Entanglement in The Somali Peninsula
Now that President Muse Bixi not only rebuffed but also humiliated President Farmajo on his premature decision to visit Hargaisa alongside Prime Minister Abiy, let us hope that he will realize how deep the mistrust between the sides is. President Bixi’s disinvite of President Farmajo comes on the same day Secretary Pompio arrives in Addis. The timing is quiet interesting.
The issue of Somaliland vs. Somali Federal Republic is a serious political issue. PM Abiy approached in a nonchalant way, and it ain’t deliver. It is about one side claiming a unilateral secession (Somaliland) and the other sie (Somali Federal Republic) rejecting that proposition. There is no morale issue involved here. Nor is there any love lost between the two sides. The ossue is about realbpolitic and each leader is playing the aggotative tune to his constituents.
To understand how complex the entanglement is, here is an excerpt from a reaserch paper I published in 2007 (Horn of Africa Journal):
The debate about secession was well articulated by 20th Century leftist revolutionaries. In Lenin’s “Critical Remarks on National Question,” a highly influential book in the left circles until recently, one is struck by the intensity of the debate between Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg. The two communists, among others, passionately debated the issue of when a nationality is justified to secede from its host country. The most critical cases were those of Finland, Poland, and Armenia. After long spirited debates, both Lenin and Luxemburg, as well as their acolytes, came to one conclusion: that both Poland and Finland would be better off to leave the Russian Empire, while Armenia stays with the rest of the empire under a reorganized Soviet system.
In addition to the geopolitics of the day, factors that helped justify, for example, the secession cases of Poland and Finland from the Russian Empire are cultural, linguistic and geographical dissimilarities with the administering power.
Then, there is the Wilsonian (Liberal) school of thought that, at the turn of the 20th Century, interjected more vigor and energy into the debate of secession and self-determination. American isolationist policy at the time notwithstanding, Woodrow Wilson8 quickly seized the concept of self- determination to make American foreign policy more relevant to international politics. In doing so, he drafted his 14 points position paper on international politics and self-determination in which he attempted to provide a framework for freedom to indigenous groups from colonial and feudal rules, while arguing for protecting sovereignty. In Article XIII of his 14 points, Wilson called for this: “An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.” Wilson’s second concept of self-determination is one that sought the protection and safeguarding of the territorial integrity of nation states, thereby suggesting that all nations have the right to self-determination, hence equating territorial integrity to the rights of nations to exist in a secure and natural boundary respected by all. In Article XIV, Wilson put it this way: “A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.” This latter article of Wilson’s concept of “self-determination” is now enshrined in the United Nation’s Charter, and it protects the territorial integrity and nation states.
In short, the concept of secession as a tool to gain self-determination, both in the left as well as in the Wilsonian view, is rarely applied, for it sets higher threshold prior to implementation. Most insurgent movements or breakaway regions rarely succeed in satisfying all the intellectual, legal and international requirements that regulate this concept in its strict sense. The International community at large and the United Nations in particular would like to deal with conflicts, political as well as cultural between communities in a given country, through other means of conflict resolution short of sanctioning secession. However, the United Nation’s concept of self-determination is often invoked to uphold the territorial integrity of member states which are protected by existing international instruments. Still, some secession or breakaway regions have succeeded to reach their political goal. Both Eritrea and South Sudan, both in the IGAD region, have seceded from their mother country thanks to bog nations benefactor. Somaliland has yet to reach its goal mainly because a powerful nation.has not sponsored its cause in the international arena for a badly needed diplomatic support.
In the end, Somalis need to sit down and have an honest discussion with different scenarios as the outcome including but not limited to the following:
1. Breaking up the old republic into two states.
3. Consocietional (clan-based) federation
4. Regional federation
5. The current federation stipulated in the SFG draft constorurion.