19 May 2007 04:25


SW News
  • Title: [SW News](The Republican) Misconceptions in Djibouti 3
  • Posted by/on:[AMJ][Friday, August 18, 2000]

The Republican, a weekly English language publication based in Hargeisa, Somaliland. August 12, 2000.


Misconceptions in Djibouti 3

Based on a report from our own correspondent in Djibouti

 As the Djibouti conference draws to a close, there are serious misconceptions about Somaliland and Somalia. Misconceptions that could lead to war, not peace, for economic reasons, apart from the contentious political dimension of huge discordance with the so-called Djibouti initiative in the majority of Somalia's regions and of course in Somaliland's indifference to the conference as well. The general view appears to be that the nation is not a nation at all and therefore poses no threat to the government in Baidoa. The Somaliland 'region', they say, is politically divided into four blocs, namely, the Dir clans in the west; the western isaak occupying Hargeisa and Berbera and the presidency; the eastern Isaak in Burao; and the eastern bloc of sool and Sanaag. Somaliland, they say, is not sustainable politically and can be swept aside with the help of the UN. This is of course a gross fabrication but it serves the purpose of Mr David Stephen (UN representative), President Ismail Omar Guelle and those attending the conference who have high hopes of nestling in on UN largesse when they arrive in Baidoa to set up shop.

 The reason for falsifying Somaliland's political realities is to persuade the uninitiated of the international community, who have yet to be taken in by the UN public relations spin-doctor, Stephen, that Somaliland especially can be bulldozed out of existence, given UN political clout.

 Other misconceptions have equally sinister design but they are in the shadows; kept out of discussion at the conference and not therefore part of the spin-doctor's agenda for the Security Council. It is simple economics. The Somali coastline from Berbera to Kismayu has only four significant ports; Berbera, Bosaso, Mogadishu and Kismayu. Only Berbera and Bosaso, outside the temporary government's hands in Baidoa, are engaged in serious trade. Mogadishu has a good potential, but like Kismayu they are also outside the temporary government's grasp. Ports bring in foreign currency, especially the export of livestock. In 1994, the last published export data from Bosaso, showed (according to a UN report), exports of sheep and goats from that port at 444,000-head. The same year, Berbera exported 2,700,000-head of sheep and goats. This brought to Somaliland US$170,300,000 in foreign currency earnings that year. In contrast, foreign currency earnings in Somalia apart from foreign incoming private remittances, is miniscule.

 Without reasonably substantial foreign currency earnings in Somalia, the temporary government cannot import much in the way of capital goods nor consumer goods. UN subsidies will, of course, infuriate those regions which until now have survived for a decade without UN subsidies.  Independent Somaliland will be able to say: "typical of the UN uneven-handedness as with UNOSOM".           

 The other question, conveniently ignored by the conference in Djibouti and by Stephens in his reports to the Security Council, is revenue for the temporary government's proposed budget. Somalia has modest revenue accruing regionally. It is jealously guarded. Interregional altruism does not exist. How is the proposed government going to get its hands on it, given that the Security Council is circumspect about cash subsidies? The conference hopes that the UN will oblige. The Security Council should address this question beofore Baidoa's termporary government starts screaming for greenback.

 Another fallacy among conferees is that the recognition of the temporary government in Baidoa is the same as gaining sovereign recognition. It is not. Sovereignty is given to a country, not to a government. The Security Council is too experienced, hopefully, to fall for this little game. Nor should the Security Council fall into the trap of induced innocence from the Djibouti conference that Somaliland (and its relative wealth) is ripe for a take over by the temporary government. There is no willingness among Somalilanders to share their well-earned income with the temporary government. Somalilanders will, if pushed to it, fight to safeguard their assets and their sovereignty. Somalilanders themselves should not fall into the trap of complacency. Political and commercial hyenas will soon be prowling around the gates of Somaliland, carrying the banner of territorial integrity, hungry for the spoils of Djibouti 3. Somalilanders Wake Up! Face the realities of the next round of fakash invaders!

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