By Ibrahim Ismail Ahmed
Now that we see the white-in-the-eyes of the agreement the two presidents reached in Dubai as well as the previous agreement in London in Chevening House. Then, the question becomes, as to how to read and reason with such a “deliberately cryptic” documents? And, furthermore how to do one-over of a decent analysis to these two agreements?
Firstly, in here before we begun lets stipulates that one needs to be brutally honest. As well as be frank with reality in which however much one may wishes it to be others, still, nevertheless it seems to be transpiring in front of our eyes, like so much of a seductive strip-tease of one garment-at-the-time sort of final denouement.
Secondly, in order to do justice of the talks so far, one also has to take the two communiques together so that one will be able to read back-and-forth between them. Now that we have set the stage of what we seem to have in this Dubai Statement And Chevening House Communique, let’s turn our gaze on to the reality of the situation as well as what they likely will purport in the future.
Consequently, in here the first thing to say is that, as I expected, the London’s Chevening House 8 points agreement is the basis in which the future talks between the two sides will be conducted with. As was agreed by the two presidents in their Dubai Statement. This means the presidential agreement between the two presidents merely and formally endorses that “curtain-raiser-agreement” as the “cornerstone” of any and all future talks between the sides. Hence, it will be, in short, the “legal frame-work” in which all subsequent talks between the two sides will be based on. And, therefore, that means, procedurally and operationally, any argument (championing by any side, for example) which could be outside of the “scope” of that Chevening house’s 8 points agreement is effectively, null-and-void. Which means, that each party has the right to call out as an “off-side” action, if the other party were to try to sneak in the future talks between the two sides anything that is not within the “precisely-defined-remit” of the agreed-and-endorsed document.
Subsequently, the up-shot of this way of reasoning things means, that Somaliland’s hands are tied to discuss only the agreed point in the Chevening 8 points agreement. And, also, TFG (or its successor) will have legally endorsed statement that says that, if Somaliland brings on the table anything that is outside of those agreed points, then, she and her representative have the right to say that is outside of our agreement. And, the IC will be legal-bound to side with them.
Thirdly, at this point, some of you may wonder as to how come I am reading the Chevening 8 points agreement to be a legal document that restricts the elbow room of Somaliland, which I presumed some of you may already notice it. And the answer is that document (at least in its bold written text) doesn’t at all say anything about the legal issue in which Somaliland is arguing for. Other than vaguely referring back to London agreement of 23rd February.
In other words, as London’s February agreement hold, to say two parties should clarify their future relationship could mean one and a thousand sense of legal meaning. And that would be from complete re-union to a complete separation and all that is between them. Hence it was incumbent on the negotiators from Somaliland to have defined in so precise manner what the call for clarification is meant to be understood it in the agreement. Or at least how they interpret that meaning. Or failing that, then there should have been stand-alone clause (or even addendum) within the agreement the says: Somaliland’s position in so far as the notion of calling for the clarification of her future relationship with Somalia means this precise wording. And, then to make the text a very neutral document, you immediately contrast that with the version in which the TFG understand the meaning for the call to clarify her relationship with Somaliland ought to mean, in the sense of adding to it.
And, you do this way in-order to have the beginning of a talks without prejudicing any one position, but at the same time not leaving any ambiguity as to what each side is saying or for that matter not allowing no side in saying our definition for clarifying our relationship is the one that should take precedence over the other one, for we are recognized or even UN’s endorsed government. And, therefore, to preempt any endless dance around of what each party is contending on here, one has to be so straight forward in the way in which both parties can have their meaning of this word “to clarify” set it out in a clear stall of plain language. Of course, the whole purpose of the discussion will always hinges on whose definition prevails. But, by the same token, those two competing terms ought to have been given a legal force in the agreement, and therefore, they ought to have been stated exactly in a precise wording, so that what each party is bringing to the table is clear for the mediators and protagonist, alike .
This means, to belabored the point further, within the agreement you must so categorically state the main and firmly held position of each party. And you do this so that the future talks will be clear of what they ought to mean in legal sense. Or at least it will be clear as to what their main thrust will be gears towards it.
Of course, the TFG may not have signed any agreement that calls for the clarification of the future relationship if the text of that agreement boldly were to have stated what the Somaliland’s position is and what she means when she call for clarification. Even if you also add at the same time and in the same page what in turn the TFG was also minding to mean when she herself assent for the need for the clarification of both parties future relationship. But, still, be that as it may, the benefit of doing things this way, would of have been is that it would have allowed the future talks to be based on the reality – in explicit sense – at least in so far as Somaliland is concern, precisely what is calling for, as she enters these talks, and they will be marker for the mediators to know, not as a publicly stated letter from the president. But, as a legal document in which without it, Somaliland would not sign any document omitting her position of the talks. And, of course, it follows, that will also leave no room for doubt as to how to measure the outcome of these talks. Which is much more of a preferable method than this way of relying on ambiguous phrases that could mean one thousand and one thing to all and sunder.
Fourthly, the up-shot of this is that we have a “legal outcome” in which that deliberate obfuscation has resulted it so far, inadvertently or otherwise. Since, the future talks could not touch – at least legally – anything of the argument that is of Somaliland central argument. And, furthermore the TFG could have anyway it wants to “interpret” the meaning of the word “clarify” their future relationship. Given the fact there is no precise meaning of legal sense in which both parties had agreed in which this word mean or ought to mean; or even, what range of possibilities this word – “to clarify” is encompassing in here.
But all that said one have to acknowledge particularly with frankness and with boldness that the current “Dubai Statement” seemed to be “cementing” a rather nasty piece of under-hand political work against Somaliland. And, also it’s in here that one has to say that the Chevening 8 points agreement is the culprit that started the whole rot. Consequently, taken together, these two talks, so far, are nothing but a tragic course of action for Somaliland and her indefatigable people when it comes to what their leadership seemed to have wrought in their name.
Lastly, but, not least, seeing what seems to be transpiring in here (with a too-clever-by-half-agenda on the part of the current leadership, as I have suspected all along) then, it’s incumbent for all Somalilanders in everywhere in the world, regardless of party or any other secondary affiliation that they may have to take all necessary action in correcting this “gathering crime” against the very existence of their Republic while still the day is young and matters still rest in their hand. And, furthermore, they should pay no heed at all to any seductive talk about how the current leadership is playing a “clever long game” with Somalia.
For the sort of standing skulduggery – of the kind that is of playing the clever long game against your opponents – may be the sort of passing arguments that cuts much ice in the ever feuding party-politics of Somaliland. But in the spheres of the international agreements and the legality it enforces, what matters are the signed and the agreed document. With it’s precise and deliberated wording. This means, anything that is not nailed down to a bold precise text or even to a so defined in so precise formulation, or at least at minimum, defined in a addendum to the main agreement, does not get to look in by those who you will need to interpret for you, namely the mediators who will assumed the role of arbitrators, if and when those agreements becomes a bone of contention between the parties that are signatory to the original document.
In short, considering the ambiguity of wording, the deliberate obfuscation of the meaning of : “to clarify their future relationship”, the sheer absence in both talks for so bold of a text stating the case of what Somaliland is seeking from these talks even if you immediately contrast that paragraph as to what TFG in their end want, the absence of the time-line in which this these talks are supposed to be done and dusted with, the lack of defining the number of times in which these talks must be had in-order to get the “clarification definition”, and finally the inherent open-ended meaning of these talks, all led me to believe that Somaliland has sold themselves short in here. Particularly in both talks so far.
And in effect they have allowed the TFG to be the partner in the talks with a “veto power” when it comes to what to discuss, when to discuss things, and in what order of sequence to do so, and whether the agreed mutual cooperation – as stated by both talks – comes first or second than the promise to “clarify” their relationship going forward.
And this, in my view, sadly is an impeachable offense on the part of Somaliland’s delegation, who signed this document. Furthermore, now that the two presidents gave their impromptu endorsement of this deliberately ambiguous agreement, without bringing a needed day-light to the inherent ambiguous sense of the original Chevening 8 points agreement, particularly in the manner in which we have been led to believe by a various Kulmiye’s mouth-pieces in the media. Then this also means, that the president is constitutionally culpable for this “gathering crime” against the very public oath of office to which he took when he assumed the presidency of the Republic. Given the fact, that, the oath of office that he took deliberately sets out the scope of “constitutional fidelity” to which he must uphold it. And furthermore, that same constitution he was tasked to uphold call for the protection of the very existence of Somaliland in any bilateral agreement with another party; which sadly, in this instance, he flagrantly disregarded it in this Dubai Statement as well as endorsing the previous Chevening agreement that had white-washed Somaliland’s position in these talks
However, whether this impeachable offense in which president Silanyo have committed it is a consequences of “deliberate commission” on his part. Or whether it’s to do with a touch of a tardy understanding of what he was signing on. Or even whether it was to do with a lackadaisical read of what the agreement he was signing may have been purporting to mean in his mind (both in explicitly as well as implicitly), will be a matter time alone will furnish a decent answer for all of us.
And, Finally, and in a sense, you could say, that I am deeply dishearten for being a bearer of bad news to the readers and for my people alike. Although, to be honest I am less incline as it is to worry about being accused of having a particular “axe-to-grind” against the current elected government. For I consider my duty to sound the alarm in boldness in here so that I can bring the real “state-of-play” to far outweigh of any other consideration. For in the final analysis our duty as a Somalilanders is to be, as they say in certain part of US: “Trust, But Verify”.
And, in that sense, we must ask our leaders to be certifiably accountable to us. Particularly, when they do enter on our behalf an international agreement in which it’s purported meaning or the larger political imprint it can have is at best “decidedly and deliberately ambiguous”. Or at worse, it could mean nothing less than Alice-in-wonderland retort of saying that words means no less than what I want them to mean regardless of how that is fanciful to anyone else.
Hence, it will be a historical tragedy on our part, if we allow this state of affairs to continue without knowing what sting in the tail it will herald for us as a country and as a people in going forward.