Brexit a Chance for Somaliland: Seeking International Recognition

Written by | Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Somaliland, a self-declared state internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia, is hoping that Brexit will mark a defining moment for Somaliland’s sovereignty. The government of Somaliland believes that once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, it will have free hands to internationally recognize the autonomous region. The government of Somaliland, which regards itself as the successor state to the former British Somaliland protectorate, has been seeking independence for more than 25 years.

Dr Saad Ali Shire, Somaliland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that he thinks that Brexit would simplify things and make “the British government make up its mind”. He added that “Under the EU, all the members have to abide by the EU policy regarding Somaliland. Britain did not have much leeway to make up its own mind. Being out of the EU [means] they can do whatever they want. I think it’s good for us. I think they will have the flexibility in their foreign policy.”

Mr Shire’s comments come at a very strategic time for Somaliland and the wider east African region as DP World, a leading enabler of global trade and an integral part of the supply chain, announced a 30-year concession to develop Somaliland’s Berbera port. The deal is worth €403 million and the project will modernize the port and exploit its offer of a free trade zone around Berbera.

Berbera Port is the official seaport of Berbera, Somaliland’s commercial capital, and it is classified as a major class port. The government of Somalia regards the project as pivotal for the development of the region’s largely agricultural and pastoral economy. Ethiopia, Somaliland’s landlocked neighbor, will particularly benefit from the project as it gives the country an alternative to the Red Sea port in Djibouti.

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