Monday, December 29, 2008

Should We Recognize Somaliland?

Because of the plague of piracy in Somalia, should we look to recognize the one working government within this failed state?

Somaliland is a small country near the horn of Africa, not to be confused with Somalia. The international community does not recognize Somaliland, but it declared independence in 1991. It was previously a British territory and briefly a separate country until the 1960s when it joined Somalia. Somaliland is today a fledgling democracy. It is vastly more stable and peaceful than Somalia.

A BBC film crew created a short documentary that reveals the differences between Somalia and Somaliland. The three sequential youtube videos can be viewed here, here, and here. In the videos it is clear that traveling anywhere in Somalia requires a small brigade of armed guards, as the journalists routinely run into people pulling out guns. The streets of Mogadishu (Somalia) are filled with armed men. In Hargeisa (the capitol of Somaliland) however, guns on the streets are rare. Even the stop lights are operating and abided by.

The BBC journalist is welcomed into a seemingly clean, modestly modern and operating maternity hospital. They are guided by a woman who runs the hospital and sits in the government. She takes them right into a large room where the government is conducting business. The President of Somaliland, who speaks English, is affable and humble about the role of government there.

Lest you think that this government is conning the journalist, he has made a series of videos on break away regions, including one of Trans-Dneistre, which he clearly makes out to be a scary police state. There are a few other lower grade videos available as well and found this view to be the consensus of journalists who have traveled there. It appears to be a remarkable place that deserves some consideration for international recognition.

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