The Foreign Service Journal, November 2006

German foreign ministries, but had no success. As Somaliland’s foreign minister, Edna Adan Ismail, said in June, “Instead of encouraging us, we are being pushed towards Somalia, which continues to fall apart.” While Somaliland seeks recog- nition, the situation in Somalia has radically changed. A chaotic and violent “state” with no functioning central government at all now has a radical Islamic regime consoli- dating its hold on ever-wider areas of the south, follow- ing its takeover of the capital, Mogadishu, in June. The Islamic Courts Union — the armed wing of the Council of Islamic Somali Courts — defeated a coalition of war- lords (the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism), then gained popular legitimacy when credible reports circulated that the warlords were clandestinely supported by Washington. The U.S. and the international community continue to recognize the impotent and corrupt Transitional Federal Government, set up in 2004 via a Kenya-based process known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. They reiterated their support when the ICU seemed poised to defeat the TFG, holed up in its inland headquarters in the town of Baidoa. At present there is a cease-fire between the two factions, but as an indication of the latter’s fragility, on Sept. 18 a car bomb aimed at TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed went off outside of Parliament, killing 18 people. The U.S. is now part of a large contact group whose aim is to get the ICU and the TFG to negotiate a power-sharing arrangement. This will be a Herculean task. TFG head Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed is an elderly leader; his regional power base, Puntland, is in northeast Somalia. Puntland claims an autonomous status but, unlike Somaliland, within a sovereign Somalia. His clan group, the Darod, have traditionally fought the Hawiye clan from which the ICU draws its main support. Although there are moderates among its leadership, the head of the ICU, Hassan Dakir Aweys, is not just accused of harboring terrorists but is himself on the U.S. terrorist list as for- mer vice chairman of an organization allegedly linked to Osama bin Laden, Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya. After Aweys took power in June, he immediately pro- claimed that five rapists would be stoned to death, imposed rigid Shariah rules on women, shut down local broadcasts of world soccer matches, denounced Western-style democracy and refused contact with U.S. officials. Yusuf has ties to Ethiopia. Aweys, on the other hand, is a decorated hero from the war with Ethiopia over the Ogaden region back in the 1980s. A Quick Course in Somalian History Both the ICU and TFG concur in one thing: their determination to reincorporate Somaliland into Somal- ia. Though this was always their intent, the TFG was never in a position to do anything about it. Now, with the ICU’s ascendancy, the prospect of forcible reinte- gration has new momentum, especially now that leaders of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, an organization of six African countries focused on drought control and development initiatives, has called for sending a peacekeeping mission to Somalia. IGAD is also requesting that the U.N. lift its arms embargo on Somalia. In response, Somaliland has vowed to fight reunifi- cation and the lifting of the U.N. ban. That reaction is not surprising given the history of Somalia. On June 26, 1960, the “state of Somaliland” was given its independence from Great Britain, and immediately recognized by 35 nations, including the United States. Five days later the area of Italian Somalia was given its independence. The two legisla- tures met and decided to unify with the capital to be set in the south in Mogadishu. Following a year of missteps by the new government, dissident northerners boycotted a referendum on unifi- cation. The subsequent period of corruption and clanism in Somalia was halted by a 1969 military coup that brought General Mohamed Siad Barre to power in Mogadishu. Barre proclaimed a socialist Somalia as the “Somali Democratic Republic,” and launched a period of increasingly autocratic rule. After Somalia’s defeat in the Ogaden War with Ethiopia, Abdullahi Yusuf, among other leaders, led a failed coup against Barre. Isaaq clan leaders in what is now Somaliland formed a guerrilla movement to con- F O C U S N O V E M B E R 2 0 0 6 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 31 Somaliland’s legal claim to recognition rests on persuasive grounds, backed by exceptional circumstances.