Turkish role on Somaliland-Somalia talks: Mediator or Partial?

sirThe first Somali flag was waved over Somaliland in 26th June 1960 after it gained its independence from Britain which had been ruling as a protectorate for seventy (70) years. 1st July in the same year, four days after the south Somalia UN trust territory gained its status as an independent state; it united with Italian Somalia in the south to form the great Somali Republic. After nine years of civil administration in Somali Republic, a military regime led by Mohamed Siad Barre overthrew the elected government in coup d’état in 21 October 1969 and took over the power, following the killing of president Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke on October 15th, 1969 by his bodyguard (Mohamed-Rashid, 2011). Although the military regime of Barre did very outstanding work during its tenure, as ICG report (2003) stated, it also committed crimes against the international laws, human rights law as well, including summary arrests, extrajudicial execution, rape, confiscation of private property and disappearance of the civilians in the north by the regime led the formation of the second military opposition, Somali National Movement (SNM).
After ten-year-long war, SNM defeated the military regime led by Mr. Barre in 1991 and took over the administration of northern part of what is once known as Somali Republic. In the same year, southern part of the country went into chaos which brought a new face for Somalia. Even though Somaliland went into similar chaos and civil war after succession declaration between 1993 and 1995, finally they managed to come together, talk about the situation and agreed on negotiation about what the clans had been fighting for. That was the fundamental basis of today’s democratic and peaceful nation.
Building their statehood, applying democratic system of governance, Somalilanders have been waiting for 20 years for Somalia to gain a responsible government which could be discussed with the determination of their country. A long-waited chance had finally came in 2012 when the international community recognized Somalia following long period of transitional system.
A new government was elected for Somaliland in 2010 with its new policy towards Somalia, which broke the chain of fragmented populations of both sides. Both sides began talks about their future and in the first Somaliland-Somalia talks had begun in Istanbul with the mediation of Turkish government. Simultaneous meetings were held in Turkey in different times, including the meeting of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia and President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo of Somaliland on 13th April 2013 in Ankara. At the end of that meeting, they signed a seven-point communiqué as follows; ‘Agreed to encourage and facilitate International aid and development provided to Somaliland.’
The last meeting, on the other hand, was held in Djibouti and the both sides signed a six-point communique in which its four article suggests as follows; “Both sides promise not to politicize humanitarian aid and rehabilitation projects”, which literally means that both sides should utilize the foreign aids without political interest. But, from that perspective, the Turkish president, mediator of both, has recently paid a politically motivated visit to Addis-Ababa, Djibouti and Mogadishu, respectively. Mr. Recep Tayyep Erdogan has had talks with the leaders of the aforementioned governments and finally he went to Mogadishu in his second time, the capital of Somalia, to open an enormous reconstruction and rehabilitation projects funded and implemented by his government. Turkish government has been providing aid to Somalia from 2011 and they donated as much as $300 million via both government institutions and NGOs. This money was used for humanitarian aid and they started services to develop Somalia while continuing the delivery of humanitarian aid, according to the Turkish Ambassador to Somalia Mr. Kani Torun. Turkish government, not only provides humanitarian Aid to Somalia, but it also provides military aid, they train Somalia’s Army including Air force to make them strong! Above all, they make military assistance available to Somalia, with nothing or less provided to Somaliland.
Neither we nor any other Somalilander is jealous for what the international community, particularly, Turkish government does or doing for Somalia, rather we appreciate it. But, according to the definition of ‘mediator’ given by the Penguin Dictionary of International Relations, impartiality and neutrality, the mediator is essential prerequisite. So, there are a lot of questions which needs to be answered; how Turkish government could be impartial while they unconditionally help and give military and infrastructural reconstruction assistance to one of the negotiating sides? Can Turkish government still behold the trust of Somalilanders as authentic mediator? Even if some people urges that Somaliland is a part of Somalia, let’s take that position, still the question is remained unanswered, because nothing goes to Somaliland in terms of the provided aid to Somalia, including the military assistance.
Now, Somaliland and Somalia agreed upon the next meeting to be held in Turkey on 26-27 February 2015. Therefore, Somalilanders have the right to ask whether Turkish government is mediator or partial. We’ll leave the answer for you.

By: Somali Investigative Reports (SIR) Editorial