Somalia’s foreign policy has been in a state of flux since the election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud. His immediate establishment of relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was seen as a departure from the previous government’s alignment with Turkey and Qatar.
However, the President’s first trip to the UAE, where only his daughter accompanied him, was interpreted as a lack of commitment to a national strategic partnership with UAE. Despite this, the UAE government has agreed in principle to provide strong financial support to Somalia once a Prime Minister is appointed and a cabinet is formed.
President Hassan’s lack of a clear foreign policy strategy has resulted in secret informal meetings with Turkey and Qatar, leading to the signing of agreements with Turkey that were not shared with the Cabinet of Ministers or the Parliament of Somalia. These actions have caused the UAE to lose confidence in President Mohamud and his government.
In September 2022, President Hassan met with the State Minister of Foreign Affairs of the UAE in New York City and requested support in his fight against the terrorist organization Al Shabaab. The UAE has promised to provide all necessary funds, but only after a comprehensive defense cooperation agreement is signed.
The UAE government has prepared such an agreement and sent a confidential draft to Mogadishu. The Minister of Defense, Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, was given the responsibility of safeguarding the draft but secretly shared it with the Turkish government. Previously, the Defense Minister served as an asset for the Turkish government’s intelligence agencies.
When the Defense Minister traveled to the UAE to sign the agreement, the governments of Turkey and Qatar sent delegates to Mogadishu to oppose it.
Despite this opposition, Prime Minister Hamsa Abdi Barre ordered the Cabinet to approve the agreement. However, President Hassan, under political pressure from Turkey and Qatar, ordered last minute the Cabinet to reject it.
The government of the United Arab Emirates, whose intelligence is actively involved in Somalia’s intelligence, has confirmed that President Mohamoud was behind the cabinet’s refusal to vote in favor of the accord.
This led to a serious threat from the UAE government to halt their promised financial aid. Facing a lack of a well-versed Foreign Minister or expert advisors, President Mohamoud ordered the Cabinet to approve the agreement once again and on February 5th, it was approved by a majority vote.
Despite this, the UAE government remains cautious and distrustful of President Mohamoud and his government, including the Minister of Education, the Director of the National Security Agency, the National Security Advisor, and the Minister of Justice, who are believed to serve the interests of other countries and oppose the interests of the UAE in Somalia.
The UAE will continue to provide limited financial support to President Mohamoud and his family, but will not fully commit their economic and political power to him and his government.
Unidentified diplomat: “He naively wants to keep together counties that have divergent opinions on Somalia’s future political trajectory, tragically Somalia loses in the process.”
It’s difficult to conceive how Mr. Mohamoud can survive beyond 2023, He added “the entire his inner circles are assets to other counties with little or no interest in their county.”