What is wrong with the Somalia Foreign Ministry? – UM

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Mogadishu (UM) – The Somali Foreign Ministry is the mirror through which the world sees Somalia. It is the door through which the world enters Somalia and engages its people and Government. The work of the Ministry’s leadership, Diplomats and administrators should be one which connects the world to a recovering Somalia. This is how it should be, but the reality is disappointingly the opposite.

This week, the Foreign Ministry had a truly difficult week in which the Deputy Minister has been accused of Corruption and was almost arrested in his office. Students in Sudan protested against the Somali embassy in the presence of Somali Prime Minister and the National Civil Service Commission (NCSC) public rebuffed the decision of Minister Ahmed Isse Awad to oust his Permanent Secretary. It is public knowledge that the Minister is attempting to appeal this decision and re-establish his authority.  Whether this will work or not is not clear but it is abundantly clear that Minister has lost the grip of his Office.

To make matters worse, Somalia has failed to recognise that its voice still means very little in the international arena and has embarrassingly involved itself in the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Canada. While the statement works very hard to be neutral and to encourage reconciliation, it is biased in Saudi Arabia’s favour. Is this not the very same Saudi Arabia that sided with the UAE over Somalia in its neutral decision regarding the Gulf Crisis? Is this not the Saudi Arabia deporting the Somali nationals who are dedicated their lives to building the Kingdom, while Canada still accepts Somali refugees whose policy is driven by a Somali-Canadian minister who once a refugee himself? Is Minister Ahmed Awad not a Canadian Citizen himself? These questions should have been given serious thought before the Somali Government jumped into bed, again, with the Saudis who so far have failed to deliver on their promised budgetary support to Somalia.

Somali Foreign Policy is a victim of poor leadership, vision and shackled by competing interest which are contrary to the public interest. Unfortunately Minister Awad is the second Minister to hold this portfolio since this administration came to power and he has failed to give Somali Foreign Policy any direction. The Fragile nature of Somali politics demands consistent and visionary leadership to achieve development for the Somali people but the current confused Foreign Policy is only driving away key partners who have shown Somalia great generosity and commitment in its hours of most need.

Most of the Somali embassies abroad are an embarrassment to the nation and the continuous appointments of unqualified political operatives and friends to key diplomatic positions only makes the situation worse.  There are credible allegations of Somali Embassies over charging Somali nationals for services, selling scholarships and engaging in private businesses.  It is the job of the Foreign Ministry to investigate this national shame and put an end to it.

Somali Foreign Policy must become fit for purpose to navigate through a complicated globalised world with competing interests. Somalia’s Foreign Policy must serve the interest of the Somali people who have suffered great hardship and misery for decades because of instability and poor governance. As it now stands, if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its leadership do not reform the institution and follow a coherent policy, it will become a pointless talking shop which does not serve the interest of the Somali people.

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