Qatar visit: Neutrality means neutrality for all – UM

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo is in a state visit in Doha, Qatar. Photo Credit: Villa Somalia

Mogadishu (UM) – President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo has once again returned to Qatar on a State visit. He and his delegation landed in Doha yesterday and will be holding talks with the Gulf State’s leadership today. The question is, how useful this visit is given that Qatar had already agreed to invest over $200 million in projects in Somalia as a gesture of goodwill and gratitude in return for the Somali governments support in taking a neutral stance in the Gulf Crisis.

What must be reiterated, and clearly, by the Somali government is that Somalia did not support Qatar in the Gulf Crisis over the other countries including the UAE, but that it honoured its own Foreign Policy and remained neutral. The current state visit which comes at the height of disagreement and political dispute with the UAE, undermines this message and presents Somalia as taking a side in favour of Qatar.

President Farmaajo’s visit is poorly timed. This is because the business of running Somalia must come before visiting other leaders who have their country in order and are providing services for their people. Qatar agreed to invest $200 million in rebuilding key Somali infrastructure and creating livelihoods through the Qatar Foundation. Yet, nothing is visible on the ground and most that can be said of these projects is that they are still been designed. So, why did the President make this hasty visit in this most difficult political atmosphere when the initial Qatari pledges have not even been acted on?

Somalia owes Qatar no special favour and, if the neutrality stance is to be taken seriously by other Gulf States, the Somali government must act fairly. Any Qatari favouritism is not a Somali Foreign Policy and not a condition of their pledged voluntary support to the Somali people. 

Qatar must show that it is a real friend of Somalia on its part by ending the pleasantries and getting the promised projects implemented. On a more serious economic note, due to the air blockade within the Gulf region, some of Qatar Airways major African routes, including Nairobi, fly over Somali air space. Is this not another form of bilateral support which is in line with Somalia’s position of neutrality? Does it not have enormous economic and political value?

President Farmaajo’s visit is ill-timed and serves no purpose other than to be a guest of the Qataris, again. The best he can do is return with the dates the pledged projects by the Qatari government will commence and perhaps another promise of budgetary support as is the case with Middle Eastern Diplomacy these days in Somalia.