Investigative Reports

Somaliland Presidency Awarded No-Bid Contract with Inflated Cost to Redesign and Rebuilt War Memorial

Somaliland Government spent $222,153 US Dollars on the redesign...

Preferential Treatment: How Sagal Jet won more than 1.2 Million Dollars in Government Contracts Under President Bihi

Sagal Jet, arguably the most prominent publishing firm in...

Drowning in Red Ink – President Bihi’s Government lied about the size of Debt inherited from His Predecessor

According to Somaliland government records examined by the Somaliland...
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Dishonest Broker – Why Turkey Will Not Run Somaliland – Somalia Talks

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On December 28, 2018, Turkey named its former Ambassador to Somalia Dr. Olgan Bekar as a Special Envoy for Somalia and Somaliland Talks. Thought the former Ambassador to Somalia has had limited contact with the Government of Somaliland especially President Bihi’s current administration, he known to be very comfortable in navigating the political scene in Mogadishu.

In this report, we are examining Turkey’s history in Somaliland and Somalia and their role as mediators in the past talks.

Dr. Olgan Bekar, Turkey’s Special Envoy for Somaliland – Somalia with President Muse Bihi Abdi

Turkey is not the only country interested to have Somaliland and Somalia get back to the negotiating table and reach some sort of a settlement.

The topic has come up during President Muse Bihi Abdi’s meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister in Addis Ababa this week though it is unclear the extent to which they discussed the subject or if any concrete steps to get the two sides talking were agreed upon.

Somaliland and Ethiopian leaders meeting in Addis Ababa

It is important to understand that various stake holders have different expected outcomes of such talks and Somaliland might be the odd man out as it seeks to gain an amicable completion of its divorce from Somalia.

According to statement from Somaliland Presidency following President Bihi’s meeting with the new envoy Dr. Bekar on February 9, The President informed Dr. Bekar and the Turkish delegation that since past talks has not yielded any results all future dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia must include the international community.

Sources from Somaliland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation present in the meeting with the President and the Turkish delegation stated that President Bihi also informed the Turkish envoy that bringing a level of balance in how Turkey invests in Somalia and Somaliland is a good way to show Somaliland that Turkey is impartial and a friend to Somaliland.

To understand if Turkey can be an impartial and an honest broker on Somaliland and Somalia talks and its general standing in the world community, we have spoken to Mr. Michael Rubin who is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where he researches Arab politics, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran, Iraq, the Kurds, terrorism, and Turkey.

President Bihi with Michael Rubin and Presidential Economic Advisor Dr. Osman Sh Ahmed

Somaliland Chronicle: Do you think it is wise for Somaliland to accept Turkey as a mediator in Somalia talks given the Turkish Gov support and massive investment in Somalia?

Mr. Rubin: Turkey does not have a track-record as an honest broker, and President Erdoğan has an ideological agenda which does not value Somaliland’s democracy and security. It is crucial to broaden any such mediation beyond a single country.

Somaliland Chronicle: In your latest article you wrote about Turkish support for terrorism and specifically for Al-Shabaab. What is Turkey’s reasoning for supporting Al-Shabaab?

Mr. Rubin: There is no single international definition of terrorism, and so Turkey often says it is combating terrorism, but denies groups like Al-Shabaab in Somalia or Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali are terrorists. Erdoğan’s goal is a more Islamist order. His fault, though, is confusing some Islamist movements with Islam itself.

Somaliland Chronicle: President Bihi recently met with a Turkish Envoy in charge of the Somaliland/Somalia talks, do you see any value in having Turkey to mediate or be part of those talks?

Mr. Rubin: Certainly, there is value in consultation with Turkey, as Turkey retains a diplomatic presence in both Somalia and Somaliland. President Bihi is correct, however, to seek a broader mediation rather than reliance on a single country.

As President Bihi informed the Turkish delegation, there is an imbalance in how Turkey provides and and invests in Somaliland and Somalia. Let’s break down what Turkey so far done in is to Somalia:


Turkey in Somalia

Security Influence

Turkey is Somalia’s true patron state, one of its most expensive efforts is to rebuild the Somali National Army from scratch and in its own image.

The largest military force in Somalia is of course AMISOM but Turkey’s military presence dwarfs that of any individual country in the AMISOM troops stationed in Somalia. In fact, Turkey’s largest military installation outside of Turkey is in Mogadishu.

Dr. Olgan Bekar with Somalia’s Prime Minister Hassan Khaire.

The 1.5 square mile Turkish military training installation is capable of churning out 1,500 fully trained and equipped soldiers at a time. This is according to Turkish and Somali sources familiar with the facility.

Below is a tweet from Turkish Embassy in Somalia showing images of Somali military personnel being trained in Turkey.

While Turkey rates as the 18th largest military in expenditure globally, it has a fledgling arms industry and rebuilding the Somali National Army represents a lucrative opportunity to supply it with the equipment it is manufacturing.

According to a recent VOA report, in what seems to be a clear violation of the United Nations Security Council’s weapons embargo on Somalia, Turkey has been supplying armament to units of the Somali National Army it has been training.

Economic Influence

Since September 21, 2014 Albayrak Group has been operating the Mogadishu Port on a 20 year concession where the company takes 45% of all revenues from the port.

Public records show that Albayrak Group does not have a track record in managing world class ports, besides Mogadishu Port, it also manages and the Trabzon Port in the Black Sea on Turkey’s Northern border with Georgia.

Compared to Albayrak Group and the 2 ports it manages, DP World manages about 77 marine and inland terminals including Somaliland’s Berbera Port.

Other Turkish conglomerates such Enez-İnşaat and Kozuva Group are also active in Mogadishu.

Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle Airport has been managed by a Kozuva subsidiery, Favori Airports LLC,since September 2013.

Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle Airport

Here is the Somali Prime Minister Mr. Hassan Khaire thanking Qatar for funding road networks between Mogadishu, Afgoye and Jawhar and also thanking the Turkish Government, presumably Enez-İnşaat who according to him have “won” the contract to build said roads.

Turkey bills itself as Somalia’s rescuer and multiple visits by Erdoğan to Somalia especially in what is considered a relatively difficult time for the Somali people were designed to convey that exact message but economically, Turkey stands to gain more from Somalia and Mogadishu than it lets on.

Image result for erdogan visits mogadishu
Erdoğan and his wife in Mogadishu.

According to some estimates, the most profitable route in Turkish Airlines is the Mogadishu – Ankara route. And aside from the large visible projects, there are tens of thousands of Turkish citizens living and working in Mogadishu.

Despite the obvious economic gains Turkey is making in Somalia, it is gearing up to do even more business in that war-torn country.

Getting involved in one of the least stable country in the world, Turkey is employing the concept of first mover advantage. This means less competition from the Chinese and other actors vying for influence in Africa.

Turkey heavy bet on Somalia and specifically Mogadishu is yielding economic results for Turkey beyond what Erdoğan has expected. In fact, Turkey’s largest embassy in the world is not where you would expect, like Washington DC, Brussels or Berlin, it is in Mogadishu, Somalia.

One of the most attractive features of Turkey’s patronage of Somalia is it is non-interference posture in Somalia’s domestic politics. It is worth nothing that Somalia ranked lowest in global corruption index and any country that is willing to look the other way is a welcome reprieve from the usual admonishment for President Farmajo’s weak administration.

Turkey in Somaliland

The most visible contribution of Turkey to Somaliland is a recent 216 medical machines donated by TIKA, the Turkish aid agency to Hargeisa Group Hospital.

Although this particular instance has been widely publicized by TIKA, Somaliland Chronicle has been unable to locate anything of note done in Somaliland either by Turkish Government or it is aid agency TIKA.

There are, however, multiple unfulfilled pledges by the Turkish Government in the past to help build roads in Somaliland according to multiple former and current Somaliland Government officials. None of these pledges have materialized.

One thing of note is that Turkey has been particularly adept in dangling a carrot of aid and development or simply inviting them to Istanbul on a whirlwind of meetings and tours to get them to buy into the importance of Somaliland and Somalia talks.

No other country has put so much effort to try to mediate Somaliland and Somalia as much as Turkey. In fact, this might be the only thing Turkey has done in Somaliland. There were many rounds of talks that hosted by the Turks in the past and personally supervised by President Erdoğan himself, unfortunately, these talks have been a disaster for Somaliland.

Turkey’s obsession with Somaliland is rooted in the simple fact that the rift between Gulf states of UAE and Saudi Arabia on one side and Qatar, Turkey and Iran on one side has been playing out in Somaliland and Somalia.

Image result for somaliland dpworld signing
President of Somaliland HE Muse Bihi Abdi and DP World CEO Mr. Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem

The United Arab Emirates base in Berbera and DP World managing the Port gives the UAE and its ally Saudi Arabia an advantage and a foothold in the strategic 850 kilometers of Red Sea coastline with a direct access to Bab Al-mandab.

Turkey and Qatar has been spending heavily in trying to unseat the Emirates from both the military base and the Berbera Port by mobilizing the Somali government to oppose these deals. Additionally, Turkey has been advancing particular talking points that have been seeping into public discourse in Somaliland such as the importance of Somaliland – Somalia talks, the ramifications of hosting a foreign army in Somaliland via the UAE base and the deterioration of service at the Berbera Port. These same exact talking points are parroted by many civil organizations and opposition parties in Somaliland.

Somaliland has repeatedly signaled it’s willingness to talk to Somalia but its demand for the international community including the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union to get involved and President Bihi’s impossible task for the Turks to raise their level of support for Somaliland to something comparable to Somalia’s almost guarantees that Turkey’s role will be a lot smaller in future dialogue between the two countries.

The Great Promise of Closer US – Somaliland Ties & AFRICOM recent Visit.

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The visit goes by this name and it has started with President Muse Bihi official tour to Washington DC.

His visit – the first by a sitting president of Somaliland but it’s not the first for the man in person.

The tour is mainly to get US attention towards Somaliland and to establish an engagement with Somaliland and to conduct a feasibility study, one reason to do that was that US didn’t want to limit itself anymore with Somalia policy and this is what exactly senator US Senate Statement

Van Hollen and  Senator Jim Risch of US Senate Foreign relations committee had emphasized the necessity to work with like-minded Somaliland who is committed to peace, democracy and prosperity

Historically – these remarks are not unique and something new to the ears of Somaliland because Similarly Dr. Jendayi  Frazer – former U.S assistant secretary of state for African Affairs said something similar and praised Somaliland achievement to restore peace and stability in a volatile region that could explode in any minute.  She had even claimed that Somaliland unique story should be acknowledged and pushed for recognition – yes recognition in which she regretted not moving Somaliland legal case in her tenure and time. After all it was a mission impossible for her just like she failed to convince Khartoum about Sudan’s Darfur crisis.

Dr. Jendayi Frazer not only knew about Africa but she led US policy towards the continent after Berry Newman left the office, Frazer Said she is willing Africa on Bush term to be nothing but characterized by continuity – it was US strategy too to develop relations and engage deep with Africans but today many US policy makers and foreign relations do know little about Africa let alone Somaliland.

Accountability also matters.  While Somalia is among world’s most corrupt states – a place many saw as irredeemable disaster if not worse and while US Africa Command (AFRICOM) proved working and restoring stability for so many African countries, surely that is different and beyond reach in Somalia.

Again there was another surge of interest in Biden administration for Somaliland’s case that has regained the traction it lost during Hillary Clinton’s as Secretary of State and her US dual-track policy towards Somaliland. This time was from an official US congressional staff who had paid visit to Hargeysa and who marked a turning point in the U.S government engagement to Somaliland that was a response to the Somaliland Foreigner Minister – Dr. Essa Kayd along with Dr. Edna Aden – their visit was nothing but to engage with Washington once again to develop on diplomatic relations and security defense partnership with Somaliland.

But suddenly a recent visit of US Africa Command has lashed all these efforts – even changed the narrative of this relations, one that jeopardize and undermined the sovereignty and statehood of Somaliland

This has started from a mere Readout of US AFRICOM stating that they will deal with Somaliland similar as a federal member of Somalia – something that has upset many Somalilanders in the social media and elsewhere and saw it nothing but as an insult to their legal status as a free and independent country – is  shockingly untrue too , simply because Somaliland has its own statehood and sovereignty and US foreign policy do want little to be briefed about, in fact US were dealing with Somaliland always differently as a separate country since they reclaimed their independence in 1991.

The visit of AFRICOM has come after huge attraction on Berbera facilities including airfield and rapidly developing of its port, this also advances shared interest by both countries to protect regional stability and protecting vital trade routes.

Unlike Somalia which has no control over piracy, terrorism and trafficking, Somaliland coast guard founded in 1995 did this alone over the past 30 years almost and with policing almost 530-mile coastline of Somaliland without any help or support from EU, UK or USA. This is if any single out the role of the coast guards as an example of successful policing which barely nowhere except Somaliland.

Piracy, or its absence, like the relative peace in Somaliland, was portrayed as symptomatic of an essential difference between Somaliland and Somalia – Something AFRICOM didn’t grasp yet.

Additionally and with China increasing presence in Africa and its giant base in Djibouti, one that is not going to end very soon and one that put Djibout in its debt trap, on the other hand US are very careful about any out leverage of China could risk their presence and that’s why is so important for United States to have reconsider its geopolitical move. Berbera port was always important and geopolitical battlefield between Russia,China and now US .

Russia because they wanted to change their troubled Sudan Naval plans, China because for seeking mining concessions in Somaliland and to give China huge advantage of control near the suez canal for the cargo in-out from Gulf of Aden to the Mediterranean – China as well don’t have any of US or Russia qualms.

With AFRICOM reaching to Somaliland – we could only think of the Win-Win deal that has been on the move and being discussed extensively within the US Congress members on how they would engage with Somaliland – that proved to be better than even the UK treatment ( de facto recognition) specially when Somaliland had enjoyed this with other nations like UK,UAE and Taiwan Win-Win or No Deal

Conclusion

Surely Somaliland – US partnership act should reinforce strongly the recognition part of Somaliland that was missing so that the country could be an important member that can be acknowledged for the tremendous and huge role played by more than half a century.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Faisel Ahmed is a Somalilander based in Qatar. Works as Contract specialist in QIB, Doha – Qatar

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, or viewpoints of Somaliland Chronicle, and its staff. 

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Notice: This article by Somaliland Chronicle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License. Under this license, all reprints and non-commercial distribution of this work are permitted.

AFRICOM’s Tone Deaf Statement in Context

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On May 12, 2022, General Stephen Townsend, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), visited Hargeisa and Berbera. The visit demonstrated that the momentum demonstrated by last year’s Congressional staff delegation and this spring’s visit by President Muse Bihi’s visit to Washington is real. However, a subsequent AFRICOM readout from the trip marred an otherwise historic visit as it emphasized the State Department’s “one Somalia” policy and suggested AFRICOM considered Somaliland little different than Somalia’s other member states. It was tone-deaf and insulting.

Somalilanders reacted in outrage on social media. On twitter and other platforms, some even called into question the wisdom of pursuing a tighter relationship with the United States. The AFRICOM statement will not be the only speedbump as stronger bilateral relations develop.

Somaliland has not been alone in its effort to change decades of U.S. policy that underappreciates overwhelming local sentiment antipathetic to the US- or internationally-recognized suzerain.

Consider: the last time mainland China controlled Taiwan was in 1895, decades prior to the independence of almost every colonial territory in Africa or Asia.  As part of his effort to peel the People’s Republic of China away from any alliance with the Soviet Union, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger agreed to end U.S. recognition of Taiwan in favor of Communist China. Taiwanese were furious. The United States—and much of the world—betrayed them. They stomached the insults to their sovereignty, however, and sought to mitigate them as they worked to ensure their long-term security and autonomy. They cultivated Congress to ensure that they remained militarily able to resist any Chinese efforts to take their territory by force.  Even today, Taiwan’s strong relationships with Congress act as a brake on any shortsighted White House or State Department effort to treat the freedom and liberty of 24 million Taiwanese as a diplomatic chit to trade away on the naïve belief that Beijing keeps its promises. Still, Taiwan puts up with the frequent indignity. On April 21, 2022, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo referred to the island as “Chinese Taipei,” a formula as grating to the Taiwanese as the AFRICOM release’s “Hargeisa, Somalia” was to Somalilanders. Her statement was gratuitous and reflected more her staffers’ ignorance than a change in U.S. policy. A subsequent Commerce Secretary statement corrected the error and referred to Taiwan by its true name. AFRICOM, too, subsequently signaled it understood its previous error when it issued a subsequent statement that discussed Somaliland without reference to Somalia.

Perhaps the biggest insult to the Taiwanese, however, is the international community’s insistence that it not use its flag or anthem in the Olympics, and instead march under the name Chinese Taipei. Again, Taiwanese swallow their pride: The symbolism of often outperforming Communist China at the same games makes it worth it.

Iraqi Kurds have enjoyed autonomy for three decades and have, at times flirted with independence. The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraqi Kurdistan formed in 1992, against the backdrop of then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s miscalculation that, should he withdraw all services from northern Iraq, the Kurds would have no choice but to return to his control or starve. When, just over a decade later U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq, policymakers feared that the Kurds would use the opportunity to fracture the country. As policymakers grew sensitive to the symbolism of Kurdish independence, the Kurdish flag became the focal point of disputes. U.S. policymakers insisted that the Iraqi flag fly in any meeting that diplomats or military officials had with their Iraqi Kurdish counterpoints. Massoud Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, both resisted and tested American commitment to the “one Iraq” policy, repeatedly seeking to fly only the Kurdish flag. Tension escalated and financial hardball ensued, but eventually Barzani caved, at least for a time. In many meetings, Iraqi Kurdish officials stand before both flags.

As American relations develop with Somaliland, the flag issue will likely be the next bone of diplomatic contention. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken knows little about the Horn of Africa; he instead relies on the advice of long-time State Department specialists shaped more in the mold of retired Ambassador Donald Yamamoto. Most US policymakers have little idea that Somaliland has governed itself longer than its failed union with the rest of Somalia or that the Somaliland Shilling rests on a more stable base than its Somali counterpart does. Just as these staffers shaped press releases accompanying Bihi’s visit to Washington and the first AFRICOM statement following Townsend’s visit, so too will they begin to insist that the Somalia flag fly during all future meetings to reinforce U.S. policy, however outdated it may be.

Here, Somalilanders will face a choice: Whether to derail relationships over the issue, a reaction which Somalia’s lobbyists within the State Department seek, or to prioritize the real over the symbolic as Taiwan and Iraqi Kurdistan do. Just as Iraqi Kurds fly their flag alongside the Iraqi flags which sometimes flies below it, so too could Somalilanders fly their flag highest in official meetings, with the flags of not only Somalia but also Djibouti and Ethiopia in the background to symbolize Somaliland’s equality to other states in the region. This would fulfill the looming U.S. demand without accomplishing its desired implication of Hargeisa’s subordination to Mogadishu.

Hopefully, Somalilanders will temper idealism with realism as they chart a path to the finish line. The choice, however, is Somaliland’s. Taiwan is de facto independent, with its own flag, embassies, and democracy. Iraqi Kurdistan remains autonomous, a right now enshrined in Iraq’s constitution. Somalilanders may be quick to react to sleights real and imagined on social media, or they can single-mindedly seek to build a relationship so multifaceted that no politician in Mogadishu or diplomat whose understanding of the region ends with dictator Siad Barre can possibly unravel it.

Michael Rubin is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

Taiwan is an indispensable partner of the world health map: Support Taiwan’s participation in all WHO meetings, mechanisms and activities

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Since the outbreak of COVID-19 over two years ago, the costliest lesson we have learned is all the countries need to work together to face the challenges arising from the pandemic. No one can win this battle alone. Viruses know no borders. Inclusive collaboration is the key to successfully containing the pandemic.

‘No one is safe, until everyone is’

Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been one of the most successful in the world. Backed by its robust health system, Taiwan has efficiently deployed high-tech tools in its pandemic response while taking steps to protect personal data privacy. As Taiwan Health Minister Dr. Chen indicated, “being able to comprehensively participate in and contribute to international COVID-19 supply chain systems, as well as global diagnostics, vaccine, and therapeutics platforms, would allow Taiwan to work with the rest of the world”. We are fighting the pandemic together because “no one is safe, until everyone is”.

Health for all, Taiwan can help

Taiwan is a small island with a big heart. Taiwan has donated medical supplies to more than 80 countries since the outbreak of COVID-19. Somaliland has deeply realized and witnessed  Taiwan’s capabilities and contributions because of Taiwan’s flagship medical cooperation implemented in Somaliland. Taiwan continuously assists Somaliland combating COVID-19 by providing over 80% of the medical supplies including PCRs, antigen rapid tests, oxygen generators, masks, PPEs and 150,000 doses of the Taiwan-made Medigen vaccine.

The “Taiwan Model” to fight COVID-19

COVID-19 has shown how a global health crisis not only threatens lives but can also undermine democracy, human rights, and good governance. “The Taiwan Model” is an example of how a modern democracy can work transparently using technology to fight the pandemic. Together, we can strengthen health systems, renew democracy, and uphold human rights. Together, we will build back a better world.

Building a resilient and inclusive global health system together

We appreciate the growing support for Taiwan’s inclusion from the international community, and recognition of Taiwan’s successful contribution against the COVID-19 pandemic. We therefore to urge WHO to join the like-minded countries to acknowledge Taiwan’s longstanding contributions to the international community in the areas of public health, disease prevention, and the human right to health, and to include Taiwan in WHO and its meetings, mechanisms, and activities. Echoing the mantra of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, no one should be left behind.

Let Taiwan help and let Taiwan help more

Taiwan has plenty to offer the international community, but it’s hard to do when it’s excluded from the WHO. We believe that “WEAPONS cannot increase human welfare, but HEALTH does.”

Taiwan is an indispensable partner on the path to global post pandemic recovery and world health map. The world needs Taiwan, let Taiwan help and let Taiwan help more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ambassador Allen C. Lou, Taiwan Representative Office in the Republic of Somaliland

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, or viewpoints of Somaliland Chronicle, and its staff. 

Creative Commons License

Notice: This article by Somaliland Chronicle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License. Under this license, all reprints and non-commercial distribution of this work are permitted.

Commander of United States Africa Command Visits Somaliland

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A delegation led by The Commander of United States Africa Command, General Stephen J. Townsend visited the Republic of Somaliland and met with the President and members of his cabinet, and commanders of various armed services of Somaliland. In addition to other high-ranking military officials, the delegation includes Mr. Larry André, the United States Ambassador to Somalia who is visiting Somaliland since his appointment early last year. General Townsend is the highest-ranking military official to visit the Republic of Somaliland since it declared its independence in 1991.

According to a statement from the President’s Office, the delegation led by General Townsend proceeded to Berbera, where they toured the newly renovated port and airport. In August 2021, officials from the United States Department of Defense surveyed both facilities and tested the runway of Berbera Airport with C-130J-30 Super Hercules — one of the largest transport aircraft in the Airforce’s fleet. The United States currently maintains Camp Lemonnier, a major military base in Djibouti.

The historic visit from the delegation led by General Townsend comes less than two months after President Bihi’s visit to the United States, where he held meetings with members of the United States government, Congress, and Senate on bilateral ties and security cooperation between the Republic of Somaliland and the United States.

“This is a direct result of the historic visit of President Bihi to the USA and the genuine wish of the two sides, both Somaliland and the USA, in advancing cooperation on areas of common interest to the highest possible level.”, said Mr. Bashir Goth, Somaliland’s Representative in the United States who was instrumental in the President’s visit to DC and has completely revamped the ties between the two nations on General Townsend’s historic visit.

Somaliland Presidency Awarded No-Bid Contract with Inflated Cost to Redesign and Rebuilt War Memorial

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Somaliland Government spent $222,153 US Dollars on the redesign and the construction of the new war memorial in the center of Hargeisa. The new design, built by Zak Construction, consists of a stepped platform, five concrete pillars with the MiG-17 fighter jet perched on top of an arch, and a garden with shaded areas for the public.

The monument looks culturally out of place and risks whitewashing the grim history of death and destruction visited upon the people of Somaliland and gives the impression that the elevated jet was defending the people of Somaliland and is being glorified. The design seems to be Soviet-inspired and looks like a budget version of the Soviet Memorial Tiergarten in Berlin. These are some of the public criticism of the monument that was all but ignored.

The semi-finished monument differs a lot from the design rendering that was hung at the site when the redesign was announced. It is a lot smaller where the MiG-17, clad with a freshly painted Somalia flag, dominates the structure and is facing the wrong direction.

Although the original weight of a MiG-17 without its weapons payload is around 4.3 tons, the historical artifact that is on top of the monument does not contain the monstrous Klimov VK-1 engine which will put the fighter jet at roughly 3 tons, and according to construction experts, there is no indication that high-strength concrete was used because of lightweight of the jet.

One of the immediate issues with the reconstruction project is the initial $132,784 US Dollars price tag of monument construction, which was disbursed in two installments as stipulated by the contract, and an additional $89,369 US Dollars for what was described as finishing work.

This puts the total cost of the construction at a whopping $222,153 US Dollars and, it is unclear if there was a separate contract for the additional funds or if authorization was sought and obtained from the National Tender Board or the Ministry of Housing and Public Works.

Two construction experts we consulted for this report were less generous in their valuation and estimated 100,000 to 120,000 with a 20% expected profit for the contracting company. To make his point, besides the cost of concrete per cubic meter, labor and the technical minutia of the project stated that a standard two-story five bedroom and three bathrooms mini-mansion complete with fence, service quarters, and move-in ready costs about 120,000 US dollars to build.

According to contract documents signed by Mr. Mohamed Ali Bile, the Director-General of the Presidency, who has been involved in many government-led construction projects, the contract for the reconstruction of the memorial was directly awarded to Zak Construction in a no-bid contract where Mr. Bile sought approval from the National Tender Board retroactively.

This is not the first no-bid contract that the Presidency, and especially Mr. Bile, has awarded outside of the National Tender Board’s process and sought approval after the contract has been awarded. There is no evidence of other construction projects implemented by Zak Construction.

Awarding of no-bid contracts by the President’s Office is contrary to the pledge that President Bihi has repeatedly made regarding the fairness and transparency of the national procurement system. In his address to the join session of the Parliament, he said, “I hereby declare that any government agency that does not comply with this decision will be subject to appropriate action”.

We reached out to Mr. Abdirazak Mohamoud Muhumed (Afyare), the owner of Zak Construction, to ask him to justify the $222,153 US Dollar price tag of the monument and how his company, with seemingly no track record of any major construction projects, was selected by the Presidency. Unhappy with the line of inquiry, Mr. Muhumed claimed that his private business is off-limits and has referred all questions about the monument construction to the government and the Presidency with a bit of advice to change the name of the outlet to Somaliland Wikileaks and threatened legal action if we mentioned him of his company.

In addition, we have reached out to the Presidency and the Director-General, Mr. Mohamed Ali Bile, about the contract, its inflated cost, and why he has repeatedly circumvented National Tender Board processes and awarded no-bid contracts frequently. We have also asked about his view of the public criticism of the design and the fact that currently; the monument lacks the historical context of what the instrument of death used by the Dictatorial regime of Mohamed Siad Barre to destroy Hargeisa and massacre the inhabitants of Hargeisa in 1988, stands for. He did not respond to our questions.

Military Tribunal Sentences A High Ranking Military Officer to Death

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Somaliland Military Tribunal sentenced Lieutenant Colonel Salah Bullale Jama to death for the murder of Najma Abdillahi on May 2nd in Hargeisa. According to various coverage of the murder and the subsequent arrest of the perpetrator, the murder of Najma, who worked for the Ministry of Agricultural Development, occurred around Hargeisa Group Hospital and is related to a personal dispute.

The unusually swift conviction and sentencing of Lieutenant Colonel Salah Bullale Jama come after calls from the family of the victim, who appealed to the government to ensure justice is served and threatened that the burial of the slain young lady will not occur until the perpetrator is executed. It is unclear if this influenced the military tribunal’s compressed timeline for sentencing and conviction.

Previously, the military tribunal handed down capital punishment in cases where members of the armed services have committed crimes either against civilians or other members of the armed forces.

President Musa Bihi Abdi’s Annual Address to Joint House of Parliament

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Transcript of the President’s speech as provided by the Office of the President.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honor and privilege for me to deliver the 2020 Annual Constitutional joint House of parliament, especially members of the House of Representatives, who were elected in the recent one-man, one-vote elections.

2021 was a year in which the world struggled with the effects of Covid-19 pandemic, which is a type of outbreak which usually occurs once every hundred years.

It has been a year of armed conflict, with world peace engulfed in controversy.

For the Republic of Somaliland, however, it was a year of peace and elections. The dual elections of the House of Representatives and the Local councils, and the manner in which they were conducted have shown the political maturity of the people of Somaliland.

The New Year 2022 is no exception. It’s a dangerous year, as the world moves towards war. Food security, oil and gas are already in crisis, and there is a strong suspicion that travel of people and goods around the world will be disrupted.

It is feared that this could lead to further disruption of global trade and commerce. And if this happens, Somaliland will be in a very vulnerable position as we import almost everything.

I recommend that the country’s rich invest in our food production, so as to reduce our dependence on essential commodities. It is also important that pastoralists increase their efforts in animal husbandry and scholars to present ideas to the realization of this.

As a government we are taking the following steps:

1.  Promotion of local production.

2.  Linking Scholars and Wealthy.

3.  Encouraging the country’s universities to innovate and find solutions to the problems we face.

4.  Storage of food to the best of our ability.

Economy

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the past two years, the world has been experiencing economic problems and decline in production, as a result of COVID-19.

● Despite the global economic crisis, Somaliland has partially succeeded in implementing the government’s policies, such as: modernizing and improving revenue collection systems and infrastructure. We increased Inland Revenue, reduced dependence on customs revenue, achieved public confidence in taxation and economic growth, streamlining spending management and transparency in the use of the national budget.

● The government has implemented the International Anti-Corruption and Accountability Framework which regulates public accounting and financial management.

● Last year, 98 projects were funded by the National Budget. These projects were valued at 163.7 billion SL shillings ($ 23.3 million). This is an increase of 3.11% more than last year’s projects, and they were all subject to national procurement and open Competition.

● The 2022 Budget is projected to fund 122 projects, valued at 3293 billion, which is 79% more than last year.

● Foreign aid projects implemented in the country last year were estimated at 164.6 billion SL shillings ($ 23.5 million). We are grateful for this, but the international community should know that the people of Somaliland, longs for more meaningful support or donations which befits and is appropriate to their dignity and sovereignty.

● The number of Civil Servants increased by 13% last year, bringing the total number of Civil Servants to 7,907 in the last four years, which is a total increase of 39% in our Civil Service, most of whom are employed by the successful National Service Program.

● The value of the Somaliland Shilling was maintained at 8,400 per dollar, and inflation fell by 3.5% last year. It is the lowest level it has ever reached in recent times.

● The government has implemented a number of measures that have enabled the exchange rate to remain stable during this period, which has boosted the economy, trade and investment in our country.

● The Central Bank of the Republic of Somaliland has also taken steps to improve people’s lives. In 2021 it has invested more than $ 13 million in infrastructure projects by a number of Institutions, the central government and some local governments.

1.1. Economic Infrastructure:

● The Maydh Fisheries Port Construction is nearing completion and will cost $ 5 million.

● The first phase of the construction of the 400 meter Berbera Port is complete.

● The foundation of the second phase of the new 600-meter Berbera Port has also been laid.

● Upon completion and modernization of Berbera Port, Berbera Port will be one of the longest ports in Africa, with a length of 1,650 meters and the depth of the Port will be 17 meters. This will make the port Africa’s second-largest port, capable of carrying the world’s largest fleet, with 2 million containers per year, from current capacity of 500,000 containers per year.

● The main port of Berbera is currently connected by three cranes; On completion, it will be connected by 7 major cranes to the port, and the number of large cranes will be increased to 10 cranes.

● Berbera International Airport has been transformed into an international airport, capable of serving all goods and peoples of the landlocked countries of Africa, and is today one of the most interesting destinations in the world.

● The Burao-Erigavo Road is nearing completion, with only 10 km remaining. We have completed 262 KMs which cost us $ 54,484,000, all of which was paid out of our National Budget.

● The construction of the Burao-Erigabo Corridor will significantly change the socio economic aspect, social and business mobility of our people ( For example: Travelling between Burao and Erigavo used to take 9 to 10 hours of driving, but now it is less than 5 hours. The cost of transportation per person was between $ 60- $ 80 per person, but now it is only $ 20.

● Construction of the first phase of the Berbera Corridor has been completed, and includes four main bridges.

● Construction of the Free Zone has recently begun and plans are afoot to build 54 Hectares of land, which will be divided into two phases. In Phase One, 34 Hectares of land will be constructed, including the Free Trade Zone Road to the rest of the country, the construction of Administration Offices, the construction of a large hangar for companies and a container inspection corridor. It is expected to house many local and international companies and employ more than 1,000 people.

● Construction of the Odweyne-Burao and Las Anod-Kalabaydh Roads has begun and will be completed in a short time, Insha Allah.

● The feasibility study has now been completed on the Lawyado-Borama road, which is funded by the African Development Bank, and will be launched soon.

● Reconstruction of the 82-kilometer Burao-Laalays road will begin soon, and the construction of the road will also include the rehabilitation of four bridges between Burao and Laalays.

● Feasibility Study has begun on the road between Mayd District and Erigavo Town.

2. Social Services:

● In education, 57 new schools were built last year, and 24 previous schools were renovated.

● 470 students received scholarships to study abroad.

● We have made it mandatory for 10% of University students and 12% of private university students to receive Scholarships, in order to increase access to higher education.

● A total of 654,330 children and 108,600 mothers have been vaccinated against various diseases.

● Government health facilities provided health services to 1,530,000 people, up 2% from last year.

● Seven COVID-19 Infection Awareness Campaigns were conducted, and 557,723 people were vaccinated, representing 30% of the population over the age of 18 years.

● In 2021, 18 clinics were built, including 5 new hospitals, and 23 clinics were renovated.

● 3 million livestock were vaccinated while 1.75 million of them were fed, which in turn benefited 75,000 pastoralists.

● The National Food and Drug Laboratory were built at a cost of 13,440,000,000 SLSH.

● 41 new boreholes and 6 new shallow wells have been drilled and 60 boreholes have been rehabilitated.

● 20 major boreholes have been drilled in different regions of the country.

● The Center for Constitutional and Patriotic Studies was established, and has so far educated 34,500 citizens.

● 50,000 copies of the Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland have been distributed, to enhance the legal education of the citizens.

● There are 90 teams competing in the

 national leagues, playing 485 matches, with 3,043 players and more than 1,800,000 people watching.

3. Security

In today’s world, security is a global problem. We see that the Cold War has returned with a different color. The region and the continent of Africa have also experienced conflicts and violence that have claimed many lives.

The war between Russia and Ukraine is not just a war between the two of them, but a war of principle and security between the NATO and Russia, in other words it is an economic and political war between the East and the West.

It is a war that can last a long time. It is a war that has affected the lives of people around the world especially in the areas of food, energy, oil and trade.

But thank God that the competing powers have seen today the geographical and strategic importance of the Republic of Somaliland to the world, which has resulted in the world’s largest economies seeking to engage with Somaliland today, albeit largely ignored.

The policy of my government is to engage with anyone who comes forward knowing that we are a sovereign and independent nation. The Republic of Somaliland is ready to cooperate and engage with all parties based on Respect, Justice and Equality.

Fortunately, in the face of international and regional conflicts, the people of The Republic of Somaliland enjoy stability and security that is protected by our armed forces.

The government acknowledges the Armed Forces bravery and self-sacrifice and as such has increased their salary by 30%. We know it is a small increase compared to the huge obligations they are entrusted with. It is essential and we are obliged to provide a better life for our armed forced. With the help of the Almighty God, we will achieve this.

I say to all members of the Armed Forces, their spouses and children “Whatever the circumstances in which you live today, know that a grateful nation stands behind you  and will not forget your sacrifices.” 

Social Security & Stability

The security and stability of a society is based on the fact that the community is cohesive, cooperative, trusting and united. This can be achieved by keeping the economic classes of our people apart, so that economic differences do not create social divisions, conflict and insecurity.

According to Article 11 the National Constitution mandates that the economic system of the country mustn’t lead to prosperity for few groups or individuals, to avoid economic divisions that divide the rich and the poor.

● Therefore, in line with the above principles and the Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland, we have mandated that projects of more than 42,000,000 SLSH be implemented through a transparent National Procurement System, thus making it easier for the citizens of Somaliland to compete fairly. I hereby declare that any government agency that does not comply with this decision will be subject to appropriate action.

● For the first time in the history of Somaliland, in 2021, the Government has budgeted for all the 101 districts of the country, and the amount disbursed is 106,946,632,435 SLSH.

● The JPLG Local Government Development Project has been extended to Erigavo, Las Anod and Aynaba Districts. Plans are afoot to add more districts.

● The government by taking into account the condition of our people and the rising cost of living in the world has made a 10% tax cut on the country’s food supply.

● Provided food for one month and limited financial assistance to more than 750,000 households in all regions of the country.

● 200,000 women in 16 cities across the country have also received $ 640,000 in financial support.

● Our country is facing a severe drought that has affected nearly 1.5 million Somalilanders. The worst effects of the drought were water shortages. As a result, the Government, in collaboration with our country’s major traders, has delivered 24,600 tankers to the worst affected regions by the drought. 72% of the tankers were provided by the Government and the people of Somaliland in partnership, while 28% were provided by aid agencies.

● With the aim of protecting against recurrent droughts and their effects, the government will drill 30 new dams in the worst affected regions by 2022, and rehabilitate 20 dams.

4. The WAAHEEN Market Fire

Join us again to share the grief and suffering of our people and traders whose livestock and property were burnt down in the WAAHEEN Central Market. It was one of the largest and most active markets in the Horn of Africa.

It has been a major market for our economy and trade, and has served many countries in the region.

It shows the weight of the market in the region and in the world, how the world reacted to the devastation caused by the fire that destroyed our market, albeit with minimal benefit to our world.

45 governments and 10 international organizations have expressed their condolences to the people of Somaliland on the Waaheen Market crisis which has shaken the hearts of millions of people around the world.

No matter how much we suffer from this fire and the loss of our livestock, I am glad to see that today the people of Somaliland have embraced this tragedy with the same heart, and stood side by side with one another.

Nearly 3,673 different businesses were burnt down in Waheen Market, and all the assets and resources under these businesses were lost.

It is an honor to see the resilience of our people despite this tragic fire. They have relocated around the burnt Waheen Market, and continue to trade with new goods and products.

The WAAHEEN Market Fire is not the only example of how resilient and resourceful our people are in times of crisis. It was yesterday when the major cities of our country were razed to the ground and turned into ashes. We have recovered, rebuilt our country and our destroyed cities together, with the help of no one but Allah.

What we have we achieved so far?

● We have appointed a National Committee to guide the recovery of the Waaheen Fire Damage. The committee has set up sub-committees from Waheen Market, business community, religious leaders and the Diaspora and they are doing a fantastic job.

● Four Provisional Markets have been set up: Freedom Park, Hadh-wanaag, Police Line and Inji. It will also soon be extended to seven temporary markets.

● A total of $ 23,000,000 has been raised so far.

● The committee has thus far received donations from the Republic of Djibouti, Taiwan, Somalia and the World Bank.

Table 1:                Revenue and Expenditure so far received

Revenue $23,000,000 Number of recipients

Cost

 $73 – 5,000 They were given 100% of their property

988 people

 <$100 Up to $ 500 per person

 $5,001 – 40,000 Given 25% of their lost property.

1,016 people

 $40,001 -100,000 given 15% of their lost property

 $100,001 – 480,000 given 10% of their lost property

Total People Reimbursed So far: 2,004 traders

Total amount paid so far $8,638,418

● One of the traders who lost their property in the fire came forward to the committee and said, “My burnt property is only worth $ 73, despite the fact that he could’ve easily claimed thousands of dollars. I don’t wish for anything more than that as Allah has given me all I need in life. ” Such is the integrity and humility of our people.

● Hargeisa Municipality, in collaboration with the National WAAHEEN Market Rehabilitation Committee, cleaned up the burnt market and removed 1,879 load of rubbish and scraps.

● The biggest task for us as a Nation is to rebuild the Waheen Market, in line with international norms that ensure the safety of the property and lives of our people. Insha Allah, this market will once again stand for a symbol of unity, brotherhood and national determination.

● I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the victims of the Waheen Market fire, and thank them for their patience and strong faith as well their outstanding cooperation with the Committees tasked to address this fire.

● I would also like to thank all those who have stood with us in these turbulent times and offered their support and assistance. I am especially grateful to our neighbors, the Somali Regional State and their people for providing us with the first aid overnight and to the Federal Government of Ethiopia.

● I would also like to thank the Government and the people of the Republic of Djibouti for standing with us in our time of need. Djibouti has provided more than $ 1.5 million to the Waaheen Market Emergency and Recovery Committee, and continues to raise funds for our people. I also thank the Government of Somalia and its people and the rest of the Somali people in general for their resilience in the face of adversity. Lastly, I thank the World Bank for providing the first relief package.

What have we learned from the WAAHEEN Market crisis?

● We have learned that we can always re-build, no matter what happens to us.

● We have learned to strengthen and support the work of the Fire Brigade which has shown its ability and patriotism.

● We have learned to open roads and corridors through the markets, so that the rescue can reach its target.

● We have learned the importance of commercial houses under construction having a housing safety system. I instruct the local government and the Ministry of Public Works, Lands and Housing to develop guidelines for the safety of public buildings.

5. Elections

Ladies and gentlemen;

Last year, I addressed the House of Representatives with only 83 days to go before the House of Representatives elections of Somaliland.

Former members of the House of Representatives are experienced men who have served the nation for 15 years or more. I said, “Your time at the House has ended, and we hope that you’ll work with us to make this transition go as smoothly as possible” They accepted, and they kept that promise. Today, thank God, we have had a series of elections that have won the admiration of the whole world. Somaliland has also once again had the opportunity to elect members of parliament for the next five years, mostly young men, although I regret that none of the women candidates in the House of Representatives have won.

Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, the new House of Representatives came as a result of the full cooperation and collaboration between the National Institutions, in order to realize the National aspirations of holding the bipartisan-elections of the House of Representatives and the Local Councils. It shows the good results that can come from good cooperation between the National Assemblies. It is a symbol of the beauty of our nation and the belief in the aspirations of our people.

It was an election that cost us a whopping 132.6 Billion SL. Shillings. Most of this cost was paid by our nation, because as a government we believe that elections are a national obligation that our nation must manage.

I thank the people of Somaliland for voting peacefully, for the House of Representatives, and for all those who supported us in holding the elections.

Also, I welcome the newly elected House of Representatives and Local Councils. And I urge you that our commitment is to work and to serve the people and the country together.

Ladies and gentlemen;

Somaliland is proud of its democracy and free and fair elections, and that requires the completion of its basic pillars, first and foremost:

1. That the elections take place on time.

2. The National Parties, which are the means by which citizens achieve their political aspirations, should be law-abiding, non-partisan, and within them a true democracy based on clear principles and policies that define the country’s development agenda.

3. That the party’s finances come from the party’s supporters in every region, and avoid foreign interference. If foreign interference enters into the party, it will be seen as a threat to the sovereignty of our country.

Therefore, it is necessary to complete the remaining elections such as the opening of political parties on time and the election of the President, in accordance with the laws and the Constitution of the country.

As a government, we are committed to fulfilling our responsibilities in this year’s elections on time, and any challenges we face will be addressed in a legal manner and in consultation with the National Institutions.

Politics is like a game of chess. Therefore, I advise political parties and organizations to cleanly put their hands in the dust.

Elections do not require a whirlwind. Your insults do not lead to political victory. Threats are cowardly.

Politics does not require false promises, uncertain political reflections and does not mean political victory.

I hope that those who do not win will be able to dust off their fingers and accept their loss with grace.

6. Foreign Policy

Somaliland’s foreign policy is in principle based on good neighborliness, peace and international cooperation.

At the same time, Somaliland’s foreign policy is based on a clear plan to focus more on African countries, in order to gain recognition for Somaliland and have full socio-economic cooperation with the rest of the world.

The past year has been a tumultuous year for Somaliland’s foreign policy, followed by a concerted effort by the government to present Somaliland’s statehood to many governments around the world, resulting in tangible results.

● The US

A large delegation led by me left for the United States on a 12-day working visit. The trip had two main objectives:

1.  To make the United States truly understand the painful history of Somaliland in the failed unity of the search for the 5 Great Somalia and the brutal actions of Siyad Barre’s regime that sent planes, tanks, artillery and heavy weapons to destroy all the cities of Somaliland.

2.  Explain in detail the genocide perpetrated against this nation and the reasons behind the armed struggle in Somaliland and why the people of Somaliland have unanimously decided to reclaim their independence.

3.  Explain that Somaliland is a democracy that has been overlooked by the international community for 30 years, but Somaliland has dedicated its small resources to the security of its country, to the stability of the Horn of Africa region and the world.

4.  To discuss how to achieve full cooperation between the two countries. It is an initial partnership that we hope will bear fruit soon.

In fact, the US Government and the American people have welcomed us with open arms which shows that the US’s understanding of Somaliland has changed dramatically. We met with 13 members of both houses of the US House of Representatives.

The highlights of this trip as a Nation are:

● The United States should re-evaluate US aid to Somaliland and how it reaches our country.

● Prepared and submitted the Somaliland-US Partnership Act Motion, which requires the US State Department, in collaboration with the Department of Defense, to develop the most appropriate form of cooperation between Somaliland and the United States.

Overall, the trip was a milestone and a great success for our country, Somaliland. I hope you will soon see the implementation of the decisions made during that trip.

● United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is a country with a long history of protectionism, making it the most knowledgeable country on the issue of Somaliland’s independence and it’s past.

Therefore, as a Government, we are determined to intensify our engagement with Somaliland Foreign Policy towards the UK.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the Representative and the Somaliland community in the UK, created the Somaliland Friendship Council, which consists of 25 Members of the UK Parliament. You are all aware of the efforts made by the UK Parliament and the emphasis placed on the UK Government to pay attention to Somaliland, as seen from the recent visit of some of their MPs to Somaliland.

● African Union

We have appealed to most African governments to help bring the Somaliland issue to the attention of the African Union.

● Arab countries

Throughout the Arab world, we, as a government, have made requests for them to take a closer look at the reality of the Republic of Somaliland and the rights it has been denied.

Relations between Somaliland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have grown stronger and they have opened diplomatic missions in the country, facilitating the flow of people and trade between the two countries.

I expect trade between the two countries to reach millions of dollars a year. It is the only government that has made hundreds of millions of dollars in long-term economic investment in the country. The Government of the United Arab Emirates has always been supportive of whatever situation we have gone through, be it the drought, the SAGAR hurricane and the Waaheen market fire today.

● Neighboring Countries

We have strengthened communication and cooperation in the areas of security, trade and human movement in Somaliland and our neighboring countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya. Ministerial-level committees have been set up to work on strengthening security cooperation, border security and promoting cross-border trade between Somaliland and those countries. Djibouti and Ethiopia already have diplomatic missions in our country, but I commend the Government of Kenya for opening a Diplomatic Office in our country recently, in line with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two Governments in Nairobi, Kenya.

7. Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen;

Predicting and preparing for the future, both intellectually and financially is crucial to improving the lives and development of our people.

The hardships we face, such as the burning of the Waheen Central Market, the recurring droughts and the scarcity of resources, do not mean that we have to give up and go through difficult times, but that we have to redouble our efforts and achieve our goals.

The challenges facing our country should be an experience that paves the way for development and unity.

One can fall, but not getting up is absurd. Somalis say, “The state is weak, it is not broken”.

Somaliland Vision 2030 is as follows:

“A democratic, law-abiding, peaceful and prosperous society, with a rich and inclusive society, that serves as a beacon of knowledge and civilization in Africa.”

It is a beautiful vision, but needless to say, it is one that requires deep-seated solidarity, unity and brotherhood. This is because it bears witness to the glorious brotherhood and solidarity with which we come to each other’s aid in the face of adversity.

In the future:

● Foreign Policy

As a Government, we are committed to working with our partners, the African Union, the League of Arab States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States in every way possible to secure the recognition of Somaliland. During our tenure, the Government has succeeded in elevating the prestige of this Nation, and today we have reached a point where our aspirations for statehood and nationhood are taken into account.

We present to the world that Somaliland is a reality that cannot be overlooked and that it is a country that can be trusted with a reliable partnership based on responsibility and respect.

● The economy

The government is implementing a clear policy that encourages public and private finances to unite in manufacturing and marine production, to meet our basic needs and reduce our dependence on imports.

● Social Welfare

1.  The Government’s Civic Protection Policy to prevent natural and man-made disasters such as: (Wars, earthquakes, fires, and etc)

2.  The government has a clear policy to ensure that all government agencies, at the national, regional and district levels effectively implement the Health and Safety Standards. In addition, the Government will establish a Disaster Management Department in all regions and districts of the country.

3.  The government is implementing the deployment of Civil Defense at the District and Village levels. Civil Defense is training people to be safe in their environment and their people to be on the lookout for potential enemies or infiltrators.

Finally;

I wish the people of the Republic of Somaliland Success, Prosperity, Development and lasting peace. And once again, I commend the good people of Somaliland for the maturity and growth they have shown.

Long live the Republic of Somaliland

Unelected House of Legislation, Uneducated Parliamentarians, and a government on the end of its term; could they take us to the road to recognition or achieving a modern government system?

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The challenges and burdens our people faced during the last three generations, including colonialism, bad governance, massacre by a dictatorial regime, neglect, and being scattered all over the world as refugees make one inherit painful memory and a worrisome past empty of any signs of happiness and a dark future without end in sight. I am not yet sure whether my children and their children will experience the kind of government their peers enjoy all over the world. However, Somaliland is today a peaceful oasis very different from the predicaments of the Somalis they united with after gaining independence as British Somaliland and the Italian Somaliland, together becoming the Republic of Somalia. There is plenty of negative history endured by both Somaliland and other Somali regions and we had no choice to be Somalis but can choose to be valued in the world and leave behind a memorable positive legacy.

After the collapse of Somalia’s last central government, those who remained in Mogadishu declared founding a new government and since no opportunity was afforded Somaliland had the right to declare its independence (Somaliland Declaration) 31 years ago today, on May 5, 1991. Whatever the cause is, the government in Mogadishu is still struggling to reach maturity, and though the government in Hargeisa matured it is still not among the recognized nation-states of the world. After 30 years of being part of Somalia, it took Somaliland another 30 years to wait for recognition. Gaining recognition is one of the major goals anticipated to be realized by the people of Somaliland if it is not the first goal dear to their minds. Besides Somaliland’s fruitful efforts on achieving total peace, democracy, and development, there is still great weakness in its strive in finding the best way to achieve international recognition in order to take its rightful position among world nations.

Therefore, did Somaliland fail to get recognition or it is that the right approach was never taken? In this piece, we will examine the answer to that question, while analyzing it from different angles. Some people believe that Somaliland did not try enough to seek recognition, as cited from a Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Amb. Raychelle Omamo) commenting on the president of Somaliland, Musa Bihi Abdi’s recent trip to Kenya, “Somaliland did not ask for any recognition and, at the same time, we did not receive any official request for recognition,” adding that, “they up to now consider Somaliland as part of Somalia.” Before the readers ask, then why did the president travel there, or talk about the budget spent on foreign offices and the recognition fund estimated at about 5 million dollars per year (national budget 2022), or consider the president’s report on the purpose of the trip, let us first ask, does Somaliland even have a viable plan for seeking international recognition?

Does Somaliland have a firm foreign policy?

Since Somaliland declared reclaiming of its independence more than 30 years ago, Somaliland never had a well-defined foreign policy. Every president and his cabinet ministers chosen to lead the country’s foreign affairs always follow their own road which they see fit for gaining recognition. They mainly concentrate on embarking on foreign trips and seeking governments that are close friends of Somaliland who more or less are convinced on Somaliland’s independence. This creates that the high expectations of the public being a heavy burden on the ministers who in turn prepare empty political messages to entertain popular sentiment, each of them pushing a different narrative. Whether one says, “We put Somaliland in the world’s computer”, and another saying “the recognition is almost here” and yet another claims that “We were received on a high-level reception,” or the Muse Bihi administration describes the last trip, “They asked USA ‘what can we mutually achieve together?”, they are all only trying to relief the moment’s pressure but Somaliland still sits on square one!

This is absolutely not the right way. It is better if Somaliland puts in place a viable foreign policy with defined goals and based on reliable pillars eventually becoming the guiding light for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the political parties, and every citizen’s endeavor to seek recognition for Somaliland, while at the same time not affected by change in the ruling party or ministerial portfolio. For instance, the US government’s Department of State, in order to achieve its objectives, stands and functions on defined objectives and principles including protecting the United States and its citizens, promoting

democracy, human rights and other international interests, raising the international standard on understanding American values and policies, helping American diplomatic corps, government officials and all other individuals in the US or overseas (U.S Department of State). Also, every administration and political party has its own policy for foreign affairs but takes reference from the same general principles in which every administration in power and political party is kept accountable when presenting their election platforms. They all draw, in their own perspective, from the national foundation and central pillars that govern the national interests devised by a pool of reliable and unified experts representing different political camps, legislative, representatives, intellectuals, and every citizen who may contribute to the wellbeing of such system.

On the contrary, what is happening in Somaliland today can lead to the tragedy of every administration starting over from scratch coupled with hollow foreign trips undertaken by whichever administration is in power at any given moment and then dressed as a victory, since such is the only plan at hand.

Foreign trips and the task of seeking recognition:

It was in March, last month, when the president of Somaliland, Musa Bihi Abdi, visited the United States for the first time, the most powerful country in the world. The president did not yet visit the United Kingdom, a country Somaliland has a long historical relationship. This comes four and half years when after he took the reign of Somaliland presidency. The presidents before him each visited the United States once which shows that Somaliland’s official foreign recognition-seeking trips ignored targeting the United States. There were only low-level visits that seem to be tailored as testing grounds for potential partnership in which all Somaliland presidents made only four long in between trips to the United States.

Therefore, if Somaliland does not show the will to put considerable diplomatic investment into cultivating a deeper relationship with the United States, does it have other powerful world partners that can fill the potential role of the United States? The answer is definitely no. Instead, the current Somaliland administration seems be thinking that even the support of world powers can be done without by sending undiplomatically threatening messages to China and Russia. Also, no contact has been made with France and, at the same time, the Somaliland representative in France has been recently put out work! Such behavior is a total anathema to cultivating effective diplomacy. Same are the European Union countries that Somaliland gets it most foreign aid and at the same time hosting many of Somaliland citizens. No president has so far visited and there is minimal political and economic contact between Somaliland and these countries. This seems that we are waiting till the world serves us the recognition on a silver plate without any plans and effort put forward.

Also, Somaliland did not yet succeed in convincing and establishing meaningful diplomatic ties with the Arab League in which the Somalis belong, except the United Arab Emirates opening office in Hargeisa, while DP World is engaged in developing the port of Berbera. Furthermore, the world is still at the mercy of the African Union when it comes to recognizing Somaliland and up to now, Somaliland did not receive any welcoming message from the AU headquarters.

A governance system that could attract the world’s positive opinion:

It is really the state of domestic affairs that attracts better world relation and international admiration. Somaliland sells itself to the world by claiming peace and democracy. It is true, as stated above, that it differs on both from Somalia, but that alone cannot paint a better Somaliland to the world when, for instance, elections are not held on time. All the last eight national elections were delayed beyond reasonable time thus leading to politicians remaining on their portfolios by either extension or without any mandate. One wonders about the predicament it represents when the track record of the members of houses of representatives/elders and the local government show the duration of sitting without being elected equals their record of serving with election. Even the current president is suspected to be seeking a term extension without an election! The main ruling government’s own image looks like this, in addition to the members of the house of Elders never being up for election while at the same time very few of them are properly educated, though relative usefulness cannot be denied. What I mean by uneducated parliamentarians is that many of them are either uneducated or undereducated, although the new house of representatives includes well-educated members. Whenever an election is held, it became the norm to start with a clean slate all over again. For example, after the election of 2005 only 13 members of the house of representatives were re-elected, a mere 15.8 %, while after the election of 2021 only one representative was re-elected. This takes out and forever eliminated much-needed expertise and political capital inheritance (Compare with re-elected MPs for the latest elections in Kenya 42%, the UK 76%, and the USA 86%).

Worse than that are the members of the house of elders who have been sitting without election for close to 30 years and when the first generation died out their children inherited the parent’s position! Also, previous members of the house of representatives kept sitting without an election for the 16 years before the last election, and the members of the local council sat for 20 years without any election. They were elected for two five-year terms but exceeded their mandate for 10 more years!

Therefore, why are we selling Somaliland to the world as this democratic country with a modern system of governance? Elections are one of the main pillars of democracy but there are other standards for evaluating democracy including transparency of the government institutions, good governance, upholding human rights, and the fundamental rights and freedoms of media in which Somaliland has no good record that could attract world opinion.

Worse are the latest serious counterproductive actions including kidnappings and arbitrary detentions in private houses operating outside legal police stations and jails! These actions undue the peaceful coexistence which has been the second pillar attracting praises for Somaliland. These actions accused with the very son of president Musa Bihi are both horrendous and detrimental to the good image of Somaliland. Besides all above mentioned and many more that are beyond this article, before Somaliland is recognized there are domestic obstacles to be solved, including finding a durable solution to the political grievances from some regions, equitable sharing of resources (both political and economic), and listening to the voices many districts that feel neglected and those whose voices were never heard, and also the existing reality of some Somaliland citizens who are against the independence and recognition of Somaliland. Furthermore, there are outside obstacles including that Somalia and Somaliland have yet to reach a mutual legal separation, the African Union being still not convinced on the independence of Somaliland, lack of interest from the five major world countries with veto power, and the convention on maintaining existing borders (Jacquin 1999, AU Act) as they are which could affect Somaliland negatively. We need recognition from others but it is the people of Somaliland’s pejorative to safeguard their development and future existence.

There is an old Somali wisdom that says, “A bad shoemaker blames only his hammer.” This reflects on the above-mentioned mistakes and many more we have made are often blamed on the lack of international recognition. This is nothing but tactical avoidance of responsibility. An article published on the Africannews (September 2021) stated that, “Somaliland’s leadership blame their lack of progress and unemployment on the lack of international recognition and Somalia. This far from reality.” Somaliland can achieve more without international recognition. We can improve our economy, and raise the quality of the health system and education; we can develop our agriculture, industry, technology, welfare for our citizens, human rights, and many more.

Economic oriented diplomacy:

Politics and economy are two dependent variables. It is even emphasized that one cannot exist without the other. Economy carries much weight in diplomacy by making the state resources available for promoting national interests each country pursues from the world which in turn can be grounds for mutual political understanding and thus increasing trade between diplomatically connected nations. It also increases foreign investment, creates deeper cooperation between willing partners, and multifaceted beneficial trade agreements. Therefore, effective policy coupled with strong diplomatic activities can be the bases for national growth, both politically and economically.

Negotiations between Somaliland and Somalia and the regional integration:

As I have previously written (July 29, 2019, Wadahadallada Somaliland iyo Soomaaliya), I believe that these negotiations are very important for Somaliland, Somalia, and the whole regional population of the Horn of Africa who mostly share ethnicity, culture, and religion. It is possible to create some kind of fruitful negotiating system by focusing on the point of mutual understanding which can easily lead to studying the main root of the conflict.

When it comes to Somalia and Somaliland, their disagreement is rooted in two points: one is Somaliland’s grievance stemming from the heinous genocide inflicted in which Somalia did not yet address properly, except nominal recent apology which got politicized, and seems that the message was not heard by the majority of Somaliland population. The other point is legal and the absoluteness of the two constitutions which allow no room for negotiations. The most difficult aspect is Somalia’s attitude dominated by lack of acknowledgment and outright dismissal of Somaliland’s claim while at the same expressing national unity as a principle by which Somaliland must abide. On the other side, Somaliland’s problematic behavior of not facing the reality on the ground and acting as though they have nothing to do with Somalia and in denial of the fact that negotiating with Somalia is inevitable. Somaliland tries to seek recognition from far countries but avoids seeking it first from next-door Somalia. Dismissal and denial are the root of the problem and righting such attitudes should usher the solution. It happened before, the former president of Somalia, Mohamed Siyad Barre, when was about to open reconciliation negotiations with the former president of Ethiopia, Mengistu Haile Mariam, (1988) it was reported that officials including the minister of foreign affairs advised him, “Instead Mengistu Haile Mariam, we should reconcile with the SNM.” He refused and the rest is history.

The integration of the Horn of Africa region is also as important as reconciliation talks and negotiations. Mutual understanding, exchanging goods and services, and technical and scientific expertise can lead the region to develop and prosper. Furthermore, integration and cooperation between the peoples of the countries of the region can avail the possibility of the Somalis leading the way and becoming the anchor for the region’s leadership. Such integration and cooperation can lead to Somaliland’s internal development and gaining much-needed friendship with the countries of the region. Also, this can afford the other Somalia opportunity for deeper cooperation and political alliance or mutual understanding and agreement on the future relationship between the two sides.

Conclusion:

Somaliland attracts world admiration with the culture of peace, the democratic system, and the elections that determine who rules the country. The more these two attributes are improved and maintained the more the world’s admiration for this country and its resources increases. On contrary, the current administration does not respect the rule of law, freedom of speech is lost, power between government departments remains unbalanced, media personnel are jailed, and the current president denies the legibility of political parties and interferes with the work of the Election Commission while promising the public a never arriving ship carrying the recognition and planning to stay on the presidency without an election. When these images become the real face of the state, it is highly possible that Somaliland could forever lose the interest of the world, let alone become recognized as an independent nation-state.

I would like to remind those who are interested in politics that the former Somalia state which once was the most powerful nation in the Horn of Africa got destroyed by the exaggerated admiration for the revolution and neglect and dismissal of its people’s demands. The dream of greater Somalia which was once a pan-Somali aspiration was lost due to over-enthusiasm for self-determination met by complete dismissal by the other side.

History will judge between the good and bad deeds of today’s politicians. I pray to Allah to be on the positive side of history and that my country and people reach their potential goodness and prosperity. This is an opinion article and I only represent myself and those in agreement with me.

Hersi Ali H. Hasan, the Chairman of the Waddani Party.

May 05, 2022

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hersi Ali H. Hasan, the Chairman of the Waddani Party.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, or viewpoints of Somaliland Chronicle, and its staff. 

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From seawater to drinking water, with the push of a button

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Researchers build a portable desalination unit that generates clear, clean drinking water without the need for filters or high-pressure pumps.

Adam Zewe, Writer, MIT News Office

MIT researchers have developed a portable desalination unit, weighing less than 10 kilograms, that can remove particles and salts to generate drinking water.

The suitcase-sized device, which requires less power to operate than a cell phone charger, can also be driven by a small, portable solar panel, which can be purchased online for around $50. It automatically generates drinking water that exceeds World Health Organization quality standards. The technology is packaged into a user-friendly device that runs with the push of one button.

Unlike other portable desalination units that require water to pass through filters, this device utilizes electrical power to remove particles from drinking water. Eliminating the need for replacement filters greatly reduces the long-term maintenance requirements.

This could enable the unit to be deployed in remote and severely resource-limited areas, such as communities on small islands or aboard seafaring cargo ships. It could also be used to aid refugees fleeing natural disasters or by soldiers carrying out long-term military operations.

“This is really the culmination of a 10-year journey that I and my group have been on. We worked for years on the physics behind individual desalination processes, but pushing all those advances into a box, building a system, and demonstrating it in the ocean, that was a really meaningful and rewarding experience for me,” says senior author Jongyoon Han, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of biological engineering, and a member of the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE).

Joining Han on the paper are first author Junghyo Yoon, a research scientist in RLE; Hyukjin J. Kwon, a former postdoc; SungKu Kang, a postdoc at Northeastern University; and Eric Brack of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM). The research has been published online in Environmental Science and Technology.

Filter-free technology

Commercially available portable desalination units typically require high-pressure pumps to push water through filters, which are very difficult to miniaturize without compromising the energy-efficiency of the device, explains Yoon.

Instead, their unit relies on a technique called ion concentration polarization (ICP), which was pioneered by Han’s group more than 10 years ago. Rather than filtering water, the ICP process applies an electrical field to membranes placed above and below a channel of water. The membranes repel positively or negatively charged particles — including salt molecules, bacteria, and viruses — as they flow past. The charged particles are funneled into a second stream of water that is eventually discharged.

The process removes both dissolved and suspended solids, allowing clean water to pass through the channel. Since it only requires a low-pressure pump, ICP uses less energy than other techniques.

But ICP does not always remove all the salts floating in the middle of the channel. So the researchers incorporated a second process, known as electrodialysis, to remove remaining salt ions.

Yoon and Kang used machine learning to find the ideal combination of ICP and electrodialysis modules. The optimal setup includes a two-stage ICP process, with water flowing through six modules in the first stage then through three in the second stage, followed by a single electrodialysis process. This minimized energy usage while ensuring the process remains self-cleaning.

“While it is true that some charged particles could be captured on the ion exchange membrane, if they get trapped, we just reverse the polarity of the electric field and the charged particles can be easily removed,” Yoon explains.

They shrunk and stacked the ICP and electrodialysis modules to improve their energy efficiency and enable them to fit inside a portable device. The researchers designed the device for nonexperts, with just one button to launch the automatic desalination and purification process. Once the salinity level and the number of particles decrease to specific thresholds, the device notifies the user that the water is drinkable.

The researchers also created a smartphone app that can control the unit wirelessly and report real-time data on power consumption and water salinity.

Beach tests

After running lab experiments using water with different salinity and turbidity (cloudiness) levels, they field-tested the device at Boston’s Carson Beach.

Yoon and Kwon set the box near the shore and tossed the feed tube into the water. In about half an hour, the device had filled a plastic drinking cup with clear, drinkable water.

“It was successful even in its first run, which was quite exciting and surprising. But I think the main reason we were successful is the accumulation of all these little advances that we made along the way,” Han says.

The resulting water exceeded World Health Organization quality guidelines, and the unit reduced the amount of suspended solids by at least a factor of 10. Their prototype generates drinking water at a rate of 0.3 liters per hour, and requires only 20 watts of power per liter.

“Right now, we are pushing our research to scale up that production rate,” Yoon says.

One of the biggest challenges of designing the portable system was engineering an intuitive device that could be used by anyone, Han says.

Yoon hopes to make the device more user-friendly and improve its energy efficiency and production rate through a startup he plans to launch to commercialize the technology.

In the lab, Han wants to apply the lessons he’s learned over the past decade to water-quality issues that go beyond desalination, such as rapidly detecting contaminants in drinking water.

“This is definitely an exciting project, and I am proud of the progress we have made so far, but there is still a lot of work to do,” he says.

For example, while “development of portable systems using electro-membrane processes is an original and exciting direction in off-grid, small-scale desalination,” the effects of fouling, especially if the water has high turbidity, could significantly increase maintenance requirements and energy costs, notes Nidal Hilal, professor of engineering and director of the New York University Abu Dhabi Water research center, who was not involved with this research.

“Another limitation is the use of expensive materials,” he adds. “It would be interesting to see similar systems with low-cost materials in place.”

The research was funded, in part, by the DEVCOM Soldier Center, the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS), the Experimental AI Postdoc Fellowship Program of Northeastern University, and the Roux AI Institute.

This article is published in collaboration with MIT News.

Somaliland Government Charges Three Journalists with Subversion and Anti-Somaliland Propaganda

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After 21 days in detention, the government of Somaliland has charged three reporters arrested on April 13th following the prison revolt at Hargeisa central jail with the dissemination of false news, anti-Somaliland propaganda, and operating a business without a license. The criminal complaint is based on Somaliland’s criminal code sections 215, 328, and 518 and could carry up to a five-year prison term if convicted.

Article 215 of Somaliland’s Penal Code

Article 328 of Somaliland’s Penal Code

Article 518 of Somaliland’s Penal Code

The reporters charged today, Mr. Mohamed Abdi Mohamed (Ilig) from MM Television, Mr. Abdijabar Mohamed Hussein from Horn Cable, and Mr. Abdirahman Ali Khalif of Bulsho TV were among 15 journalists arrested on April 13th following the prison revolt. twelve were released without charge on April 19th.

According to sources who were briefed on the matter, Mr. Mohamed Abdi Mohamed (Ilig) is the sole defendant charged on article 518 for allegedly operating MM Television without a license. The Deputy Prosecutor General Mr. Farhan Mire Osman who has signed the criminal complaint has requested a hearing date from Marodijeh Regional Court.

Although Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia after 1991, more than 31 years later, its penal code is based on the draconian criminal code enacted in Somalia in 1962.