The Politics of Unification and Separation – By Abdisalam Yassin Mohamed

Cabdisalaan Yaasiin
Cabdisalaan Yaasiin
Cabdisalaan Yaasiin

A close examination of the history of unification and partition shows that the two political realities are usually interconnected. In the past, when empire building was the norm, many countries with often different nationalities were united under one central government.  The last central government of that kind was the United Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR), which was dismantled in the early nineties.  After the dismantling process was completed, many of the republics of the USSR became independent and sovereign countries. Likewise, the old Czechslovakia Republic was separated into two countries: the Czech Republic and the Slovakia Republic. Other countries that experienced political separation after a very long unification are Sudan, which became the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan; Serbia, out of which came out Kosovo; and Indonesia, out of which came out East Timor.

This clearly shows that unification and partition are two common political realities that are often determined by the interests and wishes of the governments or communities involved in these political processes. An interesting example of the currency and vitality of these political processes is the wish expressed by the Scottish Nationalist Party to be independent of the UK after 300 years of unification. This wish will be decided in a referendum that will be held in Scotland in 2014. The result can be either separation or the continuation of the union. Whether there will be one or the other will solely depend on the wishes of the Scottish people.

The nationalities of the USSR, Czechslovakia, Serbia, Kosovo, Sudan, South Sudan, Indonesia, and East Timor respectively shared common languages and common cultures for many years. Yet, they decided to separate. The Scottish and the British share a common language and a common culture. Yet, they may separate. These realities refute the argument that people with common languages and common cultures should be united under one government.

On the other hand, multinational and multicultural nation-states peacefully function and form unified and cohesive political entities. This supports the argument that political unity and the creation of functioning nation-states depends more upon the interests and wishes of the people who are concerned and not upon common languages and common cultures.

In the case of the recent partition of Somaliland from the defunct state of Somalia (a state whose unification was only 30 years old and was based on the dead concept of Greater Somalia), the separation happened after a bitter conflict and a bloody war. After the war and the collapse of Somalia, the people of Somaliland decided to reinstate the independence and sovereignty of their country, which they obtained from Britain on 26 June 1960.

The same people who supported the unification of Somaliland and Somalia on 1st July 1960 reclaimed the independence and sovereignty of Somaliland on 18 May 1991 and overwhelmingly rectified it in a referendum in 2001. This is the political reality in Somaliland. Permanent separation is the new political order and there is no return to the old one. This must be clear both to Somalia and to the so-called international community.