Hargiesa (Somaliland Mirror)- During the past 3 years Somaliland’s foreign policy has been noticeably slow in its progress. Aside from a visit by president Bihi to Guinea Conakry which led to the Federal government of Somalia cutting relations with Guinea Conakry, no major breakthrough was materialised in Somaliland’s foreign diplomacy.
What’s more, Somaliland’s diplomacy is unable to get the maximum advantage in it’s economic and trade relationship with the UAE through DP World, thus illustrating it is unable to build on that relationship for greater political gain.
It is common knowledge that Somaliland’s main foreign policy objective is the attainment of international recognition. However, in the latest talks in Djibouti with the federal government of Somalia many commentators noticed that Somaliland has not prioritised on it’s main objective, but rather were quick in settling for financial assistance and humanitarian aid route. In fact, Somaliland offered little resistance in the Federal government of Somalia implementing all the previous agreements between them which includes the management of it’s Air Traffic Control.
Nonetheless, we have witnessed in the last 48 hours that Somaliland government has established a bilateral relations with Taiwan. This move is likely to anger China, a superpower country that invests heavily in Africa and that places the continent in a priority position when it comes to its foreign policy. Somaliland is located in one of the most strategically contested parts of the world, and many commentators believe that the US could be encouraging the Somaliland Taiwan move.
Nevertheless, other African countries that made diplomatic ties with Taiwan in the past ended up surrendering to China’s pressure and backed off. The region in which Somaliland is located in serves as a political and cultural bridge between Africa and the Middle East as it borders the Red Sea, a gateway to the Suez Canal. As such, Somaliland diplomacy has great leverage over any country that is interested in the region, therefore Somaliland has the potential to achieve maximum foreign diplomacy.
Frustratingly, Somaliland’s current internal affairs under president Bihi is a cause for concern, and needs to be dealt with imminently. In particular, the fair allocation and distribution of resources and governmental political positions amongst the different Somaliland regions needs to be addressed. Additionally, the democratisation process needs to be back on track urgently with the over due parliamentarian elections needing to be held in the nearest future, so it does not create tensions with Somaliland’s allies.
Finally, in recent years Somaliland’s foreign policy has been mainly reactive and the foreign ministry has spent more time dealing with threats to the nation’s territorial integrity and legitimacy. This is in large part a result of the Farmajo administration being able to take advantage of the international community’s renewed attempts to build a united Somali state. However, Somaliland has the opportunity to transform this increased attention on the region into renewed attempts to make its case, and must have a well thought-out plan for how to do so.