“Somaliland is in a way a recognized state, but its recognition is one of a de facto state, not of a sovereign state. We believe we have every right to be recognized as a sovereign state because we fulfil all the requirements of a sovereign state,” says Foreign Minister Saad Ali Shire.
Waiters, café goers, and anyone who even speaks a smattering of English enjoy relaying the history of the former British protectorate after independence in 1960. For five days, Somaliland enjoyed its status as a sovereign state—a point Saad stresses is crucial to remember.
“I would really like to make this very clear—one of the reasons why Somaliland has not been recognized up to now is the lack of understanding of the history of Somaliland. Somaliland is not a new country,” says Saad, speaking to RFI in Hargeisa.
Part of the issue is that the African Union is wary of the balkanisation of Somalia, as both Somaliland and Puntland, formerly known as Italian Somaliland, have pushed for independence. However, Saad does not see it the same way.
“If Eritrea could separate from Ethiopia and South Sudan from Sudan, then I think it should be a big deal for Somaliland to separate from Somalia as well,” he says.
Its rise from the rubble is nothing less than extraordinary. During the Somali civil war, fighter planes took off from Hargeisa airport, only to bomb Hargeisa itself. A colourful monument stands in downtown Hargeisa today, to ensure that Somalilanders do not forget.