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Playing Fire Alarm: AU Vs Somalia/Somaliland
An event which was improperly given less attention last week is the popular rally in Hargeysa, Somaliland. Organized by the big three political forces in the self-styled state, Somalilanders en masse called for immediate recognition by the international community of their nascent state. The rally, beyond the call, is of paramount importance since it sends a clear message to the TFG and the international community that conflict-this time protracted and on wider scale-is imminent unless the TFG changes its position and comes to terms with the realities on the ground.
Well, it seems that the TFG is still incapable of comprehensively grasping the realities on the ground and would not change its current stance in regard to Somaliland. Thus chances are high that sooner or later conflict would erupt between the two. Logic of politics, especially of Horn politics, dictate that the delicate situation between the two will escalate into a full-fledged war. It is to be recalled that four years or so earlier, situations almost deteriorated and got closer to war between Puntland and Somaliland. Following unsuccessful assassination attempt of the Somaliland President, while he was visiting Las Anood province, the armed forces of the two were on the brink of war. It was the wisdom of the Somaliland government and people that prevented the war.
I am not saying all these to reinforce the already pessimist view of the Horn many holds. What I intend to do here is to suggest that the African Union become pro -active and get involved in preventive diplomacy.
Until now, what the AU achieved, in unsuccessful fashion, is resolution of very few conflicts. It tried to act as fire extinguisher (after the fire broke out and damages were sustained).My fear is that it may play the same role in a seemingly imminent escalation between Somalia and Somaliland.
Why don’t the AU try to be a fire alarm (still maintaining its fire extinguishing role)? Well, the skeletal frame of the fire alarm role is there. The Early Warning System, common in the mouths of the officials of the African Peace and Security Council, is all about playing that role, alarming member states of forthcoming and deteriorating situations. It is this role of fire alarm that I will call preventive diplomacy and it involves recognition of imminent conflict that is about to unfold, bringing the issue to the attention of member states and the UN Security Council. Such kind of diplomacy will also include an establishment of fact finding mission on which basis recommendations could be made. It is the presence and effective use of preventive diplomacy by the AU that would enable member states and the UN Security Council take actions aimed at preventing existing disputes and hostilities from escalating in to full-fledged conflicts.
Coming down to earth, it is imperative that the AU be involved in preventive diplomacy vis-à-vis Somalia/Somaliland confrontation. By doing this, it can save the lives of scores or more of thousand people who are otherwise “potentially dead.” Crudely speaking, it can take a series of measures in line with the spirit of preventive diplomacy.
The first and foremost measure it should take is the recognition of the imminence of large scale conflict between the two if the TFG sticks to its current position of reviving the collapsed Somali Republic.
After the recognition of the state of affair, the AU should bring the issue before its member states and the UN Security Council, which is thought to be the guardian of international peace.
The next measure could be the establishment of a fact finding mission and appointment of special envoy who will complement the work of the fact finding mission. Actually, there was once a fact finding mission to investigate the merits of the Somaliland cause and its conclusion was that the case of Somaliland was a “unique case” that can not serve as a precedent for any other secessionist movements in Africa; thereby, establishing that recognition of Somaliland had nothing with opening a “Pandora Box” in Africa.
Based on the conclusions and recommendations of the fact finding mission, the African Union coordinate and facilitate peaceful settlement of the disputes by the conflicting parties.
I think that it is high time that the continental Early Warning Systems tested with this case and let there be a single example in which Africans would boast of their triumph in preventing the deaths of many people and destruction of states.
At this point, it is important to remind Africans of the UN Preventive Deployment in Macedonia in the early 1993. This was one successful example of preventive diplomacy backed by military deployment and it helped a lot for the ordinary people of Macedonia and the region and had most probably reduced the number of deaths and the magnitude of destruction.
Somalis, either Somalilanders or Somalians, are Africans, and there is this natural obligation upon the latter not to sit and see them slaughter each other. It is enough to see the anger of Somalilanders, as expressed in the last week rally alone, and the stubbornness and arrogance of southern politicians who want to determine the fate of others and couldn’t keep their mouths shut at least temporarily.
The oral diarrhea of Southern politicians is only adding to the hatred of Southern elites in Somalia: a Somalilander told me that the Jihadists were the better of the two evils for Somalilanders because they have officially sympathized with the suffering of the Somaliland people.
The upcoming Summit of African Heads of State and Government should deliberate on this timely issue knowing that it tantamounts to proactive involvement in the betterment of the continent•
Source: Sub-Saharan Informer