Published On: Fri, Mar 6th, 2015

Somaliland And Somalia Talks Collapsed, Potential Conflict In The Region. By: Muniir Axmed Cigaal

muniir ahmed egal
The talks between Somaliland and Somalia have reached at the lowest point in the last few years and the latest round in Turkey has collapsed. The outcome of the previous five sessions over the last two years have demonstrated that Mogadisho government is not interested in these talks and is not looking for achievable goals, has no mandate to make any difficult decision for the people of Somalia, and is simply pleasing the International Community by checking the box and claiming that it ismaking a good faith effort to build a federal system for Somalia as far as Somaliland is concerned, fully knowing Somaliland will not join, but telling the International Community that unity is possible with Somaliland.
Somaliland people and government did not speak with Somalia for almost two decades from 1991 through 2012. President Ahmed Silanyo at the request of the International community attended the London conference in 2012 with 50 other world leaders. The communique that has been issued at this conference called for a dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia to determine their future relationship. Since then there has been half dozen meetings between Somaliland and Somalia and these meetings primarily focused on minor issues and avoided significant issues. At the insistence of Somaliland, President Hassan Sheikh of Somalia and President Ahmed Silanyo of Somaliland have signedan agreement in the last meeting in Djibouti in December 2014 that calls for a commitment to discussthe important issues in the next phase of talks in Turkey. The International Community is painfully aware how difficult it is to get the Somalia government to do or to follow through its commitments in the letter and the spirit of its agreements.
Somaliahaving just signed an agreement with Somaliland in December 2014 to focus on important issuesjust showed in Turkey not interested at all to discuss those issues, because of internal political reasons and lack of mandate to make difficult decisions; therefore, Somalia decided to reintroduce an issue that has been agreed upon in 2012, which made it possible to have the previous 5 talks in the first place, changing rules of the game gave Somalia an opportunity to avoid discussing these issues and in the process force the collapse of the talks too (one of the objectives of the new Prime Minister who is not interested to see talks between Somalia and Somaliland). One of the agreements from the very first talks has been that “Somalilanders should not be members of the Mogadishodelegationand the only people from Somaliland at these talks will be members of the delegation from Somaliland”. The agreement on this point simply made all the previous meetings between Somaliland and Somalia possible. Without agreement on this issue, there is no possibility to have these talks between the parties and that has been known to all parties from day one.
The new Somalia government in Mogadisho and its Prime Minister does not want talks with Somaliland, because the Somalia government has sent a list of their delegates to the Turkish government who is hosting the talks before the delegation left Mogadisho, which included five members who are from Somaliland, the Turkish government shared the list with Somaliland who strongly objected and informed Turkish and Somalia governments moving forward with this list of delegates will force collapse of the talks; nevertheless because that is precisely what Mogadisho wanted to accomplish, the same delegation which included five members from Somaliland left Mogadisho and went to Turkey to participate in the talks. Naturally Somaliland objected to sit down with and negotiate with five Somalilanders instead. The government of Turkey tried to mediate and resolve the issue over two days, Somalia government insisted the make-up of their delegation will not change and Somaliland position has been known before Somalia delegation left Mogadisho, and it was clear Somalia wanted to use this issue to force a collapse of the talks; because the agenda of the talks called fordiscussing the sovereignty of Somaliland and amicable dissolution of the union, two topics which Somalia government did not want to discuss at all because of internal political reasons. Hence, the talks in Turkey collapsed as expected because of Somalia government insisting on changing the rules. Another political reality in Mogadisho is the recent introduction of a new Prime Minister for Somalia who hails from Puntland and who is strongly opposed to any talks between Somaliland and Somalia and had previously made personal statements to that effect.
The lessons from the previous half dozen talks between Somaliland and Somalia are; Somalia is not interested in the talks and is simply pleasing the International community, Somalia has no mandate or political support to make the tough decision(either want to force unity or accept amicable divorce), New Prime Minister from Puntland is personally against talks, Somalia is looking for excuses to avoid discussion of significant issues or reasons to force collapse of the talks, Somaliais expected by the International community to show a good faith progress in building federal system in Somalia by 2016, just going through motions, Somalia and International Community know that UNSOM mandate will not happen in Hargeysa, Somaliland showed good faith effort to talk with Somalia government without any results, and Somaliland has clear mandate and support from people to protect sovereignty of nation at any cost. These lessons are unlikely to change in the future if these talks resume again in the future.
The talks in Turkey have collapsed because Somalia lacks the mandate and political support to make the tough decisions that are required and there is no hope resuming these talks in the future will bring a different results; however, there are issues that cannot be ignored including the management of the airspace, Somalia refugees, and security that will require a creative way to deal with them. More importantly there is potential for conflict between Somaliland and Somalia again now that talks have collapsed and did not resolve the fundamental political question, namely sovereignty of Somaliland. Previously Somalia had violently attacked Somaliland, which causeda total destruction of property in Somaliland and the loss of 100,000 innocent lives. These talks presented an opportunity to prevent future conflict;now that the talks have collapsed and the lessons from previous talks point to the fact resuming talks in the future will not change the same outcome again.
The only other option is a potential new conflict in the region again; unless the International community gets involved and changes the environment which these negotiations are taking place, which will give Somalia government the political cover it needs to make the difficult decisions. Everyone knows, Somaliland will never get back with Somalia again, UNSOM mandate including setting up federal system, constitution, and conducting elections, if and when it happens will happen without Somaliland – pretending it isn’t so is crazy. So it is time for the International Community to take steps that will prevent a future violence in the region. It will be too little too late if action is taken when a new conflict starts, now is the time to change the environment of the negotiation by pledging support for recognition and making Somalia government possible to make a lasting peace with its neighbors.
Muniir Axmed Cigaal

About the Author

- Arraale Mohamoud Jama is a 20 year experience as a professional Journalist and human rights activist Over the years, worked for the major News Papers in Somaliland as a reporter, editor and contributor. 2008 established website Araweelo News Network, he currently runs a web site based in Somaliland. who is the specializes in the investigation and reporting on issues relating to human rights, democracy, and good governance. contact: + 252 63 442 5380 + 252 63 4764409 + 252 63 442 5380

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