Mogadishu (UM) – The brave and historic decision by the Somali Federal Government to remain neutral in the Gulf Crisis despite all the pressure from partner like Saudi Arabia and the UAE is paying dividend. Today, all the Gulf States are increasing their engagement with Somalia and competing to support it through projects. The negative campaigning to draw Somalia into a diplomatic and political mess that does not concern it has a turned into a race to the top to support Somali development.
At the most recent Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Kuwait, it was clear that the tensions between Qatar and the rest of the GCC leaders are not going to be resolved quickly or amicably. For starters, many of the regional leaders, all monarchs, did not attend and the Summit was cut short to a single day without a clear positive outcome or an indication of next steps to follow. In fact, the Saudi dominated GCC’s future is in doubt if the dispute continues for much longer.
The Somali Government has saved itself from an unnecessary and bitter dispute which would have isolated it in both the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN and bilaterally. Looking back, with the tragic experience of Sweden and Saudi Arabia, the Somali Federal Government can be proud of its decision which was, and remains, in the best interest of its people.
The Somali Government must not take its offer of mediation of the table in the GCC dispute but it is unlikely to be taken seriously by the members themselves given that Somalia is not a member of the organization. Moreover, the GCC states appear to not really want to work towards a solution which they feel may let Qatar off the hook for what they collectively accuse it of without the severest punishment and humiliation which is never the basis of a negotiation process.
The Middle East is important for Somalia’s development because it is the most obvious market for Somali produce and goods, including, meat, vegetables, fruits and other farm products which are key to the Gulf’s food security. The Middle East also has a major human resource shortage which the growing educated and young Somali citizens can benefit from in the future. More importantly, Somalia can play a greater role in regional security in the future, especially, given its experience of confronting violent extremists and international terrorism.
Given the great opportunities that exist for further collaboration between all the GCC member states and Somalia, it is crucial Somalia remains neutral and focuses on playing a mediating role if it is ever forced to intervene. The GCC must heed the words of the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah and amend the GCC Charter to establish a clear mechanism for resolving disputes between member states. This should not include plunging the world and, in particular, recovering states like Somalia into conflicts and disputes which reverses their progress.