Exploring New Avenues for Co-Operation in Somalia-Somaliland Talks

ANALYSIS

ALL AFRIKA

Over the past two years, the international community has embarked on multiple efforts to bring together representatives from the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and the Somaliland regional administration for talks on the future of their political relationship and potential avenues for co-operation.

But the two sides have expressed contrary objectives to the outcome of negotiations.

Representatives from Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s side have pursued talks with the intention of re-uniting Somaliland with the rest of the country, while delegations sent by Somaliland’s President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo have viewed dialogue as an opportunity to achieve the administration’s goal of recognition as an independent country.

Turkey — which has played a large role in development efforts throughout Somalia — is currently taking a lead role in facilitating the talks after previous efforts by the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates.

The implementation of communiqu├ęs in the past has been difficult in part due to the continued acrimonious relationship between the two parties, the high stakes of the security and political issues that have been discussed, and the lack of effective mechanisms for co-operation to take place on the ground.

Moving forward, it will be very challenging to facilitate a workable partnership on difficult issues such as air traffic control management, security and politics without successful collaboration on less divisive issues.

As a result, it is worthwhile for the international facilitators to explore the possibility of implementing trust-building measures through non-political means such as the arts and sports in order to offer practical opportunities to improve collaboration.

Successful implementation of these efforts can improve the relationship between the two administrations and among citizens, as well as potentially make co-operation on more difficult issues possible in the future.

Co-operation through the arts

In order to capitalise on the resurgence of Somali arts, Turkey can help the FGS and Somaliland delegations jointly organise an arts festival that brings together artists from multiple regions to promote values important to all Somalis