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06.01.2009 Feature Article

Dropping the Ball? US Policy Towards Somaliland

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Currently the main focal point regarding US Interests towards Somalia just happens to be Piracy. A Close second just happens to be restoring a functioning Centralized Government. But there is one group that has been reaching out to Washington but it is apparent that the reply is Silence.

Since the collapse of the last Somali Government back in 1991 the country has been plagued by Anarchy. Several Attempts to restore order have failed. On more than one occasion Ethiopian Forces have been introduced into the situation in a vain attempt to restore law and order. At this time the neighboring country is pulling out its forces.

Unlike Puntland and the Area around the Capital Mogadishu the Region known as Somaliland has been relatively peaceful. A previous attempt by a Transitional Government saw the Regional Capital Hargeysa attacked by the pro-Government Militias. Since that time this particular region has prospered economically.

Unlike the rest of the impoverished and decimated parts of Somalia reports indicate that the Country has not been a source of or targets of the piracy that plagues the Gulf of Aden. French Special Forces used the former US Naval Base at Berbera to launch a successful rescue mission on a hijacked luxury yacht.

In 2007 the President of Somaliland and his Prime Minister made a visit to the United States. They were attempting to get the United States to determine that Somaliland was an independent state and to send Financial and Military Aid as well. In 2008 the US Undersecretary of State for African Affairs paid a visit to the Somaliland Capital and that is the last we have heard of any contact.

So why should the US be interested in this? First of all there are Elections scheduled to take place during the first part of this year. The Fact that democratic elections will be taking place and that they are multi-party elections should be heralded inside the beltway. The Registering of independent political parties should also garner the interest of both the IRI (International Republican Institute) and the NDI (National Democratic Institute.)

This Electoral Cycle in what has the potential to be an emerging Democratic State in a Region that is plagued by Islamist radicals has to be taken at face value. The Defense Department is currently the only part of the Government that has any contact with the Somaliland Government. So this factor could lead to attacks by those who have sympathy to Al-Qaida.

What has to be an area of concern is what appears to be a lack of movement by the Bush Administration. Why no action regarding any potential contact has been taken in 10 months is mind-boggling. This however could become a viable solution when/if it is determined that supporting the Transitional Government in Baidoa is a Fool's Errand.

It is believed that the situation in Somalia will be one of the first Foreign Policy tests for the incoming Obama Administration. I pray that He passes this one.

The Author publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet and comments on US policy towards Africa. Confused Eagle is at morganrights.tripod.com

Scott A Morgan
Scott A Morgan, © 2009

The author has 88 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: ScottAMorgan

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