Kurdistan Independence: Gleam of hope for Somaliland


somaliland flagBy Mohamed Abdilahi Duale

During the last several weeks, it has become clear that theindependence of Iraqi Kurdistanhas been fervently debated in the political circles of the international community. This came after ISIS militants occupied many strategic towns in Iraq and the Iraqi military was not able to protect Iraqi citizens from the militants, and collapsed eventually. And after Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi’s autonomous region of Kurdistan had officially announced that there will be a referendum for independence in the coming months.

Iraqi Kurdistan and Somaliland share many important underlying factors, and it is the thesis of this piece to explain.

First, Iraqi Kurdistan is a part and parcel of the large scattered Kurdistan Ethnicity that has been partitioned into four different countries: Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq. Not to mention the genocidal campaign of Saddam Hussein in the 1980s against Iraqi Kurdistanis. The same subjugations and suppressions that the people of Somaliland experienced during their 31 years rule under Italian Somalia. Nevertheless, it is political fact of life that Iraqi Kurdistan has never been a nation-state as Somaliland was an independent nation-state on 26 June in 1960.

Second, Iraqi Kurdistan has been democratic and peaceful since its first elections in 1992. Even though, Iraqi Kurdistan’s democracy is not analogous with the democracy in Somaliland, at least it is a growing democracy where there are different political parties. Somaliland, although yet to be fully recognized by any states, has experienced sustained peace amidst conflicting states in the region of the Horn of Africa and has been democratic since 1993.Given their common experience of democracy, one might argue that one of the reasons that motivated them to adopt the democratic system can be attributed to their common biter, long struggle.

Third, both Iraq and the erstwhile Republic of Somalia are characterized as the mothers of failed states – their state failure are characterized by a disintegration of state structures, where their respective governments are in-capable of discharging basic governmental duties with respect to their populace and territories. They are caught in an apparently perpetual cycle of anarchy, terrorism and failed foreign interventions. Both Iraq and Somalia do not enjoy empirical sovereignty but rather judicial sovereignty. Not to mention that the nationalism factor is missing from their national troops, and this is clearly elucidated by the latest ISIS attack on many Iraqi towns, where Iraqi national troops simply collapsed. Similarly, the so-called Somali national troops have been overwhelmingly defeated by Alshabaab Nihilists, whenever they fight each other.

With respect to the current developments of Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence, many scholars and journalist are arguing that it is the opportune time for Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence. Jonathan Foreman, former New York Post correspondent on Iraq war has succinctly contended, “The time has come for America and the west to support Kurdish Independence and, simultaneously, to set up U.S bases in Iraqi Kurdistan that would make it America’s military hub in the region.” Equally, Professor William Waters, from Indian University Maurer School of law has argued that,”Kerry asked Kurds to be statesmen. Statesmanship is a quality we associate with states. The Kurds have long wanted one; perhaps now is the time. For that to happen requires statesmanship – from us.”

Furthermore, the Israelis are also supporting the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, and this came after the first tanker carrying crude oil produced in Iraqi Kurdistan arrived at the Israeli Mediterranean port of Ashkelon. Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly announced that he is backing the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Finally, there are indications that Iraqi Kurdistan is likely to become an independent state, given the current security and political situation of Iraq, as well as the stability, peace and democratic governance that is prevailing in Iraqi Kurdistan. It is worth mentioning to note that the independence of Kurdistan would be game-changer for states aspiring to be independent- this would specifically boost and increase Somaliland’s aspirations of de jure state. If Iraqi Kurdistan is recognized as an independent state, it would be very difficult for the International Community to thwart or withhold from Somaliland its fully-deserved international recognition.

Mohamed Abdilahi Duale is a political analyst and an independent researcher currently based in Somaliland.



  1. The Kurds are a distinct people from the Arabs and in reality do deserve a state but it seems unlikely given the International community’s reluctance to accept the fragmentation of Iraq. On the other hand, Somaliland and its inhabitants are an integral part of the Somali society and are only differentiated by their tribe which is not a sting enough factor to merit and independent state.

      • What history? Your tribe is colonized by British ! ? … The British sign separate treaties with all northern tribes.. Isak was no different … Also Kurdish is trying to unite with its people not other way around… It’s if kill ill 5 wants to leave ethiopia

    • Zack, your point about homogeneity is an oft-made one so lets look at its validity or otherwise in international affairs. If language and ethnicity were the sole criteria for creating nation states, then Arabia should be one nation. All of latin America bar Brazil should also become one country. The Anschluss would’ve been perfectly justfied and of the course Uncle sam should gobble up the canucks! How about Aussies taking over those uppity Kiwis? What matters in building viable and stable nation-states is not ethnic homogeneity but will and the common interests of the citizens of each nation

  2. The Kurds are a distinct people from the Arabs and in reality do deserve a state but it seems unlikely given the International community’s reluctance to accept the fragmentation of Iraq. On the other hand, Somaliland and its inhabitants are an integral part of the Somali society and are only differentiated by their tribe which is not a sting enough factor to merit and independent state.

  3. Interesting piece. My gut feeling is that Western powers and the UN are institutionally biased when it comes to African affairs and therefore will not see any link between Kurdistan and Somaliland. The usual refrain of the instituitionally racist establishments like the UN will come to the fore again. Their default stance when Africans point out glaring double standards in world affairs is “they are different..it is a different situation..” of course it is. An example of this is the current UN chariman’s stance on the Sudan South Sudan issue. He harangued, and that is the only term I could think of – the South sudanese to stay with “your Northern brothers”. I was outraged. Here was humanity’s moral leader telling people who have been robbed, raped, massacred and quite literally enslaved for centuries to stay with their oppressor so the oppression could continue I presume.
    There is no way in hell or earth he would’ve have even dreamt of saying such a thing to the Slavs. “please Bosnians..stay with your Serbian brothers”. If Mr Moon was to be saked about this double standard..yes you knwo what the response will.”it is a different situation…

    So no recognition for Somaliland I’m afraid. Different situation you see

  4. its all about interest the Kurds have strong opponents Turks Syrians , the world does not look at if they are kurds you are not giving independence on a silver plate.. they have to fight for it Somaliland fought for it , but the problem is no one in Somalia we can discuss these isues with .. South sudan fell into the politcal interest of the republicans bosnia EU geopolitical interest same as kosovo. SL does not fit into this , Even Eritrea fitted into the larger Arab interest to weaken Ethiopia .. Somaliland has the arabs against them and the Europeans are indifferent and Southern Somalis are the biggest enemies to an independent Somaliland Somaliland needs to kill Somalia if it wants recogntion kill it altogether

  5. Things just got worse for unlucky Somaliland. The Iraqi govt in Baghdada has managed to take legal action against the Kurds banning them from exporting their own oil. Tankesr ful;l of crude are going round and round in circles all over the world because they will seized by port authorities of the West the moment they dock. A significant amount of this owned by Genel. think we can kiss goodbye to the Genel exploration project now. Unless..we go rogue and unload all the crude from Kurdistan and resell it on the worl black market. We can use our lack of recognition as a strength. Will Silanyo do it? I doubt it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *