Somaliland and the Middle East: A New Paradigm
By Hassan Mohamed Abokor
The recent visit of the Foreign Minister Dr Sa’ad Ali Shire to Egypt marks a different turn in the policy of seeking recognition by the Somaliland government. It seems to be one of proactive engagement with the powers that be in the Middle East.
Somaliland has made a potentially very lucrative deal with the United Arab Emirates vis a vis Dubai Ports World. We seem to be challenging the notion that Somaliland has no leverage in the Middle East. Conventional wisdom says most Somalilanders have left the region and thus therefore have no clout there.
Not true. The Dubai Ports World is a potent reminder of the goodwill we have built there over a millennia of brotherly engagement. In fact, citizens from respective countries in the Middle East from Somaliland background have a considerable influence in the region.
The visit of the minister to Egypt should embolden Somaliland to play this card of fraternal kinship to its advantage. This visit should be followed by more and more junkets to other Middle East countries. Somaliland might not hear what it wants to hear from these countries, but we might able to work out favorable trade agreements out of the visits.
It would also help if the many, many Somalilanders in the those countries could use their good offices to further foster the already burgeoning commercial relations between us and our brothers in the Middle East.
Recognition may not come through our interactions with the countries of the Middle East but we can profit from our enduring friendship with them. It is important to leave no stone unturned. While some who have resided in the region might not feel so warm and fuzzy about our Arab brothers, one must be pragmatic. So credit should be given where credit is due because after all, it is all about the progress of our wonderful country.