Somalia: Negotiating Peace in Somalia – Somaliland’s Perspective



Although the formation of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s is an encouraging first step towards nationwide peace, it should not be assumed that Somalilanders will want to quickly unify.

In his 2009 book, Somaliland: An African struggle for nationhood and international recognition, Iqbal Jhazbhay’s asserts that “Somalia no longer exists“. This claim remains valid to a certain extent. Security – a crucial ingredient for further progress – is challenged daily.

Persistent al-Shabaab bomb attacks in and around Mogadishu serve as a shocking reminder of the precarious nature of the situation. Since September 2012, the president, the Supreme Court and foreign delegations have all been targets for suicide bombers. Al-Shabaab still controls much of the country. At present, the government’s authority hardly runs further than the bounds of Mogadishu – if that far.

The establishment of a new government in Somalia, led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has given rise to greater optimism about the country’s prospects than at any other time in the past two decades.

New businesses are springing up daily in Mogadishu, and elsewhere. Many members of the diaspora are returning, or seriously considering the possibility. The results of efforts to begin re-establishing a functioning state, though mixed, have been praised by foreign governments.

Any progress in improving the lot of an embattled populace is self-evidently welcome – and encouraging – but needs to be assessed cautiously. If any involved party, indigenous or foreign, believes in the possibility of a “quick fix”, it would be wishful thinking of the most counter-productive variety.

The dangers of oversimplification

For the foreseeable future, the state will be wholly dependent on military support and intervention provided by external parties – for some of whom the paramount concern is their own national security interests. While this should not preclude ambition – and many hope that Somalia can assume responsibility for maintaining internal peace sooner than is commonly envisaged – it is also a reminder of prevailing realities.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and foreign governments continue to prioritise reconstitution of the Somali state. As far as neighbouring Somaliland is concerned, at least one of the sponsors of ongoing talks with Somalia – Turkey – has been reported as expressing hope thatunification might occur. Unionists – both Somali and foreign – need to tread carefully.