It will be the biggest mistake to cross the threshold of recognition if the Somaliland government revives and resumes stalled talks with Somalia
Tensions between Somalia and Somaliland remain high. The core bone of contention is still Somaliland’s political status in light of its 1991 declaration of independence, which Somalia rejects. Relations frayed in 2018 when troops from Somaliland and Puntland, a semi-autonomous regional state in Somalia notionally loyal to the federal government in Mogadishu, clashed over disputed territory.
Somaliland’s deal with an Emirati conglomerate and Ethiopia to manage its main port – which Mogadishu saw as challenging its claim to sovereignty there – deepened antagonism. But frictions have eased in 2019, and outside pressure has created some momentum toward renewed negotiations between the two sides, which last gathered to talk in 2015. The two sides’ first meeting was a technical talk, focusing on security and economic matters of mutual concern, and avoiding for now the polarizing issue of Somaliland’s political status a neutral party such as the African Union ought to convene the talks so that none of the many states vying for regional influence sees the mediation as threatening its interests.
Getting again to talks will likely no longer be easy. In addition to historic grievances and a long time of separate rule, efforts to restart communicate face political opposition on both sides.
Moreover, the Gulf States which were using their influence with leaders and others
in Somaliland and throughout Somalia (including in its federal member states) were trying to play the spoiler if talks are not carefully designed to take their interests into account. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) in particular enjoys close relations with the Somaliland government in Hargeisa and is unlikely to welcome a negotiation in which Somaliland is pressed to yield decision-making power to Mogadishu on issues that affect its interests. The Emiratis would likely prefer to engage on weighty matters with Somalia after its newly elected Government in the hope of dealing with a federal government more sympathetic to their concerns.
But there were issues short of Somaliland’s political status that the two parties were meaningfully tackling to the benefit of both. Some relate to security.
Defeating Al-Shabaab’s Islamist insurgency will require Mogadishu and Hargeisa to share intelligence and pool resources. And calming the volatile military standoff between Somaliland and Puntland over contested territories along their border will require Hargeisa to commit to de-escalation and Mogadishu to support, as it did in 2018, UN-led mediation efforts.
Other mutual interests are economic in nature. Agreements on freedom of movement and trade are essential in order for businesses in Somalia – especially livestock farmers – to benefit from the upgrade of Somaliland’s Berbera port and the development of the trade corridor between it and Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Both Somalia and Somaliland also have incentives to cooperate on sharing the benefits of debt relief packages under discussion with international financial institutions and on negotiating access to shared territorial waters for companies interested in oil and gas exploration What are the CONSEQUENCES OF REVIVING AND RESUMING STALLED TALKS WITH SOMALIA?
According the recent Achievements and international diplomatic ties that Somaliland stepped on which is the greatest diplomatic achievement that Somaliland gained in the last 32 years which we can mention
THE SOMALILAND AND UNITED STARES STRATEGIC DIPLOMATIC PARTNERSHIP
The Stronger relationship between the United States and Somaliland will provide numerous, mutually beneficial, strategic opportunities which the United States President Joe Biden’s signature to the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act #NDAA# into law.
Over the past months, Somaliland has played a role in the tensions regarding the burning files, whether in Africa such as the Renaissance Dam file or even entering the crisis line between China and Taiwan by establishing official diplomatic relations with the latter despite Beijing’s objection.
The entry of Somaliland, which is also known as “Somaliland”, into the line of the Renaissance Dam crisis, began with the announcement of its intention to enter as a mediator in the negotiations, which was revealed by Ethiopia through the words of the spokesperson of its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dina Mufti.
The Mufti expressed Addis Ababa’s concern about Egypt’s rapprochement with Somaliland, and Cairo’s intention to establish a military base in the region, which he considered a red line and a direct threat to the national security of his country.
Since the advent of Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister of Ethiopia in 2018, Somaliland has been the focus of his administration’s attention within the framework of his policies to solve Addis Ababa’s problems with its neighbors, starting with Eritrea and Somalia, in addition to his attempts to strengthen relations with countries that enjoy ports to open horizons for his landlocked country, which explains his attempts to enter In partnership with the ports of Berbera in Somaliland and Assab in Eritrea.
Regional interest in Somaliland also emerged in Kenya, with the accumulated problems and diplomatic escalation between it and Somalia over the border dispute.
And Nairobi began to support and strengthen its relations with Somaliland, as diplomatic and parliamentary delegations flocked during the months of July and August Hargeisa.
The geopolitical importance of Somaliland comes as part of the importance of the Horn of Africa in securing the passage of energy and commercial ships through the Bab al-Mandab Strait and the Red Sea, which has become a vital artery for the transfer of energy to the European and global markets.
Since Somaliland has shown interest in hosting British and Russian naval bases, as part of the international and regional powers’ scramble for an active military presence along the Red Sea coast, several visits have begun to its military officials, including British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson in January last year, to discuss the establishment of a British naval base. In Somaliland in the port of Berbera, while observers expected the start of negotiations with Russia to establish a Russian base soon as well.
The disclosure of Egypt’s intention to establish a military base in Somaliland was not the first attempt to exploit the important location of the Somaliland region on the Red Sea, as the UAE began as the first country in the Middle East to build a port and a military base in the city of Berbera, as part of a plan to invest in the countries bordering the Gulf of Aden and other countries. The Horn of Africa (specifically Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Eritrea) is part of the ongoing struggle in Yemen to extend influence over the region surrounding the Bab al-Mandab Strait.
This is the first step to placing Somaliland in the context of independent regional powers with geostrategic influence and placing it among the papers of regional and international competition.
Despite the Arab lack of official recognition of Somaliland as an independent, sovereign state, since March 2018, the UAE has begun training security forces in the region within the framework of an agreement to establish a UAE military base, through which it aims to achieve economic and security development and deter militant groups in the region, according to the statements of the President of Somaliland, Musa Bihi Abdi.
Construction on the military base has officially begun in the city of Berbera, 300 kilometers south of Yemen, with an agreement allowing it to stay for thirty years.
In addition to the military base, Dubai Ports Company started in October last year a $101 million project to expand the port of Berbera, as it began exporting camels and goats to the Middle East and importing foodstuffs, and DP World officially took over in March 2017 the management of Berbera port with a 51-share % compared to 30% for the Ports Authority in Somaliland and 19% for Ethiopia.
CRISIS OF INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION
Although the passport issued by Hargeisa has become acceptable to a number of Arab, African, and foreign countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, South Africa, Gambia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, Somaliland has not been officially recognized internationally as an independent and sovereign country, despite the geopolitical shifts and the scramble of regional and international attention on the region.
Horn of Africa
Likewise, despite Somaliland’s lack of interest in the opposition expressed by the Republic of Somalia to any rapprochement or cooperation with any of the countries or regional entities, the recognition crisis remains an obstacle to expanding the establishment of foreign relations and exploiting various investment opportunities.
This comes with the emergence of several indicators revealing the trends of stakeholders by pressing for Somaliland to gain independence and achieve de facto self-administration for the region, in order to facilitate the establishment of commercial relations and the exploitation of the port of Berbera, which has become a focus of interest for regional powers to maximize their influence and strengthen their interests through this vital port.
As for neighbors on the continent, landlocked Ethiopia has a significant stake in the Berbera port deal and is eyeing the economic opportunities offered by a modernized port and trade corridor to link it to the coast. Egypt, which has traditionally backed Mogadishu, has begun signaling that it seeks a warmer relationship with Somaliland, partly due to Mogadishu’s close relations with its rivals in Doha and Ankara. And as described above, Kenya seems intent on strengthening relations with Somaliland – a move it is making against the backdrop of a recent escalation in its longstanding maritime border dispute with Somalia.
Among these countries, Turkey and Ethiopia have shown particular interest in facilitating renewed dialogue between Mogadishu and Hargeisa.
Turkey has worked hard both to foster close relations with Somalia – which it sees as central to its regional strategic interests – and to position itself as an honest broker in its talks with Somaliland. From 2011, when it provided humanitarian relief amid a biting famine, Ankara has built close relations with Mogadishu. In 2016, it opened a new embassy, physically it’s largest in the world. It has offered scholarships to thousands of young Somalis, and Turkish companies operate the city’s principal seaport and airport. But it also sought to maintain ties with Somaliland, and between 2012 and 2015 it was the driving force behind the Mogadishu-Hargeisa talks.
On the African level, despite some friendly relations between African countries and the Somaliland region, three decades after its separation, and the recommendation of the African Union Fact-Finding Mission in Somaliland in 2005 that it be recognized as an independent state, there is no official recognition by any of the African countries or The African Union itself in Somaliland as an independent and sovereign state, where discussions within the African Union continued to adhere to its policies rejecting any secessionist attempt in the continent, under the pretext that it might increase the existing border conflicts across the continent.
African countries pledge their recognition of the region as an independent state, upon obtaining recognition from the Somali federal government
Despite the opening of representation offices of a consular nature for some countries in Hargeisa, these diplomatic steps were not accompanied by any official recognition of Somaliland as an independent and sovereign state on its soil, as these moves are always accompanied by broad objections from the Somali federal government against any country that initiates steps for cooperation or coordination. With Somaliland.
This is what happened with Guinea, with which Somalia announced the severing of diplomatic relations with it after it inaugurated relations with Somaliland, which Somalia considered a violation of Somali sovereignty and unity. Officially with international support and blessing
Observers believe that Somalia’s objections and refusal to recognize Somaliland are ineffective at a time when a number of active political forces are competing to obtain areas of influence, especially with the strategic importance of the port of Berbera, with the escalation of the Gulf crisis and tension in Yemen, and Turkey’s involvement in development and reconstruction projects in Somalia, with Erdogan’s policies. Expansionism and the attempt to use Somalia as a gateway to expand Turkish influence diplomatically and economically.
Somaliland may not be able to convince the world and obtain official recognition in light of the current political situation, but its ability to employ geopolitical advantages may lead to the inauguration of strong bilateral relations that help strengthen Somaliland’s position to obtain recognition of the autonomous administration of the region away from the Somali federal government.
However, the ability of Somalia and Somaliland to exploit differences away from unilateral and extremist positions is the criterion for the possibility of exploiting regional needs to achieve a measure of gains. Over the past year, it has employed its political capacity towards more cooperation to protect and secure Egypt’s interests, whether in the Horn of Africa or in the Red Sea.
According all these opportunities that Somaliland gained ,the consequences of reviving and resuming stalled talks with Somalia will be the biggest mistake to cross the threshold of Recognition if the Somaliland Government revives and Resume stalled talks with Somalia because this WILL MAKE SOMALILAND UNILATERAL SECESSION which is usually unconstitutional under (domestic law,) (but international law does not provide for any rule prohibiting unilateral secession as such and as a matter of principle. In other words, per se secession is not prohibited under general international law)
The domestic law is not relevant to Somaliland because Somaliland when it was uniting with Somalia it was an independent government in 1960, the State of Somaliland immediately received congratulatory telegrams from 35 countries, including all five permanent members of the UN Security Council welcoming its sovereignty.
This was the practice in which recognition was extended to newly decolonized states. As an independent state. , Five days after independence, on 1 July 1960, Somaliland chose to unite with Somalia with the aim of creating a “Greater Somalia” bringing together all the people of ethnic Somali origin in five countries in the Horn of Africa including Northern Kenya, Italian Somalia, French Somaliland, and Eastern Ethiopia
By Gulaid Yusuf Idaan