Somaliland Independence

As Somalia descends even further into chaos, one part of the country, an autonomous area called Somaliland, stands as a shining example of comparative calm and stability. Today, The Current spoke with the region's Foreign Minister.

Part Two of The Current

Somaliland Independence: Mohamed Abdullahi Omar

Somalia is in dire straits right now. The United Nations says tens-of-thousands of people may have already died from the famine that has struck the country. And the situation is made worse by the fact that Somalia has no functioning government, thanks to decades of civil war. On top of that, piracy is rampant along the country's coast and Somalia is often described as the most dangerous place on earth.

But in the country's northwest, an autonomous region called Somaliland has been quietly defying the rest of the country's misery. Somaliland is comparatively peaceful and stable and it is one of the most thriving democracies in the Horn of Africa, if not the whole continent. Somaliland declared independence in 1991 and has been begging for the international community to recognize it ever since.

Now, with Somalia falling further into chaos, Somaliland is renewing its pleas. Mohamed Abdullahi Omar is Somaliland's Foreign Minister. We caught up with him in London, England.

Somaliland Independence: Panel

Somaliland declared independence in 1991. Since then, some countries have strengthened their ties with Somaliland. But no country has recognized it, in part because it's unclear what kind of an effect that would have on a region that is already in turmoil.

For their thoughts on the consequences of recognizing Somaliland, we were joined by two people. Ken Menkhaus is one of the world's pre-eminent analysts of the Horn of Africa. He teaches political science at Davidson College in North Carolina and has been studying Somalia for 24 years.

J. Peter Pham directs research on foreign policy towards Africa at the Atlantic Center, an American think tank. He has twice testified before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs about the situation in Somalia.

They were both in Washington this morning.

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