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Somaliland is well positioned to negotiate with the United States
There are unconfirmed reports that Somaliland’s President Dahir Rayale Kahin will depart to the United States on an official visit early January 2008. If that visit materializes, as far as Somaliland is concerned, it could not have come at a better time. We say this for four sets of reasons that have to do with the United States, Somalia, the Horn of Africa region and Somaliland.
The United States
For a number of years, the US has focused on eliminating terrorist threats emanating from Mogadishu. The US tried various approaches including hiring warlords; and when that approach failed, it decided to shore up the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia ( TFG), an entity it had initially ignored. After a year of US support for the TFG and despite the backing of thousands of Ethiopian and Ugandan troops, it is now clear that the US policy towards Somalia has failed to produce any positive results. This glaring failure of US policy toward Somalia has strengthened the position of those within the administration (mainly but not exclusively the department of defense) who have been arguing for a change in US policy which involves recognizing Somaliland.
The situation in Somalia looks very dismal with almost daily clashes between Ethiopian troops and insurgents which has produced several thousand dead in Mogadishu and many more displaced people. Much of the south has descended deeper into anarchy. Even Puntland, the home region of the ailing elderly “President” of Somalia, Abdillahi Yusuf, is suffering from an upsurge in the frequency of piracy, kidnappings and various acts of lawlessness.
The Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a dangerous region known for protracted conflict and famine, and all indications are that it is getting more dangerous, especially with the increasing possibility of war between Eritrea and Ethiopia over their unresolved border.
While conditions are far from perfect in Somaliland, and the country suffers from serious problems such as widespread poverty and poor infrastructure, it is the most stable and promising Somali territory, and the most democratic place in the Horn of Africa. Moreover, Somaliland is implicitly accepted as a sovereign state by many countries as evidenced by the participation of Somaliland’s Electoral Commission in monitoring the Kenyan election. Somaliland also has other assets:
-Having maintained its independence for sixteen years, Somaliland has shown that it is not a transient phenomenon but is here to stay.
-Somaliland has excellent relations with Ethiopia, an important US ally.
- Mr Raila Odinga, a friend of Somaliland who called on the international community to recognize Somaliland is likely to be the next president of Kenya.
-Somaliland has a strategic location bordering the Gulf of Aden, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Djibouti.
From this brief survey, it should be clear that when, and if, Somaliland’s President Dahir Rayale Kahin visits Washington, he would not sit at the negotiation table with empty hands but would sit there with important cards in his grip. We hope he plays them right.
Source: Somaliland Times