Joint Needs Assessment (JNA) and its advocates place Somaliland sovereignty in a catch 22 instead of a quid pro quo in which Somaliland could've made some concessions to get something in return. A catch 22 because advocates are willing to accept the implied intricacies of the JNA, as its currently constituted, knowing any aid that is given to Somaliland comes with stipulations whereby any hopes of future recognition is, at best, seriously jeopardized. Should Somaliland satisfy the short term urge for few million dollars while sacrificing the long term agenda? And since when do nations and major organizations give great sums with no expectations?
Somaliland government should have agreed to some of the conditions in the JNA and line-item vetoed other sinuous points that were contradictory to the sovereignty and constitution of Somaliland. Furthermore, the Somaliland government should have forcefully asserted their concerns by insisting, from the onset, to be on the same footing with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and distinguish the democratically elected leaders of Somaliland form the unelected TFG.
This step would have removed any ambiguity as far as Somaliland's stance was concerned and the international community would grasp where Somaliland stood and approached her accordingly. Somaliland must not, even for an inch, give the slightest inclination again, that her independence is open to debate. It is not and should never be. Whether intentional or not, that is precisely what the JNA has done. It placed a seed of doubt in the international community as well as Somaliland communities and even though it's healthy for Somalilanders to have a debate about this issue its dangerous to accept the current JNA.
Democratically elected leaders of Somaliland have the mandate and the right to speak for their electors therefore must insist on participating equally and not allow themselves to be overshadowed or acquiesce in any way to the TFG. Unelected temporaries of the TFG, whether it's Abdillahi Yusuf today or someone else tomorrow, should never be allowed to monopolize and dictate world opinion as it pertains to affairs in question. Democratically elected leaders of Somaliland have righteousness on their side. That is something no man, organization, country or few million dollars dangled your way could ever take away.
Even though Somaliland has never received a large aid package, they nevertheless got aid from some nations and NGO's because they realized Somaliland was destined to be a great democracy in an area that had never known democracy let alone great one. Sacrifice and resilience are what Somalilanders are known for and I urge my government to take a hard stand and insist on a give and take from the international community. This JNA, whether done intentionally or not, does not have the best interest of Somaliland. The game of politics has a time and place and this is neither the time nor the place.
Advocates of this JNA miss one critical point. No opponent of the JNA argues that aid given to Somaliland without consequence is a problem. Au contraire! The issue is the when, where, how and why this JNA was deliberately and expressly devised without Somaliland representation? Why have the UN, WB and NGO agencies come to believe that the TFG also represents Somaliland and consider her a 'region' which will return upon Somalia's stability? The premise or conjecture of this JNA is highly suspicious and should not be accepted in its current from.
The burden Somaliland places on the international community is discernibly different from that of Somalia. Somaliland doesn't need help in forming a government, establishing and maintaining democracy nor does she need a 'military force' to keep the peace. Somaliland is ready to enter in the League of Nations, ready to invest in her people in a free market economy that has produced a private sector and an entrepreneurial spirit unseen in the continent.
The UN and WB along with the sovereign government of Somaliland must formulate a country specific policies and strategies. The international community must not see Somaliland in a broader regional entity and Somaliland must not be forced to settle for anything less than what she has created in an area given up for dead long time ago. Democratic nations and institutions cannot have it both ways. The only thing Somaliland deserves is support and encouragement and not plans devised behind closed doors with envious and fraudulent wolfs masquerading in sheep's clothing.
Mohamed A. Baranbaro
Somaliland American Guild