For more than hundreds of years, the U.S., under its declaration of independence, chose to employ unique attributes and values that have remained over the years to be the guiding principles of the American assertion of statehood. Values that so many people have fought for and sacrificed their lives over the following years; perhaps, the same principles that have helped defeat fascism & Nazism in the global renowned conflicts.
In fact, one of the most remembered lines in the declaration cites: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness … “. Under this connotation, the Americans have made clear that human equality is the essence of their existence as a state; that all humans in general, and their citizens in particular, have equal rights before the law; that those rights are God-given; that the state is required to ensure a dignified life for citizens; that liberty stands as a symbol of co-existence and pursuit of happiness. With the beauty of their constitution, therefore, the Americans are by far the only people in the developed world who have preserved happiness as an inalienable right.
This shows the extent of the American vision, and how it’s built on the basis of preservation of human dignity, rights, and freedom of choice anywhere in the globe.
On contrary to of all that , in the late Somali Republic, Somaliland citizens where denied of all the rights that a citizen could enjoy in their homeland , including; the rights to invest a land in their former British protectorate, the rights to be part of the then- governance system, and the rights to trade and engage of any business activities. Ships were told to sail away from Berbera port, let alone to be duck at it. Scholars were told to educate children of Italian colonized part of the republic, leaving their own in dismay for there’s been no single university in the entire Somaliland. The political elite of Somaliland were given abroad assignments to serve embassies, while others in the local were sent to prisons for no viable reasons.
All these restrictions were deliberately imposed to socially, politically & economically paralyse the citizens of the former British Protectorate, majority from Isaaq clan, so that they are kept apart from ever growing to influence politics in the making. The fears of the Italian trained politicians, who had been running the country – the state emerged from the union of Somalia Trusteeship & Somaliland British Protectorate – at the time had things to do with the dictatorship consolidation, and simply put, what despots share – the love for rule.
Almost quickly, things escalated and passed on from just embargo to turn into a wide ranging verbal offensive against Somalilanders. The state media and its trolls waged campaigns of smears targeting a specific population – the Isaaqis. Among those smears were that members of the majority clan inhabiting Somaliland were painted as anti-Somali agents against the long alive agenda to occupy parts of Ethiopia & Kenya for tribal expansion – as majority of these lands inhabited by Siad’s clan who are united in covert agenda to establish tribal hegemony to undermine the rest. With this in mind, countries in the Horn of Africa encompassing Somali peninsula, need to understand that the longer they boycott Somaliland and deny it for statehood, the bigger the threat of expansionist Somalia gets revival.
As a result of long defamation and symbol givings, things had promptly accelerated to a full scale, state-sponsored, deliberate & pre-planned genocide against Somalilanders, particularly the aforementioned clan group. The autocratic regime of Siad Barre set out campaign of ethnic cleansing; the worst of its kind globally at the time, with the exemption of the world wars. More than one hundred thousand civilians were massacred using their money as taxpayers, and put on mass graves that till now resurface because of heavy rains.
Some of them were buried alive with their normal dresses. Some of them were nomads who had nothing to know about what had been going on politically; except that they were asked who they were – Isaaqis.
However, the justice of those murdered because of the ethnic clan they hailed, is still to be found. More mournful, some of the war criminals have been seen working as Uber drivers in the U.S by Aljazeera Media, enjoying life as nothing ever happened.
Simply put, the case of Somaliland’s struggle to reasssert its colonial borders and reinstate its statehood is more of survival than seccession – the term Somalian elites use to undermine Somaliland and burry history. Citizens of today’s Somaliland were deprived of all their rights, put in lower sub-category in their own state, in the same republic they pioneered its creation. Had Somalia got the might to re-instigate horror into Somaliland, it would surely deliver.
In more than three decades, however, the largest Somaliland delegation is on high-level visit to the U.S. The visit comes amid growing competition of global powers over Africa. Perhaps worth-telling that one must have heard many African summits in the last 5 years, the likes of Russia-Africa summit, & China-Africa summit. These summits unite under the aim to acknowledge the African significance on the global trade. Each host country has no reasons to invite African leaders, majority of them despots, put further their infiltration in the continent. The recent Chinese threat to overtake the only Ugandan Antebbè Airport, lectures Africans on the looming threats of Chinese.
The Somaliland delegation, who consider themselves as a pro-western ally, is making a pitch in convincing the Americans to engage with it, so that Chinese are deterred from influencing the Horn of Africa, as well as change their policies toward what used to be the single Somali Republic, and to large extent come with terms again to old American Dual Track Policy. A fact-based policy previously employed by the Bush Administration that separately recognized the de-facto existence of Somaliland & rewarded strides of success it achieved. The previous cooperation between Somaliland & the U.S have maintained momentum of accomplishments made against the terrorism, extremist views, & war on pirates based in Puntland region of Somalia.
However, the U.S, under Obama Administration, changed its policy by shifting to empower and build Mogadishu-centred administration. But, what has this resulted for the U.S?
In fact, the change of policy has brought the U.S no tangible results, but dismay, disdain, and utter failure. The failure does not only affect South-central Somalia where Alshabaab actively collects taxes and maintains de-facto rule, but also it has impacted the U.S. trained units of Puntland Security Forces (PSF), who became incapable in the fight against Alshabaab in GalGala moutains where terrorist units remain stationed. The PSF ended up being junta faction led by clannish tribalist, who has just recently launched offensive against Puntland military in Bosaso city, resisting for leadership handover and causing human casualities and displacement.
More drastically, Somalia’s outgoing president has embarked autocratic rule and crackdown against his political opponents. Some of his closest ministers, the likes of Jamal of the ministry of planning, has even concluded murky fishing deals with the Chinese firms to introduce their infiltration in Somalia as stakeholders in agreement.
In light of all these incidents, Somaliland president, H.E Musa Bihi Abdi, extends hand of cooperation to the U.S. Biden Administration, vowing to counter Farmaajo backed Chinese influence and offering a more robust and working alternative should Americans want to achieve their goals in the volatile strategic Horn of Africa. As the scholar Michael Rubin pinpointed, ” State Department executes policy, but does not craft it”, the Congress should support the Somaliland’s sovereignty and formally employ realpolitik policies that better serve American interests and defy calls of Somalian elites of failure who cashed the aid of American & European taxpayers, yet wanting to endorse ineffective statusque for domination.
Americans must hold truth to their constitution and support the unalienable rights of Somalilanders as they do for Americans – for Somalilanders being resilient people who went through the worst, but yet, built one of the best working democracies in Africa- for self-determination and toward securing brighter future than the one Somalia wants to offer them; second-class citizenship, total censorship, exported terrorism, and share in the ugliest chapters of history. That is why the U.S should recognize human dignity, respect shared values & achievements, as well as reward this potential regional actor in the making, which has the capacity to outmaneuver many if empowered.
About the Author
Abdisalam Rageh is a Somaliland-born & educated political analyst, with interests ranging from youth in politics, strengthening rule of law, & practice of democracy. He describes himself as a ‘pure product of Somaliland.’