Thursday, March 13, 2008



The impetus of the Greek professor’s analysis is anchored on “Somaliland’s insubstantial demand for international recognition.” The complexity of issue requires a more holistic and objective approach addressing the dynamics of the creation of the Somali Republic in 1960 as well as the immediate and the latent causes of the failure of the state. At a minimum, the professor should have asked: What went wrong and why? What would have been done differently to avert the failure of the Somali state? A nation that does not meet its full potential is an evolutionary failure, and by any stretch of the imagination, Somaliland’s withdrawal from a disastrous union should not and can not be portrayed as the nucleus of all things that went wrong in Somalia.

The subject of recognition of Somaliland is solidly based on indubitable legal and constitutional ground according to international law [law of international treaties, succession of states etc.]. For example, from April 29th to May 5th 2005, a fact finding mission of the African Union, headed by the Right Honourable Mr. Patrick Mazimhaka, Deputy-Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, visited Somaliland, and among its findings and conclusions is the following excerpt:

“The fact that the union between Somaliland and Somalia was never ratified and also malfunctioned when it went into action from 1960 to 1990, makes Somaliland’s search for recognition historically unique and self-justified in African political history. Objectively viewed, the case should not be linked to the notion of ‘opening a Pandora’s Box’. As such, the AU should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding case.”

Having said that, the histrionics of professor Muhammad shamsaddin megalommatis is an extension of the cloak-and-dagger politics of the Egyptian government. From Butrous-Butrous Ghali to Amar Mousa and in between, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has been the standard bearer of a futile unholy crusade against Somaliland's quest for recognition. This diplomatic offensive is aimed at forestalling Somaliland's efforts to present to the international community its legitimate right to reclaim its sovereignty. This diplomacy has ended in utter fiasco. For example, during his heydays at the helm of the United Nations Organisation, Mr. Butrous-Butrous Ghali made one of the most embarrassing and undiplomatic statements during a live interview with the Arabic Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. This career Diplomat said, "Doul mush Bani Adam" in response to a question about the Somali crisis. Roughly translated, this short statement means: "They are not human beings." Imagine the bigotry of the Secretary-General of the United Nations! This is the same Butrous Ghali who engineered the United Nations' disastrous intervention in Somalia- a mission without a clear mandate and objectives.

The common thread between the professor Megalommatis and the Egyptian diplomatic corps is intolerance towards any real or perceived threats towards the national interest of Egypt: The River Nile is Egypt and Egypt is the Nile. The livelihood of 100 million Egyptians takes precedence over the very existence of over 180 million inhabitants in the River Nile Basin. The population of the riparian states is expected to double in the coming twenty years. The imbalance between a diminishing natural resource coupled with the consumption demands of exploding populations, is a sure recipe for an armed conflict in the region.

The Nile Water Agreement of 1929 guarantees Egypt about 56 Billion cubic meters out of about 74 Billion cubic meters of the total water flow- that is roughly 76% of the total water volume. This outdated formula gives the Egyptian government almost exclusive monopoly and right of usage of the River Nile waters. For example, one of the clauses of the agreement states:

"Without the consent of the Egyptian Government, no irrigation or hydroelectric works can be established on the tributaries of the Nile or their lakes if such works can cause a drop in water level harmful to Egypt."

Times have changed and the littoral states [Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, and Ethiopia are under tremendous pressure to renegotiate the terms of water allocation and usage. The Egyptian demands on the waters of the River Nile are simply unsustainable. Sooner or later, the needs of other nations should addressed. However, the Egyptian regime is not even prepared to address the issue, let alone renegotiate the terms of the old agreement. The Egyptian foreign ministry views any diversion of the Nile water as an act of war. With exploding populations of their own, the countries at the source of the Nile are vying to tap this resource within their boundaries for their domestic agricultural and industrial development needs. Ignoring the belligerent stand of Egypt, the Tanzanian government embarked on 170 mile long pipe-line to deliver water to about 400,000 people at an estimated total cost of US$85.10 million. The rest of the East African nations question the legitimacy of this eighty year old agreement and it is a matter of time before they follow the Tanzanian example

To be continued

Ahmed Ali Ibrahim Sabeyse

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