Somaliland’s Quest for Recognition Unrealistic

Opinion By Mohamed Bakayr

Somaliland’s dream for recognition and its quest for sovereignty are evaporating. The creation of Khaatumo State and Awdal States is a big blow to Somaliland’s aspiration. Somaliland’s ambition is to unilaterally secede from the rest of Somalia, regardless of the willingness of the Somali people. But now, the claim that Somaliland’s borders span from this territory to that area is null and void, simply because two autonomous clan based states have also emerged from the same land termed as “Somaliland”. And now than ever before, Somaliland has been reduced to a clan territory, a territory with one choice only: to rejoin Somalia and revive the glory that the country once had.

Otherwise, Somaliland will need to restructure itself after the creation of Khaatumo and Awdal States if it is still to hold onto its secessionist desire.


For a brief introduction, the name “Somaliland” dates back to Europe’s colonial era when Britain and Italy conquered and colonized Somalis territories. Britain colonized northern Somalia, whereas Italy colonized southern part of the country. Consequently, the northern part of the country was named British Somaliland, while the southern part was known as Italian Somaliland.

And when Somalia disintegrated in 1991 and its people turned their weapons against each other, ditching the nation state, Somali National Movement (SNM) seized a golden opportunity which had loomed for it on the horizon. The movement unilaterally declared north western Somalia as an independent state free from Somalia. But the movement’s leadership embarked on a disastrous road aimed at dividing Somalia  In fact, Somaliland was born out of heightened feelings premised on profound grievances and immoral acts meted out to the population of Isaq clan by the military regime of President Mohamed Siad Barre.

The regime comprised of all Somali clans, including the Isaq clan, but what the regime did to the Isaq clan and to other Somali clans cannot be justified by any means. It was a military regime, after all. However, these atrocities should not precipitate the dismantlement and destruction of Somalia, a country on the verge of vanishing if not salvaged quickly.

SNM was one of numerous Somali armed opposition movements that had teamed up and eventually brought down the Barre regime. But unfortunately, the armed movements did not only dislodge Siad Barre’s regime, they dismantled Somalia’s central government and fragmented the country into mini-states. Thus, the armed movements were anything but visionaries; they had taken the country apart and ditched it in a deep well, making its citizens clad in hunger and humiliation.

Somalia, a tiny country with a population of less than 13 million, cannot afford to split up into several sovereign mini-states. And it is apparent now that the Khaatumo and Awdal communities are conspiring to end tyranny and division against Somalia.

The newly established Khaatumo state is for Dhulbahante clan, whereas the Awdal state is for Gadabuursi clan. These are two Somali sub-clans whose territories are part of what was known as British Somaliland during the colonial era, and the two clans are proponents of Somalia’s unity. In fact, the Dhulbahante clan has always been too vocal with its ideals and despises the notion of dividing Somalia and separating the northwestern Somalia (Somaliland) from the rest of the country. Also, and as far as Somalia’s independence is concerned, the clan constituted the vast majority of the dervishes (Sayid Mohamed Abdille Hassan’s fighters), who valiantly fought Great Britain over British Somaliland and eventually forced that colonial power to flee and leave the country. Hence, the logic of the Dhulbahante clan seems to say “We cannot accept the division of the country whose very liberation we spearheaded and fought for and sacrificed our dear ones.”

Now it is likely that the Awdal and Khaatumo states will take their messages to the upcoming Somali conference in London initiated and organized by Britain. And this means, among other things, that Somaliland is not a representative state of Somali clans that reside in the former British Somaliand. Therefore, Somaliland’s argument and its quest for recognition as an independent state bordering Somalia will not be justifiable at all, since the two above mentioned clans do not subscribe to the secessionist ideology espoused by President Siilaanyo and his ilk.

Can Somaliland impose its desire and ideology on other Somali clans in the area by using the barrel of the gun? The answer is blatantly in the negative. However, Somaliland’s President Mr. Silaanyo is hang up on the divisive ideology and is willing to spill the blood of innocent Somalis in order to push for his secessionist ambitions. But while Somaliland’s leaders are adamant about achieving their goals, other Somalis, especially the Khaatumo and the Awdal states, are ready to sacrifice their souls and every other dear thing so as to keep Somalia together and not give in to the secessionist principles.

These two opposing ideologies and goals are destined to entail annihilating wars. And the wars, if they continue and worsen, will definitely take an unprecedented toll on the Somali people living in the former British Somaliland. Actually, there are fierce wars which are already blazing and taking place between the Khaatumo and Somaliland peoples.

But it is more logical to believe that no human beings have the right and are entitled to impose their ideals on other human beings. And it is the nature of the Somali people and their psyche that do not know defeat or surrender. Somalia must not be divided. It must be kept together forever. This is a country which can accommodate and provide for all its citizens. All Somali clans-Darod, Hawiye, Dir, Digil & Mirifle and other Somali clans-can have their dignity and wellbeing in a strong and unified Somalia, not in a weak and divided Somalia. Therefore, the burden of keeping Somalia together is on all Somalis, not on one clan or a sub-clan.

Mohamed Bakayr

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