On August 5th, the government of the “autonomous” region of Puntland within the Somali Federal Republic—a region which has been de facto independent in most respects since 1998—said it is now cutting off all relations with the internationally recognized but largely ineffective Somali Federal Government (S.F.G.) in Mogadishu.
|The flags of Somalia (left) and Puntland|
|President Abdirahman Farole|
|Like any map of who controls Somalia, this one became out of date almost immediately. Al-Shabaab now controls less territory than shown here, and what is shown here as “Khatumo” is now mostly under Somaliland’s control.|
Somaliland is not doing too badly, actually. Just this week, the governor of the Mogadishu government’s central bank, Abdisalan Omar Hadliye, had to reassure the public that his office had not, as had been reported, pressured the United Kingdom government to shut down the Somaliland central bank’s contract with a British firm to mint the Somaliland shillin (i.e., “shilling”), the national currency. Hadliye reiterated that Somaliland absolutely has the right to mint its own currency. Mogadishu makes a lot of noise about not recognizing Somaliland, but it knows better than to interfere in any concrete way with the sovereignty of the resource-rich quasi-state. Puntland may be beginning to see the advantages of that approach.
After all, Puntland, with an area almost as big as that of the U.K. itself and perhaps 4 million people (“perhaps” because a national census is one trapping of statehood Puntland lacks), has elections and a parliament and government ministries, and an industrial sector, and it does a better job of policing its offshore waters to catch sea pirates than “Somalia” does.
A few days later, Farole clarified his position by framing his country’s new position in xenophobic terms, saying, “Puntland will hold presidential elections on 8 January 2014, thus the traditional elders are really required to select academics and talented Puntland MPs, not political spoilers or anti peace elements who are known for their violent activities. Enemies of Puntland want to infiltrate troublemakers into Puntland Parliament but we are vigilant against them.”
|Perhaps Jubaland will also try independence on for size.|
Oh, except for one thing: Puntland and Somaliland can’t agree on a border, and in fact have been fighting over a swath of desert in the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (a.k.a. Khaatumo) region (which has at times declared autonomy itself) for decades. Somaliland only just last year managed to bury the hatchet with local warlords and pacify its eastern border. That battle may reopen soon. If, that is, President Farole is serious. Which still remains to be seen.
|Should Puntlanders be preparing to celebrate quite yet?|
[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas. The book, which contains dozens of maps and over 500 flags, is now in the layout phase and should be on shelves, and available on Amazon, by early fall 2014. I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news. Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook.]