiness to recognize Somaliland, which petitioned 2005 AU Chairman and Nigerian Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo directly on the matter.

    The case has now been established that the break-up of the Somalia union did not violate the basic tenet of maintaining colonial borders.Unions between Senegal and Gambia, and Egypt and Sudan, among others, had been broken without affecting the recognition of these countries. And the former British Somaliland (now the Republic of Somaliland) and former Italian Somaliland had been independent entities in 1960 when they created a voluntary union. The AU mission accepted this, stating in its report that Somaliland’s case should not be linked to the notion of ‘opening a Pandora’s box’.As such, the AU should find a special method for dealing with this outstanding case.

    The report noted: “The lack of recognition ties the hands of the authorities and people of Somaliland, as they cannot effectively and sustainably transact with the outside to pursue the reconstruction and development goals. Furthermore, given the acute humanitarian situation prevailing in Somaliland, the AU should mobilize financial resources to help alleviate the plight of the affected communities, especially those catering for the internally displaced persons and the returnees. Finally, given also the high potential for conflict between Mogadishu and Hargeisa, the AU should take steps to discuss critical issues in the relations between the two towns. That initiative should be taken at the earliest possible opportunity.”

    Subsequently, the US has begun, for strategic reasons, to take a strong interest in Somaliland’s status, largely as a result of strong diplomatic liaisons in Washington by Somaliland’s de facto ambassador, and fueled by the fact that the impending military conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia jeopardizes the US military presence in Eritrea. At the same time, Djibouti’s growing restiveness has also given pause to the US, which has, since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, stationed forces there. Djibouti, concerned about the prospect that Somaliland will take away its near monopoly on Ethiopia’s import-export trade, has supported Somalian claims against Somaliland.

    With regard to the opening of Ethiopian trade through Berbera — the great concern of both Djibouti and Eritrea (once the principal import/export route for Ethiopia)—a report in Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis on November24, 2005, noted: Government officials from Somaliland and Ethiopia came together on November 16, 2005, in Berbera’s old State House building to celebrate the first Ethiopia-bound cargo to be imported through the port of Berbera. The cargo of electric goods ordered by the Ethiopian Government-owned Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation arrived aboard a Singapore-registered liner which docked at Berbera on November 9, 2005. The shipment was brought in 55 40ft. containers and forwarded to Ethiopia by 50 Ethiopian- registered trucks, traveling through the border crossing point at Togwajaale. After protracted negotiations, Somaliland and Ethiopia had formally concluded in May 2005 a trade agreement allowing Ethiopia to use Berbera Port for its import and export of goods. The agreement called for the formalization of trade between the two countries and the establishment of customs offices at main border crossing points, such as Wajaale, and improvement of road infrastructure. Significantly, Togwajaale had, by late November 2005, been transformed from a small border village to a major town, with security forces from both countries, banking and governmental infrastructure, to facilitate the import-export trade.

    Ethiopia’s export to Somaliland had consisted mainly of khat (an hallucinogenic plant) and vegetables, while Somaliland re-exported sugar and rice, but high tariff rates and lack of formal bilateral agreements between the two sides had, until the new agreement, limited the scope of trade exchange to the informal sector.

  14. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

    I agree with Dahir if the “world” wants Somaliland to be part of the messed up state Somalia (and by the world I mean the African union esp. Kenya and Egypt) then why should Djibouti be any different? It was part of the Somali territory before.
    What about the 10% claimed by Kenya? Don’t forget the 40% stolen by Ethiopia or shall I say handed to Ethiopia by Britain like it was their country?
    What us Somali people need to understand is that being European colonies (and Ethiopia’s colony still). We as people have changed. It’s evident in our language. It’s created a north / south divided, where the North was left alone thus retaining greater Somali words then the South who were ruled over in literal terms by the Italians.

    As you can see a greater Somalia will never work, people back home are too wrapped up with tribal lands e.t.c.
    The only suffers here are the forgotten region 5 in Ethiopia and the 10% in Kenya. Kenya is trying to save it’s self from the war in the south praying it doesn’t move further south because they want to benefit from their “tourism” income.

    “Yasmin stated that Somalilanders have no respect for women and that we are murderers and thieves”

    What a foolish remark. You make a sweeping generalization like that with no facts, how very stupid! I myself am a female and have gone home to Somaliland I had rights but I also had morals, MUSLIM morals. As for the murderers comment- who flattened the Somaliland capital???? It was the SOUTH (SOMALIA). I do not wish to go into detail but my family members were killed in that civil war. Some college students were drained of their blood literally from their veins with needles, 4 the army of the south. Tell me now WHY do we have to suffer so long?
    Then u turn on each other??? How very silly! Please have some dignity and respect urself. No country is perfect on giving women rights but as a passionate speaker for women’s rights I tell you in Somaliland we are getting there. HOW DARE U! You need to check Somalia’s records b4 u go on your attacking spree.
    No man is ever going to control or oppress me. We as females need to have a voice not just in the Horn of Africa but around the world. It’s sad really so many women are oppressed around the world and silly people like ur self Yasmin are adding to the oppression due to ur ignorance of the subject matter.
    This is not a personal attack in any way u jus need to free ur mind.
    WAR is not the answer – peace is u no like in Somaliland?

    It’s not a flame war, its POLITICAL CORRECTNESS – There is a Somaliland.
    End of discussion.
    p.s. When r u people going to learn? We are called Somalis not Somahis Somalians ok : ) that’s another discussion.

    (This is for whom ever set up the page I’m assuming the moderator? Hold on just a minute…. Is there a White AFRICAN?????
    It’s just that there is no Black EUROPEAN.
    Ur originally Dutch or British right?
    Living in South Africa? Or around that area)

    Thanks for asking actually. I’m not of Dutch decent, though my grandmother is British… But, I can’t really lay any claim to colonial roots, if that is what you’re getting at. My parents are American and my British grandmother was a war-bride from World War II.

    I also have never once set foot in South Africa, Botswana, Nambibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe… well, you get it – anywhere in the Southern region of Africa. I would like to visit, but haven’t had the chance. No, your host was raised in Sudan and Kenya. East Africa mainly, but alas no trips to Somalia – seems I’ve been everywhere else though.

    The term “White African” was picked because it would raise a few eyebrows. I generally ignore racial divisions or politically correct terminology, so this was my answer to that. However, I do consider myself an African – since that’s my home – and I am white, so I guess it fits. :)

  15. Mr.Real

    Somaliland Exists. Somalia Warlords are Killing and Massacring their own people in a Big Number!somaliland Republic is a miracle in Africa!

  16. Abdi

    More power to you white African. You are what you are and your color is really irrelevant to the issues being discussed here.

    As you can see though, we are all agreeing on Somaliland, atleast most of us are (it’s a young democracy that will and should be recognized).

    My question to you is, what’s was your purpose of this topic and if you have learnt anything from it?

    Have you educated yourself about Somaliland other than reading what’s writen about it on your website? if so, what is your opinion about Somalia and Somaliland or atleast, what have you learnt about these two countries?

  17. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

    No no its no personal attack on race on anything , good choice of name “White African”, it does raise eye brows but in a good way. thank u for your reply!

    ~ I generally ignore racial divisions ~
    Now thats a good thing! We need more people like you in the world :)

  18. muuse ibraahim

    woooow i have read this grest history of the break away republic of somaliland and i felt very happy it’s capital second capital are so beautiful hargeisa and burao,also burao is where somaliland declared 18.may.1991.

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