His Highness King Salman Bin Abdalla of Saudi Arabia held an official reception for heads of governments, ministers and other high-level delegates leading their respective pilgrims to the Hajj at Mecca this year.
The King courteously and warmly the Muslim leaders at his palace, according each one a warm word of welcome individually.
Among the delegates so highly received was His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Somaliland, Abdirahman Abdullahi Ismail “Zeili’i”.
Announcing the delegates as they approached the Monarch, the State Television called the name, the title and whence the leader came from and represented.
“Abdirahman Abdullahi Ismail ‘Zeili’i’, the Vice President of the Republic of Somaliland”, the anchorman announced.
Not only was VP Zeili’i accorded full honors, but the national flag of the Republic was hoisted up at one of the Palace posts, fluttering proud and equal among peers.
The visible thaw of the Saudis, it is noted, did not come by accident or oversight. The Republic of Somaliland earned the honor ten times over.
Somaliland unconditionally sided with the Saudi-led Gulf coalition. It ceded a long-term investment venture to DP World of the United Arab Emirates, and granted an air-naval base to the UAE at the strategic Red Sea port of Berbera. Again it extended moral and strategic support to the UAE when Mogadishu and its internationally-propped, weak government darted a series of ill-concealed diplomatic and military offenseives against the UAE presence in ogadisu in an attempt to tarnish its reputation in the eyes of the international community going to such lengths as to associate it with terror activities.
Somaliland proved to be a steadfast friend although, until now, the Gulf States did not really come out in full support of the 28-year old de facto republic. Neither the Saudis nor the Emirates offered Somaliland what they contributed to Somalia for more than a decade now: budgetry augmentation of more than US$50 million a year, security training and equipment estimated at an average of US$30 million, infrastructure, diplomatic support and the like.
The Saudis, on this Hajj season, accepted only shipments of livestock certified by the Berbera quarantines – another precursor to the King’s gesture.
The ramifications did not escape Somalia’s Villa Somalia.
Somalia, it is said, is dump-struck by the developments afriad that the Gulf has something much more momentuous in store of Somaliland, such as diplomatic recognition.