Haatuf Media Network
Editor; Yusuf Abdi Gabobe - Asst. Editor: A. Dubad & Abdifatah M.Aidid - Sub. Editors: Hasan Hosh - Layout and Design: Ahmed Jama
Issue 31, Aug. 17, 2002
UN Report Says Somaliland Authorities
Diverted Aid for Somalia’s Refugees in Somaliland
A report recently issued by the United Nations coordination Unit/Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNCU/OCHA), has accused Somaliland authorities of diverting relief aid intended for Somalia refugees living in Somaliland.
The report, an extraction of which was released by the UN news agency IRIN on Thursday, recommends that any further assistance for “Internally displaced persons [Refugees who fled Somalia and are currently living in Somaliland], particularly those in Somaliland capital, Hargeisa, should be conducted with the consultation of the IDPs themselves.” The report stresses the need for establishing a system of monitoring and evaluating the delivery of any relief supplies.”
Somaliland has witnessed in the last 5 years an influx of thousands of refugees who fled war-ravaged neighboring Somalia.
According to one estimate, at least 40, 000 of such refugees now live in Somaliland. The UNHCR however recognizes them as internally displaced people and not as refugees. But these people don’t get any help even as IPDs. The UN and other aid agencies in Somaliland do not maintain relief assistance programs to help them. Most of them actually live on local charities while a minority of them earn their living from working as casual laborers or are self-employed. The majority of family refugees in Somaliland consist of women and children who fled the southern parts of Somalia, particularly the RRA-held regions of Bay and Bakol. The Somaliland government and people have so far tolerated their coming here.
The UN report recommends a food-for-work program to generate employment opportunities for these refugees, particularly those living in the “Dami camp to rebuild roads.” The purpose of this program is said to improve the nutrition status of the camp residents in the short term. For the long term however, the report specifically recommends engagement of these people in labor intensive projects for “rehabilitation of roads on the outskirts of Hargeisa; and a long term urban planning program as local authorities lacked both the capacity and funds to rehabilitate returning IDPs and returnees.”
Hundreds of thousands of Somaliland refugees have returned home during the last few years from refugee camps in eastern Ethiopia largely without external assistance.
The UNHCR did assist about 60, 000 – 80, 000 Somaliland refugees come back to their homes in the last few years. The UNHCR assistance was however confined to transportation of the returning refugees to destinations in Somaliland and allocation of family food ration for 6-9 months in advance. None of the officially expatriated refugees were given reintegration assistance.
But the influx of Somalia refugees is continuing and with most of the newly arriving belonging to the job seeking male category, the Somaliland open-hands policy is likely to change soon. The refugees from Somalia are already raising grave social and economic concerns among the distressed local urban communities.
A Surge in Somaliland Multi-Party Politics
Hargeisa (SL Times): There is a noticeable surge in the intensity of multi-party politics in Somaliland. Last week, Somaliland’s newest political party KULMIYE concluded its first convention, which was held in Hargeisa. The party gathering elected Somaliland veteran politician Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud “Sillanyo” as its Chairman, Somaliland’s former Foreign Minister as first Deputy Chairman and Ms Sirad Ali Yusuf as second Deputy Chairman (which makes Ms Sirad Yusuf the first woman to secure the 3rd most senior rank in any political party in Somaliland so far.)
This morning, the government-controlled party, UDUB, is to hold a meeting in its head office in Hargeisa. In the one day meeting, UDUB is expected to formally announce the launching of its campaign for upcoming municipal and legislative elections. The electoral commission has so far only scheduled municipal elections for mayors and members of city councils to take place by next October. No date has yet been set as to when the legislative and presidential elections will be held.
President Rayale, who has succeeded the late President Egal to become UDUB’s Chairman, is expected to attend the party’s meeting today. UDUB was launched last year in a meeting held by its founders. The party is yet to have its first national convention.
According to the party’s internal regulations, only regional conventions are authorized to nominate the organization’s candidates running for municipal and legislative elections.
However, UDUB’s regional bureaus have so far failed to hold their conventions. Therefore, it is not clear whether UDUB will present today the names of its candidates to stand for local government elections or not.
A number of opposition parties have expressed renewed concern over what they have termed as “UDUB’s use of public resources to promote its interests.”
This violates the recent agreement, signed by 8 political parties, including UDUB, requiring that government resources be equally off-limit to all political organizations, a spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the largest opposition party, ASAD, is expected to hold its first convention today.
Plan To Return Somali
Expatriate Clergymen To Somaliland
Cairo (SL Times): Non-Somalilander graduates of Al-Azhar University in Cairo and a number of Saudi based Islamic institutions are being offered financial benefits in exchange for their return to Somaliland.
Under a secret Saudi-Egyptian plan, thousands of Somalis now living in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan will be encouraged to trickle into Somaliland to seek jobs as teachers of Islamic religion or establish businesses there. According to an article published in the Arabic Al-Haatef (Last Thursday’s edition), both Egypt and Saudi Arabia want to get rid of large numbers of Somali Muslim clerics residing in their respective two countries. The Saudis out of fear that the Somalis, mostly from region 5 of Ethiopia, might become an easy target for recruitment by Al-Qa’eda have happily agreed to an Egyptian proposal requiring them to finance the return of the clergymen to Somaliland.
The plan was originally put forward by the Egyptian Secretary General, of the Arab League, Mr. Amr Musa. The total beneficiaries of the plan are estimated at 21,000 people, including about 3000 who are currently living in Jordan after having fled Iraq more than 10 years ago.
Around 1/3 of the target group will consist of former students at Islamic institutions in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The underlying Egyptian objective is for the returnees to dilute independence feelings harbored by Somalilanders and help revive the ideology of “Grater Somalia.” The clerics are to target young school children in Somaliland for their brainwashing schemes.
A meeting to this effect was held few days ago in Cairo between Amr Musa and representatives of the Somali group. The plan stipulates that participants seek a quiet resettlement and integration in Somaliland.
EU Offers Support for Broad-Based Provisional Government to Succeed TNG
Nairobi, 16 Aug 2002 (Agencies) - The EU Council of Ministers has offered financial and technical support to a "provisional, all-inclusive, broad-based" government in Somalia, as successor to the Transitional National Government.
The support would, however, be conditional on a number of requirements, including the functioning of the main infrastructures in the country, such as the port and airport in the capital Mogadishu, the free circulation of people and goods, the launching of a partnership with the country's various regions, and the establishment of harmonious relations with neighboring countries, a statement from the Council said.
In order to encourage a "bottom-up approach", the EU would support "emerging regional governance" which had effective control of population centers and economic infrastructures, and demonstrated a commitment to peace, the Council said.
It would also continue to use declarations and demarches to pass rapid and clear messages to the various Somali and regional stakeholders, as part of its support to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development's peace and reconciliation initiative in Somalia.
An EU special envoy could be appointed, the Council added, if progress in the peace process so merited. Smart sanctions targeting individuals blocking peace could also be introduced, as well as positive incentives such as targeted financial support.
Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Ethiopian Cattle Meat
Addis ababa, Aug 14, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Saudi Arabia has agreed to lift the ban imposed on Ethiopian export cattle meat, the Ethiopian News Agency reported here Wednesday.
The decision was made in the wake of a recent agreement signed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia between the trade ministries of the two countries.
According to the agreement, the ban on the export of cattle meat from two Ethiopian abattoirs to Saudi Arabia has been totally lifted.
Gulf states including Saudi Arabia were the major recipients of Ethiopian live animals and animal products.
However, they imposed a trade ban on Ethiopia, the Sudan and Somalia in the year of 2000 because of the prevalent livestock disease in the Horn of Africa.
Earlier, Ethiopian State Minister of Trade and Industry Fantaye Biftu said the contribution of livestock subsector to the Ethiopian national economy accounts for 16 percent of the National Gross Domestic Product, compared to 33 percent of the agricultural products and 17.8 percent of foreign earnings in 2001.
Because of the ban imposed on Ethiopia, the country reportedly earned some 2.1 million US dollars from exporting meat and meat products in 2001, dropping from about 3.66 million dollars in 2000.
Rights for Southern Sudanese
Key to National Unity, Says US Envoy
Nairobi, 15 Aug 2002 (IRIN) - The US envoy for Sudan, John Danforth, said on Wednesday that rights for southerners were the key to national unity.
"The issue is what will happen in the next six years," he said. "Whether there will be a just peace, whether the rights of the people who are in the minority and the people in the south will be recognized and whether they will be full participants in the country," Reuters news agency quoted him saying in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Following a meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa, he told reporters that almost all parties to the 19-year conflict recognized that a united Sudan was desirable, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, the appointment of a Canadian special envoy for peace in Sudan was greeted with reservations in Khartoum. Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Uthman Isma'il had told journalists that the appointment of Senator Mobina Jafer "is still under consideration by the concerned authorities", AFP reported. Ottawa should have consulted Khartoum before taking this step, he added. "It is difficult to expect that Sudan would agree to such an appointment, by any country, without full consideration," AFP quoted him saying.
In a separate development, the donor community, together with United Nations agencies, expressed concern on Wednesday over the serious humanitarian situation obtaining in parts of Sudan due to "continued military operations and lack of humanitarian access". In a statement, they called for "a dramatic gesture" which would allow "immediate free and unimpeded access" to populations in need.
Peace talks between the two main warring parties, the Khartoum government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, which opened in the southwestern Kenyan town of Machakos on Monday, are a follow-up to talks in July, which resulted in the historic Machakos Protocol.
The Protocol makes provision for a referendum for the population in southern Sudan - the scene of fierce fighting between Khartoum and the SPLM/A since 1983 - to be conducted in six years' time to choose whether to secede or remain in a united Sudan.
Matters yet to be agreed on by the parties include the geographic definition of the south, power sharing, wealth sharing, and security arrangements. A statement issued this week by the advocacy group, International Crisis Group, also said that the signed protocol was ambiguous on the issue of the relationship between religion and state. "The issue will remain a live one until an agreement is reached on a constitution for the central government that is neutral on religion," it noted.
A Coherent Policy Towards Somalia Is Critical
Ahmed Mohamed, email@example.com
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH THE MOST GRACIOUS THE MOST MERCIFUL
We all know that for a country to function well and all the different systems or structures within the country to function smoothly, it is required of the government in power to formulate policies pertaining to the different issues and problems facing the country. It can be policies regarding health, education, security or agriculture etc. Without policies or a blueprint regarding matters of national importance, then there is huge risk that frictions or conflicts can occur within the government and within the society as a whole. Due to lack of frame of reference people will move in different directions and sooner or later problems might arise. It is much better and easier for the government as well as the electorate to know under which guiding principles the country’s leadership conducts government business.
Some time ago a delegation arrived in Hargeisa and delivered what they called "a response" from the warring factions in Somalia. This response is connected to a message given to this delegation when they came last time to Hargeisa to attend the burial of the former president. The main point in the message was that the different factions in Somalia should accept the reality on the ground and declare that they have nothing against the independence of the Republic of Somaliland. However when that delegation went to Mogadishu and held consultations with the different leaders there, they were told that before even talking about recognizing Somaliland, it should host a peace conference for all the different Somali factions. One member of the delegation was interviewed by Radio Golis and asked if the hosting of the conference is for the warring factions or between Somalia and Somaliland? His reply was all the warring factions and Somaliland attending one conference!!! What he was saying was Somaliland is attending that conference as if it were one of the warring factions!!! So if that was the case, Somaliland wouldn’t have missed the over a dozen "peace conferences" held all over the world for Somalia. The major impediment to usher peace and reconciliation in Somalia is the pervasive and perpetual act of denial by "leaders" of Somalia Proper on the geo-political realities of the Horn. They have spent all their energy on matters that do not concern them and ignoring the plight of their suffering people. The tragic thing is the lack of decency from these people who hate and can’t stand Somaliland, but still come to Hargeisa and show one face when they are there, and another when in Mogadishu. C/qassim and others were also in Hargeisa and shown the same hospitality and brotherhood as these recent group. Now he has made his mission in life to undermine Somaliland, particularly to appease the petro-dollar sheiks and Egypt, which have another agenda in the Horn and Somalia in particular. They want once again to use Somalia, under the disguise of Islam and war against infidels, to protect their economical and political interests. The goal is to have a militarist Somalia (with petro-dollar aid) to engage Ethiopia so that the Ethiopians get concerned about their security or lack of it and an arms race results in the Horn. The whole concept is utilizing Somalia as a proxy so that Ethiopia does not get the time or resources to exploit the Blue Nile waters for economical development. The idea is to condemn both Somalia and Ethiopia to everlasting economic and social destitution.
But the truth of the matter is that the real reason they came to Hargeisa from the beginning was NOT for Somaliland to help bring peace to the suffering people of Somalia by hosting a peace conference in Hargeisa attended by the opposing sides in Somalia, but instead involve Somaliland into that conflict by scheming in one way or another to destabilize Somaliland by primarily devising a way to make Somaliland be a part of the conflict. The best way to achieve this goal was to entice Somaliland to play a peacemaker role by holding a conference in Hargeisa! By trying to lure Somaliland with this bait the idea was to draw Somaliland into the conflict through the backdoor! The timing couldn’t be better! Imagine when the entire nation is preparing itself for elections and every effort is directed to making the forthcoming elections a success, then comes a self-appointed peace delegation without a mandate from constituency and says lets talk peace!
When this delegation came to Somaliland, no explanation was given to their presence in Hargeisa. Neither the head of the delegation, Dr Bood nor the Somaliland government were in any mood to give a statement concerning the matter. As a result Somalilanders inside and outside the country experienced want amounted to a total information blackout. This led to fierce speculations and an overwhelming majority of Somalilanders expressed their displeasure towards the presence of these people and the high level reception accorded to them by the Somaliland authorities. The anger was bristling to such a level that it prompted the chairman of UCID, Feisal Cali Waraabe, to hold a press conference where his indignation in the way the government handled the matter was quite clear. Days went and still nothing came out apart from rumors. The whole thing was disclosed when those people from Mogadishu were on their way home! Then a day later the government made a statement about the mission of these "peace emissaries"!
The handling of this matter clearly shows that the authorities concerned acted more or less unprofessionally. The Republic of Somaliland has no place for secrecy and keeping Somalilanders in the dark on issues of great importance is wrong and unacceptable. Somaliland is a fledgling democracy and for all nations that embrace democratic principles, one of the most underlying principles is transparency. A true democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is paramount for the Somaliland government and the Gurti to slavishly adhere to this tenet. A true democratic government reflects the thoughts and aspirations of its people and reads the mood and feelings of its citizens. It was appropriate for the president to clarify things later, but the people of Somaliland should have been informed from the beginning and not kept in the dark.
The Somaliland government should have a coherent policy regarding Somalia. The Somaliland government and leaders should act after what is in Somaliland’s best interest. Sentimentality and sweet talk from people from Somalia should not at any time be entertained. The leaders from Somalia Proper have mastery in manipulation and deceit of the highest order, if that is not the case why would the international community still believe in them and hold peace conferences after more than fourteen such conferences? Even discussing Somaliland’s independence and asking for recognition from people whose hands are drenched in blood is both revolting and unbearable. Imagine asking massmurderers like Morgan, Gani and others who are implicated for the genocide that took place in Somaliland for recognition!!! If this is not madness then I really do not know what madness is! Neither the government nor the Gurti is above the law. All power emanates from the citizens and they have voted for their constitution by a 97% YES VOTE. The Somaliland constitution declares our country’s god given right to self-determination. Neither will this government nor any government in the future revoke that! Any government that tries anything in that endeavor will certainly face the wrath of the people. It is time for so-called leaders in Somalia to recognize that the Republic of Somaliland is here to stay and its independence is irreversible and the sooner you realize this fact the better. The sooner you drop your bombastic declarations of Somaliweyn being "Muqadas" the more better prospect for you to bring peace and stability to your suffering people. Your futile attempts to hang on to this irredentist idea is parlous and nothing good will come out of it, but more suffering for both peoples.
It seems there is a kind of flip-flopping from the part of the Somaliland government on Somalia. There is a lack of coherent policy on Somalia ingrained in all the government institutions, and to use this policy as a frame of reference in any matter pertaining to Somalia. A clear evidence of this lack is the visit to Somaliland about a month ago by a group from Mogadishu consisting of ten individuals, coming for the sole purpose to assist Somalilanders on refereeing football matches!!! This happened at the request of the Somaliland’s minister of Sports, who was later overruled by the Interior minister and ordered those individuals to be thrown out of the country. The man who is responsible for Somaliland’s internal security said unabashedly in a BBC interview that he was not aware of the visit! This mess clearly demonstrated lack of coordination among the different ministries and illustratively exposed that a government minister can take steps, which at prima facie might seem ok, but the problem is those steps seem not to have been evaluated in the overriding contexts in regard to Somaliland’s sovereignty and national security. It is crucial that any measures taken in relation to Somalia are looked at from this perspective. A Cost-Benefit analysis should be taken to analyze costs and the benefits it would entail for Somaliland for any action taken by the government or a minister, and anything that diminishes Somaliland’s dignity, standing or independence should be avoided.
The Somaliland government should be extremely firm when dealing either with IGAD or any other group on issues concerning Somaliland/Somalia. The government should understand that it has both the moral and democratic right to express the wishes of Somalilanders, which is formulated in their constitution. The political stand of the Republic of Somaliland is quite known to everybody and does not need to be repeated like a mantra every time a foreign delegation comes to our country! They know the historical and political facts, so they either have to accept us or leave us in peace! The government should therefore desist from meeting any individual or group that purports itself to represent the people of Somalia. No political contacts should be made with any political grouping whatsoever, until a legitimate government representing all the peoples of Somalia Proper is established. Until then no political group should be allowed to come to Somaliland. Both the leaders and the people of Somaliland must engage with Somalia from this principle. This will send a clear message to them that we will ONLY engage with a legitimate Somali government, which the Republic of Somaliland can discuss, anything with. So those self-styled Kissingers should be informed that they are not welcome in Somaliland.
It is fundamental that the Somaliland government creates structures or a standardized process to handle issues pertaining to Somaliland’s national security and stability. For example the creation of a national security council consisting of the foreign, interior, defense and the military/intelligence services to assist the president on issues concerning Somaliland’s national security. In matters regarding to foreign affairs it would be appropriate for the establishment of a council consisting of all the leaders of the political parties and chaired by the president assisted by the foreign minister. It is very common in many democratic countries to have these kind of councils. The reason is to involve all the political parties on the relations the country has with foreign governments and issues of national importance. The overriding purpose is to create a broad consensus among the parties. This step will alleviate fears and suspicions some might have concerning the type of relations the government of Somaliland enters with other governments. It will diminish the citizens concerns when they know that the major political party leaders are informed and aware of the relations the government has with other foreign governments.
So the Somaliland government and Gurti should act in a way that reflects the wishes of the people of Somaliland. The elections will strengthen the country’s democratic institutions, but also is an enterprise involving huge risks. This is not the referendum, where all the citizens and leaders were coming from one direction. All concerned should take all steps necessary to guarantee that the stability and security of Somaliland is maintained and protected at all costs. Provocations are taking place in the far eastern regions, where those violently contesting the Majerteeniya leadership are said to have crossed into Somaliland with their forces! The Somaliland leadership should be crystal clear with some of those clans there who support Puntland and oppose Somaliland that the importation of insecurity and instability will not be tolerated. The Somaliland government has done its utmost to avoid a confrontation with anybody, but it seems some quarters are looking for a fight. The elders of these clans should be told that in 1991 (Burao), 1993 (Borama) and 1997 (Hargeisa) they attended all these conferences and signed all the declarations. The disregard to honor and reciprocate the goodwill and brotherhood of the overwhelming majority of Somalilanders is creating ill feelings and a view that some elders and members of these clans are not taking security and stability seriously and by associating with a region that is geographically and in many other ways not connected to Somaliland is courting disaster. The government should take all possible measures to secure Somaliland’s border with Somalia. The never-ending fights and insecurities pose a serious threat to Somaliland and there are evidence that the problems facing Somalia and particularly the fighting in Puntland is spilling over into Somaliland. There are thousands of refugees from Somalia already in Somaliland and with the current explosion of clan fighting across Somalia; there is huge possibility that there will be movements of people from Somalia to Somaliland, thus burdening the socio-economy of Somaliland.
Therefore it lies in Somaliland’s interest to secure and protect its border, even if it means using force, which sooner or later will be inevitable. If the Somaliland government had secured the border it would have easily controlled the influx of refugees and the proliferation of firearms into Somaliland. Since it does not have control in the far eastern regions the whole place has been turned into Wild West where Cabdullah Yussuf and Jamac Cali Jamac play Cowboys!! This is a problem, which has been going on for a long time now and must be settled once and for all! The Republic of Somaliland has about thirty to forty thousand in its armed forces, and it is time they fulfill one of their basic requirement; to protect Somaliland from foreign enemies! Those militias causing insecurity in those regions should be flushed out of Somaliland and those who resist should be smoked out of their holes!
In God I Trust!
Djibouti, A Friend Or A Foe?
[Continued From the last issue}
By Ali Gulaid, San Jose, California
State Allegiance and interest are paramount to ethnic loyalty. In Africa many nations with common cultures are separated by boundaries of different states. In the horn of Africa alone, Somali is one of those nations; Afaars is another. The Somali nation is scattered over separate states namely, Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia. Similarly, the Afaar nation is over Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea. The opposite is also true and more common, where different nations with different languages and religions share one state like Switzerland, Belgium and Nigeria. The different countries that the nation of Somalis makes up the majority have different interests and that is paramount to ethnic loyalty. For example, three Somali brothers have served under three different countries at ambassadorial level: Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia. Whenever these three brothers square off around the negotiation table, the blood relationship was relegated to the backburner and each advanced the interest of the country he served and not the interest of the country his ancestors belonged to. There is no contradiction in here. The State that one has allegiance to is where one belongs to and not the ethnic group his/her ancestors belong to. Djibouti might have a Somali majority but she has a different interest. While other factors might play a role in defining the closeness of the relationship between Somalis under different States, the major one that shapes, influences and fosters that closeness is the political relationship between the respective countries. Djibouti is indeed a neighbor but so is Puntland and Kilin five (5). While Somaliland must pursue a policy of cooperation to the extent feasible, conventional wisdom demands that Somaliland must do into Djibouti what Djibouti does into her; evaluate the relationship according to interest and not according to common ethnicity, religion or language. In this context, the record would reveal that Djibouti didn’t earn to be characterized as “Walaalo”. Unless Somaliland defines her national security and interest, she wouldn’t be able to differentiate a friend from a foe and that is suicidal.
Somali unity isn’t sacred. Somali unity was contractual and like any other contract, one party – Somaliland - has terminatedit. Again, it was Djibouti’s stand-alone decision that sabotaged the Greater Somalia euphoria and not Somaliland’s withdrawal. Common ethnicity; religion and language have failed to unite and to stem the bloodshed in Somalia. In spite of this, some argue that ethnic Somalis share common religion and language, implying that these common attributes supersede historical facts and the factors that precipitated the withdrawal such as oppression, injustice and ethnic cleansing. As a matter of fact, some experts in international law have concluded that factors such as oppression and neglect may give rise to separatism (Crawford Young or Alexis Heraclides); others even go further and label it as remedial secession. This is the case where one group is attempting to cede from a state on the grounds of oppression. But, Somaliland is terminating a written contract she entered voluntarily with another state. That written agreement partly reads, “The State of Somaliland and the State of Somalia…unite… shall be the SOMALI REPUBLIC” Paolo Contini, the Somali Republic (P.9). Obviously, the unity wasn’t a sacred tenet from the deity, it was a humanly contractual agreement written on a piece of paper. Internationally, the litmus test that others employ in evaluating the legitimacy of cessations/withdrawal of any would-be state is the principal of self-determination. In light of this, the people of Somaliland have annulled the act of the union (atto di unione) by overwhelmingly voting (97%) to withdraw from the union in a referendum certified by international jurors and observers.
Economically, Somaliland is at disadvantage in trading with Djibouti.Some argue that the trade between Somaliland and Djibouti is mutually beneficial. Beneficial to whom? Somaliland is the second biggest Market for Djibouti. This has resulted a trade imbalance, which is in favor of Djibouti. Even though statistics isn’t available, there is no dispute that more goods are imported from Djibouti than exported to Djibouti. Petty traders and merchants “sharshari” import assorted consumer goods and merchandise from Djibouti for resale in Somaliland. For proximity sake, petty traders dash across the border to replenish their inventory and stock within a short period. This tendency is convenient especially at times of shortage and is preferable than traveling to Dubai and other far places. This practice has peeked during the collapse of the Siyad’s government but has since dwindled, partly because of the competition from the Dubai Market coupled with the re-opening of Berbera Port. Additionally, the trade imbalance and the outflow of hard currency (dollars) is exacerbated by the well- to- do Djibouti businessmen who import shiploads of staple food mostly cereal such as rice, sugar, tea, and other consumer goods namely building materials and cigarettes. Even though Somaliland practices unfettered market-oriented economy, this unregulated one-sided trade with a hostile country has drawbacks:
a. The well-to-do businessmen from Djibouti trade both as wholesalers and retailers; which has significant draw back such as squeezing out the local merchants.
b. Djibouti merchants trade like locals without any restrictions in the line of merchandise and the level and the type of trade they engage.
c. Djibouti traders don’t pay any income tax, capital gain tax or property tax and they don’t even carry a transient card.
d. Djiboutians repatriate their cash without restrictions and that causes the exchange rate to go up; hence the value of Somaliland currency goes down (out flow of Dollar).
e. Djiboutians don’t increase employment at all. It is marginal.
f. Djiboutians don’t develop the economy by investing light industries
g. They don’t introduce new technology and more importantly,
h. Somaliland traders don’t enjoy the same status and privilege that Djibouti traders enjoy in Somaliland. Djibouti doesn’t reciprocate.
i. Djiboutians own the biggest buildings and the largest lots of land in the commercial and residential areas in Somaliland, yet they don’t pay any property tax, not even a penny.
j. Some allege that they have contributed to the land prize speculation and the corruption.
With all of these benefits accrued to Djiboutians in trading with Somaliland, it is fair to assess the return. Negligible. The only goods exported to Djibouti are small amounts of fruits and vegetables. Indeed, it is one-sided. As a result, the closure of the borders and the severance of trade relations with Djibouti would cut-off Djibouti accessing the Somaliland market and that would stem the imbalance of trade. Closing the borders would cause inconvenience to the petty traders in the western regions that trade with Djibouti most but this is a sacrifice not too burdensome to bear.
The people of Somaliland are conscious of the kinship and the brotherly relations they share with the people of Djibouti. The people of Somaliland are grateful for the financial assistance the people of Djibouti extended to the people of Somaliland during their blight and the unwavering political and moral support they received from the people of Djibouti. It is unfortunate that the authorities of the government of Djibouti don’t weigh the opinion emanating from their people. The dictatorship in Djibouti is determined to extinguish the flickering flame of democracy radiating from Somaliland but Somaliland has triumphed over the brutal dictator of Siyad and could weather over the infractions of another, if need be. In Somaliland the public has affirmed the withdrawal and, as a result, any dictator that chooses to block the recognition of Somaliland is an enemy and that is non-negotiable.
The cynics allege that Djibouti is being chided for not recognizing Somaliland. As a matter of fact, Somaliland hasn’t received recognition from any one of the world communities of over 170 countries, or is it? At the same time, Somaliland doesn’t only deal directly with many countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas but has also friendly relations with many of them. To recognize and not to recognize Somaliland is the prerogative of Djibouti but that isn’t what Somaliland is fussing about. Djibouti has campaigned to discredit, to isolate, and to insure the non-recognition of Somaliland as much as the Arab League and the self-styled TNG does and that is where Somaliland draws the line.
The fact that the President paid visit to Djibouti when least expected and the fact the President failed to improve relations where it counts most has reinforced the widely held opinion that Djibouti is a foe rather than “Walaalo”. The President’s attempt to improve relations was laudable, it had all the good intentions but it was premature. Somaliland has learned a lesson: Djibouti has no intention to abandon her resolve to dismantle Somaliland. One could only hope that Somaliland has also learned that Djibouti should be held with the same distrust and contempt as the Arab league and the TNG.
Naturally, Governments have vital economic assets, infrastructure, scientific knowledge or commercial secrets that they classify as part of the National Security, which they guard against enemy. The campaign Djibouti is waging against the existence of Somaliland is a campaign driven by her national security – economic interest. Aside from the entertainment industry (prostitution) build around the French Legionnaire and the money laundering services, Djibouti has an asset that she classifies as part of her national security. That asset is the port of Djibouti and the potential competition from the port of Berbera is a threat that Djibouti is willing to deal with swiftly and decisively. If there is anything out of place in the relationship between Djibouti and Somaliland, it is the sentiment of Somaliland towards Djibouti that is misplaced. It is that sentiment that characterizes a hostile country – Djibouti - as “Walaalo”. Djibouti has the best of both worlds. On one hand, she chastises Somaliland in the international era; on the other hand she reaps the benefit of the Somaliland market. Djibouti doesn’t deserve preferential treatment, economically, politically and sentimentally. In fact, as drastic as it may seem, severing relations with Djibouti, wouldn’t cause more damage than Djibouti has already inflicted on Somaliland.