Reliving Israeli Recognition of Somaliland of 1960 Now A Game Changer


As the State of Israel was one of the first few countries that immediately accorded the historical state of Somaliland Republic de jure recognition during her brief existence in 1960 before the unification with the Trust Territory of Somalia, and in the wake of United Arab Emirates, one of the staunch believers of the Somaliland case, normalizing ties with Israel, the State of Israel must not fail to notice that historic diplomatic ties with Somaliland Republic.

David Shinn is a former Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State for 37 years, including assignments as ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. Once asked about the de jure recognition of Somaliland following the independence in late June 1960, he wrote: “Sources vary on the number of countries that recognized Somaliland in 1960. Some say 34, others 35, and yet others 36. Among those that reportedly recognized Somaliland include China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Israel, Libya, and the Soviet Union. The US sent a congratulatory telegram but did not formally recognize it”

Also Alison K. Eggers in his study about Somaliland says and  quote here:

WHEN IS A STATE A STATE? THE CASE FOR RECOGNITION OF SOMALILAND“. “In June 1960 Somaliland became the first Somali country recognized by the U.N. A week later, in early July 1960, Somaliland joined with Somalia Italiana to form one state with the seat of government in Mogadishu”.

Setting aside the countries that proclaimed unilaterally their existence and the remnants of collapsed empires, most of the countries in the world have experienced some sort of either European or Asian colonization, which for some time ruled their land, exploited its resources, and oppressed native people. After fighting bloody wars and making concerted efforts, most nations eventually won their sovereignties either by reaching agreements with the colonizing powers or overcoming the oppressing forces.  Likewise, Somaliland was not different and shares that type of painful history with the rest of the third countries around the world.

Somaliland Republic was born and became a sovereign state on 26June, 1960. Just as the establishment of the State of Israel was officially  proclaimed on May 14, 1948, and soon after that Soviet Union became the first country recognizing Israel as a sovereign de jure state and many more countries followed suit, in the same manner, Somaliland Republic became a new independent sovereign nation on June 26,1960 after remaining a protectorate for colonial Britain for 76 years (1884-1960), and quite a handful of countries recognized her during that short five-day period.

Unfortunately, in the years leading to the independence, a hasty irrational decision was made consciously by the Somalilanders, embracing the now deceased concept of “Greater Somalia (Pan-Somalism)” that aimed the unification of all areas populated by Somalis into one country, and ended up in a union with the Italian Somalia slated to become independent on July 1, 1960, resulting in fresh oppression for another 31 years (1960-1991) by the Somali Republic’s regimes.

This relationship became annulled and abandoned as the historical state of Somaliland Republic was swallowed by the Italian Trust Territory of Somalia on July 1, 1960. The much hyped talks, if any, between Israel and the present day Somaliland to forge a diplomatic tie will not be unprecedented, like the ones currently in the making, as it is a past recognition but is now being dusted off. The time is ripe now for reinstating that old historic tie since Somaliland is no longer part of that union and the world observes the two realities existing in both countries for the past 29 years. Somalia and Somaliland have given up the hope of reuniting again, and the only viable solution turned out to be setting foot on two different paths as separate countries. It is also an undeniable fact that Somalia continues to be a failed country so long the existing minute traces of government symbols, peace and stability, in and around Mogadishu, occurs because of the presence and the blessing of AMISOM – troops contributed by few African countries without which the government will collapse within a few seconds.

The de jure sovereignty of the historical state of Somaliland Republic was neither provisional for specified period of time nor conditional for a moment but it has been living in the form of a diffused member state within the union that created the Somali Republic The current case and quest is about having it again re-certified, re-acknowledged, re-endorsed, and re-accepted. Somaliland unilaterally reinstated its sovereignty on May 18, 1991 –  that she easily handed over in 1960.

Current endeavor of Somaliland Republic for restoring its statehood is definitely going to be an uneasy journey but would not be termed a secession case as it is sometimes portrayed in the media either by those who have no knowledge of the history of Somaliland or by others who intentionally want to derail the cause without any legal grounds and completely disregarding the abundant historical evidence supporting it. Detaching Northern Frontier District (NFD) from Kenya or the Somali state from Ethiopia, both predominantly inhabited by Somalis, are  perfect examples of secession if that were the case. However, Somaliland story is quite contrary to that argument and exactly is identical to the status of Djibouti Republic. As in most countries in Africa, the international boundaries of Somaliland are based on the agreements and treaties reached among colonial Britain, France, and Ethiopia, and also compliant with African Union Charter that supports respecting the existing borders at the time of achieving independence.

Somaliland has been painfully holding its breath for so long for those countries with which it shares a common religion, culture, and long-standing ties to take the first move, but unfortunately no optimistic prospect is shining from that path. Such indifferent reaction, void of any rational reasoning, is pulling Somaliland to change the course and strategy regarding her desire to regain response for her sovereignty by heading in the direction of those countries that she was initially reluctant to approach for her ambition such as Israel.

The emergent increasing political influence of Turkey, Iran, and Russia  in the Middle East and in the Red Sea marine corridor has changed the dynamics of the region.

Iran’s support for  the Huthi Shia uprising in Yemen, Turkey’s alliance with Qatar in the Gulf rift, and Russia’s backing of Bashar Asad regime in Syria became the serious threats to the security and stability in the region and making the perception of Israel as the elephant in the room a minute menace in the light of the  shift in the attitude towards Israel by several Muslim countries whose actions indicating that the seed for normalizing relations with Israel is growing fast, given the emerging reports in the news mentioning that Sudan is following in the UAE’s footsteps. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov of Bulgaria, said today: “Israel’s commitment to suspending annexation removes an immediate threat that had the potential to upend the peace process and regional stability,” at the UN briefing. An indication that Israel is ready to re-engage on the Palestinian issue and find a lasting solution

Seth J. Frantzman – an American-Israeli who is also an editor at the Jerusalem Post – recently wrote a piece, while advancing the Somaliland case, and posed a question whether Somaliland would initiate a move towards Israel. In fact, it should have been the other way around if Israel is willing to restore Somaliland’s recognition of 1960. Somaliland has been patiently waiting for close to three decades for a courageous country that would endorse her statehood once again beyond the de facto engagements.

Somaliland case opponents wasted no time and started right away playing loud drums labeling any relationship with Israel as a disgrace, and any gesture of Somaliland in that direction as shameful while ignoring the fact that two Muslim countries have already established diplomatic ties with Israel. Somaliland government would not hesitate to make every possible effort for the quest of realizing the nation’s ambition, and any distraction down and around the road would not deter her for a moment.

About the Author:

Ahmed J Yassin (SII Member)


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Clinical Laboratory Professional

Jacksonville, Florida, USA


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