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SOMALILAND: One Can’t Win A Fight With His Arms Tied Behind His Back

The Somaliland- Somalia dialogue on their future relations started almost six- years ago; these talks went off the tracks and led to nowhere. That was because the Somaliland negotiating team was ill-prepared, inexperienced and it allowed the Somalia team to derail the talks and tip the balance to its advantage.  Furthermore, Somalia played a procrastinating game for too long and in the interim violated every rule in the book.

Recommencement of talks for the sake of talking is unproductive and objectionable. Somalia’s continuation of never-ending talks are no longer tolerable, there has to be a time limit for the Somaliland-Somalia dialogue.

This time around, Somaliland must put its act together and must avoid repeating the same old mistakes all over again.  Somaliland needs to have a well rehearsed strategic plan ahead of time and it must meticulously select the members of its negotiating team based on their knowledge, on their experience and on their abilities to negotiate effectively.

Somaliland must change the course of the discussions and must extensively engage with the international think tanks, the international media and it must also involve countries that are well renowned for their international integrity and are neutral or even sympathetic to the Somaliland cause; or else, the outcome of the future talks will become barren and a waste of time.

Somalia developed a habit of not fulfilling the agreements they cosigned with Somaliland.  The airspace and the non-engagement in the business of incitement agreements are good examples of the internationally witnessed accords that Somalia failed to respect. More than once, Somalia has adversely waged diplomatic, economic and even military offenses against Somaliland since putting its signature on the bilateral agreements with Somaliland in the UK, UAE and in Turkey.

To put Somalia under the scrutiny of the international community: Somaliland needs to invite humanitarian organizations like Amnesty international, African watch and the international crisis group and others, asking them to present the documented atrocities they witnessed in Somaliland during the occupation years of the Siad Barre regime.

Somaliland has a very strong historic, legal and a moral case that will justify its disassociation with Somalia.  The two countries were separate entities before the botched Somaliland-Somalia union of July 1st, 1960; again, before joining the failed union Somaliland was a British protectorate for more than 80-years, while Somalia was an Italian colony.

Somaliland was the original mother country that initiated the failed union with Somalia, but that union was never rectified neither by then the Somaliland legislator nor by the Somaliland citizens, who by the way rejected the constitutional referendum of the early 1960s.

Somaliland and Somalia were united for thirty-years as a single united country. During those thirty-years of union with Somalia, Somalilanders were disfranchised politically, were alienated economically and socially. Afterwards, the Somalia regime resorted to a genocidal war as a final solution.

The Somalia army’s carnage on the Somaliland civilians claimed the lives of more than 50,000 civilian men, women and children in just one week and in Hargeisa city alone, but that genocide was not confined only to Hargeisa – more deplorable crimes against humanity were also deliberately executed in Burao, Berbera and Erigavo.

Women were raped, public and private properties were looted.  The Somaliland cities, towns and villages were indiscriminately erased to the ground by heavy artillery and air bombardments and the water sources were poisoned by the retreating Somalia army.

To add insult to the injury, the ones who perpetrated those crimes are now members of the current Somalia regime. Even Mr. Farmajo, the current leader of the Somalia regime was then a strong supporter and a cheerleader for Siad Barre’s crimes against humanity.

Soon after the ousting of its dictator, Somalia unilaterally formed its own government without consulting Somaliland, for that reason, Somaliland had no choice but to reclaim its independence, which was then declared in Burao city on 15th May, 2001. Thus far, the two countries remain as two separate and independent entities.

Somaliland is peaceful; it’s economically thriving and has a flourishing democratic system in place. On the other hand, for the last quarter of a century and counting, Somalia remains in a state of anarchy, it is a terrorists and pirates infested country and it plays a very big role in the illegal international migration cartel. All these indicators are testimony to the moral, political, historical and administrative gaps between Somaliland and Somalia.

Surprisingly, Mr. Farmajo of Somalia is ridiculously asking for a dialogue without preconditions. Well, that is utterly irresponsible and impossible, because Somaliland needs to secure international guarantees for the fulfillment of the previous and future agreements before it starts anything with Somalia. Not only that, but Somaliland needs to convince Somalia not to come to the negotiation table, unless they accept the following preconditions:

  1. Somalia has to agree to the repatriation of the remains of the Somalilanders, who were massacred in Jazeera beach by the Somalia army; these remains deserve honorable burial in their own home country.
  2. Somalia must come into terms of accepting the genocide in Somaliland
  3. Somalia must accept the responsibility and must compensate for the Somaliland looted and destroyed properties.
  4. Somalia must accept to pay compensation to the loved ones of the genocide victims
  5. Somalia must accept the equal division of the former Somali Republic assets in the USA, EU and elsewhere.
  6. The perpetrators of crimes against humanity must be extradited to Somaliland to face justice.

Somalia must comprehend the contemporary reality on the ground and must become conscious of the fact that the years of Somaliland and Somalia existence as two separate states outnumber the years of their union.  As a result, separation is not only in the best interest of Somaliland and Somalia, but it will also serve the best interest of the Horn of Africa and will immensely contribute to the global peace and prosperity.

To conclude, Somaliland does not need to have a dialogue with Somalia, unless Somalia agrees to Somaliland’s minimal preconditions.  Somaliland must understand that it cannot win a fight with its arms tied behind its back; Somaliland must gear-up and put into play all its political might for the objective of honorably winning this major political battle, which is not less important than its past armed struggle.


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                                       Dr. Yusuf Dirir Ali, MD 

                                            E-mail: drdirir@gmail.com                             

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