Today is a relatively busy Somaliland update entry, as it has been a busy week for Somaliland, with international interest in its coast guard efforts against piracy, changes to the Somaliland tax code, anticipation of an important meeting with the government of Great Britain, a formerly Somali Prime Minister coming under war crimes investigation for his crimes against the Somaliland people, and US surveillance of the SSC, a group in eastern Somaliland that desires a unified Somalia and opposes Somaliland independence.
Continuing Somaliland Anti-Piracy Efforts
Somaliland’s anti-piracy efforts have intensified, according to Somaliland247 . Six Somali pirates were captured by the Somaliland Coast Guard thanks to some intelligence information from Yemen. Somali pirates have in recent months sought to disrupt shipping in the Gulf of Aden, a strategic location between Somaliland and Yemen at the far south of the Red Sea. Somaliland has joined other nations in fighting against this piracy and seeking to preserve the trade lines in the Indian Ocean that travel through the Gulf of Aden. The pirates captured used a variety of weapons, including rocket launchers and AK-47s, and will now be tried in the Somaliland courts in the capital of Hargesia.
Somaliland’s notable efforts to fight piracy in the region have not gone unnoticed by the international media, as ten members of the international media have been reported traveling to Somaliland to report on Somaliland’s anti-piracy efforts . Presumably a higher profile for its anti-piracy efforts may lead to a greater understanding of the international community of the value of a strong and independent Somaliland for the interests of world trade and business interests. Self-interest is a powerful ally Somaliland possesses in its long-term goal for international recognition as a sovereign and independent state. Hopefully this ally will be recognized and skillfully deployed.
Key Talks In Great Britain
After returning from some talks in China where a trade deal between Ethiopia, Somaliland, and China to develop the port of Berbera for foreign trade was made , a meeting about which little has been released yet, Somaliland’s government is preparing for a key meeting in Great Britain just before another important meeting with the United States government . It appears that Somaliland’s government is now deeply involved in important meetings to develop Somaliland and integrate the small nation with the world economy for trade and security purposes.
The Somaliland meeting in Great Britain will, according to Somaliland247 , involve the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London involving several key issues in the ongoing attempts by Great Britain and Somaliland to work closer together. Some of the issues involve appear to be security, development, trade, investment, and ongoing humanitarian efforts to help ease a drought in the region. Somaliland’s higher profile in the British Commonwealth may provide it some key leverage in seeking recognition for its independence and in showing itself as a “force for good” in the region.
Somaliland’s growing confidence and international profile is leading to some changes in its enforcement of the tax code, according to Somaliland247 . Somaliland plans to double its tax revenue by enforcing its tax code on its largest domestic businesses. Previously, there has been a cultural antipathy to paying taxes, but Somaliland’s desire to double the salaries of its civil servants and spend money on its education and medical infrastructure mean that its tax enforcement efforts are also increasing.
This effort by Somaliland to audit and increase its tax enforcement are another sign of Somaliland’s attempt to be recognized and govern itself according to the general principles of the present world, and to demonstrate that its civil government has the strength to defend its revenue gathering powers and therefore put it a cut above other nations in the region whose governments are largely imaginary and whose powers are nonexistent. The contrast between a Somaliland government able to enforce taxes throughout its domain and the impotence of the neighboring Transitional National Government of Somalia ought to be obvious and unmistakable.
Surveillance of SSC Militants
Somaliland247 reports that the SSC, a suspected terrorist group that represents people in Eastern Somaliland who do not wish to be a part of an independent Somaliland but wish to remain a part of Somalia, is now under surveillance by the United States government . This group is based out of Columbus Ohio, the second largest concentration in the United States for Somali immigrants. The SSC is clearly, and unsurprisingly, not happy about this development.
Suleman Ahmed, the leader of the SSC, has already been investigated and briefly held in Kenya for similar accusations of war crimes against the Somaliland people in behalf of Somalia and against Somaliland independence, and now the United States government is investigating the claims as well. Both Minneapolis and Columbus have been the site in recent years of efforts by suspected terrorist groups like Al-Shabab and the SSC of recruiting Somali-Americans into their groups, and now the US government is focusing on Columbus and the activities of the SSC to see whether its claims of merely defending the interests of those in Somaliland who seek a unified and strong Somalia are accurate or not.
Ex-Somali Prime Minister On Trial In US For War Crimes Against Isaaq Clan
Somaliland247 reports that after a lengthy and complicated set of arguments that has extended for several years and already involved a rejection of immunity from prosecution from the United States Supreme Court, former Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Samantar has been ordered to stand trial for various war crimes committed against the Isaaq people of Somaliland during the 1980′s while he served in the brutal regime of Siad Barre . Despite living quietly in the Fairfax, Virginia area for the last fourteen years, Samantar will now be forced to answer questions in a deposition about war crimes committed by the Barre regime against the people of Somaliland. These war crimes included the bombing of Somaliland rebels in much the same way that Qaddafi has done in Libya during the current Libyan Civil War.
What makes this case particularly intriguing, apart from the chance that it offers Somaliland the chance to have a public airing of human rights violations similar to those suffered by the Libyan people under Gaddafi’s tyranny in a time when the international support of Libyan rebels can be used to support the legitimate cause of Somaliland independence as well, is the reason for the refusal to grant immunity to ex-Prime Minister Samantar. The rejection of immunity for Samantar was made because of the absence of a legitimate and functioning Somali government capable of seeking immunity for him. The presence of a legitimate and functioning government in Somaliland, in stark contrast to Somalia, would appear to provide another means by which Somaliland’s status may be resolved in the present favorable geopolitical climate, and where old wrongs may be righted in the historical record by bringing what was done in darkness into the harsh light of day.