POLITICS | ARTICLE – After 3 decades of independence, the quayside independent state of Somaliland is taking diplomatic stances that could throw the region’s hard-won gains into doubt.
The Ethiopian PM, Abiy Ahmed has recently hosted a meeting between the Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and the Somaliland President Mouse Bihi Abdi held at an unofficial level in Addis Ababa. The meeting was groundwork for Abiy’s intentions to bring both Farmajo and Bihi to the table of negotiations.
Just a few days later, the Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo uttered words that unexpectedly resonated through minds of the public, however, Somaliland has hailed it despite calling it insufficient compared to the atrocities committed in Somaliland by the Siad Barre regime which some estimates indicated to have reached upward of 200,000 civilian deaths.
Somaliland has long been a peaceful, quayside independent state after the region declared independence and reinstated borders of the former British Protectorate before it united with Somalia under a power sharing deal on July 1st 1960.
The country also achieved demobilizing militia groups that wrested power at a local level after ousting Siad Barre thanks to an Ethiopian support and also held a referendum in which its citizens unanimously voted for leaving Somalia unilaterally.
There have been talks in the past, but all efforts to reach an agreement fell short in bringing about intended results as Somaliland always lobbied for apology over holocaust against its citizens perpetrated by Siad Barre’s regime. Previous Somali leaders avoided taking the adventurous move; however, Farmajo had the audacity to do so.
What goes without saying, however, is that the Somali leader’s move has been spearheaded by Abiy Ahmed’s effort –who now wants to pick up hopes from the rubble in ensuring fruitful talks between Somalia and Somaliland.
Unlike his traditional predecessors, the current Evangelical Pentecostal Christian Prime Minister of Ethiopia is focusing more on regional peace and single Horn of African government apparently led by the Ethiopians. He is pursuing motives not so far achieved by any of his predecessors or never thought of its possibilities.
The Somaliland Chairman of the House of Elders Saleban Mohamoud Adan has on Sunday confirmed that Abiy Ahmed is engaged in a vigorous effort aimed to trip to Hargeisa alongside Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, however, Adan reiterated that Farmajo would receive no-welcome in Hargeisa despite government efforts to pave the way for such a move.
Moreover, Abiy’s efforts extend far beyond than expected, political experts believe that the Ethiopian PM wants Somalia to recognize Somaliland as a sovereign state which could further fragment the country and may lead to the utter annihilation of the Somali race.
Some believe that this is only casting long-standing public assumptions in Somaliland into doubt and that the state might give up seeking an international recognition, giving time for another unification which could be a milestone victory for all Somalis.
One might think to himself “how could Ethiopia allow strong Somalia again” of which it plotted its ebb earlier in the 1980s when it formed SNM and other armed factions in an effort to pit Somalis one and another, and weaken their resolve. Ethiopia would never give up its dreams of ensuring Somalia divided along tribal lines and ruled from Addis Ababa.
Since Somaliland has eschewed violence in the aftermath of the Somali civil war and enjoyed peace over the decades, its citizens widely believe they will never unite with Somalia even if it takes a thousand years to receive an international recognition. A perception that could only be erased by the politicians who sowed the seed of hatred and division along the Somali society, those who are currently leading Somaliland public.
People still remember the punitive measures taken by Siad Barre and the subsequent clampdown which included bombing campaign in several cities of Somaliland where thousands of civilians had been killed. Somaliland citizens believe this was a targeted brutal persecution against them. This is what no politician nor strong regional belligerent is able to erase, they always recall it.
Somaliland leader may hail Abiy’s intentions to bring Farmajo to Hargeisa but may lead to public anger that could deteriorate into violence in the resilient quayside state. Opinion polls taken on whether people would welcome Farmajo’s visit to Hargeisa, residents said no, adding that he may only arrive once he has given recognition to the break-away state.
For Abiy it is a milestone victory to bring leaders of Somalia and Somaliland together, but for Somalis seemingly their future will always be dictated by regional belligerents whose stances sprang up armed factions that ousted Bare’s regime in the 1990s and led to the civil war, and division among ethnic Somalians.
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