Cablegate: The Mood in Somaliland Is Defiant, Yet
UNCLAS DJIBOUTI 001163
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL DJ SO
SUBJECT: THE MOOD IN SOMALILAND IS DEFIANT, YET
1. Summary. An embassy Djibouti FSN recently returned from
several weeks leave in Hargeisa, Somaliland. He reported an
active interest there in the Somalia National Reconciliation
Conference that is taking place in Nairobi, but rejection of
any effort by the conference or subsequently by the
international community to subsume the sovereignty of
Somaliland. Yet Hargeisa's mood was also one of apprehension,
of not knowing what may happen. Additionally, the government
of Somaliland left the door open a crack stating that it
would consider dialogue with any new Mogadishu based regime.
2. Background. British Somaliland became independent on June
26, 1960 and was acknowledged by 34 nations, including the
U.S. Five days later on July 1, it voluntarily joined with
Italian Somalia to form the Republic of Somalia. The union
worked satisfactorily until the Siad Barre regime in the
seventies and eighties cracked down harshly on northerners
using the full police and military might of the capital. In
the anarchy that followed Siad's demise in 1991, Somaliland
reclaimed its independence, affirmed by a national
referendum. A functioning government that controls national
territory has existed since that time, but the Somaliland
state has not been recognized by any government.
3. The IGAD led effort to reconstitute a viable government in
Mogadishu culminated in the Somalia National Reconciliation
Conference in Nairobi that is just winding up with the
swearing-in of a Parliament. Selection of a president is
still to come. On July 17, 2003 when the SNRC was being
contemplated, the Somaliland Ministry of Foreign Affairs
endorsed the event and exhorted all factions and groups in
"Somalia" (meaning the former Italian colony) to participate.
The Ministry added that "Any claims or declarations of
sovereignty over Somaliland by a future Somalia authority
will be viewed by the Government of Somaliland as an
indication of hostile intent." However, it added that
officials in Somaliland "do not eliminate the possibility of
dialogue with Somalia as equal partners."
4. Somaliland officials gave our FSN a copy of the July
17,2003 declaration last week and told him that it remained
the policy of the government. He was asked to communicate
this information to embassy Djibouti. A copy of the document
was faxed to AF/E.
5. Our source reported that the Nairobi Reconciliation
Conference was the hottest topic in the streets of Hargeisa.
Youth are ready to take arms to defend their nation whereas
wiser citizens seek other means to preserve the peace that
has come in last ten years. Folks displayed sadness over
non-recognition of Somaliland by the world at large and
especially efforts by Djibouti to prevent that from
happening. Most agreed that any undertakings to compel
Somaliland to unite with Somalia would be unfair and
6. Despite this bravado, our source concluded that
Somalilanders are uncertain about the future and fear that in
the existing limbo Somaliland's territorial integrity and
sovereignty risk being chipped away. Apparently two of
Somaliland's six regions, Sanag and Sool, are showing signs
of disunity. Sanag is discontent with Hargeisa's rule while
Sool appears to be shifting its allegiance to Puntland.
7. Comment: Embassy notes that this is second hand reporting.
Nonetheless, we judge it helps fill the void of information
about what is going on in Somaliland, so we convey it in that