With the changes in the geopolitical context of the region, knitting together Israel, the UAE, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt in a network of shared interests, Somaliland could be an important region.
Somaliland, a small country on the southern short of the Gulf of Aden that declared independence in the 1990s and is generally viewed as part of Somalia, is an example of an emerging stable region with economic potential and strategic significance in the Horn of Africa. Based on recent conversations with those knowledgeable about the area, the Covid-19 crisis and recent developments in relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates present an opportunity to look at Somaliland and its region as a place that Jerusalem and the Middle East should pay more interest in.
In 1991 the government of Somalia collapsed with the fall of the dictator Siad Barre. This came in the context of the collapse of the Soviet Union and challenges to various states whose authoritarian regimes had been linked to the Soviet Union. Barre had come to power in a 1969 military coup. Somaliland, which forms the northern third of Somalia, was historically an independent area. Previously under a British protectorate, it was briefly independent in 1960 before joining greater Somalia.
Today the area is once again independent but is largely unrecognized by the international community. In this it joins other areas like Northern Cyprus that function as quasi-states, but are not recognized. Increasingly Somaliland has important relations with the UAE. The region has one of the longest runways in Africa, a legacy of the Soviet era, and its Berbera port is strategic and has investment from the Emirates. “The only thing we are missing is recognition,” a Somaliland insider says.