Somaliland: Letter to Members of US Congress

Letter to Members of US Congress
Honorable Senator
I am a resident and registered voter in your state. I had voted for you for the last election cycles. I am writing this letter to keep you apprised with the situation in the Horn of Africa, especially Somaliland. I am also reaching out to you to ask for congressional action on behalf of the Somaliland people.

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I am a Somalilander and a staunch advocate for the diplomatic recognition of Somailand. But the problem for Somaliland, which has lots of  valid  reasons for being considered a sovereign state, have to do with the paranoia about accepting new states with shifting borders inherited from colonial powers in Africa. However, the African Union’s argument to deny Somaliland sovereignty is not valid, because Somaliland was an independent state in 1960 before Somalia. It had also defined colonial borders that were established at the time of independence.

In 1991, following the collapse of the authoritarian Somali government, Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia. The 4 million Somaliland people, not by sheer luck but through painstaking reconciliation and hard work, embarked a nation building process

Today, Somaliland has all of the attributes of a nation: a functioning legitimate political order, that has the consent of the people, a court system that enforces the rule of law, boasts a security force that has denied a sanctuary for terrorists, and a political process to guide for the peaceful transfer of power. Last November, it just had a free and credible presidential election, according to international observers.

In May 2001, the will of the people was supported in a referendum for Somaliland independence by more than 90 percent of the population.

However, Somaliland is facing many challenges: dilapidated infrastructure, rudimentary healthcare system, corruption and recurring droughts due to climate change, which decimated its livestock. The country‘s economy depends on the export of mutton and sheep to the Middle East.

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Somaliland government is vowed to attract foreign investment to address youth unemployment. So far, the Dubai based DP World deal to invest $442 million to expand the deep sea port of Berbera is the largest single foreign investment Somaliland has received. The new project will help the landlocked Ethiopia, the region’s largest economy, to get alternate access to shipping lanes.

Somaliland’s order is a stark contrast with Somalia, where the United States and others have expended billions to stabilize the country, but still it is in ruins and has even failed to exercise the minimal functions of a sovereign nation.

The current US policy toward Somalia backs un-elected, fictional Somali government that controls only small pockets of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, and is protected by a contingent of African Union troops. It enjoys no legitimacy among the ordinary Somali population. In fact, Somalia is a country where after 10 years of costly military intervention, billions of foreign aid, U.S. counter- terrorism, and some 22,000 African Union soldiers have done little to stabilize the country.

Next May, the 4 million Somalilanders are celebrating 27th anniversary after declaring independence; however, Somaliland struggles for recognition. Somaliland people cannot tolerate more years of uncertainty about what country they live in and what the future holds for them.

What is the United States is gaining from the non-recognition status of a democratic Muslim country —Somaliland in a volatile Horn of Africa region?

If US is not willing to recognize Somaliland, for political reasons, why is not the United States at the very least paying  substantial attention to the needs of Somalilanders and lend them a helping hand in the areas of counter-terrorism efforts and maritime security?

I understand the question of diplomatic recognition belongs to the State Department. I believe It’s time for the U.S. Congress to reassess U.S. policy on Somalia and not only hold hearings on the deepening U.S. military involvement in Somalia, but also examining a free and democratic Somaliland as a partner worth recognizing diplomatically.

Thank you for giving your attention to my inquiry. If you need more information or have questions about my petition, please feel free to have your staff contact me.

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