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Kosovo And Somaliland: US Double Standards
At first glance, Kosovo and Somaliland do not appear to have much in common.
For starters one is in the cold mountain ranges of Southern Europe and the other on the hot desert sands of North Eastern Africa. One is inhabited by White Europeans and the other by Black Africans.
Yet their similarities are far more striking than these superficial differences.
Both are small would-be nations striving for independence from a country that once oppressed them. Both are Muslim. Both survived a debilitating civil war.
And neither have any major strategic significance for the United States. Yet the way the US reacted to their plight and their ambitions is striking. America militarily intervened to save Kosovo from the ethnic cleansing of the brutal Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic and hauled him to Hague to face Crimes Against Humanity.
It did not intervene to help Somaliland when it was suffering far worse brutality in the hands of the dictator of Somalia, Siyad Barre. On the contrary the US continued to support the evil dictator of Somalia to the last minute giving him arms and money to carry out his mass murders, executions, ethnic cleansings and mass rapes of the people of Somaliland in the late 80s.
Somalilanders survived the onslaught and started to rebuild their shattered country from scratch. Just like the Kosovars the Somalilanders held elections and referenda in which the people overwhelmingly voted for independence and separation from their former oppressors. The US government reacted quite differently to the will and aspirations of the two peoples: It supported one to the hilt and ignored the other completely.
When Somalilanders query the US indifference to their cause, the response they receive is as incredible as it is unjust: Your independence may cause more problems for your erstwhile oppressor Somalia! No such `logic’ is applied in Kosovo.
Another `reason’ given by the US and incidentally Western Europeans for denying justice to Somaliland’s people is equally baffling. It is claimed that recognising Somaliland will open `the flood gates’ for copycat secessionists across Africa. This is based on incomprehensible fallacy. Where are these would-be secessionist movements in Africa waiting to pounce the minute Somaliland is recognised? Which countries? In reality only Western Sahara and Southern Sudan had sustained historic ambitions of separation and both are on their way to achieving their goals no matter what happens in Somaliland.
Besides not one region in Africa has the historic de jure basis for claiming independence including Southern Sudan. Somaliland is the only region in Africa that meets Africa’s own stated rule enshrined in the African Union’s constitution which stipulates that the countries of Africa should keep the boundaries inherited from the colonial powers.
Somaliland is the only region in Africa that fulfils this condition since it became independent from colonial Britain on June 6 th 1960 and was a recognised nation for four days before joining next door Somalia when the latter gained its independence from Italy. Not one other region in Africa meets this vital legal condition for statehood. Incidentally Kosovo was never a separate recognised nation at anytime in its history so strictly speaking Somaliland has a more legitimate claim to statehood than Kosovo.
Surprisingly, this second `logic’ is not wielded as an excuse to deny the Balkan people their right to self-determination. No one tells them that their separation may discomfit their former tormentors.
It is true that Somalia, the country that once ruled and brutalised Somaliland is tearing itself apart in an incomprehensible orgy of madness and mayhem. Things are so bad over there it is extremely difficult to see just how Somaliland’s separation can make things any worse than they already are. In fact the recognition of Somaliland is more likely to have a positive impact on the Somalia quagmire. It will prompt its petty, bickering politicians that the game is up and that the world is no longer willing to tolerate and bankroll their primeval political quarrels which are causing such misery to their benighted people. It will demonstrate that consensus politics, decency, law and order, democracy and good behaviour is rewarded by the international community.
Incidentally the rewarding of `good behaviour’ could be applied in other parts of the world with far more importance to the US than Somaliland or Kosovo. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan, the current US policy of giving all its attention and lavishing resources to the violent and lawless regions and virtually ignoring those who establish peace and stability in their areas has been a catastrophic failure.
The US double standard in the Balkans and Somaliland is morally unjustifiable. But in the case of Somaliland it is also the wrong policy because it fails to recognise, encourage and reward peace, democracy and secular moderation.
It is high time this changed. The recognition is not only the morally the right thing to do, it is a strategically sound politics.Source: Somaliland Times