Somaliland is the poster child of the Horn of Africa; it is peaceful, democratic and it spends almost half of its meager GDP on its regional security, therefore, Somaliland is not only the starting place of tranquility and democratic hope for the entire African continent, but additionally it plays a pivotal role in the war against illegal mass migration, piracy and terrorism.
In the northern seashore of the Gulf of Aden we have the Iranian- backed Yemeni Houtis that are now fighting against Yemeni government and some members of the GCC countries. On the eastern border of Somaliland, we have the Somalia-based Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab. Thus far, Somaliland stands on the way of Al-Shabaab amalgamating with Yemeni Houtis in either shore of the Gulf of Aden and as a result Somaliland is forestalling a gloomy threat to the security of the entire world. The Gulf of Aden is one of the most strategic points on earth, because it is a major worldwide energy and commercial maritime route.
In the Southern borders of Somaliland there sits Ethiopia, a country with population of hundred million that is now brewing to become yet another dysfunctional state in the Horn of Africa. The Ethiopian predicament could spill to all over the world, unless an urgent political panacea is initiated.
As a result, the exodus of tens of millions of impoverished Ethiopian economic migrants crossing to Somaliland and then going transversely to the rest of the globe will create an unparalleled demographic, socioeconomic and humanitarian calamity.
As far as this, Somaliland was vigilant enough to keep terrorist, pirates and the human-traffickers at bay, but the begging question is: will Somaliland be able to sustain that role in this troubled region and for how long? The short answer – by any means, Somaliland cannot keep up being the world’s policeman in the Horn of Africa.
Although Somaliland is a free, peaceful and a democratic country, Somaliland is not overtly recognized by any other country and it is unduly and speciously lumped to the anarchic Somalia, this gets in the way of its economic development and prevents its most needed vital interactions with the international community and from this time forth, it cannot militarily and financially afford to play the role of a regional policeman.
Livestock is the backbone of the Somaliland’s economy, but with the recurrent harsh droughts and Saudi Arabia’s unfair ban on the Somaliland livestock imports, Somaliland is in a grim economic situation.
Somaliland is rich with unexploited natural resources, but with its present international political status, it cannot attract enough international investments and what’s more, it cannot have a direct access to international development assistance. Moreover, Somaliland cannot sustain keeping watch on its borders let alone defending itself from Somalia’s armed aggressions, because Somaliland lacks military assistance, whereas Somalia by the side of its Al-Shabaab terrorist group is being armed to the teeth.
Somaliland has a population of estimated 4 million and 75% of its population is under the age of 25-years and has a youth unemployment rate of more than 80%. The healthcare and educational systems are way below suboptimal and food security is unheard of in Somaliland.
The tenth round of talks between Somaliland and Somalia is expected to resume in Djibouti within the coming weeks, but one must not expect much from the upcoming Somaliland-Somalia dialogue on their future relations, because Somalia is not a credible partner to negotiate with, furthermore, it did not and it will not honor its agreements with Somaliland.
The current so-called Somalia government exists only by name; it doesn’t have the mandate or the courage to recognize Somaliland. On the other hand, Somaliland will not settle with anything short of full sovereignty.
All these above mentioned ingredients are preludes to international security, socioeconomic and demographic time bomb that is waiting to explode in the Horn of Africa anytime soon and with its huge fragments randomly flying all over the globe.
For that reason, the recognition of Somaliland falls upon the shoulders of the international community. The international community must be guided by its natural moral principles and it must recognize Somaliland as a sovereign country. Somaliland does not hold less international legitimacy than the Balkan and Baltic States, which were offered immediate recognition and as soon as they declared their independency. Contrary to the Balkan and Baltic states, Somaliland held a national referendum in which 97% of its population voted for ending the union with Somalia.
The United Kingdom has a particular moral and a historic obligation to take the lead and to go ahead with the recognition of Somaliland’s sovereignty – all it needs to do is to reaffirm its June 26th, 1960 recognition of Somaliland’s sovereignty.
The UK must follow the bold example of Germany, which initiated the recognition of Croatian sovereignty in a time when the rest of the world was just waiting and watching the unfolding disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. Germany was gallant enough not to wait or ask for the permission of the EU, USA or the UNO and Somalilanders expect no less from the United Kingdom.
In wrapping up, all the alarm bells are pressed, now it is up to the international community to either recognize Somaliland as a sovereign country and as soon as possible or get ready to watch an unprecedented global humanitarian, security and socioeconomic crisis.
Dr, Yusuf Dirir Ali, MD