Somalis favour Turkey over Saudi Arabia -UM

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Saudis treatment of Somalia is no laughing matter. Photo: via Twitter

Mogadishu (UM) – As the case of the death of Washington Post’s columnist Jamal Khashoggi rages on and the CIA points the finger of blame at the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, many interviewed by UM felt that the Somali government has made the wrong diplomatic call again by supporting Saudi Arabia in yesterday’s statement. Despite attempts the by the Saudi prosecutors to rush through the sentencing of the suspected killers in Saudi custody this week, the Turkish government is still insisting they face justice in Turkey. This was made clear by an interview the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu this week. Yet, the statement released by the Somali Foreign Ministry stated that it supported the Saudi prosecutor over Turkey. Most interviewees felt that this was wrong and was going to escalate between Turkey and Saudi Arabia with with severe repercussions for Somalia.

“Turkey and Saudi Arabia are going to keep fighting over this and I think Somalia has to choose a side or say it is neutral. This is going to be a headache for this government which already committed to Saudi Arabia for no good reason again,” said Ahmed Abdi, a student in Ankara over the telephone. “Our student friends already are asking why is Somalia so ungrateful to Turkey but I tell them the government is confused but the public love Turkey more than Saudi Arabia.”

“If this argument between Turkey and Saudi Arabia continues, Saudi Arabia will call Somalia again and again and keep saying we will give you more money so support us. This government is hungry for cash and will just do the same thing it did before. A hungry government with a non-functioning Foreign Ministry like Somalia’s to give good long term advice will do anything for a short term cash advance,’ said Mohamed Muhumad Nur, a Mogadishu resident. “Somalia’s only working hospital and roads are built by the Turkish government and we don’t want to upset them.”

Many interviewed compared Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s contribution to Somalia and most favoured Turkey’s assistance as more sustainable and useful.

“Saudi is an expert in giving cash for favours but Turkey has shown it will help Somalia build. Turkey’s support is brotherly and Saudis is exploitative,” said a student who did not want to be named. “Good example is Turkish Airlines brings tourists and connects us to the world and Saudi Arabia forcibly returns our people who have lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for decades. It is simple who is better of the two countries for Somalia.” The expulsion of Somalis from Saudi Arabia, the Saudis use of Somalia as a diplomatic defense for their global disputes and their lack of real interest in supporting Somalia escape its situation made most interviewees not favour Saudi Arabia. Some even argued that Saudi Arabia could have helped Somalia against the UAE interference if it wanted to but refused to for reasons of its own.

From all the interviewed it was clear that the Turkish government’s work in Somalia was well publicized and supported. In the case of Saudi Arabia, there was little understanding of their support to Somalia and all interviewed felt that the Somali government should not be a “diplomatic shield for a country which does not respect it or its people.” All the interviewees agreed that the Somali Foreign Ministry and its leadership failed the country with the statement released yesterday in favour of the Saudi prosecutor. On social media the statement of the Foreign Ministry was widely criticized by the Somali people for its blind obedience of Saudi Arabia.

“This country’s foreign policy is a joke and the biggest jokers are the Ministers in that failed institution who do not even respect one of our greatest supporter Turkey,” said Warsame Farah, a graduate from Turkey. “We are just sick of bad foreign policy which hurts our people and interest. How long can we put up with this?”