Somalia: May 8, 2003


Could the US be eyeing Somaliland as a potential new base? Djibouti reportedly receives $3.5 million a month from America for hosting its forces and is firmly in the French camp (which makes it an unreliable ally for America).

Talks are underway to end conflict in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, between rival claimants to the presidency. Somaliland is growing despite the international community, not because of it. It gets no loans or other assistance from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, but locals estimate that more than one-third of their neighbors depend on $150 million a year sent by expatriates working in Europe, the United States and Arab countries

The little country has potential. Oil exploration off Somaliland has produced promising results. The port Berbera is pulled in $12 million last year, since it's a lifeline to landlocked Ethiopia. It also has a nice long 13500 ft runway, built by the Russians and later extended by the Americans (one former worker estimated that the Navy left over $3,000,000 worth of fuel and equipment there when they pulled out in December 1991).

However, economic expansion and stability requires political stability and so the country, with a $30-million annual budget, spent $2,5-million on elections this past year. In April, the former Soviet-trained soldier Dahir Riyale Kahin became Somaliland's first elected president. - Adam Geibel


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