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The Somalia-Somaliland Stalemate Within The Context Of The Geopolitics Of Conflict And Accommodation In The Horn Of Africa
ISSUE 133
Front Page
Index

Headlines

- Conference on future of the Horn successfully concluded

- Somaliland Participates In First Regional Counter Terrorism Conference
- International conference on Anti-money laundering held in Hargeisa

- Women's group trains female police officers

- Livestock Professionals meeting held in STVS, Hargeisa, jointly organized by The Somaliland Ministry of Livestock and The Somali Livestock Professional Forum

People

- Interview with Prof. Francis Kornegay

International News

- Najaf toll: US claims 300, fighters say 36

- Forgotten And Left To Anarchy And Isolation

Peace Talks

- Joint communiqué Issued by the 9th IGAD ministerial facilitation committee meeting on the Somali national reconciliation conference

Daallo Airlines Flies You Everywhere

 

Editorial & Opinions

- The International Community is Betraying Somaliland

- The Somalia-Somaliland Stalemate Within The Context Of The Geopolitics Of Conflict And Accommodation In The Horn Of Africa

- Interaction Of Peace, Security And Development Within The Framework Of Somaliland's International Recognition - A Practical Experience
- Closing Remarks By The Minister Of Information

- No Honor Among Theives

- The Other IGAD JOINT COMMUNIQUÉ


By Francis A. Kornegay

In this presentation, I am going to start from where I left off from a previous presentation that was entitled: "Somalia/Somaliland Dynamics as a Case Study in the International Politics of the Stalemated Reconstitution of a Collapsed State: Tentative Thoughts on Stabilizing the Somali Coast."

The main point was that there might need to be a level politico-diplomatic playing field between Somalia and Somaliland rather than another automatic recognition for a new interim Mogadishu regime at the expense of continued diplomatic limbo for Hargeisa.
This could also be viewed as a conflict prevention measure to forestall possible [Somaliland –Somali] conflict.

I have decided to take this tact as a means of extrapolating from the crisis of the state in the Somali coast sub-region of the Horn of Africa to try and illuminate a wider set of considerations regarding peace and security in this part of the continent which, in turn, may illuminate the overall African governance challenge: the elusive quest for arriving at stabilizing formulas for the political management of diversity on perhaps the most diverse of continents.

Within the context of the Somali coast, this conundrum seems all the more paradoxical given the deception, from the vantage-point of the uninitiated, of a uni-ethnic monolith whereas in reality, beneath the surface of this apparent ethnic uniformity, there exist complex fault-lines defined by clan, region and colonial legacies compounded by various external influences that have proved every much as polarizing as divisions anywhere else on the continent. More than that, if a uni-ethno-linguistic territorial state is not possible in the Somali region of the Horn of Africa, what does this say about the fragile national identities of other colonially-derived African states at a time when regional integration may offer the entire African continent a greater chance of fulfilling its potential by overcoming the legacies of colonial fragmentation?

The backdrop of all this, however, in 2004 is how to move forward in conflict resolution in a manner that consolidates rather than promotes more fragmentation on the continent; fragmentation being the key to Africa's endemic instability, misgovernance and weakness. Furthermore, it is crucial to recognize a paradigm shift as having occurred with the OAU's transition to the African Union (AU), the AU constituting, in effect, a continental proto-government that, according to AU Commission Chairman, Alpha Konare, aims to evolve toward a confederated inter-African system. The question is: how can conflict resolution along the Somali Coast contribute to this evolution? How can this happen within a larger regional integration process within Northeast Africa? This is where I believe that the manner in which the fates of Somaliland and the new attempt at an interim regime in southern Somalia are handled become central, not just for stabilizing of the Somali coast, but for a wider sub-regional accommodation.

My concluding point during the earlier presentation involved taking as my reference point, recommendations that had been put forth by the International Crisis Group (ICG) to the effect that there existed a need for an international diplomatic intervention to overcome the regional divisions reflected in IGAD as a precondition to breaking the negotiating stalemate over Somalia. What I proposed was an additional caveat for consideration regarding the issue of the statuses of Somaliland and the TNG and/or a TNG successor coming out of the Nairobi peace-talks.

In Search of a Level Playing Field Between Mogadishu & Hargeisa
What was offered as an untried option was to consider constructing a politico-diplomatic level playing field between Somaliland and the TNG or TNG successor whereby the log-jam would be broken over the issue of recognizing Somaliland: the African Union (AU) might be persuaded/encouraged to grant Somaliland observer status within the AU while the TNG's status would be adjusted from one of full diplomatic recognition to observer status as well. Full diplomatic recognition and membership in the AU would be made conditional on both Somalia and Somaliland implementing or buying into an internationally-backed joint Somali coast stabilization process, the elements of which might include the following:

The initiating of a follow-on or complementary track to the current Nairobi process whereby there would be undertaken an open-ended Somalia-Somaliland dialogue on the future of the Somali coast with all options being considered as to how the Somali coast might evolve and which would be facilitated by an out-of-area 'contact group' comprising Algeria, South Africa and Nigeria –long-term members of the AU's Peace and Security Council (PSC) – as adjuncts to the IGAD. This dialogue could be called the Somali Coast Governance Forum.

In effect, there may be a need for AU/PSC oversight and facilitation as an interactive complementary input emerging from the Nairobi process and a follow-on, open-ended Somalia-Somaliland dialogue.

The outcome of such a dialogue would be feed back to the AU and would serve as the determination on how the AU should proceed from the leveling point of AU observer status for both Somaliland and the Somali successor TNG to another level of diplomatic recognition for one or both parties.

In the meantime, the UN's "Monitoring Group" could be beefed up into a Transactions Monitoring Commission (TMC) overseeing arms embargo violations and financial transactions involving non-Somali state actors and one or another Somali client actor.

An added role of a TMC, as a monitoring body, could be to monitor violence and/or cease-fire arrangements between different Somali coast actors by fielding peace monitors. This could/should reflect a joint collaboration between the AU's PSC and a TMC and should be entrenched in a Somali Coast Peace Accord that all Somali actors, including Somaliland as well as the successor Somalia TNG and related groups should be party to. All IGAD member states should sign on as well. The peace accord and associated monitoring would complement and reinforce the prospective deployment of a UN multinational force as contemplated by the current peace process.

Beyond what has been proposed here, my own sense is that it may, at some point, be beneficial to consider a converging of the peace/transition/conflict resolution processes of the Somali coast and the Sudan into a wider sub-regional stabilization programme.

Peace & Security and Regional Cooperation/Integration in Northeast Africa

A Somaliland-Somalia Governance Forum might constitute one pillar of dialogue and stabilization within an overarching Conference on Security, Stability, Development and cooperation for Northeast Africa; in other words, a regionalization of the AU's CSSDCA to specifically address long-term peace-building and regional integration in this part of the continent within a structured dialogue framework.

Given the dynamics of conflict and possible accommodation in both Sudan and the Somali regions, what might the future architecture of the sub-region look like? In the past rear or two, scholars from this sub-region have actually deliberated on the distant prospect of a federation in the Horn of Africa. In fact, attempts at federalism in the sub- region are not new. Besides the failed federation of Ethiopia and Eritrea, Alex de Waal, in an article on "The African state and global governance" cites an attempted federation between Ethiopia and Djibouti which was vetoed by what he called "the rents that Djibouti's rulers can extract from the international system." There is also the possibility that the revived East African Community, whose leaders have openly voiced support for political federation could trigger a federalizing process in the Horn of Africa as well though the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation advocates that the East African Community – which, next year, launches it customs union – be extended to eventually include Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC. On the other hand, within the NEPAD sub-regional framework, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia are grouped within the "Eastern Africa Countries & Indian Ocean Island States" with its secretariat in Kenya.

In spite of the failure at federalism in the Horn of Africa, the lessons of both the break-up of Somalia and the regionally-based conflicts in Sudan, is that self-governing regional autonomy will have to be accommodated as the centre piece of any effort at politically stabilizing this sub-region; and I emphasize self-governing regional autonomy rather than sovereignty since, without popular sovereignty, 'sovereignty' is a meaningless concept for a greedy, power-hungry elite with a vested interest in centralizing all power and resources under their control in a zero-sum game of cut-throat competition with rival elites – all the while protecting elite enrichment by evoking national or state sovereignty.

Sovereignty in Africa tends to be "elite sovereignty" and, therefore inimical to the interests of a more effective level of sovereignty at the pan-African level on the one hand, and the more localized interests of grass roots communities on the other.

Autonomous self-government within a wider sub-regional and continental sovereignty allowing room for sub-national political expression, in my view, is closer to the reality of what Africa's peoples are essentially striving for in the new era of AU and NEPAD. The lessons of conflict history in Northeast Africa, including the experiences in the Somali region, I think, proves this point. Does anyone, for example, think that the Sudan can remain one territorially integrated country in the absence of a democratizing federalism that allows for substantial autonomy, not just for the south, but for other sub-national regions like Darfur? In the absence of a larger federal solution, would it not be expected that south Sudan will opt for independence and possible accession to an expanding East African Community which, itself may evolve into a federation?

And, of course, your own history and self-determination aspirations rule out a renewed attempt at a centralizing unitary governing formula for the Somali coast at the risk of continuing conflict. At an inter-state level, federalism can be complemented and reinforced by enhanced regional cooperation which, in turn, given Ethiopia's federal or quasi-federal framework, could provide the basis for wider inter-state political integration in the sub-region. In this regard, revisiting a federal link between Ethiopia and Djibouti could be reconsidered. It is quite possible, that the five-star unity of the Somali nation could be a viable option within a wider Northeast African federation or confederacy.

In the meantime, ongoing negotiations over the Nile Basin, which defines the greater Northeast African ecosystem inclusive of the Horn and the East African Community, holds out the promise of eventually reconciling contradictions between up-stream and down-stream countries in arriving at an economically sustainable accommodation to the benefit of all Nile Basin countries.

Further reinforcing sub-regional accommodation might be a Red Sea cooperative security regime involving Yemen that might transform current tensions isolating Eritrea into a greater Northeast African, trans-Red Sea security community. This could be crucial to building regional stability given the current Ethiopia-Sudan-Yemen alliance against Eritrea and the latter's support for opponents of these countries' regimes, including, reportedly, the Ogaden National Liberation Front – once again, underlining the need for an approach to stabilizing the Somaliland-Somalia relationship within the context of a wider regional integration focused peace and security strategy. This gets us back to the idea of a Somali coast governance forum serving as a focal point pillar for a larger peace- building framework for the Horn of Africa.

Conclusion: A United Nations Point of Departure?

From a practical standpoint of implementation, the collaboration between the UNDP and the UN Economic Commission for Africa in
convening their African Governance

Forum (AGF) and ECA's own African Development Forum, could be critically explored as models that might be adapted for an inter-Somali and/or a broader inter-Northeast African dialogue on political and economic governance and regional cooperation. The calabashes of the AU's CSSDCA could be adapted for the purpose of hammering out issue agendas for individual member states in the Horn of Africa and the sub-region as a whole.

Such a peace-building process would be a natural complement to any peacekeeping deployments contemplated for the post-conflict situations. In fact, conventional peacekeeping in the absence of peace-building and post-conflict recovery initiatives is probably not sustainable. This is the thinking currently being articulated by some South African proponents of what's termed "Developmental Peacekeeping."

An open-ended inter-Somali dialogue aimed at stabilizing conflict tendencies contained in the Somaliland-Somalia stalemate would appear to be a natural starting point for such a process with the support of all African and international stakeholders in bringing peace and security to the Somali region. In the process, the unique experience that Somalis have acquired in which all social partners have participated in discussions about the future of the region and its constituent entities can benefit the quest for peace and security among all Somali-speaking communities and the wider Horn of Africa sub- region.
 


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