Oodweyne News - Latest Somali News Update

Ethiopia’s PM should realize that “friendship is a sweet responsibility from two sides, not an opportunity of one side”

It is important to note that the aim of Somaliland when it united with the Italian Somalia in 1960 was to produce the basic structure or to lay the foundation of the ambition of one greater Somalia in the Horn of Africa. Somaliland was the chief architect of the idea to bring the five Somalis together under one flag; and it sacrificed its independence and statehood for that dream. But after 20 years of injustice inequality, discrimination and oppression; its people broke the silence, protested and confronted with the regime of the brutal dictator Siyad Barre. And an armed struggle against Siyad Barre regime began in 1981, causing 10 years of genocide and ethnic cleansing to the Somaliland people. Somaliland’s struggle against the regime led to the downfall of the brutal regime and Somalia’s state collapse. After the dismantling of the state institutions throughout the country Somaliland disintegrated from the union of 1960.

After it separated from the rest of Somalia, Somaliland has established its own institutions, by putting aside and ignoring the prolonged state collapse in the south. The point that deserves to highlight is that it was a decision made by all Somaliland people, through their representatives as regional delegations and as tribal traditional leaders at large; who after long negotiations viewed together three action points which were: (a) to make peace initiatives and reconciliation processes among the clans and tribes in Somaliland; (b) to declare the disintegration of Somaliland from its union with Somalia;(c) and to reconstruct and build a nation called Somaliland, within the territory of former British Somaliland Protectorate. When these decisions were reached among the regional delegations and traditional leaders in Burao, the politicians were not important to be part of those engagements and decisions but were dictated to announce these decisions on behalf of the people of Somaliland.

Somaliland also held a constitutional referendum on 31 May 2001. The referendum was held on a draft constitution that affirmed Somaliland’s independence from Somalia as a separate state. More than two-thirds of eligible voters took part in the referendum and 97.1% of them voted in favour of the constitution and Somaliland’s disintegration from Somalia. However the referendum was examined by International observers who reported that the referendum was held with absolute freedom of choice for the voters.

Somaliland’s disintegration from the union with Somalia is compatible with the AU Charter border policy; which considered Colonial Borders as the legal borders between the African countries. On the other hand Somaliland’s colonial border based statehood claim is in line with the rejection, refusal, declining and turning down of AU and its member states against the ethnic based border Claims between the African countries. This idea is what caused the wars, serious disputes, and distressed relations between Somalia and its neighbors (Ethiopia and Kenya). It is also very important to remind the Ethiopian leaders to find the facts and review the history of what happened to the people of Somaliland during those gone years under the unification with Somalia; and the agony it endured along its struggle to regain back its lost statehood.

Another point to mention is that the collapse of the Somali Republic and the disintegration of Somaliland and Somalia were advantageous to Ethiopia at the side of Somaliland. Ethiopia established important bilateral relations with Somaliland and enjoyed a grantee border security and full entire country security; that it did not spent even a single bullet to secure its border with Somaliland during these long years of Somaliland’s existence. Ethiopia had also cross border commercial relations and transshipment trade deals with Somaliland during its existence as a separate government. That import trade deal honored Somaliland to become the 2nd country after Djibouti that invited landlocked Ethiopia to use its seaport.

Ethiopia exports the “KAT” drug to Somaliland, the most disadvantageous and harmful commodity earning nearly 500 million dollars per year; and is one of its important export items to the outside world. Somaliland livestock traders sell Ethiopia’s livestock and livestock products through direct cross border trade transactions; costing hundreds of millions of dollars value per year. There are also certain types of vegetables and some types of fruits like banana that Somaliland imports from Ethiopia with tenth of millions of dollars cost value per year. As we all know the Ethiopian airlines makes passenger and cargo flights to Hargeisa on daily bases; gaining millions of dollars a year. On the other hand, Ethiopia is the sole benefiter of all these hundreds of millions of dollars commercial transactions with zero income for Somaliland. The only exchange that Somaliland received from Ethiopia was only its acceptance to interact directly with Somaliland as a de facto state; which was limited to the same level that the world and the international community deals with Somaliland.

But at the side of Somalia, Ethiopia experienced an endless security threats that caused it to be within a complete military standby along its border with Somalia of the south. Ethiopia also engaged many full combat military operations along its borders with Somalia and even inside the territory of Somalia. Ethiopia’s military operations in Somalia caused the death of hundreds of Ethiopian soldiers beyond its territories; and spent billions of dollars only to save its country from Somalia’s terrorist threats; and to ensure the security of its borders with Somalia. Ethiopia also plays a crucial role in the efforts of securing Somalia’s peace and stability by contributing over 10,000-strong mission soldiers to AMISOM.

Let me explain several historical and legal background events about Somaliland and Somalia to Abiy Ahmed. Somaliland was a British Protectorate and Somalia was a trusteeship under the rule of Italy before their union in 1960. The aim of the union that formed the Somali republic was to preview the dream of bringing the five Somalis separated by the colonial borders in to one flag, one government and one country. The Somali republic formed after the union began to claim Ethiopia’s Ogden Region and Kenya’s N.F.D. as part of its territory. And that ethnic based border idea was the root cause of the wars between Somali Republic and Ethiopia, and the border disputes between Somali Republic and Kenya. But the dream of forming one great Somalia was refused and rejected by Ethiopia, Kenya and France and succeeded the legality of their argument.

Let me underline that the A.U. charter was the only factor that helped these countries to succeed their rejections and opposing arguments against the idea of great Somalia; which recognizes the colonial borders as the legal borders between the African countries. At the same time the A.U. charter was the main cause that freed Eretria from Ethiopia’s occupation and justified its statehood sovereignty. According to this, the border between Somalia of Mogadishu and Somaliland is same as the border between Ethiopia and Eretria, between Ethiopia and Somalia, between Ethiopia and Somaliland, between Ethiopia and Kenya, between Ethiopia and Djibouti, between Somaliland and Djibouti, between Somalia and Kenya, and between every two neighboring Countries in Africa.

It is strange that an Ethiopian leader is supporting an idea opposing the legality of the colonial borders; which will open an argument that if the border between Somalia and somaliland which was marked by the colonies is not accepted as a legal border between two countries; the border between Ethiopia and Somalia/somaliland is also not a legal border. If Ethiopia accepts the idea to create new tribal & ethnic based borders, it will be a disastrous security and political bomb in the Horn of Africa; particularly within Ethiopia. And it is the same idea the collapsed Somali Republic claimed Ogden region and Northern Front District of Kenya as part of Great Somalia; that caused many wars between Somalia and Ethiopia. Puntland’s present border claim is also based on the above mentioned tribal based border which can’t be accepted by Somaliland, by Ethiopia, by Egad countries, by the A.U. charter and by the world in general.

The PM of Ethiopia should have in mind the reality that Somaliland’s government is the sole legitimate representative of its country; and holds legitimate authority over any of its territory; like Berbera that recently Somalia claimed of its control. Somaliland believes that any political problem between countries can be solved through dialogue and negotiations; not through force and hegemony. And that is why Somaliland’s army is now staying in an area where its real border with Somalia is 60kms away. Somaliland already accepted to negotiate with Somalia on the issue between the two; but to make the dialogue successful, it should be with the federal government in Mogadishu not with a regional administration like Punt-land; every meeting should have an identified agenda; and there should be impartial international mediators.

PM Abiy Ahmed should think why his predecessors have chosen to maintain friendly relations with both Somaliland and Somalia? And evaluate whether that political stand of his predecessors was advantageous to Ethiopia or was it disadvantageous? Then he should revise his political decision regarding Somaliland, considering the economic, security, social and political interests of his country only and not making a favour to any other. Abiy should reconsider his new policy of ignoring Somaliland’s importance to the Ethiopian economy and security; and his decision to deal only with Mogadishu government. This can deteriorate the long standing stability and security that the border between the two countries enjoyed.

This peace was achieved by the friendly understanding of the two countries; it did not come and kept by force of one side towards the other. The multi-item export trade transactions that Ethiopia gains hundreds of millions of dollar per year came through the bilateral relations and agreements between Ethiopia and Somaliland not by an authority from Mogadishu. You can make your friends, you can make your enemies, but God made your next door neighbors and Somaliland is one of them. To continue being good neighbors will accelerate the efforts towards the betterment in the quality of life of the two peoples and countries. To make a change, means to nurture and support the good parts of what exists; and decorate or correct the undesirable parts of what exists. You never change anything by neglecting the good part of what exists. Somaliland is the good part of what was called Somali Republic; while Somalia is the violent and threat to security part of that Somali Republic before 1991. “Ethiopia’s PM should realize that friendship is always a sweet responsibility from two sides, not an opportunity of one side”

Adam Ali Younis
Email: aayonis@hotmail.com