19 Jan Somali Messages
The Somali federal government recently announced the opening of Kenyan consulates in Kismaayo (Jubaland) and Hargeisa (Somaliland). As soon as the news spread to the African elite, conflicting views doubting or affirming that news emerged.
Since President Mohamed Farmajo came to power in 2017, Somalia seems to be different from the one under his predecessors. In my own view, this can be attributed to the president’s unique political experience that appears to be flexible under various circumstances. This was reflected in the consequences which were in favor of Mogadishu.
Since 2017, Mogadishu realized that there is much to do and it must cope with the internal and external challenges in cooperation with the Somali people that united for the first time in history under a Somali political figure in a precedent that motivated the US intelligence associated with AFRICOM to seriously consider such popular support as how to deal with Somalia of today.
Somalia was keen to appear convincing by adopting serious attitudes both at the regional level or concerning its flexible situations on the domestic front. Via such a strategy Somalia appeared stronger “politically” and that “calm” strategy was reinforced following the last Eritrean-Ethiopian reconciliation. Both capitals (Asmara and Addis Ababa) are in need for Somalia more than the latter is in need for them, for we cannot imagine an Ethiopian-Eritrean relationship in the medium term without Somalia, but we can imagine Somalia to exist without the need for Eritrea and Ethiopia. Here lies the paradox recognized by the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki from the beginning when he restored diplomatic relations with Mogadishu. In addition, Somalia’s regional neighborhood is aware that Mogadishu may not represent a complete ally and therefore can partly benefit from its neutral strategy on many issues.
Somalia’s approval of the opening of Kenyan consulates in the affiliated Somali regions which demand independence from the federal State like “Somaliland” have not come about by accident, but it’s rather an innuendo political message indicating that Mogadishu has nothing to fear regarding the presence of diplomatic representatives of a foreign State on its territory, even though if such diplomatic representation advocates the secession of the Somali regions or at least supports its leaders. This will result in consulates of other countries finding a footing in the Somali regions and Eritrea seems the most likely to take that step.
But what attitude the international powers can have?
The international powers have been working for a long time to return to the Somali issue and their significant role in the recent Ethiopian-Eritrean reconciliation is only part of a strategy that they have been working on for decades. Today, there are common and conflicting interests between the international powers and some regional powers in Somalia that the Somali public opinion and the regional Somali neighborhood are quite aware of. But, to what extent does that impact the Gulf interests emerging in Somalia?
Based on my belief that the Gulf role in the African continent in general is symbolic, I deem the interests of the Gulf States are all dependent on the extent allowed by the international powers. The latter believe that the Gulf interests in the whole of Africa are linked in a way or another to their own interests; consequently, we cannot talk about real Gulf interests in Africa in general apart from the role of these international powers in promoting or thwarting them.
Finally, I hope that the Somali government led by President Mohamed Faramajo will redouble its efforts to contain the Somali regions and enhance the sense of territorial integrity for the Somali public opinion for unity has always been the sole and only way for nations to advance. Personally, I belong to a country believing that unity is the most outstanding feature in its history and the main element that led to the development of the State. It is the union between our seven Emirates that led the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan to the modern united State the world witnesses today. This is what I wish to see in the Somalia of today, tomorrow and every time, may God grant success to Somalia and its free people.
An article published at the African Center in Somalia.
Dr. Amina Alarimi
UAE researcher in African affairs