The subject of reconciliation between Somalia and Somaliland is complex in nature with long-standing historical deep-seated issues affecting politics and trust between both parties. These prevailing conditions cannot be solved by a stroke of a well-intended apology from the Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and his government. This in itself is an unprecedented gesture of olive branch from the Somali Federal Government.
However, it must be noted such an area of policymaking requires a thoughtful comprehensive set of policy packages and technical committee dialogue before a meeting of minds can take place in Somaliland. This is normally what happens in normal politics, especially when the issues in context are sensitive, longstanding and complex in nature.
What we are witnessing is half baked reconciliation efforts determined by the interest of other nations for their common interest. This is purely about geopolitical interest other in pursuit of Somalia’s/Somaliland’s untapped resources, including Berberra port and Airport.
In effect, this is not sincere reconciliation efforts between our people but a vehicle that serves the interest of others, lacking political maturity, conviction, and meaning at a grassroots level. Somaliland leaders and its political stakeholders far and wide can smell political gimmick from far and have rightly rejected the visit from the Somali president as the gesture lacks policy detail and statecraft to enhance the healing/ reconciliation process forward.
Despite its long-standing achievement of peace, maturing democracy and stability, what is clear is that Somaliland is at cross-roads where global powers are rustling for territory and influence in Berbera. There is a stark choice and political conundrum facing Somaliland and the international community at large. The current administration in Somalia do not know what it takes (policy know-how) to conduct a robust reconciliation process – and Somaliland can no longer sustain itself in its current format. Under this context, something will have to give, and that price has yet to materialise from Somalia, Somaliland and the international community. This is a political problem but also failure of leadership across all entities, including the international community.
However, this renewed interest in Somaliland from global powers should provide Somaliland the political leverage to negotiate a final settlement on this subject matter. With a maturing democracy, relative stability/peace and a working institutional framework of government throughout Somaliland, the case before the IC is compelling and hard to ignore, given the fact that political capital and resources have been spent on this journey for decades by the IC. While it’s right to protect its interest, Somaliland should refrain from a dogmatic approach to reconciliation.
They should in the future set the relevant conditions and measures for such dialogue between Somalia and Somaliland to avoid a further episode of this saga, trafficked reconciliation process.
It must be noted this new episode has further shown Somalia is not in control of their political destiny. Under informal/formal UN trusteeship, it is being utilised for the interest of others. This is not only in the area of reconciliation but also in the coming national elections where over-exhausted International Community commitment, spearheaded by US interest is telling Somalia to hold one man, one vote national elections, when in fact we all know Somalia is not even ready for provincial elections. That’s how much is wrong with Somalia’s politics.
Everywhere you look in Galmudug, Kismayo, Puntland and on the security front, the political apparatus and conditions for national elections are non-existent, yet here we are listening to political gimmicks of the highest order. This is the politics of madness and its showing with the Somalia and Somaliland reconciliation process.
Today, I worry for the whole of Somalia, because these developments have shown our leaders can be manipulated for the interest of others to the detriment of our core interest to reconcile and heal among our people across Somalia slowly, fluidly and progressively in our own common agreed terms.
Unfortunately, across Somalia we have got used to killing each (so much) in last 30 years to now, we failed to comprehend the price we are paying for our instability.
Our leaders and political elites seemed to think we can say few sweet words, shake hands on it and move on. These issues relate to political naivety, conditioning and environmental context, which fail to measure up with the task ahead for Somalia and Somaliland, and this has come to fore this week.
Since the election law has been passed by the Somali Parliament my humble advice to the Somalia government is to seek technical advice and frameworks from the Somaliland government on how to conduct state wide national elections, covering villages and towns similar across Somalia. Unfortunately, due to issues of superiority/inferiority complex it seems the Somali government purposely forgets Somaliland has gone through this process twenty years ago with three successful national elections under its belt, leading to democratic transition based on one, man, one vote. It is these small details/soft power and cooperation that can aid the revival and fruits of reconciliation. Less of foolhardy but sincere open cooperation based on mutual interest.
Below are my recent relevant pieces on HOL on the subject of Somalia and Somaliland.
By Mohamed Ibrahim
Mohamed Ibrahim BA/MSc, London School of Economics and Political Science, is a London based, UK, Social Activist – He can be reached via: @Mi_shiine