Mogadishu (UM) – President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo returned from his second visit to the UAE this week having met with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to discuss the two country’s bilateral relations. The visit was secretive throughout and all the Presidency would say is that they want to strengthen bilateral ties with the UAE.
For many, this visit was confusing, unnecessary and poorly timed given the UAE’s active involvement in the internal politics of Somalia. On the other hand, it was a great opportunity for President Farmaajo to strongly reiterate that he will not tolerate UAE meddling in Somali politics. If this happened or not we cannot be sure because the meeting between the President and the Sheikh unfortunately took place behind closed doors. However, it is most likely that President Farmaajo did everything necessary to make his position clear to the UAE given that his own authority is at stake. Whether they will listen to him or not is total another matter.
Somalia was a great political and, to some extent, economic supporter of the UAE before the country’s prospects were transformed by the discovery of oil. Somalia was instrumental in connecting the Arab world with the African Union during the period of former President Mohamed Siad Barre and to this day, Somalia holds deep respect for all bilateral partners, including the UAE. Therefore, the UAE must reciprocate and stop the humiliating conditions based support to Somalia while it works with other national and international spoilers to destabilize the progress the nation is making under this Government.
The UAE is angry with the Somali Government because it for the first time acted in its own best interest and refused to be dragged into the Gulf crisis despite the unacceptable bullying of the UAE and Saudi Arabia among others. The Somali Government made clear that the crisis was and remains counterproductive and that Somalia needs all its partners support to develop. Somali even volunteered to mediate between Qatar and the other Gulf States embroiled in the dispute. The UAE should have respected this and moved on like Saudi Arabia since it did not want Somalia to mediate but it instead chose to create instability within Somalia.
The UAE is supporting Somalia in different ways and many Somalis live and work in the UAE. Many more businesses are run through the UAE too, especially, financial service providers including remittance companies. However, all this cannot excuse UAE interference in the internal politics of Somalia which is already clan based and fragile. The first rule of diplomatic relations is respect for the territorial integrity of a nation: the UAE is clearly violating this in Somalia with their actions. The Somali people are not blind to all this interference and if the UAE continues with these actions they will not be welcome in the eyes of the people.
The UAE is obsessed with Turkey and other foreign partners activities in Somalia. There is no need for this as there is enough room for all partners to assist Somalia in areas they are passionate about and have expertise in. The UAE does not enjoy the respect Turkey has in Somalia at present and this is simply because Turkey does not interfere in the internal politics of Somalia. As hard as it may be, the UAE must learn to be more like Turkey and respect the Government and People of Somalia.
The UAE’s use of discredited former Somali leaders to undermine the current Government’s progress will not resolve the Gulf Crisis. These Somalis collusion is meaningless in the eyes of the Somali people as they themselves have betrayed them many times. The fact that they are now been paid by a foreign power to do the same again, makes them even worse. These failed Somali figures will not hurt Somali interest, nor can they divide the loyalty of the people to their nation.
Somalia will not be like it is today forever. Somalia is a beautiful, rich land of proud prosperous people and much resources above and beyond oil. Somalia will return to the community of nations as a leader one day. The UAE must reverse their ill-guided policy of interference if it seeks good will from Somalia today and in the future.