Cairo (HAN) August 20th, 2017 – Public Diplomacy & Regional Stability. The Opinion By. MUHYADIN AHMED ROBLE ““Neutral” Somalia finds itself engulfed in Saudi Arabia-Qatar dispute”
President Farmaajo withstood significant pressure in staying out of Saudi Arabia’s feud with Qatar. But it may pay a cost for its neutrality.
Pressure from within: Regardless of the reasons for maintaining neutrality, Farmaajo faces significant pressure from within Somalia to reverse his neutral stance .
Three heavyweight politicians in particular have come out strongly. Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, the only Somali politician to have served as prime minster twice, was reportedly the UAE’s favoured candidate in the 2017 elections. Abdulqadir Osoble, chair of the foreign affairs committee in Parliament, is a businessman sympathetic to Saudi Arabia. And Abdirazaq Osman Hasan “Jurile”, chair of the Senate committee on foreign affairs, hails from Bosaso, where the Dubai-owned P&O ports is investing $336 million. All three have spoken out against Farmaajo’s unwillingness to back the anti-Qatari alliance.
Many regional governments are also likely opposed to the government’s position. Somaliland and Puntland get significant development assistance from the UAE. Jubaland’s regional security forces are equipped and paid by the Emiratis. And South West state is currently negotiating with Dubai’s P&O ports over a deal in Barawe.
This regional support for the Saudi-UAE block could be expressed by the regions’ representatives in federal parliament. It is also possible that those from the two remaining regional states, Galmudug and Hirshabelle, will also follow suit.*
In these often complex regional dynamics, Mogadishu is watching Somaliland particularly closely. This region has consistently demanded full recognition of its self-declared independence since 1991, and its closer ties with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi could give the region fresh hope in this bid, especially if it sees Mogadishu alienating itself from these influential powers.
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