Thursday, May 2, 2013


Somaliland: Mr. Silanyo's governing Vertigo
How his policies divided the nation and diminished the hope.

It is now more than two decades that Somaliland, internationally unrecognized country, unilaterally declared its independence from proper Somalia. Mr. Silanyo, an ex-militia leader, assumed the presidency of the country through the ballot almost three years ago. However, when Mr. Silanyo was elected to the presidential office, people were filled with a sense of optimism of him as a shrewd politician to build on the achievements of his predecessors, take this fledgling country to a higher level, and knit more closely together the unity between clans. The hype for that perception was big so much so that SL people was sanguine about it, blandly ignoring the evidences of Silanyo conceit less past history and his bestial decision-making pertinent his services in both as a militia leader and a minister under Ziad Bare regime.

Against the backdrop of his service-history that is lacking an appetency, it is no surprise Mr. Silanyo as he settled in the presidential office renounced to fellow suite and unlike his predecessors has shaken blatantly and unabashedly the foundation that Somaliland is built upon and has been nurtured by his predecessors throughout their tenures — the sense of equal belonging of all citizens to the service for their country.

In hind sight, those who voted for Mr. Silanyo weren't thinking soberly; they were certainly charged with tribal emotions due to the overt act of kulmiye party use of the SNM card during election campaign, ostensibly to inveigle tribal votes but what those people did not know is that, "protestors can make a revolution, but it takes citizens to make a democracy." Despite caveats Mr. Silanyo service history raised about, the desires of his clan chauvinists and die-hard supporters to replace the then president took precedence in a society that sacred tribe as a cardinal virtue. Thus, he won the election and replaced the then President, Mr. Rayale.

But in our blind defense of clannish sentiment and what it entails that seem "right" for some, we may be short-circuiting the process of thinking things through as a culture and / or the infallible citizen's equation, leaving ourselves no way to entertain the possibility of restraint and yet restrain is uniquely human capacity. It's the one gift no other creature possesses. Clan sentiment is a dissonant notion that could easily turn into platitudinous melee between the brotherly SL communities, jeopardize existence as an entity, and dose the hope and aspirations.

To the old adage that you only eat the fruits you reap seem to be appropriate for Somaliland people at this junction, which have kept them so far in vertigo, exacerbated by poverty, an increasingly joblessness among the youth, misappropriation of national meager resources as well as the foreign aids aimed to jumpstart projects for social developments and a diminished hope for an International recognition.

Domestic policy:

The domestic policy is an important constituent of any government's vision. It helps to align cohesive wheels on which the nation rides along as well as in building a unified front to face against political blizzards prevailing on to change course. A sound domestic policy is also fundamental to an effective foreign policy, both of which must be led by skilled, knowledgeable and experienced individuals who could draft strategic policy to amalgamate SL diverse communities as well as formulate foreign policy that is fit to the aspirations of the nation.

But the intrusion of clan interest in SL domestic politics whenever nominating key positions in the entire governing body is a factor impairs the making of sound domestic policy in at least two respects. First, it amplifies the influence of small clan chauvinists but nonetheless with assertive interests that is different from the national interest. Second, it requires an oversimplification or dumbing down of policy questions lest the clan of the minister in question feels offended or singled out and thus leaves little room for care and precision in crafting strategies of sound policy. However, those appointed by the president for the key positions in the government are thus encouraged to adhere to low-risk positions unlikely to generate political vulnerabilities as they weren't appointed on merits in the first place. Such low-risk positions that are intended only to represent clan interest and to amass personal wealth, on the expense of the tax being collected from the lonely mother fending for her children under the scorching heat on the streets in Hargeisa, Borama, and Burao and in any other city in SL, tend to lead to policies that are uncreative and offer little potential for positive breakthroughs.

A related theme is how Mr. Silanyo sinfully crafted his cabinet and most of his executive branch personal after which he put together an incompetent government. Hence, Mr. Silanyo needs to pay more attention to the damage it inflicts, the anger it incurs and the resistance it engenders through many of its own actions—and to how the effects redound negatively to the unity and the rights of every skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced men and women. If Mr. Silanyo modus operandi [a method many is frowned upon] remains as it is now: turning SL clan diversity into clashes [look at what is happening in the West and East Regions] and weakness instead of converting it into richness, SL is doomed for failure. Another palpable issue is that communities at the periphery are marginalized in his government, in the decision making about the future of the entity, and has received none or less than their rightful share of the foreign aids for the development of their regions.

Foreign Policy:

SL foreign policy teeters on lack of vision and direction and is the totem of failure of Mr. Silanyo government to convince world community on the recognition case. The realm of the foreign is an ideological concept, a product of international dynamics and domestic attributes. For one to suggest otherwise is primitive; there is no denying that international socialization has re-shaped foreign relations, and similarly, the permeation of national politics on the international stage cannot be discredited. Both factors play a pivotal role in external policy formulation. The influence of the domestic forms the basis of foreign strategy, overshadowing but not discounting remaining elements. The correlation between both policy areas is one of great strength.

Of course then it is no surprise to see the debacle of SL foreign policy despite the vicissitudes of the minister of foreign affairs and his conflictual approaches. It should be noted, however, that foreign policy is not immune from the influence of international dynamics, in particular the role of international institutions and global economic policy. But the crucial factor is how the foreign realm is the product of continuity and sustainment, which SL is lacking due to none other than the inexperienced, restless, and unforthcoming minister and the vacillation of his boss, Mr. Silanyo, between what he wants and what SL people want.

The brunt of Mr. Silanyo government failure on foreign policy stems from his earlier step in shaping up this ministry when ambassadors with experience, knowledge, and the skills were all purged out following the creation of Silanyo's Nanny- Government and the dissolution for non-payment and some other issues of the pre-existing SL circle of friends among the foreign elites who have been so long with SL to further the issue of recognition.


There haven't been any positive changes inherited from the election of Mr. Silanyo as the head of this fledgling country. Instead the country is far worse than it had been and the question in the mind of every conscientious Somalilander is whether Somaliland will survive from the blitzkrieg of insensitive local policy of his government and the undermining of SL foreign policy by his inexperienced and unforthcoming foreign minister.

Sharmarke Ali
Seattle, WA

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