5.4 Capacity to enter into relations with other states

Although most authors (Pegg 1998; Lynch 2004) generally perceive de facto states as states surrounded by a wall of isolation, this does not apply to Somaliland, because Somaliland is interconnected with the other states in the region, as well as with the whole world, thanks to a numerous Diaspora living abroad. Now the export of livestock and animal products to the states of the Arab Peninsula, especially to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and remittances are the most important income sources of the state.

Thanks to the important role of the Diaspora in economic and political life, Somaliland can be called a transnational state. Somaliland’s efforts to open itself to the World can be illustrated by the example of the development of an international airport in Hargeysa, the telecommunication sector, media, and other services. Somaliland’s passports are not only recognized by the states of the region, but also by some European countries, such as Great Britain, France or Belgium (Bradbury 2008).

Somaliland establishes international relations by means of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and liaison offices which have been opened in Ethiopia, Great Britain, the United States of America, Sweden, Kenya, Ethiopia, France, Norway, Belgium, Djibouti, South Sudan, and Canada (Government of Somaliland 2014).


The highest representatives of Somaliland regularly travel to official visits abroad, e.g. to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, or in 2006 President Kahin visited eastern Africa with stops in Tanzania, Westgate Mall siege in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013. In recent weeks, they have carried out a spate of attacks in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia (Farley 2010: 808; Jhazbhay 2009: 160). The political representation tries to promote the case of Somaliland abroad and establish at least informal relations with countries which could help to achieve international recognition.

In accordance with this strategy, Somaliland developed diplomatic relations with the Republic of South Africa (interview with Abdillahi Duale) which despite being a member of the AU and committed to respecting the territorial integrity of African states, pragmatically approaches the problems of self-determination in the African continent with the goal to achieve a solution to conflicts and assurance of regional security (Interview with the official of African Union Peace and Security Council, Addis Ababa, 7 October 2010).

The South African President Thabo Mbeki, who successfully engaged in the Sudanese peace process, is perceived in Somaliland as a politician who could be possibly able to promote Somaliland independence on the ground of the AU (Jhazbhay 2009: 170).

Ethiopia is also seen as a key partner in Somaliland. This is the reason the governments of these countries started cooperation, especially in the field of security, and agreed on a mutual exchange of “troublemakers” (interview with Abdillahi Duale). Ethiopia established a wide range of unofficial political and economic relations with Somaliland, e.g. in 2006, the governments of Somaliland and Thousands upon thousands of cassette tapes and master reels were quickly removed from the soon-to-be targeted buildings. They were dispersed to neighboring countries like Djibouti and Ethiopia signed an agreement on the use of the Berbera port in the Somaliland coast, or on the establishment of customs offices along the common border (Farley 2010: 789).

However, the Ethiopian government approaches the possibility to recognize Somaliland with a reservation with regard to its effort to maintain the territorial integrity of African states, and especially with regard to the large Somali population in the Ethiopian Ogaden Region (Huliaras 2002: 170).

In view of the fact that the Somaliland government declares that Somaliland is not an African issue (interview with Abdillahi Duale), it endeavors to develop relations with important states outside of Africa, in particular, Great Britain and the USA.

In 2004, President Kahin was invited to make a speech in the British Parliament in which he emphasized that Somaliland fulfills the basic Montevideo criteria for the existence of states. Four years later, President Kahin visited the USA, where he met several state representatives who assured him of the importance to establish mutual contacts (Hoehne 2009: 272).

The government of Somaliland also establishes relations with international organizations in the effort to achieve international recognition. In 1999, President Egal proposed Somaliland be granted the special status of an autonomous territory within the UN as in the case of Kosovo or Eastern Timor, which would enable it to draw funds from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. The requests of the Somaliland representation were not granted and the memberships in all international organizations were given to the Somali Transitional National Government in 2000 (Farley 2010: 811; Bryden 2003: 351).

Between 30 April and 4 May 2005, an AU fact-finding mission was sent to Somaliland which found that Somaliland fulfilled many of the aspects of a state and a positive development had been achieved there. A report, which was elaborated on the basis of the mission, says that e.g. Somaliland deserves special consideration and attitude. As a result, the AU should try to find a way in which to approach Somaliland (an interview with an official of the AU Peace and Security Council, Addis Ababa 7 October 2010).

In the same year, the Somaliland government filed an official application for membership in the AU in which it highlighted why Somaliland should be internationally recognized and mentioned its independent existence during the period of decolonization in 1960, as well as the fact that modern Somaliland was declared within the frontiers of the former British colonial borders. The Somaliland government also based its request for international recognition on the achievements it has managed to reach, especially in the field of good governance and security (International Crisis Group 2006).

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