The United Kingdom Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson MP paid a visit to Somaliland to discuss areas of mutual interest between the two parties.
Mr. Williamson was met with the usual protocol and paid a courtesy call to Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi. The meeting which took place at the presidency lasted for several hours and was by all accounts mutually beneficial to both the United Kingdom and Somaliland.
As we are all aware, Somaliland and the United Kingdom share historic ties dating back at least two centuries. When Somaliland gained independence on the 26th of June 1960, it was against the advice of the then protectorate power to form a non-negotiated union with Italian Somaliland.
The desire for a “Greater Somalia” consisting of Somaliland, Somalia, Djibouti, the Northern Frontier district of Kenya and the Hawd and Ogaden region of Ethiopia was the driving force behind the hasty decision to form the union. The newly created entity, the Somali Republic, is now defunct and Somaliland restored its independence on the 18th of May, 1991.
The fall out from the union is well documented, but it is a reminder of the past. Suffice to say, Somaliland and its people paid a heavy price during the thirty year union and even a, if it is at all possible, bigger price to withdraw. The destruction of Hargeisa and Burao, the use of mercenaries to bomb the cities and its population, the land mines buried everywhere, and the exodus to the Hawd region are all undisputed facts.
In fact, the whole of Somalia paid a heavy price during the union, and especially, during the late death throes of the Barre regime. So, it comes as no surprise, that the recent events in Baidoa, Somalia, the arrest and slaughter of protesting civilians, which has led to the expulsion of the UN Representative for Somalia and Somaliland, Mr. Nicholas Haysom, for having the “temerity” to offer constructive criticism and demand an explanation for these deplorable actions, were committed under the “leadership” of Siyad Barre’s distant nephew, Mr. Farmajo, the head of the federal entity in Mogadishu.
I suppose it is true, the apple does not fall too far from the tree.
After billions of dollars spent, thousands of staff, countless hours of toil and all the support imaginable to help the people of Somalia, the United Nations finally received it’s reward, their eminent representative was banished unceremoniously, and their compound was mortared!.
We have often said, Somaliland is Africa’s best kept secret. We have different way of doing things. We use dialogue, discussion and consensus to reach our goals. We welcome constructive criticism from both at home and abroad.
Defense Secretary Williamson’s visit to Somaliland could be seen by some as a pointed reminder to the weak federal entity in Mogadishu, that the world is more than happy to do business with Somaliland on a de-jure basis. Somaliland is already engaged by the international community on a de-facto status, but, if the need be, all options are available.
As the UK prepares to exit the European Union, it is beginning to broaden its horizons, vis-a-vis future military relations with other nations. Secretary Williamson, who even had time to have lunch at the Officer’s Mess at Army Headquarters in Hargeisa, is more than welcome to see Somaliland as a future partner.
Allaa Mahad Leh
About the Author Ahmed Kheyre is based in London, UK and can be reached @ ruraledcomm[at]yahoo.co.uk
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