Somalia Since 1991: The Somaliland Case

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the collapse of Somalia’s central government.

30 years of mayhem and disunity and no central government in control of the country from Ras Kamboni in the south to Lowya’ade in the north.

Kormeeraha Magazine will highlight some of the legacy of the Civil War starting from the North, particularly the secessionist region of Somaliland.

Our contributors from that region will present different facets of the Somali society, economy, politics and other issues in Somaliland.

Somaliland encompass five of the 18 Somali regions namely Sol, Sanag, Toghdheer, Northwest and Awdal.

Historically, these regions were part of the British Somaliland before they joined the rest of the nation in July 1st, 1960.

After the West Somali War, in 1978, oppositions to the revolutionary regime led by Mohamed Siyad Barre, mostly clan-based, were formed and most of them were organized outside the country.

In the North, an armed rebellion led by the Somali National Movement (SNM) started a guerilla war against the central government.

The SNM militia was based in Ethiopia which was at war with Somalia over the West Somali occupation since 1977.

After the Barre regime collapsed in January 1991 and the disbandment of the Somali National Army (SNA) by the then Prime Minister, the SNM had to face other local clan-based resistance who organized in the midst of the vacuum left by the SNA.

As most of the northern regions were overrun by the SNM militia, it became necessary to find another way to stop the hostilities.

Between April to June 1991, at the request of the SNM, northern clans gathered in Bur’o and on May 18th a statement from the meeting declared the secessionist aspiration of the North.

The announcement was followed by other meetings and agreements. The most important being the Borama Conference of 1993 which saw the constitution of a “Republic of Somaliland”.

The region has experienced a seemingly different fate from the rest of Somalia, especially the national capital which is subject to a fratricidal war that has destroyed the city.

However, as in the rest of Somalia, the clan system, destroyed infrastructure and scarce resources created a political culture steeped in patronage and corruption and where the whole country was handed over to international organizations.