Editorial: Britain Is Wrong To Lump Somaliland and Somalia Together

The British Vice-Ambassador to Ethiopia, Chris Allen, came to Hargeisa early this week to impress upon president Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo that Somaliland should attend the London international conference on Somalia that Britain will host in February.

President Silanyo has made it quite clear to the British government before that Somaliland will not attend and participate in the London conference because “it does not concern us”. The message delivered by Mr. Allen will therefore put the president in a very difficult position because the Somaliland people do not want to have their country, albeit unrecognized, equated with clan fiefdoms such as the likes of Puntland and Galmudug. Also, they hate to see their democratically elected president rubbing shoulders with the nemesis of Somaliland who want to hurt the sovereignty and independence of this country.

The British prime minister, David Cameron, described the east African nation, Somalia, as a “failed state that directly threatens British interests,” citing attacks on tourists and aid workers, and radicalisation of young Britons by militant Islamist groups with roots in the region.  The Somaliland people couldn’t agree more! But the question is: which Somalia? Is it the Somaliathat has topped the Failed StatesIndex of the world or is it the independent and sovereign Somaliland state which has made remarkable progress in building peace, security and constitutional democracy within its de facto borders? Somaliland is not Somalia and the two cannot be lumped together as though they are one and the same.

Over the past 20 years, with support of the international community, Somalis have held 15 reconciliation conferences to broker peace between various factions but  all of them have failed to deliver peace in Somalia. Is anyone learning from past mistakes? Certainly not. Somalis and members of the international community are condemned to repeat past mistakes over and over, again.

This latest London conference reminds us of Albert Einstein’s description of insanitydoing the samething over and over again and expecting different results.  It’s highly unlikely that this conference will produce any lasting solution to the Somalia crisis.

By and large, the Somaliland people have a great deal of respect and admiration for Britain and its people as a whole but Somalilanders frankly find detestable the idea of lumping Somaliland together with the failed state of Somalia as if Somaliland is still part and parcel of Somalia. That’s downright insulting to the Somaliland people.

The London conference will focus mainly on the threats of Somali pirates, terrorism and instability in Somalia. But there are no terrorists or pirates in Somaliland and there is no instability to speak of.

Needless to say, the Somaliland people live in a tough neighborhood where lawlessness and insecurity are the order of the day. Yet there is no safe haven for terrorists, warlords, parasitic war profiteers, human traffickers, counterfeiters and pirates in Somaliland territory- all the deeply entrenched ills afflicted with Somalia.

Both Galmudug and Puntland claim to be part and parcel of what used to be Somalia, so it is Somaliland that will be the odd one out in the London conference.

At twenty years old, Somaliland may not be recognized, but its president is a democratically elected president as David Cameron himself. Therefore, he deserves to be treated with utmost respect and accorded the ordinary diplomatic courtesies given to other foreign governments. He must also be given the opportunity to personally meet Prime Minister David Cameron to be able to explain Somaliland’s cause.

The Somaliland people will be watching the London conference closely.

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