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Somaliland strategic importance was known for centuries being the crossroads of the Horn of Africa and the Middle East

Somaliland is a bridge that connects several continents of the world. Strategically, Somaliland is located in the African gateway and at the Southern shores of the Red Sea – one of the busiest waterways around the world. The geographic location of Somaliland has both uncontested commercial and defence strategies.The country has a close proximity to the Gulf region -the major source of world energy. Somaliland has the advantage of becoming an important international sea and air traffic hub. Thus, a close relationship with Somaliland will give Turkey an extra ordinary commercial and geopolitical leverage in the African continent. Somaliland is rich with unexploited natural resources including hydrocarbons and precious metals.Somaliland has a coastline with the majority lying along the Gulf of Aden (Red Sea). Somaliland cover an area of 137, 600 km. (53,100 sq. miles).

Berbera was part of a chain of commercial port cities along the Somali seaboard. It later served as the capital of the British Somaliland protectorate from 1884 to 1941, when it was replaced by Hargeisa. In 1960, the British Somaliland protectorate gained independence as the State of Somaliland and united five days later with the Trust Territory of Somalia (the former Italian Somalia) to form the Somali Republic. Located strategically on the oil route, the city has a deep seaport, which serves as the region’s main commercial harbour. Berbera preserves the ancient name of the coast along the southern shore of the Gulf of Aden.The location of Somaliland is very strategic and it closely links Asia, Africa, and Europe together as the world is globalized. In the old city, storefronts originally built by Yemeni Jews and Indian traders now house teashops and private homes.

The port itself is a product of modern imperialism: the Soviets built the current site in the 1970s, before the Americans took it over in the 1980s when Somalia switched its allegiance on the Cold War proxy battlefield.Somaliland’s location along Red Sea shipping routes is the crossroads of the Horn of Africa and the Middle East the two most war-ridden regions on Earth. The two deals thrust Somaliland into a number of overlapping, high stakes political and economic rivalries involving the UAE, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other nations. Somaliland’s strategic importance has been known for centuries, evident in the architecture left behind by the various empires and fortune-seekers who passed through the city over the years. Up a small hill from the port, the minaret of a 19th-century Egyptian-Turkish mosque juts above the crumbling walls of former British colonial mansions and officers’ clubs.The international boundaries of the Protectorate were delineated by treaties with France Djibouti) to the west in 1888, Ethiopia to the south in 1887 and Italy (Somalia) to the east in 1894.

Historically, Somaliland had long come to the attention of the British from their strategically vital base at Aden. Britain had occupied this Arabian port since 1839 but became familiar with the hostile coast with its slave trading and warring tribes opposite. The strategic importance of Somaliland was further increased with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Somaliland was technically under the control of the Ottoman Empire through its vassal state of Egypt. However, in reality the Egyptians paid little attention to the Ottomans, and the Somalis paid little attention to the Egyptians. Somaliland has came under British influence in early 19th century, but actually remained under Egyptian control until 1884, after which it was administered by Government of India between 1884 and 1898, by British Foreign Office between 1898 and 1905 before being transferred to the British Colonial Office on 01 April 1905. Somaliland was occupied by Italian military forces from 16 Aug 1940 until 16 Mar 1941.

Ian Birrel

On 26 June 1960, Somaliland became an independent, sovereign state, known as the State of Somaliland. As in all the countries which were decolonised in 1960, the State of Somaliland immediately received congratulatory telegrams from 35 countries, including all five permanent members of the UN Security Council welcoming its sovereignty. This was the practice in which recognition was extended to new decolonised states. Five days after independence, on 1 July 1960, Somaliland chose to unite with Somalia with the aim of creating a “Greater Somalia” bringing together all the people of ethnic Somali origin in five countries in the Horn of Africa including Northern Kenya, Italian Somalia, French Somaliland and Eastern Ethiopia. The agreed formalities of a treaty of union to be entered into by both Somaliland and Somalia were not completed properly.

The version passed as a Law by the legislature of the State of Somaliland was not passed by the Somalia Legislature. A different single Act of Union was later passed by the National Assembly in 1961. A legal expert commented that the legal validity of the legislative instruments establishing the union were “questionable. The difference between the north and the south started right from the union year. The early years of the union saw the steady political and economic isolation of former Somaliland and its main towns, with political and military positions being awarded disproportionately to “southern” Somalis. The 1961 an attempted coup by a group of highly qualified Somaliland military officers was an indication of the disenchantment with the union that Somaliland had entered into. After assuming power in a military coup in October 1969, Mohamed Siad Barre led a brutal military dictatorship, marked by widespread human right abuses.

Above the pictures for the mercenary pilots hired to bomb civilian in Hargeisa and the Somali pilot who refused to bomb the civilians. The growing discontent with and oppression by Barre’s leadership led to the formation of an opposition group, the Somali National Movement (SNM) in the North (Somaliland) in 1981.In response to growing opposition, Sayid Barre regime waged a targeted war on the north (Somaliland), killing an estimated 100, ,000 civilians and displacing an estimated 500,000 people. Northern towns such as Hargeisa and Burao were shelled, bombed and made under rubble. . Government forces also laid over a million unmarked land mines in the north. Human Rights Watch described the Barre regime as “a government at war with its people”.The regime was collapsed and Sayid Barre regime finally collapsed and on 27 January 1991, Barre fled Mogadishu.

On 18 May 1991, the various Somaliland communities met at a Grand Conference and decided to re-assert Somaliland’s sovereignty and independence. Leaders of the SNM and elders of northern (Somaliland) clans met at the ‘Grand Conference of the Northern Peoples’ in Burao. The Union with Somalia was revoked and the territory of the State of Somaliland (based on the borders of the former British Somaliland Protectorate) became the Republic of Somaliland. Since Somalilland re-stated its statehood, the country has made vast progress in all walks of life while Somalia still experiencing divisions and chaos. At present the international community have labelled Somaliland as Iceland of peace and new model of African democracy. Somaliland was in total ruin and under rubble in 1991, but the country has made remarkable progress over the last 26 years

Ismail Lugweyne

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