From UNPO (nothing to do with the United Nations).
In the harsh terrain of the Horn of Africa, torn by decades of war, a peaceful Muslim democracy with a pro-Western government has emerged on the territory of a former British Protectorate.
Somaliland has its own flag, anthem, currency, army and elected government – yet the country of 3.5 million people does not appear on any map. By seizing de facto independence from Somalia 15 years ago, Somaliland escaped the anarchy engulfing its southern neighbor.
Few regions are more dangerous for a weak, unrecognised state than the Horn of Africa. To the south, Islamist radicals have seized control of Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia. Their goal is to "reunite" the entire country, by force if necessary.
Already, Islamist sympathisers have held demonstrations in Hargeisa, calling for the imposition of Sharia law. Somaliland occupies a strategically vital position on the Gulf of Aden, with a large port at Berbera.
Without international help, its government may not be able to withstand the pressure. Mr Kahin warned of the consequences of Somaliland's collapse. "Many foreigners, including the British, will regret that they lost a friend in the Horn of Africa," he said.
But recognising Somaliland is fraught with risk. Islamist radicals would view it as a Western plot to divide the Muslim world. The League of Arab States, which counts Somalia as a member, is adamantly opposed.
So are many African countries, who fear that welcoming Somaliland into the club of nations would encourage separatists inside their own borders.
If we, in the west, are truly serious about encouaging moderate muslims to come forward and embrace democracy then we must recognise the state of Somaliland. This is a country that wants to be our ally, wants to be our friend and has made all the necessary moves to achieve what we are trying to achieve in Afghanistan and Iraq ALL BY ITSELF.
We must not let them down.
Recognition for Somaliland. NOW!