A breakaway region of Somalia begs the Trump administration


A region that claims independence from Somalia is feeling as though it is wheat thrown in with the chaff.

President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order temporarily barring citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations from traveling to the United States includes Somalia, and thus Somaliland, whose independence is not recognized by any country.

But for 26 years, the breakaway region has operated as an autonomous republic. It has shielded itself from the disorder and violence that has led many to characterize Somalia as a “failed state.” Somaliland has its own police, army, flag and currency, and has held regular elections for parliament and president.

And while the executive order has been struck down by federal courts, Trump administration officials have said they intend to write a new one that would presumably target the same countries – although with caveats to avoid further legal action.

On Monday, Somaliland’s government wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly pleading for an exemption from the executive order. In it, Somaliland’s foreign minister, Sa’ad Ali Shire, argues that his region does not have the “deteriorating conditions . . . [that] due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States,” as described in the order.

In fact, Somaliland fought bitterly against its southern neighbor to win its sustained peace. There hasn’t been a terrorist attack there since 2008. Meanwhile, Somalia’s government struggles to control much of its own territory beyond its capital, Mogadishu. A fight against the extremist al-Shabab group has been hampered by corruption and division in the government.


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