Somaliland is there a ghost state? Since the civil war of 1991, this country of four million people separated from Somalia, said its total independence and managed to protect the Shabaab Islamists. But despite his success, he is not recognized by any other state. Why the stigma? French journalist Robert Wiren published by Karthala Somaliland quarantined country. He is the guest of RFI.
RFI: Your colleague Gérard Prunier called Somaliland “the country that does not exist.”, You prefer to call it “the country in quarantine.” What for?
Robert Wiren: It does not exist in the eyes of some international diplomats are apparently blinded, but it actually exists. And when I say it is “quarantined”, that is to say, it is away from the international community, it is not recognized, it does not have access to a number aid international banks. But despite this weakness, it was able by itself to resolve its internal problems and to build a relatively peaceful state.
Somaliland is some four million inhabitants on a territory of Eritrea, some 135,000 square kilometers. And thanks to the breeding and its port of Berbera on the Gulf of Aden is an economy that works without international help?
Yes I do. The export of live cattle to the Arabian Peninsula is the main market. Now, the other aspect is that it has an active diaspora in Dubai for example, in the United Kingdom.
Then the port of Berbera captures 20% of foreign trade of Ethiopia?
Yes, Ethiopians obviously have an interest in other ports as Djibouti has acquired a kind of monopoly in the wake of the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. So the port of Berbera is a deepwater port that interests the Bolloré Group, which negotiations for some time with the Somaliland authorities, the problem is probably the non-recognition of that country which poses problems for insurance boats, which pay more when they dock in Berbera if they went to Djibouti.
In 1960 after the departure of the British colonialists, Somaliland has been independent for five days before joining the former Italian Somalia in Somali Republic. And that means today Somaliland is back its independence. But the African Union opposes. What for?
Africans in general do not like what they call secession because it is true that many African countries are fragile, multiethnic. In the case of Somaliland, in fact the word secession is not just because you could say that there was a union between two independent entities. The union did not work and they take their marbles.
In Africa, Somaliland has many opponents to their independence project, starting with their Somali brethren in Mogadishu course who want to rebuild Somalia Siad Barre time, but also Egypt. What for?
Egypt has always feared that Ethiopia becomes too strong and may eventually block the Nile.And Egypt has always sought to create a power to weight against Ethiopia. So Egypt continues to try to promote a new unified Somali Republic. All this is a bit of geopolitics shortsighted apparently.
What is less known is that in addition to Ethiopia, Somaliland has few friends on the African continent as the Malian Konaré. In 2005 when he chaired the Commission of the African Union, he asked the Rwandan diplomats Patrick Mazimpaka conduct a mission in Hargeisa. A mission that has a favorable self report of Somaliland?
Yes indeed. The mission recognized that there was a problem that was unique to recognize Somaliland and was not equivalent to open doors for secession in Africa.
It does not open a Pandora’s box, says Patrick Mazimpaka?
That’s it. Note that in the Horn of Africa, that is to say in the same region, there were two secessions Eritrea and South Sudan, so we see that the argument is a bit biased . Regarding favorable people within the African Union, you Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa. So they favor without going through not to create divisions within the African Union.
There are eighteen months, for the first time in twenty years, a Somali government in Mogadishu has been recognized by the United States, is that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud. If one day the Shabaab are defeated in southern Somalia, is that both Somaliland could not reunite?
Yes, we could imagine. There is a debate that could have taken place and which had been initiated by some scholars of Somalia, the building block process [process of gradual building] was let regions begin to administer independently develop; gradually, they can come together and create such a federation. But here, we do the opposite, as in Mogadishu you have people who are for centralization, in fact there is no risk of having a unit on these bases.
Interview by Christophe Boisbouvier
This interview was originally written in French, we translated to English from Google’s translator and read original article here