“We covered a range of issues important to the UK and #Hirsabelle, including climate issues and the importance of finding a peaceful way forward on elections” tweeted Ambassador Kate Foster.
Standard diplomatic practice emphasises national sovereignty. How will the government in London react if the British Ambassador frames a meeting with a regional governor as one between Britain and the region in question?
In Africa national identity is the foundation of national sovereignty.
The Ambassador’s controversial tweet reminded many Somalis of a 2019, tweet by the former British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson in which he described Somaliland as a country after holding a meeting with President Muse Bihi Abdi.
Williamson had to delete the tweet.
The former British Ambassador to Somalia Ben Fender went on the record in quoting Thomas Hobbes to underscore the indispensability of one supreme national authority — Leviathan — rather than competing subnational entities for Somalia.
British aid makes a big difference to the lives of many Somalis. Its impact is visible on health, education and in infrastructure in many parts of Somalia.
Since 2011, Britain has played a key role in state-building efforts in Somalia particularly in the transition from ‘failed state’ status to a fragile state status, and hosts thousands of Somali refugees whose support for their kith and kin in Somalia forms a key part of the Somali economy.
Let’s hope that the Ambassador’s tweet does not reflect the position of the wider British Government.
This article first appeared in the © Puntland Post, 2021 and is republished with permission