Somaliland must continue to seize every opportunity to ensure that other countries become aware the success story of this peaceful and democratic country and should capitalize the backdrop of this successful diplomatic ties with Guinea Conakry. Diplomatic ties, I am referring to the official invitation and reception given to H.EPresident Bihi and should cleverly shed light the pattern of negative campaign and destructive policy adopted by Mogadisho government, which in the long run could lead to more hostility and instability across the region. Somalia’s insertion thatGuinea Conakry’s decision to develop ties with Somaliland, has somehow violated the sovereignty of a country is unjustifiable and distraction from its inability to improve the plight of Somali people’s life which it claims it governs. President Bihi met and received official reception from current and former Ethiopian Prime Minister, from President of Djibouti, and from UAE’s rulers and there was no outcry from Mogadischo after these meetings, WHY the outcry now?. This latest development has provided Somaliland an opportunity to improve its relations with other African countries. And focus more creating new ties with Africa’s non-arab Countries.
Somalia’s political leaders and opinion makers openly express their feeling of betrayal by some African countries, specially those who have chosen to open dialogue with Somaliland. Recent official Somali government announcement, that Somalia is cutting its ties with Guinea Conakryis merely a rhetoric, since there was little or no ties between Somalia and Guinea Conakry. But it was a clear sign that Mogadischo government is on the back foot and the recent message was to draw the attention of its sympathetic friends in the continent, in the hope that they’ll come to their help and put pressure on countries considered betraying The Open Secret of AU’s stand towards Somaliland which seem to be interpreted ‘’ Do Not Support, Do not Oppose’’ Somaliland.
The recent campaign to proactively engage with non-arab African countries is an intelligent and clever move. Because some African countries changed course following the Chinese policy towards Africa. It is no secret that some African countries no longer are darlings of the Western Countries. The fact that Western Countries are no longer the only block that have the economic and political muscle to influence the continents’ agenda ( Political and Economic), led more and more African countries are no longer afraid to upset the WESTERN countries and feel free to choose diplomatic and economic partners from therest of the world.
In the past year, President Bihi, underlined that his government plans to develop strong ties with African countries, his first visit to a foreign country as a president was Republic of Djibouti and was received by H.E President Geulleh. President Bihi also travelled to Ethiopia and met the then prime minister of Ethiopia. And again paid visit to Ethiopia and met the current prime minister of Ethiopia H.E Dr Abby Ahmed. Number of high profile African dignitaries also visited Hargeisa or was invited to Somaliland i.edifferent African Parliamentarians, Former African Heads of State, High Delegation led by Foreign Minister of Eretria, Ministers from Republic of Djibouti also visited Somaliland and met President Bihi. Number of Somaliland Ministers visited Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia other African countries and met their counterparts. This trend of proactively engaging Africa is very positive and should be continued. However, this does not imply other relationships with other countries are less important. But after 28 years of trying to establish tangible diplomatic relationship with other countries with no satisfactory achievements, it is high time to change the course and try alternative route to present Somalilands case to the World. Economic ties with UAE is notable and very significant, but Somaliland were too careful not to frustrate its new economic partner and did choose not ask tough questions, or demand more closer diplomatic ties during the early stages of this relationship. But, the current government spared no efforts to use this economic relationship with the UAE as a catalyst to attract the much needed more FDI in the country and booked number of notable diplomatic gestures from the UAE governmenti .e recognition for the Somaliland Passport as a valid official travel document.
The position of the Western countries, when it comes to Somalilands’ case is double standard. Particularly, the supposedly closest ally, ( The UK), to Somaliland, never made its official position and choose to remain passive observer. And, surprisingly other western countries seem to be looking at Somalilands’ former colonial masters’ response, but until now the UK government had no clear policy towards Somaliland, other then, that they encourage dialogue between the two parties. However, In recent years, EU become very active player in the Horn of African affairs, particularly in the development and security front. Understandably, EU is a complex institution and when it comes to forging diplomatic ties with foreign countries, there are numerous hurdles and complexities to overcome but it is encouraging that, in the recent past, EU is increasing its development and humanitarian interventions in Somaliland which is a positive development.
Finally the ill-informed press release of Somali’s foreign minister has done more favorthen damage to Somaliland’s quest for international recognition, it simply spread Somalilands’ positive diplomatic development; media outlets from New York Times, BBC, Bloomberg and More African media outlets reported that Somalia cut ties with Gunie and inadvertently gave positive coverage to the official visit of President Bihi to Conarky, and this may result, that other African countries will follow suitGuinea Conakry’s action and will rush to invite President Bihi.
Written by: Awale.I. Shirwa
Somalilands’ Former Minister of Planning and Development