Somaliland succeeded in building a stable state of law and order and skillfully engaged in a process of political engineering that shaped the very fabric of their traditional politics, through viable tribal democracy. That was a rational strategy at the time that brought Somaliland out from a political wilderness. Somaliland focused to redefine itself in the context of the civil war in Somalia. It was agreed that all politics were local and it became counter-productive that Somaliland continue to pretend to be a part of a dysfunctional Somali State. This charismatic view was well received in Somaliland even though this depicted unsympathetic portraits of flawed, vitriol criticism against the Somali nation.
Somaliland became unresponsive to many political issues that arose in Somalia, but Somaliland desired to watch with growing hostility and fury. In this circumstance, Somaliland was hijacked by extreme secessionists, who were more united against the foundation of the Somalia nation. Unfounded campaigns against Somalia inspired Somaliland to reject the common ethnicity they share with Somali people, and ignored the union that completely changed the genealogy of the people due to mass movements. One event that showed a radical gaffe was the selection of a green iconic color as Somaliland’s symbolic idol, this was done to defy the true blue color of Somalia. Diverse leadership in Somaliland continued to change faces and focuses without a clear direction of where Somaliland would be heading in the future. Underneath the holistic leadership of Somaliland are interesting undercurrents of hard-fought tug of war among overwhelmed, uncooperative leaders.
In Somaliland, the reality of its political future has become obsessed with the unforeseen death of their self-proclaimed independence, due to a shortcoming of recognition. Acting like a serial offender, they continue to push hard for a failed recognition, which creates growing unfavorable conflicts among Somaliland’s political leaders and their opponents. Somaliland is in big trouble with an increasing threat of civil disobedience that could positively change its political dynamics. A new visionary leader can change the fearful situation in Somaliland and improve the political climate for the best. The biggest challenge in Somaliland’s politics is that it’s hard to beat the underlying countercurrents of traditional wisdoms, that may have less of a political role but could still lead Somaliland to the road to hell. After more than two decades of bold political defiance, the time has come to warrant that Somaliland should act to reconfigure its status quo again. The Somaliland’s direct and indirect political decision-makers are disorganized and appear to be at war with the Somaliland cause, i.e. securing a democratic governance, political stability, and peace in Somaliland.
Somaliland has to acknowledge that it is going to be a tough road before the authorities figure out a way to turn the tides of somber challenges, that it has faced recently. It should adopt an innovative approach in confronting the unviable situation of domestic policy on hand. The distress of Somalilanders are growing and they are in their highest level of hopelessness, where they become highly undesirable about the uninspiring political theatre of absurdity. They are getting sick and tired of liking those disgusting, spectacular shows. It is absurd that Somaliland continues to consider itself as a constituted sovereign state, instead of being among others as one building block of the Somali nation. Somaliland should seriously consider giving its people a new lease of life and playing a conciliatory role in the context of resurrecting a newly emerging Somali nation.
For the most of their history, the people in the North West of Somalia and those in the South Central Somalia have mainly focused their interest on business rather than politics. As they lived under the protectorates of British and Italian colonial rulers, both interim leaders of self-governing trusteeships agreed on clear and direct principled positions about the creation of the Somali State with a unitary system. This strategy changed after the birth of the Somali State led by a pro-Italian president who allied with the influential political leaders from the Northeastern region. The prominent leaders from the Northwestern region felt betrayed and accused Southern politicians of sidelining them from major influential positions during the transitional political processes of the new Somali nation. They were not the only victim in that disregard of politics that inappropriately mistreated them. Politicians from Central Somalia were also disrespectfully neglected and marginalized. There were consecutive military and civil insurgencies in both Northwest and Central Somalia. An alliance was formed between Northwest and Central Somalia to counteract the coalition between Northeast and South that tightened the grip of power. The treaty at Dhusamareeb, in the allied Northwest and Central, was strongly criticized as a lineage hard-core political alliance. Unfortunately, the alliance did not last long. This was due to the greater public contradiction of revolting against the newly born Somali government and the skeptics of Northwest politicians who were not honest for their beliefs, i.e., they were suspected of using the alliance as a matter of strategy rather than of principles. If we take it from a principled position, we have to be fair-minded about adhering to it. The public is willing to trust the leaders who are principled rather than being opportunists.
During the course of treaty, it was identified that there was too much intellectual flexibility for the Northwest political actors; that finding surfaced the non-ideological nature of their political endeavors. The rise of that allegation caused many sympathizers to retreat and believe that changed minds made politicians unscrupulous. I certainly agree that changing minds is going to hurt, even if it’s in favor of what the public wanted to hear, but on the other hand political officials should reflect the views of the people as they shift on issues and beliefs. Politicians from Northwest were arguing that they were following the views of their Northern people, who favor flip-flopping strategies, while those in Central Somalia valued consistency on principles. In 1967, Northwest politicians became the first game changer in Somali politics and allied with the Northeast politicians who won the general election. There was a legendary statement from the highest politician from Northwest who shifted to the new alliance of Northeast. That made many people in Central Somalia furious. The senior government officer from the Northwest was visiting Dhusamareeb and encountered a repulsive perception and cynical view that depicted him as an inauthentic politician. He said to the crowds rallying against him, “Those who fairly agreed partitioning the raw meat, will not fight over for it when it is cooked.” This statement made it clear that lineage political alliance was not rationally a steadfast, principled vision. The political alliance between Northwest and Northeast was successful, even though they failed to gain the loyalty of powerful political leaders in the Central Somalia.
Somaliland can make a profound impact to its leadership if it renounces its call for the secession and its demands a peaceful approach towards independence. Somaliland has an opportunity to become a vital game changer, and would be a breakthrough for Somali’s current political polarization. Somaliland’s coming back to Somalia will not impact adversely to its domestic governance, but it will offer more playing cards that could undermine and challenge the grip of power by the South. There is no doubt that the struggle of power in the South has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands, and there is still no signs of concession to other political actors in the Northern regions or deep South. It’s noteworthy that there is an undeniable solitary mindset in the people of the South Central Somalia. The political perception in the South seems to make people believe that the native leaders from the South are solely rightful to rein the country. Others from outside the Southern region will be forced to not lead an effective governance due to threats of popular disobedience that threaten their efficiencies. I believe the alliance between Somaliland and Puntland can bring an end to the absolute grip of power by the South. Somaliland could receive concessions of welcome if it takes the risk of beating the hard-core secessionists, who are against the existence of only one indivisible nation of Somalia, including Somaliland. A game-changer is actually a risk taker who brings adversaries together and turning them from foes into a family and preparing them to see beyond their thoughts and mindsets. In politics, changing minds is very challenging, undertaking processes that often never lead to the desired changes. There are many reasons why Somaliland needs to make political changes as a proof of rational reconsideration. The people in Somaliland are more willing to accept shifting of hearts in political positions as long as they are convinced through their own thinking. Somaliland has been a very successful game changer in the past and could be again in the future. This kind of trait predicts a more useful understanding in its potential as a deal breaker. One advantage that makes Somaliland a potential game changer for Somalia is its good intentions of not foreclosing the option of negotiating with the South.
Newly awakened diverse generations are on the rise everywhere in Somalia, and they see that Somali people have a chance to reach a democracy that will allow them to have more influence in their governments. In any new round of talks, Somaliland should strongly oppose any kind of pay-for-play strategy from the Somali government and its foreign partners. Somalia is very badly divided, so I hope that Somaliland succeeds in becoming an efficient game changer in Somalia and completely change the precarious, present situation in Somalia. It would be a sympathetic stance in a whole new game. I am excited for the day Somaliland will be able to come back and stand together as a strong nation instead of following the deceitful fates of a few maverick, craven, and wishy-washy politicians; who are more likely to separate us and guide us into what is the best interest for their political choices. I believe that the time has evolved into a new era that is an advantage for both sides. Now is the time that the Somaliland must unite together with the rest of Somalia and start acting as a credible member in Somalia. Somaliland’s comeback would be a great game-changer in Somali’s troubled political landscape, if it is welcomed with great enthusiasms and at the leading edge of reconciliatory dialogue.
Please note about this picture of Mohamed H. Ibrahim Egal, the leader of the political leadership of British Somaliland welcomed in Mogadishu by the Premier of UN Trusteeship of Somalia Mr. Abdullahi Issa on April 16, 1960. The low ranking officer seen in the middle is Mohamed Siyad Barre who later lead the revolution that toppled the government of Prime minister Egal on October 21st 1969.
Dr. Said Mohamud
Maine, United States of America