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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 80

Somali cause warns against adding more fuel to a raging fire

By Abdulkadir Abdirahman

Washington, DC, 18 January, ( As Africa's worst humanitarian crisis, the last that Somalia needs is another layer of political complexity; another reason to perpetuate violence and further fragment this failed state. In the spirit of averting a worst case scenario, the Somali Cause expresses its unequivocal disinclination to support the secessionist aspirations of "Somaliland".

This week marks the start of the first visit to the United States by Mr. Dahir Riyale Kahin, "President" of Somaliland, the self-declared breakaway region of Somalia. Compared to the rest of Somalia, Somaliland, in the North West, has enjoyed relative stability yet the potential for conflict is real and always just under the surface as was demonstrated recently when heavy fighting over disputed territory broke out between Somaliland and its neighboring region Puntland, in the North East of Somalia (BBC, 01/13/2008) . In this volatile and dangerous environment, Somaliland seeks recognition as an independent state over contested territory and with no legal foundation. Understandably, no country or international organization has offered such recognition to date.

The African Union (AU) has wisely rejected calls to recognize Somaliland as an independent state understanding that it was likely to set a dangerous precedent that could descend Africa into secession-based conflicts. The official United States policy on Somaliland rightly defers the matter to the AU stating that "the African Union is the most appropriate forum to address the question of recognition of Somaliland as an independent state" (US Department of State fact sheet, 12/05/2007) Furthermore, in both most recent United Nations' resolutions on Somalia, 1725 (2006) and 1744 (2007), the Security Council reaffirms "its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia."

Official or otherwise, the visit by Mr. Kahin is a marked departure from the stated and official policy of the United States on Somalia. Furthermore, it lends much credence to the recently published desire by Defense Department officials to recognize Somaliland as an independent state (Washington Post, 12/03/2007). This at a time when there is almost unanimous agreement that the US supported Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) has been an utter failure. When there is also agreement that the Ethiopian invasion and the occupation that followed it, both tacitly approved by the United States, have led to a humanitarian catastrophe dubbed "the worst on the continent" by Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the top United Nations official for Somalia (New York Times, 11/19/2007).

In so far as it is designed to groom world opinion on Somaliland, in general, and that of the African Union in particular, Somali Cause is extremely disturbed by Mr. Kahin's visit to the United States. On the heels, it seems, of recent failed policies such as the CIA support for warlords (New York Times, 06/08/2006) and the tacit approval of Ethiopia's invasion (New York Times, 12/27/2006), any efforts to further disintegrate Somalia into mini-states are no more likely to succeed than supporting the ineffectual TFG or the brutal Ethiopian occupation. In fact, they are likely to add more fuel to the fires of the raging conflict in Somalia and the instability of the region as a whole.

Most Somalis recognize that self-serving politicians are behind the calls to secession of the North West region from the rest of Somalia. They also know that the patriotic people of the North West wish to remain in a united Somalia. The legitimate grievances of Somalis in that region against the previous regime should be addressed within the Somali Union.

Call To Action

* Somali Cause expresses its strong wish that the United States continues to uphold and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia.

* Somali Cause urges the Defense Department to adhere to the letter and spirit of the official policy of the United States on Somaliland, the official and stated policy of the Security Council on Somalia and follows the example of the African Union in rejecting any efforts to further destabilize Somalia.

* Somali Cause also appeals to the patriotic people of Northern Somalia to maintain their historic achievements of uniting the nation after colonialism and to reject the weakness and indignity of a fractured Somalia.

Abdulkadir Abdirahman is the Chairman of "Somali Cause."

- Asian Tribune -

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