The British Secretary of State for Defence and MP for South Staffordshire, Gavin Alexander Williamson, arrived in Somaliland, Sunday, on an official visit during which the Minister will touch base with a number of key institutions that benefit from UK support – one way or the other.
The Somaliland Minister for Defence, Essa Ahmed Yussuf ‘Hawar’, and the Army Commander Nouh Ismail Tani, met the delegation at the Hargeisa International Airport upon arrival.
According to a press statement which the Presidency released after the meeting, the talks centered on strengthening bilateral relations on many spheres building on a strong bond that already exists between the two countries.
Minister Gavin visited the Somaliland Army Command, the Officers’ Mess quarters and the Coast Guards where, in each place, he held side meetings with the Somaliland Minister of Defence, Essa Hawar, the Somaliland Army Chief of Staff, Nouh Tani, and Admiral Mohamed Farah Hirane of the Coast Guards.
In each of the meetings the UK Minister held with the Somaliland leaders and officials, discussions further cemented existing cooperation
Minister Gavin Williamson was accompanied in this visit General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, KCB, CBE, ADC. The General is a senior British Army officer who has previously served as Director Special Forces. He became Chief of the General Staff in June 2018, succeeding General Sir Nick Carter.
Somaliland was a former British Protectorate who proclaimed full independence on 26 June 1960. Unfortunately, Somalilanders sacrificed their short-lived, 5-day old statehood to a union with four other Somali parts – Ogaden & Reserve Area, NFD, Djibouti, and Italian Somalia – in a bid to form what would have been known as the Greater Somalia nation. Only Italian Somalia, gaining independence on 1 July 1960, shared that sentiment with Somaliland, and the two rushed into an ill-fated union to await the rest of the pack who never arrived. That union ended in disaster: genocide, protracted civil strife, destruction of Somaliland cities, and civilian flight to Ethiopia for refuge from a tyrant Somalia military dictator.
Somaliland decided to restore its lost independence and strike out on its own on 18 May 1991. Since then, it has built a rare, stable, most democratic nation with all state organs and functions in place: legislative, executive and judiciary. Somaliland has its own currency, passport, flag, emblem and state structures that cannot be confused with those existing or just emerging in the former Italian Somalia which is now known as the Federal Government of Somalia.
Starting with the President Himself, Tweets of the visit reflected bouyancy felt across the board.
Warmly received H.E. @GavinWilliamson, Secretary of State for Defence of UK in Hargeisa, Somaliland.
Profoundly discussed strengthening Somaliland-UK bilateral and Historical relationship. pic.twitter.com/gStd94Ixl9
— Muse Bihi Abdi (@musebiihi) January 6, 2019
We may disagree on many other things – but it is good to see @GavinWilliamson @DefenceHQ strengthening the close bond between #Somaliland and the #UK in security and defence in our common interests @SomalilandinUK @AppgSomaliland https://t.co/sbTeVa2F2S
— Stephen Doughty MP / AS (@SDoughtyMP) January 7, 2019
#UK is sending a clear message to #Somalia after Mogadishu Government declares #UN envoy persona non grata.#Somaliland and United Kingdom have strong and longstanding strategic bilateral-relation which is exemplary growing significantly year after the other. https://t.co/MmHSfk9una
— Mark Jones (@MarkJones2006) January 7, 2019