The US government is reluctant to endorse Somaliland’s quest for independence, fearing such a policy could have the unintended consequence of breaking up entire Somalia.
Last week, as Somaliland leader Muse Bihi visited the US, pitching for ‘sovereignty’ and demonstrating to the audiences in Washington that his region has run its own affairs for 30 years, officials in the Joe Biden administration insisted the region will continue to be treated as being a part of Somalia.
Molly Phee, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs who met Mr Bihi Tuesday said she had discussed “strengthening US engagement with Somaliland within the framework of our single Somalia policy.”
And Larry Andre, US Ambassador to Somalia held a series of interviews with local media where he said Washington’s policy on Somalia will not change in spite of the trip.
In a keynote speech at the Heritage Foundation, Bihi said they had tired of waiting to unite with Somalia, whose other parts remain unstable.
“Somaliland first gained independence and international recognition on 26 June 1960,” adding that it was only five days after independence that Somaliland united voluntarily with Somalia with the ultimate aim of creating a “Greater Somalia”, officially known as the Somali Republic.
Mr Bihi is leading a region that declared itself independent of Somalia in 1991, shortly after the regime of Siad Barre began to collapse and civil war ensued.
But Bihi said Somaliland no longer feels a part of the “Greater Somalia,” envisaged to include five former colonies inhabited by ethnic Somalis in British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, French Somaliland (Djibouti), the current Somali Region of Ethiopia and the then Northern Frontier District of Kenya.