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Published On: Tue, Sep 13th, 2016

No One Recognizes Somaliland as an Independent state. I Don’t get It

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I don’t understand the workings of international diplomacy. Some of what I see appears illogical. Most of it involves destroying and then trying to rebuild and destroying again.


Or it is about fuelling conflict and then trying to defuse it. Sometimes there is refusal to admit that a country actually works and even try to subvert it.


Perhaps there is a purpose to the apparent lack of logic and the seeming pattern of destruction but I can’t understand it because of my simple rustic mind.


You only have to look at the trouble spots around the world, especially in the Middle East and Africa, to get what I mean.


Take Syria for example. The state of Syria disappeared a few years ago. It has been carved up among several Syrian groups and foreign powers.


President Assad and his Russian backers have a bit of the country.


Various Syrian rebel groups supported by different Western and Middle Eastern powers control some patches.


The Kurds have their own territory.


The Islamic State has its own.


Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a realistic assessment of the situation when he told journalists about two years ago that he does not see Syria get back together again as a country.


In the meantime, the warring factions and their supporters continue to meet in Geneva to talk about ending the suffering of the Syrians even as they increase their backing for the fighting groups.


Bashar Assad may be a monster (that’s what we are told), but can attempts to remove or keep him justify the scale of destruction? In any case there are smarter ways of getting rid of obnoxious characters.


Libya went through a similar experience. Until 2011, Libya was one country, its various parts held together by its eccentric leader. Then the Western powers decided it was time for the maverick and colourful Muammar Gaddafi to go. Well, he went and Libya disintegrated.


The same people who caused the break-up of the country have been trying to patch it up again without much success.


United States President Barack Obama was candid in his admission of responsibility for the break-up of Libya when he said they had no plan for the post-Gaddafi period.


Nearer home in East Africa, a similar situation is playing out in South Sudan.  South Sudan became independent at the same time Libya was breaking up, and was itself a result of secession from Sudan. Barely two years later, the country embroiled in conflict that threatens its very unity and the stability of the whole region.  It is difficult to see the conflict resolved any time soon despite all the efforts.


Some of the countries in the region seem to have a hand in what is happening there. Different factional leaders have support from various countries in the region. All these pull in different directions, although they appear to want to end the conflict in South Sudan.


And so the conflict continues. It flares up. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is asked to resolve it. But some of its member states turn around and make the implementation of its resolutions impossible. The cycle starts all over again.


The most baffling diplomatic situation is the one in Somaliland in the horn of Africa. Somaliland was part of Somalia until 1991 when President Siad Barre was overthrown. The country broke up into fiefdoms ruled over by clan warlords. Islamic Courts followed and attempted to reunify the country. They were replaced by a terrorist group, Al Shabab. Today a government kept in place by foreign forces is in charge of the country.


As all this was happening, Somaliland did not suffer a similar fate. It remained free of terrorism and inter-clan fighting, and was a functioning state and even prospered. But it was not recognised as an independent state. This means it was denied all the rights, benefits and privileges of an independent country, including support from the international community.


The sensible thing would have been to reward the country for remaining stable and secure and functional in a generally volatile region. Instead it was punished for its success. At the same time, failed or conflict-prone countries continue to get billions of dollars in aid.


There is hypocrisy in the lack of recognition of Somaliland. Kosovo in Europe was cut off from Serbia with the help of Western powers against the wishes of a significant part of its population. It was, of course, promptly recognised.


But a peaceful, stable and functioning Somaliland is not. Where is the logic?


I don’t understand. It’s my stupid rustic mind, of course.



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