In all the news about the piracy near Somalia journalists generally assume that the piracy is the product of the anarchy there. Yet one of the main harbours for the pirates is Somaliland - an area where it is quiet.
Somaliland is an area in the north of Somalia. The clan that lives there has more or less separated the area from the rest of Somalia and is in close control. As a consequence Somaliland has stayed quiet while the rest of Somalia fell in anarchy.
The international community has largely ignored Somaliland. After the 1999 Kosovo War the international community did its best to give Kosovo access to the rest of the world, so that it wouldn't be hurt by its lack of statehood. A similar effort has lacked in the case of Somaliland.
It now looks like the leaders of Somaliland have enough of it and have taken resort to piracy to fuel the local economy. One can criticize them for this. But at the same time one has to ask oneself whether it isn't immoral to keep an area excluded from the rest of the world in this era of globalization. It is very difficult to live in our world when one hasn't easy access to international banking, telephony, visa, air traffic, development aid, etc.
I believe that the international community should do more to engage Somaliland. This doesn't need to be some formal recognition. But just as with Kosovo one has to find practical solutions. This would also give us the leverage to ask Somaliland to do something about the piracy originating on its territory.
For those interested in Somalia, read also this article that claims that Somalia has been better off in its present anarchy than under the Siad Barre disctatorship. When reading this one should take in consideration that Somalia receives a lot of UN food aid.
Don't get me wrong. I do not advocate recognition of Somaliland's independence. I am aware that not all its clans support the independence and that Somaliland has territorial disputes with Puntland. But for lack of a central authority I think we should work together as good as possible with local authorities. And I think that when Somalia gets a new central government it will do go to give strong autonomy to the regions.
Postscript: Foreign Policy had an interesting article about Somalia. It is a kind of short history of Somalia in the last two decades - including the mistaken Western interventions. The article describes Indirectly they support my position in this post when they advocate an decentralised Somalia and the international community working with lower levels of government instead of imposing yet another central government.