The jihadists next door

Posted on 24/07/2010


Having broken away from a failed state, Somaliland is now a success story. But the west won’t recognise it.

Somaliland presents the other Somali vision that has become a reality. Next door to a country now synonymous with pirates, jihadists and suicide bombers, we have a nation of rules rather than individuals; where election results are accepted by those in power.

And it could not have a come at a more poignant moment. This week marks the 50th anniversary of Somalia’s independence. It is a tragedy for all Somalis, whether living in the stability of Somaliland or not, that what is left of Somalia now ranks as the world’s most failed state.

Somaliland, which lies on the Horn of Africa in the north-western corner of Somalia, is not formally recognised by any country – but it is accepted as a de facto country by many nations and organisations who maintain embassies and representative offices in the capital, Hargeisa. It is peaceful, stable and has had several transfers of power and free elections in its 20-year history.

Having rebuilt itself from the ashes of the civil war and survived with no outside help, Somaliland cannot understand why other countries, particularly in the west, don’t open diplomatic relations with them. Now that the rest of Somalia has become one of al-Qaida’s main bases and the site of one of the world’s worst crises, the question of recognition is even more complex.

Somalilanders have never wanted to see their country in these terms: they want to distance themselves from the mayhem in Mogadishu as much as possible.

For two decades Somaliland and the west have been stuck with the status quo of acceptance without recognition. But the challenge of al-Qaida in Somalia means we cannot remain in this limbo. A new approach needs to be found – and fast.

Rageh Omaar is a Mogadishu-born broadcaster whose family is from Somaliland…. 06.07.2010

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