On a Recognition

The recent post about Somaliland and the other nations that haven’t received international recognition as sovereign countries provoked some discussion and swapping of emails among friends. Someone asked why the United States would choose Somalia over Somaliland, especially since the whole Somalia pirate thing they have going on over there.

Much of the American choice to not recognize Somaliland has to do with the religious as well as political situation in the Middle East. Being around the seat of so much oil means the US must tread carefully in order to not anger or embarrass our petroleum-laden allies in that area. Somalia controls the Horn of Africa, a jutting piece of land that sticks out into the Gulf of Aden and dangerously close to the vital Persian Gulf. We can’t afford to anger them by recognizing what they see as a breakaway portion of their nation.

And then there’s America’s historically difficult history with Islam.

Despite the fact that the United States Constitution stipulates that there can be no religious “test” for office-holding, prejudice and distrust of any religion in the US that was not some variant of Protestant Christianity has been rife, historically. And one of the great mysteries of the American slave trade is that we don’t know what percentage of slaves brought to America against their will were Muslims. Some have said that as many as 1 in 3 were. More than likely, the real number is lower but only slightly.

Add in the fact that many American Muslims were darker-skinned compared to their fellow countrymen whose ancestry was Europe; this only fueled the racism that has been in the nation since before 1776. And this doesn’t even take into account the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 that significantly increased hatred of Muslims in the nation. So, it’s a gross understatement to say that the relationship between mostly Protestant America and Muslim nations of the Middle East is complicated.

All of that factors into the political reasons why we don’t recognize Somaliland as an independent country.

By the way, did you realize that it was the Kingdom of Morocco–a Muslim nation–that was the first to recognize the sovereignty of a new nation that called itself the United States way back in 1777?


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