Sunday, July 21, 2024
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Somaliland’s struggle for recognition amidst global geopolitical dynamics

The Republic of Somaliland finds itself at a critical juncture in its journey for international recognition. The catalyst for this seismic development materialized on the inaugural day of the year, marked by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the President of Somaliland. The ensuing theatrics from Mogadishu, paled in comparison to the global resonance of this geopolitical overture.

Expressions of support for Ethiopia reverberated globally, with even the United States and the People’s Republic of China weighing in, ostensibly championing the ‘sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity’ of Somalia. However, the hollowness of such endorsements is evident, given Somalia’s outsourcing of its own sovereignty to international patrons of various kinds since the trilogy of failed instances took place (TNG, TFG, FGS).

For all its bravado and chest-beating, it also seemed to have forgotten that it was its ‘avowed’ enemy in Ethiopia that had actually played the role as the implementer in restoring some semblance of political authority in Mogadishu — with its invasion of Somalia in 2006.

Ethiopia has strategically reignited the embers of Somaliland’s overlooked case for international recognition. The cause behind Ethiopia’s interest and whispered promise for recognition lies in the trade-off between ink and parchment, signifying a symbolic nod to statehood, and the tangible gains Ethiopia secures — a 50-year lease on maritime real estate in the Gulf of Aden, a strategic gateway to the Red Sea and, in extension, the Indian Ocean. Ethiopia, with calculated finesse, has deftly wielded the sword of recognition while reaching for the prospects of maritime dominance in the Gulf of Aden.

The jubilant atmosphere surrounding the MOU among Somalilanders is not only a celebration of potential recognition; it stems from the international limelight thrust upon them. They have suddenly found themselves encroaching on the center stage of global issues. Regional bodies such as IGAD and the Arab League offered their remarks about the MOU. It most recently was addressed at a meeting convened at the United Nations Security Council.

Yet, behind the scenes, Somalia tires itself, exhaustively in its desire to remain a committed opponent to Somaliland’s progress, throwing everything it has to object any independent trajectory and to hinder any charted course Hargeisa embarks upon.

Strangely enough, adding to the geopolitical quagmire is Britain’s sudden resurgence of interest in Somaliland. While senior Tory MPs and former cabinet ministers advocate for recognition, it is crucial to remember Britain’s historical role as a stumbling block to Somaliland’s recognition. Its role in dissuading the US State Department from recognizing Somaliland in 2007–2008 remains a testament to geopolitical pragmatism devoid of moral scruples. Its overt support for resuscitating Somalia through the ‘Somalia Conferences’ in London since 2012 unveils a strategic calculus devoid of any amusing notions of ‘shared history’, and instead reveals a targeted goal to undermine the Republic of Somaliland by gradually pushing it under a co-federal system with the failed state of Somalia.

The recent interest from Britain in recognizing Somaliland begs the question — why now? Geopolitics, in the words of Bismarck, is the art of the possible. The sudden interest, masquerading as a nod to shared history, is more likely a response to Ethiopia’s strategic moves. Britain, playing its hand in this geopolitical poker, seeks to position itself favorably, either by beating Ethiopia to the punch or undercutting the prospects of Somaliland’s quest for international recognition by way of a counter-offer.

There is no single underlying reason for the global commotion and 30-year-long hesitancy in recognizing Somaliland, but the complexity most certainly is grounded in its strategic location on the shores of the Gulf of Aden, not due to threats of terrorism, or even more laughably that it is somehow ‘not democratic enough’ to join the community of civilized states.

Positioned a mere arrow’s shot from the Bab Al Mandeb, the prospect of an independent and proud nation in this territory poses a threat to perceived allies and adversaries alike. The reluctance to recognize Somaliland reflects the pragmatic calculus of nations, where strategic interests often eclipse all attempts at persuasion by way of historical romanticisms.

As Somaliland maneuvers through these turbulent waters, the pursuit of international recognition becomes entwined with the broader currents of regional power dynamics, revealing the stark realities of geopolitical pragmatism. Its challenge remains that it must sail past such tempests and arrive at its charted destination intact.”

By Nuh Ishmael

(NuhIsmael is a senior information security analyst and independent UK-based researcher focusing on the Middle East& Horn of Africa affairs.)

- Advertisement -

Fresh Topics

Related Articles