How do you characterise a small country that the majority are not aware of its existence take upon itself to challenge the notoriously powerful Chinese regime? Did Somaliland go where mightier states dither to venture? Or are the KULMIYE operatives diplomatically illiterate to appreciate the problems they have put themselves in?

After the initial shock of the announcement, opinions in Somaliland, as elsewhere, was sharply divided with a preponderant number in Somaliland celebrating what was seen as a diplomatic breakthrough. Mr. Muse on his part was true to form. He hosted the delegates from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 4thof August 2020 and told them off on their face. From a nomadic point of view that was a feat by itself. 

Foreign columnists, especially in the West express shock surprise with some in America even asking loudly what is this country with the political balls to stand up to the Chinese. These initial surprise reinforced Somaliland’s diplomatic resolve to see this major move through.

But what exactly are the benefits of Somaliland’s Taiwanese romance?

Yes, Somaliland’s thirst for international political legitimacy went beyond description. Successive Somaliland administrations did everything to endear themselves to the West but in vain. From fighting terrorism to instituting democracy to keeping her seas free from the blight of piracy nothing seemed to attract the attention of suitors. The more Somaliland did the more the world did for the chaotic Somalia which is hell-bent to extinguish Somaliland’s flickering dream of independent statehood. 

Then came a man who, locally, is notorious for his sternness and vengefulness.  His audacity is a classical Somali warrior stance. To hell with all, I will stand tall, he seems to say in the classic John Drysdale’s stoic without pillows. Never shall Somaliland cry for suitors who care less. Somaliland’s general support for Taiwan relations is hence just that. 

As the poet, Langston Hughes put it,

                        Because my mouth

                        Is wide with laughter

                        And my throat

                        Is deep with song,

                        You did not think 

                        I suffer after

I’ve held my pain

So long

Somaliland is not without deep disappointment of the international community. Our smile and seeming eagerness to impress the foreigner is not without deep feeling of pain. Pain akin to the rejected damsel who get tired for chasing indifferent hunk. It was time to look elsewhere and move on. Taiwan fits the best and justifies, albeit psychologically in the least, despite the pain that is bound to come from the aggrieved dragon. 

I am tempted to list the strategic mess that can possibly emanate from this relation but that will be disingenuous on my part. I am of the same extraction as the people of Somaliland. I suffered the cold shoulders, the indifference, and the condescending dismissal of our case.  A time comes when the conventional analysis of strategic move matter less and the short reprieve from the long anguish feels much better. Taiwan, who suffer the same pains of diplomatic status are worthy of our embrace and Musa, for all his faults, has in the least, not betrayed our nomadic incoherence.

Ahmed Aideed


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