There are a number of misconceptions in the article ``Somaliland Leader Looks for Foreign Recognition,'' Jan. 6.
First, while the vaunted central government, elected president, and courts in so-called ``Somaliland'' may exist on paper, they do not exist in substance since they do not enjoy the allegiance of the population of the areas for which unilateral independence is being illegally claimed.
Second, the restoration of a central government has so far eluded Somalia owing to the rivalry between overly ambitious warlords. But once that realizable goal is attained - hopefully in the near future - it will be a central government, not for the south alone, but for the whole country.
Third, thinly disguised attempts to compartmentalize Somalia are doomed to failure because the Somali people will not accept the dismemberment of their country into south and north. Mohamed Ibrahim Egal and his collaborators are dishing out misinformation, namely that Northern Somalia is one entity whose people are united on the issue of secession. Nothing could be further from the truth. In contrast to the secessionist Isak clan, the other clans inhabiting Northern Somalia vehemently oppose the breakup of Somalia and are full participants in the peacemaking process. Northern Somalia should not be confused with the secessionist clan.
Fourth, there are no compelling reasons to hold the referendum Mr. Egal is calling for. Such a step would open a Pandora's box for other African states to suffer the same fate.
Fifth, applying self-determination to an integral part of a sovereign state runs counter to the provisions of the United Nations and Organization of African Unity charters, as well as to the principles of international law. Furthermore, the former British Somaliland protectorate already exercised its right to self-determination in 1960, when it voluntarily and freely joined with ex-Italian Somalia following the independence of the two territories.
A fallacious argument now being put forward in justification of the secessionist agenda is the breakup of the former Soviet Union into a number of internationally recognized sovereign republics; but this only took the process of decolonization to its logical conclusion. Nor is the case of the former Yugoslavia a valid example upon which secessionists' hopes can be pinned. Ahmed Mohamed Adan, New York Former Foreign Minister of Somalia
The editorial ``Endangered Livestock,'' Dec. 30, says that saving animals like tigers and whales is only ``half of the species conservation challenge,'' and that we should also save older breeds of farm animals. But farm animals, old or new, cannot be the solution because they are a major part of the problem of species loss.
Livestock now outnumbers humans almost three to one; it consumes half of the world's grain harvest, and half of the earth's land mass is used for its production. As we are clearing the tropical rain forest for cattle production, we are annually destroying approximately 1,000 species. The ``changing agricultural needs'' mentioned will not require more genetic livestock material to tinker with but a return to plant-based food production for humans. This will improve human health and preserve habitat for countless plant and animal species. Livestock agriculture creates more water pollution than all other sources combined. It releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, drains wetlands, and creates deserts.
Livestock agriculture is the major ecological problem of our times, but one we can solve. The solution is not the preservation of this destructive practice but the recognition that we must eat lower on the food chain. Dietrich von Haugwitz, Durham, N.C.
I found the ``Science on Ice'' series, Dec. 22 and Dec. 29, fascinating and commend the reporter and photographer for the difficulties they experienced in obtaining these stories. I wonder how seriously the scientists are considering the impact of human activity on the area and its ecology. All those research stations and observations of the penguins are bound to influence the outcome. Leah R. Karpen, Weaverville, N.C.