Djibouti’s President, Ismail Omar Guelleh, has become heavily involved in the politics of Somalia, managing the country’s affairs covertly under the leadership of President Mohamoud. Guelleh, a powerful dictator in his own country, is known for suppressing political opposition and restricting press freedom to maintain control. He has also been accused of violating human rights and concentrating the country’s power in the hands of himself and his family.
In Somalia, President Guelleh is pursuing several strategic objectives. He aims to ensure that Djibouti has a significant influence on the country and people of Somalia, using clan lineage to build a bridge between the two nations. He is also working to prevent the relocation of any American military facilities in Somalia and to protect Djibouti’s national strategic interests by utilizing Somalia as a separate power.
To achieve these objectives, President Guelleh has developed a close relationship with President Mohamoud, acting as a political mentor who influences the Somali President’s thinking. He has promised Mohamoud that if he follows his advice and policies, he will rule Somalia for the rest of his life.
The two presidents have formed business and political alliances based on their clan linages, with President Guelleh giving President Mohamoud a large plot of land in Djibouti City adjacent to the sea, and Mohamoud reciprocating with a large plot of land near Lido Beach, which is owned by Somali Navy.
President Mohamoud has already begun to implement President Guelleh’s policies, which has allowed him to retain power in Somalia for two decades. However, if Mohamoud fully seizes control of the country, it is feared that he may adopt a dictatorial culture, leading to the erosion of Somalia’s emerging democracy and the suppression of political opposition. His pursuit of strategic objectives may also come at the expense of the Somali people.
Given Somalia’s egalitarian political culture, it remains to be seen whether President Guelleh’s vision for the Somalia will come to fruition. However, his mentoring lessons appear to be inspiring President Mohamoud, and it remains to be seen how this will impact the future of Somalia.