Thursday, November 23, 2006

Somaliland: A cause we can do something about

A good article on Open Democracy about the need for the international community to recognise Somaliland.

A formal recognition of the self-declared independent state of Somaliland in the Horn of Africa would be just in principle and a boon to the region and the continent, says Jawahir Adam.

Hear, hear. It would also be a boon to the fight against Islamic extremism. Somaliland is a mainly Muslim country which is democratic and peaceful. Official recognition of Somaliland would send out a clear message to the Muslim world that they will be rewarded for making progress towards genuine democracy.

Adam sets out a clear and strong case for recognition of Somaliland. He concludes with four possible scenarios.

[C]ivil war with the Islamists. If the latter advance north as far as Somaliland, this may result in an exodus of refugees, millions of internally-displaced people and the further destabilisation of the entire Horn of Africa. (At the same time, Somalilanders would fiercely resist an attempt to end their independence, as they did when they defeated Siad Barre's strong army).

[C]ontinuing non-recognition of Somaliland's sovereignty. This would demonstrate the international community's denial of economic empowerment and development, and give an impetus to poor governance, corruption and instability in Somaliland. The current lack of recognition acts as an impediment to receiving international reconstruction and development aid, as well as to bilateral agreements with governments and the international financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF

[A] combination of civil war and non-recognition that leads to a collapse in democratic government

[R]ecognition of Somaliland as a peaceful corner of Africa with one of the continent's few democratically elected governments.

The fourth, and my preferred, scenario would bring stability, prosperity and a vibrant state with much to offer. Its continuing progress on developing the private sector, democracy and human rights (particularly those of women) makes it a model for other African states.

Somaliland used to be a British colony. If Cameron - or anyone else in British politics, for that matter - really want a cause célèbre then he would surely be better pushing for the government to officially recognise Somaliland than he would wittering on about Darfur - which he knows there is nothing we can do that we are not already doing.

To be honest, though, I doubt Cameron even knows of Somaliland.

If Britain was to recognise Somaliland, others would follow. If we can convince the US to recognise it too we would have a strong ally in a strategically important part of Africa and a bulwark against the Islamic imperialism emanating from neighbouring Somalia and from Sudan.


xoggoth said...

Unless a good reason not to I reckon we should always support self determination. Hard to imagine being independent from a violent lawless country like Somalia can be anything but a good thing.

Looking at laws in Islamic countries the other week and the only truly tolerant states (as opposed to tolerant by the Islamic definition) are in black Africa.

Stan said...

As someone who supports self determination for England, I can't disagree - not that I would anyway!

What really annoys me, though is the way we - and the liberal left in particular - support the rights of the "Palestinians" to have their own state,pour in billions of dollars worth of aid when they show absolutely no signs of trying to make what they currently have work.

And yet Somaliland has done so much more with so much less. Why do we reward genocidal maniacs and leave the peacemakers to struggle on?

Charles Roffey and Fred Oosting said...

Yes, Stan, you are absolutely right. I have been saying similar things ever since I went to Somaliland in November 2005, namely that it makes much more sense to reward and recognise Somaliland for good governence than to so all the other things which governments do liek go to war in Iraq, or as you mention, blow hot air over Darfur.
The argument seems to be that UK won't do anything outside of the EU and in the EU, Italy is opposed to recognition becuase of its ties to Somalia and anyway, it is not an EU issue but an AU issue. However, this is a bit rich from a country which fought an illegal war in Iraq. So.. go for it, Cameron, or Brown!