The debacle involving the Berbera DP World contract with Somaliland and Ethiopia has revealed further the consequence of lack of reconciliation across Somalia. After years of political errors and delays from South Somalia’s politicians to provide meaningful concessions to Somaliland through a political reform and a meaningful reconciliation process, Somalia’s leaders are now reduced to empty political rhetoric and a shouting match. This is a failure of political leadership and imagination from South Somalia’s political leadership. They have been too consumed by South Somalia centric politics and problems; they have dropped the ball long time ago on the issue of reconciliation with Somaliland.
By in large, what you have today is De-facto maturing democratic state in Somaliland with a joint political purpose of secession from South Somalia. Sometimes, I feel South Somalia politicians have been too slow to understand this context or are in denial of the political reality before them. Having visited Somaliland many times there is a widespread dissatisfaction and trust deficit with South Somalia politics/ politicians. This has provided a backdrop to the pursuit of recognition and secession sentiments among large percentage of the public and political elites/ establishments. There is a strong feeling South Somalia politics has nothing tangible or credible to offer to Somaliland and until these feelings persist, the momentum and pursuit for recognition will continue to fester on.
It is now becoming apparent International companies and governments are visibly and practically realising recognition for Somaliland is no longer an obstacle to development and investment in the region. In international diplomacy, this is a tacit approval or mini recognition in other non legal means, case in point Taiwan, able to trade well with the rest of the world without the need for official recognition, and economically and politically thriving with its own Parliamentary legitimacy, Executive Presidency, Ministers and its own army.
For DPW and Ethiopia, this contract is merely strategic economic interest and for Somaliland, it is both economical and strategic political re- positioning in pursuit of international recognition. This is in my view the most sound and clever bargaining chip we have yet seen from Somaliland governments since the inception of the state. It is my view economic interest always triumphs over sovereignty in the grand scheme of international politics. This contract marks a watershed moment for Somaliland because they are now economically aligned with two regional global powers with rotating presidential positions at the UN General Assembly and respective African Union and Arab league. One should not be surprised if they lobby behind the scenes for Somaliland in order to protect their strategic economic and political interest in the Horn of Africa.
As long as South Somalia politicians continue to be asleep at the wheel in the context of real reconciliation, they more likely Somaliland gets nearer to its political ambitions and their recent successful elections would continue to serve them well as a forward looking nation and society with a political and economic purpose.
Such denials and empty political rhetoric from South Somalia leaders will not bring Somaliland back and I am beginning to believe it might be too late to salvage something politically tangible in my desire for a united Greater Somalia due to lack of political maturity, passion, imagination and leadership on both sides of the isle for this vision.
The politics of denials and shouting from the roof top when the horse has bolted is no guide to progress. It is time for political reality, maturity and meaningful negotiation between South Somalia and Somaliland. Sometimes, in life, you seek not what you desire but work with the political reality on the ground. It is called pragmatic politics in the face of a given reality.
Having been observing and writing about the issues surrounding Somalia/Somaliland for sometime, I have below provided my previous observations and analysis:
Mohamed Ibrahim BA/MSc from London School of Economics and Political Science, a London based, UK, Social Activist/ keen Author – he can be reached via:
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