Somalia: Djibouti’s change of heart towards Somaliland

Thursday November 11, 2010 - 10:32:32 in News In English by Xarunta Dhexe
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    Somalia: Djibouti’s change of heart towards Somaliland

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In 1991, when vulnerable, fragile, war-ravaged Somaliland declared its independence, its neighbor and sister state, Djibouti’s reaction was unprecedented. Not only Djibouti opposed Somaliland’s quest for sovereignty but also launched an unholy crusade against Hargeisa, Somaliland capital. However, recently Djibouti took softer stance on Somaliland. What went right this time?

From late 90s to early 2000, Djibouti made tireless efforts to undermine Somaliland, politically and economically. For instance, Djibouti convinced the Arab regimes to ban Somaliland livestock. This was an effort to coerce Somaliland to commit itself yet into another hasty, gunshot marriage with doomed Somalia. And few years later, tiny Djibouti which doesn’t have livestock of its own, audaciously, convinced the Arab regimes that only Djibouti should export livestock to the Middle East. That is, Djibouti not only chocked Somaliland’s lifeline but also monopolized livestock–the most important income-generating resources for Somaliland people.

Politically, Djibouti hosted a number of Somali reconciliation conferences (or never-ending shrills) and invited Somaliland tribal leaders and self-proclaimed representative in an effort to dismantle Somaliland. Worse yet, to marginalize the Isaaq tribes of Somaliland, Djibouti renamed them to: Dirta Waqooye.

Djibouti left no stones unturned

Although the first and second Somaliland Presidents, Abdurrahman Ahmed Ali (Tuur) and Mohammed Ibrahim Igal (may Allah bless their souls) forged a relationship with Djibouti, it was not until the third Somaliland President, Dahir Riyale Kaahin, that the two countries finally agreed to disagree. Ever since then, Djibouti may not have completely defrosted its gloomy relationship with Somaliland but eased tensions. Today, a different picture emerges.

Among other things, Djibouti realizes alienating its neighbor—SOmaliland—while
backing up Somali regimes prone to fail was a failure on Djibouti’s part. Eritrea’s military incursions into Djibouti’s territory, Alshabaab’s growing threats in the region, and Anfar rebels against Djibouti led Omar Geele, the current president of Djibouti, to find a new ally in the region.

Additionally, June 26, 2010 successful presidential elections of Somaliland in which President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud Silanyo was elected, reshaped not only Djibouti’s attitude towards Somaliland but also the International community’s views.

Djibouti also sense that Somaliland, one of the most democratic republics in Africa, is on the verge of receiving recognition. And as Somalis say, “Cimri tagay ceeb lagu ma sagootiyo…, or don’t accompany insults with someone who is about to depart.” Hence, if you can’t stop Somaliland’s independence, you may as well celebrate with it.

Now, to demonstrate that Djibouti finally changed its views (or it got rid of a chip on its shoulder) towards Somaliland, Mr. Geele invited Mr. Silanyo to Djibouti. And Mr. Geele not only rolled out the red carpet for Mr. Silanyo, but he [Mr. Geele] also welcomed the Somaliland delegation at the airport where they received presidential welcome reception.

It was the first time that a host country’s top leader welcomed Somaliland president at the airport. This was a significant move, a clear indication that Djibouti treated Somaliland like any other country.

To sum up, from 1991, at the dawn of Somaliland’s rebirth, to present, the relationship between Somaliland and Djibouti took many turns and twists, good and bad, but never before have the two countries felt a sisterly bond that once eroded. A new era began for Somaliland and Djibouti–one that is long overdue.

As history attests, Djibouti is the first country that resolutely companied against Somaliland quest for independence. But Djibouti is also the first country that wholeheartedly received a Somaliland president as head of state where he received presidential welcome reception.

Finally, Djibouti acknowledges that the interest of the Western, African, and Arab regimes in Horn of Africa may come and go, just as ascents of cheap clones fade quickly, but its neighbor–Somaliland will stay.

Akhrise hoos kadhiibo fikirkaaga

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