Somaliland, a former British protectorate, gained independence on June 26, 1960, five days before Somalia gained independence from Italy. The two nations unified soon after, but ties worsened in the late 1980s when dictator Mohamed Siad Barre approved a series of summary killings, aerial bombardment, and systematic torture to crush the northern resistance.
According to accounts, between 50,000 and 200,000 people were slain as a result of the Barre regime, culminating in the genocide of hundreds of thousands of Somalilanders, which sparked the civil war.
Somaliland proclaimed independence as a republic in 1991.
Despite the atrocities that followed the regime’s demise, the emerging East African democratic nation has provided its 5.7 million people with relative peace and security in the last 30 years. It has its own elected bicameral parliament, with a Guurti of elders similar to the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, recruits its own army, produces its own currency, and issues its own passports.
Somaliland has become a regional democratic powerhouse due to its dedication to advancing democratic norms and standards, as well as its frequent change of governments at the elections. Its success stands in sharp contrast to those of its neighboring nations, where incumbents are reversing democratic progress because it threatens their authority and financial advantages.
Waaheen Market Fire
On April 1, shortly after a fire broke out in Waaheen market, the largest commercial and financial center in Somaliland which caused 1.5 billion in damage, a senior Chinese ambassador asked permission to pay his respects.
Beijing’s envoy to Somalia, Fei Shengchao, informed Somaliland authorities that he wanted to discuss how China might aid victims of Covid-19 and the East African drought and reduce the impact of the disaster, which decimated the local economy.
The ambassador’s requests immediately prompted suspicions among Somaliland authorities. They concluded that Beijing’s actual goal was not to discuss emergency relief. It aimed to enlist local allies to sabotage Somaliland’s cordial diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Mr. Fei told The Wall Street Journal that Somaliland’s leaders are “are not only seeking secession but also fanning the flames to undermine the independence and unification of other countries, harming others without benefiting themselves… They will eventually shoot themselves in the foot”. Meanwhile, the independence issue has produced a natural alliance between China and Somalia, since China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory, and likewise for Somalia with their claim of Somaliland.
In response to the Waheen Fire, the government of Taiwan and two Taiwan NGOs assisted “USD550K and humanitarian materials to support Waaheen market fire traders”.
Two months prior to the Waheen Fire, Somaliland’s foreign minister, Dr. Essa Kayd, visited Taiwan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hon. Tseng in an effort to strengthen the friendship and relationship between the two nations.
He stated, “As a sovereign nation, Somaliland’s right to engage in peaceful and friendly foreign relations with all other nations is enshrined in international law and all coercive or threatening measures to deny such collaboration between international partners not only represents an affront to principal, protocols, and norms of which the international order is based but does little to promote the peace and security the region and the world require”.
He stated in his trip to Taipei “open to all bilateral relations we can have with any country, but it has to be unconditional, no strings attached,” Kayd said. “We’re not going to allow anyone to dictate who we can have a relationship with”.
“It is a geopolitical chess-piece-in-waiting,” said Ambassador Allen Chenwa Lou, Taiwan’s top representative in Hargeisa.
Horn of Africa is emerging as a geopolitical power player between US & China Relations
China has made significant investments in the area, including the Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway in Ethiopia and the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor in Kenya.
However, the United States and its allies are politically weakened by Beijing’s influence, particularly in Djibouti. Considering the bipartisan support in the US Congress for strengthening the US-Somaliland alliance as well as the discussions in the Houses of Parliament on recognizing Somaliland as an independent country, the United States and the United Kingdom would be able to support the recognition of Somaliland.
Somaliland’s former foreign minister, Edna Aden, stated: “If the world wants to give China 850 km [528 miles] of waterway to spite Somaliland, Somaliland will not be the only losers”.
- The UNIQUE Case For The International Recognition Of Somaliland
- Somaliland: The Little Country That Could By David Shinn
- The World Can Learn From How Somaliland Overcame Militias
- Somaliland Declaration On The Origin Of African Borders
- KOIGI: Acknowledge Somaliland To Cure Festering Wound On Africa
- Somaliland Is A Beacon Of Democracy In An Unstable Region